January 2012 Archives

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Växlar, Växlar! We are now finalizing the configuration of our new primary server for SurvivalBlog in Sweden, to mitigate any risk of site blanking or hijacking. We have now "flipped the switch," so that our old server in Utah is now the backup server and the Swedish server is the primary server. The only significant change from the reader's perspective will be our new IP address: Please make a hardcopy note of it, and update your bookmarks. Hopefully the transition will go smoothly! I apologize in advance for any glitches. All of this work was accomplished by my brilliant teenage son, who has already launched his own web design and archiving business, Whiteout Productions.

Please note that there is no need for you to change your primary "SurvivalBlog.com" bookmark. It is now accessing our Swedish server, but this is essentially a transparent change.

I suppose that now we are ready for Slutet på världen som vi känner den! (That is Swedish for "The End of the World As We Know It.")


Today we present the last two entries for Round 38 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. (Any that were submitted for this round and that have not yet been posted will roll over into Round 39.) 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 Safecastle.com (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 FloJak.com. 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 all know how possible a grid down scenario is.  While we have been stuffing our pantries and freezers with food to sustain us, what happens when there is no electricity to run that freezer?  If it is winter time in a northern place then it would be fine and we could use Mother Nature.  But what if you live in a southern area where the temperature does not remain below freezing?

One solution would be to home-can your food. Also home canning is a very inexpensive and frugal way to add to your food stores.  Not to mention you know exactly what goes into those jars.  No bug content in my catsup like there is with the commercial type.  If you have worked in a commercial cannery then you will understand why I do not want to feed that stuff to my family.  It is horrifying to see what is actually deemed “acceptable”.

Let’s start out by talking about the equipment needed.  First thing you would need a good quality canner.  They can be purchased pretty much anywhere.  Most require a rubber gasket between the lid and the pot in order to produce a seal and build the required pressure in order to raise the temperature to a point that pathogens are destroyed inside your jars.  But then what do you do when the gasket fails (they generally last 3-5 years) on your canner and you have no store to go buy another or the internet to order one?   My suggestion would be to invest in a canner that does not require a gasket, or to stockpile several spare parts and gaskets for your canner.  There is one brand of canner that does not require a gasket.  It is the “All American Canner”.  They are quite pricey to buy initially but when you figure many years of service without replacement gaskets the price goes down.  This canner has a machined rim that is so precise that it does not require any kind of gasket.  You have to be careful to not boil it dry and warp it.  But with careful use and care it should last your lifetime.  My canner is 31 years old and still going strong.

Then there are those pesky metal lids that can only be used one time.  Wal-Mart generally carries these lids.  I say generally because last fall my Wal-Mart in our town decided it was past canning season and sent all of theirs back to the warehouse.  Then when I went to the Wal-Mart Supercenter in the next town they were out.  I finally found some at the hardware store in town.  The prices have also gone up on these.  They were .99 cents a dozen a couple years ago and now the cheapest I can find them for is $1.63 when Wal-Mart has them and $2.49 at the hardware store.  So what happens when the grid is down and no stores or internet is available to buy any?  The solution to this is tattler reusable lids.  I have some and plan to buy a lifetime supply soon.  I have experimented with them and they have proved reliable over and over.  They are pricey for the initial investment but over the long run they pay for themselves quite quickly.  They are a 2 piece plastic lid with a rubber gasket.  As long as you do not damage the gasket they will work over and over.  You have to be careful when opening your jar so that the gasket does not get cut with your opener.  They are also tricky in that you have to get used to not tightening the rings down on them until after processing.  The trick is to tighten the ring down and then back it off about ¼ of an inch.  Then you process according to recommended times and pressures.  When you take the jars out of the canner use mitts and tighten each ring down on the jars.  Set your jars on a towel and allow them to cool.  After they have cooled completely then you can remove the rings.  The only other drawback is that you can not write on them.  Since they are reusable writing on the lids would cause a problem the next time you used them.  So after they are cool and you remove the rings make sure the jars are clean and place a small piece of masking tape on the lid and write on it.  Or you can write on the jar itself with a magic marker as this will wash off the glass.  You can get them in a bulk deal for about .50 cents a lid.  Since the metal ones are about .20 cents a lid you can see how fast they would pay for them selves.   It is as easy as picking up the jar once you removed the ring to be sure they have sealed.  If they have not then the lid will come off in your hand and the jar will stay on the counter!


The other equipment you would need is reusable and you would not need to worry so much about replacements.  They are:

Jar lifter
Small pot for boiling the lids
Jar funnel
Water bathing pot for processing pickles and fruit, you can also use your canner without the lid for this, but I like a separate pot to water bath in.
Pot holders or oven mitts
A large ladle for filling jars
A canning book (I like Putting Food By) There are many different ones available.


Now that we got the boring equipment part out of the way we can move on to the good part…

There is a great satisfaction to having your cabinet full of what I call convenience foods.   I like to can food in a way that I can open the jar, heat it up and Presto dinner is ready.  I love to make soup and when I do I make it 5 gallons at a time… I do not add any pasta to it when I make the big batch then I will remove only what we are going to eat for that meal to add the pasta.  (Pasta does not can well it only gets mushy).  Then I can all of the leftovers in quart jars.  Meat loaf, meat balls, barbecued meat, roast in gravy, taco meat, spaghetti sauce with the meat and even left over gravy in jars makes for a very speedy meal and can even be prepared by the less culinary gifted people in your home should you be unable to cook.  Remember that what ever you can always process it for the recommended amount of time for the ingredient requiring the longest processing time.  For example I made venison soup a few days ago.  It had venison, barley and vegetables in the soup.  The venison would require the longest processing time, (90 minutes at 15 lbs for our altitude and for quart jars).  So that is what the soup got processed for. 


When you can meat it does change the flavor and texture a bit.  Using this meat is as easy as opening the jar and draining the liquid.  You can process meat either hot pack (already cooked) or raw pack.  Canned chicken flakes easily for making things like enchiladas and you can buy the lesser cuts of beef that would normally be tough; after you can them they are very tender.  Any kind of left over meat can be canned for use at a later time whether it is the roast and gravy or taco meat.

Canning meat (Raw pack)
Raw pack is the easiest way to can meat.  Simply cut the meat into chunks and pack into the jar leaving about an inch of headspace (the distance from the top of the meat to the top edge of the jar).  Wipe the rim of the jar (you must make sure there are no food particles, grease or chipped rims or it will not seal).  Place a boiled lid on top and screw on a ring.  Then process at the recommended time and pressure. We are at a little over 1000 feet.  I process meat for quarts 90 minutes at 15 lbs and pints for 75 minutes at 15 lbs. You can NOT process meat in a water bath.  It MUST be pressure canned.  When processing raw meat you do not add any liquid.  The broth is made as the meat cooks in the jars.  Begin timing after your canner has reached the correct pressure per your specific canners instructions.  After the timing is over slide your canner to a cool side of the stove and allow it to cool.  Do NOT try to reduce the pressure rapidly by running water on it or helping the pressure to escape.  This will cause seal failure.  After the canner has cooled and there is no longer any pressure inside it then remove the weight and lid.  Using a jar lifter remove the jars to a towel on your counter.  Remember they are VERY hot at this time and you will see the contents still boiling.  If you are using Tattler lids this is the time to tighten the bands down.  After the jars have cooled off (over night) then remove the lids and wash the jars.  The jars may have grease on the outside of them from processing.  Always write on the lid or tape what the contents are and the month/year of processing.  Home canned meat should have a shelf life of about 5 years if done properly.

Canning meat (Hot pack)
This is the way you would can any leftovers.  Heat what ever you are going to process up (Soup, meat and gravy, taco meat, etc).  Then using the jar funnel ladle the food into the jar leaving about 1 inch of headspace.  Then follow the directions above.  Remember to always process for the time required to process the longest amount recommended for any one ingredient.

Canning Meatloaf (Raw pack)
You must use wide mouth pint jars for this.  Otherwise the neck of the jar will not allow your loaf to slide out.  Do not add eggs or fillers (oatmeal, bread crumbs, etc).  Mix your ground meat with the seasonings you wish.  I mix sausage and hamburger together with a can of drained diced tomatoes and a bit of Italian seasoning.
 Then pack the mixture into the jar leaving an inch of headspace.  Wipe the rim. Place on lids and rings then process the recommended time/pressure.  When it is done you will have a nice loaf of cooked meat in a broth with fat on top.  When you are ready to eat it open the jar and drain the liquid.  I like to slice the meatloaf to make sandwiches.

Canning Meat Balls (hot pack)
Make your meatballs (mix meat and seasonings).  Do not add any eggs or fillers.  Bake them in the oven to brown them.  Then place the balls into jars and cover with liquid (I use half strength V8 juice) Process the recommended time/pressure.  The meat balls make a great snack for kids and easy to make meat ball subs, spaghetti, etc.

Canning soup or roast (Hot pack)
Make your soup or roast.  Make sure if you are canning roast that it is cut into small enough pieces to fit into the jar and then come back out easily.  Do not add any pasta to your soup prior to canning.  If you are going to want pasta in your soup then wait and add it after you open the jar.  It is very easy to open the jar heat it to boiling then add a handful of noodles and cook them in the broth.  If you try to can pasta it only gets mushy. 

Canned Gravy: Depending on what you use to thicken your gravy it may thin out and need to be thickened with corn starch after you open the jar.  Corn starch will break down if it is cooked too long so corn starch thickened gravy will also thin back out with processing.

Creature Soup:
Soup has long been a way to cook food for multiple people at a minimum of cost and difficulty.  Soup is a very easy meal to prepare and you do not need frozen or box mixes from the stores to make it (Contrary to popular belief).  The limit to the kinds of soup you make is only limited by your creativity and availability of food stuffs to put in the pot. You can make it with meat or without, with grain, pasta or rice or without, or even with or without vegetables. The art of soup making has literally been around since we discovered fire and started cooking our food.  It really is just a matter of putting various foods into a pot of water and cooking it together.  It can be served hot or cold.  It can be preserved by canning it or freezing it.  It can be cooked on any heat source including a camp fire.  If using an open fire then place the pot over rocks or bricks set over a bed of coals.   Placing it directly over the flame would be too hot.

Remember that in a survival situation Soup has many advantages over canned, store bought ready to eat foods:

  1. It can be made with anything you have on hand, can catch, shoot or forage
  2. It provides liquid at the same time as the meal to decrease dehydration
  3. The salt content of home made soups will be a lot less than that of store bought (excess salt consumption will increase you water requirements)
  4. It provides a nutritionally balanced meal that is filling and warming.
  5. It can be eaten hot or cold
  6. It can be preserved by canning or freezing
  7. It can be kept warm on the back of a wood stove or camp fire for your whole family to eat at will.


  1. You have to cook it
  2. You need heat to cook it


Equipment Needed:
Large soup pot with a lid (Mine holds 5 gallons), the thicker the bottom the better
Long wooden spoon, you want to be able to stir and scrape the bottom when the pot is full
Heat Source
Any kind of meat, vegetables, grain, seasonings


Creature Soup (Recipe)

You will need:
1 large soup pot
1 long wooden spoon
A heat source for cooking (camp fire or wood stove will work just fine)
1 creature killed, cleaned and cut into pieces (any small mammal: rabbit, squirrel, raccoon, or even a piece of a larger creature such as a deer shoulder, etc)
Water to fill your pot
Vegetables (any kind will do) or cat tail shoots cleaned and cut up
Grain (any kind barley, steel cut oats, cracked wheat, rice etc)
Spices (what ever strikes your fancy and is available i.e.: Onions, celery, peppers, salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, thyme, rosemary, etc)
Pasta if you want

Place your creature, seasonings and water into the pot.  Make sure there is enough water to thoroughly cover the creature by several inches.  Cook slowly over a low heat with the lid on.  In order to make a rich broth and have tender meat you will need to simmer it (not boiling) on low for several hours.  Keep adding water as necessary to keep water over your meat by several inches.  Once you notice the meat falling off the bones take it out and set it aside. By now the broth should smell yummy and have a nice rich color to it.  If it is too weak for your taste you can add some bouillon.   Tomatoes make a nice broth also.  Add your grain to the pot at this time. Continue cooking slowly at a simmer.  Stir frequently, as the grain cooks it will have a tendency to stick on the bottom and burn.
When the creature is cooled enough so that you can handle it remove all the meat off the bones, cut it into small pieces, across the grain of the meat and replace the meat into the pot.
Watch the grain.  It will take a couple hours at a simmer to cook the grains until they are soft.  If you are using fresh vegetables, add them when the grain still has a bit of a crunch to it.  If you are using canned vegetables then add them when the grain has cooked to a soft texture and continue to simmer only to heat them up.  Add pasta last as it only requires a few minutes of boiling to cook.
This soup will provide a filling nutritious meal.  Any leftovers may be canned into quart jars for eating at a later time. Always process your jars for the recommended time for the ingredient requiring the longest processing. If you are cooking it on a woodstove the soup pot can be kept on the back corner so as to keep it warm for several hours.  Stir and add water as needed to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pot or drying out.


You can even can Bacon slices, bacon bits, etc.  What you put into jars really is as great as your culinary skills and imagination.  It is a great way to utilize leftovers so that they are not wasted and a great way to add to your food stores without spending a lot of money on store bought canned meat.  Just remember to always process the safe time and pressure for your altitude for the ingredient that requires the longest processing.  Also remember that spices tend to get stronger after canning.  So if you think there is a little too much oregano in your meat balls you need to add more meat before you process or your meat balls will really have too much oregano when you are done.

Problems with canning:

Then there are the problems that will arise while you are canning.  You know it is always easier said than done.  Trouble shooting a canner can be frustrating if you have no idea what is wrong and there may be no one you can ask.  The first thing you need to do is to get familiar with the various parts of your specific canner.  Generally most canners have parts that are similar.  You have the pot and the lid.  The pot is just that the pot.  It has locking lugs that align with the lid in order to lock down the lid and keep it from blowing off during processing.  The lid however has many parts:  The lid, the handles, the stem, the weight, possibly a gasket, possibly a gauge, a high pressure relief, a locking mechanism, possibly wing nut clamps.

Here are some problems you may encounter and possible causes and solutions:


Problem:  The lid will not fit on right
            Possible cause and solution

  1. The locking lugs are not properly lined up
    1. Place the lid on top of the canner with the lid handles a little off set from the pot handles.  Line up the lugs by sliding it back and forth until the lugs fit together and the lid slides down.  Then turn the lid until the handles on the pot and the lid line up.
    2. If your lid doesn’t not want to slide easily once it has seated on the lugs then coat the gasket with a small amount of vegetable oil to help the gasket to slide on the pot.

Problem: Canner will not reach correct pressure.
Turn off your burner and Slide the canner to a cool spot to cool down before trouble shooting the problem.

Possible cause and solutions:

  1. Gasket not sealing
    1. Soak gasket in hot water for 15 minutes
    2. if gasket seems loose on the lid then you can stretch the gasket by working your way around with both hands pulling on it
    3. try a coating of vegetable oil
    4. Replace gasket
  2. not enough heat
    1. Increase heat
  3. If you have a canner with wing nut type clamps then it is possible one of your clamps is not tight.


Problem: Old faithful erupting on stove. 
Steam is pouring out from under the lid.  Slide the canner to a cool spot to cool down before trouble shooting the problem.


            Possible causes and solutions

  1. Lid locking mechanism did not lock
    1. Try Jiggling the lid to get the mechanism to lock.  Some canners are very picky about the lid placement and this mechanism.
  2. Food is hung in the lid lock mechanism
    1. Make sure your lid and jars are clean before processing.
    2. Check the gasket, under the gasket and the lid lock mechanism for pieces of food.
  3. Gasket not sealing
    1. Soak gasket in hot water for 15 minutes
    2. if gasket seems loose on the lid then you can stretch the gasket by working your way around with both hands pulling on it
    3. try a coating of vegetable oil
    4. Replace gasket if it is dry, hard, cracked or torn.
  4. If you have a canner with wing nut type clamps then it is possible one of your clamps is not tight.


Problem: The high pressure valve just popped
(Hurry and throw a damp rag on top of the valve so that you do not lose your jars, do not get your hand in the way of the steam it will burn you).  Slide the canner to a cool spot to cool down before trouble shooting the problem.

Possible causes and solutions

  1. Stem is clogged
    1. Always make sure your pot and lid is clean before you use it and make sure your jars are clean when you put them in.

Problem: The pressure regulator quit jiggling and is now just blowing a steady stream of steam
            Possible cause and solution

  1. Too much pressure in pot
    1. Turn down your fire a bit, this will take trial and error to get just the right amount of heat

Problem: The pressure regulator quit jiggling and is not blowing steam out
            Possible cause and solution

  1. not enough pressure in the pot
    1. Turn up your fire a bit, this will take trial and error to get just the right amount of heat


Problem:  You just bought a new gasket for your Mirro Canner and now it won’t seal or the gasket only lasts a few times of running the canner before it fails again.
            Possible cause and solution

  1. Turn your pot over and look at the manufacturing date.  It will generally be stamped on the bottom of the pot somewhere. The Mirro 22qt made before 1983 requires a different gasket than is sold at the hardware store now.  You probably have the wrong gasket.  There are several sites on the internet that sells the older replacements.  You can call the manufacturer to make sure of what part you need.  Gaskets that are used regularly should last 3-5 years.  Usually what causes them to fail is not using them and they dry out.


Problem:  Lids not sealing
            Possible causes and solutions

  1. Rims not clean when lids are placed on
    1. Wipe the rims with a clean damp cloth before placing your hot lids on them
  2. Pressure being dropped too fast
    1. Never drop the pressure artificially.  Allow the pot to cool on its own.  By dropping the pressure it causes negative pressure in your pot and will pull the jar contents out into the pot from under the lids.
  3. Using used metal lids
    1. Never reuse a metal lid.  The only lids suitable for repeated use are Tattler lids with gaskets.
  4. Not enough headspace
    1. Leave about ¾’s of an inch between the top of your food and the top of your jar.  The jars will boil in the canner and if you do not have enough empty space in the jar then the contents will be pushed out of the jar causing grease and food to get under the lid.
  5. Rings not tight on metal lids
    1. Tighten rings over metal lids prior to processing
  6. Rings too tight on tattler lids before processing or not tightened down after processing.
    1. Tighten and then back off the rings over a Tattler lid ¼ inch then tighten the rings after the jars are processed and removed from the canner.  Use an oven mitt the jars are HOT!!!

Remember: if at any time you lose the pressure in your pot you have to start re-timing the food from the time you rebuild pressure!!

Remember: Always let the canner vent steam for at least 10 minutes before placing the weight on the stem.  This allows the air to evacuate the pot and makes sure the stem is clear.

Remember:  Always make sure your canner is clean and the jars are clean before canning or you can clog your stem.  Inspect it before each use.

Remember:  Always make sure you have enough water in the pot to run the entire processing time.  If you let a canner run dry you will warp the pot and break your jars.

Remember:  NEVER drop the pressure purposely by removing the weight or running cold water over the pot.  Always allow the pot to cool naturally by only sliding it to the cool side of your stove or counter.  Failure to do this can cause steam/burn injuries, broken jars and seal failure.

Remember: Any time there is a problem with your canner gently and carefully slide it to a cool place and then leave it alone until the pressure has subsided.  If too much pressure builds it will make a howling sound from the steam escaping the escape valve or from under the lid.  The escaping steam will burn you!!!

I grew up in the low desert areas of Arizona:  Douglas, Wilcox, and Mesa.   Later, living near Flagstaff, I began keeping Aloe Vera (Aloe barbadensis) in my kitchen.  In the low desert, Aloe grows in medians and desert yards; almost weed - like.  It is a succulent so it does not need much water.  Most of its moisture comes from any available humidity.  It has a cactus look without thorns, and is a welcome green in a harsh country.  A bonus is the beautiful tiny orange-yellow lily flower that fits with the easy lifestyle of a desert landscape.   Pictures and further descriptions on the internet will help you identify this plant.  If you live in a warm climate you may even have it growing close by.

I do not remember when I first knew about the positive benefits of this plant.  It seems my family used it forever.  I know this is not true, but that is how I think of it.  Treating burns and wounds using aloe has been known for centuries.  Those who are concerned about future preparedness  and ”what if “ scenarios may gain some peace of mind if they have  at least one of the Aloe vera plants growing in a pot in their kitchens.  An offshoot makes an attractive Christmas gift for friends.
Aloe has a long positive history, also some controversy, some skeptics, and many true believers in its effectiveness.  A couple of my personal experiences put me into the true believer category:

1.    When my daughter was three and her big brothers were making model airplanes, the laws against using glue that contained oil of mustard had not been passed.  If a kid built model airplanes, that is what hobby shops sold at the time.  The boys knew to be careful with it, but baby sister Mary, didn’t want to be left out of the fun.  Unknown to her brothers, she grabbed the tube of glue and started playing.  Shortly after, she was screaming.  She had a bright red burn from the glue on her leg.  I grabbed a leaf of my Aloe plant, split it to get at the gel, and swabbed it on the burn area.  Next, I put her in the car and headed for the local hospital emergency room.  Mary screamed all the way.

I entered the emergency room with the crying child and she was rushed right in for treatment.  I was standing next to the doctor in charge and stated that I had just treated her leg with an Aloe vera plant.  He turned to me in anger and said, “You did what?”  I was made to feel that I had hurt my baby girl and must be a witch of some kind.  Then, still angry, the doctor asked me to spell it so his nurse could look up the plant.  I assumed this was to see what kind of poison, if any, I had put on my child.  I spelled it and then just stood by in silence.
 The nurse was busy going through her book and the doctor still had a stern look on his face as he waited.  No one noticed (except me) that Mary was no longer crying, and she was busy looking around and playing   under the table.  I breathed a sigh of relief.   The Aloe vera worked!
Finally the doctor and nurse noticed the same thing...the silence of a once screaming child.  The doctor checked the leg and gave her some minor care.   His countenance changed now, he casually stepped toward me to say, “Where can I get one of those plants?”  By this time I was the angry person.  He never apologized and he was rude and arrogant to me earlier.  Normally I give a person one of the aloe offshoots I generally have growing attached to the base of my Aloe vera plants, but in my anger I simply answered, “In a nursery.”  Aloe plants are easily obtainable in plant nurseries across the country so I forgave myself for my own just anger.  Mary healed with no scaring.

2. I use a pressure cooker.   One time I was impatient and wanted to open the cooker before it was completely free of steam.  When I opened the lid, the hot steam hit me and I felt it burn my entire inner arm.  I grabbed some aloe leaves, put a few in the refrigerator, and used the gel of another to spread over my arm.  I knew the effects would not be immediate, but also knew that the gel in the leaves in the refrigerator would be icy cold in seconds.   After the application of the first leaf,   I took another leaf from the refrigerator, sliced it, and applied more gel.  Now   the icy Aloe vera gel had burn stopping power, and the comfort of ice.    After several applications of the icy gel, the pain subsided.  With continued icy cold aloe treatment, my burn healed with no scaring.
Over the years I found that although not an instant cure for burns, it does work, but it usually takes about twenty minutes for pain to cease or at least become bearable.  Getting to an emergency room and obtaining “instant” treatment probably takes longer than that even if you live near a hospital.  I think the time saving application of aloe, plus a trip to the hospital is the best way to handle a burn.
Typing the words “Aloe vera plant” into web browsers will supply all sorts of information. One article I saw gave some details of its characteristics.    According to an article published by the University of Maryland Medical Center,  “Aloe vera gel is comprised of 99 percent water, and 1 per cent glycoproteins and polysaccharides”  Aloe's glycoproteins reduce pain and inflammation, while its polysaccharides stimulate skin growth and repair.   The article also mentions that for these reasons, “aloe can be effectively used to treat pain, itching and swelling caused by burns, insect bites or allergic skin reactions. It can also help small wounds and burns heal faster, and it can soothe and moisturize dry, irritated skin”.

I use aloe on chapped hands and lips, rough soles of my feet, sunburn and any minor burn, scratch, or rash.  A friend of mine uses aloe as her only face moisturizer.  Her face is beautiful and youthful looking.  Modern day beauty product manufacturers create all types of beauty products using Aloe vera as the prime ingredient.    Even Cleopatra knew about using it as a beauty treatment.  
Aloe is spoken of as a medicine perhaps as early as 4000 BC, when drawings of it were found on temple walls in the tombs of the Pharaohs.  The   Egyptians called it the "Plant of Immortality" suggesting that it might have been used in the embalming process. 
Greeks carried aloe plants into battle for wound treatment.  Alexander the Great knew about the power of aloe in healing wounds and sent an army to gather plants that were growing on an island so his enemies could not get them.  Aloe is one of the most frequently prescribed medicines in old herbal books which mention aloe’s use for a variety of ailments. 
 I like to have a small bottle of straight Aloe vera gel in my travel bag   to use on insect bites or scratches.  Having the “traveling aloe bottle” is like having a bottle of inexpensive soap along.   The gel has a soapy substance called saponin in it that is capable of cleansing, and, saponins have antiseptic and antibacterial properties   as well.     I cannot imagine a better product for a first aid kit.
Aloe is mentioned in the Bible including the following:
John 19: 39-40   Nicodemus (the man who had first come to Jesus at night) likewise came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes which weighed about a hundred pounds. They took Jesus’ body, and in accordance with Jewish burial custom bound it up in wrappings of cloth with perfumed oils.
Psalms 45:8-9:  You love justice and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your fellow kings.  With myrrh and aloes and cassia your robes are fragrant; from ivory palaces string music brings you joy.
Proverbs 7:17:  I have sprinkled my bed with myrrh, with aloes, and with cinnamon.
One of the best things about Aloe vera is the ease in which it grows and the fact that it thrives in benign neglect.  In warm places it will grow outside.   Even then it is still a good idea to have a pot full inside.  Direct sunlight fades the plant but it is still good to use.
Inside, the plant thrives in a coarse potting mix similar to one for cactus.  Aloe is not a cactus,    it is a member of the lily family but the cactus mix drains readily.  About the only thing that kills an Aloe plant is over-watering.  Add some Perlite or something to lighten up the mix if using a regular potting mix.    Use a shallow but wide container because the plant is not deep rooted and it also produces offsets at the base which can be easily removed and repotted. 
I have only touched on some of the benefits of Aloe.  As with all survival skills, the plant can be researched, and knowledge can be gained about its use.  I have an Aloe vera plant growing in my kitchen and I always will.    I am in my “golden years” now, and think   people concerned about the future will do the same once they know about the benefits of this plant.   Do your homework, and then get an Aloe vera plant for your kitchen.

CPT Rawles:
I have had the privilege to wear all three of the Army uniforms mentioned in this article. Here are a few notes on durability:I wore BDU's in Basic, AIT, and a rotation at NTC (National Training Center). Nothing beats this uniform. They took a beating and always looked sharp. If you happen to get a tear in your uniform, any dull color patch or thread will hardly be noticed in the overall pattern. This uniform utilizes buttons exclusively, which is durable, convenient, and easy to fix with a needle and thread. BDUs come in two different styles, Winter and Summer. Obviously, Summer BDU's are much lighter and thinner than Winters. Winters are hardy and extremely hard to damage.

I spent 15 months in Iraq wearing ACUs. While the material itself is up to the challenge of every day use, the colors fade extremely fast. The colors themselves didn't actually conceal us very well either. We just looked like white dots on a tan background. The jacket uses a zipper which gave only minimal problems; however, the velcro that was used on all the pockets was a disaster. After a month of use, the pockets would not reseal. Plus, if you ever needed something in your pocket, nothing gives away your position like a nice big "riiiip." 

In Afghanistan, I used the new Multicam. The colors are terrific for concealment and do not fade very much at all. The trouser cargo pockets returned to button fasteners and some clothing engineer finally fixed the velcro problem for the breast pockets. They are still noisy, but you should have body armor on during a tactical situation so the breast pockets shouldn't be an issue. The biggest problem with this style is the fabric durability. Every single set I own has a belt loop missing and numerous other tears. I was issued a new style of adhesive patch, but they never stayed and I ended up replacing them every couple weeks.
If you do not plan on using the uniform daily, I recommend the Multicam for it's color and general ease of use. If you are looking for a day in and day out uniform, there is nothing better than a good old set of BDUs.
Hope this helps. - Mark P.

This article pointed out a lot of good options, but some statements were not quite correct. The older BDU woodland pattern was continued with some elements of the military up until this year. The Navy NECC/NCF is in the process of switching over to a new digital woodland pattern now, so expect an influx of surplus BDUs on the market relatively soon.

Most of the grunts and Seabees I work with will agree, the older all leather non steel toe combat boots set the bar for top notch service. I have the same set I've had for 12 years now, and they are still going strong after a couple hundred long distance marches, and even a tour in the desert when my desert jungle boots gave up the ghost. For a long-lasting boot try and find a set, and break them in, better than running shoes.

ALICE gear is still used by most of the NECC (Naval Expeditionary Combat Command) units as well. Its older, but the old school ALICE pack with the frame holds up to long term use better than the MOLLE I had when I was in the Corps. Combine a MOLLE LBV with an extra large ALICE ruck with frame and you’ll have a combination that will last for years of hard use.

Regarding helmets: Although the standard PASGT does impede your field of view in the prone, adding an improved suspension system helps greatly preventing the helmet from falling down over your eyes, not to mention it improves the comfort over extended wear periods. Thanks for posting Andrew A,'s great article! - M.K., USN

F.G. sent this link, that bears repeating: The U.S. Debt Visualized

Don't Get Audited! The IRS's Dirty Dozen Red Flags (Kiplinger)

RBS flagged this: Lawmaker targets coinage costs with bills backing steel. [JWR's Comment: It is interesting how the congresscritters are trying to make debasing our coins look patriotic.]

$140 Silver, Figures Don’t Lie

Items from The Economatrix:

The Art Of Extortion Now At The IMF

You Won't Believe Who Owes U.S. Billions

Fed Is Running Out Of Tools To Boost Economic Growth

The inevitable end result of several years of drought in Texas and high feed prices, nationwide: National Cattle Herd Drops to 1958 Low

   o o o

Troy H. sent a link to a fascinating TED Talks series lecture on Thorium salts power reactors.

   o o o

Vic at Safecastle mentioned that they've launched a new 7-month "Foodbundle" variant, for about $1,800.

   o o o

Reader Lee M. suggested this: How to get alerts of an emergency

"Kriget är icke en ström eller en sjö utan ett hav med allt ont." Loosely translated: "War is not a river, or a lake, but an ocean of all that is evil." - Gustavus Adolphus

Monday, January 30, 2012

Today we present another two entries for Round 39 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 Safecastle.com (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 FloJak.com. 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 39 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.

[Editor's Note: A short draft edition of this article was previously posted in a discussion forum].

I am a very new prepper, but feel that I am making some decent advances in my prepping goals. Although my preps may be much smaller then most, I still think I am doing better then most of the general population, and have budgeted for weekly and monthly improvements to my preps.

While reading this and other survival based blogs and forums (not so much here, but other places get real out of hand), I've noticed that the conversation or topic tends to lean towards guns, ammo, tactical gear etc. Now granted, these are important topics, but there are other equally important topics. I personally have what I consider to be a good stock of firearms, ammo and parts, but my opinion is, they are just tools. My weapons are a tool to protect and feed my family. I would like to discuss another survival tool, a garden tractor.

When I say garden tractor, most people may be thinking of the 4-wheel drive Kubota/John Deere/Cub Cadet with a diesel, 3 point hitch and bucket loader that you see new at your county fair for approximately $15,000 new. Those machines are actually more referred to as compact utility tractors, and not garden tractors. If you have the means to make that type of purchase, then I say go for it. I'm your average blue collar middle class guy with a wife and two young sons (4 and 6), to say that $15,000 is out of my price range is the understatement of the year! Also, keep in mind that the new tractors on the market, even down to that size, can be as high tech as new automobiles with their computer modules and electronics. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't be able to repair a power-train control module in my yard today, let alone during a TEOTWAWKI situation.

I'll start with, I am partial to John Deere, but you can choose your flavor if you decide to look into do this as well. The key item to look for, no matter who the manufacturer, is that it have some type of hydraulics. It can be a hydrostatic transmission, or a hydraulic lift for the mower deck. You can add a hydraulic system to any garden tractor (anything with an engine to run the pump actually), but that is well outside of my knowledge and the scope of this information. If you do add a hydro system to your machine, from there you can work along with the following. The key is that it be equipped with a hydraulic pump, once you have that, let the modifications begin.

This all started when I needed a new lawn mower, and there was no way I was going to the big box stores and spending $3,000 on a pile of plastic that wouldn't last. I knew I wanted a machine to mow the lawn, plow/disc/cultivate a garden, grade the driveway and run a snow blower or snow blade in bad weather. I started my search and landed on a 1976 John Deere Model 312. Some people look at this as a collectible tractor since they wee only built for two years, so if you're a John Deere purist, you may want to stop reading here. As I appreciate what the machine is, again, in my opinion it is a tool to perform a job.

The 312 was offered as an entry level tractor for a couple years, but I found that tractors, like cars, are easily up-gradable when pulling parts from a similar series/model. In it's stock form, it has a single circuit hydraulic system that raises the deck, a 12HP Kohler that is virtually bullet proof and still uses points and condenser no electronic ignition, has a hydrostatic transmission and weighs just shy of 1,000 lbs without any attachments or driver. When you go to the big box stores, you see them advertise 20 hp and up engines, but I think they are using the “new” math. This is 12HP but somewhere in the range of 27 ft lbs of torque. This is a stout machine!

From there, it's time to start working. For your rear ground engaging attachments, there is no need for a 3 point hitch on this size tractor. Almost every garden tractor manufacturer has offered a sleeve hitch as an option, or you can built your own. In it's simplest form, it's boxed tubing that is hinged onto the back of your tractor that can be raised or lowered manually or with some mechanical power. Mine is hydraulic, but I have seen electric actuators, electric winches or just handle levers. Here is a link to a piece at Weekend Freedom Machines--a great resource for John Deere owners)- to their PDF blueprints to build your own sleeve hitch for a majority of the older John Deere machines like the one I own.

The attachments you purchase or make have C channel that fits over the box tubing and pinned in place to give a "positive lock" to the tractor, instead of just a pin through a hole that can pivot. Now you can work your implements into the ground.

With mine, I run a 1 bottom moldboard plow, 2 gangs of 10" discs, a cultivator and a small box scraper. If you are unfamiliar with the use of these attachments, the moldboard plow is used to break ground or turn already broken ground. Setting up the plow properly does take some trial and error. If set too deep, it will stop any tractor in it's tracks. Set to shallow and it will want to keep jumping out of the ground. When set up properly, the plow will “curl” the row of soil over onto the previous passes furrow, down between 8-10 inches. The disc harrow is then used to chop the clumps, sod, organic material into a finer, more consistent and workable. One quick tip, when making your garden hills, you don't need a "hiller". After you're done discing the soil, raise up your disc harrow, spine the gangs around backwards and angle at about a 20 degree angle. 2-3 passes in the same direction will result in a 8-to-12 inch hill, depending on your soil. The cultivator is of course for weed duties. I would advise that when you purchase, or build your cultivator, you make it adjustable, so you are able to move the tines so they will straddle your your crops while they are small, then can move back together to keep down the weeds in the paths between your rows. Yes, you did read that correctly, even with this size machine, you can do work straddling your crops while they are young. With my machine, there is 10” of ground clearance, that amount will vary by model. Lastly, the box scraper is normally used by landscapers, I used it mainly to grade out my driveway.. In the garden, I like to use it to move around my compost. At the start of the season, my compost pile will be a 4-6 feet tall mound, right next to my garden site. Instead of spreading by shovel, I will back up to the pile and bite into it with the scraper and drag it out around the garden.

Last year's garden was just about 1/3 acre, will have to see what next year brings. It seems to get larger every year. I have measured out my property, and by using some simple grid paper, I found that I can plant up to just under a 1 acre garden in a survival situation. I do know people that tend 2 acres with this same set up. That size is very time consuming, but way far more efficient then tending that size garden by hand.

As far as implements for the rear, your imagination is your only limit. If you can weld it or bolt it to a piece of c channel, you can shove it in the ground and drag it along. One of my friends was concerned about loosening up the soil deeper them his plow was going. He bought a single 24" tooth from a piece of heavy machinery for $20 and tacked on the C channel bracket. When engaged in the ground, it is 18" under ground ripping the soil up. I have made a very simple type of lift for mine. I have a 6 foot long piece of box steel, that I notched and drilled on one end to properly attach to my sleeve hitch. The other end I drilled and bolted a couple link long section of chain with a hook on it. When attached to the hitch, using the hydraulics to lift the sleeve hitch, I can now lift heavy items with a chain, instead of potentially injuring myself trying to lift something way too heavy. Think of this along the lines of an engine hoist in a mechanics shop (actually where I got the idea from).

Now for the front hydraulics. Since you already have a hydraulic pump, it is easy to run a single circuit to the front. On the hydraulic control valve, where the ports are that go to the existing cylinder (deck raise etc), use 2 T fittings, and run 2 lines to the front, with couplers for attachments. On mine, I decided to go with a second circuit to the front, which was a very simple task. I purchased a 2 circuit valve from a higher model 300 series tractor at a salvage yard for $40, and ran a second set of lines. Now I have the ability to not only raise and lower my plow out front, but also angle side to side. This also gives the option of installing a front bucket loader. Yes, they have bucket loaders for this size machine. I have used them before for garden tractors, but I haven't purchased on yet for mine.

For the most part, the standard front attachments aren't really survival tools (unless the zombies are slow enough to chase them down with my snow blower), so some may ask, why go through the upgrades for the front hydraulics? First, I'm a guy, like playing with plows and snow blowers and tinkering with stuff. Second, and more to the point, think outside the box a little.. I now have 2 hydraulic circuits independent of each other, that can power almost anything. Keep in mind, most people in America will throw out an item that doesn't work absolutely perfect and just "go buy another". I got a log splitter from someone at work that he seized the motor on. There's this stuff called oil that you are supposed to check periodically to see if it's still there. Anyhow, I pulled the motor and control valve off, leaving behind the ram, wedge and stop. I took the fittings out of the ram and the info for the couplers to my new hydraulics to my local NAPA. Asked for 2 hoses, 6 feet long with those ends, 10 minutes later I was out of there. Now, my tractor hydraulics operate my log splitter. Instead of 2 engines and 2 control valves to maintain and have parts for, there is only 1. I find that much easier to plan for.

At a yard sale, I found a generator for sale that wouldn't run. Bought it for $30. Never took the time to find out why it wouldn't run, just separated the generator from the engine, make a quick little mounting plate for the front of the tractor, added a pulley to the generator and lined up with pulley on front of engine. Now an easily portable generator and again, only one engine to worry about. I am currently looking for a larger generator through.

Which brings be to the issue of noise pollution. If left in it's stock form, this is far from quiet, and you would let the whole neighborhood know what's going on in a grid down situation. For my machine, and most garden tractors of this era, they have a cylindrical type muffler. With some tinkering, here is what I've found and the results. You can open the muffler by cutting at the seam and removing one end of the muffler, like opening a can of soup. Once inside, gut it. Mine had some of the matting in place still, but I would say, whatever you find in there, gut it. Now get a roll of high temp fiberglass matting. I used the material that is used for making gaskets in propane fireplaces. Line the cylindrical walls with the matting, I went three layers thick, then cover with a thin steel mesh to keep in place. Tack weld the mesh in a couple of spots just to hold it in place, then reinstall the end that you cut off and weld back in place. It is hard to describe the sound difference in the written word. I'm not going to say that this is as quiet as an electric car or anything like that. But, it is rather amazing how quiet it is. I can be sitting on the tractor with the engine at full throttle and talk on my cell phone. I can hear the person on the phone no problem, and the person I am talking to can barely hear the tractor!

Some other odds and ends to help in multitasking. I have installed 4 off road type flood lights, 2 in the front and 2 in the rear. I can work the ground or whatever else I need to do at night, or light up an area for other types of work.. If you plan to do this, I would suggest doing as I did. Find out what types of light bulbs your automobiles use, then find off road lights for your tractor that use those same bulbs. Remember, your vehicles may be lawn ornaments in a TEOTWAWKI situation, might as well use a couple of their spare parts.

Security, yes, I said security. On most garden tractors, the sheet metal that surrounds the dash board is merely for looks, and serve no structural purpose, so have some fun with it. In the panel directly under the steering wheel, facing the operators seat, I cut a hole and on the back side mounted a 10"x8"x8" metal box that I picked up at a yard sale. That's where my pistol rides (Bernardelli P018). The right side of the machine is where the brake pedal is, so the left side is clear. On the left side of machine, I made a box out of sheet metal on an angle with padding inside, which is bolted to the tractor's sheet metal. That's where my Mossberg Model 500 shotgun rides.

Now for the best part, prices:

1977 John Deere 312 with mower deck - $600
Sleeve Hitch OE John Deere - $80
Moldboard Plow - Free - Look around, lots of people have them and they are just rusting outside
Cultivator - $100
Disc Harrow - $150
Box Scrapper - $125 - Nice for grading driveway, and spreading large amounts of compost in garden.
Used parts for hydraulic conversion - $125
Snow Blower - $250 - This was a right time right place price.
Rear Ag Tires - $175 - you can use turf tires with chains in dirt and snow, but face it, ag tires just look cool! If getting new tires, I found the cheapest ballast was to fill tires with windshield wash fluid. Won't freeze added 48 lbs per tire and I believe it to be the least toxic affordable option if it were to leak into the garden.

I am sure I am forgetting a few items, but as you can see, this is a very versatile tool and simplifies how many power sources you need to maintain and store parts for. Even with whatever it is I am forgetting, I know I have less then $2500, over the course of a couple of years, in the whole set up....and it mows my lawn too!

What is combat gear, and why do you need it? Well, your combat gear is simply your gear that you wear from day to day, in a combat situation, or more aptly for us, a TEOTWAWKI situation. I am a young prepper living in the central Carolinas. I have been collecting military gear, such as uniforms, helmets, vests, and such for over 8 years. Over those 8 years, I’ve seen what the average soldier wears through combat in Iraq and what a Delta operator might wear in Afghanistan. However, please keep in mind that as preppers, most of us have never received the specialized training of a soldier, and 99% of us have never had the training of a Special Forces Operator. That being said, let‘s discuss what an average prepper might need in the way of combat gear.

The uniform is the most basic of items that a prepper can find, and might be one of the most useful. There are several different types of camouflage to choose from. The most ubiquitous form of camo that can be found is the US M81 Woodland type, commonly called Battle Dress Uniform (BDU). This camo was used from 1981 until 2005 when it was dropped by all branches of service, except for auxiliary organizations, like the Civil Air Patrol (http://www.gocivilairpatrol.com/) (check that program out as well, it’s a great resource for knowledge). It seems that everybody and their brother has a pair of the BDU pants. However, they can frequently be found at local thrift shops and occasionally at Goodwill and Salvation Army for under $5 for the pants, and under $3 for the shirts. I personally have picked up all of my BDU items from surplus stores and Goodwill [thrift stores] for under $4 for the pants, and normally $1 for the shirts (large sizes as well). The great thing about the BDU pattern is that the US Military made a lot of their gear in this pattern, so you can have a lot of your gear match in color (this would certainly help in blending in to the environment. If you have two shades of green, some black, and some tan on your gear, you might stick out just a little bit).

In 2005, when the BDU was dropped from service, most of the branches of the Armed Forces went to a pattern designed for their duties. Most of these patterns are pixilated or better known as “Digital Camo”, such as the Army Combat Uniform (ACU) pattern, which is an ugly mix of gray and tan squares. One of the most effective uniform patterns that came out of this switch was the Marine Pattern (MARPAT), which is available in Woodland or Desert types. The woodland stuff blends in really well with the surrounding environment, better than the BDU. However, it costs significantly more, with prices being around $15-$30 for a shirt and the same for a pair of pants. Beware of Chinese-made copies. To differentiate: Genuine MARPAT material has a small Marine Corps Emblem known as the Eagle, Globe and Anchor or EGA and “USMC” stamped below that in very small letters printed on all of the fabric.

There are also many other camo patterns, too numerous to discuss here, but I would like to discuss Multicam. This is a camo pattern that is being introduced to our soldiers in Afghanistan, dubbed the AMU (Army Multicam Uniform). It has a good color to it, and it tends to blend into most environments quite well. It is more expensive than MARPAT, but because it is being mass produced for the military, look for prices on it to drop like a rock in the next five to ten years. The Multicam pattern is being used on rucksacks, vests, helmet covers, etc. just like the BDU and ACU patterns have been.

So, which pattern is best for you? If money were no object, I would get five sets of Multicam. However, most of us don’t have the luxury of a large piggy bank. I have used the BDU pattern in the woods around here (mostly hardwoods like Oak), and in the prone position, as well as the kneeling position, I avoided being spotted until I made my presence known. The BDU however, has four front pockets that are parallel to the ground, while MARPAT and Multicam have two slanted chest pockets, facing inwards, and pockets on each sleeve that are slanted at a 45° angle which help in accessing the items in those pockets. Special Forces operators, finding the digital patterns not suitable to their needs, modified BDU uniforms to the same pocket configurations as the MARPAT and Multicam, removing the bottom pockets, moving them to the sleeves, and slanting the top chest pockets. I have found this to be quite utilitarian, especially when using a vest that covers up your front pocket area. These modifications can be made on a standard sewing machine, or the sewing ladies at the off-base surplus stores (if you live by a military base) can help you with this, at a normally reasonable price.

In my personal opinion, you cannot go wrong with a simple US Military surplus pair of black leather combat boots. There are two types of the BDU black combat boots. One type is all leather, and offers a lot of ankle support. The other type is commonly referred to as the jungle boot, with only a leather shoe, and canvas reinforcement above the ankle. The boots are normally quite a bit more expensive than the uniform itself. Like-new condition ones, in large sizes can go for $30-$60 a pair. But, if you shop around, you can really find bargains. Since the BDU uniform was in use for so long, thrift shops often have used BDU boots in stock. I was able to find my first pair for $2, and although they were quite used and already broken in, I added a $10 pair of insoles and they wear great.

If you don’t want surplus, that’s fine. There are a multitude of commercial boot makers that the soldiers have utilized during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Among the best are Danner, Altima, and Oakley. Most of the commercial boots come in two varieties; low top and high top. Unlike the standard military issue boots, low top boots allow for more movement and agility. Some of the best low tops are the Oakley Assault Boots ($130 range) and the Danner Hiking Boots ($150 range). Most of your commercial high top boots are of poorer quality than surplus (save for the aforementioned brands), and had a zipper on the side of the boot that facilitates putting on the boot and removing the boot. However, this zipper is likely to break and be more of a hindrance than anything. You simply cannot kill lace up boots. Laces break? Tie them back together! Break them again? Then why didn’t you replace the laces with 550-Paracord and be done with it!

Combat Load Bearing Equipment
There are three ways to carry your “battle rattle”; the ALICE system, the MOLLE system, or a vest. The ALICE system was used by the US Military from the 1960s until about ten years ago. It utilizes metal clips which attach to a utility belt. The belt is also held up by suspenders. There are a variety of pouches that were made for the ALICE system- everything from radio pouches, first aid kit pouches, canteen pouches, magazine pouches, etc. It is not hard to find the components to the ALICE system, and at dirt cheap prices. You normally can buy a complete system for under $30. The ALICE system is customizable to a certain degree, and is a good starting point for combat gear. The standard surplus ALICE gear is OD Green. The cheaper commercial stuff (that is not very reliable) comes in black as well as tan. There is also the transitionally-issued Load Bearing Vest (LBV) that was used by the military in the 1990s. It is BDU woodland camouflage colored and has four M16 magazine pouches on the front, as well as two grenade pouches. It has suspenders and tightens by lacing up the sides. You can also attach an ALICE utility belt to the bottom of it.

The MOLLE II system (spoke "MOLLY", not "MOLE-Y" or "MOLE") is the newest system developed for the US Military to carry the standard gear for a soldier. The MOLLE system includes different types of pouches, similar to the ALICE system, but instead of using clips, it utilizes straps that slip through loops on a MOLLE compatible vest, backpack, or Camelback. The MOLLE system is more customizable than the ALICE system, but it is also more expensive. It comes in all of the major camouflage colors of the US Army, as well as tan and black. The most versatile way to carry gear with the MOLLE system is something called the Fighting Load Carrier (FLC). It is a vest that covers the chest fully, and has wrap around MOLLE loops. It closes with a zipper on the front as well as buckles. The FLCs can be found for $15-$30 a piece, and the pouches can cost around $3-$6 each.

Another way to carry your combat gear is through a vest . There are many makers of these vests, and some are MOLLE compatible, while others already have all of the pouches sewn onto the vest. All of the vests that I have ever seen have the option of attaching a utility belt below the vest. Also, vests adjust in size around the sides, and it laces up. Normally, one size fits all. Some of the most popular makers of these vests include Blackhawk, 5.11 Tactical, UTG, and Condor Tactical. From what I have heard from soldiers, seen in the surplus stores, and my own personal experience, the Blackhawk brand is very durable, and can take a significant beating. There are way too many layouts of vests to be discussed thoroughly here, but I personally use the Blackhawk Omega Elite Cross Draw vest, which allows me to carry 3 magazines for my battle rifle, 4 magazines for my pistol (not including one in the pistol itself), as well as a small FAK (First Aid Kit), my Ka-Bar knife, some 550 paracord, a strap cutter, and a multi tool. Not to mention I can always attach more pouches to the belt if the need arises.

Body Armor and Helmets
We always see “Bullet-Proof” vests and helmets in the movies. Sadly, this is not an accurate term. While some helmets and body armor are designed to stop bullets, others are not, and it’s important to know the difference. The US Military first started issuing Flak Jackets to the B-17 Pilots flying over Germany. The first body armor for the soldier on the ground came during the Vietnam conflict. However, the first Kevlar body armor came into existence in the mid-1970’s, and is called the Personnel Armor System for Ground Troop (PASGT). There were vests that were issued in the BDU Woodland pattern, and they came in various sizes. However, these vests were designed to stop grenade shrapnel, not bullets. They do, however, offer protection against some small caliber rounds.
There are also PASGT helmets (mostly called Kevlar helmets) that are relatively cheap on the surplus market, for under $50. These helmets are normally green or black and you can buy BDU, ACU, or MARPAT covers for them. The updated version of the PASGT helmet, known as the ACH (Army Combat Helmet) offers more ballistic protection to soldiers. However, please be aware that with helmets, you lose a lot of mobility. It’s difficult to have a full range of vision with a PASGT helmet on in the prone position.

Commercial body armor is a hot business. There are different levels of protection, and those are a separate article by themselves. However, a good rule of thumb is to remember that “soft armor” (Kevlar) is rated to a 9MM pistol round, and “hard armor” (Ceramic plates inserted into body armor) will stop up to a 7.62x39. A higher level of protection can be offered by wrapping ceramic plates with soft Kevlar armor. Most of the personal body armor that Law Enforcement wears is soft armor, and Military uses the Ceramic plates. The plates and the soft armor can be inserted into a piece of equipment known as a plate carrier, which, true to its name, holds the plates for you. If you are looking for a good concealable armor, Safariland makes some interesting products that, when worn cannot be seen under a t-shirt. Kevlar fiber does deteriorate over time (depending upon who you ask, of course), and ought to be replaced every 5-7 years. The military body armor system, called the Interceptor Body Armor (IBA), is a plate carrier system that works with either soft or hard armor, and has MOLLE loops to allow for your combat load. It comes in BDU, ACU, Tan, and will soon be available in Multicam. They are, however, expensive (especially with the ceramic plates!).

Where to Get Your Battle Rattle
When you are in the market for buying personal combat gear, I do not advise buying online. The online marketplace generally has the same prices on the same items everywhere on the net. However, you can find real bargains if you are willing to look for them. First, I would advise looking online to see what you like, who makes it, and what the general price tag is on it. Then, go to your local flea market, and look around for the surplus dealers. Or, if you can afford it, drive down to your nearest Army or Marine base and look through the surplus stores, and get to the local off-base flea market early. Flea Markets are Surplus stores are the best when it comes to gear, and sometimes uniforms. However, I recommend buying pants from your thrift stores because they have lower prices on camouflage pants than your local surplus dealer. If your surplus dealer does not have what you are looking for, get to know him, and let him know what you are on the lookout for. It helps to bring printed pictures of exactly what you want. Often times they have duffel bags of stuff they aren’t putting out, and they might just have what you want. Don’t be afraid to haggle. Also, don’t be scared of used items. Most of the time, they are gently used an therefore priced much lower than new items.

[JWR Adds: There is also a subtle psychology to the sight well-worn looking web gear. The sight of brand new looking web gear screams "newbie" or "armchair commando". But seeing old, well-worn web gear imparts the "wizened veteran" look, and usually respect and "don't mess with him" restraint. Older gear also looses the sheen that is typical of new nylon, so it is less reflective.]

Get the dealer’s name and phone number (or a business card) and call him and ask him if he has a certain item, or if he will be getting any new items soon. Most dealers make trips to their sources every so often, and they have the best stuff right after they get back from buying it.

- Most recent US Military magazine pouches are designed to fit the M16/M4 5.56 NATO 30 Round Magazine. If you are looking for something to fit an AK or FAL magazine, then bring a magazine with you when you shop to insert into the pouch and make sure it fits. I have found radio pouches will work well with AK magazines.
- If you buy the ALICE system, invest in extra clips. They often cost about a dollar a piece, and are well worth it when they break
- Larger ALICE pouches fit on the back of the belt, and the pouches often have holes where the suspenders hooks will fit into the pouch.
- MOLLE webbing is ideal for the placement of walkie-talkies and chem-lights (glow sticks)

[JWR Adds: Pouches for odd-shaped magazines such as Saiga 12 shotgun drum magazines, XS drum magazines, and FN P-90 are available from TheVestGuy.com. They can make nearly all of their gear in MultiCam, on request.]

Now that we have learned exactly what is available, at the lowest cost possible (because being frugal is part of the preparedness concept), get going! Try on different gear. Find out what is best for you. Research what soldiers are currently wearing, and look up pictures of special forces soldiers, because they normally carry the lightest gear possible, which is ideal for bugging out. Find something you like, except for the color? Then spray paint it! Soldiers have been doing that for twenty years now, and it doesn’t hurt. So, I hope this article has helped point you in the direction of what you may one day need to save your life! Hey, who knows? Maybe you’ll turn that Bug Out Bag into a Bug Out Vest.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), is a poorly understood grouping of two separate diseases:  Ulcerative Colitis (UC) and Crohn’s Disease (CD).  Unlike other bowel diseases, both of these conditions have characteristics both in their presentation and pathology that make diagnosis fairly routine.  Both will be reviewed here with recommendations for ongoing management and treatment options in a post-collapse environment.
Ulcerative Colitis patients have recurrent episodes of inflammation of the mucosal layer of the colon.  There are different subtypes of UC based on the location of the inflammation.  Ulcerative Proctitis affects the rectum, or lowest portion of the colon.  If the inflammation is slightly more extensive, the terms Left-sided Colitis, Distal Colitis, or Proctosigmoiditis are often used to describe the disease.  Extensive Colitis involves nearly the entire colon but does not involve the cecum (closest to the small bowel junction) and Pancolitis involves the colon and the cecum.  Each subtype of UC is then characterized as mild, moderate or severe.  Mild disease is usually just the distal colon, with mild pain and sometimes bleeding, and four or fewer stools each day.  Moderate disease may involve more of the colon but it is not Pancolitis, and stools up to 10 daily.  Bleeding can be more severe and even cause anemia, but not transfusions.  Nutrition in both mild and moderate disease is normal.  In severe disease the bleeding can cause anemia which requires transfusions; along with severe abdominal pain, weight loss, malnutrition, low grade fevers, and can even lead to a deadly condition called toxic megacolon.

Treatment for mild and moderate disease is, of course, less involved and less intensive than the treatment for severe disease.  20% of those with Distal Colitis will have complete remission, and the later a patient has onset of their disease, the better their chances at longer and more complete remissions.  Mild and moderate late-onset disease responds better to courses of steroids too.  Often, medications like Azathioprine (Imuran) and salicylates like Sulfasalazine (Azulfidine) will help control symptoms and maintain remission.  Sometimes, more potent chemotherapy drugs are used to control moderate and severe disease, but these will be unavailable WTSHTF.  Steroid courses often help control specific exacerbations of UC, but long-term steroids have significant side effects and other medications like those mentioned above are often used for chronic suppression rather than steroids.

Crohn’s disease is the other IBD of the two.  Crohn’s Disease is usually disease of the small bowel, with only 20% having colon involvement only and the other 80% being small bowel alone or with some colon involvement.  CD is more variable in its presentation than is UC:  fatigue, long-term diarrhea, abdominal cramps, weight loss, low-grade fever, and bleeding are often ongoing and occur for months to years before diagnosis.  The hallmark sign of CD compared to UC is “skipping” or “cobblestoning” on scoping.  Crohn’s Disease has abnormal and normal mucosa right next to each other in patches, whereas Ulcerative Colitis is diffuse.  Otherwise, the two can often be very difficult to tell apart.  CD often causes small ulcerations that can lead to scarring and fistulas, sinus tracts and sometimes perianal skin tags.

Treatment choices for Crohn’s Disease include some of the same medications used to treat UC like salicylates like Sulfasalazine (Azulfidine), steroids and immunomodulators like Azathioprine (Imuran); but also antibiotics, non-systemic steroids like Budesonide (Entocort), and biologic therapies like Infliximab (Remicade) and Adalimumab (Humira).  Why some of these medications work better for CD than they do for UC will likely remain a mystery for many years, if not decades.  But, the fact remains that most of these medications will be unavailable WTSHTF and even now are ridiculously expensive and realistically not within the budget of most of us to even think of stockpiling.

Obviously, the diagnosis of these conditions is not going to be made in TEOTWAWKI.  If you already have or suspect that you may have Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn’s Disease, get your diagnosis and subtype confirmed now and do all you can to control your disease with the grid in place.  Learn about diet theories that help colon health, of which there are many.  Try these diets now and see if they work for you.  Then stick with them and plan your prepping foods accordingly.  If medication is needed to control your condition, you need to have it on hand.  If you currently are on one of the horribly expensive IV medications that controls your symptoms well, think about talking with your doctor about trying cheaper medications so that you can test the control and dosing to prepare for the worst-case scenarios. 

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

Dale in Tennessee's Bean Stretcher

A favorite of mine as tested among our group and deemed worthy after being served at a church pot luck. I came up with this after pondering a few days on how to mix some of the random stored food we keep on hand in our pantry. We have enjoyed the various canned Bush's Grillin Beans for the robust flavor and stock them by the case on our shelves but I wanted a way to make a meal out of them instead of having just a side dish.

Solution: Black bean fiesta grillin beans as a flavor base for a chili type meal. I add in chunks of beef for the current civilized version, but any meat ends up savory by the time the meal is ready. Your stored rice still supplies a nice bulk to fill everyone up, while the random meat and a couple cans of beans provides quick and easy taste.

Serves 3-4 adults:

2 cans of black bean fiesta grillin beans stewed slowly while you brown approximately 1-to-1.5 lbs. of meat. Beef cubes, two squirrels, one rabbit, half a chicken, or a pile of crawdads from the creek. Add the cooked meat to the beans. Mix in 2 cups of cooked rice. Serve in a bowl with cornbread on the side.

To stretch your supplies of canned food you can boil up some normal beans from your dried stock of black or pinto beans and mix it in. Stretch things further by serving over a large pile of rice just to give some flavor and variety for day 243 of "ohboyriceagain". If you have some onions, potatoes, or other soup staples you can use them to expand the meal into a sort of gumbo (add a bit of water to keep things from caking together).

While the supermarket is still up and running try this version out the next time your group gets together for a training or retreat construction day:

2 cans of grilling beans
1 lb. beef cubes
6 chicken tenderloins cut into chunks
1/2 lb. jumbo shrimp

Chef's Notes:

Just fry up the meat and drop it into the simmering beans. Serve in bowls then add in sharp cheddar cheese cubes on top. Fried pies on the side. Do not expect to get much work out of your team after such a meal.

Useful Recipe and Cooking Links:

Reader Chris H. recommend Cooking Wild magazine, a publication dedicated to wild game recipes.

Marie K. found the Cookit! web site, that offers a "History Cookbook" which is categorized by time periods (such as Prehistoric, Romano-British, Saxons & Vikings, etc.) Within each time period, videos of individuals costumed for the era demonstrate how different recipes were prepared. They show how to make Girdle Bread over the fire (Medieval recipe) or Beancakes (Saxon/Viking recipe) or Roman Lentil Casserole also known as Pottage (a Romano-British recipe).


Do you have a favorite recipe that you have tested extensively ? Then please e-mail it to us for posting. Thanks!

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I have found storing food in 2-Litre soda bottles (an idea I first read about on SurvivalBlog) a convenient and cost effective element of my long-term food storage plan. I have used both oxygen absorbers and dry-ice in the bottles and have found if packed properly the oxygen absorbers create a vacuum pack, shrinking the bottle down around the food; and using dry-ice, if a bit is left in the bottle before sealing, creates positive pressure, the condition the bottle is designed for.  Assuming that the dry-ice method is used properly and there is no risk of creating sufficient pressure for a “2-Litre bomb”, do you or the SurvivalBlog readers have an opinion on positive pressure or vacuum conditions for 2-Litre bottle food storage?
Thanks, - Sean B.

The latest from Willem Weytjens: Silver: Epic Reversal. I'm not a chartist believer, but this is captivating.

Items from The Economatrix:

Are Soros, IMF, & World Bank Trying To Scare The Living Daylights Out Of Us?

Fed Says Benchmark Rate To Stay Low Until 2014. [JWR's Comment: Higher interest rates would torpedo the ability to service the U.S. National Debt. Bernanke has his hands tied. And they will stay tied until the international community changes interest rates for him.]

Housing Data Points To Slowdown In Sales

Crude Price Rises On Iran Threat To Stop Oil Sales

Bernanke Says Fed Pondering Further Stimulus. [JWR's Comment: Pondering? That is like saying that a Crackhead is "pondering" getting his next fix.]

I just heard that Kent Lomont passed away on Saturday, after a long battle with bone cancer. This is a great loss to the shooting community. Kent was very well known in the Class 3 world. I can remember being inspired by Kent's many articles about the AutoMag pistol, back in the early 1980s. Kent spent many of his youthful summers shooting and handloading with Elmer Keith at his ranch near Salmon, Idaho. It has been noted: "In the seventh grade, when most adolescents acquired and traded baseball cards, Kent obtained an exclusive franchise to manufacture Harvey Jugular jacketed handgun bullets - the very first jacketed handgun bullets." Kent was a honcho in the legendary Club de Auto Mag Internationale along with Lee Jurras, J.D. Jones (of SSK Industries and "JDJ" fame), and George Nonte. Not surprisingly, Kent was the inspiration for a fictional character in the novel Unintended Consequences by John Ross. I only had the privilege of meeting Kent once, a few years ago at a SAR West show. He was quite a guy and he will be missed by many.

   o o o

An amazing example of leapfrogging technology: iPhone 4,4S AN/PVS-14 Night Vision Adapter. Can you imagine being able to stream night vision imagery from your observation post back to your house, or even to the local police department, if you see intruders on your property? Readymade Resources is now stocking them. These adapters sell for $209, with free shipping. They currently work with AN/PVS-14, AN/PVS-7, AN/PVS-15, AN/PVS-18, FLIR M24 and M18 night vision scopes. They have a one year warranty. Note that they are ITAR restricted from export.

   o o o

Meet the middle-aged, middle-class woman who traps, butchers and eats squirrels in her Seattle backyard. [JWR's Comment: Following this news, I predict that the Nanny City of Seattle will soon ban harvesting squirrels.]

   o o o

Troy H. sent this news story from NPR: Law-Abiding Mexicans Taking Up Illegal Guns (And Want Them Legalized)

   o o o

Roman suggested a piece at No Tech Magazine on non-refrigerated storage of fruits and vegetables.

"I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend."  - J.R.R. Tolkien

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Today we present another two entries for Round 39 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 Safecastle.com (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 FloJak.com. 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 39 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 have been an avid gardener for many years, and most if what I have learned of has been through trial and error. Luckily, most of my errors have been corrected and when those errors did occur, it wasn’t a matter of eat or starve. I now know what plants will grow in Zone 3, and have learned that just because a seed company claims certain things will grow, it doesn’t always mean that they will. Learning from your mistakes now, can save you valuable time and energy when it counts. For example, I will never again try to grow watermelon when I only have a 90-100 day growing season regardless of what the seed company claims the time to maturity is, or if they say the variety I am trying to grow does well in northern climates. It’s not worth wasting precious space and resources.

My “in town” garden has been very reliable and predictable for the last few years so I wanted to try something different. My garden is not overly large (20x20) but I manage to produce a healthy amount of food each year. My other half, who doesn’t want me to increase the size of the garden in town, suggested we plant one at our retreat, even though it is 20 miles from where we currently live, and with our work schedules we are limited to going out there once a week. I thought this was a great idea, as we hope to be moving there within a year or so, and having an established garden ahead of time makes good sense. Problem was, how do we take care of it when we aren’t there? We knew we had to come up with an idea that would require little to no maintenance, but also provide enough food to make it worth our while. The results we got were amazing!

Some Background:
Our retreat is located 20 miles from town and is three miles down a dead end dirt road. Our nearest neighbor is over a ½ mile away and our driveway off the main road is a ¼ mile long. We are definitely off the beaten path, and are surrounded on three sides by Federal land. Wild game is plentiful, and we have trails through the woods leading to two great fishing lakes, one of which is only accessible by the general public in the winter when the swamp leading into it is frozen enough for snowmobile travel. Our trails cannot be seen from the air (we checked!) or the lakes. The location is perfect, even if our growing season isn’t.

I grew up where our retreat is located. We raised a few cows, pigs, and chickens for our personal use. My dad moved into town a few years ago (and has regretted it) when he decided that his “hobby farming” days were over. There is a small cabin on the property, and while it is livable, it needs a lot of work and is too small for more than one family to live in. We could move out there now if we had to, but we would prefer to wait until we can build a new, more efficient, masonry house with a basement and a second story. We have power on the property and an excellent well. The well is drilled to 50’, has a static water level of 18’ which enables us to use a hand pump if we had to, and is very clean and ice cold. The refill rate is estimated at 1,000 gallons per hour, so the last thing we are worried about is running out of safe drinking water. The cabin is heated by a wood stove, and there is also a non-electric propane furnace. There is also a small “barn” on the property. I use the term barn loosely, as it is nothing more than a 16x16 structure with a slightly sloping metal roof.
The property is mostly wooded, with a few acres that we had cleared and fenced for the cows. The soil conditions aren’t great because the ledge rock is very near the surface. This makes even putting in fence posts difficult, so our dilemma was where to put a garden. This endeavor was meant to be as easy and inexpensive as possible, so we decided that container gardening was the way to go. Luckily for us, we have many years’ worth of well composted manure and six old bathtubs that we had used as water troughs for the animals. The bath tubs were free for the taking from a local motel during a remodel years ago, and, with no livestock using them now, were just taking up space. After reclaiming an old twin sized bed spring and 10 used tires, we were set to go.

After moving the tubs to a level spot behind the barn, we removed the plugs we had welded into 5 of the tubs, filled them with 3 inches of gravel and topped them off with composted manure. The 6th tub was placed under the eave of the barn to collect water. Remember, this was supposed to be as low maintenance as possible, so even though we have a great well, why haul water when you don’t have to. We did not screen the manure, but did remove the top layer of sod and any visible roots. The years of composting seemed to have killed any weed seeds, as there was very little weeding that needed to be done during the growing season.
Here’s what we planted: One tub contained lettuce and carrots. Cucumbers filled another. Pumpkins got their own tub. Spaghetti squash and acorn squash shared a tub, as did bush green beans and pole wax beans. We buried the bed spring in the deepest tub, braced it with a fence post, planted the wax beans next to the bed spring and planted the bush beans along the outside of the tub. The tires were stacked two high and filled with the composted manure. In them, we planted 2 Roma tomatoes and 3 Beefsteak tomatoes. Aside from the lettuce (some of my seeds had gotten damp and I didn’t dare try to save them) I purposely choose plants that typically aren’t grown in containers. I already knew that peppers, spinach, cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower would thrive in something as small as a window sill planter, so this was my chance to try something new and correct any mistakes when they were nothing more than a small annoyance.

We were able to prepare and fill all the tubs and tire planters in one afternoon. Planting took no time at all and we were on our way to the easiest gardening experience I have ever seen. Aside from our first afternoon, we were able to maintain this garden with 20 minutes worth of work a week. The composted manure did an excellent job of holding enough water to keep the plants healthy, but the gravel in the bottom of the tubs allowed the extra water to drain away. Since we hadn’t packed the inside of the tires themselves with soil, but had just filled the center circle where the rim would have been, the excess water was able to drain into them and slowly water the tomatoes throughout the week. The majority of the water we needed for the garden was collected by the tub placed under the barn eve. We did have to haul water a couple times, but had we put up a simple gutter with a downspout, this wouldn’t have been an issue. It took a total of 15 gallons a week to keep everything healthy. Each tub got 2 gallons, and each tomato planter got one. The rest was provided by Mother Nature. Had it been a normal year for rainfall, we wouldn’t have had to water at all.

We had one area where we were able to till the soil enough to plant a 15x25 foot patch of potatoes. In that area we planted Reds, Yukon Golds, and Russets so that we could determine which ones would grow the best. We did not water or hill the potatoes the entire season, and even though it was unusually dry, all varieties did very well. We ended up with over 200lbs of potatoes from that patch, and we are still eating in mid January.

In this small garden, we ended up with a total of 80 lbs of tomatoes, 23 pints of bean that we canned plus another 4lbs or so that we ate fresh, more lettuce than we could eat or give away, about 15 lbs of cucumbers, 14 quarts of pumpkin, and numerous squash. The carrots did ok, but I didn’t thin them enough so they were kind of small. Overall, I was quite pleased with the results, especially with how little work we put into this. Had we hilled the potatoes or pruned the tomatoes, I have no doubt that our yield would have been much bigger, but in a survival situation, time needs to be spent wisely. Firewood doesn’t cut and split itself, laundry doesn’t magically appear clean and folded, and the dog doesn’t know how to cook dinner.

This method of gardening will also allow us to plant numerous small gardens hidden all over the property and even on the neighboring Federal land if needed. I believe this will be an advantage for a few reasons: 1) If one garden is discovered by 2 or 4 legged animals, they will not get your entire season’s worth of work. 2) If one garden is hit by disease, there is a chance that the others will escape. 3) Plants such as peas and spinach that prefer cooler temps can be grown in a spot that is slightly shaded in the afternoon, whereas tomatoes can go in a spot that receives full sun. 4) There is less of a chance of open pollination plants cross breeding if they are kept separated. It was not a good idea for me to plant two types of squash right next to each other as now I cannot be sure that the seeds will breed true next year. It is not a big deal right now, as I have more heirloom seeds, but in the future it could be a problem.

We are already planning this spring’s expansion. There is one more spot on the property where there is good soil and is large enough for more potatoes where we can till the ground without running into ledge rock. There is enough composted manure for at least four more gardens that are the size of the one we have, and we have spots picked out to hide them. All we need now are containers to plant in. While we did not fence in our garden this time, we will be surrounding every one we put up from now on with chicken wire to protect them from animals. I found it a bit humorous that the deer were bedding down in our potato patch, but they did ruin quite a few by exposing them to sunlight. A simple gutter and larger holding tank will keep us supplied with plenty of water, and we are kicking around the idea of constructing an 8x8 sloped surface (such as two sheets of plywood or a tarp on a frame of 2x4s) with a gutter and rain barrel system at each site to collect rain water. Not that we couldn’t haul it, but there are many things I would rather do than haul water a ¼ mile through the woods for a garden. We are also going to start a compost pile so we can keep our soil healthy. My plan is to grow twice the amount of food that we need, so that plenty can be given to others or used for barter, and so that we have a backup should we have a bad season.

Our total investment for this project was less than $30 for seeds and plants, plus some sweat equity.

I was trying to come up with way to write down all of things that I have been going through lately as a concerned husband, son, uncle, and brother.  A little background on me: I am turning 36 tomorrow.  When I was 24 I joined the U.S. Army.  I was fooling around in college (still) without a good source of income.  My three year relationship was coming to an abrupt end as my girlfriend was graduating college and moving into the next phase of her life (kudos to her making the tough decision to do what was best for her, which was to keep me from holding her back).  So, as any rational screw up in my situation I went to my local recruiter’s office and signed up for five years in the Army.

During my six years on active duty I grew up a lot (I reenlisted once to go to Korea rather than have a very good chance of going back to Iraq. That is where my sixth year comes from).  I learned a lot.  I became much more self-reliant.  I became more aware of the national political scene.  Some of this maturing process may be simply due to me getting a bit older, but I truly believe the Army gave me a huge shove in the right direction.  My priorities finally began to shift from adolescent ridiculousness, to bigger picture themes not revolving completely around me. 
While I was active, I came to notice that no matter where in the world you may be, kids are always the same.  Kids want to have fun and play.  They don’t hate indiscriminately.  That fact in itself tells me that we (adults) are obviously the problem.  Kids are kids.  We turn them into hateful versions of ourselves.  I got a chance to visit a few different countries during my six years, which tends to give you a great perspective on life at home, and how truly lucky we all are to live in such a wondrous place like the good ol’ USA.

I got out of the Army back in the summer of 2006.  I was lucky enough to come back home and get hired by a privately owned company having nothing to do with anything in my background.  Sometimes things have a funny way of working out.  My wife and I met about 18 months before I was discharged from active duty.  Being on the other side of the planet had its difficulties, but in the end it couldn’t have worked out any better and we have now been married over 3.5 years.  No kids yet, but you never know. 

When I was getting out, I spoke to my wife about my wanting to get my concealed carry license and owning firearms.  This had nothing to do with prepping at this time, but I think you kind of get used to having something by your side in case something unfortunate does happen. Living in Florida, getting your concealed carry license (CCL) and purchasing firearms is pretty easy.  My wife was fine with it until I explained that I wanted her to become as proficient with any weapons we have as possible.  She, like most people that haven’t been around weapons their whole life, has this innate fear of guns. 

We started her out slow with some simple instructions on my first purchase, a Glock 23 (law enforcement version) that I had fired many times before.  There seem to be two types of people, those who love Glocks and those who hate them.  For me, and for the money I had at the time, I couldn’t ask for a more reliable weapon to have at the house (for carrying I ended up with a SIG P238 [.380 ACP] to slip in a pocket holster).  So, my wife and I went through all of the basics of handling any weapon, treat it like it’s loaded, muzzle awareness, etc.  She took to it like a pro.  At the range, the bigger the caliber the more she enjoyed it.  She was forced to load all of the magazines she used.  She would break down the gun when we got back home (practicing her disciplines, of course) and clean it and put it back together all by herself.  I told her that I needed her to be competent enough that we not worry if she is home alone and the worst case scenario happens.  We came up with situational plans on how she would react to different situations depending on where she is in the house at the time.  Most of them ended with her locked in a bathroom with a gun and a phone (if possible) and her willingness to put a few rounds through the door at the least, if someone came inside.

Over the past few years, I have noticed many of the same things you all discuss and write about on this site.  Things seem to be getting worse, no matter what the talking heads might say.  I think most of us can “feel” that things just aren’t right.  When I tell this to my wife she gets a little freaked.  I have been doing a lot of research over the past 6 months on prepping, food storage, BoBs, etc.  This site has been a God send and I thank Mr. Rawles and the rest of you for all of your hard work.  All of the information I crave is there for the taking.  I have already paid my one year “donation” and will look to do more soon. 

Here is where we get to my prepping so far.  We live in a very large metropolitan area in south Florida.  Both of our immediate families are within 30 minutes of us.  (If money were no object, I would already have left for the American Redoubt and ordered my custom home and bunker to be built with years of supplies waiting for us.  Obviously, that is not where we are finnacially, yet.)  As I have been doing my research I have begun to stock up and put my plans and lists together.  I have assembled a get home bag that each of us keeps in our cars.  I have also put together a BoB for each of us that is at the house.  My wicked “arsenal” now consists of my carry weapon, my Glock 23, and an AR-15.  I have hundreds of rounds for each and plan on really bumping up my number of magazines.  I also plan on expanding my weapons to include a longer range, larger caliber rifle and a shotgun at the least.  I am working on getting my wife trained up on the AR-15 as we move along.  I haven’t taught Basic Rifle Marksmanship (BRM) in a while. 

As for my food and supplies at home, I am currently working on our “stash”, which includes some basic foods like white rice, canned goods, bottled water, etc.  I have also purchased a Katadyn Pocket, and a couple of filtering Camelbaks.  I have 3 cases of Mountain House dry foods also to get started.  I also have items to help with fire, shelter, water hauling, etc. 
My biggest dilemmas up to this point (besides limited finances) are the following:

  1. My wife freaks out if I talk about prepping. I explain that I don’t think the world is going to end on December 21st, but I think generally people are not as bright as I would like.  Regardless of what happens, the news and every television show will be talking about that date.  Food prices are rising now, but just wait until panic sets in.  Why not put some essentials aside and protect ourselves as much as possible.  If nothing happens, no harm, no foul.  I am trying to keep her focusing on that rather than what I think is happening with the global economy, etc.  That may not be fair to her, but I am working on her slowly.
  2. How do I get more family members involved without them thinking I am crazy?  My younger brother also spent five years in the Army.  My older brother works for the Sheriff’s department in our county.  He isn’t a police officer, but we all have our CCL and own a few firearms and have received training.  I have come up with a plan of where we could all meet in a TEOTWAWKI situation.  I have picked the home easiest to defend, with the most space for materials, and it is the most central.  The only problem is they have no preparations, nor are they aware of any plans that I have.  I also have a plan for just my wife and I which involves bunkering down at home as a last resort, as well as a G.O.O.D. plan if needed.  The problem is that no one is privy to these plans but me.  How do I broach the subject?
  3. We live in a very heavily populated area in South Florida.  There is almost no where without people outside of the everglades.  There are some places we could go in the everglades if we had to that isn’t just a swamp, but the local population will be tough regardless.

I am currently working on getting my FFL to be able to purchase firearms at a discount and slowly begin a home business.  I am curious if any others have similar situations, and how they dealt with those issues.  I am continuing to get my stuff together for me and my wife, but I can’t just abandon everyone else.  My family is full of people that would be very helpful in a SHTF situation.  My wife is a trauma nurse.  My older brother is an auto mechanic by trade, and he and my dad are utterly handy.  My younger brother is a trained intelligence officer, and currently works as a civilian for the military in that capacity.  My two sisters-in-law are both teachers which would be useful for the kids.  My dad is a machinist by trade, and one of the hardest workers I have ever met. 

I fear for all of us, but I can only do so much.  I have brought this up to my younger brother briefly in conversations, but not much has come out of it.  I will continue to move forward with my preparations as planned.  I am hoping the rest will come to me soon.  Hopefully, before it is too late.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
My letter today was prompted by an email I received recently about UPC codes and country of origin.  It stated that one can determine the country of manufacturing origin by looking at the first three digits of the Bar code.  More specifically, it stated that bar codes beginning with the digits 690 through 695 are from China while those with 471 are from Taiwan.  Products with codes from 00 to 13 are from the U.S. and Canada.  This seemed like a handy way to tell which products came from where.  You could buy a product with some assurance that it was made in the US.  The truth of the matter is somewhat more complicated.  An example of the e-mail I received can be seen in this link.

What are those little lines? First you must understand that there are two primary barcode systems, the Universal Product Code (UPC) which is used in North America, and the UK, Australia and New Zealand, and the International Article Number (EAN)--formerly called an European Article Number--which is used in most other places on the globe.  Whereas the UPC uses 12 digits, the EAN uses 13. However, the UPC can be read as EAN because you would just put a “0” in front of the UPC to convert it.  All the numbers encoded in UPC and EAN barcodes are known as Global Trade Item Numbers (GTIN).  The first three numbers of the GTIN represent the country in which the manufacturer is registered.  Please note that this does not mean that the product was made in that country.  For instance if a company called “Swiss Guns” is registered in China then it will carry a prefix of 690-695.  If however the guns were manufactured in Bulgaria the code would still be 690-695 and not 380.  You can find the complete Wikipedia listing of country codes.

Is there a way to get more information about a product from the bar code?  I found this web site to provide additional information.  The web site is GS1 who on their web page self-describe as “GS1 is an international not-for-profit association with Member Organisations in over 100 countries.  GS1 is dedicated to the design and implementation of global standards and solutions to improve the efficiency and visibility of supply and demand chains globally and across sectors. The GS1 system of standards is the most widely used supply chain standards system in the world.”  GS1 is the body that creates the standards defining the GTIN.
They have a tool that will provide information based on the GTIN code.  For example, I entered the following code for my Newman’s Special Decaf Keurig: 099555080513 and it told me that the company was:

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc.
33 Coffee Lane


United States

It also included phone numbers to the company.
Please note that it does not indicate the country of origin.  The box indicates that the product is packaged, made and printed in the USA.  Some searching on the GreenMountainCoffee.com web site reveals that this coffee probably originated in Guatemala.  They write, “In 2003, Nell Newman traveled with us to Guatemala to meet coffee farmers in person.”
The takeaway: You will need to do more than look at the UPC/EAN/ETIN code to determine the country of origin of a product and this is especially so for products grown in one country but processed in another.

Thanks as always for your hard work on Survivalblog and may the Lord bless and keep you.
Respectfully, - Mr. Bennington in Pittsburgh

Mr. Rawles,
I'm a regular SurvivalBlog reader.  I have your books and own the archive (Kindle edition).  Every once in a while I come across a post so genuinely correct I must comment on it.  Mr. White is absolutely correct.   Often times people will spout such utter nonsense on this subject it would be funny if it weren't so dangerous.  And because so many aren't well versed in this area, they buy it hook, line and sinker.  
I can tell you from my own experiences; Mr. White’s advice is spot on.  I know this information to be factually correct.  This is how it’s done.  Kudos to Mr. White for taking the time and effort to bring this to the masses. Anyone following this advice will be better prepared, (Technically, Mentally, Legally and Morally) than 99% of the public, (to include LEO, Military etc…).
Lastly, my own comment is to seek competent training and then practice what you’ve learned.  Shooting on a static range won’t cut it.  Learn to shoot, reload and clear malfunctions on the move, (it should be automatic), under different environmental conditions, (dusk, dark, rain etc…).  IDPA, IPSC, USPSA shooting matches are great for this kind of thing.  There are enough competent schools of instruction that most anyone can take classes from.  That market is booming and the training available to the general public has never been better. - Rob C.

A good man is hard to find: Can You Spot The Sniper?

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Recently at Glenn Beck's site: How to prepare: What should you put in a go bag?

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Lee M. sent a link to a piece about a medical app for smartphones. That article has a link to a blogsite with this downloadable app along with other medical apps for your smartphone.

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To repeat a previous post: I was recently interviewed by Doug Belkin, a reporter with The Wall Street Journal for an article that he is writing about the growth of the preparedness movement. He would like to interview a few preppers that are chiropractors (who represent an unusually large segment of the SurvivalBlog readership), to ask them about why being preparedness-minded fits in with their career and their world view. Send him an e-mail, if you are interested. For your privacy, I would recommend that you use a pseudonym.

"Thine own friend, and thy father's friend, forsake not; neither go into thy brother's house in the day of thy calamity: for better is a neighbour that is near than a brother far off." - Proverbs 27:10 (KJV)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Today we present another two entries for Round 39 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 Safecastle.com (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 FloJak.com. 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 39 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.

Let me begin with a brief history and a few insights into my journey towards being prepared for The End of the World as We Know It (TEOTWAWKI.) I was born and raised, until the age of 7, in one of the largest metropolitan areas in the United States (the greater Los Angeles area). At which point my parents came to the realization that city life was no way to raise a family. So, they moved my sister and I to the Central San Joaquin Valley and began my education in rural life. At age 18 I joined the military and was able to witness rural life in Texas, Illinois and finally South Dakota (where I spent 4-1⁄2 years). While in South Dakota, I married a local girl, my wonderful wife of 25 plus years. As a result of that marriage, I was introduced to a deeper and somewhat more rudimentary rural lifestyle, by her and her family. As a city boy who was never comfortable with the city lifestyle; I had found my calling. After serving my Country, along with with my wife and then three children returned to the San Joaquin Valley to start the next chapter of our lives. As it turned out that was to be a very short chapter. We quickly realized that what I had believed to be a rural community was in reality very urban. Shortly before we headed back to the Valley her parents moved to the Northwestern portion of the American Redoubt, of course we didn’t know it would eventually be labeled as such at the time. During our brief stay in the Valley we had the opportunity to visit the in-laws and decided that was the place for us. We have now been living the very rural life of the American Redoubt for the past 20 years.

My education in the art of self sufficiency began at about age four when my Grandmother--who started her family before the Great Depression--began to teach me to garden, harvest fruit and to fish. Both of my parents have a love for fishing and continued where my grandmother left off. At the age of 8 my parents began to raise rabbits for butcher and made sure to involve their children in the raising and butchering. My mother continued to teach us the art of gardening, cooking and preserving the food that we produced until it was time for me to leave home. This was done in order to teach us the value of the food on our table along with the joy and sense of accomplishment that comes from putting it there. At about this same time I was blessed with the gift of a Red Ryder BB gun. I was taught the proper safety and use of the gun and after an acceptable amount of time under strict supervision I was allowed to practice with it, under minimal supervision, whenever I had free time. (At this time I would like to say that any of you who are attempting to prepare and either haven’t yet learned to properly handle a firearm or haven’t become proficient as of yet, get a BB gun and shoot thousands of rounds with it, then progress to the .22 Long Rifle and repeat. It is my opinion that the cost and intimidation level are such that you will comfortably progress to the more lethal calibers with much less trepidation). By age 13 I was hunting pheasants and working part time on the neighboring dairy. These things having been taught to me by my father or neighbor, respectively, who were both born in the 40s. While stationed in South Dakota I had the great privilege to get to know two of my wife’s Great Uncles, one of whom was born in the late 1920s and the other in the early 1930s. These two crusty old gentlemen decided that a 19 year old kid might be worth their time to teach a thing or two. They taught me to saddle and ride a horse, how to harness a team, the basics of putting up hay with a team of mules, and most importantly how to grind wheat and make delicious fresh bread from the resulting flour. Upon moving to the American Redoubt the revelation of my level of ignorance was astounding. I was soon learning to run a chainsaw, fell trees, build fence and do a lot of my own repairs on most anything. My father-in-law, a man born in the late 1930s and who lived the rural lifestyle his whole life, was the one to point me in the right direction for many of these tasks. My mother-in-law (whom I won’t date as that wouldn’t be proper) has continued to teach my wife and I food preservation methods. For the last 20 years we have been leasing a house on a 4,000 acre ranch. That lease payment is made by working for the owner of the ranch. The owner of the ranch is a man in his early 80s. He continues to work the ranch every day, mostly by himself. From this man I have learned most of what I know about farming and a lot of what I know about animal husbandry. During our 20 plus years of living here we have managed to befriend some of the families that have been here for forever and a day. From this corner of our lives we have been privileged to learn to properly slaughter, butcher and preserve large livestock and wild game. The man most responsible for our knowledge had been taught by his parents and they were of an age and background to know a bit about depression survival.
As you have probably noticed, there is a theme to my little history lesson. Yes, I am giving the approximate age of almost every one of the mentors that I have listed. As I’ve been reading the blog and many of the archives, I haven’t come across a single mention of what I feel is one of the greatest assets that one can to tap into, in order to survive in the long term after TEOTWAWKI. I wish to admit that I haven’t read all of the archives and probably won’t find the time for all of them, but from what I can tell, no one has been preaching the value of our elderly. These people have either lived through the Great Depression or were a lot closer to it chronologically than most of us. They may not be able to perform many of the tasks of survival in the long term, but they can certainly pass on their knowledge of “How To”. In addition to their knowledge there are many tasks that they can perform with more knowledge, confidence and experience than those of us that may be stronger of body. Things like cooking, canning, repairing tack, maintaining firearms, watching children, snapping the beans, shucking the peas and on and on and on. With some of these chores removed from the shoulders of the younger generations, more can be accomplished in a day, making a better life for all. I realize that a lot of people out there are thinking of the elderly, but from what I have read it appears that they are only thinking of what they have to do in order to take on the burden of providing for them. I say that they are not a burden to be taken on, but an asset just like the thousand pounds of grain you have stockpiled, the medical supplies you have so carefully laid away or the guns and ammo that you will use to protect it all.

In this life my wife, my kids and I have reached the point where we provide most all of our own meat through our livestock. We can provide the hay to feed them. We grow most of our own vegetables and some of our own fruits. We have the ability to preserve our food. We cut the wood for 100% of the heat for our homes. We have the ability, wherewithal and fortitude to defend it all. Without the knowledge that was freely given, by those that came before, we would never be as prepared to provide the basic needs for ourselves and our extended family and friends WTSHTF, as we are right now. I would like to suggest to those who are planning to provide for the elderly members of their family to please rethink the asset vs. burden issue. I believe that if you are to take the asset side of the issue and treat them as such you will gain some valuable information and they will be more interested in helping where they can instead of sitting around just consuming the assets that you do have. No one wants to feel that they are useless and just a drain on those around them. If you make use of their knowledge and abilities, they will not feel that they are a burden and will truly be an asset to themselves and the group as a whole.

Many people remember the book Walden as the story of a hermit living in a hut who survived on twigs and berries in the Concord, Massachusetts woods. Its author, Henry David Thoreau, was no hermit, but a survivalist and philosopher who personified the best of American values of self-reliance, simplicity, love of the land, individualism and defense of personal liberty against governmental overreaching.
He lived simply on Walden Pond from 1845-1847 without a GPS, iPod, iPhone, laptop or wi-fi.. Long before we developed a dependence on electronic devices, Thoreau defined some first principles for personal autonomy and survival. We find them in Walden, his gift of essential life strategies that we ought to re-learn before stuffing our G.O.O.D. bags and thinking that we have prepared ourselves to meet the Black Swans ahead. He would warn us today that we must not bet our lives on electronic survival devices because others control them and can jam them by the flick of a switch.

Thoreau's EDC bag

This article lifts up seven of Thoreau's survival principles that we can rely upon; that each of us can own at no cost, and which no government or terrorist can destruct. Think of these principles as the fabric of an indestructible carry bag large enough to stuff with all our plans and tools for personal survival.
Many surprises await us in the 2000s. This we know, but none of us knows the timing. Thus, we create short-term and long-term survival strategies. Thoreau's principles are an overarching everyday strategy, holding that a life worth living depends upon remaining free and independent, living as autonomous men and women alert and able to confront, ignore, or go around obstacles in our way. The best survival strategy is to be always ready, but live well always.

The individual versus the world

"Simplify, simplify," Thoreau repeated, and be certain that you have the essentials for life--food, shelter, fuel and clothing--under your control. Thoreau's sojourn in Walden woods lasted two years, two months and two days in the cabin he built himself. It was no coincidence that his move-in date was the fourth of July. Thoreau explained, "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."

Writing four hours a day on the shore of Walden Pond, he pondered how an individual could maintain his autonomy against a mighty government, powerful business interests and a growing trend to materialism. Just as in 1845, our politicians continue to grab power by making thousands of promises. What they deliver is trillion dollar debts and more promises. It is said that each of us now owns $2 million of government debt. (Have you budgeted for that?) In a cozy relationship with politicians, business spends billions coaxing us to buy things we do not need, that rarely perform as advertised and that often drag us under a pile of debt. Thoreau saw a way for an individual to get around these growing influences, and he spelled it out in Walden.

What's essential; what's not

To emphasize his points, he often wrote in extremes. For example, Thoreau defined anything non-essential to life as a "luxury." While he succumbed to a few luxuries himself, Thoreau spent within his means by deciding his own balance of essentials and luxuries and then earned just enough to sustain it. He called this living "deliberately", and it was the centerpiece of his life strategy. If he lived deliberately, he would not get into debt and therefore, not become enslaved by work to pay it off. Debt is more than dollars and cents because it represents the amount of life we must trade in work to pay it off. Time is money, and Thoreau became rich by acquiring it.

Thoreau enjoyed the work he did, but tried to work as little as possible. He believed that society had it all wrong about the role of work in life and said so in his Harvard graduation speech. People sat up in their seats as he declared that they had things backwards and that they should work just one day a week and have the other six to do what was important to them. This was no utopian dream. It is how he actually lived. Incidentally, I verified this with the Institute at Walden Woods.

Personal responsibility to do what's right
Thoreau believed that each of us has an intuitive sense of morality, what is right and wrong. He held that we have a personal responsibility to uphold higher moral laws when they come into conflict with manufactured laws. Consequently, he had a personal theory of "nullification" of government law when it conflicted with moral law. He maintained that no government has any "pure right over my person or property but what I concede to it.” Thus he was philosophically consistent that as a good neighbor, he would train with the Concord militia because he chose to. However, he chose not to pay a tax to a government waging an unjust war in Mexico, and that cost him a night in jail.

Thoreau's arrest inspired his world-famous essay Civil Disobedience where he proclaimed, "I heartily accept the motto, — 'That government is best which governs least'; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically." Many people mistakenly limit Thoreau's thinking to passive resistance. He railed against the government's hanging of John Brown who raided the arsenal at Harper's Ferry to arm slaves. Violence is not the preferred way to protest government policies, but as a last resort, Thoreau agreed with President Thomas Jefferson who wrote, "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

Today few of us could replicate Thoreau's life in a 10 x 15 foot cabin a mile from his closest neighbor. What we can do whether we live in New York City, Los Angeles, or in between is to think of Walden as a state of mind.

Walden's principles and maxims are as relevant in 2012 as in 1853. In fact, times were remarkably similar to our world today. Global competition was common. Better quality German pencils nearly drove the Thoreau family pencil business under. The Panic of 1837 was as severe as our financial downturn today. A real estate bubble burst due to sub-prime lending, and real estate prices plummeted. Families lost jobs, spending power, and risked their savings as half the banks in America folded within weeks. The federal government, whose policies touched off the contagion, was growing in power and would continue piling on public debt. Even then, the U.S. government depended upon foreign countries to finance its operations.

As the nation entered the industrial revolution, Walden was Thoreau’s challenge to a society forgetting cultural values and practices of the first Americans such as self- reliance, thrift, and the importance of the family. Fortunately, those practices are coming back into style, as survivalists worldwide look to authentic sources such as Survival Blog to re-learn skills our consumer culture has forgotten. These tried and true skills together with the seven critical Thoreau principles taken from my book Walden Today combine to make us better prepared every day.

Thoreau’s Choices to Live Deliberately:

1. Be true to yourself.
In 1837, Thoreau was one of the first to identify societal pressure as the underlying motivation that drove people to consume more than they could pay for. As we know, Thoreau resisted pressure to conform; his brain thrummed to the beat of what he called a "different drummer.” He wrote, “No way of thinking or doing, however ancient, can be trusted without proof.” He urged us to think for ourselves-- to believe nothing told us by church bureaucracy, government or acquaintances without first checking it out and deciding for ourselves. Nor had he any confidence in advice from his elders: “Age is no better, hardly so well, qualified for an instructor as youth, for it has not profited so much as it has lost. One may almost doubt if the wisest man has learned anything of absolute value by living.”
In life, we alone have the job of choosing what to believe, and how to act upon what we determine. Any lifestyle or work, no matter how humble or unconventional is a success--as long as it works for you. Thoreau adds, “The life which men praise and regard as successful is but one kind...Why should we exaggerate any one kind at the expense of others?” In other words, Thoreau exhorts us to question society’s
norms because the herd may understand an issue exactly backwards, often due to the influence of media. There are no do-overs in life, so do not waste time living up to someone else's expectations.

2. Network to grow and thrive.

Thoreau had friends with diverse interests, and he networked well among them. His friends included some of America's best thinkers including Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Bronson and Louisa May Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Walt Whitman. Thoreau tested his ideas and stood his own ground against these thoughtful minds.

Thoreau’s relationship with Emerson brought him paid work as a tutor, handyman, lecturer, schoolteacher, and more. His friends sent him referrals in his surveying business because of his reputation for honesty and competence--attributes which never go out of demand. His love of nature connected him with famous Harvard botanist Louis Agassiz for whom he collected botanical specimens never before catalogued.
Networking is also the source of our family's small business success. Former business associates provide almost all our new opportunities, while our church family remains a key source of Christian fellowship and education for our children.

3. Life is short, so enjoy it by living simply to stay free.
To live simply, Thoreau acquired the things that are “necessary to life.” He avoided most “luxuries,” those things that he perceived as constricting his freedom because of debt required to acquire them or the effort required to maintain them. He worried that collecting "stuff" would make him "a tool of his tools." He thought it foolish to keep up with the proverbial Joneses. Doing so would distract him from his more
important activities and goals. In the bargain he remained autonomous by exchanging as little life as possible for possessions.

4. Become self-reliant: do it yourself.
The Thoreau family’s main source of income was the manufacture of lead pencils. Their product quality slipped over time and by the 1840s there were four pencil manufacturers within a few miles of the Thoreau factory. In a crowded market, and with an inferior product, the outlook for Thoreau pencils was grim. Young Henry came to the family’s rescue. Harvard never taught him chemistry, engineering, operations management or marketing—expertise that would be necessary for the Thoreaus to regain their market position. He learned all these disciplines on his own, and thought outside the box to create the country's highest quality pencils. His innovations included a line of pencils new to the world numbered 1, 2, 3 and 4 for hardness—including the iconic #2 pencil we use today.
With so many resources available, we can learn to become a do-it-yourselfer at almost anything. Just painting your own home, for example, is a great way to save money, gain self-reliance, and involve the whole family in a satisfying accomplishment no matter their age or intellectual disadvantage. Even young children or the elderly can carry cool water to refresh family painters just as the first Americans did. A do-it-yourself attitude is not so common anymore in America. However, with the millions of weekly hits on practical skills articles and videos on the Web, and the rising cost of tradesmen, self-reliance is definitely coming back.

5. Adapt to changes in life by continually learning and trying new ideas.

Thoreau's ideal was to remain autonomous and earn just enough to support himself.
Surveying and pencil making were his primary income sources; however he was flexible and humble enough to earn his living even by menial work. He wrote to a fellow graduate, “I am a Schoolmaster— a Private Tutor, a Surveyor--a Gardener, a Farmer—a Painter, I mean a House Painter, a Carpenter, a Mason, a Day-Laborer, a Pencil-Maker, a Glass-paper Maker, a Writer, and sometimes a Poetaster [an unskilled poet].” He was also a consultant, lecturer and book author.

When he moved into his Walden home, Thoreau hoped to earn income by farming the field behind his house. He learned quickly that the time required to tend acres of beans consumed too much of his free time. He changed his gardening plan for the next year to grow food only for himself. Ever pragmatic, Thoreau looked to earn more and work less as a self-taught surveyor. In the bargain, surveying gave him two full seasons and many interim weeks off for leisure. His advice to us is to learn continuously all our lives and stay alert to new income opportunities to guard our independence.

6. Take advantage of the conveniences and opportunities of the age.

The train and telegraph were technologies that fascinated Thoreau. I think he would have loved our Internet to bring him the cultural riches of the world. I am equally sure he would never have wasted hours surfing the net, texting, or checking his email every five minutes. He chose to be poor in terms of money, but poor is a relative term. What is scraping by to one person, can be a life of plenty to another. Thoreau found countless
opportunities for cultural enrichment, personal growth, and entertainment available at no cost to him. He explored the Merrimac River by canoe, attended lectures at the Lyceum, participated in Emerson’s discussion groups, climbed Mt. Katahdin and walked for hours in the woods each day enjoying the beauty of nature and being outdoors.

America still has vast tracts of public lands for our use, and the electronic age provides us with innumerable opportunities—also at little or no cost—for education, culture, entertainment and earning a living. Each of us has access the same information as a college professor. We can watch sporting events free and see better than those in $500 seats in the stadium. We can savor the world's most breathtaking scenery and treasures from our homes and hear beautiful music in Surround Sound. In Thoreau's day, the average person never heard a symphony orchestra. To do so would have been a considerable expense to travel for days to hear one of the few symphonies in America. We can learn practical skills and economic analysis from expert bloggers around the world and be as informed as any reporter on the planet can. Today there is no reason for anyone, regardless of income, to be bored if they use the virtually free conveniences of our age for entertainment and learning once reserved for only the wealthy.

7. Work Deliberately.

Thoreau lived and worked "deliberately." He emphasized, “I make my own time. I make my own terms.” This is the key to freedom and independence. Controlling his time and terms, he would never lock himself in to a job that enslaved him with long hours, stress, and fear of losing the job. As a delightful side benefit, he would never have to bite his tongue when speaking to management, work for jerks or go to work every day if he could do the week’s work in a single day. When you work for yourself, you will never hear the words, "you're fired."

In 2012 with employment uncertainty in almost every field, many people hedge their bets by starting their own business on the side as they work their primary job. A well- employed client of ours bought a franchise business for his wife, and she is growing it to guarantee that the family will have income and independence no matter what happens to their primary source of income. Gaston Glock was a factory manager when he started a side business in his garage. In addition to planning for income redundancy, we advise friends to have savings stashed away to live for six months to a year. This is not easy to do. However, we have found that there are many things to cut back on if your primary goal is to remain free and independent.

Living "deliberately" belongs in every EDC bag.

Thoreau made his EDC bag from the principles of deliberate living. They guide my family today as in 1994 when we began to adopt them. Each of us must rely on his own effort to survive and truly live. The central decision--or non-decision is to "live deliberately" or not to. If you are reading this blog, you likely have made your decision already.

JWR Adds: Wayne M. Thomas is the Editor of Walden Today

I heard that there is another Self Reliance Expo scheduled for February 10-11 in Dallas, Texas. The keynote speaker Mike Adams of Natural News.

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Bob G. flagged this video by Wayne Allyn Root: Home Schooling To Harvard.

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Reader Alan W. mentioned an improvement to the classic USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map. "For the first time, the map is available as an interactive GIS-based map, for which a broadband Internet connection is recommended, and as static images for those with slower Internet access."

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Cheryl (aka The Economatrix) sent this: UN Small Arms (Gun Confiscation) Treaty To Be Ratified By Senate In 2012

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A magnetic pole swap within the next few hundred years? Some scientists think so: Magnetic Reversal of Fortune. (Thanks to B.B. for the link.)

"Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees.
Say to them [that are] of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come [with] vengeance, [even] God [with] a recompence; he will come and save you." - Isaiah 35:3-4 (KJV)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Today we present another two entries for Round 39 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 Safecastle.com (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 FloJak.com. 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 39 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 have been a police officer for eleven years, with assignments in patrol, SWAT, undercover operations, and as a use of force and firearms instructor, I'm often asked by gun owners one question. The questions usually goes something like, “When can I legally shoot someone?” Or, “Can I shoot somebody if they do this?” Because I am prepping myself, I also talk with those who are preparing  for the collapse of society. They generally don't ask those questions. With the possibility of no law enforcement or court system to worry about, they believe they can shoot anyone who, in anyway, is a threat to their survival. But it seems whether we are talking about everyday encounters with criminals, or preparing for a world without order, everyone is very focused on the “can I shoot” question. Which I believe is the wrong question.

While current laws may restrict people's rights in regards to weapons, it almost always allows you to respond with lethal force, to protect a life. Even if you live in an area where the law says you cannot protect yourself, if necessary, you will protect yourself anyway. Making the question of what the law says you can do irrelevant. If you can articulate that a reasonable person would feel threatened with serious injury or death, the law allows you to shoot. It is important to know what the law says you can do. But when you are faced with a potential lethal threat you will not be asking yourself, “Can I shoot him?”

If I would have fired every time I could articulate that I felt my life was in danger, I would have shot dozens of innocent people. Many were home owners holding weapons. Some were concealing their hands, or reaching inside pockets at the wrong moment. The list would also include a person who I later confirmed was an off duty officer who pointed a gun at me while I was also off duty, and trying to come to his aid. We are both lucky I recognized a police control tactic he applied on a suspect a few moments earlier. Otherwise I would have drawn and fired. In the real world you will not be shooting at gray silhouette targets. There is a lot more going on that you have to pay attention to and process. You know you can shoot, but you will generally not shoot. Not until you can answer the real question, which is, “Should I shoot?” This question comes into play if there is any confusion about what is happening. Because of the fog of war, there is often a lot of confusion. Nobody wants to shoot the wrong person, so the fact that you automatically ask yourself this question is a good thing.

There are a lot of people out there who aren't trying to victimize anyone, but who do really stupid things that could get them shot. They aren't thinking about how their actions could make other people feel at risk.  While not commonly dealt with by concealed carry holders now, I think if society collapsed, these situations would be very common. There could be a great number of people moving about openly armed, mistrusting, defensive and jumpy. A lot of good people would adopt a very aggressive security posture, making contact a very delicate situation. In this environment it would take a cool head to avoid unnecessary shootings.

Of course it is also possible the threat will be so obvious and apparent that you will not ask, “should I shoot?” If I was being shot at, stabbed with a knife, or stomped by an angry mob, I wouldn't ask myself, “Should I?” But neither would I ask, “Can I shoot?” These are situations where your mind screams, “I NEED TO SHOOT NOW!” There isn't a lot of thinking involved. Military and Law Enforcement do a lot of training so a conditioned response kicks in and you just draw and fire, without thinking. But other than those obvious situations, pulling the trigger is not something you want to happen without making a conscious decision to do so.

People are naturally afraid of acting too late, so many say, “I'm going to shoot first and ask questions later.” If you think this is good advice think again. I know an officer who had his thumb shot off when he rounded a corner of a residence during a call. The person who shot him was another officer who thought he was shooting the bad guy, even though the officer was wearing a police uniform. Lucky for the officer, after taking off his thumb, the shotgun round struck his M4 rifle which kept the round from penetrating into his body. Shooting first and asking questions later will likely end with you shooting the wrong person. People with this mentality either have a total lack of regard for human life or are unable to control their fear. Also keep in mind, even if society has collapsed,  you will have to explain your actions to somebody.  It may be the law, your local community, survival group, family members or simply yourself. Your decision doesn't have to be right or perfect, but it should be reasonable and not careless.

It should be obvious we need to make good shoot and no shoot decisions. I hope at this point  you understand that often it involves more than just knowing when we can shoot. Knowing all of this, how do we answer the question of, “Should I shoot?” From my experience once someone has determined where they morally stand on taking a human life, they understand the law, or their survival group's rules of engagement, and have trained to be confident and capable of employing weapons and tactics, there are a few things that can assist you with deciding if you should shoot.

The first thing to do is minimize confusion by gaining better situational awareness. Knowing someone out there might try to hurt you is some level of situational awareness. But with shortwave, scanners, CBs, Ham radio, patrols, word of mouth and a number of other methods you can obtain a much deeper level of situational awareness.  With these tools it is possible to know what the bad guys look like, where they were last seen, what vehicles they have, and how they carry out operations. With this information not only can you attempt to avoid problems, you will be more likely to recognize known bad guys and be mentally ready to engage if appropriate.

Here is another example of how situational awareness speeds up the shoot or no shoot decision process. Imagine a scenario where you hear a gunshot in the distance, thirty seconds later you see a guy come over a hill. The man is carrying a gun, and running in your general direction. Should you shoot? It is hard to say, you really don't have enough pieces of the puzzle to know what is going on. Did he fire the shot? Was he shot at? Is he a threat to you? Now take the same scenario, but this time, after hearing a gunshot, another member of your group radios and tells you he was just shot at by a guy wearing jeans and a camouflage jacket. Then you see a guy, matching that description, come over a hill and run in your general direction with a gun. Armed with a deeper level of situational awareness you have many more pieces of the puzzle and can very quickly decide if you should shoot.

Even if you suddenly find yourself in the middle of something and you are initially confused, you can still rapidly gain a deeper level of situational awareness by quickly observing body language, facial expressions, weapon position, clothing, gear, and things they say or do, in order to determine someone's intent. He may be holding a weapon, but the look on his face, his posture and everything else about him might be submissive and non threatening. While it is conceivable someone might try to trick you by acting submissive and non-threatening, in the real world things usually are as they seem. Of course you still want to use caution in these situations, but often you will have to trust your instincts.  Experience and quality training is the biggest factor in being able to size people up and make quick but accurate decisions about what is going on.

If you still can't figure out whether you should shoot, the trick is to establish lines in the sand. Basically you are saying, “If he does this, I will shoot.” An example on how to use this would be a situation where you see a stranger on your property, who is walking casually towards you. You notice he is carrying a machete low by his side. Although you might possibly feel at risk of being attacked,  you really don't know if he intends to hurt you at all. You raise your weapon to a low ready position, and yell, “Stop! Stay Back!” You then draw a mental line in the sand and tell yourself, “If he raises the machete, or takes one more step towards me, I will shoot him.” Lines in the sand greatly assist you in making quality, quick shoot decisions, that allow you to articulate your actions. Just realize that situations are dynamic and always changing. For instance the guy with the machete may not do either, but might instead start walking in another direction, towards other innocent people. This would require you to quickly adjust to his unexpected actions and make another line in the sand decision. Real situations are complicated, but drawing lines in the sand will help you decide if you should shoot.

Sometimes you just can not decided if the situation warrants lethal force, or the situation hasn't quite reached the point where you believe you should shoot. Yet you know you need to do something. In these situations don't just stand there, start moving.

Creating distance and seeking cover is something you should do in almost every high stress confrontation. Unlike pulling the trigger, which usually requires a conscious decision, moving to cover should be trained so it is a conditioned, automatic response. If while moving you decide you should shoot, then engage on the move, stop and shoot, or get to cover before firing. It is usually a lot easier to figure out what is going on, if you are not right in the middle of it. If the shooting starts, or you identify a valid threat, you are in a much better position with cover and distance. Often just by getting out of the immediate area changes the situation so that no lethal decision needs to be made.

Family members and other survival group members need to learn to key off of your actions. If you move to cover or drop to the ground to create a low profile, your family and other survival group members should know to do likewise, without any further direction. While it is good to verbally communicate, you shouldn't need to say anything, they should learn to watch and match your actions.

Communicating is a great option when it is not yet time to pull the trigger, or you can not figure out if you should pull the trigger. Communicating is best done from a position of distance and cover. Communicating with a person who is a potential threat is a great way to recon and obtain insight about his intent. In the above scenario with the stranger holding the machete, by saying, “Stop. Stay back!” you are communicating to the person that you see him as a threat. Your weapon position, stance, commanding voice, and the fact you moved to cover, tells him you mean business and are willing and able to defend yourself. Upon seeing that, I guarantee he will start communicating with you, letting you know if he is a threat or not.

While we are talking about communicating it is imperative that you don't communicate the wrong message to him. Unless you are convinced the situation will end with shots fired, don't point your weapon directly at the person. If he sees this, he will likely feel in great fear for his life, and might easily feel that he has no choice but to shoot. I know everyone wants to gain every advantage they can, but muzzle sweeping someone you are not ready to shoot only obscures your view of their hands, and really amps up the situation.

Communicating also involves communicating with family or other members of your group. Family members need to learn to respond to simple commands that you may give in these moments. A simple  command like, “Bug out” should be all they need to hear. They should run, with or without you, without any questions. Communicating with other group members to alert everyone to something you see, or to obtain backup, is also very important. The bottom line is if you are not shooting, move and communicate.

The preceding information has greatly assisted me in making these very critical and important decisions numerous times. I hope you find it useful. By all means if a bad man threatens your life, and you have the means, snatch his soul. But lets not let our trigger fingers get in front of our good sense. Be safe, and God bless.

As an international war correspondent, my work takes me to more than a dozen far-flung war zones every year. In my travels, I am often reminded just how thin the veneer of civilization really is, and get to meet many families caught in crisis and see the different ways they manage to survive.
A recent trip to Africa brought one of the most powerful examples, where I met a family of missionaries who have built their lives in one of the most harsh and inhospitable corners of the planet. While for most survivalists, prepping for “TEOTWAWKI” is a “what if” scenario, for these missionaries preparedness is an everyday, life-or-death reality.
They are what you could call "extreme missionaries;" Christian families who move far beyond the end of the pavement to bring the good news of God's love to people who have no concept of things like peace, forgiveness, redemption, grace or even civilization.

When my oldest son, Mason and I landed in Nairobi, we were picked up by the T. family. They've been working in Kenya for four generations, and live in the far northern part of the country on the shores of the world's largest desert lake - Lake Turkana.

When they moved there twenty years ago, the four tribes living in the area (Rendille, Samburu, Turkana and El Molo) were all at war with each other. They would often raid each others' villages and steal each others' camels, goats and women. There was little fresh water, (the lake is barely potable, since it has no outlet) and since the tribes considered fish to be unclean, food was also scarce. The ground is volcanic rock, and almost nothing grows in the infertile soil. Temperatures often top 130 degrees in summer, and rarely get below 100. To call it a hard, inhospitable place would be the height of understatement.
The trip to their home took 23 hours of driving from Nairobi - most of it on desert two-track and much of it requiring 4-wheel drive. We made the trip heavily armed, as Somali bandits are known to ambush vehicles in that area. Not long ago another mission family was ambushed and the wife shot in the leg. We kept a sentry posted on top of the truck at all times to keep an eye out for bandits and make them think twice when they saw a man with a shotgun. Jim has worked with the Kenyan government to be able to legally carry a firearm wherever he goes. This is necessary because of the large number of wild animals – both human and otherwise. Lions were the biggest danger, but during our drive to Loiyangalani, we enjoyed seeing camels, dik-dik, topi, and many others. Mason and the T.'s daughter spent most of the trip riding on the rack above the truck's cab, spotting wildlife. It occurred to me that such a thing would probably get a guy arrested back in the states, but here in Kenya, the nanny state was nowhere to be found. A refreshing feeling, to say the least.
After a grueling two-day trip, we arrived at the mission station. When the T.'s first moved to Lake Turkana, they lived in a shipping container and camped out in front of it. They cooked on three rocks, like the locals. Eventually Jim identified a spring near the only stand of palm trees in the area (which all the locals used as a bathroom since it afforded the only privacy for miles). He talked the local elders into allowing him to fence off the area and then dig out the spring. He installed a cistern once he hit bedrock and then put in underground piping to four water points - one for each tribe. The spring today pumps out 230 gallons a minute of water so pure you could bottle it, and serves almost 10,000 people. Without the spring to fight over, the four tribes now live in relative harmony together in the village, something which previously would have been unthinkable to them.  It's a great lesson on survival - working to make allies of one's neighbors, thereby making everyone safer.

Jim and his family must be completely self-sufficient for up to four months at at time.  They have a larder which can sustain them for over a year, but gardening is impossible due to the high temperatures, desert climate and volcanic soil. Camel meat is available from time to time in the village, but other than that, they must plan, and shop for only a few trips a year to the nearest grocery store – in Nairobi. Jim's wife, Barb, has become an expert at planning, cooking from scratch and coping with unexpected visitors from time to time. Jim and his sons supplement their the family's protein by fishing Lake Turkana for giant nile perch.  He says they have enough fishing tackle to survive on fish for "at least a thousand years."  They took Mason and I fishing during our visit. We spent two hours trolling the lake in a tiny john boat, which made me a little nervous since the lake is known for its giant salt-water crocodiles. Our afternoon on the lake yielded two “small” Nile perch, which fleshed out to about forty pounds of meat. We feasted on the succulent fish that night and Barb canned or froze what we couldn't eat.

An engineer by trade, Jim has built a very comfortable and secure fortress for his family in this desolate place. A year after moving to Loiyangalani, Jim identified a seam of limestone that protruded from the lava rock in an area near the village. He then taught two local men how to quarry the limestone and make building stones of it. He then agreed to purchase all the stones they could make until his home was built. Those men are today two of the most prosperous (and hardworking!) men in the village.
From these stones, Jim constructed a two-story home that is a model of a secure survival retreat. Built in the shape of a squared-off horseshoe, the main part of the house holds the sleeping quarters (upstairs), kitchen, bathroom, living and dining areas, and a large pantry. Beneath the larder is a large “panic room” accessed through a blast-proof metal trap door. Inside are supplies for at least six months, camping gear, etc. The air vents for the panic room are disguised around the house, and built such that if some Goblin were to get the bright idea to drop a grenade down one of them, a hidden trap at crotch-level would absolutely ruin his day.
The windows are secured with built-in iron bars, and the doors made from plywood laminated over plate steel thick enough to stop small arms fire, machetes, et cetera. The stones from which the home is built would stand up to anything up to rocket-propelled grenades.

The home is situated on a knoll above the village, and Jim has made use of an old bulldozer and backhoe to ensure that there is only one way into and out of his redoubt by vehicle. The third-floor rooftop of the home is constructed with four-foot crenellated walls with flip-up metal firing ports, commanding unobstructed fields of fire in every direction. The roof also holds two 1,000-gallon potable water tanks which gravity-feed the plumbing system in the house. Two more 1,000-gallon tanks sit in the back of his old Mercedes deuce-and-a-half truck, and every month or so he drives to the spring and pumps them full, then uses them to re-fill the tanks in his home. He keeps all four tanks full at all times. His plan is to eventually dig a well on his own property to further secure his water supply.

Jim has two wind turbines (Lake Turkana is one of the most consistently windy places on the planet) and a solar array, from which he generates his power. The battery bank sits in a small locking closet in the laundry/guest bedroom.

There is a garage attached to the house, fully stocked with tools and other supplies. Between that and the laundry on the other end of the main structure, a large raised concrete patio provides shaded outdoor living space with gorgeous views of Lake Turkana in the distance. A shortwave radio enables periodic communication with other missionaries around the country. A detached petroleum, oils, and lubricants (POL) shed holds drums of fuel, oil and other petroleum products, enough for at least a year of use for vehicles and back-up generators. Most of their local transportation is accomplished on the four Honda ATVs which are always kept in top running condition, and are customized with winches, spotlights and small air compressors.

The T.'s have worked hard over the years to improve the lives of the people to whom they minister, physically as well as spiritually. Jim recognized that security was an absolute must for the local populace before he could bring them the good news of God's love. So he set out to train and equip the men of the village to protect their families. By working with the Kenyan government, a local police force was established, and the men of the village were recruited into a kind of “neighborhood watch.” He taught them how to use the same limestone block he used on his own home to build stone huts for their families. For about the price of a camel, the villagers can replace their mud-and-stick huts, which are unsanitary, fire-prone and give no security, with stone huts that are much better in every way. He taught them about sanitation and convinced them that fish from the lake were safe to eat. Jim and his family are all trained in EMT and wilderness medicine, and his sons became the village ambulance service in their early teens. They constructed an ingenious “floating” litter trailer which is pulled behind the ATV that enables them to transport an injured or sick villager the six hours to the nearest clinic, run by fellow missionaries.

They started a church by holding a family Bible study every morning in front of their home. Curious tribesmen and women would come and listen as they had their devotions, eventually asking questions and one by one being converted to the Christian faith. Today the church has nearly 100 members, who have pooled their resources to build a limestone church building, which Jim designed in such a way that it also serves as an emergency shelter for the villagers in case of attack. It is flame proof, highly secure and boasts a three-story tower with firing ports covering all angles of approach.

The first night of our visit with the family, I was jolted awake at 3am by the sound of gunfire in the village, about 300 yards from Jim's front door. I sat up in bed, but before I could react further, I heard Jim's voice booming out of the upstairs window, “Holton! Get inside quick!”

My sleeping teenage son was exhausted from our two-day trek to Loiyangalani. Tired enough that the gunfire failed to rouse him. I jumped up and dragged his limp form the fifteen yards or so to the main house. (we had been sleeping in the laundry room). By the time we got inside, he was awake, though may not have yet remembered what country we were in. He was further perplexed when Jim appeared at the bottom of the stairs dressed in level-III body armor, kevlar helmet and boxer shorts, carrying two pump shotguns. He tossed one to me and the other at Mason, and stationed each of us near windows overlooking the front and rear of the house. That cleared the cobwebs out of Mason's brain in a hurry.

Tense minutes passed as the sound of sporadic gunfire drifted up from the village below. Jim was back upstairs, calling the local police commander on his cellular telephone. I marveled that there was cell service this far from civilization. After a half hour or so, the firing had subsided and Jim was able to piece together what had happened: Somali bandits had raided the village intending to steal a herd of camels. To their credit, the men of the village had driven the bandits off with some well-controlled bursts of gunfire from their personal arsenals of aged AK-47s. Jim commented that several years ago, the men had no weapons other than spears and knives, and likely would have abandoned their camels, homes and families and run away. Jim's example of preparedness has led the villagers to be much more willing to stand up for themselves and protect their families. In so doing, he has made his own family that much more secure.

Loiyangalani is still a dangerous place to live. But Jim has done just about everything possible to safeguard not only his own family, but the entire community. In addition to that, the T. family has established a training center in North Carolina called “The Master's Mission,” where would-be missionaries spend eleven months learning skills like construction, alternative energy, animal husbandry, civil engineering, auto maintenance, personal protection and more. This enables them to survive and thrive in a third-world ministry field. But it's not just missionaries who need these skills. Anyone serious about being prepared for uncertain times could learn from the example of this intrepid missionary family.
For photos of our trip to Kenya, visit this Flickr page. I also made a news feature about our trip which aired on the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN). An extended version of this video is available here.

JWR Adds: You may recognize Chuck Holton's name from some of his reports on CBN (like this one), or from his web site Homesteading Today.

Good Afternoon,
 As someone who has tried playing the big stock market as mentioned in Profitable Homesteading: How to Thrive in a TEOTWAWKI World, by Dusty, I’d like to add the following caution.  Don’t quit your full time job if you want to try this option.  For the past year or more we in Central Texas have been in  exceptional drought conditions.  I have a small herd of Dexter cows.  Due to the lack of grass in my sixty plus acres of native pastures I have been forced to rely on 1000 lb bales of hay and local co-op 20% protein pasture cubes.  My five adult Dexter cows and three unweaned calves consume a $150 bale of hay in approximately a week ( roughly $21/day).  The hay is supplemented with two sacks of cubes a day at a cost of $17 pr day.  Due to the drought we have been feeding for almost a year in an effort to sustain our small herd of breeding stock until the rains return.  Please note that this one year cost of $13,870 for feed alone requires that we have an outside source of income to maintain our homestead lifestyle. 

Just as you gamble putting your money into Wall Street stocks, you gamble with large livestock. While your gains can be great – your losses unless you are willing to sell your stock at the local sale barn as soon as you run into trouble can be catastrophic.  If you are trying to build a sustainable herd of large stock you have to have sufficient capital or a well paying full time job to see you through the hard times.
Sincerely, - Pete in Central Texas

Mr. Rawles,
During my train up for my deployment to Iraq, we were taught how to properly document evidence for prosecution of suspected insurgents. Formerly, this was known as Sensitive Site Exploitation (SSE), but was renamed to Tactical Site Exploitation (TSE) a few years ago. One of the biggest things drilled into us was they did not want any American soldiers in any of the pictures. There are probably a myriad of reasons for this, but it made sense. My suggestion with taking pictures to document anything would to not have any people in the pictures to begin with, if at all possible. When taking photographs of the scene, I would recommend when starting with any bodies, to not move or remove anything from it(except for moving any weapons out of arms reach when you initially come up to them, as to help maintain the safety of you and your group). Then, once you have the initial pictures taken, search the bodies(while documenting it), and take a picture of each individual item found. Put it in a pile. Once you are complete, organize all the items next to the body, then take a photograph of the body with the items(be sure you clear all weapons, accidents happen). Then, bag it all up in a bag (we used heavy duty black trash bags), and tag it with a date, time, and if the person it's from had some sort of identification, the name. Tag the weapons the same and store them separately, such as a gun safe.

As far as a written documentation of the event, I would normally go with a DA Form 2823, which is a Sworn Statement. However, at the bottom of the last page, it needs a signature from "a person authorized by law to administer oaths". Quite frankly, if all you have is a neighbor to sign off on it, then so be it. Or, use it as a reference to make your own. This form is at a .mil web site, but you do not need to log in.

And I agree with Mr. Rawles: It is better to over-document it and not need it, than to not document enough and wish you had, down the road.

Good luck, God bless, and God speed, - Z.R.

Mr. Rawles,
I respectfully disagree with your response to Scott P. on how to act in the aftermath of a shooting in a SHTF scenario.

I am a law student in my final year, and though I am not an attorney yet (this is not and should not be considered legal advice), I would recommend treating each shooting on a case by case scenario. The worst thing you can do is provide the dead person's family or an overzealous prosecutor with more evidence and ammunition. Let's say you do document the scene, you are not a criminal investigator, you don't know about body positions, ballistics, and the applicable legal issues. You can make a mistake that will make the pictures look worse than they are. You may mistakenly write something in an after action report that is damning to your case. You do not have an attorney with you to counsel you on what to say or not say. You are not an expert in forensics and prosecutors and plaintiff's attorneys can twist things to make them look very bad.
I think that the best way to deal with a self-defense killing in a SHTF scenario you need to leave as little of a trace as possible. Burn bodies where possible. or dispose of in swamps or with chemicals if available, or bury them in unmarked graves (health concerns should govern first followed by leaving no trace). If you live in a place with lots of carrion-eating wildlife (coyotes, wolves, bears, vultures, foxes) then leaving the bodies a very far distance from your homestead could also work. I'm sure there are other and better ways, but the key is if there is no evidence then there is "no evidence." Beyond a reasonable doubt is an extremely high threshold and without a body or any evidence there is very little of a case. However, if there is a great deal of evidence the chances of being charged with a crime increases. This is of more of a concern when dealing with politically motivated or populist prosecutions in the aftermath. 

When in doubt, do not document.  In fact, destroy any and all evidence that you may have. It is the killings with no evidence and a closed-mouthed family/retreat group who never talks to police (because you never legally have to) that will pass scrutiny, but give them reams of potential evidence and that is another story.

Regards and keep up the good work! - G.

JWR Replies: It seems that were are at opposite ends of the spectrum on this issue. In my estimation, the approach that you propose could only work for someone who lives in a very remote wilderness area with no neighbors. Even here in the relative hinterboonies at the Rawles Ranch, we have a some neighbors that live within a mile. I suspect that the majority of SurvivalBlog readers have neighbors that live a lot closer than that. So, odds are someone will hear the commotion of rapid fire shooting and they will come to investigate before you have your chance to "burn the bodies" as you suggest.

Let's face it, even if you had a lot of time, there would be too many loose ends to tie up. Here are a few instances:

1.) Most modern guns are automatics, which means that they eject fired brass. If you were to miss finding just one piece of brass (and there might be dozens in a serious shooting affray), then there is evidence for prosecution--or at least a civil suit.

2.) Most Americans travel everywhere by motor vehicle. What are you going to do with the bad guys' vehicle(s)?

3.) When someone dies of gunshot wound, there is a tremendous amount of blood that gets spilled and in most cases it gets splattered around liberally and at surprising distances. (When people die they tend to thrash around.) Real life gunshot wounds are not at all like you see in television shows--with just a quaint little dribble of blood and then the bad guys drops instantly to the ground and dies with a sigh. In the real world, expect to hear people screaming their lungs out, expect to see people running or even crawling for considerable distances after getting shot, and expect to see a veritable Technicolor paint job of several gallons of blood, brain matter, bone marrow, spittle, stomach contents, and feces spread far and wide. Trust me on this. In college, I worked as a security guard at a hospital emergency room. An emergency room can best be called "A place of fluids"--just one notch below a cattle slaughterhouse. And, FWIW, consider that we typically saw the patients 15 to 60 minutes after the initial bloodshed. There, the larger portion of the fluids were left behind. Places where people die of gunshot wounds are rarely tidy. (And, BTW, when they are found looking tidy, there is usually a lot more to the story.)

4.) The predators in our society tend to travel in packs. Unless you are incredibly lucky and shoot all the bad guys dead, then there probably will be a living witness, and odds are that he will be a hostile witness. You may need all of the supporting evidence that you can muster.

5.) Not only do we live in a litigious society, but we also live in a society where cell phones with integral digital cameras have become ubiquitous. Whenever there is deep drama and trauma, then out come the cell phones.

6.) Do not trust in promises to "keep quiet", by your neighbors. History has shown repeatedly that people rarely keep such promises in capital crime cases. People do talk. Eventually the truth will come out.

7.) Modern forensic science has removed the need for 200 pounds of rotting corpus delicti for evidence to secure a murder conviction. Just one human hair with a root intact or one dried blood droplet providing DNA evidence could been deemed sufficient to corroborate testimony from eyewitnesses.

Lastly, consider that the standards of evidence required in a civil suit are much lower than those needed in a criminal case. Just ask O.J. Simpson. (Some have claimed that he "got away with murder", but then he lost $33.5 million in the civil suit filed by Ron Goldman's relatives.)

Nothing is more damning in the eyes of a jury than a defendant's attempts to conceal or destroy evidence. I stand by what I wrote: If your actions were righteous self defense, then document your evidence, don't try to destroy it.

It's been interesting to see the buzz about coal lately. Certainly something worth looking in to. I'm not for or against it, but I do have a few comments:

If you are into blacksmithing, a coal supply will serve multiple purposes.

Not all coal is equal. High grade coal is less sulfurous than low grade coal, though I only notice that when I am working with open burning coals like over a forge. It may not be an issue in a stove. I don't know but it might be worth washing low grade coal. It's something I want to look into.

When I worked over coal every day for a few months, I developed a bad cough and wheeze. Ventilation in any context is important when dealing with coal.

Also, machine dug coal (which is all coal now) can be dusty. This too can be adverse to your health.

The spent coke from your coal could have many useful purposes, like as a substitute for vermiculite as a soil additive [, in moderation]. - J.D.D.

Dan P. suggested an alarming white paper, published by the normally non-alarmist IEEE: A Perfect Storm of Planetary Proportion: The approach of the solar maximum is an urgent reminder that power grids everywhere are more vulnerable than ever to geomagnetic effects

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An editor at BoingBoing wrote a nice variation on the recent Reuter's wire service article: Preppers: suburban survivalists.

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Check this out: 1LessonSelfDefense.com

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Seed for Security has announced a new bonus promotion that will enable gardeners to get a head start on their harvest. A Spring collection, which consists of five generous seed packets for early Spring planting, will be included free with every order over $45. The packets in this collection are: Lincoln Peas (approximately 300 seeds), Early Jersey Wakefield Cabbage (approximately 400 seeds), Bloomsdale Spinach (approximately 800 seeds), Detroit Dark Red Beets (approximately 400 seeds), and Bouquet Dill (approximately 200 seeds). This is a limited time offer.

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Common sense prevails: Gun Owner ID Cards Soar In Chicago

"The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it.” - Thucydides

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Today we present another entry for Round 39 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 Safecastle.com (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 FloJak.com. 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 39 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 a novice enthusiast. I will no doubt get concepts, practices or terminology wrong, in spite of a fair amount of research.  Forgive this please…..

I blithely lived out 51 years of life with a gun phobia. I have no idea why they scared me so, but scare me they did, and so I spent the bulk of my life with a generalized “guns must be bad because I’m afraid of them; they hurt and kill people” mindset.  My darling husband wasn’t really into shooting, when we married and since. He had an old .22 rifle that  he traded for in 1976 that was used maybe once every 2-3 years to shoot at a “varmint“, and I remember 2 or 3 occasions of going out plinking with someone’s handgun, that I wouldn‘t (couldn’t!) participate in: that was as far as our household ever got with firearms. And of course with my phobia I was always insistent that the .22 stay in the garage, or the shed, or the barn. No dangerous guns in my house, no sir.

Then came March of 2008. My “awakening“, my “becoming aware”. It started with Chris Martenson’s Crash Course, wandered into SurvivalBlog, and soon I was on my way toward becoming a full fledged prepper. So with my reading, and my believing of what was is coming down the pike in terms of our sustainability and survivability, firearms became a subject I was going to have to address. The simplistic liberal teachings I had always believed, that “guns kill people”, therefore “less guns means less killing“, were teachings that I soon realized I needed to really think through. Was it just my phobia? Was I being rational with my gun bias? What did statistics say? Why do people keep guns in their households? What is this 2nd Amendment stuff I keep reading about, and why might it be important? How does one’s personal morality fit with gun ownership? So I started reading and I started thinking. It seems silly and redundant for me to go into all of what I learned/came to realize (preaching to the choir here, I know!), and would take too long; suffice it to say that I came to see that the use of firearms in defending oneself and one’s family against thieves and killers, or unconstitutional governments or gangs, is not an immoral choice. I came to see the truth in the saying (paraphrasing here) “when guns are illegal, only criminals will own guns”, and I came to see that guns can save a life in more-than-equal measure to taking one. Ultimately, embracing preparedness finally did what nothing else could do for me: I saw the need for not only having guns in the house, but for learning how to use and care for them myself.

How did I start? was deathly afraid of the things.  My first step was having my husband bring the .22 into the house. I looked at it and I lived with it, every day. It was never shot, but just having it in the house was a necessary first step for my phobic self. After a few weeks I felt ready (gingerly, very very gingerly) to handle the rifle, to have my husband explain to me how it worked, what it ate for fuel, what safe handling of the thing meant. I kept telling/reminding myself that I was committed to learning about firearms, committed to getting over this phobia. This would be a recurring thought-process throughout my entire journey: “mind over matter”. It became easier as time went by, as I discovered that shooting can actually be fun. But early on it was a struggle. I had to work through safe use of firearms = handling = familiarity = beginning acceptance. Handling and learning about the gun helped immensely.

After a few months I felt ready for some back-pasture plinking. Not so scary anymore, actually kind of fun. Familiarity with the gun was working. Feeling safer and more competent with what I was doing was working. But it was time to take things to the next level, a level I couldn’t achieve with my husband. So sorry, but husbands as a rule are not good gun-trainers with gun-newbie wives. They are not as concerned with safe practices as we are, and they have the “I’ve always done it this way so this is the way you do it” -  mentality. (Gotta love ‘em, but don’t always have to learn to shoot with ‘em.) And of course in my case, I have a husband who hans’t done a whole lot of shooting himself. It was a classic case of the blind leading the blind.

How to start some gun-education for me? I thought about seeking out area gun ranges or clubs to find professional training, but found none closer than 25 miles away, my work schedule was problematic, and really I still felt too intimidated with my lack of gun knowledge to try them for starter training. I don’t even know what gun(s) I should learn to shoot! What now? Hallelujah - Women On Target (WOT) days to the rescue! I don’t remember how we found out about them…..online?  (My journey towards firearms has been in conjunction with a woman friend), but we did indeed find out about this wonderful resource. WOT days, sponsored by the NRA, are an absolutely excellent resource for women wanting to learn about firearms. A full day of shooting, with caring and patient instructors, in all manner of firearms, with a fine lunch and an affordable price - this is a day not to be missed. The workshops are short and low-key, suitable for novices and more experienced shooters alike. They are set up to just allow women the experience of shooting a variety of guns with no performance pressure under safe and comfortable conditions.  Newbies are welcomed and coddled, and the instructors at all of the workshops I attended just wanted you to be successful at some manner of shooting. They went out of their way to make us feel comfortable and safe and competent. And the women-only camaraderie makes the day way fun, everyone supports and cheers achievements, and there’s great swag at the end of the day too!

We shot all manner of guns: different high-powered rifles, various sizes/calibers of handguns, shotguns, black-powder rifles, and archery was included too. It is an opportunity to figure out just what kind of gun you/a woman is most comfortable with. I initially thought that while I had my bit of background with a .22 rifle, I needed to learn to shoot a handgun, as a handgun is obviously the best choice for women. I wanted to learn what was the best handgun for me. Well, surprise. After my first two WOT days (I have since attended a third), I realized that I am a shotgun woman. Can’t explain it, there is no reason for it, but out of all the shooting I did, the shotgun was the gun for me. It was the fun factor. Both workshops used both semi-autos and pumps, and I immediately gravitated to a pump action shotgun as a firearm I could actually have fun with. It was a defining moment. (A confession: pumping that action is downright sexy.) I had found a firearm that “spoke to me”, and therefore one that I was interested in learning about and becoming competent with. This, it seems to me, is where a newbie interest starts, with finding a firearm that has the fun factor.  My friend who has attended all the workshops with me is starting to become a high-powered rifle aficionado, against all odds. She, like me, had started this learning process thinking that a handgun was what she wanted to focus on, but her exposure to target rifles convinced her otherwise (and I see venison in my future as a result of her unexpected affinity for the hunting rifles. The woman is uncannily accurate for a newbie!) . Bottom line: a WOT day can start the process toward learning what firearm is the one a woman naturally gravitates to. The one she can have an interest in and wants to earn competence in. The one that has some fun factor. And that is the gun that the newbie woman should focus on, whatever it may be.

Because let’s face it, a modern life is a busy life. Full-time jobs, children and grandchildren, homemaking and caretaking: adding a new hobby/learning-experience can be a hard thing to fit into the day. So even though learning a firearm is serious business, finding one that she finds fun to shoot means that she will find/make the time to practice and learn. I think this is such an important point that it cannot be overstated: you have got to find a firearm that your woman can have fun with, before she can or will commit to learning and training.

As for me, deciding that I wanted to learn to shoot a shotgun ended up being the way around the last vestiges of my phobia, with it becoming something I so enjoyed doing. Yes, I should become familiar and proficient with handguns, and rifles, and other tools of self defense. But I have to start somewhere, and since I realized that I am never going to be a true gun freak, it made sense for me to focus my energies on the one gun I truly enjoy shooting. I must have my own shotgun. I want to learn about and become familiar with and practice with and become competent with my very own one gun. I looked around for recommendations. After extensive internet research and lots of  local “good ol boy” questioning,  I decided that the Remington 870 Youth Express 20 gauge pump action was the gun for me. Ease of use, affordability and reliability were all criteria that the Remington seemed to offer. And my research told me that a 20 gauge shotgun makes a decent home defense weapon.

And they were right. Oh, she’s a honey! I can’t tell you how much I’m enjoying shooting this gun. I’m not yet terribly proficient in target-shooting (though I ain‘t half-bad, either) but I am at this point quite competent in proper shouldering and follow through (no bruises!), quick loading and safe carrying. My accuracy will improve as I practice more out in the pasture with the cheap manual clay-thrower we got for me, We are able to get out for practice about twice a month. I’m so far sticking to 2 ¾” field loads in it; later I want to branch out to practice with buckshot, which load I understand is more suitable for home defense - I will have to learn to switch out the choke tube. And we last month installed a sling on my shotgun, so that I could/can now tote my gun cross country or in the field easily, if a situation would require it. Perhaps later I could even be responsible for putting some meat on the table!

My gun phobia is all but gone. (I am, however, left with a very healthy respect for safe practices. I joke to my husband that there are none so safe with a gun as the formerly gun phobic. We know that all guns are always loaded, and always know exactly where that barrel is pointed.) And my beginner training continues. My friend and I this fall attended a three-day Becoming an Outdoor Woman (BOW) weekend that my state holds - another remarkable learning opportunity for women.  Three days of  3 and 4-hour workshops in all sorts of outdoor skills, with lodging and meals - it’s a kind of “summer camp for women“. I of course signed up for all of the beginner shotgun workshops, and learned so much more about my shooting stance, and sighting, and the classroom instruction on how a shotgun actually works was fascinating (go figure: that I could come to enjoy a classroom lecture on how a shotgun works!) I came away with a new appreciation, and new tools, for learning how to use my shotgun.  My goals for the coming year are to attend an Appleseed Weekend and a Hunter’s Safety Course.  Both seem basic and must-do in my newbie quest toward firearm learning, safety and competence. I have also now found a “mentor”, a friend of my husband who will help me learn disassembly, cleaning, and choke tube switching of my shotgun. And I am looking again at the gun clubs within driving distance, that I dream of perhaps setting up some more-professional one-on-one training for me. I'm learning all of this slowly but surely.

So, there is my little story. I understand that I am nowhere near ready to repel a home invasion, or to be asked to join the 673rd Shotgun Infantry Fighting Rebels (Hey, I can see it happening). Still, I am starting to feel empowered, and competent, and oh so much more self-sufficient. (And I’m having a lot of fun too!) It is a wonderful thing, this feeling of knowing that whatever may come in the months and years ahead that I am better prepared to defend myself, my family, my homestead. And my feelings of empowerment are something that I think any gun shy or gun phobic woman can come to embrace, with proper and patient exposure and instruction.

(An aside: At this point in time [December 2011], I really hope to be given the time to get more proficient with my gun, before I have a true need for it. I worry more and more that such time is running out. I wish that I had started earlier.)

In summary:

(1) Try to get her involved! Think of ways to get your newbie woman to see the wisdom of having shooting skills. Think of ways to expose her to firearms. Exposure can grow into acceptance. Acceptance can grow into enthusiasm.
(2) Consider WOT and BOW. See above, and Google for information on programs in your state.  Women-only workshops can help take the fear, the mystique, and the performance pressure out of shooting, and allow her to find the “fun factor”.
(3) Find the firearm she considers fun. It doesn’t matter which one or type, if she can find the fun in shooting it she will be more likely to want to learn. Any start is a good start toward learning shooting skills.

God bless, happy shooting, and may we never need to raise our guns in fear or anger.

I recently won the third prize for the survivalblog writing contest and I thought I would give back to the SurvivalBlog readers a review of the items I received as a way of saying thanks. The items I received were a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21, expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy, and two Super Survival Pack seed collections, courtesy of Seed for Security. I received all the items quickly and with two of them I also received congratulations cards on winning which was a very nice touch in my opinion. I want to take the time to respond back to these, and all the survivalBlog prize donators with a big thank you. Your efforts are helping to drive one of the best collections of how to articles available on the net.

The first item I want to review is the Royal Berkey water filter. When I received the box I was impressed with how well packaged the item was. I then removed the filter from the box and I must tell you these look even better in person than it does in the pictures. I was also taken with how small it actually was. I had always imagined something the size of the tea dispensers you see in restaurants. Instead it was closer to the size of a coffee percolator, a large one, but still smaller than I expected, very impressive for something rated at four gallons of flow per hour.  The box contained everything I would need to get started except the water.

The filter housing is made of stainless steel and does not feel flimsy at all; it feels like it could handle being moved around a lot. You can really see why these are considered the gold standard for water purification. I would in no means call it bug out bag capable, but if you need to move it around your retreat local you would not have to worry about it coming apart. This would be a good item to put in a dedicated bug out vehicle that had some storage capacity to allow you to travel with it. I could actually see permanently installing this in an RV or other similar setup to provide safe drinking water on the road. As an emergency supply for those planning to bug in this would be invaluable, especially if you have a local source of water that might become contaminated once the SHTF. With no water, or questionable water, from the pipes this item will give you the flexibility you need to manage your drinking supply.  This would also provide an excellent long term camping solution to ensuring clean drinking water.
The next item I received was the item from Natural Cozy. Now this is a bit harder for me to review being a guy and not needing these regularly. They are very nicely made items, to the point that when I took them out of the package I started to think of other uses I could use them for. They are very soft and absorbent feeling, something I am going to have to assume is a good thing. I was also struck by the thought that they would make excellent bandages in an emergency.  They are strongly stitched and appear that they can take a lot of use.

I introduced these items to the wife and daughter and the reaction was interesting. At first I will admit they were a little hesitant about these items. Both of them are products of modern society and frankly tolerate my prepper ways, mainly because I have the last say in my house on these issues. They have been raised to think of disposable as clean and anything else as dirty. There perception changed a bit once I started to ask them what their plans in this area were once things went south and they could not pop over to the local store and grab a box of hygiene products whenever they wanted. I pointed out that the local stores supplies would most likely be gone in a week and that we simply did not have the space to store enough to last them more than a month. I did offer to help to help them to figure out the middle ages method of control involving a rag and dried moss. Once they realized I was serious they suddenly got a lot more interested in these items. Their impression seemed to be that while they were not interested in using them right now, that once SHTF they would be very interested in them. Since then my wife has commented a couple times she is actually glad that we have them.

From my point of view I am also glad to have them. While I don’t personally need them I have a sneaking suspicion that I am going to be real glad I have a supply once they get scarce. I may run my house and control things, I am not sure I could stand the insurrection caused by two of the ladies of the house with no midol, no chocolate, and no hygiene pads. I can at least plan to furnish to them one of these pieces and save myself a lot of headaches in the future! Until then I have put them in a long term storage bucket marked plumbing supplies.

Finally I want to talk about the seeds for security package I received. The package contained two sets of their super survival packs and I must say I was impressed. Each set contains multiple packages of heirloom seeds packaged in their own Mylar packs. I found this to be very desirable over the more common #10 can method of packaging as I only had to open the pack I needed to use, not the entire collection at once. The packs are also nice because great care was taken to package sets of seeds that have the same growth needs. The spring pack, for example, contains everything that should be planted together in the spring, followed by a summer pack, a fall pack, and a winter pack. Grain packs are also included so that you can keep you separate rotation of grains going at the same time as your main vegetable garden. Each set of seeds came with detailed planting instructions. Add a farmer’s almanac to this mix to find the proper starting times for each season in your area and you are golden. This set is as close to fool proof gardening as you can get.

Again I wish to express my gratitude to these sponsors for sending out these items. The water filter and seeds were next on my list for items I needed to stockpile. The hygiene products should have been on my list and were not. I am glad they got moved up and covered now that I have thought on them more. If you don’t have these items yet I strongly suggest you run out and get them after you have your initial stockpile of food started.

Mr. Rawles,
I recently saw another preparedness site pose a question: “what happens after the crisis is over…???” The question was this: Once the SHTF and the world “resets itself” and the rule of law is re-established, certainly some form of government will start asking  who shot who, what crimes were committed, and generally start prosecuting the bad guys. I feel very certain that I can now keep my family and I safe and sound through your educational efforts. But I am not clear how I will defend my efforts weeks, months, or years after the fact.

If possible, could you discuss what your thoughts are, not so much in the surviving, but “cleaning up the mess” after things most certainly will return to normal? I know this is a broad topic, but I cannot see where it has been talked about very much. I don’t intend to loot, steal, or rob anybody… but I am prepared to defend what is mine. Thanks, - Scott P.

JWR Replies: While there are bound to be some inquiries, the chances of them focusing on you are slim. But just in case it does happen, my recommendations for my readers in The United States are as follows:

1.) If you live in a "Castle Doctrine" state, then post lethal force warning signs in both English and Spanish, immediately after the onset of a crisis.

2.) If there is a shooting incident, then do you best to end it forcefully and decisively, but show restraint. Don't continue to shoot once a group of attackers begins to retreat. Entry wounds in the back are hard to explain.

3.) If you take a life in self defense, make every effort to report it and get a law enforcement officer to come and take a report. If the police, sheriff, or coroner can't come (for any reason), then work your way down the list of civil servants until you get down to National Guardsmen, fish and game officers, and the local dog catcher. Some sort of official report is better than no report. (The lack of a report might later cause suspicion of foul play.) Be sure to ask whoever takes the report to also draw a diagram of the scene, and to take digital pictures. They might someday prove crucial to avoiding an exhumation.

4.) If, because of the disaster situation you can't get any official to come and take a report, then ask you neighbors to come and assist you. You and your neighbors should draw a diagram of the scene, and take digital pictures. Take pictures from all angles, and roll the body (or bodies) over and photograph the exit wounds. Avoid taking any grinning "gory glory" shot, or making any demonstration of glee or "good riddance". Look appropriately somber and be respectful of the dead.) Write a detailed account of the incident, and have your neighbors sign and date it. Do this as soon as possible. If there were any witnesses, have them also write an after-action report and sign and date it. Once any semblance of law and order is restored, have all of the statements notarized, and file them with your local police or sheriff's department office. At the same time, turn in any captured weapons, identification, personal effects, or vehicles as evidence. (You do not want any appearance of having profited in any way from the incident.)

5.) If circumstances dictate it, the burial of any bodies of deceased looters should be done with as many witnesses as possible, in full daylight. Be sure to photograph the event. Give them a proper Christian burial, and mark the grave site. Record the GPS coordinates in your report.

If and when there is any subsequent finger pointing, I suspect that it will be the ambiguous incidents that will warrant investigation. Those that properly document self-defense shooting events will face little scrutiny. The foregoing may sound a bit extreme, but never forget that we live is a very litigious society. Even if you a cleared of any criminal wrong-doing, there is always the threat of a civil suit, by relatives of the deceased hombres malos. If in doubt, over-document what happened.

Hello Jim,
I would like to make a few observations on Dale's letter concerning alternative heat and home power.

My first would be his perspective on the use of propane as a primary fuel source.  I have used propane for heating, emergency spot heating (no electric required), cooking, and domestic hot water for more than a decade, and with proper planning it is a very reliable and cost effective fuel source that stores well long term, and can also be used to power most generators with an inexpensive conversion kit..  I currently have two 1,000 gallon above ground tanks, holding a combined 1,600 gallons, which can provide my energy use (minus electricity) for approximately 15-16 months of normal use, or 24+ months in austerity mode.  These tanks and associated hardware (regulators and plumbing) have paid for themselves many times over, due to the fact that a large bulk propane purchase in the summer can save upwards of $1 per gallon over peak winter prices.  Tank maintenance is as simple as keeping grass and other plants mowed or otherwise removed from the tanks, and the occasional wire brush and painting of places when the paint may peel.  In more than a decade I have had no issues with leaks, although we do shut off the valve from one tank until the other is nearly empty, in case that situation should occur.

Use of coal for home generation of electricity vs. its use at the utility scale is not only a matter of scale, but one of technology.  I have friends in the power generation business, and commercial power generation uses very fine tuned and sophisticated steam generation arrangements.  The coal is first powdered and injected with air into the firebox of the boiler system.  The dry (non-condensing) steam in the system runs at temperatures of 600+ degrees, with very high pressures, and is used in multistage turbines that are finely balanced.  Although a small version of this type of system might work at the home scale, the hardware would be cost prohibitive.  Small stationary boilers running steam generators and turbines or pistons (like the old steam locomotives) might be doable, but these actually require nearly constant management and maintenance, and if you don't know exactly what you're doing, can have catastrophic failure modes.  Operating such a system pre-SHF would also most likely require an operators license and inspections of the equipment.

One possible alternative would be a Stirling engine, like the ones manufactured by Stirling Technology Inc., in Athens, Ohio.  They claim that their ST-5 engine can power up to a 3.5 KW generator, using only a heat source.  I only know about this company because some friends who work at the local university and share my self reliance interests have mentioned it to me.  I don't know any of the details about the unit nor it's cost, but I do think that the required generator is not included.

One final thought on coal is something that I recall from a Mother Earth News article from perhaps 20 years ago.  The author dug a huge hole on the back of his rural property, lined it with rubber/plastic sheeting, dumped in something like 50 tons of hard coal, covered the coal with additional sheeting, and then replaced the soil.  He re-seeded the area with grass, and called it something like his personal post apocalypse coal mine.  I've never had the space or money for such a thing, and you might need to keep an eye out for the EPA if you did this today, but I've always remembered it as something I thought was a clever and interesting idea.

Good luck, - LVZ in Ohio

Reader Dale C. sent this example of urban myopia: Yahoo rates College Majors That Are Useless. [JWR's Comments: These geniuses seem to have concluded that there is no need to study how to raise food, when you can just buy it from a supermarket. (That's where they think meat comes from: "You know from those plastic-wrapped trays.") The urban elitist view seems to be that any venture where one is at risk of getting their hands dirty is "useless" or somehow offensive. The their minds, farming, ranching, and mining are out, but high finance, LBOs, and derivatives are in. But I have a news flash for them: Simply passing money from hand-to-hand creates nothing. Unless you first mine it, grow it, fish for it, or breed it, then you haven't created any new wealth. Any later processes merely improve on what has been created or extracted. The post-industrial "service economy" is a myth. Do want to build real wealth, geometrically? Then raise pecus.]

The editors of The Daily Reckoning warn that Fed currency swaps are again growing rapidly. This points to a massive bailout of Europe in the works, and more debasement via monetization.
Infographic: A Look at the Gold Tree; Where Gold Comes From and Where it Goes

Is Europe Throwing Us into a 1930s Moment?

Items from The Economatrix:

Kodak Files For Bankruptcy

The Wall Street Money Machine

US, Europe Face More Ratings Cuts In Coming Years

Stock Market Rally Still Missing One Thing:  Crowds

I was recently interviewed by Doug Belkin, a reporter with The Wall Street Journal for an article that he is writing about the growth of the preparedness movement. He would like to interview a few preppers that are chiropractors (an unusually large segment of the SurvivalBlog readership), to ask them about why being preparedness-minded fits in with their career and their world view. Send him an e-mail, if you are interested. For your privacy, I would recommend that you use a pseudonym.

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I just heard about this new blog: Salvation And Survival: A Woman's Perspective On The Times We Live In. Great stuff. I have encouraged her to continue to post regularly!

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Martin P. sent a YouTube video link on parabolic solar cookers.

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An odd news story to file under: "Avoid Deep Schumer": Texas woman stranded for five days in Idaho wastewater pond.

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Drew at Handcrafted Chicken Coops wrote to mention that they make a wide array of coops, catering to survivalists and back-to-the-landers in the USA.

"It is natural for man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts...For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth, to know the worst, and to provide for it."  - Patrick Henry

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Today we present another two entries for Round 39 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 Safecastle.com (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 FloJak.com. 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 39 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.

Little shoots of green grass are peeking up in my part of the unnamed western state due to the unseasonably warm weather we've been having. Hope the sun is shining wherever you are today as well. My desire today is to share some knowledge and tidbits I've picked up at my job in the medical field. I hope these notes will be of benefit to you in the days ahead and that you can use them when I'm no longer coming in to work to help good folks like you because I'm at home guarding my food storage and family from the “unprepared and unprincipled”. The standard warnings apply, if you do this stuff at home pre-TEOTWAWKI, you may kill yourself or someone you love, but when there's no other choice when the SHTF, well, you'll have to decide for yourself. So, without further adieu...

Let's say that you find yourself in a situation like some character in JWR's "Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse". Living in northern Idaho, you're a member of the resistance that is fighting back against the UN intrusion. As part of a three-member cell, you are often sent on missions for either reconnaissance or to show the opposing forces a little “Idaho welcome” with your heavily modified potato guns. Inevitably, one of your two companions suffers a fractured femur after falling from a lookout post. As they lay writhing on the ground, you instinctively know that by applying traction to the broken extremity, the muscle spasms will subside, giving your friend much relief. Take any piece of straight, rigid material you have with you, such as a branch from a tree, a walking stick, a ski pole, tent poles (doubled or tripled up and lashed together), etc., and lay them along the broken leg. Apply heavy padding to the inside of the groin and around the ankle in the form of folded t-shirts, etc. Now, use any form of rope or webbing available to tie two loops, one around the thigh high in the groin, and the other around the ankle, over the padding you just applied. Again, make sure they are well padded or you will cause more discomfort and risk interfering with circulation. They shouldn't be loose, but don't need to be overly tight, just enough to slip a finger or two under. Now with your remaining rope or webbing, attach the groin loop to the top tip of your straight, rigid pole. Do the same with the ankle loop, except make a simple pulley loop running from the bottom tip of the pole up through the ankle loop and back down to the tip again. In this way you can increase the amount of traction on the leg as necessary to relieve as much pain as possible. Furthermore, your rope/webbing/twine around the ankle, groin, and pole may relax with time, so you can simply unknot the pulley, pull tighter, and re-knot to keep the traction effective. When finished, lash the pole to the affected leg around the ankle and mid-calf for greater stability. One commercial option I've used is the Kendrick Traction Device (KTD) if you have the funds, but it is definitely not necessary. I would recommend watching a YouTube video of applying a KTD just in case you have questions about any of my instructions above, as obviously a video is worth 10,000 words.

Now that you have traction applied and your accomplice is happily enjoying a fentanyl lollypop for pain control, you need a litter to evacuate. Litters are made in all shapes and sizes. I'll give you a couple examples, but the guiding principle here is to use your imagination and whatever is available to create a gurney-like device that you and your non-injured friend can use to haul your injured ally back to home base. The simplest option is to lay a square tarp down (maybe your tent footprint) and tie a knot in one corner to create a pocket where the injured individual's feet will go. Then simply lay him diagonal on the tarp with his feet in the pocket, fold the tarp over top (he can even help hold it closed) and then drag him home from the head end of the tarp. In this way, one person can evacuate another without any help, but if you had some help they could lift the foot end so the injured didn't get such a jarring ride. Obviously, don't drag from just the foot end because it would be like being pulled down a flight of stairs by your feet. If he didn't have a brain injury before, then he surely would after bouncing his noggin down the trail being towed by you.

The next variation on the litter just takes it a step further by adding rigidity. Lay your tarp down and run two of those rigid poles (like the ones we talked about earlier, a straight branch, a walking stick, NOT your M1A because you're still under attack) down the center about two feet apart. Fold one straight side of the tarp over one pole, and then the opposite straight side over the other pole. Both sides are folded towards the center so they end up overlapping each other somewhere between the poles. Lay the injured between the poles on the tarp, and with one person at the head and one at the feet, lift and carry. If you don't have a tarp handy, lay down two coats, vests, or heavy shirts (zipped or buttoned up), top to bottom or bottom to bottom, turn the arms inside out (turned into the body of the garment), and run the poles through the inverted arm holes and out the bottoms. Load the injured between the poles on the coats and carry him to help.

There are endless variations of litters, and I'll wrap up this section with one of the most ingenious I've ever seen constructed. Take a long length of rope and lay it on the ground in a back and forth fashion like a snake (imagine a radio wave with high frequency and high amplitude) leaving yourself a coil of at least a third of the rope at one end. Each wave's “amplitude” should be about three feet wide from bend to bend and the “frequency” should be about a foot apart. Next, lay the tarp down on top of the rope, adding a blanket if it's cold out. Now you can add poles or an empty backpack for rigidity. Lay the injured on top and wrap him in the blanket and tarp like a burrito. Now with your leftover coils, start lacing the package together by “sewing” the amplitude waves over the tarp, back and forth, back and forth, until you get back to the other end. Go back through and pull out all the slack you can to really tighten it down, but save the tightening till you've laced all the way through or it may throw off your waves. You now have a very secure (and warm!) litter that many people can help carry, each grabbing a piece of the rope on opposite sides of the injured. Eight of us once used this litter to carry a rather heavy individual and it made the trip much easier. This also makes a great straight jacket for your friends experiencing TEOTWAWKI psychosis until they can calm down a bit.

While carrying your pal out of enemy territory, you're probably going to be shot at and possibly even take a bullet or two. Assuming you don't get shot anywhere really bad like the guts, heart, lungs, brain, spine, etc., you may live! Bring out those fish antibiotics and open wide, friends. I'm not going to cover the “sucking chest wound” or anything that would require a wound vac, a chest tube with suction, or any other heroic medical measures, because it is a very precarious situation to find yourself in a level one trauma hospital, let alone TEOTWAWKI. I'll just say that if you get shot in the arm or leg or whatever and you don't exsanguinate, then clean the wound very well with a mixture of half hydrogen peroxide and half normal saline, pack gently with iodoform gauze using a sterile cotton-tipped applicator (or anything sterile), and cover with sterile gauze and tape. Iodoform gauze comes in many widths, I personally like the ¼ or ½ inch varieties because they get in the crevices better. Take the dressing off every day, rinse with the ½ hydrogen peroxide ½ saline, and pack again with new iodoform gauze (using strict sterile technique!) and cover. Eventually (this may take a long time) the wound will begin to granulate and it will fill in. Keep feeding this person protein! I have personally taken care of people that either got shot or suffered some other penetrating injury through the legs, abdomen, flank, and arms who eventually recovered with this course of treatment. As far as antibiotics, I'll leave that to Dr. Bob, but basically just keep taking whatever you have and keep the wound as clean and sterile as possible. Since I know you really want me to say some names to satisfy your cravings, my favorite antibiotics for this type of wound seem to be trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim) by mouth and of course cephazolin (Ancef) one or two grams every eight to twelve hours if you have IV capabilities.

On the topic of antibiotics, no one ever mentions the side effects. If you are on antibiotics for a few days or more, you may get a nasty little red rash in your privates and some super funky white growth in your mouth. That is fungus growing in your moist bits. There is a natural war happening all the time between your bacteria and your fungi (who knew you were such a “fun-guy”). When you load up on the antibiotics, it gives the fungi the go ahead to take over those moist, dark places of your body. You need an anti-fungal such as nystatin or miconazole, but in a serious pinch I would try some crushed garlic, citronella oil, coconut oil, iodine, tea tree oil, or some of the other alternatives you can find cruising the web. I am not an infectious disease expert! I have just always had nystatin and it has always worked. Keep as dry as you can with baby powder and clean those areas scrupulously and often.

When your team mate fell off that lookout and broke his femur, he may or may not think about his dislocated kneecap until a bit later. Dislocations can happen in all the joints- shoulders, knees, fingers, etc. Each is put back into place a bit differently, but the principle is always the same, slow steady traction. In some Hollywood movie, a character dislocates his shoulder, and to reduce it (the medical term for putting it back in place) he rams his shoulder full steam into a wall or something. That's Hollywood for you. In the real world, every time I've dislocated my shoulder, the doc applies slow steady traction until the muscles fatigue and stop their spasms and the joint will pop back in almost on it's own. Man, I can't tell you how good it feels when it does that. Don't be surprised by the sound, I promise it is a relief, but be prepared for weak-stomached onlookers to faint when they hear it.

The how-to of reducing dislocations is a topic in itself, but just in case you ever find yourself alone in TEOTWAWKI with a dislocated shoulder, here is what I would do. Find a flat place to lay face down where you can hang your arm over the side, a kitchen table is ideal. Place something heavy on the floor, a five or ten pound dumbbell or ammo can. Lay face down on the table with the affected arm hanging over the side and gently pick up the weight and hold it just off the floor, with your arm hanging straight down, then try and relax and think some happy thoughts. After a while, your shoulder muscles will tire from the traction of weight, and they will allow the head of the humerus to slip back into the labrum (the ball back into the socket). You'll know when it happens, I promise. Warning- do not dislocate your shoulder more than you have to, it will become so loose that it slips out in your sleep, quiet a weird experience to wake up to. After TEOTWAWKI, you won't be able to get your orthopedic surgeon neighbor to do the surgery you need quite as readily.

Knees and hips follow the same principle, but you need another person to help. For knees, lay the “patient” flat on the table with the affected knee bent at 90 degrees, wrap your elbow around the back of the lower leg at the top of the calf muscle, and apply traction away from the pelvis. You'll probably need someone holding the patient's shoulders so you don't pull them off the table while you're holding traction. The top of the tibia will eventually slip back into connection with the condyles of the femur. Hips are essentially the same positioning (person laying on back, knee bent at 90 degrees, the “doctor's” elbow wrapped under the knee to provide traction) except they require rotation (abduction) of the leg to the outside to get the trochanter (top of the femur) moved out of the way and back into the socket. Again, this is a topic that requires a little more than a paragraph. Your local paramedic or emergency room doctor can lead you aright, but YouTube is always a great place to start if you don't have time to volunteer on Friday nights at your local emergency department. All the standard warnings apply, if you do this at home pre-TEOTWAWKI, you risk nerve impingement or circulatory disruption and you could lose the function of your extremity at the least and eventually die from any number of possible sequelae.

Since we've covered dislocations, we should quickly cover ligaments. Ligaments are those awesome pieces of 550 paracord that God put in and around our joints to hold them together and keep them moving in the right fashion. If your friend who fell off his LP/OP is complaining of pain in the knee, you can examine the four knee ligaments to determine if he has a tear. With him laying on his back and the knee flexed at 90 degrees, gently attempt to move the tibia forwards and backwards at the joint. You can practice this right now where you're sitting if your knee is bent. With your hand resting over your kneecap, use your other arm to push and pull your lower leg (the top of your tibia) towards and away from your pelvis by pushing at the top of the calf muscle in the back and just below the kneecap in the front. You may feel slight movement, but more than slight movement or intense pain while doing this following an injury is indicative of a tear. The other two ligaments are tested by attempting to angle the lower leg inward and outward (adducting and abducting) while holding the thigh still. If you get movement or pain, your in trouble. Rest, ice, elevation, compression, ibuprofen, and a good knee brace will be the TEOTWAWKI prescription for healing, since you won't be getting any tendon repair surgery post-SHTF.

At this point I'm going to slip in a quick note about the spine. When your buddy hit the ground and commenced his injured state, there's a high likelihood he also suffered a spinal injury of one level or another. The most frequently injured portion is from the base of the skull down through the neck, the cervical or “c-spine” area. Think of those videos of motor vehicle crash test dummies. When they hit the wall, their neck flexes down till their chin touches their sternum and then extends back up in a whiplash movement. That's a c-spine injury. One of the first things paramedics do when they reach the scene of the crash is to immobilize the c-spine with a hard collar. At my facility we use the Aspen brand, but you can buy any number of hard cervical collars. After the wreck, people are so focused on their other injuries that they sometimes don't notice the aching neck, or they think it's just an ache and shrug it off. Unless you've squirreled away a CT scanner and neurosurgeon at your retreat (hey, it could happen), leave that collar on for six weeks! You've got a much better chance of decreasing the subsequent neurological impairment by keeping the neck immobilized, as well as decreasing further injury when the injury swells. You'll know you've got a problem when you can't move or feel an arm, but I've seen people walk in with three column vertebral fractures, not knowing that if they broke that fourth column they'd sever their spinal cord and become an instant quadriplegic. Under the current guidelines, we leave the collar on for three to four days till the other injuries subside, then get flexion/extension films of the c-spine before removing the collar. Post-TEOTWAWKI, six weeks of a hard collar is going to be a lot better than any amount of nerve impairment that reduces motor control or sensation. Lastly, the collar should be snug! Loose collars are as useless as not having one on at all.

To conduct a TEOTWAWKI neuro exam, have the “patient” flex, extend, abduct, and adduct his arms, hands, legs, and feet against resistance. Any focal weakness, numbness, tingling, or pain is indicative of nerve impairment. If any member of my group showed such signs, they'd likely be relegated to bed rest with bedside commode privileges for six weeks. Obviously they're going to get stiff and weak and grumpy, but better than losing the ability to walk because of a thoracic or lumbar fracture that got worse because of too much activity. The hardest part is learning to get out of bed correctly. Learning the log roll can really help. Flex the knee 90 degrees opposite the side of the bed you plan to get out of. Reach the ipsilateral (same side) arm across your chest and grab the side of the bed. Pull yourself onto your side with that arm and by pushing with your flexed leg. Focus on keeping your hips and shoulders square to each other to prevent twisting in your spine. You are now on your side close to the edge of the bed you'll be getting out on. As you drop your legs over the side of the bed, push yourself to a sitting position using the hand you pulled yourself over with and the elbow you rolled onto. That's the log roll, and it will save your back a ton of straining and stress if you have a fracture or some pulled muscles. Some Flexeril, Soma, or Valium will help those muscles relax and quit their spasms, but you're going to look like a druggie if you go ask your doc for them. Try alternating ice packs with heat packs, and stay on top of the pain meds.

Speaking of pain, I keep waiting to read a “how-to acupuncture” article on SurvivalBlog, but until then will just have to keep stockpiling the acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. Pain is a topic unto itself, but for the moment suffice it to say I would direct the reader to an excellent presentation called “Pain Management in the Wilderness” by Casey Turner and Patrick Zimmerman of Wilderness Medicine of Utah. It gives the topic of pain a thorough but easily understandable examination. For further reading I recommend “Wilderness Medicine” by Paul S. Auerbach, MD, and “Pain Management in the Wilderness and Operational Setting” by Col. Ian Wedmore, MD. Since reading up on wilderness medicine is basically the same as SHTF medicine, you cannot go wrong with the Wilderness Medical Society, the Wilderness Medicine Institute, or the Wilderness and Environmental Medicine Journal. I take no responsibility if you learn how to do a peripheral nerve block or employ herbs in any manner.

One final thought- if your friend doesn't die from the initial impact, the lack of modern medical care, or the innumerable complications that we haven't discussed, it sure would be pitiful for him to expire from a bowel blockage after he lays around for weeks and sucks down your narcotic supply like a kid in a candy store. Bowel movements are close to, if not the number one reason people spend an extra day in the hospital after surgery. All those pain pills put your bowels to sleep, and coupled with long hours in bed, you've got a recipe for constipation turned deadly. You better have some senna, docusate sodium (Colace), biscodyl suppositories, and Fleet enemas stockpiled. Give the senna and Colace one or two times a day starting immediately, and mandate a suppository or enema or both on day two or three post injury if no bowel movement.. They may not feel like eating or drinking, but fiber and liquids are a must and should be encouraged. If you have done all of the above but cannot produce a bowel movement and cannot hear bowel tones when listening to the abdomen with your stethoscope, the person will presumably be vomiting foul smelling bile and it's time to start digging if you don't have access to a nasogastric tube and intermittent suction.

Well friends, that's about all I have to say for now. Here's to us all being well versed and well prepared for a coming day in the future when the ER has been ransacked and the grocery stores are empty. Maybe we'll meet and trade some junk silver for some .22 LR, or you could trade some of your new-found medical knowledge to someone in desperate need in exchange for a mansion in our Father's Kingdom. May God's blessings rest upon you and yours.

It is very difficult for the average middle class American to prepare for the coming collapse; those that recognize the need still see it as maybe too late to do anything or there is too much to buy and prepare to be completely prepared.  Unless you are independently wealthy, that may be true, it is nearly impossible to be 100% completely prepared for all eventualities.

The first thing you need to do is to prepare your soul and your family, they have to understand and be on board.  Your family and yourself must first get right with God if you haven’t, and accept Christ as your savior and bend to God’s judgment, let his will guide your first and foremost.  After this you must begin your preparations, none of us know when the time will come, more than likely soon, but it may be a week away or years away, and every little bit will get you that much closer to survival and make your position far better.  I won’t go into deep detail on every facet of information as there are ample books and blogs explaining the “how to’s” and if you are on survivalblog already than you have a monstrous wealth of knowledge at your fingertips.  This is a quick once over to help the read understand the basics and get started, remember that knowledge is the best weapon you have, read, learn, try and repeat until you have it mastered.


More than likely you don’t have a lot of disposable income have had your hours cut back or have a hefty mortgage.  You have to look at all the expenses in your house, if renting is it reasonable, is there a way to find a more remote location to move to, or a cheaper place to rent that would save you monthly expenses?  Cell phone bills are an easy way to cut, if you have multiple phones consider cutting back to one main house phone, get a pen and paper and write down things to buy at the store instead of calling home from there to figure out what you need.  Cell phones are handy but are they worth the extra 60-100 dollars they are costing you a month?  Cable is not necessary, it is a convenience, if you have cable you probably have internet, have one house computer, sell the others, and get your news off the net.  Whatever disposable income you have, start to put it into tangible goods, things that you can use or sell in the coming TEOTWAWKI situation.  I invested a good portion of my net assets in precious metals in 2008 before the price went up, but even with the higher prices now you have to remember that when the time comes that everyone realizes that they should buy gold and silver it will be too late to get adequate amounts.  Buy “junk” silver, 90% dimes and quarters, they don’t have the numismatic value of silver Eagles or gold Krugerrands, but people won’t care about the collectibility of the coin in TEOTWAWKI only the content. Don't buy 1-ounce "trade dollars" or bars. What I mean by this is the 10 or 100 oz silver bars or 1 oz gold coins, those are worth a lot individually and you will need your metals to barter for things like food, ammo, clothes, etc.  day to day items not a new care, so buy small amounts, which is why junk silver is so nice, because about 1.30 in silver coin is worth a 1 oz silver piece and you can barter more accurately with the smaller denomination.  It’s okay if you can buy $10,000 worth of coin now, if it’s just a few hundred at a time, that’s more than fine, shop around get the best deal, but don’t not buy storage food and ammo to buy more coin, you can barter with silver but you can’t eat it, and at the beginning of the collapse people may only want “beans, bullets and Band Aids” as the military says.  In short, don’t eat out, buy bulk and buy cheap, learn to cook with simple ingredients that can be found in nature.  Cut out non-essentials, don’t take that vacations to Hawaii, instead go out camping and you can test the gear you buy and get your family used to living it rough, and relying on what they have and on God’s bounty in nature.  I know many people might disagree, but get out of your retirement accounts, cash them in take the hit, or at least don’t put your money into them anymore.  List out all your expenditures and future expenditures and figure out where you can cut out wants and boil it down to actual needs and go from there.


Food isn’t hard to find and buy, with the proliferation of bulk food stores like Costco, Sam’s Club, etc.  On a tight budget you can see when there are deals on canned vegetables and other foods and when you go out buy a few cans per trip and it will add up.  This is a less efficient course, because when you buy in bulk you save much more per can than individually.  If you can’t afford a membership find a friend that does or find a few and pool your money and have the owner of the account shop for everyone. You can save up to a dollar a can in some circumstances.  Bulk Salt, Sugar, Molasses, Coffee and every other staple can be purchased there.  Buy in bulk store it in a garage or wherever you have room, and add to it over time as money allows, in a short while you will be amazed at what you can accumulated.  Read up on what is needed for an adult man, woman, and child to survive and buy accordingly.  You’ll need an ample source of carbohydrates, proteins and fats.  Hard Red wheat is a favorite of mine, you can (with a home grinder, recommend the Country living grain mill, it’s the best on the market) grind your wheat when needed into flour to make bread and it retains its nutrients much longer than buying flour itself.  You can also soak it in water overnight to make Wheat Berries and add some brown sugar and/or honey and it makes a nutritious breakfast that’s not too bad.  If you can’t find a cheap local seller of red wheat, check local bakeries many will sell it at wholesale or a buck a pound if you bring your own bucket.  For long term storage you need food storage grade buckets, and there are many techniques including Mylar bags with dry ice and “Gamma seal” lids, just a quick search on any survival site will give you more detailed information on how to pack and store this once you get your supplier lined up.  A quick tip is instead of buying the buckets online, is to call local bakery shops, or supermarkets, restaurants that buy bulk cooking foods and ask if they have empty buckets laying around.  Make sure that the buckets ARE food grade and haven’t had any chemicals stored in them.  Check for smells because if they held pickles and you don’t clean them out with bleach and baking soda then you might have pickled flavored wheat come TEOTWAWKI time. 

The other way to get your food storage situation in order is to look at bulk pre-packaged meals like those in the military MREs or the Mountain House meals you see at camping supply sections.  These meals are dehydrated, have long shelf lives and only usually need water to cook/heat up.  The downside is that they are much more expensive per calorie than say a bucket or hard red wheat and canned fruits/veggies.  The upside is that they are great emergency and Bug out (a term that denotes you needing to leave quickly) food, as they can be thrown in a backpack and left there for longer than your family dog will live.  If money is tight then I would only use this as a small portion of your total food storage. Definitely have some pre-staged in “Bug out bags” (will mention this later, but basically a backpack for each individual, easily available to grab and leave quickly if things get bad) so that you will have meal(s) to eat on the go and MREs can be rationed out to last a few days each.  Check Craigslist, local surplus stores and of course the internet, as they are sold everywhere and can range from $50-to-90 a case (of 12).  The last big item to mention for food is seeds and hunting.  Hunting will require weapons which will be discussed later and will be dictated by where you live and availability of game in the area.  Seeds on the other hand are very important for long term survival in a TEOTWAWKI situation.  The average seed store will sell you a pack of carrots or tomatoes that with a green thumb and good soil produce copious amounts of the fruit or vegetable wanted, but most people don’t save the seeds they produce to use the next year.  This is because of two reasons, one the packs are cheap and two most seeds are what are called “hybrid seeds”, meaning that they are made to produce good yields of each plants bounty, but the in a generation or two the seeds produced will not be viable.  What you want to buy are “heirloom” seeds, these seeds often don’t produce as big of yields of as their Frankenstein hybrid cousins, but year after year, the seeds they produce will grow true and can be used indefinitely.  Search out web sites that sell heirloom seeds and research the plants and crops that will grow best in your area, or areas near you will be moving to after the collapse.  Research heavily, I have a whole folder that has page upon page of information on every heirloom seed that I buy and that has helped tremendously when I did my own small experiments and tried my hand at home gardening, this information and experience helped me immensely to accumulate the knowledge needed to know how and when to plant, what plants to plant around or keep away from my “crops” as now the learning curve only means I lose a plant or two or none grow at all until I figure the tricks out.  In a TEOTWAWKI scenario when your life depends on this food, the learning curve will mean life or death.  You don’t want to OJT in a survival situation; you need to know the little tricks before.  Intent is good, knowledge is better and practical experience is golden.


Water is one of the most important links in survival and a post indoor plumbing; TEOTWAWKI will amplify this for every man woman and child on this planet.  Most people take their ample water supply at home for granted, flip the faucet and water will run continuously.  When that water stops where will you get yours? Even if you have a house more than likely, as in 99% of the time your pump is electric with no manual backup. If you have your own well there are manual pumps that can be made and fitted to use before, or if you have the money to buy them, solar powered pumps are and option as well.  If you live in the city, or even the suburbs many times, you are dependent on city water and will be SOL in TEOTWAWKI.  First thing to do in any emergency is plugging the drains in sinks and tubs and fill it with water, you will need this to fill bottles, camelbacks, etc for your run from the city. 

Wherever you go one thing that it will need to have is water available, whether it’s a solar/hand pumped well, a neighboring creek or some other water source.  The closer the better because a five gallon bucket of water weighs around 41.7 pounds and hand carrying that long distances gets old real quick!  A water filer is a must especially if your water comes from a standing water lake or pond or even a stream.  I know and have drank from fast moving streams deep in the mountains, as they are often free from bacteria, but this was necessity and I know use a Steripen UV water purifier for when I fill my canteens.  The problems with streams is that you never know what is just upstream from you, a dead moose/deer or other animal could be lying dead or a friendly bear could be giving you the big finger by taking a dump in it.  Like I said I carry a candy bar size Steripen for my hiking trips with a solar recharger case for my mountain camping, but that takes 45 seconds to sterilize a quart of water, and only as long as the battery lasts.  The best plan is to buy a Big Berkey water filter with a 3.5 gallon per hour filter rate, and its filtration is second to none.  This baby runs about $250+, so it is out of the price range of some, but if you can make it work, it is well worth the investment.  This is a in-house filter and not good at all for on the go, in the same price range is the portable  Swiss made Katadyn pocket filter that you can use to fill up your canteens or Nalgene bottles from lakes and streams.  These are two examples of great filters for in house and on the go (bug out) use, but there are other ways to filter your water for cheaper.  The Common container of bleach (original non-fragrance) is an old standby for water purification.  Use ¼ teaspoon per gallon of water, or a full teaspoon per 4 gallons of water.  This is a cheap purifier and should leave avery slight bleach smell, this only means that it has done its job, but may not taste like it’s from the Brita.  Another more economical solution is to use “Pool Shock” a common ingredient to make pools safe to swim in and available from any pool care store, online or in your town depending on your environment.  Make sure that calcium hypochlorite is the only active ingredient in the product and at 65% with no added anti-fungal's, or clarifiers, if not you can seriously endanger you and your family.  You would use about ¼ ounce per two gallons of water, this will make bleach and with that you can use the bleach solution to treat water at 1 part per 100 parts water, roughly 2.5 tablespoons per gallon of water.  I got most of this info from J.W. Rawles on SurvivalBlog.com and the EPA site link, and using this I would definitely go with the EPA’s recommendation of aerating “The disinfected water by pouring it back and forth from one clean container to another” as this does get rid of the smell.  This was more because I had time and it wasn’t survival mode yet, but a bad smell is better than giardia (Beaver Fever) any day!   The last way is to just bring the water to boil for one minute, let it cool and drink it.  This is fine for the campsite but for a larger group of people in a more static location having the ability to treat large amounts of water is a real plus and your energies and time can go to more pressing matters.


This list isn’t so much in order of importance, as food and water are important to survival but having a place to stay and survive while society collapses is a must.  If you live in an apartment there are books and manuals available on how to outfit it for “urban survival” but most of these recognize this as being just a "you have no other choice" type scenario and I would discourage it in every possible way.  The truth is yes if you have a fireplace you can burn furniture available throughout the city or construct a makeshift stove to heat and cook from.  You can barricade the doors; form a co-op with other residents, pool resources and all that.  That would be for a short term, month+ plus Katrina scenario where the caped federal crusader will be there to provide food and shelters eventually.  In a TEOTWAWKI world, this isn’t going to happen, currency and government will cease to function, and there will be no coast guard airdrops and FEMA trailers coming.  The best thing to do if you live in an apartment is move to a more remote home with land of your own.  If you can’t do that then, as previously stated, change your life habits, get something cheaper if possible and be ready to leave the city or suburbs as soon as things get bad, and before everyone else realizes it and loses their minds. A quick digression, if you are reading this you already recognize the need to know these things and have somewhat of an idea of how bad things will get.  But remember that 99% of the people in this country have no idea what do when the power goes out and the shelves at the supermarket are empty.  Many people will remain good hearted individuals, but many will not and turn to the darker side of humanity and steal, rape and pillage whatever they can.  Our commanding general in Iraq said that we Marines should “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.”  That is the mentality you need to have, that you should live the Christian virtues of charity and love of your fellow man, but have a plan to escape survive and defend you and your family’s life.  Okay Back to Shelter, if you can’t afford a place out in the woods away from the main cities, remote and self sustaining to the best of your ability, network.  Log into survival blog sites like Surivivalblog.com and others and find other like-minded Christian people like yourself that want to be prepared, form groups and pool your resources, more than likely you have skills that others don’t, and if you don’t have any practical survival skills begin to learn them, specialize in medicine, or hunting/trapping, solar power, mechanics so that you have something to offer the group that they need.  There is the rugged individual in every American (And I was of this mindset when I first started prepping) that wants to have a mountain top retreat, hunt, grow and trap all your food, and hold of waves of godless communists with nothing but your AR and brass balls.  Sorry to break this to you if you had the same thought as me, but you won’t survive long-term going solo, or just you and your family.  You could scrounge out an existence, but more than likely you will run out of food and/or gangs of looters before too long.  Your best chance of survival will be in groups, peppers who joined before and after the collapse to help each other and pool their resources and talents.  Your best chance will be to find a place off the beaten path, not near any major highways with freshwater, long growing seasons and plentiful game.  Even with all this life will be labor intensive and difficult.  You will want your retreat in an area where the population has some semblance of self reliance as a community virtue.  It should be within driving distance and if not you need to have pre-filled and rotated gas cans so you won’t rely on gas stations to get there.  There are extensive tomes written on this subject so I won’t try to touch on all the details that lie therein.  Basically you will want to get out of the cities and away from any major populations now, and if not do it before things get bad, read the signs and beat the crowd.  Survival in numbers, folks.


Depending on whom you ask you’ll get many different opinions on what weapons someone should have to defend themselves in a TEOTWAWKI world.  I’m a firm believer that everyone should have a weapon for self defense even in the pre-TEOTWAWKI world we live in now.  I have the utmost respect for Police officers and have worked with many of them over the years, but Police rarely stop a crime before it is committed, more often they are a cleanup crew.  At the minimum someone should have a handgun, shotgun and rifle.  Handguns should not be your primary defensive weapon now or in TEOTWAWKI, they are great as a backup when your primary weapon runs out of ammo or you don’t have time to reload and need rounds on target quickly. Transitioning (which is what those in the military and plice world call it when you move from one weapon system to another) from your rifle to your pistol is much quicker often times than reaching for a new mag and reloading as your pistol should be already loaded and ready to go.  A .45 is my preferred choice for a sidearm for is stopping power, but there has been a lot of talk about the .40 S&W being of roughly equal stopping power, higher capacity and better ballistics when Special Forces was testing for a new sidearm over the hated M9 Beretta 9mm.  I personally use a Kimber Warrior, but any Colt manufacture .45 is excellent as well, with any weapon read up, shoot ones your friends may have, and many pistol ranges allow you to rent most common pistols, take lessons and use what is most comfortable with you.  I don’t like 9mm as its stopping power is at best problematic as I saw in Iraq and Afghanistan, even with hollow points a enemy can and has taken multiple rounds and been able to still keep fighting, albeit less efficiently.  If you have a 9mm now, consider selling it and getting a .45 if not, it’s still better than a knife or bat! 

For rifles well that’s where we run into a 1,000 different opinions and no matter what you say there’s always someone that says your wrong and this is why.  I don’t care much for armchair shooters' opinions and I rely on my own experience overseas, I did two tours in Iraq with the Marine Corps Infantry, the last was the Siege of Fallujah in 2004-2005 and then three years private contracting security for companies that have been unjustly maligned in recent years, anyway off my soapbox.  I prefer my M4 for main battle rifle due to its ability to do double duty as both an offensive/defensive weapon as well as hunt small to medium game.  The M4’s main attribute is it is basically a magnum .22 and has quite a bit of “oomph” behind it (the amount of depends on your barrel length and ammunition used).  There has been a lot of talk of it not being able to “stop” a enemy, and I have seen this in Iraq and Afghanistan, and it does sound hypocritical due to my diatribe on the 9mm previously, but the lack of one round stopping power is made of the other attributes the M4 (AR family) offers.  As a Drill instructor told me, the AK is great for uneducated, slow witted mud hut dwellers, they can point shoot and drop it in the dirt, and it will keep shooting, but the M4 is a professional’s weapon.  It can shoot accurately at distances far outrange of the AK (the barrel length will greatly affect this) or many other similar battle rifles, and in the hand of a well trained Marine it is deadly.   I love the AK as well and I own and use one as well as other rifles, but if push came to shove and there was an intruder in the perimeter, my M4 would be my primary.  With proper training and only Iron sights you can hit targets accurately at 500 yards or less.  With the right ammunition you can also hunt animals from rabbits to deer, which makes it a much more versatile weapon than the venerable AK. 

As for a Shotgun I would go with a 12 gauge Mossberg 500 or Remington 870, there are nice autoloader Benellis or other fine quality shotguns, but for the price that you can buy a Mossberg or Remington, you can’t beat them.  They are tough reliable and easy to use, and their close in stopping power is second to none.  I prefer 4 or 5 shot 00 Buck but pretty much any shotgun round at close range will do the trick.  There are also 3 shot+Sabot from Winchester called the PDX1 12 will destroy any intruder or enemy at close range, and even longer distances with the Sabot round.  For the uninitiated the 12 gauge shotgun can be a bit intimidating, so definitely get familiar with the weapon. 

Another quick point would be, if you are forming a group or have a large family, wishing to have a rifle for you, your wife, older sons/daughters, etc.  In any case where you are going to have multiple rifles in your family/group, come up with a group standard no matter which one you choose.  Any assortment of weapons is better than having nothing, but you do not want to be in a situation where you are running out of ammo and the people around you have different calibers and magazine styles, as you can’t interchange them.  So if you decide on the AR family then bulk up on magazines, at least six on each person, in a chest rig or some other type of practical magazine carrier.


To sum up, none of us regular chumps have a lot of extra cash to go and buy two years of food for a family of six an arsenal of weapons, a farm with animals and thousands of dollars in silver this minute.  But over time you can, but that time is rapidly growing shorter, as I believe things are coming to a head very soon.  So first and foremost pray, get right with God, get right with your family, become cohesive, find others you can rely on when things go bad, stock up on what you can when you can.  Every individuals situation is different so look at yours, look at your options, your network of friends and family, figure out who possibly has a place far away from the cities that you could fall back to, talk things over with them, even if they think you’re crazy if they agree, they will thank you later.  Pre-stock food, ammo and other essentials there, bring your family out and camp out in the elements with the, so they have a better understanding before it becomes real.  This is real camping, not Winnebago and a gas grill we are talking about, practice primitive survival methods (that are legal) practice trapping and hunting when the season permits, get everyone in decent shape.  Change your life, save your life and the lives of your loved ones.

James Wesley:
I often times read through the literature and blogs that speak of survival and the process of survival and one staggering issue is all too often neglected. The psychological and emotional aspects are all too often placed in the distant background or worst ignored altogether. I may not be a psychologist but I know from my own personal demons and experiences that stressful situations can slowly begin to affect the decision making process. In a survival situation a foolishly made decision can and most likely cost you dearly.

Any situation that requires that you begin to think about life in terms of life and death as such a survival situation a physiological and psychological response is made. This is the fight or flight response, while in most cases in survival it would not be usually seen as such; it would be view with “rose colored” glasses. In a survival situation fight or flight might be as simple as a decision to stay put (fight) or Bug out (flight). These and all seemingly small actions have a small guided effect from chemicals in the brain which will have been adjusted by the body due to a high stress situation.

In moments of extreme danger this response in magnified by a greater margin. Symptoms of this would include a rapid increase of heart rate and lung function, pupil dilation, and digestive tract upset. The major cause of this is the bodies’ release of biochemical known as adrenaline. Adrenaline is a special hormone that facilitate to body in performing rapid and violent muscle movements and aid the body in moments of danger (fight or flight).

Due to this you may suddenly freeze and be unable to react to the situation or you make a split second decision for the better or worse. In either case the reaction or lack of reaction may or may not directly affect you current goal of overall survival, but the hidden scars on your emotional well-being and psyche build. The lasting effects are what I’m trying to emphasize here. If in the split second decision you made, a life may have been cut short, you or another received a traumatic or crippling injury you could suffer from several different emotional and psychological traumas. The damage may manifest as survivors guilt, post-traumatic stress syndrome of any number of others, this can lead to depression and result in a greater number of issues as result.

Depression is a dangerous, emotional and psychological state to be in if even not in a survival situation. Depression can affect your ability to sleep properly leading to agitation and aggression, lethargy and even sleep deprivation. Any or all of these responses to improper rest can directly affect your chance of survival. Other reactions to depression can be a change in appetite, while not as quickly debilitating as sleep deprivation, a loss of appetite can slow your metabolism and cause health problems. On the flip side your appetite may increase which leads to a rapid depletion of food sources, a very dangerous problem in the fight for survival.
Depression can quickly turn deadly in facing seemingly insurmountable odds. When constantly faced with difficult situations as one would likely expect to find in a survival situation, suicide may seem to be the only solution. Suicide is never the answer. The state of an individual’s mental fortitude is limited and will become tested to the extreme in such tense and stressful situations. if in a group it is a good idea to just talk with everyone and get them to talk to help them and yourself cope. a simple pat on the back and a hug can go a long way to making a bleak situation better. Never try to escape the situation by using delusions such as daydreams, they may make you lose sight of the priorities.

The truth of the matter is there is no simple answer to the issue of psychological heath in such a situation. One would have to constantly keep themselves aware of their limits and allow them to cope in whatever method suits them. This is even more important to individual with clinical depression or individuals with bi-polar disorder as medications may not be readily available if at all. The moral of this article is keep a positive outlook and do what you can to assure yourself that the situation you find yourself in could always be worse. a good laugh or even a good crying session can be a very Therapeutic way to cope with your situation. support form others is another way of coping by sharing your thoughts and feelings. With a little hope and maybe a prayer, your emotional well-being as well as your chances of survival may take a sudden and unexpected turn for the better. - A.A. in the Northwoods

Mr Rawles,
To chime in on the "heat to electricity issue": A Stirling engine or "hot air engine"), might be what Dale from Vermont is looking for.  There are not many commercially available - one company was making them in New Zealand before the earthquake, but a quick Google search has also revealed that they moved their manufacturing to Spain. There may be others.  According to their web site they haven't yet resumed their 'off-grid' line of  engine production.

They can be quite efficient, and run off any heat differential.  For example: Hot air temperature and a cold spring, or a wood stove and cold air outdoors.  They do need the heat differential, or in other words a heat sink, to provide convection and motive power.  They are several generations/styles that have been developed over the years.  I believe they could be made to turn an alternator.  There are many 'do-it-yourself" videos on the net by people from all over the world. Hope that helps! - E.B.


In response to article Some Thoughts on Burning Coal, writer Dale from Vermont:
There are possibilities for building a 12 or 24-volt low voltage direct current system using automotive or aviation industry components and a wonderful little device known as a RhoBoiler, devised by the Rhodesians during the time of economic boycott by the world's bully nations, which drove the Rhodies to greater self-sufficiency. The RhoBoiler varied in design and construction materials [often a former 44-gallon fuel drum] but was in general a low pressure remote boiler from which hot and sometimes pressurized water was supplied.
A recent web search turns up a few descriptions and pictures. An obvious starting place might be a scrapped-out water heater boiler, but obviously, pressure release valves are critical, lest a boiler explosion result. Most of the RhoBoilers were wood burners, given the local availability of wood as a fuel source, but the concept can certainly be adapted to coal-burning and electricity generation as well.


Regards, - George S.

Dale from Vermont wrote about the idea of a coal-fired home generator. Here's a link to a $13,000 steam engine unit. The electrical output isn't specified, but based on the 3 horsepower rating of the steam engine and
assuming about 40% heat-to-electricity efficiency, it might be as much as 1,000 watts - D.B. in Oregon

Safecastle has announced the winners of their video and writing contest. I was pleased to see that a SurvivalBlog writer won first prize and that second prize went to a piece that was originally posted at one of our favorite self-sufficiency blogs, Rural Revolution. (Edited by Patrice Lewis.)

Article Category:

1st prize: "What is a Well-Stocked First Aid Kit" by K.M., SurvivalBlog.com - Prize: Katadyn Pocket Water Filter

2nd prize: "Preparedness for Young People" by Maria S, Rural-Revolution.com - Prize: Excalibur 9-Tray Dehydrator

Video Category:

1st prize: "Survival and Prepping - The Basics" by Falcon15, Survivalmonkey.com - Prize: Katadyn Pocket Water Filter

2nd prize: "PSK Survival Exercise" by ia woodsman, Survivalistboards.com - Prize: Excalibur 9-Tray Dehydrator

Mary F. sent the link to this sobering video, that has a quite post-apocalyptic vibe: Dismantling Detroit. The accompanying article states: "The past is achingly present in Detroit, and the way its citizens interact with the hulking physical remnants of yesterday is striking... The young men... were the cleanup crew in a shaky empire."

   o o o

Reader David A. wrote to note that restaurants buy salt in bulk, so if you visit a restaurant supply store or a mailorder outlet or a web site like TheRestaurantStore.com you can purchase 25 pound bags of salt for less than $5 per bag.

   o o o

Alan L. mentioned a free U.S. Army Survival manual, available as an Android Phone app.

   o o o

Mike S. flagged this piece from a Seattle news broadcast: After icy week, volunteers create survival kits for kids

   o o o

K.S. spotted this piece over at Packing Pretty: How to Pack a Conceal Handgun Under a Dress

"Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are a good person is a little like expecting the bull not to attack you because you are a vegetarian." - Dennis Wholey

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

There are now so many articles in the queue for the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest that any submitted between now and the end of the month will probably run in the next round. (And of course eligible for the same prizes.) Thanks for your patience!

Today we present another two entries for Round 39 of the 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 Safecastle.com (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 FloJak.com. 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 39 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 idea of homesteading is not a new one.  As a species, we humans have mastered the art of living off the land better than any other species, learning along the way to capture fire, clothe ourselves and even preserve food that we grew to later nourish us. We weren't content to stop there though.  Mankind “evolved” to reassemble natural materials into unnatural materials such as plastic and combine countless ingredients produced or grown by man into processed foods such as Twinkies, which we figured we might as well wrap in plastic.  Although the modern age has brought many possibilities, many fear that we have gone too far.
We now find ourselves, as a species, barley able to live on our own in the natural world, as we’ve accumulated too many allergies, too many dependencies on modern conveniences, too much dependence on government assistance and, let’s not forget, too many pounds to make it on our own.  Now, Mother Nature is calling many of her children home.
Modern homesteading is alluring to many but let’s face it, even (especially!) in a TEOTWAWKI world taxes still have to be paid, fuel needs to be bought and most of us want health care.  And so we find that the living off the land begins with considering how we will generate personal income.  As a new and modern homesteader, you will get to (have to) create your own job description and set your own priorities with the goal of earning sufficient income to afford you the lifestyle you want off the land. In other words, your first step as a homesteader is, ironically, to think like an entrepreneur.
This essay is designed to help you to develop your own plan to do just that so that you can make the transition from traffic to tractor. While it was tempting to write a quick, one-page article about "how to make money as a homesteader", it requires much more effort to do the concept justice.  Therefore, this essay will be organized as follows:

  • Part One includes this introduction and the steps you'll need to take before you being homesteading to give yourself the best chance for success.
  • Part Two will provide ideas for Generating Income With Your Land
  • Part Three will focus on Using Your Skills to Make Money
  • Part Four will discuss ways to Generate Income With your Farmstead Products

Of course, while this essay is detailed and specific in many ways, it must be viewed as a starting point for each individual reader.  With so many specifics unique to each reader such as level of debt, skills, cash, health, knowledge and countless other factors, no article can inform a reader of exactly how to go about homesteading. Rather, the intent of this essay is to get each reader thinking about what they want, what they’re capable of and showing just some of what is possible so that they can develop their own plan.
The good news is this. There are tons of ways to generate dependable, steady income from homesteading! This essay will list dozens of them but that represents just the tip of the iceberg. Viewed all at once, it may seem overwhelming, dangerous and best to just stay put in the safety of your cubicle.  However, as Winston Churchill said, “The optimist sees opportunity in every danger; the pessimist sees danger in every opportunity." And you, my prepared friend, are an optimist!
So, are you ready? Let’s get back to the land!

Part One - You’re Not Ready to Farmstead...Yet!
The ideal situation is that you're thinking of becoming a homesteader but haven't transitioned yet.  You may make the leap down the road...say, in a year or two, unless TEOTWAWKI forces your hand sooner! 
Here are the priorities and actions as I see them to help you to get ready to homestead.

  • Get Some Land.  I realize that sounds obvious. I mean, after all, it's hard to really homestead without at least a little land.  You don't need too much but you do need some.  If you're one of the lucky ones who has inherited land, fantastic and congratulations!  But most of us have to find and buy our own land.  For a couple of reasons I believe the time to do that is now.  First, I believe that rural/farm land prices will only escalate over time as more and more food will need to be produced to feed a rapidly expanding global population.  Second, if you need to finance the land as many people do, interest rates are at absurdly (and artificially) low levels.  Getting land is an undertaking in and of itself though.  Consideration must be given to the region and climate since so much of homesteading depends on what Mother Nature decides to do. There is also that tiny problem of how to pay for land.  Consider making a trade. You may be able to find cheaper land in a more remote area that is equal to what you could sell your suburban home for.  If you are not already a homeowner, then your main focus will have to be how to save for land.  No matter what your situation, the next priority on the list is probably the most important.
  • Get Out of Debt. If you're an American, you're almost certainly in debt. Almost all of us are...the entire country is.  We use credit for mortgages, furniture, automobiles, appliances, school, health care, home improvement and, of course, for consolidating other debts we owe!  Our society seems to collectively embrace using debt to enjoy today what virtually none of us saved for yesterday. Whereas we once left college with degrees in hand and went straight to a waiting job, today we leave laden with tons of debt and, with no jobs waiting, leave to occupy city parks instead.  Debt becomes part of our life and few of us are ever able to jump off the treadmill that propels us to chase always more income to pay it off.  Of course if you've amassed a lot of debt it is easier said than done to get out of debt. It begins with a change in mindset.  Rather than dreaming of what we want in the moment and seeking immediate gratification, we must keep our focus on the ultimate goal of homesteading.  The best way to get there is to pay down the debt.  Make your homesteading dream so real that you can almost taste it and it will become easier to forgo the taste of that morning cafe latte because it means you are one dollar closer to your dream.  The purpose of this article is not to give debt management advice, but rather to underscore the importance of doing everything you can to eliminate the debt you have.  Society has conditioned us to believe we're entitled to conveniences and luxuries, whereas the mentality of homesteading is about living on what we can produce and do ourselves and not borrowing. Get into the homestead mentality, now.  For every dollar that goes out ask yourself, do I need to spend this now or should this be saved? The less debt you have as a homesteader then the less income you'll need to realize.  
  • What Do You Really Need? In the homesteader mentality you will likely find that you don't have a lot of time or interest in those things that occupy so much of your mind-share (and wallet) as an urbanite.  This makes the transition easier once you've made it.  Urban life seems to require many non-essential expenses and distractions such as cable/satellite television, lattes, newspaper and magazine subscriptions, dining out, gym memberships, furniture, clothes, tobacco, alcohol, movies/sports/concerts, HOA fees, lodging/vacations, pet care, shiny appliances, repairs to shiny appliances, pest control, lawn services, water bills, and so on. You'll find as a homesteader that you'll incur very few of these expenses.  Take whatever steps you can to start practicing this now. Instead of missing television, homesteaders will become distracted by nature and the pleasures of growing their own food. You can too! While the Internet may be seen as a very real necessity for homesteaders, particularly given their isolation and need to connect with customers, that one expense can consolidate to give you access to most news, information and even free video programs on Hulu, YouTube, iTunes and elsewhere.  All of these expenses seem "necessary" to us as urbanites, but viewed through the lens of a homesteader they are quite unnecessary indeed. If you can't cut the cord and do without them where you are now, TEOTWAWKI homesteading may be very trying for you.
  • Learn to Garden. Now! Regardless of which income producing paths you choose one thing is constant among all homesteaders; they ALL garden and grow at least some of their own food.  No matter where you are currently living you should be able to practice some gardening skills.  Learn to plan your garden, plant and germinate your own seeds indoors, transplant into small raised beds or container gardens, learn how to improve soil, how to identify and manage pests, study companion planting and square foot gardening if you are keen on a small parcel or raised beds if room allows and so on.  And you don't just have to focus on your veggies.  Practice with small fruits such as strawberries, raspberries and even blueberries.  By the time you get to your ideal homestead you'll be comforted by the hands-on gardening skills you have practiced and the knowledge you have gained through reading. 
  • Get in Shape. I don't mean do more push ups, squats and more crunches. Sure, those are great if you're trying to look good on club night but the cows and sows on the homestead won't give you a second glance.  Farmsteading takes a toll on the body.  Your tasks could include bending and kneeling to weed and plant, hoisting 50 pound or more bags of feed and balancing them over a feeder, carrying crates of chickens, shoveling compost or wet snow, bending over cheese vats, lifting heavy wet trays of veggies out of the sink to prepare for the market and so on.  To make matters worse, if you get injured while on the job you'll have no one to call to inform you can't make it in that day, so you better get your body ready. How?  Focus on flexibility and tone.  To my way of thinking, this means yoga and pilates more than dumbbells and pull up bars.  It also means getting your weight down to the right target level for your age and height, so walking, hiking, swimming or climbing may help. Whatever it takes, get your body in farmstead shape!
  • Read - For millennia knowledge was passed from elders to juniors in social circles so that succeeding generations understood important food production, preservation and survival skills. Unfortunately, most of us missed out on that transfer of knowledge as our parents and grandparents instead were part of the convenience generation that food marketers cultivated.  So how do we regain those lost skills?  Start by reading as much as you can.  The problem is sifting through all the sources of information available such as books, blogs, articles and magazines.  Your study assignments go even beyond reading to watching movies, videos and listening to podcasts.  The choices are many and it can be hard to find exactly what you want, so I suggest finding topics that intrigue you and then learning everything you can.  Once you find something, get involved with a forum or group and start talking with your virtual buddies.
  • Find Like Minded Souls - Get off of Facebook and get onto sites such as SurvivalBlog.com or Farm-dreams.com that can give you practical knowledge and encouragement.  Seriously.  Find people who share your ideals and who are searching for the same answers.  Networking will get you there much faster and you eyes will be opened to new possibilities.  Talk to people who have taken a similar journey and ask them to share their story.  Find people who have learned the skills you are seeking and reach out to them.  Ask them for resources or see if they would be willing to let you watch a homestead activity the next time they do one, like making soap or collecting honey for instance!  And seek out and attend all of the free farm tours and events you can find.
  • Focus on Lasting Investments - There are many things you may want to acquire before becoming a homesteader that will help you once you're on the land. There may also be items you want to trade in for something more practical.  For example, how about trading your shiny compact car for a good, solid used diesel truck that you can ultimately drive into the ground.  In addition to saving money when buying and insuring this truck, it will be useful for hauling animals, seed, feed, fertilizer, tools...you name it, and being an older model it will be easy for your rural friends to repair and keep running.  If there are any new items you are considering buying between the time you read this sentence and the time you move to the land, ask yourself this question: is this item essential to my homesteading dream?  If not, then you don't need it.  If you can afford it then the choice is yours, but make sure it will be a lasting investment well worth the expense.  After all, homesteading is not about deprivation. But if you're not sure how to afford living off the land then perhaps you should consider postponing any discretionary expenses until you figure it out.
  • How Much Do You Need? - Finally, you should calculate how much money you really need to make. And, while your first thought as you contemplate becoming a homesteader may be "how will I make money" remember this: Saving Money = Making Money!  By lowering your expenses and producing much of what you'll consume when you homestead, you'll find that you don't need to make nearly as much as you think you do.  After all, how much of your current paycheck goes to food that you'll produce on your own?  How much goes to nice clothes, dining out, fuel and simple luxuries that you'll want to do without?

So there you have it, a few things to get you thinking before you put the shovel in the ground and start digging the homestead garden.  Let’s move on to Part Two.

Part Two – Making Money With Your Land
Let’s not think of living off the land, but rather “thriving” off the land.  You’ll probably be able to figure out how to produce your own food so that your health and nutrition thrives, but what about income?

Homesteading is all about multiple streams of income...the old “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” concept. There are almost countless opportunities for income generation but of course there is no one “right” answer given the differences in personal situations, markets, climates, inherent skills and so on.  What I will attempt to do for you is to categorize the three main income areas, and then break those categories down into specific ways you can sell something to earn money.

The three categories of earning money off the land are, 1) using your land to make money, 2) using your skills to make money and 3) selling products that come from your land and/or skills.  This section will focus on using your land to generate income.
Thinking Like a Homesteader
Before we get to the actual ways to make money it’s appropriate to spend a moment discussing mindset. As you contemplate each of the income generators in this and later sections, attempt to evaluate them from multiple perspectives.  For instance:

  • Is the income opportunity one-time, seasonal or continuous? Raising heritage turkeys can be fun but you'll likely only get paid at Thanksgiving, whereas consumers buy pork year round.
  • Can the income opportunity be scaled (if there is a lot of demand can you expand to meet it) if you want to?
  • Can you overlap operational/income producing areas to increase efficiency? For example, If you raise a hog then you need either a large garden (scraps) or local cheese operation (whey) or brewery (spent grain) to make raising the hogs essentially free.
  • Does the income opportunity allow you to differentiate yourself or are there lots of people who can offer the same thing?
  • What are you good at now and can that be transferred to income opportunities on the homestead (accounting, writing, woodworking, etc.)?

Play the Big Stock Market
No, not the NYSE big board but the big time live(stock) market.  For most homesteaders this means cows, but could mean bison, water buffalo, large flocks of sheep and I'll put pigs in there as well.  It goes without saying that you'll need an adequate amount of pasture land to accommodate these voracious grazers and there are many benefits to raising them.  For example, if you were to purchase a young bull for $1,000 or so and five ready to breed heifers for the same price, you'd likely end up with 5 calves produced and fed for free (by their mothers and your pastures) each year for 12-15 years. 
What will you do with those calves?  Maybe sell them as stockers when they're weaned, maybe raise grass fed beef, which we'll discuss in part four.  However, to give you a sneak preview, if you did raise them as grass fed beef it's quite likely that each calf would become worth about $1,500 each for you (net) in about 2 years if you can get them to urban markets. Clearly there's a ramp-up period of a couple of years before this produces income for you, but starting in year 3 those 5 heifers will be throwing off about $7,500 per year in profit ($1,500 per calf x 5 per year).  If they do this for 10 years then your initial investment of $6,000 for the bull and heifers will return $75,000.
Of course you'll have to consider any expenses you may have, such as hay when grass isn't growing, vet bills if you plan to use vets and of course taxes on the land they graze, but the income will drastically exceed the expenses...IF...you can market the product successfully.
I would caution you to avoid exotic animals unless economic times are very good or are likely to be. In poor economic times people want basic foodstuffs and materials, and your attempt to market grass fed zebra may turn out harder than you anticipated. 
You can do similar calculations with other species such as pigs, bison and so on, but the point is this; putting the animals to work allows you to generate a stream of future income, improve your soil and create wealth.  The wealth is held not necessarily in fiat currency but in the value of your fertile soil and livestock.

Play the Penny Stock Market

I'm not talking about you becoming the Gordon Gekko of the pink sheets but rather raising rabbits, goats, chickens, turkeys, eggs, bees, and the like on a limited scale.  These species are much more common on the homestead than water buffalo and herds of grass fed cattle, and for good reason.  They're smaller, easier to handle in small areas, diversified and in many cases you can even process (slaughter) them right on your farm or homestead and sell to consumers, which you cannot legally do with red meat (lamb, pork, beef).

No doubt that many if not most of these small livestock belong on every homestead, but keep in mind there's a difference between you raising rabbits for your own table and you raising meat rabbits to generate income. Unlike the example with the cows, you'll likely need to continually purchase feed for your rabbits (and especially chickens) and feed costs seem to perpetually escalate.  The amount of income you can generate may be rather limited for a farmer, but may easily help to sustain a homesteader.  For instance, if a doe produces 4 litters per year of 8 kits each, we'll assume you may have 30 fryers to sell (losing two to mortality) each year at a weight of 3 pounds each.  If you could charge $6 per pound then each doe would generate $540 in sales of rabbit meat before backing out feed costs.  Alas, you'd better be prepared to butcher them yourself as your beef processor might be a bit perplexed if you hauled in a load of rabbits for slaughter.

Small stock could also include honeybees, which may be particularly attractive with all the concern about colony collapse disorder.  With bees you can sell nucs, full hives, 2 or 3 pound bags of bees or just queens.  For many commercial beekeepers, this is quite a lucrative endeavor!
Bottom line?  Small is beautiful, but smaller the livestock, the smaller the absolute income potential.

Farm Stays & Events
Agritourism is a growth area and I expect this to continue even if economic conditions remain soft.  It's not just you who is being called to the land.  We are all becoming more aware of how disconnected we are from our natural world.  Can you not imagine a soon to be married couple wanting to have their wedding overlooking your beautiful pastures, ponds and happy animals?  I can, and they'll pay well for it because competitive alternatives also charge good money for the service.  But ask yourself if this is a one-time, seasonal or continuous opportunity?  Likely seasonal at best depending on how well you market it, but getting back to re-purposing all your investments and efforts, you could use the same facilities for corporate retreats and other events.
What about a farmstay bed and breakfast in your home or in a refurbished barn?  Sounds quaint, romantic and what a lot of people would be in the mood for.  And it doesn't have to be a normal house. It could be a yurt, tipi or the wall tents that they do at MaryJane's Farm bed and breakfast, for $240 per night.
If you don't want guests staying over night then you could consider farm dinners. These outings normally feature local chefs and offer the advantage of introducing paying customers to other products or services you have available.
Variations  - A hunting preserve, guided hunting/fishing excursions, RV/tent farm camping, summer youth farm camps, pond fishing, corn mazes, haunted woods...

Skills Classes
This is a variation of the above but the emphasis is on teaching skills to consumers.  What kind of skills?  How about cheese making, butchering classes, hide tanning and earth skills, foraging, soap making...you name it. Butchering classes can run the gamut from this $50 hog butchering class on a Wisconsin farm all the way to Fleisher's $10,000 Level 3 butchering class that takes 6-8 weeks!
This seems to be an area that many homesteaders and farms ignore. Perhaps they don't feel they have the patience or demeanor to meet the consumer expectations.  If you're comfortable with students or people in general then I encourage you to consider offering skills classes. It will do far more than generate seasonal or continual income for you; it will forge a bond with many of your visitors that will motivate them to become loyal supporters of your farmstead.

Become a Grower
This is one reason why you want to become a homesteader, right?  To put your hands in fluffy soil, tug gorgeous carrots right out of the ground, cut fresh flowers that you planted, snip asparagus in early April...  If these iconic images of homesteading inspire you then it's reasonable to expect consumers will want the same.  Retreating to our earlier discussion of one-time, seasonal or continual income opportunities, "growing" is one income area that can absolutely be as year-round as you want it to be.   And, unlike farm stays or classes, eating is not normally viewed as a discretionary expense. After all, people gotta eat.  In a TEOTWAWKI world, focus on the essential organic foodstuffs!
There are lots of great books on growing including several by Elliot Coleman that I'd recommend.  Just remember that if you're new to gardening and if you're garden plot is new, you should expect it to take at least 3-5 years before your soil tilth and fertility catches up with your expectations of light and fluffy soil.
Variations - Mushroom cultivation, live plants, greenhouse transplants, heirloom seeds...

Hays Sales and Grazing
If you find yourself with some decent pasture acreage you can use it in many ways to create a "cash crop": grazing or selling organic hay.

Custom grazing is a contractual arrangement where you provide the pastures, fencing, water and grazing management for others who place their animals on your land.  You can charge either by the day, by the pounds gained or both.  If you're short on cash but long on time and enthusiasm this may be a good option for you.

Let's say you had 40 acres and you wanted to improve the fertility anyway.  You may strike a deal to graze 40 cows, stockers or cow/calf pairs and someone else would provide the animals that you wouldn't have to pay for. Be careful if you take in bulls as they'll eat 50% more, on average, than cows so you're stocking rates (and prices you charge) need to reflect this. 

In a stocking scenario you may have 40 weaned calves that are dropped off in April that you graze until October. Let's assume they arrive weighing 550 pounds each and your pastures could allow them to gain 2 pounds per day on average for 180 days.  By the end of October each stocker would weigh 910 pounds, having gained 360 pounds (180 days x 2/lb/day). In total you would have added 14,400 pounds of beef (180 days X 2/lb/day X 40 head).  If you charged a rate of $.60 per pound of gain then your income for the six month grazing contract would be $8,640.  Rates vary of course and you could charge much more in drought/dry areas than you could in lush areas, but then again you'd achieve more weight gain in lush areas than you would in dry.  Then again, you don't even need to own land to custom graze for others. You can lease it as Greg Judy explains here if you have a smaller homestead and don't have the room yourself.

Another alternative for some income is to simply produce organic hay, either for the grass-fed beef or horse quality market.  Organic doesn't just mean letting your pastures go...it means having quality forages that are non-GMO and are managed organically with no chemicals at all.  You'll get more per ton for square bales than round, but those in the cattle market will very likely not want to fool with square bales, so you should choose your market first.  If you don't own hay equipment then you can hire out the job, but this is often challenging since all hay tends to come in around the same time and those with hay equipment are in pretty good demand during those times.

Variations: Blending tree plantings into grazing areas for a silvopasture, thereby generating both current and long-term income from timber

Breed and Board
Do you love animals and want to become a breeder?  There are many ways you can do this on your homestead.  Of course you can use the large or small livestock mentioned above and become a breeder of rabbits, sheep, goats, pigs, cows or any combination.  There's always ads in Craigslist and in local ag publications for these and many people looking to buy weaned piglets, 4H rabbits and calves, and so on.
Another idea is to breed and train livestock handling or guardian dogs, such as shepherds or collies to herd sheep and cows or great Pyrenees to protect livestock. I expect both of these to be in constant demand as more and more preppers and homesteaders emerge and need proven genetics to help with their animals.
If you love horses and your new homestead has a barn of sorts, offering boarding and grazing for horses may be just the thing for you.  You may be able to charge $150-250 per month or trade in value for full 24/7 pasture turn out...the more you can offer the more you can charge but of course rates vary from region to region. It's yet another way you can generate income from a homestead parcel that you couldn't from a city apartment. 

Basic Materials

Finally, you're sitting on a gold mine of sorts with your new piece of land.  You'll likely have some woods that could offer rough timber, firewood and pine straw among other things.  If you're handy with a chain saw or if you want to invest a few thousand dollars in a portable saw mill, you could be producing lots of custom cut lumber in no time.
Understandably, many people look upon all the rocks on their land disapprovingly, but perhaps those rocks and boulders could become landscape rocks for someone else?  Although this falls more into the category of one-time income streams than continual income, it could be a good way to clean up your land while beautifying another person's property at the same time!

While some of these ideas touch on product offerings, the above represents just some of the ways you can use your land to generate income.  Some techniques are quite passive and very long term (silvopasture) while others are very labor intensive and offer immediate income gratification (transplants).  Of course there are more ideas and perhaps you'll share some below, but this is enough to get you thinking. 
If you know how much money you need to make, how much capital you're comfortable risking and, most importantly, what you are passionate about, then I'm sure you'll find some ideas that sound right to you.  But I'll repeat something I said in the first post to be sure it sinks in: Saving Money = Making Money!
To a homesteader's way of thinking you not only save money and therefore need to earn less (and therefore pay less in taxes) by producing so much yourself, you also lock in prices and create a personal buffer from inflation.  Milk prices may go through the roof for everyone else, but yours will always be the same.

Part Three – Making Money With Your Skills

Regardless of who you are, I'm confident in assuming one thing about you; you have at least one or more skills.  Everyone does.  And your roster of skills and capabilities will only expand when you move to the homestead as you learn all sorts of new gardening, farming, mechanical, crafting and other talents that others need, and are willing to pay for.  The trick for you will be to market those skills into income generating assignments that will allow you to comfortably live your dream life off the land.
Hopefully part two of this four-part series gave you ideas to think about how your land could work to generate income for you, and tomorrow's part four will give you numerous ideas for products you can sell. This third portion of the series will be a rapid fire listing of money making ideas that bridge the gap between your current/future skills and market opportunities.
In this section we’ll focus on skills and services that you can sell from your homestead and I'll divide the list into two macro categories. The first will be physical skills that you can perform for your local community.  You need to be in close proximity to make money with the ideas on this list.  The second will be virtual/online skills you can easily sell to anyone around the world and collect money via PayPal, check or wire-transfer.  As always, these ideas just scratch the surface so please share your ideas and comments. If you're interested in some of these ideas but don't have the skills yet, just remember that it's not too late. You'll be learning lots of new skills as a homesteader.   Get the knowledge and training you need and start earning income with it.
Ready?  Let's begin!

Physical/Local Services to Make Money as a Homesteader

General Services
- There are lots of "general" needs that many folks in rural areas need.  By the way, just because you're moving "out there" to become more self-sufficient doesn't mean that the people already there think that way. You may be surprised to learn that they value the convenience of grocery stores and having hired help to do things for them.  What kind of things?  Fence installation and repair, automatic gate installation and repair, painting, household repair and so on.  If you're interested in or handy with any of these then put the word out by printing a business card and pinning it at the local feed store and elsewhere where people congregate.

Tractor Work
- One way to really justify (or rationalize) the purchase of a tractor and implements is to use it not only for your property, but to hire it out for local projects.  The jobs you can hire it for depend on the features of the tractor (does it have a front-end loader, for example) and the attachments you have. Depending on what you have you could earn good money by cutting/baling hay, mowing large fields, disking, tilling, seeding/planting, maintaining long gravel driveways, bush hogging, moving piles of dirt/gravel/debris, snow plowing, and more. Advertise yourself.

Gardening Work
- You'll become expert at organic gardening and growing food in no time, and you'll likely become the best in your area as others are happy to let the grocery chains feed them or, if they have their own garden, rely on chemical controls.   I expect that more and more people will become interested in organic methods of growing food and you can avail from this trend by "marketing" your expertise to others.  What can you do?  Teach them how to install raised beds or drip irrigation lines, how to build soil with manure/leaves/grass clippings, how to garden without tilling, how to schedule successive plantings and winter gardens, protecting plants from frost, how to set up compost bins, how to capture rain water for the garden, how to companion plant or how to trap plant for pests, etc.  Get the idea?  There's lots you'll be learning that others won't know but will want to know.  Yes my dear reader, you can become THE Plant Whisperer!

RV Repair
- Repairing recreational vehicles isn't necessarily difficult, but it is specialized. Given the concerns about the economy, jobs and so on, it's reasonable that there will be more and more people taking economical RV getaways or simply living in their RV's.  This means more and more will need repairs and, let's face it, how many RV repair people do you see on the side of the road?  It's an opportunity to specialize and become "the" RV repair person for your area.

- If you are good at mechanical repair then you'll be in need.  It's always hard to find a good mechanic.  If you are also good at small engine repair and farm equipment repair (tractors, RVs) then you'll be even more in demand.

- Many people in rural areas know how to weld but most do it for themselves or their farm.  The opportunity is there to offer welding and small fabrication for hire, if you have the skill.

Sheep Shearing
- If you have sheep on your homestead you could shear them yourself and then hire this service out to others.  Most sheep owners don't shear themselves and it's always hard to find someone local who does.

- Artificial insemination (AI).  With more and more homesteaders and small farmers starting up with smaller herds of animals, many don't want the danger or cost of having bulls, boars and rams on their property.  Or perhaps they simply want to add genetic diversity to their herd by using AI.  Either way, if you learn this skill and make the modest investments in equipment, then you will be in demand for sure.

- I mentioned how boarding could be an offering that your land could enable, but you could expand this if you're skilled with horses by offering riding lessons and horse training.  There are horse people in every neck of the woods, so you'd likely find a waiting clientele.

Get Sharp!
- Perhaps you could become expert as sharpening knives, chainsaws and tools.  You'll likely need this for yourself anyway so why not make some extra bucks by offering it to others?

Equipment Operator
- Perhaps you don't have the equipment to hire out but you know how to operate a tractor, bobcat, bulldozer, track loader, excavator, ditch witch, backhoe or the like. There's always a need for this in the country.

- If you like to build then you're in luck as this is a skill that most people either don't have, or don't have time for.  From repairing buildings to constructing sheds, additions, barns and so on, you'll probably find more work than you can handle as fewer new homes are built and more repairs/add-ons are in demand.  And, to broaden your offering even more money, learn and then teach cob building techniques!

Electrician, Plumber
- Not much I can add to this. If you can do these, people will need them, especially if you develop skills with alternative energy and plumbing techniques!

Hauling Animals- You may have a truck and purchased a livestock trailer when you moved to the country. Guess what, not everyone has one.  Let locals know that you can haul livestock for them or post your skill on Craigslist.

- With fancy new phones anyone can take a picture.  However, only skilled photographers can compose and create an emotive work of art worthy of celebration...and compensation. If this is a talent of yours then you'll have a unique income stream.

- I'll probably include workshops and classes both as a skill and a product, but with your new skills why not offer mobile city/suburban workshops on creating raised bed gardens, chicken and rabbit tractors, etc.  If the money is back in suburbia, go get it and bring it home!

Computer Repair
- Are you good with computers and Internet issues?  Many people, if not most, are not.  If people know you're around and that you're good with eradicating viruses, freeing up memory, recovering files, providing Internet access alternatives and the like, then you're in luck...and in demand!

House Cleaning
- Yea, you know what this means. Just clean your own house first! :-)

Meat Processing
- Now, you can't do this as an inspected processor unless you want to go through the red tape process, but since you'll likely learn how to skin rabbits, eviscerate chickens and maybe even slaughter sheep and goats, you could offer this as a service for others who want to butcher their own animals. Just be very careful how you position this; you are selling only your knowledge and service and in no way are you selling meat, since the animals already belong to the customer.

Bridge the Gap
- Some farmers struggle with marketing and distribution but perhaps that's an area you're good at.  Consider becoming a distributor for local farmers and getting their products to retailers, restaurants, resorts and other stores.  It will be good for the producer, good for the buyer, good for the local community and you won't have to produce anything yourself!

Online/Virtual Services to Make Money as a Homesteader

Broker Deals - Basically buy something for $.25 and sell for $5.  How?  Farm auctions have lots of valuable and often new items that can go for very little money.  If you can create a market for it via Craigslist, eBay, Facebook or your own community contacts, here's your chance.  My advice is to consider useful items that are harder to find and are easy to ship.   A wood stove may be cheap but you'll need to sell it locally which will limit your market reach. [JWR Adds: I recommend gathering references on collectibles. See our Bookshelf page for some coin, gun and antique book links. Study and then bring those reference books with you when you go on farm auction trips. If you become a subject matter expert, then you can turn that into a money-making venture. Many people make a good living as "pickers". (See the television shows "American Pickers" and "Antiques Roadshow", for some examples of collectible items that are sought after.] I concur about only buying only small and lightweight collectibles that can be mailed.]

Consulting - What do you do today?  Is it something in business, academia, law, medicine, technology, etc. that you could offer as a distant consulting service?  Can you package it into an online or remote training offering?  Perhaps you're an accountant and setting up and managing Quickbooks is easy for you, but challenging for folks around you. Or maybe you're a business hot shot with expertise in logistics, marketing, human resources or strategic planning.  With all those skills I bet you can figure out how to offer business coaching, life coaching or consulting online.

Making Money Online
- As I said, I don't know you or what specific skills you have. That said, there are lots of ways to make money online using skills you probably already have. I don't want to define each of these here, so let me just list a few ideas for you to think about or research:

  • Copy editing
  • Free-lance and content writing of e-books, articles, blog post, press releases, product reviews, proof reading, forum posts...
  • Illustrating for authors, web designers, etc.
  • Become a Virtual Assistant (VA)
  • Offer research assistance to authors, editors and writers
  • Web or graphic design
  • Web security consulting
  • Voice-overs or record your own ad-supported podcast
  • Language translation

Note: Not sure how to find these opportunities or how to market yourself?  Try eLance, Guru, SideskillsFreelance Jobs or iFreelance.  You'll probably be surprised how many opportunities there are. Just be sure to specialize and differentiate yourself, otherwise you'll likely get lost among the other freelancers.

- Authors such as James Rawles, Wendell Berry, Gene Logsdon and Joel Salatin have been able to make a living off the land with publishing being a primary source of income. Could you be the next one?  Why not!  If you have good writing skills and can identify the right topic for right audience, it's easier than ever to get published and, more importantly, distributed with print on demand (POD) offerings from Createspace by Amazon, Lightning SourceDog Ear and others.  Just take a page out of Salatin's and Rawles’ book and remember the importance of "branding" yourself and your expertise.  If you create a following as they have, followers will eagerly await your next book and you'll be on your way to a passive income stream.
There you have it, just a sampling of ways that you can use your skills to get money from the farm fairy, often very good money, while living your dream life off the land.  For modern homesteaders the Internet creates a global market and, unlike with physical products, it doesn't matter where you are geographically located if you're offering virtual/online/writing services.

Part Four – Making Money Selling Farm and Homestead Products

Farmstead Meats
- Organic, grass fed, sustainably raised, pastured, heritage...what have you, there is a growing market of consumers looking to connect with and support farmers who are tending the earth ethically.  These consumers are just as anxious to support the local community as they are to tell Monsanto and concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) to take a flying leap. 

When selling meats directly from the farm you'll have lots of choices to navigate. The first choice may be if you want to sell bulk (whole/half/quarter) animal or small retail packages.  If you sell bulk then you can avoid the hassles of becoming licensed to store packaged meats in your farm freezers by technically selling a "live" animal to the consumer. You then deliver the animal to the processor and the consumer determines how they want the animal butchered, pays the processor directly and picks up their cuts.  The consumer saves money or a per pound basis and you save headaches.
Alternatively, you can sell individual packaged cuts such as roasts, ground beef, pork chops, rack of lamb and so on to consumers.  This requires you to have meats processed by a state or USDA inspected facility and you'll have to follow regulations for storing and transporting your labeled products.  The regulations aren't that burdensome in most places, but the costs for freezers, utilities and transportation must be considered. Of course, when you sell this way you offer products to a much larger market. After all, there's more people able to buy a pack of ground beef than there are those interested in half a cow!
Other options for selling meats are wholesale, retail and restaurants.  The above options that sell directly to customers constitute direct marketing. You'll get the highest price selling that way for sure, but you'll also expend the most effort and need the most marketing savvy...for sure.  Selling to wholesalers or distributors could put your products on retail shelves and it takes time and effort to set up these relationships (you can also sell your other farm products ((below)) this way).  Many farmsteaders want to sell to restaurants and for good reason. If you're near the right markets there are many fine chefs who value delicious and local ingredients, and you want to sell to people who value what you produce.  Some chefs want smaller portions and packaged cuts that you are selling directly to customers.  If that's the case you probably won't have much room to discount prices unless the chefs commit to larger bulk quantities or weekly deliveries since your costs won't be any lower.
Of course a lot more could be said on this topic but the point of this essay is to give you ideas and to get you thinking of what works for you.  For many farmsteaders, selling farm raised meats will be the heart of their income generating engine.
Variations - In many states you may be able to process poultry (which includes rabbit) on your farm and not use an inspected processor by using a P.L. 90-492 exemption. Read carefully and check with your state regulators before proceeding.

Farm Fresh Milk
- Admit it...the phrase kind of conjures the image of the old milk truck, glass bottles being dropped on your doorstep and old fashioned wholesomeness. Consumers today have become so disconnected with their food that many don't even realize that they're drinking ultra-pasteurized "formerly" milk until they read an article about it or hear mentioned on the news. When many do they go looking for real milk, usually raw, from a local farmer.  And they're willing to pay anywhere from $6 - $12 per gallon for it depending on where they are in the country and if the cow was fed grain (least expensive) or if it was purely grass fed (most expensive).  Be sure to operate within the implicit and explicit laws of your state.  Also check out the Weston A. Price campaign for real milk and if you decide to sell milk, list yourself there.
Variation - butter, buttermilk, yogurt, etc. if you want to pasteurize. [JWR Adds: Be sure to check all the legalities first, particularly at the State level.]

Farmstead or Artisanal Cheese
- If you're milking cows, sheep or goats anyway, why not turn the milk into delicious farmstead cheese?  Farmstead cheese is cheese that you produce from the milk of YOUR animals, where as artisanal cheese is cheese that you produce from milk that you buy from another dairy.  Either way, you'll need a state approved and inspected cheese operation and anywhere from a modest investment (several thousand dollars) to a major investment (over $100,000) to set up your make room, ripening room, cheese cave, equipment and so on.  There's no denying that it takes an investment to become a cheese maker, particularly a farmstead cheese maker where you have to invest in animals and milking facilities, but for many the lifestyle and payoff is undeniably alluring.

Farm Fresh Eggs
- If you raise your hens on pasture then you'll be producing the most beautiful and nutritious eggs available anywhere.  Just check out the chart to the right.  And keep in mind that not all egg varieties are the same.  Many consumers will pay much more for duck eggs than chicken eggs, and you can also sell hatching eggs (turkey, geese, ducks, chicken, guinea, etc.) instead of eating eggs.

Vegetables and Herbs
- There's not much limit to what you can grow for consumers and restaurants.  Warm and cool season vegetables, fresh flowers, herbs, you name it. You'll have the same choices to make regarding selling (direct, restaurants, retail, wholesale) as you do with meats but there's one big difference. Whereas meats can be stored frozen for months the value in vegetables is to be sold fresh, often the day they're harvested.  So you'll want to line up your customers first either by having a solid relationship with restaurants or by operating a CSA for individual customers.

- Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, peaches, apples, figs, melons...get the idea?  Almost everyone has a sweet tooth and these can be harvested, sold and delivered directly to farmers markets, restaurants or consumers, or you can offer pick-your-own options.

- Maple syrup, honey and sorghum syrup all come to mind. With concerns about allergies I would expect a continued rise in the demand for local honey.  All you need is to make or buy some bee boxes, get a bag of bees and a queen or a nuc and let them pollinate your garden. Then you're on your way to the sweet life!

Craft Supplies
- You'll likely find countless supplies on your farmstead that can be marketed and sold to crafters, such as rabbit pelts, turkey and peacock feathers, wood cuttings, wool and more.  Take a look on eBay to see what's selling and then see what you have.

- Rather than selling craft supplies from the farm why not make your own jewelry!  Think of using feathers from peacocks, turkeys, guineas or geese. Or, perhaps you have a large deer population and you'll find lots of shed antlers in late winter. These and more can be used to make unique (one-of-a-kind) pieces of jewelry. [JWR Adds: The Etsy web site is a good place to retail your wares online.]
Variation - Instead of jewelry, make rustic woodworking gifts from your downed trees.  Think of tables, willow furniture, log furniture, kitchen utensils...whatever you can dream up..

Wine and Beer
- Due to stringent regulations you may not want to produce wine and beer, but what about becoming an accomplice?  Could you grow local hops for the beer market or grapes for local wineries using your land? I bet you could and that few people are!

Value-Added Products
- I won't attempt to count all the ways you could add value to products that you could produce on the farm, and most would require some regulatory approval.  But imagine farm fresh baby food, dog treats, lard, jams, salsa, grains, cured meats, pickles, sauerkraut...the list goes on.  Don't be afraid of seeking regulatory approval as it's not as hard as you think. Just call the health department or your state department of agriculture and find out what you need to do to comply.  Others do it and so can you.

- Cultivate mushrooms for consumers or restaurants and if you live among chanterelles, morels, etc., learn to hunt and sell these delicacies at farmers markets and to restaurants!

- I mentioned photography yesterday as a skill and it certainly is that, but your rare breed animals and quaint rural landscape offer you unique resources to create poetic imagery.  You could add value by printing and creating frames from your woodlot and selling through various resorts and stores in your state, or license use of your high-resolution images through various providers.

Make Custom Knives, Tools
- Necessity is the mother of all invention, they say, and farmers are an inventive group.  Perhaps you'll come up with tools you need to tend your garden such as the wheel hoe to the right. Or you could offer plans on how to build them yourself like the the folks at WhizBang
Perhaps you know how or want to learn to make knives from rustic materials such as spent saw blades, antlers, wood, etc.  It's not too late and it would be unique and functional.

Building Chicken/Rabbit Tractors
- When folks, particularly urban folks, see your fancy chicken coops and tractors they'll likely want one of their own. They won't have the time or skill to make it, but they'll have the money to buy it. Market directly to them through local organics associations, conferences, publications and online groups.

- Put your marketing hat on now. You're not selling a load of smelly waste, you're selling organic fertility! Better yet, nutrients!  From worm castings to rabbit pellets and, yes, horse manure, you're selling what everyone needs for healthy plants and topsoil. Variation: Compost

Artisan Meat Products
- You don't see many people doing this because, as with cheese making, there is skill, investment and regulatory compliance required. And therein lies the opportunity!  Imagine making pancetta, pepperoni, saucisson sec, salami or Iberico style long-aged cured ham from your rare-breed pigs that consumed acorns and whey.  Know anyone else in your state doing this?  In your entire region? Is that sausage I smell or is it opportunity?

Tractor Dealer, Feed Dealer
- Perhaps you'd like to sell a small amount of farm equipment or feed in your area.  If it's under-serviced then you'll find opportunities to do so. This will be especially true with feed as you'll likely find organic feeds, fertilizers and nutritional stuffs hard to come by unless you have them shipped in. Is it possible that others can't find these as well and you could become the supplier?

Homemade Lotions, Soaps, Candles
- You'll no doubt learn to make all of these things anyway for your homestead. If you have the raw materials, such as lard, goat milk, etc., then you may want to make artisan soaps for customers.  You can sell to local markets or sell online. There may even be more of an opportunity with making lotions, shampoos and creams that are all natural and free of chemicals.

- You could sell supplies such as wool or yarn, or you could add value by sewing bags, aprons, cloth diapers and more.

Hopefully some of these ideas got you thinking about how you can sell products and make a good living off your farm or homestead, but I bet you know of even more ways!  Many of the products and skills I've discussed are small scale and tug more at the homesteader's heart. Some, such as retail meats, cured meats and commercial cheese making speak more to those interested in farming as a business.  What's right for you?  It depends greatly on how you answer the questions in part one of this essay, namely how much money do you need to make.  But also how ambitious you are and how much energy you have.  Those are issues for you to ponder. 

One thing is certain; there are lots of ways to earn income from your farm or homestead. I don't know about you, but I take a lot of comfort in that.

People who are new to farmsteading or entrepreneurial life in general are often nervous, if not downright scared, about the prospects of not having a comfortable and secure paycheck coming in each week.  What I will say is that when you do make that transition and learn how to generate income for yourself that you will never again worry about whether you may get laid off, how your employer is doing or if you'll have money in retirement.  You'll make the life that you want for yourself and no one will be there to deny you the pay raise, if you want it, or more time off, if you want that, although getting both would be the ultimate triumph!
TEOTWAWKI will be present a scary new reality for most people. But you can begin to position yourself now to not only thrive financially in a TEOTWAWKI world but to help others to adapt and enjoy their new world.

I am not trying to offend anyone or represent myself as an expert. I know there are many preppers on this forum that will see none of what I am writing here as new. However, some people may need this information or have not thought of it. As for me a lot of this was learned over 13 years in the active Army and seven years as a policeman. I was placed working and living in some of the most inhospitable weather situations someone could find themselves in. Enough of my ranting and I will get to the point.

As I was finishing my final preparing for winter and watching the news about the storm hitting the plains states I realized that I should call my family to make sure they were ready for bad weather. This caused me to get a migraine real quick. Then I thought that I should put this all in writing so I could send it to them every winter and make my life easier. With that I figured why not share this information to everyone who reads this forum.

The first thing you should consider is weatherproofing your winter gear and camping gear just in case you actually need it. For my Goretex jackets (Yes even Goretex gets soaked thru eventually) and my canvas work jackets I waterproof them using Camp Dry (you can use any commercial waterproofing spray but I prefer this one). I recommend doing this outside if possible due to the fumes or in a well-ventilated area. It can also contaminate the area where you are working, due to silicone overspray. Also test the fabric of what you are about to weatherproof to make sure it doesn’t stain or ruin it. If you decided to use this product or others inside put something on the floor under the work area to protect it from staining.

For Bivvy Sacks for sleeping bags also use a product like Camp Dry to keep your sleeping bag dry. Also use a seam sealing product to make sure the seams are extra protected. You don’t want water just pouring in at the material seem and causing you to get soaked. Now I know they say the seams are already sealed, but do you trust them with your warmth and safety?

Now on to the topic of weatherproofing your boots. If they are leather boots use a product like Snow Seal and liberally coat the boots and then put them in the oven at 180 degrees for 1 hour (yes I said oven, by doing this you open the pores of the leather and allow it to absorb the Snow Seal. If your boots are made of something other than leather, then use Camp Dry, of course test the boots first to make sure it doesn’t ruin them. Wet feet can make you miserable real quick along with being a deciding factor in if you survive or not. Now to socks, cotton socks are evil! They will cause you to lose toes or worse. The reason for this is cotton doesn’t wick moisture away from the skin very well, but it is great at wicking away the heat from your feet causing your feet to stay cold and end up freezing. So get wool socks or advanced fabric socks as they are the best choice. They wick moisture away from the skin and will still keep your feet warm even when wet.  Always remember warm feet are happy feet and will help you survive.

Now your vehicle as you will most likely depend on this greatly in bad weather. Make sure your headlights are working properly and are bright after a few years they start to get dim and should be replaced. Also if you have the type of headlights that have a clear plastic cover you will probably notice that they are milky white. You need to fix this with a commercially available headlight polishing kit and follow the directions. I found one at a local auto parts store for fewer than thirty dollars. It made my headlights like new.

Windshield wipers should be in good working order and of a good quality that won’t clog with ice and stop working properly. If they are bad replace them before you need them. Not seeing and driving are not a good combination, with that also make sure that you have a winter grade windshield wash as if it freezes up then it won’t help you.
Next is your battery and alternator, the two things that almost always fail when bad weather hits. Go to an auto parts store and have them put the tester on them to make sure they are okay. This will go a long way in easing worries about your vehicle not starting when you need it most.

As for vehicle maintenance not only does your oil need to be changed regularly but so does your antifreeze, power steering fluid, brake fluid, transmission fluid, differential and transfer case oil if you have them. With these an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Now to your emergency kit for the car, in this should be a minimum of jumper cables (not everyone has them, but every care has a battery so if you have them you can get a jump), a set of work gloves (for changing tires and such) a knit cap or some other winter headgear, warm gloves, blanket’s, a few common tools (to tighten battery cables and such), emergency markers (I prefer flares and strobe lights over reflectors, as reflectors require headlights to hit them to be seen). Also having a days’ worth of food and water in the vehicle is nice in case you get stranded in your car. You can get emergency food rations and water from most survival or prepping web sites.  Having sand for traction and a compact shovel to dig out is a must also. You can also make traction ramps buy cutting heavy grate material about the width of 1 ½ the size of your tires and 3 feet long. Using this can also help you or someone else get unstuck in snow. Tire chains or snow tires are a must and if your tread is getting to the point of being only ¼ an inch deep get new tires. I know this seems a lot for your vehicle but when the worst case scenario that you never thought would happen to you does happen you will be better off for it. I know there is more for this topic but this is a good start. I also add my bug-out kit to my vehicle every time I get in it to drive. Also my bug-out kit and vehicle kit are one and the same. It makes it larger and heavier, but then I am never in the situation of saying why did I leave that at home

Now for the house besides back-up heating, food, water, lighting and the normal prepping stuff for bugging in there are a few items to consider. On backup heating you have to be careful due to carbon monoxide poisoning. I use the Mr. Heater MH18B Portable “Big Buddy” Heater by Mr. Heater as it has an automatic low oxygen shutoff system and tip-over safety shutoff.  If you don’t have something that senses when the oxygen is low or is made for indoor use then you need to have someone stay up preferably in shifts to watch the heater along with making sure there is enough ventilation in the room so there is not a build-up of Carbon Monoxide. This also goes for daytime heating and also for cooking. For lighting using low sulfur mineral instead of lamp oil in your oil lamps as it is cleaner and safer. Also it will keep you from having to repaint your house when everything is back to normal. This also goes for candles they will stain the pain in a house along with being a fire hazard. This is since we don’t run around using candles every day we will make mistakes that can and will be tragic. On that note with heating, cooking, and lighting you should have a couple a house-sized ABC fire extinguishers for emergencies.

You need one or two heavy tarps, parachute cord, and small sandbags so that you can put a temporary patch on your roof should a tree fall due to ice and snow and uses your house as a target. For windows having 2 inch wood screws, sheet plastic, and a couple of sheets of plywood to close up a broken window or door is a lifesaver. Also if you can precut the plywood for the windows it makes the repair a lot quicker.

A note on shoving snow, shoveling snow is considered heavy strenuous labor. It is also one of the leading causes of heart attacks in winter. So like any heavy workout take 15 minutes to warm up so your body realizes you are about to do something difficult. While working on removing the snow take many breaks. I normally only shovel snow for 15 minutes at a time then take a break so my heart rate can go back down. Also it may be cold but stay hydrated.

I hope everyone has a great winter, and hope that at least some of this information is helpful.

People in the general public have little to no idea just how bad the drug abuse of prescriptions medications is here in the US.  Our recent discussion with our church small group spurred us to write this review for your thoughtful review.  Some fun facts to start us off, courtesy of one of my reliable medical reference sites, UpToDate:
6.2 million Americans in 2008 admitted to non-medical use of prescription drugs, 2.5 % of the population.
The number of Americans who have abused prescription drugs exceeds those who have used cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, ecstasy, and inhalants combined.
A 2005 survey of 50,000 US high school students found that while overall illicit drug use declined among adolescents over the prior decade, their non-medical use of prescription pain relievers and sedatives has increased.
Only marijuana use among illicit drugs (although becoming more “legal” everyday in some states) exceeds non-medical use of prescription drugs.
We start with those fun facts to shock you into reading further in addition to alerting you as to the depth and severity of the problem. WTSHTF, these 6 to 10 million seekers are going to be unhappy, withdrawing, and looking to score some pills.  They may be coming to your house, as 2.5% of the population is one out of 40 folks.  Most of us involved in primary care medicine would probably double that estimate, and in some areas of the country the rate will be much higher.  And this is just prescription medications, not to mention the illicit drug users that will become prescription seekers that will have to “make do” with pain pills or tranquilizers as a substitute for the drug that they are going without.
In our current, happy, open-pharmacy world, there are some risk factors that can identify those more likely to be abusing prescription medications, but there are many more folks abusing those drugs that don’t fit the profile at all.  Those found to be at increased likelihood of abusing prescription drugs include:
• Past or current substance abuse or addiction
• Use of controlled substances in non-prescribed doses and routes of administration
• Use of controlled substances for reasons other than indications for which they were prescribed
• Patients of younger age
• Patients who work in health care settings
From observational experience, drug abuse of prescription medications has certainly been on the rise since my initial start in the medical field 17 years ago.  It is one of the heartbreaking aspects of our day to day existence.  Almost every day in the clinics, urgent care facilities and ERs, all doctors and health professionals must deal with multiple drug seekers trying to get them to prescribe them a little “somethin’ somethin”.  These are first or second hand, real life excuses or behaviors that drug seekers have used in the ERs, Urgent Cares, and clinics to try to obtain drugs:
Death of a generic loved one (when they are not dead, Grandfathers the most common)
Death of a wife (usually a living wife, ex-wife, or common-law has no knowledge of their death)
Death of a child (particularly tough to resist urge to punch seeker in face, but hasn’t happened…yet)
Sexual assault
Domestic violence
Pricking finger with needle to put blood in urine sample (makes it look like kidney stone)
Using child’s pain to obtain meds (again, resolve fading…fist rising…must not punch)
Stealing dying relatives' medications (Hospice patients, cancer patients especially.  One took the narcotic patch right off the dying relative for himself.)
These are just some of the more heinous examples above, the classic excuses are always still worth mentioning:  dog ate them, fell in toilet, fell in sink, fell in some wet area, fell in some dirty area, washed in the laundry, pharmacist is against me, wife/girlfriend/neighbor/mailman/etc is against me, lost it, was stolen, took too many because it wasn’t working, took too many because you are a terrible doctor and didn’t give me the medicine that works, another terrible doctor wouldn’t fill it because they are horrible and you are the greatest ever.  All of these are from personal examples.  All were confirmed to be fabrications.  90+ percent of these excuses are false, every time.  This is why it gets to be so heartbreaking.  It really takes your faith in humanity and grinds it up into bits.  And it’s getting worse.  Just yesterday from my writing of this, a gentleman told me that “it is your duty as a doctor to help people” when he was lying about his medication abuse.  They know the lines, and they use them.  It didn’t work by the way.
So, what to do in TEOTWAWKI.  Avoid.  Plain and simple.  Anyone on controlled substance meds should be weaned off immediately if they are in your group.  Off.  We will all have to figure out a way to live without them then, no time like the present.  Do NOT have any controlled substance medications in your possession.  If Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen don’t take the pain down, it will probably make you stronger.  Seriously, that is our advice.  The risk does not exceed the benefit in regard to these meds.  We don’t take them, we don’t have them…so why would we stock them?  Ask yourself the same question.
Okay, how do you spot the withdrawing seeker in a post-pharmacy world?  Withdrawal symptoms for the different medications are worth mentioning by category.  First, the pain medications.  Opiate withdrawal has the following classic symptoms:  in the hours after the last dose will come drug craving, anxiety, fear of withdrawal.  Then in a day to days will be:  anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, yawning, runny nose, watery eyes, sweating, stomach cramps, and small pupils.  In the days that follow to a week:  tremors, muscle spasms, vomiting, diarrhea, chills, goosebumps, and rapid heart beat.
Benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms are similar, but different in some ways and timing:  rapid stopping of chronic benzo use can actually result in death.  Tremors, anxiety, hallucinations, negativity, psychosis and seizures can occur.  The scale and dependence of benzo use and abuse is truly staggering.  Many of these folks are your neighbors, relatives, and friends.  They have been taking Ativan, Xanax, Valium, Klonopin, Libruim, Tranxene, Restoril, Serax, ProSom, Dalmane, and Halcion for a long time now.  They are likely not abusing these drugs, but certainly are dependent and are not going to be happy and pleasant without these medications.  Anyone on more than 20 per month of these meds needs to wean down now and try to get off.  Again, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) does work for people and is highly recommended.
Stimulant withdrawal, specifically cocaine and amphetamines, can show withdrawal symptoms in:  negativity, lack of pleasure in things, fatigue, sleepiness, vivid dreams, insomnia, agitation, anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts and actions, drug craving, and hunger.  As a society, we also provide stimulants to people regularly for their ADD and ADHD diagnoses, and the symptoms of withdrawal will be very similar to those of the illicit stimulants above.  These stimulant-withdrawal symptoms usually peak by two days and then decrease within two weeks, but can be the most dramatic and therefore dangerous when loosed near you and yours.
Many of these withdrawal symptoms will also be experienced by many “non-addicts” who are unprepared for a disaster.  Isolating yourselves for the first few weeks after any major disaster is certainly the best policy.  By 14 days, almost all types of acute drug withdrawal have ended physically.   Seekers will be dangerous in those first days, but remember that most seekers have up to a month of medication that they have available before they run out, some dealers could have much more than that.  The first two months all of us will be at risk to encounter and possibly be harmed by the drug seeker.  I can’t emphasize enough how far people who are addicts will go to try to obtain even a small amount of their drug of choice or any type of substitute.  Many of these people will rob, lie, con, steal and kill for drugs if given the chance, so continue your vigilance.  But most importantly, heed our sound advice: To reduce your risk,  do not keep these medication stored on your property.

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

Probably the biggest gap in our survival preparations at present is having a good source of energy if we have to stay underground for an extended period. If surface conditions are such that we cannot venture outside, then most likely there will be problems with our photovoltaic panels, solar water heater and hydropower, all of which are above ground. With currently available technology, propane seems to be the only reasonable solution to support heat, hot water, and electricity. Propane can be stored indefinitely and furnaces, stoves and generators that run on propane are readily available. However, storing enough propane underground to support our group for several years would be impractical. I'm also uncomfortable storing large amounts of propane for many years, since it seems inevitable that it will leak eventually, presenting a safety issue as well as a loss of the resource. Most people, including serious preppers, don't plan to rely on propane for more than a few days. For those with solar and hydro solutions that can work without pause for years, a 3-day backup system in the form of propane seems superfluous.

I keep coming back to coal. Like propane, it can be stored forever [if protected from weathering.] (Before it's mined, it's basically being stored indefinitely underground in a mine.) With existing, mature technology, coal can support all the things propane can be used for: heat, hot water and electricity. Unlike propane, there's no danger of leaking, and it's much more practical to store tons and tons of coal underground than it is to use buried propane tanks. There's only one problem: unlike propane, electrical generators that run on coal are not readily available for individual household use. This seems strange, since coal is the number one energy source for electricity generation at the utility scale.

Are you or my fellow readers aware of any practical, reasonably efficient solutions for home electricity generation using coal as an energy source that don't require an engineering degree to implement (if I had the skills I'd just build the generator from scratch myself)? I would be willing to pay a significant amount of money for such a system.

Thanks in advance, and best wishes. - Dale from Vermont

[JWR Replies: When ever wood heat or coal heat are mentioned in the blog, invariably someone will then Thermoelectric generation (TEG) technology . Unfortunately that technology hasn't matured sufficiently to be reliable. Sadly, TEG circuits burn out with alarming regularity. So steam power--at least for now--seems to be the only reliable way to turn heat into electricity. Perhaps some readers would care to chime in with some alternatives.]

Hello Mr. Rawles, 
I felt compelled to write in regarding Frank C's recent article, The Overnighters: Coming to a Neighborhood Near You, and share my experiences working in the non-profit world over the last four years.  While my experience is significantly different from Frank's, he is in my opinion right on the money.
I live and work in a northeastern state.  The state has a low population, is very rural, but has a massive "public assistance" community within its borders. In other words, lots of "social programs."  I am a die hard capitalist, gun-owner, conservative, Christian.  Not the best prepper, but I'm trying to change that.  About four years ago I began working for a non-profit, which was quite change from having been in the defense industry.  The operation is self-funded (operates as a business) so it fit with my personal beliefs.  The operation performs very basic services for area businesses, and pays people "piece rate" for each product produced.  In short, the harder they work, the more they make per hour.
How this relates to Frank's article is this: we have a great many "Overnighters" that "work" for us.  It is the same crowd.  They have been given everything, and they cannot fathom a world that does not include a taxpayer-funded check every month.  Being independent is not on their radar screen. If you try to explain the concept and they  go completely blank.
Many business owners might be able to relate to this, but many who read this blog may be surprised how, even in this economy, it is very hard to get people to show up, work a full day, and then repeat that on a regular basis.  We give jobs to anyone who wants one, regardless of background, past indiscretions, etc.  We are here for everyone.  People don't show up, barely give an excuse, and then expect to be put on the work schedule again, when it is convenient for them.
The smoke, drink, have fancy cell phones, and find it a major inconvenience to come to work occasionally, to fill in the gaps left by their "benefits."  Many of them are completely without shame, and state emphatically that the only reason they are there is because, "the state cut my check."  Many of them strategically work only the number of hours they can without upsetting the handouts.
These are the type of people who Frank mentions going door-to-door in his article.  When the checks and stamps dry up, these people will get ugly--very ugly.  What I have learned over the past four years is that this type of creature can exist anywhere. As I mentioned, this is a rural state, and the "city" I work in would not register as even a large town to most urbanites. But here they are.  The system has created them, and they have filled a massive population vacuum.  I live over an hour away, which is somewhat comforting, but these types of humans are even in the small towns of America, and they earnestly expect to be taken care of. Thanks, - Scott O.

H.D. in Ohio mentioned this fascinating paper in the medical journal Nature Neuroscience: How unrealistic optimism is maintained in the face of reality. In essence, some people's brains aren't wet-wired to accept the the prospect of calamity. This may explain why trying to convince some of your family members to prepare is like talking to a brick wall.

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Some good privacy news: High Court Rules Warrantless GPS Tracking Unconstitutional

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A new M9 solar flare has everyone's attention. It is the biggest since 2005. BTW, I recommend signing up to receive free solar flare alerts.

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Going Back to the Future: Militia Model Could Cut U.S. Expenditures. (Thanks to Chris M. for the link.)

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My nonfiction book "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It" just jumped back up to #50 in Amazon's overall rankings. This was attributable to having the book proclaimed "the preppers' Bible" in a recent Reuters news article, and a follow-up in Glenn Beck's The Blaze.

"There are only two ways to sleep well at night... be ignorant or be prepared."  - Simon Black, editor of Sovereign Man

Monday, January 23, 2012

Welcome aboard, to the thousands of new SurvivalBlog that just heard about us for the first time in the recent Reuters news article. To come up to speed quickly, take a few minutes to read the About page, and then SurvivalBlog's Quick-Start Guide for Preparedness Newbies.


Today we present another two entries for Round 39 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 Safecastle.com (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 FloJak.com. 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 39 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.

Financial calamity can take many different forms.  The Brazilian saga of hyperinflation / depression / recovery from the 1980s leading to one of today’s most robust economies is a classic tale of overcoming adversity.  Argentina’s economic collapse in 2000-2001 followed by hyperinflation in 2002, debt repudiation and seizing foreign deposits is another story with a solid recovery afterwards.  The disastrous 20-year Japanese experiment with deflation and negative growth is at the other end of the spectrum.
Which will the US experience first?  And, how quickly will we feel the scorching fire of hyperinflation or the freezing blast of deflation?
The short answer is that today we should be preparing for a recession in the near future with actual deflation in certain sectors.  We also need to anticipate the possibility of a deflationary spiral into the “Great Correction.”

As the economy struggles through the next recession, we need to be alert for signals that the Federal Reserve has screwed up and overshot its goal of controlling deflation.  A big miss with too much monetary expansion and the US economy could lurch into hyperinflation with very little warning.
In JWR's novel Patriots, our heroes experience an occupation force of primarily European UN troops.  Today, that seems unlikely but only because the European countries are determined to make a bigger mess of their economies even more quickly than the US.  After all, politicians in Europe have over-promised for even longer than politicians in the US.  The cost of providing the European welfare state has proven far more expensive than forecast, and the bill is now past due.

Almost everybody watching the Euro crisis has concluded that Europe is headed straight into a major recession – regardless whether or how the Euro crisis is solved.  The recently mighty Euro has been steadily losing value to the US dollar and is no longer a candidate for a replacement reserve currency.  In fact, Euro-denominated assets, especially the government bonds of Greece, Italy, and Spain, are almost toxic.

Updated Collapse Scenario

Does that mean that the disaster scenario in Patriots needs to be updated?  No way.  In fact, all that matters is that Patriots provides a realistic scenario that could easily lead to the rapid collapse of infrastructure especially in large cities.  The story line makes the point that rational people need to be prepared for the worst and that working together is much better than going it alone.  The take-away message is about being prepared and not about the details of which camouflage pattern or what brand of battle rifles.  If those details stick in your mind, that’s great, but the real lesson is to think ahead and start planning before Schumer comes knocking.
In the meantime, we have to get on with our life in today’s real world.  The characters in Patriots had to deal with their particular environment; we have ours.  Each of us gets to deal with our jobs, our family and friends, and “our” government.
Keep in mind that how you define a problem can artificially constrain how you think about the solution.  If you imagine that the most likely problem is hyperinflation and soon, that framework might justify spending critical savings to stockpile supplies before prices skyrocketed.
But if, as I predict, the US will deal with several years of recession first, the heavy spender might use up critical savings needed to deal with an unexpected problem like major illness or loss of a job.  Also keep in mind that the frugal saver who does reasonably well in a recession may overlook or ignore the warning signals for hyperinflation and see the value of his savings evaporate in a few months or even weeks.

Being an International Banker

My first job out of business school was trading foreign currencies in Beirut for one of the largest American banks and then as branch manager in another Middle Eastern country. After several more job moves including working as the international treasurer for a Fortune 500 company, I was recruited to head up global treasury management for the largest bank in the US.  Eventually, I left the financial sector and got a real job running a company that manufactured products in the US.

Like many people I read the news headlines and generally ignore the daily ups and downs of the stock market.  Most of my attention goes to more technical articles following trends in currency swaps, forward currency transactions or futures, inter-bank lending rates, national bond offerings, and changes in credit default insurance rates.  Not very sexy stuff, but these details paint a clearer picture of world events than the sound bites carried on television news.

As a banker, I was paid to make bets on major currency movements and the direction of national economies.  Sometimes, I was just plain wrong and lost money.  Occasionally, I had the right trend or direction but was way off in the timing.  That also counted as a loss.  Fortunately enough of the bets paid off, and I kept my job.

Most of us may not recognize the reality, but today everyone in the United States is making a daily bet in the world’s foreign currency markets.  We are all international economic forecasters.  What happens in Greece or China or Japan has a direct impact on the US dollar, the US stock market, the rates on US savings accounts, the price we pay for bread, or the cost to fill up our Toyota, Hyundai, or Chevrolet.

Major Bets

You say, “Wait, I don’t even own stocks.  I’m sitting tight hoping that everything blows over.” My friend, that is a bet – a very big one.  You are betting on the status quo.  In fact, you are putting your livelihood and your savings on the line placing a number of bets at the casino every day.  By doing nothing, you are actually making the following very specific bets, for example:
a.)            The Euro-zone remains intact;
b.)            None of the European Club Med countries default;
c.)            Crude oil stays between $80 and $120/barrel, and the Middle East stays peaceful;
d.)            The Federal Reserve can and will keep interest rates between zero and 2% for at least two more years;
e.)            The Fed’s interventionist policies will keep the US from a recession in the next two years or at least until the presidential election is over;
f.)            The Muni bond crisis in the US will be postponed at least a year;
g.)            Obama will win his second term as President; and
h.)            Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker John Boehner will continue their ineffectual sparring with neither party making much ground in the 2012 elections.
The list could go on, but I think you see the point.  Taking no action is a gigantic sucker bet.
By the way, you also made the bet (correctly) that Obama would keep his word and that troop withdrawals from Iraq would proceed according to plan.  After all, everyone knows that Iraq and Afghanistan have been completely pacified and are capable of responsible self-rule without any assistance from the Evil Empire.  Further, there is absolutely nothing that could disrupt the steady supply of Middle Eastern oil to Europe and Asia – not even the Ayatollahs of Iran and the Straits of Hormuz.
When you placed those wagers, you were making the exact same bet that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is making, namely an ever-increasing federal deficit can be financed indefinitely by an ever-expanding supply of cheap credit.
Further, this surplus of credit, according to Keynes and all his disciples, will lead only to moderate but not excessive growth which will allow the US to solve all of its economic problems by the end of the second Obama administration. 

Bernanke is too old to have such faith in the Tooth Fairy, and so are you.

The European Mess

Each week for the last several months, the press has alternated with good news that the Euro crisis has been fixed once and for all with the following week’s announcement that some new catastrophe has derailed last week’s bailout plan or solution or new treaty or whatever.  My personal bet is that at least one of Club Med countries will default on its bonds in the next six months.  Frankly, it doesn’t matter whether the first to go is Greece, Italy or Spain.

The most likely consequence of any major national default is that this will be the final trigger point for a long-term recession in Europe with repercussions in the US economy and the rest of the world.  Even without a specific trigger, Europe will slide inevitably into recession generally considered to be two consecutive quarters of declining GDP.
How likely is it that a major recession in Europe will lead to another recession here?  Most economists and central bankers think it will happen quickly once the house of cards called the European Union starts to tumble.  In fact, many of the most common measures used by the National Bureau of Economic Research already point to an extended decline here in the US in real income, actual vs. reported unemployment, retail sales, and industrial production as well as other key measures.
Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner believe in the linkage, and the Federal Reserve has already taken extraordinary steps to delay the inevitable collapse in Europe just to postpone the recession here.

International Monetary “Easing”

On November 30, 2011, the Federal Reserve issued a press release announcing greater availability and lower pricing for “temporary U.S. dollar liquidity swap arrangements.”  What really happened is that Bernanke, without the approval of Congress, agreed to make the Federal Reserve a lender of last resort to the rapidly failing commercial banks in Europe.  These banks have enormous exposures to various European national bonds, and the Fed is effectively taking on that liability.  You read it correctly - the commercial banks.  The US taxpayer is now backstopping the shareholders of foreign banks.
A press release announcing a done deal means that there were weeks or months of intense, behind-the-scenes negotiations as well as position papers and PowerPoint presentations detailing the consequences of opening up that credit window.  These documents have not been and probably never will be released.  Where is Wikileaks when you really need it?
Will these new credit facilities change the outcome?  Not really.  Utilization of the credit facilities may slightly delay the starting date for the European recession, but the sad truth is that the US government and the US taxpayer is now much more exposed to a commercial banking collapse in Europe.
We thought that the Mother of All Bailouts (MOAB) had occurred here in 2008 and 2009 to avoid the bankruptcy of Bear Stearns and the collapse of the US banking system and AIG.  Not satisfied, Bernanke is now offering bail-out money to Europe’s banks.

The Euro Summit and the “New Treaty”

Clearly the 27 Euro-zone leaders believed that a major recession would be the best outcome they could expect from the spreading Euro crisis unless they took extraordinary action.  The 27 heads of state participated in an all-nighter in Brussels on December 8 and 9.  The result is that member states have been asked (blackmailed?) to ratify an amendment to the European Union treaty setting new mandatory economic guidelines.
The most important requirement is that each country must take active measures to reduce “structural” deficits to no more than 3% per year.  This means drastically reducing the maximum amount by which any country can outspend its net tax revenues.  This was the non-negotiable demand that German Chancellor Merkel imposed on all the member countries at the Euro Summit.
What the Germans wanted and got was agreement that member countries would reduce their deficits by immediately cutting government spending and simultaneously raising tax revenues.  “Cutting government spending” is Euro-speak for firing a significant number of government workers and reducing funding for government programs.

In addition to cutting public sector employment, these measures will lead to a further loss of jobs in the private sector.  The obvious consequence all across Europe is greater unemployment, a further loss of consumer confidence, a continuing reduction in consumer spending, and a corresponding decrease in capital expenditures by businesses.  To that recipe for economic disaster, stir in the simultaneous requirement to raise tax revenues.

Tie Your Hands

With this toxic combination how can the EU member countries avoid an outright recession?  Not possible.  This was the reality that every head of state knew in advance of the Brussels summit and had already accepted. Even more amazing is that all of these government leaders also agreed to keep from using the conventional Keynesian tools for fending off or turning around a recession including reducing taxes or increasing government spending.  They have tied their hands behind their backs even before the fight started.  You have to ask was this  the epitome of stupid politics, or were these leaders even more afraid of the inevitable economic catastrophe from a collapse of the Euro? How long before this new treaty is effective – if ever?  According to a Reuters article, French President Sarkozy admitted that the earliest expected ratification was June, 2012.  Obviously, the “big rescue” is not a “quick rescue.”  In the meantime both Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s have placed almost all European countries on credit watch, often the first step before a down-grade in credit rating and a major increase in borrowing costs.

Too Little and Too Late

Many commentators have opined that the simmering Euro crisis will boil over long before the new treaty can be approved.  The summit got great press coverage, and the Euro leaders got to pat themselves on the back.  But, an honest assessment has to be too little real substance and way too late to do any good.
Put the pieces together.  Europe’s leaders have basically given up and are reconciled to a large and extended recession beginning no later than the first half of 2012 along with a big jump in public and private sector unemployment plus major increases in national borrowing costs.  By accepting Germany’s terms, the members of the EU have also agreed in advance to a very slow recovery from the inevitable recession.  No reason for optimism here.

The Toilet Bowl Spiral

First, what is the practical definition of deflation?  Second, why is it such a big deal?
The official definition of deflation is a decrease in the general price level of goods and services typically measured by a decline in the Consumer Price Index.  In other words, real inflation drops below zero measured against the prices of a consumer basket of goods and services.  The major concern is that deflation can get out of hand and lead to a deflationary spiral.
In this type of downward spiral, the vicious circle starts as businesses try to maintain or increase demand by lowering prices (think Christmas sales).  If lower prices fail to stimulate demand, businesses have no choice except to lower production or reduce retail inventory depending on where they are in the delivery chain.  Manufacturers fire excess workers and cancel any plans to increase plant capacity.  Retailers place smaller than normal orders and leave empty shelf space.

Unemployment goes up, real income goes down, real estate prices continue to plummet, tax revenues at all levels go down, and the deficit gets even bigger.  City, state, and federal governments – especially since they have already borrowed too much money – are finally forced to cut non-essential services and begin reducing essential services such as fire and police.
And, the municipal bond market takes a big hit as several major cities and one or more states default on interest payments and fail to pay vendors.
Then, even more government entities are forced to cut more public employees but usually not near the top where it would help.  Unemployment goes up again; aggregate income goes down even further; consumer borrowing drops more; consumer demand drops faster and further; and prices drop yet again to chase decreasing demand.

The Spiral Continues

Businesses create no new jobs.  There are no new housing starts.  New automobile production gets cut again.  As the spiral continues, businesses have to reduce their payroll even more by firing the most recently hired, by eliminating all entry-level jobs, and by firing the most expensive hourly workers – usually the oldest ones.  They even start firing middle management.  Just for the record, the last thing they cut is executive compensation.
There are two really important reasons for understanding why deflation is such a big deal – especially right now.  The first is that once this vicious cycle gets a good start, it is really hard to stop until it bottoms out like it did in the Great Depression.  Second, and maybe even more important today is the realization that deflation is at the current intersection of a massive academic ego and partisan politics.

Bernanke’s Ego and Obama’s Political Ambitions

Assuming that the Republican Party can eventually nominate any plausible candidate, even Waffle House Romney, Obama knows that the most important issue in his re-election campaign will be the economy.  Unlike Europe’s leaders, Obama cannot afford to give up and accept the inevitable recession unless he is also willing to be a one-term president.  He will do everything he can and support any idea no matter how far-fetched that has the slimmest hope of injecting good news into the gloomy economic picture. But Bernanke’s motivation is even more dangerous.  Ben Bernanke graduated from Harvard College and earned his Ph.D. from MIT.  He taught at Stanford Business School and NYU before becoming a tenured professor at Princeton.  His entire academic career focused on the policy decisions leading to the Great Depression.  In numerous papers and articles, he has expounded his theory that uncontrolled deflation triggered the Great Depression and delayed recovery.

While at Princeton, he was appointed a Member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve in 2002.  He became Chairman of President Bush’s Council of Economic Advisors in 2005.  Bush nominated him as Chairman of the Federal Reserve in 2006, and he was reappointed to that position by Obama in 2009.  He is now able to treat the US economy as one giant laboratory in which to test his academic theories.
Nine years ago, then-Fed Governor Bernanke gave a speech called “Deflation: Making Sure “It” Doesn’t Happen Here.”  Read Bernanke's words and weep:

"Thus, as I have stressed already, prevention of deflation remains preferable to having to cure it.  If we do fall into deflation, however, we can take comfort that the logic of the printing press example must assert itself, and sufficient injections of money will ultimately always reverse a deflation."

The Magic Printing Presses
In fact, Bernanke has been pushing and pulling the economic policy levers in an unprecedented way since he became Fed Chairman under Bush.  Even with access through the Freedom of Information Act, the public may never know who really said what to whom as the federal government struggled with the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, the almost bankruptcy of Bear Stearns, the catastrophic melt-down of the sub-prime mortgage market, and the bailout of the banks that were “too big to fail.” What is clear is that the US tumbled into a recession, and the Fed under Bernanke’s direction did everything possible to contain it.  Some economists argue that it would have been better to allow capitalism to run its course, let the failures occur, and set the stage for a real recovery. The recession that started in 2008 continued in 2009, and true to his fervently held beliefs Bernanke injected massive amounts of money into the US economy, especially after Obama became President.  We can debate whether the bailouts were necessary or even beneficial, but for right now, that issue is irrelevant.  The world learned a crucial lesson about the way that Bernanke and Obama will handle any major economic crisis.

Avoid deflation at all costs!  Roll the presses!

The US Treasury has the national mints, but the Federal Reserve has printing presses.  Some of the presses are real intaglio printers used to print currency, and they are churning out new Federal Reserve funny money in larger denominations and greater quantities 24/7.  But the really dangerous ones are the virtual presses that put digital money on balance sheets without any intervening creation of goods or services.
One obvious example is “Quantitative Easing.”  This term deliberately obscures the real meaning.  Translated it means that the Federal Reserve purchases US government bonds from private holders (e.g., commercial banks) and pays for them by simply making digital entries in the selling bank’s account at the Fed.  No new goods or services.  No Congressional approval.  More money in the system.
Let’s admit that the whole world – China, Europe, the oil producing countries, and the US – face recession and possibly deflation.  We know for sure that Bernanke is self-righteous in his view that with enough money he will reverse deflation and avoid the deflationary spiral.  And, Bernanke believes that history will lavish great praise on the economist turned super-hero who saves the world.

Near-Term Forecast

Europe, will continue the inevitable slide into recession despite the best efforts of the European Central Bank (with no printing presses and no authority to manufacture money) and the Federal Reserve (with all printing presses working overtime).
On a slightly slower timetable, the US will slide back into recession as well.  Bleating like a lost little lamb, Obama will “encourage” the Democrats to create jobs, to tax the rich, to save the unions, to preserve jobs for public employees, to keep their pensions intact, and to preserve at all costs every single entitlement program, such as Social Security.
The Republicans will continue the full range of political brinkmanship.  Compromise is unlikely.  Nothing significant will happen to create jobs, reduce spending, or actually change the debt level for at least a decade.  In other words, same old stuff except that the government will officially acknowledge what we already knew in our pocketbooks.  The US is in another recession less than two years after the federal government declared a victory over the last one.

With the prospect that a back to back recession could easily lead to deflation and the dreaded spiral, Super-Hero Bernanke without any congressional oversight will be busy doing his magic.  The money supply will increase.  Interest rates will stay down.  Even so, commercial and consumer borrowing will drop.  Real estate will drop even further.  Frustrated because the story-book ending is not working out, Bernanke will pour even more money into the system.  After all, Ben runs the risk of losing his super-hero cape.
In summary, until this phase of Bernanke’s grand experiment with the American people runs its course in 24 to 36 months, you can count on three things:
1.)            Recession with a 30% or more chance of significant deflation.
2.)            Overcast conditions with no glimmer of sunshine from a grid-locked Congress.
3.)            Heavy precipitation in the form of money and credit raining down from the Federal Reserve.

This is the good news, and I fervently hope that we get a two-year run!

Black Swan Theory

The bad news is that the economic environment could go from recession to much worse very quickly if any one of several unexpected events occurred.  The “Black Swan Theory” holds that highly unpredictable events with low probability have a major impact often because we have overlooked such events and have ignored the huge impact of these supposedly rare occurrences.
For example, we can see that the list of possible disasters might include a spike in energy prices, another major terrorist attack on US soil, North Korea flexing its nuclear arsenal, the bankruptcy of the US Postal Service, or another major conflict in the Middle East.
Precisely because these events seem possible or even likely, they are not Black Swans.  But, if we think outside the box, we can speculate on events that might change everything – at least in their immediate sphere.  For example:
1.)            President Obama decides not to run for a second term, and Hillary Clinton becomes the 45th President.
2.)            North Korea offers to reunite with South Korea, and South Korea destroys its own economy in the process.  This leads to a collapse of the Asian “Tigers” in a mirror of the Euro crisis.
3.)            Iranian Hezbollah agents from Lebanon set off a small-scale nuclear device in Tel Aviv.  Israel retaliates against Syria and Iran.
4.)            The housing bubble in China explodes leading to full scale riots in six to ten cities that are quelled only with massive military force.  Chinese exports decline; imports, especially of raw materials, stop almost completely.
5.)            The national referendums on the new EU treaty trigger bloody rioting in Greece followed by popular uprisings in Spain and Portugal reminiscent of the Arab Spring in Egypt and Libya.  The Euro dies a painful death bringing down major commercial banks and private sector companies.
6.)            King Abdullah is assassinated, the Allegiance Council of the House of Saud is unable to name a successor, warring factions take over the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of the Interior, and oil shipments stop.
These ugly events almost qualify as Black Swans, but the fact that we can conceive of them and have some idea of their impact might take them out of the category.  You have to imagine something even more unpredictable and more capable of sweeping change.  You will know it when you see it.

Near-Term Conclusions

Increased self-reliance is the best plan to get you and your family through the next two to three years.  For that short period, the US dollar will be the safe haven currency – not gold or silver.  Individuals, corporations, and governments around the world will decide to hold greenbacks and not local currencies or hard assets.
In fact, one possible explanation for the huge drop in gold in the last several months despite the Euro-crisis on the front pages is that major gold investors have already concluded that recession is the near-term problem not hyperinflation.

Study the SurvivalBlog “List of Lists,” and plan your expenditures carefully.  Look for sales and discounts.  Smart retailers have already figured out that consumers have become deal conscious and realize that retail prices have to drop to get customers in the door.
If at all possible, avoid taking on more debt other than student loans (just the opposite advice if hyperinflation were on the immediate horizon).

Given any reasonable opportunity, get out of an urban or suburban mortgage.  Even on an after-tax basis, renting makes more sense than owning.  Commercial and residential real estate will take another big drop in the next two years.
Before signing any contract extending more than 60 to 90 days, make sure that you are protected against wild price swings and unusual government delays of any sort.
Be prepared to dump digital cash and digital assets, i.e., bank deposits and brokerage accounts, on very short notice.
Have you been putting off a decision about relocation?  If you already live in a major urban area in the West like Denver, Phoenix, or Cheyenne, you are much better off than if your job keeps you in Cleveland or Harrisburg.  Use this window to visit some of the best candidates on your list.
If you decide to purchase silver dimes and take possession, don’t be surprised to see silver drop even lower before gold and silver surge past their previous highs.
Now is the time to develop additional skills that might be marketable in tough times and to look for financially secure employers.  Plan ahead for the consequences if one of the major bread winners in your family were to lose their job.
Even in the middle of the recession, keep a vigilant eye on the early symptoms of hyperinflation.  Anticipate a Black Swan event.  Be prepared to implement Plan B instantly.

Make a Plan B

Let’s assume that my conclusion regarding the near future is a good working forecast and that the next two years are bad but not ugly.  Even so, each of us has to be prepared to change our direction and actions on the spot.  In my experience, the best way to do this is to have a genuine contingency plan or “Plan B” worked out in advance.
Start with the assumption that some aspects of your plan will not work or will be just plain wrong.  Once you have developed a plan and worked out the implementation, changing that plan to fit the circumstances that unfold is much easier and quicker than doing a Plan B from scratch.  Unless you need to plan only for yourself, the other great benefit is that family or friends or members of your prep group are all on the same page.  Do the discussion before the crisis.
Although it may not be a part of your action steps, I recommend that your Plan B specifically address possible trigger points and that you get buy-in to take action as soon as certain trigger points are reached.  Even during the next two years of recession, an abrupt turn to hyperinflation is a real possibility.

  • Be alert to the early warning signs of hyperinflation.
  • Have your money out of the banks before the lines of angry depositors form.
  • Buy gas or diesel and storage containers before prices take off.
  • Practice packing and know how long it will take and what you really can carry.
  • Get home or bring family home while airlines are still flying.
  • Be prepared to leave Dodge City near the front of the convoy.


From all appearances we are a typical family in our white trash, low rent neighborhood in the suburbs. Normal for our family of 9 has been living the last twenty-odd years on much more love than money. Scraping by, scrounging, bartering, repairing and repurposing things constantly in order to keep the home fires burning, gas in the tank, peanut butter and jelly on the table. Good times were relishing the pure gold of fat laughing babies, silly kids, and slow paced days when everyone was reasonably content at the same time.
What even our blatant survivalist solar panel/gun collecting/FedEx-bringing-cases-of- MREs- neighbor doesn’t even know is…

Ten years ago we found a parcel of raw land for sale in Central Oregon, in a heavily forested area of lodge pole pine trees, and purchased it at 100 dollars a month on a 10 year land sale contract. Near, but not on, a major highway that could be accessed by six routes from our hometown. Untamed, untouched, unimproved, 200 long miles away, worth every kid whimper and dog sick hour to get us there to pure freedom. The off-grid land is totally secluded, with a nearby canal that supplies sand and recreation, and at the business end, sports an artesian well with fresh drinking water. A place where seven kids and any size dog could run and play and scream and bark as loud as they wanted, without fear of the neighbors complaining or threatening our loud but harmless tribe of six daughters and one very active son.

Over the next few summers our little campground gained a driveway (Each tree pulled out with the truck and a chain or cut down and the roots painstakingly dug up with a discount-store shovel. We gathered huge pumice rocks and mortared them together into an outdoor oven. Handmade log benches ring the fire pit, and a distant forest neighbor sold us a tiny (18 ft.)  Travel trailer for $250. Garage sales and off-price surplus stores made it possible to outfit our camp on a free-school-lunch-eligible salary.
 Though summer was the busy season for his boat repair job, my husband joined us on the weekends and used a small chainsaw to cut a supply of 12 and 14 ft. poles that kept the kids and I busy making tipis and a very interesting outdoor kitchen shelter. This all happened mostly before I discovered the internet, so I patterned things after what I had seen on Gilligan’s Island and read about in The Mother Earth News back in the 1970s. It was a labor of love and a comedy of errors, but all ours.

Sadly, my husband passed away five years ago and with him the security of having a mechanic and someone to teach the kids more about hunting, fishing and driving. Lessons that began when they were small have prompted a competition between us to gather information and test our survival skills in real life scenarios on many occasions. The world has become a place where even a self-absorbed teenage girl can see the future need for a safe sustainable place away from the city. During our trips to the property, we have become familiar with the lay of the land, exploring all the forest service and BLM roads and trails with in a 20 mile radius. We know the locations of the nearest hiking/ATV/snowmobile trails, truck stops, restrooms, outhouses, creeks, lakes, wells, wetlands, ranches,  orchards, trailers, campgrounds, cabins, farms, hunting blinds, country stores, boat landings, public dumpsites, quarries, sawmills, railroad sidings, caves, ghost towns, mining camps and resorts. Escape routes and secure hiding places are entered in our handheld GPS. A mental list is forming of places we may be able to barter our winter salad greens and summer vegetable crops.

Driving into the mountains on our spring and summer vacations has not always been easy. One year an early snowstorm delayed us a week before I could dig the car out enough to get us back to school and work. The master cylinder in our old truck went out one trip while I was driving with 4 of the kids over the Cascade mountain pass, leaving me with no brakes in the middle of nowhere, (no cell phone signal). I coasted to the nearest town, not taking a breath, and thankfully we lived to tell the tale. Reliable, safe transport will always be our biggest hurdle if we need to get to our location in a hurry. We are also all aware of the route from the nearest Amtrak station within a day’s walk of the property. Aside from car repair issues, we have overcome many of the obstacles to living off the grid.
We have discovered that the batteries in our cheap solar garden lights can power our FRS radios and GPS. A bouquet of solar lights in a vase makes a perfect off-grid reading lamp. Our 1,000 watt Honda generator is used only for recharging 18 volt tool batteries and while that is happening, we can enjoy a DVD, crank up some tunes or play on the computer. For emergency backup we have a small inverter I can use with the car battery.
To amuse ourselves without wattage, along with reading, we use the bounty of branches and small trees to carve walking sticks, make log benches, small chairs and plant stands, and log furniture for dolls. We have discovered volcanic pumice rocks carve easily into self-watering planters, ashtrays and candle lanterns. These are used as gifts and/or for Saturday market sales whenever we have a good selection.
For heat we have a tiny wood stove in one of the tipis. We have always been able to keep warm even when night temps have been below freezing. The tipi frame is covered with chicken wire and stucco (ferro cement). Everyone sleeps with a down comforter. Washable duvet covers make everything easier to keep clean. These were purchased for a few dollars each at a Goodwill Outlet store, where clothing and most merchandise is sold by weight.
We have mastered the art of baking awesome biscuits, cupcakes and muffins at high altitude with a solar oven made of Mylar emergency blankets and an old storm window. Yeast bread gets baked (occasionally, as it’s a day-long task) in the outdoor stone oven, after a fire has been built in it. The sun tea jar is always brewing with a tea ball full of home grown Stevia leaves for sweetening. We can covertly cook baked beans and soups in a fire pit underground, and hot rocks cook foil wrapped chicken in our backpack while we work or explore. We also have a couple of propane backpack stoves and the adapter fitting to enable us to re-fill the small green canisters from a larger 20 pound cylinder.

For hygiene, we decided (after trying several options) five-gallon bucket toilets with cheap snap on seats are easier to maintain than the expensive flushable chemical camping toilets; as long as you have a supply of peat moss, saw dust, pine needles, sand or soil to bury waste in the bucket. For washing up, two milk jugs of warm water make a quick easy shower, one for washing, one for rinsing. We leave a line of filled jugs to warm on the sunny side of the gravel floor shower hut, or simmer a few minutes in the big pot while the dish washing water is warming. A fancier shower can be enjoyed with an air pump type garden sprayer tank. We have one handy for guests.   Obviously, you will want to use one that has not ever had any chemicals, fertilizer or pesticides in it.
During the school year in suburbia I teach indoor gardening classes, the kids attend school and in our spare time we do our research. We experiment with new Survival Log recipes (a high calorie/protein packed candy/cereal dough we invented made with storage foods that have a hundred delicious variations. (See my master recipe below). We plan new experiments and projects, plant seedlings, dehydrate foods and pack useful items that will be taken on our next trip. I read SurvivalBlog faithfully now and take notes from all the wonderful knowledge shared. We watch Survivor Man type man shows and laugh until we cry as they dramatize the obvious and almost die of hypothermia each day. If we are lucky we pick up a few useful hints that will be tried until true. We wrestle with our conscience whether or not to buy real rabbit fur hats and mittens, because someday our summer at the campground could last into the snowy days of winter. We decided the rabbits would be honored to save us from hypothermia.
 We have practiced and studied and experimented and now have the campground well supplied with caches of food, a well hidden root cellar/panic room, durable clothing, weapons, survival tools and gardening, medical and veterinary supplies.  Instead of being scared of an uncertain future we are continuing to prepare.

For now, my daughters (now high school and college girls) wear camouflage just for fashion. Not many people outside our family know that each and every one of them can make their own snowshoes, siphon gas, transform volcanic rock into a hydroponic garden, repair a bike, bake bread, shoot a wild turkey, sprout a salad, make a duct tape hammock, milk a goat, service a generator, purify water three different ways, catch fish with a bed sheet, navigate by the sun, disable an intruder, and start a fire 14 ways without a match.
Their Dad would have been so proud…

Addenda: Survival Logs Recipe
1 cup peanut, almond, cashew or other “nut butter”
1/2 to 3/4 cup honey, corn syrup, maple syrup, or homemade sugar syrup
2-3 cups crushed corn flakes, granola, crispy rice cereal, cookie, dry bread, pretzel, cracker or cake crumbs
Optional flavorings—dried milk powder, chopped dried fruits, sunflower seeds, chocolate chips, gumdrops, m&ms, candy sprinkles, chopped nuts, coconut

1 .In a saucepan, heat syrup to boiling, remove from heat.
2. Add nut butter, stir until melted and blend well.
3. Stir in enough cereal or crumbs to form a stiff dry dough
4. Knead in optional flavorings; form into candy bar size logs.
5. Roll in additional crumbs, coconut or sprinkles as desired. Wrap individually in wax paper or foil for travel or hiking food. Makes 10 logs.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I have been a daily visitor to your site for about three years now. I want to drop you a line regarding our experience in the big Pacific Northwest ice storm--wit effects still being felt.

I live with my wife in a suburb of Tacoma, part way between the city proper and the farm country. The television and Internet news sites all warned of a "massive" and "record breaking" storm that would move into our area this past Monday. We are on PSE power and have our own water well.

We consider ourselves pretty well prepared (we read your site, right?) so all we did was top off the gas in our vehicles, plus put another 20 gallons into five gallon tanks. We did all our dishes and laundry, unplugged electronics, brought in a mighty heap of firewood, and got out a bunch of candles and hand-crank flashlights and radios. Because we knew we would have no water if the power failed, we filled the bathtub with water to have some extra if our bottled water (both drinkable and non-drinkable "flushing" water) was exhausted.

After getting a foot of snow Tuesday, (which is a lot for around here), on Wednesday the power went out. A one-two punch of cold arctic air and lots of moisture from the Pacific gave us  one nasty storm. Trees loaded with snow fell over left and right, taking out power lines and blocking roads. By Thursday frozen rain put a coating of ice on top of the snow, making driving almost impossible. Temperatures dipped into the mid-twenties but our wood stove kept us nice and toasty. For two and a half days we had no power, water, land line phone, television, or Internet. Not a big deal really, it was actually kind of an adventure since we knew we had the skills and the stuff to go quite a while without any of these things.

We did learn a few things, and spotted some holes in our plan. We could have used a generator but  it was beyond our budget, but I did use an inverter to run some electricity from my truck into the house, enough to recharge cell phones and my laptop, and to run the television to watch a movie. Lesson: get a hand-crank cell phone charger, and generator when we can afford it.

Because there was so much snow and it stayed below freezing for several days, we took most of the stuff from our refrigerator, put it in plastic tubs, and nestled them into the snow on our back deck. We packed snow around them and weighted the lids to keep critters out. Lesson: we should have done this on day one, rather than day two. By waiting we lost a few items and the fridge got stinky. And we had to empty some tubs to use, so next time we will pre-empty them, set them on the deck early in the storm, and transfer food to them sooner.

I went out to my truck to tour the neighborhood, more to see what was happening than anything else. I put on my chains but they rattled like crazy, which didn't sound right. I limped over to the tire place a few miles away, suspecting that the chains were the wrong size, and sure enough, they were. (They did have power but in the case that they were open but had no power, I brought cash. No power means no registers, credit card or check payment, and they might not even be able to make change.) The truck is new to me and I did have chains but I had never put them on. Apparently I bought the wrong size  a few months earlier. Lesson: use your tools! Not just chains but everything. Practice with them before you need it. Stuff without training is just expensive doorstops/paperweights.

After chaining up properly I drove around a bit. Nearly all the traffic lights were out but most people obeyed the treat-a-failed-light-like-a-stop-sign rule, though I did see a few who just ran right through the intersection without stopping at all. About 80% of the area was without power but there would be a few blocks that had juice and boy were they packed. At least a hundred vehicles lined up for gas at the few stations that were open. The one grocery store that had power was absolutely mobbed. I didn't go in because I didn't need anything, but the parking lot was a madhouse of ice, slush, heaps of bulldozed snow, cars parked at crazy angles, and lots of angry people. I can only imagine what it was like inside the store.

Didn't these people know a storm was coming a few days before it got here? It was all over the news, even the national mainstream media talked about it. Many, if not most, of the vehicles had no chains or snow tires and I saw several fender benders and cars stuck in the snow. Some lunatics drove way too fast for conditions, showering other cars and even pedestrians with ice and slush. No cops were anywhere to be seen.

I stopped to help one person but the conversation we had only made me shake my head in bewilderment. This guy wanted fresh coffee and hot food, so he put himself and others at risk because he was unwilling to sit at home and eat from a can and do without his precious coffee. He'd heard the news but disregarded it, he had not stocked up before hand, and was so used to his modern conveniences that the idea of going without them drove him onto roads he had no business on at all.

I have neck and back injuries so I was going to put my health at risk to help numbskulls like that guy, and I reluctantly did not offer anyone else roadside help. It does raise the obvious question: what will it be like during a long-term and/or large scale emergency? What if people like that guy have to go weeks, months, or longer without electricity? Just how long will it take for the helpless, handout-dependent, unprepared general public to turn nasty? Based on what I saw, not very long. - P.P.P.


Dear James:
I am writing to to you on Sunday afternoon. We have been without power since Wednesday at 3 a.m. I live in western Washington.

Most of the contents of our refrigerator are history. My wife is cooking and canning the now thawed frozen meat.

We scored 5 gallons of gasoline from Fort Lewis for our generator. The generator has had problems with fuel starvation from ice and gunk in its fuel line. Had to work on that Saturday and today. Seems to be fixed. We are using the generator to recharge computer batteries and to pump water, running it about two hours a day. Dried some clothes that were in washer Wednesday when power went down.

We have been very well off with kerosene lighting and propane heating. Even so, getting reset for the new day is very tiring in a mad rush to get everything done while generator is running. Believe it or not, we are sustainable. We could go like this indefinitely as long as I can locate gasoline. Having said that, we did not go to church this morning to conserve energy for the day's chores.

I read that Yelm city limits has regained power as of last night. Hopefully we can buy gas there. Here in the hinterboonies we may not see power service again until Wednesday evening.

A new wind storm is blowing in Sunday, which may worsen an already rough situation. At it's peak there were 3/4 million people without power. This was the ice storm that kept on giving, and many people were without heat.

We are blessed and thankful for what has worked, and are on notice for what has not. Next time we will be in even better shape. I'm thinking that we will switch to propane refrigeration and diesel powered cars/generator with a 250 gallon diesel storage tank. It's now on the list. I am online right now thanks to the generator.

This isn't just a how are we doing letter. I'm writing this to show you the value of all the preps we have done over the years. I wear my tin foil hat with pride. Some, if they were with us might say "You guys are weird," then in the next breath ask if there is any hot coffee left. My wife is running both ovens at the moment (they were imported from Italy). Try that with a glow bar start oven--which is presently all you can buy in the states.

Signing off until generator run time Monday. - D.&D.

This television news segment was disturbing: Should HOAs restrict solar panel use? They cited "architectural standards."

The family made the mistake of challenging the authority of the homeowner association (HOA) to pre-approve all changes (including tone of roof shingles, type of planted grasses, whether or not RVs can be parked on your property, et cetera) and impose their notion of right and good on you and your house, at your expense. HOAs should reduce the market value of a house by 40% at least, IMHO, for anyone contemplating surviving a grid-down, phones-down, plumbing-down situation.

Why would anyone subject their home to such meddling? Cheers, - Karl K.

JWR Replies: I've always advised my consulting clients to avoid buying land inside a HOA. The typical restrictions on livestock and gardens are ridiculous. Those alone is reason enough to avoid HOA-ruled developments. I started warning about HOAs and CC&Rs in the early days of SurvivalBlog, such as this piece from 2005: Zoning Laws, HOAs, and CC&Rs as Criteria for Choosing Your Retreat Locale. Parenthetically, I also included a cautionary description of HOA busybodies in my latest novel "Survivors: A Novel of the Coming Collapse". In that fictional description, the HOA committee had to be pushed out of control in order for large scale gardening to commence.

The bottom line: I honestly believe that it would take a full scale socioeconomic collapse for most HOA committees to even consider loosening their "visible from the street" appearance standards. So even in the midst of a 1930s-style depression, you'd be under their thumb.

Regarding the recent article Hypertension Prevention and Planning, by  Dr. Bob and Docswife, I recently learned about a Chinese herb called Jiaoguluan (Gynostemma pentaphyllum) .  Jiaoguluan is a vasodilator, and is reputed to have several beneficial properties.  An Internet search  turns up research that suggests that is reduces blood pressure and reduces cholesterol levels.  How much credence to give to a lot of what's on the net is hard to determine.  The plant can be grown in the US and brewed into a tea, which is the traditional Chinese way of taking it.

Perhaps some SurvivalBlog readers are knowledgeable about Jiaoguluan, and could provide additional information.  If it works as suggested it could provide an alternative to prescription meds, and you would have the additional advantage of being able to grow your own. - Rick S.

Wolf Brother's Hardtack

Based on the Civil War Recipe:

Army Hardtack Recipe


4 cups flour (preferably whole wheat)
4 teaspoons salt
Water (about 2 cups)
Pre-heat oven to 375° F
Makes about 10 pieces depending on how you size them.

Mix the flour and salt together in a bowl. Add just enough water (less than two cups) so that the mixture will stick together, producing a dough that won’t stick to hands etc.

Mix the dough by hand.
Roll the dough out, shaping it roughly into a rectangle.   What I did was to roll it into a cookie sheet that had about a 1/2 in lip all the way round.

I cut the dough into rectangles and used a 3 tine fork to punch holes in the tops.  Kinda/sorta like what you see today with crackers.

Bake for 30 minutes. Turn each piece over and bake for another 30 minutes. The crackers should be slightly brown on both sides.

Chef's Notes:

The fresh crackers were still somewhat soft.  I left them out overnight and the next day checked them again.  Still a bit soft.

So I stacked them in a toaster over, set the temp at 140 degrees and let them bake for about 4 hours.

I wound up with truly hardtack.

I divided them into eight Ziploc bags. 

6 months later tried the first bag.  Result was like you read about - Hard to bite, works better to sop liquids up.

1 year later - same condition.

2 years later - gave most of the bags to a Civil War re-enactor group - they loved them.  Gave the recipe to one of the wives.

Another year later - tried the remaining bag.  No change.

At all times these were stored on a shelf in a closet in my house.  No real temperature extremes. 

No one has suffered any ill effects.

I plan to try to make portable soup, pemmican, parched corn, and pinole.


Useful Recipe and Cooking Links:

Mrs. Light suggested bookmarking and printing reference copies of the resources at Food Storage Made Easy.

John F. mentioned a link to a lady's site where she features 52 weekly recipes using dehydrated foods, with a complete list of ingredients, and recipes.  

Do you have a favorite recipe that you have tested extensively? Then please e-mail it to us for posting. Thanks!

I was briefly quoted in a Reuters article that was a featured link in The Drudge Report: Subculture of Americans prepares for civilization's collapse. The same article more extensively quotes Michael T. Snider, who writes the excellent blog The Economic Collapse.

   o o o

I just heard about a new blog on the scene: Prep-Blog.com. Check it out.

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Getting Out of Dodge, by Doug Casey

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My editor at Penguin Books confirmed that my nonfiction book "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It" is now available Costco membership warehouse stores. (A month ago, Sam's Club stores also started stocking it.) I'm told that both of these "Big Box" stores offer a price that is lower than at Amazon.com. (Sam's Club currently sells it for just $10.98, while Amazon charges $11.47 plus postage. OBTW, even though the book has been out since September, 2009, is is still consistently in Amazon's Top 500 titles, overall.

   o o o

Sue C. sent this: Fears of mutant virus escape halt bird flu study

"Great occasions do not make heroes or cowards; they simply unveil them to the eyes of men. Silently and imperceptibly, as we wake or sleep, we grow strong or weak; and at last some crisis shows what we have become." - Brooke Foss Westcott

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Today we present another two entries for Round 39 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 Safecastle.com (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 FloJak.com. 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 39 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 have been guilty for years of talking about preparing verses actually putting forth the effort and taking the necessary steps to prepare for my family.  I began my prep life back pre-2000 Y-2K bug times.  I began to read about the potential time bomb that was ticking as it pertained to the technology crash back in 1995.  I had subscribed to a homesteaders magazine called Countryside (highly recommended) and began to study what impending danger that our nation and world was faced with.  As did many, I did not want to face the facts that this could actually happen to the good ole USA and like many laughed it off.  As the end of 1998 came closer we lived on a historical farm in central Ohio and I began to take serious the issue at hand.  I became very convicted  that if there was even a small chance that this “bug” could paralyze our society and send us back to the stone age then I at least needed to protect my wife and children.  We all chipped in and began to prepare.  To say I went over-board would be very mild.  We put in a 100’ x 100’ garden (our first) and proceeded to plant everything that came in a seed packet.  I went to the garden center and looked down at the very small tomato plants and thought to myself “how much can one small plant produce”?  So I proceed to buy 52 tomato plants!  Guess what we did all summer long!  After fighting massive amounts of weeds and a wife that resembled Lisa on the old television show “Green Acres”; we had put away over 500 quarts of tomatoes, carrots, beans, okra, cherries, apples, pears, salsa, pickles, soups, sauerkraut, jellies, jams and other various garden goodies.  Farmer wife even entered canned goods into local county fair and won a few ribbons.  Not to bad for a couple of rookies.

Now that we had our food supply secured we concentrated on water storage and after a 3 day winter ice storm, installed a direct electric hook-up from our well to a portable generator.  Now we felt like we could supply the much needed water to our family and the 30 feeder calves that I had purchased to supply our family and friends with beef.  Again going “overboard” and never having raised cattle before did I ever realize how much free fertilizer 30 head of baby calves can produce when they get to be 800 pounds!  Securing a independent water supply is critical when you have livestock, especially 30 head! We made every mistake imaginable but along the way we were learning very valuable survival skills.  Learning how to care for cattle, horses, and chickens is something that will definitely come in handy again. As our pantry, water and meat supplies had become secured we turned to our home.  Our 200 year old farm house had three non-working fireplaces so my next goal was to provide heat in case the “lights went out” during the winter or for an other reason.  Yes, we had the small portable generator but we needed more to heat our old home.  We then worked on the fireplaces to secure our heating source by installing a wood pellet stove.  We then bought pallet full’s of pellets for a years supply.

After securing food, water and shelter we turned our attention to our finances.  I might mention that during this time of preparation I reduced my income by 50% and started a new career in finance.  Bad timing just two years prior to 9-11!  As I continued to read about the impending danger of Y2K, I began to visit pawn shops and flea markets buying “junk” silver dollars.  At the time I paid $7 for each Morgan Silver Dollar (not too bad return on investment--as they now sell for $30+) and began to accumulate quite a bit of silver and some gold as well.  During a very tough financial time in our lives we were sacrificing a lot to prepare for something we had no idea if it was going to happen or not.  Yet there was something inside that said there is enough warning signals to prepare and to protect your family.

FAST FORWARD:  January 1, 2000 came and as we went to bed fully stocked and prepared to meet the new world, everyone woke to a new year and almost with an arrogant sigh the media and naysayers began to ridicule anyone that had prepared sighting their extreme behavior as crazy and naive.  Remember this is the USA nothing can touch us!  I must admit that there was something also inside me that almost wished that the Y2K bug would have brought this country to its knees and humbled us a little.  Just think if we had went through that pain, how much better we would be today.  Just think if Facebook would have not come about how better our society would be. Technology can be good such as this web-site and others for educational purposes but too much of a good thing is dumbing down our country.  I could write an entire article on my thoughts concerning technology and how vulnerable this country is to a cyber attack.  Take away cell phones and the Internet and our economy will certainly collapse.

Okay, everyone knows where this is going.  As many, we fell back into our comfortable lives laughing at all the fuss and chasing the all mighty dollar.  We moved from our historical farm, sold all the animals and off to the city we went where we proceeded to fall back into the “world” and all its enticements.  I started my new business in a new community and weathered the economic storm of 9-11.  We built our business and became “successful” in the eyes of many.  We bought a big home, spent mucho dollars adding and renovating, and even bought a yacht.   Yes, life was good and remember this is the good ole USA, nothing can keep us down.  We continued to buy into the hype and then 2008 came and nearly put us out of business.  We borrowed more to get us through (sound like any country you know) and made it out the other end. 

Then I got my copy of Patriots. I began to read  about a scenario that haunted me in my dreams. I read more and more about how many were prepping for something that reminded me of what I did back in the late 1990s but much, much worse. The funny thing was that even when we “back slid” into the world did  I ever stop my subscription to my homesteading magazine and always felt like we had made a mistake in our abandonment of the simple life on the farm.

WAKE UP CALL!  Well it seems like light years ago that I was worried and preparing for something a small as the Y2K Bug!  Our country has seen more negative change and has more challenges than all the previous 75 years.  We stand at the brink of financial bankruptcy and our government continues to deny the critical nature of our country’s financial house.  We owe hundreds of trillions of dollars of debt, we have unemployment over 12% (don’t believe the media), a housing market that has collapsed, we are nationalizing health care, bailouts a plenty for those corporations that have the right politician in their pocket, sky high oil prices, food costs and quality out of control, job sectors that will never return to this country, government regulations killing small business and finally a moral corrupt society that is more interested in who won “Dancing with the Stars” or who is the next “American Idol” than the downward spiral of this once great society! We have Iran threatening us, a 20 something old man-child in North Korea with nuclear weapons and China is threatening to cut off our life support.

So what does this article have to do with survival?  I can tell you the juices are flowing again and thanks to this great survival blog, Mr. Rawles best selling books, patriotic leaders like Chuck Baldwin, and other great writers, preppers and good loving Americans; I have found my old self and have once again put my family and friends into a much better place to weather a much bigger storm that is coming.  People need to heed the words of so many not only on this blog but the hundreds of thousands that believe this country is headed for times we can’t even imagine. 

Yes I have stored the food (two years at least for just for the two of us), yes I have secured heat, (wood burning stove) shelter and water.  Yes, we not only have the gold and silver we kept from back in the late 1990s we now have substantially added to our supply which we believe one day will be worth substantially more than the worthless fiat dollars we have depended on for some many decades.  We now have, thanks to books like: "Patriots" and "Survivors",  added a substantial supply of guns:  AR-15, .30-30 Winchester, a .243 and .30-06 with scopes for longer range, two .22 rimfire rifles and a .22 pistol. My sidearm is a .45 Auto and the Mrs. has a .380 Auto.  We have two .410 shotguns for small game, a Remington 870 20 gauge pump and Remington 12 gauge automatic. two more .38 Specials and a .25 automatic. We have over 20 thousand rounds of all types of ammunition and feel we need more.  We have secured medical supplies, books, and survival gear from various suppliers including Amish items from Lehman’s non-electric store out in Ohio.  We have accumulated a dozen or more hurricane lamps of various sizes and have an ample supply of lamp oil.  We have purchase bulk wheat, sugar, salt and beans along with all the necessary non-electric tools to begin to live off the grid if needed.  We have prepared our home best we can and also have friends and family that are starting to become believers and want to learn from us.  We even have folks that want to start groups to discuss coming together to defend a small community.  “Strength in numbers”!

If you think that our society is due for a real “wake up call” than I highly recommend you visit Lehman’s web-site to see how the Amish live and when the SHTF this group of Americans won’t miss a beat and will actually flourish as the masses scramble and sell off everything at pennies on the dollar.  When we look back at history during the Great Depression, it was simple farm folk that already lived a simple sustainable life that weathered the storm and came out the other end better than most. Wake up people, and remember the old adage that says:  “If we don’t learn from history then we are doomed to repeat history”.  This could never be more valid than it is today.

In closing, if you have read the many articles, blogs, books and information that has described how many have seen the impending danger signs and you have not started to prepare; and you are still waiting for a sign than I say:  good luck!  The clock is ticking and like myself you may not get a second chance to prepare for the inevitable.  Oh by the way we are selling all the toys and using the money for the many supplies I mentioned above. I thank God for second chances!

I pray that you heed the warning signs and not wait a any longer.  Your first step is the hardest!

The collapse has come.  It could be economic, geopolitical, a natural disaster, or any combination of the above.  Suppose it has now been three weeks since your last trip to the grocery store.  It has been two weeks since you lost power to your home.  A week ago, two large families broke into, and are squatting in a vacant, foreclosed home down the street.  Three days ago, you heard gunshots and loud shouting very close by.  You wanted to call the police, but there is no longer any type of phone service, and the last you heard, the police had their hands full battling a large, violent group of Occupiers camped out at your local mall.   Yesterday, you noticed five grubby men slowly stalking down the street.  Two of them were pushing shopping carts heaped with canned goods, sleeping bags, wine jugs, bottled water and other items.  One of them brandishes a large crowbar, another carries a knife, and the third pulls a pistol from inside his belt.  The three armed men peel off from the others and knock at the security door of your neighbor across the street.   The neighbor and his family had loaded up their large motor home a week ago and gotten out of Dodge.  Now, the man with the crowbar is breaking through the front window, easily pulling away the French window panes to create a large hole.  The man with the pistol peers inside, sweeping his gun to “clear” the room.  He gets a boost from one of his buddies and hops inside. 

You are getting edgy, very nervous.  You have decided to “bug in” instead of “bugging out,” and are wondering if you made the right decision.  You have a large stockpile of home-canned fruit, and many five-gallon containers full of beans, rice and grain.  Now, what do you do?  Do you pull out your own shotgun and confront the group?  Or do you lay low and wait to defend your home, in case you turn out to be the next target?  What if they knock at your door, and ask for a handout?  What if they threaten to toss a “Molotov cocktail” through your window, unless you give them a lot of food?”  What do you do?  Who are these looters?  Where do they come from?  How far will they go in their desire to gain the goods they are used to receiving for free, via handouts, welfare and food stamps, which they no longer get? 

How will the “homeless” react in a SHTF situation?  I have been a volunteer at our local rescue mission for several years, and I am only now beginning to understand some of the motivations, thinking and possible future behavior of “homeless” people.  In the past, I have donated food, clothing, and have also preached at the mission’s chapel, hoping that somehow my messages will make a difference.  But, how effective are rescue missions, really?    A lot of people have the impression that their local rescue mission is helping homeless people to get off the streets, get them cleaned up, sober from drugs and alcohol, gives them training to get a job, find housing, then finally move out and become an independent and productive member of society.  Is this true?  Well, yes, and no.  You need to understand that rescue missions basically help two very different groups of people:  People who are in “The Program,” and “The Overnighters.”

A person in “The Program” is typically referred to the rescue mission by court order.  They’re forced to be there.  Suppose a guy is arrested and convicted of possession of drugs.  Whether he does jail time or not, upon his release, he is ordered by the judge to choose between several different drug treatment programs, and your local rescue mission is usually on the list.  Once he is accepted into “The Program,” he is required to submit to drug testing, stay at the mission, and attend Christian-based classes and chapel service (most rescue missions are Christian-based).  At the same time, those “residents” who stick with the program graduate and are moved from on-site dorm housing to “transitional housing,” get a job and hopefully, later on move to permanent housing.  These are the success stories you hear about at rescue missions.  However, there are some graduates, who unfortunately, do go back to their life of crime. 

On the other hand, there is, simultaneously, an entirely different group at the average rescue mission:  The “Overnighters.”  The Overnighters are people, usually men, who show up in the late afternoon for a free meal and a bed.  Some of these guys do have jobs, both permanent or temporary.  They either walk, catch a bus for work, or get a ride from a friend.  Many of them have cell phones.  Now, you may ask, if they have a job, why on earth are they at the rescue mission?  Good question.  Some of these men have truly fallen on hard times and lost their apartment or home due to finances, divorce or other circumstances.  A few, very few of these, do want to find permanent housing.  However, the vast majority of the Overnighters prefer to roam the streets and “game the system.”

That’s right.  In a normal economy, the non-working Overnighters could find work if they really tried.  Most rescue missions will really help those who want to work, to find work.  But as our economy continues to worsen, it makes it that much harder for the Overnighters to find work, if they wanted to find a job.  And that’s a big "if".  The working could get together with one or two others and split the rent on an inexpensive home or apartment, or even rent their own room, but they choose not to do so.  Instead, they tend to drift from the rescue mission to a friend’s house, or to Aunt Edna’s, or Brother Joe’s, where they moan about how “horrible” it is over at the mission, all these “terrible” rules they have to follow, and that “boring” chapel service they’re required to attend, to get a meal and bed for the night.  They sleep until noon on the sofa, lounge around and enjoy Brother Joe’s satellite television and Internet, and raid the refrigerator as long as they can, until they wear out their welcome, when Aunt Edna finally gets up the gumption to kick them out. 

Then, Mr. Professional Overnighter goes back to the rescue mission for a few days, or a week or two, until he can find some other gullible sap who will fall for his sad story and let him in.  “Someone jacked my wallet!  Please, help me!” is just one of many tricks in their book.   Some of the Overnighters even drift from a rescue mission in one city to another.  They exchange information between themselves about the different rescue missions, the conditions and rules, which missions are “cool,” and which ones are “strict.”  Many of those who are drug addicts only go to the rescue mission just to get free drugs, which are administered at the beginning of their “rehabilitation.”  Then, as soon as they get a free fix, they leave.  Many of the Overnighters have also been kicked out of certain rescue missions due to drunkenness, being high on drugs, fighting, stealing, and throwing psychotic tantrums.  In such cases, the police are called and they are arrested.  And remember, many of these same Overnighters have long criminal histories, including vagrancy, burglary, home invasion robbery, rape, assault, battery, and murder.  A lot of the Overnighters are ex-cons, and many of them, after their release from jail or prison, started out under court order as residents in “The Program.”  However, they were dropped from The Program after testing positive for drugs, fighting, stealing or some other offense.  Once again, many of these are people who are not necessarily the downtrodden, oppressed, down-on-their-luck souls they would like us to think they are. 

Now, you may ask, what do the Overnighters have to do with you?   In a grid-down situation, they will have everything to do with you and anyone else that has food and other stuff they want.  The Overnighters will be the ones pushing those grocery carts down your street, looting whatever they need, by whatever means necessary, including force.  And remember, the Overnighters comprise just one of many looting groups, which will most probably include gangsters, hard-core criminals, radical Occupiers, and other assorted oddballs and juvenile punks who are wigged out, because they can no longer stuff their faces from mom’s fridge as they play video games or surf the internet.  Now, all of these people will have to get off their rear ends and actually find something to eat and drink, and they will all be ravenously hungry, angry and utterly vicious.  Not to mention the ones that are going through painful withdrawals from a lack of caffeine, cigarettes, alcohol and drugs.  Each of these groups will be competing intensely for any fat target, which is your home, with the potential promise of a tantalizing supply of stored food,  water and other supplies. 

In the case of the Overnighters, they didn’t work for their food before.  What makes you think anything will change in a collapse situation?  What’s interesting to me is that, whenever I preach at a chapel service full of Overnighters, I have noticed that many of them know their Bible.  Several of them can quote chapter and verse.  They know what is right and what is wrong.  But when crunch time comes and food is scarce, all this learning, will for the most part, go out the window.  In fact, I would say that their current choice of lifestyle shows they have little or no intention of living by the rules the rest of us live by.  The Overnighters are, for the most part, lazy bums who want absolutely no responsibility, and they want to be accountable to no one.  Most of them don’t want to work, and would not work if a job were offered to them.  The rescue missions of the world are giving these leeches every opportunity to escape their squalid lifestyle, but they willingly and stubbornly refuse to change.  Personally, I find this highly disturbing. 

So, what should you do when faced with the Overnighters of the world?  Know, first and foremost, that the Overnighters are quintessential con men.  They know every trick of the trade to get you to open your door and give them a handout, including quoting the Bible.  Ever notice the beggars on the street corner with the signs, “Need Food...God Bless!”  These are people who could very easily get off the street, if they would simply enter The Program at their local rescue mission, instead of choosing the Overnighter lifestyle.  These are the same people who, if you give them food, will sometimes throw it back at you and demand money.  No matter what you give them, oftentimes it is never enough.  Also, if you give to one homeless person who stops at your door, the buzz will quickly travel through the network about where the next big fat target is located, which is your house.  And, before you know it, you could very well have a motley mob outside your house, shouting loudly that you are one of the “filthy rich one percent,” and that you need to “share the wealth” with them, the poor, oppressed 99 per cent.  Am I saying that we should never help others in a time of need?  No, I think there are certainly some people we should help.  There are many poor families in and out of our church we have quietly helped over the years.  And they usually are very meek, almost ashamed to accept help from someone else.  They are also profusely thankful.  I can’t tell you if and how to help others, but whatever you do, maintaining OPSEC is of utmost importance.  I believe we need to show love and compassion to some, but we also need to protect our families from potential psychotic killers.  Remember, the Overnighters and criminals of the world are right now, as you read this, making their rounds of naive victims, not only emptying Aunt Edna’s pantry, but doing home-invasion robberies where innocent people sometimes end up brutally murdered.  And, in TEOTWAWKI, you will need a lot of wisdom and prayer, so you and your family won’t become the next victims.

[JWR Adds: It is important to be charitable, but my consistent advice has been to distribute charity through intermediaries, such as your local church or food bank. Do not hand out charity right on your doorstep! And make sure that your name and address never get mentioned by local charities.]

With reference to the Comprehensive Crisis Communications Planning for the prepper, by Hammer the portion where he described the Dakota Alert using the MURS frequencies is very good, to say the least.
I have the system and anywhere I go around my property  or further I carry the the transmitter on my person. If the barrier is broken according to the audible alert voice system telling me which zone has been broken I can check it out. It is a very reliable system, not cheap but reliable. Each zone can carry whatever amount of receivers you want to put on that zone. So a large area can be covered with many receivers. You can add extra receivers when you are able to do so.
We have two transmitters, one as I leave to go outside and one inside for my wife. We can talk to each other without always having to use the cell phones.
I have never had outside interference with the system. False alarms are rare.
I have a friend that put me onto this MURS as he lives way, way out and is well protected by this system. He is always aware of anyone coming through the barrier to his property. - H. in Central Florida.
JWR Replies: As I've mentioned several times in SurvivalBlog, I'm also a big fan of MURS handheld radios. We use them here at the Rawles Ranch. Not only are they interoperable with Dakota Alerts, but you can also program your local National Weather Service frequency as one of your presets. These are of course "listen only" limited frequencies.

Jim T. suggested a good piece by Thorsten Polleit: How Deflationary Forces Will Be Turned into Inflation

AmEx (American Expat) sent us this: Local currencies: 'In the U.S. we don't trust'

The FDIC Friday Follies have resumed: Banks closed in Georgia, Florida, Pennsylvania; first failures of 2012

A reader in Manitoba wrote ask me about possible trigger dates for a financial panic. I told her that a key date is March 15, 2012. That is the day that the Greek government must either cough up the cash, or admit default. Fitch seems to consider Greek default almost a certainty.

Items from The Economatrix:

World Bank Cuts Economic Outlook, Says Europe in Recession, Warns Developing Countries to "Prepare For The Worst"

Silver to Explode Upward

Wall Street Rises On Bank Results, But Google Sinks Late

12 Things To Keep In A Safe At Home, Not In A Bank

Oil Above $101 On Hopes IMF To Curb Europe Crisis

SurvivalBlog's Editor At Large Michael Z. Williamson spotted this little gem: Kitchen Renovation: How to Make a Secret Toekick Drawer

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Federal official in Arizona to plead the fifth and not answer questions on 'furious'

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Fairbanks man accused in ‘meat for heat’ case hires lawyer. [JWR Asks: Why is it that in many of the United States that only Native Americans can legally sell or barter wild game? As long as bag limits are respected (to maintain stable game populations), then what you do post facto with your meat from legally-harvested game should be of no concern to the government. These antiquated bans have an echo that sounds far too much like "Charged with killing The King's Deer", to me.]

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This is worth watching: The Shock of a New Paradigm

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J. McC. sent me the link to this handy web site: FindLatitudeAndLongitude.com

"Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God." - Corrie Ten Boom

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Today we present another two entries for Round 39 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 Safecastle.com (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 FloJak.com. 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 39 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.

Several future scenarios include or produce famine on a very large scale. The goal of a famine feeding strategy is to get people from the beginning of the famine to the end alive and not permanently damaged. In extreme circumstances this may call for unusual measures…

Preparing for famine. We can be reasonably confident that any future crisis will include food scarcity. From EMP to pandemic, from war to drought, food is a critical resource. (The projected death rate from an EMP, including death from a variety of causes including famine, is 9 out of 10 Americans!) The sooner we can educate people about the dangers ahead the sooner every family can begin to prepare. Every little bit will help. And the sooner we start the better.
People need to know the facts in a non-inflammatory way and in a way they can relate to, “painting them a picture” so to speak of how it could affect them and their family. They need to know they cannot expect a government rescue, they need to take personal responsibility for their preparedness. And they need hope – to believe that their efforts can make a difference in the outcome.
Americans have been manipulated, lied to, cheated, and stampeded from issue to issue by unscrupulous people in government, education, the media, and even the church. We need a well thought-out strategy so that we don’t sound like crazies predicting the end of the world or selling something. That’s not going to happen without a lot of deliberation and work.

One of the reasons for getting a head start on famine preparedness is that the real experience of famine is horrible - it is surreal and disorienting and frightening. People need mental preparation, a sort of “mental inoculation” so that they are mentally, emotionally, and spiritually up for the challenge. Without this inner preparation many people will give in to paralysis and hopelessness and make an already dire situation worse.
Consider all the time and effort and materials that are going toward creating lovely politically-correct landscaping in 99% of American cities. Most of that landscaping could be replaced with food-producing plants, pasture grasses, fruit- or nut-producing trees, edible decorative plants, and even simply gardens. Fruit trees take several years to come to maturity – if people are going to plant them they are going to need to get going now..
As a group or a church becomes prepared their efforts will be multiplied by those in the community who catch the vision and understand the dangers. City policies for landscaping, even public landscaping, could be improved, and laws examined to allow emergency contractual changes to neighborhood covenants.
Gardeners need to be educated on how to grow insect resistant crops that don’t require pesticides, or that can be treated without commercial chemicals that will in all likelihood be unavailable. Cold-resistant and drought-resistant crops should be encouraged and seeds (for more than a single season’s planting!) and know-how distributed.

Stored foods. Clearly the best option in the face of famine is to buy food in advance! The challenges are (a) the cost of accumulating food over and above everyday consumption, (b) storing a large quantity of food, some of which will need special storage conditions, (c) making sure there is a nutritional balance, and (d) trying to guess how long a famine might last and how much might be needed. Because we can make some advance preparations now we even have the luxury of asking a nutritionist to help us develop a nutritionally sound plan, or of finding some individual or organization that has already done this basic meal planning. (A good resource is the LDS storage food calculator.)
In addition to a centralized storehouse, food storage should also be dispersed to individual homes as much as possible to make it harder to be all stolen or destroyed in one emergency or raid. Dispersed storage also means greater storage totals, and greater participation as people take personal responsibility. Bulk foods purchases could feed as many as 1,000 people for around $100 per day.

Raised foods. Raising basic, hardy crops such as beans, cabbage, beets / sugar beets, and potatoes can contribute significantly to the food available. It’s difficult to raise grain in a gardening situation, except for corn. Whether or not corn grows well will depend on what caused the famine in the first place – it typically needs a long, warm growing season which may not happen in some areas. Bean pollination can be improved (if insects are affected by cold or disease) by growing larger varieties and hand-pollinating. Sprouting grains in spring could provide an early “crop”. Unless massive amounts of vegetable seeds are made available to a community in advance, with gardening help, the first year’s crops are not going to come close to meeting the need.

Livestock. Livestock that can survive on foods that people do not eat (like grass) are an option (cows, sheep, rabbits, etc.), but livestock that requires grain input (chickens and turkeys) may not be an efficient use of the calories available. Care must be taken (if possible) not to eat livestock that may be needed for other essential purposes, such as oxen or horses for plowing or transportation. Growing children, the elderly, and the ill would benefit greatly from additional protein (eggs/meat) and fats.

Purchased/traded foods. In a famine some food typically continues to be available from traders or markets or even in stores, but at a significantly higher price. Saving up money to purchase food after a famine begins would be crazy, since far more food can be purchased for the same amount of money before it begins. But it’s possible that a delegation could be sent to other areas with a surplus to trade for food. A survival community theoretically could bring back additional food to sell to the public to cover the expenses of the trip.

Hunted/found foods. Hunting, fishing, trapping, and foraging are all good sources so long as there aren’t thousands of other people competing for the same resources. Once famine has thinned the population and concentrated people in the cities for government feeding programs, wild game and edible weeds/plants may rebound and be more available.

Gleaned foods. Combining a wheat field leaves significant amounts of grain still in the field where the combines miss the stalks – that grain can be collected. There may be fruit on fruit trees that was too difficult to reach or that was overlooked by pickers. All food harvesting processes should be investigated as possible gleaning candidates.

Discarded foods. An organized effort to collect food thrown out by restaurants and grocery stores could make a significant contribution to feeding people, and if nothing else scavenged foods may be fed to livestock to supplement their feed and indirectly contribute to feeding people. Fruit left in the field because of blemishes or damage, insect damage or rot, might yet have an edible portion. Even rotten, disgusting foods may provide highly-nutritious food for maggots (rather than feeding on feces), which can be safely consumed by humans.

Livestock feeds. Animal products like “All Stock” are made with bran, minerals, and molasses. It contains 12% protein (red wheat is typically 14%), 2% fat, 15% fiber, and vitamin A and D – it could be consumed by humans. “Cull peas,” a product of split pea manufacture, are peas that are too small to be processed for human use. A serving of pea soup has 8 grams of protein, 26 grams of carbs, 3 grams of fat, and 161 calories. Chicken scratch is just coarsely ground corn and wheat. It costs more than just plain whole corn and wheat, but if whole grain is not available the scratch is edible. The one thing to watch out for is that some foods unfit for human consumption are sometimes dumped in the livestock market – grains contaminated with mold, pesticides and other chemical contamination. Great care will need to be used to detect and avoid harmful feed (and it’s not good for the animals either!)

Insects. Millions of people around the world already know that the local insect population can be considered a potential food source. Maggots, or other large insects / bugs / worms such as earthworms and cicadas and grasshoppers are edible and nutritious when properly prepared. In ideal circumstances insects could even be raised, rather than having to be foraged for (found foods, below).  Insects could be fed foods that are unfit for human and livestock consumption and produce high quality protein in return.

Lake “seaweed”. Not all algae is edible (avoid globular and floating!), but the long stringy strand-types can be boiled (or pressure-cooked!) and consumed, containing starches and even fats. There may be water pollution issues, but in a worst-case scenario that would be a secondary concern. Blooms of algae (floating on surface or making the water turbid) can be highly toxic and make everything in the water, including fish, toxic. Saltwater kelp/dulse (sea lettuce) is edible.

Non-traditional foods.  Some things are edible (or could contribute nutrition to a meal) that are not commonly considered food. Some foods consumed by other cultures may have been rejected as too spicy, disgusting, or strong.  Even dogs, cats and horses in excess of what is needed for security and agriculture/hauling should be considered if times are desperate enough.  Bones discarded by butchers (turkey bones, chicken bones, etc.) contain valuable nutrients, as do organ meats including heart, lung, kidneys, liver, and intestines. They’re all edible, all safe and nutritious, and all consumed in many other non-Western cultures today. See e University database of foods known to be used by populations around the world in famine.  Just three crops - maize, wheat and rice - account for about 40% of the world's consumption of calories and protein. 95% of the world's food needs are provided for by just 30 species of plants. In stark contrast, at least 12,650 species names have been compiled as edible (Kunkel 1984)

Fillers. Historically, chaff and fine sawdust have been added to breads to make the flour go further and still be filling. It’s not nutritive, but it’s filling as a last resort. Steel-cut (pin-cut) oats can be added to chopped meats to extend the meats because the oats take on the flavor and are nutritious in themselves.           

A note about Vitamins. If every family would stockpile a year’s supply of a good multivitamin for each person it would be a huge help toward meeting their nutritional needs (particularly Vitamin D.) People escaping famine by pouring into Irish cities in the mid-1800’s died more frequently from disease caused by crowded conditions (and weakened immune systems) than directly by starvation. “In famines, most people do not die of hunger but of hunger-related fevers and diseases,” according to the excellent Multitext Project in Irish History.

Where do we start? “The minimum survivable calories varies between individuals, with 600 to 1,000 given as a standard range, according to the US Army Survival Handbook. The less active an individual is, the fewer calories he can eat and still survive.” There are a lot of variables to consider, and active, contributing persons would need more food than inactive and barely surviving ones. We don’t know how bad a famine will get or how long it will last, but we have to start somewhere:
The last time I checked, locally purchased wheat straight from the silo costs $200 a ton. That's just 10¢ a pound. At 92 calories per ounce that works out to 1472 calories/pound, and around 14,000 calories per dollar (roughly 72¢ per person per day). Bulk, un-winnowed wheat could be the cheapest calories per dollar deal we can find, and could be the foundation for a desperate food planning strategy. If I did the math right about 1,000 people could be fed on $72 per day. It’s not impossible to save a lot of people.

"Pinto beans are much more nutritious but more expensive ($1,600 per ton at Costco), and corn, potatoes (dried or stored in cool/humid conditions), oats, sugar, oil (corn oil keeps and is inexpensive) – all can be bought in bulk. Using the figures from Paul B.’s SurvivalBlog article Staple Foods Storage By The Numberstarget nutrient categories per person per day are 112.5 grams of protein, 412.5 grams of carbohydrates, 100 grams of fat, and 40 grams of fiber. Much of that can be met with wheat, supplemented with other bulk foods as well as the alternative food sources mentioned above in this article.

Replant, Store, Raise, Hunt, Trap, Fish, Forage, Scavenge, Glean, Trade, and “eat outside of the box” – these are all famine survival strategies, but without a plan very little is going to get done. The effort in your community, your church, your club needs to begin NOW – today – and be led by the “vision bearer” – the person who “gets” that there is a storm coming and who has the leadership charisma to organize and motivate people. (This person might or might not be a person in the officially sanctioned ranks of an organization or church!)

Preparing for a famine, to prevent widespread death from hunger in our community, will be hard work that requires leadership and sacrifice and focus. We can probably save ourselves - those of us who have already been “prepping” for years – but the compassion of God calls us to save as many others as we can.
Find a way. Be Prepared. Trust God. We can do both.

After being a reader of SurvivalBlog for some time now, I finally noticed the tag line, right under the title states: ‘The Daily Web Log for Prepared Individuals Living in Uncertain Times.’ While we all on here are preppers in one sense or another, the thing that we all have in common is that we look forward to being prepared for uncertain times. Things like financial meltdown, government tyranny, natural disaster, war, famine, all occupy our minds at one point or another during our preparation considerations.

I recently had a personal ‘uncertain time’ hit me and my family. I have been attending classes at the local university and my wonderful wife had been supporting us with her employment when we both hit a stage of burnout. Studying Recreation, I knew the importance of taking a break to recharge ourselves, so we attended a conference out of town that covered a topic that we both found interesting for a short vacation. We even managed to find some extra funding from my university to attend, so the trip was not overly costly for us.

What ended up being costly for us was the failure to account for the lost income that came from the time off. For the next few months, unexpected bills from medical expenses due to both of us falling ill over a few months, as well as from some other mistakes that we made began to rear their ugly heads to hunt us down. Other monetary items began to creep up on us as well, such as Christmas, needing to fix up the car for license renewal, and other things drained much of our bank accounts.

As I was not working, I personally went through a time of depression, feeling useless because I was unable to personally support my family. My wife had her own depression, fearing that our debts and unforeseen needs would drain us financially and we would need to move in with one of our families. Both of our families still have children living at home and are helping to support our other siblings who are having their own hard times. My parents are also caring for my aging grandmother, while in my wife’s family, my father in law had to retire after working for his company for 20 years. Originally we felt, when the money was good, that being independent was the best way we could finically assist our individual parents. Now we feared that we might need to move home and add more burden to our strapped families.

This is where our preparations came into play for us, and provided a great blessing in the way of the foresight of our actions earlier when times were better. We thankfully were able to begin using the food storage that we had set away of the few years that we have been married, and did not have to buy nearly as much food each trip during the couple of months that we were financially hurting. This is because our food storage was based on the ‘Eat what you store, Store what you eat,’ school of thought. Other things that proved useful to us was having bought good quality household items that didn’t need much maintenance (other than my aging car) and putting extra money away into a few savings accounts. With our savings, we were able to pay for many of our unforeseen expenses, like the needed car repairs.

Some things that we learned from this experience, other that the need for both food and money preparations, is the need for a greater variety of food in our stores. There are only so many ways that you can prepare pasta and spaghetti sauce. On warm days, a pot of soup is not the best idea. Having good quality clothing is as important as food stored away. For cold nights, good bedding helped save money on our gas bill by allowing us to turn down the thermostat. Facebook is a good tool for contacting family and friends during a job search. Knowing about free or other forms of cheap entertainment, even when you have money, can help you have things to do when you don’t have money. A night out with friends can cost as little as some spare time, an enjoyable video, and the ability to laugh. It is emotionally beneficial to have ways to relax and entertain yourself, especially in times of high stress. I can’t imagine what things would have been like if we had any sort of addiction that we had to pay for on top of everything else.

This experience also reminded me of the time when my father lost his job, and my family needed to rely on what we had stored and could grow. For a while, our diet was bread and butter, corn and potatoes from our garden, and some cheese. It wasn’t the best diet, and for a while after, fresh baked bread and a certain dry soup mix made me lose my appetite. As a teenager at the time, I was afraid of having friends over for fear of knowing how poor we were. It was a hard time but that experience led to some of the greatest blessings that my family had.

Now I feel that my wife and I are in store for some great blessings as well, or at least we hope. My wife recently found a new job, with better pay and better benefits, and I have found a job as well that is within walking distance of our home, which will save us some money as well. We are rebuilding our preps and savings now. My new job involves handling money at a register, and my boss allows me to exchange coins from my own pocket for pre-1965 coins that I dig out of the change compartments, so we are adding some silver to our stores as well. We are considering finding ways to add other foods to our storage that we didn’t have before and working on adding other preparations to our stores also. I am also working on other skills that I want to have, but never felt I had time for because of my schooling and other duties. We are also planning on learning gardening by working with our parents’ gardens when pleasant temperatures return in the Spring. I used much of my Christmas gift money for tools that I can use in a disaster, or just around the house. I have sent in for my CCW permit, and my wife is considering getting one of her own when we have the income to afford it. As we rebuild, another one of my goals is to increase my prepper network, and have a group to work with to mutually uplift and educate each other or to help each other if things truly get Schumeresque.

We are again on the road to building a better life for ourselves and our future children. We are thankful for the resources that have helped us in the short while we have been preparing for the unknown future. Our experience has helped us in other personal ways in planning our future better and discovering more goals for ourselves. We came closer together as a couple during our ordeal, and my wife is more enthusiastic about preparing, and her family wants to learn more about it was well. We also are working on being more social with others around us. Only our family and a couple of very close friends knew about the extent of our troubles. I don’t think that the leader of our local congregation even knew.

While thinking about being a hero in a disaster or other unusual situations can be fun or entertaining at times, or just knowing that you have a better ability to survive can be comforting, I believe that many of us will be much more likely to face a disaster of a personal nature, like a lost job or being short of income, especially in this economy. Things like having spent years of my life camping have taught me to get by with less than I am typically accustomed too, and I feel that if the SHTF I will be able to get by. Having lived in tornado and hurricane country and seeing the effects of such storms, I know that people are more likely to experience inconveniences that disasters cause, rather than fighting inside the Thunderdome. That is not to say that I don’t ever think about being the hero in times of extreme crisis or natural disaster, because I do. And I am also not saying that this is the solitary event to plan for, but I want to share that, while I have seen many natural disasters and sat at the feet of others who have experienced more than I have, the biggest need for my preparations came from the small and simple things that throw off the everyday stability and create for us ‘uncertain times.’

I felt compelled to write this letter response to Thomas K's post from January 18th. I found his second point to be racist at worst and ignorant at best. I must first point out that I am not a politically correct minded
person nor do I wish my letter to come across as Jessie Jackson-ish rhetoric. I am married to a Manila-born Chinese/Filipino who moved to the US when she was a year old and has spent about the last 20 out of
her 27 years as an American Citizen. I had a chance to visit the Philippines in 2010 with her and her family and based on my observations there I would say that most Filipino's would have an advantage over most Americans in a disaster. The first reason I believe this is that they already know how to go without the things that we Americans take for granted, such as consistent running water, electricity, and automobile transportation.

Secondly, Filipino's are some of the most resourceful people on earth. Anyone who has been to the Philippines will tell you about the most recognizable form of transportation in the country which is the Jeepney which is basically a bus that was constructed from US military Jeeps that were left behind after WW2. This is just one example of the ingenuity of the Filipino's. My third and final point is that Asian cultures as a whole place a huge emphasis on family and they will band together and help each other out in a disaster situation. Look at how Japan responded to the earthquake/tsunami last year and the Korea Town response to the Los Angeles riots as an example. Now I understand that there are some Asian gangs and criminals and there might be a high percentage in Anchorage as Thomas K. suggested. But this does not give him the excuse to write off all of the Asians in Alaska as thugs that will take each other out. I would be happy to have Asians as my neighbors during a disaster and I have a feeling if Thomas K. would learn a bit more about this amazing people and culture he would feel the same. - Josh H. in the Pacific Northwest 

Recently on the news here in Belgium they said there's soon going to be a law effective that limits cash payments to 5,000 euro maximum, and in 2014 this limit would be decreased to only 3,000 euro. Officially it's to limit 'black money'. Haven't heard much other things about it (no questions, protests, ..) so it's interesting to follow up if that's only our government being creative
(which I doubt) or that other European countries will also apply a similar law, maybe as a way to be able to devaluate the euro currency in a few years. - A. in Belgium

Mr. Rawles,
I very much enjoyed reading the article about Keeping Chicken in a Backyard Flock, by Nightshade. I have 58 hens and seven roosters and I enjoy every one of them. I did want to address one statement, however. It's concerning the comment about the presence of a rooster and his ability to produce a hormone that turns bad cholesterol into good cholesterol. Perhaps the author of this author could verify that claim? I have contacted the nutrition experts at our state's university research center on the matter, and they have informed me that there is no scientific evidence to support that claim. They said: "Dietary cholesterol, cholesterol that is found in the food itself, including meats and meat based products, are not measured by HDL and LDL and instead listed just as dietary cholesterol. Once a person has consumed the food, whether it contains dietary cholesterol, dietary fat or a combination, the person's body makes cholesterol to handle/transport the fat and cholesterol. This transport includes HDL and LDL among others. The type and amount of each is unique to the individual and each person's body handles the lipids (fats) differently. So, even if the egg were to have more HDL (which it wouldn't) there is no guarantee that once it was ingested it would react the same way. Your body may choose to handle the cholesterol differently dependent on several factors."

Personally, I believe that the nutrition of the egg and the hen that lays it is directly correlated with the diet she is given. Green grass and other green matter is very good to supplement the diet, and is said to reduce the cholesterol of the egg. The rooster should be more fertile on the same diet. I have had questions before now about whether the presence of a rooster would cause a hen to lay more, but I haven't found any claims to suggest that. I suppose that if nothing else, the rooster crows very early in the morning, which wakes the hens up so they get off the roost and thus are exposed to more light, which is what makes them lay more. My purpose for having roosters is to produce fertile eggs for the sake of hatching new chicks and for them to to watch for hawks and owls when my flock is free ranging. It may be possible that the sperm has some nutritional benefit, I suppose, but I can't find any proof of it. Sincerely, - A.R.

AmEx (American Expat) spotted this at Arutz Sheva: ‘Dr. Doom’ Investor: Prepare for World III

G.B. mentioned this podcast: McAlvany Interview with John Williams of Shadow Statistics. Williams warns of hyperinflation, saying: "The Federal government will print money until it fails."

Reader Dean G. recommended a great post from Tim Price, at Sovereign Man: The Final Countdown


Items from The Economatrix:

Greek Default Imminent

Iran Oil Ban Means Economic Suicide for Europe

Correction In Gold is Over and on Way to $4,500

Recovery at Risk as Americans Raid Savings

Solar blast heading our way.

   o o o

This medieval solution probably wouldn't be used in western countries, for fear of lawsuits: Indonesian railway stringing concrete balls to deter roof riders. (Needless to say, the Indonesians are not famous for The Subtle Approach.)

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George S. found an interesting series of articles by a journalist in Washington, DC who wanted to buy a pistol: Emily Gets Her Gun. This is a lengthy chronicle of her travails, jumping through all the fiery hoops to get permission to buy a gun in the District of Criminals. And even after all of that, she can't carry the gun, only keep it at home. I should mention that things are much different here in The Unnamed Western State. You just walk into a gun show, buy what you want from another private citizen, and take it home. (Or you can buy it at a Federally licensed gun shop, but who likes filling out paperwork?)

   o o o

Alan in Maryland wrote to mention that Marjorie Wildcraft has released a three-DVD course on "Grow Your Own Groceries" that is being offered for sale with a bonus book "How to Grow More Vegetables".  Here is the link:

   o o o

Mike sent this: Tor Operations Security

"O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes [are] upon thee." - 2 Chronicles 20:12 (KJV)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Hey There!
I really enjoyed reading "Year I Accidentally Grew Wheat", by Gonzo In Virginia. It's a familiar scenario to me, as I have learned many valuable and interesting lessons by accident as well. I wanted to comment on one of the things that was mentioned in this great post. At the end o, of the article, he mentions that he now has some knowledge of ways he can use his stored wheat. I have something to add, that I learned by accident myself. If you are using your stored grain for planting (which I did last year) you will discover that there are many, many different kinds of (in this case) hard white wheat. I had at least five different types of wheat in my milling stores. They all had different maturity dates, different mature heights, different head shapes, etc. So, if you are planning to grow wheat, it would be better to buy pure seed wheat and then ever after have pure seed for growing. - Gracie Wray

A reminder that Safecastle's Freedom Awards Finalists are now posted on Safecastle's blog site for public viewing and voting. One of the finalists is K.M., for his article "What is a Well-Stocked First Aid Kit?" (that appeared in SurvivalBlog.) Please post your vote for your favorite article or video before midnight on January 20th.


Today we present another two entries for Round 39 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 Safecastle.com (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 FloJak.com. 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 39 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.

Please keep in mind that English is not my mother tongue, and that these recollections are from the perspective of a young girl, now in advanced years.

My mother-in-law grew up in what was then called East Prussia (Ostpreussen) – now Poland. She was born 1929 – got twice evacuated – the first time at the age of 14. The beautiful area is called “die Mazurische Seenplatte” and  “die Mazuren” and is today developed for tourism.

I´ve picked her brains to learn as much as I can, and here are some of the things she remembers of life on the farm back then:

Father, mother and 8 children lived abundantly – with spare produce to sell (and saving up money to buy more land) on 35 hectares (about 75 acres) of ground.  8 hectares was mixed forest, 27 hectares tilled land and meadow for grazing. A river ran near the farm, there the animals drank, the geese and the ducks swam (one child had to keep fox-watch), and net fishing for dinner was done. From the meadow and forest they got wood for building the houses, firewood, all kinds of berries, nuts and mushrooms, healing herbs like peppermint and chamomile, linden flowers and birch juice, rushes were collected from the river.
They all had a lot of work to do, schoolwork was done in between farm chores. In the evening there was singing and storytelling while spinning, knitting, shoemaking, horse tack making, basketry, small carpentry, sorting peas, shelling beans, feathering the ducks and geese  was done by petroleum light. The children had almost no toys, but my mother in law got her first and only doll. She put the poor doll close to the oven so it wouldn´t feel so cold – and the doll melted.
The animals on the farm were: geese and ducks for down bedding, meat and eggs, chicken for eggs (own use and market sale), some sheep (less than 10) to make own wool, 6-7 pigs for sale and own use, around 20 cows strictly for sale of milk/ butter/cheese (i.e. not for slaughtering), three cats as mouse police living in the barn, a guard dog and 3-4 horses for traveling and farm work like plowing. The father was the exclusive handler of the horses, and even so he once got severely kicked by the most nervous horse and had to be hospitalized because he (in a tense market situation) forgot to talk to the horses before he came up to them! While the father was hospitalized the mother got (organized by the state) an inexperienced 15 year old “white Russian” forced labourer to help out on the farm – she had to teach him everything in sign language. He stayed on since both sons of the family had to go to war. Later, when the Red Army invaded East Prussia this boy saved the whole family by testifying that he had always been treated correctly, he even cried and begged to be allowed to stay. Families got shot to the last member if they had treated the forced labourers badly.

A doctor and hospital was 20 kilometers away in a bigger town, so the trip there was a big project. The school principal owned the only car in the village (a Volkswagen Beetle). The 3 kilometer trips to school and church were generally done on foot – the horses were spared for farm work apart from on very special holidays.

After the first evacuation to another village an “ordinary man” got the job of being local priest, grave digger and dentist. Dentistry meant getting a tooth pulled out without any ado and pain killers. Infections were completely avoided by rinsing with alcohol and chewing plantain leaves.

The children walked the three kilometers to school in summer barefoot or in “jesuslatschen”, (toe sandals) - in winter in wooden clogs the father made. Later he advanced to making leather shoes for the children – he bought the leather but the thread for rough sewing they grew on the farm: Linen/ flax was grown for the fiber and as animal fodder. The linen fibers got soaked in tar and were used to make tack for the horses and thread for sewing shoes.

Some things that the family bought: Petroleum oil for the lamps, linen fabric for sewing bedclothes, underwear and kitchen towels (dresses and such were made by the village seamstress), salted herrings, salt, sugar, pepper, cinnamon, feather pens, ink, schoolbooks (handed down to all the children in turn), small blackboards with chalk for individual writing, from the 5th class real schoolbooks for writing in. They also bought nails and carpentry tools of course, sewing notions and even a sewing machine. (The sewing machine got hidden in the earth cellar in the forest when they had to evacuate – sadly the family never came back to reclaim it.)
The family built their own house with relatives to help, they grew/ raised/ collected all their own food except the aforementioned herrings,  for instance meat got cured by smoking with juniper.
They also made their own bedding (mattresses filled with straw, exchanged when necessary, counterpanes and pillows filled with down and feathers), spun their own wool, made all knitted clothes like socks, sweaters, mittens etc. The father made baskets of all sizes and shapes, also for animal feed (through shape), either from willow or split and watered tree roots, and he also made some of the simpler farming tools out of wood. Strangely enough none of this got sold, just the farm produce. (During the war years nobody wanted to get paid in money, so the family paid the seasonal farm workers in meat, butter, cheese and eggs.) They collected all their own seeds, made jam, pickles and “sauerkraut”. Peat and wood kept the “kachelofen” running, an enormous oven built into the house, including a built in water heater and a big bread baking oven that got used for eight sour dough loaves once a week (cakes were made afterwards since the oven was heated up.)

The horses got fed hay, clover and oats, the cows got hay, clover and thinly sliced turnips, and the aforementioned linen seed/flax mix if ill or having just calved.
The dishes were first rinsed with clear water so the pigs could drink the swills.
The crops were: Potatoes, red beets, turnips, beets, carrots, peas, beans (pinto beans), red cabbage (got stored with the complete root in sand in the cellar) white cabbage for sauerkraut, oats, wheat, rye, barley, cucumbers for pickles, and squash/ pumpkin plus garden herbs like chives and parsley.  Flax and clover was grown for the animals.
Rushes of different kinds were cut up and put on the clay floor in the ”old house” – it smelled good and was easy to brush out again since it made no sense to wash a clay floor. This practice was discontinued after the new house was built with wooden floors.
My mother in law´s mother got struck dead by lightning during the years as a refugee. The sun was shining again after a thunderstorm , but she was leading a goat and a sheep in iron chains, one in each hand... The father died of pneumonia because of having to do forced labour in winter, one son barely survived Stalingrad (he “just” lost one and a half legs to frostbite) but all the children managed somehow to escape to the west and start their lives anew there. 

The most sought-after barter goods in war time (after food) were: watches, cutlery (a fork could buy a piece of bread) and fur coats! Guns made zero sense in this situation, since that only would have gotten one killed faster.  Being devious, hiding and/or keeping calm in the face of danger was the way – or simply appealing to the human side of war-traumatized soldiers: My mother-in-law had many narrow escapes – once she got found cowering behind the dresses by a Russian soldier rifling through the clothes cupboard with a bayonet, and he spared her life because mother cried and begged for her; once she came running to her father with Russian soldiers on her heels, so father fast dug her into the strawstack he was just making. He stood calmly still on the stack over the spot where she hid – the soldiers pushed bayonets through the stack but she thanks God they missed her every time. Her father did like the other farmers, they used coal “make up” to accentuate their wrinkles and thereby appear older and useless for other things than farming. The soldiers wanted to “take him” (i.e. to Siberia), but he insisted he had to feed the cows otherwise they (the cows) would starve – and food was the number one priority also for the Red Army, so he was spared.

My personal conclusion: Know when to keep your guns in the cupboard, get distilling equipment for making your own alcohol! In case your antibiotics get too old/ used up or you have a resistant strain of some bug or the culprit is a fungus or virus – get books on herbs now, grow Echinacea, stock up on tea tree oil and baking soda (for your teeth)! Thyme, sage and honey will fix almost everything. Grow paprika/ red peppers (window sill) and rose hips for vitamin C. Plantain chewed to a pulp heals cuts, sores, and acne;  aspirin was originally synthesized from willow bark. If you have a chance, grow tons of nut trees, and maples for the syrup, and when your vitamin pills get used up remember that nettles, nuts and dandelions contain lots of important vitamins and minerals.

I am 52 years old - a working woman, a wife, mother, stepmother, grandmother, sister, aunt, cousin, niece, and daughter.  My parents had six children, I have six grown children, and you can start counting out from there.  We are a big family.  We are the typical outgrowth of middle class American suburbia. 

Some of us are financially better off, but all of us are accustomed to our luxuries, even if that means rich, freshly ground coffee in the morning or a delicious sip of good red wine in the evening.  Many of us lost substantial resources during the past few years of economic turmoil and others fared okay.  Still, we have our little luxuries.
We are geographically dispersed and independent, but emotionally close and communicative.  Not a day goes by that a handful of us are not communicating by text, cell phone, Facebook, or email.  A theme has emerged among most of us.  A few of us are more serious than the others are, and have engaged in lengthy phone conversations with one another.  We are all afraid.  It is as if we have all been on the same wavelength, but hesitant to discuss our fears lest we sound crazyas.

Now, we are talking.  Tentatively, but talking.  Each of us has begun to prepare in his or her own way.
One brother has stockpiled ammunition and weapons in his garage, bought an old used RV, has enough plywood in the garage to board up all the house windows, and reads every survival blog he can get his hands on.  One son-in-law has quietly, and carefully, acquired an array of weaponry and sufficient ammunition to get out of dodge with.  One sister and her husband purchased property somewhere in the suggested American Redoubt complete with habitation and a fresh water source.  One carefully watches every political move made by the current Administration and keeps an eye on world affairs.  He also has brushed up on his shooting skills.  One buries his head in the sand and pretends that nothing bad could ever happen in America.

I research and gather books on every topic.  I have an intellectual knowledgebase that is astounding.  I realized however that I had to stop reading and start doing.  I stopped the expensive salon visits.  What in the world am I doing spending money on fancy hair color, fabulously long nails, and perfect little toes, when the world is falling apart?  I save change and sort the older coins into old food cans.  I am stocking my pantry.  I stopped buying expensive cleaning products and learned to wash dishes, laundry, and just about everything else with simple ingredients: ivory soap, vinegar, and bleach.  I keep a sufficient amount of cash hidden in the house.  I try to keep the gas tanks full and got everything that needed fixin’ on both our SUVs fixed.  We paid off the debt.  It is like undergoing a lifestyle change in advance of actually needing to.  Every time I go to do something or buy something, I ask myself if it is necessary.  I might as well start practicing now to live without.  A startling fact is that many of us who were born in and around the 1950s, have lived incredibly well for most of our lives.  That, we fear, is about to change.

This is hard.  My husband has ignored my efforts for a year or two, but he has not resisted them.  My grown children started noticing my efforts and asked what I was doing.  I think they feared that I had suffered an early entrance into Alzheimer’s.  I decided that I would walk the talk before talking about it.  Now that I have everyone’s attention, I am pulling the disparate efforts together like a project manager of a reluctant development team.
First_things_first.  I prayed.  However, it was more like crying.  I know that our Father is not the father of fear.  I want to prepare in peace, and confidence, trusting that God will bless our efforts. 

My mother’s response to “prepping” was that the rapture would occur, the Lord will return, and all of His people will be caught up in the air to be with Him.  I reminded my dear mother of History and that no man knows the time of His coming.  I lovingly encouraged her to stock up her pantry, keep some cash on hand, the gas tank full, and have had her practice to driving to our home in the adjoining state a few times.  Should she be unable to drive, I have a son-in-law who has agreed to gather her and my father on his way out of town with his little family.  She has agreed to the arrangement, even though she thinks I’ve lost it.

My grown daughters, as precious and wonderful as they are, also think I’ve lost it.  Nevertheless, they are playing along and that is all I care about.  Two of my sons are completely onboard.  One is serving in our military, the other is taking steps to get things fixed with his car, stock up on a week’s worth of rations, and he too is practicing at the gun range.  He has also built up strength by mountain biking and believes he can get out of the metro area he lives in on his bike with a backpack full of supplies.  That is probably very smart planning.  The other son is completely out of touch with anything that smacks of reality, bless his heart.  He thinks the world owes him a living and he is chasing it down for all he is worth.  We may get him going in the right direction eventually.

In three days, we will be convening in one location, my home, to discuss our emergency evacuation plans.  We will be building our bug out bags together.  I purchased the supplies and stocked them in a spare bedroom.  I begged, pleaded, played Pitiful Pearl, and demanded that the family meet together for a planning meeting.  I convinced a good dozen of the family members to meet and that is a good start. 
You see, when your life has never truly been hard, it is difficult to imagine what hard is, and planning for hard is so unfamiliar, it is too hard to do.

I am truly minimizing the fact that my life has not been easy because compared to the rest of the world, it has been easy.  I lived too close for comfort to the poverty line for many years raising my first set of children as a single mother.  I have an undeniable work ethic and taught it to my children.  I remarried years later to a man who had also been a single parent for a long time and he too will never stop working at something.  While he thinks I’m a bit off my rocker, I saw a glimmer of understanding the other day and he said to me, “what is the best route out of here if we need to go”, and “remember we have the business warehouse if we need to stockpile”.  Gasp!  He has been observing!

While this all may sound simplistic to those of you who are “professional preppers”, there may be many out there, who like me, just don’t know where to begin.  You grab your Starbucks in the drive-through on your way to work.  You take business calls via the Bluetooth on your commute.  You fly into work and dig through mountains of demands, and deal with exasperating people all day long.  You fight the traffic on the way home.  You throw off your jacket, tie on an apron, and do amazing things with pre-packaged foods as you pour a glass of wine as you flip through the mail.  You pay the bills online; call your mother; throw food to the dog; throw a load of clothes in the washer, kiss your husband and pass out.  But you cannot sleep.  Because you are afraid.

I do not want to live in fear.  I want to prepare and this is my plan. 

Firstly, I have begun to simplify my life in an organized way and to stock up on basic food supplies.  I will dispense with as much luxury as I can make myself let go of.  Oh yes, store brand coffee in the big cans tastes horrible, but I call it my emergency coffee and it is inexpensive.  Store brand dried milk, rice, pasta, sugar, flour, and olive oil are beginning to line the pantry walls, along with canned goods.  Bottles of spring water are beginning to crowd the pantry floor.  This is child’s play in the prepper world, but you must start somewhere.  My motto: Just do it.

One of the interesting things about our modern society that I learned in my studying is that we have what is called Just-In-TimeJIT supply chain.  Just-In-Time means that there are no longer local warehouses full of food and other supplies.  There are centralized warehouses across the country and the closest one to you could be many states away.  Your local grocery store would run out of food in days should SHTF.  Moreover, they would not be able to restock.  Once the shelves empty, they would stay empty.  That is why something as simple as buying extra at the grocery store is so important.

Secondly, I have taken the initiative to purchase bug out bags for almost a dozen family members.  In order to receive the bug out bag, one must attend a family planning meeting.  These preparations are what I call Stage 1 and this stage assumes that you will prepare where you are. 

Stage 1 consists of:

  • Realization that the threat of TEOTWAWKI is real
  • Respond with preparation efforts as a family or community
  • Stock the pantry
  • Keep cash on hand
  • Prepare your bug out bag(s)
  • Take a skills inventory
  • Pray together, take deep breaths, and encourage one another
  • Plan together for Stage 2

Stage 2 assumes that you must leave your home.  It may mean that many will have to leave their homes and congregate at a family member’s home that has been deemed the “safest” after thoughtful consideration by the group.  The “safe house” will need to be stocked for the group and all members should contribute.  Our family is in Stage 1, which is better than Stage 0.  We have quarterly meetings planned to determine how the “safe house” should be provisioned and to monitor its provisioning.  We are also in the process of identifying a “way station”.  We live on the edge of a vast desert, not a green and lush national forest.  We have identified where small towns and water sources exist by taking short trips.  Effectively, what a way station will do is allow you to transport your provisions to an out of the way location most likely not affected by the same problems, as a larger town or city would be.  It is only a stopgap measure.

Stage 3 is truly TEOTWAWKI and in our formative planning stage from the viewpoint of Stage 1, we are each in the process of obtaining passports should there come a time when we need to leave the country.  That topic could fill a book and there are a few I know of who are writing or have written books advising Americans on alternative places to live.  SurvivalBlog has copious information on retreats and a most recent column entitled "I Can See You" -- A Digital View of Your Survival Preparations, by Dave X, has led me to believe that it might be better to “disappear in place” or leave the country rather than build a retreat. The takeaways for newbies like me:

  • People will think you are crazy, an extremist, and overreacting – Ignore them.
  • Your family may be secretly wishing someone would take charge and project manage the family into preparedness – Start talking about it.
  • Educate yourself – Every spare moment.
  • Getting to Stage 1 is “do able” – Just do it.
  • Planning for Stage 2 requires a group, be it a family or community.
  • Planning for Stage 3 is the final goal, but remember that Heaven is the truly final destination.

Perhaps the most difficult part of emergency preparedness is facing the reality of TEOTWAWKI.  It is like discovering you have cancer, only it’s your country that has cancer.  Drastic surgery and chemotherapy may only delay the inevitable – death of one of the greatest countries this world has ever seen.  Just remember, and know in your heart of hearts, that we are only sojourners on this earth.

Along our continuing efforts to make prevention a big part of our push to inform, we need to now address hypertension.  High blood pressure is by far and away the most common condition experienced by the general population of the United States. Anti-hypertensive drugs are a multi-billion dollar business and for good reason.  High blood pressure, especially under or untreated, can lead to heart disease, stroke, memory problems, headaches, kidney failure, liver disease, bowel troubles, blindness, and can contribute to other serious disease states.  High blood pressure is a serious problem.  If you have high blood pressure; surely you have been told to eat right, lose weight, control your stress, cut down on your salt intake, get in shape, and take your medication.  With the right luck (genetically) and hard work, most people can reduce or eliminate their need for medication by following those lifestyle modifications.  But, we are Americans.  We don’t like being told what to do and most of us are too darn lazy to change our lifestyle and so instead, we take pills.  That time is past.  Prepping means doing everything you can to be ready to live a self-sufficient, independent life if there was a disaster of regional or national scale.
Sometimes, the best efforts lead to poor rewards here on Earth.  After you have mastered yoga, maintained your diet and exercise program, and become a model blood pressure control experiment–sometimes you still need to be on medication due to your genetics.  Stupid ancestors, left you hypertension and no trust fund.  The nerve.  There are major differences in medications for blood pressure control.  The first being the most important from a planning standpoint:  generic verses branded.  Brand-named medications are very expensive, and most-often completely unnecessary.  Generic hypertension medications include nearly all classes of medications and are usually very cheap.  Atenolol, for example, is about 15 dollars a year.  Brand-named Beta Blockers can run hundreds of dollars a month.  The same applies to almost every category of blood pressure medications:  ACE-inhibitors, Aldosterone Antagonists, ARBs, Antiadrenergic Agents, Beta-Blockers, Calcium-Channel Blockers, Diuretics (3 types), Nitrates, and “other”.  There were only seven types when medical school started for me, now there’s nine. What will it be in another 15 years?  Surely more types and lots more of these meds going generic.
One problem has popped up recently in regard to generics though:  drug companies sometimes won’t make generics because they don’t make enough money on them.  This is especially the case if the government is involved.  Recently, this happened across the US with the generic medication Triamterene/HCTZ (Maxzide and Dyazide).  Earlier this year many folks could not get this medication… sometimes for months, and had to switch to other medications altogether.  There have been many articles rearing up over the last months about possible medication shortages here in the US, from antibiotics to hypertension meds.

For the sake of scenario discussion, what happens when you run out of blood pressure meds and your pressure goes up?  The things that you would expect will happen:  pressure in your head, eyes, and neck; possibly headaches and neck pain; often swelling of the feet/legs and hands.  As blood pressures are high and stay high; the risk of stroke, heart attack, and kidney failure increases, as do eye problems from the hemorrhage risk.  Often small bleeds inside the head can cause spotty vision, nausea, vomiting, and confusion before death.  But, high blood pressure is labeled “the silent killer” for a reason; most of the time a person does not experience the symptoms of high blood pressure until it is too late.
So, what is a person with medication-controlled hypertension to do to prepare for TEOTWAWKI?  Mexico?  Canada?  The pet store?  Your doctor’s office?  My Surviving Healthy site?  Any, all, some is your answer.  The pet store is not likely to be a help to you, but other sources can prepare you for an uncertain future.  Make sure you do absolutely everything you can to adjust your lifestyle to drop your blood pressure, as mentioned above.  After that, work with your doctor to get on only generic medications if at all possible.  Then, if your doctor will not work with you to stockpile medications, you need to find another way.  You will need to investigate costs, border issues, travel, and storage before you will be able to put meds up on your storage shelves.  Stock bottles of 100 or 1000 will have a much longer expiration and will last longer on your shelves than standard 30-day prescriptions.  Try to get stock bottles whenever possible, many pharmacies will provide 100 count stock bottles instead of a 90 day supply, if asked.
With or without medications WTSHTF, if you suffer from high blood pressure, avoid heavy upper-body straining as this has been shown to increase sudden intercranial hemorrhages.  Avoid dead-lift type straining also as the same mechanism would apply.  Leave the heavy lifting to the normal blood pressure folks.  Control your stress and make your medications last as long as possible if facing a shortage by staggering doses over the timeperiod you expect to be unable to get your medication.  If you have 90 days left and expect to not see any more for a year for example, stagger the pills every 3-4 days to get them to last as close to that year as possible.  Being out for 6 months by taking them every other day will certainly be more dangerous than spacing them out over more time.  Neither is a great option, it is much better for you to be able to have some medication on your shelves to plan for disasters–short or long.

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

Because our e-mail box is now getting hammered with more than 100 pieces of spam mail per day, we are now reluctantly removing the direct e-mail links in SurvivalBlog. Henceforth, all of the "e-mail us" links will be directed to our Contact page. There, at the the top of the page, you will see a fractured e-mail address: james--AT SYMBOL--rawles.to (Change the "--AT SYMBOL--" to @). This formatting is designed to divert web spiders that harvest e-mail addressess for Nigerian scammers and those V*agra hucksters. Sorry for any inconvenience that this might cause you. Note that there is no need to update your e-mail address book. (Our e-mail address hasn't changed--only the way we show it on the site.)

Debasement of 5 Pence and 10 Pence coins in England is causing problems: New coins won't work in parking meters and vending machines. (Thanks to G.G. for the link.)

B.B. sent this charming news: Treasury dips into pension funds to avoid debt: "The Treasury on Tuesday started dipping into federal pension funds in order to give the Obama administration more credit to pay government bills."

China Brings US Treasury Holdings To One Year Low, Russia Cuts Treasury Exposure By 50% In One Year. (Thanks to S.M. for the link.)

Craig D. flagged this: World Bank warns on risk of global recession

Items from The Economatrix:

Europe Must Move Quickly After Downgrades--Merkel

S&P Downgrades Eurozone's EFSF Bailout Fund

How to Prepare for the Difficult Years Ahead

Oil Pries Waver On Concerns About Global Demand

Reader V.P. wrote to mention that advance Chapters from the new edition of "Where There Is No Doctor" are now available for download at the Hesperian Foundation web site.   Look under the 'Downloads' tab.

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Fast and Nefarious? Here is an article that reveals an even greater depth of iniquity for the Treasury Boys: Another ATF weapons operation comes under scrutiny.

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Kevin S. mentioned a great source of free information on metal casting: My Home Foundry.

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What would John Wayne think? Even the venerable .30-30 lever action is getting a "Black Gun"makeover. SurvivalBlog's Editor At Large Michael Z. Williamson notes: "I'm of mixed feelings about this. On the negative side, it seems somewhat ridiculous with the plasticool fittings and the cheese grater around the barrel. On the positive side: It is a functional gun. Someone will buy that gun. It's going to make it harder to pass ridiculous "assault weapon" laws unless they come out and say, 'Black scares us!' And that sounds racist."

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Rick B. recommneded a complete planting guide for potatoes that includes state-specific varieties, planting dates, days to harvest, nutrition facts, fertilizing, watering, insect and disease information.

"The only thing harder than preparing ahead of time is having to explain why you didn’t." - Gabe Suarez

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Today we present another entry for Round 39 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. This one is quite lengthy and detailed! 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 Safecastle.com (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 FloJak.com. 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 39 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 words of the fictional character Jeff Trasel from the novel "Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse": “If you don’t have Com, you don’t have jaaack“. The subject of radio communications as it relates to Prepping is an often misunderstood topic. Understanding radio communications issues can also be confusing, complicated, and daunting for the newcomer. There is a lot to know about the subject, and speaking as one that has spent a good part of his life experimenting with radio communications, it seems that the more I learn about radio communications, the more I learn how much I have to learn! In this article I would like to share much of the information that I have gleaned about radio communications technology and it’s applications. I will attempt to present this article in a way that the reader can glean real world applications, and in a way that it is easy to understand for the novice.

Before delving into any technical issues about radio, one must establish what it is that one wants and needs their communications systems to accomplish. Communications is yet another area where rule 6-P applies; that is, “Proper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance“. Proper planning is absolutely crucial to accomplishing your communications related goals. Communications equipment can be somewhat costly, depending on what it is designed to do. The main question one must ask when planning a crisis communications system is, “What is it exactly that I want my crisis communications system to accomplish?” Crisis communications planning must be approached from a system wide mindset and not a compartmentalized mindset. This means you have think of the big picture and you must be cognizant of how all the pieces of your communications plan fit together before you start buying equipment This will allow you to better utilize your limited resources as it relates to what equipment you will buy and how you will use it. It will also prevent significant headaches later on.

Although there are plenty of arguments pro and con in the “preparedness” world about this, I would advise anyone that is serious about establishing a crisis communications system to consider becoming a licensed Amateur Radio operator. Communications equipment is like any other preparedness related equipment. If it is purchased and then left in a box until needed, it will not work as intended at the moment of truth. Becoming a skillful radio technician and communicator is an on-going process. This is true whether you go down the Amateur Radio road or not. You must know the strengths, weaknesses, and limitations of your equipment. If you don’t, then you can’t reasonably expect to know how to use the equipment under less than ideal circumstances. I use the following illustration to make the point. In our county, the local health department recently had several of it’s employees take a “Ham Cram” class and they received a Technician Class Amateur Radio license. The health center also received Amateur Radio equipment through federal and state grant funding. The reality is, even though several of the employees are licensed Amateurs, the equipment does not get utilized because none of the employees have truly applied themselves to learning the “hands on” and “how to” of Amateur Radio. This shows that just because one has a license to do something, it doesn’t necessarily follow that one is proficient at the task which one is licensed for. Once you decide what it is you want to accomplish, then it’s time to consider your options. The first options I will discuss are those which are available to be purchased and used by anyone and that does not require a license to operate. Then I will delve into what Amateur Radio can do for your crisis communications plan.

The first option I will discuss is a system know as the Family Radio Service (FRS) . It consists of fourteen Ultra High Frequency (UHF) frequencies. FRS radios are limited to an output power of 0.5 watt, and can be purchased at a low price from many retailers. The low power output means that the range of these radios are limited. One advantage is that FRS radios use FM modulation as opposed to AM. This means that FRS frequencies are not as susceptible to noise or interference from power lines, as can be seen with handheld Citizens Band (CB) radio which will be discussed later. Another possible advantage to FRS radios and UHF signals in general is that they often perform better in urban environments. This is because signals in the UHF frequency range penetrate buildings better than signals in other frequency bands. FRS channels 1 through 7 are shared with the General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS), channels 8 through 14 are for FRS use only, and channels 15 to 22 are for GMRS use only. This is why most FRS radios are pre-programmed with 22 channels. The GMRS only channels should not be used unless you possess a GMRS license. GMRS will be discussed later.

There are many practical uses for FRS, and it can be used in situations where one needs non-secure voice communications over an area of five miles or less. You should only expect FRS to work reliably for approximately 1 to 2 miles. The range will depend greatly upon the surrounding terrain, because propagation of radio waves in the UHF frequency range is limited to line of sight. This means that the radio wave will only travel as far as the horizon. I will also discuss line of sight in depth later in this article. One drawback to FRS is that is a very popular system, and there will be many other people sharing a very limited pool of frequencies. Many manufactures of FRS radios will tout “privacy” features on their radios. Do no misunderstand what they are talking about here. The “privacy” features do not encrypt or make your communications secure in any way. These features utilize a combination of Digital Coded Squelch (DCS) and Continuous Tone Coded Squelch System (CTCSS) techniques. I know that sounds very technical, but think of it in this way. If you activate DCS or CTCSS, then the only time the squelch of your radio will open (this means you will hear audio coming from the speaker) , is when the radio transmitting the signal is transmitting the same code that you have programmed your radio to receive. Because of this, there may be someone else operating on your frequency, but if they do not have the proper transmit tone programmed, then you will not hear them. DCS or CTCSS do not change the fact that FM receivers by their design will always “capture” the strongest signal. This is known as the “capture effect”. This means that the strongest of any two or more signals will override weaker signals in the receiver. DCS or CTCSS allows you to reduce the amount of frivolous traffic that you will hear on the radio, but it in no way makes your communications secure or private. Anyone with a programmable scanner receiver or an FRS radio will be able to eaves drop on your communications.

Also, remember that is always possible that organized adversaries may utilize FRS radio equipment to coordinate their attacks, assaults, and other activities. In the event of a crisis, it would be of great value to have the ability to constantly monitor the FRS channels for this type of activity. Obtaining this communications intelligence (COMINT) could keep you and your family safe and could give you the early warning you need to prepare for an imminent an assault. For reference the FRS frequency table is as follows, expressed in MegaHertz (MHz):

CH 1 462.5625 (Shared with GMRS)
CH 2 462.5875 (Shared with GMRS)
CH 3 462.6125 (Shared with GMRS)
CH 4 462.6375 (Shared with GMRS)
CH 5 462.6625 (Shared with GMRS)
CH 6 462.6875 (Shared with GMRS)
CH 7 462.7125 (Shared with GMRS)
CH 8 467.5625 (FRS only)
CH 9 467.5875 (FRS only)
CH10 467.6125 (FRS only)
CH11 467.6375 (FRS only)
CH 12 467.6625 (FRS only)
CH 13 467.6875 (FRS only)
CH 14 467.7125 (FRS only)
CH 15 462.550 (GMRS only)
CH 16 462.575 (GMRS only)
CH 17 462.600 (GMRS only)
CH 18 462.625 (GMRS only)
CH 19 462.650 (GMRS only)
CH 20 462.675 (GMRS only)
CH 21 462.700 (GMRS only)
CH 22 462.725 (GMRS only)

The Multiple Use Radio Service (MURS) is another communications system that can be used by individuals and which requires no license to operate. MURS is similar to FRS in operation but MURS frequencies are in the Very High Frequency (VHF) band. MURS radios operate at a maximum output power of 2 watts. This is slightly higher than FRS radios which are limited to 0.5 watts. MURS radios can be purchased through many different on line retailers and communication equipment suppliers. The effective range of MURS radios is similar to FRS radios and depending upon terrain, will typically range from 1 to 5 miles for hand held units. In urban areas this may be decreased due to the types and number of structures in the area. This is because VHF signals don’t penetrate buildings and structures as well as UHF signals. MURS range may be increased in some rural areas because signals in the VHF frequency range tend to propagate better over open, flat terrain. It should be noted that VHF signals from MURS radios are subject to the same limitation as UHF signals from FRS and GMRS, in that they are line of sight, and the signals will only travel as far as the antenna can “see”. One advantage to MURS is that you are allowed to use external gain antennas with MURS frequencies. An externally mounted, elevated antenna will improve the performance and range of most any radio because of the “line of sight” principle. Logic dictates that the higher the antenna is, the further it can “see”. The legal antenna height for MURS is limited to no more than 60 feet above ground, or no more than 20 feet above the structure that it is mounted on. An external gain antenna is of great benefit to the performance of most types of transmitters and receivers, not just MURS radios. (A transmitter is any radio that sends out or “transmits” a signal and a receiver is any radio that “receives” or picks up a signal.) Also, “antenna gain” is a term that describes how well an antenna performs. The higher the gain, the better the performance.

It should also be noted that some driveway monitors, including those made by “Dakota Alert” use MURS frequencies. The advantage to this arrangement is that you can carry a MURS portable radio on your person while you are out working around your retreat, and you can receive alerts from the driveway alarm. Some of these MURS based driveway alarms include a push to talk (PTT) base station for your home, which means that not only can the indoor base receive the driveway alerts, but a person inside the house can transmit from the base station and have communications with another person carrying a MURS portable radio. As with FRS, possible adversaries may use MURS equipment to coordinate their activities, so it is worthwhile to monitor these frequencies for COMINT. The MURS frequency table is as follows, expressed in MegaHertz (MHz):

151.820 (FM narrow mode)
151.880 (FM narrow mode)
151.940 (FM narrow mode)
154.570 (FM wide mode, shared with business band)
154.600 (FM wide mode, shared with business band)

The next communications system I will discuss is the Citizen’s Band (CB) radio. CB radio has been in existence since the late 1950s, and now consists of 40 pre-programmed channels in the 27 MHz band. CB radio has some limitations that, in the opinion of the author, make it a poor choice as a survival related communications tool. CB radio has many things that work against it. CB is limited to 4 watts of output power. CBs also operate in the Amplitude Modulation (AM) mode. AM modulation, in conjunction with CB’s place at the top end of the High Frequency (HF) radio spectrum, makes it very susceptible to interference from power lines and other sources. Try a real world test to prove this point. The next time you are driving underneath high voltage power lines, tune the AM radio in your car to an unoccupied frequency. You will hear a great deal of noise that comes over the speakers of your car radio. Now tune it over to a vacant FM frequency. You will not hear the line noise. This same phenomenon affects CB radio and greatly limits it’s utility, especially in cities, towns, and urban areas where high voltage lines are present. The low transmit output power also severely limit’s the distance that a CB signal will travel. Some CB radios utilize “side-band” technology. This means that the radio takes a standard AM signal and divides it into two halves, upper and lower sideband. This allows slightly more power to be used to create the voice signal. This single sideband (SSB) mode can be selected by a knob on properly equipped CBs, tuning to either Upper Side band (USB) or Lower Side band (LSB). Sideband technology does increase the output power of a CB, but only to about 12 watts PEP (peak envelope power).

A decent antenna will improve CB performance whether it is installed in a vehicle as a mobile installation or as a base station inside a structure with which you can utilize external gain antennas. CB can work well in point to point simplex applications (such as one retreat communicating with another on a direct frequency), but there are better solutions for base to base communications to be found in the realm of Amateur Radio. One advantage to CB is that he radios typically operate of 12 volts DC, which makes it more practical to provide back up power. A deep cycle battery or other 12 volt DC system can provide this power. Amateur radio gear that will be discussed later also runs on 12 volts DC. You can easily install a CB base station at your retreat by connecting a mobile CB radio to a 12 volt DC power supply. The key to effective CB base station installation is to get the antenna up in the air as high as possible. Most of the time, radio waves in the 27 MHz propagate effectively as ground waves. This means that once again, the waves travel “line of sight”. However, at some points in the 11 year solar cycle, the Maximum Usable Frequency of the Ionosphere (more on that later in the Amateur Radio section) will increase to the point where to 27 MHz signals can propagate across the country and even across the world while using very low power levels. This can be fun to “shoot skip” as the CB’ers say but in reality 27 MHz skywave is not very reliable, so 27 MHz signals can only be depended on to function “line of sight” with regular reliability.

Another advantage to CB use is that is very widespread and having CB radio capability promotes interoperability with others. This could be very useful during a bug out when traveling on roadways and you are in need of information. As most red-blooded American’s know, CB is widely used in the trucking industry and those trucks can be treasure trove of useful information. For that reason, even though I don’t rely solely upon CB for my crisis communications plan, I do always have CB equipment available for use if needed. As with the other equipment mentioned earlier, CB is easily monitored and intercepted. This means your communications are not secure and an adversary using CB radio could use it against your retreat. Also note that there are several CB channels available for “remote control” purposes. These are intended to be used for RC aircraft, cars, etc. Under normal circumstances, I would certainly obey these restrictions but if needed, and if the user had the proper equipment, these channels could provide the user with less congested frequencies to conduct voice communications. CB frequencies can also be monitored by some programmable scanner receivers. The CB frequency table is included below for your reference, expressed in MHz:

CH 1 26.965
CH 2 26.975
CH 3 26.985
CH 4 27.005
CH 5 27.015
CH 6 27.025
CH 7 27.035
CH 8 27.055
CH 9 27.065
CH 10 27.075
CH 11 27.085
CH 12 27.105
CH 13 27.115
CH 14 27.125
CH 15 27.135
CH 16 27.155
CH 17 27.165
CH 18 27.175
CH 19 27.185
CH 20 27.205
CH 21 27.215
CH 22 27.225
CH 23 27.255
CH 24 27.235
CH 25 27.245
CH 26 27.265
CH 27 27.275
CH 28 27.285
CH 29 27.295
CH 30 27.305
CH 31 27.315
CH 32 27.325
CH 33 27.335
CH 34 27.345
CH 35 27.355
CH 36 27.365
CH 37 27.375
CH 38 27.385
CH 39 27.395
CH 40 27.405

CB Remote Control Channels

Amateur Radio

The next section we will discuss is Amateur Radio. Amateur Radio is, in the opinion of the author, the most viable form of communications for a crisis. I say this because all of the communications systems discussed up to this point are fixed in nature and are not designed to be flexible. These radios use only pre-programmed, non-tunable channels. They are designed to be used by untrained, unlicensed individuals and they are designed in a way that will limit there effective range so as to prevent harmful interference to other untrained, unlicensed users. Amateur radio on the other hand is just the opposite. It is flexible by nature, and for many reasons.
Amateur Radio (otherwise known as Ham Radio) has been around for almost 100 years and consists of many different frequency bands ranging from 1.8 MHz to 1240 MHz. Amateur Radio operators are licensed in the United States by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). To be an Amateur Radio operator, one must pass a written multiple choice test which consists of different elements such as operating rules, electronic theory, radio frequency energy (RF) safety, antenna theory, and others. There are three levels of Amateur Radio license in the U.S. and they are Technician Class the entry level license), General Class ( an intermediate license) and Extra Class (the highest level of license). Many folks I have spoken with over the years have told me that they didn’t want to get involved with Amateur Radio because they didn’t want to learn Morse Code. The reality is that Morse code proficiency is no longer required to obtain an Amateur Radio license and hasn’t been for several years.

Obtaining an Amateur Radio license has never been easier. License exams are administered by volunteers with an FCC approved Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (VEC). Most communities are within an easy car trip of a testing location. The cost is very low and once you obtain the license, you renew it every 10 years at no cost. You can find a testing site near you by going to this web page. The American Radio Relay League (ARRL) is the America’s national association for Amateur Radio and you can explore their informational web site at ARRL.org . The questions and answers to the tests are published in pools that are updated every three years. As such it is very easy to study for these tests because you already have access to all of the possible questions and answers before the test. The VEC’s must select questions only from this pool so, it’s not a subjective test. There is ample study material available at w5yi.org and other internet sources. This includes study manuals and study software. I’m not giving anybody a plug here but I can tell you that the Gordon West study manuals that are available at w5yi.org are great material to use, and they helped me pass all of my exams easily. Amateur Radio equipment can be found at reasonable prices on the Internet (such as eBay), from other Amateurs, or at local “Hamfests”, which are swap meet for Amateur Radio gear. Find a local Amateur to help you out. We are a helpful bunch and will bend over backwards to get someone into the hobby and look forward to "Elmering" (mentoring) someone.

To get started in Amateur Radio, the first test you need to take is the Technician Class test. This test consists of a 35 question multiple choice test. After passing this test, and after you receive your first callsign from the FCC, you will have operating privileges on all Amateur Radio bands from 6 Meters (50 MHz) and up. This will provide you with access to the entire VHF and UHF amateur frequency bands. The propagation characteristics (meaning how radio waves travel) of these frequency bands can allow you to communicate both locally and regionally (out to about 50 miles, depending on system configuration). Frequency bands differ from “channels” in that “channels” (as applied to FRS, GMRS, MURS, CB) are pre-set and synthesized meaning that you can’t change the frequency. This means that you will have a lot of stations competing for a very limited amount of radio spectrum. With Amateur Radio however, the user selects the operating frequency and there is much more spectrum space available to carry out interference free communications. The two most commonly used bands available to Technician Class licensees are the 2 Meter band (144 to 148 MHz) and the 70 cm band (420-450 MHz). The Technician Class will also give you limited voice operating privileges on the 10 Meter HF band from 28.300 to 28.500 MHz. The 10 Meter band is at the highest portion of the High Frequency (HF) amateur bands. This means you will give you a taste of what HF radio is all about. 10 Meters propagates very similar to CB radio so you will only be able to communicate over long distances beyond line of sight when propagation conditions are favorable.

The second license available is the General Class license. This test consists of 35 multiple choice questions. There are many advantages to pursuing the General class upgrade after you pass the Technician test. Amateur Radio licenses build on one another, so when you upgrade to the next license class, you retain all of the privileges that you have previously earned and then receive more. The biggest advantage to the General class license is that it gives you much broader access to the High Frequency (HF) bands. The General class license will give you operating privileges on every Amateur band, whereas the Technician license limits your activities as an incentive for you to upgrade your license. The HF bands allow you to communicate locally, regionally, nationally, and even worldwide when the geomagnetic ionospheric conditions are favorable. More on those conditions later.
The third and final class of Amateur Radio license is the Extra Class license. This test consists of 50 multiple choice questions. The Extra Class is highest level of Amateur Radio license issued buy the FCC. The only advantage to earning the Extra Class license is that it gives one additional slivers of access to some of the HF bands. Your level of interest in furthering your expertise and study is what will motivate you to seek the Extra Class license or not. I know many amateurs who have been a General for many years and they have seen no need to upgrade. I have met others who challenged and took all three license exams and passed on the same day! [JWR Adds: And when you pay the day's test fee ( $15) that covers all of the tests that you take on that day.] So it really depends on one’s personal motivations as to whether one pursues this goal.

Band Allocation

I will now provide a description of each of the most commonly utilized Amateur Radio bands and equipment and how they can be utilized in communications planning. Before talking about the bands, one must have a grasp of a few basic concepts and terms. First, the designation “meter” as it applies to the description of radio bands is the measurement in meters between the peaks of the radio waves at a given frequency. Think of it this way. Radio waves, if they could be seen with the naked eye, would appear much as waves in the ocean do. They have peaks and lulls at timed intervals. The “meter band” measurement is the measurement between the middle of the peak of one wave and the middle of the peak of the following or preceding wave in meters (or centimeters in some cases) at a given frequency.

The second concept one must understand is antenna resonance. When an antenna is resonant, that means that the antenna absorbs and thereby radiates most all of the Radio frequency (RF) energy that is applied to it. If the antenna is not resonant, it will reflect a given portion of the power applied to it back to the transmitter. The amount of reflected power will be proportional to just how far out of resonance the antenna is. The amount of power reflected back as compared to the amount of forward power applied is known as the Standing Wave Ratio (SWR). Typically, an SWR of greater than 2:1 indicates antenna inefficiency and may the reflected power may damage your transmitter. An antenna analyzer is very helpful in attaining antenna resonance but is a very costly piece of equipment and is out of the price range of most Amateurs, and the theories of inductance and capacitance as they effect antenna tuning are way beyond the scope of a small article. A good rule of thumb to remember is that the lower one goes in operating frequency, the larger the antennas become due to the unchangeable laws of physics. But fear not, there are many things you can do to get a good signal on the air, which will also be discussed.

The third concept one must understand is the concept of radio wave propagation. Propagation is simply the method by which a radio wave travels from point A to Point B. There are two major ways that radio waves propagate. The first is by “line of sight” as discussed earlier. Line of sight means that the radio wave will only travel as far as the antenna can electrically “see:” This is typically the distance to the visual horizon plus about 15%. There are two very simple formulas for calculating line of sight which I have found to be very useful in determining how far a radio signal will travel. They are:

Radio Line of Sight:
D= approximate distance to radio horizon in miles
Hr= height of receive antenna in feet
Ht= height of transmit antenna in feet

Visual Line of sight:
Approximate distance in miles= 1.33 X v (height in feet)

Another quick reference table regarding radio line of sight that may be useful:
Range=approximate radio range in miles
TX Ant. Height= height of transmitting antenna in feet
RX Ant. Height= height of receiving antenna in feet
Range TX Ant. Height RX Ant. Height TX Ant. Height Range
8 10 5.5 150 21
10 20 5.5 200 23
11 30 5.5 300 28
12 40 5.5 400 32
13 50 5.5 500 35
16 75 5.5 750 42
17 100 5.5 1000 48

The second mode of propagation is by “Skywave”. This concept is a bit more complex but with time and experience, one can get a pretty good grasp as to how skywave will behave on certain bands, at certain times of the year, and at certain times in the sunspot cycle. Skywave involves HF radio waves (which are frequencies of 3 to30 MHz) being sent up and then reflected back to the Earth’s surface by the Ionosphere at distances of hundreds or thousands of miles away. Skywave propagation is made possible thanks to the Ionosphere. The Ionosphere several layers of electrically charged particles that range from about 30 to 600 miles above the earth’s surface. It is comprised of several layers including D, E, F, F1 and F2. The D layer ranges from about 35 to 55 miles above the surface. The D layer is an enemy to skywave propagation but fortunately it is only in existence during the day and it vanishes at night. The D layer does nothing to reflect signals, but it will absorb and attenuate daytime signals, especially in the 160, 80, 75, 60, and 40 Meter Amateur bands. It is often known to Amateurs as “That Dang D”. The E layer ranges from 55 to 75 miles above the surface. The E layer is an occasional player in skywave propagation and can reflect signals back to Earth at distances of several thousand miles under proper conditions. E layer skywave propagation is often sporadic in nature, and can effect frequencies that are well above the HF part of the spectrum. The F1 and F2 layers exist only in the daytime (like the D layer). At night, the F1 and F2 layer combine to form the F layer. The F layer in it’s various forms ranges from 125 to 300 miles above the surface. The F layer is responsible for most reliable skywave communications.

The Ionosphere is “ionized” by Ultraviolet (UV) rays and X-Ray radiation from the sun. The sun goes through stages of activity and inactivity that waxes and wanes over an 11 year period. This means that the amount of radiation from the sun goes up and down, and that in turn effects the Ionosphere. The rule of thumb is that as more sunspots, (which are dark and comparatively cool areas) develop on the visible surface of the sun, the more ionizing radiation the sun emits. This means that sky wave propagation is usually enhanced due to increased ionization in the Ionosphere. Increased solar activity is a double edged sword however, and during solar flares, which are sudden, large emissions of solar radiation, HF communications can be adversely affected to the point where HF radio is blacked out and unusable. This occurs because of disruptions in the Ionosphere as well as in the earths magnetic field, which also plays a role in skywave propagation. As most Preppers know, severe solar flares can induce huge currents in the power grid which could cause severe damage and in turn lead to power outages that could last for years in the worst case scenario, such as the Carrington Event of 1859.

A good understanding of Ionospheric and Geomagnetic activity is a must for any serious user of HF radio. The term Geomagnetic refers to the relationship between the Earth and it’s magnetic field, which is mostly concentrated at the poles. There is ample information available to HF radio users that can allow one to reasonably predict what sky wave propagation will be doing at a given frequency at a given time. There are four measurements that can be used to make this estimation. These measurements are the A index, the K index, the Solar Flux Index (SFI) and the Sunspot number. The A index is a general measurement of activity in the Earth’s magnetic field over the past 24 hours and indicates an average trend of geomagnetic activity. The K index indicates the nearly real time level of disturbance in the earth’s magnetic field, as observed at observatories around the globe and then averaged. The K index is generally updated at three hour increments. The rule of thumb is that the higher the A and K indices are, the more disturbed the magnetic field is. This means that HF communications may be degraded, especially at higher latitudes and over the poles. The Solar Flux Index is a measurement of radio energy that is being emitted from the sun at 2800 MHz (10.7 cm wavelength). The higher the solar flux, the higher the level of ionizing radiation being emitted from the sun. This usually means that HF communications will be enhanced, because the Ionosphere is receiving more ionizing radiation. The last measurement is the Sunspot number. This is a simple method which indicates the number of dark spots that are visible on the sun’s surface. The more sunspots that are visible, the more ionizing radiation that the sun emits. What does it all mean? It means that you want to see a low A index, a low K index, a high Solar Flux Index and a high sunspot number for good HF propagation. If the A and K index are high, HF communications may be disrupted. If the SFI and sunspot numbers are low, it means that most of the higher HF frequencies will not be usable for sky wave. These current indices can be found at www.solarham.com .

This all brings me to the next concept that one must understand about HF radio and radio waves in general. It is the concept of Maximum Usable Frequency (MUF). MUF is the maximum frequency at which, at any given time, the Ionosphere will refract a radio wave back to the earth’s surface. The MUF will change with the seasons, the time of day, and the point of the sunspot cycle. The east majority of the time, the MUF is 30 MHz or below. This is why VHF and UHF radio waves are line of sight. Any VHF or UHF waves that get transmitted up into the Ionosphere are not reflected back to Earth and pass into space. This is why if you want to have access to transmit on frequencies that will reliably propagate over long distances (greater than about 50 miles most cases), you will need to have an HF radio station. There are exceptions to this but it usually involves Sporadic E layer propagation as mentioned above, which is an unstable and fleeting form of propagation. It can be fun to work this type of propagation during normal times but don’t count on it to work as a part of your crisis communications plan. There also other Amateur Radio systems other than HF that you can use to communicate over long distances (such as EchoLink), but these typically rely on the Internet infrastructure which most Preppers are at pains not to do.

The first individual band to be discussed is the 160 Meter band or commonly known as “Top Band“ to Amateurs. This band ranges from 1.8 to 2.0 MHz and is the lowest amateur band and is in the MF (Medium Frequency) part of the electromagnetic spectrum. The typical operating mode for 160 Meters is Lower Side Band (LSB). The propagation characteristics of the 160 Meter band are usually similar to what you would expect from a broadcast AM radio station. Note that the 160 Meter Amateur band is located just above the AM broadcast band which runs from about 510 KHz to 1.710 MHz. The 160 Meter band is not utilized by most Amateurs because the antennas for 160 Meters are typically very large for the reasons of antenna resonance described above. Like most Amateur bands, 160 Meters has quirky propagation characteristics at times, and it changes with the seasons and sunspot cycle. 160 Meters is greatly affected by D layer absorption and is nearly unusable during the daytime hours during the summer, but can propagate great distances at night during the winter. 160 meters also suffers from a high atmospheric noise level at times. Another great rule of thumb to remember is that the lower one goes in operating frequency, the higher the atmospheric noise levels become. Atmospheric noise is also generated by lightning and thunderstorms to the point where MF and HF can be become unusable due to static crashes.

The next band is the 80 and 75 meter bands. Those two terms are sometimes used interchangeably. The 75/80 Meter band ranges from 3.5 to 4.0 MHz and the default voice communications mode is Lower Side Band. This band will be of potentially great use to the Prepper. 75/80 Meters has the ability to communicate regionally, beyond the range of typical VHF and UHF systems which will be discussed later. 75/80 fills a unique gap in HF coverage, and can provide statewide communications. This is where most statewide emergency communications “nets” take place. Groups such as the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) and state Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs) conduct most statewide HF operations in this band. It has been said that most disasters are local and regional in nature. This makes 75/80 very useful because of it’s propagation characteristics.
The best propagation mode for the Prepper on this band is to use Near Vertical Incidence Skywave (NVIS). This involves the counter intuitive placement of an antenna that is very close the ground, within about 8 feet or so. It needs to be just high enough that people or animals cannot touch it. This proximity to the ground causes the radiated energy to ascend towards the Ionosphere at a very steep angle. This means that when the waves are reflected back to earth, they are also returned at a very steep angle. This makes the coverage pattern of an NVIS antenna to be much closer to the transmitting station, typically within a range of 25 to 300 miles. This makes it the perfect choice for a Prepper that wants regional communications. There is information later in the article about how to build an easy and inexpensive dipole antenna for 75/80 that can be configured for NVIS. 75/80 typically covers out to about 200 miles during the day, but can extend out several thousand miles at night when the D layer and its associated absorption disappears. 75/80 is very susceptible to D layer absorption during local daylight hours. 75/80 also suffers from higher noise levels during the day, especially during the summer months.

The next band is 60 Meters. This band is unique in that it is the only Amateur band that is channelized. The center frequencies for 60 Meters are 5332, 5348, 5368, 5358.5, 5373, and 5405 kHz. These are center frequencies and not the dial frequency that will be displayed on the display of an HF radio. The corresponding dial frequencies are 5330.5, 5346.5,5357.0,5371.5, and 5403.5 kHz. The channel width is limited to 2.8 kHz in the Upper Side Band mode. This band is allocated to the Amateur Radio service on a Secondary basis only, and the Primary users are typically federal government users. Secondary users must always yield to Primary users. Power on this band is currently limited to 100 watts Peak Envelope Power (PEP) into a half wave dipole antenna (whose construction is described later in this article). Most amateur radios do not have the ability to transmit in this band without modifications. 60 Meters is useful in that it fills a propagation gap between the 75/80 Meter and the 40 Meter bands. 60 Meters does not suffer from as much atmospheric noise as 75/80 Meters but 60 Meters is still susceptible to D layer absorption. NVIS antennas may also be used effectively on 60 Meters, and it useful for communications within the same state and with surrounding states. The main problem is that not very many Amateurs are on the air on 60 Meters.

The next band is the 40 Meter band, which covers 7.0 to 7.3 MHz. The default voice operating mode is Lower Side Band. 40 meters is typically the highest frequency amateur band that can be used for effectively for regional communications. 40 Meters differs from 75/80 Meters and 60 Meters in that it’s regional range usually extends from about 200 to 500 miles during the day and extends to several thousand miles at night. 40 Meters is typically better than 75/80 Meters for communications with states in the same general region of the country. This makes 40 Meters a good regional band but not necessarily a good band for statewide communications. A disadvantage to 40 Meters is that it is still shared with international broadcast stations in some parts of the world, especially above 7.2 MHz. The international stations don’t usually cause a problem during the day due to the D layer but they are the bane of 40 Meter operations at night.

The next band is the 30 Meter band., which ranges from 10.1 to 10.15 MHz. 30 Meters is different from the previously mentioned bands in that it is limited to the use of digital communications modes only. PEP is limited to 200 watts. Voice communications are not allowed on this band. Digital communications can be as simple as the old stand by Morse Code and as advanced as modern software suites which allow users to interconnect radios with computers and then send and receive data packets over the air. There are many digital modes that can be used on Amateur Radio bands. The advantages to digital modes is that you can send and receive large amounts of data faster than it can be relayed by voice. Digital modes are also very useful in situations where signals are very weak and voice communications cannot be established. There are many inexpensive digital interfaces available to connect radios to computers, and most of the software is freeware or available at a very reasonable cost. Digital modes are not restricted to just 30 meters and they can be used on the other amateur bands as well. Another advantage to digital modes is that while they are not considered encryption (because of open, public source protocols), they can defeat the very casual listener that doesn’t have the proper receive equipment. 30 Meters can propagate regionally, nationally and world wide depending upon the propagation conditions.

The next band is the 20 meter band which ranges from 14.0 to 14.35 MHz. The default voice operating mode is Upper Side Band. 20 Meters is what some Amateurs refer to as the “work horse band” because of it‘s useful propagation qualities. There are many types of operations that take place on this band, including a great deal of “nets”. Nets are formal on the air gatherings of Amateurs for different purposes. 20 Meters is generally open year round and typically only closes down at night as the MUF due to de-ionization of the Ionosphere. 20 Meter propagation is generally nation wide in nature, but it will occasionally propagate regionally on shorter skywave hops. Depending on how far away the station is that you need to establish communications, 20 Meters may be a good bet. I know Amateurs that maintain 20 meter contact schedules with other stations that are located on opposite ends of the country. 20 Meters does not suffer from D layer absorption as the lower bands do, and atmospheric noise levels on 20 are typically low except during thunderstorms. This makes 20 Meters an all around good band for talking with friends across the country.

The other HF bands I will group together. They are:
17 Meters from 18.068 to 18.168 MHz
15 Meters from 21.0 to 21.450 MHz
12 Meters from 24.890 to 24.990 MHz
10 Meters from 28.0 to 29.7 MHz

These bands are useful for nation wide and world wide propagation depending upon the solar and geomagnetic conditions. The default voice operating mode for these bands is Upper Side Band. I would point out that 10 Meters is a very large band and it is the only HF amateur band that allows Frequency Modulation (FM) operations. This is allowed from 29.6 to 29.7 MHz. This is because FM transmissions are wider than Single Side Band (SSB) signals so they require more space (bandwidth). 10 Meters is a big enough band to allow for the increased bandwidths. FM is an advantage over AM and even SSB in that it is not as susceptible to line noise interference from power lines. 10 Meter FM would be a decent choice for point to point simplex communications between retreats. 10 Meter ground wave propagation behaves very similar to Citizens Band propagation because the frequencies in which they operate are very close together. This also an advantage because some CB antennas can be re-tuned for use on the 10 Meter band. Digital modes are also allowed on these bands.
Here’s great HF radio hands on skill. You can build a simple HF wire dipole antenna at very low cost and with just a few parts. You will need some copper antenna wire (preferably with a steel core for strength), and three insulators (which can be made from ceramic, plastic, glass or even wood) . The insulators need to be at least 3 inches in length. You will also need a length of 50 Ohm coaxial cable (such as RG8) with the appropriate connector for your radio. This is typically a type PL-259 in most Amateur Radio applications. You will also need some rope to support the antenna, as well as a soldering iron and electronics solder to make all of the connections permanent.

Just follow the following steps, using the formula:
I=dipole antenna length in feet
f= the intended operating frequency in MHz.

This gives you the overall length that your wire antenna needs to be. Then, divide this number by 2 and cut two pieces of wire to this length. Place an insulator between the two pieces of wire. This will be the center insulator. It is usually best to drill a hole in each end of the insulator, and then wrap the antenna wire through the hole, wrap the free end around the antenna a few times within an inch or two of the center insulator, and solder the connections. Do this on each side of the insulator, so that you have one end of each of the two equal length wires attached to the center insulator. Then place an insulator on each end of the two wires using the same procedure. Then go back to the center insulator and strip the outer jacket off of your 50 ohm cable to a length of a few inches (dependent on the length of your insulator). Then separate the outer shield from the center conductor, making certain that the two do not contact one another. Then solder the center conductor (stripped of insulation) to one leg of the dipole at the center insulator and solder the shield to the other side of the dipole, also at the center insulator. Then you will want to attach the coax to the center insulator using a heavy wire tie or other strong attachment to reduce stress on the insulator connections to keep them from breaking in the elements. Then you can tie of the ends and center insulator of the dipole to trees or other similar elevated structures. Route the cable and connector to your radio and test with an SWR bridge. An SWR of 2:1 or less should be adequate for most radios. Many modern HF radios already have a SWR bride built in. You may need to slightly lengthen or shorten the antenna to get it to resonance. This is a very inexpensive and easy way to build an HF dipole antenna. I have made several of these, one for each amateur band from 80 to 10 meters, and I keep them in my crisis communications kit for immediate set up and use. You can read a great article about this project at http://www.ehow.com/how_6002278_build-dipole-antenna-hf.html .

Then next band is the 6 Meter band, from 50 to 54 MHz. as a Technician Class licensee, a new ham would have full access to this band and all others above it. 6 Meters propagates mostly ground wave and there are many FM repeaters in this band. More on repeater operations in the 2 meter and 70 cm band descriptions. SSB is widely used on 6 Meters, and it occasionally will propagate via sky wave via the E layer of the ionosphere. Skywave on 6 Meters is not reliable but is an interesting mode to work distant or “DX” stations on. 6 Meters is in the VHF low part of the spectrum, and signals in this frequency range tend to propagate further via ground wave than other frequencies that are above or below it. It is no coincidence that many state police agencies have used VHF Low for the last 60 years. It is because of VHF Low signals propagate better over large, rural areas than VHF High or UHF frequencies do. If you wanted to communicate via simplex ground wave with another retreat, this would be the most ideal band.

The next band is the 2 Meter band from 144 to 148 MHz. 2 Meters is quite possibly the most popular and widely used band, and FM is the most common mode. There are many repeaters in the 2 Meter band. A repeater is a station is installed at an elevated point, typically on a large communications tower or on top of a building or mountain. A repeater uses two frequencies simultaneously. The repeater receives on an input frequency, amplifies the signal to higher power, and retransmits it from the elevated antenna on an output frequency. This allows two stations that would otherwise be unable to communicate due to Line of Sight problems to establish communications. Other communications options on 2 Meters are the use of “simplex” frequencies. This just means transmitting directly from one station to another on the same frequency without use of repeaters. It’s the same principle as voice operations on the of the bands that don’t allow use of repeaters. There are also SSB operations on 2 meters, and digital operations are allowed at higher throughput rates. This means you can send more data, faster. This is because the band is larger and there is more spectrum available. There are thousands of 2 Meter repeaters in operation across the country. Some of them have back up power sources, some do not. It is the recommendation of the author that you not rely on repeaters in your crisis communications plan. This is because the repeaters may become congested with radio traffic or there power may fail in a crisis situation. Always have plan to establish simplex communications with your family, friends, and your retreat, without relying on a repeater if at all possible.

The next band is the 70 cm band from 420 to 450 MHz. The most common operating mode is FM, but there extensive digital and Amateur Television (ATV) operations in this band. Yes, you can actually transmit “Ham TV”! There are many repeaters on the air in this band, especially in urban areas. 70 cm performs well in urban areas because UHF radio waves tend to penetrate buildings and structures better that frequencies in other ranges. Simplex operations are also common on 70 cm. 70cm is widely used as a “backbone” band for linked repeaters. Some repeater operators have linked their systems together so that in some cases, one can communicate statewide on a VHF or UHF repeater. 70 cm is often used to relay this link data. Both 2 Meters an 70 cm are often used in Amateur satellite operations. There are several satellites in earth orbit that have amateur radio repeaters on board. While this is fun to play with and is a tool for your communications tool belt, satellites have limited utility for consistent, reliable communications with other specific stations. This is because most of the satellites are in a Low Earth Orbit and the orbit is circular in nature. This means that the satellite circles the earth about once every ninety minutes. When combined with the rotation of the earth, this means that passes over a given location are limited in occurrence and short in scope. Satellites are also heavily used and it can be difficult to establish contact on them. For this reason they should not be relied upon to provide time sensitive communications for the Prepper.

The other two commonly used bands I will lump together. They are the 33 cm band from 902 to 928 MHz and the 23 cm band from 1240 to 1300 MHz. These bands are great for the digital or ATV operator. They provide ample bandwidth for data throughput an the antennas for these bands are very small. Voice and repeaters are also used on these bands. There is not a lot of activity on these bands in the rural areas of the country, but they are more active in the urban areas. They are also outside the range of most cheap scanners, which provides some protection from the casual listener. Again, encryption is no allowed on any of the amateur bands but the squeaks and squawks of digital are meaningless to the untrained and unequipped listener.

The next area that must be addressed for a reliable crisis communications system is back up power. This can be accomplished in many ways. The good news is that most Amateur Radio systems and other related communications equipment operate from 12 Volts DC negative ground. This means you can connect this equipment to a car battery or preferably (if using a battery), to a marine deep cycle battery. Maintenance free lead acid batteries make good back up power sources for radio. Of course, you need to have a back up plan to recharge the batteries without the grid. This can be done using a variety of systems including solar panels, wind generators, or hydro generators connected to a battery charging conditioner to prevent damage to the battery pr to the charging system. One can also use a standard gasoline, diesel, or natural gas powered generator to power a 120 Volts Alternating Current (VAC) to a 12 VDC power supply for the radios. These 120 VAC to 12 VDC power supplies are commonly used to power Amateur Radio equipment from the grid under normal conditions. Do not rely on grid power to at any point in your crisis communications plan.

In my situation, I utilize HF radio on 80 through 10 Meters for back up long haul communications , as well as 2 Meter and 70 cm simplex for local use. I use the repeaters regularly, but I don’t rely on it. Our local 2 Meter repeater also has a limited back up power source. I work about 10 miles form my home and I have 2 Meter radios installed in all of our vehicles, including my work vehicle. I have a very understanding employer. I have 2 Meters and 70 cm installed at my home and I can communicate with my family regardless of grid condition. I have utilized this before when a disaster struck our town and cellular phone communications were out for hours. The only communications I had with home were by Amateur Radio. The cell network was overloaded and damaged, and it was good to know that even when bad things happened, I could inform my family of my status. It was a huge relief to my wife because she had been very concerned about my well being, and all of her phone calls to me got the familiar “We‘re sorry, all circuits are busy now. Please try your call again later” or something to that effect. She knew what to do in order to contact me due to rule 6-P.

Another area of great interest to the Prepper is utility monitoring. This a complex subject, but it boils down to listening to all different types of frequencies and modes to figure out what’s happening in the world. Engage in and learn about this activity and you would be surprised at what you will hear. I advise you not to do anything that is illegal. In some states, it is unlawful to possess a police scanner in a vehicle, so make sure that you know your local laws. Consider installing a wideband scanner receiver, and a high gain external base antenna at your retreat. The author recommends the Uniden Bearcat BC9000XLT or equivalent and the Antenna craft ST-2 antenna. They make a great pair. You can monitor local public safety entities as well as other government entities. Many of these entities encrypt their radio traffic so you cannot listen to them. It is unlawful to decipher these communications. Most of theme use a very secure protocol and most attempts at decryption would be moot for most people anyway. It is also unlawful to intercept cellular telephone or other encrypted communications, so don’t do it. Also, some entities utilize a P25 digital modulation protocol, and if that’s the case where you live, then you will need to acquire a P-25 digital trunking scanner to receive them.

Shortwave broadcast, while somewhat on the decline from some parts of the world, is still alive and well. You will interesting news and content that the regular lap dog media will not report. This includes a great deal of alternative and Christian media that would be snubbed, defamed and marginalized by the politically correct main stream media. The author’s favorite shortwave broadcast station is WWCR out of Nashville, Tennessee. They operate on the frequencies of 3.215, 4.840, 5.935, 7.465, 7.490, 9.350, 9.985, 15.825,12.160, and 13.845 kHz AM. There are also many broadcasters from around the world still on shortwave. This could prove to be a vital news source in the vent of an information blackout here in the U.S. Most amateur HF radios have wide band receivers so an HF station doubles as a shortwave receiver. There is also a great deal of military and government traffic on the HF bands. Military monitoring is also a popular pastime that could have utility in a crisis. It is still considered lawful in the U.S. (Yet, anyway. Many countries have outlawed it). A decent scanner receiver (like the BC 9000XLT) will cover the 225 to 406 MHz range where most UHF military operations take place. With an outdoor antenna, you can hear military aircraft operating hundreds of miles away in the AM, non-encrypted mode. Most scanners will also allow you to monitor amateur frequencies, weather broadcast stations (which are a great source for civil emergency alerts), civilian aircraft, taxi cabs, busses, railroads, transportation departments, and utility companies. A great source for local radio frequency information for your area is the database here. There are also many other web sources for the frequencies for your area. Engaging in utility monitoring will remind you of how important it is to utilize Communications Security (COMSEC). It will remind you to mindful of what information you transmit in the open. Also remember that in a collapse scenario, do not transmit from your retreat unless absolutely necessary. If it is necessary, keep your transmissions very brief, and consider using a modular addition encryption protocol. Line of sight transmissions can be DF’d. That means an adversary can use Direction Finding techniques to locate your retreat. Skywaves are much more difficult to DF but it can be done, so keep your HF transmissions short as well. Spend most of your time listening and use COMINT to your advantage.

Another thing to remember is to not completely discount grid based communications systems as a part of your plan. I’m not saying that you should rely on these systems. You absolutely should not. But many of these systems, if they are operating in some capacity may have utility to you even if they are compromised and not reliable. Landline phone companies for example are required to maintain battery and generator back up power for their network switches. Remember that the landline network providers still provide the Plain Old Telephone System (POTS) backbone that interconnects telephone voice circuits to cellular sites. Also consider installing a landline phone in your home for this reason, if it fits into your budget. It does in my home because it is a part of my DSL internet package. Landline phones, as long as they are not the cordless type, will typically continue to work during a short-term power outage because the phone is powered by telephone company equipment and not by the power to your home. Cordless phones require AC power to your home or back up power supply to operate. You can purchase battery back up units for cordless phones that provide several hours of talk time during a power outage. I picked one of these units up at a Hamfest for $5. Also consider installing Skype on your computer which provides free IP-based video chat capability if you have a web cam, microphone, speakers, and a broadband Internet connection for your computer. Also remember to use e-mail and text message capability if you have it. Text messages or e-mails can sometimes get through to members of your family and friends who do not have a crisis communications system even if the voice circuits are overloaded and unavailable. You may need these methods to communicate with folks that didn’t prepare ahead of time.

A lot of folks also don’t know that most cell phone carriers have e-mail gateways into their text messaging system. This means you can send an e-mail and it will be delivered to the recipients cell phone as a text message. Text message charges apply.

Check out the table below to look for you carrier:
Alltel number@alltelmessage.com or number@message.alltel.com
AT&T number@mobile.att.net
Bell Canada
Centennial Wireless
Cellular South
Cincinnati Bell
Metro PCS
number@mymetropcs.com or number@metropcs.sms.us
U.S. Cellular
Virgin Mobile


Alaska Communications Systems number@msg.acsalaska.com
General Communications Inc.

Puerto Rico

Centennial Wireless

U.S Virgin Islands

Centennial Wireless

For more carriers, see:

I hope this information is useful to you in your preparation efforts. May God bless you and your families as we endure these turbulent times in our world. don’t forget to make preparations in other necessary areas as well. Beans, bullets, and band aids should be squared away before you invest in communications. And most importantly, remember to walk daily with the Jesus Christ. He is the way, the truth, and the life, and no one will come to the father but through Him.

Thanks very much for maintaining this terrific blog. I try to read it every day and frequently find useful information that assists in my preparations. I found particularly useful D.T.R.’s recent article, “Post Collapse Barter: The Rest of the Story,” which I think contained a more realistic description of the post-collapse economy than perhaps many preppers have in mind. I agree with D.T.R. that the majority of non-preppers are unlikely to have anything valuable to trade for the salt, iodine, alcohol and other items that preppers are setting aside for barter. Furthermore, the needs of non-preppers can be predicted quite easily and are insatiable: all of them will want food, water, and (eventually) medicine, and they will have for all intents and purposes an unlimited capacity to consume them. Non-preppers are more likely to be targets of our charity rather than trading partners. However, I would take issue with the author’s suggestion that preppers may be unlikely to trade with each other for the reason that they all already have everything they need.

Let’s say that our survival group has made it through the first winter, maybe even the second, we can come out of our bunker, and now conditions will allow us to plant crops. Aside from obvious staples, such as potatoes, what should we plant? Does it make sense for our group to plant 100 different kinds of seeds to take care of every need we could possibly have, including the ability to carve a pumpkin for Halloween and drink mulled wine during Advent? What if one of our neighbors, with whom we are on good terms, grew lots of soybeans before the collapse and still knows how to do it a lot better than we do? Does it make sense to grow more soybeans or are we better off growing some broccoli to trade for soybeans?
I would submit that specialization, which drove the development of civilization over the centuries, will reestablish itself fairly swiftly after a collapse. It will be a long time before we will need tax accountants or database programmers, but that doesn’t mean that every family or survival group needs to be an island unto itself, completely self-sufficient and producing everything they could ever possibly want or need themselves. Soon after the collapse, after taking care of the basics, I will move to establish a comparative advantage (an economics term--I recommend doing a web search on it) in a couple of things, whether it’s growing strawberries or fixing plumbing, and I will do those things better than my neighbors. Once established, I will be much better off, and will have a greater abundance of everything, if I trade my strawberries for your blueberries and fix your leaky pipe if you’ll get my rusty rifle back into working condition. The neighbor down at the end of the road who doesn’t talk to us and relies only on himself will get by okay, but his strawberries won’t be very tasty and his pipes will leak a lot more than he’d like. - Dale from Vermont

The recent letter about Alaska as a Retreat Locale brings up many good points, and I as an Alaskan certainly hope survival will be possible here if society collapses. But the trouble with predicting the future is that there’s no way to know how events are going to play out. The author assumes that oil will still flow, that there will still be an economy of sorts, and that the military will be friendly. These predictions might or might not be accurate.

The Alaska pipeline must have a flow rate of at least 70,000 barrels a day to remain viable, according to a recent study. That would require nineteen heaters along the pipe, at a greatly increased cost. Alaskans are already paying $3.50 to $10.00 per gallon for heating fuel in most of the state outside the Anchorage area. That can easily amount to $10,000 worth of fuel per winter! If the economy tanks, export of Alaska oil won’t happen because other countries can get it cheaper closer to home. And the small population of Alaska residents couldn’t support a giant pipeline that’s only flowing a trickle. Production costs would skyrocket. Residents won’t be able to afford fuel at three or four times the current price.

Alaska’s economy is based almost entirely on oil, government employee paychecks, and tourism. If any of these is interrupted, there will cease to be a viable economy. Eskimos, Bushrats and Sourdoughs might thrive when that happens, but everybody else will be in real trouble.

The military in Alaska is a two-edged sword. Their presence here provides protection from invasion. Nevertheless, history tells us that collapse of civil authority will quickly result in Martial law and military rule. That’s the way it was in Alaska in the nineteenth century, and indeed, in most of the American west at one time. Some soldiers were out surveying my street a while back with GPS and other equipment. I asked them what they were doing. They said they were mapping the whole area down to the square inch. They never did explain why. I believe that if the time comes, they will want to collect all stored survival supplies “for the common good.” Is that paranoid? After all, after a collapse the military will have absolute power.

Alaskans probably won’t starve if they can grow food and hunt and fish, but everything is harder and more expensive at 40 below. Ultimately I believe that God will take care of all of us, but then he never promised us a rose garden. - K.L. in Alaska

Thanks to David D. comes some analysis of how speculators can move markets: How Global Investors Make Money Out of Hunger. [JWR's Comment: Some of the surge in farm commodities prices can be attributed to hedging on anticipated currency value declines and higher fuel and fertilizer costs rather than the result of--or an expectation of--lower crop production. In essence, nearly all tangibles are viable hedges when the global currencies are engaged in a race to the bottom.

Steve W. sent some interesting news: Mint begins trial strikes in composition tests. The good news is that the trials strikes are part of a two year study. (The contract runs through June 30, 2013.) So we may have some extra time to stockpile nickels before the debasement. (For those interested in stockpiling nickels, there is a very informative discussion forum, over at RealCent.)

Andre sent this: China Continues to buy gold in preparation of the end of the global dollar based ecosystem.

Diana S. forwarded another interesting article about s the debasement of U.S. coins in the 1960s: Removing the Silver.

B.B. suggested an interview of Marc Faber on Fox Business News.

Items from The Economatrix:

Downgrade of Debt Ratings Underscores Europe's Woes

24 Statistics to Show to Anyone Who Believes America Has a Bright Economic Future

Why Oil Prices are About to Collapse

It's Earnings v. Europe for Stocks

Roman sent me a link to a fascinating blog piece the summarizes an academic paper titled Baffles and Bastions, published in the Journal of Archaeological Research. Some food for those for those of us designing defensive architecture. Note that masonry baffles also stop (or deflect) bullets.

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F.J. sent this one: Back in the DPRK. This article includes an interesting observation on the high cost of fuel, and families doubling up in homes that have traditional charcoal stoves. Hmmmmm...

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Inside A $1.5 Million Cave House. (Thanks to Judy T. for the link.)

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P.M. suggested a practical piece, over at The Art of Manliness: How to field dress a squirrel

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R.B.S. sent this signs of the times: Idaho Road-killed wildlife may become fair game.

"Nor was this the only form of lawless extravagance which owed its origin to the plague. Men who cooly ventured on what they had formerly done in a corner, and not just as they pleased, seeing the rapid transitions produced by persons in prosperity suddenly dying and those who before had nothing succeeding to their property. So they resolved to spend quickly and enjoy themselves, regarding their lives and riches as alike things of a day. Perseverance in what men called honour was popular with none, it was so uncertain whether they would be spared to attain the object; but it was settled that present enjoyment, and all that contributed to it, was both honourable and useful. Fear of gods or law of man there was none to restrain them. As for the first, they judged it to be just the same whether they worshipped them or not, as they saw all alike perishing; and for the last, no one expected to live to be brought to trial for his offenses, but each felt that a far severer sentence had already been passed upon them all and hung over their heads, and before this fell it was only reasonable to enjoy life a little." - Thucydides The History of the Peloponnesian War, Book 2, Chapter 7, Section 53, translation by Richard Crawley; revised by R. Feetham, 1952, regarding the conditions during the Athenian plague during the Second Siege of Athens by the Spartans during the Peloponnesian War, 431 to 404 BC.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I decided not to "black out" my blog today, but you can be assured that that I'm 100% opposed to SOPA. That horrible legislation was the impetus for setting up our server in Sweden. (Which, BTW, is still undergoing configuration and test.) Please both call and e-mail your congresscritters and urge them to stop SOPA and PIPA!!!


Today we present another two entries for Round 39 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 Safecastle.com (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 FloJak.com. 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 39 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'd like to share a recent adventure in practical survival skills that I stumbled upon by accident. Luckily for me this was not a disaster that forced this, but instead the natural friction that occurs between man and wife. In the course of a year I grew a crop of wheat, harvested, processed, and made a loaf of bread. The adventure was that I did not start out to do any of those things! In the course of this learning experience I found out that things “everyone knows” are not, in fact, easy to find out.

The adventure started innocently enough with the typical chore item. The wife asked for a flower garden in the front yard. The spot designated for this garden was a small section of grass in a ¼ oval shape. It was About 8 feet wide and 15 feet long that existed between the front porch and the sidewalk.   Over a course of a weekend I dug the hard soil, tilled it with a hand tiller attachment on my weed trimmer, and amended the soil.

This was the first lesson I learned in my growing of the wheat, even though I had not started to grow it yet!  The typical suburban yard is a mess when it comes to growing anything but grass. My yard, being typical, at one time was farm land, but 40 years ago the farm land was converted into a subdivision and the front yard has had nothing but grass in it for those 40 years. This leads to the soil becoming as hard as rock over time underneath the thin layer of sod on top of it. There is no aeration or other activity to break the soil up. When I went to till the ground I found my tiller jumping all over the place. It would scalp the ground, chewing up the thin layer of sod, but not dig into the soil underneath.

Finally I had to set the tiller aside and grab a spade. A spade differs from a regular shovel in that it has a point like a spade on a playing card, a flat shovel will not work in this situation. I then began to break the soil in my garden up with the spade. I would put the tip in, step on it and drive it into the soil, lever a hunk out, take a step back, and repeat. I found over time that working in a straight line back and forth helped as it relieved pressure on two sides, the side I had taken the previous bite out of and the row that was missing next to it. This process is often referred to as turning the soil.

What I was doing, and had not realized until later research, closely mimicked what the settlers had to do on the Great Plains. To create any sort of acreage you first cross the field with a plow and break the soil up into large chunks. A plow is the large, single bladed, instrument pulled by a tractor or a horse. The next step is to run a disc tiller across that field and break down the loosened chunks into a finer soil.  The disc is the item that looks like a bunch of saw blades on a rack. Once you have done that you amend the soil by spreading manure or other fertilizers on the field and till it again. Finally you can return with your plow of similar device and turn the soil into rows if that is what you need.

After I hand spaded the flower garden, which was back breaking even for this small area, I used my handheld tiller to simulate the action of the disc and broke the soil up. When that was done I tossed some random fertilizer and peat I had laying around onto the garden and worked that in to improve drainage and amend the soil. After 40 years of growing grass it turns out that yard soil is extremely depleted of nutrients. I suggest a nice 10-10-10 fertilizer if you are not growing something specific. It is a nice balance of nutrients without so much of any one you have to worry about hurting a crop. I then re-tilled to work this in.

This whole adventure had gone from a couple hours on a Saturday to almost 30 hours over two weekends. So I informed my wife that if a weed grew anywhere in that garden after all my work I was going to be very displeased, and as this was her garden, she had to keep the weeds out. In order to do this she did not want a layer of plastic and then a layer of mulch as I expected but wanted straw. To kill two birds with one stone when buying Halloween decorations I bought three bails of straw from the local feed and seed. Once they were done with their decorating purposes she spread them all over the Garden as weed control, which they immediately failed at when green shoots started sprouting everywhere. I brought this up to my wife she said not to worry, the winter would kill these shoots and she would make sure there were no weeds in the spring.

After a fairly wet and mild winter we had, as you probably can now guess, a nice crop of winter wheat in our front lawn. The bails of straw I had purchased were wheat straw and they took to my freshly tilled garden very nicely. By March I had a nice thick crop in the yard that was waist high and nicely forming heads. I then informed my wife that I was now taking over the garden as my wheat project as I had decided I was going to make a loaf of bread for all my hard work. I figured this would be a great opportunity to practice a couple skills that I was sure were easy. How hard could they be? Subsistence farms had been doing exactly this for a thousand years.

Once I had decided that I was going to do this project I began researching how to go from a stand of wheat to a loaf of bread on the table and found out something interesting. There is a huge gap between theory and practice. You can find tons of information online on how to grow wheat, and tons of information and how to make processed wheat berries into bread, but there is a major drop out of information between the two.  I found it very difficult to find information on when to harvest, how to harvest, what to do with the harvested wheat, etc etc. It seemed that if a 15th century French peasant could do it, then anyone could and no one has bothered to ever document the process.

So I watched my wheat yellow and dry on the stalks until it was completely dried out. I decided to harvest my wheat at this point. Further research has shown that I waited too long. What I should have done was waited until there was just a hint of green left in the stalks and then cut the wheat down and made sheaves out of it. A sheave is a 6 inch diameter bundle of wheat tied around the middle with a wheat stalk. You make groups of sheaves, and then stack them into a pyramid shape to allow air flow through the stack to finish the drying process.  If you wait too long then your wheat is prone to shatter, which is where the wheat berries fall off the stalk when it is cut by the scythe or when stacked and the wheat berries are lost. The idea is to cut the wheat before this shatter point, stack and dry it until it crosses that point, and then use this tendency to separate the wheat berries from stalks in a controlled matter.

Luckily for me I did not have a scythe, I had bunny rabbits. The bunnies had taken up residence in my small wheat patch, making a warren beneath the wheat straw. My wife was worried that the hawks would get the bunnies (BTW bunnies is the correct term as rabbits are things you eat apparently.) She requested that I not cut the stalks down but instead just pull the heads off the stalks. So I found myself one weekend with a 5 gallon bucket picking wheat like it was huckleberry season. The things we do for love. This, on the other hand, got me around the shatter problem; I did not even realize it was a possible problem until later. I also got to inspect each head for signs of mildew or mold as I went.

As a trade off to save the bunnies, my wife agreed to shuck my wheat heads for me and sat on the porch running each one through her hand to pull the berries out and put them in a container. Again very slow going, but did have the advantage of keeping the chaff down. This, of course I learned later, was not the normal way. Normally you would have taken your sheaves of wheat you made earlier from your pile once they dried and taken them to some sort of processing ground. Usually a cleared dirt space shaped like a bowl, if you are in sub Saharan Africa, or a tarp will work as good. The idea then is to beat your wheat until all the berries fall off the stalks on to your surface, using the natural tendency for wheat to shatter I mentioned before.  A sharp strike from a flail or other implement is what you want here. A pressing force, such as walking on the stalks, will not knock the wheat berries loose from the stalks as well as a sharp strike will.

Quickly it became obvious to me that shucking these heads was not going to work for me and the wife, the bunnies seemed to have no opinion. I was not about to go buy a thresher or other device to work these buckets of wheat so I had to improvise. While rooting around in the garage for a solution I found a concrete mixing paddle that was fairly clean. I then grabbed my cordless drill and had a solution! I put the bit into the drill, shoved it into the buckets of wheat heads and turned it on! Success! The flailing paddle in short order beat the wheat out of my heads and fell to the bottom of my bucket. Now I had a bunch of short stalks, a bunch of chaff (the small leaves that surround the wheat berry), and a bunch of wheat berries. Then came the next problem, how to separate these items?

Grabbing some wire mesh I poured wheat between buckets through the mesh and cleaned the stalks out. The berries, and that dang chaff, passed through the screen and left the stalks behind. If the stalks had been longer, or my mesh finer, this would have been quick, unfortunately this step took a pass or two.  With these two steps what I had recreated was the basic thresher. These were simply a paddle that moved and flailed the wheat across a conveyer belt with slots in it causing the wheat and chaff to drop down to the bottom of the thresher and the wheat to come out the other end. Powered by farm animal power or steam they greatly sped up farm production of wheat in the 1800s.These early threshers were simply a set of flails and a conveyer on a shaft turned by a belt attached to an animal walk system. It would have been easy to reproduce I believe, except I had no farm animal except the bunnies, and they continued to be no help in this process.

After a day of my work with the drill and my improvised thresher I now had a 5 gallon bucket about ¾ full of wheat berries and chaff.  I had heard that the way that has normally used to remove chaff was the wind. So I started pouring my wheat from bucket to bucket held high so the wind would take the chaff, which it did, but it was slow and prone to spillage. So I went and got a fan and started passing this wheat in front of the fan. This worked pretty well. After about a dozen passes I finally had my end product, about 10 pounds of wheat berries nicely cleaned. Excited I went into the house and check to see how much a bushel of wheat (60 pounds) sold for thinking of all the money I had saved. The price of a bushel of wheat turned out to be just around eleven dollars. Please note that the eleven dollar price is for a bushel of wheat delivered by the train load, so don’t use that price to price shop with your local dealer. I figured that after four weekends of hard work I had made almost three dollars! At this rate it would be a race to see if I starved to death before I went broke. Still determined I was going to get my loaf of bread I set on my next task, making this wheat into flour.

Now I should mention the sort of prepper I am. I like to figure out how, from a zero starting point, how a guy can make the tools he needs to survive. This often means making the tools, to make the tools, to make the tools. I have found out that things that were so easy an illiterate 15th century peasant could do it does not actually work out to be that simple after all. It turns out that simple things are really hard to do.

The problem I now faced was, I had wheat berries that were inedible. Wheat is an interesting plant product. It is a very hard outer shell surrounding gluten filled starch. To get to this little pocket of flour you have to break the rock like germ on the outside. Human teeth cannot do this so the wheat has to be processed into some other form to make it edible.
I had three avenues to turn my wheat into a food source. I could sprout the berries by soaking them in water until a sprout forms breaking and softening the outer germ. This process is surprisingly quick, only taking about 12 hours. You then dry this and grind it to make bread and other items, or put the sprouted berries into hot water and eat them like porridge. I could feed this wheat and its straw to live stock and turn the wheat into protein that way. Like a lot of conversions though you lose a lot of calories doing this, and we had already established that the bunnies are out of bounds as a food source, for me and the hawks. So my third option was to grind my wheat berries into smaller bits and make some flour.

I went back to my tools of tools method and started to work on the problem of how to make a flour mill. Now lots of places will sell you a mill, or mill parts. Lots of places will tell you that the 15th century peasant went to the mill, but if you want to make a mill then things get quiet. Eventually I found from a web site how to make a 15th Century quern and learned the magic of the wheat grinding process. This process lives in the matching faces of convex and concave shapes.

The most basic idea of wheat grinding is that you have to have two hard surfaces that are finely matched with each other. This could be as simple as two stones you are rubbing together or as complex as water driven mill stones.  There is a good chance that, as preppers, you own a mortar and pestle. Go grab it and look at it. You will notice that the two surfaces actually match up to a great degree. If they did not grinding with it would be impossible. Mill stones and querns work the same way. You have two stones , one of which is mobile and one of which is stationary. The top stone needs to be concave while the bottom stone needs to be convex and have their surfaces mesh. This can be a very shallow slope, but it does need to be there. Then in the surface of your two stones you need to put grooves that narrow down to nothing. On the stop stone you have a hole that the wheat is placed in dead center of the top stone. The idea is the wheat works its way, by gravity and the turning action of the stones, into those grooves and gets ground smaller and smaller against the face of the opposing stone until if finally falls off the outside of the stone where it is collected as flour.

You can make your stones from metal, or concrete, or even large chiseled river rocks if you like. Once you have your shapes close you can then place sand between the stones and rotate them until both surfaces mesh. This is the trick, if you don’t cast the stones from concrete on mirror forms, to making your surfaces mesh. Get them close and then grind down the stones with some grit in between. This grinds both surfaces equally removing distortions until they mesh perfectly. Then you can chisel your grooves in.  Once the chiseling is done on either way of making them run them for a bit to knock any loose grit out of the stones and then brush them off.

Once you have the stones you can power them any way you wish. A quern was powered by muscle power. It had an offset handle that was gripped and used to rotate the whole top stone around a central spindle mounted in the bottom stone. Wheat was placed into a hole in the top stone and fell down past the spindle in between the stones. The foxfire books show how to make barrel mills and other such devices to power larger stones. You could even go full size with a good sized stream to damn and create a sluice and wheel system.

After this bout of research and looking at the time and effort to making a quern, realizing I did not have a stream or river to damn for a traditional mill, and deciding I did not want to run a barrel wheel powered mill off my garden hose. Reality also set in. The fact of the matter was it was entirely possible that after all this work, once I made my bread, I might find out I hated it. This led me to believe that I did not want to spend a single dollar on this process, so I went and found an old electric coffee grinder and proceeded to grind up my wheat in it. I managed to get my 8 cups for a batch of bread before it burned up and it only took four hours. In other words this is not really a solution to the wheat grinding problem either.

Since my experiment ended I have procured a living grain mill from Ready Made Resources to use for grinding my wheat. I love this mill. The hand crank is on a flywheel that is already grooved to accept a V-belt. This makes turning this unit into a powered unit a snap. Gas, muscle, electrical, or bunny power is all possible with this mill. I find I can turn out enough flour to make a batch of bread in about 45 minutes using the hand crank, and I get a great cardio workout with it, too!

Once I had my 8 cups of wheat flour I then proceeded to make my bread. There are a ton of recipes in books and on the internet for making bread so I won’t take up space including one here. I decided to make mine with honey as the sweetener to keep it as true to what would have been produced by my model peasant. I also looked into making my own yeast for this process. I quickly found out that yeast is not as readily available as one would think. With thousands of possible strains in the world, and only a handful being useful, making yeast is not something to take lightly and outside of the scope of this article.
Once I had my loaves of bread I sat down to try them and they were wonderful! Since I had freshly ground the grain I retained all the nutrients. Since it was the whole grain it was whole wheat bread with the extra roughage. This produced some profound gastrointestinal benefits in addition to tasting great. I found I also had more energy over the next couple days. This might have been a side benefit of all the physical labor I had done, but it seemed like a missing nutrient had been replaced in my diet.

So in the end I had my loaves of bread after several weeks of work, at zero cost, and a lot of learning. I also still had several bunnies and a happy wife. I also now feel confident that I have taken some major steps in learning how to actually farm wheat. This confidence in my wheat using and growing abilities has allowed me to add wheat to my personal stockpiles. More importantly I now use my wheat regularly in my day to day cooking, allowing me to cycle my stores of wheat properly.

The lesson learned from my accidental experiment is that you should always check your assumptions.  I had assumed making bread was easy, I had assumed growing wheat was easy, I had no idea how much labor was really involved. I had assumed I could just use my stored wheat, not realizing that it needs preparation. Finally I also learned the power of names. When the family stops referring to it as that darn rabbit, and starts calling them the cute bunnies, you are going to have an issue.  Cute, it turns out, is a work creator, not a work reducer. So be quick with the three S conservation plan to these problems. Shoot, shovel, and shut up. It will save you a lot of effort in the long run.

In a SHTF scenario, already having a small flock of laying chickens will be of great benefit for everyone from an urban backyard to a rural, backwoods bunker setting. They are easy to care for, provide eggs and eventually, can grace your stewpot once they have stopped laying. Given the opportunity, they are also resourceful, and will scavenge for insects, grubs, and their favorite greenery. Be warned, they absolutely adore strawberries and kale, and will eat it right out of your garden!

A laying hen reaches maturity and begins laying eggs at around 4-6 months of age. She will lay an average of two eggs every three days for the next 3-5 years. After that, you may wish to consider adding the girl to the stewpot. Laying hens are not as tender as young meat birds (which are typically slaughtered at eight weeks of age) but their meat is still salvageable if boiled or tenderized with some vinegar prior to cooking.

Laying Hens or Meat Birds?

The first decision you need to make is whether to have laying hens or meat birds. Chickens have been cultivated for a long time, and while some breeds make excellent laying hens, and lay large eggs for a long period of time, other breeds are definitely cultivated to grow quickly and be consumed in short order.
We have twelve Araucanas and one Rhode Island Red – all laying hens. The Araucanas lay a pale blue-green egg, that is considered a medium sized egg. The Rhode Island Red lays an extra-large brown egg. Rhode Island Reds are known for their large, high production egg capacity.
At this point, we have no meat birds. However, from my past interactions with them I have to say that they are very different from their egg-laying counterparts. Meat birds have one goal – to consume as much food as possible. That is why in eight weeks, a meat bird will average about 6-8 pounds, whereas my delicate Araucanas weigh in at a total of five pounds each full grown. Meat birds can also be rather aggressive, pecking and drawing blood on each other and more importantly, you. Take care if you have small children and meat birds, it could be traumatizing.

Benefits That Chickens Give

Will Eat Leftovers - Besides the obvious benefit of providing eggs and meat, chickens are one of nature’s garbage disposals. An omnivore, a chicken will consume nearly anything – meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, grains, rice. Not a single thing goes to waste in our house between the chickens, dogs and cats. Chickens will eat anything smaller than themselves – this means mice, if they can catch them. A few months ago, we caught two marauding mice in the house. We fed them both to the chickens who fought over the little carcasses – waste not, want not.
We also feed them their own eggshells, which are high in calcium, negating the need to buy crushed oyster shells as a calcium supplement.
If you have carnivores (dogs and cats) than you will probably feed them most of your meat scraps, but save a little for the birds. I’ve given them leftover soup, rice, quinoa, carrot peelings, the bases of broccoli, cauliflower leaves, tomatoes, and so much more. For a special treat, feed them some grapes, they go crazy for them and it is also a good source of water for them as well.

Will Process Paper
– There’s no need to burn paper, and please don’t throw it away. Instead, shred it (I actually use a high-capacity shredder and shred everything (phone books, newspapers, magazines, envelopes, you name it) and then place it in the chicken house. On the floor and in the roosts it absorbs the chicken waste, which is high in nitrogen. From there, simply sweep it out the door onto the ground of the enclosed chicken coop. This makes the ground less muddy. During the summer we also add grass clippings and encourage our neighbor to bring over his grass clippings to us as well. During the warm months, every 1-2 months we will rake up all of the gunk from the ground and throw it into the compost. A month or two later and it is compost, full of nutrients and ready to be spread onto our raised beds and worked into the dirt.
Pest Control
– In the warm months we open the door to the coop during the day and allow the hens to roam free, scratching and digging in the grass and raised beds. They search for and find plenty of insects, grubs, and even will go after mice and small birds. This provides them with some extra protein which they need for egg production. Later in summer, feed them any tomato hornworms you may find. They adore them, and it saves your tomato plants from being denuded of the sheltering green leaves tomatoes need for protection from the sun.

The Chicken Rules

Chickens are easy to keep as long as you follow the basic rules of good chicken ownership. So here are some quick tips to keep in mind.
Easy to Doctor – They are quite easy to doctor. You will need: Q-tip cotton swabs, triple antibiotic cream, pine tar, and if you like a general poultry antibiotic. Basically the first three ingredients are to treat your bird if they get in a tussle with another bird. This happens more when they are younger and the pecking order (yes, it’s real) has not been established. A chicken will rise within the flock by pecking a foe until she bleeds, and since chickens are naturally attracted to the color red (blood, red-painted toenails, red grapes, etc) that bird will then be pecked and pecked repeatedly, and chickens can and will kill one of the flock if not stopped. We bring in the hurt bird, wash off the blood, sometimes apply baby powder to help with the clotting, spread some antibiotic cream on the wound and then paint it with pine tar.
It smells bad and tastes worse. An attacking bird gets a mouthful of that and decides to pick on someone else!
As for the general poultry antibiotic…chickens sometimes get colds. If you see one that is lethargic and has not moved, has drainage around the beak or eyes, she may benefit from a regimen of antibiotics. They are available in most feed stores and you simply add them to the water. In one hen’s case, we had to force feed the antibiotics to her with a dropper. After three days she got better and she is now doing great.

Excessive Heat Will Kill Them – I suggest letting them loose during excessive heat waves and allowing your hens to search out the shaded, cool areas of your yard. Provide plenty of water, throw in some chunks of ice if you can to cool it down. We installed a fan in the chicken house last summer and placed it in front of a hunk of ice. The girls clustered around that or dug into the dark, shaded areas of our yard and into the cool dirt. I would not advise trying to eat a bird who dies of heat stroke unless  you see it die and know there wasn’t any other reason for it to be deceased (sickness, etc).

Cold Doesn’t Affect Laying, Light Does – I hear it over and over, “My chickens stopped laying because it has been so cold.” No, they could care less about that. Instead, it has to do with light exposure. Chickens need approximately 12-14 hours of exposure to direct light, in order to release an egg. Cloudy, overcast days have the same effect. Beginning in October, or earlier if you live in the more extreme climes, install a 40 watt bulb in your chicken house on a 12-14 hour timer. We have ours set to turn on at 6am in the morning and turn off at 8pm at night.
We had watched our production rates fall to around 3-5 eggs per day from our thirteen hens. After installing the light, production spiked and has stayed steady at 8-10 eggs per day. Our record is 11 eggs in one day – keep making those eggs, girls! (Or it is the stewpot for you)

Keep a Rooster (if you can get away with it) – Roosters can be noisy and are often aggressive. And most of us live in urban and suburban settings that prohibit us from having one. However, if you can get away with it, I do suggest having a rooster. For one, roosters provide an enzyme that turns the ‘bad’ cholesterol in eggs to ‘good’ cholesterol. Most importantly though is the ability to renew your flock. If push comes to shove, you want the ability to make more birds and in a SHTF scenario, you won’t much care if they are meat birds or laying birds – they are FOOD, plain and simple. Portable, easy to maintain, FOOD. Having a rooster there to propagate more of the food opportunities just makes good common sense.

Protect Them From Predators – I would think this would go without saying, but there are plenty of creatures out there besides us who think chickens, and their eggs, are tasty treats. If you let your birds free range during the day, be aware that hawks and eagles find them to be a yummy main dish. Raccoons and possum will also happily hunt and kill your birds in the dark of night. I recommend a chicken house that you can lock them in at night in, and an enclosed chicken yard (covered which chicken wire on all sides) as a sort of double protection. Occasionally dogs or even cats have been known to hunt chickens. Our dogs know not to hunt them, but one of the cats found the practice to be fun and entertaining – until the entire flock of chickens chased after him and ‘pinned’ him under a forsythia bush for a good twenty minutes. After that he wasn’t too interested! Snakes, rats and mice are also a concern. Snakes love eggs, and the rats and mice tend to go after the chicken feed.
We have found keeping chickens to be easy, entertaining, and…delicious. For more tips on chicken care, recipes for pickled eggs, and more, click on the link below.
Chickens, Recipes and More

Dear Mr. Rawles,

I just finished your novel novel "Survivors". It was a good book and it spells out a lot of things that might happen. I have been an avid reader of your books and materials for some time. I would like to point out that Alaska is a better survivor island than many of the other Western States.

First: Alaska does rely on products being imported but it has the capacity to manufacture its own fuel. Presently we have three refineries within our state but they concentrate on the manufacture of Aviation Gas because it has the highest profit. We could seek to change our production to diesel and to automobile gasoline if we were cut off. We also have geothermal heat sources and large deposit of coal that we would be able to use as fuels. We have active wood resource use and technology involving wood boilers.

Second: Anchorage would be toast. It is kind of known as Los Anchorage. It has a high Asian/Pacific Islander/Filipino population mixed with greenies (emigres from California) that would wipe themselves out quickly. The rest of the state would have increased resources with that group roughly taking itself out. Those that would be left would be roving gangs but for the most part would not leave their central location. People would probably seek to cut the roads out in and out of anchorage and this would be easy with the destruction of a couple of bridges. Anchorage would be isolated and would be a death trap.

Third: In a "Crunch" type scenario things that have restricted Alaska for a long time like the Jones Act would be null. Alaska presently can not direct export its resources to other foreign powers. Alaska has a significant war chest in its constitutional reserve that is largely composed of stocks, and real estate. Alaska could possibly pull some very quick trade deals with other PacRim countries for import/exports.

Fourth: Military in Alaska. We have a large military presence here and those people would follow military procedures. Many would be called back to the states or would move back with their families. Once that happened our population would be more sustainable. Many military folks would stay. Alaska would be the home to the stryker divisions, airborne and quick response divisions that could easily protect its borders. We have tactical bombers, missile defense and F22 Raptor fighters that would provide for supports.

Fifth: Long term Alaskans- Would easily slowly retract from the rest of the US. We produce a lot of gold and precious metals and would be able to produce a lot more if Federal Restrictions ended. 66% of the state[land area] is Federally controlled. The lack of an operating over the shoulder Uncle Sugar would produce a lot of mom and pop gold mining that would be highly profitable in the crunch.

Sixth: The amount of salmon and other basic food stuffs could be concentrated on. Delta and the Matsu valley have the capabilities to produce enough potatoes, barley and vegetables that with the new[ly-reduced] population and regular dynamics we would be okay. We actually built storage facilities for these products that are not in use. Global Warming is a reality and Alaska has longer growing seasons with capabilities that would allow it survive. We would not face starvation as mentioned in the book. Many in Alaska are preppers and I believe that the average household in Alaska has between two and four months worth of food. Things like Sailor Boy pilot bread and other products that last for long without refrigeration are found in greater quantities up here.

Seventh: There are some Alaskans who would die quickly in the aftermath of TEOTWAWKI but if Alaska was not completely nuked it would have circles of influence that would try to keep things in check. There are several very active groups of people who would seek to take quick steps if it happened. They are here and are prepared. Alaska's constitution is different from US constitution and it is much more connected with the original constitution and not all of the interpretation and missteps that our Framing document has taken.

I liked your novel very much. I think that you should investigate the capabilities of modern compound bow technology. Bows are much more accurate and deadly than they have ever been. They have the ability to engage targets at ranges greater than 100 yards. Sincerely, - Thomas K.

I'd like to offer a quick bit of follow up on Pat Cascio's review of Buffalo Bore ammo. I'm a big fan of their ammo, and have quite a bit of experience with it. I recently ordered and tested some of the .45 Auto Rim +P 225 grain hard cast wad cutters, as well as the 200 grain version in .44 Special. I shot the Auto Rim in a 325 Airlight 2.5" Smith & Wesson, as well as a Model 22 4". This is stout ammo, pushing the big flat point bullet at over 1100 fps. I have to admit that it was not fun to shoot in the lightweight snubby, very much like shooting full house .357 ammo in a lightweight J frame. I believe that I will order some of the non +P version (1,000 fps) for the 325, and reserve the +P version for the all steel revolver. It was very controllable and accurate in the Model 22, and I'd feel very confident and well armed with it against two or four legged predators. The .44 Special version pushes a 200 grain bullet about 1,000 fps, and was a joy to shoot in a 3" 629. There is a .44 Magnum version available that pushes about 1300 fps. These big wadcutter loads harken back to Jim Cirillo and the "man stopper" loads he used on stake out duty with the NYPD. While somewhat "retro", they provide reliable stopping power and penetration without relying on a hollow point that may or may not expand. I believe they would be excellent carry loads for the backwoods.

As Pat mentioned, what I really like is that Buffalo Bore creates ammo that maximizes the potential of the case capacity, with bullets that meet real world needs, and tests their ammo in real world guns. Each cartridge description includes real world velocities for actual firearms, not long test barrels.

I also recommend their .357 Magnum "Low flash, low recoil, tactical" 158 grain jacketed hollow point ammo, which I've found to be an ideal load for a S&W 327 Nightguard snubby. In my .38 Specials, such as the Detective Special I'm carrying, I use their 158 grain lead semi-wadcutter hollow points. I've never found any problems with the BB ammo, finding them to be accurate, powerful and reliable. Much of their line is available at Cabela's, but I normally order directly from the Buffalo Bore web site, and have experienced quick and reliable shipping.

I'm just a satisfied customer, have bought all my own Buffalo Bore ammo, and have no interest in the company. Thanks, - S.M.O.

Tom H. sent this: Free EMS nationwide radio scanner feeds, via Internet streaming.

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Clarke M. mentioned that there are some great resources for homeschoolers available at Donna Young's web site.

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The 10 Worst States to Retire In: They're Frosty and Costly

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With some angst, an Elle magazine writer asks: Should I Buy a Gun? (The journalist recently moved to Montana. So instead of having doubts about being unarmed, does this mean she is having Redoubts?)

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And just for fun, a little South of the Border humor: The Skeleton Bike Rider. (Some budding track stars! Note that the prankster set up just outside a walled cemetery.)

"Free wood is puppy dogs and sunsets! Free wood is money in the bank, fuel for the furnace, and landscaping all in one! It's miraculous in its absence of liquidity. Ever seen a lawyer come and steal half your firewood? Had a politician skim 10% of the top of the cord? Had it vanish in a hard drive crash? I think not. Free wood is peace and joy...” - The Adaptive Curmudgeon blog

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

In reviewing SurvivalBlog's web statistics for last month, I see that our traffic was a whopping 1,929.92 Gigabytes in December, 2011. That is huge number for a blog that presents mostly text. (We post very few graphics.) We also logged 334,239 unique visits per week. That is about the same number of unique visits we received per month, back in 2008. Our bandwidth has quadrupled in less than three years!

Thanks for spreading the word about SurvivalBlog to your family, co-workers, church congregants, and friends. I also appreciate that so many of you have added links to SurvivalBlog in your web pages and blogs, and even in your e-mail footers. I feel blessed. May God Bless You!


Today we present another two entries for Round 39 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 Safecastle.com (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 FloJak.com. 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 39 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.

Prepping on a budget is quite important to my family as I am sure it is to many avid readers of this fine blog.  I have purchased the book, "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It: Tactics, Techniques, and Technologies for Uncertain Times" and am following it to the best of my ability and financial means.

However one aspect that is woefully lacking is my nighttime surveillance capability.  Sure I have strong LED flashlights with rechargeable batteries, solar panels ready to recharge those batteries at a moments notice, and enough batteries to last a lifetime.  I have solar powered motion sensitive lighting on each corner of my house just like any good Prepper.

However in many instances that I can envision, I would want the capability see what is going on in and around my area of operations (AO) without alerting what I am attempting to observe that I am attempting to observe it.  Whether it is shooting that feral hog out of the garden, observing the deer that are eating my grapes, or seeing what that two legged predator is doing walking my fence line on the back of my property.

I have been looking and reviewing various night vision scopes and binoculars, however of the ones that I reviewed, none that were in my price range seemed worth owning and the ones that were barely in my price range had marginal reviews. 

With money being so tight just to make ends meet, let alone prep, I simply could not afford to roll the dice and take the chance that a particular night vision scope would fulfill my purpose.  And, even if it did, with the" two is one and one is none" philosophy; I certainly couldn't afford multiples of any of the scopes that I had seen.Not only that, but even if I could find an affordable (to me) night vision scope and I could afford to get multiples of that scope, I would need one that could fit multiple uses as well.

For example, I would need one that I could fit as a head-mounted unit to use as a hands free unit that would allow me to keep my hands free for other things and still see good enough to scout.  I would want a handheld one that I could have on me at all times just in case I get caught out after dark.  I would want one that I could mount behind the iron sights or scope of my ARs.  And, to make it all worse, I would want several of each to allow each member of my family and group to have the same capabilities.

With all of these things on my checklist, it certainly appeared that I was going to have to sacrifice and either have one that I squeezed into many roles, or spend more money than I could really justify on trying to cover all of the roles that I needed to.

Then Christmas rolled around and I went shopping for my children.  As I was walking down the toy aisle of my local big box retailer, I came upon a infrared binocular toy from Spy Net that had been marked down.  So I took $20 out of my prepping budget and made the purchase.  With the caveat that if I didn't like what I was seeing through them in a test, it would still make a cool Christmas present for a 10 year old boy.

Now I might lose some readers here, but please bear with me.

This night vision toy functions only as an IR viewer--it does not have an light amplification intensifier tube.  It uses any ambient light source and two built in infrared lights (if there is no sufficient ambient light source) to light the way.  Instead of an intensifier tube, it uses a tiny CMOS camera that transmits to a small LCD screen.  The upside to the CMOS camera is that it will not be damaged by a sudden bright light source like some early intensifier tube night vision equipment, and can still function during the day.  The downside is that they are not as durable as intensifier tube night vision devices and they rely on a lot of circuitry to operate.

When I brought it home and test it as soon as it was dark, outside. The first thing that I noticed is that it does an amazing job of using any ambient light source.  The small CMOS camera and screen showed decent detail and I could mostly identify people at a decent distance (25 to 30 yards), not just as people, but also some facial features allowing recognition. 

The second thing that I noticed is that the two built in infrared lights were woefully inadequate at lighting anything beyond 15 feet.  The good news is that I was only looking for the first thing, because I had no intention of using the built in lights anyway since they had no control to turn them off if they were not needed (or desired).

I had purchased this with the specific intention of taking it apart and modifying it to increase its capability and increase its durability several fold.

As I took it apart, it amazed me on how compact and small the actual functional unit was.  About 90% of the size of the binoculars was just empty air surrounded by plastic that was made to look high tech for a kid's toy.  The actual unit was able to fit in the palm of my medium sized hands with room to spare.

So after disassembly, and removing all of the extraneous controls (it has the ability to record and playback video and audio which I didn't need and just added extra bulk), so those circuits were quickly cut and removed along with their corresponding wiring and controls. 

I was left with just the CMOS camera, the circuit board, the attached video screen (about .75îx1î) the power switch and the battery pack. 

My next job was to fashion up a durable housing to place this in.  Since it is so small, I was able to make the housing a bit larger for durability. 

I was originally wanting a cylindrical tube, however because the rest of the unit was square, using a round tube would increase the size of the whole unit too much, so I used a thin walled square cross-section aluminum tube and placed the circuits inside.  To help increase durability and protect the circuits, I poured clear resin inside the square tube and let it dry (keeping the resin away from the actual camera or screen of course).  This will help reduce any shock that it might endure as well as protect the circuits and wires from damage.

I used a very small section of square tubing to house the unit itself, then I added in a shade on the backside (between the screen and the users eye) to help cut down on the glare from the small screen.  Lastly I added on a rubber eye piece from an old scope, so the user could get a good "eye weld" onto the scope for optimum viewing.

Since I had removed the very inadequate infrared LEDs, I replaced them with a Solar Force flashlight with an infrared emitter.  The flashlight is mounted to the outside of the unit, so it could be removed and replaced if necessary.  The final step that I used was wrapping the entire thing in Kydex and heat forming it around the aluminum tube.  This made it easier to handle and added yet another layer of protection.

So for a bit under $50 for the entire thing (which unfortunately entailed some trial and error with the aluminum tube and Kydex forming) I have a functional, seemingly durable night vision scope (durability testing will come after I have made a few more and established a solid methodology of how I am going to use these).

My next version (which I have already ordered) will be a bit more compact with a smaller housing and I will use it as a single side head mounted unit.  This will allow me to use it as both a hands-free unit for observation, but will also be able to use a rifle or pistol in the dark (after much practice of course).

My intermediate plan is to have one of these for each member of my house as well.

I have not tested these extensively for durability yet, but I can honestly say that it works better than I had could have hoped for.  This first unit is just a bit unwieldy, but I am not discouraged at all since this is my very first unit.  I am certain that I will find many ways to improve it as I discover the ways that I will use it and how it can be modified.

In my humble opinion, this could never take the place of a dedicated, purpose built night vision device, but like the old saying goes, "In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king."

I would rather have limited night vision capability than money put back saving for a better unit.  And for the very limited amount of money that these cost, it could be a great intermediate step and backup as needed.

JWR Adds: Most night vision monoculars are not up to the recoil stresses of mounting on a rifle--even a light-recoiling 5.56 mm. Also, the mounting interface for anything other than a purpose-built rifle scope tends to be problematic. Even a scope without a reticle (depending on the reticle of red dot scope mounted behind it) can still be a challenge to mount with reliability. The "duct tape and bailer twine" school of gunsmithing (also known as WECSOGing) is fraught with peril. In essence, re-purposing a toy IR scope can work with very limited reliability, but don't expect it to work for you as anything more than just a hand-held monocular.

The next step up from a toy IR scope like Robert describes is buying a Bushnell Gen 1 night vision monocular. For under $180, these are sturdy, reliable, relatively weatherproof, and they have a decent built-in IR light. They operate on two standard AA batteries. They can sometimes be found used on eBay for less than $90.

Beyond that, purpose-built rifle starlight night vision scopes start at around $400. A fairly decent civilian model is made by ATN: the MK350 Guardian. But keep in mind that there is no true low-cost substitute for mil-spec quality. Sadly, that level of quality comes only with a high price tag.

If you already own one or more night vision monoculars (such as a Yukon), then a low-cost alternative is to wear a night vision monocular in a head mount or helmet mount, and attach an infrared laser to a Picatinny rail on your rifle. The rifle is then shot "from the hip", using the the laser pointer for aiming. (Sort of a "Poor Man's PAQ-4".)

The bottom line: I recommend that you buy the best night vision gear that you can afford. As Robert pointed out, that can begin with a miniscule budget. Watch eBay closely for used Russian night vision monoculars (such as the Night Owl Brand.) These sometimes sell for as little as $60. They are better than nothing. Even after you eventually save up and buy the PVS-14 of your dreams, be sure to retain your older, less expensive, night vision gear. Those will be useful for spares, or worth their weight in gold, for barter.

What follows is a collection of tips, tricks and strategies that I have personally tested/evaluated and passed on to students within my capacity as a survival and tracking instructor working with responsible civilians, military and law enforcement. Some of this has been around for years, some of it is very recent wisdom, most of it is just common sense. This is not an exhaustive study in any way, but rather a useful primer designed to inspire creative solutions while adhering to time worn tactical truisms. Note also, we are not covering SERE, as survival and resistance are truly separate topics.

Setting Out

Assuming we find ourselves in a sufficiently hostile environment such that we must immediately begin to manage our physical and psychological responses to extreme external pressures, the following recommendation might strike a person as counter-intuitive. That recommendation: sit down, have a cup of tea and relax.

The tea is optional of course, however the sitting and the sentiment are not. Common sense dictates that first steps lead to later consequences. Recent research shows that as human animals under stress we are literally subject to our hormonal and biological responses. Let it be clear: you must take this step.

Techniques such as tactical breathing (breathe for four, hold for four, exhale for four) have become standard training for EMS, public speakers and elite soldiers alike because they work to balance the fight/flight response and gain leverage on the adrenaline dump that accompanies survival situations.

Specifically, sitting down forces a person to acquaint themselves with the environment, let go of the urge to bolt wildly into the unknown and--in many individuals--contributes to and facilitates the calming effect of conscious breathing.

This whole activity might last two minutes or twenty. It all depends on you, the urgency of the situation and related factors. But to forgo this step defies both conventional and cutting-edge wisdom. Consider learning a few mantras, prayers, yoga positions or whatever else you can use to bring you back down to earth and center your mind. Cause you’re going to need it in a major way.

Taking Stock

This is not the time to wish you had studied, procured and trained with your survival kit so let’s pretend that anyone reading this has taken it upon themselves to arrive to the moment in question with at least the barest of essentials--the big five of food, water, fire, shelter and security. So those are covered, but what else do we have at our disposal? What are we missing that we might need or might come in handy? If we need to travel fast and light, what can we ditch or stash for later retrieval?

This is the step where you must come to grips with your situation. You have taken a moment, at least, to calm yourself and manage those primal instincts now you must force logic and training to the forefront and make choices based on that logic. I would urge you to explore the concept of the Trivium, as well as the related topics of logic and rhetoric as such activities and tools can only strengthen your mind and add tools to your toolbox.

Moving on, just as the scope of this essay cannot cover survival kits, its scope can neither cover every conceivable escape and evasion situation. There are simply too many permutations. Therefore and due to the adaptive nature of such situations, as well as my own natural distaste for lists, we must emphasize adaptation and flexibility of thought. We are talking about escape and evasion, yet is it possible to simply lie still? That wouldn’t make for a very good escape scene in a movie, but it might very well give you a tactical advantage in certain scenarios. Again, it cannot be emphasized enough: the point here is to gather your resources, evaluate the situation and make choices.

Your resources are in your survival kit, in your environment and in your mind. Evaluation of your situation includes timing, distances, pursuit forces, places of safety and all other factors affecting your current status as well as your prospects in the immediate future. Making choices is essential--it forces a return to logic and re-evaluation of any possible assumptions you have made thus far. As well, the making of choices is an act which has within it the elements of courage, self determination and (hopefully) humility.

Pace of Movement

Movement in E&E is defined less by your wants and more by your environment. Let’s assume you have made your plan. For example: you find yourself five miles from your home; WROL environment; you’re being pursed by a force of unknown character/training; you have at your disposal a small personal survival kit, light weaponry, no effective long range communication ability; night is falling.

If you know the way home, run. Just flat out run for a mile. Take a break to watch your back trail and if it’s clear, keep running and repeat until you are to a safe zone. Yes, give some serious consideration to noise discipline but as a tracker I can tell you that the single most effective counter-tracking technique is speed. Pure and simple. Forget about dog legs, fake shoe prints or anything else. Just run and increase the time/distance gap.  

Now, let’s take the above scenario but let’s say you are 20 miles from your safe zone. Depending on your level of fitness and knowledge of the area, running may still be a decent option. However, at a certain distance or given changes in other decision making factors you are going need to examine other options. As well, you may need to seriously evaluate your pursuers.


Silent Movement

Even with night vision optics silent travel at night can be very difficult and often impossible in certain terrain. Since our above scenario involves lightweight outfitting, let’s consider things without NVGs and without flashlights, as the latter must be strictly rationed to avoid detection.

Let’s just say it: unless you’re in the desert, avoid moving at night. If you must move at night, you are facing the quandary of utilizing well established and easy to travel trails and/or roads which can be a highly dangerous proposition if you don’t know the area or don’t have a clear idea of where your pursuers are moving. Bushwhacking by day has it’s downfalls as well, however at the least you have an increased ability to control your noise.

Silent travel really comes down to choosing your route, slow movement and manipulating sound-producing debris such as leaf litter, downed limbs and the like. Put your weight into your back foot and use your forefoot to gently brush aside a clear area to place this foot on the ground. Repeat. It takes forever and one mistake will make waste of your accumulated effort. I will note that for some people the process of putting weight on the back leg, stepping forward, etc. is actually counter effective. So you need to practice this and fine tune it.

Choose paths based on topography and levels of travel resistance i.e. avoid thickets, vines, areas of dense deadfall in favor of grass, moss or triple canopy where undergrowth is sparse.

The take away points here are: move twice as slow as you think you should and actually pick up, kick aside or otherwise physically move noise producing articles in your path.

One other note from personal experience: I have found that the technique of ‘high stepping’ actually does work if you can sustain it over a series of obstacles. It is particularly useful in area of low light and prevalent exposed tree roots or similar hangups. It has something to do with the fact that the foot is striking directly down upon the earth versus sweeping forward where toes can be caught up.

Habit of Movement

Related to silent movement is your habit of movement, though this line of thinking can also include your other counter-tracking techniques as well as some utilization of day/night routines dependent on your environment as visibility factor.

In our scenario, let’s say your safe zone is on a basic azimuth heading north. Don’t start out going north, instead move east and northeast making a few doglegs and/or roundabouts along the way. Gradually pull your line of travel toward your actual destination. If you have the opportunity or if travel in any way permits, turn around and study your back trail at some distance to evaluate and monitor your pursuers. This is a place where magnified optics have their weight in gold.

In a longer term evasion you need to establish habits that both serve you and avoid detection. This seems contradictory insofar as habits of prey are what most all good hunting is based on, thus avoiding habits would appear at first to be a worthy strategy. The difference is that we are humans and have the capacity for instantaneous evaluation and adaptation. With this in mind, you need to rapidly determine what is serving you and what is not. If traveling early and late in the day and holing up midday is working, use it, habituate it but only to the extent that it serves its purpose. The survival literature time and time again shows that success often comes when a sort of rhythm is established. Whether this is literally the rhythm of your feet and breath as you run, or whether it is in your routines hastily established, if they work use them.

Most likely you are going to need to rest. You might also require water. If you need it--get it and move on quickly. If you can continue without it---go without, as every stop and every choice will have it’s consequences at some point. Speaking of consequences, if you recall when you took a moment and ‘made your cup of tea,’ keep in mind that this ethos is in fact central to your entire act of evasion. So return to that ideal of double edged calm and evaluation. Keep your options wide open; dump a plan if it stops working; continually seek to interface with reality based on its terms while seeking to establish your own foothold in continued survival.

Using the Environment

We mentioned evaluating your pursuers and rest stops. Generally speaking, most people don’t carry pruning shears in their EDC gear, though snipers often carry them as part of their standard gear and for good reason. In an evasion scenario such as we are sketching out, there probably isn’t a whole lot of use for a fully functional sniper’s hide, (though, in keeping with our ideal of adaptation never discount the option of burrowing in and hiding) however modified hides based on well established principles are highly useful and should be practiced.

Where terrain and plant life make it possible, use your pruners to carve out niches in dense thickets. Blackberry vine tangles are ideal because no one wants to touch them and no one would consider that you might actually go inside one. Evaluate the area for an escape route and line(s) of sight; make as few cuts as are needed to burrow into the mass of vines; once firmly entrenched, start to hollow out a useable space, establish a hasty exit route and check your line of sight.

This concept can be utilized in trees where gaining an immediate high-ground advantage is untenable. If you can climb the tree leaving minimal evidence of your effort, staying in the tree as pursuers pass is not a totally unfounded nor untested idea. However, even if you just ascend the tree and make a few choice cuts to gain a decent vantage point on your back trail, it might be worth the effort.

Use of the environment is also going to give you immediate feedback on the talent and tenacity of those on your trail. If your decision making matrix deems it appropriate, consider purposely taking an extremely difficult route. Certain high angles, rapid ascents, rocky terrain, open meadows and the like will allow you to study and make retro-determinations on your hunters’ prowess with respect to tactical acumen, stamina, weaponry, as well whatever else pops out at you.

Good literature on natural concealment is widely available so I won’t harp on it too much. Suffice it to say that a person need not spend more than a minute or two collecting various foliage to effectively break up the conspicuous outline of the human head and shoulders. Attached with paracord, laces or simply tucked into folds in clothing, you can even do this while you’re moving. Avoid leaving obvious traces of your activity such as the white of cut limbs or mangled fern fronds.

Survival skills and their limits are going to play a role in this category of evasion, mainly with respect to what calorie sources you can utilize. I recommend adapting the old concept of the Possibles Bag here as it allows for hasty acquisition and storage of materials found without necessity to pause and rummage through gear. It also allows your pockets to remain available, clean and dry for other uses.

A long utilized method of sustenance by military evaders involves the use of livestock, goods and other useable items usurped from locals, generally in rural areas. This may or may not be appropriate given your situation. For soldiers trapped behind enemy lines and among hostile, fearful or bribe-hungry locals the risk should be weighed carefully. In other scenarios, simply asking the locals for assistance may be optimal and put a swift conclusion to your problem.

This aspect of evasion also brings up the possibility of switching roles from hunter to hunted. Classically, traps and related devices as well as sniper work are brought up in the discussion at this point. It goes without saying however, that these and other tactics and techniques cross a certain line which may or may not be appropriate based on your personal situation. Evaluations such as legality, rules of engagement and morality all must be read in here with their appropriate caveats.


I will leave you with a short recap of the high points and a selection of handy tips to keep in your mental back pocket. Recall that when the adrenaline hits, take time to make tea, breathe or whatever else you find forces you to humbly and quickly square up to reality. Like setting the table for dinner, now that you’re tuned in start evaluating, making decisive, logical decisions. Move at the fastest and safest possible pace, utilizing terrain, foliage, weather and anything else possible to your greatest advantage. Stealth is directly related to speed so consider trade offs and continually force yourself to re-evaluate your decisions and assumptions based on the feedback reality is offering you along the way. Ultimately, deliberate action coupled with common sense and perhaps a healthy dose of humility is going to fair you pretty well.

-Don’t follow obvious terrain features such as rivers, rims, tree lines.
-Take care of your feet. If you feel a hot spot, then stop and evaluate.
-Smoke is an effective scent mask.
-Learn how to make a Dakota fire pit. It gives off low light, and when burning certain barks and woods it is near smokeless. Use it only if you absolutely must, to live.
-Keep a 5x7 earth-tone survival tarp in your kit. Cord pre-attached to tie offs.
-An inexpensive monocular or set of binoculars kept in the car or in a pocket can be very handy.
-For calories on a mid to long term evasion look to insects, grubs and fish. In that order.
-Cardiovascular stamina cannot be overestimated.
-Smear dirt+spittle on the stumps of cut limbs or trees.
-Hopping from rock to rock to log, doglegs, walking back in your tracks and other counter-tracking techniques have their price---they tell your hunters something about you, so use them sparingly if at all and never the same technique twice.
-Do a web search: ‘Etymology of red herring.’

I am interested in moving to the American Redoubt. As an avid gardener, I am looking for the most promising areas in terms of zone and eco-climate. While trying to find a detailed agricultural plant zone map of the United States, I stumbled upon this site: PlantMaps.com

 When I checking a listing for a property, I can enter the zip code and the site provides significant climate information about that specific location including precipitation levels per month, drought index, average temps as well as a wealth of area maps.  It is easy to discern the effect of elevation on those factors.  For those like me interested in growing our own food, it is a wonderful site!

Thank you, - Pamela B.

B.G. sent this from Lifehacker: Use an Egg Carton to Jumpstart Your Garden this Spring

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Reader Pete K. wrote to to tell me that the e-book of the quasi-survivalist novel The Walk” is presently available free of charge to Amazon Prime members, and $3.50 to others.. (It is normally $12.)

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Yes another good reason to save your nickels, folks: NASA Publicly Reveals LENR Research. (If successfully developed at an economical price per kilowatt, warm fusion should send the price of nickel ore soaring!)

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Larry H. mentioned: Why raise your own tobacco? [JWR Notes: I don't smoke and I strongly discourage it, but if you need to wean yourself or a loved one from an addiction, then here's a method to produce your own crop.]

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I heard from LPC Survival that the price of the Wise Food Storage 60 Serving Meat long term storage pails is increasing soon. LPC still has them for at $109. (Order yours soon, before the price jumps to $125!

"There is an axiom that must be remembered under today's strange financial circumstances with top financial management by sociopaths.  The guarantee is no better than the guarantor."  - Jim Sinclair

Monday, January 16, 2012

Great News! For those that have asked, a digital download of the SurvivalBlog Archive 2005-2011 is now available for $9.94 via PayPal! (This can be left on your laptop's hard drive, or easily copied onto a memory stick or to a backup CD-ROM.)

Also, for you Kindle fanatics, the searchable Kindle version of the SurvivalBlog Archive (2005-2011) is now available. While its lacks some of the advanced features of the expanded SurvivalBlog Archive CD-ROM, it's greatest advantage is of course that Kindle readers are very portable and can easily be recharged with just a small solar panel! The Kindle version of the archive is priced at just $4.97, or $3.93 for digital download. Note that the Kindle version does not include an electronic copy of my book "Rawles on Retreats and Relocation". (Which is included free in the CD-ROM edition and its digital download equivalent.) Also note that this huge 28 MB Kindle file (over 9,000 pages!) can take up 72 hours to index, and the search function only works on some models of Kindle.

A curious financial situation has developed in Japan. Largely overlooked in the American press, Japan now has built up a staggering national debt that is approaching 300% of their GDP. This debt exists at the same time that there is tremendous alarm in the global media over Greece's debt, that is only about 130% of GDP. (And lest we feel smug about those spend thrift Greeks, our own debt is now more than 100% of our GDP, and unlike Japan, we have a trade deficit rather than a trade surplus.)

Why has Japan's monstrous debt been ignored by the press? Invisibility. Japan's solution to their tax shortfalls in the midst of long-term economic stagnation has been to keep 95% of their national debt at home. With artificially low interest rates, and by buy buying their own debt, the Japanese have insulated themselves from criticism by foreign creditors, and they have stabilized the value of the Yen on the FOREX. (In the past 20 years, the relative value of the Yen has increased versus the U.S. Dollar.)

I anticipate that Bernanke, Geithner, et al will learn a lesson from Japan and even take it a step further: Through the Quantitative Easing debt monetization mechanism (where the government buys its own debt) there will never again be news of a "failed Treasury auction." Any unsold American debt instruments will be bought by Uncle Sugar, with the cooperation of the Federal Reserve. Eventually, foreign investors will see through this ruse, and they'll stop buying U.S. Treasury paper. They've already cut back, drastically. It is noteworthy that they've sold $85 Billion worth of Treasury paper in the past six weeks. But not to worry, Helicopter Ben will rescue us. They will buy more and more of the Treasury paper. The mass media will play along, by soft-pedaling the significance of this trend. Within a few years, I can can foresee the Federal Reserve buying the majority of the Treasury debt offerings. This will keep interest rates low, which is a key factor in keeping the economy chugging along. But the end result of all this will be be that the number of electronic Dollars in circulation will double. Then it it will quadruple. This will go on and on until one of two things happen: Either A.) Foreigners force a formal revaluation of the Dollar, or B.) Mass inflation ensues. Regardless of how it plays out, the current policy (which has already doubled the money supply since 2007) will destroy the U.S. Dollar as a currency unit.

Inflation is a wonderfully insidious tool used by governments to allow them to spend more than they earn. But when they over-do it in a binge of "Quantitative Easing", there can be only one endgame. They will destroy the buying power of the currency and its value in foreign exchange. 98% of the populace are so caught up in their daily lives, watching America Idol and munching on Doritos, to recognize what is really going on. It will only be after mass inflation kicks in that the Generally Dumb Public (the other GDP) will become alarmed. But by then, their life savings will be ruined. Anyone that is on a fixed income will be wiped out.

Only a prescient few will have the wisdom to divest from their Dollar-denominated investments and reinvest in tangibles and productive farm land that is well-removed from urban centers. As I've written before: Buy guns, buy common caliber ammunition. Buy remote farmland where you can grow crops and raise livestock to both earn a living and feed your family. Why "remote"? Because when things come unglued later this decade, you won't want to be anywhere near a big city. It is time to hunker down. folks!

The handwriting is on the wall. What are you going to do about it?

I like companies (and people) who think outside the box. I think this comes from my days as a Private Investigator, or when I was in law enforcement. In order to solve "mysteries" I had to think outside the box many times. So it is with firearms and ammo companies - if they want to stay in business, they have to keep coming up with different ideas, in order to pique their customers' interest.
Some months ago, I review some of the ammo that Buffalo Bore Ammunition (www.buffalbore.com) produces. Tim Sundles, who owns Buffalo Bore, told me he was swamped with orders from SB readers as a result of that article. That's a good thing, I like to see smaller, American-owned companies rise in this day and age. Sundles isn't one to sit back and rest on his past accomplishments. Nope, this guy is always thinking outside the box, and coming up with new and better loads in some of the old standby calibers.
The grand ol' .38 Special has never been what it should be. Most ammo companies produce some pretty sedate loads for this old round, and I've always thought (knew) it could do better. Buffalo Bore has come up with a new hard cast "Outdoorsman" load for the .38 Special. This new Buffalo Bore load was designed for those who need a deep penetrating load to be fired from lightweight alloy .357s and .38 Special revolvers. Sundles discovered that alloy .357s developed multiple problems firing their heavy 180 grain .357 Magnum hard cast turbo charged ammo, or for that matter, any make of full-power .357 Magnum loads.
Many folks wanted a deep penetrating load for outdoor use, when carrying their lightweight pocket .357 Magnum revolvers. This new .38 Special +P 158 grain hard cast load is safe to shoot in all .38 Special and .357 Magnum firearms of modern design, in normal operating condition. I think there is only maker who says to not use +P loads in one of their particular super lightweight revolvers - that's Taurus - and it's only one of their revolvers.
Buffalo Bore never uses extra long test lab barrels to produce their advertised velocities, they use real firearms for all their readings. Sundles used a Ruger GP 100 with a 6" barrel in .357 Magnum and was getting velocities around 1,250 FPS - that's screaming for a .38 Special +P load. Sundles also used a S&W Model 642 1-7/8" barrel snub by revolver and was still getting velocities above 1,000 FPS. I tested this load in a couple guns, shooting into water-filled milk jugs, and it easily penetrated completely through 3 jugs. This is a great round to carry when you're in the boonies, with a little .38 Special snubbie in your pocket or on your belt.
Okay, do you want to turbo charge your .357 Magnum revolver, with a lead-free heavy .357 load? Here it is! Buffalo Bore developed a load using the 140 grain Barnes all-copper hollow point load using the Barnes 140 grain bullet. I've been doing a lot of experimenting with various all-copper hollow bullets from Barnes, and I'm very impressed with them . They open-up nicely and penetrate deeply.
Sundles recommends that you ONLY use this load in an all-steel .357 Magnum revolver. It should NOT be fired in the lightweight alloy framed revolvers. You can also use this load in any of the .357 Magnum chambered rifles. If you are looking for a real man-stopper of a round, this is just the ticket.
Tim fired this round through a S&W Model 66 2.5" barrel revolver - a snub by - and was getting almost 1,400 FPS out of the gun. Moving up to a 4" barrel revolver, we are looking at better than 1,500 FPS. In a Marlin Model 1894, with an 18" barrel, Sundles was getting almost 1,950 FPS. We're talking serious velocity from this round. I fired this round through one of my .357 Magnum rifles, and found it to be very accurate, and the recoil was mild in my humble opinion.
I previously tested the Buffalo Bore 190 grain JFN 30-30 heavy load in a Rossi rifle, and it would make a great round for just about all game on the North American continent, given the limitations and range of the 30-30 round. However, that round might be a bit too much for some medium-sized game, like smaller sized deer. Buffalo Bore to the rescue! The new Buffalo Bore heavy 30-30 150 grain Barnes TSX round will not only penetrate deeply (and hold together) on deer and elk, it will mushroom very nicely. This load would also be great for black bear, too.
What's nice about this load is, if you are going from deer hunting, to elk or black bear, you don't have to readjust your sights, as you'd normally have to do when changing from one bullet weight to another. Nope, you can use this same 150 grain Barnes TSX bullet for much of your .30-30 hunting needs. However, if I were up in Alaska, where the really big bears are, and moose, I'd go with the other Buffalo Bore 190 grain JFN hard cast 30-30 load, for deeper penetration.
In a Winchester .30-30 with a 20" barrel, Sundles is getting 2,271 FPS. And, even in a little 16" barrel Trapper, he is still getting close to 2,200 FPS. This is a great all 'round load if you ask me - so long as you're not up in Alaska looking for the big bears or moose.
The last load Buffalo Bore sent me is their new 45 auto rim +P 225 grain hard cast wad cutter anti-personnel load. Now, I said this is a full wad cutter bullet - not a semi-wad cutter bullet. The loaded round actually looks a bit "funky" to my way of thinking. However, this bullet will penetrate 30" of flesh and bone, and makes a horrific permanent crush cavity because of it's profile. This load is safe to use in all modern .45 ACP revolvers. (Not in converted antique .455 Webleys!)
I wasn't able to personally test this load, as I don't have a .45ACP revolver in my meager gun inventory. However, I'll take Sundles word on this round...He used a S&W Mountain Gun with a 4" barrel, and was getting 1,122 FPS out of it. And, using that hard cast (not lead) bullet will really get a bad guy's attention in short order. I also think this would be a great load to carry when you're out on the trail, it'll take care of two-legged and most four-legged critters in short order.
Once again, Tim Sundles is thinking outside the box, and providing shooters with some serious upgrades to some old calibers. If you want the same ol' same ol' from the major named ammo companies, then buy their products. If you're looking for something a bit different, and hotter in these older calibers, then you owed it to yourself to try some of these "upgraded" rounds from Buffalo Bore.
Sundles is always telling me that "more ammo is coming your way...." and he is still experimenting and coming up with better loads, for those of us who demand the most and best we can get from our firearms. I'm looking forward to seeing what Tim comes up with next. And he does a lot of hunting, and is always testing his loads in the field.

Recipe of the Week

Today we present the first installment of a new column, "Recipe of the Week". (As suggested by Mrs. M.T. in Alaska.) These will primarily be recipes for storage food. Most weeks we will also feature at least one link to other web sites and blogs that have useful recipes and austere environment cooking resources. Do you have a favorite recipe that you have tested extensively? We are particularly looking for recipes with an emphasis on: storage foods, wild game, home-raised livestock and garden produce, and austere cooking methods (such as solar ovens, Dutch ovens, and so forth.) Please e-mail us your favorites for posting. Thanks!

G-man's Cold Breakfast

1 cup oatmeal (rolled oats.)
1/3 cup powdered milk
1 tablespoon olive oil
Add raisins, to taste
Add hot water to match the desired consistency

Separately, take:

2 tablespoons of peanut butter (fresh, or reconstituted)

1 multivitamin tablet

Chef's Notes: Ingredients store for many years without refrigeration. No cooking or power source required. Generates no smoke or cooking odor. Only one bowl and one spoon needed. Minimal cleanup. Contains 26 grams of complementary protein and about 660 calories. Also, really inexpensive!

And speaking of breakfast foods, reader Mike F. wrote: "I found that quinoa replaced hot cereal for me in the morning. 1/2 cup of quinoa to 1 cup of water/ boil then simmer till the water is all gone. I've also found that if you add vegetarian canned beans (like Bush's vegetarian beans) to quinoa it makes a good replacement meal that would work in a taco. I sometimes have quinoa for dinner with a salad (kale) and found that it's a great mix."

Useful Recipe and Cooking Links:

Bill D. mentioned that Abby and Amy at Safely Gathered In have compiled many great recipes. They have an e-book (downloadable or printed) that is well worth the small fee. It is well organized, readable, and a key reference for cooking in hard times.

Laura W. says this makes her feel very comfortable: Scotch Broth recipe.

One of JWR and Avalanche Lily's favorite sites that often gets into the nitty gritty of wood stove cookery is the Paratus Familia blog.

Debra P. sent a link to a news clip where a CNN reporter catches on: Hedge fund manager hoards nickels. (Although she muddies the waters by talking about numismatic value and base metal value in the same breath.)

And speaking of nickel, this piece comes from Canada: Steel yourself for new non-nickel loonies, (Thanks to C.L. for the link.)

A Colorado television station interviewed a "one man think tank": Melting Gold Coins To Reduce National Debt--Man Says America's Debt Would Be Erased If Government Would Melt Gold Coins Into Bars, Sell Them To Other Countries. Not only is he severely out of touch with the spot price of gold, but he apparently thinks that the gold being minted into 1-ounce American Eagles is coming from long-established government stockpiles. It is actually bought on the open market. Both this man's disconnect from reality and the television reporter's choice of stock footage (showing $1 Sacagawea "gold" dollar coins) leave me speechless. Reporters need to learn : Don't interview the Village Idiot as a subject matter expert.

Desperation measures: BofA told Fed it could sell branches in emergency. [JWR's Comment: Haven't Americans caught on to the fact that the nascent global credit collapse could trigger a cascade of margin calls and bank runs?]

Items from The Economatrix:

France Loses AAA- Rating In Blow To Eurozone

Hedge Funds Blamed As Greek Debt Deal Falters

EU Threatens Hungary Over Refusal To Implement Austerity Policies

Further Debt, Dimming Prospects

Reader Rhonda T. asks: Need an excuse to prepare? Consider this map, assembled by Münchener Rückversicherungs-Gesellschaft. (Those Germans know all about Katastrophenvorsorge.)

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I just heard from Tom at CampingSurvival.com that they have outgrown their warehouse, so they will soon be moving their operation into a larger one.  To do that, they need to get rid of a huge pile of inventory so they have increased the size of their closeout section, where prices have been marked at or below their cost.  Since their shipping rates are quite reasonable, this is a great way to stock your retreat, with a bit extra for barter and charity.

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Of interest to homeschoolers: M.I.T. Game-Changer: Free Online Education For All. (Thanks to KAF for the link.)

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File under Hardly a Surprise: Homeland Security watches Twitter, social media. [JWR's comment: As I've written many times: avoid social networking. Think of it as nothing more than Stasi-style dossier building. Here is is straight from the DHS. Appendix A has the full list of monitored sites. Appendix B contains the search terms used to monitor content hosted in the sites listed in Appendix A. Special thanks to "A8" from Onionland for the link.]

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Cheryl (aka The Economatrix) liked this one: First Article of Selco's Survival Guide

"Politicians have always coveted the liberties we hold." - Dr. Walter Williams

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Today we present another two entries for Round 39 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 Safecastle.com (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 FloJak.com. 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 39 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.

Thanks to Jim Rawles and those who participate in SurvivalBlog--such a great source of material. It has been a real pleasure to review the material on this site and note the obvious amount of knowledge available as resources for others in proper disaster planning. When you see nation changing events happening around the world, it is nice to see a level of common people thinking about such things, preparing for such events, and sharing.
I have read other’s ideas on weapons related gear and I agree with many of their thoughts. My personal training comes from the Marine Corps as a Marine and NCO, federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, civilian firearms trainers and others. This includes my own instruction of weapons and tactics training for SWAT and other tactical situations as well as the many decades of use of firearms and their related carry gear.
If you have an interest and are reading this material, at some point, you have probably gathered an array of personal protection pistols and long guns. Others have written about recommendations and the advantages of certain types and brands of weapons. Americans, depending where you live, may chose from many fine firearms. For those of us living in hoplophobic states, with legal restrictions on silly things like magazines and semiautomatic weapons, lawful choices become more difficult. I will point out that, even in these places, you can still gather fine weapons to meet an acceptable level of preparation. I have made and live with these choices.
Disclaimer: I am not advocating that anyone break the law. You must check your state and local laws regarding how you would utilize firearms and under what circumstances. I offer this information for consideration but the ultimate decision would rest upon the person possessing and using any firearm (and in some states, even the possession of types of semiautomatic weapons and the magazines used).
As long as we have law enforcement to respond to emergencies, within reason, we should use them. This material comes under the umbrella of, “what do you do when you call for a cop and there are none coming to your assistance?” In our culture, in almost any event where a citizen must use a firearm (pistol or long gun), ultimately law enforcement will probably review the circumstances regarding that use and come up with a judgment on that use. I am suggesting that we all must put forth thought and consideration as well as proper training now so that we may make better informed decisions on what we should do under the direst circumstances. I have personal experience in dealing with firearm incidents and I know they are frequently life changing events. That experience comes from four years as a Marine and 36 years in law enforcement.  
Many law enforcement personnel are trained and immediately think of people with firearms as threats. We need to continue to work on this issue so that covert carry and even open carry may not be seen as an immediate threat but a right of a citizen under the US Constitution. (I admit, we have a ways to go.) I recall a grade school friend bringing a .22 rifle to school for a project. He was not stopped, frisked and arrested either on the street or at the school. This was a better mindset for cops, and maybe, a goal for the future.
With such considerations in mind, my discussion is based upon the premise (or, in some cases, recommendation) that before you gather this weapon carry gear and related equipment, you have already decided or obtained the best quality firearms, related equipment, and training you can get or afford. Related to the topic, I hope that you have enough gun for any fight you need to be involved with. I like 7.62 because it is not understated in a fight. Neither is 12 gauge. An M4gery carbine is lighter but the extended effective range is nearer than the 7.62 NATO. (Since time and distance are your friends in a fight) . Iron back-up sights are required equipment on a serious weapon but I believe that a set of red dot type optics are quicker and easier for any grade of shooter. I also prefer handguns in calibers that start with a “point four.” Do not go cheap on weapons, magazines, or optics (“buy cheap twice or quality once”).
How will you carry your weapons and meet the necessary feeding requirements for your equipment? If your state requires a maximum of ten rounds in a pistol, you may find that a pistol with such a maximum mag count by design is a good size for your hand or, ultimately, if you cannot handle the situation with ten rounds in a secondary weapon, you need to add more thought to your primary weapon type. For that primary weapon, what kind of sling system will you need? A quiet way to carry a long gun is without a sling but, from experience, I can tell you that most will adapt a sling, piece of rope or something to help carry the weight of the piece.
A sling must work for you and it must work with your gear. I really prefer two-point adjustable padded slings, over one-point or three-point slings. Again, this is a personal preference from my experience. Military (“silent” or web) two-loop web slings can be used to carry a weapon over the right or left shoulder to the rear or front, butt up in the Rhodesian or African carry. These work if you practice with them. Try some out that belong to friends before you pick a sling you like and practice with it and with your gear so that you know that they work together. Use good training to assist in these decisions; see what works. For the taller people, if you find a sling you like is a bit short, have your rigger or shoe repair fit in an extension that works for you (this should apply for smaller people as well). Now is the time to pick a good sling.
Next, consider and study the circumstances of how you will deploy your weapons (again, training helps). All the equipment in the world may not be what we need in a serious social situation. The best way out of a gunfight is to not get in one in the first place. As you consider carry equipment, can you build up a set of gear that will allow you to carry a “combat minimum”? Can you wear a loose cover jacket or carry a covert “sports bag” that you can modify with the help of a para-rigger or shoe shop sewing machine (maybe adding some MOLLE strips inside to add loops or pouches) to carry loaded mags and not make you look like a GI Joe? If it is not raining, can you wear a serape like Clint Eastwood wore in his westerns so that you can wear or carry gear what will allow you to be seen but maybe not thought of as being an immediate threat? This is a topic for serious thought and consideration. You do not want to be shot on sight by someone a long way off who thinks that you are a bad guy? Can you have both a covert set of equipment to carry the minimal magazines and related gear you need to feed your weapons as well as an overt set of pouches and gear carried in manner we think of as load bearing gear? Why can’t you have both kinds? Remember, we should have a set of carry gear for each weapon available to us. Having a covert weapon and related equipment has merit – even if it is for someone that may be scouting ahead of others.    
Besides wearing many of these items, I have read a lot of material about vest’s and other load bearing gear. What is sometime missing is just how you put it together. We have a fresh crop of young military veterans. In the “Sandbox” and other “climbs and place,” they are wearing a lot of high speed gear and I am sure most of you can get some pointers from them about what works and what does not. Even if I am a generation older, I offer this material on things I find that work. 
During a certain age, the Marine Corps issued me 782 gear that included the hook type belt attachments. These swung to and fro against your body as you walked and canteens with these attachment points beat you when you ran. After wearing M1 cartridge belts, our individual M14 mag pouches slid onto the pistol type web belt and were more comfortable but four of them took quite a bit of space in front (most of us were pretty slim back then). Later we were issued the M16 and their mag pouches were the GI LC1 and later LC2 generations, both with the metal “ALICE” clips that dug into your midsection where they were attached on the inside of their very stiff web belts. We were not allowed to exchange out these clips like certain Army types using para-cord. After loading mags, in VietNam many of us carried most of our loaded 20-round M16 magazines in the pockets of OD green cotton bandoleers. (So save their safety pins). It is still a great way to grab additional full mags and walk away.
I did not like the hook type attachments that started, I believe, in WWI and continued until Vietnam or the ALICE clips (I do not use the word, “hate” but the feelings for those clips is pretty close). After my discharge, again wearing a green and tan uniform (for a Sheriff’s Office), I was again issued web gear as part of a riot unit and later a SWAT unit. With a wink and a nod, I was allowed to gather my own gear and modify it to be more comfortable (maintaining a “uniform” look). I took to using OD paracord in lieu of ALICE clips until I found that black nylon cable binders (zip ties) worked even better for me (put on, adjusted and then the ends are melted so that they did not come off). MOLLIE came later and I quickly learned how to adjust and wear it.
Today, drop down holsters are considered “Tact-a-cool”. I still have one that came with, again, ALICE clips. But I never felt encumbered with the GI leather holster for issued Model 1911 pistols. While stationed at a Marine Barracks, I learned to put a couple of stitches on the rear edge of the holster to hold it flat against the leg. I still have one modified this way (the hooks are on a leather slide-on carrier instead of going through a web belt). If this Marine were ever again put place to repel boarders, I might wear that holster (with some molding, you can holster a cocked and locked M1911). It protects the weapon and you can transition from your primary long gun to the pistol quickly. In the late 1960s, I also carried a C4 bag or Claymore Mine bag that I used as a “dump pouch.” More recently, Marines carry issue dump bags on their vest or belts (“adapt, improvise, and overcome”).
To carry my gear today, I still use a 2” nylon pistol belt with a plastic buckle or a padded MOLLE pistol belt with an Uncle Mike's nylon “Universal” holster (this holster allows me to fit a light/laser to the pistol) and I wear it strong side at waist level; a TUFF five mag holder; an old Cold Steel Tanto knife I carried during my SWAT years; a couple of hard plastic AR mag holders; and an “improved” Individual First Aid Kit (IFAK or “blow out”). Depending upon the need, I add a GI canteen and cup that is equipped with a sling or use a CamelBak. I prefer to wear my pistol on a belt rather than a load bearing harness or vest. Maybe I am old fashioned, but I may even wear the pistol holster on the trouser belt and wear the pistol equipment belt with the rest of my gear riding on top (and using nylon belt keepers to hold both belts together). This way, even if I have to drop most of my equipment, I still have some warfighting gear (a light but long cover jacket also covers this belt). Depending upon the situation, I can add a load bearing vest (LBV) with extra mags and other gear. 
If you choose to use a carry belt, former military web belts or the newer nylon pistol belts work fine. If you like the para-cord attachment method, after gathering the parts for the belt, I suggest you first position each piece of gear where you want it, then run the cord through the piece of equipment’s ALICE clip slot or MOLLE slots, under the belt, up the back, and over the top. Tie off the cord at the top of the piece of gear so that the knot does not sit inside the belt. Once you are sure of the placement and it is on tight, melt down the knot with a fireplace lighter. I usually use an OD green para-cord. Note: Since you remove the interior cords and use the “tube” for this task, you can heat the end of the “tube” to make it solid, thread the para-cord through the grommets or not and, depending on what the item is, sometimes I use the grommet and sometimes I do not.  
The cable binder (zip tie) method is slightly different. Position the gear, run the binder through that piece of gear (ALICE clip slot, etc.), then under the belt and over the top of the belt. Position the locking tab portion of the binder on the gear side so it will not move against the body as you put the running end of the binder through the locking portion. I sometimes use two or three binders for each piece of gear and may even run one diagonally from one corner to the other. As you adjust placement, do not over tighten and crush the belt. A triangular file is handy to make slight groves inside where the binder turns 90 degrees. This helps eliminate some of the tension curve in the tie. Again, once you are sure of your placement, ensuring the locking tab and end are away from the body, melt the running piece in the locking tab with the lighter. Since I do not find OD green ties, I use black.
An examination of my gear will show you that I may be using para-cord, cable binders, nylon snap belt keepers, and MOLLE at the same time to secure multi-generational gear items. The idea is to make your gear secure and available – oh, and quiet. By the way, don’t worry about the color of you gear (assuming it is not fire red) as mix-match makes good camo.   
The only thing I do not like about some LBVs is that, depending upon the vest and the placement of the gear, it makes me feel too high when I am trying to get flat on the ground (Okay, even the old style military buttons and thread is too thick when someone is shooting at you). When I see pictures of most troops and Marines wearing LBVs now, either they are spending less time on their belly or they are good a digging a deeper fighting positions – or they may be moving fast from an armored vehicle to the target building in built up areas. I adjust the LBV high so they clear the waist belt and I try to position the gear on the vest so that I can get the middle of my chest area down flat on the deck. The vest’s I use are the old 2-buckel woodland pattern that has enough room so that I can wear my gear this way. I also position a dump pouch on the left rear of the vest so I can drop mags in there if I have the time (or to carry a box of loose shotgun ammo). By the way, if you take the bottom belt out of these vests, they make a good MOLLE style gear belt.
I am pretty picky about the placement of my gear so I have different harness and vests setups for different weapons. [JWR Adds: It is indeed wise to have one set of web gear for each of your long guns. You never know when an absolute worst-case situation might occur where you suddenly want to hand out spare guns to relatives, neighbors, and friends. Any weapon without a set of web gear and a full complement of magazines won't be of much help.] There is a lot of new gear out there as well as military surplus and inexpensive enough that you can work up your gear as you want it. Also, it is worth finding a para-rigger or knowledgeable shoe repair person to modify or repair your gear to make it work as you want it to work.
Before I had LBVs (for SWAT), I wore a web belt, a nylon four-point shoulder harness (the three-point works almost as well), the Tanto knife, GI leather 1911 holster, a radio, twin pistol mag pouch, two AR mag pouches (six mags), the old USMC jungle first aid kit, and a canteen (before we purchased our first custom LBVs). I had a butt pack ready with food, dry socks, and other needed gear to add if needed. I have always liked this type of rig. You can improve it by adding a poncho and a butt pack (by the way, you can rig up two butt packs with the four-point shoulder harness). With this rig and a protective vest, I had great access and it allowed me to move and maneuver as necessary.
Like most cops, I have lots of pistol holsters and I find holsters are still an individual thing (for the person and the weapon). One kind of holster or carry method does not seem to be enough and, before you know it, you have a collection of them. Do not spend good money for a fine pistol and not on a good belt, holster and mag pouch. Check them out and get what you want. The traits you are looking for are; carry, access, and protection (your order may vary). If you want real comfort, you probably should not be carrying a pistol (or long gun). (By the way, start a chart of holsters and, as you get a new one, try all your pistols in the new one to see what else may fit. I have saved a fair amount of money using this chart for a new pistol or mag pouches.)
I also have a pretty fair collection of civilian and GI packs and war-bags. Again, depending on the situation you will be attending with this equipment, you may need to add a pack. I have worn most of the recent generations of military packs over the years and I still like a the US military issue ALICE medium ruck pack. But, if at all possible, I do not recommend this pack if you are using a long gun during a fight (drop the pack if you must maneuver). Proper maneuvering requires the ability to move smoothly and as fast or slow as you needed at the time and balance is important. You should be prioritizing as much weight off your body as possible (and still meet mission requirements). Besides your weapons, add one combat unit of fire in ammo (it varies with weapon and caliber), at least one additional unit of ammo loaded in mags or stripper clips in bandoleers (GI or home made), you will probably not have explosive weapons – frags, Claymores, etc. so use this for additional ammo in stripper clips/bandoleers, water, some energy food, IFAK, bug juice, a light, poncho, some kind of tool to improve a firing position, and something to carry all this as comfortably as you can (yes, I know a pack mule would be nice but no).  
At some point, you should have your weapons, gear, ammo, and carry equipment all together. Hopefully, you have already put it all on and made sure you have access to everything you need when your weapon’s bolt locks back with an empty chamber or another immediate action need arises. You can also jump up and down without making a lot of noise. Next, you need to try hiking, crawling and climbing over things to see if adjustments should be made. Once you have done this, tape down any loose ends, shiny spots, etc. with black or OD tape. I frequently see people show up at a range to begin long gun training. They are wearing the very minimum gear that they can. But, if you ask them to lay out the gear they think they need for a serious social situation, they have a lot more. Proper practice should be with the gear you need – not some lighter weight version to look “cool.”  
By the way, we have not spoken about protective vests yet. To wear a vest is another individual decision that needs to be made (your sling and gear will fit different with or without the vest). Both soft and hard protective vests are hot, somewhat restrictive, and not cheap. Besides deciding if you are going to use one, you need to figure out what level of protection you want to purchase. When in my SO uniform, when vests came along, besides the one issued to me, I bought a quality product and I wore it. The price of soft and plate armor has come down so the cost issues are easier but I suggest that as soon as someone shoots at you, you will ask yourself, “why am I here and why am I not wearing armor?” We should also bring up helmets. I recall that about 33% of all peace officers killed by firearms are shot in the head. Now, if cops are not around and you are in a gunfight, you might consider that the one-third of shooting incidents could include whoever is present.
As to the level of a vest protection, assess the potential aggressor. For most cops, a soft vest that will stop high end handgun ammo is the usual compromise. If you suspect your aggressor will have a rifle, hard armor is called for. It is always weight vs. threat. This applies to helmets to a lesser degree.
A note on individual first aid gear: 1) they are primarily for the individual carrying the kit; 2) they should have some basics like band aids, aspirin, etc.; 3) a small bottle of water purification tabs and; 4) basic treatment for gunshot wounds to include a tourniquet and gunshot bandages (1 or 2). 
We have also not discussed communications or night vision gear. You get to decide what you can use, what you can afford, and what you want to carry (remember the extra batteries). Once you make the decision, work with the equipment to make it work for you.
Once you have all your gear, put it in a bag (a bag for each set). I used to use a parachute bag but now I use a civilian style heavy cloth bag so it looks like luggage. Do not leave it out so that a “midnight shopper” sees it and takes it away when you are not present.  
Priority of Considerations:
Thought process – when and how can I protect myself and my family?
Weapons and optics
Carry gear
Other equipment
With all the parts available as surplus or new products, you get to pick your own rig for each weapon you may use, and high or low profile. You can start with a belt rig and then go heavier by adding or changing to a LBV. I know what works for me and I get to pick from gear going back awhile as well as new stuff.
Whatever you get, practice with it. You want to wear and use it enough that muscle memory builds so that when your mag goes dry, you automatically reach for replacements in known locations. Find places where you can wear and practice with your gear where you will not have the cops showing up due a hoplophobic reporting party calling in a “man with a gun” complaint (all part of your operational security mind set).

There are so many moving parts to being prepared. Juggling priorities, money, and time are part of it. I fit in recreation as it applies to firearms so I get to slide in some of these issues into that consideration. YMMV.
Keep your musket clean and your powder dry.

Post collapse barter has been a hot topic for as long as I have been lurking around the Survival Community. Yet each time I read the offerings on the subject they have left me feeling like the whole story is not being told. This is an attempt to tell that story.
Post collapse barter is often presented in romanticized ways of a simpler and happier life such as depicted by Eddie Albert playing the role of the Persian peddler “Ali Hakim” in the Rogers and Hammerstein musical “Oklahoma." He went town to town peddling everything from perfume to frying pans with his horse and wagon. A Spartan life to be sure but he was the model of happiness. After all, he had a girlfriend in every town! Or the notion of an impromptu open air market in the town square where people gather to fellowship and trade.
This type of commerce probably will commence in time, after the crash, but from my vantage point there is a whole lot of turmoil and violence between “here” and “there.” When the “free stuff” stops flowing to the entitlement class we are not all going to “just get along.” Surviving to the point of peaceful open air markets is not going to be for the faint of heart or the unprepared.
In this essay I will address:
The two problems with barter
The two fundamental questions of barter
The two logistical issues with barter
A few examples where I think barter will occur in the short run.
My credentials are that my family and I are long term, serious, God fearing, Christian preppers who own and live on our rural retreat full-time that we refer to as our “sanctuary homestead." The retreat has been built up in such a way that with lots of hard work, a bit of good luck and the favor of God mixed in, we can provide food for many in a grid down scenario pretty much indefinitely. That retreat is located in the American Redoubt. Also, I have a degree in business economics from a major university and have worked in finance for 30 years at both the corporate and small business levels.
I hope the fact that I have “one foot in both worlds” so to speak, will give a perspective on this subject that is at least worthy of consideration.
Two Problems:
Commerce is technically described as “bringing together a willing seller and a willing buyer in an arms length transaction." The “arms length” part means that both parties are looking out for their own economic best interest. This isn’t charity. For example if grandma gives you a ten thousand dollar car for changing out her broken light bulb. That would be the inverse of an “arms length transaction." Mediums of exchange such as currencies make this process easier which is why they are used so universally. Yet in a post collapse world such as depicted in “Patriots” the currency of the land is useless as it is worthless.
That brings us to Problem #1: absent a recognized societal medium of exchange to conduct commerce you still need to put that definition together of buyer, seller and arms length. On the buyer-seller side of the equation, that means that you have to find someone with something you want, that they are willing to part with, who want something you have, that you are willing to part with.
Problem #2 is the “arms length” part. Our current economy of commerce is very efficient. If you walk in to a hardware store to buy a splitting maul the price to the buyer from the seller is not influenced by whether it’s going to be your only splitting maul or your 50th one (“satiated demand” in economic terms).The price doesn’t change due to the mood of the cashier or what day of the week it is and so on.
In a barter system the “price” of an item is extremely subjective and influenced by a whole host of variables. If you have to cut and split wood to cook and stay warm, trading off one of your 50 splitting mauls is going to be much easier to part with, and you’ll require much less in return for it, then if you only have two of them. So, those types of pricing considerations for both the “buyer” and the “seller” in a barter transaction are much more exaggerated than when money is used.
So to affect one barter exchange, five things have to align.
1) You have an item
2) They want that item
3) You are willing to part with that item
4) They have something to give you in exchange for that item that you want.
5) Agreed upon valuations of both items by both parties.
Agree on 4 out of the 5 and there is no deal. Putting deals together like this can be at best a nuanced dance or at worst a nightmare that engenders division between the parties. That is why so many barter clubs and societies have failed over the years.
If you are thinking "Well, we will be fine because we have those silver coins and some items that we think will be in high demand." That’s fine but you still have to find someone who wants those items (probably fairly easy) who have things to trade you back that you want (the harder part, more in a minute) and you both have to agree on the “value” of both items where the use of “comparable sales” are non existent.
This is not to say that barter is impossible because we know that its not. The point is to illustrate that barter is more complicated than many make it out to be. If you are thinking that no matter what the possible pitfalls of barter are, you would rather be holding some tangible assets that you believe will be of value for trade in a post collapse world rather than holding worthless dollars. To that I say, I agree. But are those your only two choices?
Fundamental Questions:
The most common writings on post collapse barter inevitable get to “the list” of items people plan to lay in to trade away. Many times those lists have plenty of common sense items but there are times when you guys come up with things that sound, well, crazy to me (Viagra?)
Question #1: Do I have the cart before the horse? Is it prudent to focus on what other people, known or otherwise, might be wanting in a crunch? Or should I think about what items I will be in search of in exchange for what I have laid in for trade? Put another way, what do you want to attain in trade for your barter items? Since this is a “for profit” endeavor as apposed to charity that’s the business model, not where do I want to begin (your list) but where do I want to end up.
 If your reply is that we don’t really know what we will want/need because it will be “situationally dependant," to that I say maybe. Prepping really is not that “situationally dependant” though. Food, water, shelter, heat, light, security, first aid, good clothing, etc. are what we have on hand for any and all calamities, large and small.
If you have utilized the resources available on SurvivalBlog in terms of what to do to get ready, make lists and so on you should have at least some ideas of where you stand.  Where you are strong and where you have holes. I agree that there are items that “you can never have too much of” but really it’s the holes that you would presumably be trying to plug with barter. The question then i.: Am I more ahead to use resources to plug holes and strengthen our prepping position today, as opposed to using those same resources to lay in tradable items? Your answer may be different than mine but the questions should be asked because..
Question #2: On the one end of the spectrum most people do not prep. Those of us who do are in the extreme minority even today when it is much more visible. So that vast majority of people out there living pay check to paycheck in the land of mammon…by and large they have nothing to trade you that you will want or place much value on in a collapse. On the other end, we, the choir, the serious preppers who have followed the advice of Mr. Rawles and the contributors to SurvivalBlog,  are in pretty good shape to weather the coming storm. So,we have extra everything so you really don’t have anything that we need and certainly nothing that is mission critical that we would trade high value items for. Oh, sure if you show up with a 55 gallon drum of fresh kerosene we can talk and probably put a deal together but we wont “sell the ranch” for it because it's icing on the cake for us. The pool of potential barter mates just shrunk a lot.
Logistical Issues of Barter
No matter how far along you are with your preps when the balloon goes up those instantly become priceless. If you have a thousand dollars of stored food and TSHTF those stores could be the difference between life and death. You will trade no amount of money or precious metals for them at that time because you can’t eat those. If you have $100,000 worth of stored supplies and the crunch is on, someone could offer to write you a check for a hundred million dollars and you would have no part of it. Your survival stores would then be your most valuable asset in spades (that nobody should knows about). Thse are survival items that people would be willing to kill you for, and that we are prepared to defend with our lives.
Most people that I know with retreats and designated bug out locations. When the balloon goes up they simply want to roll up the draw bridge, help their neighbors out where they can and be left alone to rely on themselves to provide for themselves and then, maybe, be meaningful participants in the re-build if God wills it.
Logistics issue #1: In order to conduct barter exchanges you would need to leave your selected “safe” location in order to do commerce. Or someone in your group would. That then would mean you are potentially out in “it” rather than safely behind your line in the sand and your absence means that the security of the retreat is reduced. If you are ready to start a “road show” of barter exchange early on what does that say about the depth and breadth of your preps? If you are well prepped there is nothing out there in “barter land” that comes close to the value of your preps at home
Logistics issue #2: If for those reasons you decided not to leave your safe location to barter exchange but you still have the itch to trade. That means your “customers” would need to come to you. Is it a good idea that in a time of desperation and starvation to potentially tell the watching world that you have excess? (That not only do you have enough stuff stored to cover yourselves (when most people don't) but you have extra such that your in a position to trade away?) If that word gets out it will spread like wildfire and you should prepare to have whole lines of beggars at your gate and “authorities” wanting to talk with you about your illegal “hoarding."
Its probably obvious at this point that we have not put a great deal of stock into the concept of post collapse barter in our preps, but I will acknowledge that it has its place for some people and I said at the outset that it will occur. Our approach to preparedness has been three pronged with regard to laid in assets.. First step; fully prepped for our family for a year. That means everything. Next, lay in extra to be in a position to accept someone to the group who is under or not at all prepared such that it does not seriously compromise the preps of the immediate family/group. Primarily we are talking relatives and close neighbors. Finally utilizing the industry standard (if you will) of the Rawlesian approach to charity and stocking up accordingly, to do just that. I believe that for most people, because of the challenges listed above, provisions for barter should be made after those three core goals are met.
The Post-Crash Barter Landscape
1) The world’s oldest profession will skyrocket. What will be in demand to trade for those “services”? Food, mind altering substances and security.
2) Rural residents who already have trusted relationships with neighbors that have grown over a span of years have a good chance of barter trading during the crunch. Especially amongst the homesteader types, many of them have been barter trading with each other for years at this point. This does not mean throw OPSEC to the wind though as we are reminded by the Bible that times can come where “neighbor against neighbor and brother against brother” occur.
3) Lone Wolf: This type of person is a very small minority of the prepper world but they do exist. They are the Lone Wolves with bug out bags at home and in their cars. They plan to “get out of Dodge” and “head for the hills” and become invisible at least until things settle down. For most of us that would be a good way to end up starving or dying of exposure or both. These are not the “wannabe’s” without any other option than to try to make it from a metropolis to a state park some place. This is the real deal that most likely can survive this way and are not fooling themselves.  These guys typically have military experience including survival school; they are proficient with weapons as are their “hunter gatherer” skills. They are in good physical shape or have the capacity to get that way in short order. They are well versed in caches and probably have more than one already stashed.  Ironically they “get” what a group survival retreat is about better than some members of group survival retreats. It’s just that they are not “group” types, they are Lone Wolves.
Their plan is to lay low and remain invisible for six months or so. During that initial period, as time allows, they will conduct reconnaissance to find survival group retreats and functioning homesteads. When the time is right they plan to approach the group in a non threatening manner and offer their services to the group. Those “services” including providing intel of what’s what in the area or region. They could magically “show up” about the time that trouble was brewing or they could be sent out on search and acquire missions. For example lets say that battery charge controller on your small solar system went out; they could be sent out on a mission to acquire one and bring it back to the group. Primarily what they would want in return is food, ammo, clothing or clothing repairs and maybe even a hot shower every now and again. It would take some time to build the trust but under the right circumstances this type of person could do pretty well in a barter world.

M.B. mentioned this: Hard Core Resiliency

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R.B.S. suggested a piece over at How To Vanish, titled Cloud Security.

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Darknet Rising: A Private, Secure and Anonymous Meshnet Is Emerging

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Eric B. was the first of several readers to forward me this link: Mobile phone charger that runs on water invented for 'people who spend time away from the electricity grid'. And speaking of phone batteries, see this article suggested by Mark P.: SpareOne cellphone claims 15-year battery life, we go hands-on (video)

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Ol' Remus dissects the emerging "Pre-crime" concept in this essay: Proactive.

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G.M. sent this: Russian buys crates, gets Kalashnikov content free. [JWR's Comment: I suspect that some company employees that had been pilfering weapons for their own use had been using the scrap wood heap as their means of hiding the goods for eventual pick-up.]

"Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse;
A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day:
And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.- Deuteronomy 11:26-28 (KJV)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Today we present another two entries for Round 39 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 Safecastle.com (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 FloJak.com. 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 CampingSurvival.com (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 39 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 outgrown another dress. That’s the third. I’m having to wear Margot’s clothes after all...”
The diary of Anne Frank, by By Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, Anne Frank, p. 86.

When Anne first heard they had to leave for the Secret Annex, she started to pack. First her diary went in, then her curlers, handkerchiefs, schoolbooks, comb, and a few letters. Miep Gies came and took away some shoes, dresses, coats, underclothes, and stockings. Anne wrote in her diary " We put on heaps of clothes as if we were going to the North Pole, the sole reason being to take clothes with us. No Jew in our situation would have dreamed of going out with a suitcase full of clothing. I had on two vests, three pairs of pants, a dress on top of that, a skirt, jacket, summer shorts, two pairs of stockings, lace-up shoes, woolly cap, scarf, ·..; I was nearly stifled before we started." (July 8, 1942). As quoted at AnneFrank.com

As a family man, I am truly blessed. As the Bible says, I have ‘a full quiver’ with four beautiful children. There have been many discussions with my wife as of late as to how we as a ‘larger than normal family’ survive and thrive if and when the world collapses. In one hand should I prepare for the coming collapse and sacrifice such valuable resources in exchange for expensive or fancy vacations, big screen televisions, and the newest super crew four wheel drive vehicles? Should I do nothing and trust in my Lord and Savior and have faith that he will see us through?

Oh sure, sounds cut and dry doesn’t it? Is it truly mutually exclusive? I mean, how much would a brand new Cummins Powered, Lifted, Super Crew 4x4 deprive my children during the coming apocalypse? Wasn’t there some scripture some where where God talked about flowers and birds and that he loved us more than them, yet he still provided for them?

Sounds like I am whining, so I will quit. As for me and my house, we chose to serve the Lord and ‘pass the bullets.’ I believe that since sin has entered the world, bad things are going to happen. It doesn’t mean that God doesn’t or won’t intervene supernaturally. There have been numerous accounts where God had literally stepped in to pull my family out of bad situations.

God provided for me and my family right after 9/11. The following March the tech bubble burst in Tulsa where we were living at the time. The day my wife was giving birth to our first child, I was called in and laid off along with a large number of others. I did whatever I could to keep us afloat. I started my own web hosting and design business as well as a for sale by owner business. That worked for a time, until I drove up one weekend to attend a job fair in Indiana where my wife and I are from. Needless to say I got the job and was expected to start in two weeks. Rushing home, I had to literally pack everything, sell two homes, and move my wife and newborn back to our hometown. This was no easy task. However, with God’s help we did!

There are other situations where I felt the world and sin. Times like when I took in a family member and their children only to be stolen from, lied to, and taken advantage. Times when a ‘man’s word’ was broken on account of greed. Rivalry over my father’s estate between my uncles minutes before his funeral was to begin. I have been threatened and attacked. I have lost a child to miscarriage. I almost faced the razor edge sword of divorce.

Why do bad things happen to good people? As Ray Comfort would say...”because there are no good people.” Simply stating that since sin has entered the world, we are a fallen people in need of a Savior which God provided with Jesus. As with the economic collapse, that isn’t God’s doing but man and his own Sin.  I am sure there will be people say, ‘Why did God allow this to happen?” However, it wasn’t God who orchestrated this collapse, it was Man. Man who long ago decided to chip away and remove himself from God so that he could be his own god.
That my friends, is why it is important for you and I to ‘Praise God and pass the bullets.’ I don’t know when Christ’s return will be. However, until he returns, I will patiently follow him. I will provide for and protect my family. Like a favorite scripture of mine:

14For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. 15And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. 16Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. 17And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. 18But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money.
19After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. 20And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. 21His lord said unto him, Well done,thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
22He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. 23His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
24Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: 25And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.
26His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: 27Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.28Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.
29For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.30And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

So, you can bury your talents and do nothing to prepare for the eventual economic crisis or use the wisdom provided by web sites such as SurvivalBlog to help multiply your talents and be ready when something truly catastrophic happens. That said, I guess you know where I stand, so let’s get to it shall we? Just how do we keep all these “youngin’s” in clothes? Here are some way to go about it.

Children grow. I feel that we are always shopping for new shoes, pants, shirts, and underwear. My kids play hard and their clothes show it. Shoes rarely last six months before either the shoes have holes in them, or the child has simply outgrown them. At times we are lucky enough to pass on clothing from one child to another due to three of my children are daughters. This often depends on how popular that particular piece of clothing was for the child. The more popular, the more worn and less likely it would be passed on. On a personal note, I have found that boys in general are more likely have a few favored clothes due to comfort and purpose than a closet full of ‘fashion fabulous.’ My youngest just turned three and I cannot go a day without witnessing her changing clothes two to three times to meet her mood or general play theme. If she is a princess, Lord help us because there are so many different Disney princesses to choose from. 

As a father, this is a real concern. How do I provide clothing for my children for their immediate need and for their foreseeable future when and if the world collapses? I could just let the wife and girls go reckless with the credit card and become fashion divas or put some law and order and clear thinking when it comes to buying clothes for children. Let’s hope common sense ‘reigns supreme’ and you really want to prepare your children for the coming apocalypse. So let’s dig in shall we?

So you can hit the ground running by visiting  your doctor to get a copy of the growth and weight charts. Our doctor uses them to measure our children’s growth as it applies to ‘national averages’ and to ensure that your child is progressing in a healthy manner. After looking at that chart, you should have some historical numbers showing their average growth and weight and what to expect those numbers to be if you followed the natural progression using the guidelines on the chart. This won’t give you sizes but it is a gauge to use in order to determine sizes at a particular age. For example, if your child is following a normal line and is a size five today and showing a growth of ten to fifteen percent in a given six month interval, how do you exactly know what size to buy in the future? Well, I make no claims in exactness because you never know how children will exactly grow and in what proportions.

Purchase clothing sizes for two to three years in advance. Aim for clothes in shades of browns or grays, clothes with flexible or adjustable waistbands, and clothes that can work in a pinch as layered clothing for colder weather. Buy cold weather clothes in 2/5th proportions to the other clothes you purchase for each sizing consideration because the other clothes will help while being layered on top on one another. For winter clothing, choose wool over cotton because wool keeps a lot of its thermal properties even when it is wet. Just remember when you are too cold, things shut down. Better to be on the side of too warm than too cold. You can always peel off layers to cool off. It is hard to put on new clothes when you don’t have them.

Shoes should be purchased combining sandals or flip-flops, with dark colored sneakers or high-top’s and one pair of cold weather shoes with thermal protection and some waterproofing. If you have to buy shoes in sizes larger than you know they will be to ensure that you have foot protection for extended times. If the shoes are too big, they can always stuff old snippets of old worn out socks or old rags into the toes until they grow into them.

Sure Jeff, sounds good. But where do I buy all this?

The local thrift shop is a great place to shop for clothes. Knowing your children’s sizes you can buy decent previously worn clothes for pennies on the dollar to keep your children clothed for almost any season. Shoes are harder to come by in thrift shops but they are available. Other than that, you can look for sales at Wal-Mart and other box retailers when the season change and you will find last season’s shoes in bins on the cheap. Sure, your kids may be screaming or whining over having to wear SpongeBob or Hello Kitty clothes now, but when faced with the cold, and the possibility of living without clothes all together, I am sure they will be thankful that their clothes are not as trendy as they would like.

If you live in an area that doesn’t have a thrift shop handy, there are alternatives. One of the best alternatives is look for changes in the season. Just after Christmas, after Easter, after back to school, and after Halloween are some great times to look for clothing on the clearance racks. I actually found a Bone Collector Scent Lock Second Layer (pants and top) for fifty percent off at Rural King two days before Christmas. My wife shops the ads from the local paper and mailers to see when there are season end sales and clearance sales. Keeping four kids in clothes can seem like a full time job. Know your budget, shop frugally, and you can prevail.

Other opportunities for clothing are through church ministries who give clothing to the community or toward  the needy or other community agencies providing clothing. One business in town has a program called ‘Coats for Kids.’ This dry cleaner goes around and collects barrels where people donated jackets, hats, and gloves for the area kids. He cleans them all and makes the presentable so they can then be given to the area’s needy children. The fact remains, there are many ways to acquire clothing, now if we want to really go back to our roots then we have another inexpensive and crafty alternative.

But first, a story that provides a a great segue:

My mother was the youngest of twelve children. For her growing up was full of chores, digging holes for the outhouse, getting creative to make supplies last, and simply working very, very hard. Sound sad doesn’t it? Well, during a time when the budget was quite tight and family resources were rather thin, my mother had to get quite creative in how she could keep her eight year old, happy, portly, bundle of sunshine in some summer clothes. My Grandmother was visiting for a month and they put their heads together in order to solve the problem of keeping lil’ Jeffy in clothes.

‘Back in the day’ people would go to the local market and buy patterns for clothing. They would take the patterns home along with bolts of fabric came in bolts. You can buy the entire measure of the bolt or simply buy what you need by the yard. Little did I know that clothes ‘could’ be made by the hands of able body maternal figures. All I had known was clothes from department stores and underwear that Santa always stuffed my stocking with.
But this day, this day would go down in childhood as the day where my mother would put the badge of outcast on this child who already had a fragile self esteem.

I had arrived from school to see my mother and grandmother anxiously waiting for me to try on their ‘wonder works of wonder’ which assimilated itself in a Hawaiian shirt and surfer shorts. They put together this outfit by purchasing a pattern at the craft store along with some super bright Curious George yellow fabric with pineapples and surfboards printed on it. I was shoo’ed off to my roof to try on the clothes they had made for me. The clothes fit fine, a bit scratchy since they were unwashed and newly mended. I was somewhat happy to have clothes that my Mom and Grandmother made me. It felt like a big, lovely, hug given to me. That was until it turned into a blight, soul crushing, fashion crime when I decided to wear my new threads to school the next day. My mom was so proud she washed them that evening and even ironed them for my proud presentation of my mother’s superb seamstress skills to the other school kids.

The next day, I showed up to school very proud of what my Mom made me. You should see my warm, chubby, Rosy-cheeked smile. I was so happy! It wasn’t the other kids who made fun of me first. It was my third grade teacher. He laughed, almost snorting in the process. He had to excuse himself for a minute in the hallway. By then the evil menagerie’ of children in my classed descended upon me with pointed fingers and heckles. I ran out of the class, crying. What makes it worse was on my way to the bathroom I slipped in such an awkward way that I split the seem of the shorts along the back revealing hints of my tighty whiteys.

With that in your mind, I point out that many affordable clothes can be made that will not ostracize your children in the post apocalyptic collapse. Think Mennonite but solely in grays and browns. Since you will be cleaning these clothes by hand, it makes it easier to keep things in the earth tones. It also enables one to not stand out in the middle of the woods like my bright yellow shirt my mother made. The advantage of doing this over store bought is several fold. One, by making the clothes yourself, you learn a very important craft that will be necessary and ‘barter-able’ in the new economy. Secondly, since you make the clothes, you will know how to properly mend them and make adjustments and necessary. Not to mention the fact that these skills means you can take almost any old fabric and re-purpose it for clothing, blankets, and patching material.

What about babies? Good question!

Babies needs are exponentially greater at younger ages until they reach toddlers. You nearly need to triple the amount of clothes for the baby than that you would buy for the other kids. This is because babies are cute, and messy! You want to have plenty of clothes to change them when they start teething and drooling. Even the cleanliest of women will have a hard time keeping their bouncing baby from getting filthy. Babies lose temperature easy. Remember keeping their head, feet and hands covered as possible. Swaddle them when they are young and during the cold weather. Later when they grew more hair and are more active, there is less concern to keeping their head covered. Appropriate attention to hygiene and cleanliness of their clothing will go a long way in their toddler stage and upwards to adult hood.

Diapers are a huge concern. One of the happiest days in parenting is when you realize you no longer have to purchase diapers. Prepping for the collapse and planning to have disposable enough diapers to last you two years as your child ages and grows is a herculean task. While much harder to deal with and requiring more work to clean, it is easier to pack and store cloth diapers and accessories for a your child. For one, the diapers don’t change in size, you simply change how you fold them to meet the child’s new size. You can buy several diaper wrappers to keep in the wetness in the diapers. Buying one hundred cloth diapers and accessories (pins, wrappers, rash medication) will be much easier to plan for than trying to store a warehouse of diapers.

Anything else?

Well yes, matter of factly! Changing socks and underwear is very important. Socks are very important for the care of your feet. If you have sweaty feet, deodorant applied to the feet can help. Other than that, be sure to change your socks often. This will fight not only odor but other foot ailments. This also applies to underwear. Your mother always told you to have a pair of clean underwear in the car, well I am telling you to change your underwear often especially if you sweat a lot. Moisture that doesn’t get wicked away from your groin and behind can leave you irritable, chaffed, and experience things such as ‘jungle rot.’ Nothing more pleasant than having to clean away the dead skin that has accumulated in your nether regions.

Belts and hats should also be part of your preparation. Of all the belts I have, I only plan on bringing the web belts that I have purchased from our local army surplus store. For one they function just as they are supposed to and hold my pants up. Secondly, they are easily adjustable if I either lose weight or carrying two base layers under my current clothing during the cold. They also are easy to clip on attachments like clipped ammo pouches, pocket knives, and holsters. In a pinch I have used them to tie up game to sling across my back on the way back from checking traps during the winter. As for hats, you need a couple. You need one cold gear hat that will keep your head and ears warm. Be that a stocking cap, or one of those funny Elmer Fudd hats, you need something to keep the warmth in. You need a hat to keep the sun off your neck for field work. This should be something with a wide brim and breathable during warm weather. I would also suggest a ball cap or other styled hat that you can wear for normal work to keep the sweat from your eyes and your hair back.

With all this information, I still remained a little vague as it is hard to ascertain the importance of one type of garment or item for one family over another. God only knows why my wife loves those dumpy Elmer Fudd hats, but she does and will go out proudly into cold wearing it. She always said that a ‘A cold head isn’t cool.’  When you put your items up for storage, remember that you need to evaluate each year. After one year has passed, those clothes marked for year one needed to be added to their current play clothes and shoes they wear. Then you rotate the second year’s clothes into the first year’s clothes box. By inspecting them and moving them allows you to ascertain whether or not your predicted correctly or if you need to make adjustments when you go out to fill your new second year bin. Choosing clothing cannot be as mathematical as determining the caloric intake needs of the family and buying stored foods accordingly. Here there is a little fudge room. I always lean to purchase on the larger side because I can always tighten up a belt or hem the bottom of my pants. Be thrifty, and truthful for your clothing needs and you will have what you need to keep you and yours covered!

So, you think anyone can make candles.  Well, now that I’ve made a hundred and have tried to teach my friends, I’m not so sure!   I decided a month ago that I wasn’t going to wait for a TEOTWAWKI situation to figure out how to make them!  I’m making them now and thought I would share my “lessons learned” with you.  I know that all of us have plenty of flashlights, batteries, oil lamps and kerosene lanterns packed away.  But if the poles shift and batteries don’t work, if you run out of oil and kerosene…. then candles might just be something you need to know how to make.  Or at least stock up on them so you have them when you need them.

Please note that many of the links in this article are to youtube videos that will clearly show you how to do the things I am talking about.

You can use sand or fine dirt for a mold.  Empty tin cans.  Hollowed tree limbs.  Milk cartons.  Anything that is hollow.  You can drill a hole in the bottom of it and tie your wick through it, or you can simply tie your wick around a penny or a small stone and drop that to the bottom of the container.  There are numerous commercial molds on the market today.  Stick with simple designs that do not waste space when stacked for storage.

Mold preparation
If you want a clean mold, attach a copper-scouring pad over a bottlebrush to get down inside crevices and corners.

If you have a mold with a hole in the bottom such as one of the many pre-formed molds available on the market today, put your wick through the hole and then putty it securely shut.  Once this is done, anchor the other end of the wick with a wood skewer, dowel, or metal rod at the other end.

There are three common types of wicks: 
1. Cored wicks.  These are basic braided wicks with a piece of metal wire in the middle providing sturdiness. (I do not recommend metal core wicks.)
2. Flat braided wicks. They look like a standard braided wick, but are flat.
3. Square braided wicks.

You can make your own wicks using three strips of heavy cotton string or yarn.  Soak it in a mix of 1 tablespoon of sale, 2 tablespoons of boric acid and 1 cup of water for 12 hours.    Hang to dry, then braid together.

To prime a cotton wick, dip it in hot wax and allow it to dry.

Wicks can also be twigs, piths (stems of plants).   From an old kitchen cloth mop – use 1 strand from the braid as a wick.  Twist strips of cotton and use as a wick.  For longer burning candles, pre-wax the wick by soaking it in wax and allowing it to hang dry.  (You can do 25 repeat dips to get a simple taper candle). 75 yards of wick at your local craft store will run about $10 with your 40% off coupon.  Pre-waxed wicks are lightweight and can be stored rolled up inside newspaper.

Thick wicks are needed for larger diameter candles so the wax does not pool and burn out the flame.  Thin wicks are used for narrow candles.  Pre-waxed wicks burn longer.

There are over 100 wick sizes on the market.  Most manufacturers have charts.  Just make sure you use the same wick with the same manufacturer’s wax or it might not work.

The earliest known candles were made from whale fat in the 3rd century.  And while I doubt I have whale fat in an emergency, I can probably find a beehive, tallow (animal fat) or fish.  Boiling 15 pounds of bayberries will give you one pound of wax.  Not profitable, but not impossible.  If you live in a tropical area, coconut oil can be used as well as palm oil from palm trees.  Olive oil from pressed olives is the most ancient oil used. 

Commercial waxes that you can purchase include paraffin, veggie, bayberry, beeswax and pre-blended candle wax.  Each type of wax has a different melting point.  Beeswax will burn longer and with less odor than other waxes.

Did you know that Paraffin wax could also be used as an electrical insulator?  Might be a handy product to pack in your BOB.

Wax must be heated until it is fluid.  It does not need to boil.  You don’t need a thermometer, but may want one if you use a variety of waxes, as each will have a different melting point.  Do not melt wax in a pan directly over a burner.  Put the pan with the wax inside a larger pan with boiling water.  This will prevent any possibility of a fire. 

Soy wax is new, and can be melted in a microwave.  It’s very soft, so use it in a container, or add candle hardener.

When the wax is fluid, pour it into your mold or dip your wick into it.

Heat the bottom of the candle to make it flat if it wicks up the wick.

Use sandpaper to get a flat bottom.

Refurbishing old candles.
I pick up old candles at thrift stores, often for 50 cents each.  It doesn’t matter if they’ve been burned or not as I will melt them down, use new wicks and pour new candles.  It’s the least expensive method of getting wax.  Some have been sitting on a shelf in someone’s house for years and need to be cleaned up.  The best product on the market is called “Wax Away” and it can be used to clean old candles and make them look brand new.  You can use a heat-it tool or hair dryer to smooth out flaws on the top or the sides of old candles.

Many used candles come with a thin colored film over it, or painted elements.  These can be removed quite easily using a potato peeler.

Practice makes perfect:
My personal experience making candles has been filled with many mistakes in the learning process.  Make sure the hole in the bottom is well plugged.  You do not want a pint or so of hot wax running out the bottom and all over your counter, table and floor.  If this does happen, quickly life the mold over the melting pan.  Or have a stack of folded paper towels that you can use to stop the leak.

Research and study as much as you can before you start!  There are great instructions on the web.  But the key is to study before you start, not after!

If you have a mold with a hole in the bottom such as one of the many pre-formed molds available on the market today, put your wick through the hole and then putty it securely shut.  After you’ve done this, then anchor the other end of the wick by tying it around a cross bar (wood skewers work great for this.)

When you first light a large candle, burn it for an hour so that the wax melts and is absorbed by the wick.  If the wick drowns in the wax, your wick is too small, too narrow, or the wax is too soft and needs to have more hardener added to it.

The opposite is true.  If there is no melt pool, or you get a flickering flame, your wick is too large, or your wax is too hard.

Always cut the wick to ¼” each time you light the candle.  Do not burn in a draft as your candle will burn unevenly. Glass hurricanes work well to protect the candle from wind. If the wick was not well centered, the candle may burn unevenly as well. 

And while candles cannot tell time, they can be used for timekeeping.  Burn it 1” for study, 1” for prayer, 1” for duties, 1” for rest….you can divide up your day into equal periods of time burning a candle.

As you experiment and practice, you will learn the right sized wick for each mold that you have.  I usually pour a candle once and burn it for an hour to see what will happen.  I can easily re-melt the rest of the candle if I’ve made a mistake or need to correct something.

The difference between candles and oil (lamps):
Olive oil, any type of cooling oil, liquid fat or grease will work.  You will need a container to put the oil in and a wick.  The oil is drawn up the wick where it vaporizes and gets burned by the flame.  A few ounces of oil will burn for several hours and in some cases, may be cheaper than candles.  That’s not my case since I recycle old candles from thrift stores.  But I would recommend storing wicks and oil as an alternative.  Lampante oil is olive oil not suitable for eating, but for burning, and it is cheaper than cooking olive oil.  For an oil lamp, you can use a kerosene wick – about 1” wide and flat.  These will put off a great source of light.  You can run a thin wire down the middle if you want the wick to stay in a certain position. 

Finally, something to consider.  If power goes out and something happens to where batteries will not work, and you run out of kerosene (heavy to pack) and oil, at least you will know how to make candles with something as simple as beeswax or tallow, plant piths and sand or fine dirt.  I highly recommend practicing now so you have these skills when needed.

Hi James,
I had to send a note regarding this article. As a former outdoor professional I can't take the chance that someone reading the article would walk away from it with the idea that it's okay to tie your pack or bundle to you when crossing a body of water.  No! Never!  That is potentially deadly.  I don't care if you have practiced it a hundred times without a problem.  The 101st crossing could be the one that gets you.  I have lost 8 friends over the last 20 years that were world class mountaineers, elite back country skiers, professional river guides, etc.  They died in the pursuit of their craft.  It really hammered home that accidents do happen and it only takes once.  One was a world class mountaineer that fell to his death because his rope didn't clear the gate on his carabineer.  He had clipped in thousands of times over the years.  It only takes once.
You should never never tie your pack or bundle to you when crossing a body of water.  When carrying a backpack across a river or stream always unbuckle the waist belt and sternum strap.  If you were to fall you want to be able to get out of the pack quickly and kick it away from you.  You don't want to have anything like strings or straps that can wrap around you and impede your ability to swim or float.  If you do fall and can safely grab a strap that's okay.  But don't hang on to it if it is acting like an anchor and pulling you down.  Let it go if it is pulling you uncontrollably in the current.  Better to lose your stuff than your life.
Most river guides will be wearing a knife, usually attached to a web belt in a sheath.  They do this for a reason.  They can pop a tube of the raft if it's wrapped around a rock, cut the straps of gear in a capsized raft, free entangled people and so on.  It is one of the most important anything when dealing with rivers.  In Flasher's article it was even mentioned the dangers of "getting tangled up in the cord".  This should have been the red flashing light...danger, danger.
Most river professional use strapping like the ones sold by Northwest River Supply (NRS) and not cord to tie down gear in a raft or canoe.  There's a reason for it.  One being that the knot on cordage will tighten greatly when wet and pulled on (such as flipping in a rapid and being pulled by the current downstream).  There's not a chance of untying those knots, they have to be cut, thus the knife readily on hand.
If you are going to cross a deep river where you are going to have to float your gear across then you would want to ideally have it out in front of you, not on either side or behind you.  If you are going to use your gear as a floatation device then you can either put it under your trunk and kick with your feet or hang onto it with it in front of you.  If in a current, then point your feet downstream and loosely hang onto it at one side if having it in front of you is not possible.  Mostly you want to keep yourself in a situation where you can let go of it and get away from it if need be.
I would only cross a body of water where I had to swim or float with gear as an absolute last option if there was any kind of current.  Ideally, you want to choose a crossing where you can wade across.  Use a stout stick for maximum stability and to probe for holes or rocks on the river bottom.  Face upstream at an angle using the stout stick to brace yourself.  Move deliberately, one foot at a time.  River crossings should be made on a diagonal moving upstream.  If with others, link arms and have your strongest in the lead.
Apologies for the lecture but this isn't something to take lightly.  I have crossed a 100+ streams and rivers while backpacking and have taken a couple of falls.  Even with all the skills and know-how, accidents do happen.
The other thing I noted pertained to eight days to go 40 miles.  Even with a full pack and out of shape it should only take maybe four days.  If it is taking longer than you are carrying way too much gear or stopping too often.  Scale it down.  Ideally, you want to get there fast.  If you are walking around with a full pack or carrying a number of smaller packs then you are a moving target.  You want to be as inconspicuous as possible. Take care, - Skylar

JWR Replies: With regard taking eight days to cover 40 miles, I believe that that author was referring to slow, cautious, tactical movement. This involves travel primarily in hours of darkness, with frequent halts for observation and "listening halts", especially in locations where ambushes are likely.

R.C. sent this troubling bit of news: America Again Drops in Global Ranking of Economic Freedom

Here is an article penned by Pat Buchanan: "Last May, Ron Paul filed his financial disclosure form, and The Wall Street Journal enlisted financial analyst William Bernstein to scrutinize his investments. The article includes this:

“Paul’s portfolio isn’t merely different,” said an astonished Journal, “it’s shockingly different.”

Twenty-one percent of his $2.4 to $5.5 million was in real estate, 14 percent in cash. He owns no bonds. Only 0.1 percent is invested in stocks, and Paul bought these “short,” betting the price will plunge. Every other nickel is sunk into gold and silver mining companies.

Bernstein “had never seen such an extreme bet on economic catastrophe,” said the Journal.

“This portfolio,” said Bernstein, “is a half step away from a cellar-full of canned goods and 9-millimeter rounds.”

[JWR's Comments: Hooray for Ron Paul! The interesting thing is that Mr. Bernstein didn't mention atually seeing Congeressman Paul's basement. It probably is full of canned goods and ammo. Though I doubt that Ron Paul is a 9 milly kinda guy. He's strikes me as more of a red, white and blue .45 ACP shooter.]

Items from The Economatrix:

German Exports Fall / Rumors of French Downgrade / Huge Gold Imports Into China / ECB Deposits Of Euros At Record Levels Again

Gold Hits 1-Month High, Breaks Ranks With Euro

Retail Sales Weak, Jobless Claims Up

Oil Prices Rise on Nigeria Supply Concern

I was recently interviewed by Doug Belkin, a reporter with The Wall Street Journal for an article that he is writing about the growth of the preparedness movement. He mentioned that he is interested in hearing from preppers that are in unusual "outside the box" careers such as chiropractors and midwives, to ask them about why they are preparedness-minded. Send him an e-mail, if you are interested. For your privacy, I would recommend that you use a pseudonym.

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I heard about another nice review of my novel "Survivors".

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Frequent content contributor F.G. notes: Yes, .22 LR tracers do work! Tracers are a good training aid, but keep in mind that they work for target spotting in both directions, so use them sparingly, in defensive shooting!

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SurvivalBlog's Editor At Large Michael Z. Williamson sent the link to an interesting video: Operation PLUTO (Pipe-Lines Under The Ocean) 1944

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Rick B. mentioned a handy centralized source of links to suppliers of garden seeds, transplants, and bulbs: The How Do Gardener.

"And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, [and] the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed [is] in itself, upon the earth: and it was so." - Genesis 1:11 (KJV)

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I have an indelicate question that I'd like to ask you and your readers:  In a Schumer Hits the Fan (SHTF) situation, literally, what happens to the aforementioned waste products in our sewer?  If a sewer plant loses power, does it all back up and exit through all our residential toilets connected to that pipe?  Does it back up and enter nearby streams and rivers that we would be relying on for water?  Once trapped in a backed up sewer drain, could explosive methane gas be formed to further complicate the disposal of waste and even be a danger to city dwellers - particularly those in high rise apartments?  Your thought and advice in this matter would be appreciated.  Thank you, - Rod McG.

JWR Replies: I addressed that issue in my reply to a "hunker down in the city" letter from a reader, posted in 2007. Yes, there will be a public health crisis in the cities just few days, especially if the onset is during summer months. I strongly recommend getting out of urban areas as soon as possible, in a disaster.

Friday, January 13, 2012

A reminder that Sunday, January 15th is the last day that Safecastle is offering the maximum allowed 25% off on in the their two week sale on all Mountain House can varieties. Order soon!


Today we present another two entries for Round 39 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 Safecastle.com (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 FloJak.com. 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 CampingSurvival.com (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'd like to start off by expressing my appreciation for this blog – I've learned a lot from everyone here. I'm fairly new to prepping and I am by no means an expert. In this article, I will be putting together some of the things that my group and I are doing to raise the odds that we will get home when the Schumer Hits the Fan (TSHTF) and referencing other articles that I found helpful.

Like most people, I commute a long distance to work. I do this because there are few to no jobs in my field that pay a wage that I could live on close to home – just like everyone else. I am fortunate in that my commute is just less than 40 miles, but that is still a long way to walk – especially if I'm walking through the woods and avoiding towns and roads.

Why would I be walking? Several reasons. Although it is stated in this article that there is a fairly good chance that my vehicle will still be running when TSHTF (assuming the event is EMP related), everybody and their dog will be trying to get out of Dodge, and the roads will be backed up. See this article for more information. Even the back roads. I am under no illusions that I'm the only one who knows these roads.

Another reason is that the roads will become traps fairly quickly. There will be plenty of goblins out there whose survival planning involves robbing and pillaging those who had the foresight to prepare. I intend to increase my chances of not meeting any of them, and getting home safely in spite of them. The most successful survival strategy is to avoid a fight, rather than try to survive one.

Where Are We Going?
First, credit where it's due: this idea was adapted from this article. What I did was to go to Google Maps, and find several different ways to get from the area where I work to home. I then downloaded the USGS maps for those entire routes. It may take some poking around, but you should be able to get contiguous maps for the whole route. It's best to lay out more than one route. More on this later.

Here's a tip for working with these maps. They are in PDF format. If you can get your hands on a computer with the full version of Adobe Acrobat installed on it (not just the reader), you can export the map as a JPG image. In version 8, it's File/Export/Image/JPEG, but that may vary, depending on your system.. Once you've exported the image, you can then edit and print it using your favorite image editing software. I use Photoshop, but you can use less expensive (or free) image editing software. The idea is to be able to read the map on the go.

I generally cut out a lot of the extraneous area that I'm not likely to be traversing in my travels. That being said, I usually leave a good amount (several miles worth) around my intended route as I have no way of knowing what conditions will be like when TSHTF, and I want to keep my options open. I leave especially large areas surrounding towns and natural barriers (rivers, cliffs, steep mountainsides, swamps – you get the idea). The more you can cut out of the map, the larger the features in what you're printing will be.

If you end up with a lot on a single map, you can cut it in pieces and print each piece, or just print detail maps (a zoomed-in section) of the areas of interest (like towns or river crossings, for instance). I have more than a dozen maps for my 40 mile commute. One of the nice features is that the USGS maps show where there are houses and other structures. However, you need to be aware that the structures shown will be those that were there in the year that the survey was done. Just be aware that if the date on the map that you downloaded is 1984, there is a high likelihood that there are far more houses and businesses around now.

Once you have your maps to your satisfaction, you will need to print them. I prefer to use a color laser printer. Color, because it's easier to read the map, and laser because inkjet tends to smear very easily with the slightest amount of moisture.

I highly recommend purchasing (or borrowing if you're lucky enough) a laminator. A fairly decent one will cost around $100-$150 and the pouches around $30 for 100 (don't get the cheaper ones – they're really flimsy and they don't seal as well as the heavier ones). This may seem like a lot of hard-earned cash to lay out, but these maps could mean the difference between making it back to your retreat or not.

I typically lay out my maps by route (see Options below), and pair them up. If I have a large map with a detail map of something on the large map, they will go together. If not, then I pair them up in the order that I will likely use them as I'm working my way home.

When I laminate them, I put 2 maps in each pouch – like a printed book, you can see a map on both sides of the page. I then 3-hole punch them and put them in a 3 ring binder in the order that I will be traveling. Take care how you orient the maps when you laminate them – they should all face the same direction. When flipping through the book, you should not have to turn it more that 90 degrees and back to see all of the maps upright.

This book stays in my vehicle at all times. If I'm out with the family in my wife's vehicle, I put the book and my B.O.B. in there. My wife has her own "emergency kit" that stays in her vehicle all the time.

Once again, credit where it's due: This came from this article.

I have several routes that I can take to get home from where I work. Unfortunately, they all involve major roadways – one major interstate and two State Highways. However, all three of my main routes home can be (mostly) through heavily forested areas and State Game Lands. This is a big plus in avoiding ambushes and just generally keeping a low profile.

One major problem that I will have is that I have to cross a major river (and possibly a smaller one, depending on which route I'm forced to take). There are two main bridges over this river that I will be avoiding like the plague when TSHTF. I can't help but think that bridges will be nothing more than shooting galleries: you can only go forward or back, there is no cover for you and the goblins likely have a lot of cover. Not good.

Using the USGS maps (and my knowledge of the area), I have identified at least seven good crossing points on the major river – two for each route. One route actually has three good crossing points. Depending on the time of year and recent rainfall, I may have even more.

The subject of river crossing brings me to my next point:

G.O.O.D. Bag
There are many outstanding articles here regarding G.O.O.D. kits and I don't want to re-invent the wheel. Keeping in mind that there are many more, a few good recent ones can be found here, here, here and here. As you can see from the selection of articles, I liked the ones having to do with the medical aspects of the B.O.B.

So, I've come to the river and I've scouted it out and am ready to attempt to cross. How do I keep my gear from getting soaked? My solution is rather simple: garbage bags. I use the big 30 mil, 50 gallon industrial sized bags. I'll simply put my gear into several different garbage bags and tie them to myself. I have a couple of hundred feet of paracord packed in my bag that I'll be doing the tying with. Each bag will be tripled – three bags, one inside the other inside the other. This has several advantages. First, it will (hopefully) keep my gear dry. I have actually used this method on canoe trips, and it works pretty well as long as you tie the bags well and don't snag them on anything. Second, they can be used as flotation devices. When I pack the bags, I put a little bit of gear in a bag, blow some air in it and tie it up, leaving a bunch of the top of the bag free above the knot. I then put this bag inside another bag, leaving some air space between the two bags. When I tie up the second bag, I pull the top of the first bag (above the knot) up into the part of the second bag that I'm going to tie, and then I tie a knot in both bags, leaving a section of the bags above this knot to do the same with the third bag. This way, if any of the bags gets ripped, you don't risk losing the contents. Depending on how bulky the gear is in each bag, you may not have enough of the inner-most bag left to tie into the third knot (the third knot will be rather big if there is 3 thicknesses of garbage bags in it), but that’s not a huge problem.

The next trick is to be lavish in your use of the cord to tie the bags to yourself. If you tied the bags as I explained above, you should have the outer knot near the end of the bags, and two more knots further down towards the contents. Tie your cord around the lower-most knot – the one on the inner-most bag. You will be tying all of the paracord knots on the outside of the outer-most bag. Now, take the long end of the cord, and wrap it tightly around the bags between the first and second knot (the first knot is on the inner-most bag, second knot on the middle bag, etc.), and then tie it here. Do the same thing between the second and third knots.

I have a "duty harness". It consists of a webbed duty belt with heavy padded suspenders with many attachment points. This is what I will be tying the bags of gear to – NOT to my belt loops on my pants. In the event that I get tired to the point that I'm struggling to stay afloat because I'm stressed out, I've been attacked, the current is too strong, I've been hiking for longer than I'm accustomed to or a combination of these, and I want to use the bags as flotation devices, it would be nice if they held my head out of the water, rather than my other end.

I recommend practicing this now as trying to figure it out under the stress of TEOTWAWKI probably won't give good results. Some of the things that will take some figuring out are how much cord to use between the bags and yourself, how much gear to pack in each bag, how much air to put in each bag. You'll also want to practice swimming with all of these bags tied to you – they WILL interfere with your movements. When choosing your crossing point, keep this in mind. I found that using a modified side-stroke/breast stroke to be the most effective and the least noisy. Using a crawl-type or any other stroke that takes your hands and arms out of the water generates a lot of attention-getting noise and tends to get you tangled up in the cords. Your bags of gear will tend to keep gravitating towards you as you settle lower in the water or make headway. If you use longer lines, or tie them to your belt, they will interfere less with your movements, but will not work well as floatation devices. This would work for smaller creeks, but not a larger river.

One point: when you put the gear in the first bag, it should float easily on its own. Don't pack so much in the bag that it barely floats (or doesn't float at all) and try to make it up on the outer bag(s). If the outer bags get ripped or leak, your gear can become an anchor, which tends to be counter-productive. Having several bags holding you up can be a good thing – especially if the river you have to cross is very wide or has a strong current. The down side of having a lot of bags is if the current is strong they tend to drag you down-river. They also make you a bigger target. I think that I would prefer to cross at night for this reason.

I actually tried this on the major river that I have to cross this past summer. I went to one of the swimming beaches with my gear already packed up in several bags as described above. It was a hot day, and there were a lot of people around swimming, partying, hanging out, etc. I got out of my truck, donned my duty harness, walked down to the river and started tying all of these bags to myself. To say that I attracted a lot of attention would be an understatement. However, I did find out that the amount of gear that I intend to carry, packed into several packages as described above will support me with my head out of the water, but will also slow my progress across the river appreciably. I think that I will probably use a smaller number of larger packages as I don't intend to spend too much time in the river, if I can help it.

This is a very broad topic, so I'll just touch on a couple of points. First of all, if at all possible, I recommend taking the time to try and walk your route(s) home. Or at least, parts of them. Practice the skills you think you may need. Can you reliably build a fire with only your firesteel and whatever is available wherever you happen to be? Under stress? In the dark? Do you have an alternative method of making fire? Two? Can you navigate from your maps (whatever type you decide to use)? If you have to cross a river, can you without losing or ruining your gear? At night? In the rain? Or freezing weather? How long will it take you to pack all of the gear in your B.O.B. into plastic bags to get across that river? Can you do it silently? In the dark? How long will it take to re-pack it into your B.O.B.? Can you do that silently? Where will you build the fire that you will need to dry-out/warm-up after being in the water? What are the OPSEC considerations of building a fire near where you crossed? What will you do with all of those wet plastic bags? Try to think your scenario through. Better yet, walk it through.

Although my home state is part of America, where citizens have 2nd Amendment rights, I work in a state that doesn't allow citizens to carry guns (and the requirements for ownership are onerous – especially for those of us who live elsewhere). If your state is similar, how will you defend yourself if that becomes necessary? Will you carry a weapon even if it's frowned upon? Where will you keep it? How will you get to it when TSHTF? How much and what type of ammo will you carry? This is a highly personal decision, and I'm not making a recommendation one way or the other. That being said, it's definitely something you need to think about now – most likely, the goblins will have weapons.

One of the problems that I think I may have is that I can't carry enough food, clothing, etc. for the entire trip. Especially if it happens in winter as I'll need to carry even more food and clothing. I'm thinking that under ideal conditions, the trip will take about 8 days. Under less than ideal conditions (and we all know that TEOTWAWKI will occur at the worst possible time, in the worst possible weather), it will probably take a lot longer. I've decided to use the buried cache to get around this. I had a source for 8 gallon plastic drums with lids and metal snap-rings. Sort of like your standard 5 gallon pail with a snap-ring lid, only bigger. I've buried three of them – one on each route. In each one is two weeks worth of MREs, several pairs of socks, soap, underwear, first-aid supplies, vitamins, insect repellent, garbage bags, a sweat-shirt, t-shirts, a pair of jeans and a few other items (yes, it was expensive putting them together). They are located away from homes, roads, businesses, etc. on public lands where few are likely to go or stumble upon them. With the 8 days of food that I have in my B.O.B. and the 2 weeks worth buried, I will have 22 days of food for myself. Considerably less if my friends didn't bring enough with them, in which case we'll have to hit more than one.

I am the only person who knows where they are and how to find them. This is important. No matter how well you think you know someone, if they know where your cache is and they get there before you do when TSHTF, you will most likely be out of luck. There are three friends of mine that I will (hopefully) meet up with to travel home, and they don't know where they are. They'll find out when we dig one (or more) of them up. Yes, I'm paranoid… But am I paranoid enough?

I mentioned that there are three friends of mine that I will be meeting up and traveling with for mutual support. They are all further away from home than I am, and I'm not going to hang around where I work waiting for them to show up (it could take several days for them to get there). We will be using hand-held radios with selectable output power levels to communicate. We will have specific frequencies and times that we will be broadcasting on to contact each other.

One of the things that we decided on early on was to stay away from CB radios. They are simply too common and you never know who is listening in. One option that we have considered is Marine Band radios. These require a license to operate, but in a true SHTF scenario, I don't think that anyone will be enforcing that. With that being said, there is the possibility of a "slow decline" type of scenario, where there will still be some law enforcement out there and we would be putting ourselves in jeopardy needlessly. We're still working through this one. The selectable power levels are a must, though.


Now we come to security. The maps that we all will be using are very readable. If one of us should lose our maps, whoever finds them will know whatever we write on them. Therefore, my group has agreed that nothing gets written on the maps. No X's, Town names, road names, marks, scribbles, doodles, nothing. We have come up with our own names for potential meeting places that would make no sense to anyone but us. If anyone leaves the group for any reason, those of us remaining will change all of the codes and pick new meeting places.

Each person has his own maps for getting from his place of work to the next person's, in addition to his own routes home, in case we don't meet up. No one knows anyone else's exact route, although we're all going the same general direction, the three routes I came up with are vastly different. The river crossing points on the two that are furthest apart are more than 20 miles distant from each other.

We will be using short, low power transmissions at set times. We won't transmit from a meeting point. Just because we're paranoid, it doesn't mean that they're not out to get us (and our stuff), and so we will be playing it out as if the goblins can hear everything we say and will attempt to use it against us.

No one will be staying within a half mile of our meeting places. At certain set times, we will make short low-power broadcasts to let the others know we are near using our code names for the meeting place. Once one of us gets to a meeting place, if circumstances dictate that we need to move on, we have mutually agreed upon signs that we will be using to let the others know that we were here and moved on, when we left, which meeting place we're going to next and possibly why we had to leave. We decided to let each other know when we left so that those following will know whether to try to catch up. If you're more than a day behind, it's probably not worth it. If we left because of something dangerous, it would be good to let those following know so that they don't waste time hanging around there, needlessly putting themselves in danger.

In my opinion, your best bet is to travel in groups if you must travel.

So there you have it – my plan for getting home when TSHTF. I welcome comments, criticisms, suggestions, rants, whatever – I'm still learning, and would like to get others' views on my plan.

Keep your head down, your powder dry and avoid confrontations.

Preppers consciously devote a great deal of time and resources toward their families or groups, preparing to defend themselves, building better stocks of supplies, creating communications links, and planning for contingencies. It's not a coincidence that these all mirror elements of a military staff; they're the essential elements of surviving and operating, whether under the best of circumstances or the worst. In normal life, they can be fulfilled without much conscious thought. Your personnel (J1) are your family, coworkers, neighbors, and friends. Your daily operations (J3) are your work or other activities that you build your day and life around. Your logistics (J4) are filled by the gas station, grocery store, highway department, and Wal-Mart. Planning, such as most people do (J5), is devoted to vacations or preparations. Communications (J6) is filled by the cable guy, Geek Squad, or cell phone store.

If, however, these externally decided and performed functions break down, you have to do them yourself, and some knowledge of the fundamentals of each is an essential part of preparing for the worst. The careful reader may have already noticed, but I have only named functions 1, 3, 4, 5, & 6. The J2 function is intelligence, and in my opinion, many preppers are leaving serious consideration of  that essential function out of their plan (there is not an “Intelligence Techniques” category listed between “Home Schooling” and “Land Navigation” on SurvivalBlog, for instance). Normally, people get their actionable information as easily as breathing; press a button and a news radio or television program will tell you if a natural disaster is developing or gangs of mutant zombie gerbils are roaming the prairie. However, obtaining good information after a breakdown of communications and order could be as difficult as obtaining gasoline or batteries. In other words, you need to plan to fill your information needs as carefully as you plan your logistical needs.
Intelligence as a function (as opposed to a trait- can't help you with that one) is the collection,  analysis, and dissemination of the information needed to make a decision. Notice that there is no mention of laser beam watches, martinis, or code-breaking supercomputers in that definition. For your purposes as a prepper, gaining intelligence in or after a crisis is simply a matter of replacing the information flow that you enjoy today. However, since there might not always be a global network of reporters, analysts, and bloggers flowing the data to your car or home via cable or satellite, you need a plan to collect and analyze for yourself. You also need a plan to get that intelligence to those in your group that need it.

For preppers, there are really two categories of preps: those you can stock up on now, and those you have to produce or perform in or after a crisis. Intelligence is the same. The military uses the term Intelligence Preparation of the Operational Environment (IPOE). You can learn more about IPOE in Joint Publication JP 2-01.3). IPOE is a continual process in four parts: 1. Analyze the operational environment, 2. Assess the effects of the operational environment, 3. Analyze the adversary, and 4. Determine adversary courses of action (COAs).

In step one, you define the area in which you will operate. This means bounding the geographic space where you will live and work in order to limit your analysis to where it matters. Then you research all of the physical, meteorological, social, legal, and informational aspects of that area. You collect maps, census data, weather information, lists of radio stations (don't forget ham frequencies), lists of important people, and anything else you can think of that you need to know about the area itself.

In step two, you analyze the effects of that environment on the operations that you intend to conduct. If you need to disinfect water in Alaska, the weather report for January should be a good indicator that solar disinfection isn't going to work. If you are planning to go about your business armed, researching weapons laws in your area is essential to building that plan. If you intend on moving around, you need to assess what the effect of local roads will be on your vehicle.

In step three, you look at your potential adversaries. In this step, you determine who might do you harm and conduct the same sort of analysis as in step two. Who are they personally? How many of them are there, and how are they equipped? From what do they draw their strength (centers of gravity or COGs)? As an example, if you are considering relocation to an isolated ranch near the US/Mexico border, you might include drug trafficking gangs among your potential adversaries. Their centers of gravity could include the lucrative sale of illegal drugs, weapons, reputations for ruthless violence against their enemies, and wide networks of group members. Under normal circumstances, if you are conducting IPOE to harden your home, your adversary might be the common burglar, and his COGs could be darkness, knowledge of your personal schedule, and simple willingness to act. Try not to mirror your   adversary; remember that they likely will not think or act the way you would in the same circumstances, and try to get into their shoes. Don't limit this analysis to just one threat; consider the full range and spectrum and complete the process for each.

In step four, you try to come up with your adversary's most likely and most dangerous courses of action (COA). In the case of the general threat of a burglar, if you have made your home a hardened target with lights, spiky bushes, and a noisy dog, the most likely COA might be to move on to an easier house down the block. His most dangerous COA might be to switch tactics and attempt a home invasion as you arrive home from work or just after you have left. As in step 3, conduct this analysis for each potential threat. Refine your own actions in response to your analysis of the threat's courses of action, and realize that as you change your posture, you need to update your analysis.

Once you have completed all four steps, store all your information in a place where you can always get to it, just as with stocks of beans and toilet paper. A hard copy binder containing all of your relevant maps, frequency lists, weather charts, and other information would be invaluable if the power went out and you couldn't use Google Earth to find the best route to grandmother's house. Update this binder regularly; just like food, information gets stale with time.

The second broad category of prepping is that which has to be procured or done in a crisis. Unfortunately, you can't stock up on bullseyes at the range for the day the zombies show up; you have to take your shots in the moment they're needed. The same rule applies for some information that can only be gathered in relatively real time. Since preppers assume that they can't always rely on the normal systems of daily life, they need a systematic approach to collecting that intelligence. Collection of intelligence is generally divided into categories, or disciplines, and each helps provide a potentially essential element of information. The most important disciplines for the prepper are open source intelligence (OSINT), communications intelligence (COMINT), human intelligence (HUMINT),  and imagery intelligence (IMINT).

OSINT is what we do every day when we turn on the news and watch what is prepared for us by the networks. It is the collection of information of intelligence value from the openly provided media. Reading the newspaper can provide essential information that can drive action: yard sales, weather approaching, volcano erupting, etc. However, the consumer of that information needs to realize that it is being provided in order to benefit the broadcaster; that is, that it is produced by people who know it will be consumed and used to drive decisions. In the event of a crisis, you may need to consider that traditional sources of OSINT could be unavailable or that the people deciding what to broadcast may be trying to shape your decisions in a way that you would otherwise disagree with. As an example, after the Chernobyl disaster, Soviet news broadcasts sought to minimize public relations damage more than to urge people to evacuate. 

COMINT is a sub-division of signals intelligence that focuses on communications between people, as opposed to other data. This is analogous to eavesdropping on a conversation in a restaurant. In order to do this for yourself, you need a means of monitoring a wide swath of radio broadcasts. A simple AM/FM radio is a start, but that only lets you gather what is broadcast on the traditional dial; that is to say that it contains mainly OSINT. A CB radio can pick up conversations among ordinary people that can be very useful, especially to travelers. A scanner or ham radio that can receive a wider range of signals can enable you to hear weather reports, emergency responders coordinating their actions, other ordinary people, or broadcasts from outside your local area or country. Importantly, remember that if you can hear people talking on the radio who aren't talking to you, other people can hear you when you broadcast to your own selected audience as well.

HUMINT focuses on that information gained from other people. If your friend who runs the electronics store tells you that they'll have a big sale on Saturday, you have gained actionable information via a human source (trench coat, hat, and sunglasses optional). Preppers should build their network of sources now; get to know people who work in important places or who otherwise have access to information of value. In the event that you need to ask a question of your source, be discreet so that you don't ruin that source of information by getting your source in trouble. Also realize that people who are telling you something might have their own agenda and that it might not be the same as yours.

IMINT is basically the use of photographs or video for intelligence purposes. If you use Google Earth to find sources of water around your house for fishing, you are conducting IMINT analysis. Imagery provides a powerful tool for surveillance and reconnaissance of an area of interest; a camera can be your eyes in places that you cannot always be. For instance, if you want to watch a feed plot for a huge buck, you can place a camera there and leave it for analysis at your leisure. The same applies for watching your driveway or neighborhood with a security camera. Kits are even available to turn model airplanes into video camera-packing drones that can observe an area from above for hours without needing any control.
Each discipline of collections provides raw data. In some cases, this could contain attempts at deception (your source at the electronics store may just want to see you again) or require interpretation (as in the case of police calls using 10-codes). In every case, raw data requires processing and validation before it can be rolled into your ongoing IPOE. If you receive an indication through one discipline, try to verify it with another: check the newspaper (OSINT) for sale announcements if you're unsure about what your source (HUMINT) said. Ask a police officer (HUMINT) to explain what a term you heard on the radio (COMINT) meant. Look at your security camera (IMINT) to verify what the nice man on the other side of the front door (HUMINT) has to say about his identity. 

Once you have your intelligence, you need to [analyze it and] disseminate it to the people you care about, or at least coordinate with. Normally, this would mean a telephone call, text, or e-mail. In the event of these services not working, you need a means of passing the word that is not reliant on that infrastructure and that provides some security. Some information has value inversely proportional to its distribution outside of its intended audience. For instance, if you know that a certain highway out of danger is clear while the interstate is packed, you obviously want those you care about to know and be able to act before everybody else finds out and clogs that route too.

 Amateur radio is an obvious method of communicating over long distances, as is the humble CB radio. Neither is secure, but you can obtain some level of communications security by using obscure frequencies or other methods, as Mr. Rawles describes in some of his books. Few media are as secure as a runner with a memorized message, but they are also very slow compared to radio. Satellite phones will work whether the local service does or not. The bottom line is to make a plan now and share it with those with whom you need to communicate. It would be horrible to learn of danger approaching and be unable to warn your loved ones.
In summary, intelligence collection and planning are as essential to your preps as beans and