June 2012 Archives

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Today we present another entry for Round 41 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 $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training. Together, these have a retail value of $589. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 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.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 41 ends on July 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.

One of my favorite places to find information on just about everything I may need at TEOTWAWKI is at my local museum.  As a genealogist and museum professional I also have an inside track and know that 90% of all hard copy information about individuals or local communities is not now and probably will never be on the internet.  I am one of four part-time employees at our local county museum and am responsible for all nine computers, printers, our server and web site. 

Technology is a tool that may not always work when I need it and I recognize it as such. As one whose first personal computer (PC) was an IBM 8080 (64k ram, floppies and 10mb hard drive), I have been using PCs since the early 1980s.  Digital information overload and ten different ways of doing the same thing have become the norm.  Today we access social media, blogs, traditional web sites, index sites, images, books, videos and how-to’s, expect every site to work on a smart phone.  Our children teach us technology and we have made Google a verb.  Instant information is expected and for awhile I worried that 4GB of ram may be too little.  My 100GB PC hard drives and 8GB flash drives are much too small for those who think in terms of terabytes. 

My personal addiction to instant information access was recognized and nipped firmly in the bud two years ago.  My smart phone died one cold January morning.  It took eight days and money I didn’t have at the time to purchase a new phone, recover phone numbers, addresses, calendar information and documents.  Some of it was lost in cyberspace forever. 

Since that digital meltdown, I have since made it a habit to be sure everything is backed up.  I sync my phone information often with my PC, and use Evernote and Dropbox and other cloud services.  Even though I use them everyday at work, I have never depended on electronics quite the same way again.  Many days when I am not working, I find it easier to not use them at all.  I also realized I much more prefer the feel of paper and a pen beneath my fingers than a keyboard when I take notes or write about something important.  My thinking is much clearer and I don’t get as distracted. I print out important documents or information on acid free paper and handwrite my daily journal and calendar once again.  

If I were to lose the internet, my computers or smart phone, for an extended period of time, I could still find information I need because I know how to retrieve non-digital information quickly at my local museum.  If you haven’t been to your local museum since elementary school, it is time you went back.  There is no better place to get to know details about your neighborhood, neighbors and community, see historic tools or learn and practice traditional skills.  If you have never been to your local museum, find out where they are, what their hours and policies are and what they have in their collections.

A key thing to know about finding and accessing information from your local museum is figuring out where the nearest one is.  They are usually in a county seat and many of them are called historical societies, with your county’s name preceding historical society in the phone book.  If your historical society is not located in your county seat, the county recorder or chamber of commerce may be able to help you find them.  Your state historical society should also have a list of them on their web site or through their local history outreach coordinator. 

Once you find out where your museum is physically located, you will need to check their hours and days they are open and plan a visit.  Most historical societies that operate museums and historic sites have extremely limited budgets and part-time staff.  Our rural county, of less than 15,000 people, is west of the Mississippi and we enjoy all four seasons.  Our museum is unusual in that we are open year round.  We have historic buildings off-site that like many small museums we only operate seasonally.  Also, unless we have a special event or exhibit opening, we are not open on weekends or in the evenings.  We are open 9-5 Monday to Friday , but several museums in our state are only open from 10-3, 9-3 or noon-5 for two or three days a week.  Some are closed on Mondays or Tuesdays, some are open on Saturday, it depends on their budget, staffing and availability of volunteers.

We have a web site I update at least once a month.  Many societies may not have web sites at all or cannot afford to update them and as stated before, at least 90% of the information in most archives or collections is not on-line.  We are an exception in that many of our key records and inventory records have been digitized, but there are restrictions on the on-line access to our digital collections and most information is only available on-site. Anyone who looks at our web site will see our hours, address and key information about research but will not see entire exhibits, three dimensional views of artifacts or know everything that is in our archive or collection.

You will also need to know if the museum charges for their research time, admission to the exhibit area or other fees.  Most societies also have memberships and a member only newsletter they will mail or email to you when you pay your dues.  It will have their events, special news and information about various research topics and area stories or biographies they have recently worked on. 

Don’t count on the Periodical Source Index (PERSI) to have indexed their newsletter or to have a digital catalog of their collection.  PERSI is on our mailing list, and we have digitized and indexed our newsletters in house, as well as created catalogs and databases but we are not the norm.  To read past issues you will need to either purchase a photo copy, digital file or visit the museum’s archive.  

I strongly encourage you to take the time to visit and spend at least one or two hours the first time you visit in person.  Get a feel for the place and how they operate.
Visit the exhibit galleries and read all the labels, look closely at the photographs and artifacts and ask for a tour of the facility. 

When I give a tour, it usually takes me about six minutes and I quickly walk visitors through the building, upstairs and down, and tell our visitors key facts about the historic building, our county history and that we have over 45,000 photographs, hundreds of journals and scrapbooks, business records and tools, local maps, over 15,000 artifacts (from 1825 to 2011) and point towards various shelves that contain thousands of old fiction and non-fiction books, periodicals and various manuscript collections. 

I always show off our newspaper index card files, and tell them that if they were born, married or die in our county; chances are their name has or will wind up in our card and digital indexes.  I show off the research room and newspaper collection and finally move onto the artifact storage area and let them know our access policies.  Men love our historic tools, military and toy collections.  Women seem to gravitate towards our household, toy and textile collections. 

Before they leave I give each person or family a membership brochure and a newsletter, and if they live in the area, (I always ask where they are from), tell them about our volunteer program and invite them to come back soon.   These six minutes can in no way encompass the collection of individual, county, village and township records and artifacts that our museum is the repository for. 

To find out if our museum has information a certain topic, you will need to ask.  I know our collection and what research resources are available for self guided study.  I know how to check our printed catalogs and databases, and so do several of our volunteers but many will not.   That said, I many times have to contact our long-time members or volunteers on certain topics.  I was not born in my county and have only lived in the state for the past eighteen years.  If I do not know the answer I will try to find it, but many times it isn’t instantly available.  We are not Google and even if we were, remember it probably isn’t available on-line.  Our society also has the policy of charging for my time.  If you want me to help you research a family or topic, it can get pricey if you are not clear on exactly what you are looking for. 

If you have time and really want to know what your resources your local museum has, volunteer your time for various events or to help research.  Our volunteers help us research topics or genealogies in our archive and work with artifacts in our collection room or at our historic sites.   Volunteers greet our guests, give tours and do data entry, indexing or host our programs or historic sites in historic garb, write using inkwells and make ice cream or churn butter with real cream. 

One of my favorite wintertime activities at our museum is when I dress up in my 1862 costume and read to visitors from our oldest local history book.  It took me two weeks and 8 yards of wool to create the costume, and 12 yards of cotton batiste for the petticoats and chemise.  It is very warm and except for the corset it is quite comfortable.  Before I created that costume, I never thought of only having two outfits in my life or having to carry everything I wore in a trunk.  I also had never fully realized the importance of knowing how to make a good French seam with tiny stitches, or that hooks and buttons can be handmade instead of purchased.  In this process, I also learned that our museum had two different types of treadle sewing machines and that both of them were in working order. 

We also utilize volunteers with our ongoing programs for homeschool, 4H, scouting and other children of various ages and show them how to play games, use tools or learn skills that were popular before electricity came to our area after rural electrification in the 1930s. Ropemaking and churning butter seem to be two of the most popular work related activities and the wooden articulated toys are always a hit.  Our volunteers also enjoy hosting at our off-site country school events.  One of our key strengths is that we take extra time to figure out what projects our volunteers want to help with.  We ask a lot of questions about what you want to accomplish and learn about while you work. 

Finally, before you travel home, check out the museum gift shop and buy a locally written history book or two about your region or favorite topic.   With very small budgets, book sales and donations are the life’s blood of many museums.

Once you realize how much information on life in your area, traditional crafts and tools is available at your local museum, you will find it much easier to unplug. 

I read this post in SurvivalBlog with interest. Shooting can get expensive. Thanks W. for those tips and tricks.

I have a question for Mr. Rawles and others: Do you recommend practicing shooting without eye and ear protection, even for a little while? In a real world situation I doubt if a person would be wearing these during an incident involving live fire in a SHTF scenario. Maybe glasses or sunglasses but probably not shooting glasses. Wearing hearing protection while on a small unit patrol or just around the retreat does not seem practical, either. Should we get used to shooting while hearing the true noise generated? I do not mean all the time; hearing damage would definitely be a concern. But at least see what it is like.

Seeing the combat footage from Iraq and Afghanistan it seems most soldiers on patrol were wearing some sort of glasses or goggles, but not hearing protection. I did see hearing protection worn by troops in fixed positions, like artillery and mortar batteries.

At the range one time I had slid my hearing protection back while there was a lull in shooting to change targets. I forgot to put them back in place before the next round of firing began and was surprised at how loud it really is. My ears were ringing for some time. This seems like it could affect accuracy, concentration and communication between group members during said incident. But we should get used to it, right?

Thanks, - Mike in Atlanta

JWR Replies: I don't recommend shooting without ear protection--even for just "a little while"-- for two reasons:

1.) Hearing loss is cumulative. Don't accelerate the process unnecessarily.

2.) The sharp sound of unmuffled gunshots can actually induce a flinch, which can be difficult to overcome

Why A Debt Based Financial System Will Always Fail In The Long Run

Paulette recommended a "must read" piece by Jim Willie that relates to derivatives and monetization (a.k.a. "quantitative easing"): Outline on Collapse End Game

Tom K. spotted this: Massive Celtic coins hoard found on Jersey. The story disingenuously ends with this statement: "The finders and the landowner have said that they want the hoard to go to the island and be put on display for the people of Jersey to enjoy." They sound oh-so philanthropic and egalitarian. What the article doesn't mention is that they don't have any choice. Under the modern UK law, buried precious metal treasure troves do not belong to landowners or the finders--they belong to the government.

Items from The Economatrix:

Derivatives:  Bank Downgrades Trigger Billions In Collateral Calls

Proposed Banking Regulations Would Drive Gold Prices Higher

The contagion of the European Union and banking debt – 20 European Banks have liabilities above 50 percent of their home country GDP

Ttabs has posted another one of his great flying videos. In this one he tries out some new wide angle lenses. The flight is from Elk River, Idaho to Orofino, Idaho, and back. What fun. (I'd be smiling, too.)

   o o o

West Nile Virus keeps spreading. (Thanks to InyoKern for the link.)

   o o o

What a deal! I just heard that Keep Shooting has HK91/G3 Alloy magazines on sale for just 95 cents each! Stock up, even if you don't yet have an HK91 (or clone). These military surplus magazines range from very good condition to near mint. I recommend that readers buy 40 or 50 of them, to set aside. Someday, your grandchildren will thank you for your foresight.

   o o o

Leigh sent this: Your E-Book is Reading You. The fact that 18,000 people highlighted the line: "Because sometimes things happen to people and they're not equipped to deal with them" says something about the collective psyche.

   o o o

Mike in North Carolina mentioned: Seven Natural Mosquito Repellents

"The burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see.
O LORD, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! [even] cry out unto thee [of] violence, and thou wilt not save!
Why dost thou shew me iniquity, and cause [me] to behold grievance? for spoiling and violence [are] before me: and there are [that] raise up strife and contention.
Therefore the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth.
Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvellously: for [I] will work a work in your days, [which] ye will not believe, though it be told [you]." - Habakkuk 1:1-5 (KJV)

Friday, June 29, 2012

Today we present another entry for Round 41 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 $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training. Together, these have a retail value of $589. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 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.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 41 ends on July 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 retired IPSC, IDPA, Three Gun, Bowling pins, Trap, and Skeet competitive shooter. I have spent countless hours practicing in both dry fire and live fire sessions. I’ve competed at local, regional, and national levels. One of the most effective and the least costly methods I used for practice was dry firing [, also known as dry practice.] 

Dry firing is an excellent way to improve your marksmanship without expending expensive ammo. Don’t get me wrong there is nothing like live fire practice however dry fire drills can make live fire practice much more effective. The other benefit of dry fire is you don’t have to travel to the range to do it. You can do it at home. I used to dry fire in an unused office at work. My boss is open-minded!!

Dry firing in its simplest form is the repetitive activity of simulated firing of your gun by dropping the hammer on an empty chamber. At one time pulling the trigger on an empty chamber may have damaged a firearm. Not true with today firearms. I have dropped the hammer on the empty chamber of revolvers, auto pistols, shotguns, and rifles many thousands of times without problems. My IPSC guns have been dry fired too many times to count and still are 100 percent reliable. If you are worried about damage there are several types of dummy rounds (“Snap Caps”) on the market in many calibers that are designed to absorb the impact of the firing pin when the hammer is dropped. Snap caps also offer a good way to practice loading without handling live ammo.

Why dry fire? In my early days of competing in shooting sports I dry fired a half hour every night for more than a year. Dry fire practice did several things for my shooting ability.

  1. I became very familiar with the handling and feel of the firearms I was using to compete. In stressful situations familiarity helps prevent firearm operator error. Have you ever short stroked and jammed a pump shotgun? Can you clear a jamb under pressure without thinking?
  2. By switching the type of dry fire drills I was doing on a regular basis I built skill and familiarity in a variety of shooting situations. I’ll get into that more later on.
  3. I improved my ability to gain a proper sight picture quickly.
  4. My target to target transition improved greatly.
  5. My shooting confidence increased dramatically.
  6. I Built muscle memory, a key element to accurate and consistent shooting. Muscle memory also helps prevent operator error as mentioned in #1.
  7. My point shooting skills improved greatly. Point shooting is shooting by pointing the firearm in the direction of a target and not using the sights, typically a close quarters method. It takes some practice and muscle memory too point shoot effectively.

How to dry fire: Applies to Rifle, Pistol or shotgun shooting
First and foremost is safety. Is your gun unloaded? Check again! Remove all live ammunition from your dry fire practice room. Do not dry fire in a direction where people may be or where a bullet could go through creating a danger to someone. I always pointed toward the cement walls in my basement. When you are handling your firearm you should concentrate on a few of safety practices. 1. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot. This is a good practice anytime you handle a firearm. 2. Don’t ever point the gun in an unsafe direction. Yes, I know you made sure it isn’t loaded, without checking again are you so confident that your firearm isn’t loaded that you’d point it at yourself and pull the trigger? (Please don’t) Why chance it!  3. Be aware of where the muzzle of your firearm is pointed at all times. Everyone reacts to stress differently, good gun handling habits help ensure you won’t accidentally shoot someone.  

Dry Fire drills: What you do and for how long is up to you. I usually practiced for about a half hour at a time. This gave me enough time to warm up and get enough repetitions to make the practice drills worth while. Any duration of time is better than none. Keep a record of the types of drills you practice so you can repeat the drills again later. Doing a drill once and never again has no value. The following is a list of basic drills that can be used by anyone and are general gun handling skill builders.

Dry fire drills:

  1. Draw and fire from a holster. Use the holster you plan on carrying. Wear a jacket over the holster and practice how you will move your jacket to gain access to your holstered firearm. If your drawing hand is injured and you can’t use it now what do you do?
  2. Draw and fire off a table, out of a drawer or door of a cabinet.
  3. Start with an empty gun, load and fire ….. Use snap caps! You won’t believe how long this can take if you don’t practice it or are under stress. Use snap caps not live rounds to simulate loading your magazines.
  4. Draw from under a chair or car seat. Mix it up you will never know when or where you may need to access your firearm.
  5. Don’t limit any practice to just pistol, work with your rifle or shotgun.
  6. One handed and both hands. What happens if you have a broken right hand (or left) can you shoot with the other hand? Can you shoot one handed? Always try to use both hands as your main foundation for grip on the firearm and practice one handed and weak handed alternatives.
  7. Reloading – Tactical and dropped magazine. A tactical reload is when the expended magazine from your firearm is retained in your control during a reload. In IPSC we always dropped expended magazines on the ground. IPSC is a game and not the best practice for real life self defense. Practice retaining the expended magazine as part of your reloads. The one round left in a retained magazine could save your life later not to mention you don’t want to leave a magazine behind if you don’t have to. Also practice accessing magazines from where you store them on your body. Magazine pouches? Pockets? I put a snap cap in each magazine for practicing reloads. This helps protect the feed lips of the magazine and in single stack pistols is helps guide the magazine into the magazine well just as live ammo would.
  8. Practice clearing jambs. You can use a snap cap to simulate a jammed firearm or treat the gun as if jammed and clear it by working the action of the gun as you would expect to in the case of a real jamb.
  9. Use small targets as aiming points. In the Mel Gibson's movie The Patriot the protagonist tells his sons to “Aim small, shoot small” when engaging a British patrol. What he meant was to pick a point of your target and aim at it, don’t aim at the whole target. The discipline of picking a point of aim a.k.a. “calling your shot” builds accuracy. If you practice this enough you will be able to aim at a target, shoot and without looking know where your bullets hit. It works!
  10. When using iron sights concentrate on seeing the front sight every time you pull the trigger. The biggest mistake many shooters make (besides jerking the trigger – more later) is pulling the trigger before they have a proper sight picture. If you see the front site when the gun goes off and have even close to proper sight alignment you will likely hit the target you are aiming at. I was working with one shooter who keep missing the target (in this case a deer) so after one of many missed shots I asked him what he saw just as he pulled the trigger, His response was blue sky! I told him then and kept reminding him all day to not pull the trigger unless he sees brown. He got the next deer he shot at. When asked he said he saw brown. If you don’t see the front site you will likely miss.

A note about Electronic Red Dot Sights: Red dots sights are a wonderful invention and can make shooting much easier. I strongly recommend learning to shoot properly and effectively with iron sites and not rely on red dots as your only sighting platform. Learning iron sights first will make you a better shooter and won’t leave you high and dry and guessing if your battery dies.   

  1. Trigger control. Of all shooting mechanics this is the hardest to learn and the most likely to make you miss what you are shooting at. Proper trigger pull is a combination of what part of your finger contacts the trigger and how you pull the trigger. I find that the centering the pad between the tip of my trigger finger and the first knuckle makes for the best finger position on the trigger. You want to be able to pull the trigger straight back toward the grip of the gun. Inserting your finger to far in the trigger guard causes the gun to move slightly because you are not pulling straight back on the trigger. A 1/16” shift in the gun can mean six inches or more on the target. When you pull the trigger you need to pull evenly from start to finish. The trigger should break unexpectedly, this is not the same as accidentally, squeeze, don’t jerk or yank the trigger. In other words pull slow and easy until the gun goes off. This takes some getting used to and will speed up with practice. If you practice this it is will become second nature and your shooting accuracy will improve greatly. One way to tell if your trigger pull is being done properly is to balance a coin on the barrel of the firearm you are using to dry fire and pull the trigger. The coin should stay put….yes even on a round barrel. You can practice this way if you like. If your gun is properly sited and your shots are consistently left, right, low or high of the point of aim there’s a good chance it is due to how you are pulling the trigger. If you are having this problem try different finger positions and or use the coin on the barrel to see if you are jerking the trigger. Stop and figure it out or you will install a bad habit and it will be hard to correct.
  2. Point shooting. One way to practice this is to look at the target, close your eyes then bring up your firearm and point it (eyes still closed) at the target. Open your eyes and look where your firearm is pointed. Is it on target? Developed muscle memory will put your point on target with out using the sights. Point shooting can be fast reaction shooting albeit not the most accurate.
  3. Shoot on the move. One thing that 10 years of IPSC taught me was how to shoot and walk (and sometime run) at the same time. Yes it can be done accurately however it takes a lot of practice. To do this you need to think of your upper body (roughly the waste or belt line and above) and below the waste as being on a swivel and independent of each other. Practice holding your sights on target while walking. Your lower body needs to work independent of your upper body to absorb the shock of foot falls and motion while keeping your upper body steady so as not to bounce your sights. It takes some practice and is easier than it sounds.

Bad practice makes for bad habits!
When you perform dry fire drills your focus should be on accuracy and consistency of movement for a given drill. In other words do the drill the say way every time. Do practice more than one type of drill on a regular basis. Doing the same drill every day, day after day will limit you and make other activities with a firearm feel awkward. Try to get comfortable doing many types of drills. Practice your drills in a way that best represents what conditions may occur in your situation. Having the ability to draw from a holster and hit a target in ¾ of a second probably doesn’t have a real life practical application unless of course you are planning a gun fight at the OK Corral. Pulling a gun from a drawer quickly and safely does.
Live Fire Practice:
Because ammo is very expensive I recommend having a plan worked out prior to going to the range to practice. More than any other type of practice it is easiest to practice bad habits while doing live fire drills. I pick two or three areas where I need practice and work on these exclusively. I also recommend setting a limit to how much ammo you will use during a given practice. I usually limited serious practice to 200 rounds. This may seem like a lot to some and not enough to others. I found that by the time I reached 200 rounds I was starting to tire out. Be aware of how your body is reacting. Fatigue may not be the same as feeling tired and might show up as diminished ability to accurately hit the target. When competing I was well conditioned for shooting and fired thousands of rounds annually and still would tire after a couple hundred rounds. Your fatigue point may be a lot fewer rounds or a lot more. Be aware of what your body is telling you. I guarantee that if you are tired you are wasting ammo and possibly practicing bad habits. Frequent trips to the range are better than long stays. Also take breaks between shooting drills, it will help you stay focused and get the most out of your ammo. Quality not quantity!  

A few things to try at the live fire range:
1. Shoot in low light conditions – do your sights work? What does the muzzle flash do to your vision? Low or no light adds a whole new dimension to shooting.
2. Try shooting with you rifle turned on its side. My AR hits 12” high and 12” right at 100 yards when I do this. When shot normally it is dead on.
3. Aim small, shoot small - Thanks, Mel!
4. Shoot your rifle or shotgun left handed (my left hand is my weak hand, I’m right handed) or right if you are a lefty. This is very awkward for most people.
5, Shoot pistol with your weak hand
6. Shoot pistols at longer ranges, 25 – 50 yards, doing so forces the need for good sight picture and trigger control if you want to hit anything. Aim small, shoot small.
7. Don’t just shoot .22 rimfire because it’s less expensive. If you don’t at least know what to expect from your centerfire rifle, pistol, and shotgun you are in for a surprise just when you don’t need it. Shoot at least a little of each when you live fire practice.

One final point on live fire practice; never practice without eye and ear protection. Using protection may not be real world if you have to defend yourself however not using it to practice has two dangers. 1. You could lose your eye sight and or damage your hearing. I know many IPSC shooters who have bullet fragments imbedded in various parts of their bodies from fragment bounce back. It can happen any time in any shooting situation. I’ve personally had cuts on my hands, face, and legs from fragment bounce back. I know of one guy who got hit square in the chest by a 12 gauge slug that bounced back off a steel target, fortunately it had lost most of its energy although it did bring him to his knees. Okay, enough war stories. Eyes and ear drums don’t grow back. Use protection! Finally, you can acquire a bad flinch, a bad habit built in when you shoot without ear protection. The flinch comes when you anticipate and react to the really loud and painful noise that you know will happen as soon as you pull the trigger. I was helping a shooter who was complaining that he couldn’t hit a thing with his 7mm Magnum deer rifle. I set him up at the range and told him to take a shot down range. He got set up and was getting ready to take aim when I stopped him. He wasn’t wearing any protection. I asked if he always practiced that way to which he responded yes. I had him put on glasses and ear muffs, his flinch went away immediately and he was back on target, not to mention happy that the problem wasn’t his rifle.


Gun reliability and maintenance:
A few years back I was shooting on the pistol range of a local gun club. I couldn’t help but notice the guy next to me take a shot with his Glock then bang the back of the slide on the loading bench then take another shot. Curiosity got the best of me so I asked him what he was doing. He explained that his gun kept jamming and wouldn’t go into battery (slide fully closed). On closer inspection the gun was so filthy and dry (no oil) that I was surprised it worked at all. Nice firearm, poor maintenance. Would you bet your life on a gun in that condition? A tight M1911 that dirty probably would have stopped running. A good cleaning and some much needed oil and that guy would have had a fully functioning gun that I bet would have run flawlessly. If competitive shooting teaches you one thing it’s the limitations of your firearms. I’ve spent many hours scrubbing guns before a match. Keep it clean and oiled.

Gun oil:  Don’t use WD-40 to lube your firearms. WD-40 evaporates and leaves little to no lubricating film, at least not enough to keep a firearm running under extreme conditions. Have you ever shot your firearms in 10 below zero temperatures, extreme heat or dusty conditions? I use FP-10 gun oil for all of my firearms. I’ve used this oil in below zero weather and dusty ranges and as long as I didn’t let it dry out it never failed me. Some oils will thicken in cold weather which can cause malfunctions.

Detachable box magazines:
I’m betting there is more than one prepper out there who has a pile of shiny, new magazines still in the original wrapper put away for a rainy day. (Note: Some people call magazines clips). I highly recommend taking every new magazine to the range at least once and loading it full and shooting until empty. I recently returned three new hi-capacity Glock 23 magazines to the seller because none of them would work in my gun. I also have two new 20 round AR magazines that won’t work in my rifle. One of these days I’ll try giving them a tune up. Shiny and new doesn’t guarantee function. Don’t forget to clean your magazines. Grit and moisture inside a magazine can cause malfunction and failure. Most magazines have a removable base plate that slides out releasing the spring retainer plate, spring, and follower. Use a soft brush or cloth to clean the inside of the magazine body being careful not to bend the magazine body or feed lips in the process. Wipe any grease, dirt or grim off the spring and follower. Do not oil any part of your magazines. Oil will attract dirt and dust and is not needed for function.

Gun embellishments and other fancy stuff:
When I first started shooting IPSC the game was basically an equipment race. From fancy fast draw holsters to custom tuned extended high capacity magazines and everything in between. This stuff is fine for fun and games but I personally stay away from it on my SHTF firearms. The more stuff you have hanging on your gun the more there is to go wrong or impede the function of the gun or shooter. Not to mention a good prosecuting attorney can turn a fancied up gun into a murder with premeditation weapon even if it was used in self defense. Keep it simple!

Recoil compensators:
Several of my competition guns have recoil compensators. A recoil compensator is a machined part that is attached to the end of a rifle or pistol barrel and has grooves cut to redirect the exhaust gasses from the burnt powder upwards helping counter act muzzle rise during recoil. Compensators do make shooting easier however they do have some negatives. 1. They are extremely loud and often redirect the noise back towards the shooter. 2. In the right conditions such as shooting with your gun barrel along a wall or through a port hole can force the gasses back in your face. Even with safety glasses it burns your eyes.

Sighting systems:
Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to sights for their firearms. IPSC is hard on equipment and quickly separates what will hold up and what won’t. Sights are often a matter of opinion and personal preference. For that reason I will not attempt to tell you good from bad however I will tell you what I prefer. My personal SHTF firearms are set up as follows:

AR -15 – Flat top with EoTech (red dot) with quick detachable mount and alternative rear flip up peep sight with standard AR fixed front sight. My sights don’t co-witness although I wish they did. (Co-witness means you can use the iron sights while looking through the EoTech. This would save having to remove the EoTech if it stops working.

M1911 Pistol –  the rear sight is a BoMar adjustable rear site and the front a dovetailed blade with fiber optic. Some might say the adjustable BoMar is too fragile however it hasn’t failed me after many thousands of rounds.  IPSC is an action sport where firearms can be exposed to bangs, dings and dents. Make sure your dovetailed sights are staked so they can’t work loose. Note: my front sight still works even if the fiber optic breaks and falls out.

A note on fiber optic sights: I’ve broken many fiber optics rods that were mounted on my sights. If I didn’t bang the sight it broke from repetitive use. Best to have plenty extra fiber rod on hand or use a site that doesn’t have the fiber optic feature.

Shotgun (semi-auto and pump) – My semi-auto is a Winchester SuperX2 Tactical that has a Picatinny rear sight rail (V-notch rail) with an optional flip up buckhorn sight for more pinpoint work and a fiber optic front bead. The sights still work even if the fiber optic is knocked out. My pump (a Remington Model 870) has a factory stock, a white-painted front bead and a vented rib with a groove in the rear receiver. If it is not broken, don’t fix it.

I would have Tritium sights on all my SHTF firearms if I could afford it.

Laser and red dot sights – Personally these are not for me. I once shot a night match with my EoTech (Lighted Red dot sight) against a laser sited AR. I smoked the laser sighted rifle because I could acquire the target and fire so much faster. The laser shooter spent too much time looking for and positioning the dot on the target. Practice serves me better than a laser sight. My 2 cents.

A few shooting facts I learned in competitive shooting
1. No less than three tenths of a second is typically how long it takes for the average person to start to react to a situation.  
2. Muscle memory starts to set in after about 1,000 repetitions.
3, If you pull the trigger on a live round and your gun makes a funny poof sound, then stop! You may have a squib load. A squib is a light or no powder load that doesn’t have enough power to push the bullet out of the barrel. Shooting another round without clearing a squibbed bullet will blow up your gun and hurt you. I’ve had squibs and was lucky to never have blown up a gun.
4. Limp-wrist shooting can cause your semi auto pistol to jamb. Limp-wrist shooting is when you don’t lock (hold rigid) your wrist allowing the pistol muzzle to flip up in excess under recoil. The excess muzzle flip counteracts slide momentum which in turn limits the distance the slide needs to travel to properly eject the spent shell casing. When this happens the case hangs up and gets caught in the gun instead of ejecting clear. Not real common but it does happen.

Happy and safe practicing, hope you don’t need it!

I was two miles from where the Waldo Canyon fire when it started last Saturday. We saw the fire just minutes after it began. Within five hours, 2,500 acres were consumed. Four hours after we left Garden Of The Gods, they evacuated the park. Then they evacuated the town of Manitou Springs where we were staying. We had to leave because of this.

32,000 people have had to abandon their homes. Some 6,000 acres have burned so far. Keep the people of Colorado in your prayers. - Shrike

In the article “Preparing Your Retreat For a Forest Fire or Brush Fire” by F.A., the author states “In reality though, the gap exists because the Forest Service policy was to fight every fire. I’m not meaning to offend anyone, but I believe they got caught up in the same 'spend it or lose it' budget planning that has helped bury this country in debt. Their policy was to extinguish any reported fire by 10:00 AM the following morning. Imagine the resources necessary to accomplish this goal. Even in the primitive areas, then designated wilderness areas after the passage of the Wilderness Act in the 1970s, every fire was fought”.
I’ve worked for the US Forest Service for over 24 years, and this is a sad misrepresentation of firefighting policy.  The US Forest Service did not have a spend it or lose it policy for firefighting - we had a policy based upon a faulty understanding of fire ecology.  This began to change as early as the 1950s, and continued to gain momentum in subsequent decades.  We still aggressively suppress fires in the urban interface but we draw large boxes around lightning-caused fires in the backcountry and manage them for fuel reduction as appropriate.  By the way, fuel reduction isn’t a “spend it or lose it” proposition either, it comes out of the local budget at the expense of planned projects.
When the author says that he did not mean to offend anyone, he in fact did.  Firefighters die every year protecting homes and natural resources.  Many of us have decades of experience, and are not as ignorant or greedy as the author apparently believes.  If the author realized how little funding the US Forest Service actually receives, perhaps he could write a more credible article.  He should look at a pie chart of Federal expenditures.  The wedge of the pie the US Forest Service receives cannot be discerned.  That wedge continues to decrease: the fiscal year 2013 budget is bleak, and projections for fiscal year 2014 are worse.  Ignorance is turning the US Forest Service into a caretaker agency.  Perhaps we should let wildfires burn for a few years in order to gain some level of appreciation.  Many of us are awfully tired of sleeping in the dirt and inhaling smoke. Sincerely, - P.F., (PhD in forest ecology, firefighter, conservative, and Christian)

Those pesky derivatives: U.S. Stocks Fall as JPMorgan Tumbles on Trading Report. (A tip of the hat to veteran content contributor Sue C. for the link.)

Economy: We Are Living In The Greatest Debt Bubble In The History Of The World

Mark T. sent this sad news: Nearly 3 in 10 have no savings for an emergency

Study: More Than Half a Trillion Dollars Spent on Welfare – But Poverty Levels Unaffected. (Thanks to Pierre M. for the link.)

Items from The Economatrix:

Consumer Confidence in US Declines to a Five-month Low

Business Bracing For Bad Summer?

Home Prices Rise:  A Sign That Housing Has Bottomed? [JWR's Comment: The real bottom won't come until the overhang of foreclosures is greatly reduced. In 2016, perhaps? ]

US Gasoline Prices Cheapest Since January

Political Correctness, run amok: Google Shopping Censors All Gun, Ammo and Accessories Results

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Reader Chris M. recommended this web page: Switzerland National Defense as well as this review of John McPhee's book La Place de la Concorde Suisse. By the way, don't miss the fascinating links included in some of the comments.

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I was absolutely disgusted to read about the U.S. supreme court's weaseling decision on the mandatory "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act" (ACA) socialized medicine scheme. It is noteworthy that the court's deciding vote was cast by Chief Justice John Roberts, a George Bush appointee. (So much for the theory that keeping Republicans in the White House will maintain a conservative supreme court. Bah!) If the government can force me to buy health insurance (and tax me to pay for those who can't afford it), then they can just as well force me to buy a television ("to be well-informed") , or force me to buy my children cell phones with GPS trackers ("for their safety"), or force me to buy or sell only union-made products, or force me to purchase and take mood-altering drugs, or force me to buy and wear a crash helmet while walking. We are now on the slippery slope, folks. The costs of ACA are estimated to be $1.76 trillion in the next 10 years. (So much for the bogus "this isn't a new tax" claim. Somebody has to pay for it.. Hint: It won't be the 46% of American that pay no Federal income tax.) I'm praying that the next session of congress rescinds the new tax or that some of the American Redoubt states have the requisite backbone to opt out of the scheme.

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120 Powerful Pieces of Advice for Preppers

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Brandon Smith: Americans Are Being Prepared For Full Spectrum Tyranny

"It is useless for the sheep to pass resolutions in favor of vegetarianism while the wolf remains of a different opinion." - William Ralph Inge (British Author, Priest, and Educator)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Today we present another entry for Round 41 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 $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training. Together, these have a retail value of $589. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 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.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 41 ends on July 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.

As hundreds of thousands of acres are burning all across Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Arizona and Wyoming, as I write this article, the smell of smoke wafting through my window has caused me to think about the many thousands of people that have retreated to the Redoubt. While I have no way of knowing how many folks have relocated from parts other than the Rocky Mountain west, I suppose that many are not familiar with the devastation a forest fire can cause; nor how quickly the devastation can occur. I also can only assume that most of the Redoubt folks that have relocated have taken many precautions to make their retreats as inconspicuous as possible. Many, for very good strategic reasons, have probably built on a ridge or high point. I’m certain that retreat cabins have been designed to blend in to their surroundings; many are probably built of logs – if not logs from the property, then logs that have been trucked in. I would bet that many are on deep wells, with a majority of those providing less than 10 GPM. While I’m assuming on the common profile, I would also make an educated guess that many of the retreats are a fair distance from a town, more commonly off of a U.S. Forest Service road or timber company road, both cut through the middle of heavily forested areas.

A little as to background: I have spent nearly two decades in Idaho - over half of that time working as a mule-packer/guide in the River of No Return Wilderness. Many other years were spent working on ranches that backed up against the Beaverhead Mountains in Montana. I have fought fires, not as a trained Forest Service firefighter, but in the course of life in the professions that I had chosen. I have raced my mules through the middle of fires that had sprung up ahead of us without my knowledge; I have ridden back through that same fire nearly three months later to find it smoldering and crouching like a dragon, just waiting for conditions to tempt it out of its sleep. I have not pulled camps in a fire zone after a foot of snow had fallen and extinguished it – only to have to pull it three weeks later with ember and ash falling on us, because the foot of snow was nothing more than a very temporary slow down. The weather warmed up again and the warm earth in late August melted the snow very quickly, as if it never fell. I have trailed horses through areas when a fire was fifteen miles away, only to find out that the very trails we rode on were torched three days later by a fire that was jumping a mile ahead of itself (see Runaway Ridge Fire – Cold Meadows Ranger Station). In a nutshell, I have been on the periphery of a lot of fires. I have packed out a lot of smoke jumpers and hotshots when the Forest Service used to fight fire in the wilderness areas, and listened to their tales of crowning fires that seemed to create their own wind. I have ridden along trails above fires listening to massive yellow pines and Doug firs literally exploding from the heat. I’m not an expert on fires, but I am pretty experienced with them.

To the point of the article, there is real and present danger to retreaters who have built their places in the locations described above. Typically fires will race up ridges; then will get pushed along down the backside with wind direction. The speed of this obviously varies on fuel load, humidity, wind speed, etc. A fire can engulf homes sitting along ridgelines faster than anyone would ever believe. I can’t stress this enough. If there is a fire in the area, and if it is moving towards your retreat, please be very wary. There will not be time to do much of anything. Staying or leaving is up to you, but what will you do? Have you cleared undergrowth and trees back several hundred feet from your home? Do you have a metal roof that might spare you from falling embers? Have you installed a cistern or reservoir of some sort with hoses, hardlines and pumps? I can assure you that a well delivering any flow, much less 10 GPM, through a yard hydrant and garden hose will be like, well, relieving oneself. What about your ability to get out of Dodge (as in going back to Dodge and away from the retreat)? Can you be certain that the fire hasn’t made your Forest Service or timber company road impassable? Do you drive across a timber bridge many miles from your retreat each day? What will you do when that bridge is gone? Do you want to be caught in the middle of an inferno in your “Bug Back Vehicle”?

In case some of you are thinking, “This won’t happen here”, let’s take a quick look at some brief history. Nearly everyone has heard of the fires of 1910. Most of western Montana was burning. Many homes and ranches were engulfed. That was before the Forest Service had trained firefighters. In fact, that fire was the impetus to develop the Forest Service. Never again they said will we be short of manpower and supplies to fight this natural, regularly occurring event. Everyone remembers the Yellowstone fires of 1988. Hundreds of thousands of acres tore through Yellowstone. The Forest Service with support from the military threw everything they had at this fire with no gains in containment – at least not enough to change much. Not until the cooler fall temperatures and precipitation came along, did this fire get extinguished. How about the year 2000? Do you remember the famous photo [by John McColgan] of the two cow elk standing in the middle of the Bitterroot River while the landscape around them was fully engulfed and glowing an eerie, smoky orange? In that year 7.4 million acres burned in just two states, Idaho and Montana! It was absolutely apocalyptic in nature. All summer and fall, tens of thousands of Forest Service personnel, along with help from various tribal ranger districts across the west lived in massive tent camps in numerous locations across Idaho and Montana. Even the USMC sent troops in to help. In that year, even if your retreat was unaffected by fire, if it was along the route to a section of the fire, a sharp young Marine at a roadblock would have determined if you were allowed to pass or not. Notice the big gap in history between 1910 and 1988? Some of the gap is due to this history coming off the top of my head! In reality though, the gap exists because the Forest Service policy was to fight every fire. I’m not meaning to offend anyone, but I believe they got caught up in the same “spend it or lose it” budget planning that has helped bury this country in debt. Their policy was to extinguish any reported fire by 10:00 AM the following morning. Imagine the resources necessary to accomplish this goal. Even in the primitive areas, then designated wilderness areas after the passage of the Wilderness Act in the 1970s, every fire was fought. Fire lookouts were built on every prominent point throughout the wilderness and surrounding forest areas. These lookouts ranged from glorified tree houses to extensive steel structures anchored in concrete footings. I’ve been in several of these fire lookouts, and became friends with several of the lookouts themselves. These loner type individuals would stay in their lookout from June until October, everyday, 24/7. If a fire was spotted, triangulations were called in and within hours, tankers, smoke jumpers or Hotshots were called in to extinguish. The amount of fuel that continued to build up due to this “10:00 AM” policy was astronomical. During the Clinton years, for budgetary reasons, this policy was changed for the wilderness. No longer would fires be fought in wilderness areas. The “let-burn” policy was put into effect and since then we have seen nature burning through the fuel load.

Is your retreat on the border of a Wilderness Area? At this same time, the Clinton “Roadless Initiative” was passed. Well-meaning folks across the political spectrum in some cases, or hardcore environmentalists in other cases, considered this law a great savior for the nation’s forest. In reality however, the logging industry was destroyed. Again, fuel began to build up from lack of logging. Coniferous stands became diseased with scab and mistletoe and finally the dreaded “Pine Bark Beetle” that has destroyed 90% of the trees in many counties in the forests of Colorado. So again, there is an unusually high amount of fuel. Another by-product of the Roadless ban was that many of the forest service roads built to allow for the transport of logs to the mills, were reclaimed. Contractors were paid by the USDA to “un-build” roads. Dirt was pulled down from cuts above the roadway and graded to look they way it did before the road was built. Culverts and bridges were removed, topsoil and duff spread on top and seeding occurred. The unforeseen result in this reclamation effort was that many firebreaks were lost. Combine all these policies and we will be seeing big fires across the west for decades to come. Some years, conditions will be right for fires to burn in the southwest mountains; some years they’ll burn in the central or northern Rockies. But they will burn and burn hot, for many months in the summer.

I guess the real point of this article is to make some folks think about a very real danger to them in their new and unfamiliar settings. By no means am I trying to discourage folks from having an out of the way retreat. To me, there is nothing better than being self sufficient, away from the crowds and cities all the time – heck, I used to live six to seven months out of a year in a wall tent in the middle of the biggest wilderness in the lower 48! I just want to stress that forest fires are deceiving and untrustworthy. They cover more ground than we expect them to. They come back to life when we think they are surely dead as a doornail. They change directions, slow down, speed up, jump rivers, jump roads, jump scree patches, lay dormant in roots only to spring up again like a rattlesnake.

To those of you wonderful people that have taken the enormous leap to move yourself and your families out of the cities for whatever reason, just walk around your place and look at your retreat through the prism of a fire being in the area. Take a look at the topography in a ten or twenty mile radius around your retreat. Pay attention to your drive, not just for ambush points or defensible positions, but wonder how you will get in or out during a fire. As always, in everything, pay attention. Do the things that make your retreat more defensible from forest fire. The rest is up to you and the will of our Lord.
Be safe while being prepared in your forested retreat.

Dear Editor:
Wanted to share my evacuation experiences and lessons learned while they're still fresh in my mind.  Although it wasn't a 5 minute evacuation, it was pretty stress-free.  Fortunately, I started serious preparations early this year, or it would have been a whole lot more work.
My house is (was?) within about five miles of the starting point of the fire.  Not far at all, but fires don't burn that well downhill, so it was ok.  But the wind picked up big last night and sent the fire into the houses within about three miles of me. 
I got my pile of "definitely going with me" stuff by the garage door on Saturday night.  The bullets and bullion, mostly.  Since this isn't TEOTWAWKI, I wasn't much worried about food, other than losing hundreds of dollars worth of stored food to the fire.
I continued getting things ready, packing some clothes, organizing things to be ready to go, but not really organized.
Lesson #1 - partly organized isn't ready for full-scale, fast evac.  To do that, I'd have needed duplicate things already packed and ready to go.  For example, duplicate toiletries so you have the set you use and the set that's ready to go.  Going back and forth is a hassle, and the extra is worth it.
I was away from home last evening as the fire raged on.  On my way home, they had evacuated the Air Force Academy and more neighborhoods from the northeast part of town.  It was a traffic fiasco.  They shut down I-25, leaving me to find the back roads way home.  Ordinarily not a problem since I've lived here forever.  But the crazy driving, the police blockades and gawkers stopped by the side of the road made it much more difficult than anticipated.  Fortunately, I just kept flowing with what worked and turning where I had to.
Lesson #2:  During a large scale evacuation, expect traffic to be a mess no matter which direction you're.  There were people stuck in traffic for hours, not moving - and they were darn close to the fire!  Good news is that the incident management team gave lots of notice to leave, and they evacuated in sections, so it wasn't really time critical.  In a true TEOTWAWKI situation, though, you're not going to drive anywhere.  Maybe ever.
Once I got home, I tossed all of my "ready to go" stuff in the back of my truck, and then started going back for "Tier 2" stuff.  That was the stuff I had already planned in the back of my head that I would take with me.  That included critical business stuff, like the computer and networking equipment, and some additional tools and belongings I wanted.
Lesson #3:  Since some things can't easily (or affordably) be duplicated, make sure they can be evacuated quickly.  For me, that means have all of the equipment in a small pile, easily extracted and put into a carrying container.  It took me about 30 minutes to get all of the equipment out from under the table, cable rat's nest separated, and into a bag (that I had to get from downstairs!).  If/when I go back home, I'll have a much more transportable system set up, with carrying case in place.
At that point, I had most of the things I wanted into my truck, and then started going for "Tier 3" things.  This included books, more medical gear, and some other random personal things.  Then I took a breath to find out if I needed to get out.  Since I had disconnected all of my television gear, I couldn't use that info outlet!  I probably wouldn't change that, though.  I used my nose instead.  I went outside to look, listen and smell.  Most of my neighbors had already packed up and left.  I could see a big orange glow that didn't look far away at all, maybe a couple miles.  The smoke was worse than before, but not choking.  And there really wasn't much sound at all.  Nothing untoward anyway.
Now I had to figure out one of my biggest challenges - surprisingly so:  How to move both packed cars with cats and dog and the most valuable things in my life in them!  This was made more complicated because I didn't have room for the dog in the truck, and I the back window in my truck wouldn't roll up - so I couldn't secure the really valuable stuff!
I talked with my "retreat" to find out what they knew.  Unfortunately, nothing they knew really helped me make that decision.  Since no one had knocked on my door to tell me I was officially, "mandatorily" evacuated, I elected to drive the sedan to the retreat, then come back for the truck.  Went and packed up the cats and drove off.
Imagine my surprise then, when I got a ways down the road and realized I was driving the truck instead of the sedan!  Oops!  Yeah, and I didn't know if I would be able to fit it in the garage of the retreat!  Instead of turning around, I just went forward, because I didn't know if I'd be able to get back home once I left the neighborhood.  And I had the most valuable stuff with me.
Lesson #4:  Having one person and two cars and no backup doesn't work all that well in evac mode. Especially when you can't secure one of the cars!  Have backup meet you there to help out, if possible.  I considered doing that, but with the luxury of time, I didn't.  In a more time-critical operation, you're either packing everything into a space that doesn't work, or leaving stuff behind and hoping for the best - like I did.  And don't expect that an unrehearsed plan will go perfectly.  I sure was surprised when I "woke up" in the truck!
Lesson #5:  The process of evacuation is a process of "letting go".  Specifically saying, "I can live without that."  Knowing in a very black and white way, that you may literally NEVER SEE IT AGAIN.  For me, it was surprisingly easy to do, for the most part.  Maybe that comes from having moved a lot of times in my life, and having a fairly loose grasp on the things in my life.  I have it or I don't, ok.  Maybe because I've never defined my life as the things I own?  Or not being very sentimental?  Or maybe because the memories are more valuable to me than the T-shirt I got for being there and doing that?  Dunno.
In any case, as I drove to the retreat, I heard the mandatory evacuation notice for my area on the radio.  I still had to hope the police would let me back in to get the other car.
Lesson #6:  The media is both good and bad in this situation.  The bad:  mostly, they repeat the same information over and over - obtained from the press briefings at 8 am and 4 pm.  Not very helpful.  And then they spew oatmeal in between that.  Amazing the nonsense that comes out of their mouths - lots of filler words that sound intelligent but mean nothing.  The good:  They tell you when/where the evacuation zones are.  Mostly accurate, but at times inaccurate.  But IMHO, if you were waiting to be told you should be ready to evacuate, you're an idiot.  This is a wildfire!  No one knows what it might do, so be prepared.
Fortunately, my truck did fit in the retreat garage.  Then saddled up for the return trip.  It was fine, the cops were just starting to get setup to block the neighborhood.  Since I had some more time, and the ominous glow had retreated some, I went in for some luxuries.  Like the photo albums, some food for the retreat, and a few other things - like cat and dog food, bowls and litter boxes.  About another 20 minutes, and it was time to say goodbye to the house.  I'd being doing that all night, so I just shut the door and left.  I even forgot to do the "dojo bow" as I've done before.
Once back at the retreat - now some four hours after arriving at home to evac, I unloaded some stuff and sat back to reflect, ponder and relax.
Lesson #6:  The last lesson came when I started getting ready for bed and this morning.  I hadn't brought everything I really wanted!  For example, I forgot to get my razor from the shower into my toiletries bag.  And a pair of shorts for sleeping in.  Oh, and I snagged a fingernail in moving stuff and didn't bring my fingernail clippers.  I know, all small stuff, but it's a bummer to not have it when putting aside extras would have been so easy.
And now I get  wait and wonder if I'll ever move back into my house.  And even the television news can't tell me that...
Be Safe, Be Prepared, - E.P.

JWR Replies: There is nothing like the prospect of a wildfire to get people re-thinking their priorities. And of course many fire preparations cross over into other areas.Here is a great quote, courtesy of SurvivalBlog reader Stephen M.: "The sudden closure of service stations along with other businesses, leaving fleeing motorists unable to fill up their cars, added to a sense of urgency as roads filled with traffic Tuesday...". And there are also fires raging in Utah. Stay safe and plan ahead, folks!

As Tropical Storm Debby stalled in the Gulf of Mexico off the Coast of Florida it was business as usual in our area. No one was much concerned about the storm as we have become complacent in Storms and Hurricanes in our area of North Florida. I live in a rural farming area 20 miles from Live Oak and 15 miles from the town of Mayo. The following are my observations.
Saturday June 23rd – constant rain all day – all roads passable
Sunday June 24th   - constant rain all day – all roads passable
Monday June 25th – constant very heavy rain – roads passable, drainage ditches filling with water, water puddles forming on road. Rain coming down so hard in the evening very hard to see with wipers full on and defroster on. Observation that it was hard to tell at night just how much water was on the road. I can now see how someone could drive into flood waters unaware due to limited depth perception due to the heavy rain and limited visibility. Late night we had hard rain and thunder and lightening of which I have not observed here before. One lightening strike that was 3miles away the blast of the strike shook my house. I have survived high hurricane winds in this area before but not a lightening strike as that one; I can imagine how it was at the point of impact.
Tuesday June 26th – A hard rain continues to around noon, went to local grocery store. Upon trip to return home a distance of 4 miles local roads becoming flooded and rain became extremely hard downpour.  I arrived at home to find out my wife a LPN at a Health Care Facility had been requested to report for work due to the extreme weather conditions as personnel were already reporting they could not get to work due to flooded out roads. City of Live Oak was Flooded at this time.
The moral of this story is this; you need to always know alternate ways home from work and to work and also for evacuation routes. I knew the roads my wife did not (was never interested until this wake up call) her normal way to work was blocked in many directions. I advised and provide instructions of which roads to take and due to the nature of the falling rain that she would have to leave immediately. A normal commute of 15 minutes took almost an hour and she described the trip as very challenging. If she had delayed in leaving when I told her to go she would not have been able leave due to our road became flooded and impassable. 1st time I have seen this since I located here in 1999. This was a wake up call for me. “Do not count on roads that have never flooded not to flood”.
Wednesday 27th – Rain ceased and Sun came out some water receding but still a lot of road closures due to flood waters, washed out roads. If I needed to get to the Town of Live Oak I would not be able to do so. Today I counted on a list of over 100 road locations impassable or barricaded. My road by afternoon had receded enough for local alternate traffic to use.
What did I learn from all of this – do not count on local routes and or your planned alternate routes to be available or being told they never flooded before. As stated on this blog in other’s letters have a local map handy showing all roads including the dirt roads some of which were passable only by having a 4x4 during this extreme weather. Learn all alternate routes and drive them from home to work and back to home and also your evacuation routes. That way you will know them before hand and can adjust due to road conditions.
I have kept a list of all road closures published to mark on my map in order to find other alternate routes to get to my destination for the future and which roads to avoid. Also with this amount of rain you will find any leaks you may have in your dwelling and what areas of the roof to protect for the future.  Water will find a way in from the unlikely places, example rain hard enough to bounce off the roof and come back down the furnace vent and the stove exhaust fan. This happened even though the vent pipes have rain caps.
I had planned to have a rain barrel system in place, and now whish that I had completed that project due to the amount of rainfall we received.  I could have had emergency water supply to last for weeks.
Due to the amount of rain there is boil water advisory now in affect for all of Suwannee County including private wells. Learn on this blog how to purify water for drinking and cooking, I was already prepared in having clean drinking water on hand.
My observation of interest was today when a Medevac Helicopter landed in the neighbor’s field across the road. In order transport someone.  There is no way for EMT services to have driven to our area and take you to the local hospital via ambulance. It must have been a real serious condition as the helicopter flew off in the direction of Gainesville where our major medical facilities are located.
I also observed a SUV on my road carrying a kayak on the roof. It would be nice to have a boat of some type even an inflatable one just in case of an emergency. Air boats in Live Oak were put to use to evacuate people from flooded areas to emergency shelters.
As I complete writing this letter water on some of the roadways are receding but I can still not get to the Town of Live Oak but other services are located in my area; i.e., gas, food, water. I do not need it but it is available.
Other observations – people ignored highway barricades and drove around them and ended up needing rescued from flood waters. Note if the sign says flooded it means “Flooded”.
Just because you have a 4x4 does not mean you can drive faster than anyone else in extreme weather and or fording through flood waters. One 4x4 owner posted that to avoid a certain road because he tried to cross it but had to back out. If you are intent in fording high water you need to be experienced in doing so and your vehicle needs to be prepped for fording abilities. Most SUVs, Trucks are not equipped or have the experience to do this.
I also learned that I needed to have sand bags on hand and I know it has been stated before on here but until you realize this is something you really need to have on hand you do not think about it. I did not need them but I can see where I may need them in the future.
Also without communications or access to the Internet I would have had a hard time in finding out which roads were closed in my area.
If you are not in immediate danger of flooding stay in your home and don't go out driving to sight see the flood damage. Many found out the hard way when they had to be rescued.
Sinkholes can happen in Florida but rare for our area yet there was three sinkholes in Live Oak and surrounding area. When they occur it is with frightening speed.
I will close in thanking JWR for his site and to the ones that have had letters posted that contained valuable information to me. I was better prepared than most but learned a lesson from this storm. - Wayne of North Florida

Mr. Rawles,

To follow up on the recent posts about sorting Canadian nickels, I recently stumbled across a web site that has pictures of all Canadian nickels from 1870 until 2005.

After sorting close to $100 worth of nickels, I can say the vast majority of non-debased nickels span between around 1960 to 1999.  Of those, most of the pre-1982 nickels are 99% nickel and have a melt value approximately 1.5x it's face value.

All nickels from 1982 to 1999 have a copper-nickel composition similar to that of the US nickel, and a melt value currently very close to the face value.

One subtle kicker is that Canadian nickels minted between 2000 and 2003 are a mix of fully debased steel nickels and copper-nickel nickels of the same composition and appearance as the 1982-1999 series.  They can be differentiated by the "P" beneath the portrait of the Queen indicating the fully debased ones.

The 2006 and later nickels are very similar in appearance to the 2003 series of nickels, only they have the Royal Canadian Mint symbol on them beneath the Queen's portrait.

It is quite rare to find a nickel older than 1950, and of all the nickels I've sorted, approximately half are fully debased.  This should really underscore the critical importance, especially for your American audience, to load the boat on non-debased currency before the government/banks flood the market with counterfeit currency [and sorting becomes necessary.] - L.N. in Canada

Ann Coulter: The Biggest Scandal in U.S. History

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In addition to their existing line of Mountain House freeze dried foods in pouches, Camping Survival has just received their first shipment of Mountain House foods in #10 cans. It is noteworthy that they have the lowest shipping rates in the industry.

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K.D. sent this: Buckets to Backpacks

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SurvivalBlogger dentist Tom Loomis is teaching another Field Dentistry class in August, 2012, in Sweetwater, Tennessee.  Contact tandsloomis@bellsouth.net

"When the sturdy Roman plebeian, who lived by his own labor, who voted without reward according to his own convictions, and who with his fellows formed in war the terrible Roman legion, had been changed into an idle creature who craved nothing in life save the gratification of a thirst for vapid excitement, who was fed by the state, and directly or indirectly sold his vote to the highest bidder, then the end of the republic was at hand, and nothing could save it. The laws were the same as they had been, but the people behind the laws had changed, and so the laws counted for nothing." - President Theodore Roosevelt

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Today we present another entry for Round 41 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 $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training. Together, these have a retail value of $589. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 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.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 41 ends on July 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.

Over the last few years, since awaking from my slumber that rainbows and butterflies come from baby gnomes, I have been preparing my bean, bullets and bullion for what ever may be on the other side of the eye of the hurricane, so to speak. Whether that event is the eventual collapse of not only the US dollar but currencies globally or some apocalyptic end of society as it currently exists. In that time I have found great interest in the financial aspect of this scenario. As a project manager I find that some variables in a project are non-linear and can not be evaluated on risk because of not knowing what you don’t know, this is not the case with the global nature of macro-economics and fiat currencies.
I plan a project by evaluating variables and risks to the scope and timeline of completion, that being said I have approached my preparation in similar manner. Since the more information you can obtain on particular variable it allows you put in place contingencies to mitigate the effects of a variable, such as a global financial/currency collapse, you can therefore weather the disruption that variable creates. Risk areas such as EMPs, natural disasters, terrorist activities etc are variables that you can only have so much information in regards to planning-unless of course your brother-in-law happens to work for the NSA or other alphabet soup agency that track such things and evaluate the probability.

But the information on our financial condition is well documented and there are many well respected economists and analysts that provide commentary on our situation no only as a country but also from a global connection. My journey has begun and continues to be how our US Dollar has fallen to the state of every other fiat currency throughout the ages. Whether it was the Romans debasing their gold and silver coinage or the Weimar Republic printing Marks like Rumplestilskin spun gold-in fact I am not too sure that Ben Bernanke is not our very own Rumplestilskin, just that he is not spinning gold. Prior to the creation of the Federal Reserve our dollar was backed by Constitutionally mandated Silver and Gold, at the onset of this vile organization the average wage was around $1,800 per year. (That equated to approximately 90 ounces of gold.  I would like to suggest everyone read G. Edward Griffin’s book, The Creature from Jekyll Island, to get a true sense of how evil and sinister this corporation is, ) That $1,800 average salary in 1913 equates roughly to today’s average wage of $42,000 per year. If you were to be paid in gold and silver as your great grandfather was, today you would only receive around 27 ounces of gold for your labor. (At the current Spot Gold price). Interesting over all this time that the Federal Reserve has had control of the US Dollar each generation really has not been better off, in fact I would argue that I would rather have my great grandfather’s wage of 90 ounces of gold per year, equal to $136,000 USD. The Federal Reserve has expertly stolen our wealth with out it being a crime.

At this point you are probably wondering where I am going with this. I know I am preaching to the choir on this subject of owning and holding physical silver and gold, but that is only after you have made provision for the beans and bullets. Once those are in place I highly recommend that you purchase and hold silver and/or gold (preferably in fractions of ounces, 1,2,5,10 grams and 1/20, 1/10, ¼ ounces) I say all of this because I believe we are currently in the eye of the hurricane. For those that don’t live in a hurricane zone, the front part of the storm is the initial wall of wind and water, it is scary and can be devastating, but as the eye passes over your location, you can go out look up and see nothing but blue sky, no wind, no rain and you may actually see a butterfly. To those that have not experience a hurricane you may believe it was nothing but a bad rain storm, but I can tell you the storm is not over and in fact the worst is yet to come. I believe we are currently in the eye of the storm, the initial wall of water and wind was the housing bubble of 2007 and we have endured the storms leading edge to now all seems quiet, calm. Stocks are steady, companies are showing profits but simmering under the surface is 10 to 20% plus food inflation, 20% real unemployment, a continual lag in the housing market if not a continually collapse, unsustainable national, state and local debts that can only be salvaged by the Federal Reserve. This is to name only a few, do not forget rising oil and gas prices. Their whether they are spinning US Dollars or real gold it still creates something from nothing and debases the currency and fuels the fires of inflation and destruction of the US Dollar and other currencies worldwide. The other side of the storm is a currency collapse that will be global in nature, which will lead to variables that will spin out of control very quickly and if you are not prepared to weather the storm to get to the other side you will be running to the first government savior to literally sign yours and your family’s life away.

My preparations began by converting about two years ago every dollar denominated asset such as Roth IRAs and 401(k)s to first food, then guns and ammunition and finally silver and gold. With only one small bump in the road I have been able to grow my physical holdings and continue to do so even with current silver and gold prices. Many ask me why when the rainbows and butterflies are out, I my reply is that someday the financial storm we weathered in 2007 will require not only the preservation of my savings but may be required for mine and my family’s survival. To those who are still slumbering they roll their eyes but to those that are awake or are just waking up this will ring true to your spirit. I urge you to continue to speak the truth of what we will be facing in very short order, hope upon all hope to reach as many as possible.

My dilemma has been that to purchase goods and services with silver or gold you must first sell it to convert it back to US Dollars, the process is cumbersome to say the least. Because of the cumbersome process I starting searching for a better way. Currently I am purchasing fewer one ounce rounds and more pre-1964 silver halves, quarters and dimes, and the following will explain why.

I follow Franklin Sanders of MoneyChanger.com, who has been dealing with silver and gold for years and his commentaries are usually spot on. He has developed a Silver and Gold calculator and is encouraging people to start asking when making a purchase “I can pay you with silver, gold or US Dollars, which would you like?” There may be a sense of fear in light of the recent Liberty Coin Federal case, but his issue dealt with the appearance of the coin and it representation of US Coinage, not that a private exchange between two individuals can be regulated (yet). Franklin Sanders reports that in some cases they will take the silver and gold and give you a discount on the purchase. Now I don’t suggest you try this with the local corporately owned Gas Mart or Wal-Mart, but maybe a local privately own Gas station convenience store, farmer, Co-op, etc. would be more receptive to the idea. So many of us that have awakened to realize that part of returning to some normalcy or even a return to the Founder’s principles we must start by eliminating the Federal Reserve. This task will probably never be achieved but at least it allows you the modicum of stealing back some degree of freedom from the fiat system by using real money. If our legislatures do not have the fortitude to fix it, the people will have to take the mantle upon themselves.

Franklin Sanders has a calculator to convert US Dollars to silver and gold. All that is necessary is to plug in the amount in US dollars the purchase requires and it calculates the amount of face value of US pre-1964 coins you need. I recently purchase three chickens at our local poultry auction using this formula for $27.61 in US Dollars or .98 cents in silver coinage. I exchanged three US pre-1964 silver quarters, two silver dimes and three copper pre-1982 pennies. A small victory!

Chickens purchased with silver, Price $27.61 USD with silver:

$0.98 face value of US Silver Coins worth USD $27.61 **
But it also works with large purchases such as a $1800 purchase which would convert as follows:

Pay $1,800.00 with gold & silver…

American Eagle gold coins:
1 $50 (1 oz) coin worth USD $1,539.68
1 $5 (1/10 oz) coin worth USD $153.97
and $3.58 face value of US silver coins worth USD $106.35 **
This site calculates and provides the amounts you need it also allows you to calculate a premium if you are a retailer interested in offering your product or service in silver and gold, I am hoping he turns into an App for I-phones or Blackberry in the near future.

If you notice all the conversions use US denominate coinage. Since American Eagles, both Silver and Gold, are legal US tender and pre-1964 coinage is still US approved tender. You will not be trying to “destroy the US Currency” with privately minted coins as the US District Attorney in her infinite wisdom announced about the Liberty Dollar. There can be no legal ramifications in restricting bartering especially if you are using US sanctioned coinage. And that goes to my last point in purchasing silver and that is to start procuring pre-1964 silver halves, quarters, dimes, pre-1982 pennies, and current and early nickels for use in a bartering system either now or in a post-collapse society. They will become your initial life in a post-fiat collapse society.

I am looking to purchase a really good spot light. Do you have any suggestions? I have had far too many pieces of junk that were supposed to be great. I figure that you are the man to ask. Thanks, W.P.

JWR Replies: While they have some utility in controlling predator wildlife (depending on your state's fish and game laws, of course), I DO NOT recommend visible spotlights for any retreat defense situations.  Spotlights pinpoint your dwelling and can make you a target.  There could be some utility in infrared spotlights set up a distance for your position (NOT hand-held!) , but if your opponent has any sort of night vision gear, then again you are making yourself a target.

With those provisos out of the way, this is one of the better ones.

"A dictator enjoys unrestrained power over the people. The legislative and judicial branches voluntarily cede this power or it’s taken by force. Most of the time, it’s given up easily, out of fear in time of war and civil disturbances, and with the support from the people, although the dictator will also accumulate more power with the use of force."  - Congressman Ron Paul

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Today we present another two entries for Round 41 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 $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training. Together, these have a retail value of $589. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 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.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 41 ends on July 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 at home sitting safely on my couch, however, between 2001 and 2009 I was a soldier serving in the GWOT campaign. I have served three tours in Iraq, one tour in Afghanistan, and a year assisting the African theater (proxy war.) And I’m currently working for the Marine Corps as a civilian contractor. I figured I’d write down some thoughts because I have had the misfortune of twice being cut off from any re-supply or ‘rescue’. In addition the equipment issued to servicemen is not always ‘the best’ money can buy. So here are some thoughts on that to have and what to spend money on to get the very best.

People tend to forget that everything will wear out and start to break or tear. In my SERE kit I carried two sewing kits. One for medical and another for clothing, tent repair (cold nights will keep you awake), boots, etc. Knives will dull, weapons will foul and rust, cloth will tear, boots will lose their soles, facial hair will grow, your teeth will suffer, your skin will rash. The list of things that go wrong or bad without maintenance are endless. But at this time we wont be discussing combat conditions, we are discussing survival in the inevitable troubled times within the next couple years.

We’ve gotten very accustomed to the instant gratification life style of ‘just go get a new one’ when something wears out or breaks. Now think about this for one day. You cannot get a new one, you cannot replace it. When you go on your next camping trip, think to yourself that what you have is all that you have and all that you’ll get. Do you have what you need to keep your equipment in working order for years to come? Do you have the knowledge to take the best care of your things like wash your clothes only in low mineral content water. (Here in Arizona, high mineral content water in streams or springs will destroy your clothing.)

Not only do you have to take care of your equipment, but more importantly. What equipment will you bring? And how will you carry it? Wally World carries some nice looking back packs that appear to be well made. When choosing your back pack or bug out bag, stuff it full of something. Then look to see if there is even outward pressure on the stitching or if some stitching is ‘stretched’ more than others. If so, this is not the pack/bag you want to buy. Now, not all of us can afford to spend $1,000 on a back pack with Kevlar stitching and high tech spaceman materials. So if you do buy the Wal-Mart pack, buy also a tent repair kit (or two) as the thread in these kits are more durable than your run of the mill thread. Remember, two is one and one is none.

    I say all this because if you have to leave your prepared position, I.e. its no longer tenable or you must assist in your own rescue, then you have carry all this on your back. Depending on your situation and your environment, you will need to think about what is most important. A human can go thirty days without food, but in the desert one can go only hours without water. Do not drink the hard alkali water found in the desert. So assuming that we must leave our fortified position, our packs just got very heavy. Because staying in place is much easier than moving on foot. Its when you must go somewhere is when it gets complicated. With a vehicle  you can carry much more than walking. However, gas stations won't be open for business. That being said, “ground pounder gear” will be carried eventually. So, What will be in your rolling gear?

First and foremost - (in Arizona) WATER, as much as you can carry and a means to get water. When you think that you have what you need, triple it.

Food - Without the energy, your not carrying anything. You will lose the will to survive if you don’t eat.

Shelter - A little one-man tent is good but tends to be a little flimsy. A tent repair kit would be a plus.

Sleeping Bag - A 32 degree-rated sleeping bag is sufficient in most cases with the addition of a fleece liner.

Shoes - A new [but well broken-in] pair of 6” top quality boots, period. Four pair of new socks.

Fire starter - Water proof matches, lighter, trioxane, “wet start”, etc.

Cook set - for cooking food, boiling water. Aluminum is good enough, Titanium would be better. Plastic MRE spoon (2). A titanium spork would be good to have for eating and for cooking/stirring.

Knife - A good quality general purpose knife, multi-tool, a large fighting knife, and a machete. Don’t forget the sharpening stone or even better, a full honing set.
Weapons - Rifle with 100 rounds of ammo minimum, pistol with 5 loaded magazines.


So now that we have the crucial items that you will live with or die without. Now lets make a list of items of “ground pounder gear” in the pack. Each person should carry this in their pack regardless of what else they want. These are the basics, strictly surviving.
Remember: Ounces Lead to Ponds and Pounds Lead to Pain

Water - Two 2 liter bladder, one 1 gallon jug. 16.6 lbs. Water filter (1,500 gallon working life, minimum).

Food - At least three days worth at two meals a day = 6 MREs. This is assuming that you know how and where to forage for supplementary food in your environment.

Knife -  You either have crap or gold. With knives there is little middle ground for quality.

Multi-tool - No less than two should be carried. They are too useful and there for too important to lose.

Compass - Two should be carried in case of loss or “compass panic”. People do panic when lost or off course. They start to distrust their compass and quickly make their situation worse. Comparing the compass readings can help quell panic.

Map - Individual maps for each area you intend to enter.

Toilet paper - What goes in must come out. The human body is only 86% efficient, that creates 18% waste. Butt rash is as bad as a blister. Carry plenty.

First Aid kit - Band-aids, Neosporin, Splint, Mol-skin, Gauze (stick and non-stick)…

Tent - A Bivy Sack (one man tent) is ideal in most situations. Think about it, who will carry the fifty man tent?

Sleeping bag - Appropriate temp rating to your environment. In Arizona , 32F is sufficient in the low country.

Tarp - If the weight of the pack allows. You want it to allow.

Bed mat 1” - Because a rock in your hip makes a crappy night sleep.

Socks - Four pair at minimum. Pack new ones..

Hat - Boonie type is best

Sun glasses - A decent pair will be good. A $150 could be better spent else where.

Fire Starter - Matches (water proof), lighter, Trioxane, Magnesium, …

Binoculars - Quality. Quality is a must in this area. Imagine being able to see 1,000 yards ahead without danger or eye strain.

Lock pick set - For picking locks for shelter, abandoned supplies, refuge, etc.

Flash light - Don’t be cheap here either. Seeing in the dark could mean the difference between life or death. Don’t forget batteries! Don’t want you walking off a cliff in the middle of the night going to restroom.

Warm clothing - Thermal under wear and light weight jacket or poncho or both depending on weight. Layers are best as to avoid big bulky coats and light layers insulate better than single heavy layers anyhow.

T-shirt - If you’ve ever spent an extended period of time without modern luxuries, you know what a moral boost a clean shirt can be.

Bar Soap - For washing your body and your clothes

Tooth paste - Because a painful cavity will incapacitate you.

Wash cloth - Some areas must be scrubbed; arm pits, crotch, feet, feet, feet….feet.

Bandana - Appropriate camo colors for your environment. Carry multiple if necessary.

Duct tape - You just never know. I’ve seen men use duct tape as a splint on broken feet. Yet another use.

Leather gloves - Because thorns, blisters, and cuts hurt and lessen your effectiveness.

Writing pad with pencil - For making notes or marking ‘way points’ on your map. We cannot remember everything. So write it down. Pencils don’t dry out!

Instant coffee - As much as you can carry. Because a simple cup of coffee is a huge moral boost. Also the caffeine can give an energy boost when food is low or scarce.

Mechanical Watch - When boiling water, you have to know when 30 minutes is reached. Its useful for planning your movements at sunrise and sunset.

Para-cord - As much as you can carry. 20 feet minimum. This is light and strong. Its uses are virtually endless.

Mule tape - Or flat rope. At least 20 feet. This is used by utility companies for pulling large wire. It is rated for 2,500 pounds and is very light. It can be tied in very small and tight knots if needed. Beware though that it does deteriorate over time (several years), so buy it new.

Rifle - Carry at least 100 rounds and spare parts; firing pin, recoil spring, sear, sear spring, extractor, extractor spring, hammer, and anything else that tends to break or wear out. KNOW HOW TO CHANGE THESE PARTS!

Pistol - Carry at least five loaded magazines.

Weapon cleaning supplies - Cleanliness is next to godliness. My personal choice for cleaner, lubricant, protectant (CLP) is Frog Lube. It is FDA approved so it is edible which only means that its nontoxic to you and any children around you. I’ve also cleaned my weapons with CLP and little more than my thumb and a paper towel through the bore. It will not allow carbon to stick to the metal of your weapon and does not dry out or ‘gum up‘. What ever you choose, (Hoppe’s, Remington, CLP, etc.) just make sure to buy plenty!

Emergency blanket - Use as heat reflector NOT as a blanket.

Aluminum foil - Cooking.

Knife Sharpening kit - Your knife will become dull. A dull knife will make you work harder and greatly increases the chances of a severe cut or wound. Don’t make yourself a burden or casualty.

Chap stick - As much as can be carried. Chapped lips are very inconvenient. It can also be used on the dry cracked skin of your hands or fingers.

Q-tips - Use your imagination. Clean your ears, apply Iodine (don’t waste it), start a fire….

Iodine - Water, stings, etc.

Small (short) wood handle shovel -  For digging ‘restroom holes,' Dysentery is a monster that has incapacitated armies. This can be picked up at virtually any home improvement store for $20 bucks or less. The wood handle is lighter than the all steel construction of surplus shovels and will probably last longer too!

It doesn’t matter what your situation is: If you neglect your feet then you are in for a real treat of pain and discomfort.   

The ground pounder gear is already listed. Now what? For the vehicle you simply magnify the amounts, i.e., 1,000 rounds of ammo, 50 gallons of water, a couple hundred sand bags, 100 pounds of food, etc, etc. But if you or I had to sum up a survival scenario in simple terms it would be this. There are many things we can go without, there are few things we cant go without, food, water, shelter. So it is safe to assume that we can never have enough food and water, but lets add a premium quality knife, a rifle, and ammo to that list. There is nothing worse than running out of ammo or breaking a firing pin at the worst possible time. Most of the items discussed here are cheap, some are not. Think intelligently about what you buy and where you put your money. Just because it has ‘tactical’ in the name doesn’t mean its worth the money.

Before I finish, I’d like to add some thoughts on weapons. I carried the M4, M249 SAW, and the M240B and found all of them good weapons. The M4/AR-15 platform after some fifty years of fine tuning has become a decent rifle. Now lets go against traditional thinking a moment. The M4 should only have the bore, chamber, gas tube, and bolt ‘cleaned’. As for the bolt carrier and the upper receiver, just wipe it off. It will work better. Whenever possible though, I would often pick up enemy weapons. Why? Because they work. If you want to choose a weapon system that will just work. Try observing the countries or regions that don’t have multi-billion dollar budgets or a gun store on every corner. The nomads carry AK variations as well as 70 percent of the rest of the Arab world. This is simply because it works. The other 30 percent are wielding older (legacy) HK variants. They use these platforms because yes, they are widely available. But more than that, they work. Big parts power through the fowling that builds up. Loose parts glide over the fowling. Big, loose parts just function better than the tight, light weight M4/AR15 system. My personal choice for primary weapon system is the HK G3 because its simplicity and reliability. The extra weight of weapon and ammo are a trade off. The light weight M4 and it’s 5.56mm ammunition means that yes can carry more ammo. But in my experience, using the 5.56 means that you need more ammo to get the job done. The 7.62x51mm is a versatile cartridge being suitable for deer, elk, or self defense. Still, the 5.56 has its place and will perform.

In closing, take the time to think wisely about what you buy. Know how to use and take care of your kit. Because once your equipment fails, it might just kill you.

Yes, we all know that an end of world event could happen at any time.  However I look at things statistically and realistically.  I think I have a greater chance of getting into a car accident than getting hit with an asteroid or meteor.  So I first focus on my little corner of the world.  Even if there is a catastrophic event you still need to get to your "go" bag and/or vehicle with your G.O.O.D. bag and perhaps onward to your home or retreat depending on each situation.  So what do you need for day to day survival?  Because the world can come crashing around you and you alone.  It may just be your end of the world event like an accident or illness.  It may not be you but a close family member or dear friend.  It may be a local isolated event like a flood or power outage or a fire – who knows?  As a former boy scout, “always be prepared”.  

While surfing the net, I have come across some sites talk about a list of 20 or 25 things you should always have with you – some ideas were good and some not so good and some not even considered.   So I decided to come up with my own list.  I generally have most of this with me at any given time – it drives my wife nuts.  She always asks why I have so much schumer in my pants pockets and on my keys.  As a city resident it this may be slightly urban oriented.  So here is my version of 25 or so things that you should always try to have with you and my thoughts comments and explanations on each with some additional helpful hints I have adopted over my years:

  • $100+ in cash plus small bills, $3 in quarters & a few new dollar coins.

$100 is the bare minimum, I try to keep $250 to $500 with me at all times.  This is obvious – we are still in America where cash is king.  You can buy your way out of a lot of situations.  Even a fender bender, “Hey here’s two hundred bucks, let’s forget about the insurance paperwork!”  No cops, no insurance and no wasted time.  Remember, when the lights go out so do the credit card machines.  You can spread it around so if you get robbed they don’t get it all.  If you are really worried about a sudden economic collapse you can even keep a 1/10th-ounce or 1/4th-ounce gold coin or more in your wallet.   And even though nobody likes or wants those new dollar coins, a lot of vending machines now take them and you can reduce the quarters you are carrying.  Prices are going up for everything including water, soda, snacks and parking, all available via coin operated equipment.  Hey, did someone say inflation?

  • Credit/debit card with at least $1,000 available on it and a telephone calling card.

You can only carry so much cash safely, so have a credit/debit card with at least a thousand bucks available to buy your way out of stickier situations.  Here in New York City on 9/11 cell phones went out of service so you may need to use one of the few remaining pay phones, so have a $5, $10 or $25 calling card in your wallet and make sure it is up to date.

  • Pocketknife / multi-tool.

This goes without saying – the Leatherman I carry has a bunch of tools – I can fix nearly anything with it.  I will not get into a debate on which is the correct model.  I prefer the Leatherman Flair because it has a corkscrew.  That has saved me on many an occasion

  • Cell phone with camera – keep it charged!

For many of us now our phone is multi-functional tool.  For others it is their entire world.  It is our contact list with phone numbers and addresses, appointment calendar, memo pad, our watch, camera, video recorder, voice recorder, GPS, Internet/e-mail access, MP3 player, radio, alarm and even a phone.  If we lose it or the batteries die, it may really seem like TEOTWAWKI.  Charge your cell phone each night!  Again, you don’t know when it will be your emergency.  As I have said TEOTWAWKI may just be your world and the rest of us will be continuing normally.  When you need it most to communicate your cell phone should be charged!  Keep a charger in each car, and use it!  And when you’re bored at the dentist’s or doctor’s office or wherever just killing time, the same magazines you’ve read before are still there, so you surf or play a game on your phone.  When the battery gets down to 50%, stop and put it away.  It is just like keeping your car’s gas tank filled.  You don’t know when you may really need it.

  • Laminated list of phone numbers of people you can count on in a real emergency.  Don’t use an ink jet printer – when it gets wet your numbers may be unreadable when you need them most.  List both cellular and hard line numbers on the card! – Cell phones might not work in a crisis, or your phone is lost or dead.  For some strange reason some federal agents I know, are required to have a hard copper phone line in their home, I do the same.  And back to 9/11 when cell phones didn’t work.  My point about having a calling card – these two go hand in hand.  Have an out of town contact for you and your immediate circle to communicate on.  You can also use an answering machine at your retreat to leave and retrieve messages in a crisis via a touchtone phone.  Keep the answering machine commands and access number hint on the phone list. 
  • Small flashlight - long life LED type also an LED key fob.

Again my wife tells me I have too many keys and key fob gadgets.  You always have your keys – right?  So keeping some critical essentials on it is a good idea.  One of these is the little LED keychain lights – they are cheap and disposable. As often stated “one is none” so the key fob light is a backup to a quality flashlight.  My personal favorite primary light is the SureFire E2D LED Defender. It is expensive but well worth it.  I have had this light for three years now without fail.   Its small size fits well in your pocket with all that other stuff.  The Surefire has two power settings, to save battery life.  The high setting can temporarily blind someone at night.  There are times when this could be your only means of defense and it has the ability to shed light onto another sticky situation and additionally impale the skull of an attacker.  The downsides are the initial cost and that it needs CR-123A batteries.

  • Lighter and matches

I don’t think I have to go into detail on the many reasons to have these.  And I additionally keep a flint & steel on my key ring.  (“two is one and one is none”)

  • Tactical Pen, pencil and paper

I love my tactical pen.  I have never had issue on any flight or security check with this pen.  Again it could be a last line of defense in addition to a quality writing instrument.  Again “one is none” and a pencil never fails.  A few pieces of paper for quick notes, thoughts etc…
There is something to be said for low-tech.  The US government spent a ton of money on designing and inventing the “space pen” so they could write in outer-space, and the Russians used a pencil.  Let us be reminded to learn, keep and pass on old world common sense, simplicity and skills.  Low tech is sometimes the best.

  • Band-Aids and a few butterflies bandages (keep in wallet) these are always handy for minor cuts, scrapes and scratches.  I even keep a few character Band-Aids for the kids.  It is amazing how quickly a tragedy can be turned around with the distraction of a picture on the Band-Aid.  
  • Aspirin and Necessary medications - Aspirin is good to chew and swallow if you think you are having a heart attack.  I always have a few packets in my pocket for that pounding headache, sore muscles or heart attack.
  • Firearm and ammo, where legal - Know and Follow Federal, State and Local Laws!

This again is obvious – this is a topic unto itself.  I will say take a good class and practice, practice, practice!  Learn the color code of awareness, and learn to avoid confrontations so you don’t end up like George Zimmerman.  

  • Wet Wipes and/or antiseptic wipes – I always tuck a few in my pocket from restaurant leftovers when I order ribs.  They are great for cleaning hands and wounds - but the alcohol stings. Freshening up your hands, neck and face in a tough situation can bring a minor sense of comfort that can help you collect your thoughts and find the strength to carry on.  Sometimes it is the little things in life.  A tiny bottle of hand sanitizer is also not a bad idea. [And most hand sanitizer gels also double as fire starters.]
  • Sunglasses and reading glasses (if needed)

Again this is self-explanatory.

  • Whistle / compass combo keychain fob (small)

Again my love of key fobs. We all know the importance of signaling for help and knowing where we are going.

  • USB drive (encrypted, [such as Ironkey]) again it can be on your key fob.

Tons of information can be kept here securely, depending on the encryption you use.
Additionally I keep an unencrypted text file on it with contact info for the honest individual to return it to me should I lose it.

  • Spare house key kept in wallet – this is what you need as a backup when you lose your keys and all the goodies you now have on your key ring.  So it is a good idea to keep at least one of those grocery or pharmacy customer appreciation barcode tags on your key ring in the hopes of getting them back from another honest individual.  
  • Rubber bands – keep a few on your wrist.  This is another thing that drives my wife nuts.  But how often I use them to fix, bind or secure things for her.  A Para-cord bracelet is not a bad idea for the other wrist since we don’t need watches anymore because most people have cell phones.
  • Safety pins - again it can be on your key fob. There are tons of emergency uses for these. Including quickly fixing your clothes and perhaps preventing a wardrobe malfunction ;-) 
  • ID (Passport if outside country) again in your wallet.  This is self-explanatory.  (The only thing in this country you don't need ID for is to vote - go figure.)
  • Floss (Glide in a tiny, flat dispenser). Did you ever have something between your teeth driving you nuts?  It can also be used as string to fix, repair, and secure things.  A tiny sewing kit from the hotel is also not a bad idea. 
  • Food (candy and/or energy bar) a few mints, hard candies, chocolate, or a granola bar. This can help take the edge off a physically and mentally challenging situation. 
  • Bandana – a hundred and one uses.  Trauma bandage, tourniquet, A wind/dust mask, Soaked in water to use as a neckband to keep cool, Pre-filter water, Headband, For magic tricks, Blow a nose, Clean glasses, As a sling (with the safety pins), Wrap a sprained ankle or wrist, To secure a splint on a broken arm or leg, Wrap around snow or ice for an ice pack or to wipe a tear.  And the list goes on.  You can use it in a restroom as a washcloth and towel to freshen up – perhaps making you feel better in a difficult situation.  Again, sometimes all it takes is a few moments of simple comfort to feel human again and provide the strength to go on and forge ahead.
  • Medical info (allergies, med history, med list, doctor's name and number, etc…)

This again is self-explanatory.

  • A bottle of water – water is life!  Don’t discard the bottle – you can always refill it from a faucet, water fountain or water cooler.  I prefer this over the concept of a condom in your sock as a water carrier.  Although there is nothing wrong about having a few condoms along – just make sure it is not expired, dry rotted of damaged from being in your wallet forever, regardless of what you are using it for. 
  • Recent family photos for ID purposes.  God forbid your family member is lost, separated from you or just missing.  A recent picture in your wallet could speak volumes.  Whenever my family and I go on a trip, before we leave the house, I take a picture of the wife and kids with my phone.  So when you are panicking because they are missing, you may not remember what color shirt, pants and jacket they were wearing.  Additionally with the technology today you can text that picture to law enforcement in an instant. 

This list can go on and on.  Some may say I have missed items, they may feel the list should be 30, 40, or even 50.  Please make your own list with the adjustments you feel are appropriate.  And it will most likely be adjusted each day, sometimes more than once a day.  I am not getting a man-bag, or an everyday carry bag, I’d end up losing it – so I keep the stuff in my pockets.  I guess it’s a guy thing.  This may be the beginning of a justification for an everyday carry bag . But, like I say that can be left and/or lost especially in a panic, or stressful situation.  What about clothes?  Unless you’re living in your swim trunks you got pants with pockets, cargos have even more pockets, and most ladies have a purse with this and more.  Weather appropriate clothes is obvious including hat and rain gear.  The better we are prepared in the short term the better we can get ahead on the long term.  Being prepared should bring about a certain sense of calm and comfort.  If we prepare for life’s little hiccups,  daily problems, major events and total catastrophes we will know in our hearts that we did what we could, and try not to agonize over the should of, could of, would of, and leave the rest in the Good Lord’s Hands. 

For some, this may be the start of more serious prepping.  But it is a mindset that comes over years, it is a part of situational awareness and flexibility.  Be resourceful with what you have at your disposal to fix a situation.  When you fix a kid's toy with a rubber band or help you wife’s wardrobe issue with the safety pin, or comfort someone’s grief by offering your clean bandana it will help you build your confidence for perhaps more troubling times ahead.  I hope this is found to be informative and helpful, and perhaps inspires and starts some on the road to preparedness.  The more people that are prepared the better it will be for all!

I'd like to comment on some of the restrictions on long blades and impact weapons: Thinking about the gap between empty hands and a firearm is a false exercise for most people, most of the time.  Most people spend at least some time traveling, and most live in restrictive legal environments that don't allow the carrying (or sometimes even ownership) of "weapons."  Don't forget readers that the vast majority of people live in countries with very different gun and weapons carry laws than the U.S.!  Even if you live in country like the United States their are large areas that don't follow the 2nd Amendment in practice (such as New York City).  Mixing an understanding of local laws and common sense will keep you out of trouble and allow you to actually have an item on hand to defend yourself with. 

Talking about using "swords" and "sticks" to defend yourself isn't realistic. 

Do you walk down the street with a sword?  Even if you legally can in a strict sense, a concerned citizen would eventually call the cops and you're day would go downhill quickly.  Could you take one through customs while visiting most countries?  Many countries, such as Great Britain and Japan, don't allow citizens to even own katanas and other types of swords without a license.  On the upside, most countries allow citizens to own machetes of various types.  Locals carry machetes in rural areas all the time in Mexico/central/south America.  Just because the locals can do something without running into trouble don't assume you can!  Use your judgment carefully.

Do you actually carry a knife?  This is a possibility in some countries and localities, and not others.  Be advised that such places usually assume the carrier of a knife intends to use it as at tool, not a weapon, and may have specific bans on types/sizes of knives.  Also, in practice, police have a lot of discretion in this area.  Most countries in Europe essentially ban the carrying of even a tiny pocket knife for any reason in Cities.  The penalties for violating these laws can be surprisingly severe, and are, at a minimum, going to ruin your vacation.

A medium sized club, anywhere from length of your forearm to that of your whole arm, is a far superior weapon to a small knife because of its extended reach.  It's not as lethal as a machete, but this can be a good thing.  Any police officer knows that good stout club strike above the knee will bring just about anyone down.  A solid strike against the hands or arms of a weapon wielding opponent will usually cause them to drop their weapon.  Against an unarmed attacker you have a huge advantage.  And, as a huge plus from a legal perspective, its use might not be considered "deadly force" in some situations and is very unlikely to kill your attacker unless you strike them in the head or neck.  Many people might say they don't care what happens to someone that threatens their life, but I assure you that you want to avoid this (especially in foreign countries) for a host of legal and/or moral reasons.

When you add it all up you have to make an honest assessment of what the best item(s) for self-defence you can carry or travel with with.  These items(s) have to have no legal or societal constraint to being on your person or nearby, yet have huge defensive utility.  The key is that the item you carry is a tool, not a weapon.  Some good examples:

-Entrenching Tools:  A solid, collapsible, entrenching tool (my favourite is the Glock e-tool) is a must have for any earthquake or tsunami survival kit.  It's a very useful and reasonable thing to carry in your car.  It fits easily in a small backpack.  As far as I know of there is no country with a law on the books banning the carrying or possession of a shovel.  It's also can function as a hatchet/club very easily.  For self-defence while traveling it's my primary item.

-Hiking Poles:  Great for adding extra stability on the trail, or extra power on snowshoes or skis.  A good pair of collapsible hiking poles made of aluminum are cheap an common (especially with tourists).  Also, while collapsed, they are essentially a metal club that will be about as long as your lower arm from your elbow to your fingertips.  The ends tend to be made of durable graphite pegs that you don't want to accidentally put on someone's foot.  I also know of no place where one cannot legally carry a hiking pole.

-Hatchet:  A common camping tool with obvious uses.  Are you planning to go camping while traveling?  Good.  Then I guess you have a good reason to bring this with you.  I've had my luggage searched many times, and I've never had any issue bringing one to any country.  This is not something you can carry everywhere, but if you're backpacking through a place and have all your stuff with you then you have a legitimate reason to have it in your backpack.  Go for something woodsy, not tactical looking.  I've taken my Cold Steel Trail Hawk or Husqvarna hatchet on my many such trips. 

-Machete:  There are all sorts of options here.  This is not something I would ever travel with to Europe or many parts of Asia. But I have taken machetes to Mexico and some South American countries.  Machetes tend to be seen as weapons, not tools, in most countries.  In some cultures, usually tropical ones, a machete is a common tool that nearly everyone owns.   You will sometimes see people walking down the street with a machete in their hand and nobody bats an eye!  This is not something I think a foreigner could do, but it gives you an idea of the attitudinal difference.  Beware of your destination and be prepared to have your machete confiscated!  Travel with something that looks as much like a simple traditional machete as possible as it attracts less attention.

-Sporting Club or Bat:  A baseball bat, right down to a tee ball bat, are common sporting equipment in many countries.  Traveling with your children, either to the park or overseas?  Those little guys love tee ball.  Are you or someone in you party going to be playing the sport in question during your visit?  If so, you have a very good reason to have a that bat, along with gloves and balls, on your trip.  When your kids aren't blowing off steam playing sports you'll probably have to carry the equipment.  In a self-defence situation such an item is essentially a metal war club, the utility of which is obvious.

Remember, if you are ever forced to use an item in a serious defensive encounter that ultimately involves the police the legality of your carrying that item in the first place will be scrutinized heavily! Nobody on this site agrees with the silly weapon laws that governments make to “protect us,” but they are a fact of life.  Be smart and be safe! - Urban Raccoon

JWR Replies: Canes, walking sticks, umbrellas and tire checkers, have been discussed at length in SurvivalBlog. (See the archives.) The best advice is to not carry anything that looks out of place for the environment or for your personal circumstances. For example, it would seem normal in any season for anyone of any age to carry an umbrella in Seattle. But not so in Phoenix. Similarly, a man or women in their 60s can carry a cane without suspicion, but not so for most men in their 20s without disabled veteran identification or a note from their physician. Truckers can carry tire checkers in the cabs of their big rigs with nary a second glance by law enforcement officers, but it might seem odd if one were found in a passenger car. Likewise, it seems normal for bicyclists to carry a bike tire pump, but not so for pedestrians to tote one. (A clip-on bike tire pump extends much like one of those often-banned collapsing batons.)

One great self defense item that can be carried in a car is a long Maglite flashlight. But keep in mind that anything longer than a 4-cell light might look too much like a baton and arouse suspicion unless you are an off-duty LEO or security guard. Also note that LED replacement bulbs for MagLites are available, and highly recommend. (They greatly extend the light's battery life.) There has also been some discussion in SurvivalBlog of small impact weapons, such as kubotans. These are banned in some locales, but their pen equivalents generally aren't. For example you could carry a Mini Maglite, a Cold Steel Pocket Shark pen (be sure to sand off the markings) or for a touch of class, a Mont Blanc Meisterstuck. Even an innocuous pocket comb can be an effective weapon, in the right hands. And then there is always the ever-popular roll of quarters (preferably in a stout plastic tube), for "making emergency calls at pay phones." All the usual self-defense provisos apply: Get the requisite martial arts training, and be sure to thoroughly research you state and local laws. Stay safe, and stay legal, folks!

Have you cleared that crucial defensible space around your house and barn?

   o o o

Snuffy sent us the PDF link to an excellent detailed analysis: Trade Off: Financial System Supply Chain Cross-Contagion--a study in global collapse.

   o o o

In this age of cell phones and text messaging, cultural flash mobs are quite popular, even in Russia. Of course, there is also the ugly flip side to folks having that level of organization and communication. (BTW, please don't take the latter link as some sort of racist statement. For the record: I'm an anti-racist.)

   o o o

B.B. sent this sad tale of life in the big city: City of Norfolk using eminent domain to take 78 year old company. Alarmingly, the city doesn't even have any plans for using the property, once they have it. What petty tyrants! Here we witness both an unjustified "taking" and a violation of freedom of speech. Out here in the hinterboonies, the only takings that we see rarely occur when the state needs to widen a highway. That is justifiable. But Old Dominion's land grab clearly isn't.

   o o os

B.B. sent this: The Bones of Fast and Furious: Hillary Clinton Deep In It?

"We, in our rush toward God knows what, acquire, or spend our earthly span trying to acquire wealth, culture, fame, luxury, scientific efficiency—and more wealth. We surround ourselves with telephones, tickers, jazz, orchestras, subways, bootleg gin, dress clothes, taxicabs, motor parkways, science, glittering hotels, psychoanalysis, alarm clocks, forty thousand brands of phony religion, squawking movie palaces, nickel-in-the-slot divorce. We call it civilization. But we know darn well there’s something wrong with it." - Charles F. Chapman, Editor of Motor Boating, magazine, excerpt from his commentary of March 1931, as quoted in the book The Legend of Chris-Craft by Jeffrey L. Rodengen

Monday, June 25, 2012

Mondays are usually product review days at SurvivalBlog. Today we are posting two: One by our Field Gear Editor, Pat Cascio, and one by SurvivalBlog Editor At Large Michael Z. Williamson.

The past several months, I have been buried in products to test and evaluate for SurvivalBlog readers. While this is a good thing, it's also a "bad" thing - some products take quite a bit of time to test. My time is limited each day, and I do my best to give all the products a fair and honest evaluation for SurvivalBlog readers. And what you read in my articles, are findings based on my testing and my final opinion of the products. No one pays me to feature their products in my SurvivalBlog articles. I know a lot of folks believe that gun and knife companies pay magazine writers to write about their products, and that simply isn't true, at least in my case. I've been writing magazine articles for 20 years, and I've never once had any company offer to pay me to write favorable things about their products, and I don't know of any other reputable writer who has been offered money to write favorable things about anyone's products.

Chad, who runs the Internet Prepper web store contacted me about a month or so ago, and wanted to send me one of his Ceramic Drip Water Filter System, made by the Just Water Company. Chad e-mailed and asked: "Pat, I'd really appreciate an honest review of the filter system..." That's refreshing to hear from someone. I've had a few companies contact me, and asked me if I would give their products a favorable review and asked what I was going to say about their products - before they even sent me their products. I make no promises to anyone, other than I'll give their products a fair shake and write an article. I've also been asked if I can guarantee them that the article will appear on SurvivalBlog. I refer them to Jim Rawles, he is the editor of Survival Blog for that answer. (Be advised that the editorial calendar is packed, so there are often delays.)

Chad told me that he is a USAF veteran, and he picks and packs each filter order personally. They ship from Dallas, Texas, usually the next business day via Priority Mail. True to his word, my sample filter arrived in short order, via Priority Mail.

Some water filtration systems can cost hundreds of dollars. Some are as little as $15 - but they don't all filter well, and they don't filter a large volume of water, either. There are many products on the market these days, and you are only limited by your imagination and funds, when it comes to water filtration systems. Like most folks, my funds are limited, and I carefully shop around for the best products for my budget.

The Just Water Company had their Ceramic Filter Drip System tested by Johns Hopkins University and a number of other independent labs, and they all concluded that it exceeds FDA and NSF standards for filtering water. Cooper was kind enough to send me a copy of some of these reports along with the sample filtration system. Keep in mind that this filtration system does not remove viruses - so if you are concerned about this in your water, it's best to add a bit of chlorine to the water. However, most water filtration needs are easily met by this system, including the removal of Giardia and Cryptosporidium - two of the really nasty bugs in water, that can kill you.

Johns Hopkins noted in their letter that the treated water should be protected from recontamination in a safe storage vessel - which is part of this filtration system.

Okay, what I received from Chad was the filtration system, which consists of the silver-impregnated ceramic water filter, with a "sock" pre-filter that goes over the filter for keeping out larger particles that could clog the ceramic filter. The system also comes with a spigot and other neat things for getting this filtration system up and running. What this system does not come with are two standard 5-gallon plastic buckets. Those you must purchase yourself. No big deal here, the local big box store had food grade buckets for under $10 each. You will also need a drill and a couple drill bits in order to make the two buckets into a complete filtration system. It doesn't take any special handyman skills to drill a couple holes in the buckets to connect the upper bucket to the lower, and install the spigot. You'll also need a rubber band or two. I won't go into the details of how to get this system up and running. You can read it on their web site - but it only took about 10-minutes of time to get it all up and running . It was a piece of cake!

The biggest concern you have to be aware of it that, you make sure there are no leaks between the two buckets - or the water will get re-contaminated - as pointed out by Johns Hopkins. And, if you've installed everything correctly, there won't be any problems.

Okay, I'm the first to admit, that I'm not the most patient person in the world - far from it. In the instructions that came with the filtration system, it talks about the flow rate you can expect from this simple system, which is about 3/4 to 1 gallon per hour. The flow rate increases as the ceramic shell and mixed media inside the ceramic shell become saturated with water - this can take a couple of days for the flow rate to really get going. So, don't try to rush it - there's nothing you can do to make the filtration system flow faster to start with - a couple days is what it took in my case - just as advertised.

With daily use, you can expect a year's worth of filtered water with this system. When the flow rate decreases, this indicates that the "sock" and the filter might need to be cleaned. All that is needed is a pair of rubber gloves to remove the sock and rinse it in clean water, and a green Scotch-Brite pad to gently rub the surface of the ceramic filter. Rinse with clean (filtered) water and you're good to go for another year - or whenever you see the flow rate decreasing. You should be good for another year or so, depending on the turbidity of your water source.

The two 5-gallon buckets that you stack on top of one another takes up considerable counter space,. However, anyone can find a suitable place for this simply filtration system in their home. And, if the filter is only going to be used in a SHTF scenario, then who cares if it takes-up some counter space? Clean water is vital to your survival.

My water well has a large filter between the well and my house, and I have to have the media replaced every couple of years. We have what is commonly called "rust bacteria" in our water - and it comes out of the well brownish and it doesn't taste very good at times. Still, even with the big filter installed, we used a water filtration pitcher for our drinking water that removes the taste from this rust bacteria. So, I had a little something to compare thise Ceramic Filter Drip System to. I ran this system for couple weeks, and found that our drinking water actually did taste much better, that the water from the filtered water pitcher.

And, as mentioned above, if I were concerned about viruses in my drinking water, I'd add the appropriate amount of plain hypochlorite bleach to the water before drinking it. That is no big deal in my book.

You can get all the information you need about the nasty stuff that this filtration system removes from the water you run through it from the web site. The one important thing to remember is to never use any kind of soap when cleaning the filter, pre-filter sock and buckets, as it will ruin the filter.

I like to save the good news for last, and in this case, the selling price for this water filtration system is only $29.97 - and no matter how you look at it, that's one of the best bargains around. Why would you spend hundreds of dollars or more, each year, for that bottled water, that isn't nearly as clean as most people think it is? Personally, I think you are throwing your hard-earned money away when you purchase bottled water - and a lot of this is water from the same tap water you already drink - it's just placed in a plastic bottle - and you'll spend a buck apiece for this water - that you can already get out of your own tap. If you feel the need to drink bottled water, then buy a couple of bottles, and after you've emptied them, fill 'em up with filtered water from this filtration system. You'll find the water taste better than what you spent a buck for at the big box store. Just think of the savings on not buying bottled water alone. And, think of how much you're going to appreciate this filtration system when the SHTF and your only source of water might be a puddle of dirty rain water in your back yard?

The bottom line is the quality of the filtered water that comes out of this simple and inexpensive system. I don't care how stretched your finances are, you can pull together $29.97 plus shipping for this system and another $20 or less for a couple 5-gallon food grade plastic buckets, to assure your family of clean drinking water for a year or two. It's a great investment, especially for those on a tight budget, as many are today.

Amid the huge selection of autopistols these days, it's nice to see there are still some basic, reliable revolvers for those who prefer them.

The Taurus 445 is not a deep concealment gun, but is a good carry gun that fits easily in a pocket or hides well on a belt.  It's light weight (at 22 ounces), has a 2" barrel, and a 5-round cylinder.  It's comfortable to handle in adult hands, and pleasant to shoot, recoil being heavy but well-dispersed and not sharp, despite the gun's low weight.  It has Taurus' proprietary "Ribber" grips that offer great purchase and retention, and help damp the recoil.  .44 Special is an easy to find, reliable stopper, that doesn't sacrifice controllability.

The trigger broke cleanly at 11 pounds double action, 4 pounds single, and was quite crisp.  Release and ejection were positive and easy.

Accuracy is respectable.  Weather was about 60F, humidity about 45%, altitude 300 feet, no wind.  I found it easy to shoot 2" groups at 10 yards standing.  The sights picture was easy to get, and the gun shot right to point of aim laterally, a little low vertically.  Since this is a snub revolver for close defense, I didn't test longer ranges.   

It shot reliably and easily, and I burned through a box of 50 rounds in very short order.  A gun that's fun and easy to practice with is always a benefit.

The stainless alloy is very weather-resistant.  Even after a wet range trip with no cleaning for two days, the gun was untarnished and cleaned easily.

Speedloaders are available. 

The manufacturer's suggested retail price is $539, but is available from about $450 at many retailers.  Taurus offers a free one year NRA membership with purchase.

Disclaimer Note From JWR (per FTC File No. P034520): Michael Z. Williamson received a test gun for 90 day trial, which was returned at the end of the test period. SurvivalBlog accepts cash-paid advertising. To the best of my knowledge, as of the date of this posting, none of my advertisers that sell the products mentioned in this article have solicited me or paid me to write any reviews or endorsements, nor have they provided me any free or reduced-price gear in exchange for any reviews or endorsements. I am not a stock holder in any company. I do, however, benefit from sales through the SurvivalBlog Amazon Store. If you click on one of our Amazon links and then "click through" to order ANY product from Amazon.com (not just the ones listed in our catalog), then we will earn a modest sales commission.

I recently read a captivating Daily Bell interview of investing author Ron Holland, wherein he described his reasons for emigrating to Canada. In the interview, Mr. Holland stated: "I left the United States for an exciting business opportunity based in Canada but the increasing authoritarianism in the United States combined with the TSA assaults at airports do make America a threatening jurisdiction to live in or to conduct business in. Add in the threats of a real or contrived future crisis with exchange controls, a run on the dollar and an out-of-control sovereign debt situation makes me very happy to be on the outside of the American financial iron curtain and barbed wire, looking in instead of the other way around." Ron Holland is correct in many of his assertions, but in some ways, he is simply trading one form of oppression for another. Canada's gun laws stink. There, unless you fall under an exemption for law enforcement or are a member of a competitive shooting team, it is illegal to possess a magazine for a semi-auto centerfire rifle that holds more than five rounds or any magazine for a handgun that holds more than 10 rounds. There is no "grandfather" clause. If Canada's gun laws were more lax then a lot more people would consider emigrating there. But, sadly, Canada's guns laws are much more restrictive than here. And their income tax rates are only slightly lower than in the States. So I frankly can't see any substantive advantage. As for the TSA's x-rays and groin gropers, I've greatly curtailed taking commercial flights. And for the few that I do take, I've scheduled flights that originate from small regional airports. My connecting flights are at larger airports, but by then, I'm already inside the security cordon. I drive most places in my SUV. If I ever fly internationally again, it will be out of a Canadian airport. I'd love to have my own private train car, but I'm not in that league.

All people seem to have differing views of what they consider acceptable, comfortable, and "right". For example, I once had a long conversation with a friend visiting from England who considered the patchwork of laws in the 50 United States confusing and "chaotic." His comment was prompted when I was driving him to a tourist destination and I pulled over before reaching a state line to unload my pistol. He was astonished to hear that the guns laws in the U.S. weren't uniform. I personally consider it an advantage that Americans can vote with their feet and move from one state to another at will, to take advantage of differences in tax laws, guns laws, or homeschooling laws. But he saw it it as confusing and somehow "unfair." In his estimation, he'd rather see everyone living under identical laws, even if that meant some of them had to give up part of their freedom. If I have to choose between oppression and a little anarchy, then by all means give me anarchy. (Here, I must explain that though the terms are often mistakenly used interchangeably, there is a difference between anarchy and chaos. Anarchy is the absence of any government, while chaos is a state of confusion and discord, whether a government exists or not. By the Libertarian definition, anarchy is a good thing.) My desire to maximize personal freedom is one of key reasons that I originated the American Redoubt movement.

Which Liberty is the Key?

To many, some liberties are are more important than others. If someone truly wanted economic freedom, then they might consider Monaco, The Bahamas, or Vanuatu, since those countries have no personal income tax. (Just ask Mitt Romney.) But of course getting residency in Monaco would require a lot influence with the right people, and for citizenship, even more so. It is too bad that there isn't a recognized individual right to keep and bear arms in Monaco or The Bahamas, and that Vanuatu is in peril of rising sea levels. In terms of freedom from government surveillance, many Third World countries have the edge, but property crime and murder rates are higher--sometimes much higher. If firearms freedom is your concern, then countries like the U.S., Finland, Switzerland and the Philippines are some of the best, at least for full citizens. (Yes, I know that firearms freedom is even greater in Yemen, Pakistan, or Somalia--where you can buy machineguns and hand grenades at the local bazaar--but who would want to actually live there, given their high crime rates and their dislike of Westerners in general and Christians in particular?)

Tradeoffs are part of the human condition. And emigration decisions are always a collection of tradeoffs. Facebook founder Eduardo Saverin recently bailed out for Singapore for tax reasons, but that nation has perhaps the nosiest police on the planet and stiff penalties for violating their strict gun laws. McAfee Software founder John McAfee chose Belize as his hidey hole, but despite lavishing millions of dollars on the local gendarmerie, he still ran afoul of local gun laws. And multimillionaire actor Mel Gibson bought an island all to himself in Fiji, but he will still be taxed as part of the One Percent. Furthermore, there are no guarantees that laws can change, after you have moved to a perceived safe haven. The bottom line is that these is no single "perfect" country. Perhaps the Perpetual Traveler crowd has it right. But then, that approach doesn't usually provide a well-secured deep larder, for the event of a global economic collapse or other widespread disaster.

I've decided that I'm staying put in the United States, and fighting for my freedom. Of course I'll always have a Plan B and Plan C. For me, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, and the right to keep and bear arms are my priorities. If any of those three key liberties are substantially degraded here in the U.S. and I see no way of fighting to regain them without ending up behind barbed wire, then I will definitely consider voting with my feet. Note, however, that my situation is unusual. As an international journalist and commentator, I can accomplish much more by agitating for change via the Internet than I can than as just one man with one rifle. So it will only be if and when the statists try to muzzle me that it will be time to move. But again, for now, I'm staying.

I've found another possible non-power-using answer to CPAP.

Check out this oral device to simulate the chin-lift method of opening the airway used during CPR.

I have no affiliation with the above web site and I currently use CPAP. I just thought the above web site looked like an okay starting point for information and research into the subject.

If you are going to carry a weapon, in many jurisdictions within CONUS, it doesn't matter if it is a pistol, knife, or brass knuckles, all are illegal to carry concealed without a permit. (These laws vary widely, depending on blade length regulations, and so forth.) In fact, in some jurisdictions such as California, concealed carry of a "martial arts weapons" (Liberal oxymoron--aren't weapons martial by definition?) is a felony, but having a Glock tucked into your waistband is a "Class A" misdemeanor [for the first offense.] Therefore, if you are going to carry, then why not carry something truly deadly (such as a pistol). Yes, a knife can be employed nearly instantaneously, but how many of us have actually seen a knife used with ill-intent? How about a machete? Nasty business, this is. You'd better have a solidly sorted spiritual point-of-origin on these matters.

As to a martial arts system that instructs the use of an artificial (non-organic) weapon as a primary source of combat, what happens when the novice loses his knife/stick/nunchaku? What then? Without the underlying principles of motion, the beginner is wolf-bait...any system of martial arts worth its salt will emphasize the principles of applied motion, as in Newtonian Physics. Any hand-held weapon should only enhance the attack, not substitute for it. Now projectile weaponry is another matter. Just my hard-won $2.83 worth (that's $0.02, adjusted for inflation, before taxes) - Bonehedz

Big Ben’s Chicken Asparagus Rice Casserole

Sometimes spontaneity can yield a pretty good result.  This recipe was thought up on the spot at fish camp one night, and the result was a quickly emptied  pot. 

3 cups Jasmine white rice
6 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
2 lbs fresh asparagus spears
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese


Combine rice and 6 cups water.  Mix in soups and chicken breasts.  Cover and bake for 1 hour on low heat (275-to-325 degrees F), stirring occasionally.  Trim root ends of asparagus.  Mix into chicken and rice gently along with the cream and half the cheese.  Sprinkle remaining cheese over top and return to low heat for another half an hour. 

Chef's Notes: Feeds six hungry folks.


Useful Recipe and Cooking Links:

Recipe.com. (The Granddaddy of all recipe web sites.)

Rabbit, Hare and Squirrel Recipes

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

Bill Buppert's new e-book ZeroGov: Limited Government, Unicorns and Other Mythological Creatures is now available quite inexpensively, via Amazon.com. This is a collection of Buppert's essays since 2003. Several of his essays deal with family preparedness. I highly recommend it.

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The latest scandal in the District of Criminals (DC): Fast and Furious, Executive Privilege, and a Suspected Cover-Up

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Over at Mac Slavo's SHTFPlan blog: Here it is: An effective plan to convince your loved ones to prepare

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Phoenix boy, 14, shoots armed intruder while watching three younger siblings.

"The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to a close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences." - Winston Churchill, November 1939

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Today we present another two entries for Round 41 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 $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training. Together, these have a retail value of $589. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 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.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 41 ends on July 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 recently witnessed an accident that gave me great insight into what it means to be prepared for an emergency situation and what it will mean post-TEOTWAWKI, when you cannot dial 9-1-1.  It was important for me to evaluate the situation afterwards and to share the lessons I learned with others.  I have numbered the main lessons that can be learned from my situation and I hope you will find a thing or two that might be helpful to you in the future.  

I was driving from Denver to Vail after work on a Friday this past May.  Less than 10 miles from my destination, in Vail Pass, the weather quickly turned to a damp snow which collected on the highway.  As you drive through Vail Pass you gain thousands of feet in elevation over only several miles and the difference in climate can be drastic.  

I slowed my front-wheel drive 2009 Honda Civic to around 45 mph since I had already put on my summer tires (Lesson #1- Have adequate tires for the terrain or be prepared to drive SLOWLY) .  A white Jeep Grand Cherokee passed me and lost control as we crested a hill which was nearly glare ice.  The driver managed to slow it down a bit so I anticipated they would go into the ditch in the median and come to a stop. But as the vehicle went into the ditch the car did a quick, full roll and I saw a body fly out of the driver’s door (Lesson#2- Always wear a seatbelt and drive with your doors locked!  If a vehicle rolls over, the doors can easily open).  I brought my vehicle to a stop, put on my hazard lights, dialed 9-1-1 and safely crossed the highway.  As I was approaching the Jeep, while giving the 9-1-1 Dispatcher the information, I could see the driver (heavy-set woman, early to mid 30’s) crawling on the ground about 20 feet from where her vehicle landed.  I told her “Ma’am you’re okay, help is coming, please sit down right there.”  She was sobbing, shocked, and hurt but she did as I asked.  

I then looked up to see the back driver’s side door open and a young boy (who I later learned was 8) stepped out.  There were two gashes on his face that were a least 5” long; one laterally across his forehead and another vertically down his left cheek.  You could see pretty far inside the one on the cheek and blood was dripping from both wounds pretty badly.  I have minimal emergency training but a good amount of time spent with young ones so I knew I didn’t want to freak him out any more than he already was.  I bent my knees and got to eye level with him, gave him a smile and a thumbs up and said “Buddy, you’re gonna be ok, everything is going to be fine.  Can you go sit beside your mom there?  I’m gonna get help, everything is okay.”  He immediately stopped crying, stared directly into my eyes like he was hypnotized, and sat down by his mom. I could tell he wanted her to go back to the vehicle.  She stayed there, in hysterics.   (Lesson #3- Don’t freak out the kids.  They’re already scared to death and you might be too, but your face  can’t show it.  That kid probably thought I was some kind of idiot, grinning and giving him a thumbs up, but it worked.)

I walked past the two of them to look in the vehicle and could see through the open door that there were two very small children in the backseat.  Having seen the injuries to the older boy, I had a natural aversion to walking up and looking at the two tiny children still in the vehicle but the Dispatcher asked me to describe the condition of all parties involved in the accident.  (Lesson #4-You might have to see some stuff that you aren’t prepared for.

Some people with military or emergency response backgrounds will already have experience with these types of situation.  I don’t really have much advice to give other than be ready for it and don’t freak out. )
As I looked inside the vehicle I saw two little girls under the age of 4, one still in her car seat, one on a booster seat, both still buckled in.  They were crying but physically unharmed.  At that point I felt truly blessed.  Seeing those two babies moving around, trying to get out of their seatbelts was the best possible scenario, and I had been mentally preparing myself to see the worst.  The injuries to the boy seemed most serious, but not life threatening.  At this point I had given 9-1-1 all the info she needed and she said help was on the way.  I also reached in and shut off the vehicle, which was now lightly smoking/steaming from under the hood.  
My priority was to tend to the boy’s wounds and stop that bleeding.  I had a small First Aid kit in my car that I knew contained some latex gloves and gauze.  I ran back across the highway to retrieve the kit from my trunk. (Lesson #5 - I probably should have brought that kit from my car in the first place, huh?  I had never trained for this situation and had to learn this lesson the hard way.  Unless you are in a profession where you do it on a regular basis, you probably don’t spend much time thinking about having to run into an emergency situation and care for others.  Any one of us might have to be a First Responder in a given situation, so be prepared for it.)

As I returned to the accident with my First Aid kit, other people had started to gather.  One couple had pulled over just as I did but didn’t have much means to help.  At this point, we received some more good fortune.  As I went to unzip my First Aid kit and apply gauze and pressure to the young boy’s wounds, I hear a man behind me say “I’m an EMT, is anyone hurt?”  I was really grateful for this because my training is limited to a First Aid course I took back in college that has since expired.  I then gave him my first aid kit and told him that the boy was the most seriously injured.     

Myself and another young lady at that point told the mother that all of her kids were going to be fine.  I now understand why she had not run back to the vehicle while she was still moving around as I first got there.  You could tell that she had it in her mind that her kids were seriously injured or worse.  (Lesson # 6 - Don’t assume the worst.  I understand this woman was traumatized and injured from being tossed from her vehicle, but her kids were okay.  Despite how awful the situation was, it was a wonderful thing to be able to give her that news.)
Another man arrived on the scene who clearly had some training and he began to take care of the boy with a medical kit he brought with him.  The EMT, myself, and a few others took the two girls from the backseat, wrapped them in whatever clothes we could take off our backs, and moved them into another car to keep them warm.  

As the first ambulance pulled up, I breathed a sigh of relief until it did a U-turn at the median and drove the other direction down the highway.  It stopped less than 300 yards up the road where another accident had occurred. Apparently someone else had called 9-1-1 before I did.  Several more minutes passed until the Vail Fire Department showed up with all of their medical supplies.  I wanted to wait there until help arrived but at this point I was ready to get out of there.  I had done all I could for them and they were now in much more capable hands.  Only after all the action had taken place and I was returning to my vehicle did I get a bit emotional.  

The main lesson (#7) that I took from the situation was to get some training.  Ideally, anyone who is serious about survival should get EMT training, but that requires a good amount of time which most of us do not have.  At the bare minimum, everyone should have First Aid/CPR training and keep it current.  These classes are widely available and inexpensive.  Your local Fire Dept or college will offer these first aid  several times a year.  
If you are part of a survival group, all of your members should have basic First Aid training and someone should be trained as an EMT or better with some serious research into field/survival medicine.  SurvivalBlog has a large section of First Aid/Medical related articles and JWR has several recommendations on survival and field medicine books.  Be sure to pick some up and share them with your group’s Medic. (You do have a group Medic, right?).

Another lesson (#8) to be learned is to always have some sort of emergency kit in your vehicle.  The EMT was helpful, but more helpful because I was able to provide him with some of the tools he needed to care for someone who was injured.  The trunk of my car contains:

  • Basic First Aid kit (gauze, bandages, rubbing alcohol, Neosporin, a few small splints, etc...)
  • Wool Blanket
  • Space Blanket
  • Fleece coat
  • Gloves
  • Road Flares
  • Zip ties
  • Small tool kit (screwdriver, wrench, sockets, etc.)
  • Strike anywhere matches
  • Small bag of food (granola bars and a few cans of tuna)

All of these items take up less than 2’x2’ of space in my trunk.  Keep in mind that my kit is tailored to my needs.  Someone who lives in coastal Texas or a desert in Arizona will have different items than someone who travels through the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

Now last but not least, it is important to put my experience into context.  What I described was how we were able to handle an emergency situation until the cavalry arrived, so to speak.  What if there was no 9-1-1 to call?  What if someone is seriously injured and the buck stops with you?  For most people in the United States, help is only minutes away and we live our lives with a notion of security because of that.  If you are reading this site, you are already acquainted with the notion that someday there may be no emergency services to rely on.  This will require us to have a greater level of training and to take much greater precaution in our day to day lives.  A minor injury today could be life threatening post-TEOTWAWKI.  Please evaluate your level of preparedness and take the steps to get the training and supplies that you need.  I hope my situation serves as an example that anyone could be in any situation at any time.  You don’t need to be a Doctor or an EMT to help someone, but you do need to be prepared. 

Prepping is full of assumptions.  We prepare because we assume that something could go wrong in our lives and that it is our own responsibility to take steps to assure that we come out smelling like roses.  Others don't prepare because they assume that nothing could go wrong in their lives and that someone else will take care of them.  We buy long term storage food because we assume that there will be a food shortage in the future.  Others barely have enough food in the pantry because they assume the pizza place will always be able to deliver and that they can send someone to the grocery store on the corner to pick up the smallest bag of sugar because they only need 1 cup to finish the recipe.  We stock up on spare parts, spare clothes, spare batteries, spare medicine, extra ammo, extra deodorant, extra cash, cans of fuel, etc, etc, because we assume there will come a day when we wont be able to just run down to the massive store that sells everything and get it all in one stop.  Others would have a very clean garage without the smell of gasoline, beautiful pantry cabinets so organized that everyone that comes over is so jealous as to how organized and clean their house is, because they assume that they can always run to the store no matter what time of day it is and get whatever is their immediate need. 

Assumption is one of the biggest banes for anyone that is concerned about safety.  I worked as a technician in the oilfield for one of the largest technology companies that is present on land based drilling rigs.  If there is a safety-conscious industry, it is the oil field.  Every company working in the oil field is required by law to do mountains of paperwork, proving that the company is safe.  There is so much emphasis on slowing down, being aware and not assuming anything.  Double check everything.  Don't assume that there is not anyone behind your work truck,  have someone check and watch for you as you back up, or never park in a spot where you have to back up.  Don't assume that the guy driving the heavy equipment sees you walking across the drilling location,  always take the extra time to verify your presence with everyone.  Working on the cattle ranch that my father and I run,  I also find that assumptions can get you killed.  It is a lot of fun working with my father.  We think very similarly.  This means that we work together very efficiently.  This also means that we assume to always know what, where, when and how the other is going to act.  These assumptions have almost left me ran over, squashed, banged, or hurt some other way on multiple occasions.  The same goes for him.  There have been times where my assumptions have almost gotten my father hurt.  We have discussed the situations and have made ourselves slow down and take our time.  The most important thing is for us to make it home at night.    We as preppers pride ourselves on our long trains of thought which are supposed to end in discovering every possible scenario and how to overcome them.  There are many times where we still make assumptions that could leave us in a whole lot of hurt.  The most present assumptions that I am finding around me has to do with electric generators.   

It was about five years ago that my part of the county had another “Ice Storm” scare.  Everyone that had lived thru the original “Ice Storm” back in the early part of the millennium knew what could be in store.  Generators flew off the shelves.  My parents went and purchased a brand new gasoline generator.  My in-laws did as well.  Last summer I helped my mother in-law clean out her garage.  There, still in the box was the generator.  I asked her if she had ever ran the generator.  Her reply was simple,  “No.  We've never needed it.”  I then asked “How do you know it will work?”  Another simple reply,  “Why wouldn't it.  It's brand new in the box.”  I made her help me get it out of the box and I tried to start the generator.  Do I need to tell you the result?  After a couple of hours exhausting my small engine starting tricks, the generator produced no more electricity than a rock would.  She insisted that we take it back to the store and get it replaced.  “Ma’am, we have a 30 day return policy.”  We called the company.  “Ma’am, the warranty has expired.”  The next step was to take it to a small engine repair shop, but we ran out of time that day.  Guess where the generator is.  In it's box, back in the garage and it has never made it to the repair shop.    My parents have a similar generator sitting in the garage.  There is a major difference between the generators.  My in-laws have opened their box.  My parent's have not even broken the tape on the box to make sure all the parts are there.  I have tried to explain to them that their warranty expired without even the box being opened to make sure that the box actually contains a generator and not a couple of sand bags.   

This spring I purchased a tri-fuel generator with a well known engine and a well known power house.  I was very excited for the day it would arrive.  That night I went to fire it up.  It needed engine oil.  I didn't have any.  I just assumed that it would come with some.  It was not till the next day that I was able to get some and fire the generator up using gasoline.  That was back in February.  It was just during this last week that I was able to find and purchase all the “not included” parts to be able to run the engine off of propane.  It was a good thing I didn't need to run it using propane prior to this last week.  The next step is to get what is needed to connect the generator to the natural gas line that runs to the house.  Both my in-laws as well as my parents are always curious why I spend so much time working on the generator.  There is no need for it during the summer.  My answer is always, “I don't want to have to worry about it when I do need it.” 

Walking down this long road of assumptions brings me to another recent event in my prepper world. I have a lot of new work boots in boxes.  The company that I used to work for would buy us new work boots every six months regardless of the condition of our present boots.  I take good care of my boots and they normally last me a long time.  Needless to say I was able to stock pile my work boots.  As a prepper, this is a great situation to be in.  I just recently had to get the pair that I have been wearing for over a year, resoled.  So, while they were at the cobbler, I got out a new pair of boots.  I had not even worn this new pair of boots for a full week when the sole on both boots just peeled off.  So much for assuming that a new pair of boots ought to act like a new pair of boots.  I have now worn all of my boots for at least a week to ensure they meet my expectations.  Now I am sure that my boots will function when they are needed.  Just as my boots could not meet expectations out of the box, it is imperative to wear and use your bug out bag and the equipment in your bag.  The very next day after my first outing with my new BOB, I ordered all new buckles for the lap belt.  The ones that the bag came with would just loosen on their own.  If I had not tested the bag I would have never known.  Making the 200 mile trek to my retreat with bad buckles would have been more eventful then it should been.    

As preppers, we purchase a lot of equipment.  Most of this equipment will not be used to any great extent until a crisis arises.  Do not assume that your equipment will work as advertised.  Test it.  Use it.  It is during these times of use that the warranty is important.  A warranty is there to protect you from a manufacturing fault and to ensure that everything works as advertised.  My final scenario has to do with an emergency water pump that my father and I decided to build this spring.  We had to replace the actual down hole pump that ran his sprinkler system.  While we were waiting on the pump to come in, we decided to build a hand powered water pump using ¾ inch PVC and a check valve. The design was simple.  The parts were easy to work with.  The PVC cement did not want to function as cement should.  We primed and glued.  The joints would just not hold.  We even let it set over night.  The joints would just come apart.  It took an entire week of working in the evenings after work and a new bottle of cement to finally get water to come out the top of the pipe.  It sure was a good thing we did not assume that PVC cement would work when we needed it the most.  Remember that assumptions are just that, assumptions. 

A crisis is only a crisis if a tried and true solution is not available.  Work with your gear and become familiar with every aspect of your gear.  It is only thru testing and training that your assumptions will be eliminated.  


I'm in the process of gearing up my ham radio capabilities, as well as trying to coordinate with my neighbors.  I was listening to today's podcast from survivalpodcast.com and they mentioned a web site called radioreference.com as a method of identifying what radio frequencies your local government entities operate on.  While I was on that site, I was excited to find an amateur radio search link where you can do a search of ham licensees, by ZIP code.

I looked up my zip code and was amazed at the number of ham operators listed there.  By registering on the site, you can pull up the address of each licensee and look them up.  You can note their geographic proximity to you so that you know where your extra eyes and ears are located.  You can also use your nearby ham operators as a basis for organizing your neighbors, as the ham operators might likely have a prepper mindset.

Regards, - Curtis in Texas

Hi James,
I heard your recent radio interview with Alex Jones. It it you mentioned Darknets [such as Tor] and IP addresses.

I happen to use the following tools for security. Perhaps they will be of use to SurvivalBlog readers:

To make it easy to find IP addresses, I use ShowIP. This is a little tool add-on to Firefox and works a treat, makes saving favorite web site numeric addresses a breeze.

Private VPN tunneling:  Normally this is difficult to say the least, by TunnelBlick is great, easy to use, and I use RiseUp for both secure anonymous e-mail and secure anonymous VPN. And by the way, both of those are free services.

I use Flashblock  to stop all those annoying pop-ups and flash banners, that are not only annoying but also harvest info about your system, location, etc. (Bad :-( ) 

I use the QuickJava Plugin to enable / disable Java data harvesters.

User Agent Switcher is great for obfuscating your browser, system, etc. 

RefControl is an extension for Firefox that lets you control what gets sent as the HTTP Referer on a per-site basis. great for privacy and for ensuring you can still go to "broken / unavailable" (i.e. taken down) sites.

All of the aforementioned tools work with Firefox. (Apologies Internet Explorer (IE) users, but I do not use IE because they collect far too much data and hand it over to the authorities far too easily.) 

In your browser preferences pane, look for privacy and ensure that "private browsing" is enabled. Always ensure the setting for deleting cookies is set to delete them when you close your browser, as well as emptying the cache, history, etc. 

If you use Gmail, Yahoo Mail, MSN Mail or anyone else, ensure that e-mails are downloaded and not keeping copies on the server, and that the history is not collected by Google when browsing. (Go to "Settings" in your Google / MSN / Yahoo account) 

On the main setting on your PC / Mac / whatever, ensure that your language settings are not USA English, just English. For your time zone, pick another location along the same time zone as yourself. For example, if you live in London, use Dublin, Iceland, Sierra Leone, or whatever, you will still show the same time but not your location, you get my drift...

Do not enroll in a Twitter, Facebook whatever account. Get real. The people that you meet there are not your 'friends" your real friends will seek you out personally. Using "social-networking" sites only increases your digital identity and leaves you open to all sorts of problems. Enough said.

I could go on all day in this vein but you have here a decent start for online security.  Warmest Regards, - Ed (a UK Prepper)

JWR Replies: To reiterate what I mentioned in the interview that you mentioned: I do indeed recommend taking note of the IPv4 or IPv6 addresses of your favorite web sites.

For the basics on darknets see the Darknet Wikipedia Page. That will then inevitably lead you to The Onion Router (Tor.)

It is also notable that Firefox now has a Tor plu- in (included in the Tor bundle) that is easy to toggle on and off.

My advice: Dig in and study this topic in depth. Be ready to go dark, as needed. But be careful: Do not let you kids wander around unsupervised in the onion realm, as there are a lot of sinful sites in the darknet world.

M.E.W. spotted this: India Confronts 'Untreatable' Tuberculosis

   o o o

Here is a video that sums up my reply to all those who claim that my children are "deprived of social interaction" by being homeschooled. Is this the crucial "socialization" that they are lacking? If so, then I'm glad that they are missing out.

   o o o

After a long delay while the manufacturer's supplies were tight, Camping Survival finally has some WaterBOB bathtub water containment systems back in stock.

   o o o

Kevin S. spotted this: Brace for the Apocalypse! Surviving the Worst in an Inland Lifeboat

   o o o

Michael Z. Williamson (SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large) sent this from DefenseTech: Brits [re-]militarize Jeep Wrangler for spec ops duty

"Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.
Deliver the poor and needy: rid [them] out of the hand of the wicked." - Psalm 82:3-4 (KJV)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Today we present another two entries for Round 41 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 $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training. Together, these have a retail value of $589. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 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.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 41 ends on July 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.

As a theater teacher and director I am primed for drama.  I hunger for it.  But what to do while waiting for the aliens to land, the dollar to collapse, the bombs to start flying, or Yellowstone to have its say?  I have always told my actors, don’t rehearse it, do it.  After all, preparation is important, but performing is better.  Act as if you have an audience now and do it the way you will perform it.   I am new to this “prepping” phenomenon.  It can be an overwhelming, and for some of my friends, an inexplicable thing.  So what can I share that is useful?  For those well into the process, maybe just a confirmation of things they already know and do. For those who are just starting out and wonder what to do first, I would offer the following Drama Queen version of prepping and sustainable living. 

The saying “write what you know” inspired me to use theatrical terms to outline ways I have become more prepared.   My former Navy Corpsman husband and I have made some simple but profound changes in our lifestyle.  While we may not be living the post-apocalyptic dream, we know that current conditions in this world aren’t exactly normal, and they don’t seem to be getting any better.  Crazy weather? Check. Fossil fuel?  On the way out.  Economic stability?  Um, since when?  So, it makes sense to live now the way we may be forced to live later. In a very real sense, The End Of The World As We Know It has already arrived. 

THERE ARE NO SMALL PARTS, ONLY SMALL ACTORS   Maybe you are the sort who feels “unless I can do the whole thing and do it perfectly I don’t want to do it at all.”  Rather like those who say, “unless I am cast as the lead in the play, why bother?”  Remember, like the chorus members on stage, no matter how small your efforts, they make a difference.  Even a simple change will lead to more.  Here are some baby steps for your role as Third Guard From the Left, before you take on your End of the World tour as Hamlet.  There is no limit to ingenuity, so start creating instead of tossing away.

Compost food waste
   We used to just throw things out.  Now we sort items into what is recyclable or garbage, and happily compost what’s not eaten or used by us.  Our eco footprint has gone from Godzilla to Cinderella, and in such easy steps.  What’s more, we are creating soil for next year’s healthy garden from this year’s waste. 

Look at your yard with new eyes –
Our back yard has a bumper crop of dandelions.  I used to curse them as noxious weeds.  Not anymore.  Why curse something that has the ability to relieve liver disorders, aid the pancreas, maintain bone health, and cure acne? What an awesome plant!  Not a weed.  Not anymore.  And if you don’t fancy the taste, then feed them to your chickens and you will have happy feathered friends and healthy eating eggs. 

Find new uses for common items
– One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.  For example, make a sterno burner using tuna cans, cardboard and old candle wax.  Or transform aluminum pop cans into solar heating devices.  

Light up your life  
Some call it energy conservation – I call it love light.  Candles are so much more romantic than conventional lighting.  We really enjoy candlelight dinners, and choosing to use electricity less not only saves money, but reminds us of the need to look to other sources for our energy needs.  Remember, TEOTWAWKI is now.  What happens if the power goes out permanently?  You’ll need a lot of candles…so here is a crazy way of extending candlelight – not romantic, but very practical: One tub of Crisco, one candlewick, 45 days of candlelight

JOIN A GREAT CAST OF PLAYERS Being a jack of all trades is useful, but exhausting.  Plays have multiple characters for a reason; and it takes the onstage and the backstage crew to succeed.  Being with like-minded people in a community is so much easier than doing it alone.  TEOTWAWKI isn’t a one man or one woman show – this is a huge production.    Here are ways to find cast members for your local production:

Join a community garden – Take 30 strangers, put them in a room and tell them to start planning a garden.   I thought it would be more like our current political process –a lot of talk, not a lot of progress.  Wrong.  We planned, we plotted, we laughed, and disagreed, and then kept working to make things right.  A perfect example of what can work in the democratic process as well as a wonderful way to learn more about gardening.  We know and grow with a variety of people; some are experienced gardeners, others are beginners who kill off their first three tries at tomatoes.   We also have refugee families who are starting new lives and have knowledge to share.   Find a local group of your own – there are opportunities everywhere.

Get to know your neighbors
– That crazy guy down the street?  The charming lady across the way?  They may be the ones who help you most if the fertilizer hits the fan.  Also, a group of watchful neighbors are less likely to fall victim to mob mentality, and it is far better to know who is right next door in a catastrophe. 

Make friends with those who work or shop at places that give you knowledge and help 
When you find an excellent source  of products for your home, your garden, or anything else,  chances are the people who shop or work there are just as valuable as the items purchased, often even more so.   We have learned from others’ mistakes without having to make them.   When in doubt, ask.  Better to look stupid now, than stupid later.  Wish we’d thought of that before we tried storing potatoes in a freezing cold shed….

DON’T JUST STUDY THE SCRIPT – GET MEMORIZED   Old school knowledge is out there – and Google won’t be around in a catastrophe, so having written as well as practical knowledge is critical. Here are some remarkably useful scripts for your prepping role:

Making It: Radical Home Ec for a Post-Consumer World by Kelly Coyne & Eric Knutzen. If the authors can do what they do on a 1/12th of an acre plot in the heart of Los Angeles, what’s your excuse?  Want to make your own soap?  Transform your backyard into a haven of healthy foods?  From the minuscule to the mighty, Making It takes you from easy day to day projects to yearly concepts that will free you from manufactured dependency.  The ultimate guide for a homemade life.  We’ve made our own tooth paste, soaps, and conditioner. We’ve brewed beer, made wine from our grapes, and are looking for more and more ways to produce instead of consume.

The Original King Arthur Flour Cookbook
The Holy Grail of Cookbooks.  I kid you not.  King Arthur and his knights would have gone on a quest for this one and come back to happy castles.  Over 600 pages of recipes – and just with flour. Breads, cakes, cookies, biscuits, muffins, scones, etc, etc, etc,.  But the value in this book is far beyond the fantastic recipes.  There is history, and not just 40 years ago history, but the history of hundreds of years of working with glorious grain.  There are fascinating stories about why the recipes came about and what to do to amend them to make them your own.  I learned more about breads and cooking with this one book than any other.  Now I can make Braveheart-worthy scones, our whole wheat banana bread begs bananas to go brown, and the list of deliciousness goes on and on...   By the way, the company is as cool as their compilation.  Top quality healthy flour for over 200 years, King Arthur Flour is a company our country can be proud of.  www.kingarthurflour.com 

The Vegetable Gardener's Bible by Edward C Smith   My husband and I both come from families that garden – but we hadn’t planted anything since we were kids.  It was daunting to start our garden last year out of the tangled mess of weeds that was the back yard.  We planted peas too late and corn in bad soil.  But the things that worked were amazing.  All summer and into the fall we had the joy of harvesting beans, lettuce, cabbage, tomatoes and potatoes that were all our own.  Every time we wondered anything about any type of veggie we grabbed the Bible.  And it came to pass that our vegetables grew.  And lo, they were delicious to the taste, and were very plentiful.  And we looked upon our garden and said, yea verily, this is heaven!

Crisis Preparedness Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide to Home Storage and Physical Survival by Jack A. Spigarelli Where to start with food storage? This book has lists for what you need and instructions on what to do with your stockpile written in a practical and understandable way.  It details not only crisis options but day to day food production and preservation tips. We now have our year’s worth of food storage, which came together bit by bit, rather like learning lines for Shakespeare.  You don’t get it all in one sitting, just take it one line at a time.  Another package of sugar here, extra case of beans there, and then one day – ta-da!  Food storage.
TRUST THE DIRECTOR   Many a great actor has butted heads with their director.  It always ends the same.  The Director wins.  This wonderful planet, our Mother and Home, has a plan.  We can fight it, or we can go with the flow.  Evolution and Nature are far more resilient than even the most stubborn human, so learn from the Director.  Watch how She does it.  After all, She’s been at this a lot longer than we have. Lessons in what can be done are all around us.  Can you grow citrus in the Austrian Alps?  Trick question?  The answer is yes, if you are Sepp Holzer.  He learned how to mimic nature’s ability to create micro-climates with ponds, trees, rocks, and plant diversity.  He has proven beyond a doubt that there is no limit to what you can grow if you understand how Mother Nature works.   For the amazing details read Sepp Holzer's Permaculture: A Practical Guide to Small-Scale, Integrative Farming and Gardening.

BE A METHOD ACTOR – LIVE THE ROLE Gandhi said it best, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”  The first part of being the change is changing yourself first.  Do you despise Monsanto’s and other big corporations and their world-ignorant practices? Then live a clean life and do not give them your time or money.  Inform others.  Stand up for what you believe and do not give in to the opinion or even the mockery of friends.    The Ant prepared for winter all summer long despite what the Grasshopper said about “take it easy” and “why work so hard?”  The world has changed.  We are the change.  

You have a voice, and maybe you feel like the littlest Who in Whoville on a political dust mote of individual unimportance, but say something.  Do something.  Others will add their voice to yours and what was just one “No!” will soon resound worldwide. 

Is it important to you?  Get behind it with support.  Is it appalling and wrong?  Don’t add your money to it.  Don’t buy things that hurt others in the process of production.  We have options, and the sooner we spend the way we truly feel the better those options will become.

FDA approved…hmmmm.  Why would the government let us eat/drink/take things into our bodies that are harmful?  Why would anyone knowingly let a product out on the market that is known to cause cancer or other drastic side effects?  Sorry, Pollyanna, it’s not the sunshiny world it should be.  The hard truth is your lack of health makes you a cash cow that is part of a trillion dollar industry of disease and distress.  But not anymore.  Not if you are willing to read labels, stand up for preventive health measures, and become an informed consumer.  If it says “High Fructose” we put it back on the shelf.  We have learned more than we wanted to know about what is in processed foods.  We are picky eaters now, but so much healthier.

TIME FOR DRESS REHEARSAL    When our second refrigerator in the garage died, we had a crash course in what happens with no power.  The food within was instantly “use it or lose it.”  We saved some, lost some.  So, we are now in a more active dress rehearsal mode.  My man frequently asks the question, “If today we found ourselves in a major crisis, what would we most regret NOT doing?”  We work on that answer first.  Recent endeavors include: Honey, I Can’t Make it Home Day using GMRS hand held radios, Little House on the Prairie Day with no electricity, and All Shook Up earthquake prep day.  Dress rehearsal is a great way to find out what works and what doesn’t, and who is up for performance, and who needs a bit more stage time…

AS THE FINAL CURTAIN GOES UP…  The Greatest Performer this world has ever known lived His part perfectly:  “Love thy Neighbor As Thyself.” Imagine a world of loving, caring, planet-conscious humans whose role it is to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and care for those in need.  More than just mankind caring for our own, imagine finally understanding that being one means every living organism, from the smallest microbe in the dirt, to the molecules of air, the vast oceans of water, and every form of plant and animal life.  Everything should be protected and esteemed by us as caretakers of this beautiful Earth. 

Start with the understanding of One Home.  Take care of every needful thing for you and your family and then help others to do the same.  Eventually you will come to understand that we truly are one world.  One family.  Why classify by color, race, country or creed?  They are only the costumes we wear for this particular performance, and as Will Shakespeare, another great performer said, “All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players: They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts.”  The part you have been cast in is a critical one.  You were born to play it.  So act your part with pride, fellow Preppers.  TEOTWAWKI is now.

In survival situations, men use tools to get an edge over their opponents. If a man has a pistol, you want a rifle; if a man has a knife, you want a pistol and so on and so forth. Firearms are not very useful without training and the same can be said about bladed weapons such as knives and swords.

Eventually guns do run out of bullets or malfunction and you might find yourself in survival situations with only a knife or a machete. Things that can go wrong in survival scenarios seem to go wrong. You may be separated from your guns for some reason.  Training to fight with a knife or sword only makes sense, because the normal order of effectiveness starting at the top would be rifle, pistol, sword, knife, stick, empty hands. Fighting without weapons using only your feet and hands is dead last, no pun intended.

Instead of spending your time learning an empty handed martial art, I am going to recommend studying a martial art that starts immediately with weapons, including swords and knives but which also includes impact weapons such as sticks and canes as well as empty handed techniques as part of a complete system. For that we look to the Philippines-- not because they are the only ones to learn to fight with bladed weapons- which they are not,  but because they kept the martial art true to its roots instead of turning it into a sport or spiritual quest.

The Philippines are made up of thousands of small islands. Waves and waves of invaders have come to these islands, from the island next door and from as far away as Spain, Japan and the United States. The local villages learned how to protect themselves with practical martial arts that started right away with weapons. They were interested in survival and defending the village and not on spiritual pursuits, discipline or sporting contests. They also decided some legal disputes with duels. Their way of fighting didn’t have room for things that didn’t work and were not for sporting games.

The Filipino art of Pekiti-Tirsia-Kali begins with weapons and ends in empty hands. This is the exact opposite of most other arts as taught in modern times.

Weapons categories in the traditional art are:
stick, sword, knife, spear, flexible weapons and empty hands. There are also variations or combinations... double weapons, or even a pairing of long weapon and short weapon, such as sword and knife.

Contrary to popular belief, and silly statements such as “don’t bring a knife to a gunfight”, bladed weapons in the hands of a trained person can beat firearms. Consider that the gun is a longer range weapon. Once a person is close, a knife cannot be grabbed and disabled like a gun can. While a gun pokes a hole in you and the effectiveness depends on the bullet and where it is placed, a sword or machete can remove arms, legs and heads. If you have your head down into your 8x scope on your bolt action rifle and someone sneaks up behind you with a knife  that knows how to use it, the “don’t bring a knife to a gunfight” comment will be seen as sick joke to you. A long range weapon is most effective at long range... a short range weapon has an advantage at close range. Firearms in general are longer range weapons, knives and swords are close range weapons. Either one can win depending on the range you find yourself in.

Two primary reasons to study bladed arts are 1.) to gain the ability to use bladed weapons when firearms are not available or would make unwanted noise 2.) the knowledge of the capabilities of bladed weapons if you are fighting someone using them.

Many gun owners seem to think that their gun is a magic wand and that someone with a bladed weapon is not their equal in the least. This is incorrect as it depends on the range. If you gut shoot someone and they cut off your gun arm at the wrist, then who won? Will your bullet stop a knife in the middle of being swung full force at your neck? Do you really think you will always have a gun and that you will never be the victim of a surprise attack at close range?

You must know your enemy and their capabilities in order to defeat them. Do not underestimate bladed weapons.

Many police officers die every year because of bladed weapons and they are all carrying guns. It has been said that the .45 automatic was created because a .38 special revolver couldn’t stop a charging Philippino with a machete or sword. Look up the “21 foot rule” to find out more what police officers have found regarding the danger bladed weapons pose to gun-carrying officers.

Training in Pekiti-Tirsia-Kali begins with the stick immediately. Though some filipino systems seem to be focused on the stick, a bladed system would also be using the stick but primarily as a training tool and less as a primary weapon. The stick is similar to a sword but without the potential tragic blunders a new student can make; It makes training safer. It also magnifies all the movements for the instructor which become much harder to visually recognize when moving to knives or empty hands. Additionally, the stick being swung and manipulated develops the body mechanics needed for all weapons categories and even empty hand strikes.

A stick can be used as a weapon, but if you train for using the sword, most of the techniques also work with the stick, which can’t be said works in reverse. Stick based techniques don’t transfer as well to bladed weapons. Watch for instructors who grab the stick right where the sharp part of the sword is- you don’t want to learn techniques that are overly focused on the stick.

The basic movements used with the stick in training are the same movements that will be used with all weapons. For example, two common strikes come down on a 45 degree angle from between the head and the shoulder of the person holding the stick. These strikes would be used to hit the clavicle if using a stick, the neck if using a sword, the neck if using a knife and the ear if using your empty and open hands. The base of the stick as a training tool represents the knife held in a downward position and the top of the stick a sword or knife held in the upward position. So when training with a stick properly you are practicing the movements of all weapons categories.

Most techniques done with a long weapon are done exactly the same or only slightly differently with different weapons categories, including empty hands. This is evidence of a system. The whole of the system is greater than the sum of its parts. You have the same responses and movements regardless of the weapon you happen to be holding in your hands. This system can take you far beyond what empty hand only systems can give you.

The problem with most martial arts is that they have lost touch with their weapons based origins or applications. There is a huge gap between firearms training and empty hands that most have neglected and that is bladed and impact weapons training. Would you rather go at a threat with a fist after your gun jams or runs out of ammo, or would you prefer pulling out a sword or knife and continue the fight with that?

Most traditional arts developed their techniques with weapons. Aikido was developed by a swordsman. Thai kickboxing came from an earlier art that included the use of swords. When I look at karate, I can see and explain the weapons based origins of what they are doing. Jiu Jitsu is what the samurai did when they lost or broke their sword. Judo was derived from Jiu Jitsu after taking out some of the more dangerous moves. After all, when you turn a martial art into a sport you don’t want injuries. Wing chun has the double short swords. Wrestling moves can be found in the old western swordfighting books, doing takedown and throws with swords in hand. Most empty hand martial arts originally came from weapons based systems.

When you lived or died and the army was defeated or victorious based on the use of bladed weapons, people spent a lot of time and energy to make the techniques and systems work. If your weapons skills were not good, you didn’t come back.

The mixed martial arts scene is late to the party and have a sports or fair fight mentality. These modern folks who think that the people who lived or died through years of battle based on their skills didn’t have a clue what they were doing need to know they are making a big mistake. Just because something is popular in the martial arts magazines or TV doesn’t mean it will serve you well in a TEOTWAWKI scenario.

Most mixed martial artists or “newly invented” martial arts or self defense systems focus a lot on empty hand techniques. If you are fighting for survival and are using nothing but your hands or feet, you have screwed up several times or are just not that smart. The most highly praised martial arts are highly praised since many of their tests of what martial arts work and which ones don’t work are based on two men getting into a padded ring with no weapons and plenty of rules of what you can and cannot do.  The reality of combat is multiple opponents with weapons and no rules.

Boxing, thai kickboxing, karate, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu are focused primarily on you not having a weapon. This is not a recipe for survival. Quite frequently some of these empty hand martial artists get in fights with people who have knives. The most frequent comment is that they never saw the knife. They are not trained to deal with knives and are trained to think of kicks, punches and takedowns. They get cut and stabbed.

Mixed martial arts are also not a system... they are collections of techniques from other traditional arts, after they had been turned into sports. If you borrow from boxing, wrestling, fencing, thai kickboxing, judo, these all had traditional roots but were turned into sports already.

Fencing is another example. Fencing surely evolved from techniques used in real life or death combat, but was slowly changed into a sport. In sports, they do many things to prevent injuries. Modern fencing has little to do with the sword arts that could be used in a real knock down drag out fight. I am not saying fencers are not deadly or for that matter that a wrestler can’t pick you up and put your head into the concrete. I am saying that those arts have been changed to focus on something other than fighting for survival.

Many traditional arts through the years lost their roots with weapons. Some of the traditional arts will teach you weapons, but only after years and years of empty hand training.

We don’t send soldiers into battle without weapons. We don’t send police to the streets without weapons. Training in empty hand arts is for bar fights, television shows and the playground.

I also like the comment attributed to Einstein- “I don’t know the weapons that will be used in world war three, but world war four will be fought with sticks and stones.”

Learning a bladed martial art with give you the ability to fill in the gap between fighting with a gun and fighting with your bare hands. It will also give you a better idea of the threat that someone with bladed weapons poses to you and also the techniques of how to protect yourself from attacks with bladed or impact weapons. A bladed weapon makes a great backup for your firearms.

E.E.'s primary problem was not the insurance. It's the design flaw and negligence that allows the small glitch to evolve to the full-scale catastrophe.

Every trouble that can occur occurs. Every trouble that cannot occur occurs too.

Firstly, the furnaces may fail - it's quite normal. I have no idea about their model but I believe they should have and so have some security automation that stopped them due to some problem (electricity?), or the fuel supply failed. The first task to design should be "The stopped furnaces should not self-destruct". How should it be done? I see at least 2 ways: either use the glycol or find some automatic valves that dump the system in emergency to the safe place.

Then, you have two furnaces. They do not heat the same area. Instead one of them heats basement and the other one heats the second floor. There is no chance that the operating furnace can heat the failed one and prevent it's destruction.

I believe that both furnaces have a common fuel and electricity supply (a redundant propane tank and proper UPS is too costly.) Any supply problem stops them both.

Then, I think, the house has the grid power (see below). If so, the emergency electric heaters should keep the temperature at least in critical areas at least above zero.

Then let us imagine that the worst occurred. Both furnaces failed, and pipes burst. Some hundred liters of water flew to your basement. Not a big trouble. But
Water exploded out of the second floor bathroom at an alarming rate, for most of a week.

It means that either you have either a communal water supply or local electric water pump. Since the grid power is simpler to obtain I believe that you have electricity. So either your water pump has not been duly stopped before departure or your intake valve in your basement has not been duly closed (And possibly not duly heated and having no way to dump water when the valve fails). It's not your design flaw. It's negligence. You believed that your furnaces are reliable and you need not close the water supply. They weren't.

And the last. Both the automatic valves that feel leaks and insulate them and the GSM controllers that can inform owners about troubles exist and can be bought and installed. But they are your last line of defense against the trouble that should not happen. - Thor A.

A reader in Wyoming wrote to ask about topping off the gas, diesel and propane tanks at his ranch. My advice: Wait until late September. I expect unleaded gasoline to be at or below $3.00per gallon by then.

QE3, by any other name: Fed Extends Twist, Signals Concerns

Commentary by Michael Casey: Let’s be frank, the Euro’s days are numbered. (Thanks to Joseph G. for the link.)

Karl Denninger: It Didn't Work (Again)

The downgrades keep coming: 15 Major Investment Banks See Ratings Cut by Moody's. (A hat tip to Diana V. for the link.)

Items from The Economatrix:

US Economy, Market Now Facing A Monetary Cliff

Wall Street Claws Back After Sharp Decline

Moody's Downgrades Gives Edge To Safe Haven Banks

Michael Z. Williamson (SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large) sent a link to a useful "Thumb Saver" device for M1 Garand owners.

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Also from Mike: 5.56 vs .223 – What You Know May Be Wrong

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Yet another expo: Doomsday-Learn-Prepare-Survive Convention and Expo at the Cal-Neva Hotel and Casino, near Reno, Nevada, June 28-30, 2012. (Thanks to Robert S. for the heads-up.)

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AmEx sent this: Deadly Bird Flu May Be Five Steps From Pandemic Potential

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Don’t Drink The Water: Study Warns Drinking From Garden Hose

"But where shall wisdom be found? and where [is] the place of understanding?
Man knoweth not the price thereof; neither is it found in the land of the living.
The depth saith, It [is] not in me: and the sea saith, [It is] not with me.
It cannot be gotten for gold, neither shall silver be weighed [for] the price thereof.
It cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir, with the precious onyx, or the sapphire.
The gold and the crystal cannot equal it: and the exchange of it [shall not be for] jewels of fine gold.
No mention shall be made of coral, or of pearls: for the price of wisdom [is] above rubies.
The topaz of Ethiopia shall not equal it, neither shall it be valued with pure gold.
Whence then cometh wisdom? and where [is] the place of understanding?
Seeing it is hid from the eyes of all living, and kept close from the fowls of the air. d
Destruction and death say, We have heard the fame thereof with our ears.
God understandeth the way thereof, and he knoweth the place thereof.
For he looketh to the ends of the earth, [and] seeth under the whole heaven;
To make the weight for the winds; and he weigheth the waters by measure.
When he made a decree for the rain, and a way for the lightning of the thunder:
Then did he see it, and declare it; he prepared it, yea, and searched it out.
And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that [is] wisdom; and to depart from evil [is] understanding." - Job 28:12-28 (KJV)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Today we present another two entries for Round 41 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 $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training. Together, these have a retail value of $589. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 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.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 41 ends on July 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Why Ham Radio?
The first question is why ham radio? What is the allure for the survivalist? When you pick up your home phone, there is a lot of equipment between your home and the person you are talking to: miles of wires, computers, power from the grid, etc. You have no control over this equipment. Cell phones are also very dependent upon expensive, complex equipment. The internet is even more vulnerable and interdependent on numerous systems.
Will these be around in a worst case scenario? How will you communicate or receive information over  long distances? Will traveling to gather information be safe? Will contact with other people be healthy and safe? Will you rely on information you might get from AM, FM, or other organized news broadcasts? These sources will probably not have power for very long, will rely on employees actually showing up for work, their locations are well known and therefore may have questionable security, and such sources are prone for takeover for propaganda and misinformation purposes during trying times.

I was living in Southern California in 2003, and almost lost my home to the Paradise Fire. Most of the local firefighters had gone north to help with other fires before our local fire started, so we were almost completely on our own. Both cell phones and land lines went down very early in the game. Not long after this experience, I got my technician license, to be able to communicate locally on Ham Radio. I became involved with a local group of hams, and helped organized a communications net.

Ham radio is one person with a radio and an antenna, talking to another person across the street or on the other side of the world, who has a radio and an antenna, with no other equipment between them - just air!
You may also find that many (if not most) hams will have political, social, and moral views quite similar to your own. Ham radio may very well be an avenue to put you in contact with a vast network of intelligent, helpful, service oriented, resourceful people that might be of great help to you in a TEOTWAWKI situation, or even in other less drastic scenarios.

How Will You Power Your Radio When TSHTF?

Many hams already have their equipment off the grid, using power sources as simple as a car battery and a small solar panel. If TEOTWAWKI happens, there will be a plentiful supply of good batteries available, as cars will quickly run out of fuel, but their batteries will be useful for much longer.

s and boats won’t be of much value to most, but will have very useful deep cycle batteries. If you don’t have access to a photovoltaic panel, with a little ingenuity, an alternator and an old bike, (or even a lawnmower engine and a small supply of gas) you can make a charger for your battery and get some exercise at the same time. There are many YouTube videos on the topic. If you are charging a battery that is not completely drained, you will not need a permanent magnetic alternator. Many car alternators will work, preferably one with an internal voltage regulator.

How Technically Complicated is it?

How complicated is ham radio? Well, the answer is that it can be very technical, and even if you are a genius, you could spend a life-time delving into it, and still not know everything there is to know about sending and receiving radio signals, designing and building  antennas, radios, amplifiers, etc. However, Ham radio can be greatly simplified. Metal resonates (vibrates), and different lengths of metal resonate at different frequencies. This is the essence of ham radio: it is about hooking up a piece of metal to a receiver or transceiver that resonates at the frequency you want to listen to or communicate on.

A good question is how much do you need to know? Your home is quite complicated. There is a lot of math that went into designing the shear panels in your walls so that they don’t fall over in a strong wind. A structural engineer designed your trusses so they can hold up your roof. An electrical engineer designed your power panel, the amperage of the breakers, sized the wire to each of your appliances, etc. Do you need to know this math in order to live in your home? Most people don’t, they just walk into their homes and turn on their appliances and appreciate that they work, and that their house doesn’t fall down.
You all have seen the 150’ towers with alien spaceship looking antennas on top of them. Those hams have taken a lot of time and spent a lot of money making their antennas and transmission systems as efficient as possible, and are talking around the world, often with just 5 watts or even less. Will that ability be important in a survival situation? Probably  not. In fact, I’ll bet  the last thing you will want is a tall tower with a beam antenna being turned around with a rotor. Not the best OPSEC.

Antennas can be Simple, Quick, and Cheap

I was on vacation at Lake Powell, Utah several weeks ago. I took a beam antenna that I had built the week before for about $100. It was designed to resonate at 14.250 MHz (the “20 meter” band is 14.000 MHz to 14.350 MHz, and is capable of world-wide communications). I used a 24’ mast made up of 4’ army surplus fiberglass poles ($1.00 each on eBay + shipping!). I had numerous conversations the first evening across the US. Unfortunately, the wind blew very strong the next day, and one of the plastic connectors between two of the poles snapped, and my antenna went down. It needed several hours of repairs before I could use it again, but I wanted to get “on the air” again that same evening.

I went into the hold of our houseboat, to see what I could use to make an alternate antenna. There are about 20 owners on the boat, so you never know what there might be down there. I found a piece of ½” x 10’ electrical conduit, an aluminum plate 1/8” x 6” x 20”, and 3 sets of jumper cables. I had a 4th set in my ski boat. Here is how I made my “free,” 15 minute antenna:

  1. I screwed a 6’ 5” wire to the bottom of the electrical conduit (I cut this from #12 wire I had brought with me to ground my radio)
  2. I then lashed the conduit to 2 sections of my fiberglass pipe, so the top was 16’, 5” off the ground.
  3. I used 3 lengths of ¼” nylon rope tied off to 3 metal stakes to hold the antenna vertical.
  4. I connected the wire from the conduit to a coax connector (an so-239 from radio shack – about $4) I robbed from my broken antenna.
  5. I grounded the coax connector to the aluminum plate with a small 3” piece of #12 wire and a self-tapping screw.
  6. I clamped the jumper cables to the plate, and ran them straight out from the plate on the ground, like an x with the plate at the center.
  7. I connected the other end of the coax cable to my transceiver.

I was able to make three contacts, one in California, one in Oregon, and one in Texas that evening using 100 watts, about the same amount of energy it takes to power one bulb in a light fixture. I was able to listen all over north and south America. This was a crude, inefficient, (but yet effective enough) vertical antenna. I knew I wasn’t going to talk to Russia or China, but I was able to communicate for hundreds of miles. For what survivalists may want, close enough will often be good enough.
You can make a simple antenna with almost anything. The wire in an extension cord would work. A piece of pipe (steel, copper, aluminum, it doesn’t matter), bailing wire, an old tape measure, etc. You could probably make dozens of simple antennas with just the exposed wire in your attic after the grid goes down. What else will you use it for?

Do You Have Space for an Antenna?

Can’t have an antenna in your HOA-ruled community? There are numerous antennas you can make with a wire suspended inside your attic. Live in an apartment and don’t have an attic or a yard? You would probably be surprised by what you can listen to by running a wire around the walls of your bedroom near the ceiling, and attaching it to your transceiver.  

Don’t have an aluminum plate to connect your ground radials? Use a metal trashcan lid, smash a beer can, use the wheel from your broken wheelbarrow. Or just use a wire nut to connect the ground radials to your coax. You don’t need a ground  plate, it just made it easy for me to clamp the jumper cables together.

Want stealth? Run the vertical wire up a tree. Several months ago I was at a Mountain Man Rendezvous. My buddy and I slung a 43’ wire up into a pine tree with a rock and a nylon string, used 2 - 100’ rolls of 3’ welded wire fencing laid on the ground in a big x (same function as the jumper cables), connected the vertical wire to the center post of a SO-239 connector, and the fencing to the ground portion of the connector with a short wire, and with my antenna tuner, were able to communicate with many hams on numerous bands.

Don’t Like Math?

The formula for the length of a ¼ wave vertical antenna (what we have been discussing here) is:
Length = 234/ Frequency in MHz
Don’t want to do the math? Thousands of geeks have already done it for you! Just google “wire antenna lengths for ham radio,” and you will find many links. For a 20 meter antenna, cut your wires 16’ 5” for your vertical and for your ground radials - at least 5, more is better (4 sets of jumper cables is actually 8 radials). The length for 40 meters is about 32’ 8”. Etc.
To get your antenna as efficient as possible, you would need an antenna analyzer, make your antenna a little longer than suggested, and tune it by cutting off smalls lengths until it resonates at precisely the frequency you are targeting. You could lay out 100 or more radials. The proximity of your house, other metal objects, the type of soil you have, the topography of your location, etc, will all affect your antenna. Is this important for a survivalist? Probably not, as perfection is not the goal. You will most likely be more interested in what is happening 1000 miles or 500 miles or 100 miles away. A simple, un-tuned wire antenna will more than easily allow you to communicate those distances. Such an antenna is very easy to hide, and is very easy to construct.

Getting Started

So where do you start? If you don’t want to transmit, you don’t need a license. Buy a radio, and build a few antennas. There are thousands of plans for simple wire antennas online. There may be reasons that you would not want to transmit. For example, transmissions can be triangulated quite easily. In ham radio, that is called a fox hunt, and 5 year olds do it with regularity. If you are just listening, no one will know it. Also, you can transmit without a license if someone with a license is with you, as long as they identify themselves with their call sign. This means that maybe only a few in your group will need a license. Also, in a TEOTWAWKI scenario, I doubt many people will be overly concerned with licenses.

I am using a Kenwood TS 590. It is a bit expensive, but I like some of the bells and whistles. It cost about $1,600, and will transmit from 6 meters to 160 meters. The Yaesu 957 is about half as big, cost half as much, uses less energy, and will transmit down to 2 meters. A hamfest is like a ham radio swap meet, and you can get some very good deals on high quality equipment. Contact a local radio club or just google hamfest.
If you want a license, it really is quite easy. You can contact your local ham club (simple to google – they make themselves easy to find), and attend a class. You probably will go to 4 or more classes at a local fire station, school, church, etc.

For some, an easier way is to go online and just start taking practice tests. All the questions and answers are online. EHam.net is a great site. The questions are multiple choice, and you only have to get about 75% correct. You will get 25% correct just by guessing! Many will say that this method will not teach you much, and they are probably correct. However, I am not one to go to a lot of classes to get a ton of information I may or may not need. I prefer to search out specific information that helps me with a project of my choosing.

I spent four evenings in a row (a Sunday to Wednesday) taking tests online for my general license, and passed it with over 90% the next Saturday. As I recall, it cost $10 for a 10 year license. I had seen all of the questions and answers multiple times when I took the exam. I knew I would learn on my own by doing, on an as-needed basis, after getting my license. I am not an electrical engineer, and I have never had an electronics class or even an electronics kit.

So ham radio can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. You can spend a ton of money building a system that will talk to Australia using about as much power as an LED flashlight, or you can build “good enough” antennas quickly out of junk laying around your back yard, and you can do it in a way that no one will even know that you are doing it.
By my way of thinking, information can be invaluable in stressful times, and you need to be able to trust the source of the intelligence you are receiving. Not only do I find the hobby fun and interesting, and filled with fascinating people that think a lot the way I do, I believe that ham radio will be one of the safest means of gathering intelligence, and one of the most reliable forms of long distance communications and information gathering should TSHTF.

I am sorry. This article is not about debating the best calibers for your main battle rifle or dehydrating meat. It is not even a topic most people consider suitable for dinner conversation. It is not about any topic that I have seen on this blog, but it is crucial if you have a retreat property and want to protect it.

You see, about six months in December 2011 ago it got very cold here in our rectangular state. Close to zero actually. But first, let’s go back another six months to May of 2011. While on the road traveling to a Midwestern state to visit family, we decided to check the local area to see if there was any property for sale.

I am sorry again. We need to go back to the summer of 2009. We were on the road to meet some friends of ours at a lake cabin. Our three boys were looking forward to spending some time with their friends swimming and jet skiing. Long story short, our car broke down on the freeway. White smoke. Puddle of transmission fluid. Heavy duty wrecker. Transmission destroyed. A familiar story. He brought us back to a small town off the Interstate. This was the Fourth of July weekend and this particular little town still had a celebration for that. While the technicians at the garage looked at our car after hours, the rest of the town was at the parade. They test drove it. To their amazement it ran, adequately. Since it was a holiday weekend and towing it back to the dealership didn’t quite work out the way we had hoped, their advice was to drive it back to town, slowly, and carefully. Okay. Well, we had to eat first. The little diner they recommended a “very small town” local cafe. We ordered. We ate. The owner asked what brought us here and we told us pathetic story. The waiter bought our dinner. We cried. We fell in love with this tiny little town just off the Interstate.

Fast forward back to May 2011. When we looked to see if there was any property for sale, we found one. And only one. It was a log home on 35 acres about 30 miles from the middle of nowhere. After looking in the big metro area of our rectangular state for such a property, we expected the price to be well north of a million dollars. It wasn’t, it was less. Much less. Enough less that we could cash out our retirement plans and buy the thing outright. Just a note here. We always seek the Lord’s advice on these matters. Actually every decision we make we ask the Lord first, but that’s another, much longer article. We made an offer on the property. They countered. We countered back. We did that a couple of times and finally made a deal. Actually, it was every nickel we could scrape together. We even took out a home equity loan as we could not get a mortgage on the property because there were comparable properties for 100 miles around and no bank would underwrite the loan despite our very above average credit. After buying it, we bailed out of work each Friday and spent the weekend at our new retreat.

Sorry to keep jumping around in the timeline, and sorry for having to keep apologizing. Back to December 2011 and the very cold winter: The log home had two furnaces. We always set them to about 60 degrees when we weren’t there to avoid any problems. We had a problem. Actually two problems. The furnace in the basement failed. And the furnace up on the second floor failed. This led to problems three through ninety-nine. Without heat, the pipes froze. Freezing pipes burst. Water exploded out of the second floor bathroom at an alarming rate, for most of a week. Part of the second floor was now on the main level, while most of the main level was in the basement. Upon arrival, we cried again.

Up until now, I really have not told you what the topic of this article is: Insurance. I now realize the importance of insurance and it relationship to a retreat property. There are a two main types of insurance. The most common, by far, is called “home owner’s insurance” and goes by several different brandings by different insurance companies. Most of these policies fall into a couple different categories, such as HO-3 for your typical policy. There is also an HO-5, which is more of a deluxe version typically for newer homes. These policies typically cover “all perils” except those specifically excluded. The other broad type of insurance is termed “Dwelling Policy.” There are various flavors of that type of policy, but typically the policies covered “named perils” only. That is, only the causal events named in the policy are covered. These policies are typically written for seasonal, vacation or rental properties. They are also written for retreat properties when the agent is not familiar with the intended purpose of the property, is negligent, or even deceitful in quoting an inadequate policy at a low rate in order to get your business.

By now, you have probably realized that we had a Dwelling Policy. If I were a betting man, I would also wager that the more intuitive are also coming to the conclusion that Dwelling Policies do not cover pipes bursting and the ensuing water damage they cause.

It actually took about a week and half before the reality set in that we had substantial damage to our retreat that was not being covered by insurance. The bill for the water extraction and drying alone was more than $16,000. We had little savings left, but had a little more room on our home equity loan which was depleted within the first month of repairs.

This is when the Lord spoke to us again. He told us that we were not treated fairly when the policy was written and to inquire with our state’s regulatory agency that oversaw the insurance industry. We were obedient. We fought. We documented. We wrote letters, lots of letters. We sent photos. We made statements of what was told to us by our insurance agent.

Now here is something that a lot of people do not know. Most service professionals, such as insurance agents, have insurance that covers them in the event that they make a professional mistake. This is called “errors and omissions” insurance. With a bit of divine-inspired digging, we found the underwriters of our agent’s “errors and omissions” insurance and put in a claim. We plead our case. They resisted. We pleaded with the regulatory agency. They wrote letters on our behalf. We pleaded some more. The insurance made a low settlement offer. We pleaded. They sent an adjuster out to estimate the damage. They made another low offer. We pleaded yet again. After six months of negotiation, we settled. It was much more than they originally offered, but not as much as we wanted. But it was close to what we needed.

Another useful term to know is “tax deduction for an uninsured casualty loss.” We were fortunate in that our retreat property was also a working ranch. This qualified us to receive a tax deduction for the portion of the loss that was not covered by insurance. Remember way up near the beginning of this article the part about cashing out our retirement plans? Well that, as one would expect, resulted in what the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) calls a taxable event. Not only that, it seems there are substantial penalties for accessing your own money before the IRS determines that it is the proper time to do so. This uninsured casualty loss deduction nearly balanced out the taxes and penalties assessed for accessing our money. It is inconvenient, but I would rather pay a construction worker to help repair the damage than have the money taken for redistribution by those above my pay grade.

As of today, we are almost free from debt again. There is a lot of work left to do to restore the retreat property to a condition, not just as it was, but Lord willing, better; the we He seems to want it. My family has moved out to the ranch full time and the boys are enrolled in the local school. I am able to work from there about half the week, spending the balance of my time working two hours away in the city. We are in the process of raising chickens and goats.

The interesting thing is that if we had a “good” insurance policy at the time, we would not have come out as well financially. Wait, that goes against the whole point of this article. Ignore that.

What I meant to say was to get proper insurance coverage for your retreat. Know what perils your property is covered against.

One more thing. Last weekend there was an “update” to the situation. Our region was devastated by a freak hail storm. I have never experienced an hour and a half of constant hail and had never in my life seen hail drift into piles more than three feet high. I now have seen both of those things. It broke out several of our windows, ruined our roof, let inches of water into our home, destroyed our car and deck, and there is not a whole lot left of our garden. The onions seems to be holding up fine, however. The car that was destroyed was the same car we were driving in 2009 and had the very same transmission that "blew up" so dramatically on the highway. But we learned from our experience earlier in the year and are insured for most of that damage. You see, we have an HO-5 policy on our retreat now. - E. E. (Living in a rectangular state.)

Dear Editor:
I suffer sleep disruption and was prescribed apnea treatment. First a CPAP then a BIPAP machine. Neither of those were right for me, so my doctor put me on ProVent nose plugs. These are little disposable stickers with one-way valves, which seal up your nostrils; you can breathe in but are forced to breathe out through your mouth, so you don't get throat blockage.

Not only did they work better for me, but I realized that since they don't use electricity they're great for grid-down situations. Score!

Their downsides are ongoing availability in a TEOTWAWKI situation, dry throat (so I keep water by the bed) and they're not covered by my insurance, so they're very expensive. $60 per month for some stickers!

I discovered that I could re-use them if I washed my nose well (got rid of oils) and dried my nose before applying. I was able to get 2-4 nights per set. But then I wondered what else I could do. I tried taping my nostrils shut with Band-Aids, and it worked! Not as well -- dry throat got slightly worse, and it's not as comfortable -- but I'm still sleeping well through the night.

I clean my whole nose with soap and dry it. Then I gently tape both nostrils shut with one Band-Aid, leaving just a small gap for a little bit of air to pass. I use real Band-Aids, which stick very well; not cheap knock-offs. I use a second Band-Aid across the top of the nose to hold the sides of the first Band-Aid, to keep it from falling off. Then I drink a big glass of water and off to bed.

I'm glad I started with ProVents just to get accustomed to mouth breathing. The starter kit was $20. I can imagine that going cold turkey to Band-Aids would have been too difficult, so I'm glad I started with ProVent. But now I don't need them.

My next change will be to a high-quality swimmer's nose plug. Speedo plugs get good reviews on Amazon, and they're less than $10. I'll get two of them, for two is one and one is none :-)

Maybe your readers with apnea will consider asking their doctor about ProVents. They're not for everyone; my doctor told me if you have congestion you'll find them difficult to tolerate. On the other hand my Band-Aid solution is like having permanent congestion, so maybe they are still an option.

Thanks for what you do, and God bless! - V.C.D.

Dear Jim,
My mantra has always been "In a world of uncertainty....Diversify!"  Sure, it does make sense to stockpile (only to a rational degree) at one's primary location and at one's primary retreat.  However, this stockpiling should not be done beyond the optimal level such that it would disallow planning for other contingencies.  You are correct that "other" countries may be worse off than the US in the event of, for example, a financial collapse....but that does not preclude these other countries being a better option in the event of other sorts of problems.  Other more localized issues might include domestic political unrest, climatic changes or disasters, legal changes that preclude staying in your primary locale, etc.  Rhodesians, of course, know all too well about the latter.  Similarly, it would be totally irrational to place all one's eggs (or even most of them) in a single or even a few foreign baskets.  I believe it does make a great deal of sense, however, to keep two or three foreign bank accounts with say $1,500-$2,000 in each.  From my experience during the Arab Spring, I can tell you that there is a world of difference between being a refugee and a being refugee with even temporarily sufficient means.  Fleeing domestic political unrest and arriving with the clothes on your back is infinitely inferior to arriving in a foreign country with $2,000 in the bank to pay a month's rent and buy groceries while you, as the Rhodesian's often say, "Make a plan".  That time to breathe and regroup is absolutely invaluable let me tell you.  

As I said, one does not want to park vast sums of money in these places but, depending on where one's social or familial support mechanism resides, having a few bucks or even a land title stashed away in Canada, Europe, Belize or elsewhere is a very decent and rational idea as part (only part!) of a larger prepping plan.  A potential retort to all of this, of course, is to horde gold and silver and cash outside the domestic financial structure so that one's wealth can be transported anywhere they might choose to flee.  While this seems like a great idea, and I know someone who did it with diamonds upon leaving South Africa decades ago, for practical purposes it might be a bit tricky to transport cash or gold outside the country in the event of a major disaster.  Airports are probably not going to be friendly places for people trying to do this.  Further, given the weight and size of many silver stashes, this might even be a more difficult option.  It seems a much better idea to diversify one's positions before things go bad: to buy your geographic and financial insurance before you need it and where it most benefits you, and to own your umbrella before it starts raining.  

Best, - Eightbore

Reader Pierre M. mentioned: Hyundai's Zombie Apocalypse Survival Car. [JWR Asks: This zombie marketing is getting out of control. I see that MTM is already marketing Limited Edition Zombie Ammo Cans and Hornady is selling a new line of ZombieMax ammo from .380 to 12 Gauge. What's next? Zombie Apocalypse collector Slurpee cups? Will Collins make special Zombie Slayer logo machetes? How about a Zombie Slayer ice cream flavor from Ben & Jerrys? Or a Zombie-theme political fundraiser? Oh, but wait, we've apparently already elected several Senators-For-Eternity that will keep getting elected long after they've assumed room temperature. And speaking of which, I have doubts about whether or not Barbara Boxer is still among the living. Those copious injections of Botox may have overcome the blood-brain barrier.]

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On a more serious note, Pierre also sent this: 4,000 years ago, solar caused climate changes massive civilization collapse

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Reader Mark A. sent this piece from Emily Miller of the The Washington Times: Gun ownership up, crime down.

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Blogger Kevin Swindle just posted an insightful review of my novel Survivors. Warning: It includes some plot spoilers.

"At its core, then, political correctness is nothing more nor less than the unjust intimidation of others into thinking and speaking a certain way. As such, it is pure totalitarian mind control." - David Kupelian

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Today we present another two entries for Round 41 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 $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training. Together, these have a retail value of $589. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 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.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 41 ends on July 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 delved into raising quail by accident. What I mean by that is that a member of a local preparedness forum that I belong to (and administrate) posted some information about them and the idea that they could be a great homestead bird, either with or opposed to the standard chicken flock. My extensive research and admittedly short experience with them has lead me to some very positive conclusions about the Coturnix Quail.
First, these are truly amazing multi purpose birds. Not only can you get an end product of extremely nutrient and protein rich meat, but they can lay an egg nearly every day and amounting to 300 per year, starting at 6 weeks of age in their first year and will continue to lay for up to three or more years, although at a declining rate. Second, they are the rabbit of the bird world regarding breeding and feed conversion. Not that they can set eggs and have a few hatches a year. In fact, you’ll certainly need an incubator because rarely do Coturnix Quail ever set on eggs. They’ve been captive bred for so long now that [brooding behavior has] just been bred out over time. The upside is the egg production. With no eggs for the hens to set and hatch then raise, they will just continue to provide your egg a day unfettered by chick rearing. Third would be demand for eggs, meat and by-product of the birds.
Starting Out, the Incubator…

Raising quail is an easy proposition and requires little of your time if set up properly. First, you’ll need an incubator. These are easily home-made or may be purchased either used or new online. In any case, a decent new incubator is not terribly expensive. I started out looking around for used ones and found them at a few on places like Craigslist and eBay. I ended up finding a nice new model that suited me from GQF Manufacturing. The one I chose is model #2365 for $91.50 + shipping. This is a basic model that runs off of 12 VDC power and also comes with an inverter to plug it into your 120 volt electrical outlet. To a prepper, the benefits of the ability to run off of 12 VDC power is obvious. This model has a built in circulator fan that keeps the temperature in the incubator even. There is an automatic egg turner available that comes with quail egg sized cups, but I chose not to add this because of the additional electrical draw. The egg turner runs 24 hours a day. The incubator will hold over 100 quail eggs without the turner. The built in fan also runs all the time. Even so, drawing less then 3,000 Milliamps at maximum load even when the heating element comes on, a deep cell battery with little recharging should run it for the entire incubation period. Pick a warm spot in your house and it will run less often.

Got Eggs?...
Quail eggs are incredible as much as or maybe even more then chicken eggs. This applies to the health benefits as well as the very short incubation period and high hatch rates. Standard Coturnix Quail eggs only require 16-17 days to hatch. The Jumbo variety only takes 18 days. The incubator temperature should stay between 99.5 and 100.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Humidity should be kept in the 40-50% range until two days before hatch. Then, the incubator goes on “lock-down”. You should stop rotating the eggs and increase the humidity to 60% during lockdown. Once the chicks hatch and dry off, they can remain in the incubator for up to 12 hours. Then, it’s off to the brooder.

Quail eggs are quite small as compared to a chicken egg. Chicken eggs tend to be around 55 grams. Standard quail eggs are in the 10 – 12 gram range and jumbo varieties can be as much as 14+ grams.  So it takes 4-5 quail eggs to equal a chicken egg. The differences in quail egg nutrition as compared to a chicken egg are many. One 10 gram Coturnix Quail egg has 3 to 4 times the nutrition of a 55 gram chicken egg. It has 13% protein as compared to a chicken egg’s 11%, It has twice the vitamin B2 and vitamin A. Quail eggs also contain three times the amount of vitamin B1 as well.  You can also get 5 times the iron and potassium along with being rich in calcium and phosphorus. Furthermore, quail eggs have a good deal of good cholesterol and none of the bad cholesterol. Thanks to an ovamucoid protein contained in Coturnix Quail eggs, they do not cause allergies or diathesis. That same protein is helpful to those suffering from allergy symptoms and, in fact, there are allergy drugs derived from this same protein. Quail hatching eggs can be found on E-Bay and there are some great breeders out there as well. A quick internet search will be very productive in locating these breeders. Quail eggs taste slightly different then chicken eggs. One reason is that the quail eggs have a slightly higher yolk to white ratio. The quail eggs are “richer” and taste better in my opinion. A great tasting way to preserve them is pickling.  They can be used in place of chicken eggs in any recipe.

Raising Quail Chicks…
Once they leave the incubator, quail chicks should be placed in a brooder. A brooder is simply a warmed container large enough to hold your chicks until they can be put in permanent breeder cages or community pens. The brooder should be kept warm, starting out at 95-100 degrees, with decreasing temperatures as the chicks grow and feather out. I, and most others, use an infra-red heat lamp suspended over the brooder. You can tell if the temperatures are too cool for the chicks as they will bunch together and try to keep warm. If the chicks are too warm they will get as far from under the lamp as they can. Brooders can be made up of any container that is high enough for the chicks to not jump out. I use plastic storage  containers for brooders and they work very well and are easy to clean. For the first 3 days I use a shelf liner material for the chicks to walk on. Using something solid but disposable helps prevent leg development problems that might occur from using a looser material. After 3 days I use hardwood pellets of the type typically used for horse stalls. The pellets break down very slowly and are highly absorbent, making them long lasting. Avoid using softwood shavings like cedar or pine. The dusts from these are dangerous for the developing chicks. Also avoid shredded newspaper. If they try to consume it, and they usually will, it can become a choking hazard or impact their bowels. Watering the chicks must be done carefully as well. The waterer must not be deep enough for the chicks to drown in. It takes very little water for this to happen. I use small bottle caps for the first three days that has some marbles in it. You’ll need to dip a couple of the chick’s beaks into the water so they know what and where it is. The others will follow along. Quail should be feathered out by 5 -6 weeks and ready to go to breeder cages or pens.

On To Adulthood…
Quail reach sexual maturity in 6 weeks. This means the males will be mounting the hens and the hens will begin laying eggs. That’s right, 6 weeks! At this time they should be in their permanent surroundings. Some breeders use large breeder pens and some use small cages. Either will work but I find the breeder pens work best. These can be old rabbit cages or purpose built cages. I actually made mine from inexpensive plastic 55 gallon barrels that I laid on their sides and built wire floors into. They are very easy to clean, never rot and are waterproof. Coturnix Quail only require 1 square foot of floor space per bird. They are very cold hardy and heat tolerant. Cage them according to your local conditions. They should be protected from wind and rain and extreme (sub freezing) cold, otherwise they’ll be fine. Coturnix Quail very much enjoy sand baths. They will jump into the sandbox and lie on their sides and happily chirp. It’s a big deal to them. Use a small plastic shoe box sized container with children’s play sand. Breeder pens should contain 3-6 hens and one male. All of my excess males are culled at 6-8 weeks. They are at their best size for the table at that time.

Coturnix Quail require a very high protein diet. The feed should have a minimum of 22% protein or the quail will suffer. Some signs of lack of protein are feather picking and fighting. Most growers use a non-medicated game bird starter typically available at Southern States or Tractor Supply Company type feed stores. Check your local feed store and if they do not carry it then see if they can order or make it for you, most will. Quail can be fed this throughout their lives and will require no supplement with this type of feed. Although they do like occasional treats of leafy greens (mine love spinach more then I do) and insects like mealworms or black fly larvae. Your quail chicks can be fed the starter feed but it should be crushed lightly for their little digestive systems. In a “grid-down” situation, alternative feeds may be used. Mealworm raising is something I’ll be trying out soon. The mealworms or other insects, such as black fly larvae, in combination with thistle seed, garden and table scraps can keep your quail fed without commercial feed while maintaining their strict protein requirements.  Thistle is easily grown so I keep some viable seed on hand for harder times and I stockpile a few buckets as well.

Quail should always have access to fresh, clean water. I use 32 oz. rabbit water bottles for my quail cages. These can keep as many as 5 quail in water for at least 24 hours a fill on the hottest of days. A self watering system would also work as well. Any of the nipple or cup type waters, typically used in chicken operations, will work fine. Be sure that your system is kept clean and ice free.

Got Quail?
Once your Coturnix Quail are laying eggs and you’re collecting and eating or hatching them, you’re ready to start culling birds. I hatch birds every 3 weeks. On this time table, I can keep us in quail meat and eggs as well as keeping fresh hens around to replace hens that are not laying or have produced through their maximum laying period. Quail can be culled any time after 6 weeks of age. That means that you can keep fresh meat around without refrigeration or freezers just by culling when needed. Quail are very easy to process. After some practice I can now butcher a quail in around 3 minutes each using only a pair of kitchen shears. I first hold the quail over my utility sink upside down. They will naturally extend their necks and I quickly remove it with one quick snip of the scissors. This is the most humane way I’ve found to perform this. After the bird settles, I remove the legs by cutting just below the knee joint. I then cut the wings at the joint where they meet the body. I then turn it in my hand and cut across the tail where it meets the body. I turn it around again and slide the scissors down its back between the skin and backbone. Peeling the skin off at that point is very easy. Once the skin is removed I cut along each side of the spine from that tail end. The entrails will come out with the removal of the spine. The bird can then be rinsed and is ready to store or eat. Quail meat is quite delicious and can be consumed any way that chicken can be prepared. It is moist and palatable with no “gamey” taste to them at all. Nutritionally, one Coturnix Quail has 20g protein and is very low in cholesterols and fats and is high in nutrients.

What Kind of Quail is that?
Standard Coturnix Quail are native to Asia and Europe and have been domesticated since ancient times. From this domestication, the Japanese Quail come in three main varieties. The choices are standard Coturnix Quail (Coturnix Coturnix Japonica), Jumbo Coturnix Quail and Texas A&M Coturnix Quail.  The standard Coturnix Quail do everything fast. They hatch fast at 16 to 17 days; they mature fast, are laying eggs and reach an ideal eating size at 6 weeks. These are the standard type from which the others varieties are derived. The Jumbo Coturnix variety is simply selectively bred Standard Coturnix Quail. The Jumbo variety will hatch in 18 – 19 days, and mature in around 8 weeks. They mature to a slightly larger weight then the standard sized Coturnix to nearly one pound. The Texas A&M Quail were selectively bred by Texas A&M University and are white in color, they typically sport a black or brown spot on their head. They hatch and mature like the Jumbo variety. Texas A&M differ from the other quail varieties in that they have a lighter colored meat. They are otherwise like the Jumbo Cotunix Quail. All of the quail varieties are very hardy and very rarely have health problems. They should be raised away from chickens, however, because they can transmit disease to each other.

Boy Quail Habits…
Male Coturnix Quail show much the same habits as other game birds. They are somewhat territorial and require access to 3-6 hens to be happy. Male Coturnix do crow but it’s nothing like a chicken. Their crow does not carry far and sounds much like any native wild bird you might hear close by. This means that Coturnix Quail are great for urban and suburban areas. They are very low-profile. Their mating habits appear a little rough and the hens will occasionally lose head feathers from courting activities. Any male that causes a hen to bleed badly or abuses a hen, and that does happen sometimes, should be culled. A good male takes good care of his girls. When you add treats to the pen, he will hover over the treat and emit a low grunting sound to invite them to what he found for them. He will also alert them to perceived danger with a quick series of grunts. Males can be identified by rust colored chest feathers, usually showing by around 5 weeks of age.

The Girls…
Female quail are generally referred to as hens like any other fowl. Females make no loud noises but can be quite vocal. They make a cricket chirping sound when they’re happy and “keep in touch” with their harem mates with low whistles. They will “bow” to you when you add treats to their cage and they will also puff and quiver their feathers. It’s very cute. Hens will occasionally fight. I’ve only seen this once but it can be brutal. I had one hen lose an eye to another hen. Hens displaying this behavior should be culled. Hens will usually ignore their eggs once they’ve laid them. Only about one in one thousand will set and hatch eggs. I have read of folks successfully setting quail eggs under bantam-sized chickens. Hens will only lay consistently year-round if given 14 hours of light. I have achieved this with a simple solar light set up over my opaque plastic barrel cages. A hen can be identified by her white chest feathers with small, black dots.

By-products from quail raising are many. Top of the list is their droppings. Very high in nutrients, composted quail manure is excellent for gardens and they’ll make a lot more of it then you think. Used quail egg shells go into compost as well. Feathers can be separated and used for stuffing for pillows, dyed for fly tying, crafts, etc. Cured quail skins can be sold and used for bird dog training and crafts.  Entrails and leftovers can be used for high quality pet food. I have sold them in pairs as pets as well. They make great pets requiring minimal care or space.

Coturnix Quail are a nearly perfect pre and post SHTF food source. Eggs hatch in 16-17 days. They grow to eating size in only 6 weeks. Their feed conversion ratio is extremely high. The eggs and meat are very healthy and the eggs are considered somewhat medicinal (Coturnix Quail eggs have been used in Asian medicine for centuries). Eggs can be used in any way that a chicken egg can. They are great for pickling and may be sold to local drinking establishments or at flea markets. I sell my excess eggs to Asian restaurants, particularly sushi establishments. They fetch $5.00 for a 10 pack in my area… That’s $0.50 per egg!! I do discount for larger orders, though. Coturnix Quail eggs are quite “under the radar “as well, making them easy to sell to establishments and at farmer’s markets. Most state health agencies do not regulate sale of Coturnix Quail eggs because they are considered game birds and not “fowl” and are generally not regulated by state game officials because they are a non-native species(just don’t release them, they will not last very long in the wild anyway). Check your state regulations if you do decide to sell them for human consumption because all state laws vary. They require only 1 square foot for each bird of living space. They are very quiet making them great for OPSEC. Pens can be indoor, outdoor, breeder pens, colonies or even re-purposed outbuildings. They make a great trade item… Quail are delicious!

Some helpful quail links…
Raising Mealworms
BackYardChickens Forum has an informative quail section

My foray into quail raising , including do it yourself details and pictures on building my 55 gallon drum breeder cages, brooders, finishing pens, incubator details and other experiences can be seen at MdPreparedness.com in the Gardening section of the forum. Regards, Bigdtc in Md.

There are literally thousands of resources out there for the prepper and would-be survivalist giving advice on the best Bug-Out Bag (BOB), Bug-Out Vehicle (BOV), or necessities to pack into your Bug-out Bag (BOG) or the well stocked first aid kit.  All of this advice is great, however, one thing most of these references have in common is that they all tell the individual prepper he or she needs to assess his or her needs and current situation in order to determine their individual needs.  One thing I have noticed is the dearth of advice on HOW to plan for survival.  I propose using a tried and true tool that can easily be learned and is actually quite intuitive.
The US Military (as well as NATO partners and others) use what is known at the Military Decision Making Process, or MDMP, to plan every level of mission from a squad attack to the invasion of a foreign country.  The tool incorporates gathering all available information, developing Courses of Action (COAs), analyzing them, comparing the results, and deciding on a plan.  The level detail of the planning is dependent only on the amount of information available and the time one has to plan.  As a 25 year military veteran, I have discovered that I subconsciously use MDMP in virtually every decision I make, often without even realizing it, and you probably do as well.
MDMP is a seven step process consisting of:  Receipt of Mission, Mission Analysis, COA Development, COA Analysis, COA Comparison, COA Approval, and Orders Production.  After the plan is developed and briefed, rehearsals are conducted and then are always followed by an After Action Review or AAR.  Each of these steps is comprised of substeps.  I will take you through each of the steps and some of the more relevant substeps and give examples of how they apply to prepping.

  •  Receipt of Mission:  In the military, orders are passed from higher to lower and a subordinate staff will usually start planning off of their higher headquarters guidance and specified tasks.  Oftentimes, however, a commander owning battlespace will develop a plan on his own, based on broad overarching guidance from their higher.  This step, while simple, is critical.  The substeps include conducting an Initial Assessment, Updating Staff Estimates, and Preparing for Mission Analysis.  The outputs are generally Guidance from the Commander and a first Warning Order to subordinate units.

For the Prepper:  Obviously, you do not have a higher headquarters issuing you specified tasks, but you are a battlespace owner (your land, your house, your apartment) and you have been given guidance from such places as FEMA and other Federal Agencies, sites like Survivalblog.com, survival books and numerous other resources.  You have recognized the threat to yourselves and your families and are determined to develop a plan.  Step 1 for the Prepper includes gathering, and understanding, all of these guides, determining your basic requirement (shelter for you and your family of ‘X’, local threats (proximity to nuclear power plants or other high value/high risk targets, etc), pets, and so on.  Make a list.  Preparing for mission analysis is nothing more than gathering all your references together as well as planning tools you might need (note paper, dry erase boards, maps, manuals, lists, etc).

  •  Mission Analysis:  This step, in my humble opinion, is by far the most important step requiring the most detailed analysis and time.  Inputs to this step include the mission from higher, original estimates from the staff (of in the case of the individual prepper, yourself), and all facts and assumptions.  The substeps of Mission Analysis consist of Analysis of the Higher HQ Mission/Intent (See Step 1), Identify Specified and Implied Tasks, Review Task Organization and Assets, Determine Restrictions or Constraints, Assess Risk, and Identify Critical Facts and Assumptions.  Outputs from this step include:  Initial Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield (IPB), Restated Mission (5Ws), Commander’s Intent/Guidance, Warning Order 2, Staff Products, Battlefield Framework, and conduct Preliminary Movement.

For the Prepper:  After your have gathered all your products mentioned in step 1, make a list of all the things you NEED to do (specified tasks), and think you SHOULD do (implied tasks).  For example, you determine that you NEED to defend your family against marauders.  Implied tasks include acquiring weapons and ammunition and practice your marksmanship.  Write all these down on separate lists.  Your review of your task organization is straight forward; e.g.  I have a family of five (wife and three sons), and a dog.  Assets gets more detailed: e.g. an SUV that seats 7, is diesel powered and four wheel drive, and has a range of about 200 miles when fully loaded and full tank; a semi-automatic rifle, a deer rifle, a 12 gauge shotgun, a 9mm pistol, and a .38; a house on a ¼ acre lot in a sub-development with basement and a hunting cabin on a 200 acre lot in the mountains 45 miles from home.  Make this list detailed including all equipment and assets you have.  You will quickly realize where you are short once you have it all listed on paper.  Next are your restrictions and constraints.  Restrictions are imposed upon you such as laws and regulations, constraints are things beyond your control (such as my sons are too young to drive).  Next, assess risks to you and yours.  For example, there is a nuclear reactor 10 miles straight line distance from our house.  Finally, identify critical facts and assumptions.  These are hugely important and need more that a little brain power.  Examples of facts may be that my Bug Out Location is 45 miles away that can easily be reached by my SUV in any weather, however our sedan would not make the drive in deep snow.  The primary (and quickest) route takes us through a major metropolitan area of over 2 million people, the alternate route makes the drive more than an hour longer and through very rural areas.  Assumptions are critical to identify, but keep in mind that they must be valid and necessary based upon your analysis of the situation.  It might be fun to assume the zombie apocalypse, but probably not a valid or necessary assumption.  A more valid assumption may be that I will have enough warning to load our vehicles and reach our BOL before the SHTF, or that I won’t.  If I assume that I won’t, then that whole plan is not valid.

  •  Course of Action Development:  Develop at least two Courses of Action (COAs), three is better, but more than three is probably too many.  In this step the staff Analyzes Relative Combat Power (friendly  assets vs. the enemy’s  assets), Generate Options,  Array Initial Forces (where friendly forces are arrayed as well as the best information on the enemy are arrayed), Develop the Scheme of Maneuver, Assign Headquarters, and prepare COA statements and sketches.  The COA sketch is a one page (usually PowerPoint) diagram that shows a map of the plan with all the critical tasks listed along one side.   COAs need to pass the suitability, feasibility, acceptability, distinguishability, and completeness tests.  This means that the plans each need to be realistic given the assets, restraints, constraints, and assumptions listed in the previous step.  The two to three COAs need to be distinct from each other, not just minor variations of the same plan.  And they need to be complete.  Of course, they have to also be acceptable…. nuke ‘em all, is not an option.

For the Prepper:  Your COA development is very similar with just some minor tweaks from the military model.  Your relative combat power is listed in your assets (weapons, vehicles. etc) and your adversaries come from your assumptions (in a possible scenario one could anticipate groups of up to a half dozen armed marauders, well armed but poorly trained). Now is when you generate your options:  do I Bug In or Bug Out, for example?  You array your initial forces on a map:  we are here, they are there.  Developing your scheme of maneuver entails adding detail to your COAs.  If Bugging In, then you are in essence planning a defense.  What is your perimeter?  Where are your defenses, chokepoints, and vulnerabilities?  Where is your strongpoint?  If Bugging Out, what are your routes?  Where are you most vulnerable?  How are you moving (together or linking up at a rally point, for example)?  If your COA involves others, you would break individual or group tasks down at this point.  Who brings what to the party?  Who is responsible for food, fuel, ammo, shelter, and so on?  Finally, as much of this information as possible is arrayed on your sketches of your COAs so that the picture speaks for itself.

  •  Course of Action Analysis.  This step is known as wargaming.  The staff have gathered all the information available, determined assets available and the assets the enemy has, identified facts and assumptions, and developed a couple of plans.  Now the plan is put to the test in a table top exercise.  There are rules to wargaming.  At all times, remain unbiased towards a COA.  If someone want a COA to “win” it will.  Approach wargaming as an honest assessment of the plans to determine their strengths and weakness.  Next, list the advantages and disadvantages of each.  This is done as the wargaming progresses and is tracked on a board.  Continually assess the COA feasibility, acceptability, and suitability.  If, while wargaming, it is determined a COA just won’t work, then we stop wargaming it.  No sense of wasting time on a plan that is impossible to accomplish.  Next, avoid drawing premature conclusions and gathering facts to support such conclusions.  This is a scientific process and picking and choosing information to support one COA over the other is not an option.  Finally, compare the COAs in the next step, not during wargaming.  When wargaming, focus on one COA at a time, from start to finish, without discussing how this COA has an advantage over the other.  Wargaming takes preparation.  All the tools used for wargaming are gathered in advance (maps, toy vehicles, toy Soldiers, methods to record actions and reactions, etc).  List all the friendly forces.  List all your assumptions so you can refer back to them for validity and necessity.  List known critical events and decision point.  Determine evaluation criteria, which means on what basis are we going to evaluate the COAs (survivability, cost, risk, etc)?  Select the wargaming method, which can vary on the COA.  Typically, a defense is wargamed in a box, whereas a movement is often done using the Avenue-in-depth technique.  Next,  the method to record and display results is selected, which is typically a dry erase board or large sheet of paper with each of the critical events listed across the top and friendly and enemy forces listed down the sides.  Finally war game the COA from start to finish.  Go friendly action, enemy reaction, friendly counteraction for each event (or enemy action, friendly action, enemy counter action if the enemy strikes first).  One member is dedicated to the enemy side, who fights to win for the enemy (could even represent the natural disaster).  And remember to record everything.

For the prepper:  This is pretty straightforward.  Take your Bug In COA and play it out from the time you determine the need to Bug In until you think it is safe to come out.  What are the threats; be they natural, manmade, or mutant, and how can they defeat you?  Discuss how you will defeat each threat based on your assets and forces that you have on hand.  When you determine a shortfall, write it down.  Do not say you will do something you have no capability of, such as “well, I will have landmines around the perimeter.”  Really?  Where are you going to get landmines?  When are you going to put them in, camouflage them, control their detonation, and recover them?  Be realistic.  After you have wargamed that COA, wargame the other from start to finish.  If your second COA is to Bug Out, play through getting from somewhere else (such as your place of work) to your house in order to load vehicles.  How long will out load take and who does what?  War game both your primary and alternate routes.  And don’t forget to war game what happens when you get to your Bug Out Location.  You are essentially Bugging In there, so war game that as well.  That might have a completely different set of threats and conditions.  When you are done wargaming, you should have a list of the strengths and weaknesses of both of your plans.  You have identified where there are risks.  Now the assumptions that you made earlier are either emphasized or discarded.  Additionally, you may have developed branches and sequels to your plans that you hadn’t thought of before (If X happens, I will do A, if Y happens, I will do B).  All of these should be written down as well.

Step 5:  Course of Action Comparison.  Now is the time that the various COAs are compared to determine which is the best and therefore which plan to go with.  The actual comparison of the COAs is critical.  We use any technique that facilitates reaching the best decision.  Start by evaluating each COA from different perspectives, using the evaluation criteria that was already established.  Now, compare the COAs to determine the one with the highest likelihood of success against the most likely enemy threat and the most dangerous enemy threat.  This is done through a simple matrix with COAs listed across the top and the evaluation criteria listed down the side.  The criteria can be weighted in order to give more strength to those criteria which is most important.  Then each COA is scored, usually 1, 2, or 3.  If certain criterion is given a weight of 3, then the results would be 3, 6 and 9 respectively, with lowest score being best.  After each COA is graded and weighted, they are totaled and the one with the lowest score wins.  You now have your COA.
For the prepper:  The process is the same.  The only real difference would be the criteria you evaluate the COAs against.  For example, the military might use such things as Fires, Intelligence, Air Defense, and Combat Service

Support.  The prepper would use criteria such as Survivability, Risk, Simplicity, Cost, etc.
Step 6:  Course of Action Approval.  Within the military, this is a formalized brief to the commander by the staff with detailing the results of the wargaming process and their recommended COA.  At the end of the briefing, the command decides on a COA and then issues final planning guidance.  Since you are the commander, it is ultimately your decision; therefore there is not much to cover in this step.

Step 7:  Orders Production.  Now that the COA has been approved, the staff gets to work finalizing the plan that will result in an order to subordinate units.  All the information gathered during wargaming is gathered, including branches and sequels to the plan, and incorporated into the plan as  either tasks to subordinate units  or coordinating instructions that apply to multiple units.  The plan also identifies risks and implements control measures to reduce those risks.  The commander reviews the final plan which is then issued via a variety of means.

For the prepper:  Now that you have your plan, and have seen where you are vulnerable, you can write everything down into one cohesive document.  This can include maps and directions, a list of division of responsibilities within the family or your group, load plans for vehicles and packing lists.  This is a good time to also list those items you identified you need to support your plan, but don’t currently have on hand.  This is your new shopping list.  This way you are purchasing what you will NEED to support your plan, not what you THINK you need and can help reduce waste.

Finally, after the plan is issued to everyone, and everyone understands the plan, comes the time to rehearse, rehearse, and rehearse again.  Time is the main limiting factor here. If you have a solid plan for TEOTWAWKI you can rehearse it with everyone involved in your plan at any time.  Try to do it under a variety of conditions such as night time, high traffic times, middle of winter, in the rain, etc.  After each rehearsal, conduct an After Actions Review to discuss what the plan was, what went right and what went wrong.  Only then can you identify faults in your plan that you didn’t realize while planning  in the comfort of your living room and further develop other contingencies to counter those problems.

The Military Decision Making Process was designed to handle any kind of operation, take all factors into consideration, and come up with the best plan in order to accomplish the mission.  Prepping for when TSHTF is no different and is the method I use to ensure the survival of my family.

FM 5-0, Army Planning and Orders Production, 20 January, 2005, Defense Printing Office

It doesn't have to be either or. It is foolish to not have resources stored. It also makes sense to be prepared to make a retreat to another country where you have friends and resources. My family's plans and preparations include personal contacts and pre-positioned resources in two countries. I can show up unannounced in two other countries, and be assured of a warm welcome and assistance in integrating into the country. I have lesser contacts in a number of other countries. In the country where we live we have stockpiled over a years worth of food, and have the land, seeds, tools and expertise to feed our family indefinitely. We are not a wealthy family in terms of net worth as it is usually measured. I'm only worth about $100,000 USD. But I have no debts, own productive land, hold other land via long term lease agreement, have invested in several small businesses. But the crown jewel of my resources is the international network of contacts held together by friendship, common faith, family ties and economic interests. Louis L'Amour fans might think about Barnabas Sackett's network of contacts and the blessing it was to his sons. - Andrew B. (Somewhere in the southern end of the Redoubt.)

While I do understand what Peter was getting at, I think there were some serious elements missing in his theory.

For starters, if the US collapses, odds are excellent that most other nations will have either followed suit or soon will. Even China, touted as the world's most powerful economy, is completely reliant on exports - exports to countries like the US, which will have collapsed, no? The global economy is too interconnected to assume that some regions would fall without other regions following suit. Even as far back as the 1920's-1930's, the world economy at large suffered in chain reaction, and that was back when many nations were still largely isolationist in nature! This leaves you with a question of where to go... even tiny nations that appear to be isolated are heavily reliant on imports to maintain any real standard of living (and in some cases, any living at all). Case in point would be the Bahamas... nice and isolated, but without a massive desalinization/groundwater extraction infrastructure (and imported fuel to feed the pumps), most folks there would be SOL for drinking water. Same story with most tiny island nations - without imports (that would dry up when SHTF), survival would be sketchy at best for the current populations residing on them.

Long story short, you'd still have to survive collapse, but now you have the added bonus of surviving it in a foreign land, and with no supplies.

Secondly, under such a scenario, the amount of time you would have to bug out to your chosen remote nation of choice and get set up there would be vanishingly small. In order to fly out under such circumstances, you would have to be already there, perfectly lucky, perfectly psychic, or own a transcontinental-range private jet. Why? Because I sincerely doubt that buying a plane ticket is going to be possible while everything is turning into chaos. You could do it by ship, but finding one and getting passage on it is going to be harder still.

Third, the gringo has a bit of an identity problem... most non-English-speaking nations, while nominally friendly to the typical US tourist (who brings money), would get pretty hostile on an interpersonal level once word got out that the US was no longer functioning. Nationalists of all stripes would rise up and make you out to be the scapegoat for all his nation's ills. As most nations have strict weapons laws for foreigners (that would be you), you get to face the mobs unarmed. What friends you do have aren't going to risk their wife/kids/parents to save your butt, and shame on you for thinking they will. I strongly suspect that even nations such as Mexico would suddenly become a dangerous place to be an American in if/when America ceased to be.

Next up? Medical issues. In most places today, drinking the local water is a guaranteed 3-day trip on the Toilet-Ride Of Pain. Post-collapse, it would be a guaranteed death sentence if you weren't already used to drinking it. Oh, and now you get to contend with strange local diseases that you didn't have time to get vaccinated against before you hurriedly left home. While not everyone will experience issues with it, I guarantee that unless you've gotten used to it and are already acclimated? It's going to hurt, and coupled with the stress of bugging out of an entire country as it's collapsing? It'll likely kill you if you catch anything at all.

And then there is climate. Bugging out to Canada? Hope you can deal with the extreme winters. Australia? Cool, but most of it is hostile desert and scrub... the good parts are already occupied fully by the current population. New Zealand? Given their current immigration requirements and small size, I doubt they'd let you in.

Finally, there's the money thing. A collapse of the world's biggest economies would mean that all economies would suffer greatly. So, even if you did manage to convert those greenbacks to the local swag before the crash? The local money may well become worthless too - just as you're trying to use it as a means to buy all the stuff you didn't stockpile on.

Not even going to mention the language differences, lack of local knowledge on some rather vital subjects (edible plants, animals, etc), lack of local political knowledge (yes, it's kind of important to have that), etc.

All that said, I get the theory, and if you planned carefully, and bugged-out well in advance, you would have a shot at riding out the collapse in relative ease. You would have to pick a country that isn't going to go all hostile on you as an American, a country with enough local resources to largely support its current population minus civilization, and one that has some hope of functioning in some fashion in spite of the rest of the world going to hell.

It is entirely possible to find a safe haven, but in my opinion? It would require a ton of research, and quite frankly, you'd better already be living there. - T.J.M.

Composting 101

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SurvivalBlog reader Ed. M. recommended the training seminars by author Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, titled "Bullet Proof Mind for the Armed Citizen." Ed M. notes: "I'm a 35-year veteran Park Ranger and this was without a doubt one of the top 10 training sessions I've ever attended. Colonel Grossman has given this training to our and international military and law enforcement personnel for years, this was the second time the training had been provided for civilian patriots. I strongly recommend that SurvivalBlog readers attend his great training if he comes to your area."

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The editor of The Prepper Website mentioned this site: Biblical Self Defense.

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Reader Ken L. said that he plans to try an interesting potato bin growing method.

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Leigh spotted this: Things to Consider in a Natural Gas Pickup Truck

"They call us 'civilized' because it's easy to sneak up on us." - Chief Dan George, The Outlaw Josey Wales

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Today we present another two entries for Round 41 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 $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training. Together, these have a retail value of $589. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 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.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 41 ends on July 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Nearly two-thirds of all the furnishings and prep items in my home were used when I got them.  As the economy has continued to crumble, any stigma attached to shopping on the cheap has given way to pride at getting a good deal.  Forget designer shoes or imported coffee - I get absolutely giddy when I come home with a great “find”!

But can you rely on bargain shopping to get all the things you need to help your family be prepared for whatever comes your way?  Is there a way to really make “treasure hunting” both fun and successful?
Yes!  All it takes is some planning together with a positive attitude and a pre-determined budget.  Even if you aren’t pinching pennies, why waste your money when you can find great items at bargain prices and redirect those extra dollars to food or debt reduction?  And if you are on a budget (and most of us are), this organized approach lets you decide what’s important and where you should look for the best buys.
Do your homework

  • Get a small notebook that fits in your pocket, purse or glove compartment.  Never leave home without it!
  • Sit down with your family.  Identify your needs and prioritize them. For each item, determine:
    • Exactly what the item is.  If your husband needs a Left Handed Monkey Whatzitgrubber and you don’t have a clue what that is, have him show you a picture of one and explain what it’s for.  Guys, the same goes for you if you don’t know the difference between a tea strainer and a colander.
    • The condition you’ll accept.  Is there someone you know who could refurbish or repair--a broken or not-working item?
    • $$ you’re willing to spend.  Be sure to set aside funds that can be readily accessed if you find a great deal on one of your high priority items.
    • Specifics such as make, model, caliber, size, etc.  Remember, you can’t take it back if it doesn’t fit!
  • Put these items in your notebook on a Priority List.  These are items you’ll actively search for on a regular basis.
  • Make  lists of less critical items that you’ll keep your eyes open for whenever you find them.  Divide the lists into heading such as Equipment, Survival items, Clothing, Consumables, etc.  I keep a summary of categories at the front –my “list of lists”.
  • Next, if you have a group of like-minded friends that are planning and training together, have a serious discussion and identify the needs of the group.   You may want to start with a checklist such as the ones found online or in your favorite SHTF book, customized for your group, location and budget.  Determine what items and supplies you don’t have that are critical to your group, then prioritize and budget for them.  Agree who will house the item, the condition you’ll accept, and who will contribute how much. 
  • Share your own priority list with your group and keep a list of their priorities in your notebook.  The more people looking, the better!
  • Be sure to ask and note such requirements as size, caliber, dimensions, colors, etc next to each item on everyone’s lists.

What can I expect to find?
Anything and everything!  You’ll shake your head at some of the objects being sold for pennies on the dollar or thrown away as trash.  Here’s a sample of some of my recent finds:

  • 6’ black wire bakers rack - $10
  • All-American pressure cooker, new (still in the box) - $15
  • 2 Coleman camping cots - $2 each
  • 15 PermaGard chem suits new in packages - $1 each
  • Excalibur dehydrator - $10
  • Craftsman toolbox with more than 120 Craftsman, Stanley and other tools - $20
  • 5 gal bucket chemical toilet (new) - $2
  • 3 oil lamps with extra globes - $3 each
  • Metal ammo cans - $4
  • Grocery sack full of new first aid supplies (at the end of an estate sale) - FREE
  • Garden tools (2 rakes, 2 shovels, a hoe) - $3 each
  • 10 person, 3 room Coleman tent in very good condition, along with two sleeping bags and a Coleman lantern - $75

Where to look
Now that you know what you’re looking for, the question is where to find it.  Your options will vary depending on where you’re at and how much time you can devote to “the hunt”. Be sure to check:

  • CraigsList
    • Check under Yard Sales, Farm & Garden, etc, and use key words to search the general “For Sale” category for your priority items at least once a week.  Remember, it’s a first come/first serve situation.
    • Beware of scammers.  Try to take someone with you when you go to purchase an item.
  • Other web sites such as www.GovLiquidation.com, www.GovDeals.com, www.GSAAuctions.gov  or www.drms.dla.mil
    • Some of these require that you buy a case full of something.  This is where coordinating with a group of friends is useful.  You may not need 20 gas masks, but your group may need that many for all their family members.
    • All states and many municipalities also have surplus sales or auctions.  The same is true for hospitals, colleges, school districts and other large organizations.  Be sure to check their web sites for upcoming sales.
  • Yard Sales (especially estate sales)
    • Yard sales are mainly held between April and September, although they can be year round in warm weather areas.  Watch online and along the streets for signs that the “season” has begun.
    • Look for sales in locations best suited to your items.  Identify sales in rural vs urban areas, look for nice homes in neighborhoods that have yards or gardens.  Make a map/list of sales in geographic and priority order.
    • Be there first, with plenty of cash in hand.  Always be friendly – greet the seller with a smile!  They’re much more likely to give you a good deal if you’re not gruff and rude.
    • Be considerate.  If the ad says “No early birds”, respect the hours posted.  Don’t block the street or driveway.  Keep your children under control or leave them at home.
    • Negotiate!  This can be the best part of the whole hunt.  Prices are rarely firm, but don’t insult them, either.  If they’re asking $20 for the dehydrator, it’s fine to offer $10, but don’t offer $2.  Don’t look too eager – point out the worn spot, the torn cover, or the missing end piece.  But most importantly, know when to walk away if it’s not a good deal of if it’s not a need.  Keep the larger purpose in mind.
    • Estates sales are the best source for many items such as older tools and gear.  Things that a family wouldn’t get rid of just because of a move are up for grabs when grandpa moves into the nursing home.
    • Keep your eyes open when you’re going from sale to sale – there’s usually more Yard Sale signs posted along the way.
  • Thrift Stores
    • Get to know your local thrift stores – what their strengths are, any special sales days, and any membership cards (yes, just like the groceries!).  Get on their mailing list if they have one and find out about any early bird specials.
    • Once you’re a “regular”, chat with the manager or the clerks and let them know about any specific items you’re watching for.  They’re often very willing to give you a call if something comes into the store that’s on your list.
  • Auctions
    • I recommend taking someone with you that has experience with auctions or you’ll find yourself buying something when you just tried to scratch your nose!  All auctions are different, but most are fast paced, fast talking and lots of fun.
    • Most auctions have a time prior to the start of the sale for inspection of the items.  Take advantage of this time to look closely at an item’s condition.  Ask questions.  Listen to those around you and learn, learn, learn!
  • Local or community newspapers
    • Most local papers have a yard sale or items for sale/barter section.
    • Watch for local auction notices. 
    • Don’t be afraid to approach the sellers prior to the official sale date to see if they’d like to sell specific items.  In small communities, people are often more flexible with neighbors than with strangers.
  • For Sale sections on town, church or company web sites, bulletin boards or newsletters
    • Watch for church rummage sales, fund raising sales and items being sold off by your town or community center.
  • Word of mouth (Tell your friends what you’re looking for!)
    • Some of my best leads on items and services have come from friends and neighbors when I’ve mentioned what I’m looking for. 
    • Shop local merchants whenever possible.  Buying from farmers or local tradesmen both supports the local economy and cuts out the middle-man profit.  Plus, they’re more likely to take pride in selling a quality product or service.    And when you purchase from them, you can ask for referrals on other items.

And don’t forget that there are some places that even advertise free things or items for barter!  Be sure to check FreeCycle, the “Free” section on CraigsList, and other local sources.  Also, if you show up near the end of a yard sale, people will often be willing to give items away to keep from having to haul them away or put them back in their garages.
Be sure you inspect all items carefully.  Be sure they work (or that their condition is acceptable).  Remember – all sales at yard sales, thrift stores, auctions and the like are final.  No returns accepted!
If you find an item that’s on a friend’s or your group’s priority list, take a photo and quickly send it to whoever else is part of the decision making process.  Call them immediately while standing next to the item (even better, lean on it!)
Tools of the trade
So now you have the what and the where.  But before you jump in the car and head out on your adventures, be sure you have everything you need.

  • Don’t forget to bring your notebook along with a pen or pencil to take notes.
  • Carry your purse or wallet in a way that your hands are free without laying anything down.  Keep most of your cash in the car, carrying only part of it on you at any one time.
  • The bigger the better – a pickup truck is a great way to carry just about anything home.  However, my small SUV works just fine for all but the big stuff.  In that case, have a pick-up driving friend on speed-dial!
  • In your car, have the following:
    • A measuring tape
    • Bungee cords
    • A bucket, bag, newspapers or other items to restrain and protect small or breakable objects

Ready, Set, Save!
So now you have a plan.  You know what you’re looking for, where to find it and how to get it home.  All that’s left is to put on your comfortable shoes, strap on your fanny pack, grab your notebook and your list of destinations, and head out!  Make it a family affair or take a friend and have lunch afterwards.  Whether with a group or by yourself, if you’re like me (I consider shopping both a sport and entertainment) you’ll look forward to the adventure.  Just tell your family that you’re “working hard” to help the family prep.  Enjoy!

I recently saw a prepper forum which posted the question “What is your biggest fear?” Answers listed varied from EMP to riots to complete financial collapse to nuclear strikes in your backyard. I thought a long time about this fear-based. In my mind, I prepare so I do not fear; or really, so that I fear less.

So what are we really afraid of? Are we afraid of the causes of a crisis, or the consequences? Causes and crises are scary, and there are many: wars, recession, wildfires, tornados, hurricanes, blizzards, ad infinitum. Take your pick. But the consequences are almost universally the same; namely a reduction in our standard of living and/or imminent danger to our lives and property. To what degree that standard of living may be reduced and our lives endangered is the only real unknown a prepper needs to fear. If you look at you needs of life (check out Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs) and ask yourself how you will provide for those needs come what may, you can expose weak spots in your preparations and, perhaps more importantly, organize and prioritize your ongoing and future preparations.

I believe you should put all of your prepping categories through the gauntlet on consequence-based thinking. Needs such as food, shelter, water, security, entertainment, income, investment should all be thought-out thoroughly and analytically. Prepping should not be an emotional endeavour. Break down all your needs, all the subcategories, even all your individual preps or plans into their most basic components, and run them all through the mill of comprehensive and intentionally thought-out ‘what ifs’, and see how they stand up. Make sure you write them down. Keep your records organized. I strongly encourage all of you who are new to the preparedness world to organize your needs in a similar way, either as below or in some other manner, and then write it down. Your written work serves not only as a future guide of prepping priorities, but can serve as a plan to deal with the full consequences of any foreseen crisis. Not only will these records help your current preps, but if and when things go sideways it will be your blueprint for fulfilling those needs when the stress makes your head spin. Even people who have been preparing for years may find it useful to revisit the basics.

Some Potential Major Consequences of Crises

1. Reduced Purchasing Power
I personally think we are experiencing this consequence of crisis right now, and I am sure most of you would agree. Every grocery bill seems to cost more and buy less. But this is more than just accounting for inflation. It includes reductions in incomes, due to lost jobs, layoffs, loss of benefits and other causes. It could simply be becoming injured on or off the job, and having to take sick leave, or losing money in your retirement mutual fund of choice (I earnestly hope you do not have mutual funds. These days you might do better at the roulette table at the local casino. At least their odds are 49-51 if you bet on red or black!) Combat your reduced purchasing power, and prepare for further erosion in purchasing power by:
• Working More! Dave Ramsey correctly states that you biggest money maker is your job. If you can get a different one, do it. I used to refuse to apply for jobs that I thought were “beneath me”, until I met a recent immigrant who taught me that the important job – the one I can be proud of – is any job that provides for my family. If you can’t find another job, keep trying and slug on. It’s increasingly common to be in that situation and there is no shame in it, as long as you keep trying. There is only shame in giving up.
• Budget. Plan a budget. It’s hard, and I can’t count how many budgets I have made and failed to adhere to, but each time I try it makes me a little more focused on my true priorities, which don’t include a new flat screen anymore.
• Buy in bulk, on sale, and coupon. Other articles have been written about this. Search them out in the SurvivalBlog archives. If you know you will need one small tube of toothpaste per month, don’t be afraid to buy 12 large ones when they next go on sale. People will look at you funny right now, but they’ll catch on soon. Stock up on non-perishables that you use daily and when the price is right. These are better than money in the bank. You cannot brush your teeth with money. “Wealth” as a concept means the things you need, or the ability to get the things you need. When money buys less, toothpaste (or any other thing you need, and have) is “wealth”.
• Share. There is no time like the present to start making connections with people around you. If someone needs help now, help them! You might need help later. And it’s not just money and stuff I am talking about; share your time, your labour and your expertise. Think of the old barn raisings in our grandparent’s days. Many together can do what one alone cannot. Start now, and get to know the people around you.
This first category is basically a consequence of hard economic times. Whether it comes about from a lost job, inflation, low supply or high demand, the results are similar: you cannot afford as much as you used to be able to. Preppers often prepare for these consequences unintentionally. If you are worried about mass inflation, then you probably have your bases covered for the regular kind. We have not yet seen mass inflation in our lifetimes (at least in North America), yet many of us have had our purchasing power suddenly and drastically reduced.

2. Scarcity
Scarcity means the things you need to live are no longer available. How will you meet your needs when there is no food on the grocery store shelves, no power, no gas at the gas station, no medications at the pharmacy, no plumbing, no mass transit, etc, etc, etc. Peak oil, just-in-time delivery, shortages – there are many crises that could result in scarcity. Offset the hardships of scarcity with the following:
• A Larder. Did you notice that newer houses aren’t built with pantries anymore? I remember the cold room at my grandma’s house – in the basement stocked to the roof with mason jars, with a framed dirt bin along one wall for the potatoes and carrots. Why did people do this? To live. In the great depression, for many people, if they couldn’t make or grow something themselves, they didn’t have it. Think like your grandparents. They lived through hard times. For many of them, going to the grocery store once a month was a convenience. If your grandparents had it easy, think like my grandparents and fill you larder. If you buy the things you need in bulk, to hedge against your loss in purchasing power, you likely have a start on some sort of storage or larder.
• Do It Yourself. Learn to do things for yourself, and reduce your dependence on buying stuff. “We have no knowledge, so we have stuff, but stuff without knowledge is never enough.” (Greg Brown). Learn to start a fire, build an improved woodstove (check out practicalaction.org), cook your own meals, bake bread, build an outhouse, poop in a hole in the woods, knit socks, darn socks, anything. And then try to meet other people who think the same way. Knitting clubs, pottery lessons, artisan guilds, reloaders; there are many activities people do for pleasure that used to be essential to life, and may be again.
• Barter. Again, share. A community is stronger than an individual and has access to greater resources. Cut your neighbour’s lawn with your old-timey push mower in exchange for using her pressure canner. Ask around of you need something; seek and you will find it.

3. Hunker Down
“Bug In” is the term most commonly used for this consequence, preferably at your retreat or retreat-in-place. This is what happens when there is a pandemic, martial law, curfews, tornadoes, blizzards, etc. Bugging in may require:
• The need for short term self sufficiency in your home, even with disruptions of utilities (Unavailability) such as power and plumbing. Includes plans for meeting the basic needs or human life (food, water, warmth, toilets). You should have this covered if you have a larder, with the addition of some sort of hygiene/pooping plan.
• Entertainment. Don’t overlook this one! Your sanity depends on it.
• The need for defence of your home (I.e. strong doors, storms shutters, and other means...)
• Communication. A radio or security cameras would be useful in knowing when that tornado warning ends, or the bad guys are gone. How are you going to know when it is safe to come out of the basement?

4. Evacuation!
Everyone should consider the need to beat feet and get out of dodge. It’s not just meant for a coming world collapse or when bad guys knocking down your front door – even the most prepared family retreat needs to have an evacuation plan for natural disasters such as wildfires or floods. If you are planning on ‘bugging in’ for every conceivable crisis, you are committing to going down with your ship. A noble principle, I suppose, but I would rather build another ship. How will you meet your basic needs of life in an evacuation? Some ideas:
• Documentation. Everything you need to access your resources, like bank account records, will, identification, medical prescriptions, etc, and important phone numbers for your family and friends who you will likely be visiting very, very soon. Get it in paper and backed up electronically (perhaps on an encrypted USB).
• Mini-Larder. A bug-out bag or get out of dodge kit is really just a portable mini-larder, with the necessities for life in the short term or the ability to provide for them. Pack it up, customize it, put it in the trunk of your car, carry it on your back or whatever. The most minimal bug out bag I would consider is carrying a small metal can, a knife, and a lighter. Don’t leave home without it.
• A Plan. So you left your house: now what? Part of your security planning in an evacuation is the plan to reach safety. Routes, vehicles, extra gas might all be required, but it might just mean moving up the hill to get out of the tsunami evacuation zone like in Hawaii after the Fukushima earthquake. How will you get your kids out of your 2nd storey bedroom when the main floor of your home is on fire?
The potential for evacuation is real, for everyone, everywhere. A house fire would have the same consequence, initially, as any other crisis – you would have to leave fast. I think the potential for evacuation is something everyone should be addressing, and is a good way to introduce people to the ideas surrounding emergency preparedness.

5. End of the World as We Know It
Worst-case scenarios like are hard to predict. Things could always be worse. In essence they are unpredictable. As a TEOTWAWKI event, I imagine ALL of the above consequences happening at once, or for a long, long time. It would be death, chaos and mass destruction. I can’t give you any instructions on this consequence of crises, except to do your best, do right, and make your peace with God. ‘Nuff said.

6. Status Quo
This is the one that no prepper likes to talk about. But it needs to be talked about. There is the possibility, however distant we might think it, that things will remain unchanged for long time. That doesn’t rule out things like job loss, but when we put all our resources into preps at the expense of our financial well-being and happiness, we have left the path of wisdom. Live within your means. Do not max out your credit cards to buy preps for an event that could be years away. They will repossess your stuff, and you will be worse off than when you started. No second mortgages to buy the armoured vehicle you think you need!
• Live within your means.
• Make rational decisions, not emotional or fear-based decisions.
• Balance the future with the present. You never know, that asteroid that causes the end of the world could fall directly on your head. Spending your life worrying about it would have been a silly thing to do, wouldn’t it? Or you could have a heart attack tomorrow. So prepare, make it your new useful insurance policy, but don’t let it consume you and your happiness. Spend time with the people you care about doing the things you love to do.

This list is by no means exhaustive. It’s just a method a taking the fear out of any given disaster scenario and replacing it with a plan. It has helped me, but you mileage may vary. At the very least, I encourage everyone to revisit their preps, to re-evaluate and reassess, and look for areas that nay have been previously glossed over. Think of the aspects of your basic needs and how you provide for them in the event of different consequences that life may send at you. Do it slowly, and write it down. A wise friend of mine told me once, that in our lives, we are either heading out of a crisis, or into one. He meant it on a more personal level, dealing with loss of a family member, but it applies everywhere. If you plan well, if you plan rationally and intentionally, then all your preps should be either useful or enjoyable to your life now. So what if someone makes fun of you for having a year’s supply of toothpaste? You’re going to use it one way or another, and you got it on sale.

Hello James,
I have started buying "junk" U.S. silver coins as part of my preparedness plan. I have found the valuation formula for bulk bags of the 90% silver coins, but in spite of a lot of research I have still have not been able to find the formula to value an individual coin. Would you please provide the formula to determine the value of an individual 90% silver dime, quarter, and half-dollar?
Thank You and God Bless, - Joe from Florida

JWR Replies: Here is some data that you should print out and keep in your reference binder. Most of what you need to do to calculate coin melt values is simply shift decimal places...

90% .50/.25/.10 bags ($1,000 face value) contain approximately 715 ounces of silver.

So at today's spot price (in mid-June, 2012):

$28.73 spot x 715 ounces = $20,541.95 for a full $1,000 bag (Or just think of it as 20.5 x face value.)


$2,054.19  for $100 face value


$205.42 for $10 face value


$20.54 for $1 face value.  (BTW, silver dollars have a silver content greater than four quarters. Not only is there numismatic value, but there is also slightly more silver content, per dollar.)


$10.26 for a silver half dollar


$5.13 for a silver quarter


$2.05 for a silver dime

You can find detailed coin specifications at Coinflation.com. (These are useful if you'd rather calculate coin values by the gram.)

And speaking of which, here are some handy conversion formulas:

Grams to pennyweights, multiply grams by .643
Pennyweights to grams, multiply pennyweights by 1.555
Grams to troy ounces, multiply grams by 0.32
Troy ounces to grams, multiply troy ounces by 31.103
Pennyweights to troy ounces, divide pennyweights by 20
Troy ounces to pennyweights, multiply troy ounces by 20
Grains to grams, multiply grains by .0648
Grams to grains, multiply grams by 15.432
Pennyweights to grains, multiply pennyweights by 24
Avoirdupois ounces to troy ounces, multiply avoirdupois ounces by .912
Troy ounces to avoirdupois ounces, multiply troy ounces by 1.097
Avoirdupois ounces to grams, multiply avoirdupois ounces by 28.35
Grams to Avoirdupois ounces, multiply grams by .035

P.S.: $1,000 face value bags of 40% silver half dollars (with 1965 to 1970 mint dates) contain approximately 296 ounces of silver.

Good Morning James,
I couldn't disagree more with Peter's preparedness methodology. By the very definition of "refugee" that is just what he will will be and we would be if the USA goes down. I would rather be here trying to survive and rebuild as opposed to trying to live in some other country trying to get my money from a Chinese bank after a currency and societal collapse. Put your extra cash into silver. Regards, - Jim A.


I was surprised at Peter's suggestion that people (or more specifically Americans) would be 'safer' living abroad than in the USA. The poster of the article cited the crisis in Zimbabwe's mob attacks on white farmers / land owners for his support of living abroad in an apartment. The poster mentions opening a bank account in China but then states that is 'difficult to get one's money out unless one knows someone in China' that certainly doesn't sound a well thought out plan on financial safety. I don't know anyone in China and even if I knew one person in China what if that contact disappears? He suggested placing funds in several other nations but didn't mention that many countries now do not want to open a US citizen bank account because of the onerous financial laws based in the USA and imposed upon other nations.

Obtaining 'dual citizenship' was suggested but it takes a minimum of four years plus he failed to mention the long arm statutes of the US government to claw back the former US citizen's assets for several years after achieving an alternative citizenship. Nothing was mentioned that in some other nations, it is not legal to purchase supplies of one's well being. Some of the other nations require that the American produce evidence of being adequate funds to enter their country and to sustain themselves. I call this as a major 'mark' for an American living abroad -- whether one becomes a citizen of the new country or not, an American will be seen as wealthy and thus a target for kidnappings. I was reading some place of an American woman who was stuck in her Central American safe zone when the businesses refused to accept her US dollars for payments of goods and services. In
Brazil, one of the nations suggested as an alternative nation for a dual citizenship, that nation has been urging its business owners to force all American dollar holders to take them to a bank to be exchanged into the local currency. Great! What a mess if one's source of income is based in US dollars and suddenly the host nation refuses transactions/ exchanges of US Dollars?

I would personally hate to be an American living abroad when that nation and its people turns hostile to all foreigners. I would hate to be stuck in some awful high rise apartment surrounded by a sea of humanity that riots in the streets if their currency collapses (think: Argentina). Many of these other nations have roving gangs of bandits and, as troubling as the US gangster groups are, they are nothing compared to being a foreigner living abroad who encounters the highway bandits.

Take a look at the discussions taking place throughout Europe. They are talking about panic plans to shut down border crossings for as long as two years and to prevent currency movement. Image living in southeast Asia and trying to get access to one's bank account in France if this shut down were to take place.

Then there is the cultural problems and the possible language problems. My parents spoke numerous languages and when they lived abroad in Europe, they were met with significant rudeness by Europeans who disliked Americans. My parents' language accents were such that they would have sounded like natives, unlike my speaking abilities it would clear to everyone that I was speaking the foreign language with an American accent.

A friend's son is currently living in Brazil and he is horrified by the abject poverty of the people. Where he is living in Brazil, they are having a severe drought which is so bad that he is only capable of hauling water in a bucket and taking a sponge bath. Living like the locals? - "Just Me"

That was an interesting article by Peter H. so I will send it out to friends. Being mobile makes sense.  Stockpiling many things will just tie you down if you have to relocate if things get crazy (riots, looting, mayhem etc).  There is little protection from mobs descending on a farm/retreat with only a small number of people to protect it. - L.A.M.

JWR Replies: I disagree with you, L.A.M.. If you carefully you pick a retreat that is truly remote and off the beaten track, then it won't be in the path of urban refugees or looters. And if your retreat is well-defended, then looters with common sense will move on to easier pickings, rather than take casualties.

Also, we need to consider that the farm confiscation mobs in Zimbabwe that Peter mentioned were state-sponsored, so the police and army were no help to the landowners. (In fact, in many cases they helped transport the ZANU-PF thugs to the farms!) Unless our own government gets grabby, then we will have at least limited recourse to the law--and local law enforcement--to help back us up.

Another Self-Reliance Expo will be held in Dallas, Texas, July 27-28, 2012. Their most recent event (in Colorado Springs, Colorado), was a huge success. OBTW, wear your SurvivalBlog T-shirt or hat and see who you meet.

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Michael R. suggested this scholarly piece in Science magazine: Generic Indicators for Loss of Resilience Before a Tipping Point Leading to Population Collapse

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David Nash of the excellent Shepherd School web site wrote to mention that their extensive free reference library (thousands of military and firearm manuals) has just been revamped to make it better organized.

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The staff of Radio Free Redoubt has announced TEOTWAWKI Readiness EXercise (TREX) 2012 for August 10-11-12, 2012. (Friday through Sunday.) Get involved!

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Charming news, by way of Reader J. McC.: Flame virus can hijack PCs by spoofing Windows Update

"I keep picturing a stranger from outer space. He lands on my farm and wants me to tell him about our world. I try to put the best face on things that I can, but he keeps going back to the monetary system: 'You use what for money?' I'm so embarrassed I want to dig a hole and crawl in." - Franklin Sanders, in The Money Changer

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Today we present another two entries for Round 41 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 $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training. Together, these have a retail value of $589. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 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.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 41 ends on July 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.

Some friends recently bought a self sustaining bit of farmland in the American Redoubt. Part of it was a desire to get back to the land, part of it was for safety and security in a future TEOTWAWKI situation. I wished them well and was impressed with the desire to get back to the land. But deep down I don't believe that a remote farm is necessarily safe, defensible, or a better bet than being mobile. It comes down to a conversation I had with a Rhodesian (Zimbabwean by passport, but he called himself Rhodesian) expat in Thailand about a decade ago.

This was a man who owned a family farm and knew others who owned farms. He decided to leave Zimbabwe before the height of the farmland grabs, just after a mob came for some friends of his. These friends had plenty of stockpiled weapons and ammunition; they had water, food, and ham radio contact with nearby farms. But what they didn't have was the hundreds (note this is what I was told, so I am unsure if this number is an exaggeration) of people that the mob that came for their farm had. Their guns were useless against this large mob. They couldn't just shoot indiscriminately into the crowd without drawing the ire of the military [which was tacitly supporting the farm invasions]. Shots fired to try to disperse the crowd led them to charge. The sons at the farm were seriously beaten up trying to stand their ground. The family made it out in a pickup truck, leaving behind their stockpile of guns and ammunition, which with their farm went to the Mugabe regime.

Seeing this writing on the wall, the man sold his farm at a huge discount to the workers who worked on the farm. His hope was they could maintain the farm intact. At least he could have a legacy for his family farm if he could not keep it financially. Unfortunately even these workers ultimately lost the farm to the “war veterans” of the ZANU-PF. The irrigation system got stripped, the farm got parceled up into unproductive one acre lots. The man left for Thailand, ran a tour company, and as of that point in time never returned to his country. I met him in 200. The land grabs continued throughout the next decade.

Some people did try to stay and fight for their land in Zimbabwe. Most notably Mike Campbell and Richard Etheredge took the Zimbabwean government to court in a tribunal of judges of the South African Development Community (SADC) regional trade bloc. For opposing the government the Etheredges were threatened with their lives and had their belongings ransacked. The New York Times reported:

“The gang had looted the three family homes on the farm of all but the large mounted heads of an eland and a kudu, according to photos taken before and after the invasion. They used a jackhammer to break through the foot-thick wall of the walk-in safe. The haul from the homes and the farm included 1,760 pounds of ivory, 14 handmade guns, 14 refrigerators and freezers, 5 stoves, 3 tractors, a pickup truck and 400 tons of oranges, the family said.”

The Campbells suffered a far worse fate:
“[A] far more violent farm invasion occurred at the home of Mike and Angela Campbell, also here in Chegutu. Mr. Campbell, 76, was the first farmer to take on Mr. Mugabe before the tribunal.
A gang came that Sunday afternoon, pouring out of a pickup truck and a bus, Mrs. Campbell said. Her son-in-law, Ben Freeth, 38, said that he was bludgeoned with rifle butts and that his skull and ribs were fractured. Mike Campbell was also severely beaten.
Mrs. Campbell, 66, said she was dragged by her hair, after her arm was broken in multiple places, and dumped next to her husband. The doctor who treated them in the capital, Harare, signed affidavits confirming the severity of their injuries.” [JWR Adds: Their story was well documented in the film Mugabe and the White African, which is available via Netflix streaming.]

During Mugabe's inauguration the Campbells were abducted and tortured until they signed a formal withdrawal of the case from the SADC. The son had his feet beaten, a common form of torture in Zimbabwe which often leaves people crippled for life. The case ultimately went forward and the SADC ruled in favor of the Campbells. The Zimbabwean government withdrew from the SADC August 7th 2009. The farms were burned down August 30th 2009. In April 2011 Mike Campbell died; his family says it was due to complications from having been tortured.

Ultimately these seizures did not turn out to be a wise national policy, leaving economic ruin:
“By contrast at least 90 per cent of formerly white-owned farms - more than 20 million acres - lie fallow since Mr Mugabe began chasing whites off their rural properties, while agricultural exports, which once earned 40 per cent of Zimbabwe's foreign exchange, have collapsed, and more than half the population needs food aid.”

Zimbabwe used to be a rich food exporter with a dollar that was on parity with the British pound. Money printing combined with the erosion of exports destroyed that. But totalitarian regimes have the interest of control not prosperity as their main focus.

Why am I sharing all of this? Well the man in Thailand's story has had a big impact on me in strengthening my resolve that I never want to live in a totalitarian country. This has had the effect of making me a lot more global in my thinking. I've worked and traveled in enough countries close to the bottom of economic and development indicators to know it is a long way down (US is #4 right now), but I also have seen that even in countries with histories of free speech or democratic process, it is possible to slip into a totalitarian state over a 20-30 year period. Contrary to many survival based forum conceptions, that if the money dries up so will the government involvement in your life, I believe that as the money gets tight governments get more repressive and controlling (look at North Korea, Myanmar, Zimbabwe, Romania in the 1980s). Desperate measures get taken in the name of security of the state, and the population is left to adjust, those who don't fall in line or leave get crushed. Sadly not just in Zimbabwe, but elsewhere, Congo, Guatemala, Haiti, people in rural areas seem to see some of the worst atrocities by the state (this differs in all out conflicts like Bosnia where urban areas would be battlegrounds).

Totalitarianism is my biggest survival concern. Now I've been through enough natural disasters that I have enough food and have backup energy and water systems to make it comfortably through a couple months of grid down. But I live in an east coast city, I rent an apartment, other than the aforementioned food I don't really have stockpiles. I don't have much attachment to any of my stuff, my wife and I have been known to just uproot and go live in foreign countries. Normally I'd be the antithesis of a survival type. But being primarily concerned about economic collapse and the loss of freedom, stockpiling for scarcity is not in my strategy.
I feel economic decline will take a while. Not to say that portions of that slide won't happen quickly creating Russian or Argentine style shortages and bank holidays, but there will be time to see things changing and get out. The important thing is having the hard currency and flexibility to be mobile, even if everybody else in the US has a frozen bank account.

Working largely in the international development industry I don't have much, but I am more global than most. I am liquid in a basket of currencies with bank accounts around the globe and I'd recommend this to others. There is nothing mysterious about doing this, you have to file extra forms to the IRS annually (FBAR), but it is perfectly legal and relatively easy to maintain offshore accounts especially in this age of online banking.

My hope is that when the SHTF in the US if things look dark for the future of freedoms here I'll be tied into businesses on a global stage that can guarantee my revenue and I'll be left living in relative style in some comparatively untouched global city. Even when things go down hill, like during WWII, there are still locations of wealth and safety. It's a bet that I can find and work my way into those places, but it is a bet I'd take any day over stockpiling ammunition and trying to survive a gunfight in the countryside.

If you want to make a start at international banking I'd suggest the following resources (disclaimer, all banks are subject to health concerns in this climate, laws governing international banking vary from country to country, so do your own research):
Bank of China: minimum $500 for a Yuan account. This, however, is very restricted. This is only a savings account not a checking. It is hard to get your money out of this account if you don't know people in China.
Isle of Man: £2,500 minimum deposit for British pound, Euro or Dollar accounts. Get an international Visa card.
Multiple Countries in the Caribbean: bank in multiple Caribbean countries. Apply as a non-resident. Hold CHF accounts.
Multiple Countries: Enroll to be a student for a semester and then get a bank account and keep it.
Multiple Countries: Start a local business, get a bank account.
Multiple Countries: Pay a law firm to set you up with a bank account and a holding corporation.
As for managing your affairs in the US, I recommend services such as, online bill pay, Google Voice, Earthclassmail and PostalMethods to virtualize your communications.

What about citizenship? Well it is possible to move around as a “perpetual traveler” (PT). But dual citizenship is something you can work on depending on what country you are in. Most countries have pathways to citizenship that are less onerous than existing US laws. “For example, you can became a citizen… 

…of Ireland if you have an Irish grandparent.(1)(2) 
…of France if you’ve lived and paid taxes for five consecutive years.(3)(4) 
…of Brazil if you’ve lived and paid taxes for four consecutive years.(5)(6)  “

My advice to others is get global resources in place now that enable you to become an expat and not a refugee. If I have learned anything from people who live in poor and repressive countries now, it is that if you are skilled and educated this strategy can be a good one for your family. Pick a few countries and get to know them (knowing multiple languages opens significantly the options for where you can go on the globe). Globally, historically, diaspora tend to do well in countries with resources, especially in the second generation.

I think you will see a lot more migration when things start to get tough. I believe this is a good thing. Not everybody is meant to be a self sufficient farmer (I know this, I used to be a farmer), and there are worse things than planning now so you can find yourself running a small business in Thailand or Norway or New Zealand talking about how you got out before it all fell apart. Finally, if it doesn't all fall apart there is nothing unsound about having diversified international revenues even if you are staying put.

I never realized how dark and eerie our house could be.  Even at night, there were usually two or three nightlights casting their brave glow to prevent midnight mishaps. But on this evening, there was no electricity to power this smallest of luxuries.  Another thing I noticed as I kept vigil over my sleeping loved ones by emergency candle light was the extreme, echoing silence.  There was no fan humming in my son’s room. There was no whir of the compressor cycling on and off in the refrigerator.  There was no air blowing through the central air unit of our home.  Instead there was lingering, creeping silence that accompanied the knowledge that it would be a long time before normal service was restored.

This may sound like the beginning of an apocalyptic horror movie, but in truth, this is what happened in my town after the Super Outbreak of tornadoes on April 27, 2011.  We experienced our own localized TEOTWAWKI when an EF4 tornado ripped through the center of town on its 38 mile long trek of devastation.  The world as we knew it was about to shift dramatically.

The day started off with tornadoes ripping up the town just south of us in the pre-dawn hours.  Everyone was tense as the Weather Channel meteorologists were forecasting a TorCon index of 9/10; the highest numbers they had ever seen.  Yet, we all felt comforted by the fact that storms seem to veer off before hitting our town.  We have weathered many near misses and become a bit complacent.  At 3:00 PM, me, my 15 year old son, my 72 year old Mom and Dad, and my 92 year old grandmother sought refuge in a back basement bedroom of my downstairs apartment as the tornado sirens blared.  The camera located on the tallest building in the center of town provided an excellent view to the local News Channels of the half mile wide tornado as it barreled straight towards us. 

Like most people who are confident that disasters only happen to others, we stood on the driveway after the power went out.  It wasn’t until we realized we were looking up into the center of a side funnel and we could hear the tortured wailing of the winds in the main tornado that we ran like frightened rabbits to the back basement bedroom.  We were lucky that the true devastation started a block away from our house. After the tornado sirens stopped, the police, fire-engine and ambulance sirens began to scream only a few blocks over.  Within the city limits, 910 homes and 98 businesses were damaged.  

As we huddled in the dark, listening to more storms rumble by, we expected things to return to normal within an hour or two.  What no one knew at the time was that the Super Outbreak had destroyed almost all the large high voltage transmission towers that brought electricity into our substation from the north.  We were without grid electricity for six days and without cable television and Internet service for 12 days.  Gasoline was scarce for three days.  Land line phones were inoperable for 21 days.  Cell phone service was sketchy for nearly a month.  Also, schools were closed for 12 days.  Our cushy world as we knew it had suddenly ground to a halt. 

Let me start by stating that I’m not your average “survivalist.”  In fact, I don’t personally own a stitch of camouflaged clothing.  I’m a middle-aged, overweight, desk-driving, city dwelling, mother of one.  I don’t like camping and my idea of roughing it is to pitch a tent on the drive-way so I can come into the house whenever I need something.  I hate baiting hooks for fishing, and the only things I like to shoot are aluminum cans. 

I never made a conscious effort to prepare for the end of the world as we know it.  Sure, the thought that some cataclysmic event could disrupt our cushy every-day lives has always lurked in the back of my mind, but I never acted on it in a big way.  Despite the fact that we did not have an organized response to a disaster, we survived quite well due to several things we had set into motion over the past few decades. 

Our location was selected for a number of factors.  We chose to live in town, to be close to hospitals and utilities.  Our electricity is never out for very long, due to the numerous grids that can be used to reroute power around problems.  We also chose a home with a basement, which is crucial when living in tornado alley. 

The first necessity for survival was food.  My mother and I have always kept an emergency supply of non-perishable food in the basement. She began this practice in the 1970s, during the Cold War.  As children, we thought it was normal to have extra food in the basement.  Of course, raiding the stash to snack on the powered Jello didn’t help her, but we sure enjoyed it.  She stopped for many years, but then started stockpiling peanut butter and jelly again in 1999.  It started out as “Y2K supplies.”  When that didn’t result in grid disruption, those supplies were renamed as “tornado supplies.”  In the winter, we jokingly renamed them “ice storm supplies.”  This wasn’t some organized, labeled food storage.   We just stuck extras of what we normally used in some boxes in the basement.  To prepare food we used the propane barbecue grill and the side burner while we were without electricity.

The second necessity we had prepared in advance was electricity.  Since weathering Hurricane Fran and ice storms in North Carolina in the 1990s, we have never been without a generator.  Years ago, we had an electrician wire a separate breaker box into the house so we could power most of the house, most of the kitchen appliances, and the HVAC unit by plugging in the generator.  Also, I have had a inverter box in my van for road trips for years which allow us to plug in regular appliances to an outlet that is run off car battery when the engine is idling. We used this to recharge our phones, laptops and fluorescent lanterns.

The third necessity we required was information.  Our first line of access was a wind-up radio.  My Dad’s reason for buying this was not disaster related.  He simply got tired of replacing the batteries in his radio that he listened to daily.  With this, we could get information on more storms coming through, as well as the condition of our town, and the availability of limited resources, like gasoline.  We also had cell phones that could generate a Wi-Fi hot spot.  Although we couldn’t use them to make calls, our phones allowed us to reach out and connect with the outside world through the Internet.  Facebook was a Godsend since people were creating pages for the City where vital information was shared.

One resource we did not expect to be scarce was gasoline.  Apparently, very few gas station owners were prepared for an extended period of time with no electricity.  On the first day after the tornado hit, there were only two gas stations that had the foresight to purchase generators for such an emergency.  The lines of cars queued up there were staggering. 

We were lucky, in that we had five full gas cans for the lawnmower.  After a failed attempt at purchasing more gas, we rationed the generator by running it only three times a day to keep the freezer cold and several hours at night.  Next we started siphoning gas out of our vehicles.  We started with the least necessary vehicle. We reasoned that the last to go should be my mini-van, since it can hold the most people, and got the best gas mileage, in the event we decided to evacuate.  So, with this plan, we were set to weather several days without gasoline.

One resource we didn’t have to worry about during this localized TEOTWAWKI was water and waste.  Our water treatment plant was not damaged, and the service was not interrupted thanks to back up generators.  Though since that day, we have had the opportunity to suffer the loss of these luxuries due to non-disaster plumbing disorders.  We have become quite efficient at what I call a Japanese shower, where you wet and soap your body with a washcloth, then only turn on the shower to rinse off.  We did not drain the tub, and used that water for flushing the toilet.  Waste management is something we do not have a solution for yet. 

Our safety was not an issue as we were fortunate to not suffer any criminal activity as a result of this TEOTWAWKI.  At the time, our only defense was a very old, pistol and a shotgun with one box of ammunition.  Luckily, there was no breakdown in civility in our little town as might be expected in an extreme disaster.   

I am proud how our town of 18,000 responded to this disaster.  Several churches set up cook centers for food that was about to spoil, and to provide meals to senior citizens, government employees and workers.  Charging stations were set up at local shelters to charge phones and battery powered tools.  Volunteers and sports teams from the high school mobilized to help clear debris and cut fallen trees.  Government offices were open to help citizens get permits to be able to drive through downtown.  Police and National Guard were mobilized to help with directing traffic and prevent looting.  Tide mobile laundry service came to town to provide clothes washing facilities.  Trucks loaded with bottled/canned water drove through the affected areas handing out water to whoever wanted it.  It was a wonderful affirmation of all that is good in human nature.  

The End of the World as we know it doesn’t have to be an event that impacts the entire world.  Sure, there will always be the looming threat of global catastrophe, but it’s the “as we know it” part that we experienced in our localized disaster.  You never know what you’ve got until it’s gone.  Our outlook on the world changed that month.  People no longer scoff at tornado warnings.  Storms are watched more closely.  Schools close more readily when severe weather threatens.  More families are prepared because they purchased some of the items they needed to survive that month.  Cities are purchasing and installing community storm shelters. 

My family no longer teases us about our TEOTWAWKI supplies.  They simply nod and feel more secure knowing that we are taking steps for the next event. I doubt I will ever have a fully stocked “retreat” outside of town, but are doing what we can.  We are taking baby steps that will add up to a solid plan for coping with a disaster.  If this middle-aged, overweight, desk-driving, city dwelling, mother of one can be prepared, then so can you. 

What we had before the Super Outbreak of 2011:
-Second breaker box for generator to run essentials
-Coleman lantern and Emergency long-life hurricane/tornado candles and hurricane lamps and oil.
-Night lights that become flashlights when the power goes off.
-Non-perishable food and paper items in storage.
-Propane grill with a side burner eye and an extra tank
-Power converter for van – used to charge cell phones and laptops.
-Internet access via cell phones
-Internet hotspot via smart phone.
-Blue ice blocks to keep in the freezer or use for emergency coolers.
-Several tanks of gas for the mower/generator.
-Filled up the tubs with water and filled 10 gallon jugs with filtered water.
-Important papers and prescriptions in satchel. 
-Folding chairs for safe room.

Additional steps taken after tasting TEOTWAWKI:
Researched solar powered water heaters, solar and wind resources for electricity. 
We have purchased a solar charger and plug adapter for small appliances.
We have purchased a camping solar hot water shower bag for emergencies.
Researched pedal powered generators.
Researched storable food stuffs.
We have tried several freeze-dried meals from a camping supply store.
Researched water collection systems.
Designated ICOE ("In Case of Emergency") contact person.
Came up with our own list of supplies in the event of TEOTWAWKI
Inventoried our battery powered tools.
Researched tents and sleeping bags.
Researched reusable defensive weapons that do not require gun powder or gunsmithing.
Practiced fire starting with flint.

Hello James;
In reference to the article Prep for Free, by George H.: As always check your local laws. Here in New York City, once you put your trash on the curb it becomes city property. If someone then takes it, they can get a fine up to $2,000.  Thanks, - Richie

Mr. Rawles,
This is a response to Patrick S. letter concerning Canadian Nickels.

I previously sent a post to you on the topic of sorting Canadian pennies and there was an excellent response related to Canadian nickels.

Since then there has been a development in that the Canadian government has discontinued issuing new pennies.

To this effect, I no longer bother sorting pennies.  In the spirit of your recent post concerning the possibility of bank holidays in the US (which I believe will could happen in Canada), I keep every penny I find regardless of if they are debased or not.  When my children are a little bit older and the melt value of the non-debased coinage is substantially higher than it is now, I believe I will just have them sort through and use the debased pennies as their allowance money. 

Moreover, in the event of a hyperinflation and currency collapse, I suspect even the fully debased Canadian pennies (and even nickels) will actually be a better hedge on inflation than paper bank notes, as the melt value on those coins are between 1/100 and 1/1000th of their face value.

As for sorting Canadian nickels, I'd like to offer some tips I've picked up after recently starting.  Some of these points may well be valid for your American audience when the US nickel under goes debasement.

The first is whenever you receive small change for a transaction, always ask for it in nickels.  When the cashier at a store gives them to you, sort them on the spot, separating the debased nickels from the non-debased ones.  It is good to have a coin purse with three sections specifically for this purpose.

Secondly, are some pointers for if you are going to a bank to pick up rolls coinage.  For nickels don't bother sorting rolls that appear machine rolled.  These typically contain nickels fresh from the mint that contain nothing but fully debased ones.  You can tell the machine rolled ones, because they either are fully sealed plastic rolls, or paper rolls with crimped ends that obviously could not be rolled by hand.  Hand rolled nickels usually come in paper roles that are folded at the end or rigid plastic roles that have a pocket or buttons to close it.

When dealing with the banks, don't arouse suspicion as well by rejecting the rolls at the bank.  Take them to a Tim Hortins and buy a coffee and doughnut, or use them as change for other small transactions (garage sales are great for getting large amounts of nickels and pennies), or keep them at home with your cache of currency as the change you will immediately use in an emergency (keeping the non-debased nickels as a generational store of wealth).

Also, try to find out the day of the week that your bank rolls all the coins they have brought in by customers and go on that day to pick up both pennies and nickels.  That is the day they are usually swimming in rolls of mixed bag nickels and pennies.

Lastly on the topic of collecting rolls of nickels (or pennies) from the bank, is do your fellow survivalist a favour if you decide to re-roll and return nickels or pennies to the bank.  Put a discrete, cryptic little note on them indicating something like "2000+" that anyone with a like minded idea would have.  Most bank cashiers I've dealt with don't care and this saves others (and possibly yourself) the trouble of having to go through a roll and come out empty handed.

The last topic, when sorting both Canadian nickels and pennies, don't bother to sort them by their specific series.  We are fortunate in Canada that any nickel before 1999 is not fully debased, with the 1982 to 1999 nickels still having almost a $0.045 melt value.  For nickels, if you see "19xx" as the mint year - just keep it.  It's quite easy to identify those nickels as the profile of the Queen on most of those coins is the younger version of her with a certain crown.  Also, all debased coins have the Royal Canadian Mint symbol on it, so that is an easy identifiable mark for you to filter those coins out.  Again, one day I'll probably have my kids go through and further sort those coins, and for that reason, it is probably a good idea to print out the coinflation.com/canada or wikipedia pages with the specific years for nickels and pennies.

Once you get into a rhythm, it's actually pretty easy to identify which coins are debased and which ones are not.

Hope these tips help! God Bless, - Nick L.

Hold your horses, folks! I just noticed that my upcoming novel "Founders" has jumped from #100,000 to around #3,400 in the Amazon Best Sellers ranks. Please wait until the release date (September 25, 2012) to order your copy. By using the "Book Bomb Day" method (concentrating thousands of orders on one day), I hope to maximize the "splash" of the book, and drive its rankings to the Top 20 on Amazon.com, and to the Top 100 of the New York Times bestsellers list. Many thanks for your patience!

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Cheryl (The Economatrix) found this: It's Almost Time To Panic:  Five Disasters That Could Push Humanity Off The Cliff

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M.E.W. sent this bit of Walter Mitty daydreaming fodder: Rheinmetall Defense outfits Volkswagen Amarok for world conquest. (Of course that pintle-mounted M2 .50 Browning makes a great "Pocketa-pocketa-pocketa" sound.)

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Fahrenheit Error Code 451: 'Web Page Censored' Code Proposed

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Scooby say "Ruh-ro": What if Stuxnet rebounds on us? U.S. power grid vulnerable to attack

"I can feel the weather changing,
I can see it all around.
Can't you feel that new wind blowing?
Don't you recognize that sound, that sound?
And the Earth is slowly spinning,
Spinning slowly, slowly changing."
- Neil Young: Rumblin', 2010

Monday, June 18, 2012

Today we present the first in a series of articles by our Medical Editor, Dr. Cynthia Koelker, as well another product review by our Field Gear Editor, Pat Cascio.

If society collapses and you’re on your own, what medical skills seem the most essential?  The answer likely depends on your age, health status, and stage in life.  For those of child-bearing years, midwifery skills may be paramount.  For those advanced in age, diagnosis and treatment of chronic disease becomes primary.  For the otherwise young and healthy, treatment of injuries and infection tops the list.
Our current compartmentalized society has deemed that doctors should perform these tasks, though turf wars abound over what nurses, physician assistants, pharmacist, paramedics, and others should legally be permitted to do.  Recent decades have also seen the trend toward home care for I.V. therapy, nebulizer treatments, dialysis, and much more.  The take home lesson is this:  the layman can acquire many skills once considered the purview of health professionals alone.  Thus, the first step in acquiring these skills is believing that you can do so.

The next question is to identify what skills you’d like to acquire
.  Though an unknown future presents unknown threats, common injuries and diseases will no doubt persist.  Patients suffering lacerations, infections, sprains, and broken bones fill the ERs.  Infections, diabetes, asthma, pneumonia, chest pain, arthritis, GI disturbances, urinary problems, STDs, and assorted rashes comprise the majority of medical problems.  Learning how to diagnose and treat these problems is a good place to start.

To be more specific, needed skills include the ability to suture, to apply a splint or a cast, to administer an aerosol or needed fluids, to check urine for infection, to identify common rashes, to have a working knowledge of antibiotic usage, and much more.  Such a list is daunting and may dissuade a person from attempting anything – but remember:  doctors take a lifetime learning the practice of medicine.

So pick your favorite topic and start somewhere.
  Medical apprenticeships have been the time-honored mode of learning for thousands of years.  Even now a great deal of medical training is accomplished in this fashion, from medical school through specialty fellowships.  “See one, do one, teach one” is the tongue-in-cheek but very real motto among physicians.  An apprenticeship need not be formal.  Find someone who knows more than you do and ask them to teach you.

For those who learn well from books
, nearly every resource available to doctors is available to you.  The Internet provides a medical education in itself – just be careful to visit legitimate sites.  YouTube videos are effective tools for learning the basics of many medical procedures.

The Internet is also an excellent starting point to find live training/workshops to expand your medical skills.  I have personally attended Chuck Fenwick’s and Dave Turner’s Operational Medicine Course, and would recommend it to both the layman and allied health professional.  Also, in response to requests from my readers, I offer several live workshops throughout the year as well (see ArmageddonMedicine.net for current learning opportunities), where we cover suturing, splinting, casting, and basic labs, as well as treatment of infection and disease.  For those interested in all aspects of survival training, the July Total Survival Weekend at Stone Garden Farm and Village offers another option, and features one full day of hands-on medical teaching (primarily splinting and casting), one day of outdoor survival skills training with Tom Laskowski of SurvivalSchool.com, and one day of homesteading skills learning with farm owners Jim and Laura Fry.

In future articles in this series I will cover essential skills in detail one at a time, beginning with suturing.

I'll start this review by mentioning that I've never really cared for the vertical fore-grips on my ARs or AKs, and for good reason: Many of them are just plain junk! I've tried several fore-grips on rifles over the years, and they all had one thing in common - they would either break or get so loose that they were of no use to me. I had several of the fore-grips completely break off the rail on ARs over the years, and I attempted to repair them with epoxy, all to no avail. While I believe a fore-grip is a good idea on tactical-type rifles, I had all but given up on finding one worth the money.
Enter US Tactical Supply and their Mil-Spec Grip Pod System. I've written about some of the products that US Tactical Supply offers, and I can assure you, everything that they sell is the best-of-the-best when it comes to quality. They don't sell junk - plain and simple. About 90% of their customers are government agencies, and they have pretty strict guidelines as to what they are looking to purchase. As an example, the State Of California, their Dept. Of Corrections, has something like a 7 or 8 page list of attributes that certain products must have, if you want to sell anything to them.  And, most state and federal government agencies also have similar guidelines - as does the US military. We can't afford to have our troops buying inferior products - not when their lives might depend on their gear - we don't want that gear to fail them when they need it most. So, while it may seem like a real hassle selling anything to government agencies, there is logic to it all.
The Grip Pod System is a revolutionary vertical fore-grip, integrated with a very strong and stable bipod that is hidden inside the fore-grip. Now, I've tried cheap Chinese knock-offs of the Grip Pod System, and they were junk - I should have known, because they were inexpensive to start with. US Tactical Supply told me that one of the selling points of the Mil-Spec Grip Pod System is that, when they take it to trade shows and gun shows, they deploy the hidden bipod legs from the fore-grip, and proceed to place a full-sized man on the top of the gun - with the gun resting on the ground - and the legs do NOT fail in the least. Well, I honestly didn't believe this test - until I tried it myself. Now, while I've recently lost 40 pounds of unwanted extra weight, let's just say that I'm still well over 200-lbs. I was sure the bipod legs would fail when I stood on my M&M 762 AK-47, with the Grip Pod System attached to it's quad-rail. Nope! Nothing happened - the bipod did not fail, nor did the Grip Pod System fore-grip break or come loose - I was impressed, to say the least. I tried the same test with a Chinese knock-off, and it broke the bipod legs as well as the fore-grip breaking right off the quad-rail.
I guess what I really liked about the Grip Pod System is that the bipod readily deploys if you need it, when going prone to do some long-range shooting, or if you just want a more stable shooting platform to work from - I like that. And, the bipod also readily slips right back up inside the Grip Pod System fore-grip when you don't need it.  Honestly, the system doesn't look to be as stout and well-made as it is - but it's actually stronger than it appears, which is obvious from my standing on the AK with the bipod legs extended. I can't think of a better test than this.
US Tactical also sent me a Light Rail Module (LRM) for the Grip Pod System fore-grip .bipod. The light rail module adds a single or double rail system (I was sent the single rail model for this article)  to the Grip Pod System and allows the user to have a tactical light or laser at their finger tips - securely attached to the Grip Pod System. It only takes a minute to attach the LRM to the Grip Pod System Grip Pod, too. I like simple - simple doesn't fail, compared to some more complicated products.
Both the Grip Pod and the LRM are made of reinforced polymers - not cheap plastic like the knock-offs are made out of. Both the Grip Pod and LRM are available in black or tan. The GPS02 is the military model, and it sells for $149 and the GPS-LE is the law enforcement model, and it sells for $95. Personally, I'd go with the Mil-Spec model. Yes, it's a lot of money, but you won't have to replace it because it won't break on you. The LRM is $29.95 for the single rail model and $31.95 for the dual rail model - very affordable if you ask me.
I've mentioned many times in my SurvivalBlog articles, that if you buy junk, you'll have to buy it again. If you buy top-of-the-line products, you normally only have to buy once. I don't claim to be any sort of expert. I like to call myself a serious student of lots of things. And, I've learned a lot over the years when it comes to buying the best I can afford. In the long run, when I buy the best I can afford, I don't have to buy a replacement for it, because it didn't fail me. I hope I've been able to save SurvivalBlog readers a few bucks, and some headaches by doing these articles. I'm learning, and  hope you all learn a little something from my articles. I hear from SurvivalBlog readers daily, and if there is one thing I have learned from you all, its that, you are all a very intelligent bunch of readers.
I have no vested interest in US Tactical Supply, but I do enjoy doing business with them. They are a small, American-owned company, that sincerely cares about their customers and their customer service is second to none. If their customers aren't happy, then they aren't happy. If you're looking for cheap, poorly-made products, then don't bother looking at the US Tactical Supply web site, you're not going to find what you're looking for there.
If you own an M14 or Springfield Armory M1A rifle, then you need to check out some of the newest and high-tech stocks they carry for these rifles - you are going find something you'll want .I haven't tested any of their M14 stocks, but I've sure checked them out at the US Tactical Supply store - and I was absolutely blown away by what they carry. Give them a call if you have a special need in this area - bet they'll have exactly what you're looking for.

My wife, our children and I live on our family's farm. Our lives are quite unburdened by the daily cares of most folks. We live debt free, have never owned a new car and have never taken a vacation. There's just simply no other place we'd rather be than home.
We do have quite a few visitors here, with people stopping by to tour the 19th Century era museum and village we have created, or folks coming to the homesteading classes we teach, or neighbors coming for eggs and honey. But, even with the daily company and the rarity of a dinner eaten alone, our lives are basically stress free, and rather enjoyable.
Lately the two of us have been talking about world events and the need for folks to organize in like-minded communities or to acquire 'survival' retreats. But there is something that has puzzled us. As long time readers of SB, we have of course taken notice of the many letters and articles about bug-out-bags and getting out of the cities 'when the time comes'. 
Many people seem to think they need to get the just right gear and vehicle in order to leave the cities and go someplace else in the collapse because the cities won't be livable. It seems to us that kind of thinking is a bit backwards. If someone who has spent a life in the city suddenly tries to move to the country in the time of turmoil and confusion, it's the country that will be unlivable. 'Country liv'n' is just so vastly different from city life, that few city folks are likely to be able to make it.
The environment is just so 'other'. The sounds, smells, plants, landscapes, the amount and kinds of work, the climate, the skills needed, the challenges, the available foods, types of required clothing, kinds of tools, the things you notice and things you don't notice, the way you use time, your emotional outlook on daily events, are all vastly different. --And that's just a partial list of the things you'll need to adjust, acquire and change in order to be successful in a completely new and different environment. Your B.O.B. may be just right enough to get you through the first few days or even week. But after that, fields are simply not the same as cement. And looking up in a tree is not the same as looking down from a high rise apartment.
In talking about this question of 'getting to the country', my wife and I have discovered we actually have somewhat different reasons for moving 'to the country' now, rather that waiting until 5 minutes before the crunch when it may actually already be too late. My thinking runs more to the material side of why move sooner than later. Laura's has much more spiritual reasons to move now.
...So, together, we write two letters.
During WW2 in the Pacific Theater, Allied troops were island hopping. Very few of the young men had ever been in a tropical environment. The palm trees were different than anything they had ever seen. The weather and wetness was foreign to anything they had experienced. It was just so much hotter and more humid than Brooklyn or Buffalo.
The Japanese developed the "trick" of hiding in tree tops and picking off the troops as they walked by, knowing the city boys would never see them. But, the Americans fairly quickly learned to send the country boys through an area first because the country-raised guys knew what to look for. They could spot when a tree, even though a completely new to them species, just didn't look right. Many of them couldn't exactly explain how they were different. Just something about the thickness of the branches, or the color being off slightly, or the shadows were "wrong". City raised boys couldn't see it, but men raised in the woods and fields all their lives just, ...knew. And so they could deal with the enemy snipers before the enemy could deal with them.
I had something a little like that happen to me a few years ago. I was driving through a park one day. As I drove I was scanning side to side as I always do. (There have been studies done of how most folks mostly just stare straight ahead as they drive, and never see what is to either side.) I was driving normally, not fast, not slow, just driving and looking. I noticed something wrong about a tree, so I stopped and backed up to take a look. I walked quite far into the woods and discovered a deer head set in a crotch of a maple tree. Someone had been poaching.
Later the police asked me how I had spotted the head. I think they were suspicious that I might have put it there while illegally hunting. I tried to explain that from a distance it just wasn't "right". But they just didn't get what I meant. It was outside their experience.
A year ago the past winter I was disposing of a pile of papers for one reason or another. I asked a couple of friends if they would burn them on the outdoor burn pile. They dumped the paper, then tried to light it up. They couldn't do it. Too much wind, or something. ....They called me over to relate the problem. I bent down, struck a match, and off and going the fire went. They told me later that I had put my back to the wind to make a wind shelter so the match could take. I didn't even know I had done that. It was just something that a person does naturally without thinking. (At least naturally when you had been building fires all your life.)
So what does this have to do with survivalblog? Well, I'm often struck by how many folks spend so much time on collecting bug out bags, but seemingly spend little time in the woods they imagine they'll bug to.
Some time ago a writer on SurvivalBlog wrote about the cart and the horse. He suggested that it may very well be more useful to collect now what you need, rather than collecting trade goods in order to be able to try to acquire the needed items later. To me, he was absolutely right. If you are already living your TEOTWAWKI existence as you believe it will be, you won't much need trade goods for getting what you may need. You'll have already gathered the tools of self-sufficiency.
The problem is, if you haven't already been living in 'the country' and acquiring the knowledge, skills and goods you'll need, you will be just like those fish out of water soldiers in the Pacific. You'll have a very hard time functioning in a strange environment. You won't know what you need (except by reading someone else's barter list. Viagra! Really?) Simply put, you won't know how to live if you only know a pre-crunch 'walking on cement' life.
These are all very practical issues for me. It takes years to be able to unconsciously know where the wind is, to know what it means when birds roost differently than usual, or how old a deer track is. Or just the knowing of, when does a tree look wrong. I want to know the how of things. I want to have, in hand, the things I need to do the job. I want to be fully prepared for TEOTWAWKI before it happens. Not play catch up when it's too late. Prepping a bag is only skin deep to what you'll need. Living the life now, 24 hours, will serve you much better.
But my wife goes much deeper than that. She's more,"horse first" than even me. She wants to know the the why of, 'why do you want to know or do'? In her words she writes, ....
Why do you want to survive TEOTWAWKI?
Why do you want to live as long as you can? What makes living as long as you can seem important to you, so important that you are spending your free time after work, or in the mornings, or in between activities, reading this web site? Do you feel that with more length of time on Earth, you may have a greater opportunity to teach others? Maybe learn more yourself, or perhaps prove to yourself or your God(s) that you can conquer this world, or can take whatever "they" can dish out? Perhaps that will make you feel valued? Certainly most of us will feel that being around to take care of our families is of utmost importance..
Or maybe you are just afraid to die?
In times as hard and unbelievable as these, we can all get caught up in such questions. Some of them are good ones, the best kind there are. But we ought to be careful to not walk the path of simply how to 'get there". We really need to think beyond the need to survive and really get to the why we want to live.

My husband, our two daughters and I are blessed with a decent amount of land on which to live. Many other people also have land somewhere they can go to in need. But the difference between this land and so much of the land of those other people is that we have used our hands, minds, efforts, and desires to manifest an existence as close to perfect as we can imagine. Even, in a lot of ways, greater than we can imagine. We have found and brought home many buildings in order to create a place of self-sufficiency and sustainability (including a sawmill, blacksmith shop, weaving mill, smokehouse, windmills and many more.).
We have spent many hours and days hauling in mulches and manure to perfect our many gardens. We dedicate many an hour to perfecting and teaching dozens of classes on indefensible skills such as soap making (including rendering storable lard from fats and making lye from wood ash), cheese making from our goat's milk and creating rugs from scrap fabrics. We grow most of our vegetables, save the seeds and preserve as much as we can through canning, pickling, fermenting, dehydrating and freezing. Most meals include at least one wild edible, and when itches or irritations occur, we reach for our homemade salves.
We do all of this, live this life from sleep to waking, until sleep again. But why? Is it because we want to be ready when the time comes? Is it out of fear of being 'cut off ' from outside help?
Well, that is certainly in our minds. But none of those reasons are why we dedicate our lives to this. We do it because at any point in existence, whether before the Coming of Christ, or now in the spring of 2012 or after TEOTWAWKI, living sustainably and consciously is the way to create the same peace and common sense in our physical world that is abundant in our mind. Because NOT living in a way that we create everything we need, living in a way where the average man consumes more than he creates, is what got us in this mess in the first place.
 For many people there seems to be this big reality 'gap' of what people want to do and how the world has turned out. Because of this many almost SEEK this big apocalyptic event that will perhaps 'jolt' us into living the way that we SHOULD be living right now. But I ask you all, friends, ...what is stopping you from living your dream now?
For us, we see the virtues of the old ways of living before technologies and computers took hold. We don't need to wait until the electricity is gone to live as if it doesn't exist now. We choose to relearn that which is now all but lost, but was once so common. We seek to remember all of the lost Prophecy, lost tradition, lost music, lost way of life. And in doing this, "the end of the world as YOU know it", will mean little to us as we know it. That is what our farm and community are about, what the classes are about, and what our gardens are about. Living now, as we know you survivors will try living later. The same path can open for you as well.
An important but mostly forgotten Native American Prophecy states that until the average man learns to live with less, Earth will never know peace. Make the simple transition to change.  Do it happily and get excited about it. What better time than 2012? If you don't want a government who feels compelled to wipe the behinds of every citizen, then learn how to make toilet paper and wipe properly.

Owning a good plant identification book isn't enough. Cleverly keeping it in your BOB isn't enough. You need to know where to find this precious food and medicine, how to use it, at what time of the year it is available, and if necessary, how to cultivate it.
 Living in a self-sufficient mind is not what you do after a disaster. It's what you can do now in everyday life. It's what you can do to respect our planet. And to respect the people and creatures on it, and honor the Creator of such an amazing world. It doesn't take many days of having your hands covered in fertile soil, sitting in a garden and planting individual peas, gathered from vines planted by your hands last season, created from nothing more than soil water and sun to learn the important unchanging cycle of creation. And as a homebirthing mother I will say that nothing can teach the lesson of creation and life as can loving another person so much that you join together in the Holiest of ways to then find yourself heavy with life, and then unburdened one day to see another life, two new eyes never before opened laying next to you in your bed. No government, no hospital, and no medications are necessary to experience these things. 
And that, friends, is worth surviving for.
This continual circle of creation and destruction, rising, falling, birthing, aging, dying, and birthing again.. This is what we live for. This is why we choose to survive. For the opportunity to witness it, learn from it, and be a part of this mysterious beautiful thing we call life.

Well, obviously my wife's words grow more corn than mine. But I will close by saying, forget the bugging out bags. There's a world waiting for you to discover. You can live in it now. You can learn it now. If you don't, well, it may soon be too late. Because, just like for those 'boys' in the Pacific, it's a whole different world when crunch time comes. And you better have learned what those differences are while you still have time.
Jim & Laura Fry in Ohio
Note: Jim & Laura are co-teaching a series of three day survival courses with Dr. Cindy Koelker (SurvivalBlog's medical editor) and Tom Laskowski beginning this June and July. Visit www.ArmageddonMedicine.net for more information.

James Wesley:
I am Canadian and would like to know if you could possibly tell me what year(s) of nickels would be advisable for me to purchase. These would be for investment in the future as barter or monetary trade.
Thanking you for your informative blog site. Is there anything comparable in Canada that you are aware of ? I would be much obliged for the information. Thanking You - Patrick S.

JWR Replies: The situation with Canadian nickels is much more complicated than with U.S. nickels. Here is some background: In the States, just about the only commonly-circulating nickels (those minted 1946-to present) are 75% copper and 25% nickel. You might get lucky and find a rare "War Nickel." These are 35% silver, 56% copper, and 9% manganese five cent pieces that were minted between 1942 and 1945 in the U.S., when there was a wartime shortage of nickel. That would be a nice find, since they have a melt value of around $1.60 each, at present! And the 1913-1938 "Buffalo" nickels (75% copper and 25% nickel) bring a slight numismatic premium, even for common dates. So that would be another nice bonus. But both issues are so rare in common pocket change--or in what you'd get in rolls from the bank--that you are best off just buying rolls of nickels at face value and stacking them in .30 caliber ammo cans without even bothering to sort through them.

Now, as for Canada... You would have a lot of time-consuming manual sorting to do, since the composition of your five cent pieces varied widely in the past 90 years! Here is a summary:

1922 - 1942 Canadian Nickels were 99.9% nickel. Unless they are horribly worn, those all have some numismatic value.

1942 - 1943 Canadian Nickels were made of "Tombac" brass (88% copper, 12% zinc) and have a melt value of less than a penny. But they do have some numismatic value.

1944 - 1945 Canadian Nickels were made of chrome-plated steel and have a melt value of less than a penny.

1946 - 1950 12-sided Canadian Nickels were 99.9% nickel and according to Coinflation.com are as of this writing worth $0.076 each

1951 - 1954 Canadian Nickels were made of chrome-plated steel and have a melt value of less than a penny.

1955 - 1962 12-sided Canadian Nickels were 99.9% nickel and according to Coinflation.com are as of this writing worth $0.076 each

1963 - 1981 Canadian Nickels were 99.9% nickel and as of this writing are worth $0.076 each

1982 - 2001 Canadian Nickels were 75% copper, 25% nickel (The same as the U.S., nickel) and as of this writing are worth around $0.046 each

2000 - present Canadian Nickels are 94.5% steel, 3.5% copper, and 2% nickel (the outer plating) and have a melt value of less than a penny.

FWIW, I predict that the U.S. Mint will follow Canada's lead and will begin minting stainless steel "nickels" in 2013. So here in the U.S., our window of opportunity to salt away rolls of real nickels without any sorting will soon close. Stack them deep, folks!

A note on finding Lanolin, for making Ed's Red bore cleaner:
Lanolin is readily available in the breast feeding supply section at most big box department stores, or baby specialty stores. A full tube the (last I checked) is $8-9 but it lasts a very very long time. (And I once scored an unopened, factory sealed tube at a garage sale for 25 cents.) - Alyssa

Big Ben's Sausage Lentil Soup

2 lbs mild Italian sausage (mine was homemade, more lean than what you'd get at the store), crumbled

6 cups mirepoix, diced small (that's 1 1/2 cups celery, 1 1/2 cups carrot, and 3 cups yellow onion, diced to approx 1/4 inch cube)

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) Use 1/4 cup if your sausage will render as it cooks. (Mine doesn't.)

2 tablespoons (4 to 6 cloves) minced garlic

10 cups water or stock

1 ea 15 oz can diced tomatoes (fire roasted preferable)

1 ea 4 oz can tomato paste

2 sprigs fresh (approximately 2 tsp dried) thyme

1 1/2 tsp ground white pepper

1 lb dry lentils, rinsed and sorted

3 cups vegetable stock, or 2 tbl roasted vegetable soup base (if using the soup base add 3 more cups of water, I prefer the soup base to bouillon cubes or granules, but it is only a matter of preference.  The soup will be fine with dried bouillon as long as you don't go overboard and remember to add the 3 cups of water)

In a large pot, heat 1/2 of the EVOO over medium heat.  Add the mirepoix and the garlic and stir often to prevent scorching.  Sort of a fast sweating process.  Meanwhile, heat the remaining EVOO over medium heat in a skillet (if needed).  Brown the sausage in the skillet, breaking it up evenly and allowing it to sear well.  When browned and broken up well, add the sausage to the mirepoix.  Deglaze the skillet with 1/2 cup of water or stock, scraping the bottom to lift off the little bits.  Pour the deglazing liquid into the mire poix. 

Add all the remaining ingredients to the pot with the mirepoix and the sausage and mix well with a wooden spoon.  Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce heat and cover with lid.  Simmer for 1 hour 15 minutes, or until lentils are almost falling apart tender and have absorbed plenty of liquid.

Useful Recipe and Cooking Links:

Roland suggested these web sites:

South African Recipes

South African Game Recipes

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

Michael W. recommended this web site: No Tech Magazine. (They actually cover everything from stone age technology to high technology topics.)

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My recent interview with Alex Jones is now up on YouTube. We discussed Greece, bank holidays, the importance of cataloging numeric IP addresses (rather than just URLs), the Darknet, and ham radio.

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Some great observations from fellow blogger Mac Slavo: Why You Absolutely Must Have Food Supplies, Hard Assets And Reserve Cash

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F.G. sent this: Stiff winds fuel Colo. wildfire; looting a concern

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Mark A. spotted this: Blades of Glory: Literary progeny Thomas McGuane Jr. carves custom knives mightier than the pen. (And, of course he lives in The American Redoubt.)

"European finance officials have discussed limiting the size of withdrawals from ATM machines, imposing border checks and introducing euro zone capital controls as a worst-case scenario should Athens decide to leave the euro." - The Irish Times, June 12, 2012

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Today we present another entry for Round 41 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 $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training. Together, these have a retail value of $589. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 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.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 41 ends on July 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.

Obtaining everything on your prep lists can be a very daunting and expensive task no matter what your background is. What I have found is that you can gradually squirrel away a large amount of equipment and food for free. Furthermore, the money saved can be used to secure more quality gear with your savings. Disclaimer: Everything listed below was indeed voluntarily given and verified as available free for the taking.

At Work:
1. Food service:
First off free food is readily available in meals provided by your employer. Most employers will also have a large surplus of some type of food every week. Large services can easily buy $50,000 worth of food every week based on expected demand with limited storage capacity. If the demand shifts they will have excess of certain foods which they have no need for and must to either pay to dispose of or give to their employees.

I have received cases of ice cream bars, cases of breads, pastries, egg product and many take home meals at the end of a day of work. Damaged food, either frozen or dry will often be given away. The food is still perfectly safe just the exterior packaging is damaged so it will not sell. This can be used by yourself or as feed for livestock. Some of the undamaged bulk food I passed onto the Boy Scouts (eggs for breakfast) for a fundraising meal or onto neighbors (cases of Dove ice cream bars).

2. Maintenance Work:
Part of this work was trash pickup, people throw out pretty much everything. Results are hit or miss.

Every week we would get: $5-to-10 in redeemable cans and bottles, towels, clothing, electrical cords (heavy gauge which had twist lock connectors and were “useless to the previous owner) baseball cards, tools, clamps, hammers, pliers, screwdrivers, saws And if the above were damaged then scrap metal. Old equipment we were throwing out, strip it of wiring prior to putting it in the dumpster if your employer is okay with this.

3. Factory Work:
Factories are always getting rid of old equipment, wiring, tools, cabinets, shelving, fencing and many other equipment. (Tip if you see something you want ask, maintenance would often rather load your truck then fill the dumpster. Pretty much always ask rather than risk someone think you are stealing) If there is equipment in the scrap metal dumpster ask if you can strip out the copper wiring (at $2-3 per pound).
What I have obtained:

  • Flammables cabinet for gas and other storage.
  • 200 feet of 6 foot tall chain link fence and posts.
  • Shelving for food and equipment storage.
  • Lockable heavy gauge cabinets for gun lockers.
  • Fire resistant cabinet for ammo and powder storage.
  • Pressure tank from a coating chamber, still certified use to make a gas-powered air compressor.

4. Town dump/transfer station:
Fortunately our transfer station allows people to drop off useable toys, pots and pans, books, board games and miscellaneous items for others to use.

  • Board games, connect four, battleship, chess checkers ? Kids toys, basketball hoop
  • Mason jars
  • Books, encyclopedias and other “outdated” media. Our town also supplies sand in the winter for anyone to pick up and use on their driveway. Not truly free as our taxes paid for it but still something to take advantage of.

5. Craigslist, Free Stuff:
Almost everything imaginable may be found in these listings. Things that I have learned through trial and error:

  • If it is not nearby then it is probably not worth traveling. Too many times I have not been the first to get to the item or it was in worse condition than I had anticipated. It is not worth driving an hour to hear “ Someone just took that rototiller two minutes ago.”
  • The faster you reply (e-mail, call or driving) the better your odds of getting the item.
  • Be polite and tell the poster where you are located. Using your manners may bump you to the top of the list and telling where you are located seems to make you relate more to the poster.
  • People do not want to be bothered selling these items, they just don’t want to pay to get rid of them. Although I have seen people post that they would pay $10-20 for removal!
  • I have obtained 100 cinder blocks, a truckload of bricks, garden fencing, T-posts for fencing, a variety of building supplies, (roofing, plywood, nails, etc), firewood, and pet food.
  • Sheet meal sheds sheds are worth considering if you have the time and ability to disassemble, transport, and re-assemble them.
  • Sometimes you may get very lucky, such as when I was picking up some plywood and PVC drainage pipe the owner asked if I would please take 100’ of heavy gage wiring left over from wiring the well. I did not need the wiring but the owner wanted it gone. That sold for $40 on eBay. As a general rule I do not go looking for anything that I plan on just selling. However, if the homeowner is going to have to pay to have their basement cleaned out and they ask that I take something then I will.

Things which I have missed out on:

  • Old and disused tractors, out in a field where you would need to first "clear out and then pull out."
  • Photovoltaic panels.

6. Side of the road:
This is very dependant on the season. In the summer kids outdoor toys, Cozy Coupes, pools, sandboxes, and bikes. In the fall/spring garden supplies, tomato cages, garden fencing, edging and even vegetables. Windows for cold frames and greenhouses. Building materials, doors, wood, roofing, everything to make a shed or even a barn. Landscaping supplies such as stone, mulch and compost. Two working "Power Wheels" ATVs with batteries and charger for my kids. (Their kids outgrew them and they were doing some spring cleaning.) One wise guy had a sign “Free Snow!” on a huge pile after a blizzard last year.

7. FreeCycle/other.
My brother uses this often, I signed up for it but the constant messages got to be too much of a hassle with replies and then have to sort through all of them. Personally I prefer to look at everything in a list with location rather then getting 50 e-mails a day. But if you have the time and patience then this is another method.

8. Friends/Family/Co-workers
Most of my kid’s clothing is hand me downs from family and coworkers. ? I have never bought a lawn mower, I get my dad’s and father in law’s old mowers
which used to be self propelled. Now they are heavy duty push mowers! When they finally stop working I sell them for parts on Craigslist. People move and look at unloading tools, old food, furniture, lawn mowers,
almost everything. By taking the bookshelf you get storage and they don’t have to move it! ? I bring in Rhubarb every spring and Pumpkins every fall, my co-workers bring in pies and tomatoes.

9. Charity work.
(Note that this is not making money at the expense of charities but rather as a result of helping someone.) This happens maybe 1 out of 10 times and only when people insist they give you something in return. Think of it as Karma if you will. Jump starting someone Pulling someone out of a snowbank/ditch Transporting something, furniture, lawn mower, helping someone move. Helping a neighbor with tree removal/yard work. Helping out most organizations with meals will result in a free meal for yourself. Donating blood, typically there is something a large company will give donors, such as ice cream, grinders, candles, case of bottled water. Again this is different from being paid to do something, this is essentially to alleviate any guilt the receiver has. That they do not want to accept charity, they have their self respect and offering you $5-10 for help on something they can not do themselves allows them to keep their self worth. Take the money and let them keep their self respect. I have felt awkward about accepting money on occasion, so I then donate it.

10. Volunteer:
You help out, make connections in the community and generally can learn another skill. You will not make money on this but learning a new skill is invaluable. And, when you show off your skills and help someone out odds are they will return the favor. Need a root cellar dug? Well, if your neighbor/Boy Scout associate/Farmer has a backhoe, then you just got it! Seriously, when I have all my trees cleared I am calling my buddy I helped all day when the ice storm hit clearing trees. Free root cellar dug, stones we dig up also free for the foundation.

11. Internet Forums
Some forums have free sections for items people are giving away depending on their interests and just general items. Gun forums have gun components loading presses, magazines, boxes of ammo. Sometimes people are also looking to trade one item they bought too many of or the wrong size for something you have.

12. Other
There is always yet another way to save money, including using less, recycling, farmer’s markets and making the most use of what you can get for free! On Scout camp outs we have found fishing lures stuck in trees, Gas cans floating in the ponds, life vests and other items which fell off of someone’s boat at some time. Always keep your eye out and if you have a mobile Internet connection take advantage of it, one person’s junk is another’s treasure! To have a truck as your daily driver is a major advantage to getting free items. Almost all items are time sensitive, if you have to go back home and get a trailer it will likely be gone. Some straps, bungee cords and a tool set will be required for most items. Keeping a tow strap and shovel on the truck will help with the charity work when it is safe!

Dear Editor:
When I was younger we were poor, as in no running water poor. We had many meals consisting of potatoes. What my dad did to keep them was dig holes about 3-4 foot deep and about 2 foot around. We put straw in the bottom then potatoes and another layer of straw. This ended up with around fours layers. Our yard typically had about six of these.

Now we didn't have whole potatoes in every one of these. About four or so had the eyes in the hole. (eyes are the seeds of the potato.) When you buy potatoes at Wal-mart or wherever the eyes are on the outside they are little nubs. We got ours at a farmer's store and we ate the potatoes and planted the eyes. To prepare them when we peeled the first few and canned several we would cut the eye off and a bit of the meat of the potato. All the peels and the bits went into the hole with the eyes. The same method was used to plant them. A layer of straw a good amount of peelings eyes with a chuck of the meat connected to the eye. Another layer of straw on top of it. and again we used about four layers.

None of these had fertilizers or anything. They were just planted in the aforementioned manner. We dug holes in different spots every year, not reusing the same place for a couple years. I would say that if you had access to a wooded area or large open areas this method would work fine. Thinking about it you could also use this method in a couple places in your garden. Digging the hole and adding the straw would make for an extra bit of tillage and fertilizer for the garden as well.

I've also heard of growing them in burlap or similar bags. That method works the same way except instead of planting them they get put in a warm garage in the bag. Some things I've read say to plant about a 2" chunk but I'd expect that you could use the peel and a smaller chunk.

I am not in a situation to put it to the test but while there isn't anything major hitting at this exact moment you might try this method out to see if you could do it. Let us know how the experiment works. - Willie Pete

Dear Mr. Rawles,

I heartily agree with the "Weapons Maintenance -- A Missing Element, by Odd Questioner".  I would add that having lots of good bore cleaner handy makes maintenance a lot easier.  There are MUCH better and cheaper bore cleaners around than the classic Hoppes No. 9.

Ed's Red bore cleaner has been around for over 20 years now and has been mentioned before in your blog.  Even so its a good thing to repeat once in a while.

"Ed's Red" bore cleaner is credited to C.E. Harris.  Its an excellent, easy-to-make and inexpensive bore cleaner and lube.  It stores indefinitely in an airtight container.  It cuts powder fouling like nothing else I've found. The formula and instructions for making Ed's Red has been detailed before in SurvivalBlog, so I won't repeat it here.

I've been making up a couple gallons every few years for over a decade.  I give it away to new friends a few ounces at a time.  Makes a great birthday/Christmas/whatever present for new preppers or shooters. Everyone I've given a sample to has ended up making a gallon of their own.  It is that good!

Ed's Red works for corrosive ammo as well as noncorrosive.  Its an efficient short-term rust-preventative as well.  Adding an emulsifiable oil + water to the mix makes "Ed's Pink" which is specifically for black powder. Do a web search on "Ed's Pink" and you'll find the details for it.

Two words of advice from experience:
(1) the Lanolin may be harder to find than the other components, but its VERY worth it.  Try craft stores that sell soap making supplies.
(2) Lots of folks have ideas for "improvements" to Ed's Red, but these really aren't needful.  The original formula works great and "If it ain't broke . . ."  Just stick with a classic.

Also, I think Ed's Red will be an excellent barter item, come to that. Every prepper should keep a hard copy of the the recipe for Ed's Red in their reference binder.

Cordially, - John

Bill Whittle discusses entitlements, the debt, and the inevitability of credit downgrades, higher interest rates, and hyperinflation: I'm Talking To You

James K. highlighted this news item in McNewspaper: Worst-case scenario is ugly if Greece leaves the Euro

Reader Sue C. sent us this: Countries across world gird for Greece turmoil

G.G. recommended this article in Der Spiegel: Desperate Greeks Withdraw Money from Accounts

Strong ties between JPMorgan, Senate Banking Committee. JWR's Comment: The Senate committee members must be "...shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on..." at JPMorgan.

Diana V. flagged this: Hong Kong Exchange to Buy London Metal Exchange for $2.1 Billion

Items from The Economatrix:

A Global Recession?  Warning Signs Everywhere

Foreclosure Activity Jumps in Troubling Sign of For Housing Recovery

Nervous Greek Voters Brace for Drachmageddon

Those Who See Will Survive The Coming Monetary System Collapse

Reader J.W.G. suggested this: Panetta Warns of Cyber Pearl Harbor: ‘The Capability to Paralyze This Country Is There Now’

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A Primer On The Shotgun

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F.J. sent this: Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain

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David R. flagged this news headline from Oregon: Man Likely Sickened By Plague.

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Google, Amazon lead rush for new Web domain suffixes in bids to ICANN. (Thanks to Pierre M. for the link.)

"For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." - Luke 19:10(KJV)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Today we present another entry for Round 41 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 $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training. Together, these have a retail value of $589. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 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.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 41 ends on July 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.

When discussing prepping preparedness and emergency supplies with family and friends, many of you have probably heard the flippant remark: ""I'll just go to your house."

I have been somewhat taken aback at this statement. I initially didn't know how to respond.

I knew it was a flippant response from some, made out of mockery and intended to elicit laughter.  Their mindset is that they don't want to prepare, and don't see the point.  Most off them think that our concerns for the future are humorous and unlikely to ever come to fruition. And I knew a few who felt overwhelmed and unsure of how to start to prepare for themselves.  They were frightened by what they saw coming, but unable to make that practical step, to prepare for themselves while there is time and information aplenty.

I know that many other like-minded people have been faced with the same situation.  Perhaps my pondering on it and laying it out when you face the same statement, or rashly consider making the statement yourself.

After much consideration I have realized there can be only one response:

You cannot come to my house in TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it). I don't say this because I don't care.  I do.  I wouldn't have entered the conversation with you in the first place otherwise.  I say this because of two very real and serious reasons.

1.  In the event of a real emergency, you will most likely never reach my home.

Consider it.  If you have been to my house, you most likely had to drive to get there.  And some of you have had to drive a long way.  And some of you have had to drive through many cities and other populated areas.  Many emergency situations could lead to roads and bridges that are damaged or closed.  Many unprepared fellow citizens could become lawless, falling into a dangerous mob mentality.  The further you have to drive, simply increases the number of obstacles you could face.  Traveling immediately after an emergency can be extremely dangerous and unpredictable.

2.  I do not have the resources, energy or ability to prepare for you and your family's unique needs.

Many people have very differing dietary needs.  Within just my close circle of friends and family, I have loved ones who need very low sodium foods, gluten free foods, vegetarian foods, low glycemic or low carbohydrate foods.  Some also have food allergies, drug allergies, environmental allergies, and chronic conditions that require medications or frequent monitoring and specialized treatment.

Slowly, one by one, I research these needs to find foods, herbs, home remedies and treatments to aid in a long, healthy, drug free life, using materials that I can grow, glean, or make in my own home.  But this research takes time and practice.  And sometimes I am happy with the results, and sometimes I have to start over in my search for a self sufficient answer to these troubles.

I also try to find alternatives to everyday items and duties.  Baby diapers, Toilet Paper, Washing clothes without electricity, Cooking.  This has taken a lot of time to research (still underway) and purchase needed supplies that will last:  Cloth diapers, family cloth, a bucket and plunger, clothes drying rack, propane camp stove as well as an outdoor fire pit.

We are also a one income family with 3.5 children, 100+ chickens, 9 ducks and 4 goats.  It could take years for me to provide beds, bedding, clothing, medicine and food for 20+ additional people.

Let us consider just one aspect.  My family of 5.5 people live in a two bedroom home.  If you and your family were to come to my house, where would you sleep?  Perhaps for one or two nights you would feel grateful to have space on my floor.  But after a while you would desire better sleeping arrangements, beds or at least pads, blankets or sleeping bags.  You would also eventually need to change your clothing.  Would you be able to bring all the extra clothing you would need in your hurried race from your home?  Sturdy practical shoes? Your favored hygiene products?  Your hair brush and tooth brush?  How long will you be satisfied at my home carting water daily and defecating in an outdoor privy?  With no electricity my home does not have water OR septic.  Even with electricity, my septic is rated for 6 people and could quickly be overworked and create a health nightmare for everyone involved.

These are things that you may not have considered.  But they are things that I must consider.  Prepping literally means, Preparing for what could happen.

I hope you can see that this is not because I do not care for you.  It is because I do care for you.  I urge you all to prepare for your own.  Not only is it truly your responsibility, but it is truly something that only YOU are capable of doing.

By relying on someone else, you will end up with impersonal, inadequate and sometimes completely unsatisfactory results.

And for those who think this is all unnecessary and a waste of time.... I wish it was.

As an English Proverb says so eloquently...

"Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst."

If all my preparations are never put to THE test.... at least my family has learned how to grow delicious, healthy and non modified vegetables, raise and butcher hormone and chemical free meat, and treat many common ailments without resorting to immune system destroying antibiotics or becoming addicted to pharmaceutical potions.

Even if TEOTWAWKI never comes, I will consider it all worth it and sleep soundly at night with my family close beside me.

Can you say the same if it does come?

Ways That I Can Help

Now I have laid out some basic thoughts on why you can't come to my house in TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It). But I don't want to end this conversation there, because I want to help!

My family has been moving in this direction for several years.  We have read and read and read books and internet articles, blogs and e-books.  We have watched documentaries and reality television shows.  We have even gleaned information from entertainment television shows and movies.  We try to find anything on livestock keeping, gardening, homebuilding, homesteading and herbal medicines.

As most of you already know my family tries to provide for our needs ourselves.  We do not go the the doctor unless we need a doctor.  We monitor our own health requirements and treat many of them using diet, exercise and herbal and homemade medicines when we can.  We home birth our children, just me and my husband.  We are moving towards providing for all of our food needs and this may just be the year that we accomplish it.  We homeschool our children, utilizing our own enormous library of textbooks, encyclopedias, documentaries, and educational programming, and good old paper and pencil.  We also involve our children in every step of our homesteading.  Starting seeds, transferring seedlings, transplanting outdoors, building fences, hatching chickens and ducks, building housing, feeding and watering them daily, nature walks where we discover the wild plants that grow around us and the animals that share our land with us.... This is all part of our education.

It is an adventure.

I love my life.  I delight in watching little green seedlings poke their heads through moist soil.  I smile at hearing chirp, chirp, chirping from my incubator.  I laugh as I watch the ducks swimming and playing in the pond.  I enjoy scratching my goats' bellies and having them eat from my hand.

And I adore the little kicks of a growing babe in the womb.  I am in awe when I get to hold them in my arms for the first time.  I am challenged and thrilled while watching them grow and learn.  I am completely in love with each of their little faces.

Of course, I want to keep them safe for as long as possible.  I feel it is my duty to the Lord to be a good steward over the all of blessings that He has placed in my hands.

And so... I prep. I "Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst." And I invite you to do the same.

Here is where I can start helping you:

1.  Find like-minded people.  If you are in my area, are already my friend or family member, or even if you live an Internet based life, feel free to contact me, befriend me, and share your thoughts, concerns and questions with me.  Having like-minded people surrounding you can be encouraging, uplifting, and provide excellent resources in your efforts to meet the challenges ahead.

2.  Make a list of what you have, and what you know.  You may already possess materials and skills that will be useful for your family's safety, or provide a valuable service in the event of an emergency.  Do you have plumbing skills?  Construction skills?  Electrical?  Mechanical?  

3.  Make a list of what you do not have, and what you do not know.  This may take some research.  Begin finding these resources and information.  If you don't know how to garden you can consider, books, magazines, online articles, a neighbor that gardens, or taking classes from your local extension office.  If you don't have medical knowledge you can consider taking local CPR courses, EMT basic courses, or researching individual medical conditions with books or online for knowledge and treatment.

4.  Band together.  Meet with other like-minded people to share responsibilities and resources.  This is most especially important in close neighborhoods.  If you can find others that are close to you, emotionally, spiritually and physically that share your goals and ideas, count it as a blessing.  Work together.  Perhaps they have medical skills, while you have construction skills.  Perhaps they love gardening, and you love canning food.  Without moving out onto the commune, you can start a community and build a foundation of strength for when the world is shaking.

5.  If you cannot find others nearby, do not fret.  Information is widely available.  I have even included many valuable links below.  And never underestimate your ability to learn new skills and rise to the challenge.  It does take work.  But it is worth it.

Links to start building your needed skills and resources.....

Bible Verses Regarding Preparing for the Future

Complete "How To" guides to begin storing food, tracking what you use and need, and a list of tests you can run through when you are ready - Food Storage Made Easy

How to Save Seeds - After you have grown your garden and are harvesting, prepare for next years planting.

Great online store with a multitude of tools, kits, and foods.  I peruse this frequently to see where my supplies might have holes - Emergency Essentials

Your local Agricultural Extension office usually provides low cost and free classes on canning, gardening, and beginning livestock care.  This is also a great place to meet other like-minded people.

Even the government has some starting points to preparing for an emergency, at Ready.gov. Can you last for at least three days without any water or electricity or additional supplies in your home? Remember that it took 3 days for the National Guard to even be sent to Hurricane Katrina victims.

Another site stressing that you must be prepared for at least three days: 72hours.org

Numerous Articles about Prepping 101,
While there are differing opinions you will find these to be great jumping off points:

National Geographic Prepping 101: The 10 Principles of Preparedness
Homestead Revival Prepping 101
Doomsday Prepping 101
Modern Survivalists Prepping 101
Miles Franklin - Prepping 101
Fast, Cheap, and Good - Prepping 101

And a few blogs that I read regularly that are full of great how to advice -
Paratus Familia
Rural Revolution
The Deliberate Agrarian

And here are a few really valuable books that I think are nearly essential to being prepared
The Encyclopedia of Country Living (Tenth Edition) by Carla Emery
Storey's Basic Country Skills: A Practical Guide to Self-Reliance by John & Martha Storey

Where There Is No Doctor: A Village Health Care Handbook by David Werner

Where There Is No Dentist by Murray Dickson

How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It: Tactics, Techniques, and Technologies for Uncertain Times by James Wesley, Rawles


These are What I Consider The Basics of Preparing for TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It):

Spiritual -
The most important preparation one can make for troubled times, or any time.... is the preparation of the soul. There can be no hope or lasting future for people who have not made peace with the Almighty.  I understand that not all believe in a 'Christian' God.  While I cannot speak directly to the many religious beliefs in the world, I can speak readily to my own.
My belief in Christ as a source of hope in any situation.  When the days are bright and beautiful and filled with numerous blessings, I can rejoice in them with my Lord.  But when the days are dark, and dangerous and filled with loss and fear..... what can I cling to then?
My Lord is still a light in these times.  In fact, He is the only light in these times.  His presence is strong and powerful, and His words promise that there is an end to all evil in the world.  And for those who cling to Him, He promises that He will never forsake us, and will make all things right.
So find your peace with the Almighty Creator and look forward to having hope, even in the midst of TEOTWAWKI.

Mental -
The second most important preparation one can make for troubled times, or any time.... is the preparation of the mind.  Without knowledge and discipline how would one go about building a shelter, growing a garden, finding food in the wilderness, or protect themselves from an enemy that has entered your gates?  You must study.  You must practice.  Books, Videos, Classes are essential to being as prepared as possible in any situation, including TEOTWAWKI.  This process is never ending, since there is always something new to learn.  You can never sit back and say, "I know everything now."  You and your family need to continually glean new skills and knowledge to face a time when there is no one else to provide for our needs.  Whether you are on your own for five days or five minutes, you could have a need that only you can meet.
This also includes, overlapping the physical portion of preparedness, the preparation of your body.  You must work toward making and maintaining your body in a strong and healthy condition as much as possible. If you are sickly, weak, and dependent on many medications, this will weaken your overall preparedness for hard times.

Physical -
The last, but still very important preparation one can make for troubled times, or any time... is the gathering of supplies.  This can seem daunting, monetarily and practically.  Where does one start?  Some of this knowledge will come as you prepare yourself mentally.  But to start we can consider what are your most urgent needs?

1.  Security is essential.  You must be prepared to protect yourself, your family, and your supplies.  If you do not protect them, you are basically giving up your life and the lives of those in your care.  In a matter of seconds, your life and your children's lives can be irrevocably lost.  You can purchase guns and ammo from most sporting good stores, and take gun safety courses from most police stations, gun ranges, and the National Rifle Association.  You can also sometimes find private courses available in your community.  You can also learn several styles of self defense fighting through video courses and in local schools if they are available in your community.

2.  A good quality first aid kit is essential.  You must be prepared to quickly clean a wound, stop bleeding, and have knowledge and ability to assist someone who is injured or very sick.  In a matter of minutes, a person can bleed to death.  You can purchase ready made kits in numerous sizes, or purchase individual pieces to build your own.
Shelter is essential.  This can include blankets, tents, and the ability to make a shelter in the wilderness if necessary.  In a matter of hours, a person can freeze to death.  It is also equally necessary to shelter oneself in excessive heat situations.  You can count blankets and tents you already own, purchase 'emergency' ones at many stores, and learn how to build lean to's, and other emergency shelters.

3.  Water is essential.  Staying hydrated is necessary at all times.  When you are under stress, and may not have access to clean water, stored water will mean the difference between life and death, literally.  In a matter of days, a person can die of dehydration.  You can purchase many sizes of pre-bottled water, as well as purchase water purification filters, tablets and systems.

4.  Food is essential.  Maintaining a steady, not excessive caloric intake will ensure that you have the strength and mental acuity to deal with what is happening around you.  In a matter of weeks, a person can die of starvation.  You can purchase many canned, dried, or 'emergency ration' foods.  You can also learn to make many of your own long term storage foods.  With a good quantity of a few ingredients in your home, you can assure that your family will not starve, and will have a balanced diet.  With some forethought and planning, you can make this diet interesting and much more endurable for yourself and your family.

The best way to begin is to prepare for a few days to start with.  You can use backpacks, buckets, totes, or boxes to pack away the items you may need initially.
You then expand and prepare for a longer time period.  Find a stretch of time to use as your goal and start gathering.

What will you need for 3 days?
3 months?
1 year?
7 years?

As you begin preparing for longer term, you will find yourself moving away from purchased/packaged emergency supplies, and move more into learning skills and gathering tools, seeds, and finding a homestead to build up around you.  You will begin to be more independent, and leave mainstream society.  You will realize that the 'old ways' that our ancestors lived, were far more sustainable and therefore a much firmer foundation for hard times.
It is a thrilling adventure to relearn the 'old ways' and to capture that independence back.  As you realize the numerous ways you have been enslaved and compromised security and freedom, you will be encouraged and strengthened to continue this path.

Some Prepping Advice from others point of view - 
Five Simple Steps to Prepare For TETOTWAWKI Today (SurvivalBlog)
Practical Steps to Preparing (SurvivalBlog)
Preparing For TEOTWAWKI - Where To Begin (TEOTWAWKI Blog)
Prepare Now For Survival (The Mother Earth News)

The End Of The World As We Know It.  Let us assume that it has finally happened.

It could be the earthquake that our region is supposedly so overdue for.  It could be dust bowl conditions in the south that create near famine conditions in the US like occurred in the 1930s.  It could be war that actually occurs on our side of the pond, just like happens in most nations around the world.

It hurts my heart to think that these things may happen during the lives of my children.  But I must be brave and honest.  I must admit that they do occur.  And I must plan ahead and prepare myself and my family so that if/when it occurs we will be, at least somewhat, in a better position spiritually, mentally and physically to handle it.

So in the event of such situations, or a myriad of others, let us consider that you have decided that your home is not the safest location for yourself and your family.  Let us consider that you are unable to provide the security you may need, or that you do not have a renewable source of water in the event of a grid outage. or that you do not have the land needed to grow enough food for your needs in the event of a prolonged systemic shutdown.

Here, my dear friends and family, I say, that you may consider coming to my house.

And for those whom I do not know, or live far away, you can begin to start the conversation with others who are your friends and family who may have a retreat, a place to gather and survive after TEOTWAWKI.

Before you all jump in the car and crash my party (or anyone else's).... there is a lot that you must consider first.

Having been forced by conditions, and blessed by love, my family has lived with another family in the past.  This family is so very close and dear and beloved by us.  We have children that are around the same ages.  We see the same in most political and religious arenas and our differences were small and barely noticeable really.

But living together is difficult.

Consider your own spouse, whom you love and adore.  I'll bet that you argue sometimes!  I'll bet you have even at times been tempted to raise your voice, throw a dish, stomp furiously from a room.

It was a very heavy strain on my own family and on theirs to live together.  Who was in charge?  Who was supposed to do the dishes?  Why did that person get up so early or stay up so late?  Who used all the toilet paper!?!?

Even in TEOTWAWKI, these human tendencies and emotional issues will occur.

So there has to be ground rules.  And these are the rules of my home.

1.  This is not a democracy.  My husband is in charge.
  This is not about some addiction to power, and megalomania.  Initially, for our own family, we made this decision based on scripture.  Ephesians 5:22-33 tells us that the man is the head of the household, as Christ is head of the church.  There is one captain on this ship.  I get to say my piece most of the time, and my opinion is respected and considered.  But he and he alone decides the direction our family will take.  Your opinion also will be listened to and given consideration.  If possible he will explain the reasons for any decision made.
  You may not like it.  But if you come to our house, that is the number one rule.  Before you balk too much about it, remember that this house and this land belongs to him.  We would certainly respect you in your home.  We will force no one to come to our home.  We will force to stay at our home. If necessary we will ask you to leave.

2.  You don't work, you don't eat.
  This is also a decision based on scripture.  2 Thessalonians 3:10 Paul stated quite clearly, "For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat."  Except for delicate little babes, everyone is capable of doing 'work' for their daily bread.
Elders may not be able to swing a shovel with much force.  But they may be able tell a young man how to build a truss, fix a leaking pipe, teach and read to the children.
The children may not be able to wrestle a goat back in it's pen.  But they should be able to do simple chores around the house, and as they get older, tend to their learning and help out around in the gardens and with the animals.
no freeloaders allowed.

3.  If you cause harm to others in the group, you may be asked to leave.
  Depending on the severity of your actions, and the likelihood of you continuing in harmful actions, we will defend those who seek safety and security from us.  Just as any danger from the outside, a danger from the inside will not be ignored.

Now if you have considered these rules, and still think that coming to my house is for you?  We better start making plans and discussing details, now.  This applies for those considering joining with others, family and friends in their own area.  Their rules may be different.  Discuss it and consider it carefully.

What supplies will you be bringing and storing at the retreat?  It is no longer a matter of "Will you bring supplies?" as you are planning on bringing your entire family there for shelter.
What will these supplies include? Food, Medical supplies, Tools, Seeds?
What kind of labor are you providing for the upkeep and fortitude of the retreat?  Are you able to assist in strengthening fences, building long term food supplies such as fruit trees or a fish pond, building outbuildings and additional housing, and run practice scenarios to ready yourself and your family and others who may be involved?
Will you come as soon as possible in the event of an emergency, or hunker down in your own home for a time to assess the situation before coming?

Because those who are our friends and family have such differing religious, political and lifestyle beliefs, there will be specific topics that will need to be discussed.  While it may seem common sense to some, it will seem complete nonsense, unnecessary, and even horribly dangerous by others.  These issues must be discussed before we are living under the same roof and trying to make a cohesive community.  Life will already be difficult and strained in TEOTWAWKI, and we must be able to rely on the safety of our group and our retreat.

For our retreat we would have to add some additional 'rules'.
4.  Parents are responsible for teaching and disciplining their child.  They may choose others in the group to share that responsibility with them if they wish.  Ultimately it is the parents' responsibility.  Deuteronomy 6:6-9
5.  Any threat to the group from man or animal, inside or out (as partially discussed in rule 3) will be dealt with.  Those who have pacifist beliefs may struggle with this when it is discussed and when the time comes.  However, we believe that it is our duty to the Lord, to protect what He has given us.  This does not mean we would attack or kill indiscriminately. That would be "murder" which would be a sin against God whom we seek to serve.  Discernment is necessary.  Exodus 22:2
6.  You will worship and thank God.  You will do your best to keep His commandments and to keep the sanctity of our home or you will be asked to leave.   Joshua 24:15, 1 Corinthians 5:13

Without an ongoing conversation, preparing and planning together, you will not know what to expect.  At our home, or at your other chosen retreats, the rules, goals, and methods may be different.  By opening the discussion and entering it you will be able to gain understanding of one another, and find ways to work together.

Of course there will still be issues that come up and stressful relations could still occur.  It would be wonderful if we all saw eye to eye on all subjects.  But most of the time in life we will be clumped together with people who agree on some things and disagree on many things.  You weigh and balance and hope to find those who agree more, disagree less.  A lot of this can be smoothed over by entering into it with understanding, tact and grace.

We would never want to close the door to any in need, especially those whom we know and love.  If we can make this work, it could be a wonderful thing to look forward to in the dawn after TEOTWAWKI.  When all is lost, we would have friends and family around us, in a community that worked together.  All we have to do is look at our children's bright eyes to know why we can't give up and must keep trying.

So if and when TEOTWAWKI comes upon us.... Yes, you can come to my house.

Welcome, welcome in - Caroline B.


There has been a lot of news about an English-speaking boy who claims to have been living for five years along with his father, camping out undetected in the forests of Germany, south of Berlin. Is this fact, fiction, fantasy? - Calvin D.

JWR Replies: I was also contacted by ABC News about this, seeking an interview. I reminded them that this was actually a nine month -old news story, dredged up by Huffington Post. I did provide ABC with some background, which I will repeat here, to explain why I'm quite dubious of this boy's story:

1.) A five day hike north to Berlin would have meant that he had been living in either the Federal state ("Land") of Brandenburg or Sachsen (Saxony.)  As for "living in caves", that is not karst (limestone) country.  No limestone means no extensive caves. There would just be a few rock fall ("slippage") caves.  You mainly find limestone caves in central Germany and Southern Germany, and a few in Westfalia.  There are very few caves in Brandenburg or Sachsen.

2.)  The forests and wild game in Germany are extremely well-managed.  The notoriously observant Jagermeisters (game wardens) and land owners would have soon caught on to anyone illicitly camping out and harvesting game in forest lands for an extended period of time.  The over-managed monocultural nature of their forests (spruce and pine) do not lend themselves to supporting a high density or diversity of small game.

3.)  German forests are not like ours in America. Most forest lands are consistently kept looking downright park-like. Any dead fallen trees are almost immediately removed. The lack of deadfall and dead-standing cavity trees in German forests provides very little cover for small game.  This keeps the rabbit population relatively low.

4.) The same lack of deadfall and dead-standing cavity trees also provides little habitat for wood grubs and other edible critters. It is fairly difficult to "live off the land" in that sort of forest unless you are an expert with traps and snares and can set them across a wide area.

5.) The climate of northeastern Germany is fairly cold and snowy--usually around 120 days of snow. It is unrealistic to expect someone without substantial shelter to survive these winters without gathering large quantities of firewood.  (And again, how could that that done quietly without a copious supply of deadfall?)  A tent set up on warm ground near hot springs might be an option, but all of the springs ("Bads") are well-known and frequented almost year-round by German hikers.

Note: The forests are not as well guarded or well-managed in the western reaches of the Czech Republic.  Perhaps if the boy claimed to have walked from there (five days of hard hiking, 20+ miles per day), then his story might have a shade more credulity, but even that would be a stretch.

The bottom line:  I think that the boy's story is mostly fantasy.

Dear Mr. Rawles,

Here is the definitive test to determine whether ammunition is corrosive or not.  The procedure is credited to Small Arms Review publisher Dan Shea. This test is simple, quick, cheap and conclusive.


1. Take a suspect round, pull the bullet and dump out the powder. I like to also take a known corrosive round as well for a benchmark.

2. Take a few brand new "brite" (i.e. non-galvanized) steel nails with a head size just large enough to fit into the case mouth. Degrease the nails in acetone or other and roughen them slightly with sandpaper. Drive the nails into a block of wood.

3. Slip the empty cartridge cases over the nail heads, and taking appropriate safely precautions (shielding, eye protection, gloves, etc) pop the primers with a punch and hammer.

[Dan Shea recommends the following additional safety precaution: Take a piece of wood and drill a hole large enough diameter to accept the case head, about 1/2" deep and not all the way through the wood. Then drill a small hole (to accept a small nail or punch) in the center of the larger hole, all the way through the piece of wood.  Place the larger hole over the case head and insert the punch or nail through the smaller hole.  Use this assembly to pop the primers.]

4. Leave the cases undisturbed on the nails for 24 hours in a warm place (I usually leave them on top of the water heater) and then examine the nails.

If the nail looks black and smoky, then the ammo is noncorrosive. If the nail has red flecks, then the ammo is corrosive. It will be obvious - but doing a known corrosive ammo as a control is helpful.

Cordially, - John N.

JWR Replies: Thanks for sending that. For some important priming data on U.S. military arsenal loadings, see this SurvivalBlog reference page. (It provides the lot numbers and cut-off dates to determine if military ammo has corrosive (mercuric) or non-corrosive (styphnate) primers. If in doubt, then use the brite nail test.

Reader Troy J. suggested this article: Dr. Peter Vincent Pry: America May Never Recover From EMP Attack

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Greek health system crumbles under weight of crisis. (Thanks to J.B.G. for the link.)

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Mark T. sent this tongue in cheek: The 10 Best Vehicles To Survive The Zombie Apocalypse

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I see that the new Emily Bestler Books web site is has been launched. Emily Bestler Books is the imprint of Simon and Schuster that published my second novel, "Survivors: A Novel of the Coming Collapse". In September, they will be publishing my third in the series,  "Founders: A Novel of the Coming Collapse." (That completed novel is now in second galleys, and the audio book is about to be recorded.) I'm presently writing the fourth novel, under the working title "Expatriates." That book will be published by E.P. Dutton, the parent company of Penguin books. (Penguin published my popular nonfiction book "How to Survive the )End of the World as We Know It".)

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J. McC. spotted a news item about a potentially significant shift in Marine Corp amphibious vehicle acquisition strategy: Amphibious Answers.

"This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.
[It is of] the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.
[They are] new every morning: great [is] thy faithfulness.
The LORD [is] my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him." Lamentations 3:21-24 (KJV)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Today we present another entry for Round 41 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 $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training. Together, these have a retail value of $589. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 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.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 41 ends on July 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.

First, a little about me. I am a Sailor and Submariner. I have spent 20+ years of my life riding submarines in various roles from deck waxer/hull painter to Communications Division and Operations Department enlisted leader. I have taught Communications, Electronic Signals Intercept (ES), OPSEC/Security, leadership and a myriad of other courses.

I really started reading SurvivalBlog and other sites after experiencing a deep dissatisfaction with the course our country is heading. I have experienced first-hand the gross inefficiency of the government and the lack of will/strength/backbone to stand up and change things. “Staying the Course” seems to be the direction our bloated bureaucracy is going.
Being a Submariner I have had the privilege of serving in a tight knit community that prides itself on OPSEC and the ability to adapt, improvise and overcome. There is a wee bit of craziness in all of us to willingly lock ourselves in a steel tube with no windows and a nuclear reactor.

OPSEC – Submarines are known as the Silent Service for a reason. We do things and go places nobody else can. We remain hidden and lay in wait. We stalk, we observe and we gather data. As such, we generally do not talk about what we do/have done in other than the vaguest details, if we talk at all.

  • The first part of OPSEC from the Submarining point of view is identifying what information is critical. Think along the lines of things like capabilities. If the enemy knows the capabilities of your platform, how you fight and what you fight with they can develop effective countermeasures and at best limit what you can do. At worst, the enemy can destroy you. In order to keep the enemies guessing in any survival situation it is vital to limit the information you put out there.
    • As a submariner we do not say where we operate. As a survivor don’t put your retreat information out there.
    •  As a Submariner we do not discuss the capabilities of our boats except in the most general terms. As a survivor do not tell people what you have in your retreat location to defend yourself or survive. A simple statement of “I am prepared” should suffice.
  • The second part of OPSEC is thinking about how the enemy can collect information about you. As a submariner, there are multiple avenues for this.
    • Physical government agents looking for the person who can’t shut up(Chinese and Russians do it all the time).  As a Submariner, talking about underway times, return to port times and other stuff is strictly forbidden. Even to spouses. As a survivor, discussing stuff such as your times you go out patrolling, hunting or even how long you station your watches at your compound/retreat can lead to problems.
    • Electronic intelligence gathering. The Chinese have become excellent at mining Facebook and other social media sites for information. “If you do not transmit, it can’t be heard” is an axiom we all should live by.  Posting even the smallest bit of information on the web can seem inconsequential, until that picture of you and the spouse on your hidden retreat is tied together with a previous comment you made about a certain river nearby, and another comment about elevation, so forth and so on. A relatively smart person can start tying things together from data mining and put together a very clear picture of you and where you are along with your capabilities.
    • Passive observation. The enemy is out there doing their thing. As a Submariner, we strive to run quietly and operate smartly. A misstep in operating smartly can lead the enemy to unexpected discovery. Just because someone isn’t actively looking for you doesn’t mean they can’t accidentally spot you when you do something stupid. In a survival situation there could/will be groups of people wandering around. They are not necessarily looking for you.  Give yourself away by making unnecessary noise or ignoring light discipline can give them a reason to come your way. This doesn’t mean lie around all day and do nothing. In order to survive, we need to do activities that cause noise. There isn’t any way around it. Being aware, checking your “six”, alert watchstanding and regularly patrolling your area can mitigate the risk.
  • The third part of OPSEC is continuously analyzing your vulnerabilities. It is not enough to do one noise monitor on the submarine and call it good. Constantly monitoring the surrounding environment and own ship helps us understand some of our vulnerabilities. Understanding the equipment onboard and what activities create noise is another portion.
    •  Take a hard, critical look at your capabilities and short comings.  As a Submarine Comms guy I continuously evaluate the environment (nearby ships, distance from land, Bobs Discount Chinese satellite overhead, etc).  I fully understand the various RF paths and antennas I can transmit and receive on. I always understand the mission and what micro part of the mission I am on and I understand the vulnerabilities of each antenna I may have to raise above the waterline. As a survivor, you should understand the lay of your land. Can someone sneak up on your base of ops without you knowing? What is the external threat situation? Has the SHTF fully? Are there roving groups of people out there? What happens if I do “X” activity? Is there a better time of day I can do “X” activity? Ask yourself these questions. Test your defenses and any watchstander you may have stationed.  It is better to discover your own vulnerabilities than have the enemy discover them for you.
  • Tying all the above in, Assess your risk. Before you do something ask yourself how this could harm you or your family. Ask yourself how this information you might be giving out could come back to haunt you. Manage the risk by developing countermeasures. The most effective countermeasure is not to post or talk about something. There is an old saying in the Submarine Force that holds true. The probability of a secret getting out is squared by the number of people who know it.

Drill (Practice) – Drill, drill repeatedly, drill realistically. As a Submariner I have endured countless drills. A long time ago I did not understand why we drilled endlessly because no one above me ever bothered to explain it to me and I was young and dumb. It was just what we did. I hated it. It was repetitive. It was mind numbing and it deprived me of the small amount of time I could get sleep. It wasn’t until I had to react in a SHTF situation (for a Submarine) that it really dawned upon me why. Responses were almost muscle memory. I did what I had to do quickly and efficiently because it was drilled endlessly.
We also drilled endlessly because there was no fire department to call. No “911” operators. We were a submarine, operating in the middle of the ocean. We were our own fire department. Our own casualty response team. If we couldn’t stop the casualty and recover, we were as good as dead. The same situation applies in a SHTF scenario. You and your own community are all that you can depend on.

  • Planning what drill to run - Think about the different things that could happen. Brainstorm with your family or community group. Draw upon experience. Make a detailed list and then order them in the probability they may happen. For instance, maybe your house or compound catching on fire through human error, mechanical failure or a natural disaster has the highest probability of happening (as determined by you). There are 12 other items on your list with the probability of occurrence dropping to near zero at the bottom (let’s call the last one Zombie Apocalypse).  Figure out which of those events could cause the most damage to the compound/community/group. That is what you would want to drill on the most. On the subs, fire and flooding are two of the biggest risks and also happen to be two items with the highest probability of causing severe damage to (or sinking) the boat. Dedicate precious drill time to the highest probability events.
  • Assigning responsibilities (consider this a watch/quarter/station bill) – Generations of Sailors in the Navy have learned this the hard way; if someone is not specifically assigned to do something during a casualty (fire/flooding/etc) by name or by watchstation then there is a probability it will not get done. Example of a watch/Quarter/Station Bill. Assign people to do things.
  • Planning the drill – Say for instance you have determined fire is the biggest risk to your group. Plan a fire drill. Come up with a realistic scenario in which a fire may break out in your retreat. Start out small and simple. A small pretend fire in a trashcan is easy to do. Eventually you want to work up to the big fire drill such as multiple levels in a building. In all cases (and I cannot emphasize this enough) never light an actual fire in a building to practice.
  • Realism – The more realistic the scenario, the more your people/family will take away from the drill. On a submarine during a fire drill the fire teams don Fire Fighting Ensembles, Scott Air Packs, grab a thermal imager and flake out (and pressurize) fire hoses. They get those fire hoses on scene and try to attack from multiple directions. Often the team has their vision impaired as it would be during an actual fire. Probably you would not have these items available to you. How could you make it realistic? In a survival scenario where the fire department won’t be coming to help, your objective should be to get firefighting agent to the scene as quickly as possible. In most cases this would be maybe a few fire extinguishers and water. A simple flashing red led light in a trash can or wherever you want to simulate the fire can often suffice to get people to bring the extinguishing agent to the right location. If you have a way to create non-toxic smoke safely then I suggest doing so. The Halloween foggers work quite well.  Another way to simulate smoke (and something that is reusable over and over) is a light blue hairnet. One of these placed over the face or (if you are lucky enough to have breathing equipment) a mask can effectively simulate a smoky environment. Make it as realistic (safely) as you can. The time to find out you, your family or your group doesn’t know what it is doing is when the SHTF.
  • The drill process – You want to get the most out of the drill and identify any issue so you can fix them. Have a process. Pre-brief the drill with your drill team (it may only be you and one other). Run the drill and observe/write-down actions and issues. Make sure you get response times written down. After the drill gather the observers together and collate comments. Finally talk to the group. Go over what happened, what went right and what went wrong. Your group cannot get better if they do not know what they did wrong and how to fix it.

Community – Being a Submariner, I am proud part of a select (and demented) community. The key word is community. We rely on each other to help solve problems. A submarine underway is a survival community all on its own. As mentioned above, we are the fire department. We are also the maintainers of our resources. When we leave the pier we leave it with what we have onboard. If you forget something, well, it is too bad. Make do without it. As a community (crew) we make sure we have everything onboard to get underway and do our time at sea effectively. Food and stores must be loaded. Critical parts stowed. We rely on each other as any good community should. Some of the things we do that can be applied to a community survival situation:

  • Qualifying and cross-qualifying – On a submarine each person must “qualify” the boat. What this means is an individual has to have a decent understanding of every system onboard the submarine. Take a Los Angeles Class Fast Attack submarine that is three levels of systems in a 360 foot long tube.  You have three major hydraulic systems, high pressure air, ventilation, weapons, etc, etc. It is a lot of stuff. The person must also qualify to stand a security watch in port and an underway watchstation. Finally the individual must also thoroughly understand damage control and how to respond during different casualties (such as fire, flooding, steam line rupture, etc). 

As a community it is important for everyone to know as much as they can about the general working of the community. How does the community respond to an attack? A fire? What are the systems that are in place within the community (such as water, sanitation, power) and basically how do they work. You want the people within the community to have understanding of the workings in order to respond to situations.
Within a community you will always have specialists. People may be firearms experts. Some can drop a fishing line in the water and will a fish onto their hook. Others can grow crops. This is where cross-qualifying comes into play. In a survival scenario it is important that people know how to do more than one job. The sad reality is that in a SHTF scenario not everyone will survive. Having people cross-qualify and learning multiple jobs lessens the loss of an individual. A cross qualified person also gives versatility in rotating personnel through rest periods and spreading the workload.

  • Relaxation – Every person needs down time. People always on the edge ready for a trip-wire event lose sharpness and focus. On a submarine, I knew there would be days I would get little rest. In a survival situation the same thing will happen. It is vital that every opportunity to get rest or unwind should be taken. I like to think of it as banking time. It is a balancing game. There will ALWAYS be work that needs to get done. Rest should be part of the work routine. As a Submariner out to sea we often depended on each other for entertainment. Take 150 guys, stuff then in a steel tube, deprive them of sunlight and news and entertainment will happen. Sailors at sea have been figuring out ways to break up the monotony of a long voyage for years on end. As a survival community it is vital that the community celebrate when they can. We celebrate halfway night (mid way through a 6 or 7 month deployment). A community can celebrate the harvest. A community can make any occasion a reason to celebrate what God has given them and it is important that they do. Celebrating life’s little victories and accomplishments makes things go better.
  • Recognition – On Submarines we recognize Sailors for outstanding work. Sometimes it is a medal. Sometimes it is advancement in rank. Other times it is a well deserved extra day off. It is human nature for most of us to get some recognition of a job well done.  Personally I never sought it out but was always grateful when it happened. It is important for the community to celebrate accomplishments by individuals within the community. Each group must decide on their own what that may be, but recognition is important. With my own sons, it can be a simple pat on the back and the words “good job”.

In the end, survival will always be how well the community binds together. Individual survival can happen for awhile but for us to go on we need to interface, interact and rebuild. Fellowship and reliance on others is what makes Submariners strong and what makes a group/family/community stronger. Some of what I have talked about is not for everybody and cannot be applied to every situation. It is something to ponder. Just like some of the posts here on SurvivalBlog are not always applicable to my situation, I appreciate the time this online community has invested in getting the information out there and I take a lot of what people have to say to heart. Thanks for all that you do and keep posting. I need something to print out/save and take underway to read!

Dear Mr Rawles,
Further to the recent excellent Food Forest Gardens article, I would like to add my support of Martin Crawford's book Creating a Forest Garden: Working with Nature to Grow Edible Crops. I would also add that his web site is absolutely fascinating for reading through the varied types (and breeds) of fruit  and nuts. Though it is of UK bias, there are a lot of North American types included and as a source of information on types of trees it is the most extensive  source I have found.
On a personal note I have bought upwards of 250 fruit, nut, berry trees from Martin over the years I when I have spoken to him he is pleasant and knowledgeable.
Basically the web site is a valuable source of plant information for those interested. Keep up the good work. Regards, Bill C.

We are pleased to welcome our newest volunteer foreign correspondent, Giorgio in Italy. Here is a brief biography: "I am 40 years old and lucky enough to be married to a beautiful and intelligent soul mate who is an Italian professoressa, fluent in five languages. We have been married eight years, with, alas, no children. We live 8-to-9 months a year in northern Italy, an hour from Milan, with the rest of our time spent in the States or traveling. Having traveled and, periodically, worked in much of Europe and sub-Saharan Africa, we have had some experience in dealing with diverse cultures and getting the "other guy's" perspective. My degree is in Aviation, but I no longer work as a pilot. My skill set is varied and, though by no means what I would consider expert, competent in survival-relevant subjects including hunting, shooting, security, self-defense, mechanics, fitness and wilderness survival."

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Alan W. sent this article and map link: Revealed: 64 Drone Bases on American Soil. Note that there is only one small Wasp and Raven (hand-launched UAV) training facility in the American Redoubt. at the Montana National Guard Limestone Hills Training Area (LHTA), near Townsend, Montana, (46°20'10.09"N, 111°36'9.12"W.) It is used just intermittently. There are also very few UAV sites in the Plains States. The heaviest concentrations, naturally, are on the east and west coasts.

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F.J. sent this:  Hydrovolts tap canal currents for 12 kW of power apiece.

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This ads new meaning to "Getting Real": Get Freaky At The Tiki With Reality Based Training. (Thanks to J.D. for the link.)

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Woman pastor dies after contracting flesh-eating bug in sixth case of deadly bacteria identified in America

"The Roman Republic fell, not because of the ambition of Caesar or Augustus, but because it had already long ceased to be in any real sense a republic at all. When the sturdy Roman plebeian, who lived by his own labor, who voted without reward according to his own convictions, and who with his fellows formed in war the terrible Roman legion, had been changed into an idle creature who craved nothing in life save the gratification of a thirst for vapid excitement, who was fed by the state, and directly or indirectly sold his vote to the highest bidder, then the end of the republic was at hand, and nothing could save it. The laws were the same as they had been, but the people behind the laws had changed, and so the laws counted for nothing." - President Theodore Roosevelt

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Notes from JWR:

Today we present another entry for Round 41 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 $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training. Together, these have a retail value of $589. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 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.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 41 ends on July 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.


But first, here is an essay that I wrote, in response to some anxious queries from several SurvivalBlog readers:

The world is on now on the brink of a global credit crisis that could be far worse than the tumultuous events of 2008. The ongoing sovereign debt crisis in the southern reaches of the Eurozone indicate that bank runs in the region will continue, and that more bank closure "holidays" will be declared. Under a bank holiday, virtually all deposits could be frozen and irredeemable for days, weeks, or even months. The key question is: Will this crisis spread to the rest of Europe and then even to the United States? I urge SurvivalBlog readers--particularly those in Europe--to be proactive, to stay "ahead of the power curve." While the Generally Dumb Public (GDP) wakes up some morning to hear news of a bank holiday, you will have long hence prepared yourself.

Digits Lost in the Ether--Redeemable Mañana?

Most people don't realize that printed U.S. currency and minted coins amount to less than $800 billion, worldwide. That is just a small portion of the aggregate Money Zero Maturity (MZM) money supply that now exceeds $7 Trillion. So what is in your bank account is just electronic money, and there is absolutely no way that even a fraction of depositors could get physical cash to redeem the digits in their accounts. If there is a bank holiday declared, there will undoubtedly be severe restrictions on cash withdrawals when banks re-open. Given the precedent of the limits on withdrawals of a few institutions during the Savings and Loan crisis of the 1980s and 1990s, I predict that withdrawal restrictions could go on for many months.

Here are 20 Reasons why America's next bank holiday will be a nightmare:

  1. A bank holiday will create a virtual blackout of information on not just checking and saving accounts, but also automated mortgage payments, CDs, and more. Our presently quite transparent banking system will suddenly become opaque. Your bank balance will become invisible. Your handy-dandy online banking web page will be replaced by a "Service Temporarily Unavailable" notice. The willingness to accept checks will evaporate in less than a day. The FUD factor (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) will be overwhelming.
  2. Most businesses will no longer honor personal checks, corporate checks, or bank money orders. Showing a merchant your most recent bank statement isn't likely to sway him. Again, the FUD factor will rule.
  3. All checks in the U.S. are cleared through the automated clearinghouse (ACH) network. Most of this network is inside of banking system firewalls. Many Federal, State, and local tax payments are also handled through ACH. (A similar network exists for European banks--the Pan-European Automated Clearing House (PE-ACH), under the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) system).
  4. Credit cards might not be accepted. The FUD factor will dictate that anything even peripherally related to the banking system will be suspect. (Even though the credit card companies have their own credit clearing mechanisms that are only attached to the banking milieu.)
  5. Except for a few grandfathered recipients, Social Security payments are now made exclusively via bank direct deposit.
  6. Military monthly pay, housing allowances, and ration payments are now made exclusively via bank direct deposit, in CONUS. That is true virtually across the board (Active component, Reserve, and National Guard.) Ditto for monthly military retirement payments.
  7. Many State and Federal employees no longer get physical paychecks. They too, are trapped in the "direct deposit only" world.
  8. Many Americans are now very dependent on bank debit cards (also known as a bank cards or check cards.) In fact, many people don't even carry more than a few dollars in their wallets. If our world suddenly goes "cash only" most people will suddenly be out of cash.
  9. ATMs, debit card transactions, and online banking can be shut down in minutes. This huge vulnerability of banking customers has already been evidenced by a few minor glitches.
  10. Online payment systems like PayPal will be sharply degraded, because they rely on their ability to move funds to and from banks. More importantly, online payments are inextricably tied to credit card processing. If credit card processing is suspended, then online payments will be "dead in the water."
  11. Many regular monthly payments such as mortgages, insurance premiums, and some utilities are automatically debited from checking accounts. These will all come to a screeching halt.
  12. SWIFT wire transfers will probably be suspended, freezing a good portion of global commerce. Similarly, International ACH transactions (IATs) will also be shut down, since they access the U.S. ACH network.
  13. The ability to process credit card payments will be dubious, at best. Many merchants will wisely "just say no" to credit cards, even if their countertop POP terminals are still functioning and show available credit. And the fact that many credit cards are now just debit cards in disguise will only add to the reluctance of merchants to take any credit cards.
  14. Point of purchase (POP) processing of credit and debit cards at gas stations has become ubiquitous. Nearly everyone now uses the "pay at the pump" option. Gas and diesel could become "cash only" transactions.
  15. Most American families keep less than $300 in cash at home at any given time, including their kids' piggy banks. For most families, that wouldn't cover even one month's rent.
  16. Formerly distributed as "Food Stamps", the USDA's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), provides benefits to low income families through Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card payments. These cards look much like credit cards. And like checks, EBT payments are all routed through the ACH network. Again, this is a network that is inside banking system firewalls. If the banking system goes into holiday mode, then it may take days or even weeks to get EBT processing back on line. If the EBT payments stop, we can expect riots in metropolitan areas in less than a week.
  17. Gift cards will be "iffy." There are now two types of gift cards: "open loop" (or "network") cards and traditional "closed loop" cards. Open loop cards are issued by banks or credit card companies and can be redeemed many places. It is likely that only closed loop cards will be honored by the issuing stores, because merchants will fear that open loop cards might have been zeroed out elsewhere. (If they can't confirm the available balance, the card will be refused.)
  18. Most Internet vendors are almost entirely dependent on credit card processing. If that processing system is disrupted, then mailorder firms will either have to cease operations, or have them slow to a snail's pace, and be restricted to only non-bank money orders.
  19. Reversion to U.S. Postal Service money orders (commonly called "PMOs") will only be partially viable solution. This is because many small town and rural post offices don't keep enough cash in their tills to be able to hand you $1,000 when you go to cash a PMO. You may be thinking, "Oh well, I'll just ask them to write me a blank PMO, in exchange. Nope. A recent change to postal regulations designed to curtail money laundering banned money order-for-money order issuance. Bummer. And if you are considering using "Forever" postage stamps, hold your horses. Under a hygiene regulation published in the Domestic Mail Manual (DMM), postal clerks are not allowed to cash out ("buy back") stamp booklets unless they are still in their sealed clear plastic master packages. So it might take decades to use up your Forever stamps, or you will be forced to liquidate them on the gray market at a slight loss.
  20. Bank safe deposit boxes will probably be inaccessible. Plan accordingly.

Some Observations and Mitigation Steps:

Because so many pay and retirement benefit systems are now handled via bank direct deposit only, we could easily live through a frustrating "Roach Motel" period of several months when "Dollars check in, but they don't check out." Be prepared to ride through that period.

If the European credit spreads to the United States, then immediately visit your company's payroll office, and ask to be removed from their direct deposit system. This change might take a couple weeks. With a paper paycheck, you can probably cash it elsewhere, even if you own bank closes its doors--perhaps even at your local grocery store.

Keep plenty of well-hidden cash at home. Since it won't be earning interest, some of this cash might as well be in $2 rolls of nickels. That method will also give you a hedge on inflation, and also serve as insurance against a currency reform. (Where a zero could be lopped off the Dollar, overnight.)

Be prepared for times for when anything other than greenback cash or perhaps silver coins will be eyed with suspicion, or rejected outright. Even USPS PMOs and drug store money orders may be refused. In the era of bank holidays, cash will talk. Keep plenty of it on hand. Oh, and needless to say, don't store your cash in a bank safe deposit box. You probably won't have access to it during a bank holiday.

Be wise and circumspect in storing cash at home. Don't tell anyone other than your spouse about that cash. See the SurvivalBlog archives for suggestions on building secret hiding places, like this one.

A good portion of your "stash of cash" should be in the form of $1 and $5 bills. This is because during a banking crisis, many people will not be able make change for small transactions. And if your local power, water, and phone companies refuse checks, then you will need to be able to pay them the exact amount of your monthly bill. (They probably won't have much "change", either.)

Apply for at least one gasoline station chain charge card. In turbulent times when they won't take your check or your VISA card, they might still take their own chain card.

If you have to pay your utility bills in in cash or by PMO, do you know where their business offices are located? And consider the sort neighborhood where those offices are located. (Unless you live in a free state for open carry or Constitutional Carry, do you have your CCW permit, and plenty of pistol practice?) For safety, it might be wise to form a neighborhood posse to go pay those bills in a group of of six people once a month.

Your local supermarket may declare "cash only." This is yet another reason why it it is vitally important for every family to have a comprehensive food storage program. By the same token, fuel storage also makes sense, if your local fire code allows it.

At the tail end of a banking crisis--when the bank doors do re-open--the Federal Reserve will certainly have to crank up the printing presses. Even people that never had "mattress money" will want some. All this new cash will increase the velocity of money, locally. This will be inflationary, even at the same time that a the macro level, we will witness a huge dollar deflation. (This is because the multiplier effect of every dollar on deposit will work in reverse, as withdrawals are made.) These will be strange times, indeed. If you start to see any evidence of mass inflation kicking in, then be ready to spend your dollars as quickly as possible to parlay them into practical, barterable tangibles. Don't be the last one standing in the game of Dollar Musical Chairs.

The threats of credit crunches, bank runs, and bank holidays are not new. No society is immune from them. We've been fortunate here in the United States to have not suffered any limits on bank withdrawals since the Savings and Loan crisis of the 1980s and 1990s. But don't expect this stability to be permanent. We live in a dynamic world with rapidly changing threats to our lives and livelihoods. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

Author's Introductory Note: As I read through page after page of food items and materials that preppers should stock up on, I have to wonder, “Have people really thought out what is coming?” I believe we are heading for at least a collapse of the US dollar, if not all fiat currencies. We are looking at a financial collapse greater in magnitude than the Great Depression. I have spent the last four years studying economics in my spare time, and though I understand that my sources can be (and are) biased, I have looked at a lot of writings from a lot of very smart people, and none of them have given me a way out. Our economic future ranges from really ugly to apocalyptic.
For the last three years, I have sought and prayed for a way out of what I see coming. This is not a one off event that a few years of stored food will see us through, this is a collapse of such a magnitude that our concept of “normal” is going to undergo a radical adjustment. How do you deal with such an event? How do you plan to deal with decades, even generational time frames? Storing food is not enough. Every supply you can stock will be exhausted long before we see “normal” again, if ever. After three years of looking and praying, this is the best answer I have found.

An Australian, Bill Mollison, coined the term permaculture over two decades ago. His work is almost unknown inside the U.S. (Go ahead, talk to your local land grant college and see what they can tell you about permaculture and food forests. Outside of the Northwest and possibly North Carolina you will probably just get blank looks.) Permaculture is a concept that encompasses many ideas about culture, sustainability, and agriculture. One of its big ideas is using perennial plants as in a forest setting, rather than the annual plants that provide most of our food today.

Think about the amount of energy that is required to produce a crop of corn or wheat. The fields are cultivated before planting to kill the weeds, then the seeds are drilled into the soil. You may cultivate a few more times before the plants are up to kill weeds and add fertilizer, then you spray pesticides throughout the growing season to kill insects and herbicides to reduce weed competition. Finally, you harvest the crop and send it to be dried down, sorted, graded, and finally sold for a profit, generally a very small profit. Do you think this method of agriculture will survive a currency collapse? Farmers will likely have priority for fuel in a financial crisis, if they are big enough. How will you be able to afford their crop?

A food forest attempts to create an early succession ecosystem comprised of a wide variety of edible plants, nitrogen fixing plants, bio-accumulators, fiber plants, and other plants useful to humans and animals. A forest ecosystem is the natural state of the environment in most temperate regions. It requires no fertilizer or pesticide, it takes care of itself. A forest garden attempts to mimic the natural environment, in doing so, all the inputs and energy that modern agriculture requires are eliminated.

Where do you begin?

The first thing you need is land that is owned outright. My wife's family has a piece of property that has been in the family for 70 years. It is six acres of mostly pasture with about two acres of pine woodlands. In a failing economy, it is entirely possible that the land will eventually be taxed out from under us, but that is a concern for another article.

How much can you put into six acres of land?

Here is what I have done over the last two years. I presently have:

8 apple trees

3 peach trees

2 pear trees

2 sweet cherry trees

2 mulberry trees

2 pawpaw trees

3 chinese chestnut trees

4 pecan trees

2 hazelnut trees

15 blackberry bushes

5 raspberry bushes

1 goji berry

1 gooseberry

1 aronia berry

50 strawberries

2 fig trees

6 grape vines

2 muscadine vines

8 blueberry plants

8 varieties of edible bamboo


I can expect a yield somewhere in the vicinity of 3,000 pounds of fruits and nuts, based on what I have in the ground right now. I will have just under an acre planted when my current plants are mature, most of that will be bamboo. I am only about 1/3 of the way done. I have a list of 63 edible plants that I plan to incorporate into my food forest. The most practical guide to creating a food forest I have found is Martin Crawford's book Creating a Forest Garden: Working with Nature to Grow Edible Crops . There are a number of other books available, but Martin's book provides an extensive list of edible plants and detailed descriptions of each of them. His book is a practical how-to guide for creating your food forest. He lists over 500 species of plants in his book, most suitable for zones 9 through 5.

What do you do first?

Plan. Plan your forest canopy before you start putting trees in the ground. You want an open canopy with light or dappled shade. I started putting plants into the ground before I had Martin's book in hand. I have planted my nitrogen fixing trees to close to my fruit trees. I will end up coppicing the nitrogen fixers every few years because of this mistake. Plan for your nitrogen fixers and accumulator plants before you put your trees into the ground. Plan for your tall trees to be behind your smaller trees in relation to the sun's direction. Plan for your shrubs to grow up and interact with your trees. Plan your ground cover layers and how you will implement them.

I have Mimosa trees (Chinese silk trees) all around the property. These are nitrogen fixing trees that will grow to 40 feet. Since these trees were already present and growing, I did not feel the need to seek out additional nitrogen fixing trees. Also, when I tilled an area, seedlings sprang up in great abundance. I have used my crop of nitrogen fixing seedlings by interplanting them with my fruit trees. I still have a great abundance of them which I will disperse throughout my bamboo groves. In his book, Martin calculates that you want about 40% of your forest canopy to be comprised of some sort of nitrogen fixing plant. Mimosa trees grow to a very open canopy which is perfect for a forest garden. Other climate zones would probably do better with some type of locust tree or acacia. I believe in using what I have first, it costs less.

I will add comfrey as a bio-accumulator sometime this year. Martin discusses comfrey in his book and comes up with roughly six plants per semi-dwarf fruit tree. Comfrey is a chop and drop plant. Several times during the year, you cut the plant down and spread the leaves and stems around the base of your fruit trees as a sort of fertilizer/compost. There are other accumulator plants, but comfrey is the most well known, and will readily sprout from roots and re-grow.

How do you clear the land?

I have used cardboard to smother and kill off grass, I have tilled areas, and I am trying tall cover crops of buckwheat, all in an attempt to clear an area for planting. As an area is cleared, first your trees and shrubs are put in place, then the ground cover of choice is seeded into the newly opened area. An area might be mulched for a year before your ground cover is planted. Oregano, wild strawberries, mustard greens, creeping brambles, and others are mentioned as effective, edible, ground covers. Mostly what I have right now is white clover as a nitrogen fixer to help prepare the ground for a more desirable crop. I am eager to see how my buckwheat area develops this year. I have seeded with buckwheat in the hope that it will out-compete the grass without any additional inputs.

Putting your shrubs in place

I have numerous blueberry bushes interspersed with my fruit trees. I have planted the blueberry bushes to close to my fruit trees and in some locations, I have placed them in the shadow of the trees. These will need to be moved at some point in the future. I have only recently added gooseberry and aronia; these will tolerate much more shade than my blueberries. In fact, many shrub species are able to tolerate a decent amount of shade, which allows them to be planted more densely inside a forest garden. Saskatoon, sea buckthorn, currants, goji berries, and many others can be planted into the shade of your forest garden. Sea buckthorn will actually do double duty as a fruit bearing plant and a nitrogen fixer.

Things you learn along the way

There are many ways to create a forest garden. I have started out in a systematic way by clearing ground and planting first my trees, then my shrubs, and finally ground cover plants. I am planting one variety at a time. Martin walks you through each of these phases in his book, but I have since learned that there are other ways to accomplish your objective.

Sepp Holtzer and other people doing permaculture and forest gardens often put together a large and diverse collection of seeds and plant everything all at once. I believe they mostly do this with ground covers and shrubs. They start out with an entire ecosystem growing competitively in the lower layers. You will get a lot of nitrogen fixing and carbon sequestering going on all at once. I think you will have a difficult time harvesting until the plants have sorted themselves out, but I think you will get establishment much more quickly. I have only just learned about this approach, and I will likely give it a try on some corner of our property.


After almost four years of searching for a way to deal with the coming tidal wave of debt and destruction approaching us all, a food forest garden is the best idea I have found. The idea is to build a complete ecosystem, that is geared toward producing food for you and your family, and sustaining its own fertility. You can incorporate whatever you need into your food forest. There are plants that will produce fiber, plants that will produce dyes, medicinal plants that I didn't even mention, food, timber, whatever you need can be incorporated into your forest garden design; if it will grow in your climate.

My goals are maximum sustainability and maximum self-reliance. To achieve these goals in a world of limited fuel and money, I had to look outside the box of conventional thinking. There will be no more runs to home depot for bags of mulch and compost. There may be very few runs anywhere in the future. What we have on our own property is what we will have to work with. A close community of like-minded individuals will/may offset our own shortcomings, but being as prepared as we can possibly imagine is the best way to achieve optimal results.

JWR Adds: I recommend planting bamboo and other invasive plants only in the most secure planters with solid bottoms. (Preferably cast concrete!) Letting bamboo find its own limits on your property is an invitation to expending countless hours of toil and gallons of sweat. The same can be said for some berry bushes, especially in damp climates. Plan ahead!

My wife and I have been discussing which type of physical silver to buy to get out of dollars, but we are unsure of where to start.  On your blog and in your books, you expound on the benefits of pre-1965 coinage with its 90% silver content, and we have looked at buying these coins in bulk from Northwest Territorial Mint.  While perusing that site, we also found that they sell one troy ounce Silver Eagles struck by the US Mint that are .999 pure silver.  There are pros and cons to both the pre-1965 coins and the Silver Eagles, and if we had enough money we would buy both in bulk, but our funds are limited.  Could you provide any input as to which silver you would suggest as a starting point?

Thanks for your site and all that you do! - Adam in Indiana

JWR Replies: I consider so-called "junk" silver (90% silver pre-1965 mint date U.S. dimes or quarters) to be the top choice for you, for three reasons:
1.) It has the lowest premium ("dealer markup"), per ounce, and
2.) It is the mostly widely recognized and trusted form of silver coinage in the United States, and
3.) The coin weights are low, making the cost per coin fairly low.

The per-coin weight could be an important factor in a post-collapse situation, when the dollar value of silver zooms up past $100 per ounce. In situations like that, a silver dime would be just the right size/value for small barter purchases such as a can of beans or one or two loaves of bread. But a full one-ounce silver trade dollar would buy you several days worth of groceries. Granted, these larger coins are still divisible into quarters or eighths with a cold chisel, but using dimes is far more convenient!

This law goes beyond Nanny Statism: Ohio House Okays Ban on Hidden Car Compartments. So, simply wanting to hide your valuables from thieves is now presumed to be criminal intent? That is madness. Just like bans on body armor, carrying guns or edged weapons, and fortifying house doors, this shows a serious erosion of our right to defend our lives and property. OBTW, a ban on body armor goes into effect in Alberta, Canada on June 15, 2012.

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For just the month of June, Freeze Dry Guy has announced: 20% Back when you mix and match purchase two or more different brands or two of the same Brand with different packaging (like #10 cans, buckets or pouches.) See details at the Freeze Dry Guy web site.

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Tracy R. recommended this interactive map article: Diabetes, Food Deserts, and Poverty

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Jay B. sent this: Forget composting, bokashi your waste instead.

"You will find an allusion to some mysterious cause for a phenomenon in Stocks. It is surmised that the deferred debt is to be taken up at the next session, and some anticipated provision made for it. This may either be an invention of those who wish to sell, or it may be a reality imparted in confidence to the purchasers or smelt out by their sagacity. I have had a hint that something is intended and has dropt from 1 which has led to this speculation. I am unwilling to credit the fact, untill I have further evidence, which I am in a train of getting if it exists. It is said that packet boats & expresses are again sent from this place to the Southern States, to buy up the paper of all sorts which has risen in the market here. These & other abuses make it a problem whether the system of the old paper under a bad Government, or of the new under a good one, be chargeable with the greater substantial injustice. The true difference seems to be that by the former the few were the victims to the many; by the latter the many to the few. It seems agreed on all hands now that the bank is a certain & gratuitous augmentation of the capitals subscribed, in a proportion of not less than 40 or 50 [per cent] and if the deferred debt should be immediately provided for in favor of the purchasers of it in the deferred shape, & since the unanimous vote that no change [should] be made in the funding system, my imagination will not attempt to set bounds to the daring depravity of the times. The stock-jobbers will become the pretorian band of the Government, at once its tool & its tyrant; bribed by its largesses, & overawing it by clamours & combinations." - President James Madison

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Today we present another entry for Round 41 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 $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training. Together, these have a retail value of $589. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 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.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 41 ends on July 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 read the article by “American Dad” titled “Prepping and Unassisted Childbirth”, and I must comment on some of his points.  As a “senior” practicing Physician, and an avid closet “Prepper” since the early 1980s, I have often considered the health consequences of a true SHTF scenario.  Only recently has my Family suddenly decided my preparations are not so “far out there” after all, but it has been a lonely quest these many years.  I long ago gave up trying to convince people to look past and through the media hype and actually “see” what is running the world view.  Either they do or they do not, but all you can really do is try to prepare for your Family, plan to join other like minded persons who may not be your Family, and bring along as many souls as you possibly can manage.  

You may also want to read www.shtfschool.com, where Selco (not his real name) will tell you in graphic detail of what happened to him in a year of SHTF in the Bosnia/Serbia arena concerning “basic” health related issues.  Selco is a Medical Professional, and he will explain how a “scratch” in that setting can kill you, leaving your children orphans.  I have corresponded with him, and what happened during that time left him a markedly “changed man”.  Nothing and I mean nothing can be taken for granted.

Having worked in third world countries, I have experienced first hand the effects of not having the best in medicines and medical expertise.  Certainly people do survive in these circumstances, some quite nicely, but that is often the result of “luck” more than it is anything else.  “Routine” maladies can and do quickly kill a human under these conditions.  It is horrifying and unnerving to witness these deaths and life threatening events knowing with simply the basic rudimentary elements of “modern medicine” available, most could have been prevented.  “Simple” pneumonias, small cuts and abrasions, minor fractures leading to disfigurement, the stench of gangrene, amputations (without decent anesthesia), and death become commonplace.  Remember this mental picture as I continue.

I am fortunate to have attended many hundreds of human births in my long career. Birthing is always a happy, joyous time…until it isn’t.   During my career my professional path has crossed the paths of Obstetricians, Family Practitioners, Mid-wives, Certified Nurse Practitioners, Obstetrical Nurses, Doulas, and “experienced” birthing Mothers.  I will state openly the following belief I hold dear:  It is every individual’s basic right to choose whatever type or degree of care they wish. It is also your obligation to assume the responsibilities associated with those choices.

American Dad laments, “The impersonal way hospital staff treated us; the overactive use of clinical equipment, terms, and technology; the fact that I had to keep briefing incoming personnel on our birth plan (since apparently they didn’t take the time to actually talk to read the copies I had provided, or talk to one another); the fact that they ordered my wife to lay on her back, which made the process excruciatingly slow and painful; the fact that the first thing my baby saw was a doctor dressed in a haz-mat suit; the way they whisked the baby away from mom as if the child were public property; the way they treated me like a useless observer and not the head, protector”

This interpretation of the birthing event in “modern” times is certainly different than anything I have experienced.  I shall refrain from lengthy comment concerning exactly “what” a newborn is capable of visually perceiving immediately at birth, but I do know most hospital settings allow one to practice anything the Mother desires as long as the modern techniques of frequent non-invasive fetal monitoring are allowed to proceed unencumbered.  Without a doubt, “fetal continuous monitoring” of the non-invasive variety has lead to a marked decrease in fetal morbidity during the birthing process in the last 20+ years.  Even with these data, most hospitals will forgo continuous fetal monitoring if the Parents insist.  They might, however, ask them to sign a liability waiver and an “against medical advice” waiver.  Those are very reasonable requests.

American Dad’s view of “Vaginal Birth After Caesarian Section” (VBAC) mirrors his obvious disdain of hospitals and their staff.  His comment, “The hospitals sure make a lot of money off of parents’ love for their babies, but they do treat all of the parties as ignorant, blundering, or unwelcome troublemaker” certainly is inflammatory, but neglects the simple fact most “Community Hospitals” are actively closing down their birthing centers.  The reasons are simple and straightforward:  they are losing money keeping them open, and the “liability” costs are too great.

Vaginal Birth After Caesarean (VBAC) deserves a special commentary.  The possible catastrophic events associated with VBAC, although correctly stated as “rare” by “American Dad”, are impossible to predict with certainty, and occur so suddenly, the mother and neonate can easily both be dead in a matter of ten (10) minutes or less.  This requires an entire Operating Team (Obstetrician, Anesthesiologist,OR Nurse, OR Technician, Assistant Surgery Member, and a Large amount of dedicated surgical supplies) be continuously present in the Labor Suite throughout the entire Labor Event of possibly many hours.  This is why VBAC is usually limited to large “University Training Centers” where all this is available.  They are costly and consume an inordinately large number of resources that most VBAC patients do not understand and cannot assume.  Just whom does “American Dad” expect to “cover” these costs?

I doubt “American Dad” would agree to the “costs” of providing all this service on a “just in case” basis at a Community Hospital.  My guess is “American Dad” assumes the “worst case scenario” would never happen to his wife, and if it did, then he would consent to the C-section (“Worst case, we’d have to get another C-section.  Fine.”)  The problem is, in anything other than the scene described above, it is quite probable he would be facing a considerable risk of morbidity and mortality for both his Spouse and his unborn child.  It is doubtful the Surgical Team could be assembled in less than 30 minutes in a Community Hospital.  In “American Dad’s” case add to that time the trip from his home to the hospital.  “American Dad” is, however, willing to assume that risk, which is his and his wife’s choice.  Let us be clear, these are serious considerations.

American Dad agrees an “unassisted childbirth” (UC) would take some “serious training”.  Actually he is over-stating this.  Face it; for many thousands of years, Mothers have given birth quite “naturally” over 90% of the time without much assistance at all.  Simply brace them against a tree in the squatting position, give them a green twig to gnaw on for the pain, stand back, and let “nature” take its course.  It’s that pesky 10% that quickly made it clear “things” could be vastly improved by knowledgeable persons helping with the process.  After all, each new life is a priceless asset to the group, and the magnitude of the loss of a working Mother cannot be quantified in simple terms.

For those of you fellow Preppers kind enough to have stayed the course of this, here are my observations and simple steps to follow in a SHTF situation.

  1. Find the best of what you can find to suit the situation you are in concerning Birthing.  If you are in a position and are fortunate enough to have the availability of a trained Obstetric Physician, by all means, use that person.  If not, then find the best “Family” Physician (GP in the old parlance).  Next would be a Nurse Midwife or an Obstetrical Nurse.  Finally, an experienced Mother who has survived several successful births would be better than going it alone.
  2. Without the availability of #1, EXPECT SERIOUS LOSSES and morbidity.
  3. Do what you can to have a person with “advanced medical training” and experience in your group, or at least have access to that person.
  4. In a SHTF scenario, pregnancy cannot be considered “lightly”. Know the risks.
  5. Since order is usually eventually restored, plan your pregnancy wisely.

Events happen suddenly and swiftly in the birthing arena.  I seriously doubt “American Dad” or any lay person with no experience could act decisively and quickly enough with most of the common complications.  As “American Dad” correctly states, “Again, this isn’t rocket science.  The techniques aren’t mystical or complicated”, but it isn’t calming and relaxing either.  These situations are tense, messy (blood, amniotic fluid, bodily fluids), and emotionally charged.  It is a “pressure cooker” situation and “time is of the essence”.  You had best know exactly what you are doing.  A mistake here will be costly and unforgettable.

Each year we attend to people in our large western city who have a Home Birthing experience complication.  The people have similar qualities:  They are usually quite intelligent like “American Dad”.  They are well read.  Many are “professionals”, frequently Nurses.  Their “hearts” are in the right “place”.  Common to all I have seen and attended is the fact none thought anything would go wrong, or that they were really at risk of death.  By the time they present to us, their condition is frequently quite critical, costing several days in the hospital. 

As adults, each of these individuals has the capacity to make these choices to take these increased risks.  Shall we even broach the capacity of the unborn child to make the decision to not take these increased risks that are unnecessary without a SHTF event?  When we elect to “go it alone” when going it alone is not necessary, is that a fair choice to make for the unborn child.  It becomes far more serious with these thoughts considered.

“American Dad” has much useful information in his article, but the cavalier attitude he takes toward this subject will not well serve his readers.  There are reasons for how and why Professional Medical Practitioners do the things they do.  It’s not always a remuneration issue.  Frequently it is about common sense and giving you the best available chance to make it through a potentially very dangerous event alive and well.

JWR Replies: Home birth is gaining popularity (United States Home Births Increased 20 Percent from 2004 to 2008), but it is still a relatively low 0.67 percent of United States births. The statistics for planned home births show a very high success rate with "No significant differences were found between planned home and planned hospital birth." But it is important to note that that this data is skewed, because expectant mothers who show any sign of pre-natal difficulties almost always opt for a planned hospital births. Thus, hospitals get all of tough cases, and it is mostly those that expect a "low risk" easy delivery opt for home birth.

One key metric is the transfer rate--the rate at which planned home births transition to emergency hospital births. These are usually precipitated by any signs of fetal distress, such as bleeding, umbilical cord issues, extended labor, or stained waters. (Meconium in the amniotic fluid.) Early transfer is a wise course of action. In the U.S., the transfer rate averages around 16%. In Sweden, the transfer rate is only between 6 and 12%. In some First World countries, midwives are required by law to order a transfer if labor goes beyond a set number of hours. But it is noteworthy that some of these transfers are not due to fetal distress, but simply because a midwife was called too early and becomes exhausted. (Midwives often work alone, and they cannot be expected to function well after 12 hours at a delivery home.)

For what it's worth, three of our children were born at home, with plenty of prior planning.

I do recommend home birth for most moms. If nothing else, this experience provides crucial knowledge and experience for the potentially dark days ahead, when home birth might be their only option.

In today's post there was a letter about the wisdom of encouraging development in Idaho and Letters Re: Development of Montana and Idaho Economies. The writer commented on how the new arrivals will ruin the area. I watched this exact chain events unfold over the last 35 years in rural Wisconsin where we bought and built our retreat. We purchased 113 acres in the second poorest county in Wisconsin. The area was mostly farming with pockets of recreational lake population. The lake we lived close to was a small (175 acre) "Grampa's fishing Cabin" type lake. I was able to work outside the area in a very large city and commuted home for weekends. As time went by I was able to telecommute.
As the years pasted more and more big city Yuppies bought up the grampa cabins or inherited them. They redid the cabins into rural palaces. To make matters worse, a real estate man from the big city moved in and actively recruited his big city friends to buy up the local real estate including the smaller farms. The lake itself has gone from pristine and quiet to a dangerous water skiing mecca. The noise from boats that belong on Lake Michigan is unbearable. The traffic is out of control and speed limits are ignored. The newcomers' children litter on the roads. It has turned into a rural city. In some cases the yuppies unemployed or derelict relatives have moved in permanently and crime has gone way up.
We have since moved to a more suitable small town for health reasons. The Yuppies are waging war with big farms over a myriad of issues. They are demanding Big City services. Taxes have gone up and up and up. Mayor Bloomberg would love this area now.
So in conclusion I would advise current American Redoubt residents to be very vigilant about what is going on around you. Don't think it cannot happen there. JMHO - Carl in Less Rural Wisconsin

Dear Sir,
I just wanted to mention that Canada's Conservative Government has recently eased gun laws quite significantly.

Whilst pistol ownership is a nightmare here, I don't see this as too much of an issue in rural areas, especially during a SHTF scenario.

When it comes to rifles however, if you have a permit to own non-restricted rifles, you have many good options. This permit is simple to obtain. Once you have it, you can buy non-restricted weapons without any kind of registration. So whilst the Government might know you have a permit, they do not know how many or what model of rifle you have. This is especially true if you go with private sales.

AR and AK style rifles are restricted, and are as much of a pain to own as pistols. However, there are many great unrestricted choices available, the Robinson Arms XCR, The CSA VZ58, the CZ 858, some KelTeC models, some JR Carbines, and of course the SKS. There are many rifles available that take AR magazines. Bolt actions [and pump actions] are no problem. You can even own Barrett .50 calibers.

If you browse the rifles available at Ellwood Epps (just north of Toronto), the ones marked "NR" can be purchased with the Non-Restricted permit.

Keep in mind that in Canada all magazines are limited to 5 round capacity with a simple pin. Removing this pin is illegal. - Regards, M.A.


Mr. Rawles,
I have some points in regards to your reply to C.N.'s post discussing the viability of Canada as a retreat locale.

The primary mechanism of gun control in Canada is the licensing system, which required prospective gun owners to take a 1 day safety course and apply for a license through the Canada Firearms Centre for a Firearms "Possession and Acquisition License."  The safety training is mostly common sense but a valuable introduction to firearms.  The licensing application, I imagine, is slightly more intrusive than the FBI background check required in the US for grandfathered individuals to apply for a "Possession Only License." 

Especially concerning Canadian gun ownership and confiscation, one important point to note is with recent abolition of the long gun registry the Canadian government is mostly "toothless."  The long gun registry contained records for about 7.5 million "non-restricted" guns and 730,000 restricted and prohibited guns.  The most recent legislation has effectively ordered the records for the 7.5 million non-restricted guns be destroyed, and barring a court challenge by the government of Quebec to preserve just their data and given that there is no requirement to register any additional long guns I believe it is safe to say that data is good and gone.

Interestingly enough, there is evidence to indicate that with legal manufacturing and import of firearms prior to the most recent spate of gun legislation, there are as many as 10 to 15 million guns in the country.  I suspect gun owners who were burnt in the 1990s with orders to register or surrender their firearms under then new legislation probably will greet any similar legislation in the future with an equal (or greater) degree of non-compliance.

There was some concern that prior to the abolition of the registry that the RCMP would move to reclassify many "tactical" long guns to force owners to register them.  This has since not played out, and so it is possible for license holding gun owners to procure these firearms without an official government registration by only holding valid license.  While the RCMP have pressured vendors to maintain a ledger of sales, there is no such requirement among private sales and several great online communities such as Gunownersofcanada.com and Canadiangunnutz.com have sprung up with vibrant market places to facilitate private sales of guns.

Among some of the top picks for those with tactical tastes are sport versions of the M14, Tavor, VZ58, Mini-14, SKS, Kel Tec SU16 for rifles, and most pump or semi-automatic shotguns.  To be fair, there are stricter regulations and registration requirements of handguns and AR-15s and complete prohibitions of others such as AK-47 variants as well all full automatic firearms, suppressors, and various items such as Slide Fire stocks.

There are other pros to Canadian gun laws.  There are many loopholes on things such as magazine capacity laws, whereby capacity is determined by the gun a magazine is originally manufactured for, not what it is used in.  So, for example, a Butler Creek 25 round magazine designed for a 10/22 rifle can be used in a Ruger Charger pistol and is not legally a prohibited device.  Also, the legal requirement for "high" capacity magazines is such only that they must be permanently pinned or lanced and as such, most magazines such as 30 round AR-15 or 33 round Glock mags are limited to their respected 5 or 10 capacity by a simple aluminum pop rivet that blocks the followers.  Undoubtedly, if the laws ever change either through an act of parliament or through a WROL situation, I'm sure the idea will cross many gun owners to take a drill to their mags.

In addition, there is a very loose patchwork of restrictions on things such as barrel length and accessories for handguns that end up with looser restrictions on some items than in the US.  M4geries (some manufactured in Canada and imported from China) with 14.5, 10.5, and even 8.5" barrels are regulated no differently than any other AR-15.  Shoulder stocks and carbine kits for handguns are not controlled or prohibited devices.  Shotguns with barrels as short as 8.5" are classified non-restricted and subject to the least amount of regulations.

As for the affordability, while generally more expensive than in the US, Canada has some advantages.  Inexpensive (and increasingly higher quality) Chinese manufactured firearms have flooded into the Canadian market, with Norinco and Dominion Arms being big names in the community, providing good quality AR-15s, 1911s, 870 knock offs at astonishingly low prices (by Canadian standards).  There also are many domestic ammunition manufactures springing up as well providing very high quality offerings at reasonable prices.

Advanced training, including tactical shooting, is also becoming more popular in Canada with several schools opening up across the country.  Action shooting sports such as IPSC, USPSA, and IDPA are also growing.  Of course, hunting is also a established tradition as well.  Unfortunately self defence with a gun is essentially forbidden almost certainly resulting in punishment by process, as Castle Doctrine is not generally recognized under Canadian law.

Undoubtedly, there are some hideously draconian Federal gun laws in Canada.  An important consideration on that though is that they are hyper-enforced or supplemented by additional provincial laws in some places and barely enforced or outright ignored in others.  Ontario and Quebec are good examples of hyper-enforcement, where gun owners have to take additional safety certification in Quebec and where municipal police in Toronto will actively harass legal, licensed gun owners and nail them to the wall for minor paper offences (such as not getting the proper permit to transport a handgun to a gunsmith).  Conversely, the laws are generally under-enforced in other regions of the country including most rural areas and generally the Western provinces and Territories.

While the gun control crowd will vehemently deny it, Canada has a very strong, established, and (by my observation) growing, gun culture.  

While there is a general trend of nanny-state federal socialism and there are some blatant examples of dictatorial tyranny in Canada by my observation of recent actions of the US government (including the Patriot Act, Obamacare, NDAA, NDRP, and EX-PATRIOT to name a few)  Canada is increasingly becoming a more attractive place to live.

God bless, - H.T.C.

You mentioned recommendng that consulting clients that they live inside Abbotsford, British Columbia. Unfortunately your information is out of date. Abbotsford is quickly becoming a crime-haven for British Columbia's tens of thousands of marijuana growers. Gangs and gang-related shootings are becoming very common. Ethnic diversity in Abbotsford (which is the third highest in Canada after Vancouver and Toronto) seems to cause tension among the gangs. As of 2006, Abbotsford had the highest property crime rate, and the second highest violent crime rate among cities with a population between 100,000 and 500,000. And the scariest statistic: Abbotsford has the highest homicide rate in Canada. It was almost three times the national average in 2010. (All statistics taken from Statistics Canada, via Wikipedia)
Sincerely - Ryan in British Columbia

The current liquidity crisis on the southern periphery of the Eurozone now appears likely to spread to all of Europe, and then globally. There are already quiet electronic bank runs in progress in Greece and Spain. On Monday, a bank "holiday" was announced in Italy. More bank runs will likely follow. As of today, Wednesday, June 13, 2012, I strongly urge all SurvivalBlog readers to immediately draw down their checking accounts and liquidate their CDs, passbook savings accounts, and most of the their stocks to buy tangibles. If you already own a retreat, an honest one year storage food supply, and a battery of firearms with ammo and plenty of magazines, then go ahead and buy physical silver. (But don't neglect investing in those crucial "Beans, Bullets and Band-Aids" first.) With spot silver presently under $28.70, this is an ideal time to get out of paper and into tangibles.

The Midnight Flit: U.S. cities struggle with blighted bank-owned homes. (Thanks to Sue C. for the link.)

J. McC. was the first of several readers to mention this: North Dakota Considers Eliminating Property Tax

Madrid Leans on Its Troubled Banks to Buy Its Bonds

Jay B. sent something worth watching: Silver For The Pawn Star Masses. JWR's Comment: Note that it confirms my warnings on the potential perils of buying any ingots larger than 100 ounce serialized bars.

Items from The Economatrix:

Eric Sprott:  Gold Alert

Oil Reverses As Spain Rescue Rally Wilts

Gold Dips As Euro Retreats, Buyers Favor Other Assets

Kevin S. liked this page: Building Abundant Ponds, Chinese Wheelbarrows, and DiY Algae Reactors

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The fine folks at CampingSurvival.com have again outgrown their warehouse. To lighten their load before moving, they have announced an across the board sale. For the rest of June, you can use coupon code "june2012promo" for 5% off every item on their site. Please mention SurvivalBlog when you order. Thanks.

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I recently watched the French documentary film "Eye of Vichy", via Netflix streaming. It is a collection of original Vichy French propaganda films. I was amazed to see just how deeply collaborationist Petain's government was with the Nazis. Granted, the Germans were holding a million captured French soldiers hostage, but why did the French become so enthusiastic about rounding up Jews, hunting down the resistance, and manufacturing war materiel for the Axis? There are lessons to be learned from this film. If we aren't vigilant, we may have our own version of the Milice prowling the streets of American cities. OBTW, don't miss the included propaganda cartoon showing Mickey Mouse and Popeye bombing France. Propaganda like that is pure evil.

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Reader R.B.S. mentioned this big crime news in central Idaho: Fish thieves hit anglers in Riggins.

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I just heard about a new directory of Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses: Wounded Warrior Veterans Directory.

"Paper money polluted the equity of our laws, turned them into engines of oppression, corrupted the justice of our public administration, destroyed the fortunes of thousands who had confidence in it, enervated the trade, husbandry, and manufactures of our country, and went far to destroy the morality of our people." - Peletiah Webster

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Today we present another entry for Round 41 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 $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training. Together, these have a retail value of $589. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 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.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 41 ends on July 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 often surprised to hear about people planning for an eventual societal collapse and hearing that you are choosing to remain in place where your worst fears are being realized. My question is, have you thought about the possibility of greener pastures  awaiting you just a short trip up north? I understand loyalty and having a fierce love for your country, however, in really bad times when bugging out is necessary, maybe Canada has what you might want for a short or long term visit. We are a kind and friendly people with one of the lowest homicide rates in the world (of 1.8 per 100 000), those are some pretty good odds.

If your country was to implode, why not come up here with us?
Perhaps you don't really know Canada. Survival blog readers are a special type of intellectual and deserve to know the benefits of my country, as a precautionary measure. Due to the rural nature of most of our country, many of us are preppers or farmers or homesteaders by nature. I believe it's fair to say that almost every Canadian knows someone who grows, fishes, or hunts, therefore creating a more self sufficient environment should something terrible happen.

Camping is a fun pastime for Canadians and you would be hard pressed to find a family who hasn't experienced a night in a leaky tent  during a summer camping trip. The truth is, you just can't hold your head high as a respectable Canadian if you can't start a campfire, or properly get into a canoe. Many of us know our environment and our limitations within it.

Yes, we share the largest freshwater lakes but we have so much more then just that to offer. There are huge parts of Canada that are uninhabited and you can't swing a cat without hitting 3 freshwater sources. 31,700 large lakes to be exact on our 9,900,000 square km (or 3,800,000 square miles) of land. 

Lots and lots of fresh water is not all we have, in addition to our being surrounded by 3 oceans we have the largest coastline in the world, 202 080 km or 125 570 miles long. We are the 2nd largest country in the world by area (including our waters) smaller then only Russia.

We are famous for our rugged and untamed landscape of 8 distinct forest regions, rocky Canadian shield, beautiful prairies, and stunning coastal regions. A tired joke from the prairies is that it took 3 days for my dog to run away (because it's so flat that you can see him leaving for so long, get it?) Yeah, not as funny as it is true. Imagine that for a retreat location, being able to see intruders approaching for miles.

Plentiful forests are another great feature, enough wood to build with, burn and tap for delicious maple syrup. We love our maple syrup here.

Despite what you have likely heard, much of Canada is not entirely snow covered all year round, we have 4 seasons but they are not intolerable even without the comforts of the grid. Winter temperatures average around -15c (5 F) to -40c/F but that's a really cold day, even here. Summer temperatures average between 20-30 degrees c (70-86 F) up to 40c (104 F) on a brutal hot day. This year my part of Canada didn't even get snow, unfortunately the children were not as impressed as the adults.

Since Canada is so large (9,900,000 square kilometers, or 3,800,000 square miles), and has such a small population (35 million) in comparison, it should be an ideal bug out location for Americans, especially Christians since 77% of us identify ourselves as such.  

If I travel 2 hours north of the Canada/America border, it is likely that I would be lost in a less densely populated area. If I drove 5 hours north of that border I would probably be into thinly populated cottage/ fishing/ hunting country. If I went further than that, I would be in almost no man's land with the odd smaller town spaced really far apart.

If population density is your concern, we can boast just 3.3 people per square mile, among the lowest rates in the world, with 80% of the population along the border, and mostly in the eastern portion of the country.

If the military is your concern, again Canada is the place to be. Our military (God bless them) is small to even us, with 67,000 regular personnel and 43,000 reserve personnel, hardly enough manpower to hold down just one of our major cities if one was concerned with martial law or that sort of thing.

As for natural disasters, Canada seems strangely immune as we have very few earthquakes, tornados or floods. Most often our largest threat from nature is a big winter storm which, I kind of enjoy. There is nothing like the feeling of being cozy and warm inside and watching the snow accumulate outside.

As a testament to our financial resiliency, somehow, we weathered the storm of 2008 seemingly virtually unscathed. By some  strange twist of fate our home prices are still rising and we are now the condo building capitol of the world. This shows that by some miracle Canada didn't follow America during their unfortunate downturn. Perhaps our luck might continue should something worse happen, it might be possible for Canada to, against all odds, dodge that bullet again so to speak.

I am not a fan of poisonous things so a beautiful added bonus of living in Canada is that we have very little of that. Unlike the hotter climates, there is not a scorpion waiting in your shoe, nor a funnel web spider living under the rock your children play near. Our most dangerous insect by numbers is probably the mosquito which is found everywhere, only we do get relief from them for 3 seasons out of the year.

We do have some big scary animals, although again, the most dangerous is also the most unlikely. We have bear, deer, moose, wolves, coyote, mountain lion and caribou. The biggest threat now is hitting a deer with your car on a dark road at night. In the wild, the largest threat is likely a moose during mating season, they are fiercely territorial and will kill you just for being in their zone. Aside from the moose, and the possibility of getting in between a sow bear and her cubs, most animals seem to be content with not attacking humans. The bonus of all these large animals is of course, hunting. We are one of the worlds best destinations for hunting and fishing.   

What more could you want in a survival retreat?

Let's recap and see if Canada covers all the basics of a great survival location.
1. Water - We all know how important water is, and if we are to believe the media then fresh water is becoming more and more unavailable to us. This is thus far, not a problem here and can't possibly be for the foreseeable future.
2. Food - Canada has a very healthy population of fish and animals, easily enough to sustain a group living off the grid. Aside from the animals, there are many wild food sources including seaweed and plant life. It would be difficult to starve in the wild with even a small amount of information and gear.
3. Shelter - Forests and nature abound with many choices of what terrain to choose for a retreat and plenty of materials to build with and burn for fuel.
4. Population- A simple check of Canada's population reveals that 80% of us live relatively close to the border, and of them, most densely populated around Lake Ontario. It would be fairly easy here to settle into an area where very little people are, and others would have immense trouble getting to. 
5. Threats - There are very few threats here from nature. We get very few natural disasters and we have very few poisonous insects, and dangerous animals. Man made threats could be a train derailment of dangerous goods, or a nuclear situation, which is possible almost anywhere.
To conclude, I love America, and its people and I am in no way suggesting that Canada is superior. I am simply pointing out the benefits in the event that something should take a turn for the worst in the beautiful land of the free. Canada is situated in a position to provide all that you may be seeking in a retreat location, hopefully courtesy of SurvivalRealty.com or just as a temporary bug out location with a well stocked Recreational Vehicle, maybe for an 'extended hunting trip'.

I have nothing against South America but as more and more Americans seem to be setting up bug out locations farther south, I have wondered about the risk to benefit ratio there, rather than here. In my humble (and perhaps flawed) opinion one might want to plan a secondary location in a more environmentally stable area without the risk of mudslides, tropical storms, frequent and larger earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions.

When planning a bug out location or a survival retreat I hope that I have highlighted the benefits of your friends to the north. Our low crime rates and low population in comparison to our vast area coupled with our many natural resources seems, to me, to be an ideal location, one of the best in the world and only a stone's throw away. 

JWR Adds: The objection most often raised to Canada can be summed up in two words: Gun laws. If it weren't for that factor, then the warmer parts of Canada (such as the Bella Coola region of western British Columbia) would become a popular haven for American survivalists. I should mention that I have had a couple of hyper-pacifist consulting clients that refused to own any guns, even in the face of very traumatic times ahead. (One client was from Canada, and the other from the U.S.) Since isolation would be their only defense, I recommended that they both relocate to live inside the limits of either Abbotsford or Creston, in British Columbia. (Small farming towns.) There are some amazing properties in the province.

Just wondering if you could add something to your information on Montana and Idaho? Could you tell us a little about the differences in property taxes in these states. We live in Eastern Washington, and I have to tell you the property taxes are becoming a huge problem. There seems to be a move to get us all off of the open space or agriculture tax rolls if you are in the northern counties. We have considered a move to Montana. But this is one area we are not sure about. If we found a 40 acre farmstead in either state, could we afford the taxes in the future? Do you think it will stay stable there? Or will the "powers that be" force these new tax codes down Montana and Idaho's throats as well? Thanks! - T.T.

JWR Replies:
You can find a property tax estimator for Idaho, here. The levy rates are based on where you live with any particular county. The rates tend to be substantially lower outside of city limits. As an example, I punched in a $200,000 value and a typical rural tax location code, and the calculator showed an annual tax of $1,113.21.

I didn't find a comparable online calculator for Montana, but I did find this page. It mentions that in Missoula County (where a well-known fellow preparedness blogger lives), the average rate is $14.11 per $1,000 of value.) So that would be $2,822 for a $200,000 property. That is more than double the property tax rate of Idaho, but of course to compensate, there is no sales tax in Montana. And, needless to say, $14 per $1,000 is not nearly as much as what most people pay per $1,000 in many of the more populous states that also have a 6% or higher sales tax. For example the "sock-it-to-you" states of New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Texas have rates exceeding $18 per $1,000 of property value. (But at least New Hampshire, like Montana, doesn't charge sales tax.)


Do we really want economic development and tourism in these states?  Doesn't that defeat the purpose of relocating to a low-population area?
Here's what I predict will happen if the tourism and development boom the writer wants happens.  The yuppies will come to the area, fall in love with the scenery, and move there. Then they will complain about their neighbors, who have been there 50 years, saying they have "junk" on their property (meaning farm machinery), and they dare to butcher their own livestock and game!  Speaking of livestock, the manure really smells.  Pretty soon it's "There ought to be a law against this..."
And the yuppies will demand all the "free" government services (paid for by taxation) that they had back in the big city.
When their population reaches a critical mass, they will have enough votes to raise the taxes and pass the laws outlawing a homesteading lifestyle.
Not to mention the population increase.  And they will drive up property values, making it unaffordable for people of modest means to move there, or to remain there.  The people who were there first will be taxed off their property.
People who want to make money in the American Redoubt states should think in terms of online and mail order small businesses.  Otherwise they will be bringing the Golden Horde into their retreat area.

JWR Replies: The majority of the new population influx appear to be conservative and pro-gun, so that is an advantage. Conservatives will continue to outnumber any liberal newcomers. And many of the liberal newcomers tend to have smaller families. The bottom line is that the demographics are on our side

This hardly comes as news to most SurvivalBlog readers: Fed: Americans’ wealth dropped 40 percent. Stepping back to look at the big picture, we must ask: Cui bono? The banksters certainly haven't lost much money, since the government obligingly bailed them out with taxpayer funds.

Greek Blackouts Risked As Power Companies’ Cash Runs Out: Energy. (Thanks to Dennis M. for the link.)

Who really benefits from credit derivatives?

Tyler Durden of Zero Hedge: The 'Big Reset' Is Coming: Here Is What To Do

The more the government tries to "fix" things, the more that it fouls things up: China tariffs could slam U.S. solar panel firms. (Thanks to Ken of GettingPrepped.com for sending the link.)

Over at Forex Crunch: Eight Holes in the Spanish Bailout

Items from The Economatrix:

Is it Time to Prepare for Another Recession? [JWR's Comment: Gosh, did I miss something? Here in my region, we never stopped having the recession that began in late 2007...]

Jobless Claims Fall for First Time Since April

US Rating Faces 2013 Cut if No Credible Plan

Spain Downgraded By Three Notches

Pierre M. recommended Rural Heritage magazine.

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The book X-Events: The Collapse of Everything by John L. Casti will be released today. I recently received a review copy and I can vouchsafe that it is a book worth reading. Casti is a great author, and while a couple of the scenarios are far-fetched (such as "gray goo"), many of them will be of great interest to SurvivalBlog readers. Here is a summary: "X-Events provides a provocative tour of the catastrophic outlier scenarios that could quickly send us crashing back to the preindustrial age: global financial "black swans"; a worldwide crash of the Internet that would halt all communication; the end of oil; nuclear winter; "nanoplagues"; robot uprisings; electromagnetic pulses; pandemic viruses; and more. You won't ever look at the world the same way again."

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From the same gents who made the oft-mentioned video on cut shotgun shells, don't miss this: Lost Arts Part 3- Wax Slugs

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Paracord:  The Most Versatile Item In Your Bug-out Bag. JWR Adds: Not only does paracord have umpteen uses, but it makes a great barter item. Large rolls are the most economical way to buy. And of course these are easily divisible into shorter hanks for resale. If you buy full 1,000 foot rolls of paracord in olive drab and coyote brown, you will find that it is like putting money in the bank.

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US students tell of surviving nine days in New Zealand wilderness

"In politics, few talents are as richly rewarded as the ability to convince parasites that they are victims. Welfare states on both sides of the Atlantic have discovered that largesse to losers does not reduce their hostility to society, but only increases it. Far from producing gratitude, generosity is seen as an admission of guilt, and the reparations as inadequate compensation for injustices – leading to worsening behavior by the recipients." - Dr. Thomas Sowell

Monday, June 11, 2012

Founders: A Novel of the Coming Collapse will be released in just three months (on September 25, 2012.) I just noticed that someone has already kindly created a Wikipedia page for the novel. OBTW, please wait until the release date to order your copy. Thanks! To answer the folks who've been writing to ask me about the storyline: I can say this, without revealing any spoilers: Founders is contemporaneous with both Patriots and Survivors. It is set primarily in Kentucky and Tennessee. There are also sub-plots for Ken and Terry Layton's cross-country epic journey (in detail.) There is also a new character: Joshua Watanabe, a missile maintenance sergeant at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana.

Today we present two product reviews: One from L.K.O. (our Central Rockies Editor), and one from Pat Cascio (our Field Gear Editor.)

In early January 2012, I began thoroughly testing the Pocket Panel: 6 Watt Portable Solar USB Phone Charger and the Cinch Power: CP505S Power Pack (USB Battery). These two products team up to make a compact, lightweight, portable power solution for USB powered devices such as cell phones, GPSes, digital cameras, bluetooth headsets, games, PDAs, MP3/MP4 players or small LED lamps. After a review of the individual components, I'll summarize some quick system tests.

Pocket Panel: 6 Watt Portable Solar USB Phone Charger

The PocketPanel photovoltaic solar charger is rated at 6 Watts and 1.2 Amps. Reviews on the company's web site suggest a typical full sun current around 0.9 Amps which suffices for many typical cell phones. In peak sunlight, the array produces enough power to charge a typical load device while actively using it. Modern smart phones require significant charging current, particularly at first, when significantly discharged. In use, the four 3" x 5.5" PV panels fold out to about 21.5" x 7"; four corner grommets with 1/4" holes provide flexible attachment or tie-down possibilities to maximize solar exposure. A velcro closure simplifies transport, and the unit folds to 7" x 4.5" x 1.25" approximately. The high-efficiency mono-crystalline (17% efficient) require about half the size of earlier poly-crystalline designs and also deliver a higher percentage of rated power over a longer lifetime. (Wikipedia has an in-depth article on photovoltaic technologies, efficiencies, the history of solar cells, etc. They are laminated to a rugged fiberglass substrate, which mitigates some of the weight and fragility of glass. The weather-resistant unit weighs 0.83 pounds. The output is a standard (female) USB port making interconnection easy and versatile. Combined with the adapters in the Cinch Power CP505S, a wide variety of devices can be charged.

Cinch Power: CP505S Power Pack (USB Battery)

The Cinch Power CP505S Power Pack is high capacity, USB-connected battery system with multiple connection adaptors. The power capacity is rated at 5000 mAh (milliAmpHours at 3.7Volts). Output voltage and current are rated at 5.4VDC and 950mA, respectively, with a 500 charging cycle rated lifetime. This unit easily fits in a shirt or pants pocket, at 3.9" x 2.8" x 0.7" It's lightweight Lithium-polymer cell design brings it's heft to a mere 5.1 ounces. Simple operation consists of bringing power in (e.g. via a USB-fitted solar charger) using the supplied USB to DC cable. The cable has a convenient self-retracting cord, collapsing to under 5" and expanding to about 30". The 3-level power indicator system (Low <20%, Med 20-80%, High >80%) indicates amount of stored charge via 3 LEDs. The On/Off toggle switches output power to the USB connector. A "Use" LED is lit when power is being supplied from the battery. When charged, the charging cable becomes the output cable by using the USB output connector, which then interfaces with a variety of supplied adaptors. Adaptors include: Sony Ericsson-K750, Mini USB/Motorola V3, iPod/iPhone, Micro USB, and Nokia-DC 2.0; this should allow a generous variety of Apple, Blackberry, Nokia, Samsung, Sony, MP3, MP4, etc. devices access to the battery power. The device features over-current and over-charge/discharge protection. It shuts off automatically when the connected device completes charging. An optional AC power supply is available as a backup for extended cloudy weather.

Testing of Paired Products

For pocket transport, the panel array will probably fit best in a coat pocket, whereas the battery (smaller) can easily fit in a typical shirt or pants pocket. The rugged PV array works nicely in a south-facing window, with the attached battery charging next to it on a windowsill. I initially started charging the battery with the PV array around noon on a Friday in January at about 6600' elevation. After an overcast and snowy Saturday, the full charge completed mid-morning on Sunday. The combo of panel, battery and adapter works well. The blue "Use" LED on the battery blinks to indicate power delivery. The charged battery powered my iPhone (normal sporadic usage for me) on this single charge for about a week. I then fully recharged the battery using the PV system which took about another day. A Vococal 3-LED adjustable clip-on reading lamp with a USB connector made a good constant load test in addition to my iPhone. Running constantly, this bright (more-than-adequate) 3-LED reading lamp ran for about 32 hours continuously.

A full five months later (after a full re-charge), the battery pack had 2 LEDs (somewhere between 20-80% charge) remaining, so the standby leakage current is fairly low. All in all, about the only minor drawback might be the suitability of this system for more extreme weather environments. Other portable PV systems (such as the Joos Orange Solar Charger) offer a bit more ruggedness for severe environments, but this combination is likely to be a good solar solution for many remote, backup and portable applications.

More information about the three referenced products is on their respective web sites: Pocket Panel, Cinch Power, and Vococal.

- L.K.O. (SurvivalBlog's Central Rockies Regional Editor)

For the past several months, Tim Sundles, who runs Buffalo Bore Ammunition has buried me in some of his newest ammunition offerings. Somehow, I think he doesn't like me. He just keeps coming up with more and more new loads for hunters and for self-defense use, for me to test. Seriously, I don't know of any ammunition company, that is as innovative as Buffalo Bore is. Some of the big name ammo companies might come up with a couple new loads each year - if that. Most are content to sit back on their past accomplishments - not Tim Sundles!
If any ammo company is coming out with more newly developed loads than Buffalo Bore is, I'd sure like to know who it is. I like that a small, American-owned ammo company is taking the initiative, and taking the time and effort to come out with so many new caliber loadings. And Buffalo Bore doesn't produce "plinking" ammo - all that they produce is top-of-the-line premium hunting and self-defense loads. On top of that, Sundles adds a flash suppressant to his self-defense loads to help maintain your night vision, if you are forced to shoot at an attacker in low-light. (Which of course is when many self-defense shootings take place.) Are there many other ammo companies doing this yet?
One of the newest loadings I tested from Buffalo Bore is their .380 ACP +P 80 grain Barnes TAC-XP load - for those not familiar with the Barnes bullets, they are an all-copper hollow point design. These Barnes bullets retain 100% of their weight, as well as penetrating deeper than other conventional JHP bullets do. This is my carry load in my Ruger LCP .380 ACP back-up pistol. Tim Sundles tests all his loads in actual firearms - he doesn't use test barrels to hype the velocities. I'm getting about 1,050 FPS from my little LCP with this load. It's a bit stout in this little Ruger, but it can handle it. I believe the .380 ACP caliber is best reserved for use in a back-up gun capacity. However, with this load, I think it really boost your power factor quite a bit. So, with that said, it might be acceptable to use this round by Buffalo Bore if this is going to be your main concealed carry gun.
Next up are the new 9mm loadings, and these are both +P+ rounds, one is a 95 grain Barnes TAC-XP load at around 1,550 FPS and the other is a 115 grain Barnes TAX-XP load, at 1,400 FPS. Screaming? You bet! Once again, the Barnes all-copper bullets will get the job done, in either caliber. As a rule, I don't like going below a 115 grain bullet in a 9mm round. However , the 95 grain Barnes bullet will get the job done because it will penetrate a bit deeper than a conventional bullet of this weight will do, and stay together. What I really like about this load is that even though it's a +P+ load, it doesn't feel much different than a conventional standard velocity load does. For me, this is a no-brainer, this is the load to put in your "house gun" that you have in your nightstand - it's easy to control and will take care of the bad guys - and the recoil isn't what you'd expect from a +P+ 9mm loading - it's very controllable. The 115 grain Barnes loading is great for your carry gun - it will penetrate, hold together and get the job done. There is a bit more recoil with this +P+ loading, but nothing you can't control in the least. My new Ruger P95 loves this load for some reason. Make sure you test any +P or +P+ loads in your guns to make sure they will function 100% of the time with 'em - in this case, I tested both of these loads in numerous 9mm handguns, and had no problems at all. Great loads!
Back when I lived in Chicago, and worked as a private investigator, I usually carried either a S&W .38 Special snubby or a Colt .38 Special snubby of some sort, as a back-up gun - one of these guns was usually carried in an ankle holster. There were times, when I (only) carried a .38 Special snubby of some sort. One time, when working for an alarm company - I installed alarms on the day-shift, and answered alarms at night - I carried a .38 Special snubby. While this wasn't a big problem working the day shift - it wasn't the smartest thing to do when answering alarms at night - all alone. This became a reality to me one night, when I answered an alarm and was confronted with searching a huge warehouse by myself. I realized if someone was too far away and started shooting at me, that little .38 Special snubby wasn't gonna be of much use - I went out the next day and purchased a 4" barrel .357 Magnum Colt Trooper Mk III revolver. Okay, back to the snubbies in .38 Special:
Most people don't understand how much velocity (thus "power") you lose when loading a 2" .38 Special snubby revolver compared to the power you get from a 4" barrel or 6" barrel .38 Special revolver. It is very significant - so much so, that more often than not, a JHP round won't expand when it hits an attacker - which then makes that bullet nothing more than a solid - passing through the body and not doing as much damage as you'd expect. Enter the Buffalo Bore "Standard Pressure" short-barrel, low-flash 110 grain Barnes TAC-XP round - and this baby will give you about 1,000 FPS velocity from your snubby .38 Special revolver - enough velocity to make that bullet expand. Best of all, this round is very controllable. This is "the" round you want if you carry a .38 Special snubby revolver for self defense. And, I believe, the .38 Special needs all the help it can get.
Also, in the .38 Special line-up from Buffalo Bore is their .38 Outdoorsman +P round. If you carry any kind of .38 Special out in the boonies for self-defense against critters - this is the round you want. The 158 grain Hard Cast Keith bullet, at 1,250 FPS from a 6" barrel or 1,150 FPS from a 4" barrel revolver will give you plenty of penetration - which is what you want and need when facing critters in the wild. If you look at those velocities, you'll note that they are right on the heels of many other makers .357 Mag rounds - what's not to like here? While I would personally look at carrying a .357 Mag revolver if I were in dangerous country, if all I had was a .38 Special of some sort, this is the round to carry.
Not to be left out, if you carry a snubby .357 Mag revolver, and you're out in the boonies, take a close look at the Buffalo Bore .357 Mag Barnes 140 grain XPB round - this is a different bullet than the TAC-XP - the XPB bullet is designed for control expansion, and it will penetrate deeper than the TAC-XP round will against wild animals. This is the round you want in your .357 Mag snubby if you are carrying it for self-defense against critters out in the wild. Once again, a very controllable round, at around 1,150 FPS. I really liked this one.
Are you a big bore fan? Yes, me too! I really love shooting the .44 Magnum revolvers - and I can sometimes be "caught" using a .44 Mag when I'm out deer or black bear hunting. The .44 Mag is really quite a caliber - you can load it up, to super-charge it, or load it down to .44 Special velocities for plinking fun or self-defense. If forced to own one revolver, this would be the caliber I'd choose over all others. Tim Sundles does a lot of handgun hunting - he does this for several reasons, one is because he loves to hunt, and secondly, he gets to test his new round that he comes up with against real critters in the wild. How many big name ammo companies get out there and actually tests their ammo? Not many.
A new .44 Mag loading that Buffalo just came out with - and I've only limited testing with - is their 200 grain Barnes XPB load, which should be an excellent load to use against deer and  most black bear. I usually prefer a heavier load to use against black bear, but this load will get the job done with the XPB bullet because it penetrates a bit deeper and stays together. Coming out a 4" barrel revolver, you can expect over 1,500 FPS from this round. And, best of all, even though this is a .44 Mag round, it is more controllable than you think - this is because of the 200 grain bullet. Most folks stick with 240 grain bullets for much of their .44 Mag shooting - and they "kick" a lot more than this 200 grain Barnes bullet does. From an 18" barrel rifle, you can expect over 1,800 FPS - that's screaming! If you look down at this Barnes XPB bullet, you'll get lost in it because it looks sooooo deep. If you are hunting bigger game, check out some of the heavy .44 Mag from Buffalo Bore - they have something there you're gonna love!
These next two calibers that Sundles sent me - I didn't have firearms for - so I had to borrow a couple of guns. The new buffalo Bore  .357 SIG, 125 grain Barnes TAC-XP low-flash round will be, in my humble opinion, "the" round to carry if you depend on a .357 SIG for self-defense.  If you want a .357 SIG load, that uses an expanding bullet, that penetrates very deeply, this is the round for you. I admit, I've only had limited experience with the .357 SIG round, and I've never actually personally owned a gun in this caliber. There's several good reasons for this, first of all, for some reason, this round just hasn't caught on - at least, not in my neck of the woods. Secondly, .357 SIG ammo is hard to find - once again, in my neck of the woods. Lastly, .357 SIG ammo is more expensive than other calibers - like the .40S&W is. This is slowly changing, as I've noted that prices are coming down a bit - especially for FMJ practice ammo.
What we are looking at, with the .357 SIG round is a .40 caliber case, that is necked-down to take a 9mm bullet. One thing I like about these types of rounds is that, they are very reliable when it comes to feeding from the magazine to the chamber.  Tim Sundles tells me that, his .357 SIG round, will roughly penetrate 20+ inches of flesh and bone, and expand to about .55 caliber! Yes! During testing, this round is coming out of a SIG Sauer P229 at about 1,300 FPS - screaming! What I've found, is that, the .357 SIG is just about the same as a +P+ 9mm round in power and velocity, but without the excessive recoil that you expect from a +P+ loading - and it's easier on the gun - it doesn't get battered as much, as a 9mm +P+ round would do to a pistol.
What I'd like to see Buffalo Bore come up with, is a super-deep penetrator round (FMJ) in .357 SIG - this would be an outstanding round to carry out in the boonies - it would give you all the deep(er) penetration you'd need against critters. And, knowing Sundles, I'm sure he'll be coming out with this type of round - he's done it with the 9mm, with his "Penetrator" round, and he'll do it with the .357 SIG round - watch and see. I'm really impressed with the .357 SIG - from my limited shooting of this caliber over the past year or two, and one of these days, I'm gonna lay-down some hard-earned cash and actually purchase a handgun in this caliber.
I almost "hate" Tim Sundles, for coming up with this next round for me to test. I've been a fan of the .41 Magnum round for about 25 years. My late friend, Tim Caruso, from Colorado Springs, Colorado actually turned me onto this caliber. While not quite the power of a .44 Mag, the 41 Mag round will take care of many of the same tasks that a .44 Mag will, and with less punishing recoil. On top of that, I've always thought the .41 Mag would make an excellent self-defense round with the 175 grain bullets instead of the 210 grain bullets. Well, Tim Sundles just came out with a 180 grain .41 Mag Barnes all-copper hollow point load, and this bullet is coming out of a revolver at around 1,500 FPS - depending on barrel length.
I had to borrow a .41 Mag revolver from a friend to test this load, and it makes me "hate" Tim Sundles all that much more - I haven't owned a .41 Mag revolver in several years. Why? I have no idea! I love the S&W Model 57 .41 Mag revolver - and I guess I'm now gonna have to get another one - one of these days. Of course, Tim Sundles is on my wife's "I'm gonna kill him list..." since he is "forcing" me to go out and find a new .41 Mag S&W Model 57 or 657 revolver one of these days. I keep telling my wife "I only need one more gun..." and she keeps reminding me: "You said that last time...." to which I reply "it's still true...I only need one more gun."
This Buffalo Bore 180 grain Barnes bullet is the XPB style - great for hunting medium to medium-large game - it will penetrate deeply and has controlled expansion as well. It would prove a great deer round, if you ask me. If you've never fired a .41 Mag handgun, you owe it to yourself to at least try it - you'll find just as I did, that the round is a lot more controllable than the .44 Mag is, and it can do "most" of what a .44 Mag round can do. The .41 Mag has always been a bit of a red-headed step-child if you ask me - never getting the credit it deserves. If you have a .41 Mag of some type, you really need to lay claim to a box or two of this new Buffalo Bore .41 Mag ammo.
As I mentioned at the start of this article, Tim Sundles, has been burying me in new ammo to test. Yes, shooting new rounds is always fun and challenging, and quite often, I'm one of the first to get these new loadings - I appreciate this. And, SurvivalBlog readers are often the first to get real-life, first-hand test results on new Buffalo Bore Ammunition. I've heard from several SurvivalBlog readers, asking me if any of the ammo or gun companies pay me to promote their products. Never happened - never will! If anything, I should be billing Tim Sundles for my time and effort in shooting all the ammo he sends me! LOL!!
Seriously, if you are into handgun hunting and take your self-defense needs to heart, you want the best-of-the-best, when it comes to ammo. You're not gonna find any cheap plinking ammo from Buffalo Bore - they only make hi-quality, self-defense and hunting loads. Sure, Buffalo Bore ammo is a bit more expensive than ammo from the big name ammo companies. However, what Tim Sundles is offering - you can't find from any of the big name ammo companies, period. Sundles puts in a lot of time and effort to come up with these new loadings, and he also tests all these new loadings himself, too.
Like I said, Buffalo Bore is an American-owned company (in Montana), and it's a small company, that is rapidly carving itself a real niche in the self-defense and hunting calibers scheme of things. You won't find another ammo company, of this size that is producing and developing a more vast line-up than Tim Sundles is doing. There are lots of "good guys" in the firearms and ammo fields - I've been doing business with them for more than 20 years as a writer. However, Tim Sundles is, without a doubt, one of the really good guys and he's working hard to give us something no one else is giving us. He deserves your business, checkout his web site - and I'll be reporting on even more new rounds he's working on for us all.
Now, I'm waiting for the spring monsoon rains to stop in my area, so I can get out there and test the new Buffalo Bore, .40 S&W, 140 grain Barnes TAC-XP "standard pressure" rounds in my Glock 27 That .should make a great combo - with this round coming out at approximately 1,300 FPS in a slightly longer barreled gun. But I'm thinking, this will be a controllable round in this pocket rocket pistol from Glock. 

Can you give me your thoughts on Montana and Idaho for business development, state of the state's employment, state government's interest in business development, general thoughts on state and personal wealth, state budget woes if any? I'm wondering would the government mentality in Montana would be inclined towards establishing world and nationally recognized things in some city center that would increase employment, tourism and their standing? (I'm thinking about Crystal Bridges Museum in Arkansas, Buffalo Bill Center in Cody, Wyoming., and even that odd Rock n-Roll Museum in Seattle. Things like that.... Do they already think that way? Would there be state government incentives for such projects?

Thanks, - C.F.

JWR Replies: Montana is one of the few states that is presently not running up debts.  Idaho has some debt, but still nothing compared to California, Texas, or most of the states on the eastern seaboard. Both states have unobtrusive state governments that are pro-business.  The Montana state legislature only meets in alternating years, so it doesn't breed career politicians. (I should mention that 2012 is the "off" year.) The budget priorities are roads and schools, rather than welfare and political correctness.

There are a few drawbacks to Montana: The state seems excessively beholden to Federal funding--particularly to Federal highway funds. (The same could be said for Idaho.) Montana also suffers from low property tax revenues, because so much land is Federally-owned (National Forest or BLM.)   A few Democrats still get elected, mainly because of tradition, since Montana was a major pro-union mining state before 1930. So there are a lot of vestigial pro-union sentiments, and misplaced multi-generational loyalty to the Democratic Party. But most Montana Democrats are extremely pro-gun, which makes them actually better suited to being Libertarians or Republicans. Some traditions just die hard.

There is a personal income tax in Montana, but it is fairly low (lower than Idaho's), but there is no sales tax, which is an advantage.  But the state makes up for that lost revenue in part with fairly high car registration fees.  (About $150 per year for a typical four year-old car or truck.) In Idaho, annual registration is much less.

The gun laws are minimal in both states.  The speculation is that Vermont/Alaska/Arizona/Wyoming style permitless concealed carry will be enacted in both Idaho and Montana next year.  (In Montana, the Democrat governor vetoed this law last year, but, a veto-proof majority is expected when the bill is re-introduced in 2013.)  It is noteworthy that open carry is already legal in both states, as is permitless concealed carry outside of city limits.

A large number of gun and ammunition makers are moving to Montana and Idaho, particularly to the Bitterroot Valley and the Flathead Lake region. One of my favorite AR makers is in Kalispell, Montana. (Nemo was formerly called SI Defense.) Here at the ranch, we have several of their AR-15s and one of their AR-10s.

Idaho is definitely luring gun and ammo makers. Here is a recent news story.

Idaho and Montana are quite similar, but land prices are a bit higher in Northwest Montana, only because private land is so scarce.

I don't know of many "magnet" venues that are specifically planned for Idaho or Montana.  The Charles M. Russell Museum in Great Falls is already big draw.  (There is actually traffic there, in the summer!)  Not quite Branson, but...

There could easily be state incentives for that sort of development.  If nothing else, the State tourism boards would give their full support.

Another thing to consider is that both states already have active state film boards, to encourage movie, commercial, and and music video productions in the states.  

Both states should encourage or partly sponsor film festivals (a la Sundance), and attempt to create tourism.  I believe that Idaho should latch onto "Extreme Sports and "Extreme Sports Films" as a centerpiece.  (For example, Warren Miller's ski and snowboarding movies.)   Likewise, Montana should do the same for shooting and hunting.)

Snowmobiling, ATV riding, horseback riding, hunting, and all of the shooting sports are quite popular in both states. Either state could easily set up (and capitalize on) an endurance horseback riding championship, or a big Ironman sports event.  And I can't believe that they don't already play up the amazing (but under-publicized) "Ride the Divide" ultra endurance bike race. (That documentary movie is available via NetFlix streaming. It is quite a film.)

The Boomer Shoot could be publicized much better and a machinegun shoot and gun show like at Knob Creek should be added. One limiting factor is that there are no large convention centers in northern Idaho or Western Montana where a 3,000-table gun show could be held.

Another low-cost tourist lure would be music festivals. If Idaho or Montana wanted to magnify their tourist season, they could encourage/promote six big events over six successive weekends in June and July, all within a 200 mile radius.  I predict that the roads in the region would be packed with RVs each year.

For winter sports, someone in Idaho or Montana ought to consider creating the snowmobile equivalent of the Sturgis motorcycle rally. Why hasn't anyone created the snowmobile equivalent of biathalon--perhaps with handguns? Snowmobiles and guns. You gotta love that.

There are lots of things that both states could do to encourage investment and tourism.  The scenic beauty in the Northern Rockies is almost overwhelming, but after living here for a few years, you get so used to it that the grandeur is is heart-stopping only when the lighting is "just right."

Idaho already has a couple of "high tech incubator" projects, in conjunction with their universities, to lure (or foster new) high tech companies.  The same should formally be done for companies in the firearms industry. FWIW, I tried to encourage Dave Selvaggio to move DS Arms out west, but he balked.  I suppose that he is still too comfortable in the People's Republic of Illinois.  Someday, he will, after the gun laws and high taxes reach the revulsion point.

In my opinion both states should declare themselves gun and ammo maker havens, by offering special tax incentives for the first five years after a company's relocation.  They could really make headlines if they declared: "No corporate taxes and no employee state income tax for the first five years after relocation." And Montana should capitalize on their "Made In Montana" guns law.

In summary, there is a lot of potential in Idaho and Montana. Granted, both of them are a long drive from any major population center, but of course their light population density is part of the appeal.

I would like to solicit an opinion from you, and maybe get some feedback from other SurvivalBlog readers should you elect to respond.  I was recently laid off from my job, and I will be pulling out my retirement savings from their troubled retirement fund.  I had already planned to move it into silver to protect it from the inevitable future crash.  I am well aware of all the conventional wisdom regarding retirement planning, but I am considering putting this money towards purchasing land that will move my family and me much closer to my goal of off-grid self-sufficiency.  This would be a big change and accomplishment since we are big city apartment dwellers right now in the Fort Worth, Texas area.  I'm a native Oklahoman, so country living isn't new to me.  It might be a bit of a change for my Florida-born and raised wife, and our two boys who have known nothing but the just-in-time convenience of supermarkets,  and all-night Wal-Marts.  Any thoughts, concerns, warnings? 

Thanks for your awesome blog. Discovering SurvivalBlog in 2008 was my "unplugging from the Matrix" moment.

Regards,- Jeff R. (an Okie behind the lines in Texas)

Granted, silver is in an advantageous dip right now (an excellent time to buy) but I'd recommend that rather than putting it all into silver, that you put half of the funds into starting a home-based business.  After all, you will still need a retirement income.

See the SurvivalBlog archives for lots of self-employment and home-based business recommendations. (Note that some of the more lengthy articles on that topic were posted between 2005 and 2008.  So start reading that archive at the bottom and work your way up.)

James Wesley:

I was wondering if you could pose the question of “mail-order stuff” to the UPS or Fed-Ex drivers that read SurvivalBlog. Have they been told to “see something-say something”?
Thanks, - Ed S.

JWR Replies: I haven't heard anything definitive on that topic in recent years. I'd appreciate UPS and FedEx drivers chiming in.

FWIW, I should mention that David Koresh (of Waco) first came to the attention of the BATF because a UPS driver reported seeing "grenade casings" protruding from a ripped cardboard box that was sent to the Waco church address.  Well, those were actually inert dummy grenades that Koresh had been buying to re-paint and assemble with used (dead) practice grenade fuse assemblies to turn into gag/novelty gifts mounted on wooden plaques.  (Those read: "Complaint Department, Take a Number" with matching "#1" tags attached to the grenade pin.) Do you remember those? They sold those a gun shows and via mail order. Well, eight months later, this happened. Please, dear readers, be very careful about the items you mail order and both the paper trails and electronic cookie crumb trails that you leave behind.

Brad's Budget Artisan Bread
In the spirit of sharing, I thought I would offer a recipe for bread that high-end bakeries charge a lot of money.

You will need the following reusable items (and after these purchases sit is very inexpensive):

Baking (aka Pizza) Stone
Pizza Peel (The thing you slide pizza into an oven with, but you could use the back or a sheet pan if you flour or corn meal it well so the dough can slide off easily)
Food grade container or tub with a lid (not air tight, but so it will keep stuff out)
A pan for holding water in the oven (I use the bottom part of my Broiler Pan)

6 cups of water that feels barely warm to the touch.
3 Tablespoons Kosher or Sea Salt
3 Tablespoons of SAF Instant Yeast
13 cups of unbleached white flour.
A little extra flour for sprinkling.
Corn Meal if you prefer it to flour for coving your peel.

Stir ingredients together in order listed above in the container you purchased. No need to Knead the bread, just stir it all together.  The dough will look wetter than your usual bread loaf would, but this is how it should be.
Let stand on the cupboard for 2 hours. You will be amazed at how much it grows in the container.
Place in the fridge for at least 4 hours ( you can use it after it has stood on the counter for two hours, but this will make it easier to handle)

It can now be kept in the fridge for up to a week.

When ready to use, sprinkle a little flour on your hands and on the top of the dough then just tear off a hunk the size you want to use, and shape it into a ball. You don’t want to handle the dough too much and it really doesn’t need it.  Place the dough on the floured / Cornmeal covered Pizza Peel and then gently rub flour on the top of the round of dough (this is called a gluten cloak) and score the top of the dough with a sharp knife. This will help enable it to rise.  You can be as creative as you want to with the scoring.  I prefer just cutting lines shaped like “((|))”, but you could do a square or any other design you wish. Let it stand for 20 minutes on the peel, and then set your oven to 450F with the baking stone and pan in the oven. When the oven hits 450 the dough will be ready. If the bread hasn't risen much don’t worry, it will in the oven (this is called Oven Spring). With the hottest tap water you can get out of your sink, fill a glass to about one and a half cups. Take the glass and your pizza peel to the oven. Open the oven and with a jerking motion, slip your dough onto the baking stone. Next quickly pour the water into the pan (which should be below the baking stone) to 'flash' your oven. Then close the door and let the bread bake for about 30 minutes. Remember the bread is really going to rise so make sure you have no racks above the stone.

Chef's Notes:

When the bread comes out of the oven it will have a crackling crust you can thump, but it will soften quickly. Let it rest on a rack for a while if you are not eating it right away (I dare you to wait....yeah you won’t) then the crust will become chewy and crunchy again, but the inside will be moist and delicious.

If you use a grapefruit sized round of dough, you should get about 8 loaves out of this recipe and it will take less than 15 minutes of hands on time each day. There is a bakery near my house named 'Kneaders' and they charge $6 for one of these loaves. When I make it, I make at least two loaves and then give one away to someone in the neighborhood or at work. I also barter with it for eggs, so enjoy the fruits of your labors. We find that we pay about $1 for each loaf we make, and I know exactly what is in it.

When serving this bread, I recommend real butter and raw honey for an exceptional treat.  These loaves also make really great bread bowls for chili, stews, and especially chowders.

Useful Recipe and Cooking Links:

Ancient Roman Recipes

Wild Game Recipes

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

Pantry Paratus has announced a discounted bonus package for buyers of All American Pressure Canners. For just $25, with the purchase of an All American Pressure Canner they will include their new "Pantry Paratus Canning Starter Kit"(a $62.90 value) that has the following in it:
• 1 Box Tattler Reusable Canning Lids--Wide Mouth
• 1 Box Tattler Reusable Canning Lids--Regular
• 1 Package of canning labels
• 1 Canning chart magnet
• 1 6 piece Canning Essentials Tool Set
• 1 Set, JarBOX tote

Note that this offer expires on June 15th, 2012, so order soon.

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Echoes of the Jarbidge Shovel Brigade: Spotted owl could be game-changer in Tombstone water war.

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The book The Prepared Family Guide to Uncommon Diseases (by "Enola Gay", of the Paratus Familia blog) is now available directly from Amazon as a print-on-demand book, and a Kindle edition is available at lower cost.

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I noticed that SurvivalRealty.com now has more than 100 active retreat property listings. Be sure to check them out!

"Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind." - George Orwell

Sunday, June 10, 2012

I just heard that Bob Chapman passed away, from pancreatic cancer. Bob will be remembered as the publisher of the excellent International Forecaster newsletter. He worked tirelessly as a market analyst since 1967, producing his newsletter twice a week. His wisdom will be greatly missed. Earlier in life, Bob was Army Intelligence officer who worked primarily in counterintelligence. Radio talk show host Vincent Finelli summed up the loss of Bob Chapman quite aptly, when he wrote: "Bob Chapman dispelled the lies, exposed the corruption, named the names, and is our hero of the truth."

I also heard that The International Forecaster will still be published. Our prayers are for comfort for Judith and all of the other members of Bob Chapman's family. We also pray for wisdom and discernment for the editorial staff of The International Forecaster. Press on!


Today we present another entry for Round 41 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 $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training. Together, these have a retail value of $589. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 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.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 41 ends on July 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

In a TEOTWAWKI situation, the ability to shoot accurately from a distance could be the difference between eating healthy high protein game, and not eating at all, or it could be the difference between protecting your loved ones, and being raided and attacked by bandits.

Beyond just being able to shoot accurately, learning to be a marksman teaches focus, patience, determination, and consistency – valuable skills for any survivalist and in any survival situation.

In marksmanship, the goal is to minimize the input of your body on the firing action of the gun. Imagine that you are relaxing your muscles and building a stack of solid, stable bones to rest your rifle on. The only muscular input should be the slow and steady squeezing of your trigger finger.

Contrary to popular believe among many recreational shooters and hunters, myself at one point included, the primary purpose of a sling is not to carry your rifle over your shoulder. The primary purpose of a sling is as a support to steady your rifle without the use of a tripod.

There are several types of slings, and a lot of different ways to use them. I’ll go over two variations on how to use them. The first is fast and can be easily be transitioned to while on the move, while using the sling to carry your rifle. The second takes more time to set-up, but is much more accurate.

While your sling is attached at two points, on the forestock and near the butt, pick up your with the sling loosely dangling over the outside of your forward arm. Slide the elbow of your forward arm into the sling and hold it at angle that puts tension on the sling and stabilizes the rifle. Adjust the length of your sling to get the right amount of tension.

To set up a more accurate shot, remove the sling attachment from the butt of your rifle, slacken the sling inside the buckle and slide your forward arm through the loop created by loosening the buckle. You want to use this loop so that pulling on the rifle will tighten the loop and keep in it place. Place the loop as high on your arm as possible. Your forward hand should slide in between the sling and the forestock of the rifle, and when in position the sling should be taught against the back of your forward hand to create a secure position.

There are a variety of different positions that you can intelligently assume while firing a rifle. Your choice will largely depend on a combination of time and distance. The most accurate positions take more time to set up, and the least accurate positions take less time to set up. At shorter distances to your target, you are more likely to have been seen, and more likely to be in a hurry. At farther distances to your target you are more likely to be un-detected and have more time to set up your shot.

If you are having any trouble lining up the sights while you are in any of these positions, you may need to check your eye dominance. Just because you are right handed doesn’t mean that you are right eye dominant. To test your dominance hold both hands out in front of you with your arms straight. Overlap the fingers of your right hand with the fingers of your left hand, and overlap the thumb of your right hand with the thumb of your left hand. There should be a hole that you can see through, put an object at a distance in that hole. With both eyes open, bring your hands closer to your face until your hands hit your face, keeping the object centered in the hole. Your hands should end up coming to one eye or the other. That eye is your dominant eye. If your dominant eye is your right eye, your right hand is your trigger hand. If your dominant eye is your left eye, your left hand is your trigger hand.

There are two things that you should do in all positions. First, the forestock of the rifle rests on the open palm of your non-trigger hand. The rifle should rest more or less along the lifeline crease in your palm. You want to minimize your input on the rifle, gripping the forestock introduces unnecessary and unstable muscular support into your firing system. Second, crane your neck forward and place your cheek on the stock of the rifle. You should be in a good position to see the sights, and when the rifle recoils, your head should go up with the rifle, instead of the rifle bashing into your forehead. It’s especially obvious when someone with an improperly setup scope forgets to do this step, usually a newbie at the beginning of shooting season. They end up with a circular scope shaped cut on their forehead. Don’t let this be you, setup a consistent, safe, and repeatable position every time.

The most basic shooting position is the standing position. In the standing position I like to put my feet a little bit wider than shoulder width, to make a good solid base. The elbow of your trigger arm should be up, and your trigger arm should be parallel to the ground. Try it. You’ll notice that as you lift your elbow, your shoulder creates a nice pocket to hold the butt of your rifle firmly in place. The last thing you want to happen is the rifle to slide off of your shoulder from recoil as it’s fired. Your shot will be terrible, and you might end up hurting yourself. Plant your foot on your trigger side. Pivot your front foot around to make adjustment left to right. To move altitude adjustments, move your front foot out and in, or adjust the placement of your hand on the forestock.

The next shooting position is the sitting or kneeling position. There are a lot of variations in this position, and I recommend you practice getting up and down with your unloaded rifle to figure out what works best for you. The overall principles remain, create a solid stable base, with loads on your bones, not your muscles, to set your rifle on top of. I’ll go into the position I use the most, and is arguably the best sitting position. You will need to wiggle around and make adjustments to make any seated seated position work for you. Cross your feet with the trigger side foot in first. Ideally, your boots should support your legs in this position. The back of your upper arm, just above the elbows should rest on your thighs or knees. If you try to rest the pointy part of your elbow on your thighs or knees you’ll slide around it you won’t be able to fire a consistent shot. If you are having trouble getting into this position, begin to uncross your legs, and even put them out in front of you with your knees up in the air if you have to.

The most accurate shooting position is known as the prone position, because you’ll be lying prone on your stomach in this position. Rest your elbows on the ground, and put your forward non-trigger elbow as directly under the stock of the rifle as possible to minimize horizontal movement. You’ll find that you shoot in a diagonal pattern when your elbow is not directly under the stock. Place your trigger-side elbow in a comfortable place that allows you to make a hand-shake grip on the trigger. The trigger-side leg should be bent up as high as possible, while your non-trigger-side leg should be straight in line with your body. This configuration will put you a bit on your side and create some space under your stomach so that your breathing doesn’t lift you off the ground and move your position around. Use your trigger-side elbow as your pivot point and move the rest of your body around to find your aim.

Gun Safety
Before we get into firing the rifle, no marksmanship survival guide would be complete without a gun safety lesson. If you aren’t handling your rifle safely, and accidentally injure yourself or those around you, you’ll be compromising your chances of survival.

The most important thing to remember is never point the muzzle of your rifle at something that you are not prepared to destroy, be it a wall, plant, wildlife, or human. As long as you do this, you’ll be safe, even with an accidental misfire of the rifle.

When your rifle is not in use, it should be unloaded, the bolt should be open, and there should ideally be a chamber flag in the chamber so it is clear and obvious that there are no rounds in the chamber or magazine.

When your rifle is loaded, your finger should never be on the trigger until your sights are on the target.

This is by no means a complete list of safety considerations, but basic guidelines to help keep you safe. It’s more intended as a reminder to people with shooting experience. If you have no shooting experience, I recommend getting some basic training at your local range or gun store.

Steps to firing a shot
The Appleseed firearms training organization does a really good job of breaking this down into six steps, the most important of which, and the one which will make you better than 95% of all other shooters out there is to squeeeeeeeeze (not pull) the trigger, and hold it back - more on that later.

First step is sight alignment, how this actually looks will vary based on the types of sites you have. Basically, this means line up the front and rear sites while you are in a shooting position.

Next, create a sight picture. Again, there are a few different ways you can do this, but I prefer the six o’clock hold. In a six o’clock hold you put the target directly above the front site. The benefit of putting the target above the sight is that you can always see the target, even when the target is 400 meters away. With a center-mass hold, with a target at 400 meters, your sight will likely cover the target, making it difficult to see when you are aiming high.

Once you’ve got your sights aligned and a sight picture, it’s time for a respiratory pause. The best time to pause is at the bottom of your exhale. At this point in your respiratory cycle, your body is at its most relaxed and you will fire the most consistent shot.

Next, focus your eye on the front sight while you focus your mind on keeping the front sight on the target. The saying here is “shoot the fuzz,” because your target will be fuzzy. Learn to get comfortable doing this. It’s the most accurate way to shoot, and one of the most difficult parts of firing a shot to master.

Now you are ready to begin firing the shot. Start to squeeze the trigger with the pad of your index finger. It should be in more or less a “C” shape, and the only part of the trigger finger that should touch any part of the gun is the fingertip pad below the first knuckle. It’s common to catch beginners and experienced shooters alike, dragging the side of their finger along the stock, also known as, “dragging wood”. I say you are ready to “begin” firing the shot, because you never decide it’s time to shoot. If you are squeezing the trigger properly, the actual fire of the shot will be a surprise. It will just happen whenever you’ve squeezed enough to fire off the shot.

Finally, just because you squeezed the trigger and the round is going off, doesn’t mean you are done. It takes time for the powder to burn, the gas to expand, and the bullet to leave the end of the rifle. During that time, you can’t be influencing the rifle or you will be throwing off all of the hard work you’ve put into the shot. So what do you do? Hold the trigger back! This possibly the single most important thing you can do. Keep the trigger in the pulled position until you are ready to fire again. And while you are doing that, look at your sights and call where your shot went. You might learn something.

Natural Point of Aim
Natural Point of Aim is the position your body is in when it is completely relaxed while holding the rifle. This is the direction the shot with fire naturally. It’s the most stable, consistent, and reliable position you can use over a course of fire. Any position where your muscles are used to keep the sights on target is not your natural point of aim, will not be as accurate, and will lead to unnecessary fatigue over the course of fire.

The best way to find your natural point of aim is to get in position, put your sights on target, close your eyes, relax, take several deep breaths, and open your eyes again. If your sights are still on target, you are likely in your Natural Point of Aim. If not, adjust your body position until you are on target again, and repeat the process until you remain on target after closing your eyes and relaxing.

One great way to test your Natural Point of Aim, that Appleseeders will certainly be familiar with, is “Carding the Sights”. You’ll need a friend to hold a credit card or driver license between your sights after you’ve lined up your sights on target, while you repeat the above drill but with your eyes open. You may find that you get more honest results this way, as you’re not subconsciously pulling the sights back on target.

Dear Editor:
I tip my hat to Y. Sam! In my opinion, he has absolutely hit the jackpot as far as resources to have on your property. Having oil and gas even opens up the possibility of home distillation of gasoline and diesel fuel.
One aspect he didn't mention: I was wondering if the gas from his wells is 'wet' enough to produce any casing-head gasoline? [A condensate, commonly called drip gasoline.]

In addition to converting modern engines and vehicles to run on natural gas, don't forget that different types of engines were built specifically to run on natural gas. Companies such as Fairbanks-Morse, Arrow, and Ajax
(and many more) specially built natural-gas fired engines for service in the oilfield. these engines, such as the Fairbanks-Morse 208, are relatively simply machines and have no problem burning natural gas straight
from the wellhead, with no compressor is needed! They're built to run at slow speed for extended period of time and will run virtually forever if properly maintained. The amount of work that can be done with these engines
is limited only by your imagination. - Jeff M.

Becca makes a great deal of sense with regard to muscle recovery.  It is also my humble opinion, that massage is an essential component in physical therapy for major injuries and for those preppers, such as myself, who suffer from partial disabilities involving muscle issues that are resultant from nerve damage, neuropathy,  and other deep tissue injuries.  As an example, I have had everything from vertebra L3 down to vertebra S1 surgically fused.  While such a fusion, in and of itself, is not considered completely disabling; if you take into account the resulting damage of lesser nerves by the surgery, the eventual deterioration of the neighboring discs, and the resulting loss of the ability to coordinate the muscles involved after the nerves get damaged, the combination is very much considered a structural disability of a permanent nature.  This is to say, using myself as the example, I can still do a good number of things I used to; however, as we all are painfully aware, can and should are two entirely different critters.  Thus someone with my type of disability can help cut firewood, manipulate bales, and other such things, though they may not be able to actually lift much, but will pay for such activity with secondary effects, such as mass muscle spasm, which will have them bed bound for several days afterward depending on the severity of the individual's condition, and whether or not they still have meds for it. (Assuming, of course, that said person is not already standing security watch or radio watch for the more physically capable) 

The standard heat and cold wrap treatments will not help an iota with deep muscle spasm, though they're great for the swelling.  Heat and massage, however, will.  Another thought, strange as it will no doubt sound, is acupressure combined with massage.  This will, in turn, help that person to be able to get back on with business quicker than they otherwise might, in a world without the usual meds like Flexeril (cyclobenzaprine) and other relaxants.  I cannot count the number of times a proper therapeutic massage would have had me on my feet in a day, after pushing too hard, as opposed to several days spent medicated and essentially immobile because the lower back was locked up with spasms.  In a world where the heavy meds are scarce or gone, therapeutic massage could very well end up being the only means of dealing with such things effectively.

Just my two cents on the idea of therapeutic massage as part of one's medical arsenal, and food for thought from the perspective of a prepper intimately acquainted with the need for such treatments.

Semper Fi, - J.H.

Reader O.T.S.F. sent this from the Nature web site: Mysterious radiation burst recorded in tree rings.

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Michael W. sent this news story from Iowa: Feet of sand leave farms wasteland after flooding

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Reader David T. sent this: One rural doctor decides to close shop: ‘It’s just not sustainable’

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News from The Redoubt: Wyoming seeks to remove grizzlies from endangered species list, opening door for future hunting

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Jay B. sent this one: Pentagon crackdown on free guns riles some police

"Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
I am the vine, ye [are] the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast [them] into the fire, and they are burned.
If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.
If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.
These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and [that] your joy might be full.
This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." - John 15:4-13 (KJV)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Today we present another entry for Round 41 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 $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training. Together, these have a retail value of $589. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 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.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 41 ends on July 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.

This article isn’t your normal food and ammo stockpiling type of article.  I believe those things are extremely important or I wouldn’t be reading this blog on a regular basis.  I do, however, believe that this subject matter is as important as stockpiling food, ammo, medical supplies.  Stockpiling our knowledge base may be even more important than stockpiling these other items, because no matter how prepared you are you never know where you will be when the SHTF.  One aspect of your knowledge base that I would like to suggest you increase your stockpile is in the areas of therapeutic massage. 

Most people will read this article and scoff at the suggestion that I just made, but I assure you that the idea of adding a solid working knowledge of therapeutic massage techniques to your TEOTWAWKI knowledge base could be the difference between surviving and thriving.  Massage has been a healing therapy for as long as man has walked this earth.  Think about it, when we were children, before we knew about Band-Aids to heal boo-boos, we would instinctively rub the part of our body that hurt.  Even now as adults, if you have a head ache you will most likely take off your glasses and rub the areas around your eyes (temples, jaw, even your neck).   Massage therapy is a part of our make-up.  We use it to heal ourselves and comfort those around us.   It is my belief that understanding massage techniques and how to properly apply them will make my survival much easier for many reasons. 
These are the main reasons I am thankful that I have training as a massage therapist and why I believe you should include a working knowledge of massage therapy techniques into your SHTF knowledge bank.

  1. Muscle recovery is a process that our bodies go through anytime we work it beyond its normal level of activity.  The metabolic processes that take place to allow your muscles to move create waste products that can settle in the muscle tissues and cause stiffness and soreness. When you push your body’s limits it doesn’t have time to remove these waste products on its own.  This is part of the reason we are a little sore after we increase our work out in the gym or try that next level hiking trail.  Basic massage techniques can be used with a basic stretching routine to increase muscle recovering.   These techniques will help manually break down these metabolic waste products that settle in the tissue as well as increase blood flow to the area helping to remove the waste products to be cleaned out of your system. Most TEOTWAWKI scenarios include situations where our daily activity levels will be increased exponentially.  How much work will it be to carry your BOB to your next site,  set camp, prepare the area to ensure safety, gather water and food, try to get a few hours of sleep only to break camp at sunrise and do it all over again the next day?  This will be your day to day existence until you reach your retreat area or find a suitable location to make an extended stay.  Relying on your knowledge of basic massage techniques will give your body an extra boost on its way to recovery that will increase your chances of reaching your retreat.
  2. It is this humble massage therapist’s opinion that human touch is essential for maintaining a healthy physical and mental state of being.  During a time of great stress we may be less likely or unable to seek out the simple touches that give us a sense of being connected to those around us. In a SHTF scenario there will be little semblance to our everyday life, we will be under physical stress, mental stress and most likely emotional stress. We will most likely feel more disconnected from the world around us than at any other time in our life [except for maybe puberty ;)].  The twenty to thirty minutes that you and your retreat group set aside each night to go through a basic massage routine with each other will not only help with the muscle recovery but it will serve as a daily reminder that there are other people working towards the same goal as you: surviving.  This reminder will serve as a method to increase trust and connectedness to those around you.  This sense of connectedness and trust will literally make it easier for you to sleep at night.  It is important to understand that massage therapy is in no way, shape or form sexual in nature.  As a professional massage therapist, this is a misconception that I need to educate people about on a daily basis. 
  3. At some point in time you will need something that you don’t have and a system of bartering may be in place in many communities that you come across.  Massage therapy is an important healing skill that will cost you nothing other than your time and knowledge.  You may not have to trade precious life necessary equipment, food, or ammunition.  Instead, offer your healing hands for trade of the item.  Keep in mind that most people may not understand how important massage is to increasing their well-being, so an important part of your barter will be educating those you will be trading with.  Also, keep in mind that your trade of massage may not hold as much value in a TEOTWAWKI situation, as evidenced by the fact that most people are not willing to pay for a massage when money is tight.  But, if your knowledge of massage techniques is strong enough, you may be able to start a working relationship with another small community. This could be the start of bartering relationship between you and other people you come across, the same way a doctor might barter his or her services for fresh meat or produce.  Please keep in mind that during a massage the person giving the massage is just as vulnerable as the person receiving the massage, so in a TEOTWAWKI situation never work on someone alone, unless you absolutely trust them with your life.  Also, there are plenty of techniques that can be completed without removing clothing.
  4. The techniques that you learn are not just applicable to humans.  The animals that you may be using to help carry your gear will also benefit from your knowledge of these techniques.  For the same reasons that your body will benefit from them.  An over worked animal will not perform to a suitable standard if their musculature has not had enough time to recover. 
  5. Self Defense.  What?  That’s right; I am suggesting that my knowledge base of massage techniques can help me defend myself and my retreat group.  How?  Well, to have a solid foundation for performing massage you must have a solid understanding of the structure and function of the human body.  That means that I know where all the major arteries are located and approximately how deep they sit in the person approaching me.  Also, because of my training in functional assessment of the human body I can point out the site of muscle or joint weakness in the possible threat coming my way.  Because I know how the body works, I can tell you by watching the way a person moves if the limp they are displaying is affected, or caused by a weakness to the left or right side of the body.  This knowledge will help me determine my defense long before I am even within an arm’s reach of the person.

With a working knowledge and understanding of massage therapy you will also have a working knowledge of the human anatomy and physiology.  You will know about the muscles and how they work, the tendons and ligaments that keep the muscles attached to the bones, as well as the blood vessels that keep the muscles supplied with oxygen and energy necessary to work.  Once you understand how the body is meant to work then you can understand how to heal it.  A major plus to  having this knowledge is that even without any traditional medical training you will be able to assess some injuries and know how treat them as well as understand if the cut you or a person in your retreat group just received is an immediate threat to life or not.

Before I go any further, please, let me point out that I am not suggesting that a massage therapist has the knowledge base to diagnose and treat medical conditions.  However, as a massage therapist, I am better able to understand an injury to the body and how to correct the negative effects said injury will have on the function of the body as a whole.   This is why I suggest that understanding massage techniques is an extremely important skill set to add to your knowledge base.  Also, it is important to note that there are some medical conditions for which massage is contraindicated.  So, please, keep in mind that this article is only meant to convince you that these techniques are worth your time in learning.  Most of us do not have the time or money to go to medical school, but in order to become a certified massage therapist you only need to invest minimal amounts of money and your time.  But, unless you have an interest in being a massage therapist when you grow up I wouldn’t worry about becoming certified or licensed (though in most states you cannot practice or advertise your services as a massage therapist without being certified or licensed). 

When choosing the level of massage training you wish to add to your knowledge base please keep these things in mind: financial investment, time investment, and desired outcome.
If you have all the time and money in the world then I would suggest attending a massage program that will teach you the following areas of massage: basic anatomy and physiology, basic massage techniques and functional assessment.  This last part, functional assessment is the most important aspect of the training I received as far as I am concerned.  In this segment of training, you should be taught how to assess the human body for injuries by watching someone move as well as through various muscle testing techniques.  The muscle testing techniques help you to determine if therapeutic massage is indicated for the injury as well as which massage techniques to employ to treat the injury.  The aspect of assessment that teaches you to read the movements of the body will help you not only in treatment of injuries but also in a self-defense aspect as well.  In understanding the way everything is connected in human anatomy, you will be able to determine which side of the body is actually injured as well as where the weak point is located. 

If you have time but not a great deal of money, I would suggest that you seek out a therapist who is like minded and knowledgeable in their field and willing to trade their knowledge for skills you may possess.  This way you get the skill set without investing anything more than your time and own personal knowledge in return.  These knowledge base/skills set trades will not only give you what you want but it will give you important experience in bartering based on the value of knowledge. Check your state laws because this could be considered and internship, in which case you may be able to sit for the licensure exam should you choose to become a licensed therapist.   If you choose to go this route and the person making the knowledge trade with you does not seem to have a strong set of functional assessment skills I would strongly suggest obtaining a copy of Functional Assessment in Massage Therapy by Whitney W. Lowe.  This is the book rom which I was taught functional assessment and I still find it to be extremely helpful when dealing with issues I do not see on a regular basis.  If this book does not seem to help you understand functional assessment then find another, the important part of functional assessment is that you understand what you are looking for if you can’t get it from a book find a practitioner or DVD that will help you understand what you are trying to learn.

If time and money are issues then I would suggest that you find a few good books on therapeutic massage and functional assessment.  I have already mentioned the book by Lowe for functional assessment, so my favorite book to teach you the basics of therapeutic massage is Theory and Practice of Therapeutic Massage.  This book gives you a basic foundation for anatomy and physiology as well as massage history and techniques.  If you are going to get all of your massage knowledge base form books I ask you to also consider the following books to add to your library: Trail Guide to the Body Student Handbook (4th Edition) by Andrew Biel, Mosby's Pathology for Massage Therapists, 2nd Edition by Susan G. Salvo BEd LMT NTS CI NCTMB.

Once you have a foundation for therapeutic massage I would encourage you to seek out additional training and information concerning three specific areas of massage. Sports Massage, Lymphatic drainage massage, and essential oils and herbs for massage.  Sports massage techniques prepare the body for strenuous activity as well as promote muscle recovery after strenuous activity.  Lymphatic drainage helps the body to remove lymphatic fluid from areas of the body where lymph vessels may have been damaged.  Improper lymphatic drainage can lead to painful and debilitating swelling of extremities.  A strong knowledge base in essential oils and herbs used to enhance the benefits of therapeutic massage can increase the benefits while possibly reducing the number of treatments necessary to reach the same goal.  Also, once the SHTF, there may be limited access to the medical care we are used to receiving and a working knowledge of essential oils and herbs could benefit more people than just those who choose to receive massage.

Please remember that practicing massage therapy with proper training can be dangerous if you are not paying attention to what you are doing.  This means that practicing without proper training can be even more dangerous.  For your safety and for the safety of those around you I encourage you to seek proper training of some sort before you begin using massage as a treatment for any ailment.

Many are increasingly concerned about elevated radiation levels in their own local areas, but without any way to check & test for local radiation contamination many of them are worrying needlessly, especially about minute, non-dangerous, increases over background radiation levels.

At KI4U we will for no charge test any submitted used air filters from SurvivalBlogger's vehicles or homes. Here at the lab we are utilizing state of the art isotope identification spectrum analysis with dose rate determination and will e-mail lab analysis results back to any that send in their used air filters.

Full details on these tests can be found here. Regards, - Shane at KI4U.com

Reader "Bullseye" sent this: Some Families are Choosing a More Old Fashioned Lifestyle

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Bob G. send this video link: Deceptive Practices of Big Food - Doctor Siegel analyzes the ingredient list of "Oatmeal To Go" bar. He found that there were lots of sugars, fats, and fat emulsifiers. Be sure to read labels carefully!

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Mega marketing has now reached survival expos: 2012 Survival Expo. (The event is being held in Las Vegas, naturlich.)

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The new Duracell has a10 year shelf life. (Thanks to Bob T. for the link to the press release.)

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A reader sent a news story that reminds me of the famous line from Repo Man: "Put it on a plate son, you'll enjoy it more." Government Dishes Out Advice on Preparing Healthy Meals: Always Use Bowls or Plates.

"But the mercy of the LORD [is] from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children;
To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them." - Psalm 103:17-18 (KJV)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Today we present another entry for Round 41 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 $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training. Together, these have a retail value of $589. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 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.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 41 ends on July 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.

Like many people, I was a prepper long before I ever heard the term.  I grew up on a farm and learned the value of hard work and ingenuity at a young age.  I never liked being in debt or the feeling of having others in control of my well being.  The following topic may not be of any interest to many people but for those of you who are thinking about moving out of the city to a place in the country it may give you one more thing to add to your retreat wish list.

In 1998 my family and I moved to our 67 acre farm that came with free natural gas (NG) from two 1930s-vintage shallow wells.  This heated our home and water and provided gas for cooking and clothes drying.  A couple of years later we bought the lease from the producer because he was going to plug the wells as he wasn’t making any money on producing them.  Oil was selling for under $9 a barrel at that time.  I did not want to lose the free gas and figured the price of oil would go up so I bought them and the oil I’ve sold over the past 10 years has paid me back a few times.

We live at the end of the electrical grid so our power is the first to go out and the last to come back on.  There is seldom a month that goes by that our power doesn’t go out and at least once a year it is out for more than 4 days at time.  Our first purchase when we moved to the farm was a gas generator.  We had no power the first 8 days after we moved in, due to a severe storm.  I read about fuel cells for producing electricity from NG and that they would be available for home owners in early 2002.  Well that hasn’t happened and in 2004 I bought a whole house NG backup generator.  I called an electrician to hook it up and he said he could do it the following week.  He estimated the cost at $1,000 so I decided I could cut that down by doing what I could on my own.  I prepared the site, moved the generator into position, ran the gas line, mounted the transfer switch, drilled holes through the house, ran the wiring to the switch box, mounted the breaker box and at this point I realized that all that was left was to wire nut the wires together inside the main breaker so I called him back and canceled my appointment.  This thing is great and in an extended power outage it can be turned on and off manually to greatly extend its life.

The first time gas was closing in on $4 a gallon I decided to get a car that ran on NG.  This turned out to be a no go as I couldn’t find a compressor for the natural gas that made sense.  I could only find two options at that time.  First was a “Phil” from Fuelmaker, the unit was priced alright but the upkeep ran about $1 per GGE (gasoline, gallon equivalent).  The second choice was an Ingersoll Rand commercial unit at $100,000. Even though I really wanted to do this I put it on the back burner for a while.  To run a gas engine on NG you don’t need a lot of pressure you just need a lot of volume.  Most cars have tanks that hold 3,600 psi and then have two regulators that reduce the pressure down to a useable level.  The reason for the high pressure is to store enough volume in a small enough space so you can go a far enough distance to make it worth doing.   One day, while pouring gas into the fuel tank of the Honda engine that is used to run the pump jack on the oil well, I decided that was just plain nuts with all the NG available only a few feet away.  I spent a few hours trying to rig something up to run NG into the carburetor but couldn’t get it to run smoothly.  The next day I ordered a kit online for $160 and have not put a drop of gasoline in it for six years.

After reading One Second After I started thinking about getting a NG refrigerator.  The price was mind boggling until I found out that most of the companies selling them where buying new electric refrigerators and taking out the electric parts and replacing them with NG cooling units.  Spending $2,000 to replace a fridge that was working just didn’t make sense.  I still wanted one and started looking through the local papers and on Craig’s List for a used one.  I finally bought a 1949 Servel at a local auction for $50.  This was at an estate auction and I asked a family member if it worked.  He told me it had been working a couple of years ago but did not know if it still worked.  When I got it home and hooked up to the gas I couldn’t get it to light.  I went on line and ordered a manual for the fridge from a guy in Maine who fixes old NG refrigerators.  I tore the burner apart and cleaned the dirt, bugs and rust out of it.  When I put it back together it lit right up and has been going great ever since.  These have no moving parts, are heavy made and should last almost forever.  The freezer is big enough to hold about 8 ice cube trays and the main compartment is the same size as a normal fridge.  I keep this in my shop and full of beverages but it is great to know if I ever needed it for everyday it is available.  The average newly-manufactured refrigerator lasts around 7 years but this one is on its 7th decade.

Every year I go back and search the internet on uses for the natural gas on my farm.  I mentioned earlier about the fuel cells to generate electricity for home use.  Companies like Bloom Energy are selling them to commercial users like Google, eBay and FedEx but not home users.  I can understand why they want to deal with commercial users as they can sell $500,000 to one buyer instead of $5,000 to 100 buyers, but one day they will be available for home users.  About a year and half ago while doing searches I finally found a home compressor so I could start running my car on natural gas.  I had noticed a large increase in the number of compressors available but most were made in China and were complete junk.  I found Green Line Fuel Corp. in California selling a Coltri compressor that had just what I was looking for in a compressor.  Coltri has been making compressors for the US Navy to fill scuba tanks for years.  What I bought was their smallest unit MCH-5 that fills at about 2 GGEs an hour and is built like a tank. Very low cost to maintain and this can be done by the operator unlike the Phil that needs to be sent to the company every 900 hours for a rebuild. 

Once I had found a compressor I liked I started to look around for a car.  My car had 127,000 miles on it and didn’t seem like a good candidate to convert.  I ended up buying a dual fuel Chevy Cavalier on eBay that only had 44,000 miles and that was $1,100 less expansive than the estimated cost converting my old car to run on NG.  I was quite nervous about buying the car over the Internet without driving the car first, but the car has been just great.  With the car purchased, I called Green Line and ordered the compressor.  They delivered it the middle of January. 2011 and we got it hooked up and running in no time.  A couple of months later my dad bought a dual fuel F-150 at a GSA auction and I started to fill that for him.  Six months later he bought a 15 passenger one ton Chevy van with only 18,000 miles on the odometer.  The van runs great but it had the smallest compressed natural gas (CNG) tank ever made (125 mile range).  After removing several rows of seats and installing an additional tank he now has a 400 mile range.  Filling up my dad’s vehicles has made me happier than about anything I’ve been able to do with my natural gas.  My dad is retired and has always loved going to auctions to buy stuff then take it around to farms and businesses and peddle it out of the back of his truck.  About three years ago he pretty much stopped because of the gas prices.  We live in a very rural area and many times he would travel 150 to 200 miles round trip for an auction.  Now he is back on the road and the money he was spending for gas is now profit from his dealings.  We live about 20 miles apart but my office is in between so we just swap out cars there. 

In December of 2011 I had my ¾-ton Chevy truck converted.  The truck had spent most of the last several years in the garage.  Living on a farm you need a truck but at $4 a gallon and 15 miles to the gallon you start asking yourself how many bags of feed can I get in the back of the Cavalier.  All of our vehicles are dual fuel meaning they will run on either NG or gasoline.  CNG filling stations are few and far between where we live.  My truck starts on gasoline and then switches over CNG when the engine temperature reaches 170 degrees.  I’ve filled the truck with gasoline only once in the past six months and still have over half a tank.  The Cavalier runs on CNG anytime there is NG in the tank and you can’t manually switch it over to gasoline.  The one I would not recommend to anyone buying is the Ford unless you have someone that is willing to work on Fords.  The closest Ford dealer to us that would work on a factory CNG truck is 120 miles away and they quoted $800 just to change the spark plugs. The main problem is a regulator called a Compuvalve that gives most Ford owners fits. 
We all see different SHTF possibilities but many of them include having either no gas or a very limited supply.  Being able to get around quickly or haul stuff to market could make a big difference and if nothing bad ever happens I will just keep saving money.

I have several ideas for future projects using the natural gas including a small greenhouse, lawn mower, saw mill and a tractor. 

JWR Adds: This article is further evidence that properties with their own "home tap" natural gas wells are not a myth. And you don't have to move to the Four Corners or to Oklahoma to find one. They are all over the country, if you do a concerted search. Properties with gas wells are also often available at our SurvivalRealty spin-off site. Here is an example, in Kentucky.

I wanted to offer a few more thoughts on DoD generators.  Most of the generators I found on Government Liquidations were Mil Std Generators.  This family of generators was designed in the 1970s and manufactured into late 1980s to early 1990s.  The DoD is selling of the generators because they are old, and compared to newer DoD generators they consume more fuel, require more regular maintenance (PMCS), are less reliable and are more expensive to repair if you can get the parts.  

The Mil Std Family are tough generators designed to run in environmental extremes.  They are not your typical consumer generators and out perform most same kW commercial generators.  Most Mil Stds (5 kW +) are designed to produce 110-125% of nameplate kW  continuously , 0.8 Power Factor, up to 5,000 Ft. elevation (normal de-rating for a generator set is 3.5% per 1,000 ft & commercial generators are rated at sea level to no more than 1000 ft. elevation).  The alternators are oversized to improve efficiency and power quality, to operate at high temperatures and to start motors (the generators have phenomenal motor starting capability).  The alternators are brushless and controlled by voltage regulators so the power quality is good (significantly better than residential gasoline generators).  The engines are a bit over powered compared to commercial sets, contributing to the motor starting, altitude and power quality performance.  Electronics in the generators will be simple relays and black boxes with resistors, diodes, capacitors & simple transistors.  Good electronic shops should be able to troubleshoot them. The generators are also designed to be repaired and can easily be disassembled.  Most wiring harnesses are marked with wire numbers, though the circuits are more complex than in newer generators.  They are heavy and will withstand off road transport without damage.  DoD has published fairly complete maintenance manuals that can be found on the web that are quite a bit more detailed than most commercial generator set manuals. 

In terms of problems, the most likely problems will be in areas with moving parts (engines), the fuel system, and set specific electronic parts with high failure rates.  The 15, 30 & 60 kW generators are known for voltage regulator failures, for example.  I believe a good technician could probably replace the voltage regulator with a current model from Basler or one of the other commercial VR manufacturers.  8 years ago there were vendors who could rebuild the injectors, injector pumps and engines, though I don't know about availability today.  Many of the other components that corrode or fail could be replaced with commercial components (radiators, fuel tank, fuel pump, wiring, toggle switches, etc.)

Downside to sets:  All the generators use engines that have been out of production for probably 15 years.  The Onan diesel engines in the 3, 5, & 10 kW generators were only used in the DoD generators.  Onan stopped making them back in the early 1990s.  Spare parts were available past 2000 but DoD has stopped purchasing most spare parts for these sets so the industrial base for spare parts is shrinking and requires a serious search to find the few parts available. The 15 & 30 use White-Hercules engines that were sold commercially, but these companies are no longer in the diesel engine business so I'm not sure how available parts will be.  The 60 kW also uses an engine previously sold commercially, but the manufacturer doesn't make diesel engines any more either. The generators were designed to run on 1980s fuels.  Fuel injectors and injector pumps should wear out prematurely from the Ultra low sulfur diesel fuel sold today. They are all good diesel engines, but if you have engine problems it may be tough to find spare parts.  All the sets contain main alternators custom built for the generators, though local motor rewinding shops can probably fix damaged windings.  The alternators have a long life outside bearing but are supported by the engine flywheel on the other end so they would be difficult to re-purpose into a different generator set.  The sets use a 24 VDC starter and control system, so cars can't be used to jump start them.  They are noisy too.  Soldiers joke about finding command posts out in the field by listening for the Mil Std generator noise.  After the SHTF Mil Std generators will advertise for quite a distance that you have power and potentially other supplies, though the noise is probably no higher than your typical residential gasoline generator.

Selecting generator size:  Most users don't size their diesel generator sets correctly for optimal generator set performance and fuel consumption.  Army Field manuals recommend an average load of 80%.  This balances having some reserve capacity for peaks and motor starting against optimal engine loading and fuel consumption.  Diesel engines work best at high load.  At low loads diesel engines consume more fuel per Hp of output increasing kW-Hr fuel costs.  At low loads Mil Std generators will also "wetstack" which can lead to sticking rings, dirty injectors, improper new engine break-in and other engine problems.  If you go to engine manufacturers they will have graphs of fuel consumption versus load.  The graphs will have non-linear curves that show optimal engine fuel efficiency normally somewhere between 60-90% of engine capacity.  For the Mil Std generators, at 100% electrical load the engine is probably at no more than 70% mechanical load (the engine has enough hp to power 125% load + another 15% for elevation), so operating the set at even 30-50% electrical load will be wasting fuel.  After the SHTF my house will provide shelter for many years with minimal maintenance, I can filter water, potentially grow food, but my fuel supply could be a finite resource with a shelf life that can't be replenished.  Don't purchase an oversized generator that consumes more of your finite fuel resources than a properly sized generator would. Personally I'm accumulating multiple generators of different sizes that will allow me to run the optimal generator set for the load maximizing the life of my fuel supply.  This also provides redundancy.  If you need help determining how much power you need recommend you read a basic electrician's handbook or you can download a copy of FM 4-424, Theater of Operations Electrical Systems, off the web.   When examining loads look at night vs day, peak loading, standard loads, and motor starting.  Consider batteries and solar for periods of light loads to minimize generator operation.  Induction motors place especially high starting loads on generators.  Mil Std generators will put out 300% of rated load for the few seconds required to start spinning an induction motor allowing a smaller generator to run loads with large induction motors (motor starting depends on the engine, VR and alternator design).  If you have inductive loads, before purchasing a commercial generator check with the manufacturer about their peak output watts or how large a motor they will start.  My father purchased a 1,750 Watt gasoline generator that wouldn't start an induction motor that used 450 Watts, once spinning. 

I agree with the writer who didn't recommend purchasing a DoD generator unless you had the skills to maintain and repair it.  I have those skills and I wouldn't purchase one unless the price was right and the generator was going to be a back up to a back up that I was going to tinker with.  The Mil Std sets might be a good fit if it wasn't going to be operated for many hours (negating the fuel consumption issue) and the poor spares availability could be minimized by purchasing 2 or 3 of the same set size, allowing  cannibalization  of a set to keep the another set running.    

If you are interested in purchasing one try to learn as much as you can about it's prior history before purchase.  As JWR said, try to check the condition of the oil, look at the coolant, check the air filter element, check the hour meter, does it have excessive corrosion on the sheet metal, does it look like it's been taken care of, do the doors swing freely like they have been lubricated, look in the fuel tank for sediment, are there signs of fluid leakage in the bottom of the skid, drain the fuel filter water separator and check for water or condition of the fuel if present, check the wiring harness's for fraying, check the control boxes for corrosion, do the rotary switches move freely, are the output terminal lug nuts stripped, try to find out when it was last started (after a couple years the fuel will gum up the injector pumps), and check to see if it's been rebuilt.  Generator sets in better shape, with less corrosion, and fewer hours are more likely to provide trouble free operation, though corrosion and condition is not an absolute indicator as the sets are so tough. - Greg X.

Nearly everyone who has bought residential real estate in the U.S. as "an investment" since 2005 can now call themselves contrapreneurs. The seasonally-adjusted Case-Schiller data for Q1 of 2012 shows that new lows have been reached in many markets. FWIW, I've been reading "The bottom is near"-themed articles since 2008, but I'm not holding my breath. In some markets, the majority of sales are either short sales or "bank owned" (foreclosed) properties. It may be another decade until the real bottom is reached.

Regular content contributor Pierre M. sent this: BIS warns global lending contracting at fastest pace since 2008 Lehman crisis

Diana V. spotted this piece by Jason Hommel over at SilverSeek: Silver Headed to $75-$125/oz. in 1-2 years

Marc Faber: ‘Massive Wealth Destruction’ Coming, Well-to-Do ‘May Lose 50%’. (Thanks to J. McC. for the link.)

C.D.V. flagged this: QE3 Likelihood Still ‘Pretty Good’: Jan Hatzius. JWR's Comment: The likelihood of a one year pause in quantitative easing ? Think of it just like asking your neighborhood crack junkie to "take a year off" from doing drugs. Pay no attention to his promises...

Items from The Economatrix:

Markets are Facing A Rerun of the Great Panic of 2008

Crashing The Operating System -- Liquidity Crunch in Practice

10 Things That We Can Learn About Shortages And Preparation From The Economic Collapse In Greece

Gold and Dow Flash the Same Warning Signs

SurvivalBlog reader S.S. in Mississippi found a comprehensive permaculture course taught by Professor Will Hooker from North Carolina State University available free, online.

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Nissan 'Leaf to Home' charger can power Japanese homes with a car battery during outages. (Thanks to James K for the link.)

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Chris C. bookmarked this one: Which VPN Providers Really Take Anonymity Seriously?

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R.C. sent this: NYT: Reducing salt consumption may be hazardous to your health

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One drawback of southern state retreat locales: Those nasty, tiny chiggers. (A hat tip to Deb B. for spotting that resource.)

"Our best evidence of what people truly feel and believe comes less from their words than from their deeds." - Robert Cialdini

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Today we present two more entries for Round 41 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 $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training. Together, these have a retail value of $589. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 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.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 41 ends on July 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.

Over the years, as I've been perusing the pages of SurvivalBlog and various other sites, one thing had been missing the whole time, and to my own mind, I completely missed it too.

It wasn't until this weekend that the point was driven home quite clearly. You see, I was out shooting with friends, and taking in a glorious day. In the course of plinking cans and putting various sheets of paper out of their misery, my favorite M1911 light-framed .45 ACP jammed. The slide was nearly locked solid, and after finally clearing out the cartridge and the magazine, I realized that the pistol was in horrible need of cleaning. And yes, I was neglectful of that, as, I suspect, are most folks who use guns a lot are – bad habits do creep in, after all. Sometimes it just never gets done, no matter how many mental notes are made to do it.

Okay, so it's time to clean the little beastie. I get out the tools, the kit, set it all down on the table, and... the solvent bottle was empty. No solvent. Anywhere. No idea why, but there was no solvent to be found anywhere in the house. Not in the gun closet, nor the safe. Not in the preps, and basically nowhere at all. Well, okay, I know full well why, and I bet a lot of you out there have the same problem – just that I found out this weekend, but you don't know it yet. I'll explain...

You have a huge cache of firearms. You have mountains of ammunition. You may even have enough reloading equipment and materials to be your own local arsenal. However, take a quick peek: How much do you have in the way of cleaning equipment? How many spare brushes, swabs, patches, and spare rods do you have? How much spare oil, tools, and solvent are on hand at home right now? Do you have enough to handle every firearm you own, including the stuff you've recently bought? My particular little problem was solved with a quick trip to the nearest sporting goods store (and I made sure to buy four large bottles of the stuff this time – just to be sure). Now how easily could I have solved this little problem if civilization happened to have collapsed before I found out I didn't have any solvent? I can answer that – not at all without improvising, and improvisation is never as good as having the very thing you need.

My little tale (yes, a true story), highlighted two big problems that I bet most preppers don't even bother with: regular weapons maintenance, and having enough stuff to actually perform it for months to years after that stuff can no longer be obtained at a store.

Let's tackle the fact that hey – keep your weapons clean! I was completely blasé about doing it (a bad habit gained from years of playing around in local shooting events, where I routinely ran 600+ rounds through the barrel in any given event, without bothering to clean until every other event, or it saw 1,200 rounds). However, thinking further, imagine if that pistol jammed at a moment where my life really, really relied on having my weapon work perfectly. It's one thing to endure a couple of friendly insults and jibes from friends at a gravel bank, but another thing entirely if I'm facing an intruder, my first shot didn't do the job, and now I'm standing there with a half-open slide while the now-wounded (and now rather angry!) intruder raises his own weapon. The thought is enough to scare the crap out of any sane prepper, and once I realized it, it scared me rather straight as well. I spent three hours cleaning every last nook and cranny this morning, and a quick drive back out into the countryside with 100 rounds confirmed that everything worked flawlessly again. Once home, I cleaned everything again, just to be sure.

I even learned again how a perfectly clean gun operates a whole lot smoother (yes, you tend to forget), and that over time I just stupidly got used to the slowly degrading performance. It is far easier, and safer, to get into the habit of never considering your shooting day done until after you clean every weapon you used. It's easy to think that you're good to go with waiting until x number of rounds have been shot, but it's a very bad habit, and one I'm glad that I caught and learned from - before that lesson came the hard way. Very simply put, always clean your weapon after you're done using it. In a post-collapse world, clean it every chance you get, because you may not get the time to do it when you think you will.

Second item on the agenda – check your stores. No, not your guns, not your cartridges, and not your neat-o accessories. As a prepper, you should check into, and stock up on, the following items:

  • Cleaning solvent (the good stuff. Don't go cheap here.)
  • Light gun oil (again, don't even think of skimping.)
  • Spare wire bore brushes (because they wear down quickly when you actually use them.)
  • Spare small wire brushes (because using a bore brush to clean out the inside of a slide assembly is foolish.)
  • Spare bore and magazine swabs (because they get dirty in a hurry, and you can only clean them so many times before they become useless).
  • Spare patches (as many as you can lay hands on), and spare patch-holders.
  • Spare rods of sufficient length (those things are notoriously fragile when you don't want them to be.)
  • A big pile of clean/unused rags, set aside especially for cleaning your guns. Make completely sure that they're lint-free.
  • Spare tools specific to assemble/disassemble your firearms (the funny-looking wrench you use to take apart the muzzle of an M1911 .45 ACP, for example, because pliers will work but really, not right.)
  • Spare consumables for your firearm (examples? No problem: My .45, over time, will eat slide-return spring bushings, slide springs, an extra grip, spare screws for the grip, magazine springs and followers, an extra barrel or two, etc.)

So what if you only have a few firearms and have to do it on the cheap? Well, you can still get by with buying up and storing at least a half-dozen of those small rifle and pistol cleaning kits you normally find in the average department store's sporting goods section. Each is usually self-contained with everything needed to clean your rifle or pistol, are sold by caliber, and each is enough to last about 5 cleanings (10 if you're careful with it). They're also cheap – averaging $10-15 per kit. I figure that by the time you crack open that last kit, you'll likely be almost out of ammunition in your stores anyway. Just stick with a reputable brand, and avoid the absolute cheapest stuff.

But let's get back to keeping these things clean in a post-collapse situation. Hopefully you now have everything you need to do that with. But hey, not everything is perfect in this world, so...

Let's say you're out of supplies to keep your favorite firearm clean, or you found a good weapon with a ton of ammo (Hypothetically, let's say you've been a good little prepper, survived the collapse of civilization, and as a reward the SHTF-fairy drops off a pristine M16A1 and a can of ammo? Oh, but she didn't think to include a cleaning kit. Go figure.) Or, let's say you had to bug out in a hurry, and a pistol cleaning kit doesn't make much sense in that bag of yours. So, now what? The need to keep that gun clean hasn't gone away.  You'll want to make sure it does what you want it to do, especially when you need it to do so. Well, good news! You can improvise. At the low-end, if the firearm is truly Mil-Spec, you can get away with as little as using soap and near-boiling water to literally scrub and rinse the thing (the heat insures that things dry off quickly afterward), only needing a light coat of oil when you're done. If you can find/scrounge up some brake-cleaner (or even clean brake fluid, come to think of it), you can use that in place of typical gun solvent. For oil, you can use a rag and (very little!) clean machine oil, hydraulic fluid, or automatic transmission fluid (but use it sparingly! Too much oil attracts dirt and dust.) There are lots of options in a pinch, but use them intelligently, and don't use it as an excuse to skip cleaning your firearms.

By the way, when it comes to cleaning your weapons, get to know the things deeply. Know to always make sure not only that the weapon is unloaded, but that no bullets are anywhere near the table you're working on, period. I always make it a habit to move all the bullets to a bag on the floor, and double-check everything to make sure no bullets can be found in, on, or around the weapon. Know how to field-strip your weapons, clean them and put them back together in perfect working order. Know where all those nooks and crannies are, and how to get the goop, burn-marks, lead/copper build-up, and all that other crud out of them. Get into the habit of giving every square millimeter a close eye, looking for signs of a failing part: minute cracks, worn edges or lips, curling metal, odd discolorations, pitting, and any bulges or warping where there shouldn't be. Replace those parts ASAP (you remembered to store spare parts, right?) Be aggressive about even the slightest sign of surface rust, scrubbing it completely off with solvent and a rag, wiping off the solvent, then scrubbing it again with a lightly-oiled rag.

Even if you don't use it very often (or at all), get into the habit of taking out each weapon you own at least once every year (once every six months in a wetter climate), and cleaning it anyway, searching carefully for rust, cleaning out any dust, and working everything on it until it feels perfectly smooth and natural.

Yes we've been talking about firearms all this time, but let's take a few moments to get into your knives, swords, bows, arrows, crossbows, or maybe the spare trebuchet you may have stashed in the garage. Just because it doesn't spit fire doesn't mean that you can leave it dirty.

Compound bow cams can clog up and the bearings filled with grit. Knives and edged weapons can pit and rust in a surprisingly short amount of time. That crossbow trigger needs to be kept clean and perfectly functional, because you'll never know when your life will depend on it functioning perfectly. You would be amazed at how quickly that something as simple as a recurve bow can get dirty, causing grit to become sandpaper in the string notches, slowly weakening the bow overall.

If you've ever field dressed an animal with a knife, you already know how quickly it (and your hands) can get greasy, hairy, and smeared with gore. Now think about gripping that greasy, gory handle and defending yourself with it. Anything with an edge that gets used at all will get nicks in the blade, and any blade will dull after even the most careful use. To that end, learn how to truly sharpen a knife. Have the right oils, stones, files, and stropping tools on hand – lots of them. Contrary to popular belief, it takes a lot of practice and skill to learn how to do it right, but once you do, you can not only keep your edged weapons sharp, but can actually create an edged weapon out of almost any sufficiently-shaped piece of metal.

So let's sum it all up here, and hopefully, you get the idea by now – you have two things to help make your prepping complete: One, get in the habit of cleaning your weapons every time you use them, and periodically if you don't use them. No exceptions, no excuses. Two, make sure you have enough bits, bobs, and supplies in your stores to help keep those weapons clean (and maintained) for at least 2-to-3 years (or more!) beyond the point where civilization goes splat.

Do this, do it faithfully, and you will find yourself leagues ahead of the prepper crowd. You will be better able to survive. You will be able to hold out long after the wannabe commando types got killed off due to their own jammed, dull, dirty, and broken weapons. That is, long-neglected weapons which failed them at the wrong time: precisely when they were needed the most.

First, thank you for all that you do. You have made a huge positive impact on a lot of people in my life. Second, I have been doing some pretty careful observation of our long term brown rice supplies. This started with me doing quite a bit of reading in books and on the internet about long term storage of brown rice. Most sources say that brown rice starts to go rancid around 6 months. I was disapointed with this number and so I decided to test it out for myself. In February of 2010, I put brown basmati rice into two food grade five gallon buckets lined with mylar bags, sublimated some dry ice in the buckets, and sealed the mylar bags. Then I put them under the house (which never gets above 70 degrees) and one year later I rotated one of the buckets into use. No problems. The rice seemed as fresh as day one. Move ahead another year and four months to June 2012 and I pulled the other bucket out because we were finally down to the end of the rice from the first bucket. So now I have three different rice samples to scrutinize. The rice from the first bucket which was under the house for a year and then in my garage (which gets hot in the summer) for another year and four months, the rice from the bucket that has been under the house for two years four months, and brand new rice that I just bought to rotate back under the house.  I could not tell the difference between any of these samples. My wife, who is very sensitive to rancidity, said that she could smell a very slight difference, but that none of them smelled rancid. We have been eating the first bucket regularly and have not noticed any problems yet.

I would love to know the science behind my findings. Mostly I want to know how much the dry ice fumigation in mylar bags impacts the storability of brown rice. It seems like the carbon dioxide displacing the air in the mylar bag would cut down the oxidation process significantly. It sure would be nice if someone with the scientific resources could do some in depth research on this topic. I am going to start pulling buckets out after three years this next time to see if they will make it that long or longer. Hopefully I won't be pulling them out before that due to the collision of some Schumer and a fan. Thanks again, - Jesse C.

Mr Rawles,
I read the article "A Home Purchasing Guide for Rookies" and the response to it. A few additional points occurred to me:


"Almost all counties publish their tax rates on their public web sites." In fact, while they do publish their rates, and their rates can be taken as accurate, those rates do not reflect the whole picture.

Buyer beware. Research carefully and thoroughly. Follow through on due diligence. While looking in a place where I'm now no longer looking -- for this very reason -- I found that the property taxing authority first decides how much money it will spend, then decides the tax rates needed to meet that requirement. In that region without some legal limit imposed on them they assess values for the properties that have no basis in the market for those properties except in their fevered imaginations. Such assessments ensure that the taxing region obtains what they have decided are their spending requirements. Imagine a retailer first raising prices 200% then offering a 25%-off sale and that nobody else sells those products to get the flavor of this.

This is precisely counter to a fiscally responsible approach that assesses according to the market value of the property based on what it actually could or did sell for, using its last sell price as a base then cutting costs in the taxing region so that their expenses can be paid for with the taxed revenue actually acquired. Without a more fiscally responsible approach properties are overassessed, people are priced out of their homes, which leads to the taxing region losing its tax base and trashing its economy. Yet, they continue the practice.

When evaluating the region's taxes, do not depend solely on the published tax rates. You may have paid $X for the property, but those responsible to the taxing authority for assessment claim the value is $Y and will apply the published tax rate accordingly. Find out more about the region's tax rate decisions, the kinds of spending it tries to do, the way properties are assessed, and how closely properties' prices match their assessed values.


"...I have chosen to place this mortgage with the small community bank in the rural city we are moving to."

Mortgages are typically sold by the initial mortgage lender to other investors or companies to service. There may be several such sales during the lifetime of the mortgage. While the small community bank gets some benefit, and good for them, they are not likely getting the effect of all the interest money paid on the loan. Selecting the local bank may not accomplish as much for the local community as you think.

Budget - Down Payment:

"...and 30 years of monthly payments (that should be small enough to pay off long before 30 years by making extra principal payments)."

Use a loan calculator. Given that your 30-year loan allows you to pay extra to the principal with each month's regular payment without any early payoff penalty and without any limit to the extra principal payment, figure the monthly payment by calculating an annual payment then divide by 12 to get the monthly. For example, financing $100,000 at 4% for 30 years gives an annual payment of about $5,783. After 30 years you have paid about $173,000. Dividing that annual payment by 12 makes a monthly payment of about $482. Recalculate by adding only one month extra payment to the annual ($5,783 + $482 = $6,265) changes the payoff period from 30 years to about 26 years (about $6,257 per year, or about $521 per month). By shaving off about 4 years, that $6,257 annual payment amounts to about $163,000 for the payoff period or over $10,000 savings (about 5.78%) for the life of the loan. If you can afford to pay more to pay it off sooner, recalculate the loan with a shorter period, such as 10, 15, or 20 years, and pay the extra to the principal to meet that payment amount. But because the loan is a 30-year contract, when times get rougher you can fall back on the 30-year payment amount. - Larry R.

Soldiers Could Go Reptilian With New Camo

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The often-referenced book "Primary Surgery" is now available at the University of Bonn, Germany web site (presumably with the publisher's permission.)

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SurvivalBlog reader KAF asks: A little too green?

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V.T.P. sent this news from Norway: Gently used submarine base yours for $17.5 Million (sub not included)

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More Nanny Statism: New Jersey Residents Can Be Fined $1,000 for Driving With ‘Unrestrained’ Animals in the Car. (Thanks to B.B. for the link.)

"The television, that insidious beast, that Medusa which freezes a billion people to stone every night, staring fixedly, that Siren which called and sang and promised so much and gave, after all, so little." - The Late Ray Bradbury

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Today we present another entry for Round 41 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 $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training. Together, these have a retail value of $589. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 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.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 41 ends on July 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.

On May 26, 2012 the SurvivalBlog.com server was attacked and knocked offline.  The method of attack used is commonly referred to as a Denial of Service or DoS attack. I won’t delve into who might have sprung the attack nor how it was done. Both topics have been covered.(1)  What will be discussed are the 10 lessons learned from the attack as it pertains to preparedness and survival.

Lesson #1: We don’t know what we don’t know.

We can’t all be experts in everything. Regardless of where you are in the preparedness journey, we’ve all realized at some point that we have a lot to learn in the realm of getting prepared for: TEOTWAWKI, hyperinflation, grid down scenarios, tactical strikes, supply chain disruption, natural disasters, government hostiles, and the list goes on and on.

We knew that SurvivalBlog could go down but we certainly didn’t know when or why it might happen.  Any web site can go down for any number of reasons: web site/server gets hacked, electrical failure at the site of the server, government censorship, domain name hijacked, database failure, programmer uploads some mistyped code, etc, etc. But when SurvivalBlog went silent, it was like the Encyclopedia Britannica of Survivalism went away.

What to remember from this lesson: learn what you can while you can but always try to secure a hard (paper) copy of the topic you are studying in case your source disappears (hard drive, thumb drive, SD cards, printed copy, CD, etc). You won’t regret it and you can always pass your library down to your children.

Lesson #2: Know thy enemy (Sun Tzu - The Art of War).

Prior to the attack on SurvivalBlog, an anonymous and threatening e-mail was sent to JWR.  Among other things, this person used the term “we hack good” indicating a potential to hack the web site.  I would be more than ignorant if I attempted to armchair quarterback JWR on what he could’ve or should’ve done to prepare. But I digress.

FWIW, I have been using SolutionsGrove since October, 2010 for instant notification of my server crashing. With a free account, they will search for a specific page (that you designate) every 15 minutes.  If they do not receive a response, you will be instantly notified.  They will continue to check your site and notify you when it is back online. For a donation, they will check your site every 2 or 5 minutes. I’ve had terrific success with this. I am not affiliated or compensated by this company in any way.

The point is to gather information on your opponent.  Read between the lines. Google their name, phone number, email address, avatar, tag line, meme, even quoted lines from text they’ve written. The more you deduce, the more advantage you have in preparations. To quote a translation of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War: “It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.”(2)

What to remember from this lesson: regarding any topic your are studying, investigate what you see...and don’t see. Not just the physical nature, but the source, where it came from, how did it get there, it’s history.  The more you know, the more prepared you will become.

Lesson #3: Redundancy is your friend.

As I’ve said numerous times on my blog, redundancy is the key to serenity. “Three is two, two is one, one is none”.(3)  If you only have one gun and it gets stolen, then you have none. If you have two guns and one is stolen, you have one left...but what if neighbors show up to help fight off the Golden Horde but have no weapons? My point is, the more you have, the better off you will be in an emergency situation.

In JWR’s case, he has a server in Sweden and the U.S. Both were attacked leaving him dead in the water but even before that he was actively seeking additional off-shore mirror sites.  The more mirrors that he eventually has of SurvivalBlog, then the harder it will be to take it down simultaneously.  He has also added the redundancy protection of an additional URL: “SurvivalBlog.se”. Should iCANN or any other entity take control of his SurvivalBlog.com URL, fans of SurvivalBlog can still reach the site by typing “SurvivalBlog.se” [or one of the two the dotted quad addresses.]

You can be redundant with everything. Here’s is a list of a few things on my redundancy list to give you some basic ideas:

Income- (1) My main job (Sonography, Radiography). (2) My part time job (See #1, different hospital). (3) My wife is nationally certified in Radiology and can work if necessary.

Income skills- (1) Trained in Sonography. (2) Trained in Computed Tomography. (3) Trained in Radiography.

Transportation- (1) The family Suburban. (2) The family Jeep. (3) My auto insurance includes rental car coverage should one of my cars becomes disabled.

Food- (1) Our bi-weekly grocery run. (2) Our garden and short term food storage. (3) Our long term (25+ years) food storage.

Water- (1) House/city water. (2) 55 gallon drums x 12 in backyard. (3) Bottled water in garage.

Shelter- (1) Our house. (2) Our family retreat 2+ hours north of town (3) a retreat property with no shelter but we have tents, sleeping bags, etc for now.

Entertainment- (1) Electronic/card/board games. (2) A ton of music/books/movies/cartoons stored on a hard drive. (3)MacBook with solar panel recharger.

Water filtration- (1) Berkey water filter with 2 black berkey ceramic filters + pf2 x 2 filters. Filters 3 gallons per hour. (2) Sand filter. (3) Boiling water or plastic bottle in the sun sterilizing.

Cooking- (1) Indoor stove & microwave. (2) Outdoor propane barbeque grill x 2. (3) Dutch ovens to cook on charcoal/wood fires.

What to remember from this lesson: think about what could happen and prepare for it. Then have at least three backups in case something fails. If your electricity fails (and you have an electric stove) , cook outdoor on your barbeque grill. If you run out of propane, cook over coals or embers with your dutch ovens.

Lesson #4: Communication is king.

While SurvivalBlog was only able to communicate the attack with a few sentences on a blank white html page, word was still traveling at the speed of type across the globe.  As soon as I noticed the attack, I posted a quick blog post to let folks in my circle know what was going on and how to help. JWR had asked folks not to keep refreshing the homepage as it adds to the chaos during a DoS attack. I explained the request and was picked up by Google within the hour. As the internet lit up with Google searches such as “survival blog attack” and “survival blog down”, folks were pointed to my post and quickly learned of the attack in progress.

Aside from spreading the word via blogs, RSS feeds, news sites and other static/dynamic portals, JWR still had the option of using email, cell, land line, MURS, and ham radio. I wouldn’t be surprised if he even had some carrier pigeons stashed away. More likely a hawk ;-)

What to remember from this lesson: secure several lines of communications because “If you don’t have Com, you don’t have jaaack.”(4) -Jeff Trasel, from "Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse"

Lesson #5: Consider your trigger points.

Consider establishing trigger points that put you into action.  This thought came to me as I traced back where visitors were coming from to view my SurvivalBlog attack post.  Using a free stat counter, I traced a visitor to a survival forum where a long conversation was underway regarding the possible causes of the disappearance of SurvivalBlog.

As I read through the posts, I came to one that stated (I’m paraphrasing from memory) “I always figured when SurvivalBlog was taken down by the government, it was time to Bug Out.”  Now, this may be rational, to a certain degree, but nobody had established that SurvivalBlog was taken out by the government.  Perhaps this person was simply saying IF the government took down SB, THEN it would be a good time to consider moving to the Redoubt. Regardless, it made me start to consider my trigger points.

Would it take a mushroom cloud to motivate me to bug out or are there more sublime triggers? Joel M. Skousen, author of Strategic Relocation--North American Guide to Safe Places , said in a recent youtube interview that he believes the next major trigger points will be if 1) North Korea nukes South Korea, and/or 2) Russia begins pulling troops home to protect the motherland and he believes these triggers could lead to America getting nuked.(5)  Once you set trigger points, consider how quickly you can leave your home.  Are your BOB’s ready? Do you have food cached outside of town? Do you have multiple escape routes mapped out in case of a traffic jam? Do you have enough gas? Or are you completely ready to Bug In?

What to remember from this lesson: Don’t wait until it is too late to establish your trigger points. Pray to our Heavenly Father about them, discuss them with those important to you, and be prepared to act upon them. Heck, I’d even recommend a few practice runs!

Lesson #6: Be active in your community.

Since JWR gives so much to the survival community, I didn’t hesitate to write my post attempting to help him slow down the page reloads on the day of the DoS attack.  Patrice Lewis over at Rural Revolution wrote something as well and the survival community was clued in to the attack within hours. Service to others isn’t just Biblically mandated, it insures that we as a community survive together.

Reach out to your local community and participate in whatever way you can.  I recently went to a grand opening of our brand new local fire department.  Two of my daughters, along with other Young Women from our church, raised and donated 200 teddy bears for the firefighters to give to children when they lose their belongings in a fire. Go to the local parades, or better yet be in the local parades. Go to Town Hall meetings and get to know your local business owners and politicians.

What to remember from this lesson: no man is an island.  To quote JWR: “The underlying theme to my writings is to be part of an integrated team.  That team might be just a few families living on a cul-de-sac, or it might be a small town. By being competent and confident with firearms, your group will avoid confrontations.  Very few bad guys will mess with someone with a capability to immediately drop them at up to 400 yards.  And if you don't have the willingness to do so yourself, then team up with someone that does.  You can provide other forms of useful and valued support to a group or small community effort. (Agriculture, advanced first aid, mechanics, et cetera.)  Not everyone has to be a warrior.”(6)

Lesson #7: Build your library.

Survivalblog offers an incredible wealth of knowledge for free.  It is easily accessible and therefore easy to get in a habit of visiting daily to absorb knowledge and then walk away. With the DoS attack, now we know SurvivalBlog may not always be so convenient to access.  However, with the purchase of an Archive CD, everyone can have an archive of the entire web site (up to 2011) to view at any time on their personal device.

Contained within this archive will be all the posts where folks have recommended other survival or preparedness minded texts such as the terrific SurvivalBlog post by Greg Ellifritz titled: The Best Free Medical References for Preppers which lists nine online texts and 12 hard copy books.  Use the Search feature on SurvivalBlog to find many other recommended archives, texts, guides and manuals.

What to remember from this lesson: whether you store your library in digital format or print it out, don’t wait until the information starts to disappear before you start to grab it all.  With one-terabyte hard drives now at the $99 mark, you can easily store volumes of information.

Lesson #8: Don’t forget there IS evil in the world.

It is easy to get caught up in the daily routines: going to work, taking kids to school, doing chores, helping with homework, church, sports, and hobbies.  You have to remember not to let your guard down because evil does not rest. Keep your skills and gear up-to-date. Teach those you love the same.  Sure, not everything is avoidable but...we can fight it.  As Ted Nugent said in January 2011, “Be prepared for evil. Rather than trying to fathom it, just be ready to stop it.”(7)

What to remember from this lesson: Don’t let your guard down...there is too much at stake.

Lesson #9: There will always be doubters.

As simple and straightforward as our posts on the DoS attack were, there were still doubters on survival forums questioning whether or not SurvivalBlog was down simply to increase the sales of archive cds.  Seriously?!?  There will always be doubters, or “scoffers” as the Bible calls them.  "Knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation." For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water" (2 Peter 3:3-6).

Doubters will tell you it is pointless to prepare.  They will distract you from your mission and perhaps even impede you.  How do you deal with a doubter in your life?  "Cast out the scoffer, and contention will leave; yes, strife and reproach will cease" (Proverbs 22:10). Show them the door and perhaps even let it tap their behind on the way out.  Might make you feel better. It would me.  I’m just sayin’...

What to remember from this lesson: doubters do not care about solving a problem or learning, they feed on promoting doubt.  Walk away and leave them hungry.

Lesson #10: Do what you can, leave the rest to Him.

It was around 2130 (MST) when I received a reply from Avalanche Lily regarding the ongoing DoS attack. She casually mentioned that she was reading my e-mail to JWR as he was heading off to bed. He wasn’t staying up, around the clock, fretting what to do about his very popular web site.  No doubt the e-mails were beginning to pour into his in box.  His expertise told him to get some rest.  He knew the problem would still be waiting for him in the morning.

What to remember from this lesson: Do what you can, when you can but always know that through Him all things are possible.

In summation, these are some of the lessons I gleaned from the cause and effect of SurvivalBlog being down.  I didn’t intend on it to end so “churchy” but I won’t apologize for it either.   If this post helps one person out there then I will consider my contribution to SurvivalBlog a success.  Thank you to the Rawles family and all that you do for this community.  And thank you to the advertisers as well.

Works Cited:

1. Update on the Recent Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Attack on SurvivalBlog, May 29, 2012.

2. Sun Tzu - The Art of War translated by Lionel Giles, available for free download here (60 kb text only version).

3. Two is One, One is None...Be Redundant; The Orange Jeep Dad blog, Feb. 22, 2011.

4. "Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse" by James W. Rawles; Ulysses Press, 2009.

5. Joel Skousen: The Origins of May Day and the Commies, YouTube Video, May 1, 2012

6. Letter Re: A Non-Warrior Surviving Traumatic Times;

7. Nugent: Be prepared for evil. The Washington Times, Jan 11, 2011.

In response to buying military gensets, I wouldn't. I have owned quite a few of them and my view is they take a really good genset and make it so complex its hard to work on let alone get parts for it. The wiring is usually the problem, very complex.

I purchased a [commercial] 6.5 Kubota last year and it is a super gen set. I run it on Bio Diesel and it cost about 10 cents per hr to run. One good place to look for these is the Light Towers web site. Check tool rental places for sales. Remove the gen set and use the trailer for tools or a Bug Out Trailer.

Here in the Midwest, the Purple Wave auction site has them fairly often. Recently a Kubota 6.5 sold for under $500. Stay simple when it comes to gensets. I have owned two of the Chinese Diesel gen sets and I do not recommended them. I have a 20 KW Detroit Diesel genset I run my sawmill with. These are excellent, very robust and inexpensive to work on and operate. The prices on these are going up though. I paid $2,000 for mine and it may be the best generator I have owned. I currently have seven gensets. For small ones, I recommend that folks go with the Kubota. - Surplus Jim

Hello Sir;
In response to today’s advice on surplus generators I’d like to share my experience with them to warn others. Over four months ago I purchased a surplus diesel 1986 3 KW Onan generator from GovLiquidation.com for emergency use in my house. I spent $500 and five hours of my time to get it but since the thing only had 120 hours on the meter and was built like a tank, I thought that it was worth the investment. I bought it fully expecting to spend couple of hundred dollars on a tune up to get it in working shape. But the thing is over 20 years old and did not start the way it was supposed to.
My local small engine repair place that constantly repairs similar civilian devices started having trouble with it from the beginning. They told me that there is a short somewhere in the wiring but since all the wires are white, the manual that I downloaded and printed off the web was no help. They said that they would have to rewire the entire thing and it would cost over $1,000.
Next I tried the “local” Onan service center (100 miles away). They had no clue about it. Apparently Onan keeps their military and civilian models quite different by design and model numbers so the rep couldn’t even accept it for service or give me any parts information.
After that I took it to an auto repair shop that specializes in electric repairs. So far they have been able to identify that one of the panels had burned out and needs replacement but they have been having trouble finding the replacement panel. Currently they are trying to figure out a way to adapt a part from a different generator to make it work. The good news was that I knew I was in a friendly place when I recognized a guy from my rifle range and another guy who got excited when he saw a mil surplus generator and asked if it can be buried. Now I have a good feeling about the guys working on it.
Overall I would not recommend buying similar items unless you have the knowledge to do all the repairs yourself or unless you know a local repair shop that is accustomed to unusual projects. It has been four months and it is still a work in progress with no official estimate on the cost of repair or even if the repair is possible. Sincerely, - B.G.

Reader F.M.W. mentioned a new portable generator "that can be powered by MOGAS, diesel, JP8, isopropyl alcohol, kerosene, propane or even booze": Power Forward Trinity Systems

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Louisiana's bold bid to privatize schools.

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AVOW has announced that the new 2012 15th Anniversary Edition of the LDS Preparedness Manual, Version 8 is now available in both hardbound and free PDF versions.

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R.B.S. forwarded the link to this CNN segment that briefly profiles Oregon Freeze Dried, the maker of Mountain House freeze dried foods: The company making food to last forever.

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Pro-gun blogger Tamara K. (of the popular View From the Porch blog) just got her 30 seconds of fame over at Day By Day.

"During the Second World War, the Germans took four years to build the Atlantic Wall. On four beaches it held up the Allies for about an hour; at Omaha it held up the U.S. for less than one day. The Atlantic Wall must therefore be regarded as one of the greatest blunders in military history." - Stephen Ambrose, D-Day, page 577

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Today we present another entry for Round 41 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 $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training. Together, these have a retail value of $589. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 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.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 41 ends on July 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.

“One must Hope for the Best, but Prepare for the Worst.” - Book of English Proverbs

We’ve all rehearsed it many times. A newsflash report comes on, reporting widespread chaos what appears to be the total, spectacular collapse of society. Food stores are empty. Gas station pumps are dry. All remnants of any social order have toppled, and panic has ensued. The next-second response to survivalists is second nature. Grab the kids, the AR-15, the Bug-Out-Bags, and head for the hills! To most survivalists, the most effective bug-out is clean and simple, requiring no transportation and just the pack on your back. Yet a very large number of us live in areas that are considered urban or suburban, meaning that a true unraveling of civilization would make such a short range or prolonged bug-out dangerous given the large number of unprepared occupants.  

The solution, as many see it is a Bug-Out Vehicle (BOV), which can dramatically extend range and speed in reaching secure retreat.  On a full tank of gas, a BOV can reach a destination hundreds of miles away in a matter of hours, whereas the same retreat would take days to reach on foot. Few would disagree with the logic that less time spent on the road to retreat means less danger.  Natur