August 2012 Archives

Friday, August 31, 2012

All eyes are on Louisiana, where they've been deluged by as much as 25" inches of rain and half the populace is without grid power. Isaac lacked the punch of Katrina, but it it has still been devastating. Even though the storm missed New Orleans, some residents are looting, I suppose just out of nostalgia for 2005. Please pray for the folks in the path of Isaac, and open your doors to the folks who wisely bugged out.


Today we present another entry for Round 42 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 (a $300 value), F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A $200 gift certificate, donated by Shelf Reliance.

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 C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.)Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) 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 42 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

It can be a daunting task this day and time selecting what to carry and how best to carry it. With the vast selection of government issue and commercial load carrying equipment available today. In this article I will be addressing the items of common U.S. military issue.

I’m constantly fielding questions from friends and coworkers about what system, manufacturer, and color/pattern is best. Well there is no easy answer so I will try to clear away some of the fog for everyone. I will be drawing on over 20 years of experience as a man whose wore many hats that included service with the U.S. Army (Airborne Infantry), Texas State Guard (MP), Private Security Officer, Civilian Police Officer and as a Private Contractor.

There are two basic groups to load carrying equipment the first is the combat/fighting load. This group will allow you to carry ammunition, water, some food, first aid kit, weapons maintenance kit as well as additional weapons such as a pistol and knife.

The second group of load carrying equipment is the existence load this is the backpack/rucksack component of your load. The existence load is for extended operations when the soldier will be in a field environment for an extended period of time. I might also add that this could be used for a bug out scenario for those of us who are preppers.
The two basic platforms in use today are ALICE and MOLLE though the CFP-90 rucksack from the IIFS system is still in use by some units.

The following is a fairly complete listing of the US military load bearing systems issued from the ALICE era to the present day:

ALICE-All Purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment.
IIFS-Individual Integrated Fighting System.
MOLLE- Modular Lightweight Load Carrying Equipment.
BALCS-Body Armor Load Carry System.(the ballistic upgrade of the MOLLE system)
SPEAR-Special Operations Forces Personal Equipment Advanced Requirements.
RACK-Ranger Assault Carry Kit.
ILBE-Improved Load Bearing Equipment used by the U.S. Marines.

All Purpose Lightweight Carrying Equipment (ALICE)
I have used this system and like it very much. The trick is to learn how to balance the harness so everything rides comfortably. Most of my time in service I served with units created to operate behind lines with little chance for re-supply so as soon as the new saw drum pouches began to arrive we started using two on each side of our harness instead of the standard 3 mag pouch for extra rifle/pistol mags and grenades, yes it was heavy but it is better to have and not need than to need and not have.
The basic ALICE platform consists of a utility belt, suspenders, butt pack, 2-canteens with cup and canteen covers, 1 compass/first aid pouch and 2 rifle ammo pouches. The butt pack though not always issued is useful in carrying a poncho and liner, food rations, additional ammo and other mission essential equipment. This system is very rugged, well balanced and well ventilated even with the addition of a knife and holster with side arm. Pouch placement is essential the butt pack is just that it is centered on your lower back with the canteens placed on the back side of your left and right hips. The rifle ammo pouches should be placed on the front of your left and right hips. The compass/first aid pouches are positioned on the loops located on the front shoulder of the suspenders. If carrying a pistol it is wise to carry 2 rifle mags pouches on the opposite side and 1 on your holster side for a better balance. Typically a good location for your knife is on the front suspender strap of your weak side, a little 100mph tape will help hold the sheath in place as well as silencing and securing other areas of your harness. We would also usually remove the metal ALICE clips and use 550 cord to tie the pouches in place, some would also use zip ties in place of the ALICE clips.
Though MOLLE is the new standard most would prefer to have the ALICE harness in areas when body armor or a heat retaining vest is not feasible such as jungle operations.

ALICE Pack Medium/Large
The Large ALICE pack is what I carried for most of my time in service. I was first issued this pack at my very first duty assignment which was with the 101 st Airborne Division. Overall I had very good experiences with the pack after I learned how to pack it correctly.

The ALICE pack is a very rugged external frame rucksack that is still a favorite among soldiers. It is still used by many special ops soldiers in place of the MOLLE rucksack because of its proven performance and its external metal frame that out performs the plastic frame used with the current MOLLE pack. The large ALICE pack has one large main compartment, a flat document pocket in the top flap, 3 large external pockets evenly spaced across the lower back of the pack with 3 smaller magazine sized pockets centered above them (large pack only). The pack has multiple ALICE attachment and strap loops on the sides and bottom of the pack for additional equipment such as e-tools, 2-qt canteens, sleeping pads and sleeping bags. The 2 outside large pockets on the pack have pass thru pockets for carrying long items such as skis and snowshoes. Many have even taken to attaching the MOLLE sleep system carrier to the bottom of the pack for their sleeping bags and additional equipment also the improved MOLLE pack waist belt can be used on the ALICE pack frame for improved comfort. The closure straps on the top are often used to carry a rolled up sleeping pad. There is also an internal pocket designed for carrying man pack sized radios. The pack has 3,800 cubic inches of storage and is rated to 70 pounds although I have carried loads over 100 pounds.

Individual Integrated Fighting System (IIFS)
Tactical Load Carrying Vest
The tactical load-carrying vest is constructed of a seven ounce nylon fabric printed in the woodland camouflage pattern and weighs 1.8 pounds empty. The tactical load-carrying vest is compatible with the standard individual equipment belt. The individual equipment belt is secured to the tactical load-carrying vest with 10 belt loops that use both hook and pile fasteners and snaps. The tactical load-carrying vest has four permanently attached ammunition pockets that can carry six 30-round cartridge magazines for the M-16 rifle. The pocket covers are secured by one snap and a strip of hook and pile. A pull tab is used to open the pocket. Located directly below the ammunition pockets are two fragmentation grenade pockets. The shoulders are protected by 1/2 inch [1.27 cm] foam padding. The tactical load-carrying vest closes in front with two chest straps using plastic quick release buckles. Two 2¼ inch [5.71 cm] webbing and two D-Rings sewn to the back of the tactical load-carrying vest can be used as equipment attachment points.

Combat Field Pack M-1990(CFP-90)
The CFP-90 was part of the Individual Integrated Fighting System(IIFS) first issued in the late 80’s and was very short lived soon to be replaced by the MOLLE system. My first experience with this pack was while I was serving with a Long Range Surveillance Detachment(LRSD) and later heard that only select units were issued this system. My experience with the pack was overall very good but I can’t say the same for the vest that accompanied it. The vest was very hot and did not ride well on me. The pack only had one downfall that I noticed was that when the patrol pack was attached to the pack(on the top of the pack) the combination rose very high above ones shoulders making it difficult to traverse under anything low hanging. I personally have carried loads well over 100 pounds with this ruck.
A well-designed suspension system based on two internal aluminum mainstays supports a two-chamber pack. This system with the padded shoulder straps and adjustable weight placement wins the approval of many who have deployed with this backpack. The main pack can be augmented by an optional attached patrol pack. In other words, a soldier can carry a major load to a base position and then detach the smaller and more convenient patrol pack to carry essential equipment and supplies for forays in the surrounding territory, leaving the major load behind. The detachable patrol pack stats are 1200 cubic inches of cargo space split between 2 compartments. The main compartment is padded to help protect the wearer from sharp items. This main compartment also has 2 tie-downs to help keep equipment in place and stable. Other features include a false bottom in the main compartment. This allows placing the major weight components high in the pack. A lower compartment for lighter components such as the sleeping bag. This false bottom can be removed to allow for one large compartment. One large pocket on the right side and two pockets on the left side. Foam pad at the small of the back to enhance airflow and minimize sweating while providing comfortable support. Vertically adjustable shoulder strap attachment system. Hip belt with padding to provide minimize discomfort under heavy load. Draw strings, snap buckles, zippers, etc. for convenient attachments and closures. Padding on the shoulder straps has a mesh back design to permit airflow where the load tightens to the skin. Because of the design of the suspension system, the pack can be adjusted to the desired high or low position on the back. In this manner it can be adjusted for large people as well as for average size or for smaller people. Rain-resistant nylon provides solid construction and durability, holding up well in heavy use. The capacity of this pack is 4,400-5,550 cu in (expanded).

Modular Lightweight Load Carrying Equipment (MOLLE)
I have used this system and like it just fine but I prefer for the pouches to be mounted on the body armor rather than the FLC, its just a better fit and feel to me.
The basic MOLLE Fighting Load Carry set consists of the following pieces
1- MOLLE II Fighting Load Carrier (FLC) Vest
1- MOLLE II Camelbak Hydration Carrier
1- MOLLE II Camelbak Hydration Bladder
1- MOLLE II Waist Pack with Stowable Straps
2- MOLLE II Canteen/Utility Pouches
3- MOLLE II Double Mag Pouches (M16A2 - 30RD Carbine)
2- MOLLE II Frag Hand Grenade Pouches
1- MOLLE II Bandoleer Ammunition Pouch 6 Mag

The basic MOLLE platform consists of a vest with either ballistic or non ballistic properties with attaching points generally referred to as MOLLE or PALS(pouch attachment ladder system). The pouches have a strap system that is woven through the ladder straps on the outside of the vest and the back of the pouch. The vest is usually covered on the front, back and sides with a PALS grid system that allows the wearer to place the pouches on the vest that best suit’s the individuals preferences. Typically the vest will be set up as follow: the lower front of the stomach area wrapping around both sides will be where the rifle mag pouches would be placed, the front upper chest area weak side will have pistol mag pouches and above that will be a small compass/strobe pouch, the upper front strong side chest area will have a small general purpose/shotshell pouch making sure that there is no obstructions for your rifle stock placement. The weak side of the vest is typically reserved for an op-order/logistics pouch with the first aid/blow out pack placed on the strong side of the vest, the back top center of the vest is where your hydration bladder is placed and below that if carried is where you will place your general purpose/butt pouch. If needed you can also place additional 1quart canteens on either side of the back lower vest. Some systems allow for a hip belt that is attached to the bottom of the vest for additional carrying options these can also be extended with sub load carrying platforms such as a weak side mag dump or protective/gas mask pouch and a strong side drop leg holster. The various MOLLE platforms in use by the U.S. Military also include a number of chest harnesses. The most widely used is the Ranger Assault Carry Kit (RACK) system designed for the Army Rangers.

The MOLLE Rucksack
The MOLLE Large Ruck has a capacity of 4,000 cubic inches. The detachable side sustainment pouches can hold 500 cubic inches each. The detachable sleep system carrier
weighs 3 lbs and has a volume of 1,200 cubic inches. The detachable patrol pack can be attached directly to the MOLLE main ruck system or worn as a stand alone patrol pack. With a total capacity of over 1,700 cu inches the pack consists of a large main pocket, a zippered front cargo pocket and separate exterior hydration sleeve. Within the front cargo pocket is also a small utility pocket with Velcro flap closure for smaller items. The pack features a separate exterior slot pocket to integrate with hydration systems and MOLLE attachment points along the padded shoulder straps with quick-ditch buckles. Other features are quick ditch shoulder straps, adjustable sternum strap and low profile waist belt and external hydration sleeve, MOLLE webbing on the sides of the main pack and four lateral cinch straps to compress and stabilize interior contents. Main compartment capacity is 1,300 cu inches, outer cargo pocket capacity is 576 cu inches. The rucksack's main body has a zippered internal load divider, and openings at the top and bottom ends, to allow a sleeping bag (or other gear) to be loaded and unloaded independently without the need for an external sleeping bag carrier. The top flap of the large ruck is a mesh pocket for documents. It is secured with a hook and loop closure. The large ruck has two large, removable sustainment pouches which attach to the side of the ruck using the same interlocking attachment system as the FLC pockets. These sustainment pouches each contain two D-rings on the sides, which allow them to be carried by a general purpose sling for alternate uses. The sustainment pouches can also be added to the side of the smaller assault pack. All of the large pouches of the MOLLE system have D-rings on the sides to allow the item to be slung with a GP sling.

Special Operations Forces Personal Equipment Advanced Requirements (SPEAR)
I have no first hand knowledge with this system but will include it for information purposes. The components of the SPEAR platform designed for special operations forces are listed below.
1 set vest panel (left and right)
1 set shoulder pad assembly
1 belt with buckle
1 set H harness assembly
1 set flotation element set (left & right & back & shoulder)
1 pouch, M4 Ammo (3 Mag) with Frag & multi-purpose grenade, right
1 pouch, M4 Ammo (3 Mag) with Frag & multi-purpose grenade, left
2 cover, canteen, 1 quart
2 pouch, general purpose (Large)
2 pouch, general purpose (Small)
2 Alice adapter
3 pouch, M4 ammo (2 Mag, 30 rd)
3 pouch, M4 ammo (1 Mag, 30 rd)
2 pouch, M60/SAW, 100 rd
2 cover, canteen, 2 quart

SPEAR/MOLLE Special Forces UM21 Backpack System

The system includes:
1 Main pack
1 Patrol Pack
1 butt pack
2 compression stuff sacks
2 patrol pack stuff packs

This modified commercial Backpack Subsystem consists of a backpack, patrol pack, and butt pack. The backpack's state-of-the-art internal frame affords a stable platform sufficient to carry 120 pounds effectively. The backpack transfers load efficiently from the shoulders to the waist and provides adjustments to fit the 5th-95th percentile male SOF operator. The butt pack attaches to ELCS or the backpack; the patrol pack attaches to the backpack, and is compatible with the other Spear BALCS components. The one size subsystem weighs 17 pounds. This backpack system is part of the U. S. Government Body Armor Load Carry System (BALCS )and has seen extensive use by American special operations troops in Operation Enduring Freedom.
In addition to the packs patented suspension system, another key feature of this system is its modularity for use with the U. S. Government Load Carry System ELCS and is also compatible with Special Operations Forces Personal Equipment Advanced Requirements SPEAR and BALCS components. Developed for long-range reconnaissance missions, this backpack, composed of aircraft-grade aluminum stays, a sturdy internal framesheet, and an adjust-a-cant hip belt and patented Flo-Form II molding technology provides a highly efficient carrying system, capable of supporting extreme loads easily and comfortably. The pack design provides for customized distribution of weight to allow the wearer to locate the optimum adjustment for various terrain or conditions of any march. By utilizing the pack’s suspension adjustments, weight may be shifted entirely onto the hips, entirely onto the shoulders or distributed evenly between the two.

Ranger Assault Carry Kit (RACK)
I have used the RACK platform and found it to be a very stable package for short engagements but the wearer would be limited by the space that is available to actually attach your pouches. The area of the harness that allows for pouch attachment is from the upper chest down to the upper to middle stomach with a small area that wraps around a short distance on both sides. This is partially remedied by using the sub load pouches and platforms that are available from this package and other MOLLE platforms in common issue. This system was mainly designed for a limited fast assault which the Rangers have practically perfected. The RACK system uses the same rucksack as the standard MOLLE system.
The Ranger Assault Carry Kit contains a load-bearing vest platform, utility leg pouch and (11) additional pouches which includes the following:

1 RACK load bearing vest with stowable bib for extra munitions and gear
1 RACK leg bag with attachment strap
1 canteen/utility pouch (will also hold (5) 30RD USGI 5.56mm magazines)
4 30RD USGI 5.56mm magazine pouches with shotshell/light stick/cuff loops (8-magazine capacity)
4 fragmentation grenade pouches
2 radio pouches - one each for SABRE Radio and PRC-126 Radio

ILBE (Improved Load Bearing Equipment)
Once again I have no field experience with this system but have researched it as a possible upgrade/addition to my own kit. I felt it should be included here for information purposes. I can assume that since my brethren the U.S. Marines are currently using this system it is probably a very capable system. The ILBE uses the same basic combat load as the current MOLLE system, it is just an improved rucksack over the current MOLLE rucksack.
The ILBE (Improved Load Bearing Equipment) backpack, is the current backpack of choice for the U. S. Marine Corp. It was developed to replace the ALICE backpack, and the MOLLE system backpack. Designed by Arc’teryx’s LEAF (Law Enforcement and Armed Forces) program and manufactured by Propper Inc., the USMC ILBE is made from Cordura 725 denier fabric, with pixilated Marpat printed onto it. The pack also bears a PALS grid for smaller modular attachments.
The ILBE system is comprised of three main components the main pack, the assault pack and the hydration system. Each of these can be swapped around depending on the requirements of the mission and the load a soldier needs to carry.

ILBE Configurations
Because the ILBE has been designed to be configurable for the requirements of each mission, it has three main load configurations.
Assault Configuration allows the ILBE to carry primarily ammunition and water, and other essential fighting gear. It is the lightest configuration allowing marines the greatest amount of mobility during combat. The Assault Configuration uses the ILBE Assault Pack and the hydration system.

The Approach March Load is a heavier configuration designed to give 90% combat effectiveness to marines who will be faced with extended periods of time without re-supply. The Approach March Load uses the ILBE Main Pack and the hydration system for a medium sized load.

The Existence Load is the heaviest load, designed for longer periods of time where re-supply is not possible. Climate, season, and terrain determine what needs to be brought along for the mission. This is the full ILBE load that uses the Assault Pack, the Main Pack and the hydration system. It allows a Marine to carry a full 120 lbs of gear and equipment for extended missions.
Well that about concludes my overview on the different U.S. Military Load Carrying Platforms. I have tried to give a complete overview of each separate system with more in-depth comments on the systems that I have personal experience with, I was left to research some of the newer platforms that are reserved mainly for special ops soldiers and some of the improvements that have taken place on some of the systems since I last used them. Whatever the case, a new system will undergo numerous improvements as the soldiers using them in the field suggest certain changes. The thing to realize is there is a reason that some of the older systems developed decades ago are still in use today and that is they work, they are reliable and constant upgrades and improvements to the systems will extend the usefulness of them for many years to come. Typically a man will tend to use today what he was issued in his time of service with a few modifications or upgrades and that will probably be the case for future generations as well. I have been fortunate enough to have experienced the ALICE, IIFS and MOLLE systems and can tell you that as far as I’m concerned each one definitely has a place in my prep locker.

JWR Adds: Some readers are probably wondering: "What on Earth would I do with a frag grenade pouch?" Fragmentation grenades are banned in most countries. (Here, Swiss citizens have us bested. In some cantons they can buy them at waffen shops.)

Those of us that buy surplus web gear end up with few of these pouches. I've learned that each compartment of a grenade pouch will fit any of the following:

  • One standard U.S. military battle dressing (depending on its vintage.)
  • Many multi-tool pliers
  • Many compact LED flashlights (Surefire and other brands.)
  • Most compasses
  • Two 50-round boxes of .22 rimfire ammunition. (Wrap them in Ziploc bags first.)
  • One 20 round box of 7.62x39 ammunition. (Again, wrap them in Ziploc bags first.)
  • 5-round stripper clips for many bolt action rifles

Of course, grunts all round the world have also found that they also fit less crucial things like packs of cigarettes and iPods, and...

R.G. wrote a great article! I really appreciate his emphasis on the fact that when you fight hand to hand you will most probably be injured - he who is injured the least "wins", but in reality you both lose.

It needs repeating over and over, that the best strategy is to avoid potential confrontations - don't be in the situations or places where confrontations are likely to occur.  As that is not always possible or predictable, second best is to disengage or run away (and keep an exit route on your situational awareness radar).  As that is not always possible, be armed.  And since we don't always walk around with a weapon immediately available in our hand, or are disarmed by law - learn unarmed combat.

To re-use Boston T. Party's metaphor, you should sharpen your combative skills like the edge of a knife - along the entire length of the blade - from zero range unarmed combat, to arm length knife work, to short range pistol, to long range rifle...

The best training I have ever received in unarmed combat is the weekend seminar by Target Focus Training.  The most realistic, the quickest to get effective with, the most "actionable", the best emphasis on the ugly reality of the situation, the ugly mindset required, I could go on and on...

The downside is these classes are very expensive.  Get on their newsletter (which I highly recommend - a great education in itself) and wait for a special sale.  Frankly it took me awhile of reading their stuff to be convinced to risk the time and money to see if they were as good as they say they are.  They are!  Standard disclaimer: I have no financial interest, just a happy customer.

Regards, - OSOM

Upon hearing that I live in bear county, new acquaintances and distant relatives often ask me: "Do you carry pepper spray?" My answer: No, I carry lead spray. The fact is that .45 ACP beats .10 Capsicum.

   o o o

A reminder that another Sustainable Preparedness Expo will be held on September 30, 2012 in Spokane, Washington.

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H.L. sent this potential preview of the disintegration of America's cities: Gangs of Aleppo: The Arab Spring succumbs to post-state violence

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I noticed that has added Future Essentials Long Grain White Rice to their line. This rice is packed in #10 cans with O2 absorbers and it has a great 15 year shelf life.

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John Whitehead Interviews Brandon Raub. Raub is a former Marine who was recently arrested and put under "psychiatric hold" in Virginia because of some controversial Facebook posts wherein he quoted some odd song lyrics and mentioned the need for "revolution." Learn from his mistakes: Avoid using social media and don't talk with the police. If you have contact with any law enforcement officer in any capacity, be ready to exercise your 5th Amendment right to remain silent. Simply say, "Respectfully, on the advice of my attorney, I am exercising my Constitutional right guaranteed by the 5th Amendment to remain silent. Please address your questions to my attorney." Then say NOTHING else. If pressed, just repeat that phrase, as needed.

"I learned how much of what we think to be necessary is superfluous; I learned how few things are essential, and how essential those things really are." - Bernard Fergusson, Beyond the Chidwin: An Account of Number Five Column of the Wingate Expedition into Burma 1943

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Today we present another entry for Round 42 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 (a $300 value), F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A $200 gift certificate, donated by Shelf Reliance.

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 C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.)Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) 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 42 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Before I get to my take on unarmed combat, I want to make a few points:

First, if you are totally unarmed at any time before it hits the fan, and especially after, you are not taking survival, or life seriously; and you are probably already screwed because your enemies will not be unarmed.

Second, the last I checked this isn’t “the middle weight champion of the world blog”, it is “SurvivalBlog” which should be a real clue as to what you look for in an unarmed combat skill set.

Third, I readily admit I have never killed a person in unarmed combat and welcome input from anyone who has concerning flaws in my reasoning or conclusions; preferably someone who has killed more than one person so his comments are drawn from actual experiences.  Anyone can get lucky once.

Fourth, I am using terminology to accurately describe what I am trying to communicate, i.e. unarmed combat instead of martial arts, for reasons which will be made clear.
I have been a disciple of unarmed combat for over 30 years and have developed a number of principles and rules which I believe are important to develop in your training, and practice in any situation which could be dangerous at any time before a major disruption of civilization, and vital to survival after a disruption.  Some of them I learned from other sources and I have attempted to credit the author when I can remember where I learned it.

  1. “When two tigers fight, one of them is badly injured and the other one dies.”  This is the mindset you must have at all times.  One of Gichin Funakoshi’s axioms is “A true karateka is never easily drawn into a fight.”  Any confrontation can escalate to a life or death, survival, situation.  Bluntly, if it is not worth dying for, it is not worth fighting for.  As a consequence you must develop an attitude meant to defuse any situation which could escalate to a physical altercation, knowing the possible outcome could be death for someone.  Conversely, if it is worth fighting for be willing to die because your enemy may have already made that decision and you will have to kill him to survive.  Before TEOTWAWKI there will be some legal authority to which you will be forced to give justification for your actions even if death is not the result.  Remember this when someone is not sufficiently apologetic when he bumps into you.  If you begin the escalation and he ends up dying you will probably be charged with at least manslaughter; and probably convicted.  After TEOTWAWKI, there will be many more instances where the situation is a matter of living or dying, but the principle is the same.  And, the consequences if you suffer physical injury can be dire if proper medical treatment is delayed or not available. 
  2. If no one dies it is not fighting.  This should be self-evident and self-explanatory.   I don’t care what it is called and how brutal it may appear, it is not fighting.  You fight to survive and your training-physical, mental, psychological, and your techniques-must reflect that.  If you are not ready in all ways to fight and accept the consequences, and you can, run like hell.  You have to be alive to be embarrassed.  
  3. If it has any rules it is not fighting.  This includes belts, weight classes, points, trophies, rounds, protective equipment, referees, and especially forbidden techniques or targets.  See rule 2.
  4. There is no such thing as a fair fight.  If you survive it was fair.  Victors right history.  And, give testimony to the authorities.  If you don’t survive the question of fairness is irrelevant.
  5. Your enemy, not your opponent in a match, will be bigger, stronger, and meaner than you; and there will probably be more than one of them.  You shake hands with an opponent when the altercation is over, you don’t shake hands with a corpse; and an enemy wants to kill you.  If not, they wouldn’t attack you unless extremely desperate, which will be covered later.  You will not have any idea of what his true intentions are.  Your main advantage is that very few of them are willing to die for what they want.  If you are, and willing and able to use techniques capable of inflicting major damage or death quickly your odds of survival greatly improve.  Remember this when three strangers in hoodies and gang clothes appear out of the shadows and walk purposefully toward you in a dark deserted parking lot.  While you are rendering one unconscious with a choke hold another could be carving up you or your wife and children.
  6. If a fight lasts longer than 30 seconds you will lose.  The time limit is not hard and fast, but the goal is to end it as quickly as possible.  The reasons are in rule 5.  Your goal is not to control your enemy as with an arm bar, but to destroy his ability to do you harm as with an upward heel palm to the nose.  There are exceptional people, such as the Gracies, who may be able to defeat someone, or a group, in a long bout; but I am not one of them and 99% of preppers are like me.  Training must be geared toward the weaker members of your group having the skills to defeat a stronger enemy intent on killing.  What may work for an MMA contestant aged 25 and in great shape against someone else with the same characteristics is about useless for the average woman against a man, or someone like me on the downward side of 60.  I wouldn’t stand much of a chance in a ring against him, but know that I don’t have to lose in a fight.
  7. Kata is essential.  Before anyone blows up let me explain.  The literal definition of kata is form.  Unless you have an unlimited number of prisoners you can sacrifice while learning your skills, you can not learn effective techniques without them.  Bruce Lee had an expression that you must train the way you intend to fight.  Any motion has to be repeated correctly until it is intuitive; then practiced at full speed and force to be effective when needed.  That is kata.  A boxer or MMA contestant practicing a jab-cross-hook combination on a heavy bag is performing a kata.  To be intuitive it must be capable of being executed without conscious, analytical, thought.  If you have to think about it it’s too late.
  8. Sparring, anything not meeting the definition of fighting, has one main purpose, to teach you not to freeze when confronted or attacked so you will respond intuitively and correctly according to the rules of the bout.  Any sparring match will have forbidden targets and techniques.  Unfortunately those forbidden things are the very things best for keeping you alive in a fight.  All the good stuff is illegal.  Another weakness in many traditional martial arts sparring is what I call pulling your punches.  You train to tag your opponent, not destroy your enemy.  This is why few of the traditional martial arts did any sparring until late in the 20th century.  Sparring is essential for developing skills, but bears little in common with fighting.  And the more violent of the styles are useless for people of advanced age.  We don’t heal nearly as quickly as we did.  It is also why very few can compete after the age of 35. 
  9. Psycho trumps everything.  If it has hit the fan many, if not most, people will be quickly psychologically reduced to an animal state of mind.  Most animals have very little if any left brain, or rational thought process capabilities.  They operate solely on right brain, intuitive or emotional, processes.  Japanese has a word, mushin, which is loosely translated “no mind.”  This means you don’t think about it, you do it.  This is the right brain, and sometimes when it is in control you will feel you are looking at what you are doing as if someone else was in control of your body.  Bruce Lee talked about “it” doing the things he did because he didn’t have to think about doing them, they were just done.  The left brain imposes limits-morals, fear of injury, fear of punishment, fear of failure-on you, the right brain has no limits.  The right brain in control allows little old ladies to lift a car off a grandchild.  After it hits the fan many people will not be thinking rationally; and they will be the most dangerous.  And they won’t be mutant zombie biker gangs.  Most will be ordinary looking humans for whom the new reality is too much to take.  They will be unbelievably desperate, and if they want something they will try to take it even if it means attacking a larger person or group.  They can’t be controlled without physical harm to you if you try, and any injury you suffer during this period could prove to be fatal.
  10. Pain is a very unreliable ally.  What is debilitating to one person may be tolerable to another, a minor annoyance to a third, and not recognized as existing to someone in a rage or on drugs.  How much pressure to apply to a hold to create control without injury is a serious problem for law enforcement officers.  This is why there is almost always more than one officer assisting the primary officer in any situation.  The lone citizen doesn’t have the same type of excessive force restraint in a life threatening situation; or the luxury of help from armed trained personnel.  An attacker with a separated shoulder or dislocated elbow can’t use that arm whether he feels the pain or not. 

As to the specific style of unarmed combat I leave that up to each individual.  In spite of the claims there is no one-size fits all program.  Whatever works for you mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and psychologically is what is best for you.  However, there are some important considerations to be addressed without regard to which path you choose.

1.    More than half of all proficiency in unarmed combat is mental, or psychological. Beginning training is primarily physical, but the further you advance the mental portion
becomes paramount.  There are only so many ways to punch, and after a few thousand repetitions maintaining the discipline to perform each one properly can be a problem.No matter which system you are studying if it doesn’t discipline your mind, emotions, and spirit, half or more of your training is missing.  Being ready to die or kill is even more important than the movement you perform.  A well trained person is a dangerous weapon.  Without the mental training to understand this and the responsibility inherent in it you are no better than a wild animal, and a danger to society, not an asset.  Personally I have found most of the traditional Japanese schools are excellent at including this aspect of your training, but I am certain that they aren’t the only ones.  Any system which doesn’t, or touts how much of a bad*ss they can make you will probably get you in trouble with the authorities before it hits the fan, if it doesn’t get you dead.  Remember, there is always someone bigger, stronger, faster, and knows more no matter how good you may be.  And he may be armed.

2.    Sparring, anything not actual fighting, is a necessary but minor portion of any training. Systems which spend most of the time teaching sparring techniques and limitations will teach habits which won’t be as efficacious during a fight, especially if your enemy does not submit himself to those same limitations.  “Ikken Hisatsu” is a phrase emphasized in Shotokan karate.  It can be translated as to “kill with one blow.”  It has spiritual, psychological, and mental aspects as well as the obvious physical meaning to attack with the intent to destroy your enemy with each and every strike.  You may only get one. Sparring can only go so far in teaching this.

3.    An unfortunate fact of life is that we all get old, if we are fortunate.  Our physical strength and endurance decline as we age no matter how much we may try to maintain it.  We are not all 6’-2” well muscled 190 lb. 20-to-30 year old well-coordinated males.  Any system which puts an inordinate premium on physical strength and conditioning as the MMAs do is not suitable for anyone else.  As noted, your enemy will likely be larger and stronger than you are and your unarmed combat skills must be developed to negate these advantages.  It must also be skills which can be effective at almost any age.  Most of the early founders of martial arts disciplines were active well into their 80s.  The techniques I know do not require great physical strength to be effective.  Another Shotokan adage is “One can not know karate until after the age of 40.”  This is when physical strength begins to decline in most people.  The proper motions, correctly executed, applied to specific targets, with sufficient speed can be devastating to even the strongest individual.  This does not mean any 90 lb. granny could defeat Shaq, but this is not about contests, it is about getting real about survival.  
I know this will offend many people, but let’s get real about what we are all interested in, survival.  We spend many days determining what is vital to not only our own, but every member of our family or group’s survival. How many pounds of beans, how many bullets, which tools, what skills we need to ensure our best odds for survival.  We can easily be in a life or death situation nearly every day of our lives.  Being ready and trained for it will not only give us the best chance of survival if it occurs, but will hopefully keep us aware enough to avoid those situations when possible, best defense no be there; or prevent the normal vicissitudes, the jerk who cuts you off, from becoming one.  Another Shotokan adage is “To be victorious in 100 fights is not the ultimate goal; not fighting is the outcome to be desired.”  Real fighting, killing, is the last resort for survival and should never be contemplated as in any other way.  I’ll close with another adage I think I learned from Jeff Cooper, “You don’t shoot to kill, you shoot to survive.”

I'm a big fan of the site. You have very smart contributors. I learn a lot. What I’d like to add to the “1,000 Bottles of Water on the Roof, by James C.” post is a simple suggestion:. If you are concerned about water purification, storage, etc. and you’ve fiddled with the thought of brewing your own beer, I would humbly suggest that there are many ways that this hobby can kill two birds with one stone.
If you are set up to brew your own beer you will also have the following advantages:
1.       You can store your own glass and PET carboys – these are a necessity for home brewing and usually come in 5-gallon sizes (though 1, 3 and 6 gallon are available). You can also buy 6 gallon sealable food grade buckets. All of these are relatively inexpensive and give you good storage capacity.
2.       If you brew at home, you will quickly learn that sanitizing your gear is the most important thing you can do. To achieve this, you can buy Idophor solution and add a capful to your filled-up carboy or bucket to completely sanitize the surface in less than five minutes. You can reuse the solution if need be, just be sure not to consume any portion of it. Dump it out before you put your potable water in.
3.       To make sure your brew doesn’t boil over – you would likely have a 5 gallon stock pot. This is also good for boiling water before storage. One recommendation is, if you begin to homebrew, get a dedicated 5 gallon pot. Don’t cook your meals in it and then brew your beer in it.
4.       Unless you rack your beer into a keg, you will have to bottle it – this involves the bottles themselves, caps or corks and a capper or corker device. All good for storing, moving and giving away water. Since even beer in brown bottles can go bad from the sunlight (“skunking”), it would likely let enough UV rays in to perform James’ SODIS (brilliant idea by the way – simple and just brilliant). Just be sure to sanitize both bottles and caps with the Idophor solution mentioned above.
5.       The beer itself is not without value – and not just for getting loaded while the world ends! Think “Middle Ages” – water quality was so poor back then that turning water into beer or wine was often the only way you could safely drink it. I’m not trying to offend anyone’s sensibilities toward alcohol consumption, and I’m not suggesting giving your four year old a beer to drink in hard times. But if it gets bad enough, really bad enough, will you spurn that case of PBR or wine in your cellar?
I didn’t set out to combine home brewing and water prepping, but I realized after the fact how much easier I sleep having all of this great equipment. It doesn’t even cost that much money and there are a ton of local and online homebrew stores ( is my favorite). You can also get propane burners, plastic tubing, small and large siphons; all very useful stuff.
“Brew. Ferment. Drink. Repeat!”
Best, - John in Pennsylvania

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I'm a fan of lentils from way back.  Some things I didn't see in the article and the follow-up letters are:

1. Lentils can indeed produce intestinal gas like beans or most other legumes. However this can be significantly reduced by introducing a single peeled whole carrot into the lentil dish when cooking.  Remove the carrot before serving the lentils.  No, I do not know why it works.  I just know that it does.

2. Brown/Green lentils have the same cooking time and temp as brown rice.

3. Red lentils have the same cooking time and temp as white rice.

These comparable cooking times make it easy to bash together a casserole with the right ingredients in one pot and one cooking operation.  Couldn't be easier.

Here is my favorite lentil dish, published by The Tightwad Gazette.  I've been cooking it for donkey's years. It is filling and well-balanced.  Remarkably inexpensive, too.  BTW, all of The Tightwad Gazette book editions are highly recommended.

                    LENTIL-RICE CASSEROLE, from "The Tightwad Gazette II"

3 cups chicken broth or use water and 1 tablespoon vegetable
3/4 cup lentils, uncooked
1/2 cup brown rice, uncooked
3/4 cup chopped fresh onion
1/2 teaspoon sweet basil
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Blend all together in a casserole dish.  Bake, covered for 90 minutes at 300 degrees F.  During the last 20 minutes, you may top with 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese, if desired.

This dish is an all-around excellent.  Easy to fix (but not quick, alas), inexpensive, low fat, nutritious, and tasty.

John's Comments: I use this recipe as a starting point for lentil cooking.  I often add a chicken breast cut up in it, and/or carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, squash, etc or whatever is in season in the garden when you're cooking.

I change the seasoning to my taste, of course.  I use a lot more garlic (not powdered) and sometimes cloves, mint, or bay leaf. And I tend to use more basil, but then I like basil and garlic.

Chicken tends to lose its flavor and character when mixed in with this dish.  Probably better to serve chicken pieces on the side.  Ham cubes or pork sausage might be better to mix in if you want real meat in it.  Although the point of this [complete protein] casserole is that meat really isn't needful.

I will be a guest speaker (via teleconference) at CharlottePrepCon, on Saturday, September 8th.

   o o o

JRH Enterprises is having a Labor Day weekend sale on night vision and thermal imaging devices. This includes their popular Third Generation Pinnacle Autogated AN/PVS-14 Night Vision Monoculars brand new with five year warranty for $2,695, and the Upgraded Version of the PVS-14 new with five year warranty at $3,095. Thermal Imaging Units are also on sale as low as $1,925 for a FLIR Scout.

   o o o

F.J. liked this Lifehacker video: DIY Paracord Fishing Kit Bracelet

   o o o

From Izvestia: Russia May Legalize Possession of Handguns

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R.B.S. and Tom B. both sent this: Gun ID legislation may trigger exodus of gunmakers Remington, Colt. JWR's Comment: I'm sure that Wyoming, Idaho, or Montana would welcome them with open arms.

"The bandwagons rumble past. I sit here on the curb. " - John Hartford, lyrics to Like Unto a Mockingbird. (He is of course best known as the songwriter of Gentle on My Mind, but all of his music is worth exploring.)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Today we wish a happy birthday to Medal of Honor recipient Gary Beikirch, formerly of the 5th Special Forces Group. (He was born August 29, 1947.) Now that you are 65, Gary, you can finally draw your full retirement. God knows, you've earned it, along with the deep gratitude of our nation. I salute you.


Today we present another two entries for Round 42 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 (a $300 value), F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A $200 gift certificate, donated by Shelf Reliance.

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 C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.)Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) 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 42 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Five years ago, I got my Concealed Handgun License. Here in the Great State of Texas, concealed carry is the only legal kind for the average citizen; without the permit, you can't carry in public. (Your vehicle and home do not count as "public," incidentally.) Last week, my new CHL arrived in the mailbox, meaning that I'm good to carry for another five years.
In a post-SHTF environment, being armed everywhere you go is a good idea. We can't predict exactly what our society will be like, but we know that violent people are not going to decide that they should give the rest of us a break because we're busy dealing with huge problems (no food on the store shelves; mass panic; a highly contagious disease; whatever). These people are already preying on victims, which is why I have a CHL and handgun in the first place.

Ideally, you live someplace where permission slips to bear arms are not required. A few parts of the United States have that going for them, but I like Texas for lots of reasons. Staying here and having my CHL is less than perfect, but I love being here and will continue dealing with the license-to-carry nonsense. At the same time, a lot of us are pressuring our Legislature to do away with permits and let law-abiding citizens carry handguns without taking classes, paying fees, and waiting for our packets to process.
Some of my advice won't necessarily apply to you. Feel free to take what you can use and leave the rest; I'm going to generalize so that the maximum number of people will get something useful (I hope, at least).

Concealed Handgun Licenses, Licenses to Purchase, and Other Permission Slips
Now is as good a time as any to find the legal path to firearms ownership and carry. Some states require a permit to buy firearms and/or ammunition; others, like Texas, don't. It's up to you to find out what's required. The Internet is a good resource for this. Find your state's official Web sites, as they generally have current statutes and other, important information. (In Texas, you'll want to go to the Department of Public Safety Web site.)
Getting a firearm and/or permit to carry can be time consuming. I suggest starting now, if you haven't done this already, because we don't know when our society is going to collapse. Remember the riots following the Rodney King debacle? Store owners could not arm themselves because the state had a waiting period. Shopkeepers who'd already acquired firearms were able to defend what was theirs. Plan in advance so you don't get caught without something you might need.

Choosing a Handgun
Which caliber? I suggest a common one, as that's easier to find and cheaper than scarcer rounds.
Which manufacturer? That's up to you. I like Glocks, but that's based on my consistently good experiences with them. I suggest looking for a major manufacturer and making sure that they offer a good warranty or guarantee in case something goes wrong.
New or used? I bought my carry gun new. That's because I wanted to be certain that the gun was mechanically sound, not worn out, and could be counted on for years to come. If you're confident in your gun-buying skills, find a used handgun at a reasonable price.
Revolver or semi-automatic? We could discuss the pros and cons of each, but I lean toward semi-autos because I have far more experience with them than revolvers.
If you're not sure which handgun you like, visit a shooting range. Many rent handguns. If you have a friend or relative with a gun collection, offer a box or two of ammo in exchange for a range trip that includes shooting some of those guns. The best way to figure out if you really like something is to try it. Do you test drive a car before you buy it? Probably. The same caution and diligence applies to handgun shopping.

Carry Methods and Holsters
Whether you're carrying openly or concealed, you need a carry rig. The most-popular carry methods include:
Outside the Waistband (OWB): a holster that secures to your belt, but outside of your pants or shorts.
Inside the Waistband (IWB): same story as above, but inside your pants. Both of these methods should include a thick, sturdy belt to keep the rig in one place whether you're walking, shifting in your seat, or even jogging or running. Good holsters will retain your handgun even if you're upside down for some bizarre reason.
Shoulder: great when you're in a suit or sport coat. Some shoulder holsters balance the weight by adding magazine carriers on the non-gun side.
Appendix: a holster (the Belly Band, for example, or Thunderwear) that puts your handgun somewhere around your navel. I prefer appendix carry during the hottest part of the year because I can conceal the Glock even if I'm in basketball shorts and a tee shirt.
Pocket: a convenient way to carry a sub-compact handgun.
All the carry methods should include a holster or other retention device that keeps the firearm in place. Ideally, your rig will also cover the trigger guard, which prevents things like your shirttail from reaching the trigger. A ten-dollar, pocket holster can prevent a negligent discharge, so it's well worth the investment if you ask me.
I don't like nylon holsters. That's because they're soft and tend to slide around on my belt. These rigs are inexpensive, which is one of the main reasons why they're so appealing. However, you want a high-quality retention device because you need your handgun to stay where you put it. Good materials include leathers, plastics that have been molded for your handgun model, or combinations like Crossbreed's Supertuck Deluxe.

Ideally, you'll find a carry gun you really like and get a holster that's been made for that specific model. This approach usually provides a secure, quality holster that, with minimal care, will last you for years. Look for a holster made of rigid materials; you want the holster's "mouth" to stay open so you don't have to holster with both hands. That can be dicey because you could sweep your free hand with the muzzle, which I don't advise.

Holster selection is a personal thing, so I can't recommend specific manufacturers or models. The companies I personally like best are Dragon Leatherworks, Michael's Custom Holsters/The Holster Site, and Crossbreed. All produce reasonably priced, high-quality holsters designed for specific models.
Lots of us try more than one holster and setup before we find something that works well. Nobody else can really tell you what's going to work best, so you'll need to try a few things for yourself. The good news is that, when you decide that you don't like a particular holster, you can find somebody who's willing to swap. Many of us have a "box o' rejects" with one, two, maybe even a dozen, discarded holsters inside. I'm happy to let the rest of my family raid the stash.

Practice, Practice, and Practice Some More
In my opinion, those of us with firearms should practice several things. For self-defense handguns, I suggest you work on:
Safe Firearms Handling. The saying, "Train like you fight," is sometimes negative courtesy of sloppy or bad habits. If you practice drawing your handgun without paying attention to what your trigger finger is doing, how are you going to draw when the firearm's loaded and ready to fire?
Colonel Jeff Cooper came up with The Four Rules, which apply to all firearms:
"1. All guns are always loaded.
2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target
4. Always be sure of your target."

Other rules exist, like "put down your firearm before crossing a fence." That's a good one, but I think that The Four Rules cover that situation and many others. Regardless of which version of the various, firearms-safety rules you prefer or follow, the idea is to safely handle your weapon at all times.
How do you practice these rules? Whenever you pick up a gun, think about what you're doing even if you have to actively recite the safety rules in your head while you're on the firing line.

Whether your firearm is concealed or not, you should be able to quickly draw that gun. In some situations, you might not have more than a few seconds, if that long, to take action. Besides, rehearsing helps train your body to do what needs to be done, reducing the odds of freezing in panic.
Unload the firearm or use a blue gun. (Not all of these obviously fake training guns are actually blue, by the way.) Draw slowly at first, making sure that each motion is correct. As you keep practicing, you'll naturally speed up.

You don't have to get all your shooting practice at the range and/or with live ammo. With "snap cap" or dummy rounds, which are designed to protect a firearm you dry fire, you can safely and comfortably work on things like your stance, trigger squeeze, and sight alignment without leaving the house.
I also suggest some formal instruction, mostly because a qualified teacher can show you what you're doing wrong and how to correct it. This doesn't require thousands of dollars' worth of gun school. You can take a basic class to establish a solid foundation.

Maintaining Firearms and Accessories
I'm not the sloppiest firearms owner, but I'm also not the neatest. My current carry gun does not need to be cleaned after every range trip; it's fine for thousands of rounds, though I don't put off cleaning the gun for that long. However, I make sure the gun stays well lubricated, as that prevents quite a few problems.

Each handgun is different, so I can't recommend one cleaning schedule for everybody. Regardless, you should regularly inspect the weapon and accessories (including magazines if applicable) for wear, rust, corrosion, cracks, and other problems.

Having spare parts on hand is a good idea. If you know how to replace tiny springs and other, internal parts, you can buy them in advance and store them someplace safe. Does completely tearing down your gun scare you? Same here. I have a gunsmith/armorer, who also happens to sell guns, who's happy to help me out. For seventy bucks, he'll completely disassemble my gun, clean everything, and replace parts that are likely to break or fail within the next year or so. He's worth every cent.

Extra magazines are great. I recommend having at least three per handgun, but feel free to pick up more. You can also buy parts kits to replace magazine springs and followers, which might be worth the money. If you can get the kit inexpensively enough, or if you can't find new magazines for a really good price, why not replace worn parts?

Ultimately, a handgun is only as effective as its owner or user. Keep that in mind when you're gun shopping, shooting at the pistol range, or inspecting your handgun and carry rig for problems. Diligence on your part makes you a better gun owner, which is better for your safety and, possibly, life. If or when TSHTF, having both the firearms and skills puts you a step or two ahead of the people who might otherwise use force to take what's yours, including your life.

All too often those of us who have been in the martial arts leave behind the non trained person in our conversations and training advise. I would like to highlight a few areas for those that have no formal training and how they might approach a fist to fist conflict.

This is not intended to be all inclusive for no article can cover every aspect of a fight; what I do want to cover is a few make are break concepts for those that have never trained or are just beginning to train.

The motivation to write this article comes from conversations I have had with many people over the past few years. They have been everything from Ministers, Mothers, to Business owners and have never been in a physical fight. What they do have is a desire to learn something but not necessarily spend years in the dojo or the boxing ring.

Hopefully I can assist in their learning and motivation.


If you want to win then you had better have the proper attitude/mindset. Corporate America is full of cliché lines like “Just Do It”, Play to Win”, and “Winners Never Quit and Quitters Never Win”. These speak to our human nature and attempt to remove our inner doubts. We all have them and they are trained deep into our psyche from childhood.

“Play Nice”, Don’t Cheat”, Don’t Throw Rocks” represent deprogramming responses that we learned as children to be able to coexist within a polite society.

The difficulty is how do you reacquire that primal survival and animalistic kill or be killed attitude. Most of us never will. We have lived in polite society for so long and our mothers did a wonderful job reprogramming us. But there is hope.

The military can do a great job instilling the combative survival mindset but it is interesting to note that so many of the older service people are some of the calmest individuals I have ever met. Does this mean they have lost the attitude to win a physical altercation, not in the least, they have simply moved to a level of quit confidence.

This confidence I am referring to is built upon being tested in many ways. For some it was boot camp for others it was a bad home environment, and for some it was simply learning at an early age they had to keep part of their inner beast close to the surface in order to survive.

In building this confidence to actually do real harm to someone we are going to look at a few examples that help build the inner confidence and then come back to the attitude.

How to Take a Hit

If you are going to be involved in a physical conflict you must accept the fact that you are going to be injured. You can try to do everything in your powers to not be struck or injured but in reality you will be injured. The naysayers will respond that I have this great technique or can draw my weapons so fast.

That may be, you could be the fastest shot and the biggest hombre on the block but in the real world if you can’t accept the fact that fighting someone leads to self injury you’re kidding yourself.

So where do you begin? We as children liked to wrestle. Some were better than others but most of us did it at some point with our friends. In these play matches we learned that you were going to get rug burns, popped in the nose, and catch the occasional knee to the groin. Did this stop us; not a chance.

We need to look at this fun activity as an adult and realize we learned many things about ourselves from this child’s game. The first thing we learned is that losing stinks and being on your back with someone on top trying to pin our arms was humiliating. We wanted to cry, we wanted to bite, and we just wanted to win. But we had already learned that there were rules to this game and if we did not follow the rules your opponent was going to use those same dirty tactics on you the next time.

A real life encounter has the same problem. We default back to our level of training and this training was to play nice. We all remember the bully down the street, he was mean! No one liked him and he scared us. The reason he scared us was he did not play by the rules and would actually hurt you.

So let’s take this situation and add some real life training to the equation. At some point we must learn to be hit, take the hit, and keep fighting. How to get over this fear of breaking social norms and accepting damage can be accomplished in a couple of ways:

One: Be a sociopath. This is not necessarily desirable but it can work. Unfortunately we don’t realize we are the sociopath and it takes society to recognize this pitfall in personality and give us a social reeducation. I don’t promote this but it is an interesting exercise in one’s self reflection.


Two: Go get hit. Join a boxing gym, full contact martial arts school, or just get a group of friends together and have a round robin king of the mountain match. You can have rules to keep from getting overly injured but you need to realize that getting smacked in the face hurts and if it happens once you will learn two things very quickly; keep your guard up and hit first.

If you do the round robin realize that you have to keep a level of civility to the exercise. These are your friends and you might not want to go to work the next day with a black eye and chipped teeth. Boxing gloves do wonders to stop the heavy injuries but they still let you feel the smack. In my school we call this getting “Thumped” everyone gets thumped from time to time. Some by design and others by surprise; it does wonders for making your mind work under stress.

The point to remember is the confidence we discussed earlier is built in many layers. Learning to be hit is just one of those layers.

How to hit something

Many people think they are the king of the mountain when it comes to laying down the hurt on someone else. That may be, but in truth we are not. Take a group of ten and place yourself in the group. Odds are five will be better than you and five will be worse. You have no guarantee that you are the biggest dog on the street. And if you think you are then you might need to reread option one in the above section.

Countless hours are spent in martial arts schools learning how to do a correct punch, hit with an elbow just right, or snap your foot out for a precise kick. This is all sound knowledge to have but in reality the person that hits first and hits hardest will tend to win. Remember this is not sparring class and the only point awarded is that the winner gets to go home and have dinner with their wife and kids. The loser just says on the ground.

To hit something, simply close your hand and punch/push straight out hard and fast, you may break your hand but that is probably a fair trade for winning. Or pound down with your fist like a hammer. If you can kick then do so and do it hard and hit their legs. Forget about kicking to the head or ribs unless you have lots of training. Remember if the legs go the opponent falls down.

As you get closer hit with your elbows instead and hit until you’re completely worn out. You have the ability to hit through their blocks if you keep swinging and if you damage their arm or hands in the process all the better. You are in this to win. Only soccer matches are won with one goal. A fight should score like a basketball game; lots of baskets and as fast as you can make them.

Your knees are wonderful tools. They automatically rise to the level of the groin. Use them! If you fall to the ground get up fast and keep swinging. If you both fall to the ground get up and keep swinging. Yes some will say I will just jump on top of them and pound them into the ground. Maybe you can, but the opponent certainly will do everything in their power to not let it happen. Don’t wrestle, hit; don’t try to pin them, hit.

Biting is good. Your mother told you no biting and she may have been right. But in the realm of a street fight biting is good. So is sticking your finger in their eye. J hooking their lip and tearing is brutal but works. Head butts work! You need to keep a sane attitude about how you would use the technique but when you are close and their guard is down, slam their nose with your forehead.

There are two rules to winning the fight. Rule one is to hit hard and fast and rule two is to hit again. Remember this is about winning a physical altercation in which you or your loved ones lives are in danger. So hit and hit again.

How to Think

If you lose control of your brain odds are you will lose the fight. I have seen many people say “I just saw red” and went berserk. Their going berserk breaks the social and norm and can work to your favor but if you lose too much control you won’t see the guy behind you or the knife slip out of the opponents pocket just before they move in.

This too is a learned skill. Boxers take a beating but can still keep their brains in a fight. They learned how to take a hit and accept that fact. You must learn to not lose your brain. This is where getting over the stress of being hit helps.

How to Fall down

Adults hate to fall down. I actually classify it as one of the three hardest things to teach new students in the martial arts.  

You need to learn to fall down and not get hurt or lose your bearing. It is not difficult to master in theory. The problem comes from our adult minds. Children fall down, adults don’t fall they look silly.

I will argue that point; Sports people fall all the time and we expect them to. Downhill skiers do it at 60 mph and just shake it off. Why in the world would an adult not be willing to learn to fall down with some level of skill or proficiency?

Falling down is just like sitting down. The lower you can sit to the ground the less distance you have to actually fall from a height. Extremely simple in its practical explanation but how many adults would be willing to walk out into the middle of a parking lot and fall down? Not many, but those with training would do it without a second thought. Will it ruin your clothes and scuff your shoes? Good chance, but if your life depended on it who cares about your pants.

It does not matter if you are being thrown to your side or pushed straight back; the foundation of the action is the same. Sit down on your heels and then let your body roll to the side or rear. Will it hurt? Maybe, but a bruised ego, some road rash, and sore muscles are a lot better than a split skull because you fell down like a timbering tree.


Weapons exist everywhere and I don’t mean the knife or slug thrower in your pocket. Your baseball cap is great for disorienting the opponent, throw it in their face as you close in to hit. Throw a handful of pocket change at their eyes. Scream a blood chilling yell as you come to blows.

The voice is a great weapon and can buy you that split second of delay for you to hit first. Pick up anything that is available and throw it. It does not matter if you make hard contact just remember a weapon can distract as well as do damage.

If the opponent has a weapon seriously consider running away or at least keep backing up. Pick up something to help keep a solid object between you and the weapon. Your shoe works, a rolled magazine, purse; the options can be endless if you keep your brain.

If you do get stuck with a knife don’t stop fighting. Do everything you can to lock down the knife but don’t stop hitting. The odds of then finishing you off with one poke from a knife is extremely limited, it is when you lose your brain and stop fighting that the knife will most assuredly keep coming in. Again, if you are faced with a knife seriously consider running away!

How to block

You must have some basic understanding of how to block a punch or simple kick coming at you. First off remember you are not trying to be some 95th level black belt or a MMA star. You are just trying to not get your head knocked off by the person or persons in front of you.

Here are three simple rules:

One, make a fist and keep both fists in front of your face about one foot in front of your nose with your elbows down. As a punch comes towards your face slightly shift your forearm in or out to help deflect the blow. This is not perfect but is better than keeping your hands down at your side with your face sticking out like a big balloon.

Two, don’t reach out to try and block the punch. The further you move your fist away from your body the less strength your block will have. Let the punch come in and use the strength of your forearm and upper arm for the block.

Three, if you see the punch or kick coming at you try to move off to the side. You are much better off letting the strike miss you completely than letting the opponent keep hitting your arms.

Know When to Run Away

If you can’t win or know the outcome is not going to benefit from your fighting then leave. Only get in the fight if you absolutely have to. If they start pounding on your car don’t get out and bring the fight to them. Drive off, call the police, or try and wait them out. You have car insurance for a reason. The macho response is to go out and beat them up, the rational response is to use your brain and only engage in the fight if absolutely necessary.

If you are protecting your family have a prearrange command word or phrase that tells them to run to a predefined safe location(s) and what to do when they get there. Remember, you are in this to win and winning might be as simple as delaying the conflict for the family to leave the area so you can follow after them. If the spouse and children would just stand around and gawk then you have deeper problems to start addressing.

Do I need to practice?

Yes, no, maybe. Some people have that self preservation instinct very close to the surface and some can train for years and never find it. Do you want to spend years in the dojo working to master a martial art style or are you just looking to get in touch with your inner beast and how to take care of yourself?

These are questions that only you can answer. But I will throw out a bit of hard earned wisdom. Learning to be involved in a martial sport, martial art, or any hands-on smacking type martial activity will change you. You will learn things about yourself you wish you never knew as well as be surprised by some of the great things you took for granted.

Training in a marital style may not be necessary but in the long run learning some basics and being able to develop a different attitude about physical conflict realities would benefit anyone.

My Children are with me

When you change the equation and add family to the encounter scenario the conflict takes on a completely different reality. You may be able to handle yourself and escape without much injury but what do you do if you must win or survive long enough for mother to get a couple of young children into the car and secure.

This situation gets a whole lot more difficult if you are faced with two or more assailants. Do you fight to win or do you fight to delay and give time for the wife to exit the scene?

This holds true for women. Can you really survive an attack by a 250 pound man or will your mind shut down with the first confrontation? How about when you are struck the first time in the face?

These questions are presented for thought and lead into the poem “No Man is an Island” by John Donne.
What ever you do you have to realize it must take into account everyone else around you.

Winning does not mean physically beating the opponent

You do not have to beat the opponent into the ground to win. You may have to but the goal may simply be to survive and escape. This statement will greatly offend many, so if it does then you might need to reread option one above again. We are not talking about a macho encounter where there has to be a top dog. We are taking about survival.

This is where we learn from our childhood again. In the school yard we learned very quickly how to disengage from the bully. The same thought process and motivation needs to be kept in this type of encounter. Don’t stand and fight unless absolutely necessary.

Back to Attitude and Mindset

I cannot give you the attitude or mindset to survive a hand to hand encounter; nor can anyone else. But many good trainers do exist that can help you find and develop some basic skills that will allow you to get beyond the polite society rules of the school yard. This confidence is what will allow you to find your survival attitude.

In moving beyond this trained response for being nice to everyone you will find that you will become more nice; that is until it is time to stop being nice and save your hide. - OldManKarate

I have a couple of comments on the recent lentil article. Brad mentioned: " sells 25 lb. for $24.70"

Restaurant Depot (which I learned about on SurvivalBlog) sells 25 lb bags for about $13. They also have 25 lb bags of many other beans for similar prices.

JWR mentioned: "Lentils can harden in long term storage, just like beans. This limits their practical shelf life to about eight years."

Since we store what we eat and eat what we store, using up lentils before they harden is not a problem. We empty the large bags into quart canning jars and then suck the air out using the canning jar attachment for a FoodSaver machine. While this may help them store longer, the main reason we do this is to keep insects and vermin out of them. Also we find the quart size to be handy to fit in our kitchen cabinets. We keep a wide variety of dried items in quart jars, and pull another jar from the pantry when each one in the kitchen is used up.

Our favorite way to use lentils is in soups and stews, sometimes mixed with brown rice or barley. We start with a large pot of water with some bullion, add the lentils, a pint jar of home canned chicken or other canned meat, whatever fresh vegetables are available, and then supplement the fresh vegetables with dried if needed.

Thanks for all you do! - Suburban


Another good thing about lentils is that they are high in resistant starch, which is good for diabetics like me on a low carbohydrate diet. In an emergency situation, I can eat such foods in small amounts spaced out in a way so as to keep my sugar stable. You can read about resistant starch at About's Low Carb Diets web page. - Burke C.


Mr. Rawles,
Lentils can be cooked over one to three candles, using one of those one-man mess kit pots with lid. One cup of lentils, two cups of water, and one hour. One half cup each of lentils and rice also works [to provide a complete protein, for more adequate nutrition]. - Gman

I'd like to respond to our friend who asked if refinancing from 5.2% down to 3.88% is a good idea. To answer that, consider what we just did. We refinanced our house from 4.5% down to 3.75% and borrowed a further $40,000, from equity. The result is that we still pay $100 less each month in mortgage payments. While we have more debt, now we also have more equity in the house in the form of $33,000 worth of solar panels and battery backup that we had installed. We also squared away most of our remaining important preparations and paid off some credit cards to boot. It is a very, very good idea to refinance even without taking out any equity because you will end up paying tens of thousands of dollars less through the life of a 30-year loan, assuming you have that much left to go. - Geoff S.

Seniors Arm Themselves In Record Numbers

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Reader H.L. alerted us to the latest from Nanny State Britannia: Animal rights group calls for Shooting Times and The Field to be classed alongside porn. Meanwhile, in Nanny State Nebraska: Grand Island Deaf Preschooler Asked to Change the Sign for His Name in School. (Thanks to Mike Williamson for the latter link.)

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G.G. sent this video link:Wal-Mart Status 48 Hours Pre-Hurricane

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I had to chuckle when I saw the Bourne Legacy Shoulder Tote Bag is now a "featured item" on eBay. It comes with a Toshiba laptop computer. But I think that the bidding would be a lot stronger if it instead more authentically included a dozen passports, a SIG P226, six spare loaded magazines, and wads of Swiss Francs, Dollars and Euros.

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From F.J., this Instructables piece: Re-curve Bow from Skis

"It is alleged by men of loose principles, or defective views of the subject, that religion and morality are not necessary or important qualifications for political stations. But the Scriptures teach a different doctrine. They direct that rulers should be men who rule in the fear of God, able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness..." - Noah Webster. Value of the Bible, 1834, #302

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Today we present another entry for Round 42 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 (a $300 value), F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A $200 gift certificate, donated by Shelf Reliance.

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 C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.)Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) 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 42 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

This article is about a food that I have become familiar with just recently.  The nutritionist at my chiropractor’s office has me on a detoxification program.  One of the things I am “allowed” to eat during this detox is a portion of lentils each day.  I had never had lentils before this detox, but became a fan rather quickly.  The more I looked into the details of this small but mighty food, the more impressed I became that it would be a great addition to my emergency stockpile.  The lentil is a cousin of the bean, and both are in the legume family. These are not just “beans,” they are what you might call a “super food.”  I know that term gets tossed around quite a bit on television shows, but I am really sincere when I give it this title.  I believe this will be a vital part of your survival planning if you grasp the benefits of this small legume.

I hope to convince you of why you should be stocking up on lentils.  I believe this should be your “go to” bean for stockpiling.  Being a pastor/preacher, I will cover this in outline form, which is the way I think best when writing.  So now the question – “Why should I consider lentils for stockpiling and prepping?”
Well, here is why . . .

Lentils only take about 20 minutes to cook.  Most lentil bags say 15-20 minutes.  A big plus is that unlike most dried beans, they don’t have to be soaked ahead of time.  This is perfect for the meal needed quickly or the meal on the move.  When I used to imagine stockpiling beans, I always thought of pinto beans; but the pinto beans need to be soaked for some hours to get them ready to cook.  The best way to cook the lentils is to get the water boiling and just toss them in, and then simmer for 20 minutes or until they reach your desired consistency.  Use a 2 to 1, or 3 to 1 ratio of water to lentils.  If you don’t need to cook them quickly, you can still make a hearty bowl of lentils in a slow cooker as well.  Either way, just cook until they are as soft as you like them.

Lentils have the same shelf life possibilities as other beans.  You can seal them at home on your own with Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers, or you can buy them already sealed in pails (40 lb. plastic buckets).  Even if you never use them in an emergency, you will probably only have to replace them once in a lifetime for a fresh supply.  Beans just keep well.
            Also they are easily portable.  What I mean by this is that you can move them, pack them, or stuff them in a full bag without having to worry about smashing or breaking them.

Now we get to the good part, the details of these little giants.  I was surprised when I found out what was in these lentils.  The following stats are from Wikipedia:

“With about 30% of their calories from protein, lentils have the third-highest level of protein, by weight, of any legume or nut, after soybeans and hemp.  Proteins include the essential amino acids insoleucine and lysine, and lentils are an essential source of inexpensive protein in many parts of the world, especially in West Asia and the Indian subcontinent, which have large vegetarian populations.” “Health magazine has selected lentils as one of the five healthiest foods.” says this, “Though hardly used in Western diets, lentils are perfect for high nutritional yields on a budget.  They are so high in protein and energy producing nutrients that a Canadian firm is working on putting a lentil sports energy bar together.  Canadian studies on athletes proved they performed better with more endurance after eating lentils dishes than pasta.”

Green lentils have a fiber concentration of 31%.  Fiber is good for you in a great variety of reasons.  This fiber acts like a little scrub brush that cleans out the digestive system.  This also helps with glucose and cholesterol levels.  Think of this too.  We all know fiber keeps you from getting constipated.  If the world as we know it ends, at least you can endure it regular and healthy!  Lentils are also a good source of iron.  Folic acid is an important nutrient also found in lentils.  Studies show that one cup of lentils has 90% of the recommended daily allowance of it, more than any other unfortified food.  This is especially helpful to expecting mothers.
      And now, here are the nutritional facts for those who want to know the specifics.
            --Nutritional value of lentils per 100 g (3.5 oz)
                        Carbohydrates………60 g
                        Sugars………………...2 g
                        Dietary fiber………...31 g
                        Fat……………………1 g
                        Protein………………26 g
                        Water……………...10.4 g
                        Thiamine (vit. B1)…(76%)
                        Calcium………56 mg (6%)
                        Iron………..7.54 mg (58%)
                        Magnesium...122 mg (34%)
                        Phosphorus…451 mg (64%)
                        Potassium…..955 mg (20%)
                        Sodium…………6 mg (0%)
                        Zinc………..4.78 mg (50%)
                   --Percentages are relative to U.S. recommendations for adult daily consumption--

What do all these numbers mean?  For one thing, it means they are a good source of protein, especially when meat or eggs are in short supply.  Also, they are a much better alternative than Ramen Noodles which are outrageous in sodium content.  They are a great energy food.  They are also easily digestible.  I have just scratched the surface of the nutritional benefits of lentils.  If you research them more, you will be surprised at all you find. “Surprised by a lentil?” you say. Oh, yes.  Some of the simplest things of God’s Creation are the most amazing

4.  PRICE.
            One word describes it best – Cheap.  Lentils, like other beans are very affordable.  I have purchased mine for no more than $1.10 per 1 lb. bag in the supermarket.  You may ask, “What about buying in bulk?”  They can also be bought in bulk.  We are going to start getting ours through a co-op we are in with some friends through Azure Standard.  Sam’s Club sells a 40 lb. can for $51.12 on their web site. sells 25 lb. for $24.70.  I’m sure you can find more if you just look online.  If you are like me, cheap is good!  With a family of six, like we have, it doesn’t take long to go through the vittles.  We need all the bang for the buck we can get. 
            Lentils do come in brown, black, orange, yellow, red, and green.  Most of the ones you will find here in the U.S. are brown and green.  This is because these ones retain their shape better when cooked.

5.  TASTE.
            I would say they taste very much like pinto beans, in my opinion.  They are not strong or overpowering.  The way I have been eating them (in allowance with my diet restrictions) is to salt them, pepper them, and a few drops of Louisiana Hot Sauce.  That’s all, and they taste great.
            Of course, as with other beans, the ways you can spice them are unlimited.  Oh, and I almost forgot. Since they soak while they cook, they soak up a great deal of the flavor of the water they are cooked in.  Therefore, you could flavor the water too any way you like. For example: bullions, broth, hot sauces, herbs, spices, etc.  A smoked ham bone is hard to beat in a pot of beans. 

            The high protein in lentils keeps you full longer than other foods. Another great thing I have found is that they don’t give you gas like pinto beans do.  Of course, if you are outdoors or are a teenage boy, you may not care about gas!  When times get tough, you will want to get as full as possible on as little as possible.  You want your food to last a long time.
            You can also mix in lentils with other foods to make them more filling.  You can extend meats and meals with them.  If meat is being rationed, you can mix some lentils into sloppy joes, meat loafs, chili, burgers, casseroles, soups, and such.  You could do this even if meat isn’t being rationed.  Those of you who may cook a rabbit or squirrel because it’s all you have could make a stew go farther with lentils.
            For example, when I process my deer in the fall, I always save the necks and sometimes the rump bone.  I will cook the neck in a big slow cooker with a mess of beans and spices.  The next time I do this, you can be sure I’m going to use lentils.  Cooking this way makes the meat tender and makes it go farther for a very small cost.

Closing thoughts:

  • You can find lentils in your Bible (KJV) in Gen. 25:34; 2 Sam. 17:28; 2 Sam. 23:11 and Eze. 4:9.  They are always mentioned as a good food. 
  • I hope this has given you some insight into a food you may not know much about.  My goal of this article is to help others like myself who are looking to provide for their family in a cost effective way.  It wouldn’t take you long to build up a supply if you bought just a couple pounds each week when you did your grocery shopping.  Or if you just want a “get it and be done” solution, you could get a big sealed bucket.
  • As the saying attributed to Napoleon goes, “An army marches on its stomach.”  Part of keeping your wits when society falls apart is having a full stomach.  You may be able to think good even when you are hungry, but you will think better when you are full.  It may sound crazy to some, but many know how true this is.  Most anyone will trade anything for food when they are starving to death.  Don’t get to that place; plan ahead.
  • I know this article is primarily about stockpiling lentils, but I hope this inspires you to make them a part of your normal diet.  The health benefits are such that you should really take a closer look at them.  They are good for your heart and your whole body.
  • As a Christian and a beginning Prepper, I hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and ultimately trust my God and Savior.  God bless!

JWR Adds: Lentils can harden in long term storage, just like beans. This limits their practical shelf life to about eight years. But even hard lentils can be softened if you cook them in a pressure cooker, or grind them to a fine paste before cooking.

I have read that you should not add salt before or while they are cooking, since this can cause lentils to harden. Just wait until after they have cooked through, then add salt.

Also keep in mind that unless they have been irradiated, lentils will sprout. As with other sprouts, this provides a great nutritional multiplier effect and can help break up the monotony of a storage food diet.

Just a pondering I hoped you might be able to give me some insight on, I'm either to young or didn't know it because we were too poor to notice, but I've never experienced a significant economic decline in my life.  My wife and I are both doctors and have borrowed heavily to set ourselves in a great place.  Right now we have no difficulty making the bill payments but should the banking/finance system collapse, will we still have to pay the bills; how do we pay the bills; and/or is there any hedge to anticipate how we'll make those payments?  I don't doubt that we'll still make 'something', be it cash or barter, but what exactly do the banks expect from you at that point?  Do they just foreclose on everyone...?  Is there something we should be doing now asset wise if the US dollar were to collapse we could still meet our loan requirements...?  I'm just not quite sure what would be necessary.  Most of the articles/publications I read take you all the way to that point but fail to point blank say how you keep those things that someone else has a lien on, even if you have a currency collapse.  Thanks for the thoughts and all the insight. is my home page. - E.A.

JWR Replies: In essence, if we go though a deflationary depression, creditors will be chasing their clients, but if we go though a inflationary depression creditors will practically be hiding from their clients, saying: "Oh, just keep on making your monthly payments."

In a total collapse, all bets are off. If it is hyperinflationary, you can simply pay off your creditors in depreciated dollars.  And I would advise doing so in the midst of it all, before a major currency reform.  Just be sure to get a notarized "satisfaction of mortgage" document (or similar), so that you can prove that you stand free and clear.

In the end, possession in nine tenths of the law.  The many people now squatting in foreclosed houses are evidence of that.

Dear James,

I'd like your advice. We live in a house on five rural acres in Wisconsin. It's both our year-round house and a sorta retreat. We now have the chance to refinance our mortgage at a lower interest rate. (Just 3.88%, as oppose to the 5.2% on our existing mortgage.) Our outstanding balance is about $210K. Should we re-fi, or stand pat? Any special considerations, given the perilous economic times, these days? Thanks in advance for your advice. - Hal K.

JWR Replies: Yes, this might be an advantageous time to re-finance. A 3.88% rate is excellent. Just beware that though we are still in a deflationary overhang, it isn't likely to last much longer. Once inflation kicks in, then variable interest rate loans will become a killer. So I recommend that you ONLY take a fixed rate mortgage, and that you make sure that the terms of the new mortgage agreement allow you to pay off chunks of the principal with no prepayment penalty.

A recent article that mentions the American Redoubt movement: Secession: Who WILL Be First?

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Dawn Wells (of Gilligan's Island fame), now semi-retired in Driggs, Idaho, shows how to peel potatoes, Idaho style.

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Were your cows really bred? A lab in Moscow, Idaho can let you know: Biotracking

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I just discovered that more than a year ago, Ken at ModernSurvivalBlog spent some time researching and creating a quite useful graphic: Northwest Survival Retreat Ideal Population Map

Reader Rex S. suggested: Why You Always Want Physical Everything

Sue C. sent: Republicans tease with gold standard, but idea seen full of bugs. [JWR's Comment: The biggest "bug"--and the statists' real objection to gold--is that a gold standard wouldn't allow the government to spend beyond its means and create money out of thin air.

G.G. flagged this: When a 401(k) Is Locked in the Freezer

One way of looking at the current monetary paradigm: The Rot Runs Deep 1: The Federal Reserve Is a Parasitic Wealth Transfer Machine

Items from The Economatrix:

Nearly 1 In 5 Americans Have No Money To Put Food On The Table

US Incomes Fell More In Recovery Than In Crisis

Data Point To Slow Pace Of Healing In Economy

Retreat Security: The Urban Speedball For Preppers. JWR's Comments: For anything other than very short term caching, it is crucial that water and ammunition be stored in separate waterproof containers. If stored together, all it would take is one leaking bottle (such as one ruptured by freezing or one with a pinhole from rough handling) to destroy the stored ammunition. One .30 Caliber ammo can with bandoleers of ammo paired with one "Tall .50" filled can with water containers would be about the right ratio, for defending against anything short of a human wave attack. They can be attached to each other with bungee cords to make carrying the pair with one hand more comfortable and less noisy. The ideal padding for inside the can stocked with water bottles would be earth tone socks, earth tone underwear, and/or an olive drab or brown hand towel. These items have multiple uses (hygiene, camouflage material, weapons cleaning, padding, water pre-filtration, et cetera.) OBTW, If you'd like to use 5 gallon plastic buckets as shown in the video, food grade kelly green buckets with matching lids are available from and other Internet vendors. These can be lightly bead-blasted or sanded with a palm sander to kill the gloss. Sanding will also make paint adhere better. Then apply just a couple of quick blasts of flat olive drab and flat brown spray paint in large splotches to create more of a natural color and to break up the outline, and you'll be all set.

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My old friend S.C. sent this: More about Bluffdale and the compartmented codeword project Stellar Wind.

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Is Going Off the Grid Practical?

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New Jersey city of Camden to scrap police department amid budget woes.

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Some very inexpensive resources for homeschoolers: The Homeschool Curriculum Company

"The religious atmosphere of the country was the first thing that struck me upon my arrival in the U.S. In France, I had seen the spirits of religion and freedom almost always marching in opposite directions, in America, I found them intimately linked together and joined and reigned over the same land..." - Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Monday, August 27, 2012

By way of Tom Gresham of Gun Talk Radio we heard that Mark Craighead, founder of Crossbreed Holsters, just passed away. It is reported that he was 43 and died of a heart attack. He was a Christian and ran a Christian company (hence the company name and logo.) It is very sad to hear of this fine Christian gentleman passing. This serves as a reminder that life can indeed be much shorter than we anticipate. Get right with God, today!


On August 27, 1883 an explosive volcanic eruption beneath the island of Krakatoa obliterated most of the island and resulted in regional tsunamis that took the lives of more than 36,000 people.

The Book of Blacksmithing (Setting Up Shop, Essential Skills, and Easy Projects to Get You Started), by Michael Cardiff.
ISBN-13: 978-1610045773

I've known Mike Cardiff for a couple of decades, and can vouch for his competencies as a smith.  He moves surely, wastes no effort, and turns out functional tools, blades and accoutrements in short order.  I helped him find a publisher for this work, and am very glad to see it in print.
I'm quite impressed by the outcome.  Mike's writing style is simple, clear and straightforward, and the illustrations by his brother are likewise very easy to understand and follow.  This slim but surprisingly dense book first addresses safety, setup of a smith including choices of forge types, anvils and tools.  It then does a detailed breakdown of various types of hammers, tongs, punches and chisels, shaping tools, and accessories like drills and grinders.  Each major tool is accorded a description on how to select and use it, across a panoply of striking, gripping, bending, punching and abrading tools.

He covers buying and scrounging material for different purposes, and finding tools, or items that can be converted into tools, from various sources.

Then it's on to how to build a fire (coal, gas, and charcoal, possibly the most versatile and available fuel for grid down or economic crisis scenarios), maintain it, heat and work steel.  How to control the hammer, the shape, how to heat treat and temper for tools, and how to weld ferrous metals with a forge.  He does not cover horse shoeing, which is the specialty of a farrier. He does cover the manufacture of basic hand tools.

Next, there is an entire chapter on problems and how to troubleshoot them—misshapen metal, split, cracked or twisted stock, and problems judging metal mass.

The last part of the book is devoted to very clear, beautifully illustrated instructions on making various items, including shop tools (hammers, punches, hardies, tongs, nail forming tools) and several small household items that will give the beginning smith a good workout in the essentials of shaping metal.

The Book of Blacksmithing is available from Paladin Press, from and and other outlets.
Disclosure and Disclaimer (per FTC File No. P034520): I was furnished a free (damaged) copy for review.

7 Deadly Scenarios: A Military Futurist Explores War in the 21st Century by Andres F. Krepinevich
Bantam Dell, New York, 2009. 334 pages including a thorough index.
ISBN 978-0-553-80539-0
The author of this book is the president of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, and a former US Army officer with a Ph.D. from Harvard University.
In this book, he asks the hard questions most people choose to ignore. Being prepared is an ongoing task based on anticipation of something bad occurring. Planning for those occurrences is best done by utilizing scenarios to figure out your response, and what supplies are needed to insure your survival.

Although published three years ago, this book is still timely in the disasters it anticipates in Iraq, Pakistan, China, Israel, the global economy, and a pandemic.
The author explains how to create disaster or crisis scenarios for anyone from the military, civil authorities, and private citizens. He explains the dangers of not believing the results you may achieve from acting out your scenarios. The author explains the importance of keeping an open mind and remaining flexible during a crisis. If your plan is too rigid, you will probably fail. Have a plan B, C, and D for each eventuality. Share your plan with a trusted prepper and let them look for ways to improve your options. Return the favor with an open mind.

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was war gamed by the US Navy in 1932 and filed away. The second and successful attack on the World Trade Towers was forewarned before the first attack by a security officer. The messenger was ignored. The French Army possessed a copy of the German Army plan of attack years before WWI began in 1914. They bought it from a German turncoat and filed it away.

The scenarios in this book include a collapse of Pakistan. Al Qaeda is actively working today to destabilize that nation both militarily and politically. What happens if they succeed?
A pandemic on the scale of the 1918 Flu will create havoc as our health facilities are overloaded, millions will die, and the global economy devastated in the process. Scientists and medical experts have told us for years that this monster is not a question of if, but a question of when. A pandemic can be seen coming, so do you have your flu shot, yet?
What happens if China decides to flex its’ military muscles in the South China Sea or the Pacific Ocean? Does our military and its’ allies have the power to win the struggle?
What happens in the event of an EMP? The favorite scenario is the collapse of the USA from terrorists or a rogue nation, but how about the case of a solar caused EMP in Europe or Asia? The economic devastation to the global economy will affect all of us.

What happens if the record setting drought of 2012 continues for another two to three years? Are you prepared for further food shortages and higher prices?
This book is well written, thought provoking, and will hopefully spur you to action to turn your disasters into inconveniences.

I've always been a big fan, of little guns - that pack some serious knock down power. I remember first reading about the (then) new Kahr Arms 9mm pistol, and whoever wrote about it claimed the double-action only trigger was butter smooth. Well, it wasn't until about five years ago, that I actually saw my first Kahr in a gun shop. For some reason, all the gun shops I regularly haunted, never had a Kahr in-stock - new or used. As soon as I felt how good the Kahr K9 felt in my hands, and the super-smooth trigger pull on it was, I was sold - I walked out with the gun and a holster for it that very hour.

There has been a big tread the past half dozen years or so, for very small concealed carry guns. While I seriously applaud this, and the gun companies are finally listening to the consumers, most of these guns in the past few years have been in .380 ACP. Anyone who follows my writings know that, I'm not a big fan of the .380 ACP cartridge as my first-line of defense - as a back-up, yeah! However, over the past couple of years, ammo makers have been giving the little .380 ACP a real boost in power, and with JHP ammo that actually expands, and penetrates. However, I still, personally only carry a .380 ACP as a back-up to my main handgun. A lot of folks think that it's over-kill, to carry two handguns, I don't! You never know when your main gun might malfunction, run out of ammo, or actually break - when you need it the most. And, I believe this comes from years of being a PI and a cop - I always carried a second gun - never know what kind of trouble you might run into, and need the second gun, or to arm a loved one or friend, who might be able to aid you.

Well, since purchasing my very first Kahr Arms pistol several years ago, a number of their outstanding firearms has passed through my hands, some in .380 ACP, some in 9mm, some in .40 S&W and the winner is, the grand ol' .45 ACP. A couple years ago, I got my hands on the Kahr CW45 - and it was (and is) and outstanding handgun for concealed carry - with 6+1 rounds on-tap, and a spare mag on my belt. However, it just wasn't exactly what I was looking for, for some strange reason. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with the Kahr CW45 - nothing! Several months ago, I contacted Frank Harris, who is Kahr's head honcho in the Marketing department, and requested a Kahr PM45. And, as usual, Kahr was backed-up with orders, and I had to wait a month for my sample PM45 to arrive - but the wait was well worth it.

The PM45 is what I was looking for in a Kahr, for a concealed carry handgun. At only slightly more than 19-oz unloaded, with an empty mag, the PM45 feels like the gun will float out of your hand. The CW45 carries 6+1 rounds, the PM45 is 5+1 rounds, but in my humble opinion, it's worth sacrificing that one round for the added concealability and compactness the PM45 affords. With a stainless steel slide, and a 3.24" Bbl, and black polymer frame, we are talking about a super-small .45 ACP handgun. The polymer frame is heavily textured, so much so, that I took some extra-fine sandpaper to it, to get the "points" off the texturing - they were sharp, to be sure. I'm sure, over time, the points would have wore down a bit, but I planned on doing a lot of shooting, and didn't want the sharp texturing abrading my hand.

The PM45 comes with bar-dot sights - and the sights are steel, on the CW45, the front sight is polymer and pinned in place. On the PM45, the front and rear sight can be moved for windage adjustments - no adjustments were required - and I've never had to adjust the sights on any Kahr handgun - they are dead-on from the box. The PM45 also comes with a spare magazine - the CW45 doesn't. The PM45 also has nicer contours to the slide than the CW45 does - I like the look and feel of the PM45 a lot.

We have an overall length of only 5.79" and a height of only 4.49" and width of only 1.01" - so we're talking about a very compact .45ACP carry gun, to be sure. You can also order your PM45 with night sights, too - I elected to just go with the standard sights for some reason. The barrel on the PM45 is a bit better than the barrel on the CW45 - not that there is a lot of difference when it comes to accuracy, but it is slightly better in the accuracy department than the CW45 is. You can read all the differences between the various .45ACP models on the Kahr web site, and they make quite a few variations in all calibers.

First thing I did with my Kahr PM45 was mount a Crimson Trace (CT) laser on the gun, and in my humble opinion, there isn't a better laser for the Kahr line of handguns than the Crimson Trace line. I've been using their lasers almost since day one, and they are top-notch in all respects. The CT laser for the PM45 fits onto the trigger guard, and when properly attached, the CT laser looks just like it was actually a part of the PM45. And, the best part is, CT lasers are easy-on, and easy-off. Just take a proper grip on the gun, and the laser is activated - just that simple. And, CT has a new policy, in that, they will supply you with batteries for your CT laser, for life. How can you beat that deal? And, in my opinion, the CT laser is a worthy investment for the PM45. I've used CT lasers forever, and I've only had a problem with one, and returned it to the factory and it was repaired and returned inside of a week - how's that for customer service? To be sure, CT manufactures their lasers for many of the Kahr handguns - as well as most popular handguns, check out their web site.

Now, most people will be led to believe, that a .45ACP pistol, as small as the Kahr PM45 is, will "kick" a lot - well, to be honest, there is some recoil there, but not nearly as much as you might think. I had my usual assortment of .45ACP ammo on-hand for testing. From Buffalo Bore Ammunition. I had their 185 grain Barnes TAC-XP all-copper hollow point +P, 200 grain JHP +P, 230 grain JHP +P and their 255 grain Hard Cast FN load - also +P. From Black Hills Ammunition, I had their 230 grain FMJ, 185 grain JHP, 185 grain Barnes TAC-XP +P load. And, a couple fairly new loads, their 185 grain JHP steel-cased load, and their 230 grain FMJ steel-cased load. Now, don't get these steel-cased confused with the dirty-shooting Russian-made steel cased loads - they are worlds apart. Black Hills started using steel-cased ammo because they couldn't find enough of once-fired .45 ACP brass cases for making reloaded ammo. Their steel-cased new ammo is priced right, and there is no comparison between this steel-cased ammo and the Russian stuff - Black Hills wins, hands-down. From Winchester, I used their white box USA-brand 230 grain FMJ ammo - always a good shooter for plinking or target practice - as well as self-defense.

Okay, so how did the little Kahr PM45 shoot? Well, I had no problems with any of the ammo - the PM45 never missed a beat. Kahr recommends that you shoot at least 200 rounds through their guns before you can consider them reliable enough for self-defense. My PM45 never skipped a beat - with any of the ammo. I put well over 500 rounds through the little Kahr, and there wasn't a hint of a functioning problem. I kept my shooting at 15-yards or closer - which is what this little pistol was meant for - close-up and dirty self-defense work. However, it is capable of really good accuracy out to 25-yards if you do your part. As for accuracy - the winner was the Buffalo Bore 200 grain JHP+P load - if I did my part, I could keep the groups at 2-1/2 inches at 15-yards. However, the Black Hills 230 grain FMJ load was right on the heels of the Buffalo Bore load. I've found that the Black Hills 230 grain FMJ load usually provides me with match-grade accuracy - and it is not a match load!

Kahr recommends that you steer clear of steel-cased ammo, but I didn't have any problems with feeding or extraction, using the Black Hills 185 grain JHP or 230 grain FMJ steel-cased loads - no problems at all. And, I was really surprised at the accuracy from these steel-cased loads. The Buffalo Bore 255 grain Hard Cast FN +P load - needless to say, that hummer really "kicked" the most. This is a round you load-up, when you're out hiking in the boonies, and you might encounter some serious threat from a 4-legged critter, like a black bear. This round will make that black bear wish they were some place else, to be sure. I didn't do any penetration tests with this load, using the Kahr PM45, but I've tested this load in other .45 ACP chambered handguns, and it penetrates like your wouldn't believe.

I burned-up a lot of Winchester USA white box 230 grain FMJ ammo in my testing. I've always liked this load, for target practice and just plain ol' plinking fun. It's affordable and very accurate. I probably put 200 rounds of this ammo through the little Kahr, with no problems. I liked the 185 grain Barnes all-copper +P load from Buffalo Bore and the same Barnes load from Black Hills for self-defense, but neither one of these loads proved to be the accuracy winner - and I was surprised. However, my wife wanted a Kahr PM45 of her own - so she "borrowed" my sample...and I had to request a second PM45 from Kahr for myself - this one with the black finish on the slide. And, this sample really loved the 185 grain Barnes all-copper hollow point +P load from Buffalo Bore and Black Hills. Just goes to show, that not all guns are alike - even two identical guns, from the same maker - only difference was the finish on the slide - other than that, they were identical. But the black slide sample preferred the Barnes loads from Black Hills and Buffalo Bore for best accuracy - and they were in a dead-tied for accuracy in my second sample. Go figure? It really does pay to test different types and brands of ammo, if you are looking for the most accurate load for your guns. And, it pays to test different ammo for different tasks, too.

The trigger-pull on the PM45 samples I had, were the best I've ever encountered on any DAO pistol - even better than some of the other Kahr handguns I've tested. To be sure, and without a doubt, the trigger-pulls were like driving a high performance sports car - and I've driven a few in my life. While the trigger-pull is a little long on the Kahr, there isn't a glitch in it - just pulls like cutting through melted butter - I kid you not! I think what I really liked about the PM45 is that, the grip circumference - it's the smallest around than any other .45 ACP handgun that I'm aware of - and this includes some 2-shot derringers, too. I'm not sure how Kahr was able to pull this wife, who is like most women, has small hands, and she found the grip circumference to her liking - she couldn't believe how great the PM45 felt in her hand. I believe that, the grip circumference on the PM45 also helped tame the recoil. While shooting the Buffalo Bore +P loads (that are hot) were attention getters, it wasn't nearly as bad as one would expect from such a tiny pistol. That's saying a lot in my book.

While I like the Kahr CW45, the PM45 is all that much better. Yes, the PM45 retails for a lot more than the CW45 does - the PM45 is $855 for the stainless steel slide version. However, if you ask me, I believe the PM45 is all that much more gun than the CW45. Now, don't get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the CW45 - but Kahr spoiled me with the PM45. So, if you're in the market, for one of the smallest .45 ACP semiauto pistols on the market, take a close look at the Kahr PM45. It will serve your survival needs quite well - be it street survival or hiking out in the boonies - with the right load, this gun will take care of the job at hand. And, I'm betting you'll also want to add a Crimson Trace laser to your Kahr, too. It is hard to beat this combo in my humble opinion. Be sure to check out Kahr's webs site, they have a lot of accessories, clothing, holsters, spare mags, etc., for their handguns.

The letter from the couple who moved to one of the Redoubt states and was unable to get a mortgage from a local bank reminded me of our experience.

We moved to a Redoubt state in 1993 after having sold our house in Pennsylvania for a tidy profit. We moved to our new location and put that "tidy profit" (which was more than half the down payment for a new place) into a local bank. My husband found work immediately. I was a stay-at-home mom. A few months later, we found a 5-acre piece of property and went back to the same bank that was holding our money and applied for a loan. They refused. The amount of the mortgage we were asking for was laughably small by today's standards and we were putting more than 50% down. We had impeccable credit. They told my husband that they would not offer a mortgage to someone who was self-employed. We ended up buying our 5 acres through owner financing. When we built our house a few years later, one of the big banks gave us a construction loan and a mortgage, but my father-in-law had to co-sign for it.

A few years later we became friends with a couple who had just moved to our area from Maryland. The husband was an engineer and had just been hired by a local technology firm (a firm which was notorious for serially hiring and then laying off employees). They had not yet sold their home in Maryland. They rented for a few months and then found a nice upscale home to buy. This same local bank couldn't move fast enough to give them a mortgage to buy their new house (they were still paying on their house in Maryland) simply because the guy was not self-employed. Interestingly, only about three months after they closed on their home, he was laid off and they ultimately had to move to another area.

We are still here. My husband is still self-employed. The local banks did try to follow some of the practices of the big banks and some went out of business as a result. They are now back to being as gun-shy as they were 20 years ago when we moved here. It seems to be a feature of the Redoubt's tendency toward boom-and-bust economies.

Thanks for a great blog. - Janet S.


Mr. Rawles,
Many times you can get a loan at a local Credit Union faster than you can at a bank. Why give the "Too Big To Fail" banks your hard earned money? They already stole your money with fees, interest, and TARP.
Sincerely, - Joe in Spokane

Rose M.'s "Magic Mix" White Sauce Mix

4 C nonfat dry milk
1 C flour
¼ C corn starch
1 C butter or shortening (or a combination)
Combine all very well with a pastry blender, or better yet, with a food processor or mixer.
To use, combine 2/3 C Magic Mix with 1  to  1 ½ C water (depending  how thick you want your sauce and what you’re making), and simmer until thick. You can start with less water and add more water if you want a thinner sauce, or even add more mix to get the consistency you want.
Store in your refrigerator in a coffee can. I add a piece of masking tape with the basic white sauce recipe.
Cheese Sauce
2/3 C Magic Mix
1 ¼ C water
1-2 C shredded cheddar cheese (parmesan works well for an Alfredo sauce)
Combine Magic Mix and water over Med. Heat stirring until thick. Add cheese and stir until well blended. This is a good base for mac and cheese, or over pasta, or veggies.
Cream of Chicken soup, condensed
1 C. Magic Mix
3/4 C. Chicken Broth (either from a can, bouillon, or liquid from canned chicken)
1 t. Dry Parsley
Dash of Onion Salt
Combine and stir over Med. Heat until thick. Use in recipes for condensed chicken soup.
Cream of Mushroom Soup, condensed
1 C Magic Mix
1 4.5 oz. can Mushroom pieces and stems, drain, but save liquid (or use dehydrated mushrooms and use leftover water)
1/4 C. Water + water from mushrooms (1 C total)
Dash of Onion Salt
1-2 drops Kitchen Bouquet, optional 
Combine and stir over Med. Heat until thick. Use in recipes for condensed mushroom soup.
Cream of Celery Soup
1 C. Magic Mix
¾ C. Water from Cooking Celery
1 C. Chopped Celery, cooked and drained (or use dehydrated celery and use the water left over from hydrating the celery as my water)
Pinch of Celery Seed
1 t. Dry Parsley Flakes (optional)

Chef's Notes:

Combine magic mix and water from cooking celery. Stir constantly over medium-high heat until it thickens. Add in celery, celery salt and parsley. Use in any recipe calling for canned Cream of Celery soup.

Useful Recipe and Cooking Links:

How to separate an egg yolk from the white - Chinese style... (You don't need to speak Chinese to understand this. Thanks to Hardy M. for the link.)

Pioneer Cooking Recipes

Currently Available as Free Kindle e-Books:

Top 30 Easy & Delicious Burger and Sandwich Recipes

Edible History: Easy Ancient Celtic, Gallic and Roman Techniques for Leavening Bread Without Modern Commercial Yeast

Do you have a favorite recipe that would be of interest to SurvivalBlog readers? Please send it via e-mail. Thanks!

Mexico scrambles to cope with egg shortage.

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Stephanie S. sent: This Year's Drought Is So Severe, You Can See Its Toll on the Mississippi River From Space

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FCC eyes tax on [broadband] Internet service

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Reader David J. mentioned that the Sunforce 60-Watt photovoltaic power charging system has been reduced to $222 on This system was designed with RV owners in mind, but it would work fine at a retreat cabin.

"I am, and ever will be, a white socks, pocket protector, nerdy engineer, and I take a substantial amount of pride in the accomplishments of my profession." - the late Neil Armstrong, at one of his few public appearances, February, 2000.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Today we present another entry for Round 42 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 (a $300 value), F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A $200 gift certificate, donated by Shelf Reliance.

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 C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.)Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) 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 42 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

It is predicted that 76 million people will die from water related diseases by the year 2020. This statistic may be a drastic underestimation if the collapse occurs before the end of the decade.
Imagine that you just used up your last pocket micro-filter, and although you have access to fresh water, you have no way to purify it. You think about starting a fire to cleanse your mucky pond water or reclaimed rainwater, but looters have sacked several outposts that you trade with in the area, and you fear smoke from a fire may draw unwanted attention to your retreat. Your family is in need of water, what do you do? Well, you may have a supply of water stored in containers from last week in your cache, but if you did not read this article you would not know that the water you stored is now only moderately cleaner than the barrel, river or lake that it came from.

It is known by virtually everyone in the United States that if you boil your water it is safe for consumption. The Clasen 2008: Microbiological Effectiveness and Cost of Disinfecting Water by Boiling in Semi-urban India, exposes this well-known fact to be true, but also discovers the downfall associated with boiling water occurs in its storage after boiling.

Clasen verifies in the field by observing pasteurization habits performed by locals, not scientists in a laboratory, that 99.9% of dangerous materials were removed from water with high fecal matter content in India. The fact that boiling water in a third world country where water quality is beyond horrible should make everyone feel a little safer about using pasteurization as a primary means of water purification, but the study further tests water which had been stored after boiling. The research published discovers that less than 60% of the stored water met the World Health Organizations standards for quality drinking water. How can this be?

The study reveals that a very high percentage of households where drinking water is first boiled that re-contamination occurs during storage and results in the consumption of polluted water. Unlike chemical treatment there is no residual treatment of the water after the water is boiled and placed in a container for storage, so bacteria re-growth is possible even with the slightest contamination. It is important to note that boiling water is by far the preferred method for treating water because when done properly it kills 100% of the pathogens. Clasen’s research highlights the importance of practicing proper water boiling habits and the need for a secondary system to provide an extra measure of safety to ensure that your drinking water is safe.

Secondary Systems of Treatment

I am a fan of learning skills that are not reliant on an open loop supply chain. I have spent the last year practicing my gardening skills, learning how to harvest fruit and vegetables, as well as seed harvesting and storage. This is a closed loop system and is infinitely viable. Much of the material that I have read on water purification focuses on technology or low-tech systems that rely on the availability of machined products. The problem with anything mechanical or technical is that eventually it will break or simply wear out, and then you are faced with the question, now what? I like to take a bottom up approach to all of my preparations. If someone says you should have a steady supply of salt and sugar, the first question I ask is how do I make my own salt and sugar?

In the short term many people will be able to use chlorine, hydrogen peroxide or other forms of chemical treatment as a secondary form of water purification after pasteurization to reduce re-contamination during storage. Even if you are lucky enough to have a ‘Big Berkey’ I would recommend treating any water that is stored, no matter what the primary system of purification is. But what happens when you run out of chlorine or hydrogen peroxide? If you live close to the coast, then salt production can easily enable an endless supply of chlorine, but unfortunately the production of hydrogen peroxide is by far more complicated and dangerous, so what do I do if I am not a mad scientist?

There is another system of water treatment that exists within a closed loop regardless of your location because it makes use of the sun’s powerful UV rays. Although the SODIS method can be used as a primary means of purification, it does not offer a 99.9% treatment capability like pasteurization. The advantage of SODIS (solar disinfecting) is that the water treated is easily stored in the same containers that are used to purify the water, which eliminates the risk of re-contamination. If you plan on using, consuming or cooking with the boiled water immediately then you are relatively safe and a secondary system is not needed. The purpose of this article is to highlight the dangers associated with water storage and provide readers with a closed loop system that ensures that the water stored after TEOTWAWKI is just as safe as water that is consumed after being boiled.


In 2009 my architecture firm began designing a portable disaster relief housing unit that could easily be deployed in response to ‘Hurricane Katrina’-type natural disasters. I began researching sustainable technologies that could be implemented in the design to give disaster survivors food, energy and fresh water in a closed loop system. Photovoltaics, natural ventilation, and the ability to grow food on the roof of the structure were all ideas that were incorporated in the design, but water purification technologies either required too much space, complicated mechanical equipment or would eventually require maintenance, and consumed large amounts of energy. After all we had to work with a 10’ x 40’ footprint for easy transportation.

As my research intensified, I began studying water purification techniques used in third world countries. There is one method of water purification that is infinite and accessible to all, the sun. The SODIS (solar water disinfection) method does not require any mechanical devices, electrical power or chemicals. All that is required is a plastic/glass bottle and some sunshine. There are tidbits of information and misinformation regarding SODIS all around the web. I have collected all of this information in hopes of compiling a definitive guide on the process.

How does SODIS work?

UV light destroys the cell structures of bacteria by interfering directly with the metabolism of the bacteria. The UV light additionally reacts with the oxygen dissolved in the water and produces oxygen free radicals and hydrogen peroxides that are believed to also damage pathogens, preventing reproduction. The solar radiation heats the water and if the temperature rises above 122 degrees Fahrenheit then the disinfection process occurs three times faster. The SODIS method has been proven to destroy diarrhea-causing organisms in polluted drinking water and laboratory experiments have shown that extremely high levels of E. coli populations 100,000 (1-3,000 is a natural maximum) per 100ml of water can be made harmless.

The UV rays can kill germs such as viruses, bacteria and parasites in as little as six hours of exposure to the sun

Bacteria are highly sensitive to UV-A radiation (wavelength 320-400nm) and are quickly killed by sunlight. This is the principal concern when storing water.
The viruses are slightly more resistant, but are also killed within the recommended 6 hours. 
Parasites are less sensitive to sunlight. While giardia cysts are rendered inactive within 6 hours, cryptosporidium cysts must be exposed to direct sunlight for at least 10 hours before they are neutralized. Amoebas do not die until the water temperature has been warmer than 50°C for over an hour.
The Process
First, you must be sure to use clean PET bottles, see the next section on bottles for more information. Fill the bottles with water and close the cap. Bottles should only be filled three-quarters of the way full and be shaken vigorously for 20-30 seconds with the cap on to increase the oxygen content of the water. After oxygenating the water, fill the bottle completely and recap. If you can read black printing on a white paper through the bottle, then the turbidity is low enough that the UV rays from the sun will be able to purify the water. For water with high turbidity use smaller diameter containers so that the sun can fully penetrate the water. If the water is very cloudy then it must be filtered before using the SODIS method, and in general I recommend always filtering water first even if you plan on boiling. The filled bottles need to be exposed to direct sunlight for at least six hours or two days under very cloudy conditions. Solar reflectors or metal roofs are preferred because they increase the amount of sunlight that infiltrates the bottle. After the water has been purified it can be stored in the plastic or glass bottles that they were sterilized in until it is time to drink or use the water. The risk of contamination is greatly minimized if the water is stored in the bottles used for solar disinfection.
Re-growth of bacteria may occur if the water is stored in the dark. Recent studies have shown that simply adding ten parts per million of hydrogen peroxide is effective in preventing the re-growth of wild Salmonella. In addition table salt is an effective agent for reducing the turbidity.

Type of Bottles:

All bottles are not created equal. Thin-walled polyethylene terephthalate, labeled PET or PETE in the US can safely be used for SODIS. These are the water bottles that are marked with a “1” recycling symbol on the bottle.
Nearly all soda bottles, including 2 liter bottles which are great for daily use can be used for SODIS. Care should be taken to minimize scratches and wearing of bottles as this reduces the efficiency of SODIS, because it prevents UV rays from passing through the plastic. Typically plastic bottles need to be replaced every 6-12 months, although if greater care is taken or glass is used then the life-cycle of the bottles is greatly increased. Glass bottles can be used and will last forever under proper care, but you must be sure that they are free of UV-blocking additives.

Additional Filtering

If additional filtering is required there are a number of means that can greatly increase the quality of drinking water. The following is a great source on SODIS and secondary means of water filtration:
Due to the abundance of sand in my region, I am biased towards the sand filter, which conveniently is the lowest tech filter of the bunch.

The PotaVida indicator: Practice Makes Perfect
The PotaVida indicator, is not required, but is a great tool to have as you hone your SODIS skills. The indicator is designed to tell you when the water has reached a safe level of drinkability by measuring the water’s exposure to solar irradiation. The PotaVida indicator is not needed for each bottle, it simply measures sun exposure and calculates based on the actual conditions when your water is purified. Get to know how long it takes on a cloudy day in February in your region for a water bottle to be exposed to enough solar radiation to be purified. Keep a journal and log the temperature, day, and the conditions of the sky. This information may save your life one day. It is important to note that this is a learning device that helps you perfect your SODIS skills. The PotaVida indicator runs on solar power, lasts for five years and the price is less than $10 per indicator.

Do Chemicals Leach from the PET bottles?
The leached organic compounds amount to less than 10% of the safe amount for drinking water as defined by the World Health Organization, and studies have shown that no other chemicals are leached into the water during the SODIS process.
If you are using glass bottles then there is no risk of any leaching.

What mistakes do new users make most often?

Use only clear bottles, do not use green or brown bottles because these bottles absorb UV-A light.
Do not use bottles that hold more than 3 liters or are greater than 4” in diameter.
Do not place bottles vertically, they must be laid horizontally. This increases the area exposed to the sunlight and reduces the effective depth of the water the light has to penetrate.
Keep the treated water in the same container, remember that we are trying to prevent re-contamination.
Do not store treated water in dark places, this encourages growth of bacteria. If limited algae growth occurs, the water is still drinkable. Algae are not harmful.
Check the turbidity, pre-filter or better yet, pasteurize your water before using SODIS.

What does SODIS not remove?

SODIS does not remove any toxic chemicals that may already be in the water, which makes it ideal for rainwater sterilization.

Closing Water is by far the most important resource and although there may be some skeptics that dismiss SODIS, it is always wise to be aware of multiple ways to purify water off the grid, and to know the pros and cons associated with each. I strongly encourage everyone to question their strategies for water purification and to become familiar with SODIS and the Readers should also familiarize themselves with the Guidelines for Drinking-Water Quality, third edition, incorporating first and second addenda, which is available as a free PDF.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I would like to share with your readers our story on obtaining a mortgage after relocating to one of the Redoubt States. Unfortunately, we did not have enough cash and could not get a loan from relatives, so we needed a mortgage.
We relocated to the American Redoubt last summer and started renting, as is usually advised. By winter, we were ready to buy our own place. But before finally getting a favorable loan with US Bank, we had quite unpleasant experience with one of the smaller local banks. After providing them with all kinds of basically know-how information on my husband’s business (he is self-employed) and spending the money on appraisal, we got a denial, because they were “not sure if we would be able to maintain our income at the new place.”. They needed “at least one full year tax return from [residency in] the new state” (and perhaps maybe more) if we were to buy the house as a primary residence. They would not consider it as a vacation property because we already relocated to the area. And we did not qualify for any government program because we make too much money!
Other lenders in the area had various opinions on our situation, with a few saying that they currently have no products for us, while several others could only offer less favorable terms (significantly larger down payment and higher interest rate) than what we could qualify for otherwise.
It sounds like the mortgage industry is rather cautious these days, so please be aware of those potential difficulties. I wish we knew about them in advance. - Wi

F.J.R. spotted this: Heavy Duty 275 Gallon Rain Barrel

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Reader S.O.B. sent this: Migration in the Americas: US retirees flock to Nicaragua

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Jake K. suggested a brief video tour of The Utah Bishops’ Central Storehouse. [JWR's Comment: While there is a doctrinal chasm that forever divides us, I greatly admire the dedication of the LDS church in encouraging food storage.]

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Over at Packing Pretty: The Heart of the Matter: Why We Carry. And speaking of concealed carry, here is one to file under Sour Grapes: Boulder Students Can Pack Pistols This Term

"These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling [words], having men's persons in admiration because of advantage.
But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ;
How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.
These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.

But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,
Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life." - Jude 1:16-21 (KJV)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Today we present another entry for Round 42 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 (a $300 value), F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A $200 gift certificate, donated by Shelf Reliance.

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 C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.)Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) 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 42 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

There as many opinions and even more guesses than those who are guessing about what will cause the collapse of the world as we know it.  There may be unexpected triggers in nature or in society such as natural disasters of a sudden or a gradual nature, geopolitical events or developments, or environmental triggers that may be natural or man made.  With or without any of these events and processes about which there is an enormous volume of speculation, my previous skepticism about one in particular has been transformed to a personal certainty.
Economic Collapse - Really?
The expectation that the economy may or will deteriorate beyond a typical recession is gaining wider acceptance every week. Let me explain why I am confident that this situation will become unmistakable within the next six to eighteen months. I will also discuss how serious this problem is likely to become.
Before we get too far into the discussion about what may happen in the economy, it is necessary to understand the nature of money and bartering.  Money is fundamentally a way to facilitate bartering among a large group of people.  When one person, lets call him George, needs something that a second person, lets call him Peter, can provide, George may try to offer something he owns in exchange for what he wants.  This may become difficult if the George does not have anything that the Peter wants.  The George is then left wanting unless he can arrange a series of trades or exchanges with other people until the George finally obtains something that Peter wants.  Another advantage of money is if George has something that Peter finds desirable, but there is a wide disparity between the values of the two objects being considered for trade.  For example let’s suppose that George has one too many cows and would like to obtain a hand saw from Peter who has an extra saw.  The difference in value of the two tradable items makes it unlikely that an easy trade will occur.   By this point I am sure you can see the advantage of having a reserve of money or currency to facilitate the transactions between George and Peter. 
Now before we get too sold on the advantages of using money, we need to examine the major issues about using money.  The first issue is how to determine the “value measure of money”, and the second is how to assure that the “value measure” of the money does not change unfairly.  To put these questions in plain English we can ask, “What is a Dollar worth?”  The second question is, “How do we know that a Dollar today will still be worth a Dollar tomorrow?”   Some of you may remember the economic atmosphere in the United States in the 1970s and early 1980s when the Dollar lost about half of its value in six years. (Many countries had far worse experiences before and during that time.)  Virtually every government, as well as a number of non-government groups, has grappled with those two questions throughout history.  The bottom line is that whatever methods have been devised for addressing these questions, it is the acceptance of and confidence of those using the currency that determines how effective the methods have been.  The biggest issue for those using the currency is, “If I hold on to or accumulate this currency for future transactions, can I be sure it will not lose value while I hold it?” When all is said and done, the value of any currency is measured by the level of confidence people have in that currency.
Now that we have considered the role of confidence in a money system, let’s consider factors currently affecting confidence in the U.S. money system.  As of July, 2012, the average American family had an annual income of $43,000 and an average debt of $117,950. In this study U.S. households numbered about 115,000,000.  That comes to a total citizen indebtedness of about $13.5 Trillion.  The national debt, on money already spent by the U.S. government, is now around $16 Trillion.  That put a total debt burden on the average U.S. household of $256,521 compared to an average income of only $43,000. While the total U.S. household debt was reduced in 2010, it increased again in the past year. This means the average household is currently not paying down their debt, but rather adding to it.  This situation is worsened by the fact that and the federal government is currently spending money at about twice the rate that it is taking in revenue, which means it would need to cut its non-debt servicing spending by 50% to keep from increasing the national debt.  Next consider that as of June, 2012, the national savings rate, that is savings divided by total income, was 4.4%.  That means the average household has no more than $1,900 per year that could be applied to the total debt (both paying down the national debt through additional taxes and paying down their personal debt.)  So, if the federal government suddenly cut its total budget in half, and if every household completely stopped saving any money for any reason (e.g. retirement savings) it would take 135 years to pay off the current debt. Remember, however, there are several additional concerns not considered in that calculation.  These numbers do not include any of the state governments’ debts, which the citizens are also responsible for paying. Another very big consideration is that most economists agree that cutting the federal government’s spending in half would surely trigger a serious recession, resulting in more job losses (laying off government workers and reducing government contracts which also pay for non-government jobs), and thus less money would be available among the American households to pay down all the debts.  Conversely, economists also understand that if the government significantly increases taxes in order to increase the revenues, this would also slow down the economy, which is already on the verge of a recession.
While the specific numbers are different, the same dynamics described above apply to most countries in Europe at this time.  When you read or hear in the news about the economic crisis in Greece and other European countries, the same issues of too much debt and too little revenue to pay the debts are at work there as they are here in the U.S. Many of these countries have already slipped into recessions as governments and central banks hold meeting after meeting to grapple with the problems that have “developed”.  When we consider how this may develop or play out and affect the United States it becomes clear that there are infinite possibilities as to events which may trigger various stages of deterioration in the economy.  Remember, that the key to a currency being valued or accepted at all depends on the confidence people have in that currency.  What follows is merely a simplified description of a possible sequence of events and the impact of that sequence on various economic activities. 
The European community will continue slipping deeper into widespread recession.  Europe , at least the majority of it, has gotten itself into a lose/lose situation.  Most European governments have accumulated a very high ratio of debt to revenue.  Furthermore, most of that debt (in the form of bonds), which is now considered risky because it is so high, is held by European banks and investors.  The economies in Europe , which have become highly enmeshed and this has been a factor in the spread of recession. With the slowing economies, as we discussed above, the revenues have decreased putting strains on government budgets as well as personal incomes. The final factor here is that a major portion of the gross “income” of the European people now comes from their governments. (If they raise taxes they cut personal incomes; if they cut government budgets, they also cut personal incomes.) As the banks and governments struggle to address the risks and economic issues the people continue to lose confidence in “the system”.  In order for the governments to try stimulating the economy, they must borrow to obtain funds to do so, because they were already spending more than they were receiving in revenue. As you can see this becomes a self aggravating cycle as the economies slow, the revenues drop, level of debt continues to rise, and the budgets are cut, etc.
While there may be solutions to these problems in the long term, opposing political forces, in the U.S. as well as in many other countries, seem to be focused on opposing strategies; both of which will only deepen the problems (remember our discussion of raising taxes and reducing government spending). Furthermore, even if the solutions, which are apparently unrecognized by the vast majority, were miraculously endorsed by the governments it would take years to repair the damage of the last century. 
At this time it appears that the economic situation in Europe will deteriorate ahead of the situation in the U.S.   Since the early 1970s the U.S. dollar has become the World Reserve Currency. We will explain the reason for that status a little later.  The important thing to remember here is that this status has kept the U.S. Dollar artificially high in value compared to other currencies.  As the European recession deepens they will experience growing inflation relative to the Dollar.  This will weaken the demand for U.S. goods, because of the inflating prices, and in turn weaken their ties with the U.S. Dollar.  The slowing economies in Europe will push more investors to redeem their U.S. Treasury Bonds in order to meet expenses.  When the redemption rate rises the value will go down, and yields (effective interest rates) will begin to rise.  While this higher interest rate might normally make the treasury bonds more attractive to investors, this will be caused by too many sellers and not enough buyers.  If the United States government continues to outspend its revenue, borrowing to cover its debts will get more and more expensive. This will make it harder and harder for the U.S. government to balance its budget.  As investors around the world learn from what has happened in Europe, they will also see the parallels in the U.S.
Gradually, at first, investors will be looking harder for other investments they believe are both safer and providing better returns (Actually, it is already beginning. China and Japan , the two largest non- U.S. holders of U.S. Treasury Bonds, have already started reducing their holdings in U.S. Bonds.).  As the confidence in the Dollar slips sellers of non-US products, such as oil or manufactured goods, will begin arranging to accept payment in non-US currency. (This has already started now, too.) This will further erode the perceived value of the Dollar.  During this time the market value of stocks may rise until investors begin to worry more about decreasing corporate revenues caused by the slowing economies... Concurrently the market pricing of gold and silver will continue to climb (as will the cost of other commodities like foods and fuel).  At some point it seems likely that the number of investors understanding the absurdity of the U.S. being able to pay off its debt will reach a critical level. This critical level will result in one of the periodic, blind auctions of U.S. Treasuries being a “failed auction”.  This means that there will be too few bidders interested in buying the number of bonds the treasury wants to sell (To put it another way - The U.S. Government states a need for it to borrow a specified amount of Dollars for continuing operations and auctions off what they consider to be enough bonds to pay for the governments cash needs. When they open the sealed binds, there are not enough large investors and small investors willing to buy all the bonds offered. That will result in the treasury not having enough money for the government to pay its bills and salaries.)
 If (when) this happens many investors around the world will “panic” because they will see other investors not willing to accept the risk of loaning money to the U.S. Government. These investors will see a need to sell their bonds before their value goes down. Gold and silver prices will begin to skyrocket as “safe investments” since the last, best safe haven, the U.S. Treasury, doesn’t seem quite so safe now. More and more investors will seek to sell their treasury bonds before the value drops even further, which will result in the value of those bonds dropping in value. 
I know that some will hear my projections and argue that the pricing or valuation of treasury bonds has fluctuated in the past without a panic in the markets. My response to them is, “THIS TIME IT’S VERY DIFFERENT!”   Normally when the market valuation on Bonds starts to fall, it is because the economy is accelerating faster, so investors are moving their money into stocks and business expansion. This time our economy is slowing rather than accelerating. This time , most economies in the world are decelerating or have already decelerated.  This time , our government has accumulated a far greater debt than ever before.  This time , Europeans have just recently become keenly aware of the dangers of a country carrying too much debt.  This time Europe will have already crossed over from primarily buying U.S. Bonds as a safe haven for their money to selling U.S. Bonds as a means of raising more cash.  When the pricing of U.S. Treasury Bonds starts to fall, all of their notions about them being a “safe haven” will quickly disappear.  This shift toward selling Treasury bonds will create accelerating inflation. This is another aspect in which “ this time it’s different .”  In the past when inflation heated up the Federal Reserve has raised interest rates to cool off or slow down the economy.  This time interest rates will have already risen as a byproduct of the decreasing value of our bonds.  So the economy will be slowing down faster of its own accord.  Also, in the past when the economy has slowed down too much, our government has increased stimulus spending to correct that.  This time the government has already been providing extraordinary amounts of stimulus money for years, with less and less benefit. So you see, some of what makes this time different is that all of the tools that had been used in the past to manage a troublesome economy, have already been stretched to the breaking point or beyond in literally dozens of the largest economies in the world.
One more element that will make this time different is a little more complicated. When President Nixon took the U.S. off the Gold Standard in 1971, there was serious concern about the value of the dollar slipping since it was no longer backed in gold.  At that time Nixon also negotiated an agreement with Saudi Arabia for them to only accept U.S. Dollars in payment for their oil.  This resulted in the U.S. Dollar being kept artificially high in value relative to other currencies world wide, because everyone needed Dollars to buy oil. This is the primary reason the Dollar became the World Reserve Currency.  The petro-Dollar agreement between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia crafted in the 1970s is still influencing the demand for U.S. Dollars throughout Europe.  Even though the demand for oil in Europe may slow as their economies slow, they will continue to need oil from Saudi Arabia (at least while Iran is a political pariah in Europe.)  The conditions created by that 1971 agreement are going to suddenly change this fall (2012). China, Iran, Japan, and Russia have reached a collection of agreements that will support international trade in oil and many other products in Chinese Yuan. This Fall a commodities exchange will be launched to facilitate transactions for oil and other materials in non-Dollar currencies. This will result in further downward pressure on the value of the Dollar.  As more people worldwide turn their attention to the economic developments, which they can no longer ignore, they will find out how the Dollar Printing Presses have been working far faster than could be justified by the increased production of the U.S. , which those Dollars were supposed to represent.
If all of that were not enough, there are some extremely well known and highly respected economists stating their belief that the world is, without it being officially announced, already engaged in mega-currency warfare.  Furthermore, China appears determined to play by a different monetary strategy than the U.S. and Western Europe .  China has in the last five years suddenly become the world’s greatest producer of gold and the greatest buyer of gold. It has also revealed itself to be the world’s largest holder of gold reserves. (The numbers provided by the CIA on their web site estimate Chin ’s real gold reserves are about twice as large as what China publicly revealed.   China has also publicly stated that the U.S. Dollar must be replaced as the world’s reserve currency. In addition, China and one of its new “special” trading partners, Japan , are known to hold nearly 15% of the total debt of the U.S. government.  There are other ways in which our own government has made our financial system inexplicably and seriously vulnerable to China specifically.   

At some point, people in the U.S. will grasp the seriousness of their situation, and the fear of rapid inflation will begin to influence merchants and ordinary people in the U.S, They will begin to scramble for immediate cash before the “value of the Dollar” falls too far.  There have been instances of serious inflation (ten percent or more per year) in the U.S. within the last fifty years.  More and more economists are considering the possibility of super-inflation (more in the range of 100% per year) for more than a full year. At this rate the Dollar might drop in value to only 50 cents in one year, 25 cents in two years, and around 12 cents within three years.  So called hyperinflation (like in Germany in the 1920s) has actually occurred in a few countries within the last 60 years as well.  In those cases the hyper inflation was limited to a lone country or a very few countries at a time.   This time the underlying causes of super or hyper-inflation appear to be present in a wide multitude of countries across Europe as well as the United States . It therefore seems likely that this time super or hyper-inflation will not be limited by national borders.
Based on historical precedents, once this economic turmoil catches hold, for quite some time to follow (five to ten years, perhaps more), the prices on precious metals will continue to rise. As the effects of severe inflation take hold, steady flow and availability of things being produced (including clean water, food, fuel, electrical power, etc.) will become more erratic and unreliable. People will become desperate to acquire essentials when they are not readily available. The cost of many things will climb so quickly that people will eventually lose their ability to pay conventional currency for bare necessities.  The value of silver coins will rise along with the popularity of bartering. History has shown that when a paper currency looses its value rapidly, people will begin using either gold or silver coins instead.  If there are not enough of these coins to support continuing commerce people will develop a local consensus for another form of currency when barter is too inconvenient.  There will be even more bartering attempted while some people will try to differentiate between the value of paper money and coins, especially silver coins. There is an inherent issue with the continuing rise in the value of silver coins. Most silver coins have been removed from circulation over the last 50 years. Their lack of availability may or may not affect how widely they will be accepted as currency. Remember, the Value of any currency is primarily a function of perception.  The need for cash with which to buy essentials, and “real” items may eventually slow the gold buyers in many countries. At some point in time, due to both the international markets and the greatly lessened value of most currencies; the price of Gold may become too high to be a good, liquid currency asset.  It is very hard to predict how this issue will pan out during the difficult transition that follows.  Just remember that when people are starving, most will realize they cannot eat gold. At some point the value of gold will stop climbing and eventually (maybe in five years, maybe in fifty years) it too will decrease in value.
Eventually some form of currency will replace the current money, whether is a newly issued, devalued U.S. currency or some other currency, but it not without serious economic trauma.  There are already localized community groups that are creating currencies accepted by merchants in their locale.  The state of Utah recently passed a law stating that gold and silver are considered legal tender. The practice of bartering will obviously continue.  As a new or newly valued currency becomes more widely available and more widely accepted, currency transactions will eventually replace most but not all bartering transactions. Continuation of barter will gradually fade into more and more use of an agreeable currency, but how fast or slow is impossible to predict.  The man point here is that you need to remain alert to major swings in the value and the usability of various items used for barter, for currency, and for stored value.
How Bad Will It Get?

The most serious question is, “How bad will it get?”  No one really knows, but there are many, many guesses?  Everyone has their own guesses. Some base their guesses on calculations. Most use their imagination. Some try to project based on what they have seen, or read.  I will not try to impress you with my credentials for analyzing or predicting.  Let’s just say this is one man’s opinion, and I am probably either under estimating or over estimating the severity of how things will really work.  My best guess is that economically it will get at least as bad as the Great Depression in most of the U.S. and most likely much worse.  Also the response of the government(s) to the collapse and the political, sociological, and economic responses of the people to the difficulties will affect the progress of the collapse. I am quite certain that many cities will have riots because of angry and desperate people.  I was fortunate to not be in any of the cities where they occurred, but in the 1960s there were serious riots in many of the large U.S. cities. These riots were fundamentally about accumulated anger over difficult and frustrating conditions in certain sub-sections of those cities.  At the same time there were some riots that were purely political in origin.  I believe the difficulties, frustrations, and anger created by the economic turmoil ahead will dwarf what was going on in the sixties, and I was there in the sixties.  Even in the absence of riots it is very likely that gang activities and gang formation will be significantly elevated in many cities.   This will not be uniform across the country, nor will the government’s response to these troubles be uniform across the country.  I have heard genuine concerns about what the government might do, and the reality is that most of this is rumor, speculation, and conjecture based on many people trying to interpret bits of information they find disturbing.
What I do know (and this is not conjecture) is that the federal government does have documented plans for dealing with these kinds of anticipated problems.  A number of people claim to have found evidence of active preparations by government agencies that refuse to give reasonable explanations for those preparations.  It is a fact that these plans that are published designate responsibilities and authorizations for various government agencies and appointed positions that are new and / or altered from their legislated authority. It is also a fact that most of the details of those government Plans for responding to these potential problems are Classified and unknown even to the leaders in Congress responsible for oversight of those agencies that have been designated within the plans.  Some of the Plan documents do provide for such contingencies as troops being used for “law  enforcement”, and confiscation and control of any “important resources” including food, water, power, industrial resources, human resources, and more. There have been many questioning the legality of some of the measures described in the non-classified portions of those plans, but the Supreme Court by precedent will not hear a case until an attempt is made to enforce that law, and a suit regarding that enforcement has already been tried in a lower court.  I also know that ongoing polls being conducted indicate a significant and growing distrust of the people toward the U.S. government.  Whether you witnessed it or not, our government has in the past commandeered all of these resources and more.
There are currently a number of organizations and groups that are very concerned about some measures that were taken in New Orleans after Katrina.  Some of these organizations, based on interpretation of those events in New Orleans , have declared and published in advance their intentions to disobey specified types of orders that might be given to them by authorities in a declared emergency.  (My descriptions here are intentionally obtuse, because my own interpretation of the facts as I know them, and my knowledge of the veracity of a significant body of statements which have been issued by government entities have convinced me to be careful of what I say.)  I also understand, both through training and considerable observation, a lot about human nature. When faced with being deprived of access to things that are required for their survival; some people will simply give up, some will mentally zone out and follow the crowd, other people will resort to taking desperate and dangerous actions, and only a few will be prudent and deliberate about taking sensible action.. This is true whether the person is an individual in the community or an individual in a position of leadership and authority within the government.  Put that all together, and, it seems to me, you have a formula for a lot of very serious unpleasantness ahead.
I have tried to discuss here what I am expecting.  Could it be worse? Oh, yes. Could it be less sever than I described?  Well, that is possible.  I have observed over and over in nature and in history a phenomena sometimes called Tipping Points.  Some of you call this “the straw that broke the camel’s back”.  There are many factor that affect our ability to cope and recover from problems that come along.  When an event like I have described weakens a society, it becomes far more vulnerable to potential disasters, whether natural or man made.  As mentioned earlier, there are countless possibilities that can affect the scenario above by either accelerating or worsening the process.  For example, there is currently a severe drought in the “American Breadbasket”.  We are already being told that this will have a significant impact on both food prices and fuel prices.  What effect might that have on the stability of the economy?  If we have a major natural disaster, could that tip a whole series of dominoes?  There is continuing tension and turmoil in the Middle East . What about community frustration being worse in some regions than in others due to uneven availability of jobs?. What if  geo-political strife boils over somewhere and the effects are felt in multiple countries?  When you set aside ideological biases of historians, it becomes very clear that throughout history the primary cause of wars has been economic crises being exploited by ambitious leaders. How would any of that affect the anticipated economic collapse?  Only time will tell.  It is impossible to adequately prepare for every known possibility; much less for those events that you may not realize are possibilities.  We have a responsibility to ourselves, our families, and our friends and neighbors to prepare as well as we know how for what we can reasonably anticipate.
As you plan your preparations, consider one more concept. History shows that the greater the fall is the longer it takes to recover.   The markets take longer to recover from a 40% fall than from a 20% fall.  The recovery from the Great depression was much longer and more painful that the recoveries from any of the lesser recessions.  Some of the prudent economists have calculated that before this is over, the value of the dollar will have dropped 90%. Do not expect things to return to normal in just a few years.  Expect a completely new level of normal. With wisdom and hard work we can make the new normal gradually improve, but life is not normally smooth for very long.  As both the collapse and recovery drag on your  own self reliance balanced with your cooperation with other self reliant people will be crucial to the life you make for yourself, you family, your friends, and your community. Do not let your short or intermediate term preparations prevent your from preparing for long term issues.
Prepare well, keep your family safe, help your neighbors when you can, and help to assure that we get it right when the rebuilding begins.

Mr. Rawles,
I enjoyed the article on choosing the ideal location for survival when considering regional dialects, and find myself in the exact opposite situation.  I was raised in Eastern Washington and take great pride in my home state, but have been stationed in South Eastern North Carolina for over three years.  I find the experience of another region benificial, but I honestly have the same reservations about the South East that the author found in the Inland Northwest.  I had the displeasure of hurricane Irene, disabiling tropical weather, and predictably unpredictable thunder storms that seem to be a weekly occurance (the Pacific Northwest has an unusually small amount of these, averaging just five a year in Western Washington). With my non-descript accent I am often questioned where I hail from along with a sideways glance or two.  As a Unitarian, churches were relatively easy to find near Spokane, however here I must drive over 60 miles to find one here.  At the end of the day, I think it is presumable that one may have a better shot at survival and community acceptance  where one is most familliar. - Translocated


Dear Mr. Rawles,
As a Southern lady who grew up on a sugarcane farm in the Everglades, complete with gators, cottonmouths, and mosquitos, I have now happily relocated from South Florida to Montana and felt compelled to reply to the gentleman from upstate South Carolina who chose not to move to the Redoubt...

I, too, have a drawl. When folks here mention my Southern accent, I tell them I decided to make Montana my home because it's one of the few Southern states with mountains. When they give me a quizzical look, I quickly explain that Montana is *obviously* a Southern state given that most of it was acquired via the Louisiana Purchase, and....well.... We all know that *anything* to do with Louisiana is Southern! Besides all that, the Missouri River is just chock full of crawdads! What more conclusive evidence would you need to realize this is a Southern state?!

Then I flash a quick smile and invite 'em over for a supper of fried chicken, biscuits with cream gravy, and blackberry cobbler! ;)

Now, I really don't think any of them fall for my convoluted logic, but they sure don't argue! These are rather agreeable folks and have been incredibly warm, welcoming, and wonderful to my daughter and myself.

You couldn't blow us two Southern gals out of Montana with a ton of black powder and a Confederate cannon! This is our home now... Oh sure, we still have our Yeltson's stone-ground grits shipped in, and I grow a Meyer lemon tree in the greenhouse, but other than that, we have everything else we could ever possibly need or want right here in God's country!! We have plenty of wheat, cattle, oil, nukes, pickup trucks, tractors, national forests, wild rivers, great fishing, ALL the pretty horses, and THE nicest folks in the world with God-fearing values. What Southerner wouldn't love all that? ;)

With kind regards (and a good-natured wink) from "The Other South", er.....I mean "The Redoubt"! ;) - Southern Nurse (in Montana)

Be sure to watch this lecture: Marc Faber On Keynesian Folly, The 'Missing' Inflation, And Bubble-Blowing. (Thanks to B.B. for the link.)

Obama's Budget to Add $4.4 Trillion to Debt in Next Four Years--On track to $20 trillion in debt in 2016. [JWR's Comment: Keep in mind that those figures are predicated upon interest rates staying artificially low. Someday, our foreign creditors will demand a higher rate of return on U.S .Treasury paper. And when that happens, we'll see a repeat of the current Greek Tragedy, here in the U.S. of A. That will be the death knell of the Dollar.]

A.K.H. sent: The Euro Is Already a ‘Zombie Currency’: Expert

Items from The Economatrix:

Rothschild, Paulson & Soros Are All Betting On A Financial Collapse

Oil Trades Near Three-Month High As US Crude Stockpiles Drop

The Death Of Jobs

What 40 Years Of Gold Confiscation Looks Like

Curtis R. sent this: DIY Fire Starter Wafers. Note: For safety, always use a double boiler, when melting wax!

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Commentary from Brandon Smith: Syria And Iran Dominos Lead To World War

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G.G. flagged this: Stand Your Ground Gun Laws

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Reader P.N.G. wrote to mention, "It is not widely practical, but perhaps someone among your readers has a need for a tracked all-terrain vehicle only 42" long."

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Geoff S. mentioned the Lapka Radiation and EMF detectors available as add-ons for iPods and iPhones.

"And ye shall eat old store, and bring forth the old because of the new." - Leviticus 26:10 (KJV) (Yes, the Bible urges rotating your storage foods!)

Friday, August 24, 2012

The one month countdown! Release of Founders: A Novel of the Coming Collapse is scheduled for September 25, 2012--just one month from tomorrow. Please wait until the release date--which is also our planned Book Bomb day--to order your copy. Not only will you get yours at a better price (probably around $11), you will also help boost the book's sales rank--hopefully into Amazon's Top 20 titles. Thanks!


Today we present another entry for Round 42 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 (a $300 value), F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A $200 gift certificate, donated by Shelf Reliance.

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 C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.)Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) 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 42 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

In early-2009, I began researching the possibility of moving my family from Upstate, South Carolina, where I have lived my entire life, to one of the western American Redoubt states.  Knowing virtually nothing about the area, I solicited the help of Mr. Rawles and did as much online research as possible.  Finally, in October of 2009, I made my first of seven trips to the Redoubt area and I will share some of what I learned with you now.

After flying to the region, landing in Salt Lake, Spokane, or Billings, I would rent an SUV and begin my journey based on a predetermined itinerary of areas that I had researched.  I drove so much on the first trip that my eyes had trouble focusing which forced me to slow down my pace somewhat, but it was a good learning experience.  For the most part, I would grab a hotel room in one of the more populated areas and use it as a hub of operations to do my traveling; however, I did spend a couple of nights in the vehicle just for the sake of convenience. 

After acquiring transportation, shelter, and a plan of action, I would strike out on my journey.  With roads being few and far between, proper planning was essential.  I used a set of gazetteer map books from DeLorme for most of my navigation.  I found that most of the land that I covered in that territory managed by the BLM, Park Service, or US Forest Service.  This presented a unique circumstance because it meant that I had to cover great expanses of Federal land between the areas where property might be for sale; however, this logistics obstacle would pale in comparison to my single greatest challenge of these trips.

What I mean by my greatest challenge is that this particular problem followed me wherever I went.  It was always there and was so simple that it had been overlooked from the start.  It was my southern accent.  No matter where I went or what I did, as soon as I opened my mouth, I was instantly identified as an outsider.  I had thought nothing of my accent until a stop at a Montana convenience store revealed my weakness.  I simply asked the attendant if they had any “Goody Powders” to combat the headache I had from driving, only to find out that she had no clue what I was talking about, nor could she understand what I was saying.  From this instance forward, I was very observant each time I opened my mouth as to how people reacted to my accent.  It didn’t matter if I was ordering a sandwich or talking about the weather, I could tell from people’s reaction that they knew I wasn’t from around there. 

I chalked this language barrier up as the largest negative mark against the Redoubt.  It was so simple and so obvious, yet I had taken for granted the fact that I blended in perfectly in the southeast.  Once I was removed from the south, I no longer had that protection of sounding just like everyone else.  You might not think this is a big deal, but if you are trying to be inconspicuous and a simple “howdy” identifies you as a foreigner, that is a major problem.  This was just one of many negatives that I observed as an outsider looking in on the Redoubt, but it gave me an idea.

I decided to very unscientifically study which areas were more tolerable of someone such as myself.  What I found was, in the areas such as Sandpoint, Idaho and Jackson Hole, Wyoming; which cater to tourists, I didn’t stand out like a sore thumb.  I blended in quite well as a tourist, actually. In more remote areas such as Orofino, Idaho and Libby, Montana; I was pegged as an outsider almost instantly.  I came to the conclusion that, in order for an outsider to blend in, they would need to take up residence nearer to a more populated area or tourist spot.  This somewhat defeats the purpose of moving to the Redoubt, but might work itself out in time.

Among some of the other negatives that the Redoubt has to offer, or not offer in this case, is the lack of churches.  In the southeastern US, also known as the “Bible Belt”, there is a church on nearly every corner.  It doesn’t matter if you are Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, or some other denomination, you can easily find a place to worship on Sunday mornings.  In the Redoubt states, this is totally opposite.  I made it a point to look hard for churches, both while driving and in the phone book, and was very disappointed at the lack of worship opportunities.  The places that I did find for the most part were Mormon in nature.  I personally know an executive with the Southern Baptist Convention that I shared this with and was told that the SBC has at least one church in every county in the US.  Unfortunately, I never found the one in some of the counties; however, this does create an excellent opportunity for church planters and missionaries from the “Bible Belt” to get busy.

One place that is totally awesome, but very dangerous, is the Hell’s Canyon area of the Snake River valley.  I was under the impression that the Snake River got its name from its winding back and forth through the valley.  I now know this to be totally false and I found out first-hand the hard way.  The Snake River had to have gotten its name from the multitudes of rattlesnakes living in Hell’s Canyon.  I also know why they call it Hell’s Canyon now also.  I have never seen such a gathering of rattlesnakes in one place in all of my life. There were literally hundreds, if not thousands, of rattlers in that one area.  If you ever visit Hell’s Canyon please use caution and wear the proper protective gear.  If not, you might become a casualty.

I was also amazed at how fast the weather could change in some of the Redoubt areas.  In one example, I was driving along a valley road at 60 mph. The sky was clear, and the thermostat in the SUV showed 70 degrees outside.  As the flat road in the valley began its assent up the next mountain range, I encountered a flashing sign demanding that tractor-trailers use chains.  I thought this was very odd and maybe the sign had been activated accidentally until I reached the first evidence of snowfall about halfway up the grade.  By the time I had reached the top of the pass, the temperature had fallen 40 degrees, and there was approximately six inches of fresh snow on the ground.  When I reached the other side of the hill and landed in the valley floor, it was again sunny and 70 degrees.  That kind of weather just doesn’t happen here in the south and would take many Redoubt transplants by surprise, as it did me.

On another occasion, I went to bed in a hotel for some shut eye one evening and the parking lot outside was completely void of anything other than automobiles.  When I awoke the next morning, over six inches of fresh snow had fallen and covered everything.  No mention of this had been made on the evening news nor had any of the local stores been ravaged for their groceries.  If this had happened in South Carolina, the governor would have declared a state of emergency, schools would have been shut down, and every store for miles around would have been totally void of milk and bread.

These are just a few very simple examples of how the Redoubt states of the northwest are different from, not only the southeast, but also the rest of the country.  Don’t be naïve and think that you can just pack up your belongings and move a couple thousand miles and everything will work out.  Make a few trips to the areas, do the necessary research, and come to your own conclusion.   If I were to make a move to the Redoubt, the Clearwater River Valley would be my locale of choice. But after taking many, many variables into consideration, I have decided to stay put in Upstate, South Carolina.  I have an awesome church family, our winters are mild in comparison, and everyone speaks my language, not to mention that we have far fewer rattlesnakes. I am not knocking the potential benefits of the Redoubt.  I am just pointing out that just because something looks good on paper doesn’t necessarily mean that it will work out for you.  In my opinion, the Redoubt has been a great place to visit, and I’m sure I will return there again someday, but I wouldn’t want to live there.  The pasture is not always greener on the other side.  Thank you and God Bless!

JWR Adds: I'm impressed that Mr. Falsch took so much time to explore the Redoubt region so thoroughly. I'd much rather read well-reasoned letters like his than those that I often receive from folks who reject the Redoubt concept without ever visiting there.

I formerly attended a Southern Baptist church, when I lived in Orofino, Idaho. Oddly, every Southern Baptist church that I've ever visited has had pastors that spoke with a southern accent. Do they teach the accent at their seminary schools?

If rattlesnakes are a concern, be advised that they are normally found at lower elevations in the Redoubt States. I'd much rather risk seeing "a few rattlesnakes" rather than "seeing a few rattlesnakes, and a few cottonmouths, and a few coral snakes, and a few gators, and miles of kudzu."

Hello Mr. Rawles,
After perusing the contents listed in survival kits, Bug Out Bags (BOB), and Get Out Of Dodge bags (GOOD), it seems to me that they all have one common glaring omission. That omission is knee pads. It occurred to me recently while fixing a roadside flat that so many survival/TEOTWAWKI tasks require one to get "down and dirty", i. e., working on one's knees. Knee pads can remove a lot of the "pain and suffering" from tasks such as firestarting, fence building/mending, emergency roadside vehicle repair, chainsaw sharpening, and a whole host of other tasks. Not to mention saving wear and tear on those high-dollar Multicam britches.

There are many different brands and types of knee pads, and the range of choices is truly vast. However, for my BOB and vehicles, I went with simple foam pads from Home Depot that are about 1/2 inch thick, cheap, weigh almost nothing, and are far better than nothing at all. - Larrynaz

Hi James,
I followed a link that you recently posted: Matt Bracken: Night Fighting 101. Matt Bracken wrote a fine article. He is correct that the deer hunter that proceeds to his hunting area in the dark has already approached quite a lot of what he suggests.
I would like to suggest this concerning chain link fences. Having assembled perhaps 800 feet of chain link fence, I learned how to break it in two and to reweave it together. If you have to separate a portion of chain link fence laying on the ground it is a snap. It is not under lateral tension and has no gravitational forces influencing it. Standing fence is more difficult but can be unzipped if you know how. All chain link fencing comes linked at the top and bottom in paired strands.
Each strand has a loop in the top and has that loop hooked into the adjoining strands loop.
To break a fence you must unhook the loops at the top and the bottom.
Doing so allows you to use the very top piece of the strand you choose as a crank.
Matt Bracken suggests you cut the fence and remove the strand. This is very difficult to do if you cut off the top strand especially if the fence is under lateral pressure.
Repeated cutting is noisy. If you intend to replace the strand to hide the fact that the fence has been penetrated you will need the uncut strand to reweave it.
It is much easier to un-loop the top and bottom by use of a grasping tool to turn the strand.
The best tool without a doubt is a pair of Vise Grip Pliers (7 to 9 inch size).
You can clamp it on and use it with gloves under cold or wet conditions.
Once clamped on the Vise Grip will not fall on the opposite side of the fence.
You will lose considerable time recovering it in the dark and could break the silence barrier alerting people.
After you clamp the Vise Grip on to the top strand you just turn the Vise Grip in a cranking motion and the strand will begin to come out.
On a 6+ft fence you will find that you soon cannot crank this long strand coming out standing on the ground.
You will have to remove the Vise Grip and reattach closer to the top of the fence.
Even then at some point you will soon have 3,4 or 5 feet of wire making a big circle above you and arching down in a big curve.
It will catch on anything close especially tree and shrubbery branches.
You will need a second person to catch it when it comes around each time or to untangle it.
You could severely injure a persons eye or give them a significant skin scratch with the whipping end.
Control that end by having some one to catch it.
Be sure to carry out these operations with a good set of gloves on. Fencing of all types and tools will eat your hands up quickly. Avoid wounds that could impair you during the next 48 hours.
Better to remove tree branches before or select a spot in the fence that is entirely clear of woody obstructions.
As you remove the wire the other option is to just cut off  18 inches at a time.
But be sure to leave enough to clamp the Vise Grip onto each time.
If you decide to cut off the section being removed it can be cut into 4/5 pieces to use to wire the two ends back together again after you pass through.
This is a very simple maneuver to accomplish.
But only if you have the tools.
AND..if you have practiced this removal at night on a vertical fence under lateral pressure.
First do it in the daylight and then at night.
I believe that someone who has mastered this operation could unzip the fence put 10 people through it and have it put back together again in less than 15 minutes.
Putting it back in reverse order is really easy.
The first time you try it you will make every mistake you can.
That is the only way to break a chain link fence and reweave it, practice.
I have my doubts that a small block and tackle will lift the bottom of the fence as a useful method.
the top rails off the fence are not that strong.
Usually supporting line poles are 10 feet apart.
The top rail will bend downward and the bottom of the fence will come up 6 inches and you have left a very prominent  bend mark on the fence that something happened at that point.
You want stealth and ease of penetration and crossing.
This method takes practice and is rather easy to do once you figure it out.
The best three tools for penetration of a fences are: (1. Fencing pliers); (2. Vise Grip Pliers); and (3. A roofing flat pry bar.)
With these you can present your self prepared for barbed wire fences, chain link and wood fences.
Having your fencing pliers handles covered with electrical tape you could also handle some electrical wires. For that I have two sets of WWI-vintage insulated wire cutters marked 40KV.
The other item for crossing barbed wire fences is to have a piece of scrap rug 36 x 40 inches.
Place it over the fence to protect your clothing from being ripped.
Roll it up with cord or a strap and it is easy to carry.
Encountering chain link and wooden fences is more likely in urban areas.
Barbed wire fences in rural areas.
For gates an alternative is to consider a bolt cutter.
If you expect to have to cross many barbed wire fences perhaps a set of standard parallel-jawed  8 to 10 inch wire cutters would be considered.
Often called side cutters by some people.
Barbed wire is usually held to the posts with a soft straight line iron wire or an aluminum preformed clamp type wire.
The aluminum wire is larger in diameter but it is soft necessitating the larger size wire cutter.
Fences are perhaps the most formidable and most often encountered barriers.
If you are skedaddling, then many will be on the road or in the street.
They are the mullets that the sharks will find queued up and available for harvest.
You must make your trail across the barriers and stay off the roads in a skedaddle.
In a patrol mode you want to stay out of sight. Thus you must penetrate the fence or go under it.
Safety is what you get from pre-planning an exit or movement overland. Unplanned normal kind of exit will put you in the territory of the bad guys.
Carrying tools is heavy but being the recipient of a bullet, a machete to an extremity or a club to the head is even heavier.
Stealth and patience will get you to your goal.
Chance favors the prepared! - J.W.C.

Yet another reason to avoid social media: Circuit Court Orders Brandon Raub Released, Dismisses Case Against Marine Arrested, Detained in Veterans Admin. Psych Ward over Political Views, Song Lyrics Posted on Facebook

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Some interesting demographics can be seen in this article sent by Kevin S,: Marriage and Divorce: A 50 State Tour

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Reader H.L. sent this: Insight: Experts hope to shield cars from computer viruses

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I spotted this clever product in the Jeffers Vet Supply catalog: H2Go Bag

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S.S. in Mississippi sent this useful reference: U.S. mineral concentrations maps by county

"The mobs of great cities add just so much to the support of pure government, as sores do to the strength of the human body. It is the manners and spirit of a people which preserve a republic in vigour. A degeneracy in these is a canker which soon eats to the heart of its laws and constitution." - Thomas Jefferson, 1781

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Today we present another entry for Round 42 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 (a $300 value), F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A $200 gift certificate, donated by Shelf Reliance.

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 C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.)Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) 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 42 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I hope that what I have to say will help someone that is just getting started with their survival preparedness situation, SurvivalBlog has helped me in streamlining our preparations, and I believe in giving back some of what I have received.  I have read many different blogs and forums, and come away with the impression that most of the blogs are for the arm chair survivalist that do not try anything for themselves, but only go on what they have read or heard. is one of the few that have individuals that seem to have tried what they say they have done and shared their experiences.

My experience with a survival mind set started almost a decade ago, but only limited for a few weeks or month at most.  That all changed several years ago when I started really looking at the way our country was headed.   I will admit that I still have a long ways to go, but with God’s help, and if the world will hold together long enough, I will get to where I desire to be.  If not, then my family and I will survive with what we have on hand for a long time.


We do have enough for me and my family for at least a year, longer if we just go to two meals a day.  My youngest daughter is almost 17, and I have 4 boys that range in ages from 19 to 33, then two older daughters and their families.  You can imagine the appetite of young men so I have taken that into account.  Only one son is married and has two small children.  I have endeavored to teach my children to always be prepared for as much as possible, if only for a short time.  Again, that has changed over the last couple of years.  We live in a hurricane prone area, so it is imperative that we always have plenty of food on hand that can be eaten with little or no cooking.  I am not talking about MRE’s.  I do have two cases of MRE’s that I obtained during the last hurricane that was not eaten, but I like to store what we usually eat daily, and eat what we store. I read that on a blog and it made sense to me.

It was very difficult to get my wife onboard, but during the last hurricane a few years ago, she and my daughter went to my sister’s house because it was further away from the coast than our old house (built in 1925).  My sister and her husband had nothing to eat but a few bags of chips and some crackers, and two bottles of soda.  They did not even have matches to light the one decorative candle that was in their house.  My brother-in-law had unplugged the refrigerator before the hurricane hit so it would not be damaged from power surges.  Hence, all the food that was in the refrigerator and their freezer was ruined before it was truly needed.  When communications was restored about two days later, my wife called and talked to one of our sons.  He told her that we still had cold milk, and were eating fine.  At the time, we only kept about two months’ worth of food on hand.  It was two days later before she and my daughter were able to come home, and a month before we had electricity restored.

It was at that point that my wife fully came on board with storing extra food.  There are times that she will say “I think we have enough”, but we are still building our “lauder” as she sometimes calls it.

There have been times that we were only able to add one or two cans or a bag of rice and beans every two weeks or so, but every little bit helps.  There have even been a few times that we could not add anything, but had to use what we had stored just to make it for the week or two before we could buy something.  In those cases, we were very glad we had something to fall back on.

It doesn’t matter if you have very little at this point.  The time to start is now.  Even if you have to do as we did during our lean times with just a few cans of something or a bag of rice and/or beans.  You need to get something to hold you over during a natural disaster or the eventual TEOTWAWKI.


I have been an avid hunter all my life until the last decade or so.  Hunting leases just became too expensive for my budget.  I did try hunting the National Forest for a few years, but they are a dangerous place.  You think you are alone, and then a bullet hits a tree just above your head.  I decided that was enough of the National Forest for me.  My sons’ still hunt the National Forest on occasion, but they too are not having very good success.

Because of where we live, I had built a range in my pasture years ago.  I have taught all my children how to shoot firearms from the time they were about 4 years old.  At that age, they do not have the concept of how to aim, but they enjoyed shooting with their dad.  In my opinion, you can never be too young to learn gun safety.  As they grew, their marksmanship also improved, and the enjoyment of just shooting.  I still have the Chipmunk and the youth .22lr rifles that they learned with.  My granddaughter that is now 3 years old has been shooting with her mom, dad, and papa using that same Chipmunk.  That is the first thing she wants to do when they come to visit.

All my children now have their own .45 ACP Glock or XD .45 handguns, a 12ga. Mossberg pump shotgun, a .22 lever action rifle, and a main larger caliber rifle (MBR).  My wife can handle the .45 ACP, but prefers her 9mm Glock, and a 20 gauge youth 870 pump shotgun.  She is not into rifles yet, but I am still hoping that one day she will ask me for one.  I do have a few extra rifles that have been in the family for a long time that she might be able to handle, but I would like to get her something she will enjoy and not be afraid to shoot.  We also have several .22 LR handguns that we use for just plinking on occasion.  We try to train with the handguns and rifles at least once a month depending on the funds available for ammunition.  Ammunition can get expensive with that many shooters at one time.  I do reload all our handgun ammunition only, and replace all that we use during our practices. 

I was striving for everyone to shoot the same make/caliber/ga. to cut down on the different types of ammunition that I would have to have on hand.  I would interject here that it doesn’t matter what you decide for your family.  It is what you and your family are comfortable with.  My daughter, who is almost 17 likes the Glock, but the XD45 fits her hands better.  It is all in your size, training, desire, finances, and ability.  Do not buy cheap, since cheap will get you hurt, or killed, or will break down when you need it the most.  If you do not have the funds to get everyone their own firearm, buy quality, and each learn to use that quality firearm until you are able to purchase another.

At this point, I would like to say that you cannot go wrong by storing factory ammo for all your firearms.  I trust my reloads but do not count it as part of my stored ammunition.  I have not had a malfunction with any of the reloads that I have made, but that is not to say it will never happen.  I am only human, and could make a mistake.  I have read about various amounts of ammunition that should be stored for each firearm, but your comfort level may be different from mine.  Personally, I am trying to store at least a thousand rounds of factory ammo for each firearm that we have.  I am not quite there yet, but getting closer.  At this time I have switched my priorities again.  I am trying to build our food supply to a much larger level.  That is my number one priority so the ammunition storing will be a little less for now.  I am comfortable with what I have on hand, but not so much with our food supply.  I believe that it could be over a year to years before everything settles down again, if ever.  We also have lots of seeds for the garden.


My family has been truly blessed in that none of us have to take any type of medications.  Therefore, it has been relative easy to stock what we think we might need.  We have stocked Band-Aids and bandages of various sizes.  Antibiotic creams and anti-itch creams, and large quantities of various types of aspirin are in our stores.  I just recently purchased a blood pressure kit and a stethoscope.  You just never know when you might need this.  Along with the various salves and creams, we have items for stomach problems and for dry eyes.  We are not as far along in this area as I would like, but we need so little (right now) in this area.  We have lots of tooth brushes and tooth paste, dental floss, oral jell, emergency dental repair kits, and some mouth wash.  Not to be left out, a lot of TP, and personal things for my wife, daughter, and daughter-in-law.  Also we have some preventives.  That is all I will say about that.  Soap and shampoo will be at a premium, so we have quite a bit of that along with alcohol, peroxide, and disinfectant washes.  We have also saved any prescription antibiotics and pain killers from the past.  Most of these were for tooth ailments, and from my daughter-in-law.  Babies are always taking medications for something, so she has saved them for me.

All my family’s teeth have been taken care of, and kept up with regular cleanings and any minor dental decays have been fixed.

We also have some medications and things for small children, including dozens of cloth diapers.  The cloth diapers can be used for almost anything. 

Needless to say, we do have other things for medical and personal hygiene, but this is just to give you a rough estimate to what we have on hand for a healthy large family.  We didn’t collect all of these preparations overnight.  Everything takes time.  Just remember that you can only take one step at a time.

There are other areas that we could talk about having on hand, such as alternate power sources, heat sources, clothing, tools, retreats, children’s games, bug or ant solutions, or etc., but you may be able to only concentrate on one specific area at this time.  Start there.  Start where you are now, and do not get frustrated that it is going so slow, and you feel that you may only have a short time.  Something now for your family is better than nothing while waiting for a government that doesn’t have the resources to take care of the millions that depend on it now as proven by the Hurricane Katrina.   Your family is depending on you.

Hi Jim,
You were spot on in your response to he article by "Retread".
However, for anyone who does choose to use .22 LR for self defense, like the writer of the article, I would go with the Mexican Aguila brand ammo. Due to necessity, they've had to invent some man-killer .22 LR (It's legal for people there to own .22 LR, but not anything else. Not that people down there don't own AR's and AK's, anyway).
My favorite solution for this man is the Aguila 60-grain rd., marketed under the name "Sniper Sub-Sonic" (SSS).I think the only reason they market it that way is simply because they couldn't get a .22 Short shell crammed full of powder to move a 60-grain slug any faster than 900 fps.
This unjacketed 60-grain lead slug is just plain mean, and all of Aguila's .22 ammo is Eley primed, which are some of the best primed rimfires (The primers are British, hence Aguila is actually owned by them). Also, the SSS round only loses approx. 100 fps at 100 yards, which means it doesn't leave the barrel very fast, but it's still moving at 100 yards (out of a 16-inch barrel).
Also, their "Supermaximum" cartridges (both solid and hollowpoint) move at about 1,750 fps, roughly 130 fps faster than US made Stinger .22 LR. Since I don't like putting a rifle cartridge into a pistol (particularly .22 Magnum), I wouldn't recommend putting Supermax into a pistol, since the excess energy makes it very inaccurate. - Joe Snuffy

I applaud Retread in recognizing that each of us needs to assess our own circumstances as we age. From arranging the garden to minimize issues with "questionable" knees and backs to financial realities as we move into our later years. Firearms and ammunition can put a pretty good strain on the budget when trying to maintain skills over the long haul. However, I strongly agree with your assessment of [the unsuitability of] .22 LR as a defensive round. It definitely has a place in the survival battery but not in that capacity. I believe that handguns are a practical compromise when out and about working or otherwise conducting business that makes toting a long gun impractical. With that in mind I believe most of us subscribe to the bigger we can handle the better when we are away from our long guns. I have heard it said  the best we can hope for is to be half as good in a violent confrontation as we are at the range. To me that precludes depending so heavily on the accuracy required to be effective with a .22. My research and minimal experience leads me to believe the .38 or 9 mm are the smallest handgun rounds suitable for the task. Yes, I would want a .45, .357 or .40 S&W on my hip all the time but the cost of proficiency climbs as you work your way up the caliber chain. I have all of these stocked up but my mainstay for a potential SHTF scenario is the 9mm. I don't know which model's Retread experienced but a polymer  compact or full size pistol is easy to carry on the hip all day and a breeze to shoot (not most sub-compacts though). The ammo cost is more than the .22 but in bulk it is by far the cheapest of any other weapon you can carry. Besides your stockpile its common enough to supplement/barter after the flag goes up too. One more thing, an extra weapon in the configuration of your "full" caliber weapon but chambered for .22 is an excellent idea. Sight alignment, sight picture, grip and trigger pull are identical and differences in recoil between the .22 and 9 mm are negligible. - William J.

Mr Rawles,
One thing I'd suggest for someone looking for a firearm with less weight or recoil then a .22 rimfire would be to look at calibers smaller than 9mm. .380 ACP, .327 Federal Magnum, 7.62 x 25mm, or 9x17 Makarov would be (marginally) better choices than a .22 rimfire, simply because the bullets' weights and velocities would make them more forgiving of less-than-perfect shots on either the head or center of mass against a threat target.

I generally tell people to shy away from these calibers, but they're better than nothing.

If the shooter can get past the price and marginal trigger, a really decent alternative to .22 rimfire is the FN FiveseveN (5.7x28mm centerfire).

Cheers, - Kent C.

"La deficit" triggered the French Revolution.  Government debt tripled between 1774 and 1789, much of it incurred by supporting the American Revolution." - From a National Geographic article on France, July 1989, p. 24

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Today we present another two entries for Round 42 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 (a $300 value), F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A $200 gift certificate, donated by Shelf Reliance.

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 C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.)Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) 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 42 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I previously wrote about Leaving Suburbia.  I was so excited to be moving out of the city and into the country towards a more self-sufficient lifestyle, but I spoke too soon.  We were in contract on a piece of property, and at the last minute, the sellers backed out of the transaction.  We were left wondering where we were going to live.  We immediately began looking for another piece of property.  Meanwhile the home we had leased for almost four years, in preparation for this move, was sold out from under us and we had to move on short order.  Move where?  
We moved our belongings into temporary storage and moved in with friends who graciously offered us the upstairs of their home.  Yet, we felt like a couple of 2x4’s had hit us.  At the same time, a very close friend had two major heart attacks in quick succession and he was in cardiac intensive care on life support for a week.  He made it, but the emotional toll was heavy.  Additionally, my employer announced a global layoff of staggering proportions.  Another couple of whacks with a 2x4.  
Whack, whack, whack, whack… deep breath.  No place to live, in fear of being subject to a layoff, being the primary breadwinner, the prepper plan up in smoke…  What next?  Time to take a step back and re-evaluate our circumstances.  What are the facts that determine the direction we must take?
1.        I own a local business and it is not time to fold up and move out of State.
2.        I work full time from home for my employer – flexibility is good.
3.        If I lose my job, we will be in a world of hurt – risk acknowledged.
4.        There are no available properties that meet the prepper plan within reach geographically.
5.        We must live close enough to a major hospital due to health concerns.
6.        The real estate market is in a state of flux, but interest rates are low.
7.        The economy is about to go off a cliff or will continue at a slow, painful, bleed.
8.        Congress has no idea how to solve our problems and an election is pending.
9.        We are getting old – mid 50s – we need to build a realistic plan for our future.

Uncertainty prevails.
Anxiety is high.

I write to you because I think that there may be many of you who are encountering the same dilemmas.  Maybe walking through my decision-making process will help you with yours, or alternatively, help you avoid certain decisions based on flaws in my logic.  Net-net:  I chose to shelter in rather than move to the country.  I will tell you why.
The business – The advantages to the prepper of having a local business are many: active involvement in the community, a large number of friends who are like-minded (in relationship to your type of business), a large network of resources (we help one another).  The business has a good-sized warehouse perfect for storage and under extreme measures, an alternate “shelter in” facility.  There is low overhead associated with running the business.  Decision:  Keep the business and focus on reducing cost, increasing loyalty, and expanding low cost services.  

The job – I tend to freeze when I am under lots of stress, but my antennae are up.  I am now paying attention to exactly how my employer is working to solve its problems.  Will it go under or will it reinvent itself?  I am determined to meet my objectives and then some.  I have taken on more work, working longer hours, keeping my ear to the ground, ensuring that I add real value to the division, and endeavoring to be politically aware so another 2x4 does not hit me upside the head.  I am keeping an eye on the job market in my field to ensure my skills are sharp and in demand.  What else can I do?
What about property?  After much research, and emotional depression, I determined that now is a good time to buy, but choosing the property is critical.  Let me be clear.  Choosing the property to purchase is based more on future financial security now than my previous prepper plans.  I do not wish to be homeless in my old age with stockpiles of food and supplies and nowhere to put them.  Practicality and precaution will be my guides.  

Let me give you a little background on the property situation in Nevada.  We have an extremely contracted real estate market in Nevada with a significant number of homes in foreclosure resulting in very limited inventory – i.e., not much for sale.  It takes over 400 days for a home to make its way back onto the market after foreclosure in Nevada.  This is in addition to a one to two year foreclosure process.  The lack of inventory has caused a bit of a bidding war on available properties, which leads to false valuations, which we know will not hold.  Do not get caught in a bidding war unless you have done the long-term math.  I heard that the same thing is happening in California.

The fact that across the United States, “10 million properties with underwater mortgages, and a shadow inventory of 1.5 million” (6/26/12, Forbes ) makes one wonder if now is the time to buy at all.  It also makes one wonder what will happen if, and when, the banks start releasing properties, i.e., flood the market with properties for sale.  I believe that the banks will continue to dribble properties out into the market for sale at a controlled rate in order to avoid insolvency and to control the downward spiral in housing values.  

If I buy now, will I be able to sell out of necessity in the future?  This is the question on every potential homeowner’s mind.  Recent homeowners (within the last 2 years) are most likely underwater in Nevada already.  Have we hit bottom?  Probably not.  Is there a long-term advantage to buying property now?  Maybe.  Each individual must decide, according to his or her own financial situation, if it makes sense to buy property now or rent.  I am not a financial advisor, nor do I know anything about financial planning – it is not what I do for a living.  I am just a mid – 50s woman with a lot at stake and have done my own research.  I made the decision to buy because it makes financial sense for tax reasons.  After deducting the interest on the loan, property taxes, repairs, etc., my cost for shelter is about half of what it is to rent a comparable property.  It makes financial sense for me.  Will congress keep the tax deductions intact for years to come?  Probably.  My financial plan includes paying off a 30 yr mortgage in 15 with room to prep in the budget – and that’s a really aggressive goal that requires discipline.

The price of the property I am currently purchasing is low for the area and the home is a “fixer-upper”.  The area has historically held property values – relatively speaking – and doing much better than other areas.  It is an older, established neighborhood, with lots of mature trees and landscaping, custom homes on large lots, and a bit removed from the downtown areas.  Our friend calls it the “high rent district”, but I would call it a great deal in a great neighborhood with longtime residents who value their properties.  Nevadans are an interesting breed – primarily conservative, supporters of the right to bear arms, stubborn, opinionated, and with little tolerance for Bravo Sierra.  Most folks out here know how to shoot and own weapons.  If you can generalize about any group of people, I would say that I would rather be nestled in, sheltered in, with a group of longtime Nevadans than out in the wilderness on my own.  I believe this choice makes financial sense in the event that the balloon does not go up – practicality.

However, I have not given up entirely on my prepper plans.  The location of this non-HOA home allows for some views of what is going on below “in the city” because it is located in the foothills.  It is on over a third an acre and the soil is good – enough room to grow a sizeable, private garden.  It has a unique crawlspace under the home that could be a small bunker with slight modifications.  It is large, over 3,000 sq. ft., allowing room for the extended family to shelter in.  Behind the home is a “ditch”.  Ditches were built many years ago in order to provide irrigation for pastures, and they remain fully functional interwoven throughout residences in the foothills.  The runoff from the major streams and lakes run through these ditches.  It is not the perfect plan, but it is something.  One cannot count on the ditch being a stable water source, but with the right filtration system, one could move water from the ditch into containers if need be.  I consider the ditch to be on par with a well.  In parched Nevada, wells dry up, as do ditches and streams, but having one close is still a good back up to the backup plan.  The home has two wood burning fireplaces in perfect condition, providing an alternate heating source for our cold winters.  If I take my prepper blinders off for a moment, I can see how this property will work.

This decision did not come easily – to shelter in place rather than move into the country.  My plan was several years in the making and it went up in smoke.  My only other option was to uproot and move to Idaho and I am just not ready to do that.  I cannot express to you how difficult it has been emotionally to choose to stay local to the community.  However, it is practical and sometimes we just have to be practical.  I can turn this home into my prepper palace with the right effort and planning.

The disadvantage of purchasing a home not far from the city is the potential onslaught of city dwellers and the “Golden Horde” from California.  This home is nestled within a community of windy roads and not directly in the path of the major freeways or major traffic veins.  Is it vulnerable?  Yes, absolutely.  Will it be the first target?  No.  There will be some time to prepare for an onslaught once the full preparation plan is in place for holding ground if the SHTF.  Since the decision to buy has been made and the decision to shelter in is in play, how can the home be fortified in such a way as to not call attention to preparation efforts and not violate any neighborhood norms?  

Planned preps for the shelter in place strategy include fortifying the exterior.  Currently, Masonite siding is in place.  I am researching replacing it with a cement fiber siding.  I am thinking “bulletproof”.  There are a number of “view windows” and other windows that I would like to replace with a bulletproof glass or modify them per J.W.R.’s instructions.  I will replace the sliding glass doors completely by reducing the exposure area, building out the walls, and inserting oh so innocent looking French doors that are bulletproof.  I wanted to do solar, but I am thinking of strategizing around the fireplaces, which can be a source of heating, cooking, and light.  While the home is large, there is not enough storage spaces built in.  I am thinking about building in storage that doubles as built-in furniture with false doors and hidden spaces.  The crawl space can be fortified further, especially with a heavy locked door and will serve as a bunker retreat and good for storage.  Yes, there are lots to this and I have not scratched the surface.  No more planning around goats, chickens, rabbits, and acres.  Now it is all about being secure in an un-secure area.  Water storage is a prime concern, but isn’t that what hot tubs are for?  If I can make myself laugh, I can enjoy this process rather than panic about it.

Parting advice – if you can’t move to the country, “shelter in” with your eyes wide open.  Everything I do now is through the lens of prepping.  SurvivalBlog has been and will be my “go to“ place for advice and ideas of other preppers.

There is a certain amount of “snowball effect” when someone decides to invest in survivalist, TEOTWAWKI, or prepper knowledge.  The initial decision is not a light one, nor is a “set it and forget it” for the type that bounces from one fad to the next.  There are many different types of survivalists.  But all survivalists have one thing in common – a beginning.  Whether it is your views on the ever changing political arenas or natural disasters that have piqued your interest or even steered your choice to the survivalist lifestyle, the initial influx of information can be a bit overwhelming.

First off, TEOTWAWKI?  The End Of The World As We Know It.  It sounds simple, but your everyday life is filled to the brim with simple things you normally take for granted.  If your power goes out, you usually can count on it being restored before your freezer defrosts.  But what if it doesn’t?  Sure, candles around the house are great, but if a widespread, long-term power outage occurred, you’d be stuck trying to get anything you could just to warm up a can of beans.  That is, if you can get into your can of beans because your electric opener isn’t working either.  And your car is low on gas trying to find any kind of supplies, so you can’t get yourself to the hospital because you impaled your thumb trying to open the “stupid” can of beans.  Even if it was a TEOTWAWKI on a smaller scale, like a corrupted water system, you need to be prepared to provide for yourself and your family as others scramble around trying to find even a 12 ounce bottle.

You know your own personality and know how far down the rabbit hole this decision will take you.  Prepare in moderation.  You already have responsibilities in your life, albeit work, children, and maybe hobbies.  If you are thinking that becoming a survivalist is going to be a new “hobby” along the lines of hunting or snow skiing or scuba diving, there is some truth.  The truth to that statement is that you will spend a decent chunk of change committing to this.  If you choose to devote your time and effort to learning a new way of thinking, you will learn that survivalist gear is like good hobby equipment; some will buy the cheap stuff and come to find out later that cheap doesn’t equal good.  Along with this decision to survivalist, you’ll need to learn a lot and then disregard what you don’t need, want or will use. As stated above, you know yourself best and will need to weed out the useless-to-you information.

Prepare for situations that would be likely, but keep the worst-case scenario in mind.  Natural disasters happen frequently, whether it is a hurricane, tsunami wave, earthquakes or fires.  Hurricane Katrina and the recent droughts show how hundreds of thousands, even millions, can be brought to their knees.  Man-made disasters also occur along the lines of a bombing, terrorists or political corruption that can shut down governments that trickle down to public sector jobs and then to private sectors.  The tsunami triggered nuclear reactor meltdown in Japan was mostly glossed over in the United States of America, with the exception of the chance of sensationalism.  The natural disaster occurred in the dead of winter.  If you were in a similar situation and survived the initial onslaught, would you be able to survive the repercussions? If the weather conditions were survivable, would you be able to protect yourself from looters?

You will never see me, nor know my real name.  To me, my survivalist choices are best kept to my family and a few other families that we are close with.  Each family is responsible for their own level of skills, supplies and knowledge, but we encourage each other and pass on useful knowledge and places to buy or barter for good supplies.  Being involved with a group may not be for you.  I take pleasure in knowing that I will have friends to be with should we have to leave most everything behind.  However, we all take great pains in not being the ones to discuss it openly with others.  It’s not that we hoard our skills or knowledge.  I’d rather not have 15 friends knowing that I have a cache of ammo or a supply of food, because if my 15 friends know and TEOTWAWKI happens, I’ll have 15 people asking me to help them out.  My first responsibility is my family.  Lack of planning on their part doesn’t constitute an emergency on my part.  So, gather your supplies, skills and knowledge quietly.  Don’t sign up for a reality show unless you want trouble. 

There are as many different camps on where and how to start as there are name brands for toilet paper.  Being practical has to play into your launching point.  My personal preference is basic necessity.  You cannot build a sturdy house without a good foundation (although I’m sure some would argue that point) and the same is true for beginning preppers and survivalists.  Water is essential for life.  You can buy cases of small bottles, one gallon jugs, or water containers from canteen size to 5 gallons to 50 gallons.  If you are leaning towards “bugging out” or “heading for the hills,” then a 50 gallon drum probably wouldn’t be the wisest choice.  But quality should play a role in your decision.  A cheap 5 gallon jug with a flimsy handle could break and any loss of water in a TEOTWAWKI could be a point of life or death.  There are water purification tablets, water hydration packs, knowledge on how to find water in the wilderness, the list is practically endless.  Never forget, though, that your body will fail without water.

Food follows a second close to water.  Being able to feed your family during a prolonged disaster is essential.  Not one of you reading this would care to see a child or loved one die of starvation, but it is a real possibility in a TEOTWAWKI situation.  Again, the choices on food storage are plentiful.  There are the classic MRE’s (meals ready to eat), which could be useful in a “bug out” situation.   If the scenario calls for staying put in your own home, however, food storage could be a lot more feasible and, to be frank, a lot more tasty.  There are many articles on life expectancy of home canned food, store bought cans and storage of dry ingredients to make meals.  Be sure to figure in how your storage is affected by weather, i.e. if you live where the summers are regularly over 90 degrees and how it influences the stored food.  Garden seeds could be useful for long term crops.

It may sound contradictory, but cash will speak in a broken society.  If you have studied, stored and mastered skills, there may be something you missed.  It is the one tiny thing that will pop up and send your “plan” sideways.  This is where cash comes in.  If there is a lack of electricity, banks won’t have computers to tell them how much is in your account and they certainly won’t let you “borrow” it.  Bartering could also prove useful in this type of circumstance, but cash is king with most people.  The amount you decide to keep on hand will be something that you find reasonable, but a good jump off point is $500, in bills that are 20’s and smaller.  Why so much to start out with?  If you think gasoline prices are unreasonable now, just wait until there is no electricity to automate the pumps. 

Lastly, for a brand new survivalist, consider your own medical needs.  Are you one daily, weekly or monthly medications?  If you are, you may need to consider getting a month more and then rotating it so that you have at least a month’s supply.  Do you have allergies that need an over the counter or even a prescription for?  Buying a box or two and rotating the stock is wise and easy.  Women need supplies for their “lady days,” and that may include special medications.  You can take a basic first aid kit and expand it with more supplies to start out with.  If you have any unused elastic bandage wraps, arm slings or splits, make sure that you include them with the medical supplies.  You will be able to gauge what you need for your family in your own medical kit.  Consider keeping your supplies in a red storage tote or bin to signify that it is for medical supplies.  In a panic, it is a lot easier to yell to someone to “Grab the red bin!” than it would be for someone to read the labels. 

For a beginner, sometimes you just want someone to spell out exactly what you need and which order to buy it in.  Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work that way.  What is good for my family may or may not be good for you, but it can give you a general idea of which direction to go.  Checklists are abundant on the internet, but can either be missing something you need or want or the list can be bogged down with advanced supplies to be collected once the essentials are there.  As you advance past the beginning stages and gather your basic needs, you will branch out into a plethora of different areas.  But the basics will have you covered in case TEOTWAWKI happens much sooner than you expect.

Hi Jim
One thing that our family is fond of is bread - especially whole wheat bread.  I read Pat's review of the Family Grain Mill from the perspective of someone who's been-there done-that.  Our grain mill journey began with an attachment to the Champion Juicer - it does grind wheat but the flour is fairly coarse and the resulting bread is not what I had come to expect from the bread that typical (store bought) whole wheat flour yielded.

We wanted a mill that offered the user the ability to grind flour by hand if needed.  After a long search we opted for the economically attractive Family Grain Mill.  It was a marked improvement as far as the consistency of the flour on its finest setting, but still fell short of the store bought flour.  Additionally, our Kitchen-Aid mixer was at the minimum power requirement and although it was able to grind wheat, the mixer did warm up considerably.  Grinding by hand is certainly do-able, but it will be a family task to grind enough (fine) flour for a couple of standard sized loaves.  Most of the Family Grain Mill is plastic, everything fits well and the burrs are well-machined, but again, most of the mill is plastic - I don't know if this mill will make it through generations.  However, one real positive feature of this mill is its ability to make rolled oats (with an optional attachment) - no comparison to store bought rolled oats.

We definitely wanted a mill that could stand up to our family's needs for many years - our search continued.  Our search thus far had yielded adequate mills, each better than its predecessor, but still had us making flour that was substandard to store bought.  We found two that looked promising and neither was inexpensive.  The GrainMaker mill and the Country Living Grain Mill were the two that rose to the top - either, when reviewed, had accolades and some issues. 

We opted for the GrainMaker and have not regretted it for a moment.  The flour is just as fine as that in the store.  We have motorized it - deciding to use our time more productively until the power fails.  We have made everything from cornmeal to grits, cracked wheat beans, - whatever - easily.

Here are several reviews that helped push us over the edge to spend more than we ever thought we would.  (However when we compare what we spent leading up to the GrainMaker purchase, we would have been far better off saving our money to get this workhorse first.)  - the grain mill comparison - this document is a very good reference for someone considering a high-end mill.

Also, I'm on a personal quest to make an excellent loaf of bread from only what we have stored for whatever comes.  No yeast (sour dough starter instead) and no white flour.  An appeal to your readers for a proven recipe would be very, very much appreciated.

As always - thank you for all that you do! - John T.

Six months ago, one of my consulting clients bought a newly-manufactured Amish-made Blizzard brand propane upright freezer. He reports that the freezer (which has 18 cubic foot capacity) works quite reliably, with the temperature always staying within two degrees from where he first set it: 10 degrees, Fahrenheit. (The freezer came with an Accu-Rite wireless digital thermometer--something by the way that I recommend for all freezers. You simply leave the "outdoor" sensor-transmitter inside the freezer.) He noted, however, that since the freezer is equipped with two burners, it does consume a substantial amount of propane. These freezers are perfect for off-grid houses, or to prepare your on-grid house for grid-down situations.

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It was interesting to see that Camping Survival has added canned green coffee beans to their product line. As discussed at length in SurvivalBlog back in 2006, it is better to store the beans green, and roast them in small batches, as needed.

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Matt Bracken: Night Fighting 101. (Thanks to Jim W. for the link.)

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Michael Z. Williamson (SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large) sent a link to a fascinating article on mammalian instincts on mineral nutrition. This might also explain the old-time Southern (and Asian) practice of dirt eating.

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Chris G. was the first of a dozen readers to send this news item: The survivalist: Roscoe Bartlett prepares for a threatened future.

"Truth is the cry of all, but the game of few." - George Berkeley

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Today we present another entry for Round 42 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 (a $300 value), F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A $200 gift certificate, donated by Shelf Reliance.

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 C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.)Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) 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 42 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Soon after the Hurricane Katrina disaster we discovered Survivalblog and have since read thousands of (for us) Heaven sent articles. These last seven years has changed our lives for the better. We are dedicated preppers, now living on our new-to-us farm/retreat. We are busy setting it up properly for SHTF, and making good progress. We cannot thank you enough Mr. Rawles. 

Prepping is preparing for the day things change for the worse. In all our planning, it never occurred to me that it might be me that changed. I seem to have hit that spot where I was forced to recognize that I simply cannot do (as well) all the things I used to do. I am in good shape and pay attention to my intake, nevertheless a few of my body components are not up to spec anymore. I am 60+ years young and I work hard six days a week on our little farm/retreat. But somehow those hay bales seem to be heavier this year. My smart alec doctor suggested my aches and pains are the price I must pay for the indiscretions of my youth (skiing accidents, etc). 

There is little I can do about this, other than to (finally) pay attention to my body and plan for being a bit less able. With that in mind, I soon realized that shooting my pistol had become a bit of a chore rather than the weekly fun shoot of 50 rounds, and once a month, 100. My marksmanship was really not what it should be either. 

I offer the following as a different viewpoint, not as a recommendation per say. I've been carrying a pistol all day, every day, for almost two years. For serious full time concealed carry these factors are crucial: Pistol size, weight, recoil, and accuracy with that weapon in an adrenaline-rushed shooting situation. 

When we first realized the time for us to carry full time had come, I already owned a big ol' .45 semi-auto. So I strapped it on and went about my business. I could hardly wait to take the darn thing off by the end of that 16 hour day. So I searched the Internet and found a small and light weight 9mm, bought one locally and carried it on my hip for almost two years. It was so comfortable to carry, sometimes I simply forgot I had it on. Our local Post Office lady reminded me that if she can't carry in there, then I can't either. Oops.

However, as with all firearms, the lighter it is, the less mass it has to counter recoil. That little 21 ounce 9mm kicks like a mule. Its not fun to shoot anymore after just a few rounds, not nearly enough for the weekly stay-in-shooting-shape routine I found myself avoiding. 

What I needed was a pistol for full time carry that had a balance between size, weight, and my ability to use it expertly. So I searched the internet looking for input from professional gun folks. I was looking for thoughtful consideration of easy-to-carry-all-day (16 hours or so) and easy-to-shoot-well pistols for each of us, as opposed to "bigger is better". I was surprised to find quite a few good quality articles addressing my concerns written by well qualified professionals. They often pointed out that shot placement is, 100% of the time, the most important factor in any shooting, not the caliber of the bullet nor the power of the cartridge, though these are important factors. They also pointed out some facts in favor of (believe it or not) the humble .22 LR (Long Rifle)... for some folks, in particular those that cannot handle something bigger. The .22 LR can be effective if the shooter does his/her part, which means a lot of practice, no matter the caliber. 

In the time I've been carrying full time I learned a thing or two. For all day carry, size makes a huge difference. A large pistol gets in my way frequently (working on my farm or sitting at my desk), and it is quite difficult to conceal. A small pistol is much, much easier to conceal on my person. The weight of the pistol is a big deal too, the lighter it is the less of a problem it is (like keeping one's pants where they belong). Way to many folks go to all the expense, hassle and time to get their CCW, only to wind up not carrying because of the discomfort and inconvenience of carrying their chosen weapon. 

Another important factor for me is the monthly cost of replacement ammunition, not to mention ammo availability from time to time (remember 2008?). I believe in having quite a bit of ammo stored for the time it is not easily available, if at all. Having 1,000 rounds sounds pretty good till you do the math. For me, that is only a four month supply. I once read that 5,000 rounds per weapon, per person, is an absolute minimum. Prices are not going down, so this makes sense on several fronts. At about $240 per case of 1,000, five cases is $1,200. Add my wife to the equation, and we double that. To be absolutely honest though, having twice that much ammo is where we are comfortable. That is $4,800 for just pistol ammo (20,000 rounds, is a three+ year supply for the two of us). 

Ammo for our rifles was a whopper too. But prepping is not only about defense of course, we all need to plan for, get and store properly, our beans, band aids and bullets, plus train and practice with that same food, water, gear, etc - it never seems to end. We budget, plan and apply what we've learned, but we still have to make tough choices, often. Stocking 20,000 the rounds of .22 LR for our pistols was less than $750. Add to that spare magazines (five per weapon, bare minimum), cleaning supplies, spare parts, etc, it is still expensive, but less than 20% that of our previous pistols. Now that we have light, good quality .22 LR pistols (Ruger SR22), we both actually shoot like we should, in terms of marksmanship and frequency. Plus shooting the .22s is still fun and doesn't hurt. We are not getting any younger, it is only going to get tougher as we continue to age.

At 4 cents a round, together we spend about $20 a month on replacement .22 LR, and we are much better shooters. After shooting 100 rounds insequence, the only thing that hurts is my face, from grinning. Also, with my vastly improved shooting skill, my confidence in all things pistol has greatly improved. 

Now for the effectiveness of the .22 LR in self defense. A few years ago I read a study written for the FBI on the wounding characteristics of just about every pistol caliber (see this web page for the full study). Briefly, the study included several thousand real life shootings over a number of years. The end result is that no caliber stops a crazed criminal instantly. A hit to the heart will kill for sure, but a crazed person (or someone loaded with drugs) can function for up to 10 seconds before death. That is a very long time if that crazy person is still shooting at you. 

The single exception to this finding is when the bullet disrupts the central nervous system: either a hit to the upper spine, brain stem, or brain. The study went on to point out that a hit to the central nervous system from any caliber of pistol, from the .44 Magnum all the way down to the lowly .22 LR will have the same result: instantly stopping the aggressor. Shot placement is, 100% of the time, the most important factor in any shooting. 

Training classes in self defense teach us to aim for center-of-mass, the chest of your attacker. Our self defense shooting will be aimed for the center-of-head. [The "ocular window."] There are a lot of good counter arguments to this, especially the difficulty of aiming well while under the very high stress of a shooting situation. I am not discounting the tried and true of the experts, I am trying to make the .22 LR work for our aging bodies. Center of mass for a .22 LR is more than likely not going to be effective, thus the brain is our only logical choice.

One police officer I interviewed told me about the one time he was in a gun battle. Rather than the Weaver stance, he hid behind the fender of his patrol car to return fire. He told me that from that day forward he practiced two more methods of hitting his target. The first is point shooting (not aiming per say, but pointing the pistol), the other is flash aiming

Whatever the method of aiming a .22 LR in a self defense scenario, my intent is to triple-tap the aggressor's face. It will be what I'm looking at anyway, that could save me a microsecond or two over shifting my sight to center of mass. The brain is much bigger than the heart, and it is not covered with heavy clothing (a factor with most pistol calibers). But a glancing hit to the skull will not work, one must make a direct hit.

Of course I wish our bodies and budget would allow us to carry something bigger. What we've done is figured out a way we can still defend ourselves. A .22 LR pistol for self defense is nearly worthless without constant and thorough practice, including moving targets and moving through various as-real-as-I-can-make-them scenarios.

Well there you have it, my thinking on practical all-day-carry and self defense with a pistol for us. Knowing that shot placement is, 100% of the time, the most important factor in any shooting, we had better be excellent pistol marksmen above all other pistol shooting factors. 

You and your family will remain in our prayers Mr. Rawles. Thanks again for your hard work and devotion to preparedness and survivalism.

JWR Adds: While I do not recommend any .22 rimfire for self defense, if you feel you must, then make it one with a large magazine capacity, such as a Kel-Tec PMR-30. It weighs just 13.6 ounces, unloaded, which makes it suitable for all-day carry. With 30 rounds of .22 Magnum available, you'll at least have a fighting chance. And BTW, the point shooting approach that you mentioned is not compatible with your goal of getting central nervous system hits with a .22. That requires deliberate, aimed fire. Carrying a .22 rimfire for self defense will take a tremendous amount of practice. (Many thousands of rounds.) I suggest that you do nearly all of it from 3 to 30 yards using human silhouette targets, taking exclusively head shots. Train like you'll fight! Thankfully, your training ammo costs will be relatively low.

Also, keep in mind that if you do any dry practice, you will need to keep a fired piece of brass in the chamber. (Unlike centerfire guns, any rimfire can quickly have its chamber galled by dry practice with an empty chamber.)

I have to concur with Mike Q. I have a Toyota pickup (22RE) with 310,000 miles that doesn't burn any oil and runs perfectly. You cannot kill these trucks. For a bug out vehicle (BOV) you can't beat these trucks. - Larry


Captain Rawles.
I have owned two Toyota trucks since 1995. I thought I would share some knowledge I have gained on Toyota truck platform with your readers if any are interested in owning a Toyota truck.

First, the most reliable and maintenance free Toyota truck model is the 1989-1995 22 RE 4-cylinder engine with five speed (manual) transmission. This is a fuel injected engine. If maintained well, 500,000 miles on the engine is very possible. I recommend adjusting the valves on this engine with a feeler gauge every 20,000 miles. The no.4 exhaust valve is prone to "tightening up" due to heat. This can be done by the amateur who is "willing to pay attention to detail' but a good mechanic is recommended. I know many owners of this model of truck who never have adjusted the valves, so it may be optional, I'm just a stickler for performance.

The base model for this truck weighs only 2,700 pounds, and has gets 25 miles a gallon at 55 miles per hour on flatland. (Yes, 25 miles to a gallon if you are careful.) The transmission can be used to downshift almost to at least 10 MPH without brakes if engine RPMs are watched, and the parking brake can be applied to bring truck to a dead stop.

The 4-wheel drive version is almost impossible to get to get stuck if care is taken, and due to its light weight, being "pulled" or "winched out" of a bad spot is easy.
One other quark of this truck is access to the fuel filter. I recommend pulling the passenger side front wheel off to get easy access to the fuel filter behind a plastic flap.
The truck I had was the most "Caveman" of the modern trucks. I only had an air conditioner and heater, no powerlocks, no modern computer screens or other electronic garbage. This truck is fuel injected and unfortunately I do not think it can survive a EMP attack or solar storm.

On parts availability, millions of these little trucks were imported, some parts of the country are saturated with these trucks, some are not. Parts are found at (or ordered easily) at most major parts stores or from the dealer at a premium. Used trucks are selling in my state for $2000 to $5000 each depending on condition. In a collapse, I think the fuel would run out before parts would get wore out.
A word of Warning to most would be owners on this truck, this truck is so lightweight that it bounces around on rough roads and at speed you may "hit your head on the headliner' when you bounce around on the bench seat. So wear your seatbelt!

Cleaning is easy, on the rubber floor of the truck, there are two rubber "grommets" that can be taken off and a hosing out the floor of the truck is possible, just avoid the dashboard, fuse box etc. (I have even hosed down the bench seat) The dirty water will drain right out of the cab of the truck through the grommets (remember to replace the grommets, if your drive through a creek, you may live to regret it)
I had the same truck for 12 and half years, now I drive a newer (2002) Toyota truck with the six-cylinder engine. My mechanic has the exact same truck, with the same six cylinder engine and transmission and his truck has 527,000 miles on it and he still drives it everyday!

On the six cylinder engine: Replace the timing belt every 90,000 miles.
This 527,000 mile engine has never been rebuilt, the heads have never been off and the same automatic transmission has never been rebuilt! (this 527,000 mile Toyota truck has had five timing belts replaced)

As per JWR's recommendations I would not own any vehicle newer than 2002 due to [their profusion of] electronics. Some of the newer models may be okay, however, I like old things that are not so full of electronics.

The 2002 Toyota truck I currently own should last at least 20-25 years with proper maintenance. I'm 45 years old, so this may be one of the third to the last or second to the last vehicle I own in my lifetime. Regards, - E.M.

One bad bit of news for a Redoubt state: No Consent: Your Child Can Now Be Sterilized In Oregon For Free

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Feds prepare to end wolf protections in Wyoming. (Thanks to R.B.S. for the link.)

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This is interesting: United States Peace Index 2011: Violent Crime Ranking. Once again the American Redoubt states plus the Dakotas and Utah have a good showing. BTW, the Infoplease web site has some more detailed statistics.

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Another spectacular video from TTabs: A Evening Flight to Troy Idaho

Italy's tax hunters target super-rich and their yachts off the Sardinian

This was mentioned in SurvivalBlog about a year ago, but bears repeating: USA National Gas Price Heat Map. (Thanks to Ben N. for the reminder.) You will note that portions of the American West perennially have some of the lowest gas prices in the country. Also note the map's red shading for California. The high prices are in part attributable to a recent refinery fire in Richmond, California, but they are mostly indicative of one of the many ways that California is attempting to balance its budget: on the backs of motorists.

Glenn Beck talks some serious economic gloom and doom. (Among other things, he mentions the $7 Trillion in G-10 debt and $700 Trillion (notional) in derivatives).

Items from The Economatrix:

Welcome To The Third World, Part 7:  Bye, Bye Public Services

Data Points To Lackluster Economic Growth

Wal-Mart International Growth Slows, Shares Fall

"Until recent times, every child had a rifle of his own as soon as he was old enough to understand his father’s instructions. With it he hunted game and birds, killed snakes and protected himself against the dangers of rural life. When he was grown, he passed knowledge of the rifle down to his own son.
The rifle was honored in the home. It graced the mantel, the wall, or rested above the door. It was near at hand, clean, loaded, accurate as a fine watch, ready for service. The tradition of arms is an American tradition born of generations of self-reliance, self-sufficiency and independence – independence not in theory, but in fact; independence that rested upon individual shoulders of each member of society; independence bought of self-denial, sacrifice, and personal courage. It was not permissive. It was not necessary to ask if it were legal, or all right, or moral; this was an independence that rose out of the man himself and was of himself alone.
Such was the tradition of a free society. A society free to guard its own possessions and protect its own kith and kin; free to rush from humble dwellings to restore law and order, to exact justice, or to stop an invader of the homeland. In this, the rifle was the key. It was part of America; it was part of the man. It stood beside him. The rifle was a part of the saddle of the Western cowboy, and it is still there. The rifle was in the possession of every weary wagon in the long trains that plodded slowly across the plains and prairies. It was in the California gold fields and beside the thin blanket of the prospector as he slept on the icy ground. It was in the canoe, the longboat, the paddle-wheel steamer; it was on the rafts that drifted down America’s broad, muddy rivers. The rifle was known and loved by the Indian, who did not meet it soon enough. It was the tool of the buffalo hunter and the cook of the range camp, the rustler and the claim jumper and the highwayman.
The rifle was the symbol of life, and of death. It was a symbol of the law and the lawman, and it was often the judge and jury from whom there was no appeal. Other than the rope, the rifle was the most important single factor in American life for many generations. Together the rifle and rope stood for justice until towns and cities brought the compassion of the church and the court and the psychiatrist’s couch.
The rifle and rope kept men and cattle and horses and homes and wagons and industry and the nation together in a day when the enemy was sometimes behind the nearest tree – and the nearest neighbor was a day’s ride through virgin forests.
The rifle is still the steadfast friend of the American. He has not forgotten it. Its cold royalty courses through veins of men who have never touched its warm stock, or felt its reassuring slap against the shoulder. When these young hands – these hands that do not know the good and loyal friend – grasp it in introduction and feel its weight and see its efficient build and handsome profile, there will be a meeting of minds. These friends, they will recognize each other as Americans, old Americans, trustworthy Americans of great heritage.
Should there be another war, and should there be only two men left, it will be the rifle that decides who has conquered the world and who shall be able to retain it. And if there should be another war and the world is engulfed by forces that overwhelm men and reduce them to slavery, it will be the rifle that breaks their chains and restores human dignity. For the rifle is the force of the common man, as the bow and arrow were in earlier times, and the spear and the rock were in the beginning. It is the voice of the endangered, lonely man with his back against the wall and his whole future before him. With the rifle, Americans defeated the most powerful nation of the world and became free. With it, they will retain freedom." - T. Grady Gallant, On Valor's Side

Monday, August 20, 2012

Today is the birthday of Congressman Ron Paul. He was born August 20, 1935.

This is also the 70th anniversary of the Battle of the Tenaru River, on Guadalcanal, August 20, 1942.

I learned to cook out of necessity - I was raised by my grandmother, and she was one of the worse cooks, ever! However, she managed to raise 9 children and myself, but her cooking ability was lacking. So when I was quite young I started experimenting in the kitchen and learned to cook on my own. Of course, over the years, I learned a lot from other folks along the way. And, being from Chicago, and being Sicilian, I learned to cook some great Sicilian style Italian meals. My pasta sauce is next to none. Now, with that said, I can't bake for diddly! That's my wife's department. So, when I received the Family Grain Mill from Internet Prepper,  I turned to my lovely wife for her assistance. She was raised on a ranch, and knows quite a bit about baking and cooking from scratch.
The Family Grain Mill can be had in different configurations - you can have a complete "system" with the right attachments. You can set-up your Family Grain Mill as a stand alone set-up, using the hand-crank for those times when the power is out. Or, you can use the optional stand alone electric motor attachment. If you have some other kitchen appliances, like the Bosch or Kitchen Aid mixers, you can attach your Family Grain Mill to those for faster wheat grinding with an adapter attachment.  And, it's very easy to alternate between using the hand-crank or the electric motor. What my wife really liked about the whole thing was that it was extremely quick and easy to set-up. She's not mechanically minded, and doesn't enjoy having to read through a long list of steps to put something together.
The quality of the Family Grain Mill is outstanding - made by Messerschmidt in Germany, for the past 27 years. This is top-notch in all respects. However, this mill isn't nearly as expensive as some other mills on the market, in fact, it is quite a bit less expensive - and I enjoy saving a buck whenever I can, while still getting the best quality I can afford. These days, we all need to spend our hard-earned money wisely. Any more, if something isn't a "deal" in my book - I'll just pass on it. I've got to get the most and best I can afford. Made from premium Lexan and hardened surgical steel burrs, and BPA free, the mill is capable of a lifetime of dependable service.
Fast, light, and easy to use, this was important to my wife (and, "no" I still don't know how to use it-- I just watched my wife). A cup of fine flour is produced in approximately one minute from wheat grain, with the electric base installed and just two minutes with the hand-crank installed. More importantly, the hand-crank base turns easily, even a child can turn it. The large 5-cup open-top hopper allows for continuous grinding, too. Another feature the wife liked is that clean-up is fast and easy, and dust-free. Everything removes easily and quickly for cleaning. The Family Grain Mill is one of the quietest mills on the market, too.
Some of the things the Family Grain Mill is capable of grinding are: wheat, oats, corn (not popcorn), rye, spelt, barley, rice, most beans, coffee, flax seed, sesame seeds, dried herbs, dried peppers, dried peas and other foods. My wife ground coffee beans and  lots and lots of wheat. This was a "difficult" test and evaluation period for me,  for the past month and a half - hey, someone had to test and evaluate all the different types of freshly baked breads that my wife made - yeah, a "dirty" job, but I was up to the task. And, other than pizza cooking in the oven, there isn't anything better smell in my kitchen, than fresh bread baking. I made a lot of "sacrifices" for Survival Blog readers, doing all these taste-testing, but I was up to the task. There is also a meat grinder attachment, and that would be great for grinding-up some venison during hunting season.
Oh yes, you can also get a variety of additional food processing drums for the Family Grain Mill, that will allow you to grind nuts and larger seeds such as pumpkins seeds, sunflower seeds, hard cheese and baby food. There is another drum for Julienne for soups, one for slicing for dehydrating veggies, one for grating, and yet one more drum for making mash potatoes, squash and pumpkins - great for souffles.
There is also a flaker attachment for the mill, that will roll and flake: oats, wheat, rye, spelt and flax seeds. You can make your own oatmeal at home or even cream of wheat. My wife experimented with quite a few different recipes and dishes, and came up with some very cool things for us to eat. One of my favorite breads she made was a wheat bread, almost flattened, with Jalepeno peppers cut-up small, inside the bread itself, and in the final few minutes of baking, she added sliced Jalepenos on top the bread with cheddar cheese - mouth-watering good!
Quite frankly, I never once gave any thought, to storing buckets of whole wheat - I just figured that we could use white flour - and we have hundreds of pounds of it stored-up, for making bread, pancakes and other things during hard times. However, to be sure, pre-ground white flour won't last nearly as long as whole wheat will. On average, if whole wheat is properly stored, and the buckets left unopened, the whole wheat can last 25 years or longer. Try that with a bag of white flour - ain't gonna happen. We found some great buys on whole hard white wheat and hard red winter wheat at the local Wal-Mart. We only rarely shop at Wal-Mart for a number of reasons, one is, we don't especially enjoy supporting the Red Chinese economy in the least. We have found, that Wal-Mart is carrying a small section of freeze-dried and dehydrated foods in #10 cans, as well as 26 pound buckets of wheat - priced under $15 per bucket - and that's a deal. Needless to say, we have a good number of buckets of wheat in our stores now - and as soon as the local Wal-Mart restocks their shelves with more wheat, we plan on buying more. However, for the most part, we prefer to take our business to other local stores, whenever possible - just a personal thing with us.
Now that we have the Family Grain Mill, I'm wondering, how we ever got along without it for all these years? Any more, in the local grocery stores, the cheapest white or wheat bread is $1.50 on-sale, and there really isn't any nutrition in this bread, and for the most part, it is pretty tasteless. My wife hasn't hardly made a dent in one bucket of whole wheat, and she has baked quite a few loaves of bread and other things. Now, if you could buy this same bread in the local grocery stores, it would easily cost you $5 per loaf. For less than $15 for a 26 pounds of whole wheat, we will make dozens and dozens of loaves of bread - fresh-baked bread, with nutritional value as well. For the little bit of time it takes to grind-up your wheat, and put it in a bread-maker, and let it bake, it's hard to find any fault at all with the Family Grain Mill, and the ease to use it. Of course, during the times when there isn't any electricity available, you can still bake bread a number of different ways, and you can still use your Family Grain Mill with the hand-crank attachment, to grind-up your wheat or other foods.
Notes from my wife:  Finding a recipe for 100% whole wheat bread was difficult.  Most recipes called for regular flour with just a small amount of whole wheat.  This is a basic recipe she found that is light and easily adapted for variations; and can be kneaded by hand and baked in the oven or done in a breadmaker. It is for one loaf of 100% whole wheat bread.
     1 1/2 cups warm water
     2 Tbsp. powdered milk
     2 Tbsp. margarine or oil
     2 Tbsp. honey
     2 Tbsp. molasses
     1 1/2 tsp. salt
     3 1/3 cups whole wheat flour
     1 1/2 tsp yeast or l pkg.
Some optional variations to the recipe:
1. 1 1/2 cups water and powder milk can be replaced with all water, all milk, or a combination of milk and water.
2. 2 Tbsp. honey & 2 Tbsp. molasses (total 1/4 cup) can be replaced with all honey, 1/4 c. brown or white sugar, 1/4 c. maple syrup, or reduced to about half the amount of sweeteners for variations in tastes.
3. I also understand part of the whole wheat flour can be replaced with other flours like rye, bulgar, cracked wheat, etc.
She also found some tricks that make 100% whole wheat bread lighter.
1. Run the grain through the mill twice for a finer, lighter flour.
2. To minimize gluten with the same effect for light bread, shake whole wheat flour through a wire mesh strainer and even dump in the bran or coarser pieces that don't sift through.  It does NOT work if you sift through a crank sifter. (for whatever reason this works -I can't explain.  I tried it and got nice light bread.)
3. Knead bread for 20-30 minutes.
There are various options you can add to your Family Grain Mill. However, the basic mill starts at only $139.95 with free shipping - making it one of the least expensive grain mills on the market. However, I highly recommend adding some options to your grain mill. If you have any questions, contact the Internet Prepper, and they will be more than happy to help you in your decision making, or answer any questions you might have. They are selling a quality product, at a great price and the free-shipping only makes the deal that much better if you ask me.
If you're serious about long-term survival, then you need to look at the Family Grain Mill, and start turning out some of the best home-made breads you'll ever taste. Store bought breads just don't cut it for us any longer.
Note: This article was co-authored by Mary Cascio

Rhodes: The Race for Africa, by Anthony Thomas
Copyright: 1996 St. Martin's Press
ISBN 0-312-16982-5
(This book was the basis for a Masterpiece Theater mini-series.)

Cecil John Rhodes may be the most important man you never heard about if you were educated in the United States of America. His death in 1902 at the age of 48 was followed by the largest memorial every recorded on the continent of Africa. He expanded the British Empire more than any other man; adding almost 1 million square miles (2.6 million square kilometers). His achievement was so great a country larger than most of Europe was named after him. Yet, less than one hundred years later many came to vilify him. His namesake countries has become Zambia and Zimbabwe.

How does a sickly preacher's son rise to his levels in politics and business? His legacy at de Beers still controls world diamond prices. Rhodes: The Race for Africa looks into these issues with one of the most objective views possible.

Rhodes: The Race for Africa can be a challenging book to read. Most people will be looking up definitions on a regular basis. In addition to the challenging vocabulary, the differences between an American writer and one of British decent are awkward at times.

The book uses many citations in its 352 pages. The bibliography is an excellent resource for anyone wishing to delve more deeply into Cecil Rhodes and the events around his life. Thankfully the citations are just a superscript number and not a longer traditional author/title, page format. This helps the flow for those not immediately concerned about the source material.

The author Anthony Thomas gives us a very well researched and unbiased look at Rhodes. He points out clearly where his information comes from, mostly first hand accounts (primary sources), and what bias the source may have had. On occasion he will look at the opinions of other bibliographers who wrote about Cecil Rhodes. This was interesting to see how attitudes and opinions changed based on the time period and how more was found out about Rhodes. After reading this book you will feel like you have an honest look at Rhodes and what transpired around him.

Nicely dispersed throughout the book are many pictures and a few sketches. It's a pleasant surprise to turn the page and see a picture of the mining camp or what Jameson's Raiders looked like at the time. What would have been nice it to have more maps showing the different stages of his expansion. This would be especially helpful for those not intimately familiar with southern African geography.

Chapters are divided into themes or events. Generally easy to follow but a departure from the normal timeline based history (chronological). To Thomas's credit, where important events overlap in different parts of the book his gives you page references. Also, he writes a brief sentence or two to refresh your memory that is very helpful.

"Every man has his Price," as Cecil Rhodes was fond of saying. This is something he proved time and again in his quest. Money alone did not put him in a position where he could dictate to the British Crown. No, it was his ability to talk with anyone regardless of class, race, or religion and get that person to see things his way. The book covers several examples where he would engage with people for days. Upon his leaving they saw things Rhodes's way.

Rhodes, despite his great successes, said on his deathbed, "So little done. So much to do." Over the years he came to believe in the expansion of the British Empire. In his mind and that of many other people of the period British rule was good for the "savages". It is easy to see why in their minds. They would educate, convert to Christianity, give them a common language, and show them modern ways of production and trade. As the reader progresses through the book they will be presented with events that question the magnanimity of the empire builders.

Rhodes' South Africa evolved into what was known for as apartheid. A small minority of whites ruled over the indigenous black population. As common sense will tell you, the few cannot control the many without the threat or use of force. Understanding the series of "harmless" injuries to freedom can turn into near slavery is not the theme of the book. It will be what many patriot readers can take away from reading this book. No, the bigger ideas that should worry the SurvivalBlog reader are the corrupting influences of power and the world will turn out another like Cecil Rhodes.

Emergency Preparedness The Right Way, by Howard Godfrey
ISBN:  1-4392-4478-2

When the author set out to write this book on emergency preparedness skills, he wanted it to be “not overly complicated”.  He has had many years experience in fire skills, law enforcement and the military, has taught preparedness skills and helped organize preparedness shows. With this background, he found that many of the books available were either incomplete, or attempted to be too comprehensive. He elected not to write about firearms, self-defense, nuclear, biological or chemical warfare, or medical care in detail—not because these were not valid and important subjects, but because he felt there were numerous books dedicated to these subjects already available.  Instead, his purpose was to prioritize basic emergency items needed, suggest ways to improvise whenever possible and provide a healthy resource list of suggested reading/web sites/suppliers, etc.  In other words, this is a great book for those new-to-the world of emergency prepping!

His chapter on water is an excellent overview of all things that need to be addressed when planning for this important need.  He distinguishes between environments---suburban vs. rural, desert vs. mountains, etc.  He delves into different sources for water, such as wells, springs, swimming pools, rainwater, hot water tanks, etc. He addresses the contamination and water-borne diseases issue, along with many different types of disinfecting processes, including chlorine dioxide and iodide tablets, solar water disinfection (SODIS) and various types of filters. One thing I found to be very helpful is that he frequently discusses some “reputable brand names”, which serves as a good jumping off point for a newbie looking into these types of purchases.

He discusses the question we have all asked; “how much food do you store”? His answer, while emphasizing that the final decision has to be based on individual needs, is three months of food you would normally eat every day, backed up by enough “long term food” for a year. He discusses the pros and cons of purchasing the “one-size-fits-all” food packages, and, in addition, writes at some length about the basic grains, legumes, oils, salts, sugars, honey, etc.  He explains the basic difference between freeze-dried and dehydrated foods, and the processes used to make them.  This should help someone new decide how they wish to store their food.

In the chapter on “Cooking, Lights and Fuel”, the author is assuming there is a non-functioning electrical grid and the reader is dependent on their own resources.  Generators, solar ovens, and different types of stoves and fuels are discussed.  He includes pictures and diagrams along with some comparison charts, which I found to be very helpful.

While he does not go into any great detail in his chapter on “Medical and Sanitation”, he does provide a basic first aid list, along with important over-the-counter medications to have available. He especially stresses the importance of good sanitation and hygiene practices. He addresses how to improvise sewage facilities and properly dispose of garbage and rubbish.

One of the last chapters is devoted to the “72 Hour Kit”.  He feels each member of the family should have their own kit, and it should be individualized accordingly. He is a big believer in improvising whenever possible and buying from garage sales, thrift shops etc, if necessary.  The bottom line, he says, is that the kit must meet your 3 most important needs:  food, water and warmth.  Food choices vary from MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) to canned tuna and protein bars.  Water choices depend on many personal factors, including ability to carry at least 2 quarts of water and have a method to purify more.  Different types of fire starters, including how to simply make your own is also explained.  Multiple types of back packs and sleeping bags along with pros and cons to different styles are discussed.

The chapter on Miscellaneous Recipes was most interesting.  I never knew, for example that there was an actual recipe for hard tack, or a use for acorn flour!  But, the last chapter, which focuses on how to make or improvise equipment could prove to be extremely helpful.  Included are the plans for an iceless refrigerator, solar oven and rocket stoves.

Threaded throughout the book are many observations, “random thoughts” and tips from the author.  All are useful and thought-provoking.  For example, I have never thought of using a now non-functioning car as a place to dry vegetables—but, it would work!  His tip about “keeping a pair of shoes by your bedside, as one of the most common injuries in an earthquake is cut feet” also makes a great deal of sense.  The author has emphasized that preparedness is paramount for any number of potential disasters, from nuclear explosions and Electromagnetic Pulses (EMPs) to floods and other disasters.  His list of recommended reading and web sites will prove invaluable for anyone, either a newbie or a seasoned survivalist.  At 141 pages, the book is concise, and very readable, and, as Mr. Godfrey wanted “not overly complicated.”  Anyone who is a serious prepper will obviously have a more complete library, but this is a great jumping off point for someone just starting out.

I know that you advocate American made cars and trucks for BOV purposes based on availability of parts, but I would like to share with you a three-part video series demonstrating the abuse that a Toyota 4x4 pickup truck can take and still be driven. All with only a mechanic using no specialty tools and no replacement parts. This truck was driven down stairs, lost in the Bristol Channel at high tide, driven through a shed, had a camping trailer dropped on it, hit with a wrecking ball, set on fire, and put on the top of a high rise apartment building while it was demolished. Spoiler alert...the truck still started up and was driven after all this.

Video 1 of 3
Video 2 of 3
Video 3 of 3

Regards, - Mike Q.

JWR Replies: The Toyota 4x4 pickup truck was the first BOV choice of my Chinese-American friend D., upon whom the fictional "Dan Fong" in Patriots was based. I often talked down his choice (mainly because of parts availability), but I must concede that these videos vindicate him.

James, to follow up on the recent article, here is some additional info your readers might find valuable on shipping containers for storage and housing....  We have over a dozen at our ranch that we use for storage, so I'll share a bit about that use for containers.  These containers are the cheapest space you can "build".  They are weatherproof, earthquake proof, will probably make it through tornados and hurricanes, in short, they are excellent all around space.

If you can afford them, you should stick to the "one trip" containers because they will be in near perfect condition -- you can always convert these to housing in the future, too, because they will be in the best condition.  Even if you bought a new container from China, they would still have to ship it to you -- therefore these are also "one trip".  When you first get the container, you should inspect it to be sure it wasn't used for hauling some bad chemical or nasty smelling thing.  You should also check for dents and dings and even punctures from fork lifts.  The vendor we used would allow us to return the container and swap it out (we'd have to pay the freight charges.   You can also go to the dock and inspect them prior to delivery, but this isn't always practical.

It's also possible to get containers with double doors, though you might need to special order these.  Color selection is usually limited to gray, tan, olive drab (OD) and occasionally blue and red.   We've opted for the darkest green we could get and in fact had to paint most of the containers with a spray gun setup as they were tan or gray, the most common one trip colors.

If your roads are at all windy or steep, you might not be able to get a 40 foot container into your location.  We could probably get one up there with some extra work, like using a backhoe to move the tail end around the corners, but we haven't tried that yet.  You can also helicopter these things in, but that's just prohibitive and puts on quite a nice show for your neighbors to see what you're doing.

We built flat pads for containers with roadbase gravel prior to setting the containers in place.  Be careful to choose your 1-2% grade for drainage as to where you want the water to go, but also be mindful that rollable items will move inside the containers.  A single backhoe operator can easily move around an empty container and place it within 1 inch or less of where you want it to go.  Make sure you also include a pad in front of the doors to keep the mud under control.

New containers should be painted on the outside, if you want to change the color, and then aired out.  We usually leave the container open and empty for 30-60 days before doing any modifications to the interior, you might also want to seal the wooden floor as it can be quite attractive when finished.    Cargo containers aren't the most attractive thing in the woods, so paint and location, or camo netting are recommended...  Lately, we've been getting dark green factory painted containers, so we don't have to paint them, but you'll still need to peel off the numbers for aesthetics.  In our area, a new, one trip 20 foot container runs about $4,000 delivered.  Doors on both ends are a bit more and for some purposes like housing, you may want to consider this option.  That's definitely a special order item.

If you are using containers for food storage, you will need to insulate the inside of the container with 4 inch foam panels and metal ducting tape to get a good seal on the corners.  This keeps a container comfortably below 65F in the summer even when it's over 100F outside and above 45F in the winter in the temperate climate we have here.  Your mileage may vary based on the interior thermal mass provided by whatever you are storing and your local weather conditions.

We've also installed sliding doors on several of the containers so we can leave the metal doors open and keep critters out.  I highly recommend this, especially for containers that the ladies need access to, say a pantry or nice walk in "closet".  Some of the doors can be "tight", so it's an issue for people who aren't used to wrangling heavy items to open the doors, but my 13 year old daughter is getting pretty handy with these.

Lighting and some power outlets are also a good idea, depending on what you'll be using them for.  You can also install a fan controlled by greenhouse type controllers to blow in cool or warm air to keep the container close to a certain temperature.

Be sure to check your county's zoning ordinances.  The collectivists won't want to miss a single chance to tax something or issue a permit that can be revoked at some time in the future for any reason.  Even though they are considered "temporary", some counties don't allow them, others charge a per year permit fee (I've seen $75 in one place), while others have zero restrictions.  If you are concerned about this, paint the containers to match the environment, place the containers under tree cover and/or cover with camo netting, which makes them nearly invisible from the air and also keeps them much cooler.  It's a little extra work to put a pad under the trees, but it's worth the effort as it will provide mud free winter access and keep the container from rusting, as water will drain away.  In the trees you could have a fire issue, so never store flammable items in these containers. Best, - C.K.

Jackie and Brenda's Venison Chili

1 ½ pounds ground venison
2 cans light red kidney beans, drained
1 Six ounce can tomato paste
1 Twenty eight ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 onion, diced
Chili powder and ground red pepper, to taste.
Brown venison and onion together in large pot or Dutch oven. Add all other ingredients and cook on low heat for 1 to 1½ hours or 1½ to 2 hours if using dried beans.

Chef's Notes: Dried kidney beans can also be used but be aware that red kidney beans require longer soaking than other beans to reduce the risk of red kidney bean poisoning. Consuming as few as 4 or 5 raw or improperly cooked red kidney beans can cause severe, rapid-onset food poisoning characterized by nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Red kidney beans have a high concentration of phytohaemagglutinin (or lectin), which is toxic unless destroyed by high temperatures.
Red kidney beans should not be cooked in slow cookers, which do not achieve sufficiently high temperatures to destroy the phytohaemagglutinins and might actually increase their toxicity. Red kidney beans should not be sprouted.

The beans should be left to soak in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours (preferably overnight). Drain and rinse before cooking. Be sure to boil the beans for at least 10 minutes and stir periodically. Cook chili with dried kidney beans for 1-½ to 2 hours.

Useful Recipe and Cooking Links:

Best Chili Recipes from Big Oven

The Chili King

Currently Available as Free Kindle e-Books:

Fifty-Two Sunday Dinners A Book of Recipes

Free Cookbooks For Kindle: Linked List of Over 100 Free Classic Cook Books

Do you have a favorite recipe that would be of interest to SurvivalBlog readers? Please send it via e-mail. Thanks!

In keeping with our well-entrenched philosophy of redundancy, we now have five ways to cut firewood at the Rawles Ranch: 1.) A reliable (but noisy) Stihl 024 gas engine chainsaw with a 20" bar, 2.) An assortment of felling axes and mauls, 3.) an early-1900s vintage 1-1/2 man saw, 4.) A Makita electric chainsaw that can be powered by quiet a Yamaha 2.8 KW inverter genset carried in the back of our utility ATV, and 5.) An even smaller Black & Decker 18-Volt cordless electric chainsaw. (The latter lacks the muscle for anything more than cutting saplings or for limb cutting. I bought an Ultimate Battery backpack battery to give it three times running time per charge. And BTW, this same battery can also be used with my Dewalt brand 18 VDC cordless tools, when using a different battery pack adapter.)

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Citizen Shooter Saves Officer with Amazing Shooting: A 66 Year Old Texan Vic Stacey Puts Four 357 Magnum Pistol Rounds into a Killer Rifleman at 165 Yards

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F.J. suggested: Make Shingles from Aluminum Beverage Cans

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Cat parasite that worms into humans' brains can drive victims to suicide. (Credit to Pierre M. for the link.)

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I noticed that our SurvivalRealty spin-off web site now has more than 120 active listings, including our first one in Ecuador.

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H.L. sent: Living in a 70 square foot floating cabin.

"They will live a long time, these men of the South Pacific. They, like their victories, will be remembered as long as our generation lives. Longer and longer shadows will obscure them, until their Guadalcanal sounds distant on the ear like Shiloh and Valley Forge." - James Michener, Tales of the South Pacific

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Today we present another two entries for Round 42 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 (a $300 value), F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A $200 gift certificate, donated by Shelf Reliance.

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 C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.)Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) 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 42 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Let me premise this by saying I am no expert in the material I will provide. I, like most everyone on this site, is an avid hobbyist in these matters. For some background on me though, I am a Mathematics and Computer Science Major in my fourth year of college, a phone and computer enthusiast, I enjoy white hat hacking and build computers for fun. Maybe not the average prepper, but I get by.
I am writing this article as I have found almost nothing on modern technology in the several blogs that I visit on a daily basis, even this one, as esteemed as it is. Frankly, this troubled me quite a bit. First off, as many of you know, our great country is delving deeper and deeper into the lives of you and me, citizens in this country, and even people all over the world.  The amount of data they receive from seemingly harmless web searches or Facebook posts by you would curdle your blood. I recently read an article that the NSA (National Security Agency) has been gathering data electronically on US citizens for over 10 years now. I’m not trying to scare you, this is a fact. So what I will do in this article is try to educate you on how to better protect yourself from further implicating yourself on any more FBI and NSA lists than you already are, and to guide you on a technologically sound path that will help you post TEOTWAWKI.

First things first: GET OFF OF SOCIAL MEDIA. That may seem drastic, especially in today’s society where it seems that if you aren’t on Facebook or Twitter, you don’t exist. But this is the number one place that the government and other malicious agencies are getting their information on you. And if your OpSec is that terrible that you post about your prepping online, then this may be too late for you. But that’s number one. Live with it. If you feel that this is just impossible, then take as much info about you off. The agencies that run these sites already have this information, but it will limit others from accessing it, especially black hat hackers, who may try to gain access to your accounts to steal your identity. Another point to make, which I hope many of you already know: DO NOT post anything about vacation or your time away from home on the internet. This includes posting pictures of your vacation after you get back. This is an invitation to criminals to see that your home is empty and ripe for the picking.

Number Two: Protect yourself online. This is a very complex issue, as there is a plethora of ways that malicious hackers can get to you, but that’s not what I'm referring to; I’m telling you to try to become as incognito while online as possible. The first thing you can do, if your up to the task of learning a little programming, is to get the Internet browser Tor. If you aren’t into that, then get Iron as a browser. ABSOLUTLEY DO NOT browse the Internet with anything else. Maybe Firefox, but that’s a stretch too. If you are using chrome, IE, Opera, or anything else, STOP NOW. There are so many trackers and hidden packets that track every web site you go to, every keystroke you make, and every opinion you post. In other words, everything you do online is stored somewhere where someone can hack it, or the government can just swoop in under any pretense and take it, for “the betterment of the country”. Fun stuff, right?

After that, I would suggest using Proxy Servers to connect to any web site you may think is incriminating, like this one. No offense JWR, I love your site, but I’m probably on a watch list or two because of my ignorance, so I hope to help all of you. For those of you who do not know what a Proxy Server, or Proxy, is, then here is a great explanation. ( In short, it hides all internet traffic on your IP address (your computer’s personal traceable address online), and routs all the data you access through an offsite server, making it seem like you aren’t going to any of the sites, the other server is! You can go to any site you want, and no one will know it is your computer. Obviously there are ways around this, but it’s better than nothing. It will prevent your internet provider from getting a large majority of your internet traffic, which it does at all times, as regulated by the government. This is the number one way that school kids and other people get around firewalls on public computers in schools and libraries, so I would not recommend doing this on a computer you don’t own, as your access may be revoked.

Next up, an Antivirus! I would suggest AVG. Its free, and the free version is GREAT! As always though, if you enjoy the software, support those who make it, and pay the one time fee. Its nominal, but helps programmers like me a lot.
Next up the most important item in your EDC: your SMARTPHONE. Many people think that post TEOTWAWKI, this great culmination of modern technology will be dead and useless. Those who think that, and think that we will go back to hand cranked HAMs are fairly wrong. Yes, the grid may be down, and you won’t have internet or communications on it, but these phones are some of the smallest, most powerful computers in the history of the world. It matters what’s on this device BEFORE the collapse. As many people are preparing, you all most likely have a backup way to generate small amounts of power. Well, good think these phones do not require a lot of power! A hand cranked generator could power these phones easily. So like I said, the important thing is what you have on these phones. This is a pretty laborious topic, so I'm going to split it up.

1)  Brand. Get an ANDROID! I cannot stress this enough. There are several reasons why this is imperative.
First, they have an external microSD card. For anyone who does not what this is, it’s a tiny tiny flash/jump/thumb/usb drive. Whatever you want to call it. They are getting very inexpensive, and can hold the same amount of info as a flash drive. I currently have a 32gb microSD in my phone, and can only fill half of it. This aspect of the phone is so important as even though you may store all your important files on a usb flash, this means that you will need a power-hungry laptop or desktop to read those files. Why? Get a micro dedicated to your BOB and then you can load it into your small, portable phone, and show anyone on the screen you documents. There are even water/shock proof micro sd cards now. I have an 8gb elements proof dedicated just for my BOB files. Fills less than a 20th of it. The rest is my favorite music and a couple good movies, for the entertainment side of survival.
Secondly, most of these phones have a removable battery. This is especially important, as extra batteries are cheap now, and bleed power pretty slowly. So I keep three extra around so that I not only have extra power now for a long trip or if I forget to plug the phone in, but also as a great BOB item. Remember, these phones can be a force multiplier, so the longer you can go without a crank or solar, the better off you will probably be in the crucial days post collapse.

Lastly for hardware, get an OtterBox. These are fairly expensive cases, but they protect your phone from almost anything! I would splurge on this, and drop around $60-$100 on a good case. They are shock proof, waterproof, everything proof. I assume you all can figure out why this is so crucial.
One more point, as with anything recommended on this site, READ THE MANUAL! Especially with these devices. They are complex pieces of machinery that are fickle beasts at best, and must be dealt with properly. Also, there are ways to turn off the tracking devices if you are worried about that. Read the manual, or go online and read blogs on how to do some easy hacking to prevent anyone from using your phone against you.
Now, enough of hardware, onto the software!
When it comes to these phones, they literally have no software limit. You can game, live video chat across the world, have it sing you to sleep, wake you up, etc. But the important thing of course, is how it helps you in TEOTWAWKI.

There are several apps that deal with survival: the full army survival manual FM-21 76, Coast Guard survival, urban survival, camo tips, gun tips, sniper windage directions, incendiary devices, gardening practices, scuba practices…
If you didn’t get where I was going with that, you can get literally EVERY book on your shelf on that phone. Now I know many people advocate a Kindle, or are completely against this in the case of it breaking, power, EMP, etc, and I'm not advocating replacing your library with this. But this is ideal in a GOOD situation. You cant bring that library on your back, but you may be able to come back to it. This phone could save you in that time. Also, Amazon has made Kindle for Android, so you can access all of your Kindle books on your phone, and the resolution is great. I read books on my phone all the time, as I feel that a Kindle is a wasteful expense.
Not only can it store your survival library, but these devices have a flashlight app that can help if your other flashlights are gone/out, it has video/audio recording which may come in handy if you need to prove self defense to a later start-up government, and maybe more importantly, they have the capacity for sanity items. Like games, cards games, novels for fun, and most importantly, music. I know I will fall into depression pretty quickly if I feel that most of my favorite music, especially brilliant classics like Bach, Mozart, Rachmaninoff, etc are lost to the destruction. That would be a blow I could not bear. So instead, you can help preserve these masterpieces, and a few others for your own entertainment!
Some especially useful apps I would recommend are:

Engineering Unit Converter:
this will change every known unit to almost every other known unit. This is essential if your book tells you to take one oz of meds, but you only have a dropper labeled in ml.

: this is pretty straightforward. We use calculators more than we know, and these can be especially useful, giving you a competitive edge over the pen and paper competition.

: Notes are great for about everything, but combined with a camera, you can take pictures of the land and note defensive positions, fields of fire, water sources, food sources, the list is endless. So you can send a few men on recon with these, and have better and more accurate knowledge to get a leg up over the enemy/nature.

First Aid
: I cant believe I forgot about this one until now, but you may not always have an experienced medic around. And even if you are fairly comfortable with the basics, you have to remember Murphy’s Law: what can go wrong, will. So for those especially strange wounds/infections/symptoms, these apps are a huge wealth of knowledge.

Cargo Decoder:
This app has you type in the number on a truck and it tell you what it is hauling and gives you the MSDS info on it. This is a great app if you want to know if you should salvage an abandoned truck or not, how to prepare for the extraction of the material, what to do first aid, etc.

Emergency Alerts:
 This app makes your phone up no matter what state it is in (unless off) and beeps loudly if there is an emergency or warning in your area. Great app to give you a leg up on those not ready for an incoming disaster.

And some others I like: United States Constitution, The Federalist Papers, The Weather Channel, Knots Tying Guide, SurvivalGuide, Screen filter.

*All of the apps I listed are free, so this won’t hurt the wallet. The list of what these phone can do is endless, but alas, your patience is not. So for a final point, if I haven’t convinced you to do all this now, at least get the phone for fun pre-TEOTWAWKI! Live the good life while we can! And these phones definitely help.

People who are interested in preparedness seem to love lists.   So, I have compiled a list of 30 steps that may be useful for average families who don’t necessarily have a hideout in the mountains (yet).  This list is by no means all-inclusive and it presumes a basic background in preparedness.  In other words, I hope you have been reading this blog for a long time already!  I am a proud military wife and mother of two grade school students.  I have a master’s degree in chemistry.  We are just an average family trying to get by in uncertain times. I am just optimistic enough to believe that there is hope for the future and just realistic enough to prepare otherwise.  
Coming from Alaska, where power outages can mean the difference between life and death at forty below zero, prepping is as mainstream as owning a TV.  Geomagnetic storms knock out power regularly and a good aurora borealis may mean you better get out the generator.  It is good to see the preparedness trend catching on in the Lower 48 states.  Alabama recently held their first tax-free weekend from July 6-8, 2012 to purchase hurricane preparedness equipment, with tax exemptions on generators, batteries, flashlights and more.  There also appears to be a massive education campaign going on throughout U.S. schools.  My kids are coming home with all sorts of flyers and papers encouraging them to get their parents involved in basic preparedness for hurricanes, tornados, ice storms and more.  Propaganda mission?  Who cares—If we want to make preparedness the norm, then asking kids to make sure their parents have flashlights is one place to start.  There is certainly an emerging capitalist market for all things survival related.  Embrace it and get the goods while you can.  These are the steps that have been useful to me so far, but it is a never-ending job to be prepared.  Good luck.
1.  Water is always number one on any survival prep list, so I have to start here.  Learn the location of the nearest source of fresh water to your home and how to walk to it with filtration equipment and water containers.  Not everyone lives near an Alaskan glacial stream, but it doesn’t matter if you are in inner city Philadelphia next to the Schuykill River (I’ve tried both places), it pays to know your drinking water source in case the taps run dry.  Try drinking it too--AFTER boiling it for ten minutes or filtering it with a Katadyn filter or adding iodine or bleach of course.  Add some Gatorade powder if you have to. If it gives you giardiasis or cholera now, at least you will be able to see a doctor now while we still have a functioning society.  Then, you will definitely know that you need to work on your water purification skills.   
2.  Learn to grow something.  Tomatoes in an upside down hanging basket, potatoes in a bucket on your rooftop, sunflowers on your back patio, or anything you can. You can do a lot with potatoes.  I have grown them from sprouted organic potatoes from the supermarket.  Don’t be afraid to experiment with seed saving techniques.  Pumpkins and watermelons are great starting points for saving seeds.  Kids can help rinse and dry those seeds easily.  A great resource on seed saving that I like is the book Seed to Seed by Suzanne Ashworth.
3.  Practice outdoor cooking.  We love our Volcano stove and use it for everything from S’mores to grilled salmon.  You can even put a Dutch oven in it.  Dutch ovens are great because you can practice using them indoors in the winter when outdoor BBQs are not as appealing.  “The Scout’s Outdoor Cookbook” by Tim and Christine Conners is an invaluable guide.   
3.  Get off the couch and get in shape now.  Walking is a great place to start.  There are elderly people who walk laps around the malls of America that are in better shape than the average high school student.
4.  Lose 5 pounds.  Stop eating all that delicious Hershey’s chocolate and start saving it for bartering.  With the price of groceries going up every day, it’s not too hard to cut back the caloric intake in an attempt to break even on food inflation.
5.  Take care of your teeth now.  Make an appointment to see the dentist for a cleaning and/or fillings now while you still can. Don’t be afraid to get your kids the braces they need just because the end of the world is near.  There are numerous articles on this blog on how to remove orthodontics in an emergency survival situation that involve little more than a wire cutter.
6.  Go to the library and check out some books.  Better yet, start your own survival library.  National Geographic’s  “Complete Survival Manual” by Michael S. Sweeney is very useful. You can get books on everything from how to make goat cheese to how to knit socks to how to can peaches in a water bath.  If the library is not your thing, go online or to Amazon Kindle or Pinterest or whatever works for you.
7.  READ the books and learn a new skill, such as how to make goat cheese or how to knit socks or how to can peaches in a water bath.  Read to your kids too.  There are great books for kids about gardening or keeping chickens for example.  One book I have found useful to get kids thinking about prepping is “Farmer Boy” by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  9 year old Almonzo in 19th century upstate NY does more after school chores than you can imagine. He gets a calf yoke for a birthday present!  Happy Birthday Almonzo, now go break in the calves.  I haven’t heard any more complaints about taking out the trash after reading that with my kids.  
8. Download the Latter Day Saints Preparedness Guide for free.  The 2012 15th Anniversary Edition is available now.  You will be amazed and forever grateful for this outstanding contribution to society.
9.  On your next trip to the grocery store when you are stocking up on extra rice and toilet paper, don’t forget to throw in a bag or two of bird seed.  I’ve been known to eat a handful of those sunflower seeds myself when I’m refilling the feeders.  I’m not too sure I’d eat suet, but you never know.  Just skip the millet because most birds don’t even like that and it tends to get left uneaten by even the hungriest chickadees.  The corn cobs designed for squirrels are cheap and can attract all sorts of game in range of your gun or traps.
10.  While you are at the store, spend some time in the drug aisle and look for things beyond the usual hand sanitizer, multi-vitamins and Band-aids that preppers stockpile.  There was a sale on lice shampoo the other day and we picked some up. It even came with two nit combs, which we didn’t have on hand. We also grabbed some pinworm medicine.  It seems like there are OTC meds for everything these days.  Take advantage of it while you can.
11.  Take a quick stop at the pet store or online and while you are getting an extra bag or two of dog or cat food, grab up some FishMox, FishFlex and Bird Sulfa. sells FishMox 250 mg, 30 tablets for $8.87.  Yes, these are identical to human antibiotics.  Ever taken amoxicillin for strep throat?  In a true emergency with no hospitals, I will not hesitate to take 250 mg of Fishmox three times a day for strep throat even if it were 10 years after the expiration date.  It’s best to store them in the fridge though.  Just please consult one of the many useful survival preparedness antibiotic guides if you have no medical training, or better yet, get medical training now while you can.
12.  Prepping supplies cost money, I know! Budget and get your financial house in order now.  Get out of bad debt and don’t rack up credit card debt. If the SHTF or not, you do not want credit card debt.
13.  De-clutter your life.  Get and eBay account.  Learn to sell stuff lying around your house.  Supplement your income. It is really so easy my school age kids can do it.  They are accustomed to helping me scour their drawers and toy boxes for things they no longer need.  You would be absolutely amazed at the things people will buy.  I have sold half-used bottles of perfume that I didn’t like. Get rid of all that useless stuff around your house to make room for more useful supplies.
14.   While you are thinking about used stuff, take a trip to your local thrift shop.  Do it regularly. Volunteer there if you can so you can get first dibs on incoming items.  I have found some great preps at thrift shops from cast iron pans to down parkas.
15.  Get organized now.   With all the material stuff people deal with, it pays to stay on top of your game and be organized.  My WaterBOB to fill up the bathtub with drinking water is useless in a hurricane if I can’t find it.
16.  Don’t let your bug out bags sit in a corner collecting dust.  Unpack and repack them regularly to stay familiar with what you have.  That is an easy task for us with kids because we have to constantly re-evaluate kids’ clothing to account for their rapid growth.
17.  Take a camping trip this weekend and pack nothing but your bug out bags and see how you do. Try to start a fire with that fancy flint tool you have.
18.  Include kids in prepping.  Start them young.  I’m sure it’s not easy trying to talk to a thirteen year old plugged constantly into Facebook about potential life without power.  Little kids feel more empowered and less anxious when they have confidence that they can do some useful things.  Start small with where they are, and include them as much as you can. It could be as simple as making sure you have extra foods on hand that they like, such as macaroni and cheese, or it could be a more involved task like teaching them to swim.  Be open with them about the reality of our times, but help build their confidence to alleviate some of their fears.   
19.  Invest in a good pair of hiking shoes and break them in. Don’t forget the kids.  Do you really expect junior to haul water with flip flops?  You get what you pay for and that goes for clothes too.  You may not need a new North Face Gortex rain jacket for everyone in your family, but don’t expect to thrive in the tissue thin cotton T-shirts from Old Navy.
20.  Find a good old fashioned washboard.  They have been selling nice American-made ones at Columbus Washboard Company since 1895.  I love this company because they send donations to our troops overseas that include a washtub, washboard and supplies.  Just make sure you get stainless steel.  After you buy it, make sure you stain it with several coats of waterproof stain.  I’m not sure why they even sell galvanized ones (they rust) and I sure don’t know why the wood doesn’t come pre-stained, but I guess most people just buy them for decoration.  Try using it in your bathtub with a bucket of water and see what a pain it is to do laundry in third world countries like Afghanistan.
21.  Learn how to make a honey bucket.  No, I’m not talking about a bucket of the delicious golden stuff, but that is good to have on hand also.  Having lived in Alaska for many years, where many people still voluntarily live in cabins with outhouses and no running water, I learned that a honey bucket is not so sweet.  In the remote Alaskan bush, people just don’t have the amenities that you know and love down in the Lower 48.  In Alaska, a honey bucket is defined as a place where you go to the bathroom like a chamber pot that you fill up and then go dump.  It basically consists of a 5 gallon Home Depot bucket lined with a trash bag and an adult-size potty chair insert.  You don’t need to buy the fancy camp toilets that they sell at Cabela’s.   
22.  Practice using one weapon or help train someone in your family to use one.  Have a “Take-Your-Wife-To-The-Range-Day”.  Get her a pink gun if you have to: they do make them.  Our daughter has a pink Ruger 10/22.  There is something for everyone.  Slingshots for squirrels are great for kids.  Just be sure and protect their eyes and teach them basic safety rules.  Don’t overlook axes and knives.  I know I am preaching to the choir when I lament about how many American children have never helped butcher a chicken or a deer.  Make it a point to train others if you have skills.
23.  Convert some of your assets to silver and/or gold and have it on hand, not in a safe deposit box or ETF.  Junk silver coins (pre-1965 quarters, dimes and half-dollars) are available for sale at such places as Northwest Territorial Mint.  It is worth buying now while you can.  You may experience a three month wait to receive your package since it is so popular.  In this economy with the dollar’s value rapidly sinking, yesterday was the time to convert your hard earned savings to tangible assets such as silver, gold, food, ammo, medication, chainsaws, or whatever preps are on your list.  The general rule of thumb in the investment portfolio brochures is that you should have at least 20% of your savings in the form of gold or silver.  Just don’t stick it under the mattress.  Buy yourself a good safe.
24. However worthless the dollar is, it is still good to have some cold hard cash on hand in small bills.  Even nickels are worth stashing around since they are worth more in metal content than face value.
25.  Get a passport for yourself and everyone in your family.  If things get really bad, you can always head for New Zealand, Northwest Territory or central Patagonia with all that silver for a while.
27.  A supportive community is key.  Choose your allies well and always have backup plans.
28.  Practice, practice, practice.  Everything from cooking rice over a camp fire like they do on the Survivor television show to composting with your morning tea bags or coffee grinds.
29.  Have faith in yourself and confidence in your abilities.  Just don’t get overconfident.  Confidence with humility is essential to a prepper’s lifestyle.
30.  Pray.  I’ll be praying for you all if things get as bad as some of the National Geographic Doomsday Preppers think it’s going to get. Lord have mercy on us all! Amen.

I'm wondering what the best method is to bulletproof my inherited Jeep Grand Cherokee. I'm 16 years old and I have inherited a Jeep Grand Cherokee and I'm planning on bulletproofing it for the coming apocalypse. I was wondering what the best materials and method would be to do so and approximately how much it would cost to do so if you have any guesses.

Sincerely,  - Noland

JWR Replies: The cost of effectively armoring a car is fairly high. To have it be effective, it is not a do-it-yourself job. Either  you have to massively beef up the suspension and use heavy materials (plate steel), OR you use lightweight but very expensive materials (Kevlar.)  And regardless, you have to buy some very expensive laminated windows. And you also end up with either sucky gas mileage or very sucky gas mileage.

I generally don't recommend armoring a vehicle, except for families in the US with a high profile that would put them at high risk of kidnapping.  For someone new to prepping, the $15,000 to $25,000 you'd spend would be much better spent on storage food, ammo, commo gear, medical supplies, garden seed, et cetera.

Reader Scotty R. mentioned: Chicken of the trees -- The rural eastern gray squirrel has long been a valued food source, but what about its urban cousin?

   o o o

I see that the Spanish edition of my first novel ("Patriotas") is now available in both paperback and Kindle editions. The cover is a bit garish (and dare I say "Costneresque" or perhaps something like a screen capture from Homefront), but it is nice to see that the novel available in yet another language. (There are now nine foreign publishing contracts in place to produce editions in eight languages including French, Spanish, German, Russian, Portuguese, Bulgarian, and Korean.)

   o o o

After the Lights Go Out: Is Your Community Prepared?

"Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they mays obey us; and we turn about their whole body.
Behold also the ships, which though [they be] so great, and [are] driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.
Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!
And the tongue [is] a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.
For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind:
But the tongue can no man tame; [it is] an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God." - James 3:3-9 (KJV)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Today is the birthday of the late Patrick Swayze (born August 18, 1952, died September 14, 2009.) Regardless of how good the 2012 Red Dawn remake is, the original Red Dawn from 1984 will always be remembered as the benchmark, and of course Swayze will always be remembered for his leading role.


Today we present another entry for Round 42 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 (a $300 value), F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A $200 gift certificate, donated by Shelf Reliance.

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 C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.)Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) 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 42 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I would like to shed light on the convenience, structural soundness, and affordability of ISO shipping containers [commonly calles CONEXes] as potential add-ons, storage, or primary structure for your retreat or year-round compound. As an individual of efficiency, I am writing this article with the intent of casting out some research I have done on these containers; what they are capable of in a capacity form, and their versatility as a livable space. I hope many find this informative in its purist sense.

Availability: Due to the nature of our global economy, especially in reference to the U.S. and its desire to import more than it exports to the Asia Pacific, domestic shipping yards are in excess supply of such containers. Because shipping containers are simply boxes, when empty they exercise little function and merely take up space. Shipping containers, especially when being shipped from China, are more expensive to return empty then if they were to be recycled on domestic soil or reused in other applications. But before scrapping them, many companies attempt to sell them in their intended form to the public. In a sense, these containers are like a pound puppy that needs to be saved…and should be.  A quick search via the Internet will show you large numbers of containers in various conditions from here and there but because the shipping industry does not stop at sea ports, any major city even inland will have a healthy supply to choose from. For a ratty container (20’) expect to pay between $800 and $1,200. This would be in less than ideal condition but still a good option for say material storage on your retreat property. Typically this means that the cube may no longer be perfectly cube-like say a slight dent or impression on one or more corner or has more than just surface rust on its exterior. Always check the double doors and see how well they close, whether with ease or with some finesse adjust your offer accordingly. The next level of quality will come in at a price of around $1,400-$1,800, again for a typical 20’ standard container. This is the price range that should exemplify a structural soundness that will be suitable to live in with certain modifications. The seaworthy paint should still cover 95+% of the container and it should be structurally true. Remember what these containers where built for. They hauled 50,000 pounds of goods through open-ocean, many times during storms. They should be watertight. Ask all of these questions to the seller at the very minimum so that they know you know what you are looking for. Hard for one to prove water tightness but you can go based on the sellers reaction and your best judgment from this article and further research. Be a smart shopper now, this may become your last line of defense. Finally, you can buy a brand new shipping container from companies that specialize in building them. Here you’ll find different sizes with different options like the garage style door or pre-insulated units for refrigeration. Expect to pay around +-$5,000 for a new box.

Dimensions: Two or three major size potions will be found most commonly although other odd sizes due exist. These all have corrugated sidewalls.

20’ standard shipping containers
(Interior dimensions) 19’ 4” long, 7’8” wide, 7’10” tall.
 Tare Weight 4.900 lbs
 Total cargo capacity 45,000 pounds

40’ standard shipping container

(Interior dimensions) 39’5” long, 7’8” wide, 7’10” tall
 Tare weight 8.100 pounds
 Cargo capacity 59,000 pounds

40’ High cube standard shipping container

(Interior dimensions) 39’5” long, 7’8” wide 8’10” tall
Tare weight 8.700 pounds
Max cargo capacity 58,000 pounds

Some general info that applies to all standard containers.
*Seaworthy steel alloy with saltwater and air resistant exterior paint
*Class D rating for storage of explosives (with this rating a high tolerance to fire)
*Pest resistant (many have a wooden floor that has been treated for pest resistance. This should be removed and disposed of properly.)
* Water tight but not water proof.
*Stackable to 7 high at full load (yes one will hold upwards of 200,000 pounds stacked on top). Note that cutting into the corrugated sides will lessen the overall strength. Reinforcing whenever taking away steel is common sense I’d hope.
*Insulated units do exist although interior dimensions will likely be even tighter. R-value 15-20?

[JWR Adds: Containers made of low carbon Cor-Ten steel (aka "weathering" steel) usually bring a premium. They have the longest life. Be sure to inspect wood floors for any signs that toxic chemicals might have spilled from cargo. But keep in mind that the wood used in the floors of almost all CONEXes are deep-treated with some nasty insecticides and fungicides.]

Getting Started: My suggestion with using shipping containers as habitable structures starts with completely ruling out the use of the 40’ containers. This prevents one from absolutely paying a delivery fee and/or a crane rental to remove it from a semi trailer. That said I have put all of my focus into utilizing the 20’ containers (Finding a 20’ insulated container would be most ideal). Here’s why. First, if you own a full size truck, you can haul one of these things empty on your own, either with a trailer you have or from a friend. A twenty-foot flatbed, or car hauler with a winch is not too hard to come by. It will likely be loaded on your trailer at the yard if you buy directly from a shipping company so all you have to think about is sliding it off your trailer in place. My theory has always been to own the trailer I go to pick it up with and leave it on in my drive way until I build out the interior at my leisure. Then it’ll be ready to haul to sight. Depending on your neighborhood or city ordinances this may or may not be an option but I’ve always felt that if people have a 35 foot camper trailer parked on the street in front of their house why not a 20’ shipping container for a few months? Either way, look up this info before hand as well as your states DOT regulations.  Second main reason I like the 20’ size is its weight.  At just shy of 5,000 pounds add a 3,000-pound trailer, an ,8000 pound haul for most diesel pick-ups ain’t no thing.  Lastly, due to the 20’ container weight and size, it is much easier to maneuver in mountain terrain by trailer as well as when off the trailer on site. If you start with an empty container on site, a clever hoist system, a winch, and a block and tackle set up opens up the door to many possibilities. I’ve read about a couple that actually hoisted a container on top of another in a piggy-back fashion with two tree trunks joined and reinforced in an a-frame configuration and a 12,000 pound winch and pulley. They hauled their’s by trailer to site with a Toyota T-100. (An early Tundra.) Be creative with this. Egyptians built the pyramids thousands of years ago!  Enough said.

[JWR Adds: Because the secondary market demand for 20-foot CONEXes is stronger than that for 40-footers, they often sell for about the same price. Go figure.]

Now you need a friend to teach you how to weld. Get an oxy-acetylene torch set up. You’ll cut as much as you will weld when building with these. I’ve seen used setups in safe working condition with tanks for $300 bucks. If you’ve got a weighty wallet then grab a new or used generator/ welder for $1,500-4,000.  Stick with the Lincoln or Miller brands. They are equally as good at the end of the day and it really comes down to the Ford or Chevy argument. Power options are gas, natural gas, or diesel and most of the units will run a continuous 7-10 kw. The gas-powered is the least expensive and the N.P. or Diesel are substantially more expensive but better in my opinion for an unstable world. The U.S. has plenty of N.P. and is responsible for much of the world’s diesel refinement, not to mention ones ability to potentially run bio-diesel or appropriated veggie oil.  But in a grid-down pinch, a diesel will reign.

I’ve always felt that a retreat built in phases would be the most feasible simply because of the advantage to make time and monetary “payments” on it. After owning the land (which is certainly a big step), one can start with a small but functional 20’ container cabin they have built in the driveway and then hauled to site. Keeping it in your driveway assuming you live in a more urban environment keeps you from hauling material out to your site. Build out the plumbing and windows and other comforts. Again, if the company you purchase from has not already, be sure to remove the chemically treated wooden floor and dispose of properly. Thoroughly scrub out the interior of the container for safe measures. Round up with your weight estimates as not to overburden or risk accident while hauling the container i.e. hold off on the spray on concrete or stucco siding until at your site.  For the time being, use a cistern on site for water or haul it in each time you visit until a well is dug or a spring is utilized on the property. Photovoltaic panels are good in combination with the aforementioned diesel powered welder/generator to get things off the ground. All depends on where you are. Inline hot water heaters are great for low use and tight spaces and can be run on propane. Build a shower toilet to conserve space. In other words your entire bathroom is water-tight and its foot print is essentially a big shower pan. Utilize RV and camper galley components that run on propane and could eventually be converted to run on methane that you could capture on site through livestock and human waste methane converters. Use a fold down bed or bunks to be space efficient.

Example Build-out: My ideal set-up would likely be two 20’ containers, one stacked atop the other. I’d pick a south-facing hillside and cut into it just as one would do if building a conventional home. Before placing the container in its little nest, I’d dig a root cellar into the cut in and fashion a hatch in the floor of the bottom of the container for access. Build a retaining wall around the cut in and possibly use a local clay or concrete to form a basin next to the root cellar to act as a cistern for water storage if a well is too pricey initially. For remote applications, I’d resist using a septic system and resort to an outbuilding away from the main house. [Some deleted, for health and safety concerns.]

After the cistern is sealed and the root cellar dug, place the first container into the dug out. Stack the second container on top to use as a living quarter. A hatch could be cut to the roof to make an observation post. On the south-facing downhill wall of the two containers, build a sloped glass room to act as a green house or a room to gain. Use old windows from someone replacing theirs or check all the Freecycle type sites and Craigslist for deals.  This would create a little bubble that would extend the growing season as well as act as a passive solar heater for the house whereas building into the ground a bit would assist with cooling in hotter months via use of the ambient geothermal temperatures. Be sure there is good ventilation for airing out the cabin in the summer months. Use gray water from the shower and sink to feed your small garden.  For insulation I would use a spray on insulation to fill in the negative spaces of the corrugated walls. Do this on both the inside and out covering the interior with sheetrock and the exterior with a stucco like material.

Warning: As a final and important note on building with shipping containers, never bury them without proper structural support. Shipping containers were designed to bear a vertical load [on the corners] and be stacked atop one another. They perform this task very well but they were not designed to take a load from the sides (laterally). Burying a container without proper support around its perimeter such as reinforced concrete, the construction of which should be handled by a licensed engineer, could result in collapse. Not something you want to deal with after society has collapsed. Please note I am neither an engineer nor a contractor and that most of my research has been conducted over the Internet. I am simply sharing some of my findings and offering suggestions. Most states require a general contractor for home construction and many states now require a certification for that so not anyone can build away.

Dear Mr. Rawles:
As an addendum to the Friday piece on "Camouflage Painting Firearms" by Kyrottimus, I recommend this piece: Weapons Painting 101, a bulletin from the US Army TACOM detailing the officially-approved techniques for painting small arms.
Cordially, - John N.

Dear Editor:
Regarding "Camouflage Painting Firearms", you may want to point folks to this rather well-illustrated tutorial on painting your AR in the Multicam pattern, found over at How to Multicam your rifle...on the cheap!
Regards, - T.

South African police say they were forced to fire on striking miners, killing 34. So much for the kinder, gentler post-Apartheid "Truth and Reconciliation" era under majority rule It is time for some remedial trading on fire discipline. (It sounded like a "mad minute".) Is this a preview of the coming Austerity Riots?

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Check out this new product at Safecastle: AEB OX Mini Power Plant Solar Generator

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OSU Lab Test Pits Mountain House vs. Wise Foods ... Results are WOW!

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A Navy SEAL speaks out about President Bolt Hold Open unfairly taking credit for the killing of Osama Bin Laden, and for impetuously releasing classified information about the raid for political gain. Bad OPSEC! Note that this video includes excerpts of an interview with retired General Paul Vallely (who I met when he commanded the 351st Civil Affairs Command) as well as several former CIA officers.

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G.G. flagged this PM piece by Glenn H. Reynolds: U.S. Woefully Unprepared for a Blackout Like India’s: Analysis

"And if ye go to war in your land against the enemy that oppresseth you, then ye shall blow an alarm with the trumpets; and ye shall be remembered before the LORD your God, and ye shall be saved from your enemies." - Numbers 10:9 (KJV)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Today we present another entry for Round 42 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 (a $300 value), F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A $200 gift certificate, donated by Shelf Reliance.

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 C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.)Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) 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 42 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Most combat-style firearms come in one color: black. For "style" this is a safe bet, as black goes well with everything. However, in life-or-death survival situations, one must make their weapon just as concealable as themselves.

Black is bad. Of all colors, black stands out the most and draws the human-eye to it before anything else. This is true for normal-spectrum vision, starlight/night-vision, IR/Near-IR/Thermal vision, etc. Anything appearing as black or reflective will stick out like a proverbial sore thumb. If you plan on wearing some type of camouflage clothing during any situation, you should consider camouflaging your weapon as well.

There are various means of camouflaging weapons to blend in with both the person wielding it and the surrounding environment. The most common method is painting. The cheapest and easiest way is via spray-painting. A single can of flat enamel spray-paint is around $5-$6 and depending on how much of that color is used in any type of pattern can be used on 3-7 long arms.

The following list of items I recommend for a spray-paint camo project:

A few rolls of paper towels
Paint s tripper of some kind; I prefer Naphthalene as it doesn't deteriorate plastics (Acetone will work fine).
Latex, Nitrile or Dish-washing gloves
Masking tape (I prefer the 3M blue masking tape)
Cardboard or Card-stock or local foliage (branches, leaves, etc.)
X-Acto or Razor-blade
Permanent Marker
Primer (I prefer Rustoleum heavily-rusted primer as it's dark red-brown and bonds best to Phosphated/Parkerized finishes)
Rustoleum or Krylon Camouflage Flat Enamel Spray-Paints (or regular Flat Enamel spray-paints) in the following colors (for woodland or multi-cam type camo):
Foliage Green
Flat Dark Earth (Tan or Khaki are fine)
Olive Drab
Egg-Shell or Sandstone (optional)
Flat acrylic or flat enamel clear-coat (optional)
Bailing wire or Wire-hangers to be cut into hanging hooks

If you're not using local foliage, start by taking 3-5 pieces of cardboard or card-stock and draw random blobs on them with the permanent marker. Start with several small blobs roughly the size of pennies up to the size of silver dollars but make the patterns as abstract as possible (as least circular as possible). Increase the same design features (but different designs) in size on the next sheet around the size of a baseball. On the third design, make it the size of a coconut. On the fourth/fifth design(s), make them positive stencils with the bottom ¼ of the sheet untouched so the stencil can be held at a standoff distance from the holding hand. Local foliage can be used to substitute the creation of positive stencils.

Once all of your stencil designs have been drawn, cut out the first (negative stencils) and cut around the outside of the positive stencils (leaving part of the stencil to be held). Set the stencils aside.

Now, fashion some “S”-shaped hanging-hooks out of bailing wire or use wire-cutters to cut 5”-7” lengths from clothes hangers and bend them to shape. Make an “S”-hook for each weapon you intend on painting.

Next, get the gloves, masking tape, stripper and paper towels together and find a spot to sit outside. Make sure the day you plan on stripping/painting your weapon it is warm, sunny and relatively dry. Humidity is the enemy.

Before handling your weapon, clear it. While you'll want to probably paint the weapon with a magazine in place, be sure to remove all ammunition from the weapon (both chamber and magazine, if any). Also make sure to use safe firearm handling practices when handling your weapon.

Grab the masking tape and tape off any surface you don't want painted (sights, scope knobs, lenses, magazine windows, fiber-optic light gathering modules, etc.). Feel free to cut the tape with scissors or a razor to be a more precise fit. If you don't want paint to get inside the muzzle-end of the bore, you can use a foam earplug to fill that in. For large-bore shotguns, a few cotton balls can suffice.

With your long-arm in your lap, don your gloves. Begin stripping all the dirt, oils and residue from it by dabbing a generous amount of stripper onto a thrice-folded paper-towel sheet and rubbing it over every exterior surface of the weapon to be painted. If the weapon has optics, make sure to close the caps or cover them somehow. If your weapon has any kind of dust-cover, make sure that is closed too.

Once the entire paintable surface of your weapon has been stripped, hook an “S”-hook through the muzzle-brake, flash-hider or front-sight block so that the weapon is hanging muzzle up. If your weapon has none of these, you can hang the weapon by the trigger-guard, being careful to not hang the weapon by the trigger itself. While this latter method will work fine, the weapon will sway a lot more in the wind and when you hold a stencil to it, so keep that in mind.

If you prefer to lay the weapon down to paint it, you can lay it on some newspaper outside and do it one side at a time. I, however, prefer to hang it as this provides a much easier method by which evenly coating the weapon. Hang the weapon on a clothes-line, a tree branch or any over-lying hard-point which can handle the weight of the weapon.

Once hung, begin shaking your primer until the ball-bearing inside begins rattling. Shake for 30 seconds to a minute before priming. Give the entire weapon a nice, light, even coat, priming it just enough to cover all of its natural color. Avoid over-priming or over-painting, as we don't want globs of uneven primer/paint on the weapon (In some cases it can impede the movement of things like selector-switches, safeties, dust-covers, etc.).

At this time, depending on temperature and humidity, you should wait 5-15 minutes before top coating. Remember to shake your spray-paint vigorously 30 seconds before using and shake it again for a few seconds intermittently while using each can.

If you plan on using natural local foliage for stencils, follow these simple steps. Top-coat the entire-weapon foliage-green and let dry for 10-30 minutes. Then, lay out enough newspaper for the weapon to lay on and carefully lay it down on the newspaper. Randomly lay grass, sticks and leaves on the weapon that covers roughly 25% to a third the visible side. Now, spray some Flat Dark Earth (or Tan/Khaki) over the current stencils. Without removing the first natural stencils, add more random foliage until roughly a half to 75% of the weapon is covered and spray some brown over the weapon. Now, add some more natural foliage until roughly 80-90% of the weapon is covered and use Olive Drab. Finally, if you have any Eggshell or off-white enamel paint, spray some onto a paintbrush, cotton swab or other soft object and either dab or drag the paint in very small sections, 5-10 times per side (a little goes a long way when dealing in such a light color). Let dry 10-30 minutes and carefully flip the weapon over on the other side and repeat the steps above.

If you are using hand-cut stencils, allow the weapon to remain hanging and paint half the weapon Foliage Green and the other half Flat Dark Earth (or Tan or Khaki), allowing two to four large stripes or sections of each color visible on the weapon. Since it is hanging and you won't be handling it for awhile, you can begin coating within a few minutes of applying your first topcoat (Foliage Green/FDE). Start with the biggest positive stencil you have (with the edges of the cardboard cut out, not the middle) and briefly blast around it in 2-3 locations on each side with brown paint (and 1-2 times on each the top/bottom). With brown, a little goes a long way. Don't get too carried away with the darker colors. Next, switch to the medium-sized negative stencil (with the middle cut out) and in 3-4 places on each side use Olive Drab (and 1-2 times on each the top/bottom). Finally, with the smallest negative stencil you have, use eggshell or sandstone in 5-7 locations (and 2-4 times on each the top/bottom). If you don't have eggshell or sandstone, you can substitute with Flat Dark Earth, Tan, Khaki and/or Foliage-Green. Feel free to touch up areas with too much darkness or too much of one color with stencils as you see fit. Also, keep a piece of camouflage clothing nearby as a reference if you're trying to replicate it.

Do not use black paint. I say again, DO NOT USE BLACK! It does not appear in nature except in obsidian [or burned wood] and I very much doubt you'll be trying to blend in with ancient lava-flow deposits. If you want a dark color for contrasting, I suggest something along the lines of dark brown or dark green, though Olive Drab in some paints is already quite dark.

Once you're happy with your overall pattern, you can opt to clear-coat it. It's not needed though it can help increase the lifespan of your paint job. I'd wait 30 minutes to an hour before clear-coating. A single light coat is all that is needed. [JWR Adds: I have used one or two coats of Krylon Matte for top coating, with great success. This both protects the paint beneath from chipping and it flattens any residual gloss.]

At this point, let dry outside until dusk (don't leave outside overnight, as dew can form on your new paint job), then carefully remove the masking tape and while holding onto the sling-studs, the sling or the “S”-hook carry it to a spot indoors where you can hang it. I suggest on a clear space in your closet on the closet rack, or on a large nail driven into a stud or door-frame also can suffice.

Now this is the hardest part; do not handle or even touch your painted weapon for a full 30 days. While most spray-paint manufacturers claim that their paint dries within 24 hours, it doesn't fully cure for weeks. Make sure it's kept in a temperature-controlled room of about 70-75 degrees F, and since the paint will continually cure, put it in a room where you don't spend too much time, or one you can air out frequently so any vapors won't build up.

If you let it cure fully for 30 days, you'll find a super-rugged paint job that should last you at least 3 to 5 years of regular use.

If you want to take the temporary, easy route, many camo-patterns can be found in rolls of ace-bandage type material. They shouldn't cover working action areas or areas which vent excess gases. For winter, simple white cotton sheets can easily be wrapped around the weapon and tied off. Again, make sure these camo coverings do not cover working actions, moving parts (safeties, ejection ports or pump handles) or areas which vent off excess gas.

I hope this helps those interested, and remember, practice makes perfect! As always, keep an ear to the ground, an eye to the sky, keep your bayonet sharp and keep your powder dry.

Just a few words from someone else who lives here (Tillamook County, if you're curious).

LongJim has a lot of it right, but it's certainly not going to be as easy as he describes.

To add a touch of balance, I really should chime in here.

Natural resources are indeed abundant. Crabbing, clamming, fishing, and more can be done. However, without a sailboat or kayak? You're liable to be stuck digging for clams, drowning worms, and tossing crab pots alongside hundreds of your neighbors - from every available dock, wharf, jetty, or beach. A motorboat will only get you so far before the gas runs out, and the best clamming is (IMHO) to be found on sandbars out in the bays, which a sailboat (with its keel) would be hard-pressed to reach. Blackberries are common here indeed, but they only bear fruit once a year (around now, come to think of it).

You do have to work a bit more to insure your vegetables and other growables are sheltered, and are kept out of the way of raccoon, deer, and a whole host of other four-legged foragers. Speaking of animals, you also need to keep an eye out for coyotes, and the occasional bigger predator.

Solar power is doable out here, but you will want to put in 150% to 200% of the panels you would typically need elsewhere. Why? Because from October through May, it rains nearly every day, and in varying amounts (from drizzle to downpour). The rain means plenty of fresh water though, and you can conceivably capture enough of it from the gutters to keep your drinking water needs taken care of for most of the year. Further south, the rain lets up a bit.

Your shelter on the coast is going to require more upkeep than most homes. Salt and vicious (literal hurricane-force) windstorms will tear at your home, and maintenance is going to be a near-constant. Even if you manage to keep it all dry, you get to contend with dry-rot and mold (thanks to massive humidity.) Your vehicle and, well, anything made of metal is going to require similar amounts of upkeep, since the salt air will rust it out in no time flat.

As for the area and income, well, it's a mixed bag. There are nearly no jobs out this way, and the average household income is only a fraction of what you would find in, say, Portland or Salem. Everything (gas, groceries, etc) will cost more than you expect. There are indeed towns out here where you really do not want to be if TEOTWAWKI hits, for various reasons.

He is right about any potential migrations of refugees. It would be extremely tough to do, and almost impossible on foot to anyone who isn't a full-fledged bushmaster. Most of them would come streaming out of Portland or Salem, or further south from Eugene and California (up Hwy 101). Up here on the north end, the hordes have a couple of choices, but I doubt the 60-mile trek over Hwy 26 or Hwy 6, over an easily-congested and very twisty 2-lane highway, would be all that appealing. This is especially true in winter, when the passes have a constant covering of snow. Hwy 30 (along the Oregon-Washington border) would be more appealing, but is a far longer journey, and likely to be far more easily jammed-up. There are a metric ton of logging roads, but they are very easy to get lost on unless you really know the area, and trying it in the winter will get you killed.  A rather famous example from 2006 can be found here (James Kim, former editor of, was found dead in the Oregon wilderness. )

Overall, it's not a bad place to hole-up. Hell, I intend to do just that, right here. It is truly God's Country, in my humble opinion. It suits me perfectly, and I get along with my neighbors and fellow county residents quite well. On the other hand, I suggest that before you start packing, you should take the time to really research the destination. Spend more than a week out here, and spend that time away from the vacation rentals and the tourist traps. Only after you've done that should you make a decision.

Charley S. sent this infographic: Who believes the end of the world is near?

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F.G. sent this: Record-breaking python found in Florida Everglades with 87 eggs.

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F.J.R. suggested this at Cool Tools: Optimus Svea Stove

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Jim W. sent this news item to file under "Important Safety Tip": North Augusta gun shop owner kills suspected burglar, injures two others

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G.G. sent this: Stratfor emails reveal secret, widespread TrapWire surveillance system

 "It is bias to think that the art of war is just for killing people. It is not to kill people, it is to kill evil. It is a strategy to give life to many people by killing the evil of one person." - Yagyu Munenori

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Today we present another entry for Round 42 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 (a $300 value), F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A $200 gift certificate, donated by Shelf Reliance.

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 C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.)Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) 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 42 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Years ago, as a young man, I was impacted by the 1970s gasoline crisis, making for long gas station lines and the accompanying angst, which was preceded by a few years by a strange  market-driven meat-shortage. I remember that episode resulted in ground beef prices soaring,  and even companies coming out with "textured soy protein" mixes in cartons as a substitute. That series of events probably steered me into the emerging survivalist-prepper culture, and ever since then, I've always had a full pantry of tuna, beans, bullets, and water wherever I went. I carried that mindset over to my career in law enforcement, by keeping a case of MREs in my patrol car trunk, those courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service fire crews, who rotated them out and into my care, from time to time. I worked in the California high country, with a large portion of Yosemite National Park in our county, and thousands of acres of wilderness to rescue "tourons" ["tourist morons"] from their ignorance-predicated calamities. We also had our share of small airplane crashes, and a couple of brushes with serial killers, kidnappers, and bank robbers, who thought the remoteness made for a good hiding place. I was active as a Range Master, and Tactical Team leader, and added skills learned while participating in those training regimens to my tracking, and woodsmanship experience growing up in the rural american southland.  A job-related injury, and development of PTSD, led me to retire somewhat early on a partial disability, and I started working in the medical field, adding even more knowledge and skills to my prepper base.

Dissatisfied with the anti-gun and liberal political environment in California,  I moved to the elk and salmon saturated serenity of the Pacific northwest coast. I am active in the local CERT program, and my wife is a county law enforcement officer. This area is well suited for my brand of prepping, as the ocean water  temperature of mid-50s, moderates the daily air temps throughout the year. For example, the winters  are very mild, although windy and rainy, yet we rarely get frost, icy roads, or snow.  In fact, wood stoves,  or wall space heaters are the norm, and nobody I know has an air conditioner as the summer daily temps are upper 60s to near 80. The grass needs to be mowed almost all year round, and though it requires short-growing season hybrid tomato sets for that crop, cole, potato, cruciferous, and root crops flourish with the addition of "hoop-style" plastic covered hot house-type gardens year-round. If you want temps a bit warmer, simply relocating inland 5-to-8 miles produces daily summer temperature lows of the upper 40's to highs in the 80's. Winter temps are comparatively in the mid-south range, with occasional light snows, and mid-40s highs. Water is not a problem, as the winter and spring provide an abundance of rain water for collection and storage, yet the summers are warm, mild and dry.  Fishing, and hunting are a huge part of the culture, and many duck hunt, smoke salmon, venison or game , and families have an elk camp, or tradition of deer hunting, clamming or halibut fishing as well.  Firearms laws are fairly generous, Oregon is a "shall issue" state for concealed carry, and there are  no restrictions on high-cap magazines, permitted suppressors, or full-auto/select fire semi-auto rifles.  Open carry is permitted, and I see folks packing on occasions, more so especially the farther east one travels in the state.

In my particular area of the central coast, the "golden hordes" would have to have a full tank of gas to get here, and I believe the local sheriffs policy would be to secure the roads into the county with check-points, and "hunker down". The roads coming into the area run through many miles of wilderness, and the entry points are down to two, from the east, and one each from the north and south. The Pacific coast itself is a rugged barrier to the west. This area has mountains running down to the seashore, and earthquakes and related tsunamis would affect us only minimally mainly with potentially taking out one main coastal north-south bay bridge, but there are other alternate routes in that locals know and would use in that case. Our house sits at near 200 feet of elevation, and I can drive 5 minutes and be 1,000 feet higher.  There are no potential megavolcanoes in our back yard, unlike the areas around Yellowstone, although the northwest does have numerous dormant an one semi-active one, and we are far away from any ash or nuclear bomb-generated wind-blown radiation paths.

Living here, with all of my neighbors with  whom I've dialogued about a SHTF scenario being on-board the "hunker-down and watch each others back" plan, we can survive quite well. I can supply my household with plenty of fresh water, walk 200 yards down the hill to the beach, gathering blackberries,and by fishing,  foraging for shellfish, or Dungeness crab,  come home every day with food for my family and neighbors. If I choose to bug out, my trailer is stocked and numerous gravel roads shoot off into miles of forest less than five minutes from my front door. I believe that in a TEOTWAWKI scenario, the fishing industry here will be a source of food, trade, and an economic boon, after a Dollar crash, supplying those items to the rest of America, along with firewood and hydro power. Back to the local CERT teams, operated by each local fire department, they are all tied in to the county-wide EMS structure which is a fine-tuned, well-oiled and managed system. They train constantly, and have ham-backups for any comm. breakdowns, or power outages. If you join them and take the training, you are issued a "kit" with vital handie-talkie radio, and emergency equipment, valuable in a TEOTWAWKI scenario, and you are "in the loop" for intel and supplies if that happens.

As to the power grid issue, the northwest's power is almost totally generated by dams on the Columbia River, and are well maintained and should continue running in most scenarios. Unlike my experiences with the reliability of electric power in California, and West Virginia, I've yet to have a storm knock out the power in any home I've lived in here for more than a 'flickering" moment in the past 9 years! Wind affords many hobby-opportunists the ability to generate power virtually year-round, and I'm working on that project accumulating the parts for a windmill/battery bank set-up. [JWR Adds: With photovoltaic panel prices still falling to below $1 per watt, I do not recommend wind generators for anyone living south of the Arctic Circle. They are just too expensive, have low, sporadic yields, and most of them are mechanically unreliable.]

My wife and I have participated for many years in cowboy action shooting, and I have a complete reloading set-up for many pistol and rifle calibers, along with a supply of bullets, primers, shot, and powder for use and barter. So, in wrapping up my picture of the Oregon coast as a great prepper location, let me say I'm surprised that it's not included in recommendations for preppers to relocate here along with "American Redoubt" areas of Idaho, Eastern-Washington, Eastern-Oregon, Wyoming, and Montana.

This truly is God's country, and he has blessed us in living here, with a land of bounty and protection. I'm not saying that I'll be eating Dungeness crab and baked potatoes while I hunker down by my wood stove post-TEOTWAWKI, but I can virtually guarantee that my family and neighbors will have plenty of water, heat, shelter and food that living elsewhere, even in the much-touted "Redoubt", would come only with much more struggle and effort.

Hi Mr. Rawles,
To start, your site has been an inspiration to many people, myself included.  I am a firefighter here in Indiana and what I've noticed is there are so many different places to get info, some good some bad, but it is tough to get some centralized information for local training's.  We started a Meetup group in Central Indiana that is growing fast and it is not a monetary site or a forum, just a centralized place to post training events and meetups around the area.  You are one of the main sites we encourage all of our members to go to for Internet Information and News.  We do not profit at all will list any businesses as a site sponsor for free.  Thanks for your help and thanks for your awesome site.  -W.A.

Joshua E. mentioned that Savage has resumed making a .22LR/.410 shotgun combination gun, the Model 42. This a a very practical little gun for pest shooting or foraging.

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A new blog with some real merit:

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A reader mentioned: "A collection of YouTube videos focused mostly on how to have fun making or doing things on your own for little or no money". His latest video on how to make a flea trap is brilliantly simple.

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Charley S. sent this, just for fun: "So papa, how do you like the iPad we got you?" No need to understand the language to get it...

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F.J. spotted this hint: Use an Old Gift Card to Keep a Bit of Duct Tape With You at All Times

"In contemplating the political institutions of the United States, I lament that we waste so much time and money in punishing crimes, and take so little pains to prevent them. We profess to be republicans and yet we neglect the only means of establishing and perpetuating our republican forms of government. That is, the universal education of our youth in the principles of Christianity by the means of the Bible." - Benjamin Rush, “A Defense of the Use of the Bible as a School Book”, 1798

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Just released! The latest sci-fi novel in the popular Freehold series by SurvivalBlog's own Michael Z. Williamson: When Diplomacy Fails. This novel is another prequel to Freehold, involving the Ripple Creek crew. Here is a summary: "Alex Marlow and Ripple Creek Security's best personal security detail return to action. This time, they really don't like their principal, World Bureau of State Minister Joy Herman Highland–a highly-placed bureaucrat with aspirations to elected office. Even worse, Highland’s assistant wants to publicize every movement and action for her boss’s pending campaign, which is anathema to good security. With a person of this status, it's not a case of someone wanting her dead. The only question is how many people want her dead, and what are they bringing to the fight? The enemies are from without, within and all over. They have resources, funding and political cover. Ripple Creek needs to be cautious. But the enemy also needs to worry. They’re going to be getting in each others' way in the process of carrying out their plans. And Ripple Creek has no qualms about explosions on galactic news. In fact, they enjoy it."

OBTW, Mike did mention this caveat: "The novel contains some plot-relevant sex, violence and torture, as well as language.  It is not recommended for young readers."


Today we present another entry for Round 42 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 (a $300 value), F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A $200 gift certificate, donated by Shelf Reliance.

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 C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.)Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) 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 42 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I live and prep on a tight budget – at least for the time being. I am lucky to have a fireplace in my home, not a woodstove, nor the room for one, but at least a fireplace. It’s better than no fireplace, but rather inefficient for heating or cooking. It would do in a pinch, but a rocket stove would greatly reduce the amount of wood needed to cook a meal. On my budget even $100 is a lot right now and I began looking into building my own rocket stove. The knowledge is out there, and “improved stoves” are being made in many third world countries to reduce fuel use and increase efficiency. The number of sizes, shapes and applications for improved stoves is incredible. I decided to try to make my own, and the money I saved could then be spent on something I couldn’t make for myself (like ceramic water filters, for instance).

Why DIY?
There are some very good reasons why learning to do-it-yourself (DIY) with an improved stove is a good idea. Not least of which is the cost. Cost was the initial factor for myself, and remains a benefit for me. Not only can I make myself low-cost rocket stoves, I can make them for extended family members and gift them as emergency kits disguised as camping stoves. In learning how they operate, you can also troubleshoot your stove, fine tune it to the task you require, and fix your problems yourself without resorting to someone else’s customer service. The fact that you are learning a new skill, and a potentially lifesaving one at that, is another great motivator. In a disaster scenario the ability to boil water efficiently is essential. Fuel is likewise inexpensive or free. The aftermaths of disasters almost always will have broken lumber which provides a useful and readily available fuel, or they can burn previously overlooked fuel such as branches of smaller diameter (around the thickness or a finger or thumb works well in my little stoves) that may have been considered too small to be worthwhile issuing in a proper wood-stove. I have purposely tried to make all my rocket stoves out of locally available and free re-purposed materials, or very inexpensive materials which are readily available. I have found some ‘non-free’ materials really help the process, and create a superior product (like JB Weld) but I also want to be able to make them out of the most basic materials around if needed.

The Science of Improved Stoves
There are a number of principles that go into making a good rocket stove. From what I know, the most important is that they need to be hot. Very hot. The goal is create a clean, complete burn that burns the combustive gases and the particulate (smoke). For that you need temperatures that go beyond your simple three stone fires. Most of the other principles are a part of trying to create that heat required for a good burn. High temperatures equal full combustion. For that reason, improved stoves need an insulated combustion chamber, top keep the heat in. Pre-heating the combustion air makes a hotter fire. By having a shelf for the wood to sit on, air can move underneath freely, providing all the oxygen needed, and is heated by the fire before being burned. Thus cold air is not as likely to get into the main combustion chamber and reduce the temperature, keeping it hot.

A flange or shroud can be built to surround your cooking pot, forcing the hot air to move further along the side of your pot, transferring more heat to the pot and cooking your food faster.
Another principle is that the air volume in needs to equal the air volume out. Sounds simple when your inner chamber is a consistent 4” diameter, but when adding a shroud you have to make sure there is enough area/space in between the pot and flange for the equal volume of air to escape through the top. If not, you get a backdraft and smoke pouring out of the bottom of the stove.

Construction Basics
The basic design of any improved stove starts with an “L”-shaped combustion chamber. Combustion is meant to take place at the right angle corner of the “L”. The chimney/upper part of the “L” must be long enough to allow time for complete combustion of the gases. On the bottom of the “L” you typically run a wire shelf for the fuel (wood) to rest on. This allows air to enter horizontal portion of the “L” freely, beneath the fuel, and pre-heats the air before it gets to the actual combustion area.

Around this “L” is the outer sleeve. The sleeve should surround the vertical portion of the “L” completely, with a few inches gap in between to fill with insulation. You will need to cut a hole in the side of the sleeve for the horizontal “L” section, and in the top for the vertical “L” section. There are lots of ways and styles in which to do this. The main idea is that the sleeve holds the insulation against the “L”.

Three DIY Stoves
I made my first stove out of an empty white-gas/naptha can and some old drain pipe from a downspout on the house. I cut a 90 notch in the drainpipe, angled at 45 degrees to its length, with tin snips and folded it to make a simple 90 degree bend in the drainpipe. I then traced the entrance hole to fit the drainpipe on the narrow side of the naptha can and punched it out with a chisel and tin snips. I removed the top of the can with a can opener and tin snips, and traced and cut an exit hole for the vertical chimney portion of the drainpipe. I then sealed it with insulation (more on that later). I slid the top of the tin over the chimney drainpipe, and let it set and dry. I used a cut section of another drainpipe, drilled with a bunch of holes at one end, and slid into the horizontal section of the “L” as a rack to place the fuel on that also allows air to enter underneath and pass through the drilled holes directly into the coals of the fire. A wire rack for the pot to sit on top completed the stove, and allows for the smoke and flue gas to escape. So far this stove has performed fairly well. Not perfect, but an encouraging first attempt.

My second stove was a better built model, loosely based on a plan from the internet. Two #10 cans, one with top removed and one with top and bottom removed (with a can opener) become the body of the stove. I taped them together end to end along the interior of the can with duct tape. This allowed me to use JB Weld to join the cans together, which form the outer sleeve. When dry I removed the tape. The inner sleeve I made from purchased 4” stove pipe, though I later found that standard food tins are also 4” diameter, and could also be used. Having a 90 degree elbow stovepipe section greatly decreases the work involved, and makes the stove look much more streamlined inside, but I am confident I could work up a 90 degree elbow out of 4” food tins as well. Again, I cut holes for the 4” combustion “L” tube on the side of the lower can and on the removed lid of the upper can. Fill with insulation, replace the lid, add a fuel platform and pot rack, and viola. It has performed much better than the first, I think because there is more insulation, and perhaps because the height-to-diameter ratio of the combustion chamber is better. Either way it produces less smoke.

The third stove I tried came from a Webster called Practical Action ( and is a build-in-place stove in the backyard made of simple red bricks. The principles are the same, creating an “L” shaped combustion chamber, tall chimney, insulate and create a fuel platform and pot rack. I like this type of stove particularly for use as a summer shack for outdoor cooking. It is easy to make, and can be made out of just about any sort of bricks, earth, or rock. Some in-place improved stoves get pretty fancy, similar to the old homesteading wood ovens, and have chimneys that vent right out of the house. The brick version is very similar to the survivalist “adobe stoves” that are dug into the side of clay hill side.

For any stove, efficiency can be greatly improved if you use a flange or shroud to surround your pot when you cook. It works by holding the hot gases close to the sides of your pot as they rise, rather than the gases just heating the bottom of your pot. I was able to make shrouds for a few pots, but they do have to be tailored to the size of your pot to maximize efficiency. I made mine by cutting a hole slightly larger than the diameter of the chimney into a round sheet of metal (mine came from a big popcorn tin). I put that over the chimney, and the pot rack on top of it. On goes the pot, and surrounding the pot I made a shroud out of the sides of the popcorn tin. It sits right on the bottom sheet, and I bend it to fit around whatever pot I use. I tend to leave about a ½-inch to 1 inch gap between the shroud and the pot. These work on the same principles that you see with many ‘windscreens’ for single burner back-country stoves like the MSR Whisperlite.

I have tried three types of insulation in my first stove – wood ash, sand, and my favourite a concrete-perlite mix. Wood ash was messy, and though perhaps a very good insulator, it kept leaking out of the gaps in my stoves. You also have to be sure to use completely burn wood ash, or you may get an unintentional smoldering fire inside your stove. Sand was the second choice, and it worked well, but again leaked through any sloppy joints. I found that a mix of concrete and perlite (a soil additive from a gardening store) was the best all round for ease of mixing and performance in the stoves. Perlite is an inert volcanic mineral that has the consistency of small Styrofoam beads. It’s light and fluffy and very insulative. I mixed it with concrete to keep it in place, and it sets well, doesn’t leak out the gaps, and adds some rigidity to the stove so your whole pot weight isn’t sitting on the JB Welded joints. It’s another concession to modern materials, but if they are available then why not use them and get a longer lasting product.
I have seen informative instructions and videos on making firebrick, the gold standard in woodstoves for insulation properties, out of sawdust and clay which is then fired in a kiln. The resulting bricks are porous (the sawdust burns away in the kiln) and extremely insulative and lightweight. However, they are beyond my expertise and resources.
I also found that whatever insulation I use, I seem to get closer to complete combustion as the stove runs a while and heats up.

Caveats and Warnings
One issue that I was concerned with was the use of non-intended materials for cooking over. Galvanized stove pipe, for example, may release toxic fumes when heated. Even the liners from some food tins are probably not too nice if you burn them. I personally don’t feel this is a major concern if you cook outside and your pot has a lid on it. I also burn a good hot fire in the stove for a good while to hopefully cook out any fumes before I use it for food preparation. If I am frying, I do not use a shroud with my frying pan, and feel that most flue gas and fumes likely blows off in the wind. To be be completely technical remember that simply burning wood and other biomass releases carcinogenic chemicals that are likely not good for human consumption in quantity. I feel it is a measured risk. Each person must make their own choices for themselves.

Though a store-bought rocket stove is still on my wish list, I am happy to have an in-the-meantime solution to cooking without power, and one that can be replicated over and over, or adapted to the materials at hand, and given to friends and family. I encourage you to look online for plans - youtube has a several videos on making brick backyard stoves, for example - and get cooking. Though I have yet to rival the clean burning store models in my home-made designs, I find them very useful in the meantime, and as gifts in emergency “camping” kits.

I'm a long-time blog reader and occasional writer just dropping a note by you to say first of all that I love the blog. I read it everyday without fail. I support you by clicking through to your sponsors and purchasing items. One thing I would like to state for the record is my objection to the constant yammering on about the American Redoubt. [Some deleted, for brevity.] As one who has relocated from Florida to central Kentucky, I can tell you that there are more nice places to relocate to than just the Redoubt.

Once again, I love your mission, love the blog, and love the articles. Just stop mentioning the Redoubt so much. - Nickel Nick in Kentucky

JWR Replies: I now congregate nearly all of the articles that relate to the American Redoubt in a weekly column titled: "News From The American Redoubt", on Tuesdays.  So if you want to avoid most of the Redoubt mentions, then simply skip reading that weekly column.

Camping Survival has announced an unprecedented Two Day Free Shipping Deal. This is for every order of $149 or more from their web site received on August 15th and August 16th. Free shipping is available only if you use coupon code "freeshipping" during checkout.

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Reader Diana V. suggested this: 100-year-old way to filter rainwater

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Gary S. mentioned: Cloak of Invisibility?

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F.G. sent this: Conquest vehicles reveals the Evade, its new, gigantic unarmored SUV. JWR's Comments: They should have named this vehicle the Poser. Driving an unarmored vehicle that looks armored is something akin to openly carrying an unloaded gun. What idiocy. Owners will just be looking for a fight that they know they can't win. This article reminded me of one of my late wife's favorite treble entendre sayings: "If looks could kill, there'd be lifeless bodies littering the streets."

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H.L. sent this: As drought looms in India, fear for its cattle

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Sandman mentioned an article on government databases that are tracking license plates

"Emergency preparedness is a good thing for governments to focus on. But whether talking about the Elliot Lake mall collapse in Ontario or the ongoing efforts to turn Calgary’s communications back on, there’s ample evidence that governments are simply incapable of adequately tackling the complexities of disasters confined to even a single building. If something big ever happens — and sooner or later, something always does — we should all expect to be on our own for days, or longer. The systems we’ve built to support ourselves are just too complicated to repair any faster than that." - Matt Gurney, The National Post, July 12, 2012

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Today we present an article by our Medical Editor, Dr. Cynthia Koelker.

In Part 1 of Suturing I discussed several aspects of wound closure, including goals of treatment, common lacerations, alternate wound closure techniques, types of suture to purchase, wound cleansing, sterile field, needle size, proper instruments, correct suture placement, and aftercare.

In Part 2 of Suturing I will address common mistakes to avoid.

Wound closure is not rocket science
, and any adult of average intelligence can learn the basic techniques.  Anyone who has sutured has learned from their own mistakes and those of others.  The following advice will help you skip a few errors and should make you look like a professional.

Common Suturing Mistakes to Avoid

Diagonal sutures yield misalignment
, often with “dog ears” or leftover skin remaining on one side, which will cause a puckered appearance or open area at one end.  Make sure to align the edges well and place your sutures exactly perpendicular to the wound edge, aligning each stitch as you go.

Over-tightening yields inversion of sutures
, that is, the edges dip into the wound, which prevents proper healing.  The sutured wound may look great, but what you really have is intact skin butting against intact skin, which of course isn’t going to grow together.  You need to have raw edge against raw edge, preferably with these edges everted a little (tented outward a bit).  As the wound heals they will flatten out.  Eversion is best accomplished by making sure you suture to the full depth of the wound with stitches as far from the edge of the wound as the wound is deep.  If the wound is a quarter-inch deep, sutures should be placed a quarter-inch away from the wound on each side, yielding a distance twice that (or one half inch) from side to side.

Likewise, suturing uneven thicknesses together often yields overlapping skin edges
, which also will not heal together.  In this case the raw skin edge overlaps onto intact skin.  Take care to check each suture as you go for tension adequate to close the wound but not enough to overlap tissue edges.

Under-tightening yields loose sutures with a gaping suture line
.  Be sure to use the surgeon’s knot (a double loop) on the first throw (half knot) of each suture.  This prevents knot slippage, which is especially helpful with nylon suture.  Raw tissue must touch raw tissue for the body to bridge the gap quickly.  It’s not that a gaping wound won’t heal, it will just take longer and cause a wider scar.  Everting the edges a bit, a millimeter or two, helps prevent this problem.  

Superficial sutures result in poor healing
.  Your stitches may look great on the outside, but if the deep layers do not touch each other, they cannot grow together.  Make sure to close the laceration to the full depth of the wound.

Using large needles and/or suture material on fine skin yields needle-hole scars
.  On tender or facial skin, better to use multiple fine sutures (5-0 or 6-0) placed closely together than try to bridge the wound using fewer, larger sutures.

Using too fine of suture on areas of greater thickness or tension may yield stitches that pull through
.  Only use 5-0 on fine skin such as the face, fingers, or children’s skin.  Use 4-0 for most standard lacerations where the wound is just through the skin and/or where tension across the wound is minimal.  Use 3-0 for deeper lacerations into the subcutaneous tissue and/or where tension across the wound is greater, especially over large joints.

Leaving sutures in too long also results in needle/suture hole scars
.  On fine skin which is not under tension 3—5 days is sufficient.  Average lacerations not under tension require 5—7 days before removal.  Deeper wounds or skin under tension require 7—10 days, though up to 14 days is recommended if healing is in doubt.  In patients whose sutures are left in longer they typically become embedded in the healing skin, which makes them difficult to find and remove.  If you suture someone up, examine your work daily to get an idea of the rate of healing. This only takes a minute or two, and also helps diagnose infection early.  If in doubt whether it’s too soon to remove stitches, take out only one or two in a non-critical area and see if the suture line holds.  Sometimes doctors take out alternating stitches one day, then the rest a few days later if wound strength is in question.

Leaving infected sutures in results in needle/suture hole scars and delayed healing
.  Once a wound has pus coming out or begins to look red and swollen, all sutures should be removed.  The wound will heal better once the pus is rinsed out, though may well require oral antibiotics (cephalexin, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, or amoxicillin-clavulanate are all good choices).  If the infection is caught very early, removing the stitches and applying a topical antibiotic such as bacitracin, Bactroban, or possibly Triple Antibiotic Ointment may be sufficient.  (Doctors seldom recommend the latter due to increased likelihood of allergic reaction, but if it’s all you have I’d use it.)  I have not used honey for this purpose, but it may work as well.

Sutures placed too close to the wound edge may pull through
.  Placing your sutures about an eighth to a fourth inch from the wound edge is about right – the deeper the stitch is, the wider it should be.  Better a bit too wide than too narrow.

Just as women can learn to make a dress by reading a book, you can learn to suture on your own.
  However, most people feel more comfortable if they’ve had professional supervision, at least to begin.  To this end I offer workshops several times per year where students can perfect their skills and receive professional instruction.  (See my web site for upcoming classes.)

In the next article I will discuss Splinting and Casting

About the Author: Cynthia J. Koelker, MD is SurvivalBlog's Medical Editor, the author of the book Armageddon Medicine, and the editor of   

I thought I'd take a minute and recommend an Army Field Manual (FM) that I don't see referenced too often here. It's FM 7-92 ("The infantry reconnaissance platoon and squad; airborne, air assault, light infantry") with Chapter 9 for MOUT/urban operations. This version is a little hard to find, so here's the link.  Just don't ask why I had to go to to find it.

This version dates back to the late 1980s and early 1990s, so the emphasis less on mechanized reconnaissance, technology, and general eye candy - unlike a majority of the scout FMs in current publication. It covers water movement, tracking, dismounted infiltration, etc. It's also interesting to see the parallels between these older scout FMs and the newer six-man sniper teams. Having been in the scout platoon of the 187th Infantry Brigade, I'm sure that I'm a little biased, But from my perspective this is one of the most valuable FMs out there for WTSHTF.  Of course it should be read after the general infantry FMs, but the focus here is on small group operations, and helps to develop the skills needed to extend your area of influence well beyond your own personal camp-de-resistance.

Enjoy, - Robert in North Carolina

Hello Mr. Rawles,
Regarding the man who found his canned food rims rusting in his basement. I can recommend OSPHO, which is a liquid which will upon application changes the rust to a more stable compound. I was in the Merchant Marine and we used it on the ships and it works very well. You can get OSPHO through or at a ACE hardware store. It is basically phosphoric acid [suspended in a coating.]
He may also want to invest in a tabletop buffer or wire wheel to quickly remove surface rust before applying the OSPHO which improves the effectiveness.
Thanks so much for your site, I read it each morning. - Robb M.

Radio Free Redoubt has uploaded an after-action podcast about the the first T-REX (TEOTWAWKI Readiness Exercise) that was held August 10th, 11th & 12th.

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Yet another great video from Ttabs: Flying Elk River to Deary to Juliaetta to Craigmont, Idaho

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The Redoubt states are absent from this list: Traveling Soon? Top 10 U.S. States Plagued by Exotic Diseases

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Here are the Best Places to Live--in 2032. As usual, the Redoubt states are in the top half of the list.

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A trade group says it’s on the way to making Idaho the gunmaking capital of the nation

Deutsche Bank Proclaims Western Currencies Worthless

Long live the debt ceiling – approaching the fiscal cliff by spending $1 trillion more than is being taken in. A breakdown of government spending and revenues.

Sentinel ruling may hurt MF Global clients. Here is a key quote: "Futures brokers are required to keep customers' funds in dedicated accounts to protect them from being used for anything other than client business. However, Thursday's ruling suggests that brokerages can use customer funds to pay off other creditors..." [JWR's Comment: When stealing a client's money effectively becomes legal for futures brokers (and possibly for bankers), then what assurances do investors have? This is yet another reason to invest in tangibles that you hold personally.]

G.G. sent this interview: Coming: The End of Fiat Money.

And speaking of fiat currencies, see this over at The American Spectator: Fight The Fiat. (Thanks to M.E.W. for the link.)

Items from The Economatrix:

The Rich are Hoarding Cash--And That's Not Good

Oil to Get Boost on US Jobs Data:  Survey

Bernanke Just Assured That The Student Loan Bubble Will Be The "Next Financial Stability Issue"

Import Prices in U.S. Unexpectedly Fell in July for Fourth Month

Adam B. suggested this: Amish enjoy unexpected boom in numbers

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More in the Mayor Tony Mack saga: Woeful Trenton Sees Mayor Add Insult to Injury. So yet another member of Mayor Bloomberg's Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) may soon do the perp walk and pose for a mug shot. Oh, and in case you missed it, Mayor Felix Roque was arrested in late May. And former Detroit Kwame Kilpatrick's trial on additional corruption charges is scheduled to begin on September 6, 2012. Both of them are also MAIG members.

Statistically, Bloomberg's crack team of "crime fighting" anti-gun mayors seem to get arrested about as frequently as streetwalkers. Makes you wonder...

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Lessons learned from the 24-hour Sniper Adventure Challenge

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Disinformation: How It Works

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Hemsworth takes charge in intense first trailer for Red Dawn remake. (Thanks to James C. for the link.)

"We are locked into an unimaginably complex predicament and a system of dependency whose future seems at growing risk. To avoid catastrophe we must prepare for failure.

We are entering a time of great challenge and uncertainty, when the systems, ideas and stories that framed our lives in one world are torn apart, but before new stories and dependencies have had time to evolve. Our challenge is to let go, and go forth.

Our immediate concern is crisis and shock planning. It should now be clear that this is far more extensive than merely focusing on the financial system. It includes how we might move forward if a reversion to current conditions proves impossible. That is we also need transition planning and preparation. Even while subject to lock-in and the reflexivity trap, this will be most effective if it works from bottom-up as well as top-down.

Finally, neither wealth nor geography is a protection. Our evolved co-dependencies mean that we are all in this together." - David Korowicz, Trade-Off: Financial System Supply-Chain Cross-Contagion: a study in global systemic collapse, published by The Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability (FEASTA)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Today we present an article by Matthew Stein, SurvivalBlog's Back Country Editor.

Given the record breaking droughts, heat waves, and fire storms of the summer of 2012, if current scientific predictions of global warming prove anywhere near correct, then the we can expect that this scary situation will become the new normal  in the coming years. Whether you are a homeowner wishing to improve the fire resistance of your current dwelling, or are planning to build a new home, beyond creating a “defensible space” around your home there are a number of other actions you can take to improve the chances that your home will survive a local wildfire. These guidelines are typically applied to homes located in areas where long periods of dry weather are common, such as many of the western states. However, due to changing times people in many areas where the threat of wildfires was previously a non-issue are now finding it to be a growing concern.

Lessons from the 1993 Laguna Fire

In October 1993, when a vicious wildfire broke out in Laguna Beach, a southern California beach town, firefighter John Henderson was called down from his home in the Sierras of northern California to fight this blaze. The combination of extremely dangerous fire conditions, brought on by three consecutive drought years coupled with 60 to 70 mph hot and dry Santa Ana winds, quickly whipped the fire into an unstoppable conflagration, burning hundreds of homes to the ground! When John rounded a corner on the Pacific Coast Highway, just north of Laguna Beach, he saw a sight that he will never forget. He and his partner watched the firestorm rush down the dry hills toward the ocean. The heat of the firestorm was so intense that, even after blowing across four lanes of pavement, it was hot enough to ignite a mile-long stretch of wooden telephone poles on the ocean side of the road. From a distance, he said they looked like a string of matchsticks stuck in the sand, igniting one after the other until there were perhaps a hundred telephone poles burning at once.

• Many if not most homes burned from the inside out when firestorm heat radiated through closed windows and slipped inside through foundation and roof vents to ignite interior curtains, rugs, etc. Double-pane windows and heavily insulated walls will slow the rate of heat penetration into interior spaces.
• The only buildings to survive the Laguna Fire had insulated walls, double-pane windows, and blocked or minimized venting. A well-insulated, well-sealed building envelope, and high thermal mass, will slow interior heating and ignition.
• Minimize venting, and screen all vent openings to prevent flaming embers from entering vents. Removable fire-wall vent blocks should be placed in front of foundation and roof vents during periods of extreme fire danger to keep hot air from easily penetrating the building envelope.
• One of the few Laguna homes in the path of the firestorm to survive had a 40-foot-wide strip of the green succulent “ice plant” (creating an excellent “defensible space”) and a concrete tiled roof (an exceptionally fire resistant roof). The firestorm blew right over the top of the ice plant and the house, dropped burning embers on the concrete tile roof, roasted a 10-foot-wide swath of ice plant, but failed to ignite the building’s structure.
• Stucco, cement, or earthen walls are preferred. If wood siding is desired, it should be applied over a ?-inch sheetrock fire wall for improved fire resistance. Cement-based weather board can look like wood but give you cement board’s superior fire resistance. Even with a stucco or cement weather-board sheath, an underlying wood-framed wall might ignite if the firestorm gets hot enough.
• All projections (roof eaves, etc.) should be protected on the underside with cement stucco or cement board (like Certainteed or Hardie Board) that looks like wood. A less-preferred alternative is to paint natural wood with fire-resistant coating to improve its resistance to ignition by burning embers. Hot air rises and can easily ignite roof overhangs in a firestorm.
• Coat wood decks with multiple layers of a fire-resistant urethane deck covering (Pacific Polymers or similar) or treat wood decking with fire-resistant coatings (Fire Stop or similar).
            Note: Chemical treatments, such as Fire Stop, will inhibit ignition by burning embers, but will not prevent ignition due to a super hot firestorm. A stucco coat (¾ inch or thicker) on the underside of wooden decks was credited with saving two homes in the Laguna Beach fire. There is a new fly-ash composite decking board from LifeTime Lumber that has a “Class A” fireproof rating, and is LEED certified for its recycled content, that can be used to build high-quality fireproof decks. Trex and many of the other similar competing composite decking manufacturers have come out with “Class B” fire-resistant wood/plastic composite decking to meet California’s new wildland fire codes.
• Use only “Class A” fire-rated roofing systems, which are rated to prevent both the roofing material itself, and roofing underlayment (plywood) from catching fire when covered with burning embers. Most asphalt and fiberglass shingles are Class A rated, but metal roofing usually requires the use of Versashield underlayment (or equal) to achieve this rating. “Living” roofs (planted sod) have excellent fire resistance as well as thermal mass and insulation. With Class A roofing, the eaves and overhangs are the most vulnerable areas of the roof owing to the fire down below. 
(Above list adapted and expanded from John Underwood, “Fire Resistant Details: Studying the Houses That Survived the 1993 Laguna Beach Fire Storm Yields Lessons in Building to Withstand the Heat,” Fine Home
            There are a number of building systems that are inherently fire resistant. Basically, if it is earth or concrete based, it is very fire resistant. Also, if you fill the wall with foam or straw, to eliminate dead air spaces and the chimney effect, and sheath the wall with stucco, earthen plasters, or cement board, even if it is wood-framed it will have good fire resistance. Do your best to make your roof, eaves, and decks fire resistant too, since your home will only be as fire resistant as its weakest link. Obviously, traditional stone, brick, and concrete-block construction are also quite fire resistant, provided their roofs are not a weak link in the system.
            With burning embers settling on rooftops, in many cases it is the roof that forms the weak link in the fire-resistance chain. Traditional wooden shake and shingle are notorious for catching on fire from burning embers. For fire-resistant roofing, consider the following options:
• Use only “Class A” fire-rated roofing.
• Class A roofing must withstand burning embers on roof without igniting plywood sheeting.
• Most modern composition (asphalt) shingles are “Class A” fire-rated.
• Metal roofs transmit heat easily to the underlying plywood, so they tend to be not as fire resistant as you might imagine, unless they are underlaid with an insulating flame-resistant lining. They are usually only Class A fire resistant with the addition of Versashield underlayment (or similar).
• I recommend two layers of Versashield FR underlayment (or similar) FR barrier for extra fire barrier between metal roofing and its underlying plywood sheeting.

NOTE: This article was adapted from the author's book When Disaster Strikes: A Comprehensive Guide for Emergency Planning and Crisis Survival.

About the Author: Matthew Stein is SurvivalBlog's Back Country Editor. He is a design engineer, green builder, and author of two best selling books:When Technology Fails: A Manual for Self-Reliance, Sustainability, and Surviving the Long Emergency and When Disaster Strikes: A Comprehensive Guide for Emergency Planning and Crisis Survival.. Stein is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where he majored in Mechanical Engineering. Stein has appeared on numerous radio and television programs and is a repeat guest on Fox News, Coast-to-Coast AM, Alex Jones’ Infowars, Vince Finelli’s USA Prepares, and The Power Hour.  He is an active mountain climber, serves as a guide and instructor for blind skiers, has written several articles on the subject of sustainable living, and is a guest columnist for the Huffington Post. His web sites are and

I don't care how many times I tell students who are coming to take a firearms class from me to bring hearing protection and eye protection. And, more often than not, at least half the students don't bring either eye or hearing protection. I keep a box of soft foam ear plugs and safety glasses on-hand at all times, for those forgetful, or maybe they are neglectful students.
My eye doctor tells me, there is no cure for blindness. And, for hearing loss - well, it's something a lot of people learn to live with, with either hearing aids, or they are always saying "what did you say?" because they didn't hear what you said. I know I'm guilty of having a hearing loss. When I was young and dumb, I often didn't wear hearing protection when I was shooting, and I'm paying for it now.
I used to ride motorcycles a lot, matter of fact, it wasn't until six year ago, that I sold my last two motorcycles. When I got my first bike back in 1970, I did wear sunglasses during the day, and no eye protection at all, when I rode at night. I can't tell you how many pairs of sunglasses got broke or the lenses cracked, when a rock or other road debris came flying at my eyes. Luckily, I never had a foreign object actually penetrate the sunglasses and hit my eyes. However, more than a few bugs hit my eyes, and if you ride bikes, you know about bugs in your teeth. It wasn't until about 10-12 years ago, that I started wearing safety glasses when riding my bikes, as well as wearing a helmet - as required by law in my state. Anyone who rides a bike without an approved DOT safety helmet is only asking for a serious injury. My regular UPS driver recently wrecked his bike. As a matter of fact, he was almost clinically dead on the scene. A nurse who witnessed the accident actually performed CPR on him until an ambulance arrived. Luckily, my UPS driver was wearing a helmet - and after two months, he's finally back at work.
I recently received a pair of BTB sunglasses, and you really need to check out their web site to see the wide selection of sunglasses they carry. I guess what I like most about their sunglasses is that, they don't have a one-size fits all - they actually come in different sizes, for different size heads. I received the BTB 800 series polarized sunglasses for testing. And, needless to say, they are polarized, which comes in mighty handy when you're out in the bright sunlight or fishing over water - they really cut the glare down. You even receive a micro-fiber pouch to carry your sunglasses in - this helps prevent unwanted scratches on the lenses.
A little background on BTB Sport Optics is in order. For more than a year, BTB were test marketed at professional events, trade shows and retail establishments, gaining valuable insights and feedback from the marketplace. The market message was clear and consistent. Due to the economic times and increasing education of the consumer, high priced sunglasses were not selling. High priced sunglasses retailing between $75 to $200 plummeted and inventory levels of the perceived "high quality" industry leaders steadily rose in the retail sector. Understanding this trend, BTB wanted to introduce a line of sport and recreational sunglasses that provided, superior optic quality, complete UVA and UVB protection, frame construction materials of the highest quality and durability, complimentary styles and formed fit for comfort and aggressive and an affordable price point. And, as SB readers know, I like to spend my money wisely, getting the most out of every penny.
Some of the features of the BTB sunglasses are: lenses provide 100% optic clarity, frames are made from Grilamid TR-90 and designed using an 8 to 10 base curve, the sunglasses are "formed fit" for comfort, temples and nosepieces are made from hypo-allergenic material and coated with an anti-bacterial agent for heavy perspiration environments. They also exceed ANSI, OSHA and military impact specs, and the lenses are "ballistic" rated. Okay, that last one "ballistic rated" caught my attention. Watch the short video and see how these sunglasses were tested. Very impressive - they took a hit from 30-feet away, with birdshot and there was no penetration. Now, don't go thinking these sunglasses will stop a 9mm round - they won't. No sunglasses will. However, where these sunglasses shine would be, for our military personnel, who might get hit in the face with shrapnel or other debris - it can make the different between saving your sight, or losing it because you didn't wear any eye protection. Take note!
I've been wearing my sample BTB 800 sunglasses for two weeks now - fishing, shooting and driving, and they actually do fit like a glove - very comfortable. I like the wrap-around fit, too - if you've ever been hit in the face or eyes with flying brass, from a shooter next to you, then you'll appreciate the wrap-around design - that empty brass can't hit your eyes from the side, unlike other sunglasses that only provide frontal eye protection.
I counted no less than 16 different styles of sunglasses on the BTB web site - so they will have a style for just about anyone. And, as I mentioned, they comes in different sizes, too. So, it's not like you are forced to wear a pair of sunglasses that fit your wife, but are too small for you, or a pair that fits your husband, but are too big for your face. I've easily spent $50+ for Foster Grant sunglasses, and while they looked super-cool, they didn't afford my eyes protection from flying objects that would hit them - especially when riding a motorcycle. The BTB sunglasses afford you not only ballistic eye protection, they also are very stylish and afford full UVA and UVB protection from the sun.
The BTB web site described their product as "the best $100 sunglasses for $50 and under..." and I can't find any fault in that. My sample 800 series retail for $49.95, and easily worth double that price. BTB also offers free shipping  on orders over $40.00. And, I'm betting you'll find a couple pair of BTB sunglasses that you'll want, for yourself and your spouse.
I can't tell you how important it is, to wear some type of eye protection when your out shooting, or riding a bike down the highway. You only have one set of eyes, and you need to protect them as much as possible. If you're in the military, or you have a loved one who is serving, get them a pair of BTB sunglasses - they'll thank you. They really will. You could spend a lot more for sunglasses of this quality, but you simply won't get any more for your money, nor will you get better protection. Spend your dollars wisely, and check out the BTB web site. I'm betting you'll find a style that will catch your attention, and you'll be doing your eyes a favor, too.

Greetings Jim,
I hope you can help me figure out if much of my preps are imperiled. I had water leaks in my basement a few months ago after major storms overran my roof's gutters and caused water to seep down
into the front half of my basement. So I turned on the dehumidifier I keep in the basement and let it run until the basement floor was dry, then let it run an extra 24 hours just for good measure. Well, there appears to be a bit of residual moisture in the air in my basement, and when I went down into my basement a few minutes ago after being gone for a couple weeks, I glanced over at a shelf of canned goods and noticed that just about all the cans on that shelf--more than 300 cans on that one shelf, plus a couple thousand other cans of items--are showing rust on their rims. I've got a huge investment in canned goods in addition to hundreds of pounds of dry goods, and I'm really worried now about losing well over 1,000 pounds of canned goods if this rust poses a risk. Any advice you can give me would be greatly appreciated.

God bless, - Chad

JWR Replies:
Once rust starts on bare steel it is very hard to stop.

1. Keep that dehumidifier running! Even though a concrete floor appears dry, it can still hold a lot of moisture. An accurate Air Humidity Monitor is a good investment.

2.  Buy a quart or two of clear lacquer.  At this point, even though it is laborious, you need to lacquer the tops and bottoms of all of your steel cans, and the metal lids of your home-canned jars to arrest the already started oxidation process.

James Wesley:

While the compact fluorescent bulbs are good at saving energy, even better are LED bulbs. I know they are expensive, but they are coming down in price and can be had at very reasonable prices on eBay. Not only that, but they "burn" cool to the touch and contain no mercury. A broken CF bulb practically warrants a HAZMAT crew! L's last even longer than compact fluorescent bulbs and are made of plastic so there's no worries about breakage. I'm building a solar power system for my home, and plan on switching to LEDs. - Dave, RN

Michelle W.'s Baked Oatmeal

The following shared with me by my wonderful neighbor and adopted mom, who received it from the owner of a bed and breakfast in the heart of Amish country, Lancaster Pennsylvania.

I double the recipe, mix it overnight and cover with plastic wrap, and store in the fridge. the next morning, as soon as I awaken, I remove wrap, put pan in a cold oven, turn oven on to 350 and bake about 1 hour or until the top is brown and crunchy.  I like to add fresh fruit (blueberries, peaches, apples are divine) prior to baking but my son prefers it plain. This is my "go-to" dish when I have a houseful of guests for holidays.

Baked Oatmeal
Preheat oven to 350
In a 2 qt baking dish, mix well:
2 eggs
1 C packed brown sugar
1/2 C vegetable oil  (can substitute applesauce but top will not be as crunchy)
1 tsp vanilla

Add and mix well:
3C oatmeal 
1C milk
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 tsp cinnamon/spice of your choice

Bake about 30-45 minutes or until top is brown and crunchy

Chef's Notes: Serve warm with milk.

Useful Recipe and Cooking Links:

The Ultimate Oatmeal Cookie Recipe

Strawberry Oatmeal Cobbler

Currently Available as Free Kindle e-Books:

Recipes Tried and True

Pennsylvania Dutch Cooking

Do you have a favorite recipe that would be of interest to SurvivalBlog readers? Please send it via e-mail. Thanks!

B.B. sent this: Where Borrowing $105 Million Will Cost $1 Billion: Poway Schools. A 40 year bond. What insanity! This typifies the institutionalized myopia of California.

Is The Greek Calamity Economy Headed For Revolt? "'Dire' is no longer the right word to describe the situation in Greece. Unemployment hit 23.1% in May..."

Heads I Win, Tails You Lose: Goldman Sachs: No CDO charges by SEC. Once again, bankers are told implicitly told that they can gamble recklessly with derivatives with no repercussions. Someday there will be a huge implosion...

Deep Schumer for scrap metal thieves? Sen. Schumer aims to make metal theft a federal offense

Items from The Economatrix:

Stock Market Crash 2013:  What The "Hindenberg Omen" Tells Us

Jobless Claims Fall in Sign U.S. Job Market Mending

Gary North:  Why Keynesians Hate The Gold Standard

Nine Reasons Why This Economy Feels So Bad

When he penned the prescient lyrics to the now classic song "A Country Boy Can Survive", Hank Williams, Jr. was apparently 30 years ahead of his time: The Mighty Mississippi to Run Dry? (OBTW, the "The interest is up..." part of the lyrics won't be for another couple of years...)

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My sister recommended this novel: The Dog Stars. Yet another post-apocalyptic novel makes it into Amazon's Top 100.

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KAF sent this: Cycle on the Recycled: A $9 Cardboard Bike Set to Enter Production in Israel

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A tidbit sent by a reader: "My friend arrived at work, on time at 8 a.m., ready to work as usual. When our supervisor saw him he asked why he looked so exhausted, my co-worker--who is also a volunteer EMT with a local rural fire department--replied that he had responded to a call and that he had been up until 3 a.m. working on a car crash, trying to help the victims involved.  Our supervisor became annoyed informed the volunteer that his factory job was his primary job and that he could be fired.  To which my co-worker responded: 'Well, I will keep that in mind should you or a family member of yours is ever involved in a crash.'  I thought that was an awesome answer. Ever since then his boss has been extremely nice to him."

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Deb B. mentioned a new Bluetooth virus: "... a virus that can attach itself wirelessly to any Bluetooth device and in addition to wiping out your data, it spies and records. No, it's not science fiction." 

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H.L. highlighted this tale of enviro-whacko political correctness run amok: The California Fish and Game Commission ousted its president after legal mountain lion hunt in Idaho hunting.

"The science of government; that part of ethics which consists in the regulation and government of a nation or state, for the preservation of its safety, peace and prosperity; comprehending the defense of its existence and rights against foreign control or conquest...and the protection of its citizens in their rights, with the preservation and improvement of their morals." - Noah Webster, 1828

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Today we present another entry for Round 42 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 (a $300 value), F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A $200 gift certificate, donated by Shelf Reliance.

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 C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.)Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) 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 42 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Survivalism is at its most basic a selfish endeavor.  I don’t state that as being a negative thing, but rather as being morally right and good.  We are supposed to want to live.  And to that end, we obviously want those that we love to live too.  Environmentalism on the other hand, often seems to push selflessness.  It is usually built around messages of sacrifice, restriction, and admonition of the self for the greater good of society.  I get frustrated listening to environmental rhetoric that beseeches me to seek out environmentally friendly actions for no other reason than eco- altruism, when there are plenty of great selfish reasons to be environmentally friendly.  I think the case can be made that environmentalism and survivalism are two sides of the same coin, and have more in common than one might think, but for very different reasons.  In that common ground, there are many useful applications for decreasing dependency on external entities and adopting attitudes and philosophies that make us all better preppers.

This common ground, despite differing motivations, can be seen in the hot topic of incandescent bulbs.  The environmental message seems to be that you should want to switch to compact fluorescent bulbs because they are better for the environment.  Forget the environment.  It will be better for you too!  The point I am making is that for a survivalist, the reason you should switch to compact fluorescent bulbs and stockpile compact fluorescent bulbs is that they will last longer after TEOTWAWKI than incandescent bulbs will, and they will require less power from your solar, wind, or other type generator. As a survivalist, when you do what is best for you, it usually happens to be good for the environment too(with regard to electrical efficiency).  The awesome thing is that this is true for many environmental issues.  We can call it “Good for the Goose-Good for the Gander-ism”.

To approach this more conceptually, I have identified three philosophies that are central ideas for environmentalism that deserve a page in the survivalism play book as well: sustainability, permaculture, and minimalism.  I will touch on each concept and describe how it is applied for environmental issues and how we can apply it to our attitudes and strategies for prepping.
Sustainability:  Sustainability quite simply refers to the notion of designing products and processes that can be sustained over a period of time, ideally indefinitely.  Sustainability as it is applied to the environment is usually in reference to the use of natural resources. Many of the resources we are dependent upon exist in a finite amount or are being used faster than they are being replaced.  So unless we find ways to augment the use of these resources, or find a resource to replace them, our use of these resources cannot be sustained into the near future.  

The prepper needs to think of his stockpiled supplies in the same way.  When you are making plans for TEOTWAWKI, hopefully you are thinking not just about how you are going to survive the next month, but also the next year, next decade, etc.  You can be dependent on stockpiled supplies for some amount of time, but unless you are also planning/prepping for a way to augment and replace those supplies, then your survival plan is not sustainable and therefore your survival has an expiration date.  So by all means put back cans of gasoline and batteries, but also invest in solar panels and other types of power generation.  Stockpile a deep lauder of non-perishable food, but acquire skills for gardening and trapping as well.  Always be thinking about short term survival for what you have stored, but be able to support that storage with skills later on. 

  This is a fairly new branch of systems ecology where naturally balanced in-put/out-put systems are recognized and replicated in other applications (usually agricultural).
 I once saw these glass globes for sale that were a completely enclosed ecosystem.  They were filled with salt water, a single live shrimp, a small piece of drift wood, and a little bit of algae.  The gimmick was that this enclosed system could survive on its own for 2-4 years because each part of the system provided the necessities for the other parts of the system.  For example, the algae produced Oxygen for the shrimp to breath and the shrimp produced waste and Carbon Dioxide for the algae, etc.   All parts of the system balanced with all the other parts. This is what permaculture is all about.  
 A more applicable example is one used for landscaping.  You may have noticed that dense forests do not need to be watered, fertilized, or weeded to continue to grow and prosper.  This is all because the organisms in that system have organized themselves so that their inputs and outputs balance with the other members of the system.  Trees leaves fall and provide heavy mulch that holds moisture and provides nutrients to the lower level plants, who in turn process the trees leaves into different sets of soil nutrients and also hold water in the soil, which in turn benefits the tree and allows it to grow more leaves, etc.  We can apply this to our gardens and orchards by pairing plants together based on the different soil inputs and out puts and by pairing according to differing heights to maximize sun exposure for all plants in a smaller area.  For example, carrots and tomatoes have complementary soil in-puts and out-puts.  So planting these near each other benefits both plants.  Furthermore, if the carrots are planted on the south side of the tomato plants, both crops can be grown in the same space without either suffering loss of sunlight.   

Another application would be the use of rain-water harvesting in conjunction with on-site sewage composting.  This is just the simple recognition that we can insert ourselves into a system without negatively disrupting the in-put/out-put balances.  In the normal system, rain falls and is absorbed by the ground, then used to grow plants that we eat (or feed animals that we eat).  All we have to do is catch that rain water before it hits the ground, drink it, and then it will reach the ground through sewage or drainage to complete its loop as normal.  In this case, the system is augmented slightly for human benefit without its in-put and out-put being negatively impacted.  In fact, as we use the water and add our own waste products to it, we enhance the flow of nutrients back into the soil which actually brings greater balance to the in-put/out-put of the soil.

We have become a consumer culture of stuff.  The idea of stuff is that is supposed to make life more convenient, but I find that more often than not, stuff makes me more dependent on other stuff.  The environmental application for minimalism is that we are squandering limited natural resources to produce unnecessary products like the newest iphone that is only slightly different from the one that came out a year ago.  Then we all get rid of our old iphones which then go into a landfill somewhere or require some other kind of energy in-put to dispose of. 

For a survivalist, minimalism is about removing all that stuff that makes you dependent on anything but yourself.  Note the root word of minimalism is minimize.  This could also be translated as simplify.  There are certainly degrees of minimalism and I am not advocating that you sell all your belongings and try and live bare foot in sack cloth.  But I am advocating things like learning to bake bread from scratch rather than buying a bread maker, or buying older vehicles where it is still possible to work on them yourself rather than them requiring a computer engineer to run diagnostics, or recognizing that a knife serves just as well as a motorized letter-opener.  In the broader sense, minimalism helps you acquire skills rather than stuff and makes you dependent on you rather than on someone or something else that may not be around after TSHTF.

All three of the above concepts fit very nicely in the “Good for the gander-ism” category.  Applying these concepts to your prepping will certainly have positive environmental benefits, but more importantly, they will have positive benefits for you as well.   What we should begin to realize whether we find ourselves in Green Party or the Tea Party, or anywhere else on the spectrum, is that concern for the environment and natural resources is a morally justified selfish concern that is born of the noble desire to survive.  We often think about environmental concerns as if the environment were external to us.  But we are in the environment and of the environment, and if TEOTWAWKI comes, we will be more dependent on the environment and its resources more than ever.  So go green! But not because some tree-hugging left-wing hippie tells you to.  Do so because in most cases it will provide you with better natural resources, make you less dependent on outside entities as you acquire new skills and new attitudes, and because it will encourage more long range sustainable planning should things go bad in the future. 

Dear JWR:
Recent concertina wire sales at are now coming with the following notice:

"All scrap under this contract requires mutilation by the buyer prior to removal if allowed at location or mutilation must be witnessed and certified by DOD personnel at buyers facility. Title to the material does not pass to the buyer until the scrap has been mutilated. Buyer agrees to allow USG personnel to witness destruction."

So much for cheap, domestic military surplus concertina wire. :-( - Mr. C.

Reader H.L. recommended this at Truth Is Treason: 38 Survival Downloads and Handbooks – Pioneering, SHTF, Engineering, Urban Gardening, Defense, and More

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James C. spotted these DIY instructions over at the new EDC and Prepping Blog: Making a Bushcraft Knife from an Old Putty Knife

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Reader KAF sent this: Genocidal Sudanese regime's appointment to UN human rights council all but certain, watchdog says. "It's like putting “Jack the Ripper in charge of a women’s shelter.” Meanwhile, in Nigeria, more Islamic genocide: 19 killed in church massacre as gunmen go on the rampage during service in Nigeria. Please pray for the citizenry of Nigeria, Sudan, and South Sudan.

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Faith mentioned this: Ayn Rand's testimony before the House of Representatives Committee on Un-American Activities in 1947. Faith notes that her testimony describes what it was really like to live in Russia in the 1920s as compared to the propaganda.

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Craig J. mentioned that the People's Republic of California is considering expanding its so-called "Assault Weapons" ban to include guns with semi-detachable magazines even if they have a "bullet button" or other form of magazine release lock.  For details, see: I've also heard that SB249 will be heard on August 16th. Gun Owner's of California will be meeting on the North steps of the Capitol no later than 8:45 am before heading to room 4202 where the hearing will begin at 9:00 AM.

"Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning.
Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth.
He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.
He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.
But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.
I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake." - 1 John 2:7-12 (KJV)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Today we present another entry for Round 42 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 (a $300 value), F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A $200 gift certificate, donated by Shelf Reliance.

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 C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.)Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) 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 42 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Taking stock recently, I realized that I am probably not as well prepared as most of the followers of James’ SurvivalBlog.Com, certainly not in terms of infrastructure and stockpiles of materials and equipment.  I don’t have a long-term supply of food, nor do I have a survival retreat prepared for when the big one hits.  My bullion holdings are embarrassingly low.  On the other hand, I am probably better prepared than most for any criminal or paramilitary attack on my person, my family, or my home, so I am not totally hopeless by the standards of most survivalists.

The thing is, the deficiencies in my preparedness don’t bother me.  I know that no matter what happens, I can cut it.  I have a number of skills developed over the years, but that is not what I am talking about.  I am talking about that most important of all attributes: the survivor’s mind.  This is what enables a person to apply skills to the resources at hand to overcome whatever is thrown at them, and turn those circumstances to their advantage such that surviving looks more like thriving.

A man or woman cannot overcome a substantial survival situation without a conditioned mind.  You could parachute all of the necessary supplies right on top of a stranded person and they will fold up and die if not properly conditioned mentally.  You could parachute a properly conditioned man or woman into the middle of nowhere with nothing but a knife and a piece of rope and they will come out okay, or at least make a hell of a good show of it. 

I believe that not only is the survivor’s mind the most important thing in his arsenal, but that the specific attributes of his or her mind can and should be actively cultivated.  The key elements of this capability seem easy to identify.  Above all it consists of a consistent determination to be self reliant.  When something happens, you are not likely to sit around waiting for someone to tell you what to do or take care of the problem for you.  I suspect that anyone who is a regular on SurvivalBlog.Com has a good start on this one.  Another key attribute is the ability to adapt and overcome changing circumstances, without an initial emotional breakdown.  We have all seen friends, business associates or family members who will freak out when a flight is delayed, or they panic when the power goes out, or crumble into uncertainty when it rains unexpectedly.  Those people really need to work on this one.   Thirdly, you must be able to instantly size up a strategic situation, evaluate its potential lethality, and recognize a true survival matter when it arises.  Part of this is recognizing threats when they arise, which requires awareness of your environment and how it can interact with you.  Some people go through their entire life in Condition White, never knowing that they were at risk until they have already become a casualty.  A fourth key element is just “guts” – the refusal to give up and accept defeat.  As Aunt Eller said to Laurie in the musical Oklahoma: “There’s just one way: you gotta be hardy. You gotta be. You can’t deserve the sweet and tender in life unless’n you’re tough.”  As Clint Eastwood’s character Josie said in The Outlaw Josey Wales: “When things look bad and it looks like you're not gonna make it, then you gotta get mean. I mean plumb, mad-dog mean. 'Cause if you lose your head and you give up then you neither live nor win. That's just the way it is.”I have not used the word “courage” in this discussion for two reasons.  First of all, it is such a subjective quality, as used in our society, that it is not useful for our purposes.  It is often used interchangeably with the word “heroic.”  People described as courageous often display one or more of the attributes described above, and I have seen people who are commonly known to be true “chicken-s#@&s” display many of those characteristics on occasion. 

Secondly, a man or a woman who has mastered all of the attributes of the survivor’s mind will often choose a course of action that would be considered cowardly, if that is what the situation called for.  The correct strategic decision from a survival point of view might not be heroic or courageous at all. 

The man or woman who possesses the survivor’s mind may not look like a movie action hero or heroine, and may not act like one in the opinion of society at large.  However, a survivor will do the right thing to ensure his or her survival or that of his family or group.  When TSHTF, and you come out on top, and then they make a movie about you, maybe your part will be played by Michelle Rodriguez or Christian Bale.  You will know that it was your head and not your good looks that got you through.

Where do the mental attributes of a survivor come from?  How can you become hardy in a nation that is going through an era that history will probably call the Age of the Wimp?

The survivor’s mind may be the result of genetics, or it may arise from a family’s culture.  Either way, it is clear that you have a tremendous head start if you were brought up properly.  My father was a survivor.  He came of age during the Great Depression, was a professional soldier in Central America before WWII, then spent WWII in Army going across the Burma Road and serving with General Stilwell in China.  He came home from China to become a successful professional engineer and raise his family.

My father structured my education and training, and that of my older brother, to stress not only survival skills, but to promote the development of what he called the combat mindset.  The training included horsemanship, woodsmanship, hunting, climbing, martial arts, wilderness travel, wilderness medicine, and general problem solving.  In an act that would probably result in his being jailed if it happened today, both my brother and I spent a week on our own in the Mojave Desert when in our early teens, followed by several repeat performances in the Eastern Sierra and Mojave throughout our teen years.

We were encouraged to participate in sports, but my father demanded that we understand the limitations of team sports as a foundation for developing individual self-reliance.  My father coached my brother’s little league and pony league teams, but he was never happier than when we were with him in the mountains or the desert hunting, climbing, or working through some survival situation that he had concocted.

I don’t think that it is necessary to be a survival expert to properly nurture a youngster so that they will be able to handle whatever is thrown at them.  As described below, the training and experience for skill development is available for anyone to acquire if the desire is there.  The minimum required of a parent is to teach the philosophy of personal responsibility and self-reliance, refrain from coddling the little darlings into becoming wimps, and support the acquisition of skill and knowledge as a lifelong endeavor. 

We live in an age where teachers are not allowed to use red pens because it may make a child feel inadequate.  Certain sports no longer keep score, or declare winners or losers, because of the severe risk of traumatic hurt feelings.  In such a world, the gift of self-reliance, the determination to overcome adversity, and the commitment to continual self-improvement, are the greatest gifts that a parent can bestow upon a child.

Training and Practice
We live in a society that seems to do everything possible to prevent, if not reverse, the process of natural selection.  Even so, our minds and bodies are the product of a long line of survivors, and we are hard-wired to learn and to creatively apply those lessons learned to a wide range of situations in ways that improve our survivability.  All other things being equal, training will make the difference, and the more realistic the training the better. 

In addition to specific skills, the proper training will foster the development of the survivor’s mind.  In my experience, actively training in areas that are potentially dangerous is the best preparation for true emergencies and survival situations.  A squirt of adrenaline can improve your memory significantly, and it will enhance your ability to react properly under pressure and in the face of danger.  Let’s take a look at a few of the areas that you can work on, and how that fits into the theme of this article.

If your family is not the outdoors type, then general outdoors skills can be acquired through other means.  Some of the programs, such as Outward Bound, also include survival training as part of a more general curriculum on climbing, mountaineering, canoeing/kayaking, or sailing.  Grab any general outdoor magazine and peruse the advertisements and you will find many places to begin.  James’ blog is another place to connect with entry-level skill-building programs.

If, on the other hand, you believe that the most likely TEOTWAWKI scenario will play out in an urban setting, then adjust your training schedule and list of desired skill sets accordingly.  My experience has been primarily in the wilderness setting, so I need to confine this discussion to that set of circumstances.

An area of study that incorporates valuable skills as well as tremendous discipline and mental condition is the martial arts.  I prefer the more combative martial arts for this purpose because real is better.  The closer the training is to combat, the better the skill set that is conveyed, and the keener the mind that absorbs it.  However, the most “sportified” versions have roots in fighting disciplines that were created to meet a survival need, and will provide a foundation for further training.  Even in those martial arts that have been tamed to the point that they can become an Olympic sport still involve a high level of training discipline and athleticism, and ultimately involve two people facing off in a situation that results in a winner and a loser. 

To me, the use of firearms is a martial art.  I have spent a lot of time studying the progression from empty hands through various weapons to firearms and back again.  That doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy firearms and shooting for its own sake, and valuable survival lessons can be derived from a pure shooting sports orientation and training.  A basic introduction to shooting involves the study of safety issues, bringing the lethal nature of firearms and their use to the foreground.  Legal issues relating to firearms ownership, couple with society’s sensitivity towards firearms, ensure that even the youngest trainees approach the subject with a serious mind – a mind closer to being that of the survivor.

If you have not been trained in the ownership, maintenance and use of firearms, then by all means obtain that training, become a firearms owner, and continue to advance your level of training in that area.  Above all assert your rights, and acknowledge your obligations, as an armed citizen who has decided to take responsibility for his or her own safety and defense. 

Shooting is a fun and challenging sport and a highly enjoyable activity for the family.  Above all, safely acquiring skill at arms requires an awareness of deadly force.  This awareness is central to conditioning and cultivating the mind of the survivor.  This awareness becomes more pronounced when the training is for the purpose of self defense or hunting.  This grounding in the reality of life or death is an extremely important element in developing the survivor’s mind.

Rock climbing can be another important classroom for the survivor.  First of all, the skills involved in putting up anchors, belaying a fellow climber, and moving over rock, are all of great utility in certain survival situations, particularly rescues.  More importantly, gravity does not take any time outs, so climbing requires a continuous discipline that is in many ways very similar to combat or combat training. 

Even when a climber is being belayed, the danger from even a short fall is very real.  Unless you are falling from rock that is overhanging, you are going to develop a very close personal relationship with the rock on the way down, and I can assure you that you will feel every single one of those caresses.  I am a relatively old rock climber, and old climbers are invariably careful and serious minded climbers or they don’t make it that far.  Climbing can be practiced nearly everywhere at some level, and is a very wholesome outdoor family activity.  The safety training that comes with the art is an opportunity to teach your children how to learn something serious and important, which carries over into other areas.

Hunting is another way to continue upgrading your skills and tune your mind to survival situations.  To successfully stalk and take game animals in the wilderness you must cultivate and integrate a wide range of skills, and competently apply them to the task at hand.  You must also discipline your mind to the hunt, and to the ultimate reality of the life or death of your prey.  If the game you are hunting is dangerous game, or if the meat you are hunting is essential for your survival, then you must also condition your mind to the fact that your own life or death depends on your ability to make the kill. 

Another important philosophical aspect of hunting is that hunting is an absolute rejection of the growing tendency in our society to view nature as a spectator sport.  To absorb the lessons of our ancestors and take your place in the natural order is to become one with nature in a way that others will never be able to appreciate.  As you grow in the art, you can steadily remove the various tools and technological aids that you use, such that you deal on a more primitive level with your prey.  As you do so you will also come even closer to being absolutely self-sufficient in the wilderness.  Once again we speak of the development of certain skills, but it is the mind itself that is being honed.

Wilderness medicine is another opportunity for building the survivor’s mind.  First of all, particularly if your family is joining you in your journey of discovery, you need to be prepared for the inevitable injuries, and accepting responsibility for dealing with those injuries is an important leap of self reliance.  In addition to the skills themselves, this training further develops a seriously competent mind.   A Wilderness First Aid certificate is the bare minimum level of training, but if you spend a lot of time in the bush you should invest in at least a Wilderness First Responder level of competence.  This training usually results in your pack getting heavier and heavier as you become a walking ambulance, so it will also result in your getting in better shape.   

Soldiers, particularly combat veterans, tend to be survivors.  Military service can be the ultimate in organized training for survival situations.  It includes training and experience in weapons and small unit tactics, the services of most nations also incorporate survival, evasion, resistance and escape (SERE) training.  If military service involves combat, then the survivor will have an entire universe of useful experience to pass along to his family and community, and such men and women are an enormously valuable resource to our society.  Every primitive society looks to its experienced warriors for leadership during times of crisis, and we would do well to do the same.  If you did not have the opportunity to go through this experience, then you can pick and choose amongst a number of civilian training programs that will focus in a weekend or a week-long session various aspects of military training. 

Conditioning and Health
The survivor’s mind resides in a fit and healthy body.  The most resourceful and well trained survivor cannot execute a viable strategy if he is sick or out of condition.  Conditioned bodies resist injury and sickness under survival situations better than bodies that are not in condition.  You don’t have to be both a UFC cage fighter and a triathlete, but it wouldn’t hurt either. 

Generally speaking, a moderately aggressive training schedule that might include a couple of rigorous martial arts workouts during the week, some running and cross-training, bag-work, and perhaps some weights, and then some time on the rocks or in the bush during the weekends, will keep you in great shape and keep you entertained as well.  As a bare minimum you should be able to put in some calisthenics and some running (or even walking) during periods when work or other responsibilities keep you away from more rigorous training.  Pay attention to your overall health as well: get the excess weight off and keep it off, turn down the alcohol and junk food to a minimum, don’t smoke, wear your seat belt – you know what to do. 

You also need to listen to your body when it is telling you that there is something wrong.  I once got on a plane heading for a month-long self-guided hunting trip in West Africa, and my back had been getting more and more painful, but I ignored it.  I was two days hard hiking away from the nearest road when I finally had to admit that I had a very serious kidney stone problem.  I was laid up for several days, treating my condition with palm wine and aspirin, and then managed to get back to civilization by easy marches while the stone worked its way south.  We even managed to harvest enough kob and baboon to make the trip worthwhile to my crew - meat is part of their pay you see - and I came out of it without permanent damage.  It was preventable and could have been much more serious.

Being able to respond because you are hardy and inured to the dangers and difficulties of emergencies is a major portion of the survivor’s mind.  However, a mind that refuses to freeze or quit still needs a strategic groove to operate along in order to efficiently work through the problem at hand.  There are a number of models that we can work with that have broad applicability.

Primarily viewed as a skilled and innovative martial artist, the great Bruce Lee was most importantly a philosopher who dealt with the ultimate reality of combat and survival.  In my opinion, his work The Tao of Jeet Kune Do is one of the most important survival manuals, and should be on everyone’s bookshelf.   My original martial arts training was in both Jeet Kune Do and Kali-Escrima; I have a heavily annotated copy of the original manuscript for Sifu Lee’s book, which was one of our training aides.  One of his frequent sayings was that “Freedom of expression towards the ultimate reality of combat is the goal of all martial artists,” a statement that encompasses much of what goes into creating an effective survivor.  Another of his sayings, on the subject of training and learning, was that a martial artist must “absorb what is useful, reject what is not, and add what is specifically your own.”  A study of Bruce Lee’s works creates an excellent foundation, and provides useful guidance in even the most unusual circumstances.

The late Jeff Cooper was a guru of another martial art, the art of the self-reliant individual and his personal arms – the rifle and pistol.  Although a number of individuals have taken this ball and run with it, it was Jeff Cooper who organized the art of the pistolero into the Modern Technique of the Pistol, and it was Colonel Cooper who fully articulated what it means to be a modern rifleman, both philosophically and technically.  Colonel Cooper also modified the Marine Corps color coding and used it to teach the relative levels of readiness as part of the study of the combat mindset, obviously relevant to this discussion.  Colonel Cooper’s published works are saturated with wisdom for the independent and self-reliant person, and a serious minded survivor’s education is incomplete if he has not included them in his library and studied them. 

Another strategist that deserves your attention is John Boyd, the Air Force Colonel that developed the OODA Loop theory.  OODA stands for Observe, Orient, Decide and Act, and defines the reaction and decision cycle that must be successfully negotiated to win a battle.  Colonel Boyd was a fighter pilot, and he developed his theories in connection with dog-fighting.  He found that agility and resourcefulness were decisive, in that the pilot that could “get inside of his opponents OODA Loop” would prevail.  If you study Boyd, and think of any particular survival situation as your opponent, then you will begin to see the value of Boyd’s strategic theory as part of the repertoire of the well educated survivor.

There are others of course, and in your journey you will encounter great strategists and teachers who will light the way for you.  These three are a good place to start, and provide a useful framework to start you on your way.

I have never been a religious person.  I was raised in the Episcopal Church, but became increasingly rebellious towards the Church’s monopoly over my Sunday mornings, a time when I would prefer to be in the bush or on the rocks.  As I grew older, I was able to escape that restraint when I discovered that my father felt the same way and would support that decision.  I always considered the wilderness to be my church, and I have never felt more spiritually at peace than when I am in the mountains or desert, and as far away from the rest of my species as I can manage.

On the other hand, I have known highly religious men and women whose faith and devotion to their church was the very foundation of their personal strength.  If that is the way your mind works, then you will not be as strong and self-reliant as you could be if you ignore your need for organized spiritual interaction.  You may also find that your approach to the most likely survival emergencies is best organized around a group of like-minded people that happen to be members of the same church.  Like many loners, I have always envied people who can easily associate in a close community in this manner, and as Bruce Lee would sometimes say, “If it scores, it is effective.”

Dealing with the unknown is more difficult than covering familiar ground.  You may not have been trained on how to survive an airplane crash, but if you think it over and figure out a few basic dos and don’ts then you are way ahead of the guy sitting next to you.  The planning process can and should be a family endeavor.  Instead of a dinner table discussion of the latest episode of Breaking Bad - there are some interesting survival situations in that series – why not discuss some scenarios and what the best response would be?  What if someone kicked in the front door and ran inside screaming obscenities and brandishing a machete, right now?  What if we had an earthquake right now?  When my kids were small, we used to play this game, and one time when the power went out it was the kids that suddenly appeared with the candles and the headlamps just as we had discussed.

In my view, successfully meeting a survival challenge is more about what you decide to do than what you can do.  Of course you must have skill sets to execute a strategy, but it is still the strategy that wins the day.  As discussed above, there is a vast body of knowledge relating to survival, and in fact the web site on which you are accessing this paper has descriptions of many thousands of articles on the technology of survival.  As you pursue your training, and your accretion of survival assets, do not neglect that greatest of all tools, the one that sits on top of your shoulders.  Make sure it is developed and educated, and you will be well served even if you find yourself without the other tools and trinkets that you have amassed to meet your needs.

The Author
William C. Prentice lives peacefully in California with his wife, and is engaged in the business of financing energy and technology firms, and is the acting CEO of a private military contracting firm.  He is also devoted to the personal pursuits of rock climbing, martial arts, and hunting.  Prentice is also the author of Feral, a novel with significant Libertarian overtones, and the short story Purgatory.

Peter S. was the first of several readers to send this item: Over 100 Million Now Receiving Federal Welfare. Peter's comment: "If true, then this is worse than I previously thought and feared in the US.  It is going to be ugly when the U.S. Dollar collapses..."

American Expatriate ("AmEx") suggested this: Fed’s Fisher: Just Stop With the Easing

Reader B.B. sent this: US Dollar already went off a fiscal cliff – what does a falling dollar mean to US families? Masking de-leveraging via debt markets.

Coffematt forwarded this: Real recovery in home prices not expected until spring. JWR's Comments: This is yet another bit of "Sunny Skies Ahead" Pollyanna nonsense. Even if there is a housing "recovery" it will be short-lived and artificial because it will spring from huge taxpayer-funded bailouts, monetization ("Quantitative Easing") of the debt, and the wholly unrealistic Zero Interest Rate Policy (ZIRP) -- none of which can go on indefinitely.

Items from The Economatrix:

Italian PM Warns of the Break-up of the Eurozone and the European Union

Eric Sprott:  Silver is Suppressed or it Would Be $150/oz

Greece Rating Outlook Cut to Negative By S&P as Economy Weakens

Gas Prices Set to Rise for Rest of 2012?

Pierre M. spotted this: Defying History: How Kim Jong Un Could Hold Onto Power for Decades

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Dwindling US Crops Are a Global Concern. (Thanks to H.L. for the link.)

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Marilyn R. sent this: Open Carry law clarified in Wichita. (Kansas has state preemption over city and county gun laws.)

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Nick D. sent: Is there a constitutional right to own assault rifles?

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For a limited time, Seed for Security is offering a bonus: A free pint of Winter Rye (approximately 13,280 seeds), and a free packet of Provider Green Beans (approximately 150 seeds), will automatically be included with every order over $45.

"But the salvation of the righteous [is] of the LORD: [he is] their strength in the time of trouble.
And the LORD shall help them, and deliver them: he shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in him." - Psalm 37:39-40 (KJV)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Today we present another entry for Round 42 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 (a $300 value), F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A $200 gift certificate, donated by Shelf Reliance.

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 C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.)Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) 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 42 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

As a U.S. Army Battalion Logistics Officer, it became very evident to me that at some point my stockpile of parts, petroleum products, uniforms, etc. would eventually run out, and I needed a way to replenish those stockpiles during steady-state operations.  A total collapse situation would unfold in much the same way as a deployment of a military unit would in regard to an interrupted supply chain.  Initially, you have no logistics network and you need to rely entirely upon your stockpiles brought with you or kept in your secure location.  I learned this the hard way at the National Training Center (NTC) [at Fort Irwin, California] when I decided not to bring enough turboshaft jet engine oil to last our battalion through a month-long field exercise in the desert.  As I walk through this experience as a vignette, I will also translate the bigger issues from the organizational level down to the household level in respect to preparedness.  Additionally, I will go through how logistics and supply lines are severely interrupted during a disaster or collapse scenario and then how they are reestablished after things calm down somewhat and find their equilibrium. 

Bad Assumption #1-  The logistics network is already established, so when I become a part of it there will be an easy transition.
When we deployed from our home base to the NTC, I made the faulty assumption, that since I was moving into an existing logistics network, that it would be easy to obtain supplies, because everything on the receiving end was already established and working like a well-oiled machine.  I should have known better from my first deployment to Iraq, when our shipping address was set up to a warehouse in Texas, so everything the battalion ordered did not go to Mosul, Iraq but sat in a huge pile doing us no good thousands of miles away.  Fortunately, I wasn’t responsible for that fiasco, but my soldiers and I ended up paying for it by cannibalizing our own vehicles to keep up maintenance, not having any sundry items replenished, and being without hot food for two months while this SNAFU was sorted out.  Whether you are bugging-in or bugging-out, in a total collapse scenario, the supply networks are going to be totally screwed up.  The grocery store shelves will be bare after about four days provided there isn’t a panic, and if they receive any shipments, it will likely be random items which may or may not be of use to anyone.  At a minimum, you need to have about six months of everything to operate your household set aside.  Primarily this buys you some time.  When hyperinflation hits and no one wants to accept paper money, there will be a time when it is a free-for-all before either folks locally decide what is acceptable as a medium of exchange or the government reissues new fiat currency at some kind of crushing exchange rate with the old currency. 

Bad Assumption #2- Storing tons of supplies takes too much space and is a pain to transport, so I will just stock up on the basics.

Back to my example, I thought that shipping a couple of 30’ containers of petroleum products would be a huge pain (which it would have been due to hazardous materials shipping requirements) but it was even more painful having to go to the Forward Support Battalion Executive Officer and sheepishly ask for case upon case of turboshaft oil for my tanks.  I had brought a minimal amount of petroleum products with us which would last for about a week, but with us entering a new logistics network, it took much longer than I had anticipated for those requisitions to be filled.    And when they were filled, the supply depot didn’t just jump on the phone and give us a call to come pick up our order.  Typically, supplies could sit for days if you didn’t have an intrepid NCO checking in the morning and evening every day.  In our world, yes, your basement might be chuck full of food, water barrels, ammunition, medical supplies, clothing, and everything else, but if you haven’t gone through all of your possessions and thrown out anything you haven’t used in the last two years, you would be surprised the amount of space you can gain.  Maximize your wall space too.  Utilize shelving wherever practical in order to organize items more effectively and to give better access to what you need.  If you have a mountain of boxes in the basement and the toilet paper is in the very back of the room, you might have an emergency before you can get to it!  Treat your stockpile like a mini-warehouse.  Sort everything by either the military classes of supply or your own system as long as it’s organized.  Even a classification system as rudimentary as food, clothing, survival supplies, fuel, and water would work fine.  As long as you and your cohorts know where everything is, you will be leagues ahead when you have to find that one tiny specific item you need.  As an adjunct, I’ve referenced the Army classes of supply below for your use:

Classes of Supply

Class I - Food, rations, and water
Class II - Clothing
Class III - Petroleum, oils, and lubricants (POL)
Class IV - Fortification and barrier materials (Barbed wire, pickets, sandbags, etc.)
Class V - Ammunition
Class VI - Personal Items (Hygiene, alcohol, tobacco, etc.)
Class VII - Major End Items (Vehicles, radios, tanks, weapons, night vision, etc.)
Class VIII - Medical supplies
Class IX - Repair Parts
Class X - Miscellaneous supplies

Bad Assumption #3- I’ll just order some more later when I get close to running out.

Believe it or not, there are situations where I have bartered as an Army officer for things I needed for the battalion.  I had a pallets and pallets of MREs but I needed more bottled water, so I traded for it!  You need to have the figurative printing press in the basement to create your own barter items.  You should be able to produce something that can be used as a barter item if there is no way you can just go order some more.  Whether you practice reloading, canning, candle making, beekeeping, or any other craft, there should be a few items that your household or group are able to produce which would be an appealing medium of exchange.  In the past, cigarettes, alcohol, ammunition, chewing gun, and even toys have been used for barter items.  Think of something you would miss having.  My soldiers and I traded books & magazines that we brought to Iraq, since we would read them from cover to cover as our only entertainment.  Last night, watching the movie The Book of Eli, I was struck at how clever it was for Eli to trade Kentucky Fried Chicken wet naps with the Engineer in the town, so that he could get a new charge on his battery.  This scenario is not really that outlandish, considering how difficult it is to keep good hygiene when there is no running water available.  During our deployment to Iraq when our unit shipping address was wrong, baby wipes became worth their weight in gold, since you could do all of your daily hygiene with three of them if you were careful.  If you can’t produce the item you need yourself, you had better have something in hand that people are willing to trade for it. 

Bad Assumption #4- So we’re good, right…?     

When I took about a dozen cases of turboshaft oil from the support battalion, the XO grudgingly gave it to me with the understanding that I would order replacements for everything I had taken (along with my regular needs for continuing operations)  and pay him back.  He was pretty irked that I had taken his whole reserves in one blow and did not have any turboshaft oil to give the rest of the brigade.  I made the argument that we have the lion’s share of tanks, but he still grumbled about it.  The point being, I put myself in a position where I was indebted to him.  I don’t have a problem with owing someone a favor, but sometimes that person might ask for something you cannot deliver.  In a survival situation, if you had to borrow weeks’ worth of food from someone, they are either going to want that back or they will make you pay for it in some other way which may hinder you from meeting your immediate objectives of protecting and providing for yourself & your cohorts.  You’ll effectively be an indentured servant to whomever you are indebted or you could lose your shorts!  King Solomon had it right in Proverbs 22, when he said, “Be not one of those who gives pledges, who put up security for debts.  If you have nothing with which to pay, why should your bed be taken from under you?”  If you read the Biblical account of Joseph handling the preparations for the seven years of famine in Egypt, you see how Pharaoh ended up with all the physical wealth of the entire kingdom, because once the people sold their possessions, their animals, and their land, they had nothing to offer except themselves as slaves.  Don’t put yourself in that kind of a situation!   In a total collapse, the best AND worst qualities of people will surface, and you don’t want to end up owing your soul to the company store.

Bad Assumption #5- I’ll get everything I ordered.

During that aforementioned training exercise, I ordered about 450 quarts of turboshaft oil in order to account for the 300 quarts I had borrowed and another 150 quarts for the tanks to use for ongoing maintenance, which was only about six quarts a tank and left me nothing in reserve.  (A tank with a bad turbine engine burning oil can go through that easily on ONE patrol!)  That’s roughly two 55 gallon drums of turboshaft oil.  I received something like 200 quarts in reality, because I totally cleaned out the supply depot with that large of an order.  I never ended up paying back the support battalion XO entirely, and if it had been an extended deployment, that would have created a strain on our relationship and my ability to procure special items or receive priority in the future.    If you end up doing something like that in a collapse situation, you have just used up all of your capital with that person, and if you need something in the future, you are entirely on your own.  Worse than that, you have to fix the mess you created initially, mend the relationship, and probably do them a favor in return, so that you are on par again with each other.
A water shortage might have people dipping into streams and lakes nearby, and when potable water finally shows up in a truck, there might be a two-hour line to fill your containers.  While we were in Kuwait waiting to head north into Iraq, my driver spent an hour and a half waiting in line to buy a case of bottled tea, since there was only one store for the whole camp for thousands of soldiers.  When the logistics network is reestablished, it does not have the capacity to make up for weeks of disruption.  The supplies will start to trickle in and become more steady as the situation stabilizes.  Initially though, there will be a mad-dash for those resources that do trickle in, so don’t expect to get much from the first few supply drops.  If you have ever seen footage of the Peace Corps bringing in wheat to a starving African village, it’s usually gone within minutes.  That’s what it looks like when desperate people are competing over a very limited amount of critical supplies. 

Bad Assumption #6- I need to keep up the same stockpile as I had before the collapse.

We talk a lot about storing up everything you need for a collapse situation, but we do not usually talk about what those stores should look like when you are months or even years into TEOTWAWKI.  You still need some padding against the unknown, but you will likely not need years’ worth of supplies stashed away as long as you have a way to replenish some of your diminishing supplies.  I would recommend maintaining roughly six months of stores available in the middle of a collapse situation for those times when the logistics network is disrupted again or in case of other contingencies.  Think of this smaller stockpile as self-insurance against the unknown. 
You might have a month’s worth of drinking water stored in your garage, but what will you do once you use it all?  You need to be able to filter your own water if you have a reliable source nearby or potentially dig a well if you don’t.  You might have months’ worth of food squirreled away, but do you have a garden, fish pond, and a hunting rifle?  The first step is to have that emergency cache but as you are able to build up those stores, it is wise to think about how you will replenish those supplies over time.  Perhaps you don’t have the land to grow a large garden, but you have everything you need to reload ammunition.  If you are part of a prepper group, you might not need to have every possible contingency covered as long as you are providing something of value for exchange.  Maybe you do all the reloading and Joan is seriously into canning, and you can barter for what you both need. 

Start Small & Prioritize

Even as a Battalion S-4, I had a budget.  I couldn’t just magically wave my money wand and have all of my supply shortages filled and have a huge mountain of consumable supplies for every contingency conceivable.  So how do you get started?  Most of us are unfortunately living paycheck to paycheck these days, and I won’t get into how debt is robbing you of your ability to prepare, because you likely already know that if you are reading this.  Let’s just assume that you have nothing set aside at all, and you need to start building your supplies from scratch.  Where do you start?  There is both the time factor and quantity factor involved in supply caching.  How many people do you need to prepare for?  How long do you need to supply those people?  Just as a start, save some old milk cartons and fill them with water to create a water cache. Make a goal to put aside a week’s worth of canned food for each person in your household.  Go to a dollar store and find First Aid supplies and sundry items on sale.  Get the bandages, tape, and gauze first and then worry about sutures, antibiotics, and syringes later.  Take a balanced approach and then continue to build on it. 
Every month, I look at my stores and I set aside a couple hundred dollars to improve on a few areas.  This money is available not from a great excess in my paycheck, but from small sacrifices like dropping our satellite television service and eating out less often.  Last month, our priority was to fill some gaps in our pioneering toolbox.  This month it will be candle making, soap making, and canning supplies.  Make a plan for several months out and check your progress each month to see how you are incrementally accomplishing your goals.  It feels good to be able to track your progress toward your final goals, but if you don’t make goals, you aren’t going to achieve them.  We all need a concerted plan that focuses us, so that we don’t end up just picking up a pallet of toilet paper that’s on sale even when we have no need for it.  Having a few cartons of MREs, one barrel of water, a few magazines of ammo for your weapon, and a couple bottles of fish antibiotics is much better than having three months of food supplies when you end up getting an infection and die from lack of medicine.  Keep the end-state in mind.  You should have an inventory of what 100% stocked looks like.  There are some things that you probably can’t have enough of, and I would argue that medical supplies and ammunition are in that category, not because you will end up using every last bit of your stores, but because they have great barter value. 

Know the Real Expiration Date

There is a difference between the “best before” date and an expiration date.  I rediscovered this recently from a box of granola I have in my office.  I finally opened it up for a snack and noticed that it was dated “best before” March 2011, and it tasted like I had just bought it even though it was almost a year and a half out of date.  Your expiration dates on semi-perishable commodities will drive your supply rotation schedule, but you need to know when to toss it and when to keep it.  This is particularly useful in regard to antibiotics and medications.  There are some medications which are expected to work 100% of the time, and once they expire, it’s not worth taking the risk.  Insulin is the best example of this.  If your life depends on an insulin shot, you don’t want to risk it with something expired.  But then again, if you need insulin during a collapse situation, you likely have bigger problems.  The US Army Medical Department did a study on how long antibiotics actually last beyond the expiration date and discovered some surprising data.  The multibillion-dollar pharmaceutical industry is in the business to make tons of money selling you medications you typically don’t need and even more medications to mask the side effects , so they have a conflict of interest by telling you the expiration date on their own drugs!  Some antibiotics can last 7-14 years after the expiration date on the bottle.  Do some research on the actual shelf life of these drugs.  There’s no point in throwing out food or medicine prematurely when it could last you much longer.


Keep in mind that the flow of supplies is like a steady stream or river.  When the flow is interrupted, you need to have adequate reserves to cope until the stream is reestablished.  In a collapse situation, you might need to take some drastic measures to reestablish that supply chain.  When you can’t replenish your supplies from a big-box store, you will need to resort to bartering and the black market, which would likely be the only operating commerce in a collapse situation.  Your replenishment should be about equal to your distribution, so that you can maintain your stockpile for those rainy days.  When you need to dip into your stockpile, be sure that you make efforts to replenish it.  The important thing is to not let those people on the receiving end of the supply chain pay for the hiccups in the supply flow.  Dipping into your stockpile when the flow stops is the way you consistently deliver supplies to your family and cohorts without them having to feel the effects of the supply network failing.  The mightiest fighting forces in human history have been stopped by lack of supplies.  Consider the Battle of the Bulge in 1944 when the Germans had very limited fuel supplies and could only maintain a sustained attack for a couple days before their superior heavy tanks became sitting ducks.  Take measures now to build your stockpile and create methods for replenishment and when you need it, your supply chain will support your overarching goal of safeguarding you those you care about.

Dear Mr. Rawles,

Most of your readership is likely convinced that the coming decades (or years or months) will yield considerable social instability. The hard question is always what form it will take and when it is likely to happen. I found an article about ecological models that seem to describe past historical patterns with some degree of accuracy. From these models, their author is predicting another spike of instability around 2020.

 From the article:

"To Peter Turchin, who studies population dynamics at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, the appearance of three peaks of political instability at roughly 50-year intervals starting with the U.S. Civil War is not a coincidence. For the past 15 years, Turchin has been taking the mathematical techniques that once allowed him to track predator-prey cycles in forest ecosystems, and applying them to human history."

Just as with climate change, I am skeptical of the ability of any model to accurately predict such a complex system. However, just as with climate change, there's likely some truth to these models if they capture the essence of important system dynamics. Whether these predictions turn out to be accurate, only time will tell.

Best, - Mike X.

France's new Socialist President François Hollande is calling for a 75% income tax! Indigestion for ‘les Riches’ in a Plan for Higher Taxes. If this is enacted, expect to see a wave of emigration.

Items from The Economatrix:

Has The Perfect Moment To Kill The Dollar Arrived?

The US Economy Lost 1.2 Million Jobs In July

Oil Drops From Two-Month High in New York as Demand Slides

Appropriate Firearms for the Beginner in troubled times.

   o o o

Yishai was the first of several readers to mention this: Pedal-powered washer could make a big difference in developing nations

   o o o

Reader Tom K. recommended the recently-released Second Edition of Nick Taleb's book The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. This new edition includes a new section: "On Robustness and Fragility", that ties in nicely with many articles and letters that have been posted to SurvivalBlog.

   o o o

Rescuing Injured Soldiers With An Ingenious Backpack System. (Thanks to H.A. for the link.)

   o o o

This news story is troubling: New Port Richey man had vast collection of fake IDs and uniforms, authorities say.

"Fathom the hypocrisy of a Government that requires every citizen to prove they are insured.... but not everyone must prove they are a citizen." - Ben Stein

Thursday, August 9, 2012

I just noticed that my yet-to-be-released Founders: A Novel of the Coming Collapse is now ranked around #2,200 in Amazon Best Sellers. Please stop pre-ordering, folks! Please wait until the release date (September 25th)--which is also our planned Book Bomb day--to order your copy. Not only will you get yours at a better price (probably around $11), you will also help boost the book's sales rank--hopefully into Amazon's Top 20 titles. Thanks!


Today we remember the birthday of inventor James Paris Lee (born August 9, 1831). He was born in Scotland, but was an American citizen by the time he started designing firearms. Whenever you see an Lee-Enfield, remember James Paris Lee.


Today we present another entry for Round 42 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 (a $300 value), F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A $200 gift certificate, donated by Shelf Reliance.

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 C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.)Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) 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 42 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

When people stockpile food they like to stick to the basics; beans, rice, and pasta. The one crop I would like to include to this list is corn. The corn I will be talking about is fresh corn and not the canned corn you can buy all year round. Unlike rice and pasta, many people have the ability to grow more corn if they run out. With beans you have limited ways to prepare it. Corn on the other hand can be used in many different ways.  From one ear of corn you can collect enough seeds to grow enough corn to feed a family.  Corn is not only a lifeline for the Navajo people but a sacred plant that is part of us.  We use every part of the plant as we would an animal. The two varieties of corn that are used are white and blue corn. White corn can be found in your local supermarket in the summers as well as grown at home. Blue corn never sold in super markets and would need to be grown at home. Seeds can be found online and I would suggest Hopi heirloom seeds.  I would like to share a few of our traditional recipes and uses of this wonderful plant with everyone who reads.

Steamed corn
Possibly one of the most common preservation methods we have is steaming and drying corn. This is a delicacy because of the amount of work involved.  As a plus, the corn can last years in storage.   White or yellow corn is best used for this method.  In order to do this you must first build an oven. Our ovens are usually made out of sandstone blocks arranged into an igloo shape and stand 3 ½ feet high and 4 feet across.  The roof is formed by metal pipes that are placed side by side and stacked until they form a corbelled dome.  A door and an opening on top will need to be left opened. The door will later be closed off with another large sandstone slab. The roof opening will need a round metal barrel lid that is big enough to cover the opening.  The exterior is then covered by 2-3 inches of mud and left to dry.  The end result will look somewhat like a Navajo Hogan or pueblo oven.  Before starting your fire it is best estimate how much corn will fill your oven.  Our oven usually takes 4-5 wheel barrels to fill our oven. Hard wood is burned inside the oven until it becomes coals and is spread out evenly. While the fire burns down get a mud pit ready with mud soaked potato sacs and a gallon of clean water ready.  The water will be used to steam the corn.  The potatoes sacs are needed to plug holes and seal the doorway once the oven is filled.    You will then need to collect and stack your corn. When stacking your corn pile it helps to place the tops with the silk side facing your oven.  That way you will be grabbing the top and tossing and flipping it in, so the tops point towards the exit door.  This makes it easier to pull out and prevents the bottom and back corn from catching on fire while the rest are being thrown in.  Once everything is in place, line the roof with mud around the edge of the opening. This mud will be used to seal up any holes on the roof once the round metal lid is dropped.  It is best to have 3 or more people helping out because speed is important if you do not want to burn the corn on the bottom of the oven.  Then start to quickly toss the corn into the oven through the door.  Seal the door with the stone slab when you cannot toss anymore corn in. Then plug the edges with the potatoes sacs and cover with mud to trap in the steam. Keep filling the oven through the opening on the roof until it is full.  Prepare to finish by having one person hold the metal lid at an angle on top so it can be quickly dropped once the gallon of water is dumped into the oven.  Quickly dump the water and drop the lid closed.  Push the mud onto the lid and the surrounding area to close off all holes where steam may escape.  It helps to spot the small openings by dumping some water and wetting the outside if the oven.  The corn is left to steam for 10 hours or overnight to cook.  The corn will be hot and steam can quickly escape when opening the oven, so use caution.  A shovel or hoe can be used to take the corn out safely.  The freshly steamed corn can be eaten or dried.  To dry simply husk the corn leaving two or three leaves on the ear of corn.  Tie the two ears together using the left over leaves and hang to dry. Once dried, the kernels can be taken off the cobs and stored to be used in stews. The following are some recipes:

Roasted corn
A simpler alternative to steam corn is dried roasted corn. This can be done by husking fresh corn and roasting it on a wood fire to infuse more flavors into the corn. It is then left out to dry. Once dried it is ready to be stored or to be used in stews
Cornmeal is uncooked dried corn that has been ground into a fine texture. Once in this state it can be prepared different ways such as corn bread or used as a creamer in coffee.  If you have a favorite pancake recipe you can substitute the flour for corn meal to have corn pancakes.

Blue corn mush
One popular way of using corn meal is to make a blue corn mush. To make this, start by straining a tablespoon of juniper ash to 3 cups of water and bring to a boil.  The ash is there to provide both coloring and vitamins and minerals.  Then slowly whisk in 3-4 cups of blue corn meal.  Continue stirring until you have a texture similar to running cream of wheat.  Eat just as you would cream of wheat.

Blue corn dumplings
Making blue corn dumplings is very similar to blue corn mush. Start by boiling a tablespoon of juniper ash in 3 cups of water.  Stir in 6 cups of corn meal and continue to stir until all lumps are removed and corn becomes dough like consistency.   Once the corn is cooked remove from the heat and kneed the dough. Shape the dough into little balls and dropped into a stew or boiling water to create dumplings. The dumplings will make its own gravy and add flavoring to the stew and water
Blue corn bread
Blue corn bread is a simple corn bread recipe which resembles a hard flat tortilla.  Similar to hardtack once it hardens, it becomes difficult to eat without soaking in liquids.  To make blue corn bread boil 3 cups of water with a tablespoon of ash and a tablespoon of salt.  Stir in 6 cups of corn meal with a whisk until the cooked corn becomes a dough consistency.  Remove from heat and kneed the dough into a flat bread loaf.  Place on a skillet and brown on both sides or bake in the oven.

Kneel down bread
Kneel down bread is another delicacy.  It requires a lot of fresh corn to have decent size bread. Start by first getting a pit dug in the ground about 3 feet wide and 10 inches deep. Start a fire inside the pit and until the wood becomes coals.  The recipe is easy because all it asks for is fresh corn and nothing else.  The corn you can buy at a grocery store or pick from your garden if you have one.  You start off by cutting the kernels off the cobs.  Then grind by hand or with a blender into a mush consistency.  If you will be eating the bread right away with no intention to dry, you can add small bits of meat, green chili, or other vegetables to the corn mixture. Rinse the husks that originally wrapped your corn with water and air dry.  Place your mush mixture inside a husk and wrap with additional husk as you would with tamales. Remove the coals from the fire pit and place on the side.  Place your kneel down bread into the pit and cover with the left over husks.  Cover the husks with enough dirt to prevent the husks from catching on fire from the coals.  Place the coals on top of the dirt, like you would with a Dutch oven.    After baking for an hour you can dig your bread out.  To dry your bread simply cut it into small 1/2 inch cubes and dried. The dried kneel down bread can be rehydrated with stews, milk, or other liquids. 

Once the ears of corn have been picked the rest of the stalk can he used to feed animals. The cobs themselves can he dried and used as fuel for your fire or pellet stove. I hope you enjoy these recipes and choose to add this wonderful vegetable to your dry storage. 

Dear JWR:
We have been hit with massive rain and flooding here in the metropolitan Manila area.

We are getting at times more than 1 inch rain per hour. We have received more rain than Typhoon Ondoy already. On August 7 we got 477mm rain in 22 hours.

About half the city is flooded and roads to my area are impassable. The gas stations are out of unleaded gas and only have 97 octane racing grade remaining as of last night.

I hit up the supermarket last night and it was busier than Christmas. I expect food shortages soon and we will be avoiding purchase of fresh and restaurant food from the stores for awhile because of wide spread contamination.

Electricity is on here but Internet went out last night. I still have data plan on the cell that works but very slow.

Our well water might be contaminated now. It has a bad smell. We switched to bottled water for drinking and the ceramic filter for wash water.

Local government weather forecasts are terribly inaccurate. We resorted to making a rain gauge from a water glass and ruler to know the rain fall rate here. I recorded about a inch per hour rain fall yesterday evening.

Flooding has damaged many of the flood sensors here also. The weather agencies are now unable to give accurate flooding estimates in parts of the city and the government flood web site crashed two days ago.

I am out of the flood zone, we have lots of food, back up generator, fuel and security. No worries here, just a involuntary vacation for my family.

I did get a case of pink eye however. Probably while at my shop that had run off water blowing in with the wind. The sides are only wire mesh.

Odd, however, it is not reported on the international news. - B.&L.M.

I'm often asked how people can discreetly find fellow preppers in their region. My long-standing advice is posted in my static page: Finding Like-Minded People in Your Area. But now I'm adding this new venue recommendation: Chris Martenson's Resilient Life Groups Page.

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Dave T. sent this: New York’s Used Police Shells, Reloaded for Sale. The "I'm so offended" tone used by these Big City statist scribes is hilarious.

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DHS Requests Plastic Explosives Then Hides Evidence. Perhaps the DHS officials saw the references to Detasheet explosives in my novel Patriots and thought that they sounded like something cool to train with...

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KAF sent a link to some useful info, presented by Nick over at the Sustainable Preparedness blog: Hot water for free--from the wood cook stove! [JWR Adds: Don't omit the pressure relief valve from your design!]

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Is not joining Facebook a sign you're a psychopath? Some employers and psychologists say staying away from social media is 'suspicious'. (Thanks to O.Q. for the link.)

"The only foundation for...a republic is to be laid in Religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments." - Benjamin Rush Essays, Literary, Moral and Philosophical 1798

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

I'm pleased to announce that author Mat Stein has accepted the volunteer position of SurvivalBlog's Back Country Editor. Mat is a design engineer, green builder, and author of two best-selling books: When Disaster Strikes: A Comprehensive Guide for Emergency Planning and Crisis Survival and When Technology Fails: A Manual for Self-Reliance, Sustainability, and Surviving the Long Emergency. Stein is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where he majored in Mechanical Engineering. Stein has been a guest on dozens of radio and television programs.  He is an active mountain climber, serves as a guide and instructor for blind skiers, has written several articles on the subject of sustainable living, and is a guest columnist for The Huffington Post. His web sites are and


Today we present another entry for Round 42 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 (a $300 value), F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A $200 gift certificate, donated by Shelf Reliance.

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 C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.)Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) 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 42 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Aquaponic Gardening, by D.P.

This submission is about gardening (tips on what to grow and why) and how and why I am switching from outdoor to indoor gardening. I have been gardening since age 3 - much to the chagrin of my parents who, once they realized what was going on, quickly gave me my own 10 square feet with some lettuce and radish seeds and told me to tend to that in the future. I did get to take care of their garden as I grew older though. I also have had gardens on various soil types as my family moved about and so in many respects I am better prepped to grow (part of) my own food than most.

For many generations my ancestors, who lived in Europe, had small businesses and/or farms. In those days the grocery stores didn't sell vegetables but just what we would call 'dry goods' today. People didn't have much money so whatever they could grow themselves, they did in their own garden. They also didn't have much in the way of weather forecasts beyond the type of clouds they happened to see and whether air pressure was rising or falling. To be successful in those days you needed to have a very different skill set than what most of us possess today. With respect to gardening it really came down to this: grow a wide variety of vegetable crops.

This tactic solved a number of problems:
- regardless of the weather there would always be a few crops that did well, so there was always something to eat.
- disease and pest control were iffy or non-existent, but again the chance that all crops failed due to them was small so there was always something
to eat.
- a lot of vegetables are high in specific minerals and/or vitamins.
Eating a variety of them was the best way to avoid deficiencies and stay healthy. I am sure that most of my ancestors had no clue about the science behind what they were doing but they just knew what worked. I consider myself lucky that a good chunk of this knowledge was passed on to me and apparently it still works: I haven't been to a doctor in more than 30 years except for a painful episode with a kidney stone. And, no, I have
not taken additional vitamins or other supplements during those years.

So here is what kept us going for at least 4 generations:
Food staples:
- bread (white - though it wouldn't be as refined or bleached as today's flour).
- potatoes (peeled, washed, boiled, mashed)
- before potatoes where introduced in Europe their role would have been filled by dry beans, peas, lentils, etc.
- sometimes a meal would be based on rice but this was seen as a luxury

Vegetables (summer season):
- lettuce (can't beat a cool salad on a hot day)
- spinach (early crop high in iron and vitamins - usually cooked but can be used as salad)
- purslane (high in omega3 fatty acids and vitamin E - usually cooked but can be used as salad)
- swiss chard (used mid summer when spinach tends to bolt - always cooked)
- endive (either cooked or as salad)
- radish (said to 'cleanse your system' - used in salads or sliced on bread)
- rhubarb (maintenance free perennial - cook stems and sweeten to use as vegetable or in jams) [use in moderation because rhubarb is high in oxalic acid, which is nasty stuff if you get too much of it]
- strawberries (used fresh or in jams)
- tomatoes (high in vitamin C - used fresh in salads or on bread; canned as base for soup, meat tenderizer)
- cucumbers (high in vitamin A,C, phosphorous, magnesium and other minerals)

Vegetables (rest of the year):
Most of these would be stored throughout at least part of the winter season and therefore be used as cooked vegetables, in stews, etc. They tend to be more filling then summer vegetables and would rarely be used raw in salads.
- cabbage species (good source of Vitamin C, amino acids)
white cabbage (is really just meant for sauerkraut production folks)
red cabbage (served with enough vinegar to change its color)
savoy cabbage (tastes much better than white cabbage)
- cauliflower
- kale (high in vitamin C and various minerals)
- brussels sprouts (high in vitamins A,C and folic acid)
- leeks
- onions
- rutabagas (high in calcium)
- broccoli (high in vitamins A,B,C and phosphorus and potassium)
- peas (moderate amounts of vitamins A,C, calcium, iron, phosphorus - used as vegetable or as soup)
- green beans (high in vitamin A,C, dietary fiber - used fresh or canned)
- carrots (excellent source of vitamin A and beta-carotene)
- red beets (good source of carbohydrates)

This is a very complete list and not all crops were grown each year or by each family but finding 10-15 crops in a garden in the course of the year was the rule rather than the exception. Most of these crops grow best in temperate climates, so if you live in a warm or hot climate: forget about summer and grow them in the winter.

To round out the picture: the farmers usually had some apple and pear trees and sometimes plum trees in their yard. Then there were red and black currants, raspberry, blackberry and alderberry bushes. Most had at least a few chickens to turn food scraps into eggs and were fattening 1 or 2 pigs per year for personal use. Not much beef was consumed because dairy cows were supposed to be milked (some of that milk was for personal use). And a 10 year old cow can give you some really tough meat. If goats and/or sheep were kept their milk was used for cheese making. Fish might be consumed once a week because it had to be purchased even though it was readily available. Some crops (potatoes, onions, peas, beans) would mostly be grown in the fields for marketing purposes, but part of the crop was kept for personal use.

Food storage.
I won't bother to tell you about canning; many articles have been written about it already. Actually my preferred way to preserve vegetables is to freeze them because, if you do it right, frozen is hard to distinguish from freshly harvested. And, barring power outages, nothing spoils. With the exception of lettuce, radish and cucumber, all vegetables mentioned above can be frozen. Kale, leek, peas and beans can be frozen raw if needed, all others should be cooked first. Onions and rutabagas are usually stored dry, but if there are quality concerns or your onions won't dry properly, there is no harm in processing/freezing them. Cabbages, brussels sprouts and cauliflower can be stored from 2 to 6 weeks depending on temperature and quality of the crop. If their outer leaves turn yellow you should process or eat them. Carrots and beets can be kept several months in a cool somewhat moist area. In cold (not frozen), damp soil they will keep till spring without much deterioration. Cabbages, brussels sprouts and kale can be kept in the garden as long as temperatures don't drop much below freezing. To keep them from growing too large in the fall, you can lift them. This means you pull them straight up until you hear some roots break but leave the plant in the ground. This will keep your plants fresh but prevents additional growth. Leek will survive a light frost as well but its leaves become less appetizing once the plant stops growing.

Food preparation.
There's plenty of recipes on the internet so I am sure you can find something you like. However preparing your food correctly is very important because if you do it the wrong way you will loose all your nutrients to the drain or the kitchen sink. Here are the important steps: - Cook your veggies with salt: about 1 teaspoon (meal) to 1 tablespoon (large batches for freezing) depending on the size of your pots and pans. The reason is that you want to prevent the cells from bursting open during the cooking process (think salt water fish in fresh water). Don't worry about your salt intake because most of that salt will disappear down the drain again. I you get it right, it won't even alter the taste of the food.
- Do not overcook your veggies. If you can stick a fork into the stems (beets, carrots, etc.) without much effort then they are done. Again you do not want the plant's cells to spill their guts any more than you have to.
- When freezing your vegetables, you really only want to blanch them:
- Cook them a few minutes less then you would otherwise.
- Immediately pour the boiling water out of your pan and fill to the rim with cold water
- Immediately pour the hot water out of your pan and fill to the rim with cold water
- This water should stay cold or only get luke warm: pour it out
- Put the food in plastic bags or boxes and put it in the freezer
- When serving frozen foods you only need to heat them to the proper serving temperature; no need to cook them again. A microwave works great for this purpose.

I have read advice on gardening ranging from: 'here's a list, just get those seeds' to 'just eat what you like'. I agree with neither. Getting seeds if you don't know how to grow them or refuse to eat them afterwards is a waste of your efforts. Just eating what you like increases the chances you will develop some kind of deficiency (unless you happen to like broccoli, kale and cabbage - or follow Victory garden which uses a very well rounded subset of the list above).

My advice is: variety, variety, variety. Your body knows exactly what it needs and, given the opportunity, will pick those things in the right quantities from the food you give it. It doesn't get much easier than that! Your body is also capable of storing most minerals and vitamins in one form or another (sometimes as precursor molecules) for up to a few months. So there's no need to worry about what you eat on any given day. Tastes are acquired. I heard from my parents that kids in the old days didn't want to eat certain foods anymore than kids do today. However they weren't given much of a choice. Their own parents knew from experience that without the (vitamins and minerals from) vegetables, sickness and mortality skyrocketed. In Europe this situation persisted until around 1950. If you are serious about prepping you should know by now that we can get back to such a situation in a hurry.

Part 2: Why I am switching to an indoor setup:
Last year I read a primer on aquaponics on and deep inside there was the conviction that I too had to pursue this angle. Having had the time to reflect on that conviction I believe it has something to do what is coming our way. As of today I can think of two primary reasons:
- Fukushima-type reactor melt-downs
- Climate change

I am sure most of you know what Fukushima stands for. After matching atmospheric particle dispersion maps generated in Europe to systematic denials of North-American governments, I had quickly seen enough and got hold of a geiger counter. Even this summer, if we get rain after a dry spell the unit shows elevated readings when put it up against my rain gauge. The levels are not worrisome at this point in time in so far as many people on this planet live in areas with higher radiation without suffering noticeable negative effects. Having said that, the pattern is repeatable so there must be something raining down on my food. I am afraid that Fukushima will turn out to be just a warning of future nuclear disasters. Given that in many aspects it was a fairly standard type plant (albeit in an unfortunate spot), we need to seriously consider the possibility that we will see a dozen or more Fukushimas in the northern hemisphere due to grid down and/or extensive coastal flooding scenarios. Unfortunately both of these have a probability of happening this decade that is too high for my taste. So its time to prepare for that eventuality. My personal attitude on this one is to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

When I mention climate change, I am not referring to the mainstream media (MSM) angle which blames everything on man-made carbon dioxide emissions and so it wants to tax them. Which is very convenient for MSM's owners who seem to be trying hard to get global weather patterns under control. Trying to control a complex system is a tough job because it doesn't necessarily react the way you expect. It is also an expensive proposition, so if you can use your mishaps to get taxpayers to fund your research, that's an added bonus. [One's got to admire that business model.] Now I know that this sounds a lot like some conspiracy theory. I have no interest in promoting those, however the weight of historical evidence (check the adventures of the vikings in Canada, for example) suggests that MSM is blowing another smoke screen. Which leads me to follow the money instead.

An even bigger influence on earth's climate is our solar system. On the one hand sunspot data suggests we should expect a cooling trend for the next 20 years. On the other hand satellite images from other planets suggest they are actually warming up. There is rampant speculation in some circles on the internet as to what would cause this but I haven't seen anything conclusive that's worth mentioning. Whatever may happen, physical evidence and the written records of our ancestors suggest that drastic climate change can come very quick. Think frozen mammoth with palm leaves between his teeth. I do not believe that I will join that mammoth otherwise I wouldn't need to prep. All I am saying is that to blindly assume all things will continue to be the way they always have been during my (relatively) short life is dangerous at best.

While working on this article, had a link to an article by Kellene Bishop that asserts we may be entering a seven year famine. It points out several more reasons why you may want to get your garden out of sight and an aquaponic garden would fill that bill rather nicely; it can also be used by people who have no access to a land area.

Of course, it doesn't help is that my outdoor vegetable garden isn't doing all that great this year. The weather events we have had since the start of the growing season aren't too extreme in and of themselves. Its just that the continued sequence of alternating high rainfall, high heat, baking sunshine and high winds is starting to stress the plants. They look like the big rains we have had are stunting their root systems and so the plants are unable to properly cope with the other events.

Alas, if our climate is really shifting gears, this situation will be the norm for coming years. And so its prudent for me to shift gears as well and I have started by building a small test setup this year with just 4 grow beds to try a bit of everything and whatever it yields is fine with me. Because it is a setup so very different from traditional soil based gardening, I have done some comparative tests on germination, fertilizing and growth medium particle size. So far I am quite pleased with the results and plan to go with 16 grow beds next summer. That should allow me to grow everything except my corn under a roof. I will relate some of my observations later but will first discuss my setup.

My choice of setup:
There are a variety of ponics systems and about the only thing they have in common is that they don't use soil. The so-called hydroponics system only uses water and no growth medium. It is mostly used in commercial operations. I wouldn't recommend it as a home based system because you will have to content with algae and fungal problems. Apparently algae will quite happily interfere with a plant's root system and need to be controlled at all cost. It also has a higher startup cost than other types of ponics systems due to required electronic control systems.

A complete aquaponics system is the most elegant because the plants live from the waste that the fish create, while in due time you can harvest both fish and vegetables. You can even grow your own fish food in the form of duckweed, making for an almost closed system that just needs sunlight and some minerals. I do not have a real aquaponics setup because the fish are missing. The reasons I chose not to use fish are of a practical nature. My growing season is too short (200 days at best) and temperatures vary too much day to day for the fish to really thrive. I have had a few aquariums over the years which worked fine but those were electronically controlled environments which I cannot hope to replicate with a solar powered aquaponics system at my current location.

In an aquaponics system you do need a growth medium to act as a biological filter that turns the fish waste into nitrates for the plants. I chose to keep the growth medium because it is a more natural environment for plant roots since they can grow in the dark, meaning no algae problems around the plant roots. It also means that I can run the system on manure tea if other forms of fertilizer are not available since the growth medium will act as a biological filter as well. Thirdly, nature abhors a vacuum and if you do not put your plants in an environment with lots of good microbes, the bad ones WILL move in. Again a growth medium is ideal to get the proper environment.

How I created a grow bed:
I started by cutting a plastic 55 gallon drum in half lengthwise to give me two grow beds. Clean them out really good and leave them outside in the sun for a few days so UV radiation can break down any leftover chemicals. If at all possible use drums that were used for food ingredients or chemicals that are approved for use in food factories. The grow beds lay side by side on a pair of 2x6's, supported by a small piece of 2x4 on each side so they don't slide around. You can find good pictures of how to build the supports in this document, which is where I got my first ideas. You will also see that my setup uses far fewer parts than the one in the document though. In the lowest part of each grow bed's bottom I cut a 1" hole using a hole saw. From the outside I put 1 leg of a 1" poly tee through the hole. This leg has a male pipe thread on it. Inside the grow bed I screwed a 1" female adapter onto this MPT leg. Make sure to put a liberal amount of silicone caulking around the MPT leg so your grow bed won't leak. You may want to test this before you put the growth medium in your beds.

Then I put a 8" piece of 1" poly pipe on the female adapter. This allows the end of the pipe to reach above the growth medium in the bed. Which means that you can always reach the bed's drain hole in case it gets plugged (one of my cucumbers decided to put a root through it ...). On the side of the hose/female adapter, about 2" above the bottom of the grow bed, I drilled a 1/4" drain hole. This hole determines the speed at which the water drains out of your grow bed. Putting it a few inches off the bottom leaves the plants a small emergency water supply should there be a pump problem. Over top of this drain assembly I put a piece of perforated plastic drain pipe to keep the growth medium from blocking the drain hole. This drain pipe is 4" diameter and can be cut lengthwise so it lays flat on the bottom of the grow bed. A length of 1 feet will do just fine. The drainpipe is shown in figure 25 in the above mentioned pdf document.

On top and around the drain pipe I put small rocks to act as fillers so I don't need as much growth medium. In a true aquaponics system you will want as much growth medium as possible because you need a large biofilter to buffer against quick changes in water quality. However plants can handle a wider variety of circumstances so I can get by with a lot less growth medium. My beds are filled with about 6" of medium at the center of the bed and spread out horizontally. This will fill the drum halves until the point where their walls are vertical. That gives me maximum growth space for minimum growth medium.

Growth medium:
Aquaponics people mostly seem to use expanded clay or pea sized gravel. I read about one setup in South America that used white sand. I couldn't find expanded clay at my local garden center but did try pea sized gravel along with much finer gravel that I got from a brook on our property. Based on my test results I have to say that the plants definitely prefer the finer gravel from the brook. Germination is better and initial growth is faster; as the plants mature the differences tend to get smaller. Presumably because finer material has a much larger surface area per cubic inch, creating a more even moisture/air environment for plant roots. As a result I am going to fill my beds with gravel from our brook. Since its consistency is close to that of coarse sand, you could use that instead of pea size gravel. If you decide to use sand you may need to put a layer of pea sized gravel over the drainpipe to prevent the sand from dropping into it. Do not be tempted to go cheap and use garden soil. It contains way too much silt and possibly clay. Both particles are microscopic in size and under an ebb and flow situation they will collect in low flow rate areas and form a layer that won't be appreciated by you or your plants.

How to create a system:
Creating a functioning system from the grow beds you made (doesn't matter how many) is fairly straight forward. Remember that every bed is outfitted with a tee. I use the two legs that are open on the outside of the bed to connect the beds together with 1" poly pipe (potable water rating), no hose clamps needed. One piece of poly pipe has a tee in it which is located above an opening in the collection tank. And that is the entire system for collecting the water that I pump into the beds and returning it to the collection tank.
The collection tank itself is simply a 55 gallon drum laying on its side (you want to keep the distance the pump has to lift the water as short as possible) with a few access holes for hoses and to add manure tea/fertilizer, made at its highest point. My collection tank is white which means I have some algae growth in it that I need to clean every once in a while. If you can: get a black drum or paint it black or put it in a hole in the ground to avoid sunlight from entering the tank. This greatly reduces algae growth in the tank.

To pump water into the grow beds I use a 1,000 GPH bilge pump (located at the bottom of the collection tank) with a 1" outlet that is connected to a poly pipe (with hose clamps) that runs to the top of the grow beds. [Because the return lines are gravity fed the bottom of the grow beds are located above the top of the collection tank.] At the top of the beds the poly pipe connects to a 1" PVC pipe. This PVC pipe runs across all 4 beds. In the middle of each bed there is a tee in the PVC pipe and connected to that tee is a PVC ball valve with a 1/2" opening. I found that I have to be able to adjust the amount of water going into each bed individually because of the variety of crops (and the different growth stages they are in) in the system at a given point in time. I have outfitted each valve with a splash guard (made from a 1 quart plastic bag) because plants do not like to be wet 24/7.

The waterpump operates on 12V so I can run it directly off a 12V battery that is charged by a solar panel. Operation has turned out to be very simple. I start a cycle by running the pump for 20 seconds. Then it is off for 30 minutes; this drains the grow beds to the point where water is just dripping into the collection tank. At that point you should start the next cycle. The actual length of the cycle will vary with the way you construct your grow beds. I have seen reports from people with larger beds that had a 2 hour cycle. You may be able to find an electronic timer that allows you to fine tune your cycle.

What I have described so far is your basic system. You can now let your imagination run wild to improve on it. For instance I built my own timer using a microcontroller that controls the bilge pump through an automotive type 40A relay. But the microcontroller had unused pins. That is an eyesore for any DIYer. So the system has been expanded with a voltage sensor, temperature sensors and float switches. This allows the microcontroller to actively manage water temperature via a second water pump and an external heat exchanger. It can monitor battery charge levels and stretch the flooding cycle if voltage drops too much. That will slow down the plants but at least it keeps them alive. It also monitors water levels and pump action to prevent pump damage. If it finds an issue that needs my attention it will signal this by turning on a red LED instead of a green one.

As I mentioned way back when, one of my goals is to grow my veggies under a roof. I haven't build the housing yet but its on the drawing board and I have pretty much settled on the design. It will be a cross between a cold frame and a greenhouse. 2 units of 8' x 8' x 4' each. An 8' x 8' footprint holds 8 grow beds with a walkway in between. Each 4' high side panel will have a 2' translucent clear pvc panel at the top and white siding below. A unit's roof will be made of 2 4'x8' translucent clear pvc panels that can be easily removed. Putting the grow beds on the floor will leave the plants with about 3' of headroom which is enough for 2 tiers. For instance tomatoes, cucumbers and pole beans can be easily made to grow to a second story made from a horizontal sheet of lattice with lettuce, spinach, etc growing below. Similarly peas love to climb a wall of chicken wire. If I start the system early I should be able to get 2 crops or multiple harvests out of most beds, improving production considerably.

First impressions on germination:
This is what really blew me away. You basically throw your seeds on the rocks, barely cover them and walk away ... just to see the plants pop up in record time. Due to our short frost free season there are a number of crops that need to be started indoors. This year I divided those seeds in two portions and put half of them in trays with potting soil (mini greenhouses) to start them in the living room as I have done for many years. At the same time the other seeds were put in an aquaponic grow bed whose temperature ranged from high 40s in the morning to about 55 degrees at the end of the day. All crops emerged 1 to 2 days quicker in the grow bed than in the mini greenhouses and then simply kept outgrowing them.

Two striking examples:
- I planted 18 red cabbage seeds, 9 in each medium. In the aquaponics grow bed all 9 emerged and grew into healthy plants; in the mini greenhouse 1 cabbage plant emerged which died after 2 days.
- I had done a germination test of my tomato seeds in the living room to see how viable they were. I just kept them there until I saw a root come out of the seeds. No longer needing them I threw them on one of the aquaponics beds without bothering to cover them. Two days later I found a bunch of 1" high healthy tomato plants some of which are now setting fruit.

On fertilization:
I started the system out with using just manure tea. Apparently you can make tea from pretty much any type of manure as well as from compost. Your mileage will vary because each type of tea will have different amounts of NPK (Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium) in it, chicken manure being the highest rated.

Using just manure tea, the plants grew okay but not as I expected. They looked pale green and spindly as in suffering from nitrogen deficiency. After letting them muddle on for about a month, I decided to add some commercial fertilizer (10-10-10) that I use in my outdoor garden. Took a 2 handfuls of it, put it in a bottle with two quarts of water, shook for a minute and dumped it in the aquaponic system's collection tank which held about 40 gallons of water. [Repeat once a week when plants are small and increase frequency as required during the season.]

Once again the system did not let me down. The plants turned noticeably darker pretty much overnight and took off. Growth rates easily match the best performances I have seen in any outdoor garden. Because the commercial fertilizer only supplies NPK I still feed the system a pail of manure tea once or twice a week along with a few tablespoons of sea salt once a week to make sure there are enough trace minerals in the system. Kelp is supposed to work really well too but for me it is expensive to get and as long as I see no deficiencies in the plants I see no need to use it.

On water issues:
The water I use comes from a 150 ft deep well we use for drinking water so I am not worried about its quality or contents. Water usage is minimal when the plants are small. Now that all beds are filled with more or less fully grown plants setting fruit and seeds, they use up to 8 gallons per day. Tomatoes and cucumbers seem to be the biggest users. Unless your water is very hard, you may need to add some lime or other pH booster to your system because the water will get more acidic as the season goes on. This is due to bacterial activity in the grow beds. My setup has come down from around pH=6.8 to pH=6 which is about the minimum I want to see. With the exception of red beets the plants don't seem to mind at all though. I did buy nitrate and pH test kits so I could see what goes on in the system. I never see any measurable free nitrates so I guess I could put more fertilizer in the system but the plants look healthy so I won't over do it.

On bugs/diseases:
I haven't noticed any real problems yet. As expected there have been some caterpillars showing up on the cabbages. I tried to get rid of them with diatomaceous earth. It killed some but not all. Since I am a bit pressed for time this summer I sprayed the cabbages with a systemic chemical (same as you use for corn borer) which takes care of the problem in a day or two. An easy way to avoid them is to put screening over the beds where you grow these crops as it keeps out the butterflies. But make sure not to keep the bees away from your tomatoes, cucumbers, beans and peas. I didn't expect to see any soil borne diseases in the beds and to-date they haven't shown up. Nor have I seen any other signs of trouble.

If there are readers that are venting steam from their ears by now because I have broken all the rules of aquaponics and organic gardening: that's okay, I understand. But I am rather pragmatic about it. My goal is to grow food; lots of it in a small space, with minimal inputs. I need to know what I can and cannot do. I won't put stuff that I know is bad for me on my food, but if it is not bad and fixes a problem for me, I have no problem putting it on. Do I think fertilizer and chemicals will always be readily available? No, that is why I am trying to find the best alternatives while I have the opportunity.

Well, I think I have covered just about all aspects by now. I hope this will give you enough information to determine if (modified) aquaponics is something that fits your preparation needs. My garden is fairly large as I grow veggies for a few families. The goal with 16 grow beds is to match that output. Your system could be much smaller. For instance I still have 4 unused (20"x4"x4") planters laying around. I plan on sealing their drainage holes and turning them into a small indoor system to grow herbs and start seedlings indoors. Together with a 5 gallon pail, an old aquarium pump and a timer they should do the trick. Happy gardening.

JWR Adds: I only recommend hydroponic gardening for families that have very copious and continuous power such as that provided by micro-hydro, photovoltaics, or an on-site natural gas well with redundant generators. Without a stable power supply, electric pumps don't pump, and you'll be back to traditional dirt gardening, very quickly.

Reader Sue C. sent us this: Solar superstorm could kill millions, cost trillions

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The folks at Camping Survival are now offering SurvivalBlog readers a 5% discount on LifeStraw Portable Water Filters.

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Over at novelist James Grady's web site, an odd case of Life Imitates Art: "The nonfiction book Comrade J: The Untold Secrets of Russia's Master Spy in America After the End of the Cold War by former Washington Post reporter Pete Earley reports that Three Days of the Condor -- the 1975 Robert Redford movie based on my Six Days of the Condor novel -- inspired the KGB to create a 2,000 man secret division to do the kind of work KGB Generals saw Condor /[Robert] Redford doing in the film. Essentially, my novel about spies who read fiction became a film that inspired the real world KGB to create a secret division of spies who read fiction."

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Simon's Black's comments on Svalbard Island: A secret paradise for gun rights and residency

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The NRA-ILA reports: Anti-Gun Lawmakers Push Ammunition Sales Ban

"There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root." - Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Happy 79th birthday, Jerry Pournelle! He was born August 7, 1933. He, along with Larry Niven authored the survivalist classic Lucifer's Hammer. Pournelle is generally recognized as the man who invented blogging.


Today is the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Guadalcanal.


Today we present another entry for Round 42 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 (a $300 value), F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A $200 gift certificate, donated by Shelf Reliance.

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 C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.)Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) 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 42 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Most of the citizenry in the United States has seen at least one of the movie theater box office hits “Armageddon,” “Deep Impact,” or “The Day After Tomorrow.”  Those are just movies, but the human brain not in touch with reality doesn’t entertain the thought of these scenarios actually happening in this day and age.  But one day, one or several of the things displayed in those movies will. Experts say that so many apocalyptic events we preppers expect have a very low chance of happening; but nothing is a 100% certain, anything could happen at any moment.  Experts set out percentages about the possibilities of nuclear war, massive solar flares supervolcanoes, super-earthquakes, EMPs, failure of our nation’s infrastructure, pandemics, asteroids hitting us, etc. and we are always led to believe they are unlikely to occur.  But we know for certain that all of the naturally caused ones are 100% certain to occur at some time in the future, we just don’t know when; because they’ve all occurred at many points in the past and the forces that made them happen are just as in motion now as they were then.  We must prepare for our friends and family.  Most Americans believe that since we survived the “Ice Age” that we can learn from the survivors’ mistakes and the ‘do’s and don’ts’ they made. But do we really have that inner strength to adapt to such harsh conditions for years to come?  Modern technology has spoiled us with cell phones, internet giving us access to news and information, and also through television and radio. Not to mention air conditioning and heat to keep us comfortable; as James Wesley, Rawles mentions in his book “How to Survive the End of the World as we Know it”,”  the concept of" "The Big Machine" meaning the everyday things we all take for granted in life.  Grocery Stores, Law Enforcement, Distribution Centers, Hospitals, and Electricity, he asked the one simple question that fuels the whole idea of ‘prepping:’ “What will happen if the big machine is missing pieces?”  Pure chaos of people running down the streets killing others in cold blood for the little food they might have on them.

One thing many government officials and even experts are always reluctant to face is the idea of just how quickly things might happen.  Assume that a disaster occurs that leaves “The Big Machine” broken.  Most people probably will flock to the supermarkets to get the same things they do right before a known big storm is about to hit any city, and clear the shelves just as fast (typically hours).  For those individuals that have waited until that moment to think about their survival through the chaos; they, if they’re lucky, might have expanded the typical one to two week supply of food they may already have in their homes to three weeks.  With water however, most people rely on municipal water or well-water which both require electricity to operate and would be non-existent if “The Big Machine” stalled.  Whatever water they could get from a store or might otherwise have on hand if they typically drink bottled water might give a family of four a couple of weeks at best.  Look at Hurricane Katrina and how quickly society and survival rates devolved over just a few days.  The average person will die after three days of water.  What you can readily see is that having prepared enough to be able to stay in your homes with the doors bolted and making it appear as though no one is home for three weeks would put any family at a major advantage.  They would at least be able to ride-out the initial chaos.  After those initial three weeks raiding of other homes by the few that have survived would increase and people would be salvaging for supplies.  If we consider the possibility that an un-prepared individual is able to use what they already had in their kitchen and got in their rush to the grocery store and then to raid surrounding houses effectively and steal from others to the point of being able to replenish their stock-pile, they might be able to extend their survival to six weeks.  So imagine, if you can simply be able to stock-pile enough water and food, and the ability to defend those supplies, to last you six weeks you will likely out-live the vast majority of the population.  By two months, you will likely find yourself looking for other people that are still alive.  We like to believe that our government would eventually get enough resources together to help rebuild, but if a disaster is widespread enough (it took over a week for FEMA or the National Guard to get to some areas affected by Hurricane Katrina), the government will be so depleted in its own personnel and had to deal with its own basic survival that a truly widespread Hurricane Katrina level or higher disaster would leave us on our own for at least two months.  Just think, 6-8 weeks of survival supplies and skills can get you through the initial chaos and into the phases where communities might be able to have consolidated enough supplies for the survivors so that true re-building and putting society back together can begin.  Just be realistic with yourself about how quickly you would run out of supplies and others would as well, how quickly others would start invading other homes looking for supplies, and how long it would take society to recover from something as simple as a loss of electricity.  Two months is optimistic, but every week past that you can prepare increases your family’s chances of survival many-times over.

 As humans who have had way more expansion and growing of new technologies more than any other decade, we’re too comfortable with our heated blankets and express cappuccino machines during a cold winter’s night.  Its small luxuries like that this country and much of the world knows, things being so easy and so carefree with life.  People believe that they ‘need’ luxuries like these, they have become so dependent on them.  What they need is food, water, and shelter.  People in this country don’t have to go out and hunt their own food, process and cook from start to finish; most wouldn’t know where to start when it comes to field dressing an animal you just killed to feed your family for the week.  It’s the vulnerability like this that makes this country so unprepared for the tragic scenarios that could face us in the future.  When a Global Financial Crisis, EMP, or Pandemic comes into play, average everyday civilians will have no clue what to do or where to start to further provide for their families. When the thought of your children going hungry starts to sink in, that’s when preppers like us become endangered.   For those of us who know the survival tricks and tactics from dedicating our time and passion into preparing, we will be the first targets for attacks.  As prepper’s, in order to save our own lives, we have to help save others before a global crisis happens.
There are 2 steps to getting your friends and family who may be skeptical of the whole idea of “Prepping”.  Getting informed and then getting prepared.

 A highly recommended resource to get friends and families thinking about the “What If’s?” is the fantastic book I mentioned earlier by James Wesley, Rawles.  “How to Survive the End of the World As We Know It”.  This book is a great resource for not only information about any crises that may come to our cities, but it also includes very helpful tips about water filtration, food storage, and medical advice. This book could very well save your and your family and friends lives. It is very important your friends and family have a hard copy of this book, because of course if something were to happen; chances are we won’t have electricity to plug in our Kindles or Ipads to look up survival tips. Calling community meetings and talking to friends and family about the possible situations is one step in the right direction to get a larger group of people informed.  The more our people are exposed to this information mentioned in Rawles book, the more they’re minds will start to wonder about the real possibility of these catastrophes happening.  They will do one of two things, decide they don’t care and not want to be around for the chaos to happen, or two, they will decided to protect their families and do whatever it takes to get ready.  The more information they know about prepping, the better.  Not just for them, but for you as well.  One more neighboring family that knows how to take care of itself is one less family that you have to fear (and one more potential ally) in a survival situation.

Getting prepared the right and successful way is easier said than done. We want to encourage people, not intimidate them with a thousand dollar stock room of dry goods.  Encourage a small “Emergency food” kit, just as most American’s have an Emergency First Aid kit hidden somewhere in their home or car. Something is better than nothing.  20 dollars here, 10 dollars there is a good place to start, slowly building little by little so they can feel comfortable and confident being on their own for a week or two after their pantry runs low. If your budget won’t allow hundreds of dollars for #10 cans of dehydrated food, you’re not doomed for starvation. An easy much less expensive way is to dehydrate your own food and store them in ‘Mylar bags’ since they will help keep your dehydrated food stay fresh for up to 25 years, if done properly.  It is a pretty good investment that isn’t very expensive at all! After getting your dehydrator, which they are readily available for around $40 on (no need to spend $1,000 if you can’t afford it) plan a trip to the grocery store and plan to spend 20 dollars. On your shopping list should be boxed dinners like ‘mac-and-cheese’, ‘Pasta Roni ,’ and canned fruits and veggies. $20 dollars spent on 58 cent ‘mac-and-cheese’ and $1.48 pasta packets should get you quite a few dinners to make ahead. This way when you get home, you can pre-make these easy inexpensive meals and dehydrate them, this way they are already sauced and mixed! Not only will it be faster and easier to reconstitute when it comes time to break open the package, but it will cut down on your cooking time because your meal is already sauced and mixed, so you will save on your fuel that needs to be conserved as much as possible.

One thing people do not want to do is get too ambitious in a short amount of time. Don’t start off by having a goal of a years’ worth of food, that is a great goal but it can also get very overwhelming very fast. Start with a small goal.  Tell yourself you would like to have a weeks’ worth of food, then when you have conquered that goal, do it again. Water is the most important item to have in your prep kit since you can only survive three days without water, the meals you have are no good if you have no water to drink or to reconstitute and heat them. When it’s convenient with your finances buy an extra pack or two of water and store it away. If you work little by little, you’re prep stockpile will grow before your eyes in just a matter of a few weeks.  Along with a stockpile of bottled and jug water, a purification system as a back-up can very well save your life if you happen to run out of water.  With a water filtration system you can drink water anywhere there is a supply that you can get to.

Weapons are a very ideal thing to have (and you need to be sure you know how to use them); if you put all this time, money, and work into building your disaster preparation kit for your family, the last thing you want is to be attacked and taken over by a riot or gang desperate for food.  You have to be able to protect your family and your chance of survival: your water and food.  If you can’t afford to buy a gun, a less expensive alternative is an electric Taser; but, compared to firearms, these are not ideal because of the close proximity needed to do damage.  Also, if someone is attacking your house and you tase them (assuming they're alone, if they’re not then a Taser will leave you defenseless in a hurry), even if you manage to drag the spasming body miles away the person will recover with the knowledge of where you live and that you have something to protect and he can just come back with some of his survival-mates.  The price of an electric stun gun can range from $15 to $80 (and a Taser can cost $400 to $550), so it is a good alternative along with knives if you have nothing else but hand combat.  Remember though, having a knife or firearm that can actually threaten someone else’s life is useless if you do not physically prepare yourself with the knowledge and mettle to use them.

If you’re a new prepper, these trips should help you get on track on the things you need to do, and if you’re a veteran to prepping maybe a few alternatives and ideas were helpful and more cost effective if you’re on a tight budget.  Of course we’re all hoping these unfortunate events won’t happen, but we have to be prepared to survive, and rebuild society when the time is right. My hope for the future is that together, we can inform more people so they can prepare and be safe. If you get one person to start prepping, you may have just saved lives. Let that drive you to inform and save as many as you can. Every person saved is a stronger community when the tough times start. Good luck and God bless.

I try to find a good compromise between comfort and simplicity, and have come to the conclusion that preparedness is like dressing for cold weather; it is most efficient to do so in layers.  Working from a level of maximizing comfort at one end of the scale to maximizing simplicity at the other end, I can gauge my response to conditions as they are encountered.  Beginning with a robust supply and security source at my primary residence, I have layers of response that I can work down through as the conditions dictate.  If I have to bug out, I can tailor my load to the mode of transit that can be accommodated.  By staging equipment and material according to whatever means of transport may be at my disposal, I also have the advantage of adjusting the load on the fly.  In the event a given mode eventually becomes untenable, I can download to the next best and so on.  So my primary bug out choice would be the truck and trailer, with labeled bins going into these conveyances.  These items are likewise prioritized so that in the event of an incomplete loadout the most important items are included and so on.  If the primary fails or is rendered unavailable, then I have a loadout for a hand cart and/or bicycle departure.  If that is not workable, then I have my bug out bag.  Lastly, I have my EDC, which may include constant loads in the vehicles as well as on my person daily.  Each layer is an essential loadout to the next highest layer, so the EDC is part of the BOB, the BOB is part of the cart/bike load, and the cart/bike load is part of the truck/trailer load.  This isn’t a comprehensive scheme, but meant to illustrate the logic of such a plan.
As M.D.M. indicates, it takes some discipline to forsake hard earned inventory.  However, it is imperative that one’s primary focus be foremost on making do and learning to cut loose on material goods.  An experienced prepper will know this because one realizes that no matter how much prepping you do, there is always the capacity to do more.  The master then understands the logic of finding a way to make do with less.  In this way, it may indeed be possible to pass through the eye of the needle.  One need only realize that millions got by in this hostile world with nothing more than the shirt on their back and a rock in their hand, at least to begin with.  “What one man can do, another can do” ought to be a prepper mantra. - Ben P.


Let me start out by saying [to M.D.M.], "great article!". I got in that mindset than gardening season started and set I off to the side till the snow starts to fly. I have a similar method of dealing with the clutter; do I use it, need it or foresee needing it than toss it in a box. If I use it, it stays. The clutter goes in a box and gets carried down stairs to be dealt with later, if you need it you know where it's at. When the mood strikes me I will go through the boxes I have carried down stairs. The problem I have is that I can find a future use for a lot of stuff when we become broke and hungry. This I throw in a box and it gets shelved, I have an unfinished basement so I don't hurt on storing it there for a while waiting to see how this mess turns out. The common denominator in respect to the items that leave the house seems to rely on electricity; stuff like old videos, games, appliances that have been upgraded or impulse bought.

Recently, just a week or two ago my wife and I had the discussion about what we would do if we were both laid off and we were at the ropes end. You see, we have a few acres just out side of a somewhat major metro area for better jobs and the money. This summer we decided to try mini farming and selling at the local farmers market to see how we would do at just being farmers. The current drought has made it rough for sure but has only added to the experience. For example, I think watering would be manageable by attaching a hose to a bucket uphill of the large garden, would save a lot of foot work.

My parents live a good two hours from us and I have, along with them seeing the troubles facing us today have started to turn their 30 some acres into a working farm that could provide us enough food to make it. It would be hard to walk away from everything my wife and I have worked so hard for but on the other hand we now know that we can make it running a mini farm and could do quite well selling at the local farmers market, could hit one just about every day of the week which makes it quite tempting to walk away from our current lifestyle to start over on a new, more down to earth one. Regards, - Scott M.

More of that beautiful north-central Idaho scenery: The "Lead Dog" - Elk River Trike Fly-in '12.

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Troy H. mentioned this infographic: Mexican Drug Cartels Have Infiltrated All of These US Cities. (JWR Observes: The artist's arrows to the middle-of-nowhere in The American Redoubt appear to be more fanciful than they are data-driven. The reality is that there is not a lot of "cartel influence" inside National Forests and out in the middle of vast tracts of BLM land. (As depicted in the map.) And note that all but one of the dots shown inside the Redoubt are keyed to "Unknown Affiliation." Read: Guesswork.) The majority of the illicit drug trade inside the Redoubt is domestic, namely: Locally grown marijuana and locally-cooked meth.

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John H. sent a link to an amazing collection of maps that should probably be titled: The Incredible Shrinking Redoubt. Yes, the population density is truly that light here.

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Earthquakes and Tornadoes? Not many in the American Redoubt

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Reader G.M. wrote to mention Nightforce, a growing American company that is producing a quality product in Orofino, Idaho--in the middle of Redoubt country. Their list of job openings changes frequently, so check back often.

"The importance of information is directly proportional to its improbability." - Jerry Pournelle

Monday, August 6, 2012

My goodness gracious! Our spin-off just got some unsolicited publicity on a National Public Radio (NPR) affiliate: One Housing Sector That’s Booming: Survival Realty


Do you have a favorite attributed quote related to preparedness? Just e-mail it to us at it will likely be featured as a SurvivalBlog Quote of the Day. (Note that we've already posted more than 2,500 quotes, so please use the Search box first to see if the quote has already been featured.)

Several months back, I did an article on the Deep Conceal Shoulder Holster. It's a design meant for "deep" concealment - worn under a shirt, instead of over it, like a regular shoulder holster is worn. The Deep Conceal shoulder holster was (and is) a good idea. My concern at the time was, that it would be a little difficult to get to your handgun, buried under your everyday shirt.
Deep Conceal has solved that problem, with the Concealed Carry Clothing shirt. Right off the bat, I'll tell you that, this is a high-quality dress shirt, not some cheap piece of clothing, that you purchase at the big box stores. I usually wear either a safari shirt from Cabela's, or something from Blackhawk, over my T-shirt, to cover my handgun, during the summer months. I don't button these shirts, because it would be too difficult, and too time consuming to rip the shirt open, to gain access to my handgun. Besides, I usually carry on-the-belt, and it's impossible to have the shirt tucked-in, and still cover my handgun.
If you are wearing the Deep Conceal shoulder holster, then the Deep Conceal Carry Clothing shirt is what you need. Even if you are wearing a regular shoulder holster, with a medium-size handgun, you can still conceal it under this shirt. The web site states that you should order your regular shirt size - however, I suggest that, if you are wearing a regular horizontal carry shoulder holster, that you go up one size - it'll help conceal that shoulder holster.
What we have in the Deep Conceal Carry Clothing shirt, is a great-fitting, very well made dress shirt. This unique shirt has Velcro attachments that are sewn in a patent pending manner, that allows for comfortable, all-day wear and repeated use. Additionally, this shirt is a great product for those who have difficulty with shirt buttons - as in arthritis in the fingers or hands. If you are right-handed, you should order the right-hand shirt, that allows the firearm under the left arm and the fake buttons on the right hand side of the shirt to "rip" open, gaining you access to your handgun under your left arm. And, if you are left-handed, order a left-handed shirt.
I tried my sample shirt, with the Deep Conceal Shoulder Holster, as well as with a horizontal shoulder holster, with a Glock 27, and everything worked as it should. I suggest you practice your draw, though - it's not natural to "rip" your shirt open - even though it's fairly easy to do. What I liked about this shirt is that, it looks, for all the world, just like a high-priced dress shirt, and no one knows you are carrying your handgun concealed under it - kool!
I know a lot of folks who carry a handgun, in a shoulder holster, and they never bother to practice drawing their handgun - this is a big mistake in my book. Then again, a lot of folks don't bother practicing drawing from a belt holster, inside-the-waist holster, or an ankle holster. Whatever you mode of carry, you need to practice drawing from it. A lot of folks don't like shoulder holsters, especially horizontal carry shoulder holsters. To each his own! I know that, I don't allow a horizontal carry shoulder holster in my firearm classes because when you draw your handgun, if someone is next to you, on your gun side, the gun will point in their direction when you draw it. However, for street use, I recommend a horizontal carry shoulder holster over a vertical carry one - I think the horizontal shoulder holster gives you better concealment. Please don't e-mail me, telling me I'm wrong - we are all entitled to our opinions, and this is my opinion. If you don't like shoulder holsters at all - then don't wear one! Simple!
The Deep Conceal Clothing shirt comes in blue, red and tan - and can only be had in long-sleeve, and I don't normally wear long-sleeve dress shirts I prefer short-sleeve, and hopefully, Deep Conceal will come out with a short-sleeved version - I know a lot of folks don't like long-sleeved shirts. As I stated at the onset, this is a high-quality dress shirt, and it retails for $44.95 - however, that includes free-shipping, too. I don't think the price point is out-of-line, for the quality of this shirt, and the hidden surprise that you will be carrying under it. Sure, you can buy a regular dress shirt, and pay someone to add Velcro to it, and make it similar to this Deep Conceal shirt, but I promise you, it won't look at good, or work as well.
So, if you carry a handgun in a shoulder holster, check out this shirt, it'll really help you "deeply" conceal your handgun in a shoulder holster, and still allow a pretty fast draw, too. You now have another option for (deep) concealed carry!

Since my review article on the new Springfield Armory XDs was posted I've heard from no less than a dozen SurvivalBlog readers, who were having "problems" with their XDs .45s - most of the problems were related to light firing pin strikes. I've also had two SurvivalBlog readers live nearby come to me for this problem, and I was able to get the problem "fixed."
Here's what you're looking at with the XDs: First of all, we have a sub-compact .45 ACP pistol. It is very small and light-weight - only 21.5 ounces empty. And, it has a polymer frame. So, as it is with all polymer frame handguns, you have to have a firm grip on the gun - NO limp-wristing it. If you limp-wrist the XDs, the slide doesn't go fully into battery - it will be out of battery by a few thousandths of an inch - which means, the barrel isn't fully locked-up, and when you pull the trigger, the striker hits high on the primer - 'causing a misfire because it is not hitting the primer dead center - it will be hitting too high on the primer. [JWR Adds: And if the slide is not fully in the battery position, then the firing pin will not impart all of the intended energy on the primer.]
Additionally, the XDs is a very tight handgun - this contributes to the match-grade accuracy of the little pistols. So, when you first get your factory-new XDs, make sure you clean-off the rust-preventative oil. This is not intended as daily use lubrication, as many suspect. Then, properly oil the mating surfaces on the frame and the slide with a good lube like Break Free CLP, and be a little bit generous, initially. The XDs needs a little bit of a break-in period with some of the guns because they are so tightly fit - again this contributes to the outstanding, match-grade accuracy.
So, you have two things to address: One is, no limp-wristing the XDs - it's a sub-compact, polymer frame handgun, that needs a tight grip on it, in order to properly function and feed rounds into the chamber. Secondly, add enough lube to the contact areas, this means the slide rail recesses and the small contact areas on the frame, that holds the slide onto the frame.
Dave Williams, the head of Springfield Armory's Custom Shop, says he tells people who call, until he is blue in the face, that you have to follow the above steps, if you want your XDs to function 100% of the time. And, like many new handguns, that are tightly fit, a little bit of a break-in period might be required as well. I've mentioned this in numerous articles, that you should run at least 100-rds through a new handgun (and preferably 200-rds) to make sure the gun will function 100% of the time.
The folks I heard from, who were having problems with "light" strikes on the primers, didn't contact me again, after I explained the above procedures to them - their guns are working 100%. And, the two SB readers, who came to me for assistance - their guns are working 100% of the time.  So, don't think you have a "defective" XDs if you are getting light hits on the primers - you're not! Get a good grip on the XDs and make sure you have lubed it properly, and your XDs will just keep perking along. To date, I now have well over 1,000 rounds through my XDs and only one failure to fire - a Winchester USA-brand 230-gr FMJ round - and I put it back in the magazine and tried to fire it several times - it wouldn't go off. It was just a dud round - it happens with the best ammo, every now and then.

JWR Adds: I witnessed a the same problem first hand with a XD(M) .45 Compact. In this case it was one of the models that has a two-column magazine. This was a brand new gun, shooting 230 grain ball factory duplication handloads. As with the other pistols that Pat mentioned, the problem turned out to be insufficient lubrication. Just a squirt of Break Free CLP on the slide rails and barrel assembly immediately solved the problem. In the event of a light primer strike, your "tap-rack-ready" clearance drill should be executed. If you are a well-trained pistol shooter, this drill should become so ingrained so that you do it hardly without thinking, to get you pistol back "up and running."

Tomorrow, When the War Began
(by John Marsden) ISBN 0-419-82910-0
This young adult ("YA') novel of adventure, romance and survival is a modern classic. The setting is in rural Australia, with lush and descriptive backdrops. The vision Marsden paints of Australia is wondrous and pictorial. A group of unsupervised teens set off on a high adventure camping expedition, alone for a week in the wilderness. (Yes, my eyebrows rose on that one, too.) Upon returning from the holiday they find their homes empty, pets and livestock dying or dead and communications down. Most of the town has been captured and is being detained in a make-shift camp. Sounds like a facsimile of the film, Red Dawn, Aussie style, but not quite.

This is a coming of age novel with all of the expectations of that phrase. It is a survival story of teens that are jerked from the normalcy of a comfortable home and high-school life to living and surviving in an occupied country. They are forced to evade the occupiers, provide food, shelter and security for themselves.  Romance blooms while sorting through life changing decisions. This book will definitely open a YA mind to “What if’s”. The young reader is positioned to reflect, “What would I have done?”  Throughout the book there is a growing maturity in discussions as well as logical choices and survival skills. The lessons of loyalty and family bonds are presented in a non-sermonizing manner.  

Overall, Marsden has the depiction of the average seventeen-year-old spot on. The language and interaction is genuine. The early banter is a little bawdy at times although not explicit. Profanity is not an issue. I know the preoccupation with infatuations in this age group. (Contrary to the opinions of my children, I was not cloned in a tube and emerged as a mid-life adult.) Even so, I felt I was chin deep in teenage, moon-eyed angst.  Early in the story romantic fantasies abound. However, there is a fruition of a developing perspective leading the YA to a more mature view. This is a clever device, making the YA reader relate with the YA characters as they evolve. As an adult reader I found glimpse into the developing YA psyche interesting.

John Marsden is an award winning author, published in over nine languages and has written over 40 books.  Being an educator he has the ‘voice’ of the young adult characters to perfection. Tomorrow is the first of a series of seven YA books following Ellie and her friends. This saga remains one of the most popular YA reads today, recommended for middle school and older. The original publication was 1993 by Pan MacMillan. I am reviewing the First Point paperback edition, a Scholastic book, published in 2006.

Two caveats about this book. I feel several of the sexually oriented topics are inappropriate for a middle school age child. As I implied in the first paragraph, I am not sure what you think about an entire week of unchaperoned, hormonal teenagers in the wilderness, but in my home that’s not an option. There are no actual depictions of sexual acts, but a lot of heavy petting and one dream scene of nude fondling. In particular, sharing sleeping arrangements and co-ed naptime are presented as to sound customary. Later in the book (page 237) is a discussion of virginity. Admittedly, my impression is that these are older, more experienced teens with graduation around the corner. Compared to the books, movies, music popular today, Tomorrow is restrained. But for a fourteen year old, I prefer to not present the notion that snuggling together in a tent alone overnight is banal and virginity optional. It is not okay to play with fire. Yes, I know. They are thinking about it. But, you don’t have to cultivate the thoughts and water them with assurances that this type of careless behavior is the norm. Teens under fifteen or less mature teens do not need that meme advocated.
Marsden has sold more than 3 million books because he writes books that the kids want to read. I can see some validity in that concept, but I wonder if he would feel the same casual regard for exposing young minds to sexual elements if he were a parent. 
My other dissent is the author’s apparent slant to the left in discussions justifying the actions of the invaders. Of course, the teens are concerned, even oppressed with worry for family and friends. They do not condone the occupiers’ actions; however, at least a faction does understand why the unnamed enemy has occupied their land. Paraphrasing here: ‘We have-they do not-therefore it is our fault. No wonder we were invaded’. Well, now, that explains everything.

Tomorrow, When the War Began
is an international bestseller. Rave reviews universally laud this book. Scholastic consortiums extol Marsden. This book (and series) is included as reading list in schools around the world. I recommend Tomorrow noting the two caveats listed above. This book should stay on the shelf until the adolescent child reaches a strong sense of self and has the ability to critically discern and then evaluate the viewpoints presented within the writing.  Given the diversity of beliefs and values among parents, you may disagree with my view. Obviously, thousands of middle-school libraries do. My perspectives reflect my stance as conservative Christian. The novel does exhibit significant moral evolution albeit through stuttering teen reasoning. A more mature YA with a strong sense of identity could deal with the topics handily and benefit from the read. I would not put this book into the hands of an eighth-grader. 

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I've been an organic farmer in Ontario Canada for 12 years, and thought Chris S made some excellent points regarding underestimating the amount of fresh food required to sustain life.  I've 'done the math' myself, and found that a subsistence garden consisting of potatoes, corn, winter squash and beans would require a minimum of 5,000 square feet per person to provide 2,000 calories per day over the course of a year.
These crops were chosen with consideration for yield, nutrition, and storability. Another consideration is repeatability i.e. the ability to replant from your own stores.
Assuming you wanted 25% of calories from each crop, expected yield from this garden would need to be 90 lbs beans (dried), 100 lbs dried corn, 400 lbs potatoes, and 700 lbs squash. This is achievable on good land and with good farming practice, but you are only one crop failure away from starvation. Even experienced growers can have crop failures. For example, this summer very few of my winter squash set fruit because of excessive hot/dry conditions. If I was depending on this crop for survival, I would be in trouble. So I would want to increase the planting of all crops by at least half, and have some 'cushion'.
By the way, the same tendency to underestimate applies to livestock as well. My in-laws were recently visiting, and were surprised to find I was raising 75 roaster chickens just for the two of us. I explained this was only 3 chickens every two weeks over the course of a year, certainly not excessive even if I get two meals from each bird (I usually get more than that because I make soup and stock as well).
By the way, I raise my meat birds in outdoor portable pens, and rotate them and my pigs through the garden area. This seems to benefit both vegetable and livestock crops.
Chris S is providing a valuable 'reality check' in his article, to which I hope I've contributed. Not to say a smaller plot of land can't contribute, but self-sufficiency in food takes a lot of space and skill.
Scott K. - Ontario, Canada

Jaime's Black Bean, Corn, and Turkey Soup
1 lb ground turkey
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
3 cups chicken broth
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can sweet corn, drained
1 cup salsa
Saute turkey and onion in vegetable oil until brown.  Then add the spices and cook for 2 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.  Enjoy with your favorite corn bread!
Our favorite corn bread recipe is as follows:
1 box Jiffy Yellow Cake Mix
2 boxes Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix
Add mixes, and milk, water, and eggs as indicated on the boxes to the mixer.  Mix for 1 minute.  Pour into a greased 9x13 pan.  Bake at 375 until golden brown on top.  

Chef's Notes:

This is my family's favorite meal and it works great for food storage.  You can also make this in a dutch oven by heating the soup to a boil and then pouring the corn bread on top and letting it bake.  So yummy on a cool weather camp out!

Useful Recipe and Cooking Links:

Corn meal recipes at RecipeLand

Palmetto Farms Corn Meal Recipes

Currently Available as Free Kindle e-Books:

The Ultimate Meatloaf Cookbook

Green Smoothie Recipes: 99 Fountain of Youth Superfood Secrets

Und du? Do you have a favorite recipe that would be of interest to SurvivalBlog readers? Please send it via e-mail. Thanks!

I am often asked for predictions on the timeframe for a societal collapse. If I claimed to know the year, then I'd be guessing. And if I claimed to know the precise date then I'd be a good candidate for the psych ward. But if I claimed that it can't happen in the few decades, then I'd have my head in the sand and would be doing everyone a great disservice.

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Does this sound reminiscent of India? Aging power grid on overload as U.S. demands more electricity. And in related news, G.G. flagged this: Outage in India Could Be a Harbinger for the Rest of the World

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Safety tip: Don't enrage any Vermont farmers: Vermont police: Man angry about arrest used tractor like monster truck to crush seven cop vehicles. (Thanks to F.G. for the link.)

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One man's view: Wranglerstar's Tactical Loadout. (JWR's Comment: Your mileage may vary. This arrangement is fine for walking around and even good in a vehicle, but don't try to low crawl in it. If a tactical situation dictates a period of crawling, then keep on mind that some chest pack harnesses like this can be temporarily reversed into a backpack configuration.)

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Ann Barnhardt: On Cowardice

"Despotism itself is obliged to truck and huckster." - Edmund Burke, Speech on Conciliation with the Colonies March 22, 1775

Sunday, August 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 (a $300 value), F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A $200 gift certificate, donated by Shelf Reliance.

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 C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.)Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) 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 42 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Part of preparing for any emergency, including TEOTWAWKI, is making plans for those who cannot take care of themselves. Yet, there is very information out there about what to do about Grandma and Grandpa in a crisis situation, or those who just may not be the “fittest.”   Having elders who have been struggling with dementia or who are in cancer treatment, having seen so many of our soldiers come home with PTSD, having loved ones who are chronically ill or permanently disabled, I think about prepping in perhaps a different way than others. After seeking out the information I needed myself from doctors, mental health professionals and fellow preppers, I am now sharing some of the practical advice I’ve found for helping those we love who do not appear to be the best candidates for survival. Why?

For some, caring and preparing for those with less than optimal survival chances may seem like a foolish, even dangerous, goal. Certainly, some soul-searching is required when thinking about who you are willing to “carry” (figuratively and perhaps literally), and just how far you are willing to put yourself and other members of your group in jeopardy to care for someone who may not make it in even a best-case scenario.  You will have to make your own decisions about who to help and who to abandon. But I could not leave my parents, in-laws and grandparents any more than I could leave my children to weather the chaos on their own. I also cannot justify leaving other relatives or friends where they could be victimized by those who prey on the weak. The Biblical commandment to “honor thy father and mother” means not just that I honor them, but that I must also care for them in a crisis. I cannot bear the consequences of writing them off, or leaving them to the unkindness of strangers or the bureaucracy of FEMA. The same goes for all of those I am responsible for, by virtue of my being able, even if they are not.

In the case of illness or dementia, even if it meant that moving them might hasten their deaths, I would choose to care for my own family and friends. Perhaps it is my own rationalization, but I would prefer that if they do indeed die, they do so in the company of people who love them and who will treat them with dignity, not at the hands of mobs or criminals.

If my loved ones were currently in a hospital, nursing home or assisted living situation, I would know the facility’s emergency plan and contingency plans. In case of an emergency, would my people be evacuated, by what means, by whom, and to where? (And I would make my own plans to take custody of them instead).  I would try to be as low-key as possible to avoid alarming the powers that be about any specific disaster or emergency, but I would get the information that could protect them, and make it possible for me to intercept them as quickly as possible in a crisis.

For those who require daily prescription medications, such as cardiac patients, diabetics, epileptics and other chronic illness patients (including those recovering from cancer treatment), some logistical planning now will save anxiety and life-threatening repercussions later.

You will need to know (and have written down) all medications, what they’re for, dosing schedules, and danger signs to watch for. At first, the problem will be in stockpiling enough medication when most insurance covers only minimal monthly quantities. Many times though, a sympathetic physician can prescribe a twice-daily med instead of a once-daily, for example. Explain you’d like to keep a back-up supply for the patient in case of loss, misplacing or forgetting when traveling.

As your supply grows, be especially diligent about rotating meds, using the oldest for current needs and storing the newest in a cool, non-humid environment, and including desiccant packets whenever possible.  (Ask your pharmacy, as they throw these out by the hundreds). 

One of my doctor friends tells me that more than 80% of his geriatric patients are on mood-altering drugs. A similarly large percentage of handicapped and cancer patients are routinely put on these drugs as well. For those who are on antidepressants, antipsychotics or anti-anxiety meds, benzodiazepines or steroids, special cautions apply. These drugs can cause terrible effects if stopped suddenly, and most require a very gradual weaning off the drug if one wishes or is forced to discontinue use. Check with your patient’s physician, and do your own research on ALL of the drugs your patient is taking ( is an excellent resource), and plan accordingly.

While health can vary widely among seniors, there are specific concerns that are common to most. Circulation issues such as edema, bruising and bleeding, dehydration, and constipation can all be more serious in the aged, no matter what the fitness level. Falls and resulting injuries should always be avoided and prevented, as the consequences for elders can be much more serious than normal.
Simple observation and precaution about everyday conditions is necessary. We lose the ability to adapt rapidly to temperature variations as we age—most elderly people feel “cold” faster than younger companions and are at special risk of hypothermia. Your preparations will have to include supplies that ensure more warmth, such as extra clothes, hats, socks & gloves, and you will have to be vigilant in caring for elders who get wet or chilled.

Response to heat or exercise can also be a problem. Fluid intake of seniors must be monitored closely at all times. Dehydration during exertion or other stress may occur rapidly and without warning, causing diarrhea, vomiting, delirium and ultimately, death.

Many seniors will have dietary deficits, due to waning appetite, poor digestion, or self-sacrifice for others’ needs. Without adequate fiber-rich foods (or supplements) and liquids, constipation can become a life-threatening situation for an elder, not merely a painful inconvenience. Stool softener and laxatives should have a starring place in your senior’s medical kit. Lack of vital nutrients may also affect sight, hearing and balance. Keep an eye on their diets and make sure they get the nutrition they need.

Seniors are subject to painful and dramatic bruising when injured, especially if they have been on blood-thinning medications, commonly prescribed to prevent arterial plaques and stroke. Excessive bleeding and inability to clot are also effects of these drugs. Avoid injury first, and if unsuccessful, treat bruises and bleeding quickly to forestall further complication. Every cut or abrasion is also a potential site for infection, which can overwhelm one who is already weak, so be particularly aware of your charges’ skin condition.
Swelling of the extremities due to poor vascular circulation can incapacitate your older loved one. Compression socks, or in a pinch, elastic bandages, are a good addition to the clothing or first aid kit.

Preparation for your loved ones begins with talking to them. You may be surprised to find out that oldsters are more prepared than you thought. After all, many have lived through tough economic depressions and wartime shortages, and they know a thing or two about living well with less convenience. Someone whose breathing depends on oxygen may have already prepared for a power failure or disruption of supply. If not, you can help that person get prepared.  Someone who is overweight or in poor physical condition can benefit from a daily walk or strength training, even without the threat of an emergency. You might be the motivator or the companion to help improve the quality of that person’s life, now and in case of future crises.
Approach with a sincere offer of help, but be sure to ask what general and specific help they would need from you in case of an emergency. You do not know what the unique needs are until you ask.
For those that still don’t accept the idea that all sorts of manmade disaster and mayhem can happen here, and can happen at any time, the conversation can take place in the context of preparing for a natural calamity, such as a tornado, earthquake or fire.

Be aware that some of the sick, disabled and elderly may need to be convinced that their survival is possible, even probable, if they prepare themselves mentally and physically. You may hear this type of defeatism in statements such as “Don’t worry about me, I wouldn’t want to live in that world anyway…” Your people need to know that that a can-do, positive attitude combined with practical planning and preparation can up their chances. They need to know you’ll be there to help them. Most importantly, they need to know that their survival is of paramount importance to you.

You should not assume that because your parent is sick, your grandparent is old, your friend is diabetic, your relative is obese, or your neighbor is blind, that these people are helpless or even less than capable of survival.  Emotional strength, mental tenacity, technical skill sets or ethical leadership can quickly trump any physical challenges, depending on the situation. Lack of emotional resiliency or deteriorating mental stability can quickly turn a strong athlete into a greater liability to the group than Granny who needs a cane.
For example, I have a physically-fit friend who stocks an “earthquake kit,” a 72-hour stopgap to see her through a brief disruption of water and food supplies “until help arrives.” She refuses to consider anything more than that, because it would mean that she would be on her own for longer than she is willing to be. She refuses to own a firearm, because that would mean that she might have to use it. This head-in-the-sand attitude is not preparedness, in spite of her pride in running 10Ks on the weekends, having a few gallons of water and a three-day supply of food in the garage.
On the other hand, my 85-year old mother bought a retreat back in the 1970s, stocked it with supplies and learned to shoot. She has a stay-put plan, several bug-out escape routes, keeps her stock rotated, tests her equipment regularly and maintains situational awareness, even when she’s just going to the bank or grocery store. She has a mental toughness that belies the physical weaknesses of a woman her age.

All of the people you care about have combinations of physical and mental challenges. What we all have in common is our need to be useful, no matter what our abilities or lack of abilities. A person without functioning legs can still wield a weapon or man a security cam. Someone who is blind can still direct audio comms. Everyone has skills and talents that the family and community need, and the survival of the whole group dictates finding appropriate jobs for everyone.
Those who are critically ill or in the advanced stages of dementia may need to have round-the-clock caregivers, which could put a strain on community labor resources. The whole group would ideally have the same reverence and respect for all the members’ quality of life, even the infirm and ill.

Much of the information about surviving natural disasters or man-made insanities assumes that we will prepare not only our environment, but ourselves as well. In order to deal with a crisis, realize that while we are teaching ourselves new skills, setting aside food stores, preparing security and energy options and planning for those who are weaker than ourselves, we must diligently prep our own minds and bodies to withstand the multiple demands that will be required.

Knowing that stresses of panic, physical exertion, mental exhaustion, and lack of sleep will pile up and collapse you if you are not ready, is not enough. Add in caring for others who are young, old, chronically ill, obese, disabled or just darn difficult, and your preparedness becomes even more critical.
Part of the process requires that we must be physically fit ourselves before we can take care of others. So put down that list and go exercise, at least some part of every day! Do not allow yourself to become out of shape, while you’re stockpiling supplies and securing your environment. There are people depending on you. Make sure you are the fittest you can be, physically and mentally. Then you can expend energy on building a community that includes everyone you care about, even the unfit.

Dear SurvivalBloggers:
What is a halfway prepper? Some people think it is a lazy prepper. Well, if you're lazy you're not getting prepped. A halfway prepper is someone who gets things done slowly but isn't going to let life pass them by. Is prepping worth losing friends (I try to make them see the light), missing date night with the wife, missing out on your favorite sports, living as a recluse? When SHTF things will change but I don't want to miss those things.We have to continue to live in the world as we prepare for the future. I know I fall in this category with a lot of other people. Sometimes life gets in the way of prepping and we need to take a break. I want to move to the American Redoubt and have a survival group with rehearsed plans and member responsibilities and 30 years worth of food stored up, with an arsenal that would make the Marines proud. But that just isn't going to happen anytime soon.

Just over three years ago I started prepping for the first time. I keep an eye on what's going on in the world for my job and I could/can see very bad times ahead. I started my prepping with firearms of course since they are so much fun and it was a great hobby the wife and I could do together. Being the halfway prepper I bought the least expensive firearms I could fine. Some people might say that’s a problem and I should have gotten the best on the market. I feel that I'm not going to be more accurate with a more expensive gun and I couldn't afford a second for the wife. We try to go shooting at least twice a month to stay proficient. We have gone shooting at night and practice malfunctions and magazine changes. We haven't done any formal shooting classes but that’s on the "to do" list for this halfway prepper.

Next I looked into food and water, we started to buy a little extra canned food and bottled water every month. About the time we started stocking up I convinced the wife to move out of West Texas and head to the Redoubt. I started looking for a job in the Redoubt and after a year we sold our house. My job in Texas was working for the government as a contractor, we were living very comfortably. After we sold the house we moved in with some friends. We overstayed our welcome with the first friends and had to move in with some other friends. After living with friends for over a year, we decided to stay and find a house. The job search hit a dead end, with only one chance of a job (our year grant job) in the Redoubt area. We wanted a house that would be a great retreat but in West Texas all the good qualities aren't there for properties. We found a house with a little land and a well that met our needs at a very low price. We decided that my wife would go to school and a get a degree in the medical field, while I hold on to this job until the contract ends s and then we will move to the Redoubt. So the halfway prepper in me decided to settle...for now. I still look for job openings in the Redoubt. If your hiring let me know.

Next came the challenge of prepping since we finally had a house and a place to store things. Well, this is where we are at the moment. We have enough ammo for the guns saved up and have started on food storage with about three months worth. I'm looking into getting a Flojak so we will always have water since that is the biggest deal where we live. Then there’s our survival group or lack there of. We had a good group that we were starting up but one member left and the whole group fell apart. And my wife’s family is nearby and the rest of the group didn't want to take them in. The wife said she could never leave them if they were close by. Her family understands what's coming but doesn't want to put anytime or effort into prepping. So now we will have to prep for the family as best as possible. The problem is that I'm a halfway prepper. We want to live life comfortably and don't want to make it to hard on life while prepping. So every week we at least do one thing for prepping to keep us going in the right direction, use the solar oven for practice, build solar power system, build garden, chicken coop, take the family shooting, rotate canned food, use hand crank washer, et cetera.

My main and final point is that it is okay to be a halfway prepper. Remember you are halfway there. The more you do little by little the closer to your goals you are. You will never be 100% prepped, as long as you are trying you will be better off than most. Someone else will always be more prepared then you in some aspect. Don't be discouraged and frustrated. Just make your goals and work toward them. Just keep getting better day by day. You know what you need to do to get ready. Don't be lazy and do nothing. Be a halfway prepper and gradually get it done! Don't forget to live now while you prepare for the future. Look to God and take care of your family. - Z.T.

The Survival Mindset, as seen from a Christian perspective. (This video series by Andrew von Ehrenkrook is recommended.)

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Demo of VPNs being compromised at Defcon: Marlinspike demos MS-CHAPv2 crack. Also, Tracking Android phones is easy, says researcher

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EMP attack: '90% of Americans would be dead'

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Mary F. sent an interesting piece about Mexico: Reclaiming the Forests and the Right to Feel Safe

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From Tim M.: Human cycles: History as science

"And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead." - Luke 16:31 (KJV)

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Today we present another entry for Round 42 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 (a $300 value), F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A $200 gift certificate, donated by Shelf Reliance.

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 C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.)Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) 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 42 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I live a self-sustaining and prepared lifestyle, always have and always will. My parents and grandparents lived this way and taught me well. Several years ago, we chose to purchase property for a mini-farm near a university town, so that we could have it all, a self-sufficient small farm near educational and intellectual endeavors for my children. Naturally hidden from view we bulldozed a home site in the woods and built our property up to be self-sufficient, with woods for firewood, fruit trees, garden areas, secret outdoor rooms, caves and everything anyone would want. I worked full time then and my co-workers and friends thought I was nuts working so hard mornings, nights and weekends to make my property self-sufficient. They said “America is a land of rich promise; you can buy anything you want.”  I didn’t want to buy it, I wanted to grow it and do it myself.

I chose to build a small home purely out of selfishness; I just don’t like cleaning or doing windows. I really had to downsize when we moved in as our new home was about half the square footage of anything we owned previously. I found I could simplify without cutting back on our ‘future supplies’. Our food storage and our prepared supplies take up at least a third of our home’s volume, and it remained intact. I have never regretted our choice to simplify our life, nor have I missed anything we got rid of in the process of downsizing.

Now those friends who scoffed at me are new preppers. Many of these newer preppers live in huge, sprawling, luxury homes that their large university salaries afforded. One friend in particular was talking the other day about how he has his families bug-out-bags all packed and ready to go, and all his alternate locations stocked. He has been watching Doomsday Preppers and has decided to go out and spend thousands of dollars on ‘stuff’. I commend his ability to have a salary large enough to be able to do this, but like so many others I see around me in my ‘neighborhood’ and in church, they feel the need to prepare, but haven’t thought thru the mental process of living a self-sustaining lifestyle. I would guess it’s probably because they never had to be self-sufficient and never experienced traumatic loss of their possessions. So, my question to him (and all those in this situation), is, are you seriously going to walk away from this vast luxury, sprawling, expensive home to bug out and live in a tent with your family? Can you really walk away from it all?  Can you give it all up if you had to? What are you going to do when the food runs out? This new prepper looked at me as though I had slapped him. My intent was not to be rude, but to wake him up to real TEOTWAWKI thinking. I’m not making fun of him, I’m extremely concerned.  I’m worried about him that he and his family will end up in real trouble.
The Bible says it will be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven (Matt. 19:24). I think that is because, like my affluent friend, they can’t really walk away from it all. His home being such a wealthy looking home with expensive features and a well manicured lawn would be one of the first in this area targeted by thugs and thieves. Unlike my home, that is smaller with grass that needs mowed, and heaven forbid, some weeds around the trees in front. If I’m really lucky, thugs and thieves will think it has already been ransacked and pass it by post-TEOTWAWKI.  But I chose to live simply, not because I don’t have nice things, but because I have CHOSEN to simplify. It would be hard for me to walk away, but not impossible. Physical things are not where my heart is.

If anyone seriously thinks they can bug-out post-TEOTWAWKI, and come back to everything just as they left it, they are delusional. New preppers do not understand that very well, you really have to be prepared to leave it all permanently and be able to live and thrive somewhere else. My advice is to prepare to do that by simplifying your life now. If you really believe that TEOTWAWKI is coming (as I do), then live that way. Simplify and learn to be self-sufficient now! Living a prepared and self-sustaining lifestyle is a way of life, not a weekend project.

You can simplify your lifestyle with or without downsizing. I’m not saying to get rid of everything; I’m saying to get rid of everything that would be extra baggage later or that you can live without. Ask yourself, is this a necessity, or of future value? If it isn’t an heirloom, a necessity or of future value, then get rid of it, make it one less thing you have to worry about. Now I’m not saying to strip the house and go to the bunker and wait. Not at all, matter of fact we have broken out the good china and crystal now and are using them on a daily basis, not just on the holidays. We are installing new family room carpet and painting the kitchen to spark up our home and lives. We intend to live life to its fullest every day and be happy and find the value of living now. We, like most preppers intend to stay at home as long as possible post-SHTF, but unlike many, we can walk away and not look back. Logistically speaking, we can pack everything important into the bus if necessary. I’m not sure my wealthier friends or newer preppers who are riding the ‘prepper wave’ can do this.

We have simplified our kitchen, getting rid of rarely used appliances and pans. We have simplified our wardrobes into three colors, so it is all interchangeable, thus needing much less clothing. (No, camo is not a color, it’s a blend of colors.) We have simplified our holidays by giving home baked gifts to everyone and tremendously downsizing our holiday decorations. How many strands of Christmas lights and red balls do we really need? How many pruners do we need? How many slow-cookers do I really use? Do I really need to keep those baby clothes? How many spatulas do I have? This is a good time to spread items into different bug-out locations. I found five skillets, but only used two of them. The other three went to our bunker and cabins. The old cot fit into a nifty little vacant space on the bus. The daily silverware went to the cabin and we use the good ones daily now with the bone china when we aren’t eating on paper plates. We have simplified our paperwork with a scanner and a trash burner. All memorabilia and family history has gone into scrapbooks, and I have had to limit the amount of scrapbooks. Even the sewing room has been downsized, instead of the cabinet sewing machine, I now have a portable. Instead of totes of material and supplies, it is now in under the bed chests. We freed up huge areas in the garage by selling older and duplicate tools and took the money to buy newer multi-use tools that take up much less space. We don’t miss a thing that we let go when we downsized.

Have the courage to pull it off, remembering the most beautiful trees are ones that have been deeply pruned and cut back! Don’t know where to start? Let me help, I’ve become a master at this. You can even schedule this on the calendar! Whether you are a baby-boomer or a new prepper, whether you are moving or have lived in the same home forever, I’m sure you can find unnecessary and unused items that need to go. This will make room for more food and water storage, self-defense or home defense equipment, or anything needed post-TEOTWAWKI. My parents had almost half of their home dedicated to the future and future needs and security, they were completely self-sufficient. It can be done. 

Overview; take an evening and walk thru your home, each room. Looking, really looking at every item. Look like you were shopping in a furniture or department store, noting condition and placement. If your home has a theme like French Country, Colonial or Contemporary, note anything that is out of theme. Take stray items out at this time, even if it is just to the garage.  Also, take out things you know you do not want at this time. Just admit it, everyone has some things they know they don’t want. Think about all your things, physical things, seriously. Ask yourself; are you going to want these things ten years from now? Saving it for your kids? If SHTF will these things be an asset or a detriment. Ask the hard questions, and give yourself honest answers.

Deep Clean; if you work, schedule this on weekends, usually one room per weekend. Set up four boxes or buckets in the middle of the room labeled; trash, give away, sell and barter. Starting at one specific point, usually a door handle, move clockwise around the room looking at each item, ask yourself, is it comfortable to sit in? Does it serve a purpose? Is it out of place in this room? Do I really need it? Why am I keeping it? Will I miss it? If I move it to the garage for a month, will anyone miss it? If in doubt, move your items to the garage for a month, if you do not need it, get rid of it. Go around the room slowly, don’t miss anything even pictures on the wall. If you have pictures that were heirlooms, be sure to check behind the backing on the frame before getting rid of it. Past generations loved to hid things behind pictures. Once you are done, go around the second time. You never get it all the first time. The bedroom usually takes the longest, as it involves sorting the clothing. If you start a room with a closet you may never finish, always have a starting and stopping place. Always start around the room at a door. Save the kitchen for longer time. One place to look is in your electronics drawer or cabinet, I’ll bet you’ll fine chargers to phones you don’t even own anymore or discs your computer won’t accept. Take a day and challenge yourself to simplify one closet, one dresser or one room. You might be surprised what you will find. If it doesn’t serve you today, or tomorrow or if you can’t use it post TEOTWAWKI, get rid of it, it’s excess baggage.

Finishing; by double checking the boxes. You will inevitably throw something in the wrong box. Deal with your trade box immediately, the things you find may be good barter in a post-TEOTWAWKI world, put it in a 5 gallon bucket, mark it TRADE and take it to the garage. Double check and take the ‘give away’ out to Goodwill or somewhere immediately. Be sure you are okay with giving these things away. The IRS suggests you take pictures of what you give away so if you are audited you can prove their value. If you are not sure, take it to the garage or shed for a couple of weeks. Give yourself time to come to terms with what you have done. However; word of warning, if you bring more than three or four things back into the house, stop downsizing now. You’re not in the right frame of mind to do it. Also remember a yard sale means dealing with everything twice if it doesn’t sell, try alternate methods of selling. But remember, the longer you wait to deal with your things, the less your chance of really downsizing.  

Hints: have the meals already at hand, either in the slow-cooker or the freezer. You can’t take time to cook while downsizing. Can’t get everyone together to help? Hide the car keys and pull the closet contents out and dump on the middle of the floor or on someone’s bed, so it has to be dealt with immediately. If you start with a room like the kitchen, you will be surprised how much you took out. That will give you the incentive to do the next room. I cut my household items in half in one month using this method. Once you start, it goes quickly. You may find enough space to build a hidden safe room. You may save enough time on cleaning to read books on growing veggies and fruit trees.

When simplifying you really have to ask yourself serious questions on lifestyle and future plans. Part of the process of living a prepared and self sustaining life style, is to keep life’s clutter to a minimum, find places to rotate, use, and to hide food storage and to learn to take care of yourself and your family. Having less clutter to contend with will give you the freedom to do things, less time cleaning, less to worry about losing, less for someone else to deal with in case you pass away. If you want a real incentive; ask yourself who would sort and disperse of your worldly things if you passed away today, your kids? If so, what would your kids do with some of your ‘precious’ things? If that thought doesn’t make you want to downsize today, it should! Take all the good new space you have found and fill it with food storage or some of your supplies. Even if you are not moving, by simplifying I absolutely guarantee you, all the new space you find by simplifying, you will find a use for.   

Dear Captain Rawles:
 Each year we dehydrate and can a lot of tomatoes.  In past years we used a "Squeezo" device to separate the skin and seeds from the pulp.   A better way is to slice each tomato into about 8 slices, from top to bottom.  Then (over a sink) with one's fingers strip out the seed pulp and seeds.  This also removes the water surrounding the seeds and pulp.  Put the slices into a blender.  Liquefy for a couple of minutes.  Pour the homogenized tomato into the stockpot to heat for canning. The homogenized skin in nutritious.  By removing the water and pulp one begins with a more concentrated product than the Squeezo produces and this greatly reduces the time required to simmer the sauce down to the desired thickness. - Les in the Smokies

My brother-in-law sent this useful link: Optimum Tilt of Solar Panels.

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Bill Whittle discusses the implications of the NDAA and unchecked government power.

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The Castaway's Guide To Making A Home

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T.K. recommended this over at Small Wars Journal: Full Spectrum Operations in the Homeland: A “Vision” of the Future

"I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
My help [cometh] from the LORD, which made heaven and earth." - Psalm 121:1-2 (KJV)

Friday, August 3, 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 (a $300 value), F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A $200 gift certificate, donated by Shelf Reliance.

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 C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.)Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) 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 42 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

As a newbie prepper I have gone through the emotional progression of realizing my lack of preparedness.  It started with the feeling that something bad was going to happen now!  This quickly subsided, followed by the overwhelming feeling that I must act now.   This impulse quickly digressed to the obvious and most important step in my preparedness action plan, honest self-evaluation.  With the growing database of information on preparedness, I felt overwhelmed with my apparent lack of knowledge when it came to surviving.  I had less than a week’s worth of food in my home, no guns, and a vehicle that ran on prayers.  I could not believe I was so unprepared and had so few skills (or so I thought.)  Being a somewhat of a pessimist, I had to change my way of thinking, if I was going to implement a successful preparedness plan.  Being confident in the skills you have, and being confident in your ability to gain skills and knowledge is paramount in proper homesteading/preparedness. 

Growing up in rural Arkansas I had what I consider a farm-boy education.  I was also fortunate enough to have a few lakes and rivers within 20 miles of my home.  Like many young men that grow up outside of the city, I gained the confidence to shoot shotguns, hunting rifles, pistols, and could fish with the best of them.  I also learned basic animal tracking skills, how to recognize deer trails, squirrel nests, when the fish were more likely to bite, and various other commonplace occurrences that are found in North American outdoors.  My parents were middle-class, 50hr/wk, hard-working folks.  To earn extra income they would buy houses in need of full renovations, move our family into them, and make them new while adding a few more dollars to their checking account upon the sale.  They were house “flippers” before it became a television show.  I was entering Jr. High school when this “flipping” lifestyle began (mid-1990s), and was entrenched in the world of carpentry and home renovation.  My father was not the patient type, yet insisted on teaching me every skill necessary to improve our current dwelling.  I learned to tile floors, replace countertops, build cabinets, frame small structures, and use all the basic tools for the jobs in the process.  From a hammer to a table saw to a sewer snake, I had to learn.  This lifestyle continued until I left for college in 2003.  Throughout college I regained my love for the outdoors with camping and weeklong backpacking trips on the Buffalo River Trail.  I learned to pack light, clean my drinking water, cook food on a campfire, and how to entertain myself and friends miles from televisions, or radios.  I never put much thought into what those times were doing for me.  I simply viewed it as a great time camping with friends. 
I left institutional education to work for a company that provided cold food storage and transportation for the frozen food industry.  I was a shop foreman with 4 mechanics and metal fabricator working with me.  For the next three years I learned to completely rebuild diesel motors, gained a complete understanding of the principles of refrigeration, and all skills necessary to repair it (soldering, torch basics.)  We repaired semi-trailers with minor structural damage as well.  I learned to use air sheers, riveters, various welders, as well as working with a broad range of materials.  The culmination of all of these skills broadened my understanding of the requirements to do many repairs and fabrications as well (time involved, tools, manpower, supplies.)  I got married during my time working at the shop, and I made the decision to go back to school in order to pursue a new career.

I began school full time and worked at a pharmacy full time as well.  I was instantly certified in CPR, formally trained in the understanding of drugs, their uses, and dangers.  I worked hand in hand with healthcare professionals, gaining the knowledge of drug therapy, and disease management.  This was extremely beneficial, due to my lack of understanding I was forced to look up and learn numerous biological principles as well as conversion math for liquids powders, creams as so on.  The pharmacy job slowly progressed into a full time position in corporate headquarters for the large retail company.  This has provided the opportunity for me to work hand in hand with data security technicians.  This has further broadened my basic knowledge of computers function and security as well as communication skills and team management. 

At present I look to attack this task of preparedness.  In order to be successful you must have the right mindset.  Check!  You must evaluate your current physical inventory. Check! And you must evaluate your skills that pertain to survival.  Sometimes this task alone is the toughest to wade through.  You can buy items on a list, you can count your beans, but it takes mental fortitude to tell yourself you can do something and go the next step to admit you could use some practice and learn to be better at a few things.  The time to decide if you have a particular skill and learn it is now, not during TEOTWAWKI.  Below I will provide an example of the process to evaluate your hard skills and create a list to work on your weak ones, as to not be overwhelmed by not knowing where to start or “learning it all.”  With the information provided in earlier text I will reference the hard skills that I am confident I can use, and those that require a re-visit in the near future.  I prepared a simple chart that ranks my proficiency of each skill.  This simple rating system could apply to many aspects of preparing, but for now I use it to keep my skills sharp.  It is ranked as follows;
 1=no knowledge of skill
 2=have seen skill used in person, but never attempted skill firsthand
3=attempted skill first hand at least once
 4= familiar with skill and use it once a year
 5=use skill monthly/proficient
This list is not in order of necessity.  All items on the list are necessity when surviving TEOTWAWKI.  The rank will help you determine your skill needs.  The key to building your skills is not to make one more important than the other, but to maintain proficiency in, or firsthand knowledge of all.  This list is not meant to be definitive.  It is a personal evaluation of what you believe will benefit you in your particular situation.  You can sort it however you like (alphabetically or by importance.)  The list below is a snippet of pages of skills I have, plan to perfect, or acquire as I move through this life.




Loading, handling, cleaning personal weapons


Hunting Local Game/Fishing


Preparing game for immediate cooking


Preparing game for long term storage


Sourcing water locally


Growing seasonal garden spring/summer/fall


Preparing your garden harvest for long term storage


Starting a fire with few or no tools


Constructing emergency shelter




Make Lye Soap


Changing flat tire


Another important aspect is evaluating the skills of your immediate household.  For me it’s my wife and children.  My wife is a great homesteader in the kitchen.  She cans fresh veggies, meats, etc.  My youngest child has an eye for garden pests and animal health.  There are many skills that your family can help supplement.  Do not assume you need to max out 5’s in all of your categories.  Take into account your collective abilities and do not let this list become a negative reminder of what you are not doing.  Maintaining that positive mindset is the key to getting better.  And we all want to get better!  Similar to practicing your emergency exit plan, incorporate your family when you choose to practice your skills.  This will ease your mind as well as theirs and help you keep focused on the important prep work. 

The list could go on as long as you wish, and is meant to do so.  I, like many preppers, am becoming more aware of the benefits of organization in all aspects of my life.  The list you create will only preserve your current intentions of becoming self-sufficient, and allow you to see the progress you are making.  This in turn should help negate some of those feelings of not knowing what steps to take first, as well as giving you direction.  The difference between those that do and those that want to do is simply that.  Doing! As I stated early in my post, it can be overwhelming for most people to know where to begin.  By using a ranking system for your skills and keeping a solid inventory of them, it will build your confidence to move forward and take those necessary steps to survive!   I update my list a few times a year as I see fit.  I talk with my wife and children about skills that they would like to acquire or have been practicing.  Please do not forget that just because you are not an expert does not mean that someone else isn’t.  Seek professionals with the skill sets you wish acquire and learn what they have to offer.  Even a simple conversation could teach a trick or two about starting a fire with no matches, or keeping the slide on your weapon better lubricated while exposed to dirt and moisture.  Remember, if you knew it all you wouldn’t be reading this.  Happy prepping.

Dear Mr. Rawles,

I thought you might find these two articles on microgrid technology to be of interest. They raise the possibility that a well-organized community might be able to continue functioning even after a general grid failure:

How Power Outages in India May One Day Be Avoided

Microgrid Keeps the Power Local, Cheap, and Reliable

Also, major manufacturers are gearing up to produce a new generation of deep-cycle batteries that can be recharged thousands of times, further facilitating the creation of off-grid communities.

GE's Novel Battery to Bolster the Grid

Battery to Take On Diesel and Natural Gas

Thanks for your great site. Regards, - Dave T.

Getting back to basics: Manufacturing boom: Trade school enrollment soars. (Thanks to H.L. for the link.)s

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Reader R.B.S. mentioned this handy site: U.S. Gun Law Reciprocity Guide

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Rare Colorado Tornado Second-Highest in US History. (A nod to George S. for the link.)

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Several readers mentioned this over at Alt-Market: The Most Often Forgotten Survival Preparations

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G.G. flagged this: Burglars loot Long Beach apartment building while tented for fumigation

"That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach." - Aldous Huxley, Collected Essays

Thursday, August 2, 2012

This is the birthday of Oregon cattleman David Lawson Shirk (born August 2, 1844). He was my great-great-great uncle. He was the first man to document the early cattle drives from Texas to Idaho, just after the Civil War. His journals were published in the book The Cattle Drives of David Shirk: From Texas to the Idaho Mines, 1871 and 1873. This rare book also describes his later life, establishing a large cattle ranch in the Steens Mountain region of eastern Oregon, and his subsequent range war with famed cattleman Pete French. This is a scarce and collectible book.


Today we present the first entry for Round 42 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 (a $300 value), F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A $200 gift certificate, kindly donated by Shelf Reliance.

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 C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.)Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) 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 42 ends on September 30th so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

History is our best teacher and we can learn a lot about human survival strategies of the past. Our ancestors somehow survived famine, drought and a host of natural disasters. Some used brute force to take what they wanted; others were skillful thieves or were just lucky. A few of these ancestral survivors actually thrived. They thrived because they used their wits and prepared for any unforeseen disaster.        

Beyond natural disasters there has always been the most un-natural of all disasters, war. War is arguably the most difficult of all conditions to survive, soldier and civilian alike. We can learn survival lessons from the survivors of war.   
During World War 1 and again in World War II American civilians were encouraged to grow what was called, a victory garden. In 1943 the U.S. Department of Agriculture published a pamphlet titled, Victory Garden: Leader’s Handbook which suggested 14 home grown crops.

Here is the list from 1943;
Greens: (Spinach, Chard or Kale)
Lettuce: (Leaf or Head), Cabbage
Tomatoes, Soy Beans, Snap Beans
Lima Beans, Peas (shelled)
Asparagus, Carrots and/or Beets
Turnips and/or Parsnips, Onions
Strawberries and/or Raspberries

The list also mentioned radishes, peppers, onions and pole beans.

Take note that the suggested vegetable list for planting a Victory Garden did not contain: Corn, Potatoes, Squash, Broccoli, Yams (Sweet Potatoes), Cauliflower, 
Eggplant, Artichokes, Spinach,
Leeks, Brussel Sprouts, Celery,
Collard Greens, Garlic, Cucumbers,
Pumpkin, Zucchini or Okra. Also absent were Grains, Herbs and Spice Plants. It must be noted that some of the un-listed crops have a low yield to grow space ratio or insect and disease vulnerability, require special care and handling, high water requirements, specialized fertilizer needs or seasonal pollinators, among others. 
What is most surprising was the amount of each vegetable needed to feed one person. You needed to multiply the number in your family plus one extra for an emergency and/or charity. Example: Tomatoes-Amount to be used fresh, stored and canned for one person is 120 lbs. For a family of four, plus one for an emergency and/or charity, you need to grow 600 lbs of tomatoes.
For snap beans-Amount to be used fresh, stored and canned for one person is 56 lbs of pole beans. For a family of four, plus one for an emergency and/or charity, you need to grow 280 lbs of snap beans.
It will require the planting of 25 tomato seedlings per person to harvest 120 lbs of tomatoes. For a family of four plus one for an emergency and/or charity, it will require the planting of 125 tomato seedlings.       
It will require the planting 1.5 lbs of snap bean seeds per person to harvest 56 lbs of snap beans. For a family of four plus one for an emergency and/or charity, it will require the planting of 7.5 lbs of snap bean seeds.
For a family of four plus one for an emergency and/or charity, it will require 375 linear feet of rows to grow the tomatoes. For a family of four plus one for an emergency and/or charity, it will require 750 linear feet of rows to grow the snap beans.
So, to grow enough tomatoes and snap beans for a family of four plus one for an emergency and/or charity, you will need to cultivate 1,125 linear feet of soil.
To grow a crop for a family of four plus one for an emergency and/or charity, planting all 14 of the suggested vegetables listed in the Victory Garden: Leader’s Handbook you will need 5,605 linear feet of rows.
Maybe they should have called it a Victory Farm not a Victory Garden.

If you intend to plant a Survival Garden that is capable of supplying an adequate amount of vegetables, it is obvious that you will need a very large piece of land. You must also keep in mind that if you are forced to flee, you will have to leave your crops behind. You can take your crops with you if they are growing in containers. But, unless you are fleeing in a semi-tractor trailer truck or towing a huge, double decked trailer, taking your crops with you is not an option.   

There is an alternative that you can consider, something learned from the survivors of the past. Perhaps above all, in 1943 the most difficult circumstance to be in was that of a prisoner of war.
The Allied prisoners of World War II tell of the four most valuable possessions a POW could have, nicotine (tobacco), ethanol (alcohol) caffeine (tea), and sugar. Any POW that possessed or could get his hands on any of these four items could thrive during captivity.

There are stories of some POWs who died from hunger and malnutrition because they traded away their meager rations of food for tobacco and alcohol. Here the statements, “I am dying for a smoke” and “I am dying for a drink” are literally true.   A survival garden full of delicious and nutritious fruits and vegetables will help you and your family to survive. But, if you want to thrive there are a few plants you need to add to your survival garden, no matter its size.

Using the lesson from the POWs you should grow tobacco plants, tea plants and sugarcane. All of these valuable “cash” crops are hardy, easy to grow almost anywhere and they are well suited for propagation in portable containers. Additionally, these cash crops have multiple uses.

Tobacco has uses beyond the obvious smoking or chewing. Tobacco can be used as an insecticide, a pest, rodent and insect repellent, among others.
Tea leaves are even more functional with more than 40 common uses.

Sugarcane has been a valued commodity for thousands of years. Sweet cane, as it was called, is mentioned three times in the Bible as a prized burnt offering. Sugarcane can be used to make crystallized sugar with all of its usefulness but, the other priceless article of trade from sugar cane juice is the production of high proof alcohol. Ethyl alcohol has many uses beyond drinking, such as a fuel source, a disinfectant, a preservative and an anesthetic, to name just a few. These three plants can be extremely precious possessions for trade and barter. Maybe pound for pound and space for space, tobacco, tea and sugarcane are the most prized of all legally grown plants. The seeds of all three of these prized plants are available online at very low cost. 

Now, I come to the final and arguably the most valuable plant in the Survival Garden. Most people call it a scourge and a curse. I call it The Doomsday Plant. It is a plant that has helped ancestral survivors thrive in the most difficult of times. The Doomsday Plant is one of the fastest growing, hardiest, pest and disease resistant plants on Earth and can be propagated in almost every state, including Alaska. It can be grown in portable containers filled with poor quality soil and needs little water and little or no fertilizer. Once the Doomsday Plant is established, it is actually difficult to kill.  

The Doomsday Plant will feed you and your family breakfast, lunch and diner. The Doomsday Plant is highly nutritious and is one of only a few plants that are high in protein. It is sold in health food stores as a dietary supplement.
You can grind and dry the root and seeds into a flour to make pancakes, bread, pastries and other baked goods. Use the leaves in place of lettuce for salads and sandwiches.
Boil the young leaves and eat them like spinach and use them as an ingredient in soups and stews.
Fry the large older leaves in oil and snack on them, just like potato chips.
The flowers can be made into jelly, preserves and an ingredient for candy.
The Doomsday Plant can be made into strong rope and string, it can be used to weave baskets, hats and even be made into furniture, kindling and firewood.
You can turn the Doomsday Plant into Bio-Fuel, both ethyl and grain alcohol.
It will feed goats, cattle, horses, rabbits and most other grazing animals.  
What is the common name of this miracle plant? It is called Kudzu, the bane and blight of the southeastern states.
Warning: Growing Kudzu is only for the most dire of all survival situations.
Kudzu is one of the most invasive species of all plants. If left unchecked and not controlled it will grow like a mindless monster, covering everything that doesn’t move. One single seed can create a nightmare. To contain Kudzu it must be handled diligently. Grow Kudzu only in a container whose drain holes are screened or covered in such a way that the roots cannot escape into the surrounding ground and as added insurance, place the container on a slab of cement or other ground barrier. You must also cut off the seeds before they mature. If you want to save the seeds, trap the immature seeds inside a secured plastic bag and carefully cut off the mature seed stem to safely remove them.
Kudzu seeds are by their very nature, self-preserving. They can be stored in a cool, dry and dark place for many years. The wise survivalist who strives to thrive will either collect wild Kudzu seeds or buy them on-line and store them until needed.
So, I recommend that you grow a few containerized tobacco, tea, sugarcane and kudzu plants. If you are forced to flee from your survival garden, you can take them with you and trade some of your cash crop for food and other items.   

Look to the past and start thinking about ways to thrive and not just survive.

Goal:  To help organize medical supplies into easily accessible modules of like items within your medical kit(s).

Two years ago I was looking at pre-packaged medical kits on-line and noticed one with various items organized in colored bags.  For example the red pouch had everything a person needed for simple wound care.  Some ambulances carry trauma and pediatric bags with contents organized by color.  The kit on the internet was over my budget, but I was intrigued by the idea.  On my next trip to town, I was looking for office supplies and noticed zippered pencil pouches, which are intended to help organize loose school supplies (like pencils and pens) and the pouch is inserted onto the metal rings of a binder, with three metal grommets.  These are the roughly 7.5”x10” nylon cases with a zipper and a clear plastic front to view the contents.  They are available in many different colors.  They can be purchased in the school supply section of many stores and cost about $1 each.  I use these pouches to help consolidate similar medical items together, allowing me to sort and protect the valuable medical supplies.  In times of stress it may be easier to grab the needed packet of items or tell a companion which color pouch you need for the task at hand.  A permanent marker or medical tape can be used to label the outside of each packaged module.  This allows for personalization of a kit and eases the addition or subtraction of items quickly, depending on the situation.  Also, with a duplicate set of each pouch, resupply could be enhanced, removing the used pouch and replacing it with a full one.  This method can help organize an existing medical kit or be a good starting point for assembling a new kit.

BLUE:  Airway.
  This would include simple devices to help keep an airway open or more advanced items, depending on your level of comfort / training. 
Consists of: CPR mask, Airway adjuncts (Oral and Nasal Pharyngeal sets.), King Airway with lube and syringe.

RED:  Bleeding Control / Shock Management.
  The basics for controlling bleeding and treating small wounds.
Consists of: Trauma dressings, supplies to make a tourniquet (triangular bandage and a windlass made of 8 tongue depressors taped together), a space blanket to control heat loss, various sized band-aids, gauze, dressings, etc. 
Homemade Trauma Dressing:  As mentioned in several articles a maxi-pad could also be used to help control external hemorrhage.   I take it a step further and make a simple set with two pads, plus two sterile 4x4 dressings and a roll of gauze to hold the dressing in place on a wound.  This is packaged in a quart sized sealable plastic bag.  The bag could also contain a pair of gloves and other small wound management items.  With the addition of tape, the bag itself could cover an open chest wound to make an occlusive (air-tight) dressing. 

GREEN: BSI - Body Substance Isolation.
  Items needed to reduce spreading germs. (protects both you and the patient)
Consists of: Nitrile gloves, surgical mask, goggles etc. 

PURPLE:  Splinting.
  Used to immobilize joints or bones that are injured. 
Consists of:   36” formable aluminum splint.  Cohesive flexible bandage (the duct tape of the medical world) or reusable athletic wrap, triangular bandages, popsicle sticks to splint fingers, tape, etc. 

TEAL:  IV Set Ups:
  This includes everything needed to establish intravenous access in an emergency, if you have the training / medical direction.  If you do not have the background, these materials could be passed on to a qualified person, if needed.  There is not enough space for bags of fluids, but you could use a saline lock to have the IV catheter in place and sealed until needed to infuse medicine or fluids.    
Consists of:  IV Catheters.  Two each 24 gauge through 18 gauge, alcohol prep pads, IV dressing, saline locks, flushes, tape, etc.

CLEAR:  Topical / Medication:
  This could include various over-the-counter creams or small bottles of pills.  
Consist of: antibiotic cream, anti-itch cream, liquid bandage, ibuprofen, ASA, diphenhydramine, burn cream, surgical super glue, etc.  

ORANGE: Medical Instruments.  

Consists of: tweezers, various scissors, scalpel, hemostats, syringe and needle combos, sutures, etc. 

PINK:  Vitals.
  These devices can help you recognize changes in your patient's condition.  Depending on how big the kit or extensive your training this may not all fit into one pouch.  The smaller items could go in a zipper pouch, but the larger items may be better in a zippered mesh bag, as intended for protecting delicate items put in a washing machine.  
Consists of: stethoscope, thermometer, blood pressure cuff, glucometer, pulse-ox, etc. 

BLACK:  Dental.

Consists of:  temporary fillings, oral pain gel, gauze, dental picks.

YELLOW:  Documentation
.  To write down vital signs, treatment given, etc. 
Consists of pad of paper, pencil, pen, triage tags, small medical reference book.

In conclusion, organizing these ten pouches of medical gear and supplies can help you become more prepared to treat basic medical emergencies, as well as enhance the general health and well-being of your family or survival group.  These pouches make great gifts, building good-will, and could help lesser prepared friends or neighbors.  The colors and contents are based on how I have organized my supplies and would obviously be tailored to the individual.  Instead of just filling a bag with supplies and then digging through it or dumping it out to find the item you need, this gives a basic format to help find the needed items more easily.  This can cut down on frustration, like knowing that you have a pair of tweezers, but not being able to locate them when you have a splinter.  The main advantage of these kits is that you can start very simply and inexpensively, letting your supplies grow as your training and budget allow.  By carefully shopping at discount stores and on-line you may even save money by putting this kit together yourself or buy in bulk and share the cost of multiple kits within a group.  Also farm supply stores often have less expensive materials, like scalpels, hemostats, etc. without having to pay the shipping when buying them on-line, although incredible deals are available on auction web sites.  Compare costs per unit to be sure.  A few dollars spent each week on supplies will slowly build into a nice cache of useful items for both everyday living and could be vital in a worst-case-scenario.  Also, by building the kit yourself or organizing the items in your prepackaged medical kit, you will be totally familiar with all of the contents.  Any of the pouches could be used as stand-alone medical kits, for example one pouch would easily fit in a cargo pocket or a backpack, or even your vehicle’s glove compartment.  In this way, you can keep your medical supplies close at hand and organized in an easily recognizable manner. - Jeff F.

I'd like to recommend a great web site: Listening to Katrina. The author weaves his personal Katrina story together with fresh and different survivalist advice in a page-by-page format. He gives advice that I don't believe I'd seen before. As a survivalist for years before the event, he explains the mistakes made and lessons learned.

His section on protecting your wealth is outstanding. For example, if you had a regional disaster and needed to bug out/relocate within 60 seconds, would you have your resume, education certificates and references updated and ready to grab, so that you could start a job elsewhere? I hadn't thought of that.

Neither had he; he tells the sad tale of arriving ahead of everyone else in Houston, immediately opening the classifieds to find the same job he'd been performing for the past 20 years, with a $20k pay increase! He'd be the first in line to apply! Only, since he lacked credentials and references, he wouldn't be able to apply.

WARNING: The Listening to Katrina site has rude language. He also says there's nudity. I hadn't seen it yet, though I am only 1/3rd the way through the pages. Probably bodies from Katrina.

- C.D.V.

Reader C.D.V. spotted this: Build a Self-Regulating, Automatic Plant Watering System with a Plastic Bottle and a Tray

   o o o

Power restored after huge Indian poswer cut. Enormous demand for power, aging grid infrastructure...

   o o o

Cheryl (aka The Economatrix) suggested this: Create Your Own AR-15 Semi-automatic Pistol At Home Legally

   o o o

Brett G. mentioned the Short Lane brand chamber adapters, as well as this video: Shooting 9mm from a 12 gauge?

   o o o

Study shows that water fluordation lowers the intelligence of children. [JWR's Comment: So General Ripper was right, after all.]

General Jack D. Ripper: Mandrake, do you realize that in addition to fluoridating water, why, there are studies underway to fluoridate salt, flour, fruit juices, soup, sugar, milk... ice cream. Ice cream, Mandrake, children's ice cream.
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: [very nervous] Lord, Jack.
General Jack D. Ripper: You know when fluoridation first began?
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: I... no, no. I don't, Jack.
General Jack D. Ripper: Nineteen hundred and forty-six. 1946, Mandrake. How does that coincide with your post-war Commie conspiracy, huh? It's incredibly obvious, isn't it? A foreign substance is introduced into our precious bodily fluids without the knowledge of the individual. Certainly without any choice. That's the way your hard-core Commie works." - Sterling Hayden and Peter Sellers in Dr. Strangelove. (Screenplay by Stanley Kubrick, Terry Southern, and Peter George.)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

We've completed the judging for Round 41 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest.

But first, I'd like to mention that starting with Round 42, we are adding a new prize to the First Prize package: a $200 gift certificate, kindly donated by Shelf Reliance. This certificate is good for the purchase of any of their products. (These include: top quality canned food rotation racks of their own manufacture, Thrive brand storage foods, pre-assembled bug out bags and first aid kits, water filters, tents, sleeping bags, various field gear, PV panels, flashlights, Esbit stoves, Aqua Mira, blast matches, sanitation gear, hatchets, backpacks, Gamma Seal lids, and much more.) Be sure to check out their web site. They are constantly adding new products and they are presently selling some slightly used demonstrator Cansolidator food rotation racks at closeout prices.

First Prize goes to Dr. Mountaintop, for The ABCs of Trauma, which was posted on Sunday, July 29, 2012. He will receive: 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 (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize goes to Tom Loomis DDS, for Field Dentistry Basics, which was posted on Friday, July 13, 2012. He will receive: 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 C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.)Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize goes to Jodier, for TEOTWAWKI Blacksmithing for Beginners, which was posted on Tuesday, July 10, 2012. He will receive: 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.

11 Honorable Mention Prizes ($30 gift certificates) are being awarded for these fine articles:

Living With Photovoltaic Power, by D.P.

Prepare to Share, by Mrs. T.J.

Extending Battery Life, by D.P.

Food Forest Gardens, by Jason T

Some Myths About Seeds, by M.J.E.

Emergency Water Treatment On The Move, by Tom K.

Food Storage on a Budget, by N.T.M. in Nevada

New England Gardening, by George H.

Coturnix (Japanese) Quail: The Biggest Little Homestead Bird, by Bigdtc in Maryland

Prep for Free, by George H.

Marksmanship Basics and Beyond, by Evan W.

Note to the prize winners: I need UPS and USPS addresses for the top three prize winners, and current e-mail addresses for all of teh Honorable mention prizes. Please let know via e-mail.

Round 42 begins today, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes - and Why by Amanda Ripley
Crown Publishers, New York, 2008.
266 pages including eight pages of color photos, source notes, bibliography, and a thorough index.
ISBN 978-0-307-35289-7
Paperback edition is available at and other booksellers.

This is not a psychobabble volume readable by a few academics. The author writes in plain English about a complicated subject that she makes easily understandable. She has interviewed hundreds of survivors, scholars, and scientists to obtain her information.
The book is divided into three parts: Denial, Deliberation, and The Decisive Moment. Inside the three parts are eight chapters.
Using case studies and first person accounts from survivors of a variety of disasters, the author explains why some people survive while many are dying all around them. Our natural instincts in a disaster are fear, shock, and flight or fight.
Scientists have studied why some people gather into groups, some freeze in place, others flee the scene, while others respond calmly. Case histories of each response are given ranging from Hurricane Katrina, the Twin Towers, the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire, a plane crash in Washington DC, the Virginia Tech shootings, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, ferry sinking in the Baltic Sea, and many more.

There are numerous lessons for the reader, especially those who want to be prepared for any emergency.

First, disasters are predictable – outcomes are not. I live in tornado country and not having a shelter is gambling with lives, so I have a shelter close to an exit door of my home and emergency radios to keep me informed. Earthquakes are number two so I have insurance. Forest fires are next and I have a quick exit plan. What disaster zone do you live in? Are you prepared for the inevitable?

Second, fear can be overcome with a little work. Practice your skills to make them subconsciously automatic. Have a plan in your mind to deal with a particular crisis. Lay in the necessary supplies to deal with that crisis. Do your family members know their part?

Practice your response to convert the emergency into an inconvenience. Practicing gives you deeper understanding of what is occurring, which in turn decreases your fear. Less fear equates to more confidence, which gives you a better probability of survival. Fire drills are not stupid.

Third, do not rely on anyone to rescue you. That is your job and yours alone. FEMA and the Red Cross will show up in a few days, if at all, so you’re on your own during the crisis.

These examples just skim the surface of this book. There are more in-depth discussions of ways to prepare yourself and your family for any emergency coming your way based on the experiences of people who survived their disasters.

I recommend this book for your home library. Keep it handy for refresher reading and to share with your family. You will all be safer.

About the Reviewer: "T.M." is SurvivalBlog's History Book Review Editor. He is a retired academician who now enjoys gardening, hunting, prepping and reading a good book.

About this time last year, I did a review for a print publication on the Masterpiece Arms MPA10T - a semiauto only .45ACP MAC-style pistol. The gun was fun to shoot, and worked 100% of the time. The only thing I didn't care for was the weight of the gun - it was heavy, and a little bit bulky, especially with the 30 round magazine in-place and fully loaded. If you're interested in a short history of the MAC-style of submachine guns, check out this web page.
When I lived in Colorado Springs, Colorado some years ago, a friend and I ran a gun shop out of his gas station, and we sold a lot of SWD M-11/9 pistols. This was the semiauto version of the MAC-style pistol in 9mm. Matter of fact, we sold more SWD M-11/9s than any other type of gun. Back then, you could get an SWD for about $189 with a 32 round magazine, magazine loader and barrel extension (read: false suppressor). It was a great deal. Only problem was, it was a hit or miss - if you got a gun that would function all the time. More often than not though, the guns worked. The biggest problem was the Zytel 32 round magazines that came with the guns. They were poorly made and the feed-lips would often break, or the,  magazine would split, making it totally useless. Still, we sold hundreds of those SWD M-11/9s.
Enter Masterpiece Arms and they are doing the MAC-style semiauto-only guns the right way these days. Everything about the MPA line of guns is being done right. The welds on the stamped sheet lower and upper receivers are expertly done, and the tolerances are extremely tight - tighter than you can imagine on this type of gun.  What amazed me more than anything on my MPA930T-GR sample was the trigger pull, it was outstanding - breaking at about 4.5 lbs. There is also an easily reached safety on the right side of the lower receiver, that turns 180-degrees for "safe" and 180-dgrees back for "fire."
My sample MPA 9mm pistol is a new version called the "Grim Reaper" and it got this name from the Grim Reaper finish on the gun and barrel extension. There are skulls and bones all over the gun. This may or not appeal to you. I like the look. Now, does this gun differ from the standard MPA 9mm mini-pistol? No, only the Grim Reaper finish on the gun is different from the other 9mm minipistol that MPA manufactures. However, the kool-factor is there, and everyone who saw, handled and fired my sample loved the look of the gun with the Grim Reaper finish on it.
The MPA930T-GR is