October 2012 Archives

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

I've had several questions from readers about the recently re-released Rawles Gets You Ready Preparedness Course. To clarify: The course has not been changed, other than the delivery method. (It is now sold only via digital download.) The great news is that since there are longer any printing and mailing costs, it is now available for just a small fraction of what the hard copy binder edition sold for.


Today we present another entry for Round 43 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. 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 FloJak.com. C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, E.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 43 ends on November 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.

But first, an update on Hurricane Sandy:

I'm sure that most SurvivalBlog readers--except those who are without power--have by now seen the amazing photos and videos of the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, aka "Frankenstorm." All of these many images serve as stark reminders that it is the responsibility of individual families to prepare. Government agencies are incapable of providing assistance in a widespread disaster. (In radio interviews. I'm fond of saying that FEMA should more accurately thought of as an acronym for: "Foolishly Expecting Meaningful Aid.")

The hurricane brought with it a triple whammy: high winds, flooding, and power outages. The power outages--which extend 1,000 miles from North Carolina to Maine--are expected to last as long as 10 days in parts of New York City and perhaps three weeks in parts of West Virginia. More than eight million people were without power, at last report. Even the New York Stock Exchange closed because of weather, for the first such closure in 27 years. There is rain throughout the eastern seaboard, and even some snow generated by the hurricane.

The only impact on my life thusfar is having to reschedule a consulting phone call for a gent in North Carolina who had his local cell phone tower blow down. But I'm sure that a lot of you have some very interesting stories to tell. In coming days, I'm hoping to post some of your observations and valuable lessons learned. Please e-mail us your observations. Thanks!

Sure we’ve watched  the  new television series Revolution, with their heroine and her post-SHTF world amazingly perfectly coifed hair-do. The series based loosely on an end of the world  scenario built around a “Sudden” abrupt change” a la the Dies the Fire novel series [by S.M. Stirling]. All power suddenly goes poof, and nothing electrical works, society collapses, and we’re all back to the age of bow and arrow, knives, and, weirdly deviating from the Dies The Fire premise, good old black powder front-stuffing rifles. Militias, which are all always portrayed by Hollywood, as evil, dictatorial, and brutally repressive, run the country, which has broken down into “serfdoms” in a giant feudal system.

On the other hand, there’s the somewhat realistic TEOTWAWKI scenarios that revolve around, pick one: A comet, asteroid or other huge space body smashing into the earth, an EMP or thermonuclear exchange, explosively fast spreading viral pandemic, or some mysterious alien military force attacking the planet, or the simple world economic currency meltdown.

These all propose, and assume, a sudden, rapid world-wide calamity rendering large cities places of mob rule, fire-ravaged, food-looted wastelands of desolation, forcing us who’ve prepared ourselves and our homes, into hunkering down to await hordes of refugees ascending upon our rural retreats like a Biblical plaque of  locusts. The local law enforcement authorities, and maybe the federal military and Homeland Security goons absent, or forcing us to live under an imposed  version “Martial Law”.

What if the end of the world as we know it, arrives like the proverbial frog getting slowly boil to death in a pot of water-scenario?  What if we see the currency, over a period of weeks, months, or even years, slowly erode, inflate, deflate, or simply disappear, and be replaced once, twice, or three or more times, with other currencies, like in post-WWI Weimar Germany?

What if, God help us, Obama gets re-elected, maybe by hook, or by crook, and our Constitutional rights are taken away one by one, or all at once. Cities, counties, and/or individual states can’t maintain their basic road, public work, water, electricity ,or other technology that powers our infrastructure. Things stop working, break down, employees quit because they don’t get paychecks anymore, or their paydays shrink, and they all decide, one by one, to go home, plant a garden, fish or otherwise feed themselves and their families by themselves.

What if, and just maybe, things take a slow spiral regardless of the scenario, down into an abyss of one of the afore-mentioned scenarios, and not an abrupt calendar-marks-the-day event?

I believe that we can carefully observe just what is happening in the EU countries, and draw information, knowledge, and even hope from what those countries are going through right now, to guide our preparations on an adjustable basis.

We need to scour news sources for Intel, and plan for contingencies here in America, as they inevitably follow, in some ways closely, in some ways not very similarly, what is occurring in Greece, Spain, Italy and the Irish Republic.

I see in the United States, a pattern of behavior, brought, and almost bred into our culture some differences that set ourselves apart  from what may occur in Europe and other second and third world countries. However better organized, culturally superior, or due to the same spirit (2)
that allowed America to gear up, build up, and suit up, and win WWII, we stand a way better chance of applying knowledge from observing the inevitable mistakes, or tragic errors the EU governments make to keep our country from the same fate.

Say for instance, Romney gets elected President, the economy stops the slide down hill, some manufacturing coughs to a slow forward push, the dollar is stabilized by reverting partially, or by a full reversion, to the gold standard, and American finds some small reserve of braking power in our countries slide towards that economic “cliff.“

Further speculation might be that the economy continues plodding along, joblessness slows,
gas and food prices fluctuate, but still continue to plummet. States and municipalities see a worsening of their infrastructures, and power supplies fluctuate, becoming more and more unreliable. Some folks see the water quality of public utilities eroding, and many drill wells on their property and yards. Chickens and goats start becoming the standard homesteads’ yard fixtures. Maybe, we all start turning our yards into gardens, relying less and less on the supermarkets and grocery stores. The dollar continues to lose its value, and barter, and hard currency, silver, and to some extent gold, become the mode of payment.

We all stop the annual huge Christmas gift buying sprees, and even birthdays and anniversary gift-giving becomes a thing of the past. The police departments, and sheriffs offices responses become sporadic, and people start going “heeled”, and taking a more pro-active vigilant look at their neighborhoods safety. Gangs do become an issue, and Homeland Security does man checkpoints across the country, maybe to quell the movements of these organizations, and we like that.

My point is, that given the observable course, and actions that the citizens of Greece are taking, sans the rioting, we might just  find the end to morph into that scenario. Speaking of civil unrest, aside from some nasty potentialities in most of our urban cities, I don’t think that Americans will tolerate, or allow the kind of rampant rioting and disorder one saw in Greece. That’s just not how our culture acts as a whole. We’re not the kinds of folks one see’s in footage in the middle-east, after an IED or car bomb goes off. There we see hordes of wide-eyed screaming people jumping atop the car parts, and running crazily through the crimes scenes willy-nilly.

I still see folks in the post office, standing well back of the counters, observing an imaginary line painted on the floor, not wanting to appear rude to the folks ahead of them buying stamps. I see our local volunteer fire departments organizing CERT teams and training like crazy across the country, planning to help in the event of an unforeseen natural, or whatever, type of emergency.

I read, and pour over news accounts every day dealing with the European monetary, and banking crisis, and I haven’t seen yet, the total  rapid TEOTWAWKI slide into cannibalistic, zombie over-run catastrophe that we’ve all read about being a surety.

I firmly believe that we can take a measure, however small, and optimistic, of comfort from watching the EU meltdown, and steering our plans accordingly. Call me a skeptical optimist, but I am garnering a bit of hope from observing what the common citizenry are doing in those countries, where the cliff edge has zipped by, and are dealing with the food, fuel, and other shortages.

I would like to see the readers of SurvivalBlog in the EU countries affected, start posting their own personal accounts so we can plan our own strategies her in the United States. I hope that measures can be taken by folks here, who read this blog, to keep the information highway from those regions flowing.

Clearly, even though we might all agree that the pessimistic timeline of End Time prophecy is probably correct as it relates to the economy, that Gods’ providential working in our countries affairs can spread out the inevitable end-time scenario into many more months, and maybe years.

Hopefully we all can read, research, and gather information from news sources, friends and family living abroad, in order to more effectively prepare for hard times, and even the worst-case scenario of  TEOTWAWKI.

I believe that our Heavenly father has, and is providing a way through the Internet, and it’s sources, of sparing us some measure of downright hopelessness, and giving us tools to both save our friends, family and ultimately our nation, from Satan’s’ evil plans. This provision is the ability we have of watching Europe, and making better plans for our families safety.

J.B.G. suggested: Nine ways to make your cell phone last the whole storm even if the power goes out

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I will be the keynote speaker at the Get Prepared Expo (via teleseminar) on Saturday, November 3rd, 2012. This is an expanded repeat of a very popular event. There will be 100 Exhibits and 70 Seminars You can save 20% by buying your admission passes in advance at GetPreparedEXPO.com ($8 for a one-day pass, or $15 for a weekend pass.) The expo will be held November 3 and 4, 2012 at the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds in Springfield, Missouri.

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Michael Z. Williamson (SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large) suggested this piece at ARFCOM: The Unscientific [AR-15] Plastic Magazine Test Videos. (High bandwidth connection required.)

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John A. recommended a BBC series on restoring woodlands: ‘Tales from the Wild Wood’

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Kevin S. flagged this: Apple Maps lets users see all of Taiwan's secret military installations

"For thousands of years storing seeds has been an essential part of the survival preparations made by millions of prudent people fearing attack.  Seeds are hopes for future food and the defeat of famine, that lethal follower of disaster.  Among the most impressive sounds I ever heard were faint, distant, rattles of small stones heard on a quiet, black, freezing night in 1944.  An air raid was expected before dawn.  I was standing on one of the bare hills outside Kunming, China, trying to pinpoint the sources of lights that Japanese agents had used just before previous air raids to guide attacking planes to Kunming.  Puzzled by sounds of cautious digging at about 2:00 AM I asked my interpreter if he knew what was going on.  He told me that farmers walked most of the night to make sure that no one was following them, and were burying sealed jars of seeds in secret places, far enough from homes so that probably no one would hear them digging.  My interpreter did not need to tell me that if the advancing Japanese troops succeeded in taking Kunming they would ruthlessly strip the surrounding countryside of all food they could find. Then these prudent farmers would have seeds and hope in a starving land." - Cresson H. Kearny, Nuclear War Survival Skills

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

October 30, 1735 is believed to be the birthday of President John Adams. (Other sources cite his birth date as October 19th.) Adams died on July 4, 1826--just a few hours after the death of Thomas Jefferson. They both died on the 50th anniversary of publication of the Declaration of Independence.


A reminder that the Ready Made Resources sale on Mountain House long term storage foods ends soon. They are offering 25% discounts and free shipping for Mountain House foods in #10 cans. The sale ends on November 5th, so order soon.


I'm sure that I'll start to get a plethora of Hurricane Sandy After Action Reports soon. But for today we present some more economic gloom and doom: another entry for Round 43 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. 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 FloJak.com. C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, E.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 43 ends on November 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 believe the global economy stands on the brink of meltdown. The immediate trigger of this collapse is the European Debt Crisis, but the build up to this catastrophe has been building for years and decades.

Three of the major drivers of Global economic growth: the US, Europe, and mainland China , are all on the verge of economic slowdown, if not outright collapse. Usually, if one region of the globe is contracting other regions are growing and able to take up the economic 'slack'. For the first time in modern history, all regions are slowing at once. This is uncharted economic territory.

I will look individually at how each region got into the economic malaise it is in and what some consequences may be.


Greece is the poster child for Europe's economic  problems, but they are not alone. Europeans have lived beyond their financial means for decades and now the bill is coming due.

A immediate result will be Greece getting ejected from the Euro Currency group of nations-- or they leave on their own. Greece will be plunged in economic chaos. I do not believe a Greek exit can be "managed" by the rest of the Euro Zone. A Greek exit will result in the eventual death of the Euro Currency and a return to national currencies. It will be a hot, ugly fall and  a very cold and bleak winter in Europe.

The death of the Euro Currency will plunge all of Europe into economic turmoil. This turmoil could possibly last for years as all the financial, legal, political and other questions regarding a break up get worked out. I believe the break up of the USSR gives some ideas about Europe's future. I think that a return to military governments in some European countries that have undergone it in the past (Spain and Portugal) are possible.

About the only good news is that European defense spending is low. Unlike the 1930s , there is a slim possibility of open military conflict breaking out across Europe. However, when the BEST outcome is a low chance of nation-state warfare this shows what a mess Europe could become.


China sits on the edge of a housing bubble that will make the US housing bubble of a few years ago seem tiny.

China has grown into a global economic power by becoming a factory to the world. When the US went into recession in 2008, China kept their factories humming by launching a stimulus program costing trillions of Yuan.

This stimulus led to massive government waste (think "bridges to nowhere" on a massive scale) Entire CITIES were built just to keep workers employed. All that spending  during those years  led to high rates of inflation across the board.

The one thing that keeps the Chinese communist leadership awake at night is the thought of the Chinese people standing up against them and questioning their authority (Tiananmen Square is a a perfect example of this). Domestic stability is the first, second , and third priorities of the communist leadership. High inflation can and does cause instability (look at 1920s Weimar Germany and modern Zimbabwe as examples) Add high inflation with a bursting housing bubble and it leads up to economic disaster on a epic scale.

This could get ugly because Communists (regardless of nationality) have never been shy about spilling the blood of any opponents who get in their way. The PRC leadership will do whatever it takes to stay on top and in charge. I believe that "whatever it takes" could include invasions of Russian Siberia and\or Taiwan-Republic of China. Citizens tend to overlook economic problems when their country is at war. If China were to engage in a invasion of Siberia, this could result in the potential loss of tens of millions of lives since the Russian Federation does not possess the conventional military means to stop a invasion (not enough well trained infantry with substandard equipment having to cover too large a land area). They would be forced to rely on nuclear weapons to stop Chinese aggression.

Look at the recent rise in nationalistic sentiment spurred by the central government over the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands issue with Japan. I believe this is a better indicator of the true state of the mainland Chinese economy, regardless of whatever their 'Official' economic statistics say


The US economy still hasn't fully recovered from the housing crisis that started in 2008. Like Europe, The US has lived beyond it's financial means for decades. Government spending (at all levels) is out of control.

I believe that America's future hangs in the balance. we will not know which path we will head down until the November 2012 election. I think that if President Obama wins a second term, America can forget about being the world's sole superpower. It will mean political death to the Democratic Party to engage in any entitlement reform/cutbacks, so I believe that issue is off the table if the Democrats win on Election Day

Even if Mitt Romney is our next President, America's economic future still has plenty of potholes ahead. Entitlement spending (Social Security & Medicare/Medicaid) are  consuming larger and larger amounts of all federal government spending with no end in sight. These entitlements need to be bought under control if America is to have  any chance in the future. Like Europe, America needs to have a cultural shift.The mentality of  dependency on the government to provide one with a certain standard of life needs to end. Every individual, and the individual alone, should determine a person's economic success. It must not be the role of government to determine this.

Social Security was never intended (even at it's inception) to be a American's primary money source in retirement. It was viewed as 'one leg of a retirement stool' with the other 'legs' being a company pension and a individual's personal savings/investments.  However, today, Social Security is the primary source of income during a person's retirement.

The Social Security trust fund is heading towards collapse. This will mean many retirees will have a GREATLY diminished lifestyle going forward.

Like Europe, the time for easy painless solutions to these looming financial problems has come to a end. Either entitlement spending gets reformed or we all go off the fiscal cliff together.

The level of governmental spending needed to support the huge increase in the size of government over the last few years is also something that cannot continue at it's present rate. Government faces the prospect of collapsing under the weight of spending needed to prop it up.


Some of the consequences that will result from all of this will come in many forms. Here are some possibilities I see:

* Self-sufficiency will be a ever growing trend as people realize that government can't afford to support them anymore. The Federal government needs to get out of a lot of things. For example, the Feds need to get out of financing home mortgages. The quasi-governmental agencies 'Freddie Mac' (FHLMC) and 'Fannie Mae' (FNMA) need to be wound down and killed. Their backstopping of sub-prime mortgages is the main reason for the housing crash of 2008. I work part time in a Real Estate office. I know that killing off these entities will destroy the housing market, but they have become bottomless money pits loaded with unrecoverable toxic assets  and I see no other choice.

* Brain drain and capital flight from weaker European nations to financially stronger ones. This is already happening as people pull their savings out of banks in Greece, Spain, Portugal and move it to German banks,

 Funds may even totally leave all European financial  institutions and go overseas to less risky parts of the globe. Right now, pretty much any Greek with the means to do so is packing up and moving out of Greece, Some Irish and Spanish are not far behind in doing the same.

 * An increase in desire for regional government and in nationalism. In the last couple months the Catalans are increasingly wanting to get away from Madrid. The Venetians don't want to pay taxes to Rome anymore, and the Scots would rather answer to Edinburgh instead of London.

This can also be seen in a rise of nationalistic political parties, such as Golden Dawn and Syriza in Greece, the True Finns in Finland, Jobbik in Hungary, and Front National in France, among others. There is even a possibility of the military seizing control, maybe in Spain and Greece, which have both known military rule in modern times. It looks like the Swiss are preparing for some major economic and political pain across Europe.

* Here in the USA, government at all levels (federal, state, local) will have to be cut dramatically. Excessive and unaffordable public pension obligations at the state level are killing some states (California and my Illinois are prime examples). Going ahead, these states will only have two options: cut their public employees pensions, or cut other state spending to free up the pension money. This will involve pain either way, but the time for painless options went out the door a while ago. I think Marc Faber's ideas on cutting government a minimum of 50% is a good idea (however, I would do it over months, not in three days!)

I also believe there will be a wave of municipal defaults. Several cities in California have already filed for  'Chapter 9' bankruptcy protection. Filing for bankruptcy can lead to a variety of problems.

 There will be more of this across the nation.

The path ahead for the global economy is shaky. Decades of over promising and overspending has bought all of us to the edge of the precipice. The needed cuts and changes will be painful, possibly even leading to outbreaks of violence, and even war. However,  no changes in policy will lead to outright economic collapse. About the only certainty will be a decrease in lifestyle and a increase in hardship. Living could become a even greater  struggle for a lot of people globally.

I truly wish the economic picture wasn't so bleak, but I see limited options ahead for  us. I can be reached at chicagodudewhotrades@gmail.com if you wish to contact me. Thank You for your time.

Dear Editor:
Although land, sea, and aerial [unmanned vehicles] are available, for the purpose of survival ‘hobbyist’ surveillance from an aerial vehicle is the best option.  A land or sea based homemade ‘drone’ would have to be large to navigate even moderate terrain or choppy water and the larger the vehicle is the more costly, dangerous and obvious it is.  Aerial ‘drones’ on the other hand can be much smaller and unobtrusive.   When we refer to drones, what we are really speaking of just a radio controlled vehicle with perhaps some fancy telemetry.   Aerial drones come in two basic flavors, fixed wing and multi-copter.   I have experience building both as well as automated lawnmowers and snowplows. 

Fixed wing

A fixed wing UAV is really a radio control airplane.  There are thousands of models available, from palm sized to nearly full scale.  Power can come from a battery or even a small scale jet turbine.  The best format for a drone would be an inexpensive expanded foam model.  These foams can withstand full speed impacts with the ground with really no damage other than a broken propeller (trust me I know).   Skillfully built and operated, the fixed wing drone could stay aloft for hours and several thousand feet up.  Operation is nearly silent when at altitude.


A multi-copter is just a helicopter with more than one rotor.  A Chinook is an example of a full scale multi-copter.  Multi-copters come in several formats, having from 3 to 12 motors on arms extending from the center. Kits are commercially available, or a good multi-copter can be scratch built at home.  Design can be very robust if proper materials are selected.  The strongest units are made from carbon fiber or aluminum, with motors oriented for redundancy.   My multi-copter is about 4 feet across, weighs 6 pounds, and can lift a 4 pound payload.  These are very versatile.  I can follow a car, land on a roof, even fly to my front window and look inside the house.  Multi-copter electronics are much more expensive than their fixed wing counterparts.  Careful consideration must be paid to electronics protection.

This is a bit of a catch all term and can best be divided into stabilization and flight control.  For a fixed wing vehicle, stabilization can be done inexpensively with hobby gyros.  This will automatically correct the flight to straight and level after any deviation.  Flying is much more simple.  Flight control is added on top of stabilization.  Generally flight control is via GPS radios with waypoints programmed via a computer.   You end up with a radio controlled airplane that once launched will fly, to a point(s) and circle, take video, etc. and fly back.  Video feed is also possible, but even a cheap video camera will record nicely from the air.

For multi-copters stabilization is absolutely necessary.  Humans can not control anything this complex alone.  For a multi-copter  the stabilization essentially compiles  normal inputs, from a radio or flight controller,  along with gyro and accelerometer data from the vehicle.  The stabilization computer then calculates the desired speed for each motor.  Multi-copter stabilization is very effective.  I can literally shove my x8 multi-copter in flight and it simply autocorrects back to its original position and heading.    Multi-copter flight control is very similar to fixed wind control, via GPS waypoints, although ultrasonic range finders can be used indoors.   The stabilization in my multi-copter is capable of controlled flight in 25+ mph winds.
Please keep in mind that there are FAA and FCC rules governing radio control aircraft, drones and video downlink radios.

After months of tinkering, crashing and spending probably thousands of dollars, you will have a drone that will fly in a stable manner.  You will be able to control it with your radio and maybe you invested enough for a flight controller and video down link.  What do you do with this new toy?
Due to payload and range restrictions, an aerial drone is not suited for really anything other than surveillance/reconnaissance.  Honestly, in a survival scenario, my multi-copter in not even on the bug out list.  That is not to say that these things are useless to a prepper though.   I have video of my house and neighborhood.  I can easily fly above and look down undetected.  If I wanted to, I could peer into window on a high rise.  Whether bugging in, or at a retreat a bird’s eye view of your environment is very much a force multiplier, although I sometimes think a camera on a $10 kite with a long sting is an equivalent option. Regards, - Rockhound

Speaking of offline Wikipedia tools, there are a number of offline readers available for your laptop computer. I have found these:

None of these are great, but they are all free. - Regards, - Patrick W.

JWR Replies: Thanks for sending those links. The 3.5 Gigabytes required to store LeftistAgendaPedia Wikipedia complete with graphics is a good reason to remember to buy a laptop with a larger hard disk drive, the next time that you need to replace yours.

I noticed that Dale Fricke Holsters (up in Montana) has expanded their line. Since we store our guns loaded in our vault, we've put their great little Zacchaeus holsters on all of our Glock and XD pistols. (The Zacchaeus holster adds new meaning to the word minimalist!)

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The latest flying video from Ttabs is both beautiful and a geography lesson: Moses Coulee and the Ice Age Floods.

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Idaho was ranked #2 in the recent list of 10 Best States to Retire.

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Idaho Towns Welcome Firearms Despite Gun Control Crackdowns Across the Country. (Thanks to Heidi C. for the link.)

New 'One-Shot' Rifle Sight Could Make Snipers Deadlier Than Ever

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Reader J.B. used Wayback Machine to find this 1990 FDA article: The Canning Process: Old Preservation Technique Goes Modern by Dale Blumenthal

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All too predictable: Storm sets off frantic rush for supplies across East Coast. (Thanks to Jared B. for the link.)

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Jason F. suggested a new adjustable serpentine belt that would be perfect to keep in your vehicle and shop.

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14 Unique Water Towers From Around the World

"In a consumer society the product consumed by man in largest quantities is optimism." - Robert Merle, Malevil

Monday, October 29, 2012

I will be the featured lecturer at the Get Prepared Expo (via teleseminar) on Saturday, November 3rd, 2012. This is an expanded repeat of a very popular event. There will be 100 Exhibits and 70 Seminars. You can save 20% by buying your admission passes in advance at GetPreparedEXPO.com ($8 for a one-day pass, or $15 for a weekend pass.) The expo will be held November 3 and 4, 2012 at the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds in Springfield, Missouri.


October 29th is the birthday of World War II cartoonist Bill Mauldin (Born 1921, died January 22, 2003). His son, economist John Mauldin, is often quoted in SurvivalBlog.

I know that over the years, and in many articles, I clearly stated that when lasers for firearms first came on the market, they were mostly considered "toys" by most professionals, myself included. The lasers back in the day, were big and bulky, cost a lot of money, and the battery run-time was short. Additionally, there really wasn't any way to holster a handgun with a large laser on it - no one made holsters to fit the cumbersome handgun lasers. So, for the most part, lasers didn't catch-on, at least, not right away. They were a rich man's toy.

Today, there is a  huge line of laser products for rifles, shotguns and handguns made by with Crimson Trace Corporation (CTC). I've tested a number of CTC products over the years, and have been totally impressed with all of them. I've toured their manufacturing plant, and got a real insider's look at all that is involved in producing CTC products. It isn't simply a matter of slapping a red or green light on a module and shipping it out the door - a lot of research and development is involved in coming out with CTC products. Just the R&D alone is quite a project, and it requires a lot of work to come up with the various lasers for the many firearms that CTC lasers are installed on. Then we have the production department, and I'm here to tell you, a LOT of work goes into assembling a pint-sized laser for handguns. Plus, each and every laser is individually focused before it is shipped - again, no small project, to be sure. I've watched CTC technicians assembling lasers, and it is a meticulous job - one I clearly couldn't do because I couldn't even see some of the wires they were attaching inside the units - they are very thin.

CTC was the first company, to my knowledge, to come out with "instinctive" lasers. Now, what does that mean? Well, many laser units have to be switched on and off - it takes a decisive movement. Instinctive lasers are just what it sounds like - they come on "instinctively" - you don't have to think about it - just grab your firearm as you normally would, and when you do, the pressure on the laser by one of your fingers automatically turns the laser on. Release the pressure and the laser goes off - couldn't be any easier than that - you just don't have to think about it - the laser is ready to go on when you need it. There are a few units that also have an on/off switch that you can use to keep the laser turned off if you don't think you'll need it - the 1911 grips lasers come to mind. I personally keep CTC lasers turned in, if they have that switch. I don't want to have to think about it - I want my firearm ready to fire when I'm ready to fire.

The CTC product under review today is their MVF-515 laser, and this is for a railed AR-15 type of rifle. Although, you can also attach it to a standard forearm if you attach a separate rail to it. However, many of the standard "plastic" forearms don't stay in the same place - they tend to wiggle around a bit, throwing-off the laser from the intended aiming point. However, for CQB use - up close and personal - the laser won't be "off" by enough to matter if you are taking a center-of-mass aiming point. Still, it's wise to use the MVF-515 on a Picatinny railed forearm for best results. For this article, I used a parts AR - the lower receiver was from POF USA - and they make piston-driven ARs - but also sell lower receivers that can be used to assemble a direct gas impingement upper or a piston-driven upper - my sample has a standard Direct Gas Impingement upper, there is also a quad-rail forearm, and the MVF-515 slipped right on without any problems.

Now, the MVF-515 sample I received had the green laser aimer - and you can even see the bright green dot from the laser in bright sunlight - so long as the target is very far away. I believe lasers are best used at 50 - 75 feet, especially in daylight. Even though you can see a red or green laser from hundreds of yards away, you can't readily ID you target at that distance to make a clean kill shot. So, I believe lasers are best reserved for up-close and personal use. CTC also offers a separate laser module unit - this means you can switch the laser module out in a few minutes from red to green, or green back to red. CTC send me a separate red laser module to test with the green MVF-515 unit. And, it only takes a minute or two to change the modules back and forth.

I don't know how much the MVF-515 weighs, but it was under a pound - maybe even half a pound. I'm not one of these folks who will take a 6-1/2 to 7 pound AR/M4 rifle or carbine, then add another 5 or 6 pounds to it - just doesn't make a lot of sense in my book, no sense at all. Part of the concept behind the 5.56mm round is that, you have a small, light-weight package to shoot this round through. I couldn't tell you the number of ARs that I've seen with all manner of toys attached to 'em - to the point where you really wouldn't be able to carry the gun very far comfortably, nor would you be able to deploy it rapidly. Still, a lot of mall ninjas and armchair commandos insist on attaching everything they can buy on their ARs, no matter how impractical it all might be. Sorry, I'm of the old school, in that, less means more, and the less I can attach to my ARs, the better I like it. As a matter of fact, most of my ARs don't have quad-rails on 'em, so I'm not tempted to hang a lot of junk on 'em to start with. We can agree to disagree on this - if you are comfortable adding a lot of useless toys on your ARs, then go for it. As for me, I'll go the opposite direction, and only put on my ARs the bare essentials.

What we also have with the MVF-515 is a powerful 150/200 Lumen LED light module - it's built into the MVF-515 so you don't have to attach a separate light - nice, real nice! The anodized tang is the foundation for the rock-solid foregrip on the MVF-515 and is made out of 6061-T6 aircraft grade aluminum for a lifetime of service. The laser and light are instinctively activated as you hold the weapon, and activation switches are ambidextrous - which allows the operator to select the light or the laser individually or simultaneously.  On top of that, both the light and the laser are functions are programmable with three illumination modes to select from including: independent momentary, strobe or constant on. A master on/off switch permits complete shutdown of either the laser of the light.

The material that the actual MVF-515 us made out of is black polymer - super tough stuff. The overmold rubber activation switches are easy to activate, too. Laser battery life is 6-hours of constant on - and will last a lot longer by using it on/off - just when needed. The laser is sighted at the factory for 50-feet, and if you need to adjust it for longer distances, it's easily done with supplied Allen wrenches. The MVF-515 also has a 3-yr full warranty - should you have any problems.

Okay, enough about the specs of the CTC MVF-515, how did the unit actually work in practice? Well, I'm here to tell you, that attaching the unit couldn't be much easier - only takes a minute or less. However, the user has to decide exactly where to place the unit on a quad-rail - some folks like 'em farther out on the quad-rail than others, some like 'em as close to the mag well as possible. I took the middle ground and placed the MVF-515 just about in the middle of the POF USA M4 sample - it felt extremely comfortable there for me - not too far and not too close. I did experiment with the laser placed as far forward as possible, and found it tiring to have to have my left arm extended so far forward on the quad-rail. Experiment to find the "sweet spot" for your own use when you get an MVF-515 for your gun.

With the green laser module attached, I headed out to my usual shooting spot and set-up a target at 25-yards away. Even though it was very sunny out, I could still easily see the green laser dot on the target without any problems. I fired and found that the shots were just a tad lower than where I was aiming. Again, this unit is sighted-in at the factory at 50-feet, you can adjust the point of aim/point of impact to your own liking. I didn't really see any need to make any adjustments for my use - the difference between the aiming point and point of impact were enough to matter. I tried aiming at some trees and brush with the green laser attached, and the green dot was all but lost in the bright sunlight. I switched over to the red dot laser - again, this only takes a few minutes to do. While I could still see the red laser dot on my target in the bright sunlight, I had to struggle a little bit to focus on it - which wasn't a surprise. For daytime use, the green laser is the way to go if you are expecting to take a shot under bright sunlight. For low-light or indoor shooting the red dot was more to my liking. While the green dot laser worked well under low-light conditions, it was actually a bit too bright - the red laser dot was easier on the eyes. Experiment with both and make your own choices...what's nice is that, if you purchased the MVF-515 with either the red or green laser attached, you can purchase the other color laser separately and it only takes a few minutes to change out the laser module.

I wish that, when I was in law enforcement - public or private - that the MVF-515 would have been around, I surely would have had the MVF-515 mounted on my AR or M4 back then. The intimidation factor alone, with a red or green dot on a bad guy's chest is often enough to put a stop to any further hostilities if you ask me. I know that, if someone were pointing a gun at me, with a laser on it, and I saw that little red or green dot over my heart, I'd think twice before making a move - simple as that. Another nice thing about lasers is the fact that, they allow for VERY rapid target acquisition - you don't have to close your eye to get on target - both eyes are open. This really makes it fast getting on target with a bad guy. If you are a home owner, and your bedside has a laser on it - anyone who might be breaking into your house will wish they were some place else if they saw that laser pointed on their chest - I know I would, if I were a bad guy.

In firing more than 500 rounds of various Winchester http://www.winchester.com/, Black Hills Ammunition http://www.black-hills.com/ and Buffalo Bore Ammunition http://www.buffalobore.com/ though the POF USA parts gun, the CTC MVF-515 never came loose, nor did it need any adjustments when I switched from the red to the green, and back from the green to the red laser modules - the point of aim stayed the same - and I really did switch the modules back and forth a number of times. The MVF-515 never worked itself loose from the quad-rail, either - and I can't say that about some other lasers I've played with over the years. While this wasn't a test of the POF USA parts M4, the gun performed great, never missed a beat - whoever built this M4 up, knew what they were doing. I was getting one-hole, 3-shot groups all day long with all of the above ammo at 25-yards - you can't ask for better performance than that. I couldn't pick a winner from any of the ammo - all ammo went into one hole at 25-yards!

Anything negative about the MVF-515? Well, not really. The unit performed as it was supposed to. However, take some time to go over the instructions and learn about the different modes that the laser and light have to offer - and practice the different modes - it does take some time to get it all mastered.  I really liked the strobe from the light - it would easily confuse someone who looked at the light - and if they had a weapon, it would make it difficult for them to deploy it against you. The steady "on" mode for the light is also really nice - again, if a person is temporarily blinded, it makes it difficult for them to attack you. The strobing laser is sort of cool, too - it catches your attention in no uncertain terms.

Full-retail for the MVF-515 with the green laser module attached is $649 http://www.crimsontrace.com/products/manufacturer/ar15-m16-rifles and you can add the replacement red laser module for $249 more - a bit spendy? Yes, but you are getting Crimson Trace Corporation quality (and made in the USA, too) and they don't make junk - simple as that! I believe the MVF-515 would be an asset to anyone who uses an AR or M4 for self-defense. I know this product is used by thousands in our military and in law enforcement. If you want the best-of-the-best, for a worthy addition to your AR or M4, then this is the one product I highly recommend that you attach - you can keep most of the red dot holo sights - I'll take the MVF-515 for CQB use...for long-range shooting, a holo red dot is great to have, though. But for CQB, I can't think of a better thing to add to your AR or M4 - and it won't weigh the gun down like so many other "toys" tend to do - and many of those toys will fail you when you need 'em most - the MVF-515 won't fail you under harsh conditions. You should also be aware that, many green dot lasers don't work well when temps drop below freezing, the  folks at CTC figured out how to overcome this with their green laser module. If you want a laser for $29.99 - then go out and waste your money - you'll be sorry you paid a red cent for junk. If you want what is the best instinctive lasers on the market, then CTC is the only way to go in my humble opinion.

If you plan on using your AR or M4 for self-defense - I honestly can't think of a better product to add to your gun. If you are in law enforcement or the military - there is no excuse to not have an MVF-515 mounted on your weapon - it can and will save lives - simple as that. Save your money and buy the best!

Iain Harrison is the new PR/Marketing guru at CTC - and if his name sounds familiar to you, it should - he was the winner of the first season of the popular "Top Shot" television program. Iain went above and beyond to get me the MVF-515 samples for this article. And, Iain wouldn't have joined the CTC team, if he didn't think their products were the best-of-the-best. - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

Hi James,
I am a big fan of yours way over from Czech Republic. I want to thank you for all the so valuable information you share. You really changed my view, in fact you opened my eyes.

Lately I was thinking about the offline Wikipedia and its importance in a prolonged grid-down scenario with no access to the internet. The text Wikipedia dumps are great and I started to think about how to get them in a Kindle-like reader. It seems someone did it already (WikiReader Pocket Wikipedia) and since I haven't found it mentioned anywhere on your blog, here is a link. And Amazon sells them for around $15. It runs on two AAA batteries. It also has some limitations, the most of which I am concerned about is the lack of tabular data in the articles, which might convey potentially useful information. Details on limitations can be seen here.

Be safe and I look forward to reading more great posts on your blog and hear you more on Coast to Coast AM podcasts. Best Regards, - Petr T.

Jan C.'s Buckwheat Shortcake

This came from an early 1900s recipes book:

Take three or four teacupfuls of nice sour milk, one teaspoonful of soda dissolved in milk; if the milk is very sour, you must use soda in proportion with a little salt. Mix up a dough with buckwheat flour thicker than you would mix the same for griddle cakes, say quite stiff. Pour it into a buttered tin and put directly into the stove oven and bake for thirty minutes, or as you would a shortcake from common flour.

It takes the place of the griddle cake, also the shortcake, in every sense of the word — nice with meat, butter, honey, molasses, etc. No shortening is used.

If any is left, wet the top a little and warm it up for the next meal; it is just as good as when fresh.

Chef's Notes:

Note from the book: "The author urges everyone to give it a trial, saying from personal experience that a dyspeptic can eat it, when no other warm bread could be tolerated. He also warns that sometimes, at the first trial, one may fail from the milk being too sour for the amount of soda used, or from making the dough too thin."

Useful Recipe and Cooking Links:

Mrs. R.L.B. liked this site: Dutch Oven Dude

Currently Available as Free Kindle e-Books:

The Way It Was: Old World Italian Recipes For New World Cooks

Top 30 Easy & Delicious Burger and Sandwich Recipes

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

Joe K. sent: 9 Ways to Make Fire Without Matches--Videos that teach us other methods of creating fire

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Reader Pierre M. sent a link to some history that might be unfamiliar to some blog readers: .357: The First Magnum.

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The Wanenmacher Gun Show will beheld in Tulsa, Oklahoma on November 10 & 11.  This is billed as the world's largest gun show, with more than 4,100 tables--a whopping 5.7 linear miles of tables, if thery were all placed end-to-end. (Thanks to Tom B. for the reminder.)

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H.L. was the first of several readers to send this news story link that has some valuabe OPSEC lessons: Foreclosed family watches helplessly as craigslist crowds strip house bare. Oh. adn speaking of OPSEC: Handgun found inside hollowed-out book donated to Valpo library. (Thanks to Steve C. for the latter link.)

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Reader B.B. spotted this: What will you give me for this list of great bartering websites?

"The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him." - Leo Tolstoy

Sunday, October 28, 2012

October 28th is the 83rd anniversary of the Wall Street Crash of 1929. (The "Black Monday" crash.) Buckle up, folks. (We could be in for a repeat.)


Today we present another entry for Round 43 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. 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 FloJak.com. C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, E.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 43 ends on November 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.

Why should tyrannical, oppressive governments have all the fun with advanced technology?  How many of you reading this knew that for about $1,000 (about the cost of a good AR-15) that you could buy all the parts you needed to build your own drones?  Did you know that there are cutting edge companies that are even selling “all in one” kits to make your own drones?  Everyone is well-aware that drones have become a force-multiplier on the battle field.  They grant a lone ground force the ability of a degree of air-superiority, even if that superiority is only that of surveillance and the ability to see through the fog of war to a certain extent.  Imagine the implications this can have on the safety and security of your homestead?  Not to mention what a fun hobby this could be!

This essay is written to serve as an introduction to everyone about the possibilities of civilian drone technology.  You will need to do technical research on your own.  Please note, what you choose to do with your drone is your own business.  Make sure that you obey all local, state and federal laws regarding this technology.

What do you need to get started?
Head on over to DIYDrones.com.  This is a great web site that was created with the sole purpose of investigating the world of drone technology and how it can be utilized by the average civilian.  It has a great community to help you with all your questions.  According to the web site's editors, here is a list of what you will need to start your own DIY drones project. 

  1.  You will need a vehicle.  DIYDrones.com there are instructions showing how to incorporate planes, helicopters, land-based and even water based vehicles into your drone system.
  2. You will need an autopilot.  Autopilots are computer boards that control the mechanical functions of your drones.  You will need this item if you want to be able to program your drones to be autonomous and function on its own.  Autopilots typically include mission planning software to program your drones.
  3. You will need a computer or laptop.  Most of us already posses one that can serve the purpose.
  4. An optional payload system.  This could be anything from recording cameras, video transmission equipment, radio duplexers, to a message in a bottle.  More on this later.

It’s as simple as that.  The macro-components listed above are simple to gather and can be done under $1,000 (excluding computer).   This is enough to get you started in the world of drones’s.  Let’s take a look at highly suggested support equipment.  If you are really broke, take a look at AirHogs.  I know, they are toys for kids.  But how valuable could this simple “toy” be as a force multiplier?  I wouldn’t stake my life on them, but they could really make a big difference.

  1. Off-grid power source.  drones’s need electricity to run.  They don’t use much, so a big system isn’t necessary.  Ideally you would want a system that could allow you to re-charge your drones within one day.  A great no-fuss, all-in-one system is Goal Zero’s Escape 150 Solar Kit.  A system like this could be exclusively used to support your drones and isn’t too hard on the pocket book.  An alternative is a Biolite Homestove  (if you can get your hands on one) is another great option, as you can tend to your cooking duties while charging electrical systems.
  2. Spare batteries.   Spare batteries for your drones and all support equipment are highly recommended.  Batteries will wear out with constant use. 
  3. Spare autopilot.  Your autopilot is the brain of your drones.  If you only have one and it dies, your drones has become useless.
  4. Spare parts for your vehicle.  Consider the parts that might break the most.  Ailerons, rudders, rotors/propellers, wheels, chassis, suspension, etc.  Stock up on a few extras plus additional materials that could be substituted for broken parts.  Model airplane wood, glue, plastics, metals, paints (for camouflage).
  5. Spare payload parts of your choice.

It is highly recommended that any primary and spare parts for your drones be stored in some sort of Faraday cage when not in use.

So, now you’ve got your own homemade, DIY drone/drones.  What next?  How can it be useful?  The possibilities are endless, but here are some uses that might interest Survivalblog readers.  There are three main categories of use than a drone could function in; surveillance, communication, delivery/transport.  While examining these three categories, please keep in mind that drones’s can come in land, sea or air based systems.  Conduct some critical thinking exercises to see which system could serve your unique situation best in your environment.  These are just a few possibilities, I’m sure you can think of more!  Keep in mind, the mission planning software that you get for your autopilot will often come with the ability to program your drone to the below tasks.


Static Observation

Imagine for a moment that you require the ability to observe a field a view from a higher elevation or vantage point.  A quad copter type drones could be suited very well for this task since it is capable in functioning in a hover mode.  Imagine your field of view from an altitude 100’ above your ground-based observation post?

Roving Patrol
Programming your drones or drone to conduct a patrol on a pre-designated route can potentially save you man power.  If your homestead is under-staffed, you may be able to send out patrols to survey your area of operations without sacrificing critical staff at your base location.

If there is something in particular you would like to get a closer look at, you can send out a drones to have a closer inspection without putting personnel in harm’s way.  Let’s say you are in a vehicle convoy and are coming up on a blind curve.  Wouldn’t it be great to send out a drones to reconnoiter the curve to determine if it is safe/free of an ambush?  Anything that is dangerous that you don’t want to get close to is perfect for a recon mission.


Homing Pigeon
Imagine that you are out on a patrol and need a way to discretely send a message to someone?  If you had a drones that was preprogrammed to head to a designated GPS location, you could then send the drones on it’s mission to deliver a written message, flash drive, or other small object.

Aerial Repeater
UHF/VHF handheld radios suffer from the unfortunate consequence of being line of sight (LOS) radios only.  Depending on the terrain, this could limit radio communication on these frequencies to just a few miles.  Repeaters provide the ability to extend the range of these frequencies by basically putting a radio on a big-tall tower (or other high elevation) that re-transmits a signal.  The problem is, you can’t always build a tower in a remote location.
Here’s a solution.  If you have access to a duplexer, it could be installed on a UAV.  By flying the UAV at an extreme altitude in a holding pattern, you could potentially extend the range of a UHF/VHF radio network up to 50-60 miles.  Think that could be useful?  The drawback to this usage is that a fairly large UAV will be required in order to carry the heavy payload a duplexed repeater system.


This is an all-encompassing category and the possibilities here are endless.  The limitations of this category are base solely on the cargo capacity, in both weight and volume, of the particular vehicle you intend on using.  The larger the vehicle you intend to use, the more cargo capacity.  Keep in mind to, that the vehicle does not necessarily have to land in order to make the delivery (if you are using a UAV).  A package of MREs could be dropped via parachute eliminating the need for the UAV to land.  It can simply be programmed to fly out, make the drop and fly back. Use your noggin to think about this one.  They sky is the limit (pun intended).

Advantages and Disadvantages of Drones

In addition to the aforementioned advantages and uses, please consider the following.

  1. Drones can function autonomously.  This requires an autopilot and uses GPS to navigate.
  2. Drones can function manually, in the same manner that an RC hobbyist controls his vehicle.  By attaching a camera the “pilot” can fly in 1st person.
  3. Drones in autopilot mode can be deployed at night.
  4. If a drone gets damaged or destroyed, that’s better than a human being injured or killed.
  5. Drones can be programmed to function in fleets as a unit, or individually.


  1. Drones require a support system.  See above.
  2. Drones can be hacked or spoofed.  Whether in manual or autopilot mode, drones are sending and receiving radio frequencies.  These frequencies could potentially be hacked into with devices like these.
  3. If you plan on making repairs or advanced modifications to drones you will most likely require extra spare parts and materials in addition to an understanding of aerodynamics, electronics, and radio frequency communication.
  4. Drones are almost impossible to operate in bad weather.
  5. Drones are not a tool to base your life on, but they can be a boon when working as designed.

JWR Adds: Drones are also fragile, so you would need to store many spare drones and parts to make your DIY drone capability viable in the long term.

Payload Considerations
Here are some considerations for payload.

  1. Video recording camera (requires download and analysis at a later time).
  2. Video streaming camera (requires radio frequency transmission system).
  3. Night vision for above devices.
  4. Thermal vision for above devices.
  5. Supply delivery system (such as parachute drop cargo bay).
  6. Radio relays such as repeaters/duplexers.
  7. What else can be carried?  Put your thinking cap on!

I hope the above information has sparked some interest into the potential uses for such great technology.  Remember to obey all laws when operating such technology.  It’s your responsibility to know the law so that you don’t do anything illegal. Enjoy your new hobby!

So I found a reputable dealer here in town, went to the store, He asked what can I do for you? I said how many pre-'65 silver coins do you have? A big smile on the owners face and he gets up from his desk walks behind a partition, and comes back with three boxes of loose coins. Half dollars, quarters and dimes. I ask what is the going rate and he told me 23.25 times face value.  I asked how much $2,000 would buy me. He calculated $86.80 in silver coin. He asked me why I was buying, and I told him I didn't trust the economy to make it to Christmas, so its always handy to have some coin. Silver is something that anyone will accept [if Federal Reserve Notes become hyperinflated to the point of worthlessness].
I have to ask, was the price I paid worth the silver's value? If I needed to pay $2,000 to someone would they accept $86 and change? Thanks for all you do, Peace, - Michael T.

JWR Replies: I can assure you that 23 times face is a very fair retail rate, at present. Here is why: When I last checked, spot silver was at $32.09 per ounce. (Close of market on 26 October, 2012.) The key number to remember is 715. It is generally agreed that there are 715 Troy ounces of silver in a $1,000 face value bag of circulated pre-1965 half dollars, quarters and dimes. (Given typical wear.) So we would calculate $32.09 x 715 = $22944.35. That is the "melt" value of a $1,000 valve value bag. Hence, by shifting the decimal three places from the "Thousands" place to the "Ones" place, we'd get 22.94435 times face. So your dealer was not cheating you. He generously gave you the same premium that most dealers charge for a full bag. (Smaller increments generally sell at a higher premium.)

And don't feel bad that $2,000 in FRNs only buys you $86.80 face value of coins. This isn't the coin dealer's fault. The robbery was committed the U.S. Congress and Lyndon Baines Johnson, back in 1965--when they started passing off silver-plated copper slugs as genuine coinage. It is no wonder that the American people quickly scooped up all of the silver coins they could find in 1965 and 1966. As I've mentioned before, an analogous situation now exists for nickels (U.S. five cent pieces), which will soon be similarly debased. Stock up!

G.G. flagged this article at Popular Science: Where Will The Next Pandemic Come From? And How Can We Stop It?

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Wade J. mentioned an interesting approach to dog training.

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F.G. sent: War Horses Fade Into History While Bayonets Still Linger

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Ron M. sent this: Homegrown revolution — Gardeners expand to tackle Alaska’s food insecurity

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H.L. mentioned this over at the excellent SHTFPlan blog: Murder, Rape, Robbery and Assault Skyrocket In Bankrupt Stockton, California. (Don't miss the fascinating comments that follow, mentioning militias and one sobering prospect for gated communities.)

"And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.
And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.
And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,
And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by [the means of] those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.
And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.
And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number [is] Six hundred threescore [and] six." - Revelation 13:11-18 (KJV)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Please pray for those who end up in the path of Hurricane Sandy when it makes landfall. It looks like it may be a bad one.


October 27th is the birthday of Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt (born 1858, died January 6, 1919). He was the 26th U.S. President (1901–1909).


Today we present another entry for Round 43 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. 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 FloJak.com. C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, E.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 43 ends on November 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 human nature to approach preparedness according to gaps that we see in our plans.  Most of us make checklists (see List of Lists), have 72 hour bags (BOB), and cover the three B’s (Beans, Bullets, and Band-Aids).  We rotate food and water, learn new skills, and do anything we can to bridge the gap between our perceived lack of preparedness and what we consider as “sufficiently prepared”.  We may get so caught up in building bunkers and buying bullets that we operate in an “out of sight, out of mind” mode.  Sure, we should prepare for four-legged and two-legged predators, but what about our unseen enemies?  I’m not talking conspiracy theories here, but about microbes.  These microscopic enemies can penetrate your defenses and strike your entire group before you have time to formulate a response. 

We’ve had several wonderful articles about bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites, but I thought it would be helpful to condense some of the information I have gathered and offer some advice on how to create a defensive strategy against our smallest enemies- a Pathogen Protection Plan (PPP), if you will.  I will do my best to keep this basic.  I usually have to scroll up and down on articles with lots of terms and acronyms, so I’ll try to keep it short and memorable.  Get a pencil, just in case.

To help break up some of the cloud surrounding the microscopic world, let me give a little more background.  We will get to the interesting part soon, I promise.  Scientists use a classification system to identify organisms, using what’s called binomial nomenclature to assign them a two-part name.  Humans are Homo sapiens, and the horrible antibiotic-resistant bacteria we call MRSA is actually Staphylococcus aureus.  If these names are used at all in common parlance, they are often shortened.  Staphylococcus becomes Staph or just S.  Due to advances in genetic research, sometimes the names change as scientists discover that something they thought was similar to something else actually wasn’t.  Enterobacter sakazakii (E. sak), a dangerous microbe in the infant formula industry, was recently renamed Chronobacter sakazakii.  Different name, same bacteria.  It’s confusing, but you won’t need to worry too much about that.

For the purposes of this article, let’s refer to all of the above named disease-causing organisms as Pathogens (Greek- producers of suffering).  They all have their differences, but we can group them together as Pathogens because they have one big thing in common- you.  The earth is filled with an unbelievable number of microscopic organisms, but most of them don’t thrive inside the human body.  You’d be shocked to know how many viruses are in a milliliter of seawater, yet it’s unlikely you would get sick from any of them.  Our focus in creating a Pathogen Protection Plan (PPP) is not to create a living space devoid of microbes, but to reduce the chances of exposing ourselves to the dangerous microbes.  Some pathogens are easier to kill than others.  Most things are killed with an alcohol or bleach solution, but spore-forming microbes must be treated more harshly, typically with high heat methods.

Let’s start our PPP with the most basic of needs - water.  We know that a water filter is necessary to prevent gastroenteritis caused by Giardia lamblia or Cryptosporidium cysts.  Ceramic filters (the best on the market) have pore sizes down to 0.3 micrometers (or microns), but they are ineffective against Hepatitis A virus (often found in tainted water), with a size of 0.028 microns (approximately 1/10th of the pore size).  I don’t know offhand if silver impregnated filters are rated to “kill” viruses (viruses aren’t technically alive)-most filters say that they prevent growth of microbes when not in use.  Using unscented bleach to treat water takes the guesswork out of it.

The next item would be food.  Most of us are familiar with using a pressure canner to kill C. botulinum spores.  In the food industry, a concept known as HACCP is used to identify and minimize risks associated with ingredients that are likely to be contaminated.  HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point, and is a system originally developed for NASA’s space food.  In the home, we are taught to cook food according to a dumbed-down version of HACCP.  No mixing vegetables and raw chicken, wash your veggies, wash your hands- things like that.  HACCP gives us a more organized approach to preparing hazardous food (raw chicken, etc) that is easy to teach through SOP’s (you do have SOP’s for your group, right?).   Let’s go through the seven principles of HACCP:
1.       Conduct a Hazard Analysis- What is in the area that can contaminate the food? Raw meat, engine coolant, and metal shavings are all possible hazards.  Identify anything that could harm you if it made it into your meal.
2.       Identify Critical Control Points- What can be done to reduce/eliminate the hazard, and at what step should you do it?  Is all of your meat fresh?  Do you refrigerate it?  Do you cook meat all the way through?
3.       Establish limits for CCPs- How bad does the hazard have to be before you give up and start over?  Is that chicken fresh?  If not, does it smell “off”?  If the dog won’t eat it, it might not be safe, even after you cook it.  How long can the fridge be above normal temp before you consider the food inside “no good”?
4.       Monitoring CCPs-  How can you tell that the CCP is working?  Do you have a thermometer in the fridge?  You should!  If you like meat pink, do you check the temperature?  Temperature is the easiest way to monitor after TEOTWAWKI.  Glass thermometers are plentiful online.  Some laboratories change them yearly to maintain calibrations.  That’s how I get mine.
5.       Corrective Actions- What will you do if your CCP limits are not met?
6.       Verify- Check that the system is working properly.  The best way to do this is to have someone else prepare a hazardous meal following your SOP word for word.  If you are skeptical of the result, you have some work to do!
7.       Establish record-keeping procedures- You should have records like garden logs, weather events, and vehicle maintenance already.  When you use an ingredient that smells or looks odd, you should write it down somewhere.  If someone gets sick, write it down!  Tracking what you ate will help you identify latent food allergies (some people get migraines from certain foods) as well as problems associated with the food (was your home-grown chicken diseased?).  You don’t need to keep industrial logs- 100 kilos of x ingredient and 200 kilos of x product.  You might have something like that for inventory maintenance, but it’s not going to do much good for a Pathogen Protection Plan.

Not everything about a HACCP plan is tied to chickens.  Potato salad is often the cause of a bad day.  Potatoes contain Bacillus cereus spores, which activate upon cooking and grow if the salad is not kept cool.  The toxins they emit can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

In a situation without medical assistance, we can convert a pressure canner to act as a sterilizer for medical equipment.  There are sterilizers for sale that are designed for use on a stovetop.  Quality examples can be had at AllAmericanCanner.com.  If TEOTWAWKI comes and you don’t have a sterilizer, adding an anti-siphon tube to the vent stack will allow you to use it to sterilize surgical equipment and dressings if you’re really in a pinch.  An anti-siphon tube is a tube typically installed on pressurized gas tanks (most often CO2) that are stored horizontally.  The tube prevents liquid from coming out of the pressurized tank when we want the gas.  A quick image search will give you a diagram of what I am talking about.  We want the tube opening just above the surface of the water.  The reason for a siphon tube is that hot, dry air is a poor sterilizer, while hot steam is a great sterilizer.  Because steam is lighter than air it will move to the top of the pressure canner and exhaust out, leaving the air untouched.  The tube forces the air to move out of the canner first, leaving the steam behind to effectively sterilize items.  To remove the guesswork of a DIY system, buy a stovetop sterilizer .

A standard sterilizer cycle is 121*C (which translates to approximately 18 psi on the gauge) for 15 minutes. Pressure canners typically have a max safe operating pressure of 15psi, so it would be wise to process items for at least 30 minutes.  Because the stovetop varieties lack the special purge cycles of larger, modern steam sterilization equipment (autoclave), processing time is lengthened beyond the standard 15 minute cycle.  Follow the directions.   A supply of sterilizing pouches will allow you to sterilize medical equipment and bulk surgical dressings for storage and emergency use.  This way you won’t have to run a 30 minute cycle while someone is waiting for you to pull a bullet out.  Typical prices I have seen for the larger pouches are $15 for a pack of 200.  That’s 200 sterile cotton bandages you could make and store, just with a bolt of cotton or muslin cloth and a pack of pouches.  Put a date on these and rotate them every other year or so (again, follow the directions).  If you lay in a couple hundred dollars worth of supplies, you could have a booming SHTF business bartering sterile dressings and the like.  I would not advise bartering your bandages if you are using a DIY sterilizer.  You’re responsible for the product you market, even after a collapse.  Repackage and re-sterilize if the pouch is damaged in any way.

Another great thing about sterilizing pouches is that they have chemical indicators to let you know if sterilizing conditions were met when processed.  Keep in mind when sterilizing to not crowd your equipment.  You need ample room in the pouches and around loose items to allow the steam to circulate and contact the items.  You can’t cram the pouch full of metal instruments and expect them to come out sterile!  Do not put soiled items into the sterilizer!  Clean and disinfect them first with soap and water, then a soak in a bleach solution.  Sterilize after rinsing with clean water.  I must reiterate that this is only for a worst-case scenario.  Don’t practice medicine without a license.  Having said that, it is not illegal to prepare for an emergency in which you are unlikely to have access to professional medical care.  As always, something is better than nothing.

So you have clean water, safe food, and sterile medical equipment after the collapse, but you still have to worry about communicable (contagious) diseases.  Once you’re in your permanent location, your PPP must include methods for isolating, controlling, and removing pathogens carried by people or objects.  This may mean a “sick room” for a person who has diarrhea (you don’t know what’s causing it), with a plan for sanitizing the living quarters afterwards.  How will you handle the waste?  How will you sanitize the bedding, clothing, and other items that won’t fit or you don’t want to put in the sterilizer?  A simple way to sanitize the room would be to use a hand-pump garden sprayer with a bleach solution.  We use these at work to sanitize floors.  It’s 20 to 30 times faster than mopping with a sanitizer.  Make sure what you’re spraying won’t eat the floor if you spray it and let it dry.  Some quaternary ammonia solutions dissolve floor wax and make it gummy.  Epoxy floors are about the best I have found for chemical resistance.

You must have a plan to deal with all possible contaminants.  How will you treat someone in your group that has contracted a blood-borne pathogen (Hepatitis B,C) just before the collapse?  What will you do with surgical instruments that get covered in their blood?  What will you do with your clothes that are now covered in their blood?  How will you clean the room to prevent other patients from contracting the disease?  How will you prevent yourself from contracting the disease? You must create a method for dealing with these scenarios.  Although disposable items are not ideal, they are a quick and easy solution.  Gloves are almost entirely necessary.  Although more expensive, nitrile gloves are hypoallergenic and more resistant to puncture.  Don’t buy these from big-box stores.  Nitrile gloves made for medical or laboratory applications are thick, while consumer-grade nitrile gloves are very thin and tear easily.  Surgical masks are also a must if your group plans to conduct surgery post-collapse (I’m assuming you have someone who is trained and competent).  One word of wisdom on surgical masks- the blue masks you see on television shows will not protect you from a sick person.  Look at who is wearing them in the OR.  Not the patient.  They are designed to catch aerosols created from talking, coughing, and sneezing.  They will only protect you if the infected person is wearing them, not the other way around.  The easy rule of thumb is that if it doesn’t form an airtight seal, it doesn’t protect you from the environment. 

Another angle to consider is combat.  What happens if an enemy punches through the perimeter, is killed, and now you have to dispose of the body?  What precautions will you take to be sure you don’t catch something he may have?  Although it seems paranoid, I feel the best course of action for a group in a fortified location is to treat all outsiders as though they are contagious.  That means full coveralls, respirators, dedicated shoes, and dedicated shovels and equipment, all of which will either be kept in a designated area outside the main living quarters and away from food storage and preparation areas, or sanitized/destroyed by flame or other sufficient, non-destructive processes.  If your group adopts this method, it would be wise to designate only two people to do the disposing in order to limit the quantity of disposable/dedicated items required.  More than two people would make things faster, but the waste of protective materials increases.  It is easier (and cheaper) to use only two sets for the entire excursion, then dispose of them.

In order for a PPP to work effectively, all of your group members must have a general understanding of aseptic technique.  Let’s skip the classical definition.  This means, generally, that there is a hierarchy of cleanliness.  I would set it up as follows:
1-      Sterile – Item contains no pathogens or other foreign materials that can cause illness.  Example use -extensive surgery, dressings for 3rd degree burns.
2-      Sanitary – Item has been treated with a chemical or other process that makes it unlikely to carry pathogens. Example use- minor wounds (stitching, minor burns)
3-      Clean – Item has been cleaned to remove soil and possibly sanitized at some point.  It has been stored in a place where it is unlikely to come in contact with pathogens.  Example use- food preparation (no raw meat or eggs) and consumption.
4-      Unsanitary- Item is stored in an area thought to contain pathogens, or is used in handling objects that may contain pathogens.  Example use – gardening, preparing raw meat/eggs.  NOTE:  Although a garden shovel and an egg whisk are on two opposite ends of a traditional “dirty” spectrum and would not be used for the opposite task, we are only focusing on microbes that will certainly cause illness.  A compost-laden garden is unlikely to make you sick, even if you eat some of the dirt (I don’t advise it).
5-      Contaminated- Item is known to be used for cleaning or removing infected materials, and/or is stored in a place with other contaminated items.  Example use – burying dead outsiders, digging cat holes, sanitizing a quarantine area.

The general purpose of aseptic technique, for our discussion, is to prevent transferring a pathogen from a known or possibly contaminated object or area to an area that is unlikely to be contaminated.  This means that items higher on the list cannot be used for a task lower on the list and then re-used for an item above the first task.  If you were to use a Class 1 (sterile) item to perform a Class 3 task, you could not use the same Class 1 item for a Class 1 or 2 task without proper treatment of the item (sterilization in this case).  I find it easier to change the classes to colors, a la, white, yellow, blue, green, black, respectively.  This way, you can turn it into a game of “tag”, where when an item of one color “tags” an item of another color, the item higher on the list changes to the other color.  Whatever system works for you is best.
Hopefully this article has given you some tools to develop a plan for minimizing your risks associated with disease-causing microbes.  Stay safe, stay healthy!!

Disclaimer:  Do not perform medical procedures on yourself or others while you have access to professional medical care!  It is illegal in the US to practice medicine without a license.  The views expressed are not those of a medical professional.  You are solely responsible for the consequences of using any information contained herein.

About The Author: J.R.M. has Bachelor’s Degree in Biology/Microbiology, and several years of experience working with microbes in a laboratory environment.

Huey F. makes some excellent points in his article.  I would just like to add the caveat that not everyone who claims to be a Christian really is one.  We have been burned twice in the last several years by people who we thought were Christian brothers and sisters who turned out to be wolves in sheep's clothing.  Due diligence is necessary, especially if you're going to be living with someone.  Just because a mouse is in the cookie jar, it doesn't make him a cookie.  And thanks, JWR, for all you do.  Sincerely, - Barbara in Tennessee

G.G. suggested this: Fed considers upping QE3 size and language

The ultimate tangible? Here is an asset that isn't "created" by a Federal Reserve and US Treasury collusion: Iowa Farmland Sets Sales Price Record. (Thanks to Dan T. for the link.)

Jim Rickards - Currency Wars Simulation. (Thanks to Rick A. for the link.)

J.B.G. sent this news item: Bundesbank slashed London gold holdings in mystery move

Items from The Economatrix:

The Good Old Days Are Over

Fabian Calvo:  Massive Foreclosures After Election

9 States With Sinking Pensions

Good Economic Data Meets Bad Earnings-Which One Is Wrong?

Storing Spare Radio Gear – Preparing for Long Term Storage

   o o o

Geoff S. was the first of several readers to send this: Big Brother’s New Toy: An EMP Cruise Missile

   o o o

Reader Denise G. wrote to mention that it in some states it is illegal to fail to report to arresting police officers that you are carrying a concealed handcuff key. In Florida it is a felony!

   o o o

Instructables gets practical: Firearms for Catastrophic Disasters

   o o o

Law Enforcement Looking To Create A Searchable Database Of Everywhere Your Vehicle Has Been.

Friday, October 26, 2012

 "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest." - Ecclesiastes 9:10 (KJV)

Today is the birthday of Robert D. Maxwell, another one of America's few living recipients of the Medal of Honor. He was born October 26, 1920.


Today we present another entry for Round 43 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. 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 FloJak.com. C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, E.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 43 ends on November 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 I think of Dutch Oven cooking I usually have visions of campfires and Scout Camp, of apple cobbler and savory stews. But as I further my preparations for TEOTWAWKI I realize that I want my Dutch ovens at my retreat.

Any heavy pot with lid can be used and called a Dutch oven. But when I say Dutch oven I am referring to the three legged cast iron (or aluminum) covered pot that is normally used outdoors. 

Much of the information I give you is basic and you may wish to explore these topics in depth. One of the best sources of information would be your state’s Dutch Oven Society. There you can find classes, recipes and knowledgeable people.

My first introduction to the outdoor art of Dutch oven cooking was at a Boy Scout Leader Introduction to Outdoor Skills class.

The aromas coming from the cooking fires on that autumn morning are still in my memory.
I purchased my first Dutch oven soon after returning home from that training weekend. Years later my collection has grown to fourteen Dutch ovens and now I usually teach that class at the training once or twice a year.

Not only does food taste better cooked outdoors, it tastes better yet when cooked in a good quality Dutch oven.

Let me help you avoid some mistakes and perhaps some disappointments in buying and using a Dutch oven.

As I said earlier, I definitely want Dutch ovens at my retreat. You can bake bread, pies, cakes, and biscuits. You can make stews, casseroles, and other dishes. A Dutch oven can act as a type of pressure cooker to tenderize tougher meats.

Buying Your Dutch Oven
Like any tool, quality counts!
If I could have only one Dutch oven I would buy a quality, name brand, twelve inch cast iron, three legged oven with a rimmed lid. By rimmed lid I mean a mostly flat lid that has a raised rim around the edge. This rim helps to hold coals during the cooking process. FYI, some Dutch ovens have a domed lid, some with points on the inside which helps in self-basting. While these have their place and use, I would stick with the campfire style oven.
There are many brands of ovens on the market. The most common is probably Lodge. They are US made and excellent quality.  My first oven was a Lodge.
Camp Chef also offers ovens in a variety of sizes and styles. I believe that they are now all Chinese made. I do have some and like them very much.
Cabela's offers Dutch ovens under their own name. Like everything from Cabela's, they are great. Also they have one of the best Customer Service Departments anywhere.
There are other brands out there, some custom made, and some junk. I have one of those junkers and use it fairly often. It just doesn’t cook evenly or retain its finish. It is however expendable and that matters when teaching Boy Scouts how to cook in one.
You should be able to purchase a good quality twelve inch Dutch oven for less than $80 USD. It would be frugal of you to pick it up at the store if you can versus having it shipped, as they are quite heavy.


Your New Dutch Oven
After you have unpacked your Dutch oven you will notice one of two things:

  1. Your oven has a nice black finish or
  2. Your oven looks like raw metal

If the former, all you need to do before using is to wash it, as it is already seasoned. More and more ovens are coming seasoned from the manufacturer.  NEVER USE SOAP ON A SEASONED DUTCH OVEN! I suggest you use warm water and baking soda. Rinse with hot water, wipe out with a paper towel, and let air dry.
Once your oven is clean you may use it, or put away for later use. If it is going to be several days before you use it, or you live in a humid area, I suggest you oil it. You may use any good grade vegetable oil. I prefer olive oil spray like Pam. Lightly oil the oven and lid inside and out. Take a clean paper towel and make sure the entire oven is covered, removing excess oil.
Store your oven with the lid ajar or the oven setting on the lid in a dry area. Many manufacturers also make storage bags for their ovens.
If your oven looks like raw metal then it probably has not been seasoned. Many of the lower end ovens are raw. Also many people prefer to season their ovens themselves.

Seasoning a New Dutch Oven
Seasoning is basically taking oil and baking it onto the metal giving it a slick (almost Teflon-like) finish (patina).
Wash your Dutch oven with HOT soapy water. Okay I know I said to never use soap on your oven, but yours is not seasoned yet. Soap will remove the patina on your seasoned oven and will leave a soapy taste in food.
Scrub your oven thoroughly with a plastic scrubber. Wash it inside and out. You need to remove the oils used in manufacturing and those used in protecting from rust during transit.
Rinse well with copious amounts of hot water. I will fill my oven with water and place it on the stove bringing it to a slow boil. Drain your oven, towel dry with paper towels (I always use paper towels with my ovens to avoid previous odors including fabric softeners on dish towels). If the water was hot enough the remaining water will soon evaporate.
With the oven still warm lightly coat your oven with a quality pure vegetable shortening like Crisco. Make sure the oven and lid are thoroughly covered inside and out.
Place the Dutch oven upside down on a rack in the kitchen oven. Place the lid right side up on a rack. (Place foil under the oven to catch dripping oil). Bake your oven at 350 degrees F for at least an hour or until smoke quits coming off the Dutch oven. I usually try to do this when my wife is away from the house. I also try to open a window or two to help eliminate the aroma and smoke.
You can also do this outside on your gas fired grill, although I don’t personally think it does as good a job.

One of the secrets of Dutch oven cooking is to keep your oven very clean.
Some people will line their ovens with ready made foil liners, parchment liners or aluminum foil. I too sometimes use these items, but usually only when I am making a desert with a lot of sugar which tends to burn onto the bottom of the oven. Using liners does help in the cleanup, but it does change the taste of many foods.
After using your oven scrape out any remaining food. I always use wooden or plastic utensils to avoid digging into the patina. Using a plastic scrapper is very handy at this point. Remove as much food as possible.
Wipe the oven with a clean paper towel, adding a little warm water as necessary. Wash the oven with another paper towel and warm water. DO NOT USE SOAP AND DO NOT ALLOW ANYONE ELSE TO DO SO EITHER!!!
You can use a plastic scrubber if there is a spot or two that needs extra cleaning. Sometimes I will use table salt to scrub the oven. Make sure that you rinse it very well as the salt will corrode the oven.
Rinse well with hot water, wipe out with paper towels, and oil with a high quality vegetable oil (again I prefer spray olive oil).
Note on storing: If you use too much oil on your oven it will thicken as lighter materials evaporate leaving a gummy mess. The oil will also turn rancid (although that doesn’t really hurt anything). This is why I use the olive oil cooking spray. It leaves a thinner coating of oil.
When you heat your oven for use the rancid oil will cook off enhancing the patina.

Sometimes you may put your oven away with moisture inside and it will rust. If it is very minor just scour it with a plastic scouring pad or table salt and a paper towel. Rinse, dry well, oil and use or properly store.
A friend of mine once brought me a beautiful fourteen inch Dutch oven that he had been storing in an outbuilding. The roof must have leaked and filled the oven with water. The outside was perfect but the inside totally rusted.
There are several ways to treat this, but my method was to get a plastic pan large enough to put the oven in. Then I filled the oven with Classic Coca-Cola. In about two days it was totally clean. I washed it in hot water, dried it well and treated it as a new raw oven.

Storage is particularly important, especially in a humid environment. Always make sure the oven is clean, dry and oiled. Store with the lid askew or separate from the oven. Storage bags are helpful.
I take 3-4 pieces of electrical wire about four inches long. I bend them first in a “U” shape. Then I take one leg of the U and make a second bend about halfway down, at 90 degrees out. I place these over the rim of the oven with the straight part inside. Then I place the lid on, place in the bag and store. This keeps the lid from settling in and making a seal, trapping moisture.
I also will place a folded paper towel in the oven to absorb moisture and/or excess oil.

Aluminum Dutch Ovens
I have not mentioned anything up till now about aluminum Dutch Ovens. Some people do not care for them, but I feel that they have a place in Dutch oven cooking.
There are several manufacturers who make aluminum ovens, including GSI and Camp Chef.
Warning! Do not preheat an empty aluminum Dutch oven with the lid on. It can weld shut, destroying your oven.
Some advantages to aluminum ovens are the lesser weight, faster heat-up, and ease of cleaning.
Just wash your aluminum oven like any pan, in hot soapy water.
Also you do not need to season your aluminum oven although you may if you wish. If you do then treat it like cast iron and do not use soap in it.
I have taken one of my aluminum Dutch ovens backpacking…try that with a cast iron oven!

Using Your Dutch Oven
You can use your Dutch oven in a variety of ways.
It can be used for browning meats and for frying. This is a good time to mention that the lid is slightly curved. If you invert it and place in on some coals, top down, it becomes a shallow skillet. I usually place 3-4 small dry stones under to make it level. Do not use wet rocks, especially from a creek bed or lake as the water inside the rock may turn to steam while in the coals and explode.
The oven may be used like a kettle, even suspended by the handle over a fire, to heat water, cook soups or stews or any other use a kettle might have.
And finally it can be used to bake.
The main difference in cooking and baking is how you use the coals. For this point of instruction we will speak of charcoal briquettes.
A simple way to figure how many briquettes needed is to take the diameter of the oven, multiply by two, and then divide by three. To cook put two thirds of the coals beneath the oven and one third on top. To bake put two thirds on top and one third beneath.
Here is an example:
You have a twelve inch Dutch oven. You want to bake a cobbler. Twelve inches times two is twenty four briquettes. Divide the twenty four briquettes in thirds, or three piles of eight. You want to bake and so you want most of the heat on top. Take two of the three piles and place on top evenly, including around the rim. Evenly place the remaining pile of eight briquettes under the oven.
By following this formula the interior temperature of the oven should be close to 350 degrees F. Of course that can fluctuate because of ambient temperature, wind, and ground moisture and temperature.
You can adjust the temperature 25 degrees by adding or subtracting one coal top and bottom.
When baking, I usually rotate the lid 45 degrees clockwise and the kettle 45 degrees counter clockwise every fifteen minutes to ensure more consistent heating and to avoid hotspots. Try not to lift the lid when rotating to avoid letting steam escape. Otherwise your food may dry out. It is actually the steam that cooks the food.
In a TEOTWAWKI situation or just for economy you may use coals from a fire. I will get a campfire going well, add larger logs and allow them to burn down to coals. Then using a small shovel place the coals on and under the oven. Usually they will not burn as long as charcoal and so you will need to keep replenishing them.
If you are using two or more ovens at the same time you can save charcoal and space by stacking the ovens, one atop the other. Place the largest oven on the ground with the next larger and so on. Usually 3-4 ovens are as high as I go. You must have level, firm ground to do this.

You are using the top coals of the lowest oven as the bottom coals on the second oven and on and on…

There are many accessories that make using a Dutch oven easier or more convenient.
Probably the most important tool needed is a lid lifter. These are sometimes included with your oven. Basically they are a piece of heavy wire bent to a shape handy to slip under the handle of the oven’s lid. With it you can lift the lid off the oven with the coals still on top. That way you can add seasonings, stir, or just check on the food.
Usually the lifter can also be used to move the oven such as rotating on the coals, or moving to the table to serve.
Some people prefer tongs or pliers such as Channel locks to lift lids and move the oven.
Next most important tool in your Dutch oven toolbox would be a part of long tongs. I use them mainly to arrange the coals on top of the lid. They can also be used to turn meat while browning or to serve.
Another useful tool, if you are using charcoal is a charcoal chimney. This is a sheet metal tube used to “start” charcoal burning. This is done by placing charcoal in the top of the chimney, adding a sheet or two of crumpled newspaper in the bottom and setting the paper on fire. In about 15-20 minutes you will have nice red coals.
A lid rack or rest is nice when you are cooking outside and need to remove the lid for a moment. These are just a rack made of bended rod that keeps your lid (and coals) off the ground.
The final tool I wish to mention is a Dutch oven table. This is a steel table with removable legs and a windscreen. This allows you to cook at a level that requires less bending, and keeps the danger of fire at a minimum.

As I think of the prospect of life after TEOTWAWKI I can’t help but think that feeding ourselves could be a major event each day.  With a Dutch oven or two and some experience before hand using it, I expect we will take a lot of the work and worry out of preparing meals. Furthermore, we will be more likely to enjoy baked breads and sweets.
Dutch oven cooking, now before hard and desperate times, can be fun and delicious. Don’t wait until disaster hits to enjoy a wonderful outdoor cooking skill.

Bonus Recipe
As a bonus I am going to include my own favorite dessert recipe…Pineapple Upside-down cake.
One can drained Pineapple rings (save the liquid)
One can crushed Pineapple
About one cup Brown Sugar
One yellow Cake mix (or the dry ingredients for one)
One stick Butter
Maraschino Cherries (optional)
For ease of cleanup line your Dutch Oven with foil or Parchment liner
This recipe is sized for a 12” Dutch Oven

Place your lined Dutch Oven on 12 coals. Allow to heat for a few moments.
Place the stick of butter in the Dutch Oven to melt.
When the butter is melted arrange the drained Pineapple rings in the bottom the Dutch Oven.
If you are using the Cherries place them in the center of the Pineapple rings (color and flavor).
Sprinkle the brown sugar over the Pineapple rings and cherries.
Empty the cake mix into a bowl and add the crushed Pineapple.
Add enough of the saved juice from the rings to make a batter.
Pour the batter over the rings cherries and brown sugar.
If using foil fold the foil inside so that none sticks out of the oven.
Place 1/3 of your coals under and 2/3 of the coals on the lid of the Dutch Oven.
Bake for an hour, rotating the lid one way 45 degrees while rotating the oven the other way every 15 minutes.
Remove from heat and allow to stand a few minutes.
You can serve out of the Dutch Oven or remove it.
To remove the cake I take a piece of heavy cardboard and cover it with foil. I lift the cake out of the oven by the foil or Parchment and place it on another piece of cardboard. Take the foil covered cardboard and place it on the cake, foil side down.
With help (it may still be hot) we flip the cake over and place the foil covered cardboard on the table with the cake above it.
Carefully remove the foil or Parchment liner to keep the rings and cherries intact.
You should have a beautiful and delicious dessert.
(Aside: I usually put about ½ teaspoon of cinnamon into the batter, but then I really like cinnamon!)

JWR Adds: Coincidentally, SurvivalBlog reader Kyle T. wrote to mention: There is currently a big sale at Fred Meyer stores on dutch ovens.  I picked up a 7 quart cast iron dutch oven by Lodge Logic brand for $40. It's regularly $75 (traditional non-enamel).  Fred Meyers has two separate coupons equaling 30%  (10% bonus coupon, 20% household coupon) that can be combined.  Also, picked up a large rectangle cast iron reversible griddle with the same 30% for $35."

To follow up on a recent post: According to canning sources, it is the Vitamins A, C, B1, B2 that are the most susceptible to degradation over time with  33%- 50% losses immediately upon canning and additional losses of 5-20% per year (based on storage conditions).  Let us look at best (33% loss at canning and 5% per year ) and worst case (50% loss at canning and 20% per year) losses per year for five years.

Percentage of Remaining Vitamins:
Storage Period Best Case Worst Case
Year One 62.7% 40%
Year Two 59.5% 32%
Year Three 56.6% 26%
Year Four 53.7% 20%
Year Five 51% 16%

Thus, under best case conditions, five years of storage. yields about a 50% loss.

Under worst case conditions a near total loss of 84% with only 16% of these vitamins remaining.  

Consider these losses in your storage planning.  Regards, - S.F. in Hawaii

Readers in Australia will likely find this company of interest: Outback Watertanks

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An interesting podcast: What Homeschoolers and Homemakers can learn from Preppers.

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Don't miss out on the Ready Made Resources sale on Mountain House long term storage foods. They are offering 25% discounts and free shipping for Mountain House foods in #10 cans. The sale ends on November 5th.

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The PlayStation handset that fires mortars and the world's deadliest catapult: Lethal ingenuity of outgunned Syrian rebels. (Thanks to F.G. for the link.)

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Matt P. wrote to mention his new product: Concealable Backup Universal Handcuff Key

"If you have been voting for politicians who promise to give you goodies at someone else's expense, then you have no right to complain when they take your money and give it to someone else, including themselves." - Thomas Sowell

Thursday, October 25, 2012

October 25th is remembered as the anniversary of the Charge of the Light Brigade, in 1854. This British cavalry charge against Russian forces during the Battle of Balaclava was led by Lord Cardigan during the the Crimean War.


Today we present another entry for Round 43 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. 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 FloJak.com. C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, E.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 43 ends on November 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'll begin with a Bible quote: “Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character." - 1 Corinthians 15:33

Perhaps starting off with a Scripture will turn away some people, yet there really isn’t a better way to begin. I don’t want to come across as such a Bible-thumping Christian that I make those of you who are not Christians turn away, but I also don’t want anyone to think I was disguising the Christian aspects of this article in an attempt to trick you into buying in to biblical principles. It is for this reason - transparency and blunt openness and honesty - that I have chosen to go ahead and reference the Scripture that gave me the title of the article. I think you will find that as the subject unfolds, there would be no misunderstanding either way about the nature or foundation of my thought process. It is overtly Christian.

Now that I have that out of the way, I want to say two things:

1. When I refer to “Christians” throughout the article, I would also include any practicing  members of Jewish faith.

2. The rest of the article might not be necessary to those Christians who truly follow the Scripture above with prayer, caution, and deep thought, however I do believe this instruction in Scripture is exponentially more important in a SHTF scenario than it might be in everyday life. Furthermore, it is my belief that commandments and instruction in Scripture do not need further exposition except for the fact that most of us - myself included - often need it said in eighteen different ways before it sinks in that we need to simply follow and obey!

So here we have instruction in the Bible - “do not be misled.” Words like these always stick out to me because they do not occur often in Scripture, so when they do, I take notice and think about what they are implying, perhaps a bit longer than I do other verses. If the Bible is saying NOT to be misled, then it stands to reason that the area it is referring to is one that people are quite often misled about. Myself not wanting to be misled, I pay attention to what follows: “Bad company corrupts good character.”

At first glance, I think to myself something along the lines of “duh” but then, again, I decide to think deeper about it. It must not be a “duh” kind of subject if so many are easily misled on this issue. I won’t waste time with some sort of doctrinal article about all the ways I see people can be misled on this, but I would rather focus on why this is such an important area when it comes to a TEOTWAWKI / SHTF scenario and ultimately, your survival.

There is a saying that “no man is an island” which implies that we all need others. Well, that is mostly true. There is another saying that “every man is an island” which, while in direct contradiction with the previous statement, is also true. We are all our own “islands” when it comes to our relationship and accountability to God. When we stand before Him, there won’t be anyone with us. Just us. Islands. This distinction is ironic because the way I see things, because none of us is an “island” on earth, the importance of who is in our “company” - be it good or bad - directly affects the day we all recognize what we were all “islands” before God.

My wife and I had a conversation recently about our prepping and survival plans should anything catastrophic happen. We don’t have a lot of money, and we take advantage and get necessary items when we see sales, but thankfully we think alike when it comes to planning. More and more we find that our mindsets are in concert any time we talk of the future. We both believe in the need for supplies as well as the need for a group in order to survive a truly long-term collapse. We used to think we could make it alone, but even in the most remote setting that required no security watchmen, we would be vulnerable to injury or sickness. Fact is, we realized that we are not an island. We will need at least 2 to 6 more people in order to live securely. In our recent conversation, I mentioned some “friends” (I use that term loosely here because true friends are those I would have around after a collapse) and told her bluntly, “You realize that if things collapse and we have to form a group, Bobby and Jane (as I’ll call them) are out.” Being that the “Jane” in this couple of “friends” is closer to her than I am to the “Bobby,” I was shocked to find that she looked down rather sadly and said, “Yeah, I know.” She got it. I didn’t have to explain.

Bobby and Jane are not Christians, and as much as I am willing to do things with them socially and have had long conversations with them about God, they are opposed to the idea of a God and do not wish to talk about it further. Again, in THESE times, I am fine to oblige them and respect their wishes. I will continue to be a friend to them, hunt with Bobby, and love their children...but when it comes to the survival of my wife and children in a much different world, I know that I cannot have them around, as much as I hate it for them, and in some ways, for us.

Now some might be thinking that I sound cruel and heartless, or that I am taking too hard of a line when it comes to my faith. Let me start off saying that I understand your thoughts - they were thoughts of mine at first. But then I remembered: “do not be misled.” The words have weight and made me think - and after much prayer, thought, and contemplation, I finally got it.

Christianity is a family, and I don’t need quotes on that word. It isn’t a pseudo-family, it’s a true family. The word family isn’t just a nice metaphor for the entire collective on planet Earth known as Christians - it is a definition. We are family. Brothers and sisters in Christ. Race, gender, nationality, etc, have no meaning when someone is a Christian. If they follow Christ, they are my brother or sister, and the fact is, nobody loves you like family and you cannot risk the health and welfare of your family by trusting someone outside of it.

“Why not?” you might ask. “Aren’t there other trustworthy people out there who simply aren’t Christians?” The short answer is yes...the more complicated answer is NO.

Yes, there are people out there who have a sense of morality and who hold some of the same Judeo-Christian moral standards we have without actually being Jewish or Christian, but if my experience in meeting them is any indication, they are few and far between. The larger issue though is that they might be moral right now, in this society, but who knows after the SHTF. So then, why do I say no? Because of the scenario we have to envision.

Picture this:

Society has collapsed. The dollar is gone. There is no monetary system in place. The grid is down. Fuel is running out quickly. Food and water are running out even faster. Everyone is in a state of panic and scared about how they are going to survive. Bands of looters have already started roaming the streets assaulting anyone they see and taking what they want by force. There is no law and order. There are no firefighters or paramedics. No governing body of any consequence is to be found. Every family is on its own, and you have to choose a few friends to survive with. Guess what - you better choose wisely because these could be the people you grow old with. These could be the people your kids grow up around. These will be the people who defend you, your wife, and your kids when the time comes. These are your family for now and for the foreseeable future.

Now let me say, I am all for having a group with various skills. I personally have learned a tremendous amount of skills in the past three years that I never thought about needing ten years ago. I have learned to can, to hunt, to garden, to raise chickens and livestock, to fell trees and split wood, to fix minor vehicle issues that I would have simply let someone else do years ago, and many other things not worth mentioning, but I am still no expert at them and definitely not proficient enough to want to survive - or have others rely - on my skills in every area. I could definitely use some guys and gals around with skills I do not possess. However, just because I may want a certain skill set in my group does not mean I can compromise on the character of those who have the skills. I mentioned “Bobby” earlier, and truth be told, there are two other “friends” in the same vein. These guys have awesome skills. One is a doctor, the other is an ex-Army engineer and mechanic, and “Bobby” is ex-military as well. Those are some serious skills I would like in my group, but none of these three men are God-fearing. In fact, I would rate them more on the God-hating side of the bar.

So here is where I could deceive myself into thinking it will be okay. I could say to myself, “Their skills are necessary and they have been friends with me for years. It will be fine. They know where I stand and in time hopefully they will come to know God.” But I know this is simply me trying to have my cake and eat it too. It is self-serving because I want the skills on my side. As an athletic coach, I know a thing or two about assembling teams with certain skill sets and directing them as a unit. I know the value of having the right skills for the right position. So why then am I planning to exclude these highly-skilled individuals based solely on their faith, or lack thereof? I will give you three reasons:

1. If a man is not a Christian, he has no personal accountability to God Himself. For me, this is of utmost importance. We are not talking about living in the easy times as we do now - we are talking about total anarchy. Complete chaos and an extreme change in the way our lives are lived. I simply cannot trust a man to lay down his life for me or my family - if need be - if that man is not accountable to God. A man not inwardly accountable to God is only living for and accountable to himself and his family. What if that man is taking watch one night while my family and I sleep when suddenly a group of armed men rush the property? How can I trust that he will defend my family like it is his family if he does not see it that way? As I said earlier, Christians are family, and we know that in that situation, if we defended our own wives and children to the detriment of the others, God would not approve and we would answer for it. We would be willing to lay down our life to defend and warn the others. But a man who does not know God - a man unsure of his own eternal destiny - I do not believe that man will sacrifice his life for anyone except his own, nor am I willing to roll the dice about it.

2. If a man is not a Christian, he does not hold the Bible in any regard and will not submit to its authority. As Christians, we plan to live according to the instruction God has given in His Word. Anyone allowed to live among our group who thinks the Bible is just some mythical book would cause great friction and ultimately not abide by our way of life. In the times ahead, the last thing I need to worry about is some guy who has major influence on my children filling their heads with thoughts antagonistic to God and His Word - or even if he didn’t do so, I don’t need to worry that he will!

3. And finally, there is the title of this article: “bad company corrupts good character.” If a man does not follow Christ, he is bad company. Jesus said "He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.” (Mt 12:30) I cannot have a man who is against Christ scattering and dividing my group. Furthermore, there will be a better chance that my children might grow up without me around in this new, violent world, and of all my “preps” I want the main one to be the “village” that will raise my kids in my absence. A son without a father - and sometimes with a father - will want to gravitate toward an adult male who will impart wisdom as a father would. I have to know that whoever my son might choose to fill that role will teach him the way I would, and that he will have a chance to know God because of it.

And lastly, in the same vein as reason 3, I must apply the Scripture directly to myself. If I invite non-Christians (bad company) to live with me as closely as we will be living, what then becomes of me? I might think that my character is strong and my devotion to Christ is unshakable, but Scripture tells me that the bad will corrupt the good, not the other way around. Again, I may want to think the opposite is true, but that is why it tells us “do not be misled.” It would be so easy to do so, especially in the seemingly impossible times that would surely lie ahead. I cannot trust my own wisdom or my own character. I must trust God’s wisdom and surround myself first with men who fear Him, and second with men of worldly skill and ability.

Choose your friends and associates wisely.

James Wesley, Rawles:
Sometime in the middle 1990s I put away four litre (quart) jars of tomato sauce. Now, at least 20 years later I opened, processed and consumed this tomato preserve.
The storage was in a cool, dry, dark and undisturbed location. The product was cooked, skin-removed italian tomato.

The canning process I had used was simple: cook, skin, fill, bottle, water bath, etc.
The result was acceptable.  Although I had to cut away the ring with a can piercer to loosen (destroy) the ring on the jar - the cap (lid) was intact.
There was no bulging or other signs of contamination - there was no off-gassing or warning smell.
The contents was brought to a boil before being added to a meat sauce.

The result was adequate but the flavour level was low.  Certainly it was not contaminated with any opportunistic organisms and nobody had any gastrointestinal issues. - Richard S.

JWR Replies: That was an interesting experiment, but keep in mind that even though older canned foods are often safe to eat and marginally palatable, their nutritive value is negligible. As stated many times in SurvivalBlog, it is crucial to mark dates on all of your canned goods--both commercially-canned and home-canned. Rotate them religiously, using First-In, First-Out (FIFO) rotation. Using specially made canned food rotation racks (such as those made by Shelf Reliance) makes this process fool-proof. If you are on a very tight budget, there are plans available for making your own, out of cardboard. While not as durable or sturdy (DO NOT stack multiple cardboard units!) and they are time-consuming to make, the cardboard racks do work adequately.

Reader AmEx (American Expatriate) sent: "Total identity theft" growing, authorities fear

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Dentist Dr. Tom Loomis has just one slot still open for his upcoming two-day Field Dentistry Class, in Sweetwater, Tennessee on Nov. 30, and Dec. 1, 2012. Enrollment is limited to just 12 students. The class costs $400 per person. To register, send $200 by check or money order to Tom Loomis DDS, P.O. Box 510, Sweetwater, TN 37874. Phone number: 423-371-1073, or e-mail: tandsloomis@bellsouth.net or tom.loomis@yahoo.com. The class will be held at the Magnuson Hotel in Sweetwater at Exit 60 off of Interstate 75. Rooms are $35 plus tax if you ask for the Field Dentistry Class rate. The hotel phone is: 423-337-3541. Registrations must be received by November 8, 2012.

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Gun Shy: City published personal information of some gun owners. (Thanks to F.G. for the link.)

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F.J. spotted this gadget: The Gerber Shard Is a Multipurpose DIY Tool that Fits on Your Keychain.

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Malaria returns to crisis-torn Greece

"I believe in animal rights. They have the right to garlic, and butter." - Ted Nugent

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Happy birthday to Ronald E. Rosser, one of America's few living recipients of the Medal of Honor. He was born October 24, 1929.


Today we present another entry for Round 43 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. 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 FloJak.com. C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, E.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 43 ends on November 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 single mother of two I know and live the word budget all to well. My income is limited and I have wasted a lot of time and money because I was too focused on getting ‘only the best.’ I quickly realized that the path I was on was getting me nowhere. I began to look at past purchases and realized that a lot of my purchases were unnecessary and quite frankly irresponsible. If I wanted to better guarantee the safety and sanity of myself and my young children, I needed to take a different path to self-sufficiency and quickly. In addition, this may all be common sense ideas but I know all too well that in the beginning it is extremely overwhelming and sometimes you may get caught up in all the fancy gadgets and lose sight of what truly matters.

Let’s face it not everyone can afford a retreat, with the nice solar panels’ and armored windows. However, everyone can afford a library book that will increase their skill set making them more valuable to those that can afford a retreat. If you put the effort forth there is tons of literature on tool making, canning, operating ham radios, farming, first aid, animal husbandry, firearms repair, and reloading. Pay close attention to animal husbandry, farming, and try your hand at blacksmithing (start with wrought iron then move to steel). It is critical to know what crop to plant in a certain part of the year along with knowing how to do it. You will also need to look at how you will harvest your crops without a tractor. If you do not have the money to invest in horses and the simple machines that would allow you to plant and harvest your crops via original horse power than you will need to purchase and know how to effectively use the simple hand tools. Buy a scythe to harvest cereal and practice with it. Also, invest in a few spades, pitchforks, garden forks, and some hoes. Owning simple tools and having the know how to use them will make you a great asset. In addition to your non formal training do your best to obtain certified skills, First Responder courses and to become a EMT do not take too long to complete. Even a basic Wilderness First Responder course can save someone’s life, I know because my training saved my three month old. Can’t find a group that is right for you? Plan B: Find others that are in your situation and group purchase land. Some advise against that but I have seen it work. If neither of these are options pre-position several caches in several locations as temporary retreats. Place them on land far from major cities and densely populated areas. Again it doesn’t have to be fancy. It is there to give you additional time and safety for the time being. There are bound to be retreat groups that realize that their six group members are not capable of handling the larger gangs and that they lack certain specialties. At that point if you can offer a valuable skill set and provide additional food that you pre cached away they will be more willing to accept you into their retreat group. However, you can never be too sure so the caches should be set up to enable you to set up a retreat once there is no land surveyor to come a knocking. Remember this is not the time to be picky, that apartment or home you have in the city will not suffice in a WROL situation.

When you’re prepping to bug out and/ or funding is lacking your best friend is going to be caches.  Clearly you cannot fit all the gear you need in a backpack. However, you can have a years’ worth of food and additional ammo if you take the time to bury caches. If you have joined a group that is even better. The caches should be on several different routes to the retreat location and you have the option of pre-positioning gear at the retreat. In addition, remember when I said you can cache items to build upon later? I wasn’t kidding. It may sound absurd but let’s take a minute and discuss this. Lets’ say before the collapse you made valid efforts to secure four acres of land but did not have the funding to build yet nor could you finically afford to move to the middle of nowhere. But you did take the time to cache tools, nails, food, piping to outfit a gravity fed water system and generator (watch Yukon Men -- it is possible) among various other items. (Even better if you were able to secure a shed [at very low cost or free] from CraigsList. Now your family has a temporary shelter you can build upon instead of remaining out in the weather.) Once you arrive at your retreat location you can begin the feverish task of building up a retreat. It is not the ideal scenario to begin building after things have SHTF but again it is playing the hand you have been dealt. The retreat won’t be fancy, but it could sustain you & yours more comfortably with the items you cached.  Now let’s say you buried caches but you did not bury to rebuild you just buried to sustain. You are left trying to figure out how to chop down lumber for a shelter without an axe because the survival axe in your bug out bag quickly failed you, and no nails to build (safe to say you probably didn‘t cache a book on how to build a log cabin primitive style either). Now you are stuck carrying five gallon buckets up from the stream several times a day not only for the family but for the garden that you had to dig up with sticks because you didn’t cache garden tools.  See where I’m going with this? The minor preps can make all the difference and these preps do not have to break the bank. Nor does your retreat have to mimic a five star hotel to ensure your survival (in fact that would probably get you killed).

Network, network, network. Did I mention to network? The prepping community is a library in itself. Meet, talk, sit down and strategize. Not only are you learning you are establishing a relationship that could pay off in the future.

Can’t afford a AR-15 or AK? Well great neither can I. Instead I put money into ammo, and lots of it. I know you’re going to say, “Save that money that you spend on ammo and put it towards that AR-15.” Well guess what time is running out and what I can afford at this time is one to two boxes of ammo a month.

Which leads me to, “Keeping up with the Joneses.” You are not prepping to impress the Joneses. You are prepping for you and yours. The needs and income of your family are different from the next. So who gives a rats butt if the prepper over there disagrees with your purchase? He/She is not the one paying for it! Instead of trying to keep up with the latest gadgets and freeze dried storage of Joe Schmo next door focus your attention on what you can do and become efficient at it. So yea you could spend that $200 on that cool knife your bud has or you could save it and put it towards a reliable firearm or crossbow. So get rid of the notion that because the next guy over has better gear that he is better equipped. Remember knowledge is your biggest asset in a survival situation. While you are out hunting and gathering he will be fumbling to open his latest gadget and scratching his head over the instructions.

You’re stuck on new. Folks that are so fixed on having the pretty aspect they forget that getting certain items second hand saves you a lot of money. Doing so you just might be able to afford that AR-15. Again when you’re in the field you will be kicking yourself in the hind end for only having that .22 because that is what you could afford at a retail price. Network; find an individual that knows guns. See if they are willing to look at a few used firearms in return for a service you specialize in. In certain disasters old is worth more than new.  That Bugatti Veyron Super Sport is as good as scrap in an EMP situation. Garage selling is a great way to find preps for cheap. For example, I recently purchased a camo waterproof bib and jacket set for ten dollars at a garage sale, an insulated bib for five bucks, and camo pants for a dollar. With that said there are some items that deserve more of an investment.

Name brands….yes some items are worth their investment. For example if you are prepping to bug out an adequate sleeping bag is a must (if you live in a large populated area such as Denver let’s face it you have to leave). There is a huge difference in a Wiggy'sbrand sleeping bag versus a Wally World sleeping bag. Another area that should not be skimped on is boots. You will be doing a lot of walking/ running and the last thing you need is to be trying to do so barefoot. Trust me…those Wally World “waterproof” boots are only waterproof for the first few uses. However, do you really need that fancy $300 flashlight? Probably not. Buy two headlamps and put the rest aside for an adequate sleeping bag. When it comes down to it don’t get stuck on the latest fanciest gadgets with that expensive price tag due to the name. When deciding on a product you need to look at longevity and reliability and ask yourself can I get the same quality if I buy an off brand?

Priorities. You need to sit down with your partner (or a pen and piece of paper if you’re like me) and discuss what follows: water purification, shelter, food, and self-defense. Clearly you will have to set priorities within those categories’ to.  A priority should not be fancy shelving if you are on a budget. “Sorry baby boy we can’t eat next month because I wanted my prepping closet to look nice.” That money you spend on those shelves could buy your family an additional month of food or even a firearm in some cases. Call the bakeries and ask for buckets, buy five dollar totes are even better go out on trash days…you will find a ton! People throw away the most useful and expensive items. I once went to the dumpster and found several books that retail well over $15 a piece and name brand clothing such as Under Armour with the tags still on! 

She’d cook a dish and we’d go ‘Mama, w’ats this here, hanh?’ And she’d say, Children, that’s a mus-go. It mus’ go down yo’ throat.” - Justin Wilson

Adjust your skeptical eaters’ view of food now! My family began that at an early age.
Half of the time I did not know what type of meat I was eating…and for that fact if I’m eating at my fathers these days I still don‘t. If it was brown it was beef, if it was white it was chicken or turkey flavored differently. We raised rabbits and I never knew until I was older that I was eating my ‘pet’ rabbit. Dad would simply make sure that he replaced it with the same color rabbit which explains why I was only allowed to have one specific color….

Statistics show that you may have to offer a child the same food fifteen to sixteen times before they will accept it. So offer your local game now. Get a cookbook and learn how to work with it. If you have an infant and have the ability to breast feed, do so. Formula is expensive, it is easier to put aside some to supplement your child’s diet than to store one years’ worth. Can’t afford to stock up on freeze dried food items? For me that wasn’t a big deal. Down here it’s, “What would you like with your rice tonight?” You can pretty much guarantee that either rice or beans (or both) is in a dish from jambalaya to gumbo, to red beans and rice, all the way to black eyed peas & rice. And it is soooo good! These can be some of the simplest dishes to the most complex, figure out how you like them now.

Before you begin purchasing preps do a inventory of the items you have. Since my son has a skin disorder I already had a pretty decent stash of medical supplies. Far from enough but more than most. However, it will expire or run out no matter the amount I store. Knowing this I’m trying to find alternative ways to treat his skin with what nature provides.  Doing this I have taken one step closer to the realization that the supply chain may not be reestablished before my stockpile has run out.  Your preps should reflect that chance also. In each category you need to address the what if scenario of the grid being down for a decade or two. Yes you may have food and supplies to last for a few years but do you have the knowledge to live off the land once it runs out? Realize material items are just that…items. Knowledge and know how will outlast any material object.

Just a few additional tips to make your money go further. If I receive change I ask for it in nickels. Since nickels are 25% nickel and 75% cooper they are worth more than their face value yet you pay no more for it. It is real easy to get lost in the beans, bullets, and band aids prep list; however, there are plenty of other preps that are needed. Go to garage sales and pick up clothing for your children in every size you can. It is better to spend ten bucks on twenty outfits for the future now than having to barter precious ammo later. Also, tents, lighting, and shoes are a great addition to your preparations and are usually found cheaply at garage sales. I check CraigsList a lot and I can always find free firewood and pallets. Even if you just have land it would be wise to stockpile fire wood there. The McCormick brand seasoning packets are relatively cheap and are a great way to add flavor and calories to bland dishes. Even now my children and I enjoy rice and a beef burger smothered in brown gravy. In addition, I was unaware until I read a article that individuals on food stamps could purchase plants and seeds as long as they produce food. My local Wal-Mart sells a small variety of heirloom seeds and Whole Foods sales bulk wheat along with various other bulk items. Obviously, if you are on food stamps your budget is tight but try to set aside a few dollars in your budget to purchase some fruits for the future. Always look for multipurpose items to get more for your money. The WhisperLite International by MSR burns white gas, kerosene, unleaded gasoline and IsoPro Butane. It would make a great addition to your Bug Out Bag or even your retreat. With the bountiful of vehicles that will line the roads you could have fuel for a while. In addition, there are a few other common places that allow for cheaper purchases. Sam’s has great deals on long term food storage especially on wheat if you cannot get into a LDS cannery soon (ours has a nine to ten month waiting list). No the wheat is not organic and non-GMO but you won’t starve to death. Visit your local dollar stores. I purchased over twenty seed packets for under three dollars because it was the end of the season. Also, eBay is a great place to pick up items. For your bug out bag you can obtain a large Alice pack and frame for under thirty dollars, it is cheap and has proven its’ keep. There are great deals on everything from wool socks to boots to the military poncho and poncho liner.

It takes work, time, sweat, blood, and some tears occasionally. And a lot of prayer. But if you are willing to work overtime, pick up a second job, get up early and hit the flea market and garage sales. It is possible on a low income. Bartering, second hand, and education is going to be your Emancipation Proclamation or Thirteenth Amendment, whichever you see fit. What it boils down to is having the motivation to work towards becoming a asset without having a hefty wallet. An the willingness to look at alternative ways to prep without allowing others view to dictate your path to self sufficiency.

On a deeper note, I would love to keep my children’s lives normal after the SHTF but after realizing the harsh reality of my budget and knowing how the majority of the population will act I realized that I couldn’t. The reality was hard to swallow as much as I wanted to save for all the luxuries that a retreat offers. My fears of the chaos that will ensue after SHTF is justified, the nation witnessed that during and after Hurricane Katrina. So I regrouped, re-strategized and began thinking logically on how I could best keep food in my babies’ mouths and keep them safe, the best I could. No it is not glamorous nor will it be as comfortable as it would be if we had a retreat set up but at least I’m doing my best to prevent them from starving. So please don’t put off prepping because you can’t afford the best or you feel you just don’t have the money. Spend a few extra dollars and do your best to get your beans, bullets, and band aids in place prior to the coming collapse. Because in the end eating rice and beans is better than watching your children starve to death.

Lastly, I have a question. BriteLyt lanterns advertises the ability to burn a variety of fuels including kerosene, diesel, gasoline, white gas, biodiesel, paint thinner (not to sure how I feel about that one), mineral spirits, charcoal lighter fluid, lamp oils, Coleman fuel, and JP fuels. However, due to the price I have not had the ability to try one. My question to SurvivalBlog readers is, have you tried one and if so are they worth their investment (for me the price tag is a couple months of my prepping budget)?

Great site, thanks for a wonderful resource.

My tip of the day for hidden in plain sight storage, is a hollowed out heavy bag. I mean one of those ubiquitous kickboxing bags languishing in so many garages, covered with dust, and often stuffed into a corner and unused for years. These can be found used and cheap and have minimal resale value, thus a low likelihood of being taken in a burglary, especially as they are usually quite heavy. If there is no food or anything inside attractive to a dog or a bear, that is good of course, so nothing leads an intruder to it.

So, if you have some padding around a large tube hidden in this bag, it still can be punched, but can hold rifles, ammo, etc in a fairly large amount, and in fact should be so heavy, that its a pain to move from its dusty spot in the garage. Just re-lash the top (or perhaps re-stitch it, depending on the design), put the hanging chains back on and it hides in plain sight! Happy Trails - Eugene

When I last checked, spot platinum had plummeted to $1,569 per ounce, while gold was more resilient at $1,707. This disparity is attributable to the platinum price being driven by its industrial uses. (And the global industrial forecast presently looks grim.) But, as I've mentioned before: whenever you can buy platinum for less than the price of gold, it is a good time to diversify your holdings. (Geologically, platinum is 16 times more rare than gold, so in most years it sells for a 20% to 150% premium over gold. The times that platinum has sold for less than gold, such as 1991 and today only come rarely. A 2009 article by Eric Bolling is instructive.) We can count on the long term historic ratio being restored, eventually. The current price inversion (with platinum selling for $138 less per ounce than the price of gold) is unprecedented. My advice: If you are currently holding more than six ounces of gold, I recommend swapping half of it into 1/10th ounce or 1/4 ounce U.S. Mint-issued Statute of Liberty platinum coins that have been authenticated by PCGS or NGC. (Commonly called "slabbed" bullion coins.) If you shop around, you can probably find a coin dealer that is willing to trade straight across. (Or you can sell your gold to one dealer and immediately buy platinum Statute of Liberty coins from another.) At the far end of the global financial crisis, you'll be able to trade back into gold or silver, and make a handsome profit. Ratio trading isn't just for the gurus at the COMEX desks. In exceptional times like these, the little guys like us have a good opportunity. Oh, and if you plan to marry soon, buy platinum wedding bands.

Should Congress Avert the “Fiscal Cliff”?

SurvivalBlog's Poet Laureate G.G. sent: Pay gap between government, private sector widens to 34 percent

Believe the hype in hyperinflation

Items from The Economatrix:

Stock Market Suffers Worst Day In Months On Bernanke Separation Anxiety

FedEx Predicts Busiest Day With 10% Gain On Holiday Peak

Gold Slumps to 6-Week Low, But Should Hold at $1,700

FDIC Closes Bank In Florida Raising Total Number Of Bank Failures In 2012 To 44

Potassium permanganate fire lighting. [JWRs Safety Proviso: If you carry both chemicals, of course carry them in well-sealed sturdy containers in well-separated compartments of your pack!]

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Greg P. suggested this article: The Nuts and Bolts of a Fallout Shelter

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Also from Greg: Will the Apocalypse Arrive Online?

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A free book on Kindle, for a short time: The Art of Neighboring: Building Genuine Relationships Right Outside Your Door. These traditions are crucial for establishing a sense of community!

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NRC Whistleblowers: Risk of Nuclear Melt-Down In U.S. Is Even HIGHER Than It Was at Fukushima. (Thanks to reader A.K.H. for the link.)

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A coupel of news articles to file under: Worlds Apart. First from England: Man jailed after repeated attack on his wife with a shoe. And from Florida: North Lauderdale man accused of beating wife for not making his coffee. (I guess they both missed those muslim clerical "only use a short rod and don't leave any marks when you beat your wife" lectures.

"He who can handle the quickest rate of change survives." - John Boyd

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Today we present another entry for Round 43 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. 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 FloJak.com. C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, E.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 43 ends on November 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.

We have all heard the old idiom: "One man's trash is another man's treasure." This basically means that something that one person considers worthless may be considered valuable by someone else. This could not be further from the truth in the mind of any survivor. You could branch out into every aspect and area of survival with this mindset at your core. Water, food, fire, shelter, and security can all be obtained with this in mind.
I believe that in a survival situation and in everyday life that everything around you is valuable and has multiple uses. I also believe that everyday life is survival. From the moment of your birth until right now, you are in a survival situation. If this weren't the case you would not be here. It is just that in an actual "survival situation" that the stakes become higher. It is how you perceive things around you, and how you choose to use them that will give you the edge in a "survival situation".
Preparing and being prepared for any and all situations is something that I highly recommend. However, this may not always be conceivable, or you may not have certain items with you at the time of need or when disaster strikes. In certain survival situations you may not be resupplied for a great length of time or not at all. It is imperative in those moments that you and I think outside of the box. Virtually everything around you and I has multiple uses and purposes, but it is up to you and I to use our most important survival weapon and tool to discover those other uses for those items. This weapon and tool is our minds.

For years I have slowly integrated all parts of a "survivor’s mindset" into my wife and kids, but I always try and reinforce keys aspects to them, and one of those main aspects is the mental ability to "improvise"! For a long while I had shown my son that there are multiple uses for any single item or thing he comes across. I have also shown him many survival techniques over the years. To drive this point home to my 12 year old son I took him to a picnic campsite up in the mountains. The point of the trip was to show him that he could survive even if he lacked certain items. He didn't know what we were taking the drive for until we got there.  After arriving at the campsite I told him, “Pretend right now that you were in a survival situation or that you got lost up here in the woods. What would you do?"

To my amazement he just gave me a grin, stopped and sat down. He then thought about what I had just said for a moment. Next he pulled everything that he had out of his pockets and took inventory which consisted of the following:
A survival whistle which had a compass, magnifying glass, and thermometer.
And a stick of bubble gum
He then looks at me and says, "It's not much is it?" I told him, "Nope it sure isn't" He then said, “Well, I suppose I can do what you taught me to do." "And what's that?” I asked.
"I can forage around and see what I find.” he said.

He first walked around the campsite and found a plastic bag, 3 metal bottle caps, a lighter with no fuel but flint still sparked, a used 3 foot piece of multi-strand white rope, a torn piece of paper, and a large coffee can. He then walked along the nearby creek with me in pursuit. Along this creek he gathered up an empty plastic water bottle, a glass bottle, a tangled wad of fishing line which had 2 hooks attached, a small bait container with cotton and 2 weights inside.  On the way back to the campsite he found a broken piece of a vehicle side
mirror on the road.

Then my son took inventory of what he had again. I then asked him, "What can you use that stuff for?” How will all this stuff help your situation?"
"For food I could try using the hooks and weights to catch fish with bugs as bait, or at worst I could try making lures with the hooks and metal bottle caps," he said
"I know I'll need water and I could collect it from that creek using the plastic or glass bottles. Maybe after I got a fire going or I found some charcoal around the campsite I could make a water filter. I'd have to use the plastic water bottle for that. The coffee can would be for boiling the water and cooking food.
"For fire I think I could try putting some sparks on that cotton as long as it's dry and hopefully it will turn into a flame." I also have this piece of paper to help me along with the magnifying glass on my survival whistle.
"Shelter would have to be made using the rope or rope strands and maybe tying branches together to make a simple shelter." He kept on glancing up at me as if to see if I approved, but I kept quiet. I wanted to hear what he would come up with. I was thinking in my mind as he talked,” Not bad, not bad at all kid!"
He continued:
I guess the fire would give me some sort of safety and security. I could use the broken piece of mirror for signaling or use my whistle to try and get someone's attention.
For the rest of the afternoon I watched as he put his plan for each aspect of survival into action. He succeeded in every one of them by himself. (Keep in mind all local and state laws were kept during this exercise.)
At the end of the day he said, "The plastic bag is pretty much useless.” "What are you going to carry all this stuff around in?” I asked. "You're right dad. I guess there is no such thing as trash!” he said. We both laughed as he enlightened us with that final comment. Not only did my son gain additional confidence that day but we also picked up what most others would consider trash or litter and we cleaned up that area.

My son was absolutely right in saying “there is no such thing as trash”, and in a survival situation there isn’t! Everything becomes useful. In our day to day lives we throw things away in the garbage all the time. Have you ever stopped to think what other uses those items might have? It is absolutely mind blowing all the ideas that will flood to your mind if you asked yourself this question every time you open the trash can to throw something away! You could save yourself hundreds if not thousands of dollars in thinking like this. I'm not telling you to be a messy, disorganized hoarder, of course not. What I am saying is to stop and readjust your way of thinking about everything around you and their potential uses. In a  TEOTWAWKI scenario you will be glad that you started thinking this way. There is no such thing as trash! It's all treasure in some form or another. It's just up to you how you use and apply those items into your situation. By all means start preparing. Educate yourself and your family about survival, prepare your survival kits and bug out bags, and store up emergency supplies and food but remember this simple yet effective core idea that there basically is no such thing as trash. You can recycle and reintegrate almost anything back into your inventory and situation to help you. You can combine what others consider junk items together and make useful things to help you and those around you. For example if you needed an alternative source of power you could make a simple generator using a motor, an alternator, electrical wires, a V belt, a cast iron pulley, and some mounting brackets.  However keep in mind that you may have to obtain these items from different places and different items. The motor could be obtained from a lawnmower, the alternator from an old car, the pulley from a beaten down belt driven air conditioner, etc. What others have considered to be their trash could now become your treasure! In its simplest form this would be a DC charging system but with the addition of a DC to AC power inverter it also becomes an AC generator system with battery back up. In simpler survival ideas using this mindset you could make a simple water filter using a plastic water bottle, sand, and charcoal, a thrown away soda pop can could be used to start you a fire by polishing the bottom and using it like a reversed magnifying glass with the sun. There are endless ideas, tools, weapons, and survival supplies that can be made or obtained with items around you.

In a  TEOTWAWKI scenario the average person who is not prepared and survival minded is limited by their supplies. Society has too many people accustomed to turning on the faucet and expecting water, going to the nearest store when their pantries and refrigerators supplies run low, going to a restaurant when they get hungry, and filling up their vehicles with gas when needed. These people sadly will not be ready for a TEOTWAWKI situation. The ease of society I believe has weakened and blinded the average person into thinking that the comforts and convenience of everyday life will always be there when needed. It’s not impossible for the average person to pull together and survive this type of situation but it will be that much harder for them since they are so accustomed to the ease of societal living. It’s not a matter of if something of this scale will occur but just a matter of when. For the survival minded person, survivalist, or prepper at least you will be that much more prepared than the average person. However, please keep in mind that if the economy collapses, or there is a nuclear catastrophe, a world wide viral outbreak, etc, etc, that known commerce will come to a halt. Supplies as we know it will come to a halt. At least those who have prepared will have a greater chance versus those who have not. Never deceive yourselves into thinking that you have prepared supply wise for everything, and indefinitely. At some point you will have to resupply something. You will either have to barter and trade, or forage for what items you need. Keep in mind that God gave us all our most important piece of survival gear and it sits right above our necks. Our brains and our minds are an awesome tool if we are willing to see through the right lens. Most of the world has been explored by man. Man by nature leaves things behind either by throwing them away or seeing things as junk and abandoning that stuff for others. How you see that stuff and what you do with it can help you greatly.

Over the years I have used the term survival extensively but I don’t want you and I to just hang by a thread surviving. I don’t want you and I to just survive. I want you and I to THRIVE.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of survive is:

  1. to remain alive or in existence: live on
  2. to continue to function or prosper

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of thrive is:

  1. to grow vigorously : flourish
  2. to gain in wealth and possessions: prosper
  3. to progress toward or realize a goal despite or because of circumstances

These two words sound the same but quite surprisingly they are different. I would rather thrive than just survive. I don’t just want to exist or continue on but rather I want to flourish and prosper despite my circumstances. My friends we need to think outside the box. We need to improvise when necessary. I believe the key to thriving rather than just relying on supplies and surviving is the ability to improvise. These two sayings go hand in hand and they are:
Necessity is The Mother of Invention and One Man's Trash Is Another Man's Treasure. Both require you and I to think outside the box and realize that if you really need something that you will find a way to do it or acquire it. The items you need could be right in front of you and you may not yet realize it. Some uses for things may be obvious but they may require a little elbow grease to get them working. For example a few weeks ago on my way to the city dump I noticed a wheelbarrow on the side of one of the large dumpsters that was going to be thrown away. Upon inspecting the wheelbarrow all it needed was a new tire and handles and maybe a new paint job. After asking permission I immediately took it with me and fixed it up. The cost was about $5 for a can of spray paint since I already had a tire for it. It looked and functioned like new. I just saved myself at least $145-$150 for this particular brand of wheelbarrow. See not only can you apply this concept in a survival situation but in your day to day life. The money you save in day to day living using this way of thinking could be used for additional supplies and gear, bills or a vacation.

In summary when something thrusts us into a major survival situation you and I will already be thinking this way and you and I will go from just surviving to thriving. This article could go on describing hundreds of thousands of things around you in a survival situation that may help you but it is up to you and your ingenious and inventive mind to figure those things out based on your particular needs. Remember if my 12 year old son can put this mindset into action then so can you and I. It’s not the one with the most toys and ready supplies who wins in the end but the one who can use his or her mind and faith that will endure to the end. Thank You for taking the time to read this article and as always, “Take Care, Be Prepared and May God Lead and Guide You in every situation that you face!”

Dear Editor:
In the 1880s milk sold for $0.56 per quart or $2.24 per gallon which at the time was 0.112 oz of gold per gallon of milk.

To put that in perspective today, it would cost $190 for a gallon of milk.

So if you had a cow producing 1 gallon per day 10 months out of the year, it would have been the equivalent of having $57,000 / year in revenue today. (You have significant capital and labor costs gathering hay and water for just one cow not to mention the distribution costs and short shelf life).

At that same point in time, rent would cost $16 per month (equal to $1,360 today) and you could have paid your rent with the equivalent of less than 2 gallons of milk per week.

With prices like these it is no wonder that every family had their own cow which would have cost $70 dollars or 4.3 months of rent or $6,000 in today's dollars.

So today a cow costs $2,000, raw milk costs $10 / gallon and industrial milk costs $4 / gallon. This shows you just how much our economy has grown in the past 130 years, the relative price of milk has fallen to 5% or less of what it use to cost.

This also shows you how valuable a cow and the milk it provides would be if the global food distribution system were to have any significant problems as a result of hyperinflation. - Daniel L.

JWR Replies: While a comparison of prices before the days of electric refrigeration might not be completely fair, your illustration at least shows the long term erosive effects of chronic currency inflation. It also gives a glimpse of what people might be willing to pay for milk in the event of a grid-down collapse--when reliable refrigeration will presumably once again be scarce.

I too live in an open carry state where it is also allowed in private vehicles and have chosen not to apply for a concealed carry permit. According to the most recent CDC data, West Virginia has the greatest proportion of homes with at least one gun East of the Mississippi and the fifth highest in the entire country. During a recent discussion with a local LEO, he didn't even look twice at the 9mm on my hip. We even have two rifles on our flag and the mascot of our flagship university is authorized by state law to fire his muzzleloader on the football field.

Another concern is that in many states allow public access to lists of concealed carry permit holders. Property crimes went up 11% last year according to the DOJ and if the trend continues we may see thieves targeting homes from available lists of licensees like concealed carry and ham radio. - Allen C.

I have the following comments on the letter: “Concealed Carry Permits – Pros and Cons:”
Most people that frequent James’ web site would agree that carrying a weapon, openly or concealed, is our natural right, and a plain language reading of the Second Amendment makes it clear that this right was intended to be unencumbered in the United States.  I have no ethical or moral objection to those who chose to exercise their natural rights without consideration of the current legal climate.  If you do that, however, please make sure you have to understand the risks of becoming part of the criminal justice system.
I have CCW permits in five states, which through reciprocity entitles me to carry in most jurisdictions.  I originally obtained my CCW in my native California because open carry, while at the time legal, was not practical for me, and I did not want to violate the law in order to carry concealed.  For professional and family reasons I am not able to move right now, and many people find themselves in this situation.
If you live in a Constitutional Carry state – lucky you! – and you do not travel regularly outside the state, then don’t bother.  In this situation there are two things to consider:
(1)     When you obtain a CCW they make you take training, and that is a good thing.  For most of my life I had ignored pistols – I spent my time and money trying to be a better rifleman – but being forced to take the very limited CCW training got me started, and I am now a combat pistol training junkie – and I think that the training does make me more qualified to be an armed citizen on a day-to-day basis. So if you begin to carry please dedicate yourself to becoming better trained.
(2)     Secondly, don’t think that you are actually escaping the notice of local, state or federal governments by not having applied for a CCW permit or recently purchased a firearm.  In fact, a police officer friend of mine comment that we are fast approaching the time when you will attract more attention by not being “part of the system,” and that it might be easier to escape negative attention by going ahead and becoming one of the rabble that has some sort of record, albeit a “peaceful” one.
(3)     And lastly, even if you don’t travel regularly, you might want to do so but without sufficient notice to get your local CCW, so why not get it and have it in case you need to jump in the car and head out?
Good luck! - Bill C.

Dear James,
When a police officer pulls over a car in the Redoubt, he/she calls in the license plate and in reply, dispatch tells the officer that the occupant has a carry permit.  This allows the officer to know that the owner is carrying but is a vetted non-felon.  Now whether the car has it's owner driving is another question.  Most officers I talk to, (I'm an ex-cop) assume that the occupant of any car is carrying.  There is a survival benefit to that thought as a cop.  Remember that having a CCW means you have to tell the officer up front anyway in most states.  It's a good idea even if it's not required by law to inform the officer.  

You, having a CCW allows a gun dealer, not to have to run a background check on you if the national "instant" check system is down.  If the phone system isn't working and the internet is down, even if you throw silver coins at your dealer, they can't let you take home guns without a CCW.  In Wyoming (not necessarily all states), The dealer can sell you a gun as long as you present me a CCW (even an out of state one) without having to do a background check.  So if the system isn't working, you can still get a last second purchase before the infra-structure stops working completely .   If the whole system goes hard down and resets, I doubt that many dealers will worry much about the existing rules and continue business as usual albeit with somewhat higher prices.  If we can't renew their stock, things will get expensive fast so get your defensive preparations settled sooner than later. 

Acquiring a CCW requires one to have a training certificate in most states.  That is a good thing because most people need a training course (or 5 or 6) under their belt before strapping on a Glock.   I would say that 2 out of 10 people that buy guns, have a clue how to use them.  The other 8 should get trained fast.  What you do under stress mimics your lowest level of training.  Get your training up to snuff please soon.   

Getting a Wyoming Resident CCW and a out of state Florida CCW will give you 40 states to carry in.  Only Illinois is the hold out at this point.  The reciprocity map to look at is at:  http://www.usacarry.com/concealed_carry_permit_reciprocity_maps.html

BTW, congratulations, Wisconsin is now a "Shall Issue" state and they even have reciprocity with some other states.   Ye,s Freedom is marching on. - F.B. (15 miles from asphalt)

Dear JWR,
After reading the letter about the pros and cons of a CCW permit, I thought I would weigh in with my comments. To start out, I agree that carrying a concealed weapon is a right that some sort of government entity does not have the right to give permission to do. That being said, however, in Nevada here, and especially Clark County where Las Vegas is, the consequences of getting caught carrying a concealed pistol without a permit can be quite severe. I am sure you could fight a conviction in court, but that could be costly and take much money and time for an unknown and possibly bad outcome. I have held CCW permits in four separate states including Montana, Utah, Arizona, and now Nevada. Quite frankly they were all very painless to obtain. The hardest portion was shelling out the money (Almost $100 here in Nevada for the government fees alone!). I know some people are afraid of the government having your name and the fact you carry a weapon, or at least the ability to do so (Most people I know and the ones I have met in classes, don't carry a gun on a regular basis or at all. That in itself is a topic worth discussing: the mental mindset to go from sheep to sheepdog and consciously choose to be able to protect yourself and others!). Some will tout open carry as a way to go about without a CCW permit. I do believe open carry has its place. On a hike in the woods, yes, to open carry. Work around the ranch, yes to open carry. Wal-Mart on a busy afternoon, probably not. I do want people to become more comfortable with guns in our culture and to respect them. Not fear and shun them. I do believe open carry in urban centers can bring unwanted attention and negative attention, whether it be from a anti-gunner or prospective criminal. Concealed keeps them unaware and you in total control. The pros of the permit do outweigh the cons in my opinion. My having the resources available to defend myself is paramount. If I have to get a permit to do it, I will. In the meantime I will fight for Constitutional Carry laws ()where citizens don't need a permit to carry a gun, concealed or not. As you said, Freedom is on the march! God willing we will have our rights restored as they should be. - Steve in Nevada


Hi Jim,
I find it amazing that after decades of people fighting to prevent the government from having a list of gun owners and their guns that people now line up and pay the government to get on that list.  The government is changing how people think.  With a CCW card people are thinking of it like a drivers license, which is a privilege not a right.  We are already seeing how things like the TSA are changing what Americans are now putting up with and accepting as the new "norm".

Some people think that when they buy a gun from an FFL dealer that they are on the "list".  They are not.  Your on the form in the files of the firearms dealer.  This is why in the original "Red Dawn" movie the Cuban commandeer tells his men to go to the sporting goods store for the firearms 4473 forms  to find out who has guns.

Once the government has a list and then decides to outlaw gun ownership (UN small arms ban possibly) they will have a pretty good start to confiscate these weapons.  You also have to deal with LEOs who don't think you average citizen should have a gun.  Now that our law enforcement agencies have become more militarized this is more frequent than you think.  When a LEO runs your plate or automatically scans it as he drives by you, it tells him all kinds of information, including if you have a CCW.  So if you are trying to stay under the radar the fewer lists you are on the better. Keep your powder dry, - Karl G.


Good Day James,
I wanted to touch on the pros and cons of CCW permits in North Carolina.
The county I reside in requires certificates issued by the Sheriff's office. It's a cumbersome process that requires one to go downtown, apply and pay a fee ($5 per certificate up to 3 maximum). After a background check that takes a few days (5-10 if memory serves) the certificates are available for pickup at the same downtown location. Once these are in hand, firearm purchases are cash and carry. Re-apply as needed.
This method allows one to carry openly, which means non-concealed (including car glove boxes, consoles, under seat etc).
However a CCW permit, while more costly eliminates all of the above, with one exception. A class is required ($80-$120), and certification is granted. That document is then taken to the same downtown office where a major background check is performed, for a $90 fee. Once passed, the permit is ready for pick up and finger prints will be taken.
Once this permit is in hand, firearm purchases are cash and carry. The firearm maybe concealed (law permitting) including those car compartments mentioned above. the permit is valid for 5 years and can be renewed without going through those steps again.
I saw the benefit, mostly, in the ease of purchasing firearms, including private sales (not legally required, but may sellers will not sell without one). Being able to keep the firearm car compartments was also a big "selling" point for me. 
No doubt agree it is not as ideal as the American Redoubt (and other areas). However, at least in the Tar Heel State,  I believe having one certainly out weighs the consequences of going without it. - Drew D.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I am a long time reader, first time commenter. I live in Colorado which is a shall issue state, which means that the local sheriff must issue a CCW as long as the applicant passes a CBI background check, (like we were common criminals). Along with running a family business, I am also the chairman of the board of directors of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO), Colorado's only no compromise gun rights group. I personally believe the requirement to have a CCW is not only unconstitutional, but infringes against my right for self protection endowed by my Creator. That being said, I have a CCW because of my vocal opposition to ANY restrictions on our gun rights and the fact that I prominently open carry about 50% of the time. As far as others (family and friends) getting a CCW, I take a different position. I personally believe that concealed means concealed. Which means that no one knows if you are carrying. The state keeps a record of CCW holders, which means that LEO and other agencies have knowledge of who has been issued a "privilege" to carry. I have known of several woman who have been the subject of harassment and even solicitation by male LEO's. (most of those have resulted in the firing and prosecution of said LEO) The last thing I would want is for that "type" of LEO to know if my daughter/wife/sister/friend, was carrying a firearm.
This is just my 2 cents. - Bluebleeder5.56

First off, Thanks for your years of guidance and information. God bless you and your family.
I think there are numerous correct responses to Greg S about having a Concealed Carry Permit. I am in Tennessee and have had my permit for three years. I do not have to register my guns with the state. I can use the permit to buy a gun from a dealer, immediately with no three day cool down period. Also, I can buy from a private individual and show it to him to to ensure that I am not a felon. Making a private sale of a weapon can open people up to liability if it's to the wrong person.

I have the majority of my weapons from private sales, but I keep a few "on the books" in case of a "U.S. gone wrong" gun banning and collection from big brother. Then I can turn my registered ones in and say, "See, I am a good, obedient citizen", and stay under their radar. - John S

Thanks for soliciting input on  this topic.
I have been living in Minnesota for many years now. As a recent CHL holder (less than two years), I can only add that the benefits of being able to legally carry in my home state and elsewhere far outweighs waiting for TSHTF before anyone starts carrying full time for the first time. Just like moving to your retreat pre-shtf, and learning self sufficiency skills before, carrying a sidearm will desensitize you and your family to you being armed. Case in point, my wife is opposed to owning, carrying, shooting guns herself. While she tolerates my indulgence, she has become used to me always being armed. This fact will lessen my family members from the trauma of firearms when TSHTF and it's game on.
I don't like having to beg for a permit with a recognized right, but it beats living in California, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, etc.

Thank you James, and all the other contributors for my education and growth. Worth every minute I spend learning!
Sincerely, - F.W. in Minnesota

Wind production exceeds hydro in Pacific Northwest for the first time Tuesday.

   o o o

Reader Dave T. suggested a link to some unexpected statistics on economic equality. They show that several of the Redoubt states are among the highest scorers on an index of economic equality. Dave's comment: "That kind of yeoman population is what our founders saw as the democratic ideal, and it's the kind of atmosphere I would want to raise kids in if mine were still young."

   o o o

Spokane High school Player Kicks 67-Yard Field Goal. (That distance, by the way, is four yards longer than the NFL record.) If that young man doesn't already have an academic scholarship, I predict that he'll be offered numerous athletic scholarships.)

   o o o

I heard about a new blog and podcast that would be of great interest to traditionalist Catholics who live in the Redoubt, or those who plan to move to the Redoubt: The Charles Carroll Society.

   o o o

Some Idaho items, courtesy of reader R.B.S.: news: Idaho lawmaker's wife hurt in gun room explosion. And here is a follow-up news story that suggested as possible cause of the explosion. With new geology map, Idaho rocks. (And here is where you can order a copy.) And lastly: Idaho’s low wages and agricultural roots play a role in workers holding multiple jobs.

   o o o

Here is a link to the latest newsletter from Oasis Montana. (A photovoltaics and off-grid appliances dealer located in Stevensville, Montana.)

I just heard about a new company that makes an interesting hidden storage compartment that fits between standard 16 inch-spaced wall studs: TacticalWalls.com 

   o o o

Another great post over at the popular Paratus Familia blog: Reloading in the Living Room

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Reader R.B.S. sent: The tsunami debris washed from Japan to Oregon

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F.G. sent this article from an Australian newspaper: In gun-loving America, the Kalashnikov conquers

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Yet another Self Reliance Expo announcement. (They certainly are popular, these days!) This one will be in Mesa, Arizona, on Oct. 26-27, 2012, at the Mesa Convention Center.

"There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare." - Sun Tzu, “The Art of War”, Section II (Waging War), Item 6. (From the Lionel Giles’ translation.)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Ready Made Resources has started their last sale of 2012 for Mountain House long term storage foods. They are offering 25% discounts and free shipping for Mountain House foods in #10 can. The sale will run from October 22nd to November 5th.

Today I offer part 1 of a 3-month medical prepping guide for your family, group, or community.

Please note the following abbreviations:
ORG = organizational concerns
OTC = over-the-counter products
Rx = prescription products
ED = education and skills

The supplies listed under OTC can all be purchased without a prescription, though some are only available online.  For prescription items, assess what your group has and what each member is likely to be able to acquire. 

The three-month period is divided into 13 weekly tasks, divided according to topic, making the project more readily manageable. 
For more detailed information on medical prepping, please visit www.armageddonmedicine.net

Week 1



Identify each member of your group and begin a medical chart or notebook to include each individual

p Identify current and probably future medical needs of each member, including reproductive concerns
p Identify current medical training and abilities within your group
p Identify needed medical training within your group (First Aid, CPR, suturing, casting, special concerns)
p Identify transportation concerns
p Designate one or more go-to individuals who will be responsible for the medical needs of your group
p Determine an approximate budget for your medical prepping and how costs will be distributed
p Schedule weekly to monthly meetings to assess your prepping progress



Begin purchasing items with a long shelf life:

p Dressings, gauze, Band-Aids, Telfa pads, medical tape, Coban, Ace wraps,
p Kotex for large wounds
p Wound cleaning supplies including antibacterial soap and/or Hibiclens, clean or sterile water or saline
p Wound closure supplies including suture kits, suture, staplers, staple removers, and Steri-Strips
p Thermometers, blood pressure cuffs, stethoscopes, adult and pediatric scale

Begin acquiring medications that cannot be purchased in bulk, and continue purchasing these as desired throughout your preparation period

p “Real” Sudafed (pseudoephedrine – requires signature; can only be purchased in small amounts)
p OTC Insulin, if needed
p OTC Primatene Tablets (or preferably Mist, if available)



Medication-dependent persons should assess their long-term needs and make a list of needed long-term prescription refills to request from their physician.  This is best done in person, per Week 2, below.

p Diabetics should also request testing strips, lancets, needles, and other supplies from their physicians.
p Hypothyroid patients should consider stocking up on nutraceutical desiccated thyroid, and/or locate an adequate source of mammalian thyroid tissue to make their own.
p Asthmatic patients should request nebulizer medications in quantities of 100 vials.
p Oxygen-dependent persons should obtain a concentrator and reliable power supply.



p Obtain or create forms for medical record keeping


Week 2



Schedule needed appointments for each member, as appropriate, to include the following:

p Medical concerns, including current, recurrent, acute and chronic problems, as well as reproductive status
p Dental exam, cleaning, and restorative work
p Vaccines (Tdap, influenza, pneumonia, MMR, chicken pox, shingles, hepatitis A and B, as needed)
p Vision (make sure to get a copy of your eyeglass or contact prescription to order extras online)



Order the following in quantities sufficient for the ages and size group you’ll be caring for:

p Casting supplies:  Plaster rolls, stockinet, cast padding, gauze rolls, Ace and/or Coban, bucket for water
p Pre-formed splints and braces (for wrist, knee, ankle)
p Slings
p Crutches for adults and children, walker, cane, wheelchair



p Those who suffer from back pain, arthritis, or other chronic or recurrent painful condition should request a small quantity of Tylenol #3, Vicodin, or tramadol from their personal physician, perhaps 15–30 tablets.  Note:  it is currently a felony to share these with other individuals, but should society collapse, a physician in your community could re-allocate them to a needy individual within your family or group.



Schedule needed training identified in Week 1

p First Aid
p Special concerns (such as diabetic training, catheter care, fluid administration)
p Suturing
p Splinting and casting
p CPR (primarily useful for near-drowning victims and obstructed airways, otherwise rarely successful)



Week 3



p Make a medical chart or page in a notebook for each member of your family or group.
p Discuss confidentiality issues and how you plan to keep private information secure.
p Designate who should have access to your personal health information and who should not.
p Discuss consequences for breach of trust.



Acquire the following items, as appropriate for your group:

p Vitamins, including folic acid for pregnant women, Vitamin B12 for the elderly, Vitamin K for newborns
p Salt, sugar, water, and fruit juice for Oral Rehydration Solution
p Calcium and Vitamin D for all when milk/calcium and sunlight not accessible
p KI (potassium iodide, for potential radiation exposure)
p Order extra inexpensive glasses and/or contacts online
p Order pinhole glasses online and obtain multiple pairs of inexpensive reading glasses
p Purchase OTC eye meds including contact solution and Alaway or Zaditor for allergic eyes



p Have all group members begin requesting antibiotics from their personal physicians, one at a time, to include the following: amoxicillin or penicillin, doxycycline or tetracycline, erythromycin or azithromycin, amoxicillin-clavulanate or cephalexin, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, metronidazole, ciprofloxacin.  Upcoming travel outside the US is commonly a legitimate reason to procure antibiotics for potential use.  In some countries, these are sold OTC as well.
p If this is unsuccessful, see “Infection” in Week 4, below.



p Practice suturing on a pig’s foot, chicken breast, turkey, or hot dog. (Online videos available)
p Practice working with plaster, making splints and casts. (Online videos available)


Week 4



Order appropriate books to build your library including:

p Survival medicine book, such as Armageddon Medicine
p General medical book such as a used copy of a textbook of Family Practice and/or Emergency Medicine
p PDR (Physician’s Desk Reference) – an older/used copy is fine
p General pediatric textbook – a recent used textbook is fine; also get a copy of Dr. Spock’s classic book
p General obstetrics textbook – a used textbook up to about 30 years old is fine
p Wild edible plant reference
p Medicinal plant reference



p Johnson’s Baby Shampoo for eye rinse
p Topical Bacitracin antibiotic cream or ointment
p Topical antifungal cream such as Lotrimin or Lamisil (or generics)
p Antibacterial soap and/or Hibiclens
p Pepto-Bismol for traveler’s diarrhea
p Distilled vinegar for ear rinse and possible vaginal douche
p Veterinary injectable Lincocin and Penicillin for life-threatening infections
p Refrigerator with power supply for Penicillin and certain other meds (Insulin, certain liquid antibiotics) (and consider a “pot-in-pot” refrigerator/cooler)
p Oral “fish” antibiotics (amoxicillin or penicillin, doxycycline or tetracycline, erythromycin or azithromycin, amoxicillin-clavulanate or cephalexin, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, metronidazole, ciprofloxacin)
p #11 and #15 scalpels for abscess incision and drainage



p Request Lidocaine (with and without Epinephrine) from your personal physician.  If he or she refuses, ask if they would be willing to order it and keep it on hold for you at their office, if you paid for it ahead of time, and only for a TEOTWAWKI scenario. 
p Otherwise, obtain additional OTC topical anesthetic such as tattoo cream.



p Search internet for videos of “Local anesthesia” and “Suturing” – then watch and practice
p Search internet for videos of “Abscess, Incision and Drainage” – then watch and practice


Week 5



p Identify others within your greater community who may be of potential help, should the need arise, including nurses, doctors, dentists, veterinarians, chemists, pharmacists, biologists, medical assistants, physician assistants, midwives, paramedics/EMTs, firefighters, law enforcement officers, medics
p Decide whether to contact these individuals now and whether to consider inviting them to join your group



Since these are very inexpensive, purchase 1,000s for treatment and/or barter

p Aspirin
p Tylenol
p Ibuprofen
p Naproxen sodium
p Topical anesthetic cream (lidocaine, for example, tattoo cream, Solarcaine)
p Sedating antihistamines (Benadryl, Nyquil)
p ? Poppy seeds



p Ask your local physician if he/she is willing to prescribe IV fluids for your group, or possibly order them for you (pre-paid) to be held at their office if and until the need arises. (Suggested fluids: D5-Normal or ½ Normal Saline and/or Lactated Ringer’s Solution)
p If not, order the 250 or 500 mL products available online (at inflated prices)
p Don’t forget 21 to 25 gauge butterfly needles and IV administration kits (available online OTC)


p Educate yourself about Oral Rehydration therapy and rectal fluid administration
p Download protocol for hypodermoclysis, several of which are available free online
p Procure an adult and pediatric balance scale (non-electronic), vital to monitoring weight and fluid status


Week 6



p Identify potential resources for additional medical supplies, should society collapse, including pharmacies, grocery stores, convenience stores, medical supply houses, hospitals, clinics, medical offices, dental offices, veterinary offices, libraries, schools, universities, etc.



p Antihistamines: Benadryl (diphenhydramine), loratadine, cetirizine, chlorpheniramine, Nyquil
p Decongestants: Sudafed PE and pseudoephedrine
p Primatene Pills and/or Mist
p Saline nose spray
p NasalCrom nose spray
p Nebulizer machine, nebulizer chambers with tubing, and power supply
p Bicycle pump for nebulizers if no electricity
p Rapid strep kit
p Peak flow meter and charts



p Request an Epi-Pen from your physician for emergency use.  If anyone in your group is allergic to bees or has had an anaphylactic reaction to another allergen, this should be no problem.  If you expect to travel outside the US in the near future, this might be reason enough for your doctor to grant your request, even if you do not have known allergies. 
p If an Epi-Pen cannot be obtained, scour your local pharmacies and mega-stores for Primatene Mist, which is no longer being manufactured, but sometimes can still be found lingering on the shelves.



p Procure a used, inexpensive copy of a good dermatology book with a color picture atlas
p Or make your own by downloading images (one good source is DermAtlas.org)

(Part 2 of this series, covering Weeks 7–13, will be published in the near future.)

About the Author: Cynthia J. Koelker, MD is SurvivalBlog's Medical Editor. Her web site is www.ArmageddonMedicine.net

When the power goes out, the lights go out - simple as that! Many people will then reach for a flashlight, only to find, that the batteries are dead, or dying - assuming they can even find a flashlight at night, when the power goes off. I have to admit, in my younger and dumber days, I fell victim to this many times. Living in a rural area, especially during the winter months, our power goes out several times due to trees falling over on power lines. Last time, we were without power for several days, in the winter when a huge snow storm knocked down hundreds of trees onto power lines. We have electric heat, too - but we keep a kerosene heater on-hand, and it really heats our house nicely - thank you!
Look, let's be brutally honest here, old-style D-cell flashlights, that cost a buck or two just don't cut it any longer - they don't through much light, and they aren't very durable, unless you go to some of the better "police" flashlights, even those aren't as good as they should be. Over the past half dozen years or so, technology has really gone wild when it comes to small flashlights, that throw a tremendous amount of light, using nothing more than A, AA or AAA batteries - which are still fairly inexpensive. When my wife and I were first married in 1979, I worked two full-time security jobs, one of which was, patrolling around the wooded areas around Trojan Nuclear Power Plant (now dismantled and gone) all night long, with a K-9 companion. I carried a "lantern" style flashlight, the ones that take those big and expensive rectangular 6 Volt batteries - that only lasted an hour or two. Needless to say, it didn't throw a good amount of light, and I was buying batteries several times a week - and it was big and bulky to carry and handle. I would have paid anything to have had one of the new hi-tech flashlights that are available today.
Leatherman Products recently purchased a company called LED Lenser which is producing some very affordable, hi-tech, super-bright, small flashlights. I received three samples for test and evaluation for this article, and I'm totally impressed with them all. Up first is the LED Lenser M7. is only 5.39" long and weighs a mere 6.81-oz, and runs on 4 AAA batteries. We're talking a little flashlight that throws as much as 220 lumens (with a boost to 235-lumens), at a distant of 650-feet. Living out in the country, I had ample opportunity to test the brightness of all the LED Lenser flashlight samples sent to me, and I'm here to tell you that, the M7 does as advertised - I can easily light-up the distance of two football fields. Power time for the M7 at 220 lumens is 1-hour, however, there is another setting on it that gives you 30-lumens that will last for 11-hours. Yes, you read that right eleven hours - and that will easily last you all night long in your dark home at night when the power goes out.
The LED Lenser also has Rapid Focus which allows you to go from reading to searching by using the thumb on your holding hand to simply slide the bezel away from you (pushing forward) in one seamless movement.  Many flashlights you have to use two hands to adjust the focus, assuming you have the feature on your flashlight. I could easily light-up my entire front yard by focusing out, instead of focusing in, for a tighter light. The M7 is made out of aircraft grade black anodized aluminum for a lifetime of rough use, too. The M7 also has what is called "Smart Light Technology" and this gives your 8 different sight functions, including a strobe for blinding and disorienting someone who might be a threat to you - and this works as well in daylight as it does in the dark, too. Ok, I have to admit it, but I did have to go to the instructions that came with the M7 to figure it all out...I was playing around with this light, and it kept doing "different" functions for me, and I couldn't figure out what I did wrong. You don't need a PhD to figure it out, but you really need to read the instructions and practice.
One more feature I'd like to mention is the Advanced Focus System is the patented combination of reflector and lens to create a light system that provides both a focus beam for long-range and a homogenous split-beam for u-close reading - easier to see than explain, but it's one of those "gee, why did I think of that" things. Also the M7 comes with 4 AAA batteries (nice) and a polymer clip-on "holster" that allows you to carry the M7 on your belt or pants. There's a small lanyard ring on the butt of the flashlight, right next to the push-button on/on button. You can also lock the flashlight head so as to not move it from long-distance to up-close reading. I really like the M7, it will get the job done if you are in law enforcement or a home owner who needs to see what went "bump" in the night. While not really designed as a non-lethal weapon per se, it will easily temporarily blind an attacker with the bright 220 lumens that it emits - giving you time to escape or find a weapon with which to defend yourself with. Full-retail on the M7 is $100. Yes, that is a little bit spendy, but I've had other hi-tech flashlights, that easily cost more than twice this amount, that didn't have the features the M7 has...it's a best-buy in my book for a flashlight that has so much to offer.
Next up is the P7  that is only 5.24" long, and weighs in at 6.77oz, and it also takes 4 AAA batteries (included). Now, the P7 doesn't have all the same features as the M7 does, it doesn't have 8 different functions, and you may not need all those functions. However, you do get 175-lumens, with a power boost up to 210-lumens for a one hour run time. Or you can power down to 27-lumens for 13-hours, if you don't need a super-bright light all the time. The P7 also has the Advanced Focus System as well as the Rapid Focus, plus the Dynamic switch that Pros want to switch at lightening speed and adjust brightness equally fast. This baby would make a great flashlight for around the camp fire, walking the dog in low-light or whatever chores you have that require added light. At only $60 full-retail, its worth checking out.
The last LED Lenser I received was the P3 AFS P  - and this little power house is my favorite of the samples I received. The P3 is small, really small at only 3.66" long, and it weighs a mere 1.48-oz. We're talking small, very small! The P3 has 75-lumens, and a one hour run time on a single AAA battery. Yes, one hour at 75-lumens with one AAA battery! And, believe me, this is a lot of light in a little package. The end of my driveway is about 80-feet from my front door, and I could easily light-up that area, as well as across the road to the mailboxes, and onto my neighbors pasture with this little light. Again, it is made out of aircraft grad black anodized aluminum, and it has the Rapid Focus feature as well as the Advanced Focus System. It comes with a battery, and a small Nylon carry pouch that you can slide onto your belt and have this little baby with you all the time. There is also a key ring attached, so you can add your house and car keys to it. There is also a pocket/clothing clip, if you want to carry it attached to your pants or shirt pocket.
Without a doubt, the P3 is a keeper, and anyone and everyone can benefit by having one of these itty-bitty flashlights on their person, in a purse or any place. You will have a hour of light in an emergency, and we're talking 75-lumens of light, not 15-20 lumens that the average 2-D Cell flashlights give out - that don't throw the light very far, and they don't last very long. And, it really isn't a problem to carry a spare AAA battery in a coat pocket, either. Full-retail on the P3 is only $40.00 and this one is the best-buy of the three I tested, in my humble opinion, and I like the fact that it is soooooo small and handy, you can have it with you all the time, even clipped to a shirt pocket or pants pocket.
Back to my days patrolling around Trojan Nuclear Power plant...I couldn't tell you the number of times I had to use a flashlight to light-up an area when I heard something go bump in the night, or when the interior guard company could call on the radio and report an alarm went off on the fence surrounding the plant. I worked for a different company than the one providing security inside the plant. There were usually two of us patrolling around the outside of the plant - usually in wooded areas. We worked from sundown until sun-up - we're talking a long shift, walking all night long with a K-9 partner, with no back-up other than our K-9 partner or the other officer - and it might take them 20-minutes to reach me if there was a problem. One of the biggest "problems" we had was the head of security at the plant, he was always "testing" us, to see if he could sneak into the plant. That never happened, we caught him every time, and would hold him on the ground with our K-9 partner barking and on high alert, until our other human partner could assist. I would have loved to have had one of these LED Lenser flashlights back then. It would have been much easier holding someone at gunpoint, with a smaller, hi-tech and super-bright flashlight, than with an old "lantern" style flashlight. I could have seen a lot farther in the dark with a super-bright flashlight, too. And just think of the money I could have saved by buying AAA batteries over the old big rectangular flashlight batteries.
On more than one occasion, I shinned by flashlight on a momma black bear that roamed the woods where we patrolled - and she had a cub with her. So, we were always on alert for the momma black bear and her cub. The LED Lenser flashlight shinned into her eyes might have given her cause to roam some other area. In short order, I started carrying a Remington Model 740 .30-06 semi-auto rifle, as a back-up to my .38 Special revolver after my first encounter with the momma black bear. We also had packs of feral dogs that caused us a lot of problems - again, a super-bright flashlight, like one of the LED Lensers would have been nice to have on-hand. A good flashlight can make all the difference in the world!
Look, if you're still using a dollar 2 D-cell flashlight from the dollar store, get rid of it - simple as that. Get yourself a hi-tech flashlight, that throws a lot of light, is light-weight and will give you a lifetime of service. Your life and the life of a loved one might just depend on a really good flashlight. When I hear something go bump in the night, or one of my German Shepherds starts barking, the first thing I reach for is a flashlight - then a firearm, before I go investigating in the dark. A person can't hide from the bright light emitted by the LED Lenser - even the small P3 with the 75-lumens. Once you go hi-tech flashlight, you'll wonder why it took you so long. You can pay a LOT more for a hi-tech flashlight than the LED Lenser line-up has to offer - by why pay more? Check out the complete line-up of LED Lenser flashlights on their web page, and I'm betting good money, you'll find more than one you've simply gotta have. BTW, all LED Lenser flashlights are also waterproof, too! - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

Hi James:
I'm just wondering what you and your readers think about concealed carry permits? When the SHTF, do I want to have a permit and be within the bounds of the law, but also be "registered" with the government? So far, all the weapons I have are hand-me-downs, so haven't had to do a background check for purchasing a new weapon, but needing a new handgun, so unless I find a private sale, that may soon change. Any thoughts or advice? - Greg S.

JWR Replies: My view on this topic is undoubtedly biased, since I live in a western state where open carry without any permit is legal, as is carrying a loaded gun in privately-owned cars and trucks. So my view is: why pay a fee to seek permission for something that is our pre-existing right and hence should already be legal?

FWIW, I predict that Idaho and Montana will soon follow Wyoming's "Constitutional Carry" lead and legalize concealed carry inside of city limits with out any permit. (Freedom is on the march!)

For those who live in more regulated states, getting a permit might make sense. And even for me, it might make sense so that I could carry concealed when traveling out of state. (Under interstate reciprocity agreements.)

I'd appreciate feedback from the blog's readership. I'm sure that opinions must vary widely.

Judy N.'s Only Whole Wheat Bread

Preppers are always looking for a way to use their Wheat Berries.  Here is a recipe that does not require you to grind your wheat more than once. 

Step 1:  Mix together the following:
1 package Dry Yeast                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

1 ½ cups Warm Water                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

1 Cup Warm Milk                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

1 Tablespoon Honey                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

1 Tablespoon  Molasses                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

1Tablespoon butter                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Allow  the yeast mixture to sit for 5 minutes

Step 2: Mix in a separate bowl:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
4 Cups coarsely ground wheat flour   (plus extra for Kneading)

1 teaspoon Salt

Step 3: Blend the yeast mixture with the flour mixture. Mix until you have a smooth dough (if the fixture is liquid add coarse ground wheat flour – if the mixture is too dry add warm water.)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Step 4:  Remove Dough from bowl and place on a floured work space. Knead it thoroughly, using as much whole wheat flour as necessary so the dough is not sticky when finished.

Step 5: When dough has been kneaded to a smooth spongy consistency, place it into an oiled bowl, cover and allow to proof in a warm place for 40 minutes or until doubled in size,

Step 6: Punch down in bowl until air has been forced out.  (Once or twice)  Cover and allow dough to rise for 30 minutes.

Step 7: Divide dough and for into 2 or 3 round hearth bread loaves, place on a cookie sheet dusted with corn meal.  Cover and allow increasing about ½ to 2/3 in size. 

Step 8:  Right before the loaves go into the oven make a wash of egg, milk and water. And brush the top of the loaves.  Also make a slash or two with a very sharp knife.  The brushing of the egg mixture will give the loaves a great crust and the slash will allow the bread to bake more thoroughly. 

Step 9: Bake in a preheated oven of 400 degrees F for 30 to 45 minutes.  (If the bread is getting to dark in color, lower temperature to 375 F.)  To check the loaves are done, tap on the top for hollow sound. 

Chef's Notes:

If you can resist temptation allow loaves to cool on a cooling rack.  If not enjoy with butter and honey while still warm from the oven. And share!

Useful Recipe and Cooking Links:

Patrice Lewis recently posted: Orange roast chicken

There are lots of great recipes posted over at SurvivalistBoards.com

Currently Available as Free Kindle e-Books:

Tiny But Mighty - Lentil Recipes

31 Gourmet Casseroles - The Gourmet Casserole Cookbook For The Foodie

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

Sales have been brisk for the Rawles Gets You Ready Preparedness Course. (Available again, after being out of print for nearly three years.) It is now sold only via digital download, but priced quite affordably.

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G.G. flagged this: Disaster shelter offers full kitchen, flat-screen TV

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SGT mentioned an interesting report on Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs and the U.S. Military, published by the BATFE. The report is mixture of good hard intel plus some innuendo, and a couple of implausible logical leaps. (For example, the supposed founding of the Hells Angels motorcycle club by veterans of the 303rd Bomber group is a myth that even current club members are quick to admit. The bikers just liked the name.) The key lesson from this report for SurvivalBloggers: Watch out for the 1-percenters in your area. Come TEOTWAWKI, they will be ruthless and unrestrained. (Note, however, that the other 99% of bikers pose no particular risk--they are just everyday folk.)

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Reader Michael R. mentioned yet another reason to squirrel away plenty of ammunition, now: Syrians Place Booby-Trapped Ammunition in Rebels’ Guns

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Reader P.T. found a gent in Weatherford, Texas who is selling food grade buckets in great condition in 4, 5, and 6 gallon sizes with lids.  I bought 20 of the 6 gallon buckets with lids from him for $1.50 each and and he threw another one in for free. He keeps them in his garage so they are well protected.  He stated that he can always get more and had several hundred on hand when I stopped by.

"I’ll return when civilization becomes civilized again." - Ray Milland as Harry Baldwin in Panic in Year Zero, 1962. Screenplay by John Morton and Jay Simms, adapted from Ward Moore's novels Lot (1953) and Lot's Daughter (1954).

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Today we present another entry for Round 43 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. 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 FloJak.com. C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, E.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 43 ends on November 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 think it is best to start with a simple disclaimer: you really can not learn any kind of hand to hand fighting skill from an article... especially one without pictures. If you really want to learn martial skills (I think "martial arts" is a terrible translation) then you need to seek out competent instruction and apply yourself to your lessons. There are a million pieces of advice on the Internet, even on this site, concerning how to pick a style or school but the simple fact is that you are limited to what is affordably offered in your area. Visit the available schools (and instructors) to find one where you feel physically, psychologically and financially comfortable. Even if "Fist X" is demonstrably the greatest fighting style ever it will not help you if the nearest school is 750 miles away or the fees are more than you make! Nor will "Fist X" help you if can attend classes but do not put in the effort necessary... receipts for karate lessons may get you a black belt but they will not win a fight!

All that being said, I know there are many people looking for something to give them an edge in hand to hand combat who do not have the time, resources or interest necessary to undertake a serious study of martial skills. There are literally catalogs full of self defense items aimed at this group and many of them are highly effective (but many of them are cheap pieces of garbage, too). The problem is that more and more places bar you from carrying any of these items. Sporting events, casinos and concert venues, for example, regularly run all attendees through metal detectors. They won't let you bring in your lucky penknife with it's dull 1.5 inch blade, much less your canister of tear gas, collapsible baton, pressure point keychain, TASER and double-edged boot knife! Yet we have all read stories of fans being beaten at games, robberies in parking lots and more. Therefore a self defense item needs to be not only effective and fairly easy to use but permissible to carry at all times. Instead of turning to the latest high-tech self defense gizmo I recommend returning to one of the oldest: the cane.

The cane and its cousin the walking stick have been used as weapons by almost every culture at one time or another. From the Blackthorn shillelaghs of the Irish clans and the Japanese jo staff, our ancestors saw the advantage of carrying a nice, stout club... whether or not you actually needed the assistance walking. Around the turn of the last century when urbanization saw an increase in crime coupled with a decrease in the legality of carrying weapons, several manuals and gyms appeared touting the cane or umbrella as a convenient, legal weapon. In fact, Sherlock Holmes was even supposed to be a student of Bartitsu, the hybrid Asian-European fighting system that included fencing with walking sticks. Canes and walking sticks are still readily available and readily accepted because they are still needed by so many people. What about umbrellas? Most are just too flimsy to effectively use, although in a pinch they can be treated as a hook handled cane.

Canes are not viewed as weapons and as such can be carried almost anywhere. I have used one on and off since high school and I have never had anyone question my need to carry a cane. It sometimes even gets me moved up in lines! It is important, of course, that you actually walk with your cane, even if you are not supporting your weight with it. If you are questioned remember that many people do not constantly need walking assistance and carry a cane for use on stairs or hills, when they begin to tire or just in case their knee suddenly "goes out." The cane's ability to hide in plain sight makes it the ultimate concealed self defense device but it comes with a possible drawback. Given the predatory nature of criminals and thugs, it is quite possible that your walking stick will make you look like the weak member of the herd. It is quite possible that walking with a cane will actually draw trouble to you. I have personally never had this happen but it is definitely worth considering before you decide to carry a cane.

In this article we will only be able to touch upon the most basic fighting technique and for our purposes there is little practical difference between a walking stick and a cane. You will be striking with the "head" of either so walking sticks are a bit easier to use because you never have to worry about the angle of the head while striking. When using a cane there is a specific spot you will want to use to make contact (where the handle, whether curved or straight, meets the shaft of the cane, but more on that later). Both canes and walking sticks are easy to find and available for any budget. For advanced fighters, the cane offers the ability to hook your opponent with the handle and walking sticks allow smoother transitions between various grips but these are not things you should try without some serious training.

Canes have the advantage of being very, very cheap and easy to find. Almost every drugstore, discount mart and grocery store will have inexpensive aluminum canes for sale. Last time I took a shopping trip with my wife I saw them at five stores, including a large gas station! These cheap models are actually a great option for self defense; just avoid the ones that fold up completely to store in purses and the ones with a four-pronged foot at the base. Select a straight-shafted cane with a single point of adjustment; it does not matter if it has a curved or straight handle. These canes are typically less than $20 new (and often closer to $10) but they are almost always available at thrift shops for a dollar or two. Even if you want to buy something a bit nicer, I suggest picking up one of the cheap canes as a practice piece and to help you determine the appropriate length of cane or walking stick for your body. They also are easy to store in your car or truck so they make a great back up to a more expensive cane.

If you prefer a non-adjustable cane many wood and synthetic options are available. Several fighting systems teach cane techniques so there are "fighting canes" available. They are often made of rattan or hardwood and almost always come with a curved handle (or hasp). These can get expensive, but they are typically solid and dependable. I would suggest, however, avoiding anything that is marked as a fighting cane or carries "martial arts" symbols. The advantage of the cane as a self defense device is that it does not look like a weapon; advertising that it is a weapon is literally a potential liability! Also be sure to avoid anything with a knife or sword hidden in the cane. They are concealed weapons so they open up a world of potential legal trouble. Worse yet, in my 20+ years of cane fighting I have yet to see one that is not a poorly-constructed piece of garbage.

If a walking stick is more appealing to you then you will probably need to resort to Internet shopping. There may be stores that offer walking sticks in your area (my favorite cigar shop always has a few on hand and I am sure that Irish-theme gift shops will have some expensive options, too) but there probably is not a section in your local Yellow Pages listing them! If you are able to shop in the real world for a walking stick, look for a solid stick that will not flex and if it has a metal or decorative headpiece, make sure it is attached well. After all, that is going to be your point of impact. If you are handy then you can always make your own; sometimes woodworking shops even have kits available. When shopping online a good place to start your search is Cold Steel (the knife company). They have a few options and a range of prices. I myself regularly use their African Walking Stick, a durable, synthetic piece fashioned after the fighting sticks used by the Zulu. They also make a synthetic shillelagh and traditional straight walking sticks.

Some canes and walking sticks have wrist straps attached. When you are walking with your stick never, ever use the wrist strap! You may want to cut them off but I usually keep them intact. I sometimes put a small metal bead on the wrist strap. Even though that bead does not pack much of a punch it gives me a few extra inches by acting as a little whip. Honestly, I find the real advantage of the wrist strap comes when pulling my cane off the floor or out from under the car seat. If you choose to use one of those cheap metal canes you may find that the handle has a plastic plug (usually where the wrist strap attaches) which constantly falls out. You can just throw it away if you do not want the wrist strap or you can glue the plug into the handle. Before you do that, however, you may want to shoot some glue and marbles, sand or metal shot into the handle and position the cane so the mixture settles in the striking point (I'll explain where that is in a minute) for a little extra weight. Be warned, though: some municipalities may still have laws on the books prohibiting weighted canes that date back to the turn of the last century.

If you choose a walking stick then your striking point, that is the part you want to land on your target, is simply the head of the stick. Simply put: the part you hit with is the part you hold. Canes are a bit more complicated but not much. There are two common styles of cane handles in the cheap adjustable models, the inverted J and the 7, and each has its own striking point. For the inverted J (a cane with a rounded handle like grampa used) the striking point is where the handle meets the shaft. I know that this may seem like the exact opposite of where you should hit but it isn't. Striking with the point where the handle meets the shaft allows you to take advantage of the weight of the handle, virtually eliminates the possibility of cracking the handle with a blow and minimizes the chance of getting tangled up with your target. If your cane has the 7 style handle then your striking point is where the hand grip meets the short length of the cane that is at a 45 degree angle. Some canes have an L shaped handle, usually with enough handgrip on one side of the shaft for just one finger to grip. In these cases the striking point is the edge of the handgrip on that short side. I have seen a few, very few, metal canes that have a triangular handle with a hand grip parallel to the floor (kind of like a spade handle) and 45 degree angles on each side that meet the shaft. If you have one of those then you can hit with either side of the hand grip.

If you actually need a cane's assistance to walk, use it in the hand your doctor has instructed. Otherwise, I suggest using your cane or walking stick with your inferior hand. That is, if you are right handed, use your left hand to walk with your cane. This keeps your dominant hand free to use keys, write, drink beer or whatever it is you do when out and about. It also allows you to smoothly (and very quickly) transfer your cane to a fighting stance. You will find that by twisting your wrist you can move your palm from facing down (on the handle of the cane or head of the walking stick) to facing your other hand. This will lift the bottom of your stick up to your dominate hand. Grasp the stick about one hand's length from the bottom and then let go with your inferior hand. You are now ready to wield your cane. If you have to use your dominant hand to grip your cane while walking you can transfer it into a fighting position by making a sharp upward motion with your hand while letting go of the cane. Basically, you are just tossing it straight up! The key is to catch the bottom end of the cane (again, about one hand's length from the bottom) while it is in the air. This takes a bit of work to get the timing down right, so if you have to walk with the cane in your dominant hand be sure to practice (and well away from your television, spouse or anything else fragile and valuable).

As I have already said, you really can not learn fighting skills from an article. Therefore, I am only going to cover one very basic strike with canes and sticks. Yes; we'll cover only one easy to explain and understand basic strike, but it can be delivered a few ways (so you can think of it as two or three different strikes if it makes you feel better). Simply put, think of your cane as a giant hammer. Swinging it as you would a hammer you can deliver powerful downward vertical strikes, horizontal strikes that move from your inferior side towards your dominant side and angled strikes at about 45 degrees. The blows should be delivered firmly and retracted quickly. This is a critical concept: hit fast but bring your weapon back into your ready position even faster. Do not let your cane linger after strikes... you really do not want to get into a tug of war over your stick with an opponent. For maximum power, your elbow and shoulder should both move as you strike but your wrist should remain rigid. If you have an old punching bag you can practice striking it.

I like having students beat on an old tire raised up to chest level or a 2/3 full 2 liter bottle hanging from a tree to get used to striking with a cane. If you don't have any experience with melee weapons you are probably going to be shocked at how much you feel the strikes in your palm and forearm so it is important to build up a tolerance to striking with the cane. You do not want to experience the shock of striking something with your cane for the first time when you actually have to use it for defense. As a general rule you want to keep from overextending your arm. When your arm is extended it is in a weaker position (and slower to react). This leaves you vulnerable to having your weapon tangled or taken. Try to avoid raising your hand above your head or lowering it below your belt to keep from overextending. Also do not "reach" to try to land a blow. I always teach: "If no one is close enough to hit, don't hit no one!" If you absolutely must hit at opponent who may be out of range then step towards them and strike, do not extend your arm or lean forward to bridge the gap. Finally, never fully straighten your elbow (that is just asking for trouble of the broken arm variety).

In the movies, when someone wields a cane or walking stick they are usually fencing with it. That is awesome if you know how to fence... but if you don't then stick with the hammer/club approach. When those movie heroes do use their canes like a club, as I suggest, they are always blasting people in the hands with pinpoint accuracy to make opponents drop their weapons. Don't do that either! Seriously, if you had a gun would you try to shoot weapons out of your enemy's hand, Lone Ranger style? Of course not! You aim for the biggest part of the target that is in your line of sight. We'll do the same thing with the cane, except we will aim for the biggest target in the path of the cane's swing.

Picture someone standing in front of you or look at yourself in the mirror. As mentioned above there are three basic angles to make hammer strikes: horizontal, vertical and 45 degree. All three of these angles find a target in the area between your opponent's head and shoulder making this area your prime target zone. Conveniently, as a shoulder is found on either side of the head you can reach this target zone no matter which hand you use. As you picture your opponent, imagine how the blows neatly fall into place. Horizontal blows go to the temple, vertical blows hammer into the collarbone while the 45 degree angled blows should be aimed where the neck meets a shoulder. If your aim is off with these strikes chances are you will still land a blow, which is a real advantage! If a shot aimed at the collarbone slams into the top of your opponent's head or that temple shot cranks them in the jaw or ear, it's probably close enough! You will find that it is fairly easy to one of the angles to another.... straight down, retract back to your ready position, straight across, retract, 45 degree angle, retract and so forth.

In a perfect world we wouldn't have to worry about our personal self defense. In a slightly less perfect world we would all have the time, inclination, opportunity and physical ability to learn a solid hand to hand fighting system. In the world we live in, I'd argue that it makes good sense to carry some type of self defense aid that will not keep you from going about your daily business. For me, I believe the best aid to be a club that masks itself as a medical necessity: the cane or walking stick. I hope that this article has been informative, but once again I would like to urge all readers to try to find some formal training with a qualified instructor. I hope that you have learned something that will help keep you safe even if I haven't inspired you to seek instruction, but I pray that you are never in a position to need self defense skills.


In response to the Major regarding southwestern Iowa as a Retreat Location:

While I have a fond affection for the southwestern Iowa and surrounding region, I do not feel that it is an ideal retreat location, especially during certain circumstances, such as a power
grid failure due to EMP or solar flare. There is an abundance of fertile farm ground, but I'd like to point out there are also two nuclear power plants in the area located at Brownsville, Nebraska and at Fort Calhoun. Nebraska, just north of Omaha. I, for one, will be vacating the area under those circumstances. - Pathfinder B.

I am surprised that more people are not considering recreational vehicle (RVs), specifically Travel Trailers and Fifth Wheel Trailers, as important prepping tools  They can provide many advantages, backups, and a natural training environment for TEOTWAWKI.  Here are a few more:

  • Add a military surplus M1950 stove with a few parts from the hardware store to safely run the chimney through the standard RV ceiling vent [and insure proper ventilation] and you could live in an RV all winter.  We keep these parts tucked away in our at all times.
  • Add a 12 volt powered water purification system and you can refill your onboard potable water daily.  We use ours on almost every trip.
  • Adding several larger solar panels and an inverter will not only provide you with ample electricity but can serve as a backup to provide electricity to your current home or bugout location.
  • When bugging out you may not only bring a your living quarters with you but consider that it is a heavy duty trailer that can potentially haul several thousand pounds of food, water, weapons,  and other gear along with you at the same time.  If our family has 24 hours’ notice to a disaster we could load out our 32 foot travel trailer to effectively live for a 6 – 12 months without outside assistance.  This assumes wood for fuel and access to a relatively clean fresh water supply for purification and the ability to get to the location.
    It can be pre-positioned before things get really bad.
  • A distant relative may be more likely to take you in if you have brought your own living quarters.
  • Once at your bug out location an RV can becomes a potential secondary location if the primary is threatened.
  • Bug out Bags and tents can be carried within it to provide even more redundancy or as gear to share.
  • The knowledge developed while providing electricity, heat, cooling, water, cooking, living in relatively tight quarters, plumbing, and waste disposal will give you knowledge that most do not have.
  • It is great for a family to vacation in one of these as it forces everyone to cease from the distractions of normal living and focus on each other (from proximity of other family members alone).

    Off grid camping with your RV is great fun and is a great way to train for a worst case scenario without anyone questioning it.

While not perfect solution to all prepping problems, an RV is an excellent way to provide flexibility to your existing bug out plan.
Troy V. in Minnesota

G.G. flagged this: Report: Violent crime rises sharply, reversing trend.

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A series of news photos which illustrates that the majority Syrians have an irrational fear of having the buttstock of a rifle touch their shoulders. (Perhaps fear of being bruised?) Regardless, it does not produce good marksmanship. Learn from their mistakes.

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My mother sent the link to this funny news clip: Car Jacker Can't Drive Stick Shift

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Ah, yes, Oklahoma: Where the men are men and their little girls are just about as tough. 12-Year-Old Girl Shoots Intruder During Home Invasion In Bryan County

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Reader C.D.V. sent a link to a company that makes the world's toughest canning jars: Hercuglass

"Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;

Who hath saved us, and called [us] with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,

But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:

Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles." - 2 Timothy 1:8-11 (KJV)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Articles for Deletion debate over at Wikipedia is nearing an end. Even though the editors are admitting that the articles are on noteworthy books, they feel bound by their self-imposed rules on "reliable sources". It seems that they've forgotten about one of the Five Pillars of Wikipedia, which is that "Wikpedia has no firm rules." If you have an opinion one way or the other and are experienced with making changes at Wikipedia, then please chime in on whether or not the Wiki articles about my novels "Survivors" and "Founders" should be deleted.


Today we present another entry for Round 43 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. 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 FloJak.com. C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, E.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 43 ends on November 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.

Thorough prepping is expensive. Many people are living paycheck to paycheck, struggling to put food on the table (plus a few extra cans for the pantry). Alternative power, water, sewage, and refrigeration are back-burnered to the ever-growing “wish list.” So what's a prepper on a shoestring budget to do?

Consider a used camping trailer or recreational vehicle (RV)! You can find a used trailer for as little as $500. We paid $1,200 for a 35-foot RV. Besides weekend camping, the RV offers the following in a self-contained package:

  • fresh water holding tank
  • water heater
  • flush toilet
  • shower
  • gas stove and oven
  • 3-way refrigerator (regular electric, battery, and gas)
  • temporary sewage disposal
  • temporary waste water ("gray water") disposal
  • heavy-duty power inverter with deep cycle batteries (can be charged with solar cells or generator)
  • propane tanks
  • beds to sleep eight

Some models even include 12-volt television, DVD player, and music systems.

Short-term Emergencies

Some emergencies are short-term and temporary in nature, such as wildfires, predicted hurricanes, or chemical spills. With a stocked camper or rv, you can temporarily bug out with most of the comforts of home. Many RVs have dual fuel tanks, giving you a much longer travel range than the family car, especially if you aren't traveling at high speeds on the interstate. You may be able to drive to a location out of harm's way and return without ever stopping for fuel. If you have a trailer, you may be able to add an auxiliary fuel tank to your tow vehicle to increase travel range.

Bug-Out Planning

As a knowledgeable prepper, you are alert for signs of impending crisis that could result in TEOTWAWKI. Hopefully, you can be on the road to your bug-out location before panic sets in. Just another family on a leisurely camping trip, tra-la-la.

Of course, once panic sets in, with fuel shortages, traffic congestion, and the possibility of armed bandits treasure-hunting the highways, you don't want to be lumbering along in a deluxe Class A motor home. All the more reason to A. Leave early. B. Buy used (old and ugly, but reliable is the goal). And C. Maintain a low profile (no NRA bumper stickers, expensive bikes on exterior racks, etc.).

Pre-TEOTWAWKI, your camper can help you in your quest for a good retreat location. Most sellers will allow a potential buyer to spend the night in a self-contained camper on the property. It's a good way to learn about typical night-time noises, such as trains, wildlife, and neighborhood nuisances. Once you find your retreat, you may choose to park your camper there so you don't have to worry about bug-out traffic. Be aware that unattended campers sometimes attract youth looking for a place to party, thieves looking for sporting goods, and wandering homeless looking for a place to sleep. Cache your food, weapons, and valuables in a storage unit nearby, or build one or more hidden storage spots on your property.

Sheltering in Place

But where the camper can really come through is when you decide to stay home and ride out the emergency, especially if you've done some advance planning and local recon.

Water and Sewage Systems

Keeping the fresh water tanks full gives you several days' supply of water for cooking, drinking, and cleaning. And if you have a well and a generator, you can top of the tanks as needed. Camper water heaters operate on propane, so you'll have hot water for showers, as well.

Campers have separate holding tanks for “gray” and “black” water. “Black” is sewage that will eventually need to be disposed of. There are several options to consider. Adding a few feet of pipe and a connector (and cap) to your regular sewer is the simplest option. You can also purchase wheeled “dump tanks” from camper supply stores. Dump into the tank, then wheel the tank to a dump station and dump it. Finally, you can drive the camper to a local campground and use the dump station to empty the tank. (Check out local options in advance—many public parks allow free dumping.) “Gray” water can be recycled to water plants, livestock, etc.

If you're in a northern location, you'll need to either insulate and heat-tape pipes and tanks, or have them drained and winterized to prevent freezing.

Cooking and Refrigeration

The gas stove and oven in your camper don't need electricity to prepare food. You may need to have a lighter or matches to light pilot lights or burners. Two large gas bottles last a surprisingly long time—and the connections are the same as your gas grill. So a few extra bottles of propane can be used for either the grill or the camper. If you have a large propane tank for your home, you can even buy adapters to fill the smaller gas bottles from the large tank. One large tank and a few small ones can easily last for a year or more.

The typical refrigerator is a “three-way”. It can be run on gas, AC power (regular utility line current), or DC power 12 volt (battery). The most important thing to remember is that the camper refrigerator works best when the camper is level. You may need an assortment of boards or leveling jacks to accomplish this goal.


Most campers are equipped with a heavy-duty power inverter and one or more deep-cycle batteries. Batteries can be recharged with solar panels or generator. A full charge will usually last several days powering refrigerator, lights, and television or computer. Using the air conditioner or furnace blower will consume a lot more power.

Guest Accommodations

When friends and family arrive, where will they sleep? With a camper, your guests (or you) can sleep comfortably and privately.

When and Where to Find Camper Bargains

Fall months are the perfect time for northerners to find bargain priced campers. It's the end of the camping season, gas prices are going higher all the time, and financially-challenged consumers are looking for non-essentials to sell for much-needed cash.

Your best bargain will be with an owner, not a dealer. You can look on Craigslist or local classifieds. Drive through local campgrounds and family neighborhoods and look for “for sale” signs.

In the southern sunbelt states, spring offers the best bargains. Snowbirders may not want the expense of taking the camper back up north or the worry of finding a suitable place to store it.

Some Things to Check When Buying a Used Camper

  • Tires—be alert to signs of weather-checking that can make the tire unreliable.
  • Make sure brake lights and turn signals are in working order.
  • Check interior for signs of leaks, such as ceiling stains.
  • Ask the seller to start the refrigerator, then come back the next day to see if it's cold.
  • Check water and drain pipes for leaks.
  • Inspect gas tanks for missing or damaged fittings.
  • If buying a trailer, make sure your vehicle will tow it. Make sure your hitch is the right size and the wiring plugs are compatible.
  • Once you've bought the camper, make a “dry run” in your back yard to make sure all systems are operable and camper is properly stocked. (50 cans of food are worthless on a camping trip if the can opener is at home. Trust me, you don't want to buy a can opener in a typical over-priced campground store.)

You can also buy a used camper from a dealer, which may give you some recourse if something doesn't work right, and possibly a financing option. But expect to pay $3,000 or more for a used trailer from a dealer.

Camper Bargains to Avoid

While easier to tow, most pop-up campers won't have the same self-contained features of an RV or full-size trailer. Many older models don't have a bathroom; the “refrigerator” is an icebox (meaning you need to stock it with fresh ice every day or so); and there's no oven, just a three-burner cooktop.

Slide-in truck campers may have self-contained features, but smaller space means smaller holding tanks, smaller refrigerators, and less storage space. Instead of two large propane tanks, they have one small one.

One More Advantage of the Camper as Shelter

TEOTWAWKI will bring many challenges. While we can try to anticipate common scenarios, it's hard to anticipate exact reactions to specific challenges. If your group includes children or elderly family members, a disruption in normal routine can intensify a crisis situation. However, the multiple backup systems in the camper can help maintain a semi-normal routine. Even the most crisis-ready prepper will appreciate a flush toilet and hot shower. While children will most certainly have chores and responsibilities, there will be times a battery-operated DVD player will be a real treat. Your crisis can be your child's “adventure.”

A few years ago (while we still lived up north) our neighborhood experienced a week-long power failure in December. Same week as youngest daughter's birthday. We still had a birthday party—lighted by oil lamps, with homemade chili made on top of a kerosene heater, store-bought cake, and ice cream kept frozen in a snow drift by the front door. She still talks about the awesome birthday party she didn't expect.

And when it's all said and done TEOTWAWKI will lead to a New World We Will Build. Yes, we can improvise toilets with garbage bags and five-gallon buckets, and take sponge baths alongside the creek if we have to. But why not enjoy flush toilets and hot showers as long as possible?

Sorry to be late on my Knob Creek roundup I was indecisive as to the interest level in the past, as it concerns those mostly east of the Mississippi.
Arrived Friday morning and was shocked at how sparse the crowd was compared to past events. It was still a good sized crowd but I could actually get around and wasn’t standing room only. I am guessing that a couple of rain fronts that came through in the week previous dampened enthusiasm, along with the economy and people have been on an ammo buying spree for over a year, reduced the turnout somewhat. The sound of automatic weapons and cannons in the background was as constant and loud as ever. Didn’t spot any celebrities but usually that happens on Saturday.
1st order of business, hit up Model 1 Sales out of Texas for my 5.45x39 AR-15 bolt and carrier to complete my upper conversion build I started a few years ago. I decided against having some machine work done to a standard 5.56 bolt and went with the product designed for my purpose. These bolts are currently listed as out of stock on their web site but my past experiences and a sweet Texas Belle at their HQ let me know that there was a good chance they would have some at the creek. Purchased the bolt and carrier and engaged their resident guru in some debate, to the point, he said their bolts had an altered inside diameter firing pin hole and pin which allows the firing pin to travel much further than the 5.56 pin in order to give consistent strikes on communist ammo that seems to be all over the map in terms of primer seating production standards. So no need for a heavy duty spring to give it some umph. We shall see if this holds true. He also said that the extractor and firing pin were different from standard. Enough said, add a few of those to my bag. As soon as I got home I used an electric engraver to try and label the bolt as 5.45 for posterity. The hardened steel was resistant to my idea but I finally managed to make a dent in the parkerization if not the steel.
2nd order of business, DSA for some FAL compliance parts and adjustable rear protected leaf sights and miscellaneous parts. Apparently they were not in a mood to negotiate much since I only managed to save $40 over retail after saving several hundred last year. I must remember to dress more shoddily and practice my pitiful face for spring. While at the table I observed two elderly gentlemen drop cash for 12 DSA AR uppers. Go figure.  DSA’s $3-4 FAL mags in excellent shape are a thing of the past and a wooden crate full of cosmoline and abused metric magazines  a  5 for $45 was the best they had. After myself and another passerby spent a large amount of time sorting through this mess, we sweet talked the kid into getting another crate out of the truck. And finally, some minor pity as the kid let me grab 12 for $90. That probably averages out to somewhere around $7.75 per mag. Used inch pattern mags were $20 and their new USA made 30 rounder’s in metric were $25 apiece. The crotchety old guy who you had to talk to for parts and had a definite resemblance to the Soup Nazi on the Seinfeld television series has thankfully retired. That was always an extra special treat after 8 hours of travel through the night and cash in your hand.
On to Ammo. I went to Pat’s Reloading out of Ohio as they are one of my favorites. Got Aquila .223 for $318 a case and PMC for $330. Later I saw that much of their stuff had been bought by the pallet load by machine gunners or dealers. I am sure they probably brought in another load for Saturday but at the time there wasn’t much selection left. They did still have some 1,000 round cans of Israeli 9 mm loose packed SMG ammo for $199? I went around and didn’t really see anyone prices were that much better. 7.62x54 R seems to be holding steady at $75-85 a spam can and $150-165 a case. 5.45x39 communist ammo is still the best deal going for Semi-Auto self-defense rifles at $275 a case. That’s 2,140 rds for less than the price of  1,000  5.56 rounds (exponentially that is 3,000 of 5.56 for $1,000 versus 6,500 for $825). Hence, having the uppers in this caliber for your AR. Not to mention that the Russian and Chinese troops currently reported to be in Denver and Texas will likely be using this round. So that is where you go to resupply yourself.  Another dealer had Privi-Partisan new .308 by the sleeve for $200 per 250 rounds. Uggh, that’s $800 per case, although I am sure there was a discount for case purchases, I didn’t ask. I was mainly there for hardware not software.
Having said that. I then went over to see Lance with all his obscure and foreign war films and books. I had to repurchase my copy of the Finnish war 1994 movie “The Winter War” which disappeared in a buddy’s divorce proceedings seven years ago. While there, I picked up a 2011 French movie with subtitles about communist members of the Resistance assassination teams in Paris during WWII called “Army of Crime”. Has been pretty good so far. Then I picked up a title from a Korean outfit? Called Well-Go entertainment.  Called “Warriors of the Rainbow”. I had previous purchased a title by this group called “My Way” at my local Target store (of all places) for $12 which was the true saga of some Koreans who were drafted into the Jap army, captured and sent to the gulag by the USSR until they needed bodies, captured by the Germans and sent into a far east battalion to Normandy, and finally captured by the Americans who no doubt wondered how these guys got there. An epic on the scale of “Saving Private Ryan” with great cinematography. If you thought I liked that one, I bought the 2011, 4-½ hour international version of “Warriors of the Rainbow” for $30 and I cannot say enough great things about it. If you like war, adventure, combat movies and don’t turn into a prima donna over subtitles or beheadings, You have to put this movie on your bucket list. Just simply amazing and as good of cinematography as you are going to see. It is the true story of the subjugation of the headhunters of the interior of Taiwan when the Chinese ceded it to Japan by treaty and Japan set out to exploit it and strip it of its resources. The head hunter tribes gave better than they got but were eventually subjugated in the early 1900’s. They bided their time and finally after all the abuse they struck in 1930. Using captured Japanese weapons and their swords  a little over 300 headhunters brought the Japanese forces to their knees and were only subjugated by the use of planes and poison gas. It is a movie about the last stand of a culture and has similar elements to the Last Samurai, the Alamo, etc. except is all done in the native tongues of the characters in the movie. At one point before the rebellion starts, a young lad sees the chief who is now 40-50s on his porch and goes over to him and engages in some small talk. The young man says “My grandfather says you were  a great hero when you were younger” the Chief turns and looks right through him and says “What makes you think I ever stopped being a hero”. Enough said. Go watch this epic and  you won’t regret it.
Picked up military issue Celox and Quik-Clot 3 packs for $25 with 2013-2015 expiration dates (which probably are good for a long time after) and some various medical equipment. Went over and picked up springs and some spare parts  as well as other things. There was a character there and his company was called Forbidden Ideas who had a truck full of Mountain House cans, Wise food buckets, Aqua Rain filters etc. But I got a Civil Defense charger (recalibrator) and 2 Bendix 200 milrad dosimeters ($12 each) from him for $50.  He had a package deal going for a bag of stuff with all the manuals of radiation meters, dosimeters, chargers and other stuff for $115. Recalibrating your radiation detector will cost $80 (according to this guy) and these have already had it done from some outfit in Texas.
On the way back after 24 straight without sleep, I went over what I had observed. The difference between the number of people loaded down with carts, ATVs, army mechanical mules and red Radio Flyer wagons filled with ammo was startling since last fall, but as I explained at the start, I think there is a logical reason for it.  The most startling thing was the number and volume of young men 25-50 plunking down $600-1000 in this economy and being fitted for full scale body armor and ceramic plates that can withstand multiple rifle strikes. I saw multiple groups weighted down with multiple sets of the plates at a minimum of $275 a set and one table was busy all day fitting people. I actually began to feel quite under protected with multiple police style vests and titanium trauma plates.

I was actually quite moved driving down the highway at what a horrible thing this meant, as to what we have come to as a country and what is coming. It also gave me a great sense of pride that many (not enough), I do believe are preparing for battle, when it is finally brought to our doorsteps, and don’t intend to go quietly to the FEMA camps. Pastor Lindsay Williams states that there is one thing the elites have learned in the last years, they can do anything to the American people and we will do nothing in response. I hope that is not true. Other than constant prayer for the spiritual battle in the heavens going on, as always, keep the mottos of our ancestors, Sic Semper Tyrannis and De oppresso liber safely enshrined in your hearts. - B.T.

I would like to add a little information and advice to Louie's excellent primer on the Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot. As a former local who still attends semi-frequently (currently living behind enemy lines and soon moving to the American Redoubt) it's always great to see folks from around the country that attend this. I once had a problem with  immigration /customs crossing into Canada and the CBP Agent's familiarity with the shoot is what got me across. No joke. He believed my story because I could give him details on the shoot and had the accent to match. He's an annual attendee. Awesome. I swear the nicest people believe in armed civilians. Now for the info and advice:

1. Accommodations. 
The show is outside Shepherdsville Kentucky but this is just past the suburbs on the south side of Louisville. You've never heard of Shepherdsville and maybe never heard of Louisville so Mapquest it. No offense intended, most people I run into ask me what states are next to Kentucky. There are a few motels in "Shep" but as you go north into Louisville there are motel/hotels galore. Louisville is a convention hub and hosts The Kentucky Derby so it is well prepared for more visitors that the shoot will ever bring.

2. Parking. 
Bring a 4x4. Much of the parking is in a field down by the creek. It's soggy bottom land. It will not appear to be a problem on the first morning. The grass is all pretty and glistening with dew. When you leave and many cars have had a chance to spin that field into a mud hole...let's just say it isn't pretty anymore. A way to avoid this is to camp there. Then you can get better parking with less traffic on higher ground. You might even have a handful of gravel under your tires. Friendly, local rednecks make some decent go-to-town money by hauling sedans out of that field. The first time I went I was one of those sedan people. Completely embarrassed was I since I'm from there. The girlfriend had the 4x4, scout's honor. BTW, most of them pull you for free as long as you're the guy who crawls through 18", or deeper, mud to attach the chain. I drove home in my BVDs. I swear I had to scuba dive under the front bumper.

3. Firearms. 
You can bring your firearms to this show just like other shows. It gets inspected (for empty chamber/mag) and a zip-tie safety seal installed through the open bolt. So if you're interested in selling or trading by all means bring your toys. You will often see a little home made Wiley E Coyote sign sticking up from the muzzle of a slung rifle that says For Sale/Trade. This is a great idea. I highly encourage folks to bring their weapons for sale or trade...particularly considering Note 5.

4. When to get there. 
Get there early on the first day. If you are looking for ammo, lower parts kits, or other items that fly off the shelves...well they fly off the shelves. If you get arrive at lunch time on the first day you will be hard pressed to find 5.56, 7.62, .45, or 9mm ammo Deals. Believe it or not pallets of cases of ammo can go in a couple hours. Locals know the shoot is coming, know deals are to be had, and many come just for that early morning purchase. It can be like Black Friday. Expect prices to change on the fly for high demand items as the stock gets close to empty. Gouging does happen. I showed up looking for a lower AR parts kit for a build I was working on a couple years ago. I had been waiting for months because everywhere online was back ordered indefinitely. Ridiculous. I showed up at 10 AM and found just one table with Rock River AR parts kits. They had two empty pallet boxes (30 inches deep), and a third box that was half empty. If you show up early you can get real savings over what you will find at online retailers and in stores. Our usual plan is to get there in the morning and shop, and then return for the night shoot. Also, at the end of the day on Sunday you can find deals from vendors who don't want to lug their stuff home. The selection will be limited but you can find gems.

5.  Purchasing Firearms. 
If you buy firearms from the tables under the roof, most of them are FFL dealers, not private individual sellers...so they will be going through the usual NICS check procedures.. If you're looking for person to person sales you pretty much have to work outside of the covered area. As a matter of principle I like to avoid NICS [background checks] when possible. It's none of their dang business what I do with the dollars I earn. I suggest you do the same, and let them enjoy their revenue decline. Watch for the signs displayed by private sellers. 
6. The Main Store. 
Louie is right. The staff at KCR is very knowledgeable and they have everything you ever wanted. Looking for a Barrett. I don't know about during the show, but during normal times they provide discounts for shooters who are current or retired soldiers and marines. They are friendly but come with a thick skin. There is good natured chop busting to be had in the store. 

7. Shooting the Toys.
Nothing to add there. Louie covered this like a champ. 

One Last Piece. Bring a wagon. A good old child's red wagon will save you from strain on your feet and back. Especially if you intend to buy ammo. 

Thanks for letting me submit this. I also want to thank Mr. Rawles for including the Fort Knox area in his latest novel in his book series. That's my old stomping ground and I can tell you it's populated to behave in that exact manner. Once you escape Louisville you run smack into old-timey prepping. Not necessarily up to date on the movement, heck not much Internet access, but provident living is in the DNA. If it wasn't so close to major population centers, and Fort Knox, I would stay for life. That was sub-MOA accuracy sir. Wet boots and dry powder 'yall. - InvisibleSoul

Reader AmEx sent news of the know-nothing Big Government crowd at work: Bullet tax proposal in hunt for solution to Chicago gun crime. Call for a levy of nickel for each bullet and $25 for each firearm sold in the city. I predict that their tax scheme will be counterproductive. Note that the tax would apply only to the 40 FFL holders inside Chicago City limits. Who in their right mind would pay 8 cents per round for .22 rimfire ammo, when they are accustomed to paying 3 cents? Obviously, people will take their business elsewhere--namely to gun shows outside of Chicago and to Internet vendors. So, instead of raising revenue they will choke off a revenue stream. Eventually, all statist politicians will be hoisted by their own petards.

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A subject familiar to SurvivalBlog readers, but worth reading: Martial Arts For The Survivalist

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F.G. sent us an interesting clip of a recent Hind helicopter shoot-down in the Syrian Civil War. [JWR's Comment: The spinning uncontrolled descent is probably indicative of a tail rotor power failure or a dead pilot. Then the big fireball in mid-air appears to be a secondary explosion of onboard ammunition stores. By the way, the rebels are all shouting "Allahu Ahkbar", but to be more accurate, they should be shouting "ZSU-23 Ahkbar" or better yet, "Mytishchi Ahkbar," since they designed and built that big lead slinger.]

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Speaking of ZSU-23 cannons, see the documentary: Front Lines of the Libyan Revolution

"Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will even gather you from the people, and assemble you out of the countries where ye have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.
And they shall come thither, and they shall take away all the detestable things thereof and all the abominations thereof from thence.
And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh:
That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God." - Ezekiel 11:17-20 (KJV)

Friday, October 19, 2012

October 19th is a birthday shared by three notables: the late Alexander Zeisal "Zus" Bielski (born 1912, died August 18, 1995), billionaire investor Jim Rogers (born 1942) and novelist James Howard Kunstler (born 1948.) Kunstler is well-known to SurvivalBlog readers as the author of the novel World Made by Hand and the nonfiction book The Long Emergency. A fictionalized portrayal of Zus Bielski is seen in the movie Defiance. This movie was loosely based on the excellent book Defiance: The Bielski Partisans by Nechama Tec.


Today we present another entry for Round 43 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. 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 FloJak.com. C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, E.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 43 ends on November 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's just say I have a fair amount of time on my hands and not a whole lot of money. Add to that a curious mind with a bit of a preparedness mindset and you get someone who likes to experiment with produce and gardening. I wanted to share some of my experiences with growing plants straight out of my kitchen, often from produce bought at the grocery store that was meant to be eaten but didn't make it to the table, or had the seeds removed first.

If you've seen some of the propaganda out these days on our food supply, you might, like me, have become fearful about what we are feeding our children.
I saw videos about potatoes that will not grow being sold in the grocery stores and I have heard stories about the seeds in our produce somehow becoming inactive. I wanted to see for myself if the food that I feed my family is that horrific and unnatural that it cannot reproduce or grow anymore itself. I'm not saying whether the food is bad or good, obviously it would be best if we could all grow our own food supply in a healthy, sustainable manner but that's an entirely different topic. I am saying that some of the propaganda is just that, or that my produce bought at my local, inexpensive chain style grocery store is possibly not as processed, or treated as some of the other stuff that was used in the tests that I have seen or heard about. To be clear, these are my tests and results, I won't compare them with any others except for my own previous growing experience because there are just too many variables. The hope here is that you might try some of these ideas and see for yourself what might work and what won't.

You might be asking yourself "Why is this relevant?"  Well, in our dependant society we just don't know what could disrupt the fragile food supply, when it could happen or for how long. Access to fresh, viable seeds might be an issue for you when it all goes down. Not only that, availability could also be an issue, last spring I had to go to four different stores looking for seed potatoes and onions. I wondered if I couldn't find them in time, would it be that important to simply not plant those particular items? Of course, it would be not a huge issue to just buy them when I need them for now when all things are just a drive or click away, but I wanted to know if there was a way to make do without. as

Some of you might find this material interesting, some might find it educational, many of you will undoubtedly get a good laugh at my level of inexperience. That's okay, but in TEOTWAWKI there might be a whole lot of people trying to do what I am attempting to do now. In all fairness I am not a master gardener, or a soil expert, I just have an interest in gardening and seed saving.

I believe that many people would actually be less practiced and less educated (if you can believe it) then me if the food supply ran dry and we had to rely on farming.
I am certain that there are many variables and my experiments likely will not produce the same results for someone else, somewhere else, or even for myself in the same situation next year. Just a few of the many variables might include the type of produce purchased, the brand name, the growing area, the soil composition and light and water requirements for growing or for what the produce was grown in or around.

The point is to try for yourself if you have the time, space or the curiosity.

To start, I used grocery store fruit and vegetables. Everything was purchased at a regular inexpensive chain type grocery store. I used regular produce, inexpensive and not labeled organic or pesticide free with exception of the strawberries which I bought on sale that were labeled organic.
When I say that I dried the seeds, all I did was scoop them out, and lay them somewhere to dry for at least two weeks occasionally turning or shaking them. With the squash, pumpkin and melon, I rinsed the seeds off first then dried them for at least three weeks before placing them in storage. My method of storing them is to put them in an unbleached envelope labeled by type of seed and the date, and catalogued in a file system, stored in a cool and dark place.
Garlic- I left the whole garlic heads in the fridge and when I didn't use them, they eventually began to sprout. I generally prefer to overwinter my garlic but I planted the cloves in the spring anyhow. I harvested them in late August and the result was not as good as my usual crop. They were smaller with smaller cloves but they did grow and produce. Perhaps if I had been able to plant them in the fall as I usually do, they would have been the same size as my usual garlic harvest.
Watermelon- Watermelon seeds are becoming harder and harder to find in store bought fruit. I was lucky enough to find two seeds that I planted directly into the garden without drying them. Unfortunately there was no growth.

Pumpkin- I bought a pumpkin last year and dried the seeds. This summer I planted them and did get some growth. Most of the seeds did sprout and began to grow but none made it long enough to produce any larger leaves, flowers or pumpkins. I probably would have done better if I sprouted the seeds indoors and planted them earlier.

Tomato-  I bought some larger tomatoes but one or two of them didn't make it to the table. I sliced them open and scooped out the seeds to dry. In the spring I planted them and was very pleased to see them growing. Unfortunately my tomato harvest was not a large one this year probably because I just didn't plant enough of them. The plants did produce a good quality of tomato, resulting in about six or seven tomatoes per plant.

Carrot- I remembered an experiment from grade school science class when we cut off the tops of carrots and put them in water to grow. I tried to replicate that experiment with no good results.

Melon- I planted the seeds directly in the garden from a fruit bought at the store. The plants grew nicely and did finally begin to flower and produce fruit. There were a surprising amount of melons on each plant however they just didn't seem to have enough time to mature even in this years extended growing period. Next year I'll try starting them indoors early in pots that can be planted into the garden.

Potato- I bought a ten pound bag of potatoes and left a few in the dark to grow eyes. Once they did, I planted them in a pail in the hopes of creating a makeshift potato tower. Although they did try to grow, nothing much came of it. There were sprouts and leaves protruding through the soil but they soon wilted and died. I recently learned that potatoes like good drainage and the pail I used did not have holes drilled into the bottom which could certainly have contributed to my poor results. I think next year I'll try them in the garden.

Winter Squash- I just love squash. I planted the seeds in early spring and carefully tended to them. They sprouted and grew nicely for the most part with only one plant remaining small with no flowers and therefore no fruit. The others did well and the plants looked good but again, the squash seems premature and there is not enough time for them to mature. I never grew winter squash before so I have no comparison but each plant aside from the one that did not produce, gave one or two premature squash. This would be another one to be sure to plant early indoors in pots that can go directly into the garden.

Strawberry- I have never had any success with the 'grow your own' strawberry kits and I always wondered if there was another way of growing strawberries without buying any kits or seeds or plants. I bought some organic strawberries on sale and half of them were too ripe to eat. I planted them in early summer in a pot, whole, with the tops sticking out (this is when the experienced gardeners are likely shaking their heads). I took great care of them, making sure they had plenty of sun and just enough water. In the end all I got was a pot of dirt with some dried leaves sticking out.

Peppers- I tried four types of peppers this year, again all seeds from grocery store bought produce, and none had been labeled organic.
     Bell Pepper- I sowed the seeds directly from the pepper without drying. The plants were ok looking, perhaps a little on the weak side compared to the seedlings I usually    buy to plant. All of them did grow and did flower, most of them did produce nicely with good quality peppers averaging from one to four peppers on a single stalk.
     Habanero Type- Sad story here, I dried the seeds, planted them directly in the garden in the summer and had no growth.
     Cayenne-  I dried the seeds from the store bought packet of peppers. There was growth and production but not as much as I'm used to growing from seedlings that were already started. The peppers were smaller and there were perhaps a few less then usual.
     Jalapeno Type- I dried the seeds from store bought jalapeno style peppers and sowed them straight into the garden. The plants looked good and the production was good. I had never planted jalapeno peppers before so I do not have other experience to draw on, just that they produced a decent amount of about three peppers per stalk.

All in all, it was a good experience despite some of the less desirable results. Reviewing these results shows me that I do have a lot to learn but at least some were very successful. I will continue to try to grow free seeds from the produce I buy, not only does it give free, viable fresh seeds, but I can also learn along the way.
 I did recently get my hands on some good books on saving seeds. Flipping through them shows that that seed saving is not as easy as one might think. Some variables include humidity, drying time and drying temperature. Some seeds require specific treatment before they are able to germinate, and most require a steady soil temperature to sprout. Some seeds also need to be a certain temperature before they will sprout, as in freezing. There is a lot to learn in the science and miracle of seed saving and food growing. With the time honored tradition of saving seeds you are giving yourself a cushion of security regardless of what the future holds.

It is my hope that my experiments with produce, seed saving and growing will inspire you to try your own. Good luck.

JWR Adds: Be advised that much of the produce found in grocery stores comes from hybridized seed stock. Saving those seeds will sometimes result in poor yields in subsequent generations. For long term survival, open-pollinated non-hybrid seed (often called heirloom seed) is recommended.

Dear SurvivalBloggers:
This past weekend (12-14 October, 2012) was the Fall Knob Creek machinegun shoot in West Point, Kentucky.
The Knob Creek ("KCR") shoot is normally a bi-annual event, held in April and October each year. It is the World’s largest machine gun (MG) shoot and machine gun show.
Although none of our group are really “into” machine guns this event was on the “bucket list” of one of our party. With the spring shoot canceled last April because of heavy rains washing a bridge out, we were determined to make this one.

Web sites were checked, reservations made, bags were packed and off we went. N and V, father and son left a little later than M and me. From our home area in southern Ohio we had about a 3 ½ hour drive, and arrived at KCR around noon on Friday.

The event costs $10 per day for everyone over 11 and $5 for those under 12. This fee gets you in the event. Parking is free and a shuttle is available every 15 minutes or so. Camping is also available but I lack details on this.

The entry fee gets you into the gun show, the public shoot and the amazing gun store. The gun show is mostly under a large shelter house that I estimate at 150x500 feet. It is literally crammed full from one end to the other with guns, MGs, parts, ammunition, surplus goods, fireworks, knives and any number of other items. Outside of the shelter house are many booths and tents set up with vendors for many other items, including “Survival” type foods.

The gun store is amazing. It has more firearms than I have ever seen at one place at one time. There is also a cafeteria in the same building. Several food vendors are located outside of the gun store.

KCR MG Shoot facilities consist of two ranges. (Although I am positive there are many more ranges available during normal business hours.) The upper range is to your left as you come into the area proper. It is fenced off and has a covered shooting area. This range is for owners and dealers who demonstrate their various guns. There is room for approximately 50 shooters.
There are some bleachers available, but with very limited seating. I would not advise taking lawn chairs to this area as it becomes very congested during the shooting times. Keep your chairs in your vehicle for when you need a rest. I would also pack a cooler with drinks and snacks. Need I say that alcohol is not okay to have. Drinking around guns is as stupid as drinking and driving.

The lower range is for rentals. The first part is the shotgun walk area. The next area has two vendors who have machine guns for rent (more later). Lastly there is an area for the jungle walk shoot.

Saturday morning found the four of us waiting for the rentals to open up.  We were there early and close to the front of the line. The fees are graduated "per magazine, drum or belt" depending on the MG you wish to shoot. A magazine for a submachine gun will start at $35, a drum at $65. Full machine guns are about $40 per magazine.
(NOTE: A submachine gun is a gun that is capable of full automatic fire in a pistol cartridge. A machine gun is a gun capable of full automatic fire in a rifle caliber.)

Examples of what we shot:
BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle) 30-06,  20 rounds for $35, 40 for $60
Thompson Model 1928 (Tommy Gun) .45 caliber, 30 round mag for $40, 2 for $60, 50 round drum for $60, 2 for $100
HK-G3 .308 caliber, 20 round mag for $35, 2 for $60
M60 and Browning 1919  .308 caliber, belt of 50, $65 for one, and $100 for 2
Uzi 9mm, $40 for magazine of 32
Suggestion: When you go through the payment line purchase tickets for everything you want to shoot. One of the vendors gives extra shooting for over $200 spent. Also it will save time not having to go through the lines again. Some of the lines were close to 3 hours long. (It is still worth it). Shooting is limited to those age 16 and up. Waivers must be signed before shooting

The Shows
Every couple of hours there is a ["Mad Minute"] show. This is where the owners and vendors all shoot at the same time. They will shoot for about 45 minutes. Their targets may be old cars, boats, appliances, wire spools or whatever. Fires erupt as these items catch on fire. There are also explosions as gas tanks or gas cylinders are hit.

This range is the old Naval gun range once owned by Uncle Sam and part of Fort Knox. The range is about 400 yards deep.

I should state here that ear and eye protection are a must. As the daylight fades the tracers become more and more visible.

As I said, there were four of us there for N.’s Bucket List item. We are already making plans for next year to take our children and grandchildren. We are also talking it up at work and have several people very interested. Who knows, maybe I’ll see you there next time. It really is fun!

AmEx (American Expat) sent this: U.S. to Get Downgraded Amid Fiscal ‘Theater,’ Pimco Says

Reader A.T. suggested this essay by Martin Armstrong: What Destroyed Rome was its Unfunded Government Employee Pensions

The Daily Bell reports: Now Mexico Bans Cash. JWR's Comment: Don't mistake this new law as part of the so-called war on drugs or the war on terror. Rather, it is plainly a part of the war on privacy and individual liberty.

Izzy Friedman: What Now For the Price of Silver?

Reader C.D.V. was pondering a wound cleanser which is dry, compact and inexpensive. He decided on potassium permanganate, which in addition for use (in a very dilute solution) on wounds can also purify water, treat fungal infection, canker sores, cholera, start fire and be used as an emergency signal. Wikipedia lists even more uses. A reference page on nursing notes that 400mg (1:1,000) tablets are diluted in four liters of water to give a dilution of 1:10,000 (0.01%). Obviously, just a little bit goes a long way when put in solution as a wound cleanser.

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Ready Made Resources has announced their last sale of 2012 for Mountain House long term storage foods. It will run from October 22nd to November 5th

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H.L. suggested this piece over at Alt-Market: Global Food Reserves Have Reached Their Lowest Level In Almost 40 Years

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Rick R. spotted another amazing GSA land auction. This one is in Kansas. Imagine having 2.7 million square feet of underground storage. Enter: "Atchison Cave Storage Facility" in the GSA site's search box.

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For our collection here at the Rawles Ranch, I'm looking to purchase a spare magazine or two for a Swiss 7.5mm Model 1896/11 Schmidt-Rubin rifle. And I'm also in need of 5 to 15 original brown cardboard and tin stripper clips ("chargers") for Swiss 7.5mm Schmidt-Rubin rifles. I know for a fact that the Swiss exported more than just cheese and chocolate, so there must be some out there. Please e-mail me if you have any available.

"Try pouring a ton of steel without rigid principles." - Jason Beghe as Hank Rearden, Atlas Shrugged, Part II. (Screenplay by Duke Sandefur, Brian Patrick O'Toole, and Duncan Scott, based on Ayn Rand's novel, Atlas Shrugged.)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Ulysses Press (one of my publishers) is nearing completion of the first-ever hardback edition of my novel "Patriots". One of the book's back cover blurbs will mention that there are now "150,000 copies in print." (With the 10,000 copies in the first press run combined with the previous editions.) That new edition should be released in early November.


Today is the birthday of Matthew Henry (born 18 October 1662, died 22 June 1714. He was a Presbyterian minister and Bible scholar who lived primarily in Chester, England. Matthew Henry's six-volume Exposition of the Old and New Testaments (1708–1710) is a must for the bookshelf of modern-day students of the Bible.


Today we present another entry for Round 43 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), 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 FloJak.com. C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, E.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 43 ends on November 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.

My husband and I are new to the concept of prepping and self-sufficient living, having just begun the process in the last 30 to 60 days. Our journey when world events began to heat up in the Middle East and we started asking “what if” questions. Our ignorance means that we have a lot of learning, practicing and catching up to do. I am fairly confident that we are not the only ones to slowly become aware of the necessity of preparing. I thought that I would share what we have done to get started in the hopes that this information will be helpful to anyone else that is new to prepping. So, how should one start if they have done absolutely nothing thus far?

God Prepares A Way

Even though I titled this “Starting from Nothing”, that is not an entirely accurate phrase. God prepares a way for us, even when we are not fully aware of the long-term ramifications of His design. Our journey has been a gradual one, without us even realizing it. A few years ago I read a book titled Animal, Vegetable, Miracle which raised our awareness about where our food comes from. Then we watched the video Food, Inc.. and that really scared us! I began to cook from scratch as much as possible, buying what I could from butchers and farmers’ markets. Unfortunately, we lived in a large city with a tiny lot. Gardening was not an option and I felt limited in our choices. But, for some reason that I cannot really explain, I purchased two books: Back to Basics and The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It.

In June 2011, God opened a way for our family to move to a small community of less than 2,000 residents in northern Wisconsin. We were able to negotiate a 12-year fixed [interest rate] land contract for a good sized house on a larger than average city lot. It was too late to plant a garden, but I was able to negotiate for some fresh produce from neighbors, members of our church and the local Amish community. I learned how to can and borrowed a dehydrator and learned how to dehydrate our food. Granted, it was not enough to feed our family through the winter, but it was a start.

I feel that God was preparing us with this house! Not only is the house a good, sturdy home built in the 1920s, but we found a buried outhouse pit, a buried sand point well, and learned that the house originally had a rainwater cistern and root cellar in the basement. While we are not planning on constructing an outhouse anytime soon (we did dig it up once already and collected over 200 antique bottles) or repair the rainwater cistern (illegal in our state), it is reassuring to know that the house was once self-sustaining. In the meantime, I am working to get the well permitted so that we can install a hand pump, as well as researching ways to collect rainwater and build a root cellar.

During the cold winter months, I had begun reading various blogs on homesteading, mostly to learn more about canning and dehydrating. I came across a recommendation for a video on gardening titled Back to Eden. This video taught us how to garden without rototilling, irrigating, fertilizing and minimizing weeding. My husband and I were intrigued, especially since it emphasizes how to garden in a Biblical fashion. In 2012, we planted our first garden ever. For novice gardeners, God truly blessed our efforts. We also learned a lot! While we enjoyed some of the fruits of our labors fresh, I made an effort to can as much as possible. I was able to preserve almost 400 half-pints, pints and quarts of fresh produce, mostly harvested from our garden. And I learned that we need a much bigger garden to store enough food to feed our family through one winter!

It was while researching and reviewing this Biblical gardening method that I first began to come across various sites, blogs and videos that were written by other preparing families. At first, I admit to thinking it was just another method of hoarding, albeit one that was more politically correct! Once again, God began to work on me and show me in verse after verse how preparing is important. I purchased the one book that everyone seemed to refer to – the LDS Preparedness Manual. I started with the free downloadable version, but soon realized that I needed a printed version in order to share it with my husband. It was while reading the printed version that I first learned about SurvivalBlog. We are now learning and preparing in leaps and bounds.

You Are a Talented Individual

We must also recognize that God has given us some talents naturally. We all have hobbies or activities that we enjoy doing. These same activities, depending on what they are, may stand you in good stead while preparing. For as long as I can remember I have been an avid reader. Until my mid-thirties, I read anything and everything regardless of content. Today I am a much more discriminating reader, but I still read a lot. I love books and absolutely hate returning them to the library or selling them. Because of this tendency, my husband likes to joke that we have our own personal library! This love of reading will be beneficial should we ever be in a grid down situation. I will have a plethora of entertainment and resources that I can turn to as needed. Since we are now focusing on preparing and self-sufficient living, the bookshelf will keep me supplied in new reading materials for at least a few months. (I confess I have already ordered seven of them!) I read three of Mr. Rawles’ books over the course of a few days and am anxiously waiting for the fourth to arrive. (As a side note, I highly recommend that any new preparer read them!)

I am also a crafty kind of person – I love to work with my hands to create things. I love to sew, crochet, cross-stitch and quilt. Some of these skills can be used to help keep my family clothed and warm; it can also be used to fill long, cold winter evenings. I currently have three traditional sewing machines, but I am looking for a good treadle machine. While I can sew by hand and like to hand quilt, I confess that sewing or mending clothes by hand is not my favorite activity! I would much rather use a sewing machine. In addition to keeping me busy now, these activities are also bringing us a small amount of income that can be dedicated to helping us prepare.

I love to cook and for years have been a very good customer of Pampered Chef! I just have to play with different tools and gadgets that help make cooking fun. Fortunately, most of the tools that I have purchased over the years do not require electricity to work and will also be helpful long into the future. I also enjoy trying out new recipes, modifying them so that I can make them from scratch as much as possible. Coupled with my love of books, this means that I have a lot of cookbooks. As we begin to build our food storage, I will be reviewing my cookbooks thoroughly to find those meals that would adapt to wood stove or campfire cooking using cast iron skillets and pots. Now, I am much more aware and selective in the tools that I buy for my kitchen and am slowly converting everything to cast iron cookware.

Do Your Homework

While some preparations fall along the lines of common sense, it is still important that to research before doing anything else. In our case, I watched a few videos on food storage, solar systems, end time prophecies, etc. Instantly, I realized that we are woefully unprepared should anything happen tomorrow. We needed to start making some changes right away. While the resources I discovered were very helpful, they all had one thing in common – lists of necessities – and some significant capital requirements.

It’s really easy to feel overwhelmed, especially when there are a lot of lists. SurvivalBlog’s list of lists is great because each list is broken out into different categories. While scanning each list, I was able to make notes on what things we already had and to start having discussions about what we needed with my husband. My husband and I tend to complement one another very well – I tend to think more of the day-to-day, as in, what tools would I need to do this task today if there was no electricity; my husband, on the other hand, is more big picture – what do we  need to do to protect ourselves from nuclear fallout. By having the lists as a discussion point, we are able to prioritize based on our needs and concerns instead of scratching our head and trying to think of the “what ifs” and “what do we need” questions.

Where Will the Money Come From?

Very few things in this life are free, and unfortunately, everything is going up in price as the value of our dollar drops. Our family is larger than average – we have six children – and so our budget is fairly tight to begin with. With just enough funds to “make ends meet”, our first challenge was raising money to start purchasing things we would need. While the List of Lists is a great resource, I think we can all agree that it still requires some funding!

I began to systematically go through all of the boxes, cupboards, closets and storage to identify those items that would be good for future bartering (clothes, shoes, coats, snow pants, baby gear, furniture, etc.) and those that would require electricity to work or were not even being used. I think that it is safe to say that everyone has things hiding away that they only use rarely or that, in the event of a power grid outage, would never use again. Do we really need to keep these modern “conveniences”?

For example, my husband and I cleaned out the “storage” area in our basement. We temporarily boxed all the clothing items until we could obtain some plastic containers. Eventually, I sorted the clothes by gender and size and generated an inventory prior to relocating the bins to long-term storage in the garage.

We also identified the unused baby furniture and other “able to be traded” items and placed them into long-term storage in the garage. While we currently do not need these items, we felt it was best to save them for two reasons: (1) just in case we were blessed with another little one (which is entirely possible since our youngest just turned a year old) or (2) in the event we needed to barter in the future for something we do need.

We also assembled in a separate pile unneeded but potentially useful items such as crutches and canes. We do not have any first aid kits assembled yet, but we do have a wide range of mixed medical items all throughout the house. We are consolidating what we do have so that we can organize it into one area of the house and make wise choices in purchasing what we need – opposed to purchasing what we think we need and ending up with too much of something and not enough of another.

Finally, we put all the electric items, such as a countertop cookware and electric skillets in one pile and the items that we no longer use, such as a bill organizer and gold embossed stemware into a second pile. All of these items were cleaned; inspected for flaws; tested for condition; and photographed for sale placement.

Depending on the time of year, those items that are set aside to be sold can be managed in a variety of ways, whichever suits your particular family and timing. Because we did not start our prepping until early fall, when rummage sales are at a seasonal low, I opted to post many of our items on EBay for quick auction or sale. I took the time to research a little bit about each item that we were selling, looking at comparables already on the site. This helped me to price the “buy it now” slightly lower than our competitors. It is important to note here that timing is critical – we need to start preparing now and so I was not very concerned about “profit”. Remember, most of this stuff has simply been collecting dust in a cupboard, closet or other storage area so a quick infusion of cash was more important than getting the most profit. With that being said, I am not selling us short either. Researching the competition helps ensure the most “bang for your buck” is achieved.

As items were purchased, the funds became available in our PayPal account. I have opted to not transfer this money to our personal account just yet. Instead, I am using the funds to purchase things that we need, such as kerosene lamps and cast iron cookware, from eBay.

A word of caution when purchasing online – make sure you know what the going rate is for certain items so that you do not pay more than you would elsewhere and always keep shipping costs in mind as they can add up quickly! Resist the temptation to “buy it now” just to get the item quickly – you will most likely be able to get the item for less if you are patient and participate in the auction. For example, I got one cast iron pan for $6.38 plus shipping of $9.36. Had I opted to “buy it now” I would have paid $19.99 plus the shipping. This allowed me to have an additional $13.61 to purchase something else we needed.

Any items that did not sell the first time around were relisted. After a few attempts, if they still have not sold, I put a price sticker on it and set it aside for sale in the spring during the community wide rummage sale.

The lack of funds gave me a feeling of being overwhelmed. There was so much that we needed and the lists seemed to go on and on. By being proactive and conscientious, I have been able to start making the necessary purchases a little at a time. This helped me to feel a little less overwhelmed and to feel like we were at least making some progress.

Shop Once Per Month

I do our grocery shopping once each month, with only occasional trips for extra milk, bread and eggs. I have been shopping this way for almost three years and we usually have plenty of food when it is time for me to shop again each month. This enables me to feel confident that I have at least enough food to feed my family for about six weeks. Throw in all the food that I have canned and I could probably go two or three months longer, although I admit creativity would be required for meal planning. As I started preparing for my family this habit really helped me. I continue to shop once per month, but buy more than my standard maintained quantity. For example, I like to have at least 50 pounds of sugar on hand, especially during canning season. I will gradually increase that to 100 pounds by buying a bag or two extra each month.

For the long-term planning, I am keeping an eye out for an antique ice box to replace my refrigerator with. Unfortunately, the space is tiny for storage, so I am looking at ways to preserve my food while minimizing my dependency on freezer and refrigerator space. We are also researching how to construct a root cellar and have purchased the book Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits & Vegetables. Our home had one at some point in the past, but a previous resident filled it in and cemented it over. We are also looking at doubling the size of our pantry (originally the fruit cellar of the home) so that I have more space to store my canned goods. Finally, I am going to start preparing five gallon food buckets with preplanned meals and recipes for long-term storage by taking advantage of bulk purchases from the local Amish.

Review Your Assets with a SHTF Eye

Every living thing has core needs: shelter, food, water and clothing. As a new preparer, everything we look at and evaluate has to fall into one of these categories. Some are easier than others. Initially, we are preparing within our current residence. We don’t necessarily have time or money to buy a retreat elsewhere, so the first step is evaluating what we currently have and determining the best way to make it work for us. For example, shelter. Check. We live in a house that we are purchasing. But how livable would the house be if we did not have utilities? Here is a list of things that we are reviewing right now with this in mind:

  • Carpeting – Yuck without a vacuum. Fortunately, under all of our carpeting is hardwood flooring. We are immediately working to refinish and restore the floors. These will be easier to sweep and mop without utilities then carpeting.
  • Water – We are on the city system even though we have a well in our yard (that a previous resident buried). While we are working to get a permit and to have a hand pump installed, we are purchasing a pump just in case. We are assuming that if TSHTF, permits will not be an issue. We are also adding four rain barrels to the gutters.
  • Heat – Living in northern Wisconsin means cold, cold winters. We are not called the frozen tundra for nothing. We are starting to research a good wood stove that we can use for cooking and heating. Unfortunately, a stove tends to be very expensive and we have heard from others, cheaper is not better when it comes to stoves. We are watching for estate sales and auctions in the local Amish community. But a wood stove means we need cast iron cookware, too. The cookware is something that I can easily purchase on EBay in the short term and at auctions and estate sales over the summer.
  • Laundry – I am a traditional American in love with the washer and dryer. But, I also am a bit nostalgic when it comes to seeing clothes blowing in a summer breeze. In other words, we do have a clothesline and pins, but not much else. We are looking at hand wringers, plungers, washboards and galvanized tubs for laundry.
  • Lighting – Right now, no one really thinks about lighting. A flick of the switch and we have light. One of the first purchases that I made was for kerosene lamps. I chose a mix of metal and glass ones. Our logic is that the metal ones will sit on tables and counters where children will be more likely to use them and glass ones to put up on higher surfaces or in wall mounts, where the children will not be able to reach them. While I would have preferred to purchase only metal ones, there simply were not enough of them available for sale and at reasonable prices. My goal was to have at least six lamps quickly. Once the initial six were purchased, I could be more selective and get exactly what I want. Should we lose power tomorrow, we will be able to have some light (at least, until I run out of kerosene, that is).

The above are only a few examples. But how do you determine what you need and in what priority? For me, the best way to determine this has been fairly easy because I make lists of things that would not work as they are currently set up should TSHTF. As I do my daily chores, I am very conscientious of what would have to change for us to be more self-sufficient. For example, doing dishes made me aware that I need more large pots to heat water and a way to make homemade dish soap. I have discovered that once you start to have a mindset of preparing, God will open your eyes to what you are dependent on for “convenience”.

Finally, I just want to advise you to keep your chin up and take one day at a time. Try to do something that will help your preparedness level every day – no matter how small or insignificant it appears. Keep a small, portable notebook close by so that you can jot down any ideas or concerns right away. Pray and ask for guidance on which direction you should focus on next. You may just be surprised at the direction God will take you – I know I was!

Basically this product is a flush-mounted interchangeable decorative panel for kitchens and possibly other areas in the home. The panels can be purchased pre-made or created by the customer; the site shows options such as artwork and more substantial-appearing materials like ceramic tiles and mosaics.

The panel has a push-to-release mechanism behind it, and the idea is that a homeowner can swap one panel for another as desired.

The installation instructions explain the details.

It isn't designed as a hiding place, and there isn't much room behind it as it is, but it would be fine for smaller items. It would also be pretty easy to adapt the design to be more difficult to discover, for example by using a magnetic release.

Seems to me that something resembling a permanently installed inlaid mosaic wouldn't draw a second glance from most burglars. Just a thought.

Best Regards, - P.N.G.

I liked the article [by James M.] on pallet wrap. In it, the author mentioned that he wanted a source for narrower rolls of shrink wrap. I'm writing to mention that ULINE sells 2"-wide rolls. Regards, - Trysch

This was an excellent, informative piece.  There is an additional use for this that Mr. M did not mention: My wife is a high school earth science and biology teacher who has her students build solar ovens every year using cardboard boxes, aluminum foil and shrink wrap.  The box is lined with aluminum foil and covered in shrink wrap.  The students not only cook hot dogs in these, but have baked biscuits and even melted plastic cups trying to boil water.

This is an inexpensive alternative to expensive solar ovens for survivalists on a budget. -   G.I. Jim

James Wesley,
I expected James M. to mention this potential use, but since he didn't, I'll throw it in: stretch wrap would make an excellent temporary binding of prisoners in the field. - ECB in Illinois

Have you noticed that the spot price of platinum is now about $90 below the spot price of gold? This is a sign of major economic turmoil and is predictive of a very weak manufacturing sector in the year to come. This price inversion doesn't happen very often, so when it does, take advantage of it, just as I did. I was recently able to pick up some 1/10th-ounce and 1/4-ounce slabbed U.S. Mint Liberty bullion platinum coins for just under the spot price of gold! But beware of fake Chinese platinum and gold coins that are now becoming commonplace! When you buy platinum coins, buy only coins that are in PCGS or NGC encapsulated ("slabbed") holders. You don't need to be a genius economist to see the wisdom of exploiting this price inversion.

James Hall: Derivative Meltdown and Dollar Collapse

26 things to get done before the global debt collapse

How to Play a Comex Default

Art Cashin: We’re Certainly At A Flashing Yellow Alert On Hyperinflation

Items from The Economatrix:

Been There, Done That Department: Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe report draws comparison between their hyperinflationary period and US QE3. ("These interventions which were exactly in the mould of bail out packages and quantitative easing measures currently instituted in the US and the EU, were geared at evoking a positive supply response and arrest further economic decline.") The report also documents the ongoing collapse of the Zimbabwean economy under the spectacularly bad leadership of Comrade Mugabe and his ZANU-PF cronies. Their systematic looting of the country makes America's corrupt big city mayors look like rank amateurs, by comparison.

Tracey A. sent a link to an interesting piece on the new Winchester Segmented Slug.

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They keep getting smaller: Spy-Butterfly: Israel developing insect drone for indoor surveillance. (Thanks to F.G. for the link.)

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Reader F.J. pointed out this piece: Assessing Doomsday: How Cyber War Could Attack U.S. Infrastructure

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D.B. sent: Armed posse patrols timber land in sheriff's place

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NDAA critic stranded in Hawaii after turning up on no-fly list. JWR's Comment: Is this the America where I was born and raised?

"Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable." - Mark Twain

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Articles for Deletion (AfD) debate about my novels "Survivors" and "Founders" is still raging over at Wikipedia. If you have experience with Wikipedia, then feel free to chime in politely, if you have an opinion one way or the other.


Today we present another entry for Round 43 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. 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 FloJak.com. C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, E.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 43 ends on November 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.

Not Saran Wrap, I’m talking about what is commonly referred to as pallet wrap. I thought there was no way possible that something as versatile and useful as stretch wrap could have been overlooked in the survival community, but after hours of searching it certainly looks that way. I’ve only found a few vague references to other possible uses for it. Today I hope to enlighten you and further prepare you for TEOTWAWKI.

Firstly, it’s a lot of bang for your buck. You can pick up an 18 inch wide roll of stretch wrap that’s 1,500 feet long for less than $15. That’s over 2,000 square feet of material! You can also find them in 5 inch wide rolls, 12 inch wide rolls, 20 inch wide rolls and 30 inch wide rolls. Unfortunately I have yet to find 1 inch or 2 inch wide rolls which I believe would be extremely useful, but I can cut up the bigger rolls on a lathe. So now you have a 1,500 foot long roll of stretch wrap right? Well technically yes but do not forget the name, “Stretch Wrap”. Your 1,500 foot roll can almost triple its length. You actually have about 4,000 useable feet. That’s the better part of a mile out of just one roll. It is extremely compact if you consider how much you’re getting out of such a small package. 

Now let’s move on to its possible uses.

The first and most obvious use we all know.  Securing loads. Many of us wouldn’t think about using stretch wrap to do that though. We use rope, Bungee cords and tie downs most of the time. Depending on the weather we might use a tarp as well. I’ve found that stretch wrap a lot of the time does a much better job at helping secure loads, as well as keeping them weatherproof. I always keep a roll behind my seat now.

Another great use that I’ve found that’s not related to survival is use as a packing material. To be honest I have not done the math cost wise to see if it’s cheaper than regular packing material. It sure beats dealing with peanuts and packing paper though. And it does an excellent job keeping delicate items from breaking during shipping. In fact whenever pallets get delivered to my company, I save the stretch wrap for use as packing material, so a lot of the time it’s free.

Now I’ll cover its uses as a great survival tool.

One of the most important things for survival is shelter. We all know this. You can actually within a matter of minutes make a quality survival shelter with nothing but stretch wrap and whatever you can find lying around. If you’re out in the woods you can wrap it around a few trees and then make a roof by wrapping it over the walls you just made. You can find a few branches and make a teepee and wrap that. I’ll get into this later but you can make rope to secure the top of the teepee by twisting the stretch wrap up. If you’re in the city you can make a shelter out of almost anything. A bus stop, a few signs, a porch, you can even use a couple cars as supports for a shelter. Your imagination is the only limit. You’ll also get a natural greenhouse effect for warmth with a stretch wrap shelter.

One of the other most important things for survival is water. And believe it or not stretch wrap can be a very important tool in acquiring water. Firstly I did a test to see how well water clings to stretch wrap. It doesn’t. Poor a little water on some and you’ll see it shed off like water on a ducks back. This is useful if you are in an area that hits dew point a lot. You can set up a frame at an angle and wrap it. When the stretch wrap reaches dew point temperature you’ll see moisture collect much like you do on the windshield of a car. All you have to do is set up a water collection device at the lowest edge of the frame and catch it. You can also use a framework wrapped in stretch wrap to channel water that naturally drips from trees or anything else into a collection device. You can also use it for water de-salinization. With nothing more than a bucket, a cup, a rock and some shrink wrap you can de-salinize salt water. I won’t get into its design as you can easily find it on the interweb. I’d rather stay on subject.

Next is rope. I did a quick test with a 30 inch wide roll of stretch wrap to see how well it holds up as rope. I unraveled 4 feet of wrap and twisted it about once every 6 inches for a total of 8 twists. Then I stretched it out. Interestingly it will stretch to 3 times its length when twisted up and stay there. I turned a 4 foot piece of makeshift rope into a 12 foot piece. It held up to 100 pounds of force without breaking. Now think about that 1500 foot roll as rope or lashing material. That’s 4,500 feet of it.

You can use it as a makeshift poncho to protect yourself from the elements. You can even make a makeshift umbrella if needed. Wrap it around your boots to make them water resistant. And wrap it around all your gear to protect it from the rain. You can make things like 2 way radios and other electronic devices rain proof while still keeping full functionality (speaker and microphone still work through stretch wrap).

You can also use it for an extra layer of heat insulation in your sleeping bag or clothes. I’m not sure how well it would work but I’m sure it would be better than nothing. Layer it under your sleeping bag not only for heat insulation from the ground but it will work for bedding just as well as it will work for packing material. Speaking of bedding it wouldn’t be very hard at all to build a hammock with nothing but stretch wrap, a few sticks and a couple of well-placed trees.

It would also greatly aid in the making of a splint for a broken bone. And it would be perfect for isolating a burn or rash from scraping against clothing. It will seal ointment where you want it without absorbing half of it. (Warning: Use my medical ideas at your own risk. I’m by no means a medical expert. I’m just thinking out loud.)

Yet another simple use for it would be trail markers. Just stuff a bunch in your pocket and use when needed. It’s also fairly reflective so it could be used as an emergency signal. Although not ideal, it is flammable and would greatly aid in starting a fire. And when burned it produces wax like droplets that may be able to be used for making candles or waterproofing or preserving things.  
I’ve read that it can also repair a split radiator hose. I’ve not seen this personally but it does make sense to me. I’m not sure what kind of heat it can withstand but I’m sure it would work as a temporary repair. It would also be a great temporary fix for broken car or house windows. It’s durable enough to last a while and it will keep you separated from the elements.

In a chemical, biological, or rediological contamination situation having a quickly deployable means of sealing-off your house or shelter is of utmost importance and stretch wrap would be an invaluable tool to aid in that. It wouldn’t replace your current measures but it would definitely aid in them and probably fill some gaps.  

Now that I’ve covered defense, let’s move on to offense:

Preserving food is a necessity when the SHTF. Food grade stretch wrap could be an added barrier of protection between your food and the elements. It can also be used just like Saran Wrap to keep all those pesky bugs and critters out of your food.

Lastly (and I say that loosely since there’s a million other uses that I haven’t thought of) stretch wrap would be of great benefit for those trying to grow their own food. It is the perfect material for a greenhouse that could be constructed easily with minimal tools and supplies. And according to some guy on YouTube who built one, it is very UV resistant and will last a couple of years. You could also use it to line irrigation ditches to stop the soil from soaking up too much of your water before it gets where it need to go, etc. I could go on all day, butit is better to be brief.

Remember, it’s always better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.

James Wesley:
I just read something about why Iowa wasn't considered as a retreat when TEOTWAWKI occurs. In your response you asked for feedback. I live in soutwestern Iowa. All along the western edge of Iowa in the Loess Hills region which extends from Missouri to Minnesots. This is a region that one could defend. Actually people in the Great Depression of the 1930s dug caves into the loess soil to live in. The soil is the best in the world and it is close to Omaha and Offutt Air Force base. We're almost 200 miles north of Kansas city, and almost 500 miles from Chicago. I would think I-80 would be a major corridor for refugees going west. It is only 600 miles to the snowy range of southeastern Wyoming, which is one of my favorite places. I know what you mean about Iowa being about 500 miles too far East, but western Iowa has something to offer. -  D.D., Major, USAF, retired. 

Residents of North Dakota might find ths of interest: The GSA is auctioning off five Stanley Mickelsen Safeguard missile sites, with opening bids of $1. Go the GSA Auctions web page and enter "Stanley Mickelsen Safeguard Complex" in the search box. Fascinating.

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Health alert: Why you DON'T want ripped abs if you hope to survive the coming economic collapse

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B.B. sent: Desperation: Greece to Allow Sale of Expired Foods to Citizens.

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Tom B. in Oklahoma was the first of several readers to send an article about a new anti-gun store sales policy in Britain

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The clever designers at RepackBox.com have come up with several new products to protect ammunition, magazines, rifle bores, and long term storage foods. Here at the ranch we use their storage bag and box systems for foods in #10 cans. Check them out.

"Some have asked whether our silver coins will disappear. The answer is very definitely no.

Our present silver coins won't disappear and they won't even become rarities. We estimate that there are now 12 billion--I repeat, more than 12 billion silver dimes and quarters and half dollars that are now outstanding. We will make another billion before we halt production. And they will be used side-by-side with our new coins.

Since the life of a silver coin is about 25 years, we expect our traditional silver coins to be with us in large numbers for a long, long time.

If anybody has any idea of hoarding our silver coins, let me say this. Treasury has a lot of silver on hand, and it can be, and it will be used to keep the price of silver in line with its value in our present silver coin. There will be no profit in holding them out of circulation for the value of their silver content." - Lyndon B. Johnson, July 23, 1965.

[JWR's Comment: Today's quote come from a disingenous speech made just before nearly every silver dime, quarter, and half dollar was systematically scooped up from circulation by the American citizenry, leaving only post-1964 dated debased copper tokens in circulalation. The populace saw through LBJ's smokescreen. And yes, there was indeed plenty of "...profit in holding them out of circulation for the value of their silver content..." They are now worth around 24 times their face value, making the melt value of each silver quarter about $6.35 in the current Federal Reserve funny money.]

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

2012 is the 60th anniversary of the founding of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (originally Lawrence Radiation Laboratory, LRL.) Lawrence Livermore is famous as the nation's main nuclear weapons design center and is also home to a small American intelligence arm that tries to keep nukes out of the wrong hands. (Z Division.) I was born and raised in Livermore--the son of a scientist who worked at LLNL for three decades. My father, Donald Robert Rawles (1930-1985), operated and later managed the operation of several high energy particle accelerators. These included cyclotrons, linear accelerators, and a rotating target neutron source (RTNS-II.) In many ways, growing up in Livermore in the shadow of The Rad Lab shaped my outlook on life and put me on the preparedness path.


Today we present another entry for Round 43 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. 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 FloJak.com. C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, E.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 43 ends on November 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 year I thru-hiked the entire 2,184 miles of the Appalachian Trail. I started in Georgia on the 4th of April and finished in Maine after walking through 14 states, on September 17th. The 5 ½ months I spent on the trail taught me a lot about living out of a backpack and efficiently covering miles on foot. In this article I’ll explain how others can use this experience to create or refine their own G.O.O.D. bag.

There are a few packs that fall under the umbrella term “Bug Out Bag” or “Get Out Of Dodge” bag. First off, there is the 72-hour pack. This pack is intended to get you from point A to B as quickly as possible. Just as the name implies, this bag will support you for 3 days, although stretching that out to 4 or 5 days is easy. The 72-hour pack is the one you grab as your bugging out to a safer location.

Another type of bug out bag is the “I’m never coming home” (INCH) pack. This is the pack you put on when you don’t have anywhere safe to go. That’s a scary thought… If you haven’t squirreled away supplies somewhere else, you could end up with all your possessions on your back. This pack would be heavy. In addition to hunting, trapping, and fishing equipment, this pack should have a bow saw blade and entrenching tool to build a more permanent shelter. You’d also want to carry some seeds and pray to God you livelong enough to see them bear fruit. This article is not about this type of bug out bag.

The last type of pack could be called the “I’m going to war” pack. The weight of this pack would include web gear, extra magazines, ammunition, and a little bit of food. This article won’t be about this type of pack either.

In this article I will focus on the 72-120 hour pack. The reason I feel qualified to write about this topic is because a 72-hour pack is nearly identical to what a thru-hiker carries. While I was on the trail, I would typically re-supply every 4-5 days. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I could hike more miles, faster, and with less fatigue the lighter my pack was. Getting my pack weight down made such a difference in my daily mileage that I was able to get to the next town a day earlier to resupply. That meant I could further reduce my pack weight by not carrying that extra day of food. This positive feedback loop works the other way around too. If you carry a heavy pack you can’t walk as far or as fast, so you have to pack out even more food to get to the same destination.

When I started the trail in Georgia, my fully loaded pack weighed 37 pounds. By the time I got to Maine I had my pack weight down to 17.5 pounds with 4 days of food and full water. I admit that I carried extra water through Pennsylvania and New York this summer due to the lack of rain. But my total pack weight during that time still never exceeded 20 pounds.

A lightweight pack allows you to perform better no matter what your fitness level is. Ultralighters that are in good shape can cover 30+ miles a day through mountainous terrain. Several times on my hike I covered 100 miles in 4 days, that was a more comfortable pace for me. But the real beauty of ultralight backpacking is what it can do for people that aren’t in top shape such as children, the elderly, and people with desk jobs. How often do busy folks get out to do training hikes? I bet there are preppers reading this that have fully prepared G.O.O.D. bags and still haven’t felt what it’s like to do 15-20 mile hikes with them. I challenge every prepper who has taken the time to put together a Bug Out Bag to map out a route and actually hike it! A good way to save weight is by making note of water sources along your route and carrying less of it on your back. My pack was so light on the Appalachian Trail that I actually did quite a bit of running on my way to Maine. Being able to run with your Bug Out Bag could mean the difference between life and death in a Schumer Hits The Fan scenario. Try doing that with 50-60+ pound pack!

The G.O.O.D. bag has a specific purpose. If I’m fleeing a city trying to get somewhere safe, I want to avoid confrontation and get out of the area as fast as possible. I don’t want to be bogged down with the weight of a heavy long gun and extra ammunition. My only weapon should be the lightweight concealed carry pistol that’s always on me. In the beginning of a societal collapse the zombie hoards will be most interested in looting stores. By the time they start getting desperate enough to mess with us we’ll be long gone. All the bigger equipment and extra supplies should already be at a defendable retreat location. It’s prudent to not only map out several routes to that Bug Out Location, but also walk there under simulated conditions. Using snowmobile trails, logging roads, and two tracks may be the safest way to get there. Knowing the area at ground level puts you at a big advantage. How many miles will I need to cover before the next water source?

An ultralight 72-120 hour pack will give most people a range of 100 miles. Even someone who’s out of shape can comfortably make 50 miles in 5 days with a light pack. When the retreat location is further then that you can bury resupply caches along the route. This can extend your range hundreds of miles.

Getting your pack weight down will challenge your preparedness mindset. You don’t need or want backups in your G.O.O.D. bag. The 2 is 1, and 1 is none mentality doesn’t work when the weight is on your shoulders. Leave the kitchen sink at home. After carrying a backpack over 2,000 miles the term “less is more” has taken on a whole new meaning. You really want to get your pack down to the bare necessities.

Hopefully this article has encourage you to put together an ultralight bug out bag or overhaul an existing one. A great way to start is by purchasing a scale. Keep a list of the items you carry and how much they weigh. Where can I cut weight? Is there a lighter option? What can I do without? Military surplus gear is made of really heavy materials. A backpack designed for a 100-pound load can weigh as much as 7 pounds empty. This would be perfect for the I.N.C.H. bag, but totally wrong for an ultralight 72-hour pack. We need to equip ourselves with the type of gear used by the ultralight backpacking community. This type of equipment isn’t as durable as military gear. But if it’s strong enough for a 2,000+ mile hike, it’s strong enough to take you where you need to go.

Making specific gear recommendations is no substitute for educating yourself on this topic. Searching the Internet for “ultralight backpacking” will reveal loads of information. New stuff is coming out all the time. My personal kit is in a state of flux as I find new equipment that can increase my comfort while reducing my pack weight. Don’t be afraid to experiment. During my hike I swapped out every piece of gear for something lighter at least once. The equipment you carry will differ depending on your location, the time of year, and the size of your group. Traveling with at least one other person gives you the advantage of being able to share the weight of one tent, one water filter, and one stove.

I kept an online journal for my friends and family while I was out hiking the Appalachian Trail this summer. If you are interested in learning about the equipment I carried, click the “gear” tab on the left hand column of my journal page. My journal can be found here:


Again, what I carried won’t work for everyone in all situations but hopefully it will give you some ideas. I believe it’s irresponsible to stuff a pack with what we think we’ll need and let it sit around until the balloon goes up. Plan a backpacking trip and get to know your kit. Not only is it fun, but you’ll learn a lot too. By the time you get back home you’ll know how to pack more efficiently. God Bless, - Pete R. Pan

Good Day, James,
First – have greatly enjoyed your blog site and your novels. I particularly appreciate the fact that although the stories are fiction – they provide a wealth of preparedness information. As a principle in Power Research Inc. – a company with extensive international sales to the commercial marine and power generation industries – I have deeply investigated the world economy and our present financial system in an effort to protect my company, my family, and my employees. There is absolutely no question that the present system is unsustainable, and the ramifications of an economic collapse will be severe. I have made my own preparations and have encouraged my employees, little by little, to do the same. My personal take is – based on cycles – a rapid acceleration of the present crisis is likely in the 2014 and 2015 time frame. We’ll see. As to the extent and severity of the collapse, only Our Father knows.
Secondly – I am glad to see that you have addressed the issue of long-term fuel storage. Interestingly, more than half of emergency generator failures during a crisis can be directly attributable to degraded fuel. This was  found to be the case post-Katrina. The product STA-BIL that you reference in your writing, will, in fact, stabilize gasoline and diesel fuel. But bear in mind this is a “consumer” type product – designed with strength only sufficient to extend fuel life 6-to-12 months. The active ingredient in this product is actually in a very small concentration.
We manufacturer PRI-D and PRI-G for diesel and gasoline respectively. While we largely sell these products to the industrial market, we also have made them available to recreational boaters and RV enthusiasts through several hundred outlets nationwide. The chemistry we offer in our consumer package is in the same strength we provide to industrial users – users that include nuclear power facilities,  and countless thousands of entities that store fuel for emergency power generation.  These products have also found a popular following among those of us in the “prepper” community. On average, one dosage will keep fuel fresh for about five years – sometimes much longer. We have had some fuels in storage as long as 12 years – and they are still refinery fresh. As a side note – even kerosene for lamp oil can deteriorate, so it is also of critical importance to treat these fuels as well.
Bear in mind that fuel stability is dependent on a number of factors. First is refinery processing – which can change day to day. The stability of a fuel produced one day can change the next owing to minor adjustments in feedstock and refinery processes. Second is storage conditions – bearing in mind that heat and exposure to oxygen are key factors. This is where most amateurs go wrong.
Personally – I believe long-term reliance on a generator for power is untenable, as one would have to have a major fuel supply on hand. That said, use of fuel for power equipment like a chain saw or roto-tiller or well pump can make post-collapse life a bit easier. As for personal transportation – I favor an electric bike, which can be re-charged with a solar generator.
One of the things I find most interesting is that most of us in the USA are just one or two generations away when most of the American population was self-sufficient. I come from a Southern Illinois farm family. We grew our own food, made our own soap, and even grandma made all of our clothes on a non-electric Singer sewing machine. I had one farmer cousin that had no electricity at his place, and relied on kerosene lamps at night. We also learned to hunt and fish at an early age. My dad bought me my first .22 rifle when I was 11 and taught me to shoot. Many times he would send me down the road and out into the fields to dispatch varmints. Can you imagine an 11 year old today simply walking down the local highway with a rifle in hand? We also learned to work on our own cars – replacing transmissions – rebuilding engines – mostly from junkyard parts. How the world has changed. Fortunately, even though I'm now in my 60s I am in great physical shape. I can thank the Lord for that. I don’t drink, don’t smoke, get plenty of exercise in trying to keep this temple clean. Most importantly, I realize that there is a God and He is not me. I put myself humbly before Him every day in thanks that he sent his Son for our salvation. I thank you, James, for carrying His message in your books. The best preparation for any of us is to be spiritually fit.
Long-term, I am very optimistic. Truth and righteousness will prevail. I see an economic collapse as a collapse of the humanistic, progressive New World Order concept which eliminates God in favor of the concept that we humans have the capability to make a Heaven on earth. The failing here is that earth will always be earth and full of sin. That is immutable. A collapse should finally hammer that truth home, perhaps once and for all. Then taking the principles upon which this great country was founded, we can again re-build. When a collapse happens, we should all be thanking God for this opportunity. This will truly be His grace. - A Corporate Officer of Power Research, Inc.

Some interesting crime statistics: Of the 12,996 homicides in the United States in 2011, just 21 were in Idaho, 21 in Montana, and 8 in Wyoming. More populous Oregon and Washington had 78 and 151 homicides respectively, but the vast majority of those were west of the Cascade mountain range (outside of the American Redoubt.) For comparison: In 2011 there were 515 homicides in New York City, and in just the first nine months of 2012, there have already been 391 homicides in the City of Chicago. (They are expecting around 500 by the end of the year, a 25% increase from 2011.) Compare the homicides in Louisiana to Idaho. Where would you rather live? (Although I must point out that some eastern states like Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire also rank very low, as well. Also note that these statistics include justified self defense killings, not just murders.) OBTW, the Neighborhood Scout crime rate map tool might be useful in evaluating places to live.

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Reader Mal V. wrote to send a map link with a note that said humorously: "It looks like even botnet infections are less common in the Redoubt."

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Carl in Big Fork sent a link to this: Montana Demographics

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File Under Department of Double Standards: New rules of the game for Idaho businesses. Note that these rules only affect towers with guy wires. So this exempts most cell phone towers, since they are self-supporting. The FAA and FCC already regulate radio towers, so why should a state's Department of Transportation? (Thanks to R.B.S. for sending the link.)

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Some bad news, from Billings, Montana: Grenade burns sleeping girl as SWAT team raids Billings home. JWR Asks: Why would they throw a flash-bang or any sort of pyrotechnic into a suspected meth lab? (Since those places tend to have explosive fumes at any given time.)

Reader F.G. mentioned this interesting analysis, over at ARFCOM: Best Choices For Self-Defense Ammo

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An interesting piece by Dr. Bones: The Truth About Expiration Dates

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A great discussion thread was started over at the CalGuns forums: Crime Avoidance & Self-Defense Advice.

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Pantry Paratus is passing along a special promotion being run by Wondermill to their customers: For every Electric Wondermill sold, a customer will receive a free cookbook titled, "Chef Brad Comfort Foods." And for every Wondermill Jr hand crank mill ($235 complete with stone and steel burrs) buyers will receive a free Drill Bit adapter that will work with any 1/2" drill.  These can be used with a Dewalt rechargeable 18VDC drill that uses battery packs that can be recharged with a 12V DC adapter charger. These offers expire on December 25th.

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I found an interesting article mentioned down in the current discussion of the proposed deletion of the Wikipedia pages about my recent novels (still in progress): Age of Obama: Post-Apocalyptic Shows Rule Television

"I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. 'Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death." - Thomas Paine (1737 - 1809)

Monday, October 15, 2012

After being out of print for nearly three years, the Rawles Gets You Ready Preparedness Course is available again. It is now sold only via digital download, but the good news is that it is now priced quite affordably for SurvivalBlog readers.


I heard that an editor at Wikipedia just nominated for deletion the articles about my novels Survivors and Founders, claiming that they are "non-notable." (Even though they were both in Amazon's Top Ten and on the New York Times bestseller list.) Release of the book prompted dozens of radio interviews and more than 200 reviews at Amazon.com in just its first three weeks after publication. If you are an experienced with Wikipedia, feel free to politely chime in one way or the other.


The first post today is from SurvivalBlog's Back Country Editor, Matthew Stein. It is adapted from his book When Disaster Strikes: A Comprehensive Guide for Emergency Planning and Crisis Survival.

Fire Statistics
The following statistics from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) are for fires in the USA in 2009:

  • There were 3,010 civilian deaths from fire, 2,565 of which occurred in the home.
  • There were 260 civilian deaths from motor vehicle fires.
  • Only 105 civilian fire deaths occurred in non-residential structures.
  • US fire departments responded to an estimated 1,348,500 fires resulting in an estimated $12,531,000,000 in property losses and 17,050 civilian injuries.

In general, fires cause more loss of life and property in America than all natural disasters combined. Every year, fires are responsible for more loss of life, limb, and property in the USA than either hurricane Katrina or the destruction of the World Trade Center on 9/11!  Statistically speaking, the easiest and most cost effective way to reduce the chances that you, your home, or your family might suffer great loss in a future event, is to improve the fire safety of your home, and the fire awareness of your loved ones.
With the record breaking heat, drought, and fire storms of the summer of 2012, most of us want to do what we can to improve the chances that our home will survive a local wildfire. Creating a “defensible space” is one of the first set of tasks that a rural homeowner or renter should do.

Creating a Defensible Space

My buddy Jim Bolton, an experienced Reno fireman, tells me that when they enter a neighborhood, they take mental notes about which homes have maintained a defensible space and which have not. They don’t waste their time focusing on homes without a defensible space, but spend their time defending homes where they stand a decent chance of success, while keeping a watchful eye on nearby flames. These are brave guys, risking their necks where most of us would not go, but they have wives and kids so when a vicious fire storm gets dangerously close, they simply have to leave the neighborhood and let nature take its course.

• Clear dead brush from property and trim tall weeds short.
• Clean rain gutters and roof valleys of all dead leaves and pine needles.
• Place smoke detectors in all bedrooms, hallways, kitchens and at least one on every floor of your home.
• Put fire extinguishers in kitchen, garage, and workshop areas.
• Inspect and chimney sweep chimneys and woodstove pipes annually to prevent creosote buildup. Creosote is a black greasy gooey layer that is combustible, and is a common byproduct of incomplete wood combustion. Chimney fires destroy many homes each year.
• Store flammables (gasoline, kerosene, oily rags, paint thinner, etc.) in approved flame-resistant containers and away from living areas. Garage areas should have one-hour fire-wall code-approved construction (typically ?-inch sheetrock wall covering, or better).
• Clear ground of pine needles, dead leaves, etc. Rake them once in the spring and let them fall in the fall. Remove dead vegetation and debris.
• Thin out thick stands of shrubs and trees to create a separation.
• Remove “ladder fuels” like lower tree branches and shrubs underneath trees to keep wildfire from climbing and spreading. Prune all dead limbs from trees.
• Plant “green zones” of moist, fire-resistant plants that will act as a barrier, and not fuel for fires.
• Swimming pools, ornamental ponds, etc., provide extra water reserves for fighting fires, and may be tapped by either fire trucks’ onboard pumping systems or lighter-duty homeowner firefighting pump systems.
• Consider installing fireproof window shutters that will help prevent the heat of an approaching a firestorm from shattering your windows or transmitting enough radiant heat to ignite items inside the home.
• Your house number should be clearly visible from the street for identification by emergency vehicles.

Additionally, in rural areas it may be a smart idea to purchase a high-volume gasoline-powered home fire-fighting pump. Gel systems have the capability to get the most out of limited water supplies, and the sticky gel is a fire resistant gooey coating that provides much longer lasting protection than a simple water spray, when applied to walls, decking, and roofing.

About the author: Matthew Stein is SurvivalBlog's Back Country Editor. He is a design engineer, green builder, and author of two bestselling books: When Disaster Strikes: A Comprehensive Guide to Emergency Planning and Crisis Survival (Chelsea Green 2011), and When Technology Fails: A Manual for Self-Reliance, Sustainability, and Surviving the Long Emergency (Chelsea Green 2008). 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 www.whentechfails.com and www.matstein.com

I've received numerous requests from SurvivalBlog readers to review the new Ruger 10/22 Takedown .22 LR rifle. I literally lost count of the number of e-mails I got from SurvivalBlog readers, but it was probably close to a hundred requests. Now, I hate to admit this, but I never (personally) owned a standard Ruger 10/22 rifle of my own - my wife and youngest daughter owned them, and I shot them, but never owned one myself. So, this was a good time to lay claim to a sample for this article. I've recommended the Ruger 10/22 rifle to untold numbers of folks, based on the reliability and accuracy of this rifle.
Now, we can agree to disagree on this point, and I honestly don't need hundreds of e-mails agreeing or disagreeing with me on this. A lot of folks don't believe that the .22 LR cartridge makes a good survival or self-defense round - fine! We are all entitled to our opinions. However, my research shows, at least from many years ago, that back in Chicago, according to their crime lab stats (now it's called CSI) that more people were killed with the lowly .22 LR than other, much bigger and powerful calibers. When it comes down to it, I'll take a .22 LR firearm over throwing sticks or stones when it comes to survival. Besides, I'm not advocating that anyone arm themselves with just a .22 caliber firearm for their self-defense or survival needs. However, every survival firearms battery should have some kind of .22 caliber gun for taking small game for the pot. Additionally, I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want to be within 150 yards on the receiving end of someone armed with a .22 caliber rifle, who knows how to use it. It may not kill someone at that distance with a single shot, but it would sure make that person wish they were some place else.
One of the great things about any .22 caliber firearm is the readily availability of ammo, the low cost (all things considered today) and the amount of ammo a person can pack with them. You can easily carry several thousand rounds of .22 LR ammo in a backpack, along with several spare magazines for your .22 rifle or pistol. I don't know about you, but that's a lot of lead a person can throw downrange at an attacker. Try carrying several thousand rounds of .223 Rem., 7.62x39 or .308 Winchester ammo in your pack. That simply isn't going to happen!
The new Ruger Takedown 10/22 rifle that comes in a backpack carrying case. Just a quick over view of the 10/22 Takedown is in order. First of all, it is in .22 LR caliber. It has a stainless steel barrel, with a black synthetic stock and fore end. Adjustable rear sight, with a gold bead front sight. There is an extended magazine release (nice), and a 10-shot rotary magazine - but it also takes all after-market 25-30 round mags, as well as the new Ruger 25 round mag. There is a scope base on the receiver, too. Plus, the backpack carrying case deserves some mention. The backpack carrying case is made out of ballistic Nylon, and when you takedown the rifle, into the two sections, they fit nicely inside two of the three large inside pockets. The third pocket inside the case is for either a scope or extra magazines. On the outside we have a carrying strap and handle, plus two more pockets for carrying spare ammo or magazines, or whatever else you might want to haul. There is the big Ruger logo on the case, and this is my only source of contention. While we take pride in our firearms, and want folks to know what we are hauling, from a OPSEC point of view, I'd rather not have this logo on the backpack. A person could toss the Ruger 10/22 Takedown in the back of their rig, and anyone looking into the rig would just think it's any other backpack and wouldn't bother with it. However, anyone with any firearms knowledge would know that logo means there is possibly a firearm in that backpack. So, I'd like to see Ruger offer the option of not having a backpack with the red Ruger logo on it - just my druthers! [JWR Adds: It is easy to find a 2" diameter round embroidered patch on eBay or at a craft store that can be sewn over the top of the big red Ruger logo. I'd suggest selecting something innocuous like an environmentalist logo patch. Perhaps a recycling theme. After all, most of us shooters save our empty brass and reload our centerfire cartridges. So we're environmentally friendly. ;-) Or, humorously, perhaps a Buckaroo Banzai patch might be sufficiently obtuse and yet still deliver a double entendre. But seriously: The dimensions of the Ruger 10/22 backpack are very close to a soft trumpet case. So a trumpet patch or other music logo patch would be the best camouflage.]
I don't know how many of the various Ruger 10/22 rifles models have been sold over the years, but I'm sure it has been well over a million. It is the most popular .22 rifle in this country to my knowledge. The 10/22 has an unmatched record for reliability, too - no other standard factory-made .22 LR rifle that I know of, is as reliable as the 10/22 is, period! As to accuracy - there's plenty there. In my testing, with a huge variety of .22 LR ammo - I was able to get 1-1/2" to 2" groups all day long without trying that hard. And I didn't have any malfunctions or misfires in more than a 1,000 rounds of shooting. It is noteworthy that some of my stored .22 LR ammo is 15 years old, but stored in US military ammo cans. The 10/22 rotary magazine is famous for reliability and it didn't let me down, easy to load, too. I'd really like to see Ruger include one of their own 25 round magazines along with the standard 10 round mag - where allowed by law. Anyone into serious preparedness will immediately purchase a good quantity of 25 or 30 round mags for their 10/22. They are presently inexpensive and plentiful these days - get them while you can. I even tried some Eagle brand cheap all-plastic mags and they worked fine - I bought some of these many years ago for $6.99 each. Butler Creek brand 10/22 mags also worked without a hitch. [JWR Adds: My favorite full capacity (25 round) magazines for Ruger 10/22s are made by Tactical Innovations in Bonners Ferry, Idaho. Their top of the line magazines are machined out of aluminum stock! They also make some less expensive polymer magazines. They all work flawlessly. We've put many thousands of rounds though ours, without a hiccup.]
The 10/22 Takedown rifle is, as the name implies, you can take it down - into two pieces, the receiver and butt stock and the barrel and forearm. And, taking the 10/22 Takedown apart takes all of about three seconds, simply lock the bolt open, push the locking lever forward to unlock it, rotate the barrel assembly and pull forward - it takes longer to explain it, than it does to actually perform this action. To put the two pieces back together, you simply insert the barrel assembly into the receiver, twist 90 degrees and it locks together. The gun comes adjusted from the factory, however should you find the two pieces starting to loosen over time, there is an adjustment ring on the receiver, and it only takes less than a minute to make any needed adjustments so the two pieces are tightly locked together - I had no problems at all with my sample becoming too loose - after at least a hundred times of taking the gun apart and putting it back together. [JWR Adds: It bears mentioning that the takedown mechanism is so simple that it can be done blindfolded. The crucial thing to remember is that the bolt must be locked to the rear when both disassembling and re-assembling the rifle.]
I really like the gold bead front sight - it is fast to pick-up, and it stands out, makes for fast shots. The extended magazine release is also a nice touch, makes mag changes fast and easy. The entire gun only weighs 4.67 pounds -- light as can be. If you are out hiking in the boonies, the 10/22 Takedown would be a great addition to your kit - you have a handy .22 caliber rifle on-hand, should you need it, in a nice backpack. You can also pack a lunch and put it in one of the outside pockets of the backpack, along with water and a good supply of .22 LR ammo for a day's shooting on the trail, or in a worse case scenario, for self-defense against two-legged predators.
Again, we can all agree to disagree about the .22 LR round as a viable self-defense cartridge. However, as I pointed out at the start of this articles, it sure beats having to throw stones at an attacker, or fighting them off with a sharpened stick. Nope, I'll gladly take a .22 caliber firearm over no firearm at all. Plus, there is always the "fun factor" associated with shooting a .22 caliber firearm - and it is cheap to shoot, even though the price of .22 LR ammo has doubled in the past 10 years , and I don't expect it will get any cheaper. You should stock-up on all the .22 LR ammo you can afford to get. In my neck of the woods, at the local membership store, you can usually find some kind of .22 LR ammo for $13.99 for a brick of 500 rounds - that's a day of fun shooting, or put it away for survival purposes. A box of 9mm FMJ ammo cost $12.99 these days--and that's only 50 rounds of ammo. Just make sure to store your ammo in quality US military ammo cans for the best storage life of all your ammo.
The new Ruger 10/22 Takedown retails for $389 and you can usually find them discounted a bit in the big box stores, and many gun shops. They are a super-hot seller right now, and they might be a little bit hard to find, but keep looking, they are worth it. Yeah, you can find a less expensive .22 LR rifle, but you aren't getting a Ruger 10/22 Takedown, with unsurpassed reliability, and the option of taking the gun apart and carrying it in a backpack. Yes, I know, there are some other "survival" rifles out there, that you can take apart, but they aren't a Ruger. And they don't have the Ruger legendary reliability or accuracy, either. Make you choices wisely...your life may depend on it!

I did some research on the storage life of yeast. I started with this article: Red Star Yeast which sates:

"Each package and jar of dry yeast is stamped with a 'Best if Used by' date.  This date is two years from the date the yeast was packaged.  The month and year reflect when you should use your yeast by.  The last 4 digits are for manufacturing purposes and have nothing to do with when to use the yeast by.

"Example of code: FEB 2010 08 09 - Use by February 2010

"Unopened  packages and jars should be stored in a cool, dry place such as a cupboard; and can also be stored in the refrigerator or freezer. Yeast is very perishable when exposed to air, moisture and/or heat. Once your package or jar is opened the yeast must be refrigerated or frozen in an airtight container (see storage tips below). Under these conditions, we recommend using the Dry Yeast within 4 months after opening if refrigerated, or within 6 months after opening if frozen.

"Dry Yeast should be at room temperature before using . When you are ready to bake, take out only the amount of yeast needed for your recipe and let it sit at room temperature for 30-45 minutes before using.  Immediately put remaining yeast back into storage, following the storage tips below. 
Yeast is a living organism, and will lose activity over time - even if the package is unopened. If you are unsure of your yeast's activity, perform the Yeast Freshness Test before using."
SAF Yeast

"We offer SAF yeast in vacuum sealed 1 lb. packages. The yeast is granulated and until the package is opened it feels almost like a solid brick because of the airtight vacuum seal. The packages are printed with the date of production as well as a "best if used by" date. The "best if used by" date is set 1 year from the date of production, and in doing this, SAF assumes that you open the package as soon as you get it and keep the entire opened package at room temperature. Instead, we recommend that you open the original container and pour a portion of it into a small resealable container to keep in your cupboard (not out in the light) for daily use (a baby food jar works fine.) Then roll the top of the SAF container down, clip it so it doesn't unroll, and store it in your freezer. Kept this way, the yeast in the cupboard will be good for a least 1 year and the remaining yeast in the freezer will remain good for a minimum of 5 years. We know from experience that SAF yeast, stored frozen in a re-closed container, retains its potency for several years. If you have a small airtight container for the frozen yeast, that can be used in place of rolling and clipping the foil pouch. When you transfer more yeast to your cupboard container, that yeast will remain good for another year in the cupboard. Unopened, vacuum-sealed containers of SAF yeast stored in the freezer actually remain potent for 10 years or more."

More On SAF Yeast:

This article says frozen shelf life is 10-15 years and one pound of yeast makes 96 loaves of bread.  One of the comments says it works using it straight from the freezer, it doesn't have to be brought up to room temperature.

This article says this yeast reduces the amount of yeast needed in a recipe by 25% and that it is GMO free.  That means a one-pound package will make more than 96 loaves.

SAF Instant Dry Yeast for Baking

King Arthur Flour's yeast article-- Excellent article!
More on the differences between Instant and Active yeast.  Are Active and Dry yeast interchangeable?  Difference between SAF red label and SAF gold label yeast.  "A vacuum-sealed bag of yeast stored at room temperature will remain fresh indefinitely. Once the seal is broken, it should go into the freezer for optimum shelf life."  Use glass or acrylic air-tight containers to store in freezer.  Also concurs that you need not defrost yeast and can use it straight from the freezer.  If you double your bread recipe, do you double the yeast?

And FAQs from the manufacturer. 
The Difference Between Instant Yeast & Active Yeast

"Both active dry yeast and instant yeast are designed to be used in recipes for breads and other yeast doughs. Instant dry yeast has the additional function of multiplying quickly, causing dough to rise in a shorter time.

"Both types of yeast are sold in individual packets and in larger jars by many different companies. Instant dry yeast is also sold under the names of bread machine yeast and Fleischmann's RapidRise yeast.

"When mixing dough, active dry yeast should be combined with warm water before being added to other ingredients. Instant dry yeast, on the other hand, should be mixed directly into dry ingredients, and then the liquids should be heated to 120 degrees F and added.

Time Frame
"Active dry yeast requires about two hours to cause the dough to double in size. Instant dry yeast only takes ten minutes to multiply enough for the dough to double in size.

"Bread made with instant dry yeast may not have as good of a flavor as bread made with active dry yeast. To improve the flavor, allow bread to rise more slowly in the refrigerator overnight.

Article on Yeast, in General.

Conversion factors amongst types of yeast at the Wild Yeast blog

Regards, - Cheryl N.

G.R's Beer Bread

Here is a very quick beer bread recipe that is great when you don't have time to make a normal loaf of bread.
3 cups sifted flour (sift through sifting screen to avoid making the bread hard)
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 12 oz can or bottle of beer
1/4 cup melted butter
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Mix dry ingredients and beer in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly to avoid dry spots. Mixture will be stiff.
3. Pour into greased loaf pan.
4. Pour melted butter over mixture.
5. Bake 50 minutes to 1 hour or until crust is golden brown. Enjoy!

Chef's Notes:

The crust is crunchy and very satisfying, particularly when served with a hearty stew. Preparation takes about three minutes and just one bowl.

I normally use an unfiltered pale ale, and flavor varies depending on choice of beverage. Non-alcoholic beer can be used, but then you should add a packet of dry yeast to get proper rise.

I am confident that this would work with a small Dutch oven or other alternative cooking method, as well.

Useful Recipe and Cooking Links:

Beer Bread Recipes

Beer Batter Recipes

Currently Available as Free Kindle e-Books:

How to Feed a Family of 4 or More for Less than $200 a Month

Healthy Snack Recipes (Low Fat, Low Carb Snacks & Desserts, Keeps You Full And Help You Lose Weight)

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

James C. pointed me to this 1969 FBI training film: Shooting for Survival.

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Ol' Remus suggested this piece over at the Shenandoah blog: Guerrilla Radio Listening and Broadcasting. And speaking of radio, don't miss this handy Ham Radio Cheat Sheet, over at the excellent Off Grid Survival blog.

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An audio clip from a talk radio caller in Fargo, North Dakota: Please Move The Deer Crossing. This call (possibly a spoof) adds a new entendre to the term "dense population." (Thanks to Steve C.)

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A speaking of density, Pierre M. presented us with this news link: Cook County [Illinois] mulling violence tax on guns and ammunition. Taxing guns to stop street crime is like taxing laptop computers to stop libel. Leave it to those crime fighters in Cook County to come up with such a nonsensical scheme.

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Bishop E. W. Jackson calls for a mass exodus of Christians and believing Jews from the Democratic Party. JWR's Comment: Amen! I'd love to have him come preach up here at our church in the American Redoubt--or for that matter, relocate here permanently. (Thanks to R.J.M. for the link.)

"In my view, the Christian Religion is the most important and one of the first things in which all children, under a free government, ought to be instructed...no truth is more evident to my mind than that the Christian Religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people." - Noah Webster, Reply to David McClure, October 25, 1836

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Our friend Tam over at the always entertaining and often hilariously funny View From The Porch blog reminded me on a more serious note that today is the 100th anniversary of madman John Schrank's assassination attempt on the life of President Theodore Roosevelt. Teddy, a statesman who was obviously made of sterner stuff than many of our contemporary politicians, went ahead with presenting a lengthy speech that day, even though a .38 caliber bullet was lodged in his chest. (The bullet went through a steel eyeglasses case and a 50-page speech manuscript, slowing it down considerably. Roosevelt carried that bullet in his chest until his death from a heart attack, seven years later.)


Today we present another entry for Round 43 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), 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 FloJak.com. C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, E.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 43 ends on November 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.

If you’re just now catching on to the need to prep, it’s not too late, but to be done effectively, it will cost you some money up front.
There are plenty of suggestions and web sites galore for the budget-challenged to prep ranging from buying a little extra each week---see the LDS shopping list for newlyweds---to hunting, fishing and foraging on state land. At the other extreme are those who can afford survivalist-consultants to build and stock extensive underground bunkers, which require the employ of a staff including farmers and Blackwater-type security. But, since no one else is, I’m going to focus on the needs of someone who needs to get up to speed fast and has enough money to cover it.  And getting up-to-speed has recently been sped up to two years of preps from six months.
Let’s get going.

Time’s Running Out

There are already sporadic shortages of various consumer products and, depending on how bad things get, there may come a time when some items aren’t available at all, especially things that come from far away. A few years ago when surveying the wreckage after the 2008 crash, a consumer-products analyst was worried about what choice the consumer would be left with as the Great Recession deepened. Yes, I know, choice will be the least of our concerns going forward, but you should stock up on what’s important to your family now while it’s still possible.
The take-away here is not that the needs of what’s left of the middle class are different from anyone else’s. The point, again, and unfortunately, is that it will take that kind of income or enough room left on credit cards to catch up to storing two years of necessities. And preferably, this should be accomplished before the November elections in the US. Our long-time friend, FerFAL, has a few insights about what to expect from mid-November (scroll down to What will Happen in the USA after the Elections.)

Everybody’s got to Eat

The shopping list below will cover bulk purchases and storage of food, water and minimal toiletries in quantities sufficient to get by for two years. You can still buy the dips when favourite items go on sale; however, I don’t think there’s enough time left to use the Mormon’s weekly shopping list that is spread out over a year.

Whether or not you buy into TEOTWAWKI mentality or not, at the very least, storms and other natural disasters can keep you running your generator for a week or a lot longer. This happened in the Northeast during last October’s freak snowstorm and happens repeatedly in other parts of the country. Oh, wait a sec; you do have a generator, don’t you? It’s at the top of 100 Things that Disappear First. You gotta have a generator. You also gotta have fuel for it, which you gotta store. If it’s gasoline, you’ll need a gasoline additive like Sta-Bil. Get the original formula for the [gasoline] generator and lawn tractor, Sta-Bil marine for your boat if you have one and Sta-Bil diesel for your Mercedes.

Talking about Mercedes, when the drought reached crisis stage in Somalia more than year ago, many Somalis---but not all---had to walk for days, weeks and sometimes a month to get to the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. One woman who didn’t have to walk was approached by reporters as she got out of a car with her kids. Her car was a Mercedes, but she didn’t have food and had to go to the refugee, camp. And why didn’t she have food; why didn’t she barter her car, cell phone or expensive wristwatch for food? Because there wasn’t any. There wasn’t any food at any price. Can it happen here? The US had a drought this year after a lousy growing season last year. The effects of these things are cumulative. So’s radiation poisoning, BTW, but we’ll get to that some other time.

Many items will end up in short supply or not be available at all. Note the Iranian diplomatic staff stocking up on consumer products (at dollar stores, mind you; times must be tough over there) while in New York to attend UN meetings. You’d think they’d have a few bucks, so I guess the items they bought were no longer available in Iran. Their currency plunging 20-30% over a day or two didn’t help either. I hope no one still thinks it can’t happen here.

Rule of Thumb

The rule of thumb has been to store six months of food, cash and anything else you need. Some think two years are safer and I do too. While you may have to increase your food budget 100-fold short term, keep in mind that this is a no-lose proposition. Anything you buy today will be more expensive tomorrow. So, as you effectively pull consumption forward, you will be average-costing down your household expenses. Even if prepping in anticipation of scarcity doesn’t grab you, blunting the effect of inflation, or a potential jobless stretch, should. I don’t see much of a downside here. Preps not used can be donated to a local food pantry for a tax deduction. If you have the extra funds, that would be a nice idea anyway.

Two Years’ Worth...

Drinking Water: This is considered the most important prep. The plastic containers water is sold in leach so you should store drinking water in glass containers. I bought gallon glass jars from: http://www.freshwatersystems.com 

The Mayo Clinic recommends [a minimum of] 72 oz/day for women and 104oz/day for men [for a sedentary lifestyle]. Together, that’s about a gallon a day with enough left over to fill your cat or dog’s bowl. FreshWaterSystem’s price break for gallon jars is $4.24 for 24+. Here’s where the bucks come in. If you want to safely store drinking water for six months for two adults and a cat, that would be about 180 [one gallon] jars for $339.20; one year $678.40; and two years $1,356.80. The plastic jugs that you buy milk in are now formulated to biodegrade, but can be used to store water for bathroom use should it not be forthcoming from the faucet.

Tip: You can fine tune water purity by filtering it through a Big Berkey or other countertop water filter. If you’re looking at second homes, with prices coming down, look for something with a well. If you can dig a well where you are now, do so and install a solar pump.

Adequate Nutrition: The recommended daily calories for women* are 2,400—1,600/day depending on age and 3,000—2,000/day for men.** The easiest way to get sufficient calories and

Tip: Rice, beans and maybe a few other veggies can be made quite palatable with teriyaki or soy sauce. I bought a lifetime’s supply of Kikkoman Teriyaki Sauce at http://www.buythecase.net $39 a 36-bottle case, which was a bargain over grocery-store prices.
Sautéing veggies and meats in olive oil improves the taste and adds nutrients. Oil lasts several years in unopened glass bottles or metal cans; just make sure you get it in glass bottles or cans.

*A woman aged 19 to 30 years needs between 2,000 and 2,400 calories daily; 31 to 50 years 1,800 to 2,200 calories daily; those over age 51 need 1,600 to 2,200 calories daily.

Males** ages 19 to 30 need 2,400 to 3,000 calories a day, those 31 to 50 need 2,200 to 3,000, depending on level of activity. Males over age 51 need 2,000 to 2,800 calories a day.

Coffee and Tea: I don’t think it’s asking too much to include coffee and tea in a survivalist diet. ByTheCase.net carries several brands and sizes of coffee and tea including non-dairy creamer, which probably has a shelf life of infinity. Honey will last indefinitely too. Ground coffee in an unopened can will last two years or longer. Tea in bags in their unopened box or transferred to a lidded glass jar will last at least two years.

Spices and Condiments: Among common household items that store indefinitely are salt, sugar (preferably stored in glass or metal cans), honey and mayonnaise (unopened in a glass jar).
Those that last two years or more include dried or powdered garlic (2 years), dried or powdered onion (2-3 years); ground pepper (2-3 years); peppercorns (3-4 years). Here’s a good site to lookup shelf life: StillTasty.com.

Dollar-Store Spices: Prices are so much better at dollar stores that, for these items, I suggest actually shopping in a store. If you don’t want to spend the time, but are okay with spending the extra money, there are online sources. You can also buy cases of spices from the dollar store.

Pet Food: From a vet: “Generally speaking, if you buy the more expensive all-natural foods, the natural preservatives such as vitamin E used do not work as long as the preservatives used in cheaper foods. They break down. This is reflected in the best-used-by-date posted clearly on the higher-end pet foods. Dry pet foods with natural preservatives may be kept under 85 degrees sealed in a container in the original bag for about 4 months, while foods with other preservatives may be kept as much as three years if kept properly sealed up cool and dry. Just kept in the bag, I would not keep dry pet food past three months."

Dog Food:
Nutritional requirements for a dog aren’t that much different than for a human. They can be fed people food and do fine.

Cat Food:
This isn’t so for cats, however. There is a good article on the subject from Cornell’s Vet School.  In a SHTF scenario, kitty may have to make due with certain people foods. Low acid foods have a greater shelf life than those with higher acids in them. Fish and meat are low acid foods, hence, can be stored for a long time. Canned fish and meat can be stored unopened for about 2-5 years. Ask your vet about vitamin supplements.

Preppers are obsessed with toilet paper. I don’t know why, but I bow to their greater experience. Since it’s bulky, it’s a lot easier to have delivered than to buy it at the store. Here’s where I bought Ultra-Soft Charmin (the price break is at 40 rolls) at  Restockit.com.  Conservatively, budget 1.5 rolls per person, per week. That’s 78 rolls per year/one adult or 156 rolls for two adults. For two years/two people you’ll need 312 rolls or about 8 cartons @ $38.94/carton for a total of $311.52.

Tip: Toilet paper is considered to be a high-value barter item amongst the prepper cognoscenti. It also makes a nice hostess gift or Christmas stocking stuffer. Think of all those omelet brunches you’ll be invited to by backyard chicken farmers when they know you’ll show up with a roll. Not having gone through the above formula before I placed my order, I now have plenty to barter with.

Wrapping Up

If you place orders for the above items---all of which can be done online---you and your companion pets will have two years of adequate nutrition and safe hydration plus toilet paper. I’ll go into other food and toiletry items that will help maintain well being in subsequent articles.

JWR Adds: I realize that in many jurisdictions inside city limits with civic water supplies it is illegal to drill a well. But if you live in a region with a high water table and it is legal to do so, then go ahead and drill!

Regardless, you should convert your roof downspouts to fill water barrels. That water is fine as-is for gardening or toilet flushing. If you have a composition roof or a roof with treated wood shakes, you should plan to re-roof with a metal roof. Not only will it give you better fire protection, but it will also eliminate most contaminants from captured rainwater. If used for drinking, captured rainwater should be run through a good quality high volume ceramic filter such as a Big Berkey. (Available from several SurvivalBlog advertisers.)

Not all plastics leach toxins. Food grade HDPE is perfectly safe for water storage. Glass jars are not advised in earthquake country, but they are fine anywhere else. However, the cost per-gallon cost of storing water in jars is dramatically higher than using HDPE barrels, tanks, or tank totes. That is the only affordable way for most folks to set aside a large supply for dry seasons.

Mr. Rawles:

I just wanted to share that there is an excellent book for this, called The Incredible Edible Landscape by Joy Bossi. It is an excellent book, especially for beginners. Regards, - Elizabeth C.

Jon C. suggested this article: Five Great Reasons to Grow Vegetables Vertically

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M.K.P. sent an article from Chile about the many pitfalls of building... The Microhydro Plant. This clever fellow even wound his own transformers! And BTW, he also has nice taste in old tube radios.

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Gregg mentioned: The next human pandemic

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B.B. sent: Massive Manure Pile Delivered to Ohio Democratic Offices. For better effect, take a lesson from our English cousins. The misexcremants should have fired up a power manure spreader just inside the front door, and reaaally let the Schumer fly.

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The editor of the If It Hits The Fan blog wrote a nice review of Founders.

"Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.
But of that day and [that] hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.
Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.
[For the Son of man is] as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch.
Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning:
Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.
And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch." - Mark 13:31-37 (KJV)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Today we present another entry for Round 43 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), 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 FloJak.com. C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, E.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 43 ends on November 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.

With the cost of groceries going up peppers know that being self-sufficient and creating their own garden is critical, but are you really looking at plants for the long term? Heirloom variety plants like tomatoes are essential to keep around, but if a day comes that you can no longer buy those seeds it is going to be a real pain to try and sort the seeds out from your food source. Taking a closer look at adding fruiting trees to your property and where they can fit into your landscape will make a huge difference in what your land can provide for you in the long term. For arguments sake, I’m going to focus on apple trees, because they can grow in the vast majority of climates throughout the United States, including areas that are within the American Redoubt.
Start by taking a look at what kind of fruits will grow in your area, obviously an orange tree will not grow outside in Pennsylvania, but apples would work very well in that climate. Take a look at the hardiness zone that your location is in, and then begin looking at fruit trees that will tolerate your climate. Rather than looking at older varieties of apples for example, it’s better to concentrate your search on the newer cultivars that are disease resistant; this will make a huge difference in terms of the quality of the fruit the tree will produce once it has established. Once you have a couple varieties in mind, start looking for places that will accommodate a mid-sized tree. You can build a fantastic orchard on less than a half-acre of property, but for those that are under really tough size constraints, you need to look at espalier fruit trees. Espalier trees are specially pruned to go up against the sides of walls or fences, and sit almost flat against that space, and still produce fruit. They require more pruning than a traditional orchard tree, but the compact size is definitely a plus.

| Purchasing apple trees can be a bit tricky, because you need to be aware of what you’re buying to get the most of your money. Big box stores will probably have small fruit trees in containers, but I would recommend going to an independent garden center instead, the quality of the plant material will be much higher than what you can find at a chain, and their staff will be able to offer expert advice on how to care for the plants. Depending on the size you are looking for, you will find the trees either in a plastic container or balled and burlapped. I would suggest buying the biggest size possible, because although the cost will be higher, it will decrease the amount of time you will need to have a mature fruit tree. If on the other hand you have plenty of room plant an orchard, look for trees that have been pruned properly. An apple pruned for fruit production will not have a nice oval shape, but rather will look irregular and a bit ugly. If you can’t find trees that have been pruned for fruit production, buy what you can, and as they grow they can be trimmed to produce plenty of fruit.

Once you have your trees home, you’ll need to plant them out to establish. You’re going to want to dig a hole that is going to put the top of the root ball flush with the existing soil line, and about two to three times the width of the root ball. At this point, if you have the tree in a plastic container you want to remove the container and take a look at the root system of the tree. If the roots are white, go ahead and plant the tree, if they look orange or brown, or are wrapped around the bottom of the pot, take a spade and slash the roots apart, this may seem like a bad idea, but this process helps to create healthy roots as the tree becomes established. If you have a balled and burlapped tree, do not remove the tree from the burlap, or remove the cage from the outside of the burlap if it has one. Instead, place the tree inside the hole, and then peel back the burlap until it will be below the soil level, eventually the metal cage and the burlap will decompose as the tree matures. Finally, you’ll want to backfill the area with topsoil, and mulch around the trees as you go. Keep in mind that you do not want to pile the mulch around the base of the tree, and should only be about 2 inches above the soil line, and deeper and the trunk may begin to rot. I would advise you to use processed mulch rather than wood chips or grass clippings. The microbes in wood chips will suck much needed nitrogen away from the trees to decompose the wood chips, a problem you don’t have to worry about with bark mulch.

The next step is the really important one, and that’s watering. If you’re not watering your tree at least three times a week, you better be getting a lot of heavy rain where you live. For each new tree you plant you should be watering it every other day to keep it healthy. Don’t bother using a sprinkler because they won’t get down deep to where the new roots will develop. It’s best to turn your garden hose on a low trickle and let it go for 2 hours on each tree for at least the  first 6 weeks, or until you get a good hard frost in your area.

It will take a tree anywhere from one to three years to establish, so be patient and keep a watchful eye out for any discoloration of the leaves, early leaf drop, and other signs of an unhealthy tree. After the first winter you can go ahead and apply a basic fertilizer to promote strong growth, but be careful not to over-fertilize the tree, because this will cause the leaves to burn. Small stalks may rise from the base of the tree, which are called suckers. Cut back the suckers any chance you see them; they will do no good for your trees.

Pruning your trees will need to take place during the late winter or early spring before the tree pushes flowers or leaves. Grab a basic pruning guide for the trees you have, and don’t be afraid to hack it into an irregular shape, this will promote flower and fruit production better than a tree that has a natural shape. Espalier trees are a bit easier because of their design, but will require more work because of there is a lot of small growth occurring. For an espalier removing the vertical growth from the horizontal branches will spur flowering in the spring, which will lead to fruit come fall.

If you have done alright to this point, all you need is time. Your fruit trees need to mature a bit before they will produce the fruit you desire. Fruit trees are notoriously bad for having issues with pest and diseases, and as such those disease resistant varieties you picked at the garden center will have a big impact. Those perfect apples at the supermarket? They have been sprayed with a minimum 20 applications of pesticides to get them in that good of shape. In a collapse you’ll be lucky if you can treat them at all. The point I’m trying to make is that your expectations of food need to change. There is nothing wrong with an apple that hasn’t been treated, it just won’t be pretty. Taking the skin of the apple off will reveal a near identical fruit to the one from the store, and baked into pies or other dishes will mask and of the small blemishes that are below the skin. In rare cases, you may find that the pests have overtaken your trees, and the apples are unpalatable. In those cases you can still make good of the fruit by feeding it to livestock. Pigs and poultry will devour fruit that has been destroyed by insects, providing them with additional calories, which will eventually providing your family with additional calories.

At the end of their life, apple trees can still serve a purpose even after the last leaf has fallen. Smoking meats with apple wood produces a delightful flavor, that anyone who’s ever had apple wood smoked bacon will attest to. From my experience however, a healthy fruit tree will last for decades, and can be very long lived.

Not every tree you plant needs to be a food producer. Arguments for shade, screening, and ornamental trees are all valid even in a prepper’s yard, but it would be foolish not to have some woody plants that will continuously provide fruit for your family, your livestock, or the wildlife in your area. I strongly encourage everyone to plant at least one fruit tree at their location, even if for no other reason but to say you have an apple tree.

I've just received the last catalog from Lindsay Technical Books. I said the last catalog, not the latest one, the last one. The publishing owner has announced his coming retirement beginning the day after February 28, 2013. So the company is going the way of Loompanics. This is a shame.

For those of you who don't know, this is a book company which published books on how to make and build stuff, some from scratch. Mostly focusing on metalworking, blacksmithing, some woodworking, basic electrical stuff. Even some stuff on how to make booze. - Jim B.

JWR Replies: I am hopeful that another publisher will buy the rights to the Lindsay titles and keep most or all of them in print. But in case this doesn't happen, I highly recommend that SurvivalBlog readers immediately round out their bookshelf of Lindsay references. Once they cease publishing, the books will undoubtedly become scarce and more expensive.

Recommended by F.J.: HomemadeTools.net

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An interesting documentary: We The Tiny House People: Small Homes, Tiny Flats. JWR's comment: Simplicity is laudable, but tiny houses leave no room for long term food storage. :-( How about Plan B: A tiny house with minimal living space to heat but adjacent to it build a big un-heated barn/shop/root cellar building?

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The reach of the Internet is amazing. Even obscure acronyms that I created just for SurvivalBlog can now be found far and wide.

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Beware the signs of the times, even in a state like Idaho: "He's a Constitutionalist". All that Federally-funded police training that references the SPLC's clap-trap is filtering down, with predictable results.

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Finally, a television show about guns with some intelligence and sufficient technical accuracy: Family Guns.

"But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.
For thou, LORD, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as [with] a shield." - Psalm 5:11-12 (KJV)

Friday, October 12, 2012

Today we present another entry for Round 43 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), 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 FloJak.com. C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, E.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 43 ends on November 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 wish I could remember the exact moment I became a “prepper”, although I would much rather use the term “aware”.  I’m sure everyone has that “A-ha” moment that sets them on the path to enlightenment, and that brings me to the subject of the day.  I would like to re-introduce canned food to all of those food snobs out there, because I once was one. Yes, it’s true – for me it was always “freshly caught”, “freshly killed”, “never frozen”, “minimally processed” and most especially “organic”.

As a child of the 1950s I was the unwilling guinea pig of early food engineering.  It was that heady time of instant coffee, minute rice, canned biscuits, and TV dinners. Forget all those home cooked meals that my grandmother used to cook. No more long hours slaving over a hot stove to put something nutritious on the table. This is sad to me because my Mom was actually a great cook – she was just a victim of misleading television advertising as many people still are today. If people were more interested in how their food is processed, and what actually goes into it, there might be some healthier folks walking about!

As a young adult during the 1970s I became a part of the early natural food movement in my own small way.  My husband and I were fortunate to have a few acres in the far suburbs of a major metro area.  We had a large vegetable garden and chickens, and I learned the arts of canning and freezing from his mother.  You see she was from an earlier generation than my Mom.  She was a product of the Depression and knew that you could not always count on being able to get food from the local grocery store. Having access to those fresh eggs and fresh vegetables inspired me in my own “slow food” movement. I came from a long line of excellent cooks, and I began to develop my cooking style to include everything from Southern-fried to haute cuisine. I even found the time to make homemade baby food when my children came along.

Flash forward to the present. As we all know life is not static.  First husband dies, family sells property, kids grow up, Mom marries again and boy does she luck out.  New husband is an outdoor guy and an electrical engineer to boot. We decided to purchase some acreage for our bug out location several years ago.  We are fortunate to be in a position to travel once or twice a month to our “farm” to practice living off the grid. We have a big metal building with no electricity or running water - just creek water, solar panels and LEDs, a generator and propane camp stove, which brings me in a roundabout way to “Cooking from Cans”.  You see, I’m one of those people who don’t care to eat “just anything” and my challenge was to see how creative I could actually be with those cans! Now I am well aware of the potential dangers of food in cans containing BPA (Bisphenol A) and the sodium factor, but when you are in a survival situation I think the possibility of long term side effects will take a back seat to starvation any day. 

So without further fanfare I would like to introduce you to some of my pantry cooking.  Even without a missile crisis or EMP these recipes will come in handy.  Maybe you are too tired to cook the full meal deal one evening, or perhaps paychecks aren’t coming quite as regular as they once did.  Food inflation is just around the corner folks so stock up while you can. The recent severe drought as well as the continued use of crops for fuel rather than food will have a dramatic effect on our financial well being, not to mention the continued insane monetary policies of the Federal Reserve.   I don’t call it hoarding – I call it being prudent!


1 Can 10 oz. Rotel Drained (whichever flavor you prefer)
1 Can 15 oz. Black Beans Drained (any bean will do)
1 Can 12 oz Canned White Meat Chicken Drained
Here comes the hard part – dump them in a skillet and heat through for about 15 minutes. When I am preparing this under optimum circumstances I like to sauté an onion before the can dump. I usually add garlic, cumin, and salt and pepper.   I also add a “dash” of Mrs. Dash Southwestern Chipotle seasoning.  You can do a lot to jazz it up. I like to add cheese, green onion and crunched up corn chips if I have them on hand.  This is also really yummy in a flour tortilla burrito style. You could replace the canned chicken with rotisserie if you so desire or even fresh grilled chicken. Now here is where the food snob thing comes in.  All of my life I have eaten tuna from a can but wouldn’t be caught dead eating canned chicken.  Why not?  I guess ‘cause my Mama said it was icky.  Sad I know.  Costco has a six pack of canned white meat chicken for around $10.00 and it is delicious. Dried beans are fine to use as well, but what if you don’t have water or fuel to cook those for hours on end. Learn to trust the can.


Same as Mexican but add drained, regular or Italian style diced tomatoes instead of the Rotel and add a can of tomato sauce. I like to add some garlic, Italian seasoning and some Parmesan. If it’s not during said missile crisis or some other catastrophe it’s nice to sauté an onion and green pepper to jazz it up.  Serve it with some pasta, or if you want it vegetarian omit the chicken add some Cannellini beans. Spices are totally up to your imagination.


Here again, basic chicken, tomatoes and tomato sauce.  Add onion and peppers if available.  Here’s where it gets interesting – OKRA!  Know what that is?  If you are from the South and don’t know, your momma is probably disappointed. Okra has a pretty fair amount of fiber. It comes in cans – just be sure to drain it first. Google it and see what you come up with. To me okra defines Cajun food – gumbo is just not gumbo without okra!  Use some garlic, Old Bay or bay leaf to jazz it up and serve over rice.  Try red kidney beans instead of chicken if you are so inclined.


 Rummage through those cans of beans and find two or three different ones – I like cannellini, kidney and garbanzo.  Drain, rinse and throw them in a bowl.  Got any jars of roasted red peppers?  Chop a few and throw them in.  Now if the hurricane left anything in your pantry or fridge, add a little olive oil, red wine vinegar, Garlic Mrs. Dash, chopped green onions (dehydrated or fresh), halved cherry tomatoes (or drained diced), and don’t forget the piece de resistance:  drained canned artichoke hearts. Green or black olives are always welcome and if you’ve really been industrious some homemade feta cheese crumbled over the top would be nice. I realize that most survival pantries probably don’t contain artichoke hearts or olives, but if we’re not talking imminent asteroid destruction they really add some flavor.  This is a hearty dish containing a lot of protein especially if you are able to add some cheese.

Home Style Vegetable Beef Soup
Now for a little variation let’s try canned beef instead of chicken (although you can use chicken if you like).  I prefer to rinse it off before using, but in a worst case scenario every little bit of nutrition and calories help.  Into a stock pot add the beef, non-drained tomatoes, onion (fresh or dehydrated), beef bouillon (if available), Veg-All, a bit of rice or potatoes, water to cover, and my favorite, okra. Add salt and pepper to your liking. You might not be as fond of okra as I am so skip it – the okra police will not come knocking I am sure! I realize that I am not giving exact proportions here – it’s not an exact science.  It will all depend upon the number of folks you are trying to serve and how hungry they are! 


This is the same recipe as the vegetable soup, but substitute macaroni for the rice or potatoes.  Skip the okra and add kidney beans; spice it up with garlic and oregano and add some torn spinach if available. What could be easier?

I hope these few simple recipes will help you with your pantry planning. It’s an easy way to stock your pantry without having to spend large amounts of money at one time.  Buy a few extra cans each week; we are only talking about ten or twelve varieties of canned food. If you don’t have a “pantry” put the cans in a box and slide it under a bed or in the back of a closet. Hopefully you will have rice and/or pasta on hand, and if you are really fortunate you have stocked up on dehydrated vegetables like onions and peppers.  I read once that the most difficult aspect of survival living was food boredom.  It seems as if people, and especially children, will actually refuse to eat if they are served the same food day in and day out. I’m not sure if this really applies to children as I could swear my kids ate peanut and butter and jelly sandwiches 24/7/365 for years on end!  Stock your pantry with plenty of spices and sauces – most are fairly inexpensive, and try to mix things up.  It could be the difference in living and thriving.  Happy Pantry Tummy!

I recently fabricated my first two rocket stoves using $25 in parts per stove, and gave one to my local volunteer fire department fundraising auction.  It takes just over an hour to make one and it works great.  The fuel/vent stand is key for ensuring air flows under the fuel for maximum combustion.  The pot grill is key for ensuring maximum heat transfer to your cooking pot without choking the fire.  

It was pretty nice the other morning making scrambled eggs without having to use propane, electricity, or the fire pit.  The rocket stove is one of the most efficient wood fuel stoves ever devised.  

You can find a photo of one of the finished stoves, here.

The following is how I made the rocket stoves:

- 5 gal steel paint pail from commercial paint store, with lid $12 (or free if you find a used metal paint can)
- 18" x 24" wire deck from Lowe's SKU# 319519 $5 
- 4" galvanized duct elbow $4
- 24" piece of 4" galvanized duct $4
- small sheet metal screws
- Wood ashes

- Saber saw with metal blade
- drill bits and drill motor
- tin snips
- pliers
- vise
- electric hand grinder with metal cutting wheel
- half round file

- Cut the wire deck with the cutting wheel to create both the fuel/vent stand and the pot grill
- Bend legs of fuel stand at stable angle so that top of stand lines up with center of vent pipe when raised off of bottom of pail about an inch
- Taper front end of fuel stand so that three inches of it can fit into vent pipe without binding.  Leave two small studs protruding so that they can fit into notches cut into vent pipe
- Mark paint can on side where vent pipe would be centered and draw 4" circle
- Do the same in center of paint can lid
- Remove foam seal in paint can lid
- Drill starting hole with 1/4" bit and wiggle to widen hole enough for saber saw blade to fit
- Cut out both circles (don't worry much about the quality of these holes
- Attach vent to elbow and fasten with three sheet metal screws, avoiding screw at top of vent where fuel will be shoved through
- Measure width of bottom of paint can and cut duct with grinder cutoff wheel so that the pre-assembled 90 degree angle will easily fit in the bottom of the can (it will protrude properly once the  duct is centered vertically in the can)
- Attach remaining section of duct to other end of angle duct
- Pre-install duct into both holes to confirm fit, and mark top end of duct at 1/2" above top of lid and cut off excess duct with grinding wheel
- File cut edges of both ducts with half round file to reduce risk of sharp edges
- Fill paint can with wood ashes and slightly compress with hands as you fill it, while maintaining duct centered in can
- Put lid on and crimp closed with pliers
- Mark horizontal duct 1" in from edge to align with the two attach stubs and drill clearance hole for fuel stand stubs
- Cut clearance notch in duct slightly above clearance holes to allow stubs to slide along duct and drop into place into the clearance holes like a detent position
- Cut remaining piece of wire deck so that you can bend four support legs and bend the outside corners in a bit to fashion a grill
- Cut the support legs so that the grill stands at 1/2" (or slightly under) above the duct edge (this may take trial and error, but you want to maximize heat transfer to your pot without choking your air flow)
- You're done.  The commercial guys sell an adjustable pot skirt which directs the heat up the sides of the pot.  I might make one of those as an accessory one of these days.

Joe K. liked this Rodale piece: 12 Low-Tech Tools You'll Always Use

   o o o

Reader Jeremy I. sent us an item to file under Emerging Threats: Infamous mountain man burglar caught on video, still roams free. (Do not leave supplies cached in unattended wilderness cabins and expect them to be immune from burglary. It is important to build undetectable wall or floor caches for your valuable weapons, ammunition, optics, and electronics.)

   o o o

The Knob Creek machinegun shoot and plein air gun show will be held again this coming weekend. One of these years--when my writing schedule isn't quite so intense--I'll actually get the chance to go there.

   o o o

I heard that Ready Made Resources has extended their special pricing on genuine full mil-spec AN/PVS-14 Gen 3+ night vision scopes. For a limited time they are offering these "grade A" autogated scopes with a free Picatinny rail weapons mount, free shutter eyepiece and free shipping. As usual, these include a head mount and carry case. These have a five year warranty and free annual maintenance for five years. Normally $3,895, these are on sale for $2,795 with free shipping. FWIW, I just bought another one of these monoculars for our use here at the Rawles Ranch. (After all, "Two is one and one is none.")

Homer: I'd like to buy your deadliest gun please.
Apu: Aisle 6, next to sympathy cards.
- The Simpsons, Season 9, Episode 5, "The Cartridge Family"

Thursday, October 11, 2012

From SurvivalBlog reader Mark C. I learned that on Wednesday, we lost a true American hero. Command Sergeant Major Basil Plumley died at 92 years of age in Columbus, Georgia. CSM Plumley was a combat infantryman in WWII, Korea, and Viet Nam. Sam Elliot played him in the movie “We Were Soldiers”.


Today we present another entry for Round 43 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), 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 FloJak.com. C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, E.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 43 ends on November 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.

Our culture relies heavily on vehicles and this will likely result in a rude awakening in a TEOTWAWKI situation.  Depending on the circumstances, vehicles, fuel, and/or parts may become insanely scarce and expensive.  This reality has led many preppers to explore various options ranging from alternative energy vehicles to reverting to traditional forms of transportation/heavy machinery (horses for example).   Additionally, those preparing for the worst must consider abnormal conditions that vehicles need to withstand when TSHTF.  This article will discuss TEOTWAWKI vehicles, preparing, and special tactics/considerations in regard to operating them.

There are several schools of thought on what is needed in a survival vehicle, how to select them, etc., but unless you have a nearly unlimited budget (as well as good connections), the dream amphibious, Armored Personnel Carrier that runs on sunshine and hope , gets 80 miles per gallon, and is eco-friendly is probably not likely.  James Wesley, Rawles’ books "Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse" and "How to Survive the End of the World As We Know It" essentially recommend [for the sake of fueeel flexibility] having a diverse fleet of vehicles and this is a great idea and goal.  However, you might be restricted to one vehicle that meets your needs, purpose, and the threat environment that you anticipate.  For instance, are you planning to “bugout” and if so, will it be a long, cross-country trip?  Consider your location; your family sedan has sufficed in a snowy climate because of the roads being maintained, but when the salt trucks stop running, the snow and ice pile up, roads are littered with debris, and pavement breaks apart, will you be able to depend upon it? 

Though there are numerous recommendations out there for various makes and models, I would recommend a quality (not the same as luxury) SUV or truck.  TEOTWAWKI will require high-ground clearance, tough suspension, more space than your average grocery store trip, and work capacity.  Again, I will avoid preferences but older vehicles (no fuel injection or electronic ignition systems) will be better choices in many regards such as EMPs and simplicity of repair.  Fuel sources play a huge role in vehicle selection as they should because the vehicle is of little use if you cannot feed it.  I have not personally built a gasifier, but plan to do so in the near future.  If you are unfamiliar with this technology and have plentiful access to wood products, then you should look into this.  Window tint has some advantages such as concealing your identity and what you have inside your vehicle, but heed local laws and realize that your vehicle will unlikely be sitting in the shopping mall parking lot to be broken into when TSHTF.  One last note on vehicle selection borrows from both Mr. Rawles and good judgment; choose earth tone vehicle, preferably in a flat finish.  Our society buys flashy cars to stand out, but this is contrary to what you will want when TSHTF. 

Now that you have your vehicle (or fleet), you need to ensure they are ready to perform when and how you need them to.  Vehicle maintenance is critical to ensure dependability and longevity of your vehicle so make sure are taking care of it and know how to perform routine maintenance and procedures if you do not already.  If you are not mechanically inclined, you will benefit from taking vocational courses or hanging out with a gearhead family member or friend.  Purchase automotive manuals such as Chilton or Haynes for your vehicle.   Electronic resources are nice but might not be available in a grid-down scenario.  Do not depend on Google or YouTube to fix your vehicle.  This also goes for tools/lighting; they are great assets for automotive repair but require electricity and an impact gun powered by an air compressor paints you as a massive target to the “have-nots.”  Therefore, build your tool chest and consider investing in engine hoists and other heavy duty automotive tools.   In addition to acquiring knowledge, skill, and resources, integrate a weekly or monthly vehicle inspection plan.  This will not only keep your vehicle in top shape, but it will save you money in the long run and is a great opportunity to teach these skills to your family members.  Learn how ignition systems work because in TEOTWAWKI, it might useful to know how to start a vehicle without keys (like say, with a screwdriver).  The same goes for siphoning fuel; it can be done with a pump or the old hose method, but be aware that some newer vehicles have anti-siphon features (these can be bypassed). 

You will obviously need fuel and have probably devised a plan for producing and/or storing fuel, but have you considered the availability of replacement parts?  Auto parts stores, dealerships, junk yards, and eBay motors will not be open during TEOTWAWKI and will not take your terribly devalued money anyway so you might want to grab some key parts now if you plan to keep this vehicle.   Vehicles might be abandoned on major roadways everywhere one day, but they were left for a reason and it might be unsafe to try to remove parts (provided they have what you need).  Ideally, you will be able to replace/repair anything on your vehicle, but a spare parts car is unlikely/often impractical.  I would suggest that at a minimum, you have the following: several spare tires/wheels, tire plug kits, fix-a-flat, brakes, all vehicle fluids/lubricants, replacement hoses/belts, key gaskets/gasket material, sealants, thermostat, filters, assorted nuts/bolts/washers, ignition parts, starting fluid, fuses, wire, battery acid, paint, wire ties, tape, windshield wipers, and headlights.  Naturally, if you have some specialty vehicle (function or fuel), you will need to plan accordingly.  A note on tires is to frequently check your tire pressure and tread life.   Keep a tire gauge in your conveyance and do not depend on sensors and computers to diagnose your vehicle for you.  A penny  can be used to ensure you have adequate tread.  As long as the top of Lincoln’s head is not visible, you have sufficient (legal) tread.  However, the more diminished your tread is, the harder it is to stop, you get less traction, and hydroplaning/skidding are more likely.  In the event of a blowout, remain calm slowly decrease your speed and steer to safety.  Some people panic when a tire blows (or the breaks fail, car skids, etc.) but do not do this.  If you brake only to find that your brakes are malfunctioning, try the emergency brake or  gear down (if no brakes at all) and let compression slow you down.   Whether it is no brakes or the accelerator sticks, do not turn the engine off because it does not negate the problem and [in most vehicle of recent manufacture] now the steering column is locked (meaning you cannot steer).  Instead, put the vehicle in neutral and move to safety. 

You should equip your vehicle with survival in mind.  What you need is ultimately up to you but should include at least the following: fire extinguisher (dry powder, rated for A,B, C, and E materials), whistle, signal mirror, maps, compass, GPS, location beacon, heavy duty trash bags, N95 masks, duct tape, matches/fire starter, chem lights, flares, candles, phone charger, a good first aid kit, blankets, food, water, tire tool, jack, tire repair, jumper cables/booster box, electrical tape, wire, wire ties, fuses, v or serpentine belt, common wrenches, small socket set, pliers, screw drivers, a camera, tow strap, e-tool (small shovel), cigarette lighter air compressor, fuel can (they make collapsible ones if space is an issue), knife, toilet paper, soap/hand sanitizer, pen/pencil, notepad, list of emergency contacts (law, medical, poison, fire, and personal), flashlight, rope, medical/allergy alert, and bungee cords.   If you are traveling a long distance or through a harsh climate, consider what else you might need such as kitty litter or chains for traction on snow/ice or medications in case your day trip turns into a disaster.  I always pack my SUV for longer, more severe trips than I intend to make.  A CB radio and winch are two great tools too.  Camo netting is a worthwhile investment if your plan is to “bugout,” especially if long distance travel is involved.

Remember, this kit is not just for TEOTWAWKI; it could be the wreck you encounter on the way home, an injury at a local event, or simply assisting someone who is broken down.  Two key principles must be in place with stocking your vehicle; securing and organizing.  You will probably want the fire extinguisher or emergency glass breaking/seat belt cutter readily available, but you do not want them flying around the inside of your interior in the event of a wreck so secure all of these items to prevent injury and damage.  Lastly, organize your gear so you can quickly access it.  You do not want to be digging through a duffle bag in search of a wrench with dirty hands contaminating your sterile medical equipment.

Now, let’s move from the vehicle itself to operating them.  It is important to note several good rules of thumb before moving on.  First, be aware of your surroundings (situational awareness) in general, but especially when operating a motor vehicle or when at a high risk area such as a gas station, an ATM, or when slowed/stopped near chokepoints (overpass, train tracks, exit ramps, etc.)  Second, lock your cars doors at all times, even when you are driving.  Not only will this prevent someone from walking up at a stop and opening your door, such as a carjacking, but locked doors are safer in an accident because they shield you (whereas a missing door does not), support the roof from collapse, and keep you inside the vehicle.  Many have heard to leave them unlocked so if you are unconscious, rescuers can get to you, but many newer vehicles auto unlock and rescuers will likely break the glass or utilize the “jaws of life” so this is irrelevant.  Third, either have your windows all the way up or down (not partially) while operating the vehicle.  A partially lowered window is a good way to turn a minor car collision into a decapitation.   Next, never pull right up on the vehicle in front of you; instead, leave at least a few feet of pavement between the visible front of your vehicle and the one in front’s tires.  This will permit you to maneuver around this vehicle without reversing should it breakdown or someone jumps out shooting.   Be cautious about where you park and people in the vehicles near you.  Other than door dings and common sense (lighting, etc.), do not park between two large vehicles as this could be an abduction scheme.  Pause a moment before leaving a stopped state at intersections because it might be green for you now, but the person texting, driving drunk, or simply insistent on not catching that red light might plow into you.  You are such a nice person so who would want to harm you in any way?  Well, the world is strange like that sometimes so be cautious (not paranoid) of people following you.  Try to vary your daily routes and if you suspect someone is following you, make three rights turns to see if they continue.  If so, do not drive home, but go somewhere safe/alert authorities.  Another good practice involves your hand placement.  While this is ultimately a personal preference, do not rest/grip through the steering wheel because in the event of a collision, the wheel can jerk, breaking your wrists.  What may have been a simple collision has now given you broken hands and possibly a uncontrollable vehicle.  Lastly, try to notify friends and family about whereabouts, travel plans, and when you should arrive/return.  This may save your life or at least maybe some trouble.

The first special consideration is the “elements.”  Driving at night is not all that abnormal in our society but can be very different in a TEOTWAWKI world or even an emergency situation.  Most people have not “outdriven” their headlights, i.e. driven so fast that they cannot see in time to react.  If this is necessary, be sure to scan off the road to not only watch for people, vehicles, animals, etc., but to also break the tunnel vision.  One note about running over animals; do not swerve to miss an animal unless it would cause more damage than running off the road, like if it is a moose or bear.  If you see a large animal and cannot avoid impact, try aiming for its rear because you will likely just clip it and might miss altogether (it moves).   Insurance will sometimes cover (no fault) damage from hitting an animal, but slamming into a tree is usually regarded as a (your fault) collision.  Something to consider for TEOTWAWKI is noise and light discipline and vehicles put out a lot of both at night especially.  Many preppers already have or plan to purchase night vision goggles (NVGs) and driving with them can be a great benefit to exercise light discipline, but make sure you can wear or mount them.  Also, be aware that some models really impair your depth perception.  If you plan to operate under these conditions, install infrared lights so that you see even better.  Remember that other people with NVGs will be able to see these IR lights too though.

Other facets of the elements to consider are storms, rain, snow, and ice.  It is best not to travel in storms if possible so if you are on the road, pull over and wait it out. When you do transition back to driving, be sure your surroundings are safe prior to pulling out on the road.   However, if you must drive on, proceed slowly with your hazard lights on (unless tactically not acceptable).  Rain/flooding present concerns in limited visibility, hydroplaning, unseen hazards, and hydrolocking your engine.   If hydroplaning occurs, you must resist the urge to hit the brakes, but gradually slow down.  In any event that the vehicle begins to skid, let off the accelerator and steer into the spin, i.e. if the rear of your vehicle is skidding left, turn the steering wheel left, but do not over-correct.  If a road is flooded, you do not know the condition underneath the water, e.g. broken or missing roadways/bridges so do not proceed into water unless you can clearly see the pavement/lines. Moving or deep water can wash away your vehicle so check the depth.   Also, if you drive in too deep of water, you can suck water into the engine and destroy it.  If your vehicle fell victim to a flood, you might be able to salvage it if you change the oil, filters, plugs, grease it, and let it dry out prior to starting it.  You should thoroughly clean it and drop the oil pan/cleaning the engine and fuel system out is highly recommended.  With regard to driving on ice, proceed slowly and like you would fearing a hydroplane; do not slam on the brakes and correct accordingly.  If a road has been “cleared” but a “two-track” of snow remains, sometimes driving in the snow will improve traction.  Do not think that because you have an all-wheel or four-wheel drive that you can drive in whatever conditions.  Ice changes all of that. When cleaning your vehicle off for operation during winter storms, make sure to clean all of your glass and lights so you can see and that others can see you too.  Drive on frozen ice (only if you have to and have checked it) slowly, have your windows down, seatbelt off, and ready to bail out. 

If you would wreck or break down in a snow storm, your survival skills may truly be tested.  Hopefully, somebody knows your whereabouts, you can contact the outside world, and/or have a rescue beacon.  If you must shelter in your car, conserve gas and energy, stay awake, keep the hood cleaned, and be cognizant of carbon monoxide poisoning.   

“Off roading” might become a necessity of life instead of a hobby in TEOTWAWKI.  I doubt the roads and bridges will be maintained and when abandoned vehicles, debris, and potentially checkpoint roadblocks litter the roads, off roading may be necessary.  Hopefully, your vehicle has the capabilities, but this also requires skill.  First, let me emphasize that not all routes are passable but vehicles can travel over some pretty rough terrain.  Make sure that you have proper ground clearance and be aware that some steeper inclines and obstacles require an angled approach.  It is a good idea to trim panels that might otherwise break, to install skid plates, brush guards, and heavy duty suspensions (does not have to be “Big Foot,” but added weight/abuse can wreak havoc on stock components).   Do not be afraid to get out of the vehicle and check the road/obstacle/wash-out that you are contemplating to negotiate before committing to that route.  Off-roading is often associated with getting stuck.  If you are stuck, do not just freak out and mash the accelerator.  Instead, if you cannot move the direction you are trying to go, smoothly try the opposite way and turn the steering wheel to attempt to regain traction.  Sometimes you will have to dig yourself out (for example when high-centered (bottomed out) so remove the dirt to allow the tires traction if high-centered or dig gradual inclines in the direction you are trying to go if just stuck.  You may also be able to rescue yourself by let some air out of the tire, which puts more tire gripping surface to the ground.  Being stuck by yourself is no fun.  When accompanied, do not forget that passengers pushing and/or putting weight on the rear vehicle has led to many vehicles being freed from mud, muck, snow, etc.  Sometimes you must winch or tow a vehicle out. Take caution when using  a chain or cable to rescue vehicles because if the chain/cable breaks loose, it can excitedly and dangerously fly into nearby vehicles and people.  This can be avoided by using a tow strap/rope instead of a chain/cable or by placing a heavy towel, coat, etc. on the chain/cable.   If you are descending a steep hill, avoid slamming on the brakes, but instead allow your engine’s compression to slow you down (lowest gear).  Lastly, be careful when parking off road in tall grass or brush.  If the grass/brush comes in contact with hot engine or exhaust parts, it may burn the vehicle, you, your supplies, and the forest down. 

High speed driving has some considerations too (besides out-driving your headlights and tunnel vision).  When you are driving fast, try to never accelerate or brake while steering.  If you are driving fast going into a curve, brake hard and in a straight line (known as threshold braking) prior to the curve.  If you need to take curves fast, look into apex turning or better yet, take a training class so that you can practice this in a safe environment. 

Bugging out usually involves a vehicle loaded down with your loved ones and gear to go to some place to ride out the storm/make a stand.  Make sure you have a plan and not just gear.  Know the route, alternate routes, do not depend on your Tom Tom or On Star, plan on backed up/blocked roads, have contingency plans, have sufficient fuel, and be ready for anything.  If you are traveling a long distance, gas stations might not be able to serve you so have more than enough fuel and look at fuel cells/additional tanks in addition to fuel cans.   Bugging out requires extreme organization of your vehicle.  Have tools, food/water, medical supplies, weapons, and extra fuel readily accessible in addition to your bags.  Make good use of every square inch of storage and use the roof like people use to.  Practice loading your vehicle so there will no surprises and time your routes.  Depending on the circumstances, you could encounter checkpoints by hooligans and you need to have a plan for them.  I doubt they will be content with a small token of food or whatever else you have to permit you to pass when they could try to take it all.  You need to find another route or take them out and that is your personal decision.  If you choose to fight, have a plan for if you cannot win, if your vehicle becomes immobile, or it cannot safely be repaired due to conditions.  To run a road block of cars, aim for the rear of the vehicle (less weight), but this is a last resort.  

One last special consideration is fighting tactics from/with a vehicle.  Shooting and moving vehicles are not a fun time.  Although these are less of a concern in TEOTWAWKI, be mindful of hearing damage and hot brass inside of a vehicle.  Also consider compact weapons (or those with folding/collapsible stocks) for this because it is hard to aim a long gun inside a vehicle, especially when it is loaded for doomsday.  You can use a regular vehicle for cover and concealment, but know the difference; concealment only hides you whereas cover will stops bullets.  Ideal cover in regard to a vehicle is with the engine or wheel/axles between you and incoming fire.  Regular vehicle body panels do not stop bullets and do not press right up against the vehicle like the movie stars do because of ricochets, [spalling,] and shrapnel. 

You and your family might be on the road when TSHTF and the vehicle is all that you have access to.  A well-stocked vehicle can make all of the difference in both every day emergencies or if the world turns upside down.  Incorporate vehicle maintenance, knowledge/skills, and outfitting it into your plans and drills.

I read your blog almost everyday and sometimes I get a little irked when someone writes "You can survive without water for three days". Having been an investigator in a desert climate, I can attest to the fact that a person can die of dehydration in a matter of 4 hours, especially if they have been drinking alcohol or taking drugs just prior to going on that hike or riding an ATV into unknown lands. True you can survive longer in northern climates, but you can't count on going three days without water. It is misleading and can cause the unnecessary death of people who get lost!
Another thing, as my good friend Cody Lundin taught me, always carry several gallon sized plastic Zip-Loc bags. They are extremely light weight and make great canteens in an emergency. Furthermore, one can places the bags over the end of leafy tree limbs and suck the water out of trees. True, you may not get much, but every ounce can be a life saver.
I hope this helps someone if they get caught out in a situation they don't want to be in. - T.J.

Dear Mr. JWR,
Food is very important in maintaining your core temperature when outdoors in a northern clime.  I'm talking about being out for extended periods in sub-zero weather.  I go out for a day or two at a time and my favorite high calorie foods are peanut butter and pemmican. They give you good " bang for the buck" and are relatively compact and you can eat them while you're walking.  I also love my kelly kettle.  It's nice to have a hot drink in about 5 minutes even when it's -30F.  If you are going to go out playing in the snow or are living up north where the cold is quick killer do yourself a favor and read Snow Walker's Companion: Winter Camping Skills for the North by the Conovers.  

I also carry a lighter, matches, ferro rod, and old school flint and steel with char cloth.  Fire Is Life, so know it, understand it and make it your friend.  The cold doesn't care whether you live or die, be prepared for it. - Captain S.

Just in time to get people thinking about the consequences of the upcoming election, the movie Atlas Shrugged, Part II will be released on October 12, 2012.

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For those with an interest in monitoring the severity of solar flares, J.E.B. in Missouri tells me that the Rice University Web Site site has excellent up-time and has the most consistent and timely, moment-to-moment updating of solar flare data.

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SurvivalBlog's Back Country Editor, Mat Stein, has several book signings and workshops scheduled in Reno, Nevada, on October 13th and 14th.

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Bob G. recommended this piece by Dr. Bones: Tetanus in Times of Trouble

"The fact that we are here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the US Government cannot pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government's reckless fiscal policies. Increasing America's debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that, 'the buck stops here.' Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better." - Then Senator Barack Hussein Obama, March 2006

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Today we present another entry for Round 43 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), 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 FloJak.com. C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, E.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 43 ends on November 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 recently learned about wilderness survival in my northern climate. So I thought I would share some of the interesting information that was imparted to me. First off, I highly recommend everyone take a wilderness survival course offered in your area, as it is a wealth of information on the existing elements in your environment, and how to use them to your benefit.
First and foremost, if you get lost and you believe someone is coming for you- stay put! Do not try to find the trail that you happened to wander off of or the road that led you there. The odds are simply against you finding what you lost to begin with. If you foolishly left without telling anyone where you were going or how long you expected to be gone for, chances are that no one will be looking for you when you have decided that you are lost. This is an entirely different situation and you are now on your own for better or worse.
I had always believed that the most vital, top of the list, get it now or die item was water. This is incorrect. Perhaps the rules change depending on where you are but here, in my northern climate the most vital element is maintaining a core body temperature of 98.6 degrees F or 37 degrees C (+ or - a degree or so) .

The first line of defense is clothing. It is very important to dress for the season when you decide to go on any outing in unfamiliar territory. Natural fibres are the best as they won't melt to your skin if you accidentally come in contact with fire. Layering is also very important in maintaining a good core temperature. Wet clothing with the addition of a cold wind can be your worst enemy. Always remember to remove outer layers before commencing any chores that might cause you to sweat. Again, sweaty, wet clothing is bad.

Footwear is also ranked very highly on the scale of importance. A good, sturdy, strong, comfortable boot is certainly worth its weight in gold. We lose a surprising amount of heat through contact with the cold or frozen earth or snow. To add an extra layer of insulation, always create a mat for your feet when sitting or standing for longer periods of time. This can be achieved by using anything within the immediate area such as fallen branches, dry leaves or evergreen boughs. One good tip is to warm rocks near your fire and use them as a foot stool. Just be careful not to heat them too hot so as not to melt the soles of your boots.

Aside from clothing, your next line of defense is shelter. Remember that you can live without water for three days and right now exposure is your worst enemy, not dehydration. A shelter can be made out of pretty much anything so I won't get into the styles and types, rather we'll focus on the primary functions it must serve. The main goal is to minimize heat loss therefore the shelter must facilitate this goal. It must offer protection from the elements such as rain or snow and wind. The other vital element a shelter must provide is protection from the ground. This can be created again with a mat formed out of branches and dry leaves. Anything that puts a barrier between you and the cold ground is necessary. [JWR Adds: See the repeated warnings in the SurvivalBlog archives about wool versus cotton. The old saying is "Cotton kills." When cotton gets wet through perspiration or precipitation, it loses nearly all of its insulating value.]
Once you have a shelter, you can work on the next step in wilderness survival which is, of course, fire. Imagine my surprise when I believed water was number one and again it has been pushed farther down the list. Please understand that this is for the northern climate and wilderness survival in a southern climate might be a very different ball game.
Fire is your greatest tool in maintaining the proper body temperature. It is required to boil water and cook food. It is also a great morale booster and a good signaling tool if you are lost. In a wilderness survival situation, fire is your absolute best friend. You should always carry some form of a fire starting tool as well as learning the basics of how to start a fire without the aid of tools.
Third on the list is at last, water. Again, this is tailored to my environment where water is often easily located and the rules may change depending on where you are. You should always be aware of the area you are in or going to and the dangers that might be present in your water or the water found locally. Of course boiling is best to purify water however if you find yourself in an emergency situation, filtration might be your only next best option. 

First locate a source. The next step is to dig a hole several feet from the source to allow the water to filter itself from the source, through the earth and into the hole. While you wait for the water to filter and the sediment to settle, you can make a makeshift Millbank filter with available materials. This is done by using a birch bark as a cone, or some large, strong leaves in the form of a cone as a filter. Cover the bottom tip of your filter with a small piece of cloth, a t-shirt or sock will work fine. Layer materials beginning with fine sand, then charcoal fragments, then coarse sand, then fine gravel, then on top, coarse gravel. This water that is filtered, is just that, filtered, and not purified. This process is slow, about 5 pints in 5 minutes. Then the water should be boiled.

Another method of purification aside from boiling is solar disinfection. This is accomplished by filling a clear PET or glass bottle with water and allowing it to purify on it's side, in the suns direct rays, for at least 6 hours. Of course, you would need a bottle to do this with.
One last method of water purification would be by making a solar still. I'm sure you have heard about it and know how to do it, the only issue with that are the required materials which are difficult to come by when lost in a forested area.

If (God forbid), you find yourself in a position where rescue is likely in a reasonable amount of time and you for some reason or another cannot purify water, you will have to make the decision of whether or not to drink it as is. I have made the decision to drink directly from a creek and I did live with no ill effects. Keep in mind that the symptoms of Giardia can begin to show in only 2 days. That gives you 2 days until you might become violently ill and in dire need of rescue. I was lucky and not in danger at the time. Only you can make that choice, hopefully it will be an informed decision.
Surprisingly food is not high on the list of survival necessities. The body can go for 40 days without food, it won't be the most comfortable 40 days you ever experienced but you could live through it.

There are two schools of thought on the food issue. One believes you should eat anything and everything you can to meet your required caloric intake. This should help to maintain your body for as long as possible without forcing it into survival or starvation mode. The other believes you should force your body into survival mode without creating that confusing 'grey area' in between. For example, if all you can muster are a few leaves and berries, perhaps you are better off sending your body the clear message that it is time to kick into starvation mode. This idea is on the belief that the body is equipped to handle this period of fasting as long as it is sent a strong message to do so. I cannot say which is best, nor have I done the research to advocate for one or the other. Again only you are responsible for the choices you might be forced to make and as with everything, an informed decision is the best one. 
If you find yourself lost without a compass and map, or worse- you have a compass and map but don't know how to use them, it tends to be very difficult to simply backtrack to where you should be. The best advice seems to be to stay put until someone comes along to help you. If no one is coming for you or you otherwise have no choice, there are some simple things to help you navigate. During the day, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. With this information you should be able to roughly find the direction you should be going. Direction is not the only obstacle in getting where you need to go. The other major issue we seem to have is traveling in all directions. It is a very difficult objective to travel in a straight line in a forest. One way to keep your travel line straight is to line up 3 or 4 markers straight ahead, once you pass those look back and make sure they align. Then find more markers ahead and continue to check back to make sure that those align.
Night travel is ill advised for so many reasons. Many predators hunt at night, it is much too difficult to see where you are going therefore navigation is uncertain, also the terrain can be difficult to navigate and may cause you to become injured. In a worst case scenario, the north star is often cited as a guide although difficult to keep track of in a forested environment.
To make the best of a worst case situation, I believe that having a few simple items on your person can really make the difference between life and death. These are a few things you should always carry with you inside an inconspicuous bag, backpack or purse especially when venturing into unfamiliar territory.
-bottled water- this can be used aa a ready source for drinking, also used to solar disinfect when the pure water runs out.
-water filtration device, i.e. filtration straw.
-fire starter -matches, lighter, magnifying glass, etc. (I also like to keep a few tea light candles in my fire kit, you never know).
-emergency space blanket -folds up to nothing, weights almost nothing, can be used as a blanket, also a shelter.
-pocket knife -great for shaving sticks into tinder, trimming small branches for fire.
-extra sweater, or light windbreaker jacket.
-signal device -mirror, whistle.
-charged cell phone
-small flashlight (I like to keep a small radio as well)
-snacks -candy, gum, nuts, etc
-small first aid kit including -band-aids, pain relievers, antibiotic ointment, gauze and tape as well as hand sanitizer.
Once again, there are no firm rules in a survival situation. With each case differing from person to person, environment and tools on hand, I believe the rate of success increases with knowledge and practice. The more you know, the better decisions you will make.

Reference: Wikipedia: Giardia

Dear James,
In his otherwise excellent article on replacing ornamental species of plants with useful, edible species in landscaping, Matthew C. mistakenly advises getting rid of hawthorns (medium and small size perennial shrubs). Hawthorn is valuable medicinally, tactically, and nutritionally.

Hawthorn is one of the most potent heart and blood pressure medications available.  It has been extensively researched, and has been approved by the German Commission E Report.  Unlike digitalis, which is much better known, hawthorn is extremely non-toxic, and is not known to interact with any other medications.  The earliest recorded medicinal use was in ancient Greece.

In a TEOTWAWKI situation, unavailability of hawthorn could spell disaster for anyone with high blood pressure, or with heart problems, including arrhythmia, tachycardia, angina, insufficient cardiac blood flow, symptoms of congestive heart failure, and weaker heart function due to aging.  Even lesser disasters, natural, political or economic, may mean that heart medications become restricted or unavailable.

The Commission E Report recommends using the end tips of flowering leafy twigs, up to seven centimeters in length, but not longer.  In a grid-down situation it can be dried and used as a tea (2-3 teaspoons of hawthorn, 2-3 times a day), or as an alcohol-based tincture.  Stored in a cool, dry place, the dried flowering twig ends will keep up to three years.

My own experience confirms this.  I developed severe cardiac arrhythmia a few years ago.  After learning that people often don't actually die of their heart disease, but die from arrhythmia, I started taking hawthorn daily.  Just as the research says, within a few weeks the arrhythmia was almost entirely gone.

A couple years later, I found a much cheaper source, and switched.  In a few weeks, the arrhythmia returned.  Comparing the bottles, I realized I had unwittingly switched from flowers and leafy twigs to the berry form of hawthorn.  I immediately switched back, and in a few weeks, the arrhythmia again disappeared.  You better believe there will be plenty of hawthorn in my survival garden.

Do not use the berry form for arrhythmia.  The berries may be useful for blood pressure, are traditionally often used for cardiac purposes, and have some research support.  But they should never be used as a substitute for the flowering tips.  

Hawthorn is something of a miracle drug for mild to moderate cardiac problems.  It raised blood pressure that is too low, and lowers blood pressure that is too high.  It is equal to pharmaceutical drugs in controlling heart rhythm to prevent arrhythmia, but unlike drugs, has no significant side effects.  It strengthens arterial walls by promoting cross linkage of collagen, dilates arteries, increases coronary blood flow, reduces cholesterol and triglycerides, and gradually rebuilds the heart in degenerative heart disease.  Since it also strengthens capillaries, it may be helpful in capillary and small blood vessel related problems, such as bloodshot eyes, varicose veins, and hemorrhoids  (One author mentions it may possibly help with glaucoma.)

Hawthorn is easy to grow.  It likes sun, and for centuries, has been used to make dense, thorny hedges around gardens to protect them from invasive deer and humans.  Birds love eating the berries, and hawthorn branches grow at the ideal angle for supporting birds' nests (60 degrees spread), with ferocious thorns to keep predators away from their eggs.  The word for "hedge" is actually derived from "hawthorn."  One word of caution: Don't plant them near the windows of your house.  The flowers literally smell rotten!

The berries, however, can be made into jam and jellies, and eaten on your morning toast. - Johan D.


Mr. Rawles:
The article on transition from ornamentals to edibles is one of the better things I've seen on your site, and I've seen many good things indeed. One thing I would add is the fact that (as of a few years ago, and I haven't seen new information to contradict it) Americans spend more money per year to grow lawns and do home-based landscaping than we do on any other single crop. Corn? Lots of that. Soybeans, too. But growing grass consumes more of our money than any other crop -- and you can't eat grass or boxwood hedges.
My lawn frequently looks like a miniature jungle because it's a rental house and I just don't like mowing grass. My landlord has actually protested to the fact that I don't cut the grass, but has prohibited us from planting a garden. It's not the work I'm opposed to. It's the fact that I get nothing out of cutting the lawn, other than having shorter grass. I have convinced my wife that our next home purchase will include as little lawn as possible, with a goat or two to eat the grass that does exist.
It makes no sense to grow things that aren't useful, unless you are doing it as an art -- and as an artist, I must confess that art is rarely "useful", but is necessary in some way to the human spirit. But if you can make useful art? That's even better. Instead of the decorative wintertime cabbages and kale that are frequently planted here in the Deep South, if people planted cold-weather items like squashes, edible cabbages and kale, they could actually eat what their gardens produce.
Thanks, as always, for an excellent site. - J.D.C. in Mississippi

Trivest, a private equity firm headquartered in Florida, has wisely acquired Wise Foods, a maker of long-term storage foods.

I found this over at Gold-Eagle: Unraveling Why A Fed President Just Suggested Doubling QE3

GammaRei sent: The Five Most Surreal Financial Apocalypses from History (Warning: Foul language.)

Rich businessmen pulling out of France as tax-hit looms. (A hat tip to K.A.F. for the link.)

Items from The Economatrix:

The Real Unemployment Rate

Faber Warns "Everything Will Collapse"

Money Printing Trumps Fundamentals

Stock Exodus Continues As Investors Yank $5.1 Billion Out

Don J. recommended this: Prioritizing Every Day Carry Gear for Personal Defense.

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Ralph N. was the first of several readers to send this Los Angeles Times article: Many drugs are just fine years after they 'expire,' study finds

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Of interest to folks in western Oregon: The Oregon City Emergency Preparedness Fair will be held Saturday, October 20, 2012. Free admission! 10 am - 4pm. Location: 14340 S. Donovan St. Oregon City, Oregon. Lead speaker : James Roddey, former Director of Communications of the Red Cross 1pm-2pm "Quake Up Call". Also speaking will be Scott McSorley, of Cascadia Preparedness/Disaster Consulting 10 am-11am His topic: "Home Defense after T.E.O.T.W.A.W.K.I." More than 40 vendors and demonstrations through out the day. For more info: OCEPrepFair page and Scott McSorley's Web Page

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I was pleased to see that the new 40th Anniversary Edition of the late Carla Emery's monumental home reference book The Encyclopedia of Country Living will soon be released. Amazon.com is already taking pre-orders. If you don't already have a copy, I consider it a "must have" for the bookshelf of every well-prepared family.

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A change in the wind, finally, in England? Homeowners win right to use lethal force on burglars: 'Disproportionate levels of violence' backed. A full castle doctrine and a recognized right to keep and bear arms any be decades away, but this is a start...

"Government exists to protect us from each other. Where government has gone beyond it's limits is in deciding to protect us from ourselves." - President Ronald Wilson Reagan

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Today we present another entry for Round 43 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), 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 FloJak.com. C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, E.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 43 ends on November 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.

For those of you who are awake and aware of the fact that our current lifestyle is about to change in a big way, this information should appeal to you.  I would like to take the time to present some information that might not be known to everyone. This article is about the Cattail.  That humble plant that some people go to great lengths to rid themselves of.  That is foolish in the extreme in light of the coming collapse.  A person that had a pond with cattails growing thick around the perimeter, or access to one, should consider themselves extremely wealthy.  They can provide many things in all stages of their growth and are easily sustainable by replanting some of the seeds.  In fact, if there are suitable places for them to grow near you, bur you don't see them there, you can take a seed head from another area and establish your own cattail garden.  Apart from the uses for the cattail itself, they provide great cover for ducks and geese.  (yum)   

They are found in most areas of North America, so finding them in non-desert, non-mountainous areas should be relatively easy.  There are multiple varieties.  If you look around, there are probably some growing nearby.  They are easy to identify, as no other plant produces that brown seed head that all cattails do.  There are similar looking plants that can grow in close proximity, but none have that seed head.  As a word of caution though, if you are not sure then don't eat it.  Some of the broad leafed grasses that grow on the edges of ponds are poisonous.     

If ever there was a truly year round plant, it is the cattail.  You can obtain something from them in every season, even in winter if you can get through the ice to the roots.  In spring, once the shoots are above the water line, you can dig and collect the new shoots coming off the roots.  Peel, boil and eat.  A bit later, late spring/early summer, the pollen spikes form and are edible.  They can be boiled or eaten raw.  They get 8 - 10 inches long and taste somewhat like corn.  There are male and female parts, both are edible.  In summer, the male parts (on top of the seed head) will start to produce pollen.  This can be knocked off and used as flour, or mixed in to extend your flour storage.  In late summer to early fall, (and all the way back to spring), the time is right to get the most amount of food.  The roots can be dug up boiled, and eaten as such, or the starch can be extracted and used as flour.  The root is dug, washed and peeled, then they are broken up underwater either by hand or between clean stones to release the starch from the root fibers.  The excess water can be (carefully) poured off and the remainder dried out leaving flour.  Cattail flour contains gluten so it will hold together well in pancakes, cornbread, etc.  I have read that per acre, there can be as much as 10 times the starches than potatoes.  It might not taste like a potato, but if it gets bad enough that we are trying to get through hard times with nothing but wild edibles, that number is important.     

That is pretty brief, but that is for a reason.  I really want to discuss all the other uses for cattails that don't relate to food.  A lot of the food information has been covered already.  One is only limited by their own imagination when it comes to finding uses for the plant other than food.  The leaves can be broken down for cordage, or woven to make mats, hats, seats, thatching, wall material or anything else that broad leaf grass can be used for.  Like I said, use your imagination.  The stalks can substitute for arrow shafts if not too dry.  Primitive but useful when all of your other arrows have already been used, bent, or broken.  Not for compound bows though, as the poundage is too high and the stalks can shatter.  But, with a recurve bow or bundle bow, they work very well.  I would hate to think that I would be reduced to using such means to survive, but strings break.  Arrows bend and break as well, depending on the type. Finding naturally straight replacements is a huge bonus.  They require minimal processing to make arrows out of and all you need to do is cut the seed head low and take the whole thing home.  

The mature seed head is both edible and useful too, maybe the most of all.  The fluff can be used for stuffing pillows, mattresses, etc.  It has excellent insulation properties as well, think of it as the natural version of fiberglass.  But, the greatest utility from the seed head in my opinion is for making fire.   

The fluff can be used as-is for tinder and it works well, but charring the fluff makes it exponentially  better.  Making char cattail is extremely easy and the finished product will take a spark as well as anything I have tried in nature.  Yes, there are things in the commercial world that do a better job, but given a long enough timeline, they will not be around.  This information is for when things like that have already run out, and you still need to make fire.  I can imagine that fire will become one of the highest priorities in the more northern climates and once the matches have run out, this could really come in handy.  Like I said, charring cattail is easy.  Just collect some seed heads once they have dried out and take the seeds off of the spike.  It will be surprising to most people when they do this for the first time.  There are a lot of seeds in that seed head packed very tightly.  It is best to do this outside, but not on a windy day.  Place the seed head in a bag and break the seeds off of the center spike.  Take the fluff and pack it tightly into a small metal container that you can put in a fire, like an altoids tin or shoe polish tin.  You will get 2-3 tins full of fluff from each seed head.  If the lid does not snap closed, you can wrap a wire around the whole thing to keep it shut during the charring process.  If it pops open during the process, you will probably have to start over.  It is best when there are few leaks to allow air (oxygen) into the container when charring.  Once packed into the tin, make a small hole (tack sized) in the top of the tin and then place it on the coals of a fire.  You have to allow the gasses to escape while limiting the amount of oxygen getting in.  We are basically trying to burn the fluff without the presence of oxygen.  If you read the "how to" on making charcoal, the process is very similar but happens in minutes not hours.  Watch the hole as the tin heats up, smoke will start to exit.  Once the smoke has stopped coming out, you need to time it for 1-2 minutes before it is done.  There is a feel to it that you will get the hang of after a few batches.  Once it has charred, remove it from the fire but do not open the container.  Place it on the ground with the hole side down.  You need to leave it alone for it to cool before opening so that the influx of oxygen does not let it burn completely.  I have made this mistake and it will turn to ash pretty fast.  What you end up with is a tightly packed pad of excellent fire starting material.  Virtually any spark you can get on this stuff will take and allow you to add oxygen to get a coal hot enough to ignite tinder.  Once the matches have run out, this will be the next best thing.     

I have no idea how bad things will get.  I have no idea how long things will be bad.  I only know that every bone in my body is telling me that whatever it is, it's coming, and coming sooner rather than later.  I hope that all that come here appreciate that and are taking the necessary steps to protect themselves and their families.  The time is now to have plans in place to survive, no matter what happens. Having this knowledge in your toolkit could make a big difference to even those that already have deep larders.  Everything will run out eventually.  If things go on for a decade, most everyone left will be eating out, so to speak. 

About the Author:   I live in Northwestern Pennsylvania and have been awake to the possibility of a collapse for only a few years.  15 years ago I was already an avid hunter and outdoorsman and even went on a few outdoor survival trips (by choice), back in college.  This was long before Les Stroud was doing it on television.  I have been interested in and doing research on wild edibles and survival techniques for as long as I can remember as an adult.  I don't claim to be an expert on either subject, but I do know enough that I thought I might do some good in sharing.  God bless you all.             

Reference:  The incredible cattail: The super Wal-Mart of the swamp, by Kevin F. Duffy, Backwoods Home Magazine

Some interesting statistics: Immigration to Wyoming

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Farm to Fork movement helps out Idaho.

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Another great new flying video from Ttabs: Idaho Elk Country. This one includes some inset still pictures of his recent archery elk hunt. (The unusually hazy skies--most noticeable at 2:30 and beyond--are from some recent large wildfires in Washington and Oregon.)

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I've just added another church to the list of Reformed churches at the American Redoubt page. It is: The Well, in Boise, Idaho. Reader B.Z., who made the recommendation, notes: "Pastor Matt Marino has done a series on Political Science in the Christian World View, available as MP3 files.  I liken it to The Truth Project, but on a 401 level.  It is outstanding!   Take a look a some of the sermon titles (you’ll need to filter by series) to get a flavor of the discussions." 

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I heard about yet another Redoubt-based company that is offering real world solutions: Montana Steam Power. Their products are entirely American made. They are located in Heron, Montana. (Heron is on the Clark Fork River, just east of the Idaho state line.)

Hyperinflation Hits Iran Like Weapon Of Mass Destruction. The article begins: "'Better buy now,' advised the rice merchant in Tehran. The retired factory guard took him up on the advice, buying 900 pounds of the stuff to feed his extended family for the next 12 months."

G.G., SurvivalBlog's Poet Laureate, flagged this: Global Food Prices Set To Soar--Again. [JWR's Comment: We can expect to see more instability in Third World countries, just like the last time there was a big price shock in agricultural commodities.]

Also from G.G.: Big Bank Derivative Bets Nearly Double In Six Years

European Economic Depression Is Rapidly: It Is Just A Matter Of Time Before Things In Italy And France Get As Bad As They Already Are In Greece And Spain

Items from The Economatrix:

Europe Stocks Down As Global Growth Woes Intensify

Do Western Central Banks Have Any Gold Left?

Portugal Announces Sweeping Tax Hikes

Cantor Cut to Junk By Moody's on Capital Markets Pressure

Consumer Confidence in US Climbs for a Sixth Week

1.3% GDP Means Retailers are Going to Have a Poor Christmas

Reader F.G. suggested this: Coyotes, bears, and lions: the new urban pioneers?

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James C. suggested this great little anthology at Popular Mechanics: The 110 Best DIY Tips Ever

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SurvivalBlog's Editor At Large Michael Z. Williamson sent this: 10 Coldest Temperatures in U.S. History. It is notable that several of these records were set in American Redoubt states, but take a look at the elevations. These are not spots where most folks would want to live!

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Claire Wolfe's latest commentary: Your right to sell your stuff.

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I was pleased to see that my latest novel Founders hit #10 on the Publisher's Weekly Bestseller's list.

Now Garm howls loud before Gnipahellir,
The fetters will burst, and the wolf run free;
Much do I know, and more can see
Of the fate of the gods, the mighty in fight.

Brothers shall fight and fell each other,
And sisters' sons shall kinship stain;
Hard is it on earth, with mighty whoredom;
Axe-time, sword-time, shields are sundered,
Wind-time, wolf-time, ere the world falls;
Nor ever shall men each other spare.

Fast move the sons of Mim, and fate
Is heard in the note of the Gjallarhorn;
Loud blows Heimdall, the horn is aloft,
In fear quake all who on Hel-roads are.

Yggdrasil shakes, and shiver on high
The ancient limbs, and the giant is loose;
To the head of Mim does Othin give heed,
But the kinsman of Surt shall slay him soon.

How fare the gods? how fare the elves?
All Jotunheim groans, the gods are at council;
Loud roar the dwarfs by the doors of stone,
The masters of the rocks: would you know yet more?

Now Garm howls loud before Gnipahellir,
The fetters will burst, and the wolf run free
Much do I know, and more can see
Of the fate of the gods, the mighty in fight.

- Excerpt from the epic Norse poem Völuspá (quatrains 44 to 49.) The earliest intact manuscript is included in the Codex Regius (circa 1270 A.D.) It is noteworthy that The Völuspá was one of the inspirations for J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings epic novel series, particularly for the names of some his characters.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Steve of Amateur Radio Ponderings just posted a nice review of my novel Founders. As an aside, I must mention that some non-Christians have slammed my novel at Amazon.com, giving it one star reviews. For the sake of balance, I'd appreciate seeing reviews from people who've also read the book but that don't share their anti-Christian bias. The other main complaint about Founders is that some people found it repetitious. To explain: I took an 11-page post facto summary chapter from my first novel Patriots and fleshed it out into more than 100 pages, providing substantially more detail about Ken and Terry Layton's two-year cross country trek. This was not just a "repeat" but rather a significant expansion. Perhaps it had been a while since some people had read Patriots, so they mistakenly thought they were reading the same text, word for word.

I've been writing about Columbia River Knife and Tool (CRKT ) products for about as long as they've been around. They started out small, with just a few really cool tactical knife designs. They were all were quality-made, and priced right. I've watched CRKT grow steadily, year after year, but adhering to their roots, to provide quality products at affordable prices. Some folks denigrate the idea of knives made in Taiwan, but I'm not in that group. You get as good as you want in a product, no matter where it might be made. I know that Rod Bremer, who owns CRKT, heads off to Taiwan every couple of months, to keep an eye on things in the plant over there. And, when Bremer isn't there, he sends his next in command, Doug Flagg to the plant. So, a very watchful eye is kept on the manufacturing processes taking place.
I know both Bremer and Flagg personally, and have dealt with them for many years, both are great guys and like myself neither one wear suits and ties. They are down-to-earth types, and are always willing to spend time with me, whenever I stop by the CRKT offices unannounced for a visit, to see what's new and how things are progressing. So, I have a good feel for what goes on behind the scenes at CRKT, more so than most folks do.
Some time back, CRKT teamed with custom knife maker Ken Onion, for some collaborations on knives, and this was a smart move - Onion is one of the hottest custom knife makers and designers around. I interviewed Onion for an article I did some years ago, we talked on the phone for quite a while - Ken lives in Hawaii - and he is a wild man, but he knows his stuff. So, I was really excited to see the collaboration between Ken Onion and CRKT.
The "Foresight" is clearly designed by Ken Onion. If you know his style, then you'll readily recognize this knife as one he designed. There is a certain flair to his designs that is easy to see. Now, before I get into the "Foresight" I want to mention that it won the 2012 Blade Show, Import Knife Design of the year. This is an award given to a knife by fellow industry peers - quite an award, to be sure. What you see in the Onion design is "form follows function". The profile of the "Foresight" looks like a chiseled physique just waiting to pounce on your next cutting task.
Without boring SurvivalBlog readers with too many details, I'll outline some of them, and you can check out the knife on the CRKT web site. With a 3.5" modified drop-point blade, with a generous belly and recurve cutting edge for maximizing the full utility of the blade. I really like the recurve blade design, as you actually get more cutting surface than the measured length of the blade. You can also have the Foresight with a razor-sharp cutting edge or a combined razor sharp edge with triple-point serrations. Steel is AUS 8 one of my favorite blade steels - it holds an edge for a good long time, and is fairly easy to re-sharpen, too with a Rockwell Hardness of 58-59, and a Black Ti-Ni finish on the blade for that super-cool tactical look. The overall length of the knife in the open position is 8.69" and it weighs in at 6.3 oz - not too heavy and not too light.
The cold-forged black aluminum handle on the Foresight is purposefully styled and shaped with swept finger grooves and a proper palm swell to provide confident, and comfortable grip no matter what. The knife simply feels GREAT in the hand! Now, as to opening the blade, there is the super smooth IKBS ball bearing pivot system coupled with Interframe style mechanism - making this one of the smoothest opening folders you'll run across. It is smooth as silk, to be sure. There are no thumb studs - instead, there is a flicker on the blade - you simply apply a little bit of pressure to the back of the blade, on the flicker, and the blade effortlessly glides out of the handle scales and securely locks in place. The knife almost feels like it's an auto-opening folder because of the little amount of effort required to get the blade deployed. The knife's smooth opening it is very impressive, and I can understand why industry peers voted the Foresight as the 2012 Blade Show Import Knife of the year.
My wife isn't into knives, she carries a few small folders in her purse and on her key ring, and they are used mostly for small cutting chores. However, she really fell in love with how the Foresight felt in her hand, and couldn't believe how easy it was to deploy the blade after applying a little pressure to the flicker. Guys, this would make a great present for your wife, if she likes knives at all...even though it has that "tactical" look to it, the gals like this baby. Of course, there is the pocket/clothing clip on the handle for pocket carry. CRKT - if you're listening, the gals wouldn't mind having a Foresight in a different handle color - maybe hot pink, blue or ???? But the black handle color will do...
I've said many times before, that I think the ideal blade length on a folding knife for serious tactical or chores is between 3.5" and 4" and the Foresight delivers in this respect, with the 3.5" blade. I just think that folding knives that have a blade length in this area seem to balance a lot better in the hand for some reason, and the knife is quicker if you have to use it to defend yourself. And, as already mentioned, the recurve blade (belly) actually gives you more cutting surface than the blade length. Additionally, the recurve actually grabs and pulls whatever material you might be cutting into the blade - it doesn't slip off!
I used the CRKT "Foresight" for more than two months for various cutting chores around my homestead, and found it to be exceptional at many tasks, especially cutting meat. Yeah, if you sit around my kitchen table for a meal, and meat is served, you might just see me using a folding knife of some type - what better way to test a blade? I can usually be "caught" carrying at least two folding knives or more - not, I'm not paranoid, I just test several different knives at a time, and I find it easier to carry the knives in my cargo pants pockets than to have to go looking for them when I want them. As always, we have plenty of blackberry vines around our place, and I test knife sharpness by chopping these nasty vines down, and the Foresight would easily take care of this task with one swing of the blade.
If you're in the market for a new EDC (Every Day Carry) folder, you could do a lot worse than the Foresight from CRKT. Full retail is only $140 and like all CRKT products, you can usually find them deeply discounted at many sporting goods stores or big box stores. And, remember, CRKT provides an exceptional warranty on all their products - should you have a problem with their products, they'll make it right!
Having used CRKT products for many, many years, they have yet to disappoint me. Have I had any problems with any of their products? Yeah, once or twice, and I returned the knives and they were replaced. To be sure, one knife that was desert tan in color faded - it was a cosmetic thing, and the knife was replaced. So, I know that CRKT stands behind their products 100%. I always try to get the most for my hard-earned dollars, and CRKT us out in this respect. Check out the new "Foresight" and I think you'll really like what you see. - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

Dear JWR:
I want to make just a quick comment on C.T.M.’s recent article titled Guarding Your Mental and Emotional Health.  There is an excellent essay that Dr. Song, Director of the Northeast School of Botanical Medicine in New York has made available. He notes that perhaps 1 in 20 folks have an opposite reaction to Valerian. I know, that is only 5% - but what if you are one of those in that 5%?  My suggestion is to give it a try before you stock up.  Practice now, so you know what works. - Linda Z.

Lisa N.'s Taco Soup

Here's a recipe that uses nothing but canned goods and packaged seasonings. It's very simple--just throw everything together and heat. A great favorite at our house!

2 cans kidney beans
1 can whole kernel corn
2 cans stewed tomatoes
1 can Rotel tomatoes with chilies
1 small can green chilies (Optional: this will make it very spicy. Use less or none at all, to suit to taste.)
1 pkg dry Ranch dressing
1 pkg taco seasoning mix

Mix all ingredients together in a pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer at least 30 minutes.

Chef's Notes:

Do not drain the juices from any of the cans--everything goes in the soup.

One option is to add browned ground beef or canned chicken breast.

Useful Recipe and Cooking Links:

101 Bread Recipes

Primitive Cooking and Baking

Currently Available as Free Kindle e-Books:

Soup and Bread Cookbook: Building Community One Pot at a Time

Eleventy-Seven: 117 Chicken Recipes Even Guys Can Do!

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

Wall Street's Grand Old Man, Richard Russell declares: The Only Way Out Is to Devalue. (Thanks to G.G. for the link.)

Reader H.L. sent word of some ill-advised State Level Cap and Trade. H.L. call it "...the final nail in the coffin of the once Golden State."

G.G. suggested this piece at Tyler Durden's oft-quoted Zero Hedge blog: Do the Swiss Know Something the Rest of Us Don't?

Also from G.G.: Greece ‘to run out of money’

Items from The Economatrix:

California Cities In Fiscal Trouble "Conga Line"

Warnings That A Massive Stock Market Crash Is Imminent

Iran In Economic Meltdown

IMF Chief Economist Says World Economic Crisis To Last At Least 10 Years

SurvivalBlog's Editor At Large Michael Z. Williamson sent: Lunch lady slammed for food that is 'too good'. (This is like something straight out of Kurt Vonnegut's "Harrison Bergeron", from his Welcome to the Monkey House collection of short stories.)

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Some fun shooting up a lot of Uncle Sam's ammo at Yakima: Special Forces A Team practices with M-ATVs equipped with CROWS.

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James C. liked this collection of photos: A Long-Term Survival Guide - Hidden Storage and Secret Compartments

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The latest from Montie Gear: Gloveshot. (The "Detailed Images" page gives some better views.)

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News from England: Winter Power Cuts Feared. (A tip of the hat to Linda U. for the link.)

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Revolver Maps has recently improved their 2D maps. You can now zoom way in to see detailed locations. Here is their map for recent visits to SurvivalBlog.

"Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle! Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did, and it never will. Find out just what people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue until they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress." - Thomas Paine

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Today we present another entry for Round 43 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), 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 FloJak.com. C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, E.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 43 ends on November 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.

Henri Frederic Amiel once said, “Any landscape is a condition of the spirit.”
While once standing on the kopjes of South Africa, gripped by the panoramic view of vast bushveld, scrub thorn, and columns of azure African sky, the condition of my spirit was one of breathtaking wonder at our God’s creation.  When once overlooking the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, eyeing this deep and seemingly never ending chasm of layered and painted earth, the provision of my soul was that of mute and wide-eyed awe. Twice, the state of my existence soared on the wings of angels when my own “personal” landscape was narrowed to a small sterile hospital room in the maternity ward, where I witnessed the birth of my children.  Whether on the grand scale of a vista or on the hinged moments of a few first breaths, our landscape, and our reaction to it, truly portrays the window to our soul.

After reading Mr. Amiel’s quote, the onetime energetic and youthful landscaping crew worker of my college years resurfaced.  I asked myself, “Could the same ‘condition of spirit’ hold true for the conventional sense of the word that we know of as “landscaping”?  When most Americans think of the word “landscaping”, we normally think of neatly ordered rows of flowers, shrubs, and trees aesthetically modifying the visible features of a given area.  Holding true to Mr. Amiel’s quotation above, even this type of landscaping can portray just as much about us as our reaction to the first time our own “personal” landscape moved within our spirit.  More so, if Mr. Amiel is accurate, then the condition of the American spirit today sorely lacks the want, the need, and the drive of what we should all be striving for-sufficiency.

From the age of the pondering philosophers of the Greek Empire to the fashionably emulated and manicured streets of Paris and London, landscaping has and always will be one of those unexplainable acts that just exist and continues unerringly.  Whether it is because of the familiar pang of jealousy as your own property is compared to the next, to accentuate the beauty of what already exists, or to increase the monetary value of an area, holes will be dug, plants will be placed, and sprinklers will give life to our visions or our greed.  While each new foot of growth gives us an economical or covetous grin, that which is named “sufficiency” frowns down.  What will happen when the day comes when a morsel of food far surpasses the value of our property or the nurturing of our ego?

During my tenure in the landscaping industry, I have witnessed people emulate the lawn of the White House, mimic designs of their neighbors, and even replicate the lawn of their childhood homes.  I have performed jobs barely worth the effort, and I have completed tasks that cost as much as a low income family makes in one year.  When I look back on those years with a more observing eye, there is one underlying theme that resonated throughout each job.  Either grand or demure, the premise was this: Whether it was a flower, a shrub, or a tree, in no way did it provide even minute physical sustenance.  While pleasing to the eye or the heart, it was never advantageous to the stomach or body.
As preppers, our “condition of the spirit” should be this:  If it grows on our property then it must have a legitimate purpose.  And so, like an apparition from a lost and forgotten world, in walk the concepts of “edible landscaping”.   This principle was achieved almost effortlessly by our grandparents and forefathers and is beginning its rebirth again today.  It was attained just as effortlessly from the dawn of mankind, and it is still being accomplished by a select few, either out of a like mind or out of necessity. 
Edible landscaping is defined as an approach to food production in which exotic or ornamental plants are replaced with edible or productive plants.  The concept and advancement is neither daunting nor is it unfamiliar.  It may be achieved in stages or accomplished as a complete project, and, surprisingly, you do not have to sacrifice beauty for practicality and sustainability.
As survivalists, it is our duty to appraise our current level of landscaping and to take note of the plants which could or could not supplement some form of nutrition in the event of a crisis.  I will venture to say that our lists are quite small.  I might also venture to say that we may still be holding an unmarred sheet of paper after the assessment.  By the end of this article, it is my hope that your next appraisal yields a veritable pantry and bounty.
Whether or not we are discussing “ornamental landscaping” or “edible landscaping”, there are five main components to the overall design of both-trees, shrubs, vines, flowers, and ground cover, and the keys to the transition are simple substitutions and suitable plant choices that compliment both your taste and your climate. This is not meant to be a landscape design or plant zoning thesis but rather a substitution tutorial, a nudge in the self-sufficient direction. It goes without saying that we should all take the liberty of knowing landscaping basics; correct plant zoning for the area in which we live, care, fertilizing and watering needs of our plants. Likewise, we should also understand the common pests that infect them and complement our choices with our own skill level of each component prior to undertaking such a pivotal task. 


Common tree species that are frequently selected in traditional landscaping designs are Ligustrums, Japanese Maples, Oaks, Spruces, Ornamental Pears, Hollies, and Myrtles.  These, otherwise ineffectual varieties, can easily be replaced with tree species that offer more culinary and medicinal qualities, while still retaining attractiveness.

Fruit-bearing Substitutions
:  If your substitution goal is to supplement your diet with more fruit production then your choices vary greatly and are dependent upon your taste.  Any fruit bearing tree can be substituted in the place of an ornamental tree and still maintain aesthetic value.  Examples include: Mayhaw, Juneberry (Shadbush, Saskatoon, and Serviceberry), Elderberry, Pawpaw, Guava, Crab Apple, Cherry, Apricot, Nectarine, various Citrus Varieties, Edible Banana, Apple, Kousa Dogwood, Fruiting Pear, and Plum. The choice of your species will be dependent upon sizing, spacing, shading, and practical use relative to your own needs. A family with a collection of fruit bearing trees on their property would have a tremendous advantage over that of a home that did not during a long term crisis.

Nut and Oil-bearing Substitutions
:  For those of us who prefer a more protein and fat laden diet (essential in any long-term survival scenario), then one available option is to replace an ornamental tree species with a nut or oil bearing variety.  Examples include: Almond, Filbert/Hazelnut, Gingko, Italian Stone Pine and other Pine Nut producing varieties, Chestnut, Olive, Chinquapin, Dwarf Pecan, Heart Nut, Butternut, Baurtnut, and Yellowhorn.  Nuts are of the simplest heart healthy powerhouses.  Pecans, for example, provide more antioxidant power than any other nut1, while pine nuts offer an incredible 18.5 grams of protein per cup2.

Medicinal Substitutions
: Whether your goal is to compliment your existing medicinal supplies or provide a long-term solution to a well stocked medicine cabinet, many trees provide naturally occurring compounds that have the same effectiveness as over the counter medication today. Examples include: Gingko, Birch, White Willow, Balsam Poplar, Dogwood, and Sassafras. In the absence of on-hand medical aid, having both the provision and knowledge to tend to our family’s medicinal needs will be critical.  White Willow bark (Salix alba) contains high amounts of salicin, which is the chemical forerunner of today’s most popular painkiller – aspirin3.  The inner bark of most dogwoods has a quinine-like quality effective in reducing fever and yields anti-inflammatory effects4, just to name a couple of surprising benefits.

Medium and Small Sized Shrubs (Perennial)
Common medium to low level shrub species used in traditional landscaping are Azaleas, Hawthorns, Gardenia, Heather, Oleander, Hydrangea, Roses, Thuja, Berberis, Clematis, and a variety of ornamental grasses.  In most cases, these plants are not only counterproductive but also poisonous.  As with the previously discussed tree species, we can substitute a multitude of plant varieties that are strikingly beautiful yet provide a long term resolution to caloric intake and production.  It is important to note that when selecting surrogates that only perennial varieties be used.

Daylilies, in particularly, Hemerocallis fulva, can and should be a welcome addition to any edible landscaping design.  Not only is every part of this plant edible, there are a multitude of colors and color combinations to choose from.  Nutritionally, the daylily offers an astounding 3,000 I.U. of Vitamin A, 2g of protein, and 176 mg of phosphorus per serving5.  The lost and forgotten Egyptian Walking Onion is a delectable culinary bulb.  Evergreen Huckleberries (high in Vitamin B and iron) provide gallons of wonderful fruit, while Horseradish, Thai Ginger, and Lemongrass provide a flare to both the cuisine and the view.  Landscaping “mainstays” such as Teacup, Mr. Lincoln, and Knock-Out Roses may be replaced with the Rugosa varieties.  This species offers an abundance of showy flowers and a heavy yield of winter rose hips rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants and are eaten raw, steeped in tea, or made into jams or jellies.  Other great choices for substitution are Opuntia rufida (Prickly Pear), Purple Passion Asparagus, Violetta and Romanesco Artichoke, Sea Kale, Tuscan Blue Rosemary, Red Flash Orach, and various Aloe species.  Black and Red Pomegranate, particularly the dwarf varieties, could replace the redundant American Hawthorns, Boxwoods, and Yaupon and offer a superb fruit capable of fighting atherosclerosis and some cancers.  Each of these plants can be used to incorporate medicinal, aesthetic, and culinary value to any landscaped area.  To add more color and depth, potted herbs may be strategically placed around focal points. Vibrant varieties can include Barba di Cappuccino, Italian Oregano, Lady Lavender, Magic Michael Basil, Pineapple Sage, Red Leafing Amaranth (Semi-Perennial), and Spanish Tarragon.

Flowers and Ground Cover (Perennial)

The most common theme of any landscape design is color and contrast, and flowers are the easiest way to achieve this.  They serve as focal point modifiers and, in essence, they are the heart of any landscaping project.  There are literally tens of thousands of stunningly visual, yet valueless, species to choose from; however, an effortless transition between a dramatically useless landscape and an inspiringly functional scenery can be achieved quite easily by substituting Garlic Chives, Creeping Thyme, English Sorrel, Johnny Jump Ups, Bee Balm, Lady Lavender, Portulaca, Tuberous and Wax Begonia, Marigold, Carnation/Dianthus, Baby’s Breath, and Violets.  In some instances the plants may hold added medicinal values as well.  For instance, the leaves of the Bee Balm plant contain thymol, which has powerful antibacterial qualities6, and lavender tea has been used as a sedative for millennia.

Groundcover (Perennial)

Furthermore, most traditional landscape designs lack the planning and ability to withstand its biggest pest-the weed.  At one time or another, we have all been on our hands and knees, sweating profusely, determined to rid the world of their existence.  Groundcover, as opposed to mulch, can be a simple solution.  By planting such selections as Purslane, Houttuynia, Alpine Strawberry, Mint, Edible Wintergreen, Bear’s Garlic, Ramps, American Cranberry, Creeping Raspberry, Nepalese Raspberry or Creeping Oregon Grape these once weed infested areas could yield an abundance of life giving food.  All of the varieties listed above can offer sustenance, variety, medicinal value, and culinary wealth to any homestead.   Purslane yields a larger amount of carbohydrates than most plants, and all raspberry species contain potent phytonutrients (the newly discovered raspberry ketones) that have the highest “free radical” concentrations of all plant species7.

Vining Species
Finally, landscapes that incorporate trellis designs will often consists of various species of Ivy, Jasmine, Wisteria, Yellow Dot, Lantana, or Vinca Minor.  Suitable aesthetic substitutions that provide a more practical alternative include all varieties of grapes, Hardy Kiwi, Maypop, Dragon Fruit, Chayote, Muscadine, and Chinese Yam. Chayote, a member of the squash family, holds vast amounts of folates, essential in DNA synthesis, and is a great source of dietary fiber.  Likewise, the Chinese Yam (Dioscorea opposita) is a good resource to obtain essential nutrients such as thiamin, riboflavin, and folic acid.  It is an understatement that “Vertical landscaping” is the most often overlooked, yet efficient way, to maximize growing space.
 In conclusion, each one of our tales is unique and distinct. Personally, I am guided spiritually by my God and I am lead secularly by my principles. Of those standards, the one that towers above all and envelopes all of the others in its arms, is the love for my family.  From that adoration stems the belief that I must provide a self-sufficient lifestyle for them.  It isn’t an easy burden to bear when the enormity of it seems impossible, but it can, should, and will be done.  In a world in where we have traded convenience for hard work and call it progress, there are small actions we can take that draw us back to an era where wealth was once measured in love and providence rather than paper or plastic. As we trade ornamentals for edibles, the simple act of substituting our surroundings could one day provide both an abundant and visual aesthetic pantry.


1 National Pecan Shellers Association. “Pecans. So good. So good for you. Nutrition in a Nutshell.” http://www.ilovepecans.org/nutrition.html, n.p., n.d.
2 Self Nutrition Data. Know what you eat. “Nuts. Pine Nuts. Dried.” http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3133/2. 3/21/2012.
3 Bisset NG. Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals. Stuttgart, Germany: Medpharm Scientific Publishers; 2004:534-536.
4 ”Hikers Notebook: Dogwood.” http://www.sierrapotomac.org/W_Needham/Dogwood_050424.htm. n.p., n.d.
5 Only Foods. The Right Nutrition is Your Kind of Workout. Anwiksha. “Daylily (Hemerocallis).” http://www.onlyfoods.net/daylily-hemerocallis.html. n.p., n.d.
6 Mazza, G., F.A. Kiehn, and H.H. Marshall (1993), J. Janick and J.E. Simon, ed., "Monarda: A source of geraniol, linalool, thymol and carvacrol-rich essential oils", New crops (Wiley, New York): pp. 628–631, http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/proceedings1993/V2-628.html
7 Park, KS (2010). "Raspberry ketone increases both lipolysis and fatty acid oxidation in 3T3-L1 adipocytes". Planta medica 76 (15): 1654–8. doi:10.1055/s-0030-1249860. PMID 20425690

There was a very interesting article in my local newspaper yesterday regarding soil conditions here. We have had so little rain of and consequently that the soil here is turning to stone. Farmers are working at feverish pace to harvest this years crops that are yielding far less volume than normal and of poor quality. However they say that the ground is too hard to till and plant over the winter crops such as wheat. This sound pretty ominous to me If this condition is more widespread the impact on food availability that therefore prices could be very serious. I am buying any 25 pound bags of wheat that Wal-Mart has on hand whenever I stop at the store. It is time to top off the larder. - Carl R.

Mr. Rawles-
The following appears in the 10/6/12 "Odds 'n Sods" section:

"Do you carry concealed and/or in your car?Be aware of "Must Inform Officer" state laws . (No such laws in any of the American Redoubt states, where the gendarmes all rightly assume that most of the vehicles they pull over will contain at least one loaded gun.)"

The linked text goes to an image which is at least misleading for at least one state - Minnesota. (I suspect this is true for other states but I am not as familiar with the laws of the other 49...)

While there is no duty to inform any law enforcement officer "upon official contact" - i.e. initial or first contact - permit holders do need to adhere to the following:

"The holder of a permit to carry must have the permit card and a driver's license, state identification card, or other government-issued photo identification in immediate possession at all times when carrying a pistol and must display the permit card and identification document upon lawful demand by a peace officer."

Such a "lawful demand" may or may not ever come, but it is a petty misdemeanor to either lie or refuse to answer the question once it is asked.

This information is easily found for each state by going to handgunlaw.us and clicking on any state in which you are interested. Unfortunately they do not have a single map showing this information like the one to which you linked, but the info is there.

I don't know how many others might assume that "no duty inform upon official contact" means there is "no duty to inform at any point during official contact", so I don't know if this is worth pointing out to your readers, but at least you have the info and can make that determination for yourself.

Thank you very much for all the work you do keeping up your site. It is an incredible resource that I refer to regularly.

Regards, - Dan X.

JWR Replies: Your point is well taken. Their map would be more accurately captioned: "No duty inform immediately upon official contact, without demand."

Reader H.L. sent: Winter Forecast: Not Mild, But Wild for Eastern U.S. It looks like a winter of drought for the Redoubt.

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Signs of the times: You won’t be able to get your movie made until it’s Islamopproved by the appointed cleric. The Hollyweird crowd only rarely asks for the opinion of Christians before making movies that might be offensive. But of course modern day Christians don't have a reputation for beheading people that they consider blasphemers, like the Moslems do. We just suffer in silence, even when the name of Christ is repeatedly attacked. We are told to turn the other cheek, and we consistently do so. But the squeaky wheel (or should I say the bloody scimitar) gets the grease. The old song goes: "There's no business like show business." Perhaps the song's lyrics should be updated to: "There's no censoring like self-censoring..."

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Moose Stuck In Swing Chains Freed By Utah Deputy Lane Findlay

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Political TEOTWAWKI? Nervous Venezuelans stock up on supplies before election. (Thanks to reader Stephen M. for the link.)

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Safecastle's last Mountain House sale of the year ends today (October 7th, 2012.) They are offering 25% discounts on many of the most popular #10-can entrees. OBTW, they also have Mountain House freeze dried strawberries at 33% off. And they also offer additional member incentives to Safecastle Royal club members. Order before midnight!

"Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse [your] hands, [ye] sinners; and purify [your] hearts, [ye] double minded." - James 4:7-8 (KJV)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Happy Birthday to science fiction author David Brin. (Born October 6,1950.) He wrote The Postman, a great novel that was later loosely adapted into a passable movie by Kevin Costner.


Today we present another entry for Round 43 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), 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 FloJak.com. C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, E.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 43 ends on November 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.

One aspect of our lives that can take us out and render even the most prepared of preppers useless is our mental health. Very few people have ever experienced a long duration high stress environment to test their mental strength. The incredible men and women of the military may be among the elite few who can attest to how their mental health might survive in a post TEOTWAWKI environment. Police, first responders, EMS personnel, and firefighters may have a glimpse into what it takes to survive mentally in high stress environments; however, those stressful events, even the most complicated are short lived in comparison to the amount of time we may have to live in a post TEOTWAWKI environment.

So what type of stresses are we really talking about and how bad can it really affect me? Answering these questions we must be very general since the stress of having to use a 5 gallon bucket as a toilet may tax some, while another may not show the signs of stress taxing on their mental stamina until after months or even years of enduring chronic stressful situations. Textbooks define stress as a negative force that adversely impacts your mental, emotional, or physical well being. So stresses can be anything and potentially everything in a post TEOTWAWKI environment. The stresses we can be certain of are a lack of some if not all modern conveniences that we have today, changes in our daily routines, guard duty shifts, death, potentially having to take someone’s life, and so many more. Most of these stresses- in our very nature as preppers-we are not only ready for but may actually look forward too. But one question remains, does everyone in our group feel the same way? The impact that stress and chronic stressful situations have on our body is astounding. Stress has significant impact on the immune system, making it more likely for someone under stress to become ill or injured. Long duration stress can cause a bunch of different chronic medical problems such as asthma, chronic pain, high blood pressure, bowel disorders, and many more. Most of these problems are due to long term secretion of the hormones and chemicals our bodies produce during stressful “fight or flight situations.” Not to mention chronic stress decreases the body’s ability to heal. It may even effect a child’s development which has been shown through studies of children growing up in abusive environments.

What can be done to ready oneself for the mental and emotional drain of a post TEOTWAWKI environment? As Mr. Rawles and countless others suggest, take a class. There are many different resources out there that can help educate you or someone in your group to be able to identify of signs and symptoms of chronic harmful stress, ways to mediate that stress, and if necessary basic treatment for individuals suffering from disorders associated with stress. Most classes are labeled as Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM). If you are unable to take a course, please accept the warning that a stressful or traumatic situations may render the best prepper useless, here are a few ways to prevent stress from destroying you and your compound from the inside.

The symptoms associated with stress that may wipe out our abilities to compensate come in a few flavors: emotional, cognitive, physical, and behavioral. Emotional symptoms hover around a general negative attitude towards others and oneself; moodiness, depression, agitation, or just generally overwhelmed. Cognitive symptoms vary between memory problems, negative thinking, judgment errors, and even constant anxiety. Identification of these symptoms in our lives might be as easy as realizing we just walked into a room for the third time and still did not get what we needed. It may be as difficult as the person pulling night watch with you constantly saying he sees people moving and then randomly opening fire. (Think of Steve Buscemi’s character in the movie Armageddon as he broke down mentally and started randomly opening fire in outer space.) Physical symptoms manifest themselves in aches and pains, illnesses, headaches, lack of sex drive, or change in bowel habits. These symptoms are generally easier to identify since most of us can admit to feeling “run down.” Behavioral symptoms can be some of the worst, and may be more instantly harmful to your group than the rest. Behavioral changes may manifest as a person eating more or less than usual, isolating themselves, procrastination, sleeping more or not sleeping enough, adoption of nervous habits (taping, nail biting, et cetera.), and use of alcohol, tobacco, or drugs to relax. These symptoms are rare for someone to identify in one’s own self, and even more difficult to get the person assistance. The main key for symptom identification is to be honest with yourself and those around you, watch each other carefully, and use humility and grace in dealing with the effected person. No one is immune to the effects of stress.

There will be no way to prevent the stress or the traumatic events from occurring but preventing the buildup and accumulation of stress over time may aid in a healthy compound. Prevention may not be something that will work for everyone; however it will work for most. The best suggestion modern research has to offer is Pollyanna; yes, the 1960s movie put out by Disney; but before the movie was ever played on the big screen there was a series of books known as the “Glad Books” written by Eleanor H. Porter. Now you don’t have to go out and read them from cover to cover, or watch the movie a dozen times to see the hidden meaning. The takeaway idea that pertains to us is to employ a positive outlook on life and whatever circumstance may be thrown at you. This does not mean you should be looking at every situation as “it could have been worse,” but rather finding the good in each event and generally being positive about everything that comes your way. There is scientific evidence to suggest a mere smile from one person in a similar environment to another can decrease stress. Hugs, expressing gratitude, actively listening to others, and prayer may be some of the strongest preventative medicine that can be prescribed. In addition you may want to consider a stock pile of board games, the sillier the better; the idea here is to laugh. If you have the power to spare for playing humorous movies or recorded television shows may help as well, try to stay with basic humor like the cartoons most of us grew up with that still make us smile. Prevention with positivity will help immensely. However, there will be circumstances or events that can level anyone. In those circumstances treatment may be the only option.

As a family or group the most important thing you can do is to allow the person or persons involved to just talk. Listen carefully, and do not hurry them. Obviously this will depend on the circumstances but they should be encouraged to talk about what happened within 24-48 hours of the event. Try not to offer advice, only listen. The last thing someone wants to hear is how it should have been handled differently; they may come to that conclusion themselves or seek advice regarding how to handle it better as time progresses. Stay away from phrases like “it could have been worse,” and stick to ones like “I am so glad you are uninjured.” Lastly and probably the most important is to pray for the person, and let them know that you care enough for them that are on the forefront of your mind.

If the person is you, know that the feelings you are experiencing are normal. The reoccurring thoughts and dreams are normal and over time will decrease in frequency. Talk to people about what happened. Don’t hold things in, but rather let out your fears and feelings about the event or events that unfolded. Spend time with others doing activities, or helping them with their daily chores. Make sure you take time for yourself to journal, pray, read God’s word, or just meditate. Maintaining your general health will be very important, get enough exercise. Even pushups, sit ups, and air squats done with intensity can make a great workout in a post TEOTWAWKI environment. Get adequate rest, and if not you may want to consider some type of sleep aids that will be discussed later. Hydrate and eat properly, stay away from junk food and alcohol; mainly because they will not allow you to sleep well, and will not aid in your general health.

Lastly, if the above is not working you may want to consider an alternative remedy for anxiety and depression which will probably be the most common disorder faced in this environment. The advice that follows is for a situation where all medical services are no longer available and should not be used currently in place of treatment by a medical provider. Since most people will not be able to store large quantities of prescription medications used for treating the acute onset of mental illnesses; the suggestion would be to stock up on a few of the herbal remedies known to be affective. If you are already taking medications for chronic medical problems or nursing it would be wise to consult your primary care provider to see if any of these medications would interact poorly with the herbal remedies suggested. There are quite a few prescription medications that I give on a routine basis; just like prescription medications, the effects of herbal remedies are dependent on an individual. Outlined here are only a few basic herbs available out of the numerous herbal remedies that could be taken, it would be best to consult a more complete herbal remedy guide for all of the possibilities. As well as work with your primary care provider to see which one may work best for you.  

St. John’s Wort
: There has been a lot written about this herb over the years. The basics are that it contains a compound that acts on chemical receptors in the nervous system to regulate mood. This would make it effective for most people dealing with mild to moderate depression. Be careful when taking this herb to take only the recommended dose since it can be toxic in large amounts. Also, wear sunscreen if taking is since it makes your skin more susceptible to burning.

Valerian Root:
An herb used primarily as a sleep aid or for relaxation. Valerian has been shown to have sedative effects and may be helpful for treating nervous disorders as well. Please remember that this herb is considered a tranquilizer, so individuals using this medication may not be the best choice to operate heavy equipment or a gun. [JWR Adds: Unlike many other sleep aids, Valerian is not habit-forming. It is also a great muscle relaxant, with proven effect in treating muscle spasms. It has saved me from a lot of back pain over the years.]

Siberian Ginseng:
Not to be confused with the more common Ginseng. Siberian Ginseng shows anti-fatigue and anti-depression properties. As well as being useful in treating adrenal fatigue that may be present in someone subjected to long duration of fight or flight (or too many energy drinks).
I normally do not recommend over the counter sleep aids since most can be habit forming, but if nothing seems to be helping getting the needed rest you desire you can always try Benadryl. These medications mentioned above work best if they are only taken when needed. They should not be something you add as a prophylactic to your daily regimen.

While it is always important to do self-study in areas where knowledge lacks; it is especially important in this area, even if your group contains a clinician that is able to deal with these circumstances. What if they become a victim instead of the rescuer? Stay positive, keep your mental health strong, your resources abundant, and your compound cannot fail from the inside.

You are correct about the risks of only using a wood mulch in gardening.  In his book Gardening When It Counts, Steve Solomon discusses the normal carbon/nitrogen ratio in soil -- 12:1 -- and compares that to various fertilizers.  Woody products such as tree bark can have C/N ratios in excess of 100:1, causing "nitrogen robbing": the nitrogen already in the soil is retained by soil microbes until the wood decomposes and the excess carbon is burnt off, leaving even less nitrogen for the plants in the meantime.  As you mention, it can take years for wood to decompose, leaving the garden starved of nutrients in the meantime.

Interestingly, the author of the "Back to Eden" does not use wood mulch as his only fertilizer -- he also uses chicken manure.  Though he emphasizes the wood mulch as the key to his success, I suspect that the chicken manure plays a much bigger role in fertilizing his garden, because its C/N ratio is around 6:1 -- it provides excess nitrogen, which helps counterbalance the high carbon levels in the wood.  - Nate in Pennsylvania


Dear James, 
I have enjoyed reading you blog nearly everyday for over three years.  I have learned so much.
Wood chip use as referenced in the Back to Eden Film are to be placed on top of the soil [JWR Adds: and removed in the Spring.].  Do not incorporate them into the soil as that is when they bind nitrogen.  Until the wood chips break down, the chips are to be pushed aside and the seeds planted directly into the soil below.  As the plants mature the wood chips can be tucked in around the plants to hold moisture and prevent weed growth.   As the wood chips break down, they start providing nutrients to the soil below and when fully decomposed planting can occur directly into the chip mulch.
I started with tilled soil two years ago and fought the weeds and grass.  Last fall I put down a layer of maple leaves, composted chicken manure and then 4-5 inches of fresh wood chips (mostly fir).  I am thrilled not to be fighting the grass and weeds.  My plants grew well with no indication of nitrogen depletion in the soil.  I also highly recommend watching the Back to Eden film. - M.R.N. in the foothills of the Central Cascades of Washington

R.B.S. mentioned: Hay thefts and intentional intrusive grazing in New Mexico.

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Bob G. suggested: The Grey Man approach to personal protection

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Reader Joe K. spotted this: Emergency uses for Paracord

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Do you carry a gun openly? What are your legal rights during a police stop?

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Do you carry concealed and/or in your car? Be aware of "Must Inform Officer" state laws. (No such laws in any of the American Redoubt states, where the gendarmes all rightly assume that most of the vehicles they pull over will contain at least one loaded gun.)

Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither [shall] fruit [be] in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and [there shall be] no herd in the stalls:

Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

The LORD God [is] my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' [feet], and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments." - Habakkuk 3: 17-19 (KJV)

Friday, October 5, 2012

I heard from my publisher that my latest novel Founders hit #11 on the New York Times bestseller list. The book also landed at #20 on their hardcover and paperback combined list and #32 on their print and eBook combined list.


This is the birthday of Jonathan Edwards (born October 5, 1703, died March 22, 1758.) He was a prolific Calvinist theology writer. Many of his writings were later collected in the multi-volume book "The Rational Biblical Theology of Jonathan Edwards", edited by John Gerstner. Those excellent books are considered the benchmark for all other Bible commentaries, at least in Reformed circles.


Today we present another entry for Round 43 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), 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 FloJak.com. C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, E.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 43 ends on November 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 started prepping a few years back when I was in paramedic school.  I had no educated goal when prepping initially.  Then I met a good friend of mine that changed the way I look at prepping, and helped me make my prepping intentional.  I read Patriots and I started prepping all the more; now with motivation and intelligence.  When my friend reads this he will probably view this is as some form of Narcissism even though he falls into this category.  But I digress.

I have been a full time firefighter for 5-1/2 years  I am currently a Paramedic, and have been so for 2.5 years, before that I was an EMT-I.  Most of you had no idea there was a difference, but after reading this you may look further into it.  Prior to my time with the fire department I spent time in the Marine Corps as a non-grunt, working on aircraft.    

Firefighters are also some of the best preppers for several reasons and the first is because of our medical experience.  Our medical training is some of the most critical that will be required no matter the disaster scenario.  Paramedics deal with disasters and high stress, high stakes environments daily, and operate at a high level of reasoning (there are exceptions)-often more so than Nurses.  After I just pissed off every nurse that is reading this, let me explain.

Paramedics have a unique advantage over Nurses, even some Doctors, for one major reason.  We have to think on our feet with no one of higher authority or knowledge base in the Medical field is around.  Nurses look to doctors, doctors look to specialists and so on.  Paramedics often have to make split second decisions that can mean life or death.  We may have to call on a doctor for orders, but the major recognition and decisions have already been made.  Our reasoning skills, in high stress environments, operates at a high level; if you are in high stress environments on a regular basis.  To achieve this as a Paramedic you need to be working full time at a high volume department.  Not saying those boys and girls in the rural areas don’t know what they are doing, they are usually some of the best, but an inner city or busy suburban paramedic/firefighter is worth their weight in gold.

Unfortunately when TEOTWAWKI comes to fruition I will have already seen death, major trauma, and gunshot wounds.  With this gruesome experience I can come into situations that for most will be unnatural, and will not have previous experience to draw on.  We have a tendency as humans to stare at disastrous circumstances and just watch.  Experience gets people from inaction-watching a disaster unfold, to action, to move or help out where you can.  In same way it will help your brain more quickly realize when and how to escape or run the other way from a disaster. 

I know from my little Marine Corps experience and my firefighting experience that knowing how you are going to perform under high stress, high stakes environments, is only achieved through doing it every day.  This translates very well to the use of fire arms, particularly deadly force.  There’s a guy I work with that has a saying, “Never mess with a fireman’s family, he sees bad things on a regular basis, and the only thing he is worried about when killing someone that is trying to harm his family is cleaning up the mess afterwards.”  I couldn’t agree more with this statement.  When someone is placed inside of a burning structure or when someone is dying, a cool head that is used to utilizing reasoning skills is essential to see it through. 

Now as a professional firefighter I do not see fire every day.  But I do see it a lot more than the average person, and most likely more than the volunteer fire fighter.  Firefighting as an essential skill has been talked about extensively, but I won’t be going into tactics or the fact that it is darn useful to have some one that has actually fought fire when your house is burning post schumer hitting the fan.  Knowing and recognizing fire behavior, particularly at critical points, are essential to all preppers.  I suggest that everyone has a fire extinguisher.  But not just an ABC-really these are best for electrical fires.  A pressurized water extinguisher, otherwise known as a water can is probably the most versatile and complete fire protection you may need post apocalypse.  These types usually can be filled with a water hose, and re-pressurized with an air compressor attachment you probably already use to fill up the air in your personal vehicles, or bike tire.  I have seen a room in contents fire nearly put out by a ONE water can, saving the structure.  Ideally you want at least one per floor, two if there are living quarters or high fire hazards on that floor.  They need to be some place you look every day and are used to seeing, or you will not remember them.  Many a kitchen fire has been put out by a water can, precious life and property.  They do not go out of date; As well another useful trick that I do with my water cans is put dish soap in them.  Soap breaks the surface tension of water and makes it more readily able to soak into materials, very helpful for small brush fires and mattress/couch fires especially.  A couple table spoons should do a normal water can.   These are easy to use, easy to refill, or re use items.  They average about $60 apiece. 

Emergency Medical training is not hard to come by.  Real world practical experience is invaluable and not readily available.  Paramedics and EMTs usually have access to sources of medical supplies, and medical training, from CPR (not useful post-Schumer, if they are dead, leave them dead), to basic would care.  Medical training is the one skill that may save your life or one of your family members life one day, and it is portable anywhere.  Nurses provide long term care, known as palliative care.  Although this is very useful in a survival situation, often critical care at critical times is what saves lives.  A good combination of both would be ideal.

Another point on why firefighters are the best preppers is our schedule.  Full time firefighters usually work 24 hours on and 48 hours off.  Those 48 hours are usually filled with part time jobs in other fields.  Due to the emotional toll of being a first responder, Paramedic or firefighter, a lot of us choose not to work in our part time in this field.  Some do and gain further experience in the medical field.  I work in an ER, so I have the best of both worlds, I believe.  Where most firefighters work part time is in construction.  Handy man type service, if not an all-out trade that they use to make good money on the side.  These skills are essential at maintaining your bug out property in a variety of ways that I am sure are easily recognizable. 

The schedule brings up my next point.  Firefighters often have the time to not only work part time to make more money, but have time to plan, prep, and to train, three things that can be difficult if you work 9-5 Monday through Friday.  This includes helping you prep and build up your bug out property.  All you got to do is ask.  They are also used to working late at night, and waking up at the first signal of trouble, and operate at a high efficiency, even at 0300 in the morning.

Another essential part that firefighters already have is the mindset.  We have to prepare ourselves and our equipment to go into perilous environments on a daily basis.  We are always planning for the worst, expecting the worst, and we are rarely disappointed.  So when it comes to prepping most firefighters already have the skills of trying to fore see what can, or could happen.  We also know human behavior all too well and know the traps that complacency and lack of training and experience will get you in to.  Many firefighters are already preppers, they just don’t know it.

Further, firefighters are usually in pretty good shape.  We need to be for our job; as well most departments require annual physicals, and physical fitness test.  This makes the transition to a TEOTWAWKI a lot easier.  We are used to a regimented schedule and train regularly for our job.  The minimum training for our job (ISO requirements for major departments) is around 280 verifiable hours every year.  I can guarantee that most jobs do not require this amount of training. 

Operational Readiness is a buzz term a lot of people in security, defense, and public safety use.  It is most easily broken down to a spectrums of events and required training that are: high frequency and low risk (requires little training), high frequency and high risk (requires regular training), Low frequency low risk (little to no training), and finally Low frequency high risk events (need to be drilled regularly to minimize risk).  This is a good start when looking at training for you and your family.  Firefighters are well acquainted to this as stated above, and very familiar with risk assessments and needs.
So if you are looking to add a good group of folks to your prepping group then I suggest you look at your nearest full time fire department.  You may already know some.  They will be a great asset in any end of times, disaster, or apocalyptic scenario. 

There is one downfall to firefighters and paramedics when the Schumer hits the fan.  They will be running into the burning buildings, and running to the aid of others, which may lead them from taking care of their own family.  This was a trait we saw all too clearly on 9/11.  When disaster strikes though, most know the protection and care for their own family takes priority.  With that knowledge firefighters that are married or in a long term relationship, with or without children, are the best choice for addition to groups.

As a side note, many firefighters end up dating/marrying, or becoming nurses themselves, and nurse practitioners.  Ultimately their service to their community will provide some of the best intangible assets.    There is only one group of people that I think could be more appropriate for a good addition to any group of preppers: former or active Special Forces/Infantry soldiers, and and emergency room physicians or surgeons.

Dear James:
Thank you for your wonderful blog - my husband and I are daily readers.  In response to C.F.B.'s excellent article dated September 30th titled Grow Your Own Nutrient Dense Fruits and Vegetables, I would like to expound on his suggestion that gardeners employ a no-till method for raising their own nutritious produce.

I humbly suggest that your many readers watch a film on the Internet from a devout Christian man who has let the Lord lead him to his current no-till method of gardening, called Back To Eden.  I found it very interesting that this man felt called by God to get the word out now to fellow gardeners about being prepared for coming hard times.  His film teaches people how to successfully grow food without tilling, fertilizing, weeding or rotating crops.  It's a truly amazing film!

I have switched from gardening like my parents and my ancestors for generations have done.  I don't turn the soil any more, I don't wrestle non-stop with weeds, I don't fertilize or rotate crops and I enjoy wonderful harvests from four small raised beds.  

As a bonus, it's a very affordable method of gardening.  You don't really need lumber for the beds (I wish that I had realized that from the beginning!) and the materials for the beds themselves are available at a very low cost or even free from most landfill/recycle sites.  The materials used are simply composted yard waste and wood mulch and - much to my husband's dismay - it can be hauled in lawn bags in a small car if you don't own a truck.  Some lucky gardeners are able to get the wood mulch delivered free from their local tree trimming company and only have to haul or make the compost.

Thank you for sharing with your readers. - Getting Ready in NC

JWR Replies: Be very cautious about using wood mulch that is less than two years old. Fresh wood mulch is high in cellulose and binds nitrogen. This usually makes the soil quite unproductive for gardening for a couple of years. (Until the cellulose decomposes.) If the wood mulch is thick, it might be three or four years!

Alex Jones: Elite Buying Underground Shelters in Record Numbers

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Safecastle's last Mountain House sale of the year ends soon. The 25% discounts on many of the most popular #10-can entrees end on October 7th. OBTW, they also have Mountain House freeze dried strawberries at 33% off. And they also offer additional member incentives to Safecastle Royal club members. Order soon!

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For those who enjoy hilariously campy movies: Iron Sky has finally been released on DVD in the North American DVD format. Judging from the trailer, it looks like it was worth the wait.

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K.A.F. sent: Costa Rica set to ban hunting, a first in the Americas

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For a limited time, Seed for Security is featuring a Corn and Bean offer. A free large packet of Indian Corn (approximately 300 seeds) and a free packet of French Horticulture Beans (approximately 100 seeds)  with every $75 or higher order.

"The great pillars of all government and of social life [are] virtue, morality, and religion. This is the armor...and this alone, that renders us invincible." - Patrick Henry, Letter to Archibald Blair, January 8, 1799

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The folks at Barnes & Noble kindly positioned my novel Founders on the front table at most of their stores. Please thank the staff of those stores for doing so, and consider giving them some business. Thanks.


This is the birthday of the late Charlton Heston--born John Charles Carter--on October 4, 1923. He died April 5, 2008. He was best known for his lead role as Ben-Hur and for his many science fiction movies in the 1970s. For what its worth, I still like the movie The Omega Man with Charlton Heston better than the re-make, I Am Legend, with Will Smith. And who could ever forget Heston's famous NRA convention speech?


Today we present another entry for Round 43 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), 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 FloJak.com. C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 43 ends on November 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.

A lot of what is posted at the SurvivalBlog site talks about what you should do after a The End Of The World As We Know It (TEOTWAWKI) situation happens. We are constantly forgetting the here and now. I believe that there is an awful lot that can be done today to help maximize your ability to survive if a TEOTWAWKI situation actually goes occur. If the end never does happen, then my suggestions don’t cost you a dime and still improve you and your family’s quality of life. 

We all know what fire can do for morale, boiling water for sanitation, and cooking food for long lasting survivability, but what if you can’t complete the basic tasks that keep you going? Being physically fit and ensuring that your family has a basic level of fitness greatly enhances your family’s survival probability.  My grandfather always said the foundation of any building determines its ability to flex and cope with change. The foundation that relates to a TEOTWAWKI situation is being physically fit to be able to cope with the changes that will inevitably occur when the end is here.

There are multiple health affects to consider when a member of your family is out of shape and the end happens. Nobody can afford to have a seriously sprained ankle, let alone a major disease like diabetes. If you are active and physically fit, the likelihood of both of those cases decreases dramatically. While you can never account for a random injury, or the onset of a serious disease, strengthening your body increases your adaptability for survival. By starting to be physically active in ways that will translate to a TEOTWAWKI situation you decrease the likelihood of torn muscles and physical stress because your body is used to physical activity. Physical fitness will increase the threshold of general tiredness your body can withstand. Due to the basic struggle of survival life, fatigue is the enemy. Knowing your physical limitations, and those of your family, increase your ability to plan activities and prolong survival.

It’s easy for me to sit here and say that you’ll be better prepared if you’re in better shape, but I have a plan for you to get there. My plan contains zero protein shakes, zero expenditure of funds, and zero corporate endorsements. My plan is simple. Hard work, discipline, and using your head wrapped in four steps.

Step one: Analyze future situations.

What likely situation will you face if the end happens?  Walking, running, chopping fire-wood, pulling and pushing various objects, lifting and carrying objects to and from camp are a decent starting point. Extrapolate further and you could see fighting, hunting, building as well. Don’t forget about the mental stress either, that is the one that is a true killer

Think I’m just talking about you? Think again. I’m telling you that your wife, your children, your parents, and anyone else you plan on meeting up with and surviving with need to be in shape. Round isn’t a shape, but it sure is a drain on survival. Imagine if you are the only physically fit person in your camp. You will end up carrying the bulk of the physical workload, and you will break down. All of these tasks equate to the level of stress you will be feeling. By being active you can control your stress to a manageable level and that will enable you to think clearly. Remember this and prepare for it in your mind now; you will face physically punishing tasks on a daily basis and fatigue is just as deadly as any cold night. 

Step two: Use your planed scenario to create an exercise regimen that is realistic, attainable, and something your whole family can stick to.

Obviously, you don’t expect your 3 year old to knock out 50 push-ups every time the your favorite sports team throws a touchdown. I’m not talking military style Physical Training (PT) for every member of your family, but something as simple as taking a family walk through the neighborhood every night will build the strength and make the effort of walking in a TEOTWAWKI situation less of a stressor. Having your wife do some core exercises like  planks, sit ups, and crunches can do wonders for her core strength and who knows, she (and you) might just like the way her body responds to the increased exercise too. Adapt your plan so that every member feels included, but at a level that is proportionate to their current fitness level and your goals related to your planned survival situation.

What my family does is listed below:

Sunday:            Long walk, 3+ miles
Monday:          Upper body and 1.5 mi run
Tuesday:          Core
Wednesday:      Legs and 1.5 mi run.
Thursday :        Core
Friday:              Long walk, 3+ miles
Saturday:          Rest day

The upper body workout is alternating three sets of pushups and  three sets of pull ups until you cannot pump any more out. This challenges your body to work to fatigue and then do that two more times. Over time you will see a dramatic gain in upper body strength that has virtually limitless applications in the survival world.

The legs days are a 3 sets of lunges, squats, and jumps that challenge your strongest muscles. Lunges go in different directions to challenge your form and balance.

Core days are complete butt kickers. Everything is in sets of 30. Crunches, leg lifts, flutter kicks, planks (30 seconds), scissor kicks, and sit ups. Then repeat that 3 times.

The long walks are for my wife, our beagle, and I to get in at least 3 miles. This allows us to communicate after long days of work and to just become closer as a family while we improve our bodies.

The rest day is also very important. In your preparations you must practice moderation and give your body time to recover. If you have to replace a core day with a rest day, that's fine.

Remember that each person has their personal limits and starting point. When I started this I couldn’t do a pull up without both feet on a chair for support. I’m still a work in progress as I am just now at the point where I can do 5 pull ups, unassisted. It isn’t the number or repetitions that matter to me, it’s working to get better that matters. If you need to insert more rest days, change the intensity of the workout, that's fine. Just get started. Everyday you either get better or worse, you don’t stay the same.

Step three: Prioritize fitness. 

Start today. Not tomorrow, or waiting for payday to get a gym membership. Don’t spend weeks on step two, trying to get it just right. Don’t force yourself to decide between purchasing articles for your bug-out bag or a gym membership, it isn’t necessary. Body weight exercises are the core that will build your ability to survive. Push-ups and pull- ups are necessary to build upper body strength that would be used in the everyday effort to keep a fire going. If you’re able withstand the physical strains that are part of survival you can check off one more thing on the list and consider yourself just that much more prepared.

All the time you spend reading blogs, watching YouTube instructional videos and learning survival techniques should be offset by time spent improving your fitness level. If you’re not willing to put the work in you won’t be ready. No amount of reading and watching can make you stronger or able to walk further.

Step four: Lead by example.

If you’re the leader of a house that has multiple members you can’t be barking orders of physical fitness without being part of the effort. Understand that changes in your lifestyle will affect your relationships at home. If you are attentive to the needs and concerns of your family the entire effort will have a positive affect on your family.

We all talk about ways to prepare our families. By learning to defend ourselves, basic medicine, bartering, bug-out preparedness and a myriad of other preparation techniques that will all help you be successful should the need arise. But what about the basics? often the simplest things get over looked and under addressed. Take the time to converse with your family and explain the importance of being physically fit and how doing so enables your plans for survival to go  more smoothly.

Everything that I suggested here in my article is free. There are no start-up costs, enrollment fees, and pressure to sell you. Every local park has some form of pull up bar that you can use and the rest is completely revolved around using your own body weight. That is the beauty of it, no matter what your economical situation this is one thing you can do today to make yourself better prepared for a TEOTWAWKI situation. The only commodity is time, and you’re willing to spend that reading this blog, so why not prepare your body for when the need arises?

Dear Mr. Rawles,
After several years of reading your books and web site, and watching things continue to deteriorate, my family and I decided to "vote with our feet" and relocate.  We tried Internet searches, but fortunately  found a reference to Todd Savage and his service on your web site.  We now know we were truly Blessed to have found him.  I cannot imagine trying to do this without him.   He more than exceeded all of our expectations. Here is what I posted:

My family, after finally deciding on an area for our retreat, found a reference to Todd Savage's services on JWR's web site. Distance being great, and time being short, we felt it was worth the investment. When we initially contracted Todd, we were cautiously optimistic. Our optimism proved to be well founded. His professionalism was immediately evident, from both the initial telephone consultation, to the detailed retreat criteria checklist he provided, to pinpoint exactly our "ideal retreat" criteria. He identified several potential properties we liked, and we flew out to inspect them.  When we arrived, Todd had extremely detailed reports covering every detail and consideration of the retreat. The reports were tailored to our exact situation, and most exceeded 30 pages. He personally accompanied us for each inspection, covering every conceivable detail. His skill, expertise, and passion for his job are most evident.  He treats every  search as if it was for his own family's retreat.  You can't afford not to hire him. - J. M. S. in The Deep South

Reader E.M. mentioned Congressman Allen West's recent pro-gun speech, in which he recites some great quotations from our founding fathers and later statesmen.

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Hacking Survival: So, you want to compute post-apocalypse? (Derbycon 2012)

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Bosko spotted this: 14 Interesting Tidal Islands

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Tom B. mentioned a piece over at The Art of Manliness on clothing options for concealed carr.: The Stylish Man’s Guide to Concealed Carry

"Let divines and philosophers, statesmen and patriots, unite their endeavors to renovate the age, by impressing the minds of men with the importance of educating their little boys and girls, of inculcating in the minds of youth the fear and love of the Deity...in short of leading them in the study and practice of the exalted virtues of the Christian system." - Samuel Adams, Letter to John Adams, October 4, 1790

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

October 3rd is the 19th anniversary of the heroic deaths of Master Sergeant Gary I. Gordon (August 30, 1960 – October 3, 1993) and Sergeant First Class Randall D. Shughart (August 13, 1958–October 3, 1993) in Mogadishu, Somalia. These SFOD-D snipers were both posthumous recipients of the Medal of Honor. They asked to be inserted to rescue Warrant Officer pilot Michael Durant, knowing well that their chances of survival were incredibly slim. Together, Gordon and Shugart accounted for at least 25 Somali KIAs before they died. The events of October 3rd and 4th, 1993 were memorialized in the movie Black Hawk Down.


Today we present another entry for Round 43 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. Note that this article might seem like a borderline rant to some readers, but I'm posting it because it includes some quite useful information.

The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), 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 FloJak.com. C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 43 ends on November 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.

Lately I have begun speaking, teaching, and writing on topics such as How To Eat An Acorn; Ancient Food Preservation Methods Today; Permaculture, How and Why; and Edible Common Landscape Plants. I have also been writing on Christian Culture, and various things concerning our time, from first-hand experience. In 1999, we suddenly became aware of Y2K.  We had a two-year old child, and were horrified [at the prospect of a power grid collapse.] I borrowed from my Dad to get out of bank debt, and sold antiques in order to stock up on foods and other items that made me feel prepared, but which I wouldn’t bother with now. Y2K was a wake-up call for us, as it was for so many; we gave up gluten and casein and white sugar a few years later.  We have continued to grow healthier, more energetic and alert, even as we age chronologically. Our family menu and lifestyle have changed steadily, conforming more closely to what is prudent; surprisingly, we are more and more happy and zestful, as our bodies become ever more able and healthy!

We have family prayer every evening, go to Mass in the morning, and do not have television service.  We read books, many of them not novels but “how-to” books.  Some of us learn new skills, other practice the ones they are perfecting. We buy well-made, name-brand, modest, classic clothing used, and wear it for years.  (Underwear and socks, and a lot of the shoes, are new.) We drive older vehicles; we have gotten gluten and casein and chemicals out of our diet entirely. We grow a lot of edibles here, and often buy high-quality foods like raw honey and organic fruit with the money we don’t spend on medical bills and pharmaceuticals.  But most importantly, in the time since the Y2K scare, we have been set free from fear, by having long trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ and by walking in the way He has shown us.  We are ready to live unto Christ and to die unto Him, in His good time; we have seen for ourselves that the angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him.  We have been led and protected.

 But even so, I am afraid! My fear is for the many, who continue to “prep” by buying the indicated items and attending seminars and classes like mine, and by reading Survivalblog entries.  I am afraid for the vast majority of folks who call themselves Christians, and are unloving, distrustful, and prone to avarice; those who are priming themselves for violence with violent reality television and video games; I am afraid for those who think they are ready for anything, because they have guns and ammo and a stack of MREs, and plan to fall back on the oak tree in the yard, for acorns and squirrel meat.

Let’s take that scenario, and see how full of holes it is; and we will explore the remedy.  You live in a small subdivision in the suburbs; or in a condo in the city, it doesn’t matter. Perhaps the Powers That Be (PTB) have begun a Search And Seizure of all guns and ammo from the homes of citizens. There is a new version of “Angry Birds” out,  created to help the PTB to target people just like you.  In the wake of violence following the cessation of “dole” by the PTB, people have looted, murdered, and rioted nationwide, and we now have Martial Law.  The PTB wants total power; which means, they are the only entity with guns and food stores.  Fresh water and food supplies are trucked into your area regularly, but ongoing conditions of scarcity cause even your good neighbor to “tweet” you to the authorities (for a reward) and they come, suddenly, to seize your supplies. Many people have told me that this is not going to happen to them; that they have guns and know how to use them.  But don’t underestimate the forces arrayed against you; (think Waco, Texas.)  So, gone are the MREs and the guns and ammo; gone even the knives, bow and arrows, and  medical supplies.  You have been labeled a “Hoarder” and are now an irritant [or criminal] in the public eye.  Hungry people are watching you closely, hoping to get some information that will earn them points in the “Birds” game, points they can exchange for  special luxuries, like a box of Cheese Nips or some peanut butter.  Everyone is hungry, angry, fearful, and on their guard; nobody feels well, because they are making do with substitute meds and bad food, given out by the PTB.

Well, you didn’t really want to have to do it, but those squirrels and acorns are starting to look pretty good.  You know how to make a snare, for when the squirrels show up in force.  It is August; there should be some acorns on the tree already.  (Did you know that you can pick green ones?  They are not poisonous; keep them until they are brown and easy to peel (a few days)  and crack and peel the nut, then soak.

Look at the Oaks, in August; what kind of harvest is it going to be? Oak trees do not have regular cycles of production, but a “masting cycle” (large harvest) only every fifth or sixth year. Most folks know that acorns have to be leached of their tannins before you can eat them. There are two ways, the quick/hot way, and the slow/cool.  For the first one, either use two pots of boiling water, and pour the peeled acorn pieces/meal into one until the water turns brown, on the heat; then quickly strain and dump immediately into the second pot of boiling water, and then refill the first and bring it to the boil, alternating, until the water no longer turns brown.  If you let the acorn cool before the boiling out of the tannins is accomplished, the tannins will be permanently heat-locked into the acorn, and you may as well throw it away, unless the process is close to done; so this is not something to do without adequate time, safety, and water, even though it is the quicker method.

 The other way is to soak the acorn meal or pieces in a mesh bag in a stream or pond; or in a container, changing the water as it darkens, until it stays clear. Acorns store, whole in the shell, for years, after gentle drying out of the sun until they rattle when shaken. For storage, coat lightly with diatomaceous earth and store in metal or off the ground, so rodents won’t get them. Many foods can be made from nothing but acorns  (Bread, “oakmeal”, oil, flour for pancakes, “nuts” and “olives”) – if you know how, and have the right equipment. What simple tools and experience do you need; do you have them?  The only way to find out is to act now!  Yesterday, I drove to the Wal-Mart while my child was with her math tutor.  I noticed a Red Oak (big, oil-rich acorns!) on public land that was masting; the nuts completely covered the ground.  I parked close by, prayed fervently that I would not be molested and would be a sign to the wise to do likewise; then I took out my little small (hazelnut-size) long-handled nut-roller and a large, flexible-plastic lug with two handles, and started harvesting, standing comfortably and collecting large amounts quickly.  In 40 minutes, I had collected 75 or 80 pounds of acorns, pouring them into large containers in my Tahoe as the carrier filled.  I was out of there in no time, with a lot of acorns, because I had tools and some experience. It was a learning experience for me, as I ended up with blisters inside my thumbs from vigorous use of the nut-roller without work gloves.  (Even though I have been collecting and using acorns for years now, I forgot to pack an important piece of equipment; and it was a stress-free day, not TEOTWAWKI!)

Arriving home, I dumped everything into a cattle-trough full of rainwater, and discarded everything that floated.  (There are worms inside many of the acorns, especially those that fall early.  The holes you see are from the emergence of the mature grub; before then, the acorn will float, as does an old, empty shell) Now my acorns are drying safely indoors.  They will keep a long time in shell, since tannic acid, the very component creating acorns’ bitterness, is a preservative. (In fact, because of the tannins, you do not need to worry about spoilage of acorns that are leaching in water, even if they have been soaking a long time!  ) If you have chickens, or if you like to eat insects and worms, you may keep the floating stuff, after drying, in a bucket for a while.  Check the bottom in 4 or 5 days; it will be crawling with useful, delicious food.  (If you don’t need to use these, please destroy them.)

But, back to our scenario: perhaps it is not a masting year, for your oak tree; and besides, everyone is picking up those acorns. The Powers That Be (PTB) are evacuating the neighborhood, aged and infirmed people first.  Many homes are empty; who will they come for, next?  You decide to “bug out” at least for the time being. Fortunately, there are all sorts of items the PTB have not taken, all over the house.  Because you have been living the “readiness lifestyle”, you know just which items to bring, and how to rig up a backpack for everyone (the PTB have taken everything you had ready, since you were Hoarding and they need you to Share.)  Everyone is, as usual, feeling fine; nobody has allergies that are very bad, or any kind of gastrointestinal trouble, because you have been following a strict gluten-free, casein-free diet for years now.  You are trim and in shape, because of said diet and the lack of a television; and because you are always busy, in healthy ways.

  The “busy” that is widespread now, like a wasting disease of the soul, is the opposite kind. Like gerbils on a wheel, so many people are caught up in empty, self-gratifying activities. A people that are subclinically ill, because of the dead/processed/junk diet, and grouchily assert their rights to an evening of “chilling” in front of a screen, after a meal of something easy to prepare, are a vulnerable people, a bunch of house pets unfit for life outside of a cage.  And our only survival is in getting, and staying, free.

Perhaps you are ahead of things, and have a great number of hidden food plants in your yard.  You decide to dig up and harvest some stuff to take with you…As we said, it is August.  You will take some Yellow Asphodel and skirret roots, and some Jerusalem Artichoke tubers; you dig up some oca plants (later in the year you would just take the tubers) as well as scorzonera and crosnes tubers; throw in a bunch of potatoes. All of this to transplant, and not, unless absolutely necessary, to eat. (Or, leave everything undisturbed, hoping that no one will be able to identify your garden plants as food; hope to be able to return, once the neighborhood is emptied.)  I have a feeling, though, that there will be mechanical watchdogs all around, and that return will be impossible if you live near a city.

Go to the freezer and get out packages of sprouting seed, as well as and various garden seeds (especially annual and perennial beans, summer and winter squashes, and turnips, perennial oats, broomcorn, and millet).  Make sure you wrap the frozen seeds immediately in heavy items that will insulate them as they slowly come up to temperature; else, you will have a lot of condensation just where you do not want wetness.  From the kitchen, you grab peelers, one or more small graters, metal tongs. A slotted spoon and flat spatula, a ladle, a couple of pots, and some mel mac or stainless bowls, cups, plates, and flatware.  Grab any sharp knives, an ice pick, a steel or small sharpening stone, and a small folding pruning saw; wrap these in a medium-weight tablecloth or light bedspread that can serve as a blanket and operating stage. Take salt; Zip-Loc bags; first-aid stuff as available; mylar bags and duct tape; rubber bands, rawhide laces, cording, and wire; clothespins, safety pins, sewing supplies and a couple of rolls of toilet paper, without the central tube (or use the tube for packing a Ziploc full of small items).  Fisherman’s Friend is a really great cough drop/decongestant/mucus reliever; these never get stuck together and are extremely effective!  Nobody needs toothpaste, although you might take a small tube, and wean the fainthearted onto ashes and a stick over the course of time. The most important thing is to expect hardship, and start getting used to it now; as extreme emotional reactions later, such as shock,will be the biggest threat to everyone’s safety and ability to thrive.

Finally, dress yourself for business, in double underwear and ripstop outerwear, hiking boots and smartwool socks, work gloves, and a sunhat and sweatband. Tie a cotton bandana around your neck. Pack a long raincoat, a wool sweater, and extra smartwool socks; depending on the number and strength of the party, add more items as room and weight permit. Your ripstop nylon pants should be a size too large (pack wool long johns or fleece pants to wear under them, for winter; also pack a  balaclava and one other warm hat, muffler, warm gloves and at least one pair of extras (a pair of those expensive, waterproof, cold-weather gloves would be wonderful);  work gloves, and extra socks and undines, if you have room). Ladies who do not wear pants will have to wear some for now; the ripstop will prevent shredding of the legs in briars and rocks, and allow for extra warmth in winter or at night.  A dress or skirt can go over the top.

 If you have plenty of extra wool socks and warm gloves, you can make it with one pair of hiking boots; though an extra, dry change of footwear can be a great thing.  Perhaps a pair of flip flops, as they can be cut apart as needed to make fishing bobbers, bottle corks, and cushioning for splints, among a hundred other uses; and you can wear them under your wool socks while your boots are being dried with hot rocks from the fire at night. (Put a dry, heavy piece of cloth in the bottom, and pay attention that you don’t burn that!) 

You may wish to bring a small washing ball, which can be thrown into a washer now instead of detergent, and used when washing by hand whether at home or away. We have been using these products for at least eight years in our home; they work by saponifying the water (breaking the surface tension, making the water “wetter”, as detergent
does, without adding anything that will need to be rinsed out.)  A “breathing washer” from Lehman’s is nice, to use with it.  I don’t know that you would want to pack it, nothing is guaranteed; you may need it at home for a year before you ever think of leaving.  It is certainly a great tool; and the handle does come off! 

 As for actually doing your laundry, you can wash your ripstop nylon things at end of day (or several days!), shake them out, and hang to dry.  They should be dry by morning, and if  not completely so,  at least dry enough.  The outside pair of underwear will go on the skin-side, and the inside pair in the wash.  Ladies will need to bring even more panties, and many pieces of toweling, maybe stitched together in layers, to use as pads.  They should also have a Zip-loc bag to keep these in, at that time of month, rinsing them and hanging to dry at night.  If necessary, drying ones can be pinned with large safety pins to the outside of packs.

 You most likely will not be returning.  Put your solid gold rings and any hefty sterling ones on a sturdy piece of string around your neck, under your shirt.  Put other items in a tied-off sock, here and there; in a pinch, you can pierce the sock and slip it onto your cord, as well.  Marauders may leave you alive, but grab your gear; so you may not want to sew things into linings, even when you do have time.  This is not the time to start going through treasures and photos.  Get your favorite photos laminated and put them in your bible as a bookmark.  Bring your smallest bible.  An extra gospel of John, New Testament and Psalms, or other small partial is good, if you have room.  These may be worth more than gold in the times ahead; it may well be that they are seen as tools against the State, since the New Age targets the Abrahamic Religions, scapegoating Jews, Moslems, and Christians together.  We do all share a belief in one God, Who has given us moral absolutes. Ultimately, the state of things has been foreseen and is inevitable; and we have total freedom to choose whether we are to live and die in love, as sons and daughters of the Most High, or in fear and thralldom, as His enemies.  There is no middle ground.

 The thing that needs mention now, is how to pray.  Even unbelievers pray, in  times of great need, out of fear; and it can lead them to faith and then to salvation.  But it is not the way for believers to pray!  We need to keep our trust and our joy and our worship before us, we need to go with a psalm in our minds and hearts!  There is no other way to be prepared, for anything, except to put ourselves wholly into the hands of the Almighty One , Who loves us.  Become comfortable without the noises that are in the way, and spend time in silence, quieting your anxieties and over-busyness with silent or audible praise and worship songs.  If you are not a Christian, think about prayer, anyway; in an emergency, wouldn’t you rather be full of peace and assurance?  That doesn’t come while things are hitting the fan, but is built up slowly, like the strength of muscles from weightlifting.  It lifts the eight of the world from our minds, and lets God hold it, while we attend to our immediate business. 

Noise is another of the addictions of our age, another of the things we and perhaps even more so, our children, cannot do without. It is psychologically calming to a person, to spend the day with the accustomed noise level; whereas suddenly moving from noise to silence, or vice versa, causes anxiety.  The ramifications of this are staggering; how is a sudden lack of loud music, or the “background noise” of a television, going to affect you and your loved ones?  In fact, psychologists tell us this is one of the wedges driven between the generations by the Evil of our time.  I can imagine buses with happy teens and children on them, stopping at every street.  They are playing a movie, loudly, on the bus.  Maybe the smell of popcorn is coming from somewhere.  It is parked right out there, waiting for your child.  The destination is a camp for young people exclusively.  "They" tell your child, hesitating in the doorway, that you will be okay, and they have a special place for you to go, as well. You can be in touch.  In fact, they will give everyone a subdermal I.D. number, so nobody will get misplaced.  You will only be irretrievably lost.

Pray, silently and in hope.  Pray, audibly and with scripture. Sing and recite the psalms.  Quiet your vociferous modern heart, and you will hear the voice of God, who never left, but Who never raises His voice.  He is found in silence because if He used force, we would not be free; and our freedom is the richest of God’s gifts to us, by which we may decide to love Him back, and be His servants.  A good antidote to loud-music addiction is to sing praise and worship songs.  You can find them on youtube, at prayer meeting, or just ask a Christian friend.

 The best of these are repetitive and short, and easy to learn. (Example: “He gives us incense for ashes; the oil of joy for mourning; the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that we may be trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified”.)  You may very well go to a church that has different songs; memorize the ones that speak to you, and sing them as you quietly go about your business.  “Quietly” really is the operative word; we need to quiet our hearts and listen, now, so s to be able to distinguish the voice of God, within, from the great faker who prowls unceasingly.  Learn scriptural songs.  The healthier your body gets, on your new regimen, the clearer your mind will be.  Challenge yourself to love learning, especially from the word of God.  Hide it in your heart, where He can activate it when you are in need, and where no one can take it from you!

Back to our packing.  You would want a hatchet, cleaver, or machete. But let’s say, for our scenario, that the PTB have taken all of these; because of  general unrest and murderous intent, they will say; but loss of tools also deprives you of the ability to do anything for yourself, and makes you less sure that you can make it without the help of the PTB. You might have, still, a folding pocket saw; it is better than nothing!  Also, pack a few mesh onion or citrus bags and lots of knee-high nylon hose.  Both can be used for leaching acorns, and the latter are good for many other things, such as straining, filtering, and sprouting while hiking (pour a little water through the sprouts at each stop; hang off the outside of your pack or in the campsite, to keep drained). Pack field guides to edibles, and copies of these articles, as well as a boy scout or military field guide. But never has there been a time when we were less prepared to make fires, snares, cording, and to find our own food.  No book can substitute for going out now, this week, and beginning to gain actual experience!

Pillowcases are a great thing!  I buy them from the Goodwill; often, they are brand new. They can be stuffed, to make a pillow; held open with vine or sapling and used for gathering grass seed as you walk; as part of an improvised water filter; a source of bandage or tourniquet cloth; and many other things.  When not in use any other way, use them for carrying things, inside a larger piece of cloth or tarp.  They will take the place of the pockets and compartments of a backpack, which you no longer have. You have a real lot of stuff, and time is running out! A little bug repellent is a good thing; in the field, some yarrow from the roadside or garden, or geranium or several other like plants, can be rubbed on as an insect repellent.  A very low, smoky fire of leaves and moss (“smudge”) can help at night, where there is no risk of detection. A bee-keeper-type arrangement of tulle or finer net may be drawn over the bill of your cap at night, and tied around your neck with the bandana; in a pinch, the panty-part of some large hose will do; get the longer queen size ones, and wedge the baseball cap, on your head, into one thigh, with the waist elastic at your neck, wrapped shut with your bandana.  These do not last forever, but they are small and easy to pack, and have many uses, one of which is to be worn next the skin as an extra layer of warmth in coldest weather.  Sunscreen can be good, but there is no substitute for shade, and so you are wearing a long-sleeved ripstop shirt, with ventilation mesh under the arms, and a hat with a brim.

You can do a lot with duct tape and mylar!  A couple of mylar emergency blankets take up very little space, but in extreme weather they may be held around you with duct tape, and can make the difference between comfort and sleeplessness, or life and death.  You can make a sturdy handle and provide reinforcement in a big pack made of tarp, with thoughtful application of duct tape.  And you can create a long-lasting, sturdy water bucket with a large mylar bag, a small stick, and a wrapping of duct tape as strapping around the bottom of the bag and crossing around the wrapped-stick handle grip.  This may seem wasteful of duct tape; but  almost all of it is reclaimable, as needed; and this is actually a way of reducing that heavy, bulky roll of tape.

Okay, you might or might not have a compass or GPS.  Let’s say you don’t.  You will have to think ahead, so as not to take a wrong path.  There is no substitute for asking God for direction.  Do not err by expecting Him to do everything for you! You will be traveling at night, since during the day, your party will be reported and stopped.  But at night, there is surveillance. A pair of night-vision binoculars might be very helpful.  Recite Psalm 91.  Think and remember which neighbors are gone; cross through those yards when you can.  Make for a safe house (friends who won’t turn you in; relatives- work this out ahead of time! You may want to give each other your house keys, or tell where to find them,)

In this time, if you have been asleep, as have so many Christians, you will have to wake up, and choose radical faith and trust, and count on supernatural guidance and protection.  The alternative is fear, distrust, and violence.  If you have really never seriously considered Christianity, have sneered at it; if you have loved New Age stuff, and are a vegan, but want to be free – the only way is to “consider the heavens”.  There is a wonderful book called The Real Meaning of the Zodiac. It has information that will help you find your way to Jesus Christ, our Salvation.

 There will be miracles of provision, multiplication of goods, protection and invisibility to the enemy, and many other kinds, in these days.  Somewhere along the way, those who have put All of their faith in Jesus Christ will be suddenly “raptured”, or taken away in the blink of an eye; and even the godless are predicting this.  The thing to do is to put on the faith you have been pretending to have; and to do so, you need strength.  Stop doing the things that hinder you!  There are invisible webs and nets and chains holding us down…Change your diet, cancel your cable television service and sell your television.  This may seem radical, but think again.  Why does the thought of no television hurt so much?  Why do you think it is not possible; and besides, there are so many “good” programs?  Listen, friends; there are no good programs!  You wouldn’t eat food every day that only had a little bit of poison in it, would you?  Even the best things are seasoned with stuff that seduces, perverts, stupefies.  That popular television preacher is telling you comforting things, and his lovely wish next to him is not as virtuous a model as we could wish, for our young women; and in the end, that is not what you are really watching, anyway. Even watching Animal Planet with a child reveals hidden New Age agenda specifically geared toward the young mind; and the filthiness or subtle perversions of the commercials is just extra gravy on top.  I am a prophet of the Lord; I say to you now that He calls His people out of the harlotries of  life in 2012 America.  If it isn’t bad to you, if you can justify everything, and sneer at changes recommended here, then you are as the citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah, and other places destroyed by the Lord, because of the contagion of the inhabitants, and their hardness of heart.  If you do not see it and think this warning and these precepts are ridiculous, then I say to you that you are already dead.

For everyone else, you may be wondering – after we get rid of the television and video games and smartphones, what will we do instead? The answer is that you will recover lost ground!  You will go from strength to strength; you will find out that you have more energy; and that the day is not long enough for all of the projects you have going!  Beware, however;  lest getting rid of television pushes all of your family members into separate rooms with other electronics, and even alienates your children.  If they have been in public school, you will have lost them, and they may report you to the International Children’s Council, and asked to be moved to a friendlier environment.  If your children are in a Christian school, and are young enough, there is still time to reach them.  Be converted, yourself, first; and without delay!  This is still a time of grace, but it cannot go on much longer.  Change and return to the Lord with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.  Do this with your whole family; win the hearts and minds of your young ones through your own conversion example and by prayer and family bible time.  Don’t go hungry!  Just get off white rice and potatoes, packaged edible things of all kinds that substitute for food, and gluten and all items containing dairy or casein or sodium caseinate.  (Read the book Devil in the Milk: Illness, Health and the Politics of A1 and A2 Milk, if you are not convinced.) Yes, it seems hard; like anything else you are not used to.  But think of how many times you have done hard things! You are reading this now, but once you thought reading too hard. Have faith; be obedient, and decide to believe!  God always rewards our obedience; our freedom of choice exists, because He craves our love and obedience, neither of which can exist without absolute freedom!  

While you are thinking about that, let’s get back to our journey.  You may know that many common landscape plants have edible parts. Cannas, those tall, tropical-looking masses of pretty, broad leaves with flower spikes, are very common throughout much of the U.S.  Did you know that they were bred in the mountains of Peru, along with oca, yaucon, and our familiar potato varieties, as starchy root crops?  Starch is harder to find, in nature, and very important in the diet, especially in winter. The very young, unfurled leaves are an excellent cooked vegetable, and are okay raw, as a trail salad item. Canna corms (underground part) make a delicious long-cooked sweet, starchy treat or a good source of starch to use in cooking or baking.  (Cut into chunks, grate into water, stir and remove fibers.  Let settle and pour off the water.  The stuff in the bottom is the starch.  Dry it and put through a sieve to get out fibers and lumps; or use wet, cooked in cakes with oil; or added as thickening and filling goodness to any kind of soup concoction. This method of starch collection is why you have packed at least one small grater; the process is the same for cattail, briar, and all starchy roots.

Canna leaves are used in South America as a tamale wrapper.  Even the young seeds are fried and eaten, and are good raw as well.  Another common landscape plant is the althea, or Rose of Sharon.  It is in the mallow/malvacea family, which includes okra, hollyhock, rose of Sharon, hibiscus, and the wild swamp mallow or marsh mallow.  The leaves of all of these are good and edible, especially cooked; in fact, mallow leaves have been used this way from antiquity, and are still a major perennial vegetable in parts of North Africa and the Mediterranean.  I do not have experience in the western half of the U.S., but can say with authority that these thrive for years without care (and so are unlikely to have been sprayed with chemicals) in the entire Eastern U.S. 

Most of us know a little about daylilies.  The young shoots are eaten cooked; the leaves, when boiled, are supposedly like creamed onions, but can cause flatulence if used in great amounts as the sole menu item; the flowers and unopened buds are good raw, cooked, or dried; the tubers are delicious, but even if you manage to dig all of the small bits up,  the reward is smaller than most people expect; they are like fibrous sweet potatoes the size of garlic cloves, but often occurring in great numbers, as these plants easily naturalize. 

Perhaps we are safely away, and are living on the land, somewhere.  You have been filtering and boiling your drinking water, and making low, invisible shelters with branches and tarps and cordage. Maybe you have even brought fish hooks, and can make snares. But even if you are not molested, what are your chances of making it long-term on your own, with the little you have brought, even without one of the tribe getting sick or having an accident?  How long will you be able to simply go on, before you, or half of your family, wish you were safe in the arms of the State again?  The only remedy for the potential desperateness of this situation is to get this information out to everyone you know!  Make plans; tell others; trust in God; wean yourself off of all of the entrapments that suck up our time and cause stupefaction and lethargy. Things such as television and Farmville and alcohol and FaceBook and casinos and gluten and casein and white sugar and artificial sweeteners (read Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills ). Most importantly, after you have made the dietary changes, with your doctor’s supervision, wean yourself off of prescription drugs (yes, you can!  It is unnatural for most of the population to be dependent on prescription drugs just to get through the day.  Get healthy, God made our bodies to be self-healing!  If He hadn’t, then you’d be a goner after surgery or accidents!

Decide today, if you refuse to be marked or numbered or collected; if you will instead accept hardship in order to live free. The angel of the Lord will guide you to other Christians, on small farms and homesteads. We need host families to be physically and mentally prepared to welcome refugees; we need those moving to be  healthy and off medications, and ready to move when the Lord tells them.  We need to rework our way of thinking, and realize that, instead of conditions of scarcity and crowding, the resulting communities will be blessed with a lot of labor, so that all are fed and provided for; and with convivial Christian fellowship like that in the early Church; and that they will be crowned with miraculous occurrences, as the day of the Lord draws near and His people draw nearer to Him. We will need all of our skills to be in good working order, and our faith to be pre-tested and found strong. Parents, pastors and Christian leaders, be converted and ready to lead in new ways; and everyone, learn to pray without ceasing, carrying on a n inner dialogue with the One Who loves you and Who is mighty to save.  This is an integrated approach to Survival issues, as the entire spectrum of concerns is put into right order. Survival means more than ending the day alive, at whatever cost! God is intimately concerned with our well-being and survival in His Kingdom, which starts here and now, for those who are His own. We only need to awaken and respond.

Dear Editor:
Here are some videos to ponder, for those guys who are building the “Ultimate Bug Out Vehicle.”

Maybe this information should be filed under the general heading of “It isn’t the gun, it is the shooter", or more precisely, "It isn’t the car, it is the driver.”

Watch these videos. (I think the driver is just taking his dog out for a walk.)

- K.B.S. in Way North Illinois

News from the Lost Cause that was once the glorious California Republic: Governor Brown signs law banning open carry of unloaded long guns. Concealed carry of handguns was banned in California in 1923. (One of many states to enact the "Uniform Act to Regulate the Sale and Possession of Firearms"--which was originally aimed at part in disarming "uppity" black World War I veterans.) Then, in 1967 open carry of loaded guns on public streets or in motor vehicles was banned (one of then Governor Ronald Reagan's darkest days), out of fear of a few dozen "uppity" Black Panthers. More recently, the state legislature banned carrying unloaded handguns. What is next? A ban on carrying pictures of guns? (They are already suspending school students for making drawings of guns.) My advice to Californians: Take The Gap before the chains of tyranny get any heavier or your shackles get any tighter! Living as a gun owner in California is much like the life of a battered wife. Only after a long string of abuses and indignities will most have the courage to walk out. While many states like Alaska, Arizona and Wyoming are loosening concealed carry restrictions, the Mickey Mouse State has executed a couple of column lefts, and is marching the other direction. It is time to Vote With Your Feet, folks!

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Reader Lynn G. sent: Raw Milk Co-Op Farmer Acquitted Through Jury Nullification

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My brother wrote to mention that he spotted my latest novel Founders on sale at his local COSTCO store, for just $14.19 per copy. With the current high cost of UPS shipping, this might be the best way to pick up a few copies for gifts.

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3D printer company seizes its leased unit from the home of a man planning to print out a pistol. JWR Observes: Even the BATFE's own web page (see question A6 on page 176) notes that as long as a serial number is marked, it is perfectly legal for any adult non-felon citizen (and someone not "engaged in the business") to make a firearm receiver or frame for their own use, completely outside of Federal jurisdiction--just as long as it is not a full auto, a short-barreled rifle or shotgun, or a cartridge-firing rifle over .50 caliber, an AOW (concealed or gadget gun) or an arcane Section 922(r) violation for "...assembling a nonsporting semi-automatic rifle or nonsporting shotgun from imported parts." No license or paperwork of any sort is required.

"If we are that weak, just think of who wants to come here first and take us over, and the last thing I ever want to see is to see this country, our country taken over because we’re so financially weak we can’t do anything and we’re moving in that direction. … We could even lose our country if we don’t get this fixed and straightened out and nobody that’s running [for public office] really talks about it, about what we have to do and why we have to do it. They would prefer not to have it discussed." - H. Ross Perot, September, 2012

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Today we present the first entry for Round 43 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), 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 FloJak.com. C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 43 ends on November 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.

Preparedness, planning, survival… Words we heed and respect as part of our every day lives for the past few years and for some, the past couple of decades. We know not what the event will be, or if the SHTF will be a multi-pronged crisis. We just know that WTSHTF is inevitable and addressing basic needs is an absolute must.

Preparation starts by accumulating the rudimentary elements of survival: food, water, shelter, medical supplies, security, survival skills and a basic reactionary plan. We research and consume information through articles, books and web sites dedicated to different skills and techniques of survival.  With each foray into the sphere of preparedness, we become cognizant of new ideas and perspectives discovering ourselves thinking, ‘Gosh, I never thought of that’. We encounter the interconnected challenge of becoming aware that some problems will present/require more complicated solutions addressing services and issues which we now take for granted in our modern world.

With regard to food, the search for proper nutrition and caloric intake is meshed with the storage and multipurpose usage, along with the economic considerations of acquiring it at a reasonable cost. How many adults and how many children will comprise our cadre?  Any special dietary needs? Can a daily diet be developed that wouldn’t be monotonous and further exacerbate the general panic of the overall situation? Do we have the abilities, resources and skills to replace our food stocks if the event is a long term proposition?

Once the food quandary is in the process of being addressed, or so we surmise, what do we do about water for preparing the meals, what do we wash the food down with, and how do we replace our most needed survival item on a sanitary and quality basis, both on a stay put or bug out basis?

What are the collective health standing and physical conditioning of the group? Any long term physical limitations to be addressed? Can the food stores sustain the energy and nutritional requirements for the challenges of an upside down, tumultuous new world?

How do we protect and guard our storage preps and our loved ones? Do we have the correct firepower, the will and the skills essential to effectively defend our location? How many rounds are sufficient? Will security skills be for defensive purposes only or will it be necessary to go on offense and become scavengers if need be?

Will we stay in our home location or have to bug out? If we bug out, how will we do it? On foot? By bike? What direction and by what route for safety and speed?  What will the event dictate? An EMP or solar flare with prohibitive transportation problems, a biological or terror attack creating immediate danger and minimal ability to travel with a limited amount of supplies, a financial collapse inciting riots and looting creating unsafe conditions. All present dynamic situations subject to various scenarios.

Questions, questions, questions, many unanswered.

The world is getting more inflamed on a daily basis and with the lack of sustainability of our current economic situation becoming more apparent with each dollar printed or borrowed, I decided recently to raise my preparedness to a level nine on a ten scale. After aggressively prepping for over six years, I felt comfortable in the knowledge that I had most of the needs for my family and group.  Adequate food to last for over a year, adequate guns and ammo to arm each person with more than two weapons each, multiple water and filter systems to meet our needs, a fully stocked medical supply with provisions, drugs, skills and instruments to safeguard our group up to the major surgery level, skills and equipment to replenish food stocks for a longer period of time and finally an big picture, written plan for addressing emergencies.

As I started the final planning process work and towards preparation for what I see as an imminent event, a memory flashed back of a science project in my fifth grade, almost 50 years ago. My chosen project was to build a wooden pulley and weight gizmo which could measure the reduction of force necessary to lift a weighted object. The wooden gizmo was about eighteen inches high and resembled a gallows from the Old West. It was fun to build and effectively demonstrated the desired effect that less force was required with the use of one or more pulleys. Long story short, when my teacher asked the question, “What does this prove?”, I buckled. I had been so enamored and enthused about building the wooden gizmo that I did not fully realize the resultant essence of the outcome. I was so busy prepping that I did not have the end game figured out.

This embarrassing project mirrored my conundrum with my current prepping situation. I have been so wrapped up in arranging and organizing my preps that I did not have a real solid plan to institute when a SHTF event occurs.  It is my opinion that the next three or four months hold a great deal of uncertainty and danger for our way of life. There appears to be multiple tinder points around the world- Israel v. Iran, the Euro banking situation, natural disasters, Greece, Spain, the Arab Spring hangover, potential terrorist attacks and last but not least, the election and the hubris and perceived unfettered power of a narcissistic elected official.

It suddenly and forcefully became readily apparent that I was not really prepared. I knew what I wanted to accomplish but really did not have a route to get there, much less the needed multiple routes, as it dawned on me after some focused thought.  With so many  SHTF events that could trigger multiple scenarios requiring different responses, I decided that I needed a variety of checklists to respond. I liken this to a pilot using his preflight checklist to organize procedures that will avert and prevent mistakes which may occur by an incomplete thought – a snap decision if you will. There will be a good many ‘seat of the pants’ actions required in any big event, but anything to minimize and prevent regrettable missteps is time well spent.  My main focus now is to prepare the multiple responses addressing different scenarios brought about by the most likely SHTF events present, at least in my purview.

To begin my project, I thought a grid table would be the optimum starting point. It’s principal purpose is to be an outline from which actions can be identified and present obstacles which may or may not be resolvable.  

The five most likely SHTF events which would produce TEOTWAWKI, again my opinion based from my point of view, would be positioned across the top of the table in no particular order – EMP – Martial Law – Israel vs. Iran- Biological/Dirty Bomb Terrorist Attack – Financial Meltdown. Other SHTF events could be higher on another person’s list due to geographic considerations, business, military or personal experiences and beliefs.

My left column of actions, which of course is not a  complete list and would  vary dependent upon personal preferences,  would consist of: Probability Ranking - Regional – National - Stay Put – Bug Out – Travel ease – Travel Prohibitive – Immediate Threat – Delayed Threat – Gather family/group easily – Gather family/group difficult – Long term – Short term – Prepared – Unprepared. These are starting points to simplistically induce thought and prioritize conditions. (Not meant to get hung up on the wooden gizmo again)

Example Matrix:








Rate 1-5






Regional Threat






National Threat






Stay Put






Bug Out






Travel Ease






Travel Prohibitive






Immediate Threat






Delayed Threat






Gather Family/Group Easily






Gather Family/Group Difficult






Long Term






Short Term



















From this table, I had a basis to determine what course of action and concerns need attention. It is basic (and not a wooden gizmo) but it is an organizational tool which has helped me. A checklist can be formulated dependent upon the scenario and my perceived capabilities, or inabilities as the case may be. Deficiencies can be remedied and a side benefit was an offshoot. New, previously undiscovered issues became apparent.

The checklist can prioritize needed actions when a SHTF event occurs as to make the initial reaction more efficient, as any planning or drill tends to do. Printing out a completed checklist and filing it in a binder brings more order to the preparation. It also opens lines of communication with other family or group members hopefully provoking thought and sharpening their sense of purpose. Perhaps when utilized, the order and organization might allay some of the anxiety and angst which undoubtedly will surface in a major event.

My first checklist produced a prioritized twenty seven point plan of action beginning with defense issues, food, water, and progressing to assignment of chores and responsibilities which prevents duplication of effort and also helps make everyone an integral part of the team. One of my major concerns upon reflection of the check list was the ability of my younger family members to adapt and accept the new obstacles which have been thrust upon us.

Using the table as a guide, one can play a ‘what if?’ game and develop a coherent response to different scenarios. Many people have probably surpassed the rudimentary structure which I have utilized and I applaud them for their organization. It was only when I determined the need to take the next step in elevating my readiness that I discovered my preparation was inadequate. I needed a simple starting point and a means to get closer to my goal without getting hung up on another wooden gizmo.

Dear James,
I really enjoy your blog and try to read it every day. My husband and I live in New Jersey. We just sold our house in May and are renting for a year while we try to figure out where to move next. Unfortunately, our home lost a lot of equity so we only have $55,000 to use towards our next house. Do you believe it is better to pay cash for a house or is it wise to get a mortgage since interest rates are so low? Our original plan was to buy our next home with cash, but I doubt that we have enough money.

Thanks, - L.Z. in New Jersey

JWR Replies: While some investment advisors see inflation on the horizon and hence advise mortgaging to the hilt (using a minimal down payment), I recommend a more cautious approach. At present, since deflation is still with us, I recommend keeping mortgages as small as possible, and paying them off as quickly as possible. In a deflationary environment where cash is king, a layoff that lasts six months could be devastating and result in a foreclosure. Once inflation re-emerges, it will be another matter. At that point you'll be able to pay off your remaining mortgage balance with "cheaper dollars." But for now, play it safe.

For newcomers to SurvivalBlog, here is my primer on the geography and philosophy of The American Redoubt

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Combine demolition derby renews BSU-UI rivalry

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Wyoming rig count down three: The number of rigs actively exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. remained unchanged this week at 1,864. And in related news: Red states equal green jobs.

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Notice a great big hole in this map of school districts where teachers have been caught cheating on standardized tests? Yes, it is the American Redoubt. Well, to my chagrin there is one small blemish on the map in Boise, Idaho, but that is the "Corrupt Big City", by Redoubt standards. (At last count, Boise had 205,671 residents--Idaho's largest city.)

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Senator calls killing of Wash. wolf pack 'serious failure'

H.L. suggested this: Meet the largest [private] landowner in America

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Dentist Dr. Tom Loomis will be teaching another two-day Field Dentistry Class, in Sweetwater, Tennessee on Nov. 30, and Dec. 1, 2012. Enrollment is limited to just 12 students. The class costs $400 per person. To register, send $200 by check or money order to Tom Loomis DDS, P.O. Box 510, Sweetwater, TN 37874. Phone number: 423-371-1073, or e-mail: tom.loomis@yahoo.com The class will be held at the Magnuson Hotel in Sweetwater at exit 60 off of Interstate 75. Rooms are $35 plus tax if you ask for the Field Dentistry Class rate. The hotel phone is 423-337-3541. Registrations must be received by November 8, 2012.

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Our friend Tam has some cogent observations on the double standard for public employees: The king's men...

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Nordling has posted an early (and not-so-glowing) review of Red Dawn over at Ain't It Cool. (A hat tip to P.P.P. for the link.)

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SurvivalBlog's Medical Editor, Dr. Cynthia Koelker will be teaching another Survival Medicine workshop, November 9th to 11th, 2012, in or near Akron, Ohio. This one has all new course material. The class size is limited, so register soon. (See this PDF with details.)

"When you disarm the people, you commence to offend them and show that you distrust them either through cowardice or lack of confidence, and both of these opinions generate hatred." - Niccolo Machiavelli

Monday, October 1, 2012

We've completed the judging for Round 42 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest.

First Prize goes to Dan in Alabama for Make Your Own Retort Style Charcoal, which was posted on September 19, 2012. He will receive: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A $200 gift certificate, donated by Shelf Reliance.

Second prize goes to Dr. S.V. for When the Antidepressants Run Out, which was posted on September 2, 2012. She 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 FloJak.com. C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize goes to Sam D. for: From Timber to Lumber: A Beginner's Experience, which was posted on September 20, 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.

14 Honorable Mention Prizes ($30 Amazon.com gift certificates) are being awarded for these fine articles:

Let's Talk About Calories Per Dollar, by Mississippi Girl

Preserving The Harvest, by N.T.M. in Nevada

The Kamajors of Sierra Leone: A Model for Survival
, by CYA

Making Your Own Chest Rigs, by Jeff J. in Arizona

Alternative Treatments for Auto-Immune Disorders in the Absence of Traditional Health Care, by J.F., RN

Constructing a Triple-Strand Concertina Wire Obstacle, by CPT Blackfox

Fabric Choices in Survival Clothing, by Emma C.

A Guide to Load Carrying Equipment, by Tony X.

Lentils: The Super Food of the Prepper, by Brad H.

Camouflage Painting Firearms, by Kyrottimus

Do-It-Yourself Rocket Stoves, by E.B.

Aquaponic Gardening, by D.P.

Survival of the Un-Fittest -- What to Do for the Ill, Disabled and Elderly, by Echo A.

Severe Weather Vigilance, by Shawn J.

Note to the prize winners: I will need UPS and USPS addresses for the top three prize winners, and current e-mail addresses for all of the Honorable Mention prizes. Please let me know via e-mail.

Round 43 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.

I've been around knives all my life, and I've literally had thousands of knives pass through my hands. For about 18 years I wrote for Knives Illustrated magazine, and for several years, I was the West Coast Field Editor at Knives Illustrated. During the course of my duties, I had the opportunity to tour a number of knife factories and companies, to see how knives are manufactured and designed. To be sure, I've designed quite a few knives myself over the years, and had them produced by custom knife makers, as well as factory produced versions. So, I believe my background and experience gives me a good grip on what constitutes a really good knife. Yes, you can get a knife for $9.99 from one of the tv knife shows, and it'll serve the purpose of opening boxes and letters, or maybe skinning game, but if you want a knife you can bet your life on, don't short-change yourself and buy "cheap" - there is a reason some knives are so cheap.
I spent quite a bit of time recently, testing the Spartan Blades "Horkos". It is one of many blades carried by the good folks at US Tactical Supply  - they carry a good variety of Spartan Blades, too. However, this one caught my attention as a fixed blade knife suitable for combat or light utility work. So, with the "Horkos" in-hand, I spent a good deal of time behind this blade. The Horkos (pronounced "Or-kos") is made in the USA, by Spartan Blades and is located in Aberdeen, NC just west of Ft. Bragg, NC - Home of the US Army Airborne and Special Forces. A little bit of history is in order on Spartan Blades. It was co-founded by Curtis Iovito and Mark Carey - between them, they possess over 40 years of combined military service and experience. Since their retirement, they have been involved in development, marketing and program management of tactical gear and ballistic armor products. For years, Curtis has designed and made custom knifes for his friends in the Special Forces and other companies. Mark and Curtis have combined their shared love of knifemaking to form Spartan Blades, LLC, with a singular mission "Manufacture finely crafted tactical and field knife." Their intent is not to provide a cool knife or the next great pry bar, but rather to produce a knife that is highly functional, make from only premium materials and techniques that look great too.
Spartan Blades are manufactured in North Carolina with only US origin materials, and their sheaths are made by US/US veteran owned businesses, using only the best US origin compliant materials, too. I don't know about SurvivalBlog readers, but I have to really admire a company that goes out of their way to produce entirely US-made products, and using US veteran owned business for their outsourced materials, too. In this day and age, where it seems like everything is being made overseas, it is refreshing to see a company going out of their to make sure their products are made here, in our country.
Where does the knife name "Horkos" come from? Horkos, is a sacred oath and the demon protector of honor/oaths in Greek language and myths. This knife was actually commissioned by the Combat Weapons Team of the US Military Academy  (at West Point, New York) with custom etching to honor the graduating class. As all academy graduates are defenders of our freedom and take a sacred oath to the US Constitution, Spartan Blades think the name fits. The blade is designed to be a great all around combat/utility blade. Here's the specs: the knife was actually designed by Curtis Iovito and Mark Carey, with an overall length of 10-7/8" with a blade length of 5-11/16". Blade thickness is 3/16" and the blade steel is premium CPM S35VN, with a Rockwell hardness of 59-60 HRC. The blade style is a Drop Point, single edge design with relieved distal spine and tapered drop for tip strength. The coating is called ApartaCoat - PVD - Tungsten DLC (black) or ZrN (Flat Dark Earth). Handle material is CE Canvas Micarta Black, Green or Natural Tan - my sample was the Natural Tan, which looks great. Weight is on .556-lbs. My sheath was MOLLE compatible with ballistan Nylon with a Kydex insert - you can also order a Kydex only sheath.
Overall appearance of the Horkos was very impressive - the knife is made to perfection. I closely examined it with my gunsmith magnifying goggles - I couldn't find any defects in material or workmanship. The handle scales are black Canvas Micarta with a large checkered pattern. The handle scales are rather thin, and this was my one and only minor complaint. While the handle scales are great for combat use, I found them just a little bit too thin to my liking for utility work - such as chopping. I would have preferred slightly thicker handle scales for a firmer grip. There is nothing wrong with the handle scales, just a personal preference . There is also a nice thumb ramp on the top of the blade for placing the thumb for a fencing-style grip, which is used in many knife-fighting techniques, one of my preferred grips on a knife, from more than 35 years in the martial arts teaching armed and unarmed fighting techniques. There is also a nice lanyard hole (with 550 para cord lanyard) on the butt of the the knife. There is a cut-out on the bottom back of the blade for placing your index finger when doing close-up cutting chores, like dressing out big game, where you might want more control of the blade. To be sure, the overall blade design is very appealing and very functional, and it should prove to be a great fighting knife in CQB situations.
I tested the Horkos on stacked cardboard - for stabbing tests, and I could easily stab the blade to the hilt into the stacked cardboard, not as easy as it might sound, and it takes a good blade to do this. Now, the Horkos didn't "feel" as sharp as I would have liked, but I was wrong. The blade sharpness almost looks like the old Bill Moran "rolled" edge - it doesn't feel sharp to the touch, but it is extremely sharp. During several weeks of cutting chores and testing, I never once had to touch-up the CPM S35VN blade. I did a lot of chopping on blackberry vines, and if you've ever tried your hand at chopping those things, you know how tough they are - many knife blades will simply slip off these vines. In this part of Oregon we have more blackberry vines than we need - and blackberries are not native to Oregon, but they sure took a foothold. If you don't stay on top of these vicious vines, they will overtake you property. Yes, there is a spray that kills them - but in a year or two, they come back stronger than ever. You have to continually chop them down or dig them out by the root - and you can't do it by hand, you need a front end loader - something I don't have. So, I resort to chopping the vines, and it gives me a great opportunity test a lot of knife blades out for sharpness.
For a combat/utility knife, the Horkos was really pretty darn good. It did lack when it came to chopping small tree limbs or trees, but I wasn't surprised, as the blade is a bit too short and too light for this utility purpose - for chopping on trees, or tree limbs, you need a longer and heavier blade for the most part. For splitting wood, I took the Horkos and pounded it through some smaller diameter logs, with another smaller log - while it did the job, it took a while - again, this knife wasn't designed for this type of work. Where the Horkos would shine would be at the base camp where you might have to open ammo crates, or cut banding material off of boxes, or any other cutting chores you might run across. For a combat knife, this would really shine, it is very light weight, and very fast in the hand, so you can do some serious damage to an attacker in short order. In a knife fight, a quick, light blade can really make a difference - you can slash and cut an opponent several times in a second or two, before they know what hit them. And, as I've mentioned this numerous times, in a knife fight, it usually isn't "over" with a single stab to the attacker's body. Most knife fights usually involve both stabbing and especially slashing attacks. In the latter you cut the attacker's hands, arms and legs - cut the tendons and blood vessels - bleed them out if you have to, or by cutting the tendons and muscles, you assure that they can't attack you. Knife fighting is more of a science than an art in my humble opinion...but it is still a task that needs to be learned and practiced to become efficient at.
I've written about US Tactical Supply before, with some of the outstanding products they carry. They try, whenever possible, to carry US-made products in their store and their on-line web site. And, you won't find any better customer service than they have. They go way above the call of duty to assure that their customers are 100% happy with the products they purchase. If you have a problem with any of their products, let them know, and they'll do everything they can to make it right! I like doing business with smaller, US-owned and run companies whenever possible, instead of the big box stores. I feel I'm getting better service and better products by dealing with a smaller company, a company that cares about doing business with me, and want me to be pleased with my purchase.
The retail price for the Horkos starts at $328 - and goes up to $360. A bit spendy? You bet! But you are getting what you paid for in a Spartan Blade. Yes, you can find knock-off or clones imported from China, that might look good, but they are 100% junk, and I wouldn't want to bet my life on one of those cheap blades. When it comes to my survival, I want the best I can afford, even if it means saving my pennies for a while to get it. Don't short-change yourself when it comes to cutlery - get the best you can get.
Be sure to check out some of the other Spartan Blades. I really liked their CQB Tool and the Enyo, Inside the Waistband/Neck knife - both would be excellent blades for back-up to a firearm. I found several Spartan Blades at US Tactical Supply, that would fill a lot of my needs in combat or a survival situation. I'm betting you'll find more than one knife you'll want to own. And, when it comes to your survival, on the battlefield, or out in the boonies, in a life or death situation, can you put a price tag on a tool that will save your hide? - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

Bugging Out to Nowhere a novel by Paylie Roberts  (ISBN 9781470010447 Published in June, 2012.) 

“During the height of economic collapse in the US, Rachel and Tom flee for the countryside a day too late. With the comforts of city life unlikely to be seen again, they are determined to survive on their own out in the middle of nowhere.”  (From the jacket cover)

This fictional work is told from the first person perspective, set in the very near future. Rachel and Tom are ordinary folks just trying to make ends meet. They struggle with everyday needs while preparing for what they believe is coming down the road. They have a very good start on their efforts, when suddenly the beast of collapse is no longer down the road. He’s here. The story is a series of preparations, incidents and accidents, good and bad decisions, mistakes and corrections. This is an entertaining read with heaps of “how to” loaded on a multiplicity of topics related to survival preparedness.  Nearly every page has a teaching moment. The amount of information compressed into these 285 pages is astounding.

In addition to the bounteous information offered, I believe one of the most useful aspects of this novel is the dissection of the decision making process. Countless deliberations are rotated, twisted, and uncurled asking many of the same questions that Joe and Judy Average would ask. This book is an asset to anyone struggling with the questions of “what, how and why” of prepping. This aspect alone is worth the price of the book. The story line has enough developments to keep the reader engaged while learning a lot about the not-so-smooth journey into sustainability. All of this is told through the pragmatic perspective of the woman of the house. Although this book would be enjoyed by both genders, women will find a friend in “Rache”. Among her many qualities, Rachel is intelligent, brave, and practical. She has attained experience in gardening, animal husbandry and is pretty handy with a hammer. It’s refreshing to have protagonist without even one super-hero skill.

The novel is clean with only a couple of flimsy curse words. Sexual content is nil with the exception of a reference relayed by a third party. Even then, no specific content was described. Violence is to be expected in the post-collapse world. The action is there to a slight degree, but this is not the book if you want a hack- ‘em-up, blood and gore, zombie-feed-read. The end product is an appropriate read for high school age or mature middle school age children with parental discussions. Although opinions of the protagonists are woven throughout the book, the author doesn’t invest a lot of ink toward political rants.

As to the inadequacies of this novel, Paylie Roberts is a talented author- in need of a good editor. This book has a lot of needs. I found the numerous deliberations tedious at times with topics visited and then revisited in confab dialogues. The central characters are enormously likeable although lacking dimension. For me, a missing character is God. Given trials and, the long sessions of contorted soul searching, He seems glaringly absent. People tend to turn to God in times of trouble. We turn to Him to plead, to curse, to doubt.  Some will offer thanks and praise for His mercy. When the discussions of morals and values or new characters were introduced I would anticipate some religious deliberation. But, no go. Whether that topic was ignored to be politically correct, an omission of deliberate intention or a simple oversight is not clear. This would have been an opportunity to add depth to the characters and make the pain of loss and the reality of fear tangible.

There are inconsistencies in the storyline. Trite solutions magically fall into place at several junctures. The plot meanders, then suddenly, the ending falls into place. It arrives faster than Grandpa’s gelding through the barn door at suppertime. I found editing issues: grammar, spelling, sentence structure, present/ past tense, repeated sentences, repetitive information, and one humongous issue that I must rectify for safety’s sake. 

! Spoiler Alert! After declaring a person in anaphylactic shock, the author writes, “...this epi pen expires this month, I’m not sure if it’s safe to use. Most expired medications are okay to use expired, but not epi: it could seriously harm him. I can’t tell by looking at it.” It was not obvious by my reading but perhaps Paylie was trying to make the point, “do your own research and use common sense”.

Epi-pens are safe to use after the expiration date. The problem occurs with the loss of efficacy, not a creation of toxicity. There may some loss of potency but the benefits far, far outweigh the risk. In a truly anaphylactic situation if that is all that one has available, slap that in the thigh!  I have a medical background and corroborated my knowledge with a pharmacist and two emergency physicians. (Two sources of confirmation for you: NIH web page and Doctor Solve web page.)

It may seem paradoxical to endorse this book in light of my assessment of missed opportunities and mistakes, but there are several reasons to recommend this novel. This book is motivating and informative. Various potential scenarios within the realm of possibility are explored making this book a great gift opportunity for a couple to open discussions. I guarantee you will re-check your larder with a new eye after reading this book.  Paylie allows the reader to envision prospects to increase survival potential while managing a very tight budget. This book is a cut above many of the self-published works found in today’s survival genre. Paylie Roberts is a writer driven to share her knowledge. How ironic, the protagonists were not quite ready to bug out, but they needed to do so anyway; like Tom and Rachel, this book is not quite prepared by editing standards, but it is praiseworthy read nonetheless.

Dear JWR:
Stockpiling food has been performed for centuries.  Our earliest ancestors were hunter gatherers.  If they didn’t save up food for the winter, their existence would most certainly be doomed.  It has been recorded that in hard times throughout history people have re-learned preservation techniques that would ensure their survival for the months and years ahead.  I believe we are in a similar trend at the moment.

Most everyone has a reasonable supply of food in the pantry for convenience purposes.  On the other hand some people, like our neighbors who we have affectionately named the “Pod People”, exist using the “just-in-time” method.  These folks patronize a fast food restaurant for most every meal.  If the Golden Arches drive-thru is not visited, then assuredly the pizza delivery guy will stop by.  The only time we have seen “real” food go in their house is when they buy a 50 lb bag of dog food for their large dog.  I worry that even a minor issue, like losing power for several days, would completely deplete the Pod People’s presumably meager supply of food and would force them to venture into a dangerous situation to obtain proper supplies.

My husband and I have always had a reasonable amount of food on hand. We could probably have gone a month on what was in the pantry.  We like to eat!  Even so, I hadn’t really thought about storing much more food than that until last year when I met a co-worker who is a self-proclaimed “prepper”.  He introduced me to dehydrating and re-sparked my interest in canning. 

With this new interest in food preservation, I began to think back to my childhood.  My father was a meat cutter.  We always had a large chest freezer and full pantry in the basement, and he closely watched grocery store sales.  He memorized prices on a variety of items we commonly used and “cherry picked” the many sales, stocking ahead whenever he could.  My mother taught me to can.  One year when they had a wonderful producing garden, she canned 60 quarts of what she called Dynamites (a mixture of tomatoes, peppers and onions).  These memories made me realize that my parents were the first “preppers” I knew.  Not only did they have adequate food for months, but they had alternative ways to cook, extra candles, a shortwave receiver and many other items that our preppers of today commonly stock.  It was a way of life, something I accepted and I thought everyone did this.

Within a year of my re-sparked interest in this lifestyle I’ve expanded our one-month supply of food to an estimated seven-months.  A Craig’s List score on free canning jars by a friend was helpful, along with my dehydrating frozen and fresh vegetables when they were found on sale.  We also purchased commercially canned food, and stocked up on water as well.

Both my husband and I have been solidly employed for the past 25 years.  But as luck would have it, this year my husband became unemployed for two-months and then shortly after I was unemployed for four-months.  While we didn’t have to delve into our food stockpile, this completely unplanned and unwanted occurrence was a wake-up call.  It showed me that the way of life that my parents instilled in me needs to be continued.  My goal is eventually to have one-year worth of food.

I often wonder how our Pod People neighbors might have fared in a similar occurrence.  With dwindling funds, the constant fast food runs and pizza deliveries become very expensive.   What would they do?  Lean on the government, or family for assistance?  What if those avenues dry up?  I hope they like dog kibble. - Wendy Q.

Brenda's Santa Fe Stew

1 pound ground beef, venison, or elk, crumbled/browned/drained
1 onion, chopped/sauteed
Put above in a large pot and add:
1-2 Tablespoons taco seasoning mix
1-2 Tablespoons ranch dressing mix
1 can black beans
1 can pinto beans
1 can kidney beans
1 can corn (hominy is good too)
1 large can diced tomatoes
1 can Rotel tomatoes
Add water to suit your preference for consistency.  Simmer.  Serves 6.

Chef's Notes:

Can be topped with shredded cheese, sour cream, tortilla chips.
For freezing in individual containers, don't add any extra water until you get ready to reheat.  If frozen in flat containers, it can be kept at your desk and will be nearly thawed in time for lunch.  This recipe is very flexible regarding substitutions (ex: hominy, garbanzo beans).  And it's a good way to cycle out your canned food stockpile.

JWR Adds: It is noteworthy that for most soup and stew recipes that include canned beans, corn or tomatoes, you should NOT drain the juices from the can before use. Just pour the entire contents of the can in to the soup. Not only will this add to the flavor of the soup, but it will also add slightly to its nutritive value. Don't pour those nutrients down your sink drain!

Useful Recipe and Cooking Links:

Enola Gay (editor of the inspiring Paratus Familia blog) shares her recipe for Blueberry (or Huckleberry) Buckle.

Here are some free venison recipes.

Currently Available as Free Kindle e-Books:

Delicious Pork Dinners

Conversion Charts and Oven Temperatures. Baking aid to convert cups, ounces and liquid measurements. (Traditional British Recipes)

Cavelady Cooking: 50 Fun Recipes for Paleo, Low-Carb and Gluten-Free Diets

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

An update: A week ago I mentioned that the producers of the popular Silver Bullet, Silver Shield videos commissioned the minting one-ounce .999 fine silver medallions of their own design. They are being sold for as little as $2.99 over the spot price of silver. If you order yours using the link from SurvivalBlog, we will earn a small sales commission to help defray our considerable monthly bandwidth expenses. I've heard that they've now pre-sold more than half of their planned minting of 50,000 coins. Watch the spot price of silver carefully, and buy on the dip days!

AmEx (American Expat) sent: Roubini: Europe Situation May Turn Disorderly

G.G. sent this: California Is First to Offer Private-Pension Management. [JWR's Comment: Gee, wouldn't you like to come aboard our sinking ship?]

Items from The Economatrix:

Housing Is Back (Again).  Or Is It?

More Americans Now Commit Suicide Than Are Killed In Car Crashes As Miserable Economy Takes Its Toll

The QE Shell Game

The Greatest Trick The Devil Ever Pulled

JPMorgan Loss Could Be Next "Shock" Event

14 Signs that the World Economy is Getting Weaker

"Zombie Economy" May Scare Markets In October