November 2012 Archives

Friday, November 30, 2012

Today we present the final entry for Round 43 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. Any entries received henceforth will be posted in Round 44. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $300 value), 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 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 (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.

You may have a years worth of wheat (or more) stored, but will you be able to make it into bread and other baked goods after TEOTWAWKI?  Sourdough is the solution for preppers.  No need to worry about expiration dates on your commercial yeast packets, a properly cared for sourdough starter can last indefinitely, providing an unlimited source of yeast.  There are several known sourdough starters in the United States that are over 100 years old.

Sourdough is a method of bread preparation that has been used for thousands of years.  It probably originated in Egypt around 1500 BC and was widely used until the Middle Ages.  Today, true sourdough is rare (store-bought “sourdough” bread is usually artificially flavored [with vinegar to make faux sourdough]) but making a comeback among artisan bread bakers. With modern conveniences of dry yeast and cheap store-bought bread, homemade sourdough bread has fallen out of favor with the general public, but mastering the sourdough technique is helpful for anyone choosing to decrease their dependence on commercial goods.

What is sourdough?

Sourdough bread products utilize wild yeasts and friendly bacteria to leaven the bread (i.e. cause it to rise).  A small amount of sourdough starter is added to a larger amount of flour and the dough is allowed to ferment for a time.  During the fermentation the dough is pre-digested, making it more palatable and nutritious, and the chemical process releases gases, causing the dough to rise.

Sourdough gets its name from its slightly tangy flavor caused by the production of lactic acid by the lactobacilli during fermentation. Though it is usually associated with bread, it can be used to make many different kinds of yeasted (for example, pizza dough) and unyeasted (for example, muffins) flour-based baked goods.  

Why sourdough?

Modern bread recipes require a continual dependence on dry yeast manufacturers.  On the other hand, sourdough is a self-generating, never ending supply of yeast.  Sourdough has many further benefits and advantages for the prepper as it is simple, versatile, and nutritious.

Sourdough may seem intimidating for a beginner, but the technique can be quickly mastered. Cultured yeast requires a specific temperature in order to activate and rise.  Sourdough is more forgiving, especially for flat breads. Many recipes call for just four ingredients (flour, water, salt and oil) in varying proportions.  For example pizza dough, crackers, bread, biscuits, tortillas, pita and rolls can all be made with just these four ingredients.  

Sourdough is also versatile.  With just a few more ingredients on hand, a myriad of other baked goods can be made including muffins, cinnamon rolls, noodles, cookies, english muffins, crepes, cake, pot pies, pocket pizza, pancakes and waffles.  An additional benefit of sourdough is that it pre-digests the flour in a way that gives the dough a lighter flavor and texture, making whole grain versions of baked goods like cinnamon rolls more appealing than their non-soured, whole grain counterparts.

Furthermore, utilizing the sourdough method increases the nutritional benefits of baked goods.  As previously mentioned, the souring process gives baked goods a lighter flavor and texture, making whole grain goods more palatable to picky eaters.  Whole grains are higher in B vitamins, fiber and minerals than refined grains.  Furthermore, souring breaks down phytates which are present in whole-wheat flour, anti-nutrients which inhibit the body’s absorption of minerals.  The souring process also makes whole grains easier to digest and breaks down some of the gluten.  In recent years, many people have developed sensitivities to gluten (possibly because of our modern bread-baking techniques) but many of these people can tolerate baked goods that have a long souring time, because the gluten is pre-digested for them.

How to make and care for a sourdough starter.

As previously mentioned, sourdough involves using a little sourdough starter mixed into a larger amount of flour.  Therefore, the first step to making sourdough baked goods is to make (or obtain) a sourdough starter.  If you plan to make sourdough goods on a regular basis, you will want to have a sourdough starter on hand at all times.  That means once you make or obtain a starter, you will want to continuously feed and maintain it, although you can take breaks by putting it in the refrigerator for up to a couple weeks.

Sourdough starters can be purchased from various internet sites.  They come dehydrated, and you just add water to reactivate them.  If you know someone who makes sourdough goods, you can get some of their starter (I have given starter to at least four of my friends since beginning my sourdough journey a year and a half ago.) 

Another option (which is also a great skill to learn for future use) is to make a homemade starter.  There are as many opinions on how to make a starter as their are recipes for using your starter.  I will give you the method that I used, but feel free to research others.  Most people say that it is easier to start a sourdough starter when it is warm outside, but I was able to begin my starter pretty easily on the first try in the middle of a December. (Granted, I do live in a coastal area where winters aren’t too cold.)  Regardless, it is helpful to keep your starter in a warm area of the kitchen (such as next to the stove, crockpot or in the oven with the light on).

To make a starter from scratch, take a cup of water and a cup of flour, and mix together in a glass bowl, large mason jar or ceramic crock.  It is important to use non-chlorinated water, as the chorine can inhibit the growth of the helpful lactobacilli in your starter.  If you use unfiltered tap water, leave it on the counter for 24 hours before using it to allow the chlorine to evaporate.  Make sure to only use wooden or glass utensils to stir, as metal can react with the starter.  After stirring, scrape down the sides of the bowl or jar.  Cover with a cloth to keep out dust.

Let this mixture sit in a warm area of your kitchen for 12 hours.  Then remove half of your water/flour mixture, and add another half cup of flour and half cup of water.  Continue removing half of the mixture and adding more flour and water every 12 hours. (I aim to do it while making breakfast and after making dinner, which is about 12 hours and coincides with my time in the kitchen.)  After about 3-5 days you should start to see some bubbles forming around the side of the glass and/or on the surface of the starter.  This shows that wild yeasts and bacteria are starting to colonize the culture.  You will want to wait until your starter is very active before attempting to bake with it.  Bread shouldn’t be attempted until the starter is well established, as it requires the most yeast activity to turn out well.  Once your starter is established, you don’t need to throw out half of it every time you feed it, but plan to use it regularly so that your don’t have too much starter building up (you can use up extra starter by making pancakes, I share a  recipe for that below).

Caring for your sourdough starter is simple, but it must be faithful.  Keep in mind that your starter is full of living, active bacteria and yeasts.  It must be tended to and fed like any member of your family.  Keep your starter in the warmest part of your kitchen except for in the hottest parts of the summer, when you may want to keep it in a cool part of the kitchen (such as on a low shelf of a cabinet... but don’t forget about it!).  Your starter needs to be fed at least twice a day. (I shoot for first thing in the morning and then after dinner at night) with equal parts of water and flour.  You can rest your starter in the refrigerator, during which time it only needs to be fed once a week, but don’t let it go for more than a few weeks in the fridge without pulling it out and using it.  Store your starter in a glass bowl or mason jar, and stir it with a wooden spoon or other non-reactive utensil.  Your sourdough starter should never come in contact with metal (though I sometimes use a stainless steel spoon for a quick stir after feeding it, as stainless steel has low reactivity,)  After feeding your starter and stirring, make sure to scrape down the sides to discourage the growth of mold.  Always cover your starter when not in use to keep out bugs and dust.  Fruit flies are especially attracted to the scent of sourdough starter.

Depending on your rhythm of life and frequency of baking, you may choose to keep your sourdough starter on the counter continuously (during which times it needs to be fed at least twice per day), or you may choose to let it lay dormant in the refrigerator for periods of time (during which times you only need to feed it once a week.) I have used both methods in my year and a half of doing sourdough, because of varying life circumstances.  To give you an idea, I will provide some examples from my experiences with sourdough.

For my first six months of doing sourdough, I was feeding seven people three meals per day (my husband and I had four foster children plus my mother living with us) and my starter rarely went in the fridge.  I was making sourdough baked goods on a daily basis, sometimes multiple times per day.  I was continually taking from my starter and continually feeding it.  I rarely had too much starter and often faced the problem of not having enough due to poor planning or forgetfulness.

Then the four children went back to living with their birth mother, and my mother moved out, and I was down to cooking for two.  I was pregnant and trying to up my protein intake, and I decreased the amount of grains that I was preparing.  During this time, I kept the starter in the refrigerator and sometimes went for 2-3 weeks between uses (without feeding it for the whole time and it survived.  Sourdough can be very forgiving!)

Currently, we have a college student living with us, two babies and frequent guests over for meals.  I keep my starter out about half of the time, and in the refrigerator the other half of the time.  I usually lay out a meal plan at the beginning of each week, which helps me to know when I need to keep it out and build up the starter, and when I can leave it to rest in the refrigerator for a few days.  All this is to say that you can make sourdough fit with your lifestyle, and it will bring great benefit if you do.

Sourdough Recipe Tips

Few modern cookbooks include sourdough recipes, but there are an increasing number of recipes to be found on the internet.  It can be intimidating to know where to start for someone new to sourdough.  I have found the most reliable recipes come from sites that emphasize traditional foods and preparation methods.  Here are some terms and other things to be aware of when choosing recipes to try.

Souring time.  The longer the souring time (also called rising time), the more nutritious the end product will be.  Look for recipes that call for 8-12 hours of fermentation, which is enough time to break down most of the phytic acid.  If a recipe calls for a shorter time than this, it often requires supplemental commercial yeast.

Percentage of hydration.  In some recipes you will see terminology about the percentage of hydration.  This has to  do with the flour/water ratio of your starter.  For example, 100% hydration means that a starter is fed equal parts of water and flour.  I find that a starter fed equal parts water and flour works for most recipes, but to be safe, you can stick with recipes that call for 100% hydration until you are more familiar with sourdough baking.  If a recipe does not specify the percentage of hydration, it is usually safe to assume they are calling for a starter fed equal parts of flour and water.

Your flour. Store bought flour is more compacted than freshly ground flour.  So, depending on the type of flour you use, you might need slightly more or slightly less than a recipe calls for.  I have found that the more times that I make a recipe, the better the idea I get for how the dough should look and feel, and I can adjust accordingly.  If possible, use freshly ground flour.  Not only do whole wheat berries store longer than flour, but freshly ground is the most nutritious form of flour.  By some estimates, flour loses 90% of its vitamins within three days of being ground. (Although refrigerating or freezing freshly ground flour will slow down this micronutrient loss.)

Sourdough bread requires more skill and patience than other sourdough products.  Approach bread baking as a learning experience, and expect to make a brick from time to time, especially at the beginning. Instead of throwing out a dense loaf, grind it up into bread crumbs, store it in the freezer to use when you need bread crumbs for a recipe, or feed it to your chickens, ducks or pigs.  To ensure success with bread baking, make sure your starter is very active and that you allow the bread to rise in a warm place (I like to put it in my oven with the oven light turned on.)

I will leave you with a recipe for sourdough pancakes, which is probably the sourdough recipe that I use the most.  It is easy and forgiving, and a great recipe to start with as you learn sourdough. Even a weak starter that is just a few days old can be used for this recipe.  When you have an excess of starter, this is a good way to use the extra up quickly.  It is also a quick and easy breakfast for when I fail to plan ahead, as it only calls for starter and requires no souring time.

2 cups sourdough starter
2 tablespoons sweetener (honey, brown sugar, etc)
4 tablespoons of butter or coconut oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking soda

Heat your seasoned griddle to a medium-high heat.  Mix together all ingredients except the baking soda.  Add the baking soda right before you are ready to pour the batter.  Cook the pancakes on the griddle until they are golden brown on both sides. 1/3 cup of batter per pancake makes about nine medium sized pancakes.  Enjoy! 

You linked to an article on Thursday about Bloomberg's gun grabbing mayors: the Mayors Against Illegal Guns. I noticed on their list of member mayors that a few states were without any mayoral representation (A badge of honor!)

Missing from the list are:
• Alaska
• Idaho
• Montana
• Oklahoma
• Wyoming

Three of these are American Redoubt states. This is yet another reason to move to the Redoubt. Regards, - Adam G.

JWR Replies: It is also noteworthy that many of the "former" members on the roster (shown in bold in this 2008 list) are now serving felony prison sentences. Kwame Kilpatrick, for example, already a convicted felon, is presently standing trial under a new 38-charge felony indictment for additional corruption charges. The testimony thusfar does not bode well for him.

Joe K. recommended a piece in an Outdoor Life blog: Survival Skills: How To Make A Torch

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Rob L. pointed me to a video demonstration of a new sniper scope technology: TrackingPoint Demonstration.

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Regional update: Sudan, Iran, and Gaza

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November 30th is the Last Day of Safecastle's Mountain House sale, with discounted prices on select canned favorites. Also, From November 26 to December 2, during Week 14 of our ongoing "Repel the Chaos" incentive program, Safecastle Buyers Club members who make any purchase of at least $600 in their e-store will receive a free bundle that includes a Firebox Folding Stove (uses any fuel), an Aurora Firestarter, and two ReadyFuel packets.

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The demonization begins: Kerosene Lamps Identified as Big Source of Black Carbon. The science behind this assertion are flaky, when seen in the proper conext. One good-sized volcanic eruption or a few forest fires generate far more more carbon than the entire amount of carbon produced by kerosene lamps in the U.S. each year. If the government wants to offset that impact, they should simply pony up to buy a couple of more fire retardant bombers. Oh, but wait, our government is instead spending its money kindling forest fires. (Thanks to Steven H. for the initial link.)

"Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence. True friendship is a plant of slow growth, and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity before it is entitled to the appellation." - President George Washington

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Today is the birthday of C.S. Lewis. He was born in 1898 and died November 22, 1963. He is known for his Christian apologetics writings as well as for the Chronicles of Narnia book series.


Today we present another entry for Round 43 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The queue is now full for this round, so any entries received will be posted in Round 44. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $300 value), 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 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 (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 am a law enforcement officer by trade. The area I work, as more and more areas often do nowadays, has an unfortunate problem with Meth. Most often, Meth is carried in 1.5”x1.5” plastic baggies that are usually folded up. As you can imagine, people get awfully desperate when trying to hide them.  As you can also imagine, a large portion of my time is spent trying to find them. If you imagine something about the size of a postage stamp or SD card that will give you a pretty good idea of the size we are dealing with. I also have investigated countless burglary calls, so have seen firsthand not only the patterns that thieves follow when searching for loot, but the patterns people follow when hiding things. I also happen to be a prepper, so in addition to needing to find stuff in my job, I understand the need for discreet storage in my personal life. I will approach this article from two ways: First, I’ll go over some of the more imaginative places I’ve seen things hidden, and hopefully share some tips and tricks that will open up more storage/hiding places for you. Second, I’ll go over some steps and methods to help you find things if you are the one looking. The better you get at finding things, the better you get at hiding them. Whether it’s hiding something quickly on your person or finding something on someone you are searching, or creating a long term cache, I hope this helps open up some new avenues to you.

Part 1- Hiding things-
So what are you hiding? I agree with JWR whole-heartedly that it is a lot harder for people to steal (or seize) what they cannot find.  Gold/silver, guns, ammo, USB drives, documents, etc. Anything of value to you.  Maybe you just need more room for your food storage.  Hiding places are truly only limited by your imagination. Shape, Shine, Shadow, Silhouette etc still apply when hiding objects as well as yourself.  This article will mainly focus on hiding areas and compartments.  So let’s begin…

ON YOUR PERSON: From the bottom up, let’s start with the shoes. Many of the new skate style shoes have a thick tongue. This tongue can be cut (along a seam) and items inserted in this. In addition the insole can be removed and items placed beneath. On crocs or even sandals, the sole can be split, filled, and glued back. On regular shoes, the sole (think where the air pocket on Nike’s is) can usually be cut and hollowed out. The heel of a shoe tends to have a lot of padding, and this provides some area to work with.  Shoes can be bought with both tongue and heel hiding places already constructed.

Obviously, anything can be tucked into a sock. For pants, the bottom cuff of pants can store items. You can also fold the cuff internally and sew or Velcro shut. Hidden pockets can be sewn anywhere on pants.  Seams are good places for these, as the thickness of the material will provide support and break up any imprint of the item, and if being patted down, the hard seam may hide the object from touch.  The edges of cargo pockets are also viable options, as well as the flap of the pocket. Most pocket flaps are double thickness, and can be opened, filled, and resealed easily. If you are doing this, make sure the objects are silenced and cant jangle against one another. Hidden storage belts are very common, and easily missed during a quick pat down.  Likewise with the back of a belt buckle or one with a removable object on the front. The same hiding places for pants also apply to shirts, with the addition of under or inside of a collar or thicker sewn in tag. For hats, inside of the sweat band, or tucked into a slit in the underside of the bill. Foam front hats can be altered in this way as well.  Belts also do not just need to be for holding your pants up.  You can tuck a gun into a belt that is worn up closer to chest level (up to your arm pits) on your body in a pinch, or have a knife taped to your inner thigh or upper hamstring area. Both the Keltec P3AT and the Ruger  LCP have available belt clips for them. The clip extends higher than the back of the pistol, so all that appears in a pocket is a clip that looks like a knife.

BICYCLES: Obviously, tires can be used as storage places.  The frames on bikes are hollow, and can be accessed from the seat, handle bar, or even crank area on some brands. Seat stems quickly remove and provide hollow storage, especially on newer bikes with quick adjust seats. You can tape items to the underside of the seat. Or buy a seat cover and keep items between the cover and the seat. On bicycles with straight grips, you can make a thin lit in the flat distal end of the rubber grip. Items can be inserted, and the hole is self-closing. Bicycle helmets are also options, with both padding that can be removed and foam to work with. Bicycles are also stolen, so be sure to guard against this and keep this in mind when using them to store items..

VEHICLES: A whole book could be written on this, and smugglers are coming up with some pretty ingenious methods. Cars are stolen, so I don’t advocate storing long term items in them (IE Guns), but there may come a time and place. Every vehicle is different. Anything with padding can be stuffed, and any dead space can be taken advantage of.  I strongly encourage you to look through your vehicle, both inside and out, top and bottom. After market tube bumpers can be filled with items. Stock  bumpers can have things tucked inside. Speakers can be removed. Again, tires can be filled. In the engine compartment, you can remove the air filter or fuse box. Or install a false fuse box. With all of the aftermarket items inside of cars now, it’s hard to tell what is stock and what is not (think about the K and N cold air filters). Get some large radiator hose and attach it to random spots in the engine compartment for some pretty secret storage. Anything that has to be bolted down is highly unlikely to be unbolted during a search, and provides a good starting point. Engines also have a lot of undercarriage armoring or protection that can be removed and used. Wheel wells usually have some storage space, and most vehicles have body panels that provide a lot of room to work with. Under a dash board, you can access vents as well as a lot of empty space. Door panels can be removed, as well as seat cushions (or slit and stuffed.)  In the glove box, there is an area under the box on the door, as well as below the dash if you remove the glove box/door fully. If you have a sunroof, the area between the glass piece and the interior padding can store things. In the console area, you can remove the plastic housing. Most ashtrays remove to empty, and provide access to a dead space behind them. The soft boot on a parking brake or manual transmission can be removed and filled. Airbags can be removed.  Dome lights can be removed and have the headliner accessed. The actual trunk portion that lifts up provides a lot of room, as do most light housing areas. Under any carpet in the vehicle.  Behind a license plate. Under a truck bed liner. Under a false floor in a tool box in the bed. Between the tool box and bed.  People can go so far as to install a smaller gas tank with a hidden compartment in the unused space.  In general, the more you can return the appearance to standard, the better. If you slit a seat, install Velcro or stitch it back up. If you lift the carpet, glue it back down. Do not leave pry marks on the dash board or door panels. Old vehicles are somewhat easier to work with, as they do a better job of disguising things as minor wear and tear.  If you have a rundown vehicle in the yard, you have more options. Park it on a buried 55 gallon drum. Remove the valve covers, hide things there, and replace them.  If the vehicle is not running, any hoses can be filled.  You can remove the wheels from a car, jack it up, put stuff where the gas tank was, then lower it down.  Let your imagination guide you.  Anything in the engine compartment will get hot and dirty.

THE YARD: With anything stored outside, be sure to weatherproof your container. Underground storage areas are very difficult to find, especially if you conceal them well. Metal detectors are becoming more commonplace, so be mindful of this. If it is a long term cache, leave it. Don’t check it every month and leave telltale signs or a path in the grass or freshly dug dirt. If you are concerned about metal detectors, place some old pipe fittings in the dirt above your cache and below the ground level. Fence tubing can be used. If building a wall, you can fill a cinder block with goods for long term storage. If you need easier access, remove a specific cap piece on top of the wall. Like wise with a 4x4 fence post.  These can be drilled nearly hollow then capped with a decorative piece.  Bird houses can be filled, or built with a false floor.  If building a raised bed garden, filled PVC tubes can be laid in the bottom. How many times have you seen people searching/looting a house dig up a garden? On a deck or play structure, any number of compartments can be fitted to the cross beams of the flooring. Don’t overlook a child’s sandbox. If you build your own, it is very simple to simply install a double floor for your goods, then fill with sand.  Old cars (see above), garden hose rolls (the roller), decorative yard art or sculptures, junked appliances, again let your imagination guide you. You can remove a brick from a wall, construct a fake brick out of floral foam that can be hollowed out, and paint to match your wall. Buy an outdoor speaker rock, and remove the guts. Hide something under your wood pile.  Be creative. Think like a kid again. Ask your kids where they would hide things.

HOME EXTERIOR: This is one of my favorites. Most people overlook the exterior of a home for any worthwhile goods. People know that spare keys are under mats, plants, etc, by the front door. On a patio/porch cover, if you have exposed beams, install new paneling pieces in the space between them. If you use spacers, you can still have exposed beams and hide the appearance of your cache. If you have a flat patio cover, you can hide a great number of items on top of it, against the roof. Have you ever looked behind the bird blocks on your roof? There is space there as well. Look at all of the pipes, vents, chimneys, etc, coming off of your roof. It would be very simple to construct a false vent pipe, sand to fit, paint to match, and no one would be the wiser.  Likewise with the random cable, phone, sprinkler controller boxes on houses now. How many does your house have? If you can’t name the number, someone looting won’t know either.  Buy an extra, set it up, and store away!
You can also landscape for success here too. Plants that drop a ton of leaves can hide a lot of ground work, and if you do bury something in a garden, it’s a great spot for your cactus collection.  Hide something inside your dog house when you build it. Or your chicken coop.
HOME INTERIOR: This is where it gets interesting.  Most burglaries I have seen people go through all of the usual hiding places. Drawers, cabinets, closets, nightstands, mattresses, under beds, behind pictures on the wall, book case. If something can get pushed over, its going to. So don’t hide things there. Let’s get wiser.
Let’s start with the laundry room. Do your cabinets go all the way to the ceiling? If not, consider a fascia piece and Velcro or screws to hold it in place. Now, they look like they go to the ceiling and you have a lot of storage. The same with a toe kick piece on the bottom of cabinets. Remove it, and reattach with Velcro, magnets, or screws.  Most cabinets also have an overhang on the bottom and top. You can fit a flush (horizontal) top or bottom and have a lot of storage. On washing machines and dryers, especially older models, there is a lot of dead space that can be accessed by removing the paneling. Obviously, be careful of what you are storing there, and the machine’s effects on it and its effect on the machine.  How many hoses and vents come off of your washer and dryer? Would a looter notice an extra 6” vent piece on the back of your dryer?  Do you use powdered laundry detergent? You can hide a lot in the bottom of a five gallon bucket of powder or large box of tide.  Same thing with bleach. Empty a bleach container, wash, dry, and fill with goods. Store in the back behind a couple other full bottles of bleach.

THE KITCHEN:  How many decorative containers do you have on the cabinets in your kitchen? Try putting food storage in them. How about under your stove?  How about in the warming drawer? What about the vent above your stove?  Remove the fascia piece on the bottom of your dishwasher? Do your cabinets have dead space around corners?  Do your counters have an overhanging lip? Could you flush mount a thin veneer under them? Some of the more amazing hiding places I have seen constructed involved water filters. One was a screw in water filter in the fridge that was hollowed out.  The other was an under the sink water filter, again, that was just the shell and had been hollowed out.  It is easy to overlook these, and if the power and water is off, its easy to excuse them not working. It Is also easy to install an extra piece or two of PVC pipe under a sink that are going nowhere. Unless you take the time to look, most will not notice an extra pipe.  How many chemicals do you keep under your sink? Can you store something in your ajax container?  How about where you store all of your plastic bags?  Be careful of hiding things in food (IE bottom of rice bucket.) Depending on how bad things are and who is doing the looting, that may be what people are looking for.  How about your pantry?  What about installing a 2 inch shelf above the door jam on the inside? How many times have you seen the wall above your closet door from the inside? Exactly….that is what makes it a great place to hide things. Depending on how small the pantry is and how high your ceiling is, you can go so far as to install a false ceiling. Because the lighting is usually different or non existent in the pantry/closet, false ceiling are a lot harder to pick out. Put a 2x4 so the 4” side is vertical on either short edge of the ceiling. Cut a piece of plywood to fit, and screw into the 2x4. 3.5” of storage space will fit most guns. Paint and texture to match. This works very well for a long term cache, when you can tape/caulk the seams, etc, and just leave it alone.  How about a decorative backsplash behind a sink or stove? Can you use one to hide a between the studs cache in the wall?  How about the inside of chandelier glass? Or screw in light covers? Add lots of dead bugs to hide any shadows cast.  How about where your ceiling fan attached to the ceiling? Or your smoke alarm? If you take them out, you have access to a lot of space under your ceiling insulation, and can put back a functioning item to hide your entrance point.  How about the dishes you have stacked up? How many coins could you tape to the bottom of your plates?

Moving on to the living room/dining room…Couches make great, but obvious places to hide things. But how about a lamp base? How about a curtain rod? How about sewn into the fold on the bottom of a curtain? Can you install a false bottom on your dining chairs? How about your dining room table? Coffee table? Are there angled support pieces in the corners?  If you do store stuff in a chair, be sure to pad the contents to keep them quiet, and do it to all of the chairs so it looks factory. How about speakers?  When looking at furniture, try to figure out where the dead space is.

Then, figure out how you can build a compartment to take advantage of it. Indoor plants are great too.  A nalgene bottle will hold a lot, and is waterproof enough to put in the bottom of a plant pot and leave under a plant and soil.

File cabinets are usually opened up, gone through, and tipped over. Most drawers are not removed. If you do remove the bottom drawer, you have some pretty good space below the drawer. An even better spot is secured to the inside of the top (above the top drawer) if the item is small enough.

Beds are common places to hide things, usually under them or in the mattress. So be different. Hollow out a bed post or leg if you have a wooden bed. Install a second piece of wood to the back of your head board to create a spot.  Dressers drawers will get pulled out and dumped out. If you must hide in a dresser, build a spot above the top drawers on the inside of the top, or to the side of the edge drawers. Take advantage of your dead space.  For bookcases, most have with a decorative fascia on the top shelf or below the bottom shelf. Don’t just hide things there. Screw a sheet of board onto it to really secure it.

Bathrooms are great too. Does your bathroom have two sinks? Use one and convert the plumbing in the other to storage. Tampon/Pad boxes are good for hiding things. How about a spare trash can with opened feminine products on top? Have a shower or bath you don’t use? What can you fit in the drain? What about in the faucet/water fixture. How about that costco sized bottle that used to have shampoo in it? What about your shower or bath itself? Do you have a seat in your shower? How about the entire frame of your bath? All of this is dead space waiting to be used. What can you attach to string or wire and put down the toilet? What about fitting things in the float ball in the toilet tank? Is there a brick in your toilet tank? Can you hollow out the bottom of the brick?
What about the closet? People look behind clothes hanging in closets. People don’t look in the pockets of clothes hanging in the closet. Or pinned under the collar of a jacket. Do you have shelves in the closet? Under the bottom shelf, up against the wall is a good place. Closets are great places to remove the base board and create a cache. You can attach it back with Velcro or magnets, but screws work better.  If your closet is wider than the door, can you build a partition against one wall? Again, if you take the time to finish it right, the lighting and presence of things in the closet will help to hide it.  Will 4” of wall space missing stand out amongst old clothes and Christmas decorations?

Attics make great places too. Under insulation is always a great option. If you have spray in insulation, it is very hard to make it look untampered with. Roll insulation is easier. With the amount of venting going around, is the searcher really going to confirm where each duct is going to? Consider adding a false duct for storage.  Bury one end in the insulation somewhere, and have the other go off into a dark corner.  Get to a corner of the attic, and screw a sheet of plywood between (not to the beams, but between) two beams to create a compartment against the roof. Basements are great places also. Think of structural dead space, and choose the nastiest, darkest corner you have. Put a cardboard box of water damaged magazines in front of it.

For true cache type hiding places, you need to think construction.  Install a new shower with a seat and take advantage of the dead space. When framing a wall, door, or window, put an extra few 2x4’s on the base plate. Drill out a space big enough for coins, USB drives, etc. Understand these are not going to be accessed easily. When installing flooring, think about a floor safe. I helped a friend build an addition onto his house. When pouring the foundation, we sank a tube safe in the concrete. It got filled, covered with Thinset, and tiled over.  Do you have a bay window? Build a seat to fill in the angle, but have the seat lift for storage. You can frame out a rectangular storage area under the hinged seat, but will still have the triangular areas on either end the are accessed by taking the whole thing apart.  Have an interior wall where insulation doesn’t matter? Replace the drywall with plywood on either side and have a great storage area between the studs. Any electrical outlet, surround sound speaker, phone jack, cable hook up is a great access point. Or install a few fake ones. Newer houses have drain access points on opposite walls from the plumbing, and these make excellent spots also.

In the garage, make things look boring. No one goes through a bin of old newspapers. Or looks in the bottom of a bucket of rusty bolts.  Or looks under the salt pellets in a water softener. Or looks under the wooden shelves you built to see the double plywood layer with storage space between.  Or dumps out the 5 gallon bucket of off color paint on clearance at home depot to find the Nalgene bottle in the bottom of it. Most commercial metal shelves have a lip on the bottom front, and you can store things under them.
One last thing is your safe. I assume you have one, it is bolted down, and kept locked. Better yet, you have a cheap throw down safe in your closet and the real one in a hidden room.  What about storing stuff under the carpet in your safe? Or on the inside edge of the lip in the front frame piece around the door, on the sides and top? If the safe is bolted to the concrete, did you put a cache in the wall it is up against? How about in the ground under it?

Another option is hollow core doors. The top can be removed, and lots of things stored inside. How about inside the decorative crown molding on the ceiling?
There is a thought that you can build armor to defeat any bullet, and can build a bullet to defeat any armor. Hiding things is like this. Someone can find any hiding spot you have given enough time and effort.  You want to make it as boring and horrible a process for them that they stop well before they find what they are looking for. If you have something hidden in the yard, put the trash can with the dog poop by it. And get a skunk to spray it. And plant a cactus by it. Make someone searching take one look at it and mentally give up before they start. People often look IN things, but rarely look AT the thing itself. Take advantage of this. People also look in places where they themselves hide things, and you can learn a lot by watching someone search. If you alter something, repair it as close to original as you can. Or alter everything the same way. Once you hide something, LEAVE IT THERE. Every time you check on it, you are creating an opportunity to leave a trail or alter something that will make it show.  Maybe today is the day your hand is dirty and will leave a hand print, or you will break a branch on the plant.  Maybe you will be in a hurry and not put things back right.

Part 2 Finding things-
Let’s start with a little on human behavior. Police are not trained to find criminals. We are trained to look for patterns, and notice when something breaks a pattern, or follows one we have already recognized. When I stop a car and the driver instantly lights up a cigarette and starts puffing away like a steam engine going uphill, I instantly think of two options. One, the person has been drinking and is trying to hide the smell of alcohol. Two, the person has a warrant, and is trying to get in a last bit of nicotine before jail. This is just from watching people over a long period of time. Next time you are carrying a gun, pay attention to how often you subconsciously touch it. When you get out of your car, when you go into a business, when you stand up, or sit down. Some people want to keep their drugs as close to them as they can. Others will do their best to stay as far away from them as they can (IE drugs are in the car, and they meet you at the trunk of the car when you stop them they are out their door so fast.) People are creatures of habit. People also tend to be lazy by nature. These two things come in handy when looking for things. When hiding things, people tend to want somewhere quickly accessible, and within reach.  When searching, people tend to get lazy, and look where they would hide things. You must be methodical and systematic. Don’t be afraid to take a break during a search for something if you find you are losing focus.

SEARCHING A PERSON:  So you are manning your LP/OP and you contact someone. In the course of the contact, they need to be searched. First, have a minimum of two people to search anyone. Safety and awareness are paramount. While one is doing the tactile portion, the second should be looking at the person’s body language, etc. A third and fourth person would ideally be providing cover.  The safest way is to have the person undress, and to go through their belongings inch by inch. This is not always possible. First, look at the person. Do you see any obvious bulges, or unevenness anywhere?  Have them interlock their fingers on the back of their head, with their pinkies up. Grasp their hands, and pull them backwards, so they are off balance. If you have the manpower, have one person hold them like this and have another search them. To search, you must touch everywhere, with enough time and pressure. You are looking and feeling or anything out of the ordinary. Go Slow. You are looking for a handcuff key under a seam of their pants or something of the like (In the academy, we were taught to look for a handcuff key. It’s the smallest thing that can kill you. Spend time with your spouse hiding a hand cuff key and trying to find it. Truly believe the person has a handcuff key or a mini SD card on them every time you search. Actively search. DO NOT GO THROUGH THE MOTIONS) IF ANYTHING FEELS OR LOOKS DIFFERENT, INVESTIGATE FURTHER! Did something crinkle? Did it not bend how it should? Go all the way up the inner thigh. Check inside the waist band. When going through clothes/shoes away from the person, look over and touch every inch. Look at the seams. Look at the thread used, the stitch pattern. Bend the item in your fingers. Take the insoles out of the shoes. Compare the two in weight.  Compare the two or the left and right side in feel.  Look at the belt buckle. Look at the belt. Look inside the hat. GO SLOW.  They sell handcuff key zipper pulls, as well as paracord bracelet clips that have them in them. VERIFY EVERYTHING, AND DO NOT ASSUME.
When searching a car, a good place to start is to sit in the driver’s seat.  Remember, people are lazy. What can you reach? Where do your hands go to when you reach under the seat?  To the visor? Under the passenger seat? Account for the dead space in the car. Look in all of the places mentioned above. Turn the wipers on. Turn the AC and heat on. Does it all work? Is the head liner loose? Are their pry marks on the door paneling? On the Dash board? Is the ashtray full or was it recently emptied? Is the CD holder full of CD’s? Look in the trunk. Look where the spare goes. Look in the actual trunk portion of the car that lifts up.

For the purpose of this article, searching means after the fact, when any gunplay is done, and you have ample time on your hands. This does not pertain to any area that is not fully secured and under your control.

As mentioned , you can see that is is nearly impossible to search every rock tree and bush. So you play the odds. Try to look, listen, and feel. Look for patterns of travel. Look for dead grass, or trimmed bushes. Look for disturbed dirt. Look for loose bricks. Look for missing cobwebs.  Listen for footsteps that sound different, or for the section of fence that sounds hollow. Or sounds dull if everything else sounds hollow.  Feel for the floral foam brick, or the loose capstone.  Divide the yard into a grid. Go through methodically and systematically. DO NOT ASSUME ANYTHING, VERIFY EVERYTHING. Open the lawnbird control panel on the house. Turn the sprinklers on. Turn the hose on.

Inside of the house, account for every inch of space. Look for things that don’t fit, are not original, or were recently or frequently moved. Look for grooves and wear patterns in paint. Listen. Knock on walls, Knock on floors. Get out a stethoscope. Feel the wall texture. Turn on the sinks. Feel the pipes below while the sink is on. Is water draining where it should? Feel the ductwork with the AC or heat on.  Is air moving? If not, VERIFY why not. Do not assume.  Imagine objects are made of 1” cubes. You need to verify what each cube is or is not either by touch or sight. By both if possible. Think of a book case. This means everything within the edges of that book case is on a 1” grid. The books. The space behind the books. The shelves. Under the shelves. The wall behind it and the floor under it.  Open each book, not just one or two. When looking at containers of things, do the same thing. 1“ cubes. You can’t verify them all by looking at it from the outside. Dump them out if need be.  The person playing mouse went to great lengths to make everything as boring as possible, as disgusting as possible. They forgot to flush the toilet intentionally. They clean all their fish in the same pile for a reason.  Coincidences do not exist when you are searching for something. Get out a tape measure. Measure the ceiling height. Measure the wall length. If something doesn’t ad up, VERIFY it. Account for all structural dead space both in the house and in the objects in them.

Be mindful also of what people are searching for and what looters need. Right now, the bottom of a bucket of rice may be a good spot to hide a few coins. Food theft has not started yet. Likewise, a computer printer that may be stolen is not a wise place to hide said coins. But six months post-crunch, when the printer is a paper weight because the grid has been down and rice is as valuable as gold, the priorities for hiding places may be reversed.

I hope this article helps open up some new thoughts for you on hiding places, and finding them. When you look at your house from a different perspective, you will find limitless storage. And the better you get at finding things, the better you will be at hiding things. Search objects, not just in them.  If you are the deer hunter, look for deer from the moment you open your eyes in the morning, not just when you are in your tree stand in the woods.  If you are the deer, don’t just hide in the woods. Hide in the bushes by the front window of the hunters house, where he will pass you by before he even realizes he should be looking for you.

This all fits in a one gallon Ziploc baggie (except for laptop and fleece)
19 hour Emergency Room and Hospital Survival Kit
·       Stocking cap (to shut out light and things you don’t want to see)
·       Ear Plugs (to shut out things you don’t want to hear)
·       Zip-able fleece outer wear (Wear. To control Temperature)
·       Cell phone/Smart phone/I-pad/Laptop(Obvious reasons plus recreation/distraction for self and kid(s).  Typically something you already carry)
·       Way to charge cell phone etc. (It will see much use and you will be making many calls.  The phone will gobble up charge hunting for signal if signal is weak.)
·       Card with lists of contact numbers (To save digging them out of cell phone.  You will be asked for this information several times.)
·       Lists with kid’s meds or those in family with chronic illness (Names, dosages, frequency of taking.  You will be asked at least twice a shift for this information and it is easy to screw up)
·       24 hour supply of your meds (so you don’t get goofy)
·       Aspirin/Ibuprofen/Tylenol (Whatever works for you.  ER furniture designed to torture and maim the people who sit on it.)
·       Tooth brush (obvious)
·       Change for vending machines
·       Clean pair of socks (Emotional pick-me-up)
·       Empty Ziploc bag to stow dirty socks. (The ER staff will appreciate it)
Note that if you are in an ER for more than 8 hours it is probably because there is not a regular room to transfer you to in the immediate area.  So your 19 hour ER stay may have a 6 hour (round trip) drive and a 2-or-3 hour admission tacked onto the end of it.

- Joe H.

Hi Jim,

A couple of things worth considering for painless pet euthanasia.  This is never a pleasant subject, but:

1. Carbon monoxide poisoning.  People die of this painlessly all the time.   Prepare a setup now to connect to your vehicle exhaust (or any other gas engine exhaust) to an enclosure sized to hold your pet.

2. A person can be made unconscious simply by pressing two fingers against the juggler veins in the neck without any feeling of strangling or otherwise. It's like going to sleep (the brain is deprived of oxygen and you black out).  A prolonged application of this will cause brain damage, of course, and eventually death.  I don't know the specifics, but one might be able to find out by a medical person or veterinarian about application to a pet.

Sincerely, - Paul B.

Responding to J.M.’s letter, Advice on Disaster Pet Euthanasia, I would like to say that even living on a hobby farm and dispatching chickens, turkeys, and sheep, if it came to putting one of my dogs down before a bugout it would still be difficult. Most good dog owners realize their dogs are not “just” animals, there is some degree of person-hood there that requires consideration and compassion. They’re not human beings, but they’re also not just inert, instinct-driven things either.

Trust me that euthanasia is only stressful up to the point where you actually do the deed. After that point it is a relief, and you know you did what had to be done. You move on to the next thing on the list and the grieving can wait until things settle down a bit, and it’s not an emergency any longer.

Speaking for myself, I find it enormously comforting to realize that God probably has a purpose for them beyond this life. Not sure why that’s so comforting, I guess it’s just realizing that God has a plan and He is good beyond my wildest imagination (and I can imagine a lot!).

Ponder the implications of these tantalizing Bible verses: Psalm 36:6, Psalm 50:10-11, Psalm 145:9, Proverbs 12:10, Ecclesiastes 3:21, Romans 8:21, Revelation 4 (mistranslated in most English versions as “living creature” the word is actually “animal” – the animal kingdom is represented before the very Throne of God!), and the inclusiveness of Revelation 5:13 – 14. I don't believe that the “Lamb who was slain” will forget the lambs who were by their very being a picture of his character. I just don't believe they will be left behind in the glory to come. And that’s an encouraging thought.

That said, for me it’s a matter of making a rational decision (usually old age or illness, so far) based on criteria that my wife and I decided on long in advance of the actual need. Make a list! And when the circumstances fit that list then decide! Follow through on that decision by doing what must now be done, suck it up, do not dwell on it or stew on it or stall – just set aside your emotions for a few minutes and focus on doing it right for your animal friend.

One thing that has been a big help for us in the past is to give our dog a dose of Acepromazine, an inexpensive, commonly-prescribed veterinary drug that we have on hand for sedating our animals during trips (and there was that one hyper dog who freaked out in thunderstorms…). If you crush the tablet (and give an overdose) then mix it with a little peanut butter you won’t have any problem getting your dog to take it, and when crushed it will take effect more quickly and more profoundly.

Being sedated, your dog will not pick up your agitation/stress/fear in the crisis situation and they’ll be easier to handle, you might even need to carry them or drag them on a rug or tarp if the sedative hits before you’re ready (might only be a minute or two). I wouldn’t try to smother a dog, it takes too long, is very hands-on, and even sedated the dog may reflexively struggle. Bleeding an animal out once deeply sedated is fairly quick (with presumably little perceived pain) with a deep cut to the neck jugular vein behind the jaw (shave off the hair, if you have time, to be able to see what you’re doing there).  

Using a firearm as James Rawles described is the quickest and most humane method, just bring enough gun – dog’s skulls can be very hard in the bigger breeds (I’d recommend being sure the bullet is entering perpendicular to their skull, or nearly so). Take your time and do it by the book. If your dog is sedated but still moving around you might need to tie them to something to safely hold their head still. (Once your dog is sedated you do not want to offer them anything else to eat or drink, so be sure you’ve got the sedative dose you want on the first try.) You do not want to botch your first shot. And make sure there’s no one downrange or anywhere a ricocheting shot might go!

If you have enough Acepromazine you may be able to give a massive overdose and they will just fall asleep and stop breathing on their own. Unless you have a stethoscope and are experienced with its use you can’t assume your dog has passed on, so once you think it’s dead you’ll need to take some additional step to guarantee that fact. They’re already dead, it’s just their dead body now, and you’re just making absolutely positive. Some paracord ought to do the trick… Our dogs depend on us, if we’re going to do it we need to get it right – they’re counting on a quick, humane death and we owe them that much.

Look, I know this is a hard, hard topic to discuss! People hate to talk about death, but we MUST! Working out the final details for your beloved companion dog will be a good conversation-starter for talking about our own deaths, and the deaths we may one day be forced into inflicting in self-defense. I’m sorry it’s so hard – ask God to help you through it with clarity and peace. Jesus, after all, knows all about death… and conquered it!

I fully expect to see my dogs around the Throne of God as well as redeemed humanity, angels, cherubs, seraphim, and however many other classes and species of sentient life God has chosen for the honor. It will be a big, noisy, slobbery reunion!

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed.” – Revelation 21:4 Amen!
Trust God. Be Prepared. We can do both! - ShepherdFarmerGeek in Spokane

James C. sent: How To Use Mason Jars With a Blender

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Miller: Crimes of gun-grabbing mayors

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Reader V.L. suggested this: How to Use a Flashlight in a Tactical Situation

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Kevin S. liked this piece by one of my heroes, Dr. Walter Williams, wherein he explains the myth of "price gouging": Disaster Ignorance (But of course it is important to be charitable in the midst of disasters.

"The stamping of paper is an operation so much easier than the laying of taxes, that a government, in the practice of paper emissions, would rarely fail in any such emergency to indulge itself too far." - Alexander Hamilton, the first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Badger Peak has announced multiple Buy One, Give One (BOGO) product offerings to benefit Christian Reformed Outreach, South Sudan (C.R.O.S.S.). The BOGO product offerings are all of their Otis brand gun cleaning kits and all sizes of Gun Butter firearms lubricants. For each one that you buy, an identical one will be sent to distribute free of charge to villagers in South Sudan. I encourage other gear vendors to make similar BOGO matching offers. Particularly needed are earth tone or Multicam magazine pouches (AK and HK-G3), canteens with covers, hydration packs, first aid kits, wound dressings, tourniquets, rifle slings, and rifle buttstock pouches.


Today we present another entry for Round 43 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The queue is now full for this round, so any entries received will be posted in in Round 44. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $300 value), 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 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 (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.

Is everyone geared up for Christmas shopping? On the first day of Christmas my five children receive presents from their parents, grandparents, and friends and by the twelfth day of Christmas....well, the presents begin earning the label of junk, lying in the basement or being “played with” by the dog and chickens in the backyard. Every year I declare I will not buy anymore useless, plastic toys - and this year I mean it!

Lest I sound too much like the Grinch, rest assured that I love giving the kids presents. I love thinking about just the right gift for each child, wrapping the presents and hiding them from curious eyes; there’s the fun of sneaking them out to the bottom of the tree after they have gone to bed and of seeing them open them with delight. So what to do?

I have decided this year to focus our gifts on preps for the kids. I don’t think this is necessarily a ho-hum thing; most kids enjoy aspects of prepping much more than we adults who do it with a slight (or large) sense of anxiety. Kids genuinely enjoy learning new skills and “playing pioneer”.

So here are some tips on shopping for “kiddie preppers”:

1. Seed kit and gardening tools

Children have a natural fascination for watching plants sprout and gathering the harvest. A seed kit with some gardening tools can be as simple as a few packs of easy-to-grow seeds such as beans, squash, sunflowers, and pumpkins or you may want to purchase a family starter kit such as the one offered at Saint Claire’s Heirloom seeds. Horizon Herbs offers a Kidzherb kit of useful medicinal and culinary herb seeds such as basil, calendula, and lemon balm that also includes a story book with kid-friendly information, herbal fairy tales and songs, and instructions for making products such as salves and slippery elm cough drops. Books like Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots by Sharon Lovejoy offer whimsical, yet useful projects, such as “pizza gardens” and gourd tee pees. Consider purchasing kid-size garden tools like gloves, shovels, hoes, and watering cans.

2. Sleeping bags and bedding

No, I’m not talking about those flimsy sleeping bags with a cartoon princess on them; I’m talking about the real deal. Now this might not be exciting unless you promise the kids that they’ll use them on a camping trip. Another idea is a new comforter or quilt. I never seem to have enough blankets as they are often serving as forts and the kids tend to fight over the favorite ones. This way, everyone will have their own special quilt and the bedding will serve your family well should you experience a power outage or need to turn the heat down (or off) to save energy and money.

3. Bug out bag - kiddie style

First things first, get some durable backpacks. What you put in them will, of course, depend upon the age of the child, but the great thing about this gift is that you’re not only providing a gift and teaching them about being prepared, you’re also knocking out an item on your prepping to-do list. Some ideas for kid bug out bags are: flashlight, a magnesium fire starter, compass, important numbers and info on a laminated card, a deck of playing cards, nonperishable snacks like jerky and candy, small mylar blanket, small bottles of children’s pain relief and cold medicine, chapstick, wipes, straw water filter, a tin mug, and a pocketknife.

4. Non-electric games

Imagine, games without noises and glassy-eyed kids. Consider buying a durable chess set and a checkers set. Purchase Hoyle’s Rules of Games and some nice playing cards. Nowadays, decks come in quite a variety, from art masterpieces to tree identification, so you have entertainment as well as sneaking some education in. Other classics to consider are Scrabble, Sorry, and Clue. For the younger crowd, there are concentration games like Memory, Connect Four, and alphabet or number games. I would suggest something like Candyland but you might be stressed enough and yet another round through the Peppermint Forest might have you banging your head on the wall.

5. Survival fiction books

Fiction books are a great way to introduce morals and valuable skills without seeming to lecture. In books such as My Side of the Mountain, by Jean Craighead George, Sam not only learns survival skills such as making fishing hooks, building a shelter in a hollow tree, and making clothing from deer hide, he also learns lessons about courage, independence, and making peace with solitude. Likewise, Brian in Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet series learns how to gather edible plants and build a raft from driftwood, but he also learns about self-discipline and perseverance. Other titles include the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell, and Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare.

6. Knot games

One of the most useful skills to learn, and one of the easier ones for nimble, little fingers, is knot tying. Companies such as Ramco produce a game wherein the players match the knots on the cards, with each card being worth a certain number of points based on difficulty and Think Fun Knot So Fast has players trying to tie the knots the quickest. There are also numerous how-to books available.

7. Books on wild edibles, traps, and nature skills

Help your children begin to develop a prepping library of their own. A great start is Tom Brown’s Field Guide: Nature and Survival for Children. What I like about this book is that it includes the more usual information - shelter building, wild edibles, first aid - but it also covers nature awareness and “lostproofing”. For example, it includes exercises for training kids in better orientation in nature. Other books to consider are wild food books like Linda Runyon’s or Euell Gibbons’s (for sheer enthusiasm), first aid books, Boy Scout books (usually available for cheap at thrift stores), and books about Native Americans (such reading inspired the likes of Eustace Conway - “the last American man”).

8. Tools

As mentioned above, child sized tools can encourage an early love for gardening. Likewise, consider giving your child useful tools such as basic woodworking and handy tools. When my son got into Survivor Man, we purchased a multitool and, as he got older, he saved up his money to buy a Gerber survival knife and a hatchet. These have provided great lessons in knife safety and tool care. Along these lines, consider buying basic, but high quality, cooking ware and utensils. Tools such as these not only provide a back-up set for your family while your child is young, they will serve as a good “start up” for your child when he moves out on his own.

9. Beginner’s arms

After the popularity of The Hunger Games, it wouldn’t be hard to talk your teen into learning some bow skills. Decent quality bows can be found online or even consider making a self bow. Consider introducing your kids to BB guns as practice for target shooting and for use of larger firearms in later years. Early introduction to bows and rifles help kids better understand the uses and safety rules of such items. In addition, consider purchasing sling-shots or the material for putting together traps and snares.

10. Gift cards

No, not gift cards to the big box stores or for more electronics. I’m talking about cards or passes that give your child an experience, hopefully with a survival slant. For instance, consider buying passes to the national parks and camping grounds. Or lessons in basic knitting, cooking, quilting, or pottery. My town has a rock climbing gym and lessons would encourage physical activity while teaching the kids courage, problem-solving, and determination. Even buying some music lessons would provide the kids with the opportunity to learn an entertainment skill that doesn’t require electricity (think of Pa Ingalls with his fiddle).

11. Craft kits

There are kits galore to help kids of all ages (and their parents!) get started with a useful skill. A quick check online will offer up kits for beginning sewing, quilting, knitting, woodworking, and leather working.

12. Livestock

For the really ambitious, another gift option is a “start up kit” for livestock. Ready made coops and chicks can be purchased via Craigslist (or online if you really want to pay a lot). Better yet, select a kid-friendly book on chicken raising, gather the necessary materials for building a coop, and purchase necessary equipment like waterers and feeders. In this way, you can spend the winter months building the coop and preparing for chicks in the spring. Other options to consider are worms, bees, or rabbits. While I don’t have experience with the last two, I can attest that worm “farms” for composting definitely have a degree of grossness that attracts little kids!

So here’s the challenge this year. Instead of plunking down that hard-earned money to buy some junk made in a country with dubious government policies only to have that junk clutter up your house later on, consider replacing at least some of those purchases with gifts that will truly benefit your family. Help your kids add to their own preps as well as their prepper skill set.

Mr. Rawles,
I am constantly impressed by the wealth of information that I am able to find on your web site and I would like to take this opportunity to thank you and all involved for the work you do on this.  I was also wondering if you, or your readers, might be able to help me out with a certain, unsavory aspect of my preps.  

Currently, our family is overseas in a country where we are required to maintain an evacuation plan and needed supplies at all time.  I am wholly on-board with this and have done this, even when not required, no matter where in the world we have found ourselves.  This time, however, we seem to have hit a potential snag in our evacuation plan in regards to one member of the family - the dog.  We brought the dog along with us (as we have done to several other countries) and were fully aware that, in an evacuation scenario we would be legally required to bring her with us to the evacuation point.  We have no issue with this and are fully prepared should the need arise.  However, we have now been told (contrary to the information received when deciding whether to bring the dog) that the dog's presence will potentially delay my children being evacuated as quickly as possible.  This, I have a huge issue with.  I have owned this dog since long before I met my husband or had our children, but I am still fully aware that it is only an animal, and my children's safety most definitely comes first.  

Should it ever come down to my dog or my children, the dog needs to be removed from the equation, no matter how well-loved she is.  Our concern now is how to best prepare for the potential need to euthanize the dog.  Unfortunately, I have been unable to find reliable information on this subject on the internet, as the vast majority of voices on this subject spout that only a licensed vet should be allowed to handle euthanasia.  In an perfect world, that would be where I would take her, but in a chaotic, SHTF situation I will need something a bit more hands-on.  If we were stateside, we would have the ability to simply choose the proper caliber, but due to our current location, firearms are not an available solution.  

Ideally, I am looking for the quickest, most humane way to put down a dog when firearms are unavailable and without the use of drowning or baseball bats (two of the more cruel solutions presented online that I could never bring myself to use on the family pet).  She is roughly 35-40 lbs and I am no bodybuilder, so I'm assuming that attempting something bare-handed, such as snapping her neck, would be not only ineffective, but cruelly inhumane as well.  Are there human medications that could be used to put the dog to sleep?  If a knife is necessary, what type is most effective and what would be the most humane cut to make?  I have never had to dispatch an animal before so please excuse the ignorance in these questions.
Sincerely, - J.M.

JWR Replies: Readers are advised to research their state and local laws. As J.M. mentioned, it is not legal for individuals to euthanize their pets in some sissified Nanny States. The proverbial "long walk in the woods" is never pleasant for those who must pull the trigger, but a .22 to the brain is quick and painless. SurvivalBlog reader Steve N. recommends shooting squarely down into the brain at a point made at the cross of imaginary lines drawn from each eye to the opposite ear opening. The shot should be angled in such a way as to have the shot travel in a straight line to where the spinal cord would meet the brain. (Aim very carefully, make sure that you have a safe backstop and be advised that in most jurisdictions, shooting is not allowed inside city limits.) If silence is a must, then repeated hammer blows to the back of the skull work well, and generally this isn't messy. For those who are soft-hearted about their pets, I recommend asking a neighbor to do the deed. And unless you are extremely soft-hearted, you should offer to return the favor, at a later date. (This way you aren't euthanizing your own pet.)

SGT just posted this video: The Madness of a Lost Society 3. (It includes a few sound bites from JWR.)

F.G. sent this by William Baldwin of Forbes: Do You Live In A "Death Spiral" State?

Items from The Economatrix:

Good-bye Petrodollar, Hello Agri-Dollar?

Outline On Collapse End Game

China Launching Gold-Backed Global Currency

"Sell your garment, and buy one": Churches offer concealed weapons training. (Thanks to Stephen M. for the link.)

   o o o

Steve H. mentioned a portable high volume water filter, using a 12 VDC pump.

   o o o

Five Different Shelf Life Studies: Two on Canned Food and Three on Dry Food

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From loyal contributor R.B.S.: U.S. food banks raise alarm as drought dents government supplies

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R.B.S. also spotted this tutorial: Waxing Cheese for Storage

"A statesman thinks of the next generation - a politician thinks of the next election." - Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Keep Shooting (one of our advertisers) had a phone system problem on Monday that was caused by an errant backhoe operator severing their phone lines. This inopportunely happened right in the middle of their Cyber Monday sale. So they've decided to briefly extend the special sale prices. Check out the deals, right away!


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 (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 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 (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 trying to grow my own food, on a small scale, about 10 years ago.  Only this year, did I really begin to see the possibility of growing most of what we need to feed our family.  I have learned to garden through a combination of books, experimentation and tips from others.  I would like to share some of my education and sources so that others can ramp up to self-sufficiency faster than the time it took me. 

Permaculture.  Previous SurvivalBlog contributors have mentioned the term "permaculture".  It is a general term that describes (mostly) self-sustaining production through diversity, recycling of waste and minimum external input.  The antonym of permaculture is monoculture, which produces a single product and requires high external input (seed, fertilizer, fuel, etc.).  We have all heard of the wonders of modern farming (mostly monoculture), but there are a number of ideas from permaculture that can be applied advantageously to the family-scale gardener.  I will provide specific examples in my garden to illustrate some of the general permaculture concepts.

Since permaculture involves different crops and maybe even animal husbandry, it is critical to learn as much as possible about all of the plants and animals in your system.   A great tool to retain your knowledge is a log book.  In it, record what species you plant at what time - in pots, in cold frames, in the greenhouse and in the garden.  Record successes and failures, note what freezes and what survives.  Once your plants are established, record when the fruit first appears and when it matures.  Note which plants can survive a minor frost and which ones can't.

The information you gain from your log can boost production and efficiency.  The seed packet instructions may say, “plant outside after last danger of frost”, but even hardened plants can be stunted by cold nighttime temperatures in the 40s or sometimes 50s.   I have learned that waiting an extra week or two for tomatoes and another week past that for pepper plants gives sturdier plants and larger harvests.    When you know there is not enough time left in the season for new fruit to reach maturity, you can pluck the new fruits to allow the plant to concentrate on the viable fruit.  Different things work in different places.  Garlic over-wintered just fine in raised bed in the mid-Atlantic region of the country, but the extreme cold in the American Redoubt knocked out half of my garlic planted in a raised bed last season. Live and learn - and write it down.

Besides the obvious benefit of retaining your knowledge from one season to the next, the log book may also help in the generational transfer of knowledge.  I have met plenty of people who grew up on a farm who went through the motions, did their chores and didn't really learn the skills and techniques.  They have told me they wish they had paid closer attention to what their parents were doing. 

Choosing your Crops.   There are a few basic criteria for choosing your crops.  First of all choose plants that feed your family.  "Grow what you eat, and eat what you grow".   I have learned to eat things that are more compatible with my "redoubt" growing climate, including kale and swiss chard.  (As far as I know, I never even tasted these plants for my first 45 years of life).  My wife has learned how to make these items tasty for the children and some of her dishes have even become the kids favorites.  I've planted currants and raspberries as alternative sources of Vitamin C, since I know I can't grow oranges.

One thing that has helped us learn to deal with new foods is a food co-op program called bountiful baskets (, which is available in many parts of the country.  For $15 a week you get a large selection of seasonal vegetables and fruits.  Besides being a good value, the challenge of using it all up has introduced us to new foods (some of which we now grow) and helped us develop new cooking skills.

It almost goes without saying that your chosen plants should be open-pollinated / non-hybrid.  This gives the grower a potential endless supply of seeds and independence from the tyranny of seed companies.  Then choose to grow only one variety of any species so the seed is usable the following year.  For example, pie pumpkins, zucchini and yellow crookneck are all the same squash species and will cross-pollinate and result in strange offspring.  In my case, I have chosen one variety of each of the four squash species, which allows me both variety and pure seeds for the following year.  If there is enough distance between plants, it is possible to grow multiple varieties of the same species.  However, I choose to  just alternate varieties year to year.

Some of the general concepts of permaculture are interaction and diversity, and that can extend outside of your individual garden.  Be good at something - then  you can trade with someone else.  Trade your crookneck for someone else's zucchini (everyone grows zucchini), eat multiple plant varieties and keep your seed strains pure.  Everybody wins.

In some cases, it is important to avoid interaction with your neighbors.  I am now surrounded by farms practicing large-scale monoculture.  If I do nothing special, my heirloom corn will cross-pollinate with my neighbors crop and give me some genetically modified offspring.   However, the small-scale farmer can do some things to limit cross-pollination that are not practical for the large-scale farmer.  I make small molded blocks of potting mix and jump-start corn and sunflowers in these blocks in the greenhouse 3-4 weeks ahead of my neighbors.  I can plant them under small hoops and row cover while it is still cool out.  My plants can be open-pollinated with each other before my neighbors plants develop their tassels (source of corn pollen).  If you don't have corn-growing neighbors, you can use this same technique to stagger pollination, grow different species of corn and eliminate cross-pollination of your corn varieties.

Other posters have mentioned the book "seed to seed", which is a great resource for saving seed.  I misplaced my copy in our recent move but have still found plenty of good resources on the web for saving seeds of individual plant types.  A couple of general tips:  1) For herbs, just hang the mature plant upside down in an open trash bag and the seeds will dry and fall off in the bottom.  2) For all seeds, give them plenty of drying time.  I let my seeds dry on a plate for a couple of months before I put them in a bag or jar.  Even a little moisture can cause them to sprout or mold.

Starting seeds.  For beginning gardeners, just buy some potting mix to start with.  The first year I scoffed at the idea of buying dirt and just dug some soil from the yard to start my pepper plants.  Well I ended up yanking the seedlings and growing some nice weeds.  Once you know what you're doing, then you can make your own potting soil if you want.

The seed packets tell you to plant the seeds too close together and then thin to the correct spacing.  That has always seemed wasteful to me.  Another potential problem is using old seeds - what do you do when the germination rate decreases over time?  In TEOTWAWKI, it may be important to get everything you can out of your existing seeds. 

A technique I have used for starting seeds comes from the "The new Seed Starter's Handbook".  Place the seeds on a paper towel and moisten, fold the towel up and place it in a ziploc bag.  The paper towels keep the seeds evenly moist which speeds the germination process.  To prevent the roots from crossing the folds, I have amended the technique by sandwiching the moist paper towel between two sheets of wax paper.  Once the seeds sprout, plant the sprout and the attached paper towel into potting soil.  Overall, this technique helps the seeds start faster by about a week and produces higher germination rates.  I have used it successfully on many herbs and vegetables.  It doesn't work well on peas or beans.  It does take extra labor, so I don't use it all the time. 

Companion Planting is not possible, by definition, with monoculture.  It involves planting multiple crops / plants together for mutual benefit.  I haven't found a real good book on the subject, but will give a couple of specific examples where I have found value.

Some plants are a natural repellent to harmful bugs.  It is common practice to plant marigolds with tomatoes to repel bean beetles, squash bugs and harmful nematodes.  In fact, planting marigolds the year before, and tilling them in, can kill and prevent harmful nematodes for the next year.  Non-GMO rapeseed can do the same for nematodes harmful to fruit trees.   Nasturtium is a flower which is known to repel potato and squash bugs. 

I suspect there may be other useful plant pairings for bug control that are not as commonly known.  Cilantro is extremely pungent and is never eaten by the bugs in my garden, plus it is a useful herb for mexican dishes and salsa.  Valerian is a very pungent plant which I sometimes use as a sleep aid.  I haven't done an exact controlled experiment with these pairings, but I do plant them around my tomatoes and seem to not have problems with bugs in my plants. 

Some crops also grow well together because of their physical characteristics.  Last year I tried to grow the "Three Sisters" -squash, corn and pole beans.  Ideally, the squash keeps the corn roots cool and the beans climb the corn stalks and provide nitrogen for the corn.   It was not really successful (I have really bad luck with pole beans.) 

This year I just planted my squash by themselves every 8 feet or so where I had grown some sunflowers the year before.  When a few volunteer sunflowers sprang up from last year's seeds I decided to let them grow.  The results were dramatic.  My healthiest squash plant at the start of Spring did not have any sunflowers near and withered in the heat and drought that affected the redoubt this year - in spite of regular watering.  A much weaker squash plant (that I even accidentally stepped on) thrived in the midst of a small sunflower patch and became my most productive plant.  When we experienced a mild frost on September 10th, it killed all my squash, except for those plants mixed in with the sunflowers - so the pairing helped for both heat and cold.  It dawned on me that this was a variation on the three sisters method, with sunflowers replacing the corn.  I will be doing at least "two sisters" next year on a larger scale.

Irrigation  Large-scale farming requires reliance on rainy weather or commercial irrigation.  With family-scale gardening, I have found it possible to collect much of the water needed for a small garden from roof runoff.  Even in a drought year like this one, we had a few large cloudbursts with lots of nothing in between.  The ability to store water gives additional flexibility and is the best "quality" water, with fewer dissolved salts or other contaminants.

My water collection system is a complex-looking network of inexpensive or free collection, storage and distribution elements.  I have painted them the color of my house so that they don't stick out. 

For collection, I first looked at commercial products.  I found many rain gutter collection attachments for around $70 each.  They have many nice features, but with more than 10 downspouts on my house and barn, it was more than I wanted to pay.  My solution was to use 4" PVC pipe with a screw cap on one end.  The downspouts fit completely inside the PVC pipe and fill up with water when it rains.  I occasionally unscrew the end to clean out any collected debris or to prevent freezing in the collector.

To get the water out, I attach a 3/8" hose connector near the bottom of the PVC tube.  The connector has a MNTP (male national pipe thread) on one side that can be screwed into a hole drilled into the PVC.  The other end of the connector has a ribbed connection to which hard tubing can be connected.  I use the same connector near the top of intermediate collection vessels for overflow protection.

For water storage I have different containers.  I first purchased some large water storage drums.  I have also found 55 gal round drums used for molasses at the local bakery outlet for a cost of $10 each.  I also found some large 275 gallon IBC totes from the fire station which were used to hold fire fighting foam (basically, dishwashing detergent.)  I have hooked these together with 3/8' hard plastic hose and connectors.  I put some of my smaller drums higher on my deck so I have some water at higher pressure.

For distribution, I tap the final collection drums. with larger garden hose-sized valves.  I have literally spent hours sometimes trying to figure out all the different adapters needed to make all the different connections.  In the end I have had to violate the male code of honor to occasionally ask for assistance at the hardware / plumbing store when trying to get the correct connection from (for example)  3" IBC tote outlet to a garden hose.

Fertilization  For a sustainable garden, it is important to recycle as many nutrients  as possible.   Composting is the most common method for recycling simple plant material.  "The Complete Composting Guide" was a valuable book for me, not just for the techniques, but also for ideas how to make compost piles more visually appealing. 

Vermiposting is a technique which uses worms to compost simple plant material.  The advantage of vermiposting is the intermediate product (worms) can be used to feed poultry or fish.  I have used different types of boxes to grow worms inside with kitchen waste.  Scale-up requires expanding to outside the home, and facing the challenges of a hard winter.  However, I encountered a great idea for 4-season vermiposting in a cold climate from the book "Small Scale Poultry Flock".  Vermipost bins are built into the floor of a greenhouse, to insulate it from extreme heat or cold.  I will be giving that a try for next season.

There are other permaculture techniques that mimic nature to accelerate and focus the recovery of nutrients from other sources.  Growing wood mushrooms (maitake, shiitake) is a great way to convert cellulose (wood) to something edible, and the leftover material is a great component for potting soil.  Paul Stamets is an innovator, the author of a great reference book for growing mushrooms and also sells many supplies through his web site useful for the beginning mushroomer.  I have started small with purchased mushroom plugs for culled trees in my yard.

Maggotry can be used to convert animal material into useful poultry and plant food.  Again, the book "Small Scale Poultry Flock" book describes a technique for drilling holes in plastic bucket, putting screens on the bottom and hanging rotting meat above the poultry flock.  Flies enter through the holes and lay their eggs.  Maggots burrow down, fall to the ground and are eaten by the poultry before they turn into flies.   In more moderate climates, black soldier flies can be bred for the maggots (grubs).  They quickly consume bad meat and dairy products and self-harvest by climbing up inclined tubes as part of their life cycle.

Of course you need a source to feed these various nutrient recovery mechanisms.  We collect our unused vegetable matter in a small can for composting.  I work at a 24-hour manufacturing facility and have supplied compost buckets for them to dump coffee grounds, egg shells and other wasted vegetable matter.  My children collect coffee grounds from the local coffee shops.  I have talked to a local butcher about animal waste (guts, organs).  Nanny-state regulations prevent them from disposing of animal waste through non-FDA-approved outlets, but they can get a waiver if they apply for it. 

In the end, the more that you recycle, the less you have to import.  So far, darling bride has rejected any discussion of composting human waste.  However, I entered a contest to win a free composting toilet and would have no problem using composted humanure in the orchard.

Involve Others.  The more I try to do, the more I realize I cannot do it all myself.    The children and devoted wife have helped in matters plant, animal and fungal (mushrooms) - sometimes cheerfully :-)  As they have become more adjusted to a rural lifestyle, sometimes they even come up with some of their own ideas for projects they would like to try.   I share my experiences, seeds, plants and excess produce with others who have similar interests and we all benefit from the exchange.  In the end, gardening is a skill that is learned from others, and through repetition.  Like shooting a gun or a bow, we shoot, make adjustments, and shoot again.  In gardening, when the time between "shots" is a year, I hope these tips can help your readers get their food production "on target" within a short period of time.



Seed to Seed

New Seed Starter's Handbook

The Complete Compost Gardening Guide

The Small-Scale Poultry Flock

Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms

Soil Block Makers

Mr. Rawles:
During the recent Thanksgiving holiday weekend, I drove from my house, to my brother's a mere 270 miles, a mere 4 to 4-1/2hrs drive. With accidents and construction, it took almost 8 hours. And it was in both directions, North and Southbound. I was perplexed at the mass confusion, weaving in and out, driving over medians to get to the access/frontage road to get ahead of others, only to find out that that road went off in another direction or dead ended.
Coming home on Sunday I saw 15 accidents in a 20 mile stretch, one accident involving six cars in a tailgating fender bender. Most others were 1-2 cars, or single run off the road flat tire accidents.
This was under a 'holiday' weekend Wednesday and Sunday. What is going to happen when these folks are 'bugging out' like they hear on television? And if there is a real emergency? Where are they going to go if everyone along an Interstate Highway is bugging out at the same time? All points of the compass are going to be a parking lot within 10 miles of any major population center. Then What? Everybody gets out and walks? They wouldn't make it 100 yards before collapsing.
I don't think I can last long enough to get a piece of property and make preps, outside from the city. So I am trying to prep on site, until after the wave flows over us. I fear the European crisis and the Middle East war expanding. It is coming like a freight train and I can't get out of the way.
Now I am talking economic collapse that disrupts government involvement, transportation and food distribution/jobs/civil war/ or some other catastrophe other than natural, like Superstorm Sandy, where the infrastructure is destroyed.
Am I being 'prudent' in assessing the situation? I am stocking up on food and weapons and working on my concealed handgun license and range time. I won't give you my list of weapons as I value OPSEC, but I have enough in each category home defense, short battle rifle, long range rifle and a mixed bag of other rifles, including an assortment of pistols. It's not an 'arsenal' to outfit an army, but it's enough for me for now.
If we lay low, until most of the shock wears off, and see what happens, we'll be okay for the most part.  I need to get a genset for power and other essentials, but I am headed that way.  Thanks for all you do. but this is my quandary that I can't get my head around. - Mr. Wickey

JWR Replies: I must begin by reiterating a regular theme: I strongly recommend relocating and living year-round in a lightly-populated farming region, if your work and family situation allow it. The "hunker down" approach will probably suffice in most situations. But in a grid-down societal collapse--when law and order is not restored within a few weeks--your chances of survival will drop off to near nil, if you stay put in a metropolitan region. Granted, the odds of a such a collapse in any given year are very small, but the consequences would be dramatic. A grid down collapse will very likely trigger a massive die-off. In this event your chances of survival would be relatively high in places like The American Redoubt, but pitifully low in the big cities of the northeastern United States.

Regarding the ability to store a fuel reserve onboard the vehicle;  Before your readers consider an expensive custom military fuel tank (which may not meet DOT standards), they many want to consider an option that is already approved by the DOT and is very affordable.
As a race car and off-road truck enthusiast I’ve participated in many events where cars/trucks must meet Department of Transportation (DOT) certification before the vehicle can compete.  A majority of the “modified” vehicles run gasoline and use aftermarket fuel tanks of various sizes.  Depending on the style of racing many of the tanks have baffles to prevent “sloshing” and spilling, as well as mounting brackets to keep them secure in the event of a crash.  The sizes of these tanks range from 2 quarts to 45 gallons, with everything in between.  The fuel cells I’m referring to do not operate the same way a Home Depot fuel can does, and instead have a filler hole and at least one pre installed pickup tube where the liquid is pumped or drained into the engine.  I could envision a system that drains via gravity or a pump into the primary fuel tank when needed.
A word of advice to anyone considering mounting an auxiliary tank in the interior of their car (including trunk), gasoline does have a fairly low vapor pressure, which causes it to turn to a gas (vapor) form easier then diesel or water for example.  This effectively will cause a sealed tank to become pressurized in the heat, and an unsealed tank to emit lots of fumes.  These fumes are what causes gas to be more flammable than some other petroleum products.  In the old days, this problem was solved by simply venting the tank to the outside of the vehicle via a hose and a check valve. Regulations vary by year of vehicle, but generally do not allow for a tank to be vented into the atmosphere without either a carbon filter or through the combustion process.  I’d recommend you visit your local reputable mechanic for specifics about your application.  Hint:  a local reputable race car builder is a good place to start asking questions. They are usually fountains of knowledge and are much easier to talk with than a factory dealer mechanic.
A good place to start looking for these tanks would be either, or  Both of these companies have excellent customer service and have been around for many years.  Look for “fuel cells”.  Prices range from ~$35 to ~$250.  While you are at it, peruse their catalogs.  These companies have many other automotive parts that could make your vehicle both more reliable and robust.  By the way, I don’t work for either of them and don’t have any financial benefit.
Whatever you decide, do it correctly and stay safe. - Race Fan from Colorado

Reader J.T. in Montana wrote to mention: "I went to my first ever Black Friday sale at Wal-Mart Thursday night, in Ponderay, Idaho. [Near Sandpoint.] The place was crowded and lines were long waiting for certain items. Everyone I saw excused each other as they moved through the crowds. We stood and passed the time discussing with those around us how good it is to live in such a great place and to be blessed enough to even be able to buy things we need or want. We never heard anyone raise their voice nor did we see anything but proper conduct. I told my wife I wish I had videoed this Black Friday event. Way to go Idaho!"

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NEMO Arms (in Kalispell, Montana) has introduced a new AR on steroids. It is chambered in .300 Winchester Magnum. It weighs just 9.2 pounds. (Unloaded and without a magazine, optics or sights.)

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Ttabs has posted another great flying, with scenes shot in eastern Washington and north-central Idaho: Airing It Out

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GuerillAmerica has posted an interview with the CEO of Redoubt gunmaker, III Arms.

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Two-Thirds of Idaho Wolf Carcasses Examined Have Thousands of Hydatid Disease Tapeworms

10 Freest States For Homeschooling

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An interesting recently-released e-book about electromagnetic pulse (EMP): The Pulse of Allah. And with no affiliation, there is also a new EMP Blog.

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Dr. Gary North: Ken Burns' The Dust Bowl: Blowing Sand in Our Eyes

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C.D.V. sent: Houston Police Department: Victim shoots robber to death

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Six Places It Pays to Relocate To

"If we get one bad, unsuspected news event I guarantee you it will be lights out very quick. One of the things these algorithms do is they make sure the input is good. And whenever the input isn’t quite good they back off. When I say back off I mean they back off in the blink of an eye. So it can go from good to very bad that quickly. And all it's going to take is some unforeseen news event and they won’t be there. And then we’ll see what the liquidity is." - Eric Hunsader, in a Peak Prosperity interview.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Release day! The First Revised Edition of Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse will be released in hardback today: Monday, November 26, 2012 . This is the first time that the book has ever been printed with a cloth binding. I've updated the book slightly to remove some temporal incongruities that had built up in the course of previous editions. I've also added a new introduction. As with the later paperback editions, it includes a glossary and index. Amazon and both have it priced at around $14.

The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl, by Timothy Egan © 2006
Houghton Mifflin Co. Boston MA
ISBN 9780-618-34697-4 (Hardback)
Available at your favorite bookseller in paperback and e-book formats.

If you remove the dust jacket on a hardback edition of this book and you see two hard faces staring back at you. They are a man and a woman enduring the drought of the 1930s in what is now known as the Dust Bowl of America. It is also known as the worst manmade environmental disaster in our history. The Dust Bowl is the most significant weather event of the 20th Century.

The drought came as settlers were attempting to grow crops of cotton and wheat in the seemingly endless prairie. They used their metal plows and tractors to break the rich, black soil to plant their seed. Their techniques worked for many years, but the drought took advantage of the deep furrows and desiccated the soil down deep. No crops meant no money. With no societal safety nets, thousands of people had to leave.

The story is told through the eyes of six families and their communities before and after the calamity. The author explains the allure of the region and the impact farmers had on a fragile ecosystem. Going back several centuries, we are told of how the plains Indians lived with the land with minimal impact even in dry years. This was prime grazing land for buffalo before being slaughtered for their hides. The farmers came in and thought they were in charge. They learned a hard lesson.

I have driven through the panhandle of Texas and Oklahoma known as No Man’s Land and it is easy to see why the name is appropriate. My wife describes the area as desolate, and as usual, she is correct. Yet, there are still people choosing this area as their home.

The recent PBS documentary on the Dust Bowl features comments from the author of this book, but only skims the surface of the story. You need to read the book to hear the stories of the people involved. They are tough, heartbreaking, instructional, and inspirational. There are many tips for preppers throughout the book as people describe what they had to do to survive. These folks lived and died in a manmade disaster without FEMA. The military and Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) were essentially useless. You cannot shoot a drought, or grow trees without rain. The situation finally triggered a mass migration to California as depicted in The Grapes of Wrath, which is another great read.
The book has several photos built into the narrative helping the story. A good index and thirteen pages of notes fill out a great book on a memorable piece of our history.

Apocalypse Chow: How to Eat Well When the Power Goes Out, by Jon Robertson
Publisher: Simon Spotlight Entertainment, Copyright: 2005
ISBN-13:  978-1-4169-0824-1
ISBN-10:  1-4169-0824-2
Available on Amazon or eBay for under $10

We often say that “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” and that holds true for this little gem.  Measuring about half the dimensions, length and width, of a regular book, you can see Apocalypse Chow doesn’t follow the rules and isn’t the usual heavy tome full of hundreds of recipes.  The recipes begin on page 112 and there are less than 70 of them.  Apocalypse Chow can be viewed as a jumping off place for what to do with all those beans, all those cans, and all that rice and pasta that you have purchased if you are not much of an inventive home cook.

Apocalypse Chow inspires a love it or hate it reaction. Again, if you are looking for an ordinary cookbook, move along, there are many out there that are more comprehensive and complete. That being said, Jon Robertson wrote this book after he and his wife decided to ride out Hurricane Bonnie and found it to be somewhat of a personal catastrophe. Power went out, they ate peanut butter crackers, and became surly with each other in the hot, humid, and dark aftermath. They learned that true preparations mean more than “stashing a few extra gallons of water and finding your manual can opener.”  They determined that in the future, they wanted to, in those well-worn words, thrive not simply survive, and they figured it out.

I enjoy the subtle cleverness of this book. The title, of course, is a play on the Vietnam epic war movie “Apocalypse Now.”  “The Well-Tempered Pantry” chapter is coyly named after Johann Sebastian Bach’s “The Well-Tempered Clavier” (or harpsichord). Other chapter names referencing idioms or modern culture are Power to the People, The Calm Before the Storm, Recipes for Disaster, Cooking up a Storm, Just Rewards, and Are We Having Fun Yet?

Some people have groused about the fact this is a vegetarian cookbook. The author and his wife live a vegetarian lifestyle.  That is one of the strengths of this book. In grid down, eat your fresh and frozen foods first or whip up some of these recipes and add a little meat to them. Add some of that canned chicken, Vienna sausage, canned ham or your choice that you’ve squirreled away. (SurvivalBlog readers hopefully have a healthy herb garden growing to cut the monotony and add freshness, vitamins, and taste dimensions to canned and dried foods. Herbs are among the easiest, low-maintenance plants you can grow.)
If your family doesn’t regularly home cook or use your preparation foods, this book can help you get started. It somewhat assumes a pantry with non-electric cooking utensils and seasonings. However, there are handy lists of tools and food items. Someone in your family will have to be in charge of food preparation and this book would make a nice gift to that person.

There are pantry lists and resource lists. One interesting aspect is how the author lists various interesting food products you can find in different ethnic stores. And last, one of my favorite recipes is a black bean patty on page 120 that ends up looking like a sausage patty. Adding BBQ sauce, catsup, teriyaki sauce, or even pancake syrup for a sauce finishes the dish. It’s that versatile. I added a bit of salt to improve the taste because I prefer salty. The patty resembles a pan-fried breakfast potato patty. Some grated onion and even olive oil for frying make this a very appealing little dish.

I’ve prepared several of the dishes and some recipes seem to be simply variations of other recipes in the cookbook, such as a couple of the pasta recipes. However, all in all, I enjoy rereading this little book over and over which Includes main dishes, salads, and dessert recipes. New ideas for combining pantry food, vegetarianism, and the author’s sense of humor are pleasant and entertaining.  Apocalypse Chow is a different  kind of cookbook,  and I cheerfully recommend it.

I've been shooting Buffalo Bore brand ammunition for about two years. The owner, Tim Sundles, never ceases to amaze me with all the new loads he comes out with - not just for self-defense, but great loads for hunting as well. What I also like about Buffalo Bore is that Sundles doesn't use special pressure barrels to test his velocities, he uses his own guns, from his own collection, so you are getting real-world velocities. Additionally, Sundles lists the various firearms he tested his ammo in - I'm not aware of any other ammo maker that does this.

First up is the new .38 Super +P load, with the Barnes Lead Free 124-grain all copper hollow point. Now, I hate to admit this, but I had never fired a .38 Super before I got this load. Over the years, I had plenty of opportunity to buy a few 1911s chambered in .38 Super, but always passed - ammo wasn't available in a lot of gun shops, and most of what was available were FMJ loads - not ideal for self-defense. I know many years ago, the .38 Super was really popular south of our border in Mexico - but those days are long gone, as legal private gun ownership is all but a thing of the past in Mexico. I understand that the .38 Super is still very popular down in Texas, though. So, I had to borrow a .38 Super 1911 from a friend to test this new Buffalo Bore load. Make no mistake, you can't and shouldn't attempt to fire the .38 Super in a .38 Auto chambered pistol - and especially a +P loaded 38 Super - you're inviting trouble if you do.

Many folks believe that the .38 Super is nothing more than a slightly hotter 9mm round - well, not exactly. And when we are talking a .38 Super +P load - we're talking a pretty hot-stepping load - it is in the same ballpark as the .357 SIG loads, in my opinion.  What we have in this newest loading from Buffalo Bore, is the very popular Barnes TAC-XP bullet, which is proving itself to be an excellent manstopper - this bullet stays together - there is no lead core - the bullet is a solid copper hollow point, that penetrates deeply and really expands.  Sundles also uses a flash retarding powder, to help prevent loss of your night vision when you fire this round. No one else is doing this to my knowledge. My chronograph gave-up the ghost sometime ago, and I never replaced it, so I'll just give you the velocities Sundles gets from his handguns he used in his testing. In a Colt 1911 Government Model, he was getting 1,409 feet per second - that's moving. In a Taurus PT 1911 - he was getting 1,288- feet per second, and in an EAA witness, with a 4.25-inch barrel, he was getting 1,228-feet per second. I fired this ammo into some water-filled milk jugs - I lined-up three just in a row, and the Barnes bullet easily penetrated all three milk jugs - so I had to add a fourth milk jug - and the Barnes bullet was caught in the fourth milk jug -and it expanded perfectly and retained 100% of it's weight. What more can you ask for in a self-defense round? If you own a .38 Super chambered pistol, this is s round you need for self-defense - bar none!

Next up is the .454 Casull round, with a 250-grain XPB Barnes bullet - and the difference between the TAC-XP and the XPB is that, the XPB is designed for hunting purposes, it will penetrate a little deeper and not expand quite as much - and when hunting big game, you want deep penetration to reach the vital organs of big game. In Sundles testing, he found that this load will penetrate roughly 24-inches, depending on the impact velocity and the particular bones that may be struck in the game animal. Again, I had to borrow a .454 Casull chambered revolver to test this round. I placed 6 milk jugs in a row, and they didn't stop this round - all I can say is, this one really penetrates. It would be ideal for large deer and black bear, and even bigger critters like elk if you stick to broad-side shots.

The XPB bullet is long-for-weight, and it crowds the case capacity, so Buffalo Bore wasn't able to use their flash suppressed powder in this load. I don't have a problem with this at all - I don't hunt in the dark - it's against the law, so I'm not worried about getting blinded by the flash. I barely noticed the flash in my own testing in daylight.  Sundles is getting close to 1,700-feet per second in a Freedom Arms 6-inch revolver, and that is really moving along a 250-grain bullet. If you own a .454 Casull chambered handgun, you need to check this round out for your next big game hunt.

Okay, I was never all that interested in the .45 Colt round, until my friend--and fellow gun writer--Sheriff Jim Wilson turned me onto this load in a Ruger revolver many years ago. You can load the .45 Colt to power levels above a .44 Mag if you handload, and you can do it safely, too. Buffalo Bore came out with a 255-grain soft cast hollow point, gas check load, which was designed for self-defense. Yes, this load is hotter than other factory loads, which are a bit sedate if you ask me, but it is perfectly safe to shoot in any .45 Colt chambered handgun according to Sundles.

This new .45 Colt self-defense load with this particular bullet, was designed to mushroom at speeds as low as 750-feet per second, but it will still penetrate about 18-inches, depending on the angle of the shot and whether or not bone is hit. Many .45 Colt factory loads have a round nose bullet, and they just slip right through tissue and bone without really imparting the energy needed to put an end to a dangerous self-defense situation. Additionally, this bullet was designed with a special crimp groove and the case mouth is heavily crimped so the bullet will not jump the crimp and tie-up your revolver. Also, a flash suppressant powder was used in this load.

I tried this load through a S&W Mountain Gun, and it wasn't bad in the recoil department at all. I note that Tim Sundles was getting 983-feet per second from the same gun. This round is much more pleasant to fire than any .357 Magnum load - and it will penetrate deeper that a .357 Mag JHP load and probably be a better manstopper. While many folks don't carry single-action revolvers for self-defense these days, this would be a great load to stoke in any single-action revolver or a S&W Mountain Gun. Many folks in the Southwest still carry single-action revolvers when they are out backpacking or on horseback, and this is the round they should have if they expect to face two-legged critters - and it wouldn't be a half bad round for medium sized game, which brings us to the next Buffalo Bore load.

The .45 Colt HEAVY +P "Deer Grenade" round is a massive hollow nosed 260-grain cast bullet with a gas check, traveling a velocities from 1,449-feet per second up to almost 1,900-feet per second, depending on the handgun or rifle you are firing it through. What's nice with this bullet is that it won't lead your barrel because it is gas checked - and if you fire a lot of cast bullets, you know how quickly a barrel can lead and what a pain it is to clean your barrel. Buffalo Bore designed this .45 Colt load to be the world's premier deer load - and I'm sure not going to pick a fight with Sundles over this - I believe him!

At an impact velocity of 1,100-feet this bullet will mushroom to about .80 caliber and should punch right through any deer with a broadside shot - that's great in the mushrooming area - that is serious expansion. At the 1,500-feet per second velocity, the bullet will still mushroom and some of the mushroom will fragment and send those pieces flying through the deer. At the 1,900-feet per second velocity, the entire mushroomed bullet will turn to shrapnel and send bullet particles throughout the deer doing horrific damage and probably push right through the deer. This load wasn't designed just for deer hunting, it can also be used on black beer or wild hogs and if you've ever hunting hogs, you know how hard they are to put down.

Now, a word of warning, and be take this advice to heart: This load is not designed for use in all .45 Colt chambered firearms. Use this round ONLY in the following firearms:

All Ruger large frame revolvers chambered in .45 Colt or .454 Casull, but don't use it in a smaller framed New Model Vaquero.
All 1892 Winchesters and all copies of such made after 1920.
All Winchester and Marlin 1894 models.
Any break-open action like a T/C or Handi-rifle.
Any falling block action such as the Sharps or Winchester 1895.
Any Freedom Army Model 83 or 97.

So, take this to heart, and do NOT use this round in any other firearms!!!!

No one else is making a round that can compare to this one from Buffalo Bore, if you have one of the aforementioned firearms, do yourself a favor and get some of this ammo and give it a try. This isn't plinking ammo. This is serious, +P hunting ammo.

Next up is the new .460 S&W lead free, 275-gr Barnes XPB load - and again, I don't have a revolver chambered in this caliber - but I'd sure love to have one - maybe one of these days, when funds permit, so I had to borrow this S&W revolver to test this load. As mentioned above, this is the XPB bullet from Barnes, an all-copper hollow point, but it was designed to penetrate deeper and expand a little bit less - great for reaching the vitals on big game animals. S&W advertises this round as the flattest shooting handgun round in the world, and I have no reason to doubt this claim.

This load at 275-grains, doesn't recoil nearly as much as some of the heavier loads in this caliber, and that's a nice thing. However, there is a lot of muzzle blast coming out of the sides of this revolver, so don't fire it with someone standing next to you. Tim Sundles has this round at 1,946-feet per second from his S&W Performance Center 10.5-inch revolver, and that is really moving. This round would be great for elk, moose or some of the bigger bears. And, when hunting those types of big game, you really want a load that penetrates. Again, I lined-up 8 water-filled milk jugs and fired this round into them - never did find the bullet - it's buried in a mountainside. So, we're looking at some deep penetration. 

Last up, for this article (and there are more new loadings from Buffalo Bore, but I'll save them for another article) is the .45-70 +P 350-grain Barnes TSX FN. This is really a hot-stepping .45-70 load. Pay attention that this is a +P load , and it is NOT safe to shoot in just any old firearm chambered in this caliber. So, here's a list of the guns it is safe to shoot in:

All Marlin 1895 made since 1972.
All Browning 1885 and 1886 copies,
Rossi Rio Grande.
New England Arms Handi-Rifle.
T/C Encore.
All falling block actions made of modern steel such as the Ruger #1 and #3, Shiloh, Christian and Pedersoli Sharps
All Winchester 1886 iterations made since 1915 and all Siamese Mauser bolt actions.

Now, if in doubt, go over this list again, before firing this +P .45-70 load in your firearms...and if you have any questions, contact Buffalo Bore Ammunition before ordering this ammo. This load is identical in exterior dimensions - but it is rated as +P - so be advised.

This Barnes all-copper, expanding 350-grain TSX-FN (flat nose) bullet will penetrate about as deeply as a typical 400-grain load core partition expanding bullet, yet gives the benefit of a lighter bullet, which means less recoil. Plus, it will shooter flatter. Out of Sundles' 1985 Marlin 22-inch lever-action rifle, he was getting 1,931-feet per second. I tested this load, and although I couldn't chronograph it, I have no reason to doubt the velocity Sundles was getting. I fired this round into a dirt mound, and I dug and dug - and never could find the round - it must be on the way to China because it penetrated so deeply.

With this +P .45-70 round from Buffalo Bore, you can have a "one-gun, one round" that will be capable of taking any and all big-game in the USA - including bison and brown bears. I have no doubt about this.

There are plenty of other newly developed loadings from Buffalo Bore that I'll cover in another article. Tim Sundles does not sit on his past accomplishments - he is constantly developing new loads and he actually tests his loads in the field when he goes hunting. As of late, he's been hard to catch in the office because he's been out hunting and testing his newest loads on game.

I've had some SurvivalBlog readers e-mail me and ask, how is it that I can test all these different loads in one day? Well, let's be realistic here, I don't test these loads in one day, this is over three months or longer - Buffalo Bore doesn't develop all these loads and send them to me at one time - it's a process that takes a lot of time. I have to actually get out in the field and fire these loads - and in some cases, I have to borrow firearms in some of these calibers so I can test the loads - it is a time-consuming process. I also have to take notes on all the calibers I test, and refer to my notes for articles like this.

If you aren't satisfied with standard factory loadings, and you want a little more velocity, penetration and knock-down power, then you owe it to yourself to check out the Buffalo Bore web site to see what they have to offer. They truly do have a huge offering on some of the most popular calibers around. And Tim Sundles tells me that SurvivalBlog readers are some of his best customers, as well as some of his most loyal repeat customers. Similarly, I've found that SurvivalBlog readers are a very intelligent bunch of folks who know what they like and don't like. Be sure to check out the Buffalo Bore web site, I'm betting you'll find something there for your self-defense, hunting and survival needs. - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

Can you recommend a way to properly store 1-2 gallons of fuel in a trunk for emergencies?

I think something like a Kolpin Fuel Pack with some Sta-Bil in it would last in a confined space for an extended (3-6 months) period of time.

All The Best, - Travis R.

JWR Replies: For regular carry in a car trunk, there are just a few truly safe containers that will prevent your car from becoming a veritable flaming bomb, in the event of a major rear-end collision. One that I can indeed recommend is the Explosafe can. And FWIW, I prefer Pri-G as a fuel stabilizer.

N.G. in Minnesota's One Pan Wild Rice Hotdish

This is a very simple recipe that allows for a lot of flexibility. There are five basic components, and the combinations are endless. This is a great thing when you cant just run down to the corner market to shop. Wild rice is plentiful in my area. I can buy a 12 oz bag for $2.99. If wild rice is expensive, or not common in your neck of the woods, substitute white or brown rice, and adjust accordingly. Instead of 2 cups wild rice and 6 cups water, use 3 cups white or brown rice and 6 cups water.

2 Tbls Fat (I prefer butter or bacon grease, but oil could be used)
1lb Meat (chicken, grouse, pheasant, beef, pork, venison, turkey, rabbit, etc) cut into ½ inch pieces
1 Onion finely diced
2 c Wild Rice
6 c Water or Broth (chicken or beef depending on meat choice)
3 c Orange Veggie (squash, sweet potato, carrots, etc or combination of any) cut into ¾ inch cubes
1 c Dried Fruit (raisins, cranberries, apricots, apples, strawberries, etc)
3 c Green Veggie (green beans, broccoli, celery, etc or combination of any) cut into ¾ inch pieces
Salt and Pepper

In a 3 qt or larger Dutch oven, deep sided frying pan, or stock pot, over medium high heat, melt fat. Brown meat and onion for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add broth and rice. Cover and simmer about 15 minutes. Add orange veggies and fruit, stir, and simmer for 30 minutes. Add green veggies, salt and pepper to taste, stir, and simmer an additional 10 minutes, or until water is absorbed and veggies are tender.

Chef's Notes:

This recipe will easily serve six adults. If you are using leftover cooked meat (a great way to get rid of a holiday turkey) add the meat when you add the green veggies. If you are using canned veggies, use the water from them as part of your broth and then add the veggies during the last 10-15 minutes so they don’t become mush. Dried veggies can also be used so long as you adjust the amount of liquid needed to account for them rehydrating.
If you raise or hunt your own meat, and grow your own veggies, this recipe will cost less than $.60/person. That cost can be brought down even more if you use white or brown rice. Not bad for a colorful, nutritious, hearty meal.

Useful Recipe and Cooking Links:

Wild Rice Recipes

One Pan Meals

Currently Available as Free Kindle e-Books:

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

I just heard about a new online marriage courtship service for Reformed Christians: Sovereign Grace Singles. They have a special "Group" page for preppers! It is refreshing to find a conservative online service with a backbone. (Unlike the many mainstream dating sites out there with that seem to feel obliged to have a rainbow of categories like: "Men Seeking Women/Men Seeking Men/Men Seeking Goats, et cetera.) It is nice to see that Sovereign Grace Singles even has a doctrinal statement.

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R.C. suggested this at Instructables: The best Rain Barrel for less than $15, and where to find a barrel

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Now that's thinking outside the box! Amazing pictures of 'green' condos, offices and a pop-up lobster shack made up entirely of empty shipping containers. (Thanks to Linda U. for the link.)

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M.K.A. sent: Homemade Emergency Canned Heat.

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F.G. sent a "Plowshares Into Swords" piece for SurvivalBlog's do-it-yourselfers: DIY: Shovel AK - photo tsunami warning!

"Let the American youth never forget, that they possess a noble inheritance, bought by the toils, and sufferings, and blood of their ancestors; and capacity, if wisely improved, and faithfully guarded, of transmitting to their latest posterity all the substantial blessings of life, the peaceful enjoyment of liberty, property, religion, and independence." - Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Release day, tomorrow! The First Revised Edition of Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse will be released in hardback on Monday, November 26, 2012 . This will be the first time that the book has ever been printed with a cloth binding. I've updated the book slightly to remove some temporal incongruities that had built up in the course of previous editions. I've also added a new introduction. As with the later paperback editions, it will include a glossary and index. It should be priced at less than $14.25.


Today we present another two entries 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 (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 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 (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.

SurvivalBlog has always suggested if not promoted having a Christ-centered spiritual focus, and my wife and I had that focus even before the writing on the wall became clear and we started prepping. We're in our 50s now and have attended church for the most part since we were kids, and have a personal relationship with our savior Jesus. I like reading the thoughts of other posters as they prep, and their spiritual questions. Is it trusting to prepare? Will not God take care of us whatever may come? What role does God play in the events that are unfolding? Very interesting and thought provoking. There are many difficult questions I cannot answer, but I can answer YES to the question, Is God good? That answer, based on decades of experience walking with Jesus, calms my soul, restores my joy, and helps me understand that this world is not the final stop on my trip through eternity.

We have traveled to other continents, and have seen Christians in third world countries, in person and through video. We have talked to many other Christian people who have traveled the world, and the stories they tell of God's love, work and faithfulness are astounding. We are seeing such things here in our corner of America as well, including healings, and people having spiritually meaningful dreams and visions. To use a C.S. Lewis line," Aslan is on the move", and it is so exciting.

When we see Christians in poor nations worshipping our Father, there is a genuineness and sincerity that is riveting. Most often, they are in humble circumstances, gathering in an old building, or a cinder block structure they constructed, or simply outdoors. But their surroundings make no difference as they worship in Spirit and in truth. Those images are mostly in stark contrast to the comfort in which we worship in the US. I've heard Christians say that our comfort zones are actually spiritual prisons, and that's a big part of the lukewarm impotence of Christianity in America today.

All this has got me thinking about what happens after the crash, regarding our fellowship, worship, and work as Christians. Let's take a look at that. What could happen?

The church today is defined mainly by economic and statistical measures, not spiritual. Take a representative yet fictional church, managed by Pastor Reverend Dr. Theodore Lexicon. Pastor Lexicon has a PhD from a well respected seminary, all the right connections on LinkedIn, and can read New Testament Greek as easily as the menu at Denny's. He has a staff of ten, and a hundred fifty deacons populating 15 committees in charge of all the business of the church. Around him he has an inner circle of ten elders who make all the decisions, and decisions they do make, with there being not much hint of dissension. As far as the American church goes, they are on the straight and narrow, getting the job done, preaching the gospel and paying the mortgage. Oh, and I forgot to mention that their numbers are growing to such an extent that the obligatory Planning Committee has been formed to explore future real estate growth options.

You have the picture. Perhaps you are a member at Pastor Lexicon's church today? The question is, what happens to the church after the crash, or in the run-up to the crash?

Today, many groups are using the fictitious 'constitutional separation of church and state' to attack Christianity. Not Islam, but Christianity. That's another discussion, but there are factions in the government who are sympathetic to this attack. Both Obama and Hillary have used the term, "Freedom of Worship," to refer to our rights under the first amendment. Think about that term for a while. Freedom of worship is what they had in the USSR under communism. There was a state sponsored or sanctioned church, with violently proscribed limits of behavior. Citizens could go worship as they pleased, but there was no freedom of religion, freedom of conscience, spiritual freedom. The vocabulary is already being tested for changes here in the US.

This wall of separation argument will be the basis for any attack on the church. And the attack can be simple. Look at the amount of church real estate held in any decent sized jurisdiction in the US. Many of those parcels were purchased 100 years ago and have now been encompassed by urban and suburban sprawl, to the point that their land is worth millions. Churches do not pay property taxes. There have been noises already that this is an unfair act on the part of government favoring religion. Look for that to change.

Since the Obama Depression started, many churches have lost the ability to pay their mortgages and/or staff and have gone under. Imagine the carnage when the US, state, and local governments realize all the money they are leaving on the table by not charging churches property tax.

I don't expect this will happen while things are relatively calm, but in the midst of other economic disasters (US bond default, hyperinflation, 40% unemployment), such a tax levy would sail through any legislative body.

The net result of this tax would be the prompt (12 months?) forfeiture of 75% of church properties in the US.

That's one scenario. For another, consider the outbreak of violence, or incapacitation of our power grid, even for a few weeks. Churchgoers would stay home, the church mortgage would go unpaid, and the end would come swiftly. Pastors check winter weather forecasts and pray for clear skies on Saturday night, to miss not one Sunday's offering. Imagine six weeks of missed Sunday offerings? The Body of Christ is in debt to bankers and lawyers, but I digress.

Regardless the mechanism, you see that it's at least plausible that national disaster will spell the end to the megachurch and even the kilochurch. What happens then?

In that case, a bunch of people would simply fall away. Like it or not, many people go to church because 1) their parents did, 2) it's good for the children, 3) it's a good social experience, 4) attendance is mandated by their social circle, etc. In my experience, there are many who are open to an experience with God, but they are not seeking it, and will not step outside their comfort zones to get it. Sadly, this describes some church staff as well. Given the slightest danger in attending church, either physical or via government intimidation, many will simply disappear.

The rest, optimistically 15 or 20% (?), will seek to continue their relationship to other Christians, and continue the work that God has prepared in advance for them to do. Let's focus on them now.

With no brick and mortar church building to meet within, what will these people do? I believe that they will meet in their homes, or in unofficial church locations. Some degree of stealth will be required for sure, as even today localities are using zoning ordinances to prevent Christians from meeting in their homes.

If you do an internet search on 'home church', you will find a small, yet vibrant movement of Christians already meeting at home, or in small rented spaces. Many of these people became disillusioned with Church, Inc., that is, big business church, led by people such as Pastor Lexicon. They left that, bumped into other Christians of like mind, and naturally gathered in groups in the only place they had, at home. People in home churches whom I have met understand the difficulties with large church organizations, but do not dwell on the negatives, rather are pushing forward in the Kingdom of God, studying, preaching, discipling, loving, and serving.

I have mentioned the fact that I attend a home church to a few pastors. Some react badly, obviously feeling threatened. I did not understand this at first. Then I got a view of a typical modern church, which consists of Sunday services as usual, but perhaps dozens of home groups meeting all around the region, with 10-20 people apiece. Imagine some small issue blowing up in such a church, as happens from time to time. Could be a budget issue or a personality problem. In short order, 10 home groups could split off, become home churches (what do we need a seminary graduate pastor for anyway?), and the originating church would be devastated. I think that is at least the source of some pastoral consternation regarding home church.

So, if you are now preparing in the areas of bean, bullets, and band-aids, why not spiritually? I'm not suggesting in the least that you abandon your Sunday, Church, Inc. experience, any more than a prepper should abandon shopping at the grocery in favor of making his own toilet paper. Take all the good while you can. Pastor Lexicon needs all the good Christians around him he can get, if he's ever going to see the light!

I am suggesting that you should seek out like minded Christians, and form a home group, or study group, or Tuesday morning coffee and prayer group, as a basis for continuity of fellowship after the crash, or after the government fires your pastor and takes your property.

I'm involved in several groups, including a men's group, Sunday home church, a couple groups of people who serve the poor in our community, and prison ministry. I know more Christians today than I ever knew as a pew warmer in Church, Inc. If something happens, I can quickly reach out to others, to help them and to receive help if needed. If I have a problem and need prayer, I have a network of literally hundreds of people I have prayed with before to come to my aid. These are not just people I have passed in the caverns of the church building, but my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Likely you are already in a home group and have a small set of loving connections to other Christians. Build on that. Volunteer to help the poor in your area. You will find the most loving, merciful, compassionate people serving there. You will find that because unmerciful, legalistic, cold Christians naturally sequester themselves inside church buildings! That leaves the Christlike ones to minister in the community. Build bonds of love to your fellow Christians, and bring others into the family. The Body of Christ is a miraculous and beautiful thing. Let's be sure it is not decimated by the evil schemes of evil men after the crash!

As a project, do some research on Christians in oppressive countries, like China. You will find that they have no buildings, no staff, no budget, no constitutional protection, and no constitution! But their lives in Christ are beautiful! Our country is headed in that direction, and we can continue to be headed toward Jesus as a Church, if we prepare.

The ground smolders with the charred remains scattered across once-green fields now turned black from cinders and dried blood.  An electric pole lies on its side across an abandoned road, menacing with the occasional buzz and spark.  Your home is gutted, shredded like a soft chunk of cheese.  A stack of crisped tortillas lie uneaten on the hearth, abandoned in the chaos. The air is fowl and acrid though silence has now settled after the screams and destruction of the night before. 
You were lucky, though.  Living on higher ground, you heard the mobs coming and you had time to hide in your nearby cornfield.  You pray for your children, but you prepare yourself to find them among the scattered bodies.  Knowing the subtle trails only traveled by farmers like yourself, you weave your way through the hillside, clinging to any hint of normalcy and structure.  You are trying to stay calm, determined to avoid going into full out panic yourself.  You WANT to survive.  You HAVE to survive to tell your story and work to rebuild your life.  You start taking inventory of your food, your clothing, your memories…everything you will take with you as you flee and search for other survivors.  Your name is Juan, and your world has ended as you knew it.
This isn’t the opening to a novel on a future apocalypse, but one of the many stories I heard from actual survivors of civil war.  Juan’s story is not unique, but it is a true survivor’s story.  While studying anthropology, I had the chance to live in rural Guatemala, site of some of the most gruesome civilian and military guerilla forces in modern history.  Lasting more than 3 decades, the Guatemalan civil war razed villages, crippled the country’s economy, and essentially drove the entire population of 10 million people to live in ‘survival mode.’ During this time, the country also faced increasingly devastating earthquakes, mudslides, sinkholes, and drought.  Human disasters coupled with natural disasters should have spelled doom for an isolated agrarian country.  But, against this backdrop, life somehow continued.  Markets adapted to new distribution channels, educators flopped down in the fields instead of schools, and religious networks united people in a common hope for change.
Through the prolonged instability, some survivors fared better than others.  Some foraged the donated goods from aid organizations but still lived precariously day-to-day. Some learned to adapt to their changed environment and actually learned to thrive in it.  Those that had strong networks adapted to this changed reality and endured all the subsequent threats.  They developed local versions of goods no longer available for import.  They planted small gardens in their patios when vegetable trucks were being ransacked on the highway and never made it to market.  They wove their own clothes and patched old clothes to extend their wear.  They repaired roads and maintained infrastructure when the government refused to.  And, they did this by strengthening their small communities and tapping into what I call a survival network.
Building a Survival Network
What tips can we take from survivors of modern-day disasters?  How should we guide our prepping to not only survive an initial catastrophe, but participate in the rebuilding and restructuring of the future?  If there is one overarching theme to survival on a budgets, it is to connect with the people around us.  Guatemalans (and many Americans, for that matter) don’t have the resources to stockpile food, water, weapons, and tools.  Most work the fields to stock up for winter and live season-to-season.  But, if they don’t own a chainsaw, they know a neighbor who does.  They choose not to buy their own pickup truck because they can pay the 30 cents to hitch a ride down the hill to market instead.  Simply put, they learn to identify resources in their vicinity and build relationships of reciprocity to maximize those resources. 
I know this point may be criticized—preppers feel that anarchy will reign and pit neighbor against neighbor, so you have to amass everything for yourself and not count on your neighbors to help you.  I understand that argument, and I think it IS prudent to prioritize your own personal supply of survival gear.  I realize that thinking of networking as prepping may be more unnatural to Americans raised in an individual-centric mentality.
But, no matter how elaborate your preparations are or how extensive your budget reaches, no one person can live unaided forever.  As the saying goes, no man is an island. I believe the exact opposite is true.  Those people who build trust among neighbors and promote greater self-sufficiency among a strong community is much less vulnerable to attack, much more adaptable to changing threats, and much more likely to survive long-term. And, frankly, who wants to live alone in a post-apocalyptic world?? I think prepping should include reaching out to people you care about and help them prepare to survive with you.
This is NOT adding more friends to your Facebook account, this is in-person, relationship building. So, how exactly should you network for survival? The good news is, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel to figure out what a successful network looks like.  As with any network, you should start with yourself and work your way out to larger circles of family, friends, community leaders, and neighbors.
·          Start with YOU.  Identify your OWN skills inventory that may be of value to these people in order to build reciprocal relationships.  Just as self-interest can motivate looters to rob a cache, self-interest drives trade.  In order to acquire goods and services from others, you need to have equally valuable items yourself.  Remember, trade can include expertise and labor, not just supplies.  Strategize what vocational skills you can build up to make yourself a more valuable member of a survivor community.
·          Once you’ve learned more about what you have to offer, get more informed about the people in your immediate surroundings.  Be informed of groups that share your values and build relationships with preppers in your state and city.  A well-networked person is also a well-informed person and one that can identify warning signs early on.  Prepping isn’t just about preparing for an unknown future.  It’s about learning from the recent past. 
·          Get out and about in your neighborhood--study the geography, the layout of the neighborhood, the areas that are more likely to stay dry in a flood or stay erect during an earthquake.  If you need to flee your home during an emergency, having strong relationships with people in these areas could save your life.  Study exit routes using back roads or footpaths.  Identify possible hideouts if your home and bugout shelter are compromised. 
·          Build a “skills inventory” similar to your physical goods inventory and identify people in your community with these skills.  Some key skills are: hunting, fishing, first aid administration, auto mechanics, blacksmithing, architecture and drafting, construction, HVAC systems, organic gardening, herbal medicine, electrical engineering for radio and surveillance equipment, sewing, and more.  If you don’t know anybody that has one of these skills, find one!
·          Try to build stronger relationships within your existing circle of friends to identify individual skills that could fit better into your survival network.  Learn about the personal lives of your coworkers or fellow worshippers at church.  Become better friends with your auto mechanic and others with practical skills that will be valuable post-catastrophe.
·          After getting closer to your existing network, expand! Join your local Elks Lodge or Rotary chapter.  Start a preppers book club.  Host community seminars on various survival skills or even basic interests such as canning fresh fruit or tending heirloom seeds.  Try to create venues where you can meet new people but also learn about their skills and strategize how they might fit into your survival network.
·          Don’t limit your network to only include active preppers.  A glass-artist may not currently be interested in prepping, but would have valuable craftsmanship skills that could translate to other types of materials when factories shut down and all goods are made by hand.
·          Participate in local politics.  Yes, politics.  One of the primary roles of government is to build a sense of community and understand constituencies.  You will learn your community’s demographics, economic class structure, current issues being debated, and priorities.  This will help you navigate various group dynamics and build stronger relationships with diverse groups.  This can also help you tap into informal distribution channels and alternative communication channels that will survive when electronic media and big trucking are destroyed.
·          Open yourself up to examination.  No, you don’t need to give a guided tour of your bugout camp, or reveal how many pounds of food you have stored.  But, your prepping should be part of a conversation so you can brainstorm ideas and strategies with others. Isolation can be dangerous.  You may not know your weaknesses and prepping deficiencies until it’s too late.  Instead, you should work to entrench yourself in a network of equal give-and-take.  Offering expertise and services will make you a trusted member of a community rather than a selfish, isolated target. 
Guatemala is a small country most can’t place on a map.  Reports on its civil war didn’t make it onto many American newsstands.  But, its people have lived through some of the exact conditions the prepper movement is warning of.  Just as Juan was able to utilize his knowledge of hidden footpaths and hiking trails, we should work to extend our prepping beyond physical goods and tactical training.  I was privileged to hear Juan’s story because he was able to escape the destruction and live with numerous sets of neighbors until he was able to rebuild his home and retake his land.  Juan did various jobs from carpentry to transporting avocados, exchanging his time and talents for food and shelter.  He wasn’t a prepper in the traditional sense of amassing survival goods.  But, his experiences forever changed the way I view a future catastrophe.  I work not only to increase my family’s self-sufficiency but also to become more integrated into our community and more connected to local resources.  I learned from Juan that merely staying alive through disaster is not truly surviving.  Instead, you can actively shape the new structure and community that is rebuilt afterwards.  But, you have to be part of the community first if you ever hope to participate in a new one.

Eric B. sent: Photos: The safety cavern under Apollo launch pads

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Loyal contributor K.A.F. sent: The drive for grass-fed beef

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Reader R.B.S. mentioned this clever American-made invention: The Spiral-Eye Needle

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$300,000 In Gold Dust Found In Sacramento Home During HVAC Installation

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U.S. food banks raise alarm as drought dents government supplies

"For [in] those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be.
And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect's sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days.
And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here [is] Christ; or, lo, [he is] there; believe [him] not:
For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if [it were] possible, even the elect.
But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things.

But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light,
And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken.
And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory." - Mark 13:19-26 (KJV)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

They've moved up the schedule to Cyber Monday! The First Revised Edition of Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse will be released in hardback on Monday, November 26, 2012. This will be the first time that the book has ever been printed with a cloth binding. I've updated the book slightly to remove some temporal incongruities that had built up in the course of previous editions. I've also added a new introduction. As with the later paperback editions, it will include a glossary and index.


November 24th marks the day that John Knox died, in 1572. (He was born in 1514.) AtheistAgendaPedia tersely and flatly describes his life: "Born near near Haddington Scotland. He was influenced by George Wishart, who was burned for heresy in 1546, and the following year Knox became the spokesman for the Reformation in Scotland. After imprisonment and exile in England and the European continent, in 1559 he returned to Scotland, where he supervised the preparation of the constitution and liturgy of the Reformed Church."


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 (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 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 (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’s no secret the majority of survivalists are males.  If your better half is just as prepared for emergencies as you, or you are a female survivalist who is reading this article, then congratulations!  But what about others who have a wife or significant other who goes about their daily life in ignorant bliss; unaware of the dangers surrounding us in today’s world, and how to prepare for and handle them?  I am sure you all love your spouses, and when disaster strikes, you’re going to look after them.  However, wouldn’t they (and you) be better off if they were assets during an emergency rather than dead weight?

All the preparations you’ve made to keep your family and home safe isn’t going to amount to squat if your wife is clueless and you are away on a business trip, or trapped in your office, with no way to get home (transportation suspended) and no way to get in touch with your loved one (phone lines down).

Preparing your better half is the most important thing you can do.  Do you have a gun at home?  It might as well be an expensive paperweight if she doesn’t know how to use it; or worse, if she doesn’t know the combination of the safe where it is stored.  I know women who don’t even know where the circuit breaker is in their home, much less what it does.  If they cannot handle that, how are they going to defend and provide for themselves and your children in the hours, days, or weeks it takes you to get home from wherever you may be?

I’m currently in Afghanistan and my wife and our infant son are in a third-world country in Southeast Asia.  Were something to happen, such as the civil unrest that occurred there two years ago, she will have to take care of herself, as well as our infant son, on her own.  The chance of me getting to her anytime soon is slim.  At best, I am a convoy, a helicopter flight, and two plane flights away.  I tell you this so you realize this problem is real and you need to take it seriously, just as you would your other preparations.

How many hours a day are you away from home?  If you have a full time job, then it’s at least 25% of every weekday.  Now, I have friends who are willing to wager hard earned money at casinos where they don’t have nearly that high of a percentage to win.  Yet, many survivalists are willing to take much lower odds, and wager something more important that money, that an emergency will always occur when they and all their family members are sitting in their house, which is just nonsense.  Add in the time it takes you to commute to and from work, as well as the time you spend away from home doing other things (shopping, visiting friends, going to sporting events, et cetera), and the percentage is significantly increased.  A disaster waits for nobody, and the chance of one occurring when you’re away from your home is quite high.

Now that you recognize the importance of your better half becoming an active part of your survival plan, you need to start bringing her into the fold.  This is a task not to be taken lightly.  If I approached my wife and told her the world, as we know it, is going to end, she would look at me like I’ve lost my marbles and would cease listening to anything I subsequently say.  Therefore, you need to broach this topic with your better half gradually.

The majority of you all reading this did not attain all your survival equipment, rations, skills, and knowledge in a single day.  And while time is of the essence, it’s best if you don’t expect your better half to acquire everything in a single day either.  For me, I started small.

My first order of business was instilling in her the desire to be prepared for the unexpected.  Remember; start small.  For example, I purchased rain ponchos when it was sunny.  Sure, this isn’t exactly a must-have item, but it’s one I like because it serves the dual purpose of keeping me dry during a rain storm, as well as a first aid item for a sucking chest wound.  Purchasing the ponchos when they weren’t needed gave me a chance to talk with her about the ease of buying them now rather than after it starts raining.  This way I was able to gradually accustom her to the strategy as opposed to starting out by purchasing a bomb shelter.

When my wife and I went out one night a few days later it looked as though rain was forth coming, so I slipped the ponchos I’d previously purchased into my cargo pocket.  Sure enough, later that night it started pouring down rain, as it is prone to do in tropical climates.  Everyone around us, including my wife, immediately ducked into a convenience store to purchase ponchos.  Thankfully, they were sold out.  Reaching into my cargo pocket, smiling, I presented her with a poncho, which allowed me to demonstrate to her why it’s a good idea to stock up on handy items when they’re not necessarily needed right at that moment.

Gradually, my wife began to see the importance of such acts, and I’m afraid I’ve created a monster.  Now it’s her who is in charge of our supplies.  She took over that job without giving me a choice in the matter.  And why not?  She loves to shop, so it’s an enjoyable activity for her.  We have since reached our goal of having 2 months worth of necessities (diapers, food, water, you name it).  When I was in charge of our stash, we only had 2 weeks worth.  Who’s better at that job?  I know when to bow to superiority.  She still has room for improvement when it comes to rotating the stashed items to ensure they stay as fresh as possible, but she’ll get there.

Moving on, let’s hit on self-defense in the home.  Have you taught your wife to handle a firearm?  I have not because it is extremely difficult to obtain one in the country we live in, not to mention tremendously expensive.  However, she can recognize daily household items can be used as weapons.  I know this because every once in a while she will pick up a common item around the house and threaten me with it.  For example, she’ll grab scissors and declare, “I cut you!”  Sometimes I believe she’ll do it.  Of course, she’s only mimicking what I’ve taught her gradually over time.  It has turned into a fun game of finding the most non-threatening item in the home and using it as a weapon.

What about surviving natural disasters?  Where we live, flooding is a regular occurrence.  Therefore, my wife has learned how to fill sandbags, and can do so with the best of ‘em.  Does she like doing it?  No.  But she knows the chances of her having to fill sandbags when I’m not there is high.  In addition, when we move to the east coast of the U.S. next year, you can bet your generator my wife will know how to install plywood over our windows in case I’m away during a hurricane.  She’ll have help from my relatives because it’s a two-person job, but that’s not the point.  She will understand the letter and number code I mark each pre-cut piece of plywood with, so she’ll know which piece goes on which window.  Time is of the essence in an emergency, and neither she, nor my other family members, can afford to waste time trying to figure out which piece goes where.

What would your wife or significant other do during an emergency during an emergency?  No, I’ve not mis-spoken.  What I’m referring to is if your child stopped breathing during a natural disaster when medical personnel weren’t readily available.  Does your wife know first aid?  Is she CPR certified?  With a one-year-old son at home, you can rest assured one of the first things I did was have my wife take a CPR course.  I have extensive training in first aid.  In addition, I am CPR, AED, and First Responder certified.  However, none of that is going to do me a bit of good if I’m unconscious with only a non-trained wife to take care of me.  My wife immediately recognized the importance of such training and has since learned a vast amount of information on the subject.  It’s another area she excels at and I am confident in her abilities.

I’m not saying your better half needs to be equally as good as you are in every aspect of survival, as different people bring different skill sets to the table.  However, she should be proficient.  And you might as well get off your macho high horse now because believe it or not, she will excel in areas you don’t.  My wife and I are a team…not a survival expert and the beneficiary of a survival expert.  I cannot begin to tell you all how comforting it is to know my wife can handle whatever is thrown her way to keep herself and our son safe when I’m not there.  And when I am there, I know I’m not in it alone.  Taking care of every aspect of three people’s lives (me, my wife, and our son) would be stressful during the best of times.  Doing so during an emergency would likely turn me into a two-pack-a-day smoker.

It’s my hope you all will take heed in what I’ve written, bring your wife or significant other into the fold, and become a team to be reckoned with when things go bad.  After all, your better half will most likely turn out to be the best piece of survival gear you’ve ever invested in.

Mr Rawles,
I’ve read and enjoyed each of your books, and I am an avid prepper -- it’s only a matter of time before we have an economic collapse.  However, I am having trouble connecting the dots between a collapse and the loss of the power grid.
Can you help me here, please?  How does an economic collapse translate into the loss of the power grid?  If I can fully understand this, I will prepare for the event by purchasing a biomass gasifier for my generator.

Thanks, - Richard M.

JWR Replies: The main triggers would be a disruption of rail traffic (that would idle coal trains, which currently move hundreds of millions of tons of coal each year) or if power utility employees fail to show up for work. I can foresee four reasons why electric power utility workers might not show up for work in the midst of an economic collapse:

1.)  The employees aren't paid regularly. (Due to a banking crisis or currency crisis.)


2.) The U.S. Dollar becomes worthless, due to hyperinflation. (And hence, the employee paychecks become worthless.)


3.) A nationwide gas and diesel fuel shortage keeps power utility employees from commuting to work.


4.) There are riots, looting, and massive street crime. Under those circumstances many utility workers won't feel safe leaving their families at home, unprotected.

If there is insufficient staffing, power plants will shut down and the nation's three power grids will collapse. Nuclear power plants will be among the first to go offline, since NRC regulations require nuke plant shut downs if staffing drops below a fairly high threshold. The last to go will probably be hydroelectric plants, since their staffing requirements are minimal. (The prevalence of hydroelectric power is yet another reason to move to The American Redoubt.)

At least a dozen readers have recommended Dana Richardson's documentary film Back To Eden. This film runs one hour and 43 minutes and is available free, online. It is important to note that the wood mulching method advocated in the film requires caution. It is fine for use as top much cover, but do not mix in any wood-based mulch with your soil until it has aged for at least three years. (Wood mulches bind nitrogen, until the cellulose breaks down.)

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J. McC. sent a tale of a Deer Delinquent in East Texas. (Assault, vandalism, stealing cigarettes...)

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Reader Mark. A. mentioned: Waxing Cans and Boxes for Storage.

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We are pleased to welcome our newest advertiser, Todd Savage of Todd is very knowledgeable and trustworthy. I highly recommend his services.

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Be careful, out there: Extreme couponer claims attack by store manager. (Thanks to G.G. for the link.)

"Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for [your] food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)
Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.
For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God;
Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for [your] liberal distribution unto them, and unto all [men];
And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you.
Thanks [be] unto God for his unspeakable gift." - 2 Corinthians 9:10-15 (KJV)

Friday, November 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 (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 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 (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.

Many people have learned much of what they "know" about firearms from the movies. This includes the devices commonly known as "silencers." Even the name is misleading. A sound suppressor does not silence a firearm completely in most cases. What it does do is reduce the noise level while greatly reducing the muzzle blast and flash. Sound suppressors have been in use for over 100 years. Until the National Firearms Act of 1934, people in the United States could buy sound suppressors in gun stores or even hardware stores. Sound suppressors are now heavily regulated in the U.S. and in many countries. Curiously, however, some nations place few restrictions on sound suppressors or even require their use, in order to reduce the "noise pollution" associated with target shooting and hunting.

Legal purchase of a sound suppressor in the United States is administered by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE). Before the purchase can be made, the person must undergo the application process, which includes paying a $200 tax and undergoing a criminal background check. Some purchasers are surprised to find that sound suppressors in the US are often very expensive -- in many cases exceeding the cost of the firearm they are to be used with. In some states -- including California, Hawaii, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, and some others -- sound suppressors are completely banned for ordinary citizens. In states that allow suppressors, there may be purchase requirements in addition to those required by the federal government.

Purchasing a sound suppressor will be seen by some preppers as a violation of OPSEC. Suppressors are also likely to draw unwanted attention if used at a public range. Additionally, they are bulky and add weight to a firearm, and their width can block the view through the sights of some firearms. Adding a sound suppressor to my favorite squirrel rifle would make it much less fun to carry in the woods, even if it didn't block the sights.


On the other hand, the ability to shoot with less noise has several advantages. In addition to allowing early-morning shooting at urban or suburban ranges without disturbing nearby neighbors, a quiet firearm is a wonderful tool for training. New shooters are often intimidated by the loud noises associated with firearms, and this can contribute to flinching.

If the suppression reduces the sound sufficiently, hearing protection may be deemed unnecessary. This means greater comfort, especially for those who complain of discomfort caused by ear plugs or other hearing protection. A quieter range can also be a safer range, as range master commands are more easily heard by shooters and spectators. Eye protection, however, must always be worn whenever firearms are in use. I have been struck by a ricocheting .22LR bullet that struck a hard object and bounced straight back at me. It caused no injury, but it drove home the need to always wear eye protection.

In the hunting camp, a quiet firearm may give the hunter the ability to take small game near camp without alarming his or her partners or spooking larger game animals that may be grazing in the vicinity. When hunting small game, such as squirrels, being able to shoot with less noise may allow more animals to be taken in one location, without a loud report to scare the animals from the vicinity.

For the survivalist, the prepper, or even the rural homesteader, there are huge advantages to being able to shoot with less noise. On a working farm, more shots are probably fired at pests or predators than are ever fired at game animals. At my sister's ranch near Ukiah, California, I learned as a child just how many animals are fond of free range chickens! Several years later, while working as the range master at a Boy Scout camp outside Boonville, California, I used a quiet rifle for early morning rodent elimination near the range. The low report didn't disturb sleeping campers on the other side of the hill.

Operational security is another very important reason to look for ways to reduce gunshot noise. Anyone who has been outdoors during hunting season knows that rifle fire can be heard for a considerable distance. A low profile is vital, especially in the weeks or months after a calamity, when elements of the Golden Horde may be on the move nearby.

Surprisingly, the ability to shoot quietly may be even more important to preppers who are near suburban or urban areas. As we have seen in the wake of disasters, sometimes people are left to fend for themselves -- without power, phone, or other means of calling for help -- for weeks at a time. Flood waters and lack of proper sanitation may bring rats, mice and other potential disease vectors closer to homes. With no one to call, it would be helpful to have a way to deal with such a threat. At the same time, the days after a disaster are not a good time to be shatter the now-quiet neighborhood with gunshots. Even if it is a genuine emergency, such as a rabid animal threatening your household, caution is warranted. And changing technologies have made discretion even more important than before.


"One's a backfire. Three is gunplay." - James Caan in The Way of the Gun

It's a great movie line, but it's no longer the case. A single gunshot used to be a transitory event: a loud noise that could be mistaken for fireworks, a board being dropped, or something else. People would tend to perk up, and if the noise wasn't repeated, they would forget about it. In many urban areas, a single gunshot didn't even warrant a call to the police, and there was little chance of pinpointing its origin if they were called. In my neighborhood in Oakland, California in the 1980s, gunfire at night was a common sound, and we rarely saw a police car coming to investigate unless someone was hit and 9-1-1 was called. Now, however, cities like Oakland are using new technologies, such as microphones on cell phone towers, utility poles, or rooftops to record, identify and quickly triangulate the location of a gunshot ("Shot Spotter" - WIRED Magazine, March 2007). With the relaxation of restrictions, drones may soon join the ranks of urban listeners.

Once a gunshot is identified and located, police are alerted by the system and can be given an exact street address and the time of the gunshot. During a grid-up emergency, one could imagine that authorities would continue to rely on gunshot location networks. It could make for an ugly situation if you dispatch a rabid skunk while cleaning up after a hurricane, only to have the National Guard show up, looking for a possible sniper.


Over the years, I've had a number of people ask me about alternatives to firearms for pest elimination and small game hunting. The tools asked about have included airguns, bows and arrows, crossbows, blowguns, slingshots, slings, and even darts and thrown knives. Some of these -- particularly airguns -- can be quite effective, but all have their own limitations. Some stray into the realm of fantasy (slings and throwing weapons).

Modern airguns can be powerful, insanely accurate, and are sized for adults. Unfortunately, some of them are also loud enough to cause troubles of their own. None of the high-quality airguns are inexpensive, and they are somewhat specialized tools. One of the quieter air rifles, however, could serve for quiet pest elimination and for practice. Once the initial investment is made, further costs are not prohibitive. Pellets can be bought by the thousands, and quality airguns last a long time and are not maintenance-intensive.

Blowguns can be very accurate within their limits, but they are a short-range proposition and lack stopping power. They are also banned in California -- and probably in some other jurisdictions. Bows and crossbows seem rather clumsy for dealing with an animal in the yard or garden, and short-range shots in that environment will be destructive to arrows and bolts. Additionally, most people lack the skill level to make this a viable choice: a limitation which also applies to slingshots. Of course, a skilled shooter with a slingshot can be very impressive. I've seen small game animals dropped with a .38 round ball from a slingshot as though they'd been hit between the eyes with a hammer. Of all the non-gun weapons, a quality slingshot is probably the most practical, provided the shooter takes the time to acquire the necessary skill.


The ideal solution for many of us would be using a firearm that we are already proficient with, but to somehow make the gun quiet on demand. Special rimfire ammunition renders a long-barreled .22 rifle nearly silent without any muzzle device, special permit or other trouble. The handling qualities of the rifle are unaffected, and there is no suppressor tube to intrude into the sight picture. I have found this special ammo useful for pests and for training without the need for hearing protection.

The ideal rifle for quiet rimfire shooting has a barrel length of 24 inches or longer. I have experimented with other barrel lengths. It came as a surprise to find that a 22-inch barrel with quiet rimfire ammo was significantly louder than the same ammunition out of the longer barrel. Generally, the shorter the barrel, the louder the report will be, but the sound of the shot will still be quieter than standard .22LR high velocity ammunition.

Semiauto rifles may not cycle with quiet ammunition, as it generates less energy than regular ammo. In this case, of course, the action can be manually cycled between shots. Some quiet ammo, due to the overall length of the rounds, may also have issues in feeding from a magazine.

I have experimented with two types of quiet rimfire ammunition in particular. There are other choices available, but the two types looked at here would be a good starting point. Every rimfire rifle is a law unto itself: what shoots accurately in my rifle may not do so in yours, and vice versa. You should be ready to try different types of ammunition until you find one that shoots accurately in your rifle. Fortunately, rimfire ammo is inexpensive and is not particularly hard to find. I've even seen Quiet-22 ammo (described below) in Wal-Mart recently, alongside some .22 Short loads that I plan to try out soon.


The CCI .22 CB Long round was designed to overcome shortcomings of the various .22 BB Cap (Bulleted Breech Cap), .22 CB Cap (Conical Ball Cap) and .22 Short loadings. These rounds offered low noise and reduced velocity, but their short lengths affected feeding, in addition to possible chamber fouling issues (discussed below). CCI combined the .22 Long case (which is the same length as the Long Rifle case) with a light, 29-grain solid-point bullet (which was a normal weight for the Long, back when the round was popular).

The CCI .22 CB Long round contains a small powder charge, to produce a lower muzzle velocity than standard .22 ammunition. With the light bullet, its loaded length is a little shorter than regular .22LR rounds. It feeds reliably in some actions, but may have issues with others. You need to try it in your own firearm to see if it feeds consistently. Its light powder charge is not strong enough to work the action in most semiauto firearms.

The advantage of the CB Long becomes evident when you fire it. From a barrel of 24 inches or longer, the report is quieter than the sound of the bullet hitting the target. Even indoors or at a range with a roof and dividers between firing stations, the noise is so low that hearing protection is not needed (although eye protection is always necessary). It is quieter than many high-powered air rifles, and the report does not sound like a gunshot.

From shorter barrels, the noise level increases. It is still much quieter than .22LR high-velocity ammunition, but it is loud enough to carry over short distances. As barrel length decreases, the noise level increases. My suspicion is that all of the powder is burned, even when the round is fired in shorter barrels. The longer barrel likely provides room for the gases to expand, so that the residual pressure is reduced, with a corresponding reduction in report when the gas is released by the exit of the bullet. In shorter barrels, the higher gas pressures increase the noise level. Even in short-barreled youth carbines, however, the .22 CB Longs offer a gentler report than one finds with regular .22 ammunition. A pair of foam ear plugs is adequate ear protection, and people a short distance from the shooter will not experience discomfort.

I have experienced very good accuracy out to 25 yards with the CCI .22 CB Longs, and the bullets hit harder than you might think. I have killed a number of very large rats with this ammo -- with head shots -- and have no complaints about its killing power on rodents. The 29-grain bullet is much heavier than the airgun pellets that many shooters use on rodents and similar-sized small game, although the muzzle velocity will likely be lower than that of an airgun meant for hunting.


A newer round from CCI is the Quiet-22, which uses a 40-grain bullet and looks like a regular .22LR cartridge. The Quiet-22 round seems to feed very well in repeating actions, although it will probably not have enough pressure to operate a semiauto. Like the CB Long round, CCI decided to use a round-nose, solid-point bullet. This looks like a good choice, in that the velocity advertised on the box is 710 feet per second -- probably not enough for expansion with a hollow-point bullet.

The Quiet-22 quickly became one of my favorite ammunition choices for use in my Stevens 86C. This bolt action has a long barrel and is very quiet with the CCI Quiet-22 ammo. Quiet-22 feeds reliably from the tubular magazine and is only slightly louder -- to my ears -- than the CB Long cartridge. The bullet strike is still the loudest sound. I can shoot in the early morning at a suburban range without complaints from anyone in nearby houses. Even someone in the parking lot of the range would not likely hear the shots!

Buy some of this ammunition, and I believe you will like it as much as I do. I liked it so much, that after trying it, I bought two cases (2,000 rounds) of the stuff! The CCI Quiet-22 load does most of the things that I use a .22 rifle for. It just does them with less noise.


There are other types of ammunition intended for quiet shooting, such as the Aguila Colibri and SSS (Super Subsonic Sniper) rounds. I would encourage anyone looking for a way to shoot quietly and accurately to buy a few boxes and give them a try. As most of us know, every .22 is unique, and it's impossible to predict with any certainty which type of ammo will be best in a particular gun. Variables such as barrel length, twist rate, bore diameter, chamber dimensions and other variables can greatly affect how ammunition performs in that firearm. The Aguila SSS, for example, has a very heavy (60 grain), long bullet that may perform best with a fast rifling twist for greater stability. I have heard a wide variety of reactions to it, in terms of accuracy. Some love it, and some hate it, but you should decide for yourself with your rifle.

Don't forget the traditional "low-noise" rounds: the .22 BB Cap, .22 CB Cap, and the .22 Short. The first two may be hard to find nowadays, and the truly tiny case length of the BB and CB Cap cartridges probably won't permit them to feed in repeating actions. They can be single-loaded directly into the chamber of the rifle, however, and they generally have little or no powder charge, making them very quiet for practice, training and plinking. The .22 Short can still be found on gun store shelves and even in Wal-Mart. It will probably be quieter than regular .22LR ammo, especially in long-barreled rifles.

You may hear that short-cased ammunition will cause problems in rifles chambered for the .22LR cartridge. Most of this is probably due to rifles that were fired extensively with short-cased ammo and not cleaned properly. Most of us are not likely to use huge quantities of .22 Short ammunition, but if we make a point of scrubbing the chamber afterwards, it should not be an issue.

One point about the .22 Short: like all the cartridges discussed here, it should be treated like a full-power .22 high-velocity round in terms of safety practices. Don't forget that the .22 Short was originally a defensive round (loaded with black powder) and that it was carried for that purpose by soldiers in the 1860s in the Civil War. None of the rounds in this article can be treated casually. All of them could be be lethal if mishandled. All normal safety rules must apply.


For any who are wondering whether they should bother with quiet rimfire shooting, I ask: Why not? If you're like me, much of your rimfire shooting with rifles falls under training, teaching, and plinking, and these tasks might be done just as well with quiet ammo as with full-power stuff, only with less noise.

Quiet rimfire ammo truly shines in use with young or novice shooters. Although there is almost no recoil with standard bulk pack .22LR HVHP ammo, the noise level is high enough to induce flinching, especially if the shooter is too small for the ear muffs to fit properly.

For hunting or discrete pest elimination, these rounds will do the job on rodents with good bullet placement. I would hesitate to go after anything larger than a rabbit, however, unless there was a pressing need for both meat and keeping a low noise profile. For a suspected rabid animal that was much larger, like a dog, I would much prefer a centerfire carbine round to the body, to stop the animal as quickly as possible while preserving the animal's head for later testing.

I recommend Quiet-22 as a starting point for your explorations into quiet rimfire shooting. With its 40-grain bullet and Long Rifle case, it should feed in most actions, and the standard-weight bullet should be compatible with the rifling in most firearms. It should also provide more killing power against small animals than .22 Short or .22 Long cartridges. Quiet-22 seems to be fairly easy to find, and it cost me about five cents a round from Midway USA -- not much more than "bulk pack" .22 LR ammunition from Wal-Mart.

Be careful with all of these loads! Treat them as you would any firearm ammunition and follow all safety rules.

I think some writer on this topic miss an extremely important point about secession.  That point is immigration and emigration.
Taking your original argument that the Federals would not allow Redoubters to go in peace – then most likely the Feds would immediately cut off all “benefits” paid to those who reside within the American Redoubt.
It is unlikely Social Security would be cut off because there is no problem presently paying SS to ex-pats who have chosen to retire in foreign countries, Honduras, The Bahamas, Spain, etc etc.  By what logic would it be different here?
As for others who are dependent on “transfer payments” without doubt there would be an immediate rush for the exits.  Hundreds of thousands of “disabled”, “professional minorities”, college-professors, bureaucrats, IRS agents, EPA officers and other marginal and non-producers would hit the exit ramps.
Overnight our welfare, Medicaid, and 80% of our crime problem would be solved.
On the other side of the ledger, thousands upon thousands of entrepreneurs who have been “regulated” out of business will stream INTO the Redoubt, yearning for the breath of freedom.  They will be joined by thousands of individuals who have been subject to “reverse discrimination” because they happen to be a Christian or other non-minority.
The “homeless” problem evaporates overnight because the support structure that allows them to exist in the North Country would disappear.  California here we come.
Many fine military officers would find their way to our side.  Officers who have been forced to swallow politically correct “rules of engagement”, the politically correct theory that “a girl make just as good an infantryman as a guy”   the politically correct theory that gay-friendly fully integrated homosexual army is the same fighting machine that landed on the shores of Iwo Jima in 1945. These officers would soon find employment in our ranks.
The legal structure will quickly be revised as well.  We simply cannot afford to let crooks appeal their sentences for 20 or 30 years.  Justice will once again become swift and sure.  You think this is going to be lost on the crooks?  California here they come.
With the criminal and parasite classes gone from our borders, the cost of government will plummet.
Further, just as thousands upon thousands of healthy young men and women headed for the oil fields of North & South Dakota – their brothers and sisters will come here.
Just as thousands upon thousands of healthy young men and women headed for Alaska to build the pipeline – their sons and daughters will come here.
Just as thousands upon thousands of healthy young men and women headed the gold fields of California – their grandsons and granddaughters will come here.
There will be a new burst of free-enterprise, and the young, the vigorous, the adventuresome and the unafraid will come here.
All we need do is offer them the opportunity to try their luck, offer them the chance to win or lose based on their own enterprise, ingenuity and intelligence.
What we cannot do is the same old same old.  The alphabet agencies, BATF, EPA, FEMA, BATF, FBI, CIA, and on and on and on, all this garbage has to go.
The idea that you can get a job, or into a college, or into some “program” based on the color of your skin.  That garbage has to go.
The idea that your criminal behavior is somehow excused because your dad was a drunk or your mom didn’t feed you, or your school was overcrowded.  That garbage has to go.
If we secede and keep things just as they are, we will fail and we will dissever to fail.
If we secede and cut out the crap, not just a bit here and there, but all of it – we will succeed beyond our wildest imagination. 
60 years ago heroes of our grandparent’s generation walked on the moon.  60 years from now, heroes of our grandchildren’s generation will walk among the stars.
The time is now, the place is here.  All we need do is heed the demand of Moses to the Pharaoh: “LET MY PEOPLE GO”.

Regards, - W.L.L.

Growing up in the south, secession was and is still on the lips of many southerners.  The first secession I was taught about occurred some 3,000 years ago in the nation of Israel.  Solomon created the wealthiest and most powerful government the Israelites would ever see.  it was also one of the most corrupt.  Jewish history teaches that Solomon sent his own people into forced labor (slavery) in Tyre.  For those who don't know Tyre is an ancient Phoenician city in modern day Lebanon.  Solomon also gave away large sections of land to pay for his extravagances.  He gave 20 towns in Galilee to Hiram the king of Tyre because Hiram supplied Solomon with cedar, pine, and gold.  Solomon had no legal right to do this even as king of Israel.

In 1 Samuel chapter 8 we find the Israelites coming to Samuel asking for a king.  Samuel was displeased with this, but inquired of the Lord about it anyway.  God told Samuel not be to distressed over it because the people were not rejecting him they were rejecting God.  Once again we find the children of Israel in rebellion against God.

But God did what God always does when men cry out for bad government, He gives them just what they asked for no holds barred.  God tells Samuel to tell the people exactly what a king would do to them, Samuel did, and the people insisted on inviting tyranny upon themselves.  I encourage everyone to read 1 Samuel 8:10-18 and see if God's warning doesn't ring true, truer words were never spoken.

What the Israelites did not understand was they had the best form of government possible on this earth.  From the day Israel left Egypt's land they were divided into tribes.  Jethro, Moses father-in-law, showed Moses how to divided them into self ruling tribes.  Each tribe had clans, and the clans had sub clans.  This is known as the Patriarchal system, now you should understand why liberals hate it so much.  These tribes formed a confederacy with each other.  A confederacy was preferable because any infraction of any rule instantly dissolved the confederacy and both parties reserved the right to dissolve the confederacy at will.

By the time of Solomon's death the 10 tribes of the north had had enough and decided they would secede from Judah and form their own country.  However they stepped right back into the same disastrous trap that their fathers had several decades before.

Fast forward to the 1770s, obviously our founders believed in the right of secession, just read the Declaration of Independence.  Even after the New England Federalist made an attempt at secession, Jefferson believed they had a right to do so, that occurred in 1814-1815.  It is known as the Hartford Convention.  The people of New England gathered for a redress of grievances concerning the War of 1812 and the problems arising from the federal governments increasing power.

There is more than enough evidence to prove that our founders and framers believed the states had a right to secede and dissolve all bonds with the union.  Secession is a right of the PEOPLE.  I believe our founders would have gotten a good laugh out of their progeny asking a government for permission to secede.  

While I appreciate Attorney Terry E. Hogwood's dissertation on the subject, I believe he over looked one major point, the courts are a tool of government.  Historically they always rule in favor of government, and almost always in favor of increasing the power of government.  The courts seldom acknowledge the power of the people over government, yet the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution and Bill of Rights emphatically state that the power belongs to the people.  

Secession must be taken.  The secessionist recognizes his right to liberty and freedom then takes what is rightfully his, in essence he grants himself the right to secede.  No government will ever grant him the right to be free.

And yes, I believe in the right to secession and believe that secession maybe the last hope for freemen to continue to be free.  At the same time I also fear it.  The 10 tribes of Israel did secede from Judah, however in just a few decades they would be conquered by the Assyrians.  The 10 tribes of Israel were not a virtuous and moral people.  Our founders were virtuous and moral and even declared that our system of government could only succeed as long as we remained a virtuous and moral people.  Secession's only work over the long term when the people are morally grounded.  Secession's by immoral men only advance and increase the speed of corruption.  In fact most attempts of secession have failed because they are lead by the morally corrupt.

I hear many calling for secession because their rights are being trampled upon, but I don't hear many calling for the people to return to a moral and virtuous lifestyle.  Without a moral and virtuous people, chances of a successful secession are slimmer than slim and, I believe, may well lead to something far worse than what we face now. - C.D.P.

No great surprise: Defense Security Service - Succession Petition Signors - Security Clearance Impact. Note that: "This issue is under review." (Thanks to F.T. for the link.)

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Ratmageddon: 180 Million Rats Face 22 Tons of Poison on Galapagos

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Reader Rick H. sent a reminder that the 505-page 15th Anniversary Edition of the AVOW Preparedness Manual is now available for free download.

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Reader Kevin S. mentioned Aircraft Spruce--a company familiar to most private plane owners and FBOs, but of interest to preppers. They even sell carbon fiber material.

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Steve H. found a nice homemade trekking or bug out pull cart. (Skip forward to 1:40 to avoid the annoying intro voice-over.) BTW, every well-equipped ranch workshop should have a proper aluminum conduit tubing bender. (Or better yet, build your own.)

"Ask yourself, why do I hold some of my wealth in the form of money? The answer is, because you like the unique flexibility that only money can give you. If you have demand for money, it means that you have demand for purchasing power in the form of money. It is not a specific number of paper notes or weight of gold that you desire to hold – neither, by itself, does anything for you – but it is the spending flexibility that the monetary asset gives you, its exchange value, that you demand.
From this, some powerful conclusions already follow. A growing economy does not need a growing supply of money. If people have more demand for money, they sell non-money goods (or reduce their money-spending on non-money goods) and accumulate money balances. In the process, the 'price' of money (its exchange value) goes up. The same physical quantity of money now gives everybody more spending flexibility. This process – a natural market process – has satisfied the rising money demand automatically." - Austrian School Economist Detlev Schlichter, as quoted in The Daily Bell.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Here in the States, today is set aside as a special day to thank God for his blessings upon us.


Today is also the birthday of the late Eugene M. Stoner. (Born, 1922, died April 24, 1997.) He is well-known to the shooting fraternity as the designer of the AR-7, AR-10, AR-15, AR-180, and Stoner 63. (The AR-15 was the basis of the M16 and all of its variants including the now ubiquitous M4 Carbine.)


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 (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 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 (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.

How can a family cow be an ideal addition to your food storage and survival plan? We started our self-reliance plan with gardening.  Then we planted a few fruits and added chickens.   One day we realized that if we had a cow, we could truly be self-sufficient with our food supply.    We now raise family sized milk cows with grazing genetics in Virginia.  This article should persuade SurvivalBlog readers who own two or more acres, of the wisdom of owning a family cow. It should also answer questions we frequently hear.

Why a Cow?
Owning a cow produces milk, cream (butter, crème fraiche, sour cream, cream cheese), hundreds of cheeses, buttermilk, yogurt (which you can keep going for years), ice cream, meat (the bull calves), and manure for the garden and fields.  Raw grass-fed milk is 500% higher in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which is has health benefits for the heart, joints, and a myriad of other things.  Raw milk has natural probiotics and enzymes to help you digest all the goodness in the milk.  In fact, we learned that 90% of people who think they are dairy intolerant, are just reacting to the processing.  We used to think that three in our family were allergic to milk but found out that they can all drink raw milk and have no reactions whatsoever.

Raw milk is probably one of the most nutritious foods on the planet and has all the amino acids.  According to history, the famous Mongolian warlord Genghis Khan would ride a mare and take a mare into the rugged winter mountains and live on raw mare's milk for weeks at a time during his battle forays.   One could survive quite a long time on raw milk.  I know people who have done raw milk fasts for weeks at a time and their health thrived.

How to Purchase a Family Milk Cow? 

One can choose to purchase a calf or a mature cow.  There are advantages to both and some of it may come down to personal preference and/or budget. 
It will be less expensive to start with a weanling.  If one starts with a calf that has been “bottle” fed (as long as the calf has been fed with the bottle in a bottle holder the calf should not become too pushy.  Otherwise, they tend to butt you as they would their mom.  That is not "cute" when they get bigger.  Make sure the calf has been raised on real milk for four months.  This insures that the rumen will properly develop so they can digest forages as an adult and not need to have much grain, especially if you get what we call grazing genetics, which I will explain later.  It also sets the cow up for a healthier immune system for life. 

If you purchase a weanling, we suggest halter breaking and leading it while young.  Also, touch her all over.  Touch her on her belly, legs, udder, etc.  Make her move her leg back like you would if you were going to sit down and milk her.  Give her a voice command.  I say, “Move your leg back”.  Once your calf has bonded to you, it takes much less time to maintain that familiarity.  If your calf gets too pushy, correct them as mama would.   A smack to the nose, which is tender, and a sharp, “no!” usually works.  Eventually they learn what "no" means.

You could also purchase a mature cow but be forewarned that unless they are hand-milking already, you may need lots of determination  and patience to train them.  Mentoring would be useful too.  Sometimes a cow takes to milking almost right away once they get over their fear of people but it can take a good bit of patience if they were not what we call “gentled” as a calf.  The obvious advantage of an adult is that you can enjoy your milk and other dairy products right away.  Usually a neighbor or friend will donate money toward the care and upkeep of the cow to help pay for her, and take the extra milk if you have extra.

If the SHTF you can always breed her to a bull of any kind in the neighborhood but a cow will also keep lactating for years.  You just will not get the peak production that a freshening brings on.  However, you can live pretty well on 2 gallons a day, which is what the average Jersey should maintain with decent grazing and no grain.  Especially after the second and even third lactation which get subsequently more productive.

Size is one thing to consider.  You could purchase a miniature cow such as Dexter.   I personally have not been impressed with them but do your own research.  If you purchase a Dexter, make sure they come from milking breeding lines, as many Dexter’s are not milked and being bred for production.   You could purchase a mini Hereford that will not give as much milk but as any beef breed, can be milked.  Our favorite cow is the Jersey whether mini or full-sized.  The minis as a rule do not give as much milk and to be honest, there is always some way to use extra milk.  I will cover that later.  However, mini’s work well for some situations such as smaller acreage, family size, and are sometimes not as intimidating to new hobby farmers.  Minis will cost more as a rule.  All Jerseys whether mini or standard have wonderful cream so we skim off ½ of the cream to use for our ice cream and butter and we still have great tasting milk.  To me the most important factor to consider as far as intimidation goes is whether the cow was gentled (not spoiled) as a calf and whether it trusts and is bonded to people.

I prefer a full sized Jersey with the old-fashioned genetics and size.  The smaller, efficient size that Jerseys used to be a few decades ago.  Unfortunately, they are breeding the American Jerseys larger in later years and American Jerseys as a rule have many health challenges.  We have been fortunate enough to work with a couple of organic farmers that have preserved the old style Jersey.  You could also cross a Jersey with a beef breed such as Terrantaise (a French dual-purpose breed that has very rich milk) or Hereford to get the grazing genetics and better health genetics.  Make sure the baby is dam raised or raised on real milk four months to develop the rumen properly.  This will set up the immune system for life and help her to be an efficient grazer and not need large amounts of grain if any.

How Do I Care For a Family Milk Cow?  

In our post industrial revolution confinement operation farms where all the food is made and brought to the animals, most people no longer realize that in much of the U.S. animals can be pastured all year.   It helps if one learns the basics of rotational grazing and what is called stockpiling in order to accomplish this.  There is no need to stock mounds of hay in the barn except for drought or very deep snow where the cow can’t paw down to the stockpiled grass.    I also use a nice flake of green tender hay during milking time but if it could not be purchased, it would not be essential.  Rotational grazing also in effect doubles your acreage as it creates healthier forage.  The cow cannot just take what she likes and leave the rest.  This will kill off certain plants and allow weeds to thrive.  With rotational grazing you can reduce weeds dramatically and allow seeds that can lie dormant for many decades to grow such as legumes like red and white clover for example.  When you create the right environment, you will find that you have more variety and healthier forage.  This variety gives the cows a smorgasbord of nutrients necessary to go without grain. 

When we started to use rotational grazing, we could not believe the difference in the quality and variety of our forage.  We do spot spray the thistles but have been able to control all other weeds with rotational grazing.  Also, in our case since we have growing calves and lactating cows, we keep ours pasture shorter than many beef herds will so we like to mow it on the high setting after they graze an aisle to keep the tender lush forages coming.  In a TEOTWAWKI situation, this would not be necessary or even for a small hobby farmer.

We have split our field up into aisles.  There is a corridor all the way across the front of the field that every other aisle has access to and it contains the water trough.  We work on one aisle at a time.  Each aisle has a gate handle at the front end.  We open the gate to the aisle we are working on.  Then we use three or four step-in posts (you can push them in the dirt with your foot and pull them out by hand, no pounding needed) for the single [electric] wire that we move.  (You would use more if your aisle is wider.) Every day, we move the wire to give enough grazing for the number of animals we have in that field.  You will get a feel for that as you move them each day.  Don’t worry, they will let you know by bawling if they are hungry.  During some times of the year, you will have to move the dividing line faster or slower.  We use one line of the poly wire with several small strands of wire running through it.  This is easy to work with and if it breaks, you can tie it in a knot to connect it.  Knots do not affect the electrical current at all.  On our cross line that determines the amount of grazing for that day, we use an alligator clip with rubber protector (purchased at local hardware) to hook onto the main aisle wires on both sides.  This makes the dividing wire hot.  Our aisles are all done with the cheap fiberglass posts from the farm store that have to be pounded in except the corner stakes should be T-posts, which are sturdier and will shore up the whole set up and you will have less frustration operating the “gates” to each aisle.

We always rest one section each year for a seven-year rotation.  Another wards, in seven years we should be rotated back to the original plot to rest it again.  Resting is done by grazing once early in the spring and then letting it grow all summer.  This section can be grazed in the winter after all the plants have re-seeded themselves.   This improves the ground and forage wonderfully and is a biblical principle with benefits now proven by science.

Fertile soil produces nutrient rich forage, which keeps the cow healthy, and the nutrition is passed on in the milk.  One can do many things to improve the soil.  I will list a few.  The best thing to do is to have the local extension office or local feed store come out and take soil samples (or you may need to do it yourself with their instructions).  You want to know the ph of your soil and calcium level to know if you should lime it.  If it needs lime, do you need the high calcium lime or the high magnesium lime?  You only know by testing.  If you even consider doing chicken manure, test first.  Your phosphorus could already be high and it would not be the best choice of fertilizer your field needs.  The other improvement we do to our fields is to spray diluted milk, 3 gallons milk to 20 gallons of water , per acre and a very dilute solution of something called sea-90 (we get it from Countryside Organics but you could google it to find a dealer near you) which is a naturally mined sea salt that is very high in minerals.  If I were only going to do one thing,  it would be to spray the milk and if you can, the minerals during the spring and fall growing seasons each year.    You can use a 4-wheel ATV and sprayer or a backpack sprayer for smaller areas.  This will draw the earthworms and help to break up the soil and provide many benefits to your land.  The milk feeds the microbes in the soil (the living part of the soil that makes nutrients available to the plants.  Milk also raises what is called the brix, which is a natural sugar in the plant.  This makes the plants more nutritious and palatable for the animals but since insects such as grasshoppers do not have a pancreas and therefore cannot digest sugars, they leave.  It is simple and you can use your very own milk! 
You do not have to do these improvements to the soil.  If you can, and you want your forages high in naturally occurring minerals and nutrients so you gain the benefit of that through drinking the milk and your cow has better health, go for it.

We also feed our cows a few supplements.  Give free choice (always available) ½ kelp and ½ Redmond trace mineral salt.  You can go to to find a dealer of the natural trace mineral salt near you.   Hopefully, that same place would have the kelp as well.  If you keep both cool as possible and dry, they will last for years.  The most important nutrient to prevent mastitis is calcium.  (In addition, not overfeeding grain.)  The kelp and trace mineral salt does not provide a source of macro minerals but only has trace minerals in a highly digestible form.  For the macro minerals, you need to free choice something like Cattle Mineral Mix sold by Country Side Organics in Waynesboro, Virginia (they ship) or at least top dress a calcium supplement on their grain each day.  Lancaster Ag in Pennsylvania is also a wonderful source of natural supplements.  There are other ways to get the free choice supplements.  One of those is thru Advanced Biological Concepts, which has a top-notch free choice system for cows and horses.  Be prepared to pay a little more though.  You can do a web search on "natural animal supplements" for your state or find natural farmers in your area and query them.  We have done something similar to the above with all of our large animals for almost 20 years and have had maybe one or two incidences where we needed the vet for sickness.

As far as feeding the cow other than grazing, we give a very small amount of grain, mostly to top dress a supplement.  For example, we would give our ½ mini milk cow about two cups and our standard sizes one quart.  They do not need grain at all though especially if you get the grazing genetics going for you.  Too much grain is not good and will shorten the cow’s life.  Excess grain will make the cows system acidic and cause many health challenges that most confinement dairies think are normal occurrences.  If you feed more than ½ or 1% of the body weight in grain, the starch-digesting bacteria overcome the cellulose-digesting bacteria.  When that happens, they are no longer getting the nutrition out of their forages.  More and more organic farms are going grain free and focusing on rotational grazing to improve their forages instead.  We work with two different farms that only have the vet for pregnancy checks and routine testing, etc.  That is unheard of on conventional dairies where the cows only have 1-3 lactations because they are so unhealthy.  A note of warning:  If you buy a cow that is being given a lot of grain, change their diet slowly.  You may or may not be able to let her go completely without grain and stay in condition but try to get her down to not more than ½ of 1% of her body weight.  To be sure, a dairy cow does not have to look like a beef cow and in fact, we do them a disservice trying to “fatten” them up, but you do not want them to thin either.

Another advantage of not overdoing the grain is that you never have to trim hooves, as conventional farms have to do.  Our first cow was a cull cow.  She had really long feet and we could not find someone to come out to trim them.  We had her a couple of months and one day realized that her toes were chipping off.  They literally fell off to be a normal length.

Is There a Once-A-Day Milk Cow? 
Yes!  We milk our cows once a day.  If you are not pushing them with lots of grain, they can usually be milked once a day with some knowledge.  If you are over-graining your cow, you will not be able to milk once a day.  If you go out to the barn and her bag is tight and very full of milk, then you need to milk twice a day or cut back on the grain.  We milk once a day and have no trouble with mastitis or ketosis which is the scourge of dairies and many family cow owners.  We have the grazing genetics firmly in place and feed very little grain.  The only time you really have to watch them is the first couple of weeks after calving until the calf is drinking enough.  You can let the calf nurse or milk and feed the calf in a bottle and later a bucket.  You can also let the calf have all the milk (after a month or so) until you need milk and then separate the calf for 12 hours and milk the cow for your milk.  You can go on vacation or if you get too busy, the calf will eagerly milk for you.  When we travel, we turn the calf with mom and go.  We do not leave the calf with the mom full-time if the calf starts tearing the teats up.  If that happens, we only let the calf nurse twice a day and keep them across the fence from one another the rest of the time.  This way there will be very little separation stress and after the first couple of days, they get used to the routine and no longer call out to one another.   When we travel, we still put the calf with the cow but then separate and put salve on the teats if they have teeth marks when we return.  This usually works for short term even if it doesn’t work for long-term in cases where the calf has gotten to the size that they tear up the teats.  Some calves can nurse until they wean at 9 months, for others, they have to be separated and allowed nurse once or twice a day after four months or so.

When Do I Wean the Calf? 
The calf can be safely weaned at four months.  Their rumen is well developed and they are ready to just eat grass and good quality hay.  However, if you want, you can keep the calf on until 9 months.  Follow the suggestions above for nursing long- term.

Cows can be taught to tether.  Start with a shorter rope 10- to 15-foot (cotton will not burn them if tangled) and only where you can keep a close eye on her.  If you have a nervous cow, you should be right there to watch it.  You can lengthen the rope as she learns to untangle herself and not to take off so quickly that she hits the other end and flips herself.  I like to start with a calf but most adult cows can be taught to tether with time and patience.  You can purchase a tie out kit from outback outfitters for horse camping.  It is said that a chain does not tangle and loosens when they lift their foot.  I have not used a chain. 

This can be as simple as an electric fence but the perimeter fence should be woven wire or four-board fence for a TEOTWAWKI situation.    For now, you could do a 3-strand electric perimeter fence with plans to make it more secure as time and finances allow.  Talk to the most knowledgeable person at your local farm store for details about fencing.  If you have electric, be sure you have a solar charger and extra supplies.  Insufficient grounding causes 90% of electric fence problems so be sure to cover that with your farm store knowledgeable person.  In general, the rods must be galvanized to retain conductivity and if the soil is dry or poor then you will need more grounding rods.  Do not place the grounding rod to close to a building as it can electrify the building.

A good reference to read is Grass-Fed Cattle: How to Produce and Market Natural Beef by Julius Ruechel.  It is geared toward beef cattle but much of the information about fencing and rotational grazing and more is helpful for the family milk cow.

What to Do with the Extra Milk? 

We find so many uses for extra milk that we can easily use all that one cow produces.  We make cheese, butter, and yogurt as well as other dairy products.  Many cheeses can be made with buttermilk and rennet, which are quite easy to store.  Buttermilk can be kept going indefinitely as can yogurt.   You must buy the cultured buttermilk from the grocery store.  Add ¼-cup cultured buttermilk to ½ gallon of milk and let it set until it thickens.  Make more using the same ratios (you can make less) each week.  We buy yogurt cultures from  They specialize in cultures from around the world.  The two that we keep going are cultured at room temperature.  We don’t have to heat the milk or keep the temperature steady with a yogurt maker.  We simply skim our milk to allow room in the ½-gallon jar and put in one cup of yogurt from a previous batch.  If you make the next batch before the last one is too old, you can keep it going for a very long time.  It is best to heat the milk to 160 degrees, make a pure mother culture, and use that to start your first batch.  I freeze the mother culture in 1-cup batches so I can occasionally fall back to my mother culture if my yogurt gets to old before I make another batch.  In TEOTWAWKI situation, you would just be diligent about keeping your yogurt going and keep it away from other cultures such as buttermilk and sourdough as the bacteria’s can compete with one another and weaken your strain.

You can buy cheese-making supplies from or, which is a goat supply catalog, but they have products for anyone who milks.  They also carry my favorite cheese recipe book "A Cheesemakers Journey" by Mary Jane Toth.

Whey from the raw cheese making recipes, yogurt, and buttermilk can be used to make lacto-fermented drinks and veggie dishes such as kvass, kimchee, and sauerkraut.  These products have more probiotics per serving than a whole bottle of probiotics from the store.  Probiotics is one of our main treatment protocols for any immune system related issues as the gut is 75% of the immune system.  Your food becomes you medicine.  Two of my favorite books for this is Sally Fallon’s big book, Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats and Real Food Fermentation: Preserving Whole Fresh Food with Live Cultures in Your Home Kitchen by Alex Lewin.  With these two books, you will be able to preserve probiotic rich foods the traditional way.  Be sure to have glass ½ gallon jars, 1 gallon jars, and or lead free crocks on hand.

We also use extra milk for fertilizer as mentioned above.  We have never seen so many earthworms in our garden as since we have started putting on diluted milk as previously mentioned.

We feed extra calves, lambs,  and animals such as the cat (mouse patrol), the dog (head of ranch security), chickens (bug patrol and chief egg layers) and I have even fed it to baby rabbits whose mama just couldn’t keep up with the large litter. 

I hope you will consider adding a family cow to your homestead for your health and long-term food security. 

Sure, I signed my state's petition to secede.  (Coincidentally but not at all comparable, an ancestor signed the Ordnance of Secession of Georgia.)  Most people correctly realize that these petitions are symbolic of our frustration with and desire to reject federal statist policies affecting all 50 states.  Still, there are those who act as if these petitions are the spark that will somehow ignite nationwide revolt.  In and of themselves, these petitions are a circus detached from reality and they're a distraction from a real solution.

I believe that secession can be a real solution but, as you'll see, it carries an enormous cost and doesn't necessarily make life any easier.  The quality of life under the secession solution is questionable but I'll state the case for the American Redoubt.

For those unfamiliar with the American Redoubt, it's a region including Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, eastern Washington and eastern Oregon first theorized by James Rawles of SurvivalBlog.  The majority of citizens vote Republican, are fiercely independent, are more self-sufficient than the average American, and I think are more politically hostile toward the .gov behemoth.  This doesn't describe all citizens of the American Redoubt but it's a start for a good many of them.  Theoretically, if we arrived at a conclusion that secession was a realistic option, that it was adequate at solving the issue of federal dominance, and that the quality of life in the Redoubt would greatly improve; we would still require both a bombproof legal basis for secession and the ability to enforce the decision and protect our sovereignty.

For the sake of academic exercise, here are two issues that the American Redoubt, among other regions, would need to address should we ever secede.

Balancing Governance and Defense.
There's seemingly no end to the list of maladies that plagued the Confederate States of America (CSA) after secession (chief among them was the "peculiar institution" of slavery).  Had they not held the infinitely heavy burden of fighting a war, the Confederate government may have been able to fix these problems.  Had the CSA successfully defended the South, the Confederate government would still have faced the critical task of ensuring good governance, along with the insurmountable odds of ending hyperinflation that plagued its citizens and economy.

I would not expect the federal government to allow a region to withdraw peacefully from the Union.  Likely targets for arrest would be elected government officials and military leaders.  Under a highly structured and centralized organization, if leaders critical to mission success were removed, then the entire movement would fail.  How many times and how often can you replace a governor?  How many times and how often can you replace a president?  But under an organization that favors decentralization with a ceiling at the state level (insofar as wartime is concerned), there is no one head of the snake.  (There's no need here to get into a strategic level debate of defending the Redoubt.)  Even then, a state alone could still function without a governor so long as county and local government continued.  In that case, the American Redoubt states must ensure that essential services will continue to function; and one of the best ways to do that is to simply limit the quantity and scope of essential services offered by the state.  County and local government must ensure that the rule of law is respected and they would do this through local law enforcement and, ideally, the utilization of small, localized militias where law enforcement is scarce or ineffective.  This works best when the populace is or is nearly self-sufficient - this includes the ability to defend themselves from enemies, foreign and domestic.

The association between the military and its civilian leadership is a critical link under a centralized structure.  If critical military leaders are removed through death or arrest, then the organization suffers.  If military and civilian leaders' ability to command and control is degraded, then the organization suffers.  Ideally, there is no upper echelon leadership in a Redoubt resistance.  That's not to say there's no communication or coordination; but the Redoubt would have to effectively remove its own high value targets (HVTs) from the battlefield.  A colonel leading a Redoubt brigade or battalion is a HVT in the eyes of the adversary.  The equivalent of a sergeant leading a small squad is not because his removal from the battlespace would have a negligible effect in terms of the duration and scope of disruption.  One sergeant's removal would not affect the other squads around him and across the region like the removal of a colonel would.  Liberty-committed Patriots must wrestle their minds away from the conventional, force-on-force paradigm and into the history books of guerrilla and partisan resistance warfare.  In effect, the resistance says, Come and enforce your laws on us.  When confronted with mass resistance of a civilian populace - if nearly the entire region would go along (a big if) - imposing the federal will is a thoroughly costly and immensely difficult practice, if not an altogether impossible feat for the occupier.  For evidence, look no further than Vietnam (still communist) and Afghanistan (still tribal).

Economy and Exports.

The American Redoubt, of all regions, has the most robust natural resource base in all of America: oil, lumber, minerals, and metals.  Each of these are required to fuel an economy; and silver and gold are real money.  In addition, each of these natural resources has upward price potential while the cost to acquire them (except for the cost of fuel) stays relatively the same.  As a region, the GDP of the American Redoubt is around $130 billion, which puts us near the total GDP of Kansas. Federal royalty revenue from natural resource extraction in Wyoming is around $1.7 billion; and only $1.8 billion if you include the entire Redoubt region.  Theoretically, if current EPA regulations were eased under the state or regional government, that revenue would increase.  The American Redoubt region's tourism industry is valued around $8 billion dollars, which employs thousands and brings in hundreds of millions in state revenue.  In addition, the federal government spends approximately $2.1 billion on social security retirement and disability, low income housing assistance, supplemental nutrition programs, medicare, medicaid, and education in Wyoming alone.  That number is $4.5 billion in Montana and $6.2 billion in Idaho: that's nearly $13 billion for the region.

It doesn't take long to see that secession, even if the Redoubt region could fight its way out of the Union, [the subsequent economic isolation] would inflict heavy economic casualties on the region.  In short, it's an economic issue and it's not happening.  (This isn't to say that a large movement of employers to the region couldn't bolster the economy and ease the economic burden of secession.) While we can't put a price on our freedom, our quality of life is still multitudes higher now than as its own region.

Editor's Note: This article is re-posted with the permission of the editor of the GuerillAmerica blog, where it first appeared.

Mr. Rawles,
For those considering the purchase of winter tires, a good web site with demonstrations comparing the performance of different vehicle types (including all wheel drive) with and without these tires from the Rubber Association of Canada.

Survival experts have also advised against consuming snow as a water source. Les Stroud, a Canadian survival expert, has demonstrated that if engaged in physical activity, such as walking, the consumption of snow when necessary is safe as metabolic heat offsets the cold snow. Some have survived in Arctic conditions doing this. However, it is still not safe when hunkered down.

Best Regards, - S.R.

Real Crimes of Genius: Not so Honest Abe?

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G.G. sent: House Tour: Laura And Matt LaVoie's 120-Square-Foot Home In The Smokey Mountains Of North Carolina

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Joseph L. mentioned some new dual-wheel drive motorcycles. [JWR Adds: I'm more of a quad kinda guy. I don't own a motorcycle, and thus avoid embarrassing myself.]

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Reader F.G. wrote to report that the Drone Wars have begun: Flying Camera From Animal Rights Group Shot Down at Pigeon Shoot

"It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong." - Thomas Sowell

Wednesday, November 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 (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 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 (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.

Long-distance Commuters face challenges. I average 20 days at work per month.  During those days, I am away from home for 11.5 hours.   Unless the Crunch starts conveniently on a Saturday morning, before I can survive the end of the world as I know it I have to get home.     

My daily commute carries me 35 miles each way.  Sometimes while sitting in traffic I’m reminded of real life – and fictional – disaster situations looking a lot like what I face each day; miles and miles of bumper-to-bumper traffic congestion.  The defining difference is this: My traffic jam eventually clears and I motor-on my way towards wife and kids and dog.  And two cats.      

Lately my thoughts push me towards my need to return home in the event of the worst – specifically, planning for accommodating my trip.   Before I can bug-in at my homestead, I have to get there! Before I can work to provide comfort and safety for my family, I have to reach home. If the roads were closed or blocked just how would I manage? Living in Southeast Michigan for several years, I have seen the weather change pretty quickly.  Even if my winter vehicle has the ability to traverse deep snow covered roads, local authorities have the power to determine roads “Impassible”, stranding me away from the homestead.  

Apart from winter hazards, commuters face a multitude of potential challenges, from massive traffic accidents, terror attack – recall the streams of pedestrians evacuating downtown New York City on 11 September 2001 – or natural disasters.  Below you will find tips to prepare yourself and your vehicle for the commute from hell.  Driving: Take serious consideration in your commuter – remember a car not properly equipped, or lacking other capabilities gets great fuel economy, while stuck on the side of the road.  In my 14mpg pick-up hurts my wallet at fuel-up however worth more to me is the security presented by having a greater chance of making it home through all kinds of weather.     

During winter season, as defined by the daily high temperatures not exceeding about 40 degrees, I swap my summer all-season/all terrain tires on my F150 4x4 SuperCrew with dedicated-winter tires. Providing additional weight over the drive wheels is a water bladder, filled to approximately 400lbs of water, secured to the floor of the pick-up bed.      Late February of 2011 I flew from the Detroit area for deployment to Iraq.   I was under orders – I could not simply call-in sick.   The night I left, the Detroit Metro area was hit with significant snow storm.  With a solid foot of snow falling around us, the truck performed flawlessly – bringing me and my family to the airport, and providing my wife and kids safe return home.   The benefits of ground clearance and proper winter tire combined in a way either of the two alone could not.   I passed dozens of compact and other passenger cars stuck on the road, even trucks with large off-road and mud-terrain tires spun helplessly on the slick roads.     

I often hear a common misconception – “My car goes well in the snow”.  Not true, mostly.  Your car’s TIRES go through the snow well. Tires are often over-looked because the summer or all-seasons currently on the vehicle “have good tread left”.  Tread compound and tread designed specifically for winter and cold-weather driving conditions is the best way to ensure safe travel.  More than simply having the power to take off from a stop, winter tires provide stopping and turning power.  Often winter-specific tires can stop in half the distance of summer or all-season tires.  Even the best all-season tires will stop many feet later than winter-specific tires – but sometimes even a few feet can mean the difference between a collision with another car, obstacle, or person, and prevention of those impacts.      

Tornadoes are not unheard-of in my area – wind damage to infrastructure is inevitable.  Deciding to commute in a vehicle with all or four-wheel drive, and offering as much ground clearance as possible will enable me to overcome standing or running water across roadways (while avoiding those obstacles is ideal, sometimes there is no choice), or limbs or other debris across the roadway.   I also live 1.4 miles from the nearest paved road – in the worst kind of weather, my road is not maintained. Getting home means getting muddy.  Packing for worst-case: In addition to common items – jumper cables, Tylenol/aspirin, extra food, gasoline, water, folding knife, small tool kit, first-aid kit and blanket, Meal, Ready-to-eat; a ¾ full re-usable water bottle (to allow for freezing temperatures), extra socks, scarf, gloves, hat, basic first aid kit, sunglasses, small disposable lighter, 50ft of 550 cord, military surplus thermals, and plastic rain poncho will work to keep me prepared for either driving or walking home.   I purchased a pair of Army surplus aviator gloves; the Nomex™ construction will provide some flame protection in the event of an accident or rescue, while thin enough preventing significant finger/hand dexterity loss. All items fit nicely in my Oakley “Kitchen Sink” backpack.    Military members can order their Kitchen Sink pack via's Military purchase program for substantial savings.     

I also created homemade fire-starters using make-up removing cotton patches, dipped in melted candle wax, and left to dry on a wire rack over a sheet-pan.   After bundling the tender, rip one of the wax-coated patches to expose the cotton fibers.  Apply flame from the lighter and within about a minute I have a sustainable flame that holds enough flame to ignite even damp branches, sticks, and debris. A head-mounted lamp will help with vehicle repairs or path illumination should I be forced to abandon my vehicle.      Using the head-worn lamp brings freedom to use my arms to carry other items, support, or defend myself.  The lamp also serves to signal others if I become in need of assistance due to injury or attack.   I tend to forget to check the batteries of all my stored emergency electronic devices – do not follow my example as an unlit lamp shines on no path.  A good reminder – every time I change my car’s wiper blades, I re-inventory my supplies. 

Alternative routes:     Most days I follow the same route to work and home again.  While shopping for my house I became familiar with my area – I know which roads connect to the road that leads me home.   One day, every other month or so, I take a new way home – even the LONG way.  I do this to remain up to date with road closures, detours, construction, and traffic density.  In the event of the worst-case scenario, the popular roads will likely become clogged with vehicles and pedestrians sticking to the familiar.  Knowing which side streets connect to where affords some relief and ease of access to other roads leading home. One thing to remember – if you think of a short cut, chances are somebody else has too!  Avoiding the shortest route, in terms of distance or time to complete, may end up being faster due to less congestion.  Alternative Transportation:     Even my truck’s 6.5ft-long bed is large enough to hold a bicycle.  Placing a mountain bike in the truck bed, and securing with a normal bike lock and cable can provide a much-faster way home, should stuff hit the fan.   Again, do not forget to maintain the emergency bike – ensure your bike has air in the tires and inner tube patching equipment along with a means to pump air into a repaired tube. 

Walking:      While a soldier, I learned first-hand the benefits of Leather Personnel Carriers (LPCs) as a mode of transport.  Facing a 35 mile walk home, maintaining a pair of broken-in, comfortable and durable boots is vital.   Buying a pair of great hiking boots or shoes, and placing them in your car for emergencies might lead to debilitating blistering, rubbing, or aching – hindering the trek.     

Sure to be in a hurry to reach my family, I cannot forget to stretch my muscles before, during and after such a walk.  Slow and consistent plodding will take a toll on my feet, joints, and hips.  My back and shoulders will be sore carrying my backpack, too.   Nobody has to do 35 mile walks to prepare for a 35 mile walk in the worst conditions – however having a realistic view of one’s physical abilities will help in planning for such an endeavor.    

To ease the impact on feet, walk on the unpaved shoulder areas of the roads – a tip taught to me by my Drill Sergeants during Basic Training.   Using arms to swing and help momentum is effective towards covering ground.  In training, having marching cadence either playing on MP3-player with headphones, or recited from memory can help maintain an effective pace and breathing pattern.  [JWR Adds: When things go sideways, you would of course want full situational awareness, so ear buds would be a no-no.]  

Unless I am being chased, I must stop for rest periods.  These periods can be anywhere from 10 minutes to 30 minutes.  Word of caution – it is often easier to KEEP walking, than to START walking. As good as a rest may feel, the pain of starting again might be worse.    

Drinking water, even in cold temperatures is vital to success.  I cannot carry enough water to keep me for 35 miles; however I can work to ensure I maintain daily hydration and consume the water I carry. Ideally, one quart per hour - water cannot help if it is never consumed.  While on a march like this finding potable water is essential.  Options include groceries and gas stationed, if open - or even a friendly neighbor along the way.     

To fight one’s worst enemy – worry/distress – finding the right mindset is essential.   Embarking on a journey like this means hours and hours before reuniting.  Considering what you might find when you return home may serve as motivation to complete the walk.  When this consideration moves to worry, rushing and carelessness may lead to injury or worse.   When starting on a walk like this, making each mile, or route-marker as individual goals will prevent the hurry-ups, and might prevent hasty decisions.  Instead of ‘walking home’, I am only walking to “The freeway overpass a couple miles from here”.  The smaller goal is more achievable than the more-than-a-marathon distance awaiting me.  Focusing on the small task makes the big task achievable.     We live in a world where the worst can happen.  With the threats and capabilities of terrorists, and the fury of Mother Nature, we can no longer afford to ‘hope’ things work out.  Hope is not a viable strategy.  Through careful consideration we can take steps to mitigate the damage; with a practiced plan, we can establish alternatives to our situations – wherever circumstance – or our commute - places us. By planning ahead, we will help to ensure we make it to our loved ones during times of crisis.  

I have been reading you blog and the letters other people has written for a few weeks now. A friend of mine turned me on to your site. Thank you and everyone else for all you do. I have learned much over the past few weeks and look forward to learning more as time goes on.
I just read the letter post in September by Greg G., Can You Take to the Sky? Greg makes some very valid and interesting points in his letter. Like Greg, I am a licensed pilot. I studied at a local community college earning my A.A.S. in management with aviation option. When I started the course I had no flying time what-so-ever. When I finished the course 1.5 years later, I had earned my commercial pilot’s certificate with multi-engine and instrument ratings.
Just to clarify, I am no longer active in aviation due to the high cost of building time necessary to “land” a job as a career pilot. Working line service at the local FBO (Fixed base operation) just didn’t pay the bills for a man, wife and two kids. When I could get a trip/time in a multi-engine aircraft, it was usually a free trip (meaning I provided my time and services free of charge) in order to build flying time. I gained a good bit of time in the air over a three year period and gained an enormous amount of self-confidence as a result. Just a little background to bring me to my point.
Greg states that the Cessna 172 would be an excellent BOV and I would tend to agree. They are reasonable priced from $30,000 to $50,000 and are relatively easy to maintain. I think the $5,000 annual figure he mentioned is fairly accurate. I am currently scouring the web for used aircraft. I am looking at C-172s as well as light sport to ultra-light aircraft. The only drawback to the ultra-light planes is that I would have to convince my wife to learn to fly and would have to have at least two two-seat aircraft  to use a BOVs. Of course, redundancy would be a good thing.
Greg also mentioned training. Training is paramount any time you plan to defeat gravity. If you are interested in getting an ultra-light aircraft, please get an experienced flight instructor to teach you to fly. Learn to operate in a controlled airport environment. If you are ever forced, through bad planning, bad weather, or just bad luck, into a metropolitan airport, you will be thankful for the training in that environment.
As far as getting your instrument rating is concerned, I would highly recommend the training. Even if you never use it, it will make you a better pilot and if the weather suddenly closes in on you, you will be better prepared to handle it. I remember during my instrument training, the instructor had me look out the windows during actual instrument conditions. All I could see was the wingtips and the nose of the airplane. When I returned to the instrument panel, I had a strong case of vertigo. Had I not spent hours in the flight simulator and had a few hours “under the hood”, I could have easily gotten disoriented enough to crash. Fortunately, I had complete faith in the instruments and was able to maintain control until the vertigo passed. For this reason, I would encourage anyone interested in learning to fly to take at least several hours of instrument training.
I have no experience with helicopters other than radio controlled helicopters. I can see some use, as mentioned in other letters, for UAV type surveillance using radio controlled aircraft but that would be the subject of another post. I do know full scale helicopters are maintenance intensive and expensive to learn and operate. If I could, I would learn just for the ability if I ever needed it.
God bless you and yours as well as this great nation, - Mike in Tennessee

The New York Times gets down and dirty a with prepping issues and the requisite OPSEC: How to Survive Societal Collapse in Suburbia. (The article briefly quotes JWR.)

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Scientific American: How Safe Are America's 2.5 Million Miles of Pipelines?

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JRH Enterprises is celebrating their 20th Year in business with a big Black Friday sale that starts Wednesday. The sale includes new Third Generation+ Pinnacle Autogated  Mil Spec PVS-14s with real ITT tubes and a 5 year warranty as low as $2595. And PVS-14 Third Gen + Pinnacle Autogated "Upgraded" monoculars are available as low as $2995. (Just like ours here at the Rawles Ranch. Also on sale are FLIR Scout Thermal Imaging units and the Ultimate Survivalist's wood stove and many other items. This is a limited time sale.

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I noticed that (our spin-off site, operated by my #1 Son) has continued to grow rapidly. There are now more than 125 listings. It has become the premier site for buying and selling retreat properties. Full-length listings there are just $30 per month, with no sales commissions charged. Take a look.

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Our friend Tam at View From The Porch pointed us to: The proper way to load Mosin-Nagant stripper clips. (Note: The automated "ad*lt content" warning was no doubt triggered by the use of the word "stripper." On a related note: Be very careful when you do web searches for information on Hustler brand ham radio antennas.)

"Even after the elite decamp there'll be plenty of good eatin' left on the carcass for the stay-behinds. This hasn't gone unnoticed by the somewhat less than elite. For one, their toadies in DC have been building Führerbunkers and stocking them with supplies and ammunition for the day when they're toadies no more. Some of the toady's toadies have retreats and plans of their own. They keep it quiet, unsurprisingly. Then it's all against all, a spectre of flag-waving warlords and tribal strong men, of alliances and secessions, of fiefdoms and redoubts and contested regions. Everybody who wants to be somebody will invite themselves to the fray. Who is king and who is not king will be the sum of all politics; asset-stripping the sum of all economics. It's going to be a memorable squabble." - Ol' Remus, The Woodpile Report, in an essay on national insolvency (November 21, 2012)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Ready Made Resources (our very first advertiser) has announced a Buy One, Give One (BOGO) product offering to benefit Christian Reformed Outreach, South Sudan (C.R.O.S.S.). The BOGO product offering is a 35 gram packet of CELOX wound coagulant. For each one that you buy, an identical one will be sent to distribute free of charge to villagers in South Sudan. I encourage other gear vendors to do likewise. Particularly needed are earth tone or Multicam magazine pouches (AK and HK-G3), canteens with covers, hydration packs, rifle slings, and rifle buttstock pouches.


Today is the birthday of Walter "Joe" Marm, one of America's few living recipients of the Medal of Honor. He was born November 20, 1941. He retired from the army as a Colonel, in 1995.


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 (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 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 (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.

The Sawyer Squeeze filter has become very popular with backpackers. The filter threads onto a variety of soft-sided bottles and hydration packs. By squeezing a bottle or bladder of dirty water you generate the pressure to push the water thru the hollow fiber filter. Here’s one review.

The biggest advantage of the Sawyer Squeeze filter is that it does not require a pump. This removes the potential mechanical failure of a pump and the hassle of tubing as you balance on the edge of a stream or lake. Just scoop up water, pour it into a bladder, and filter it elsewhere. Other benefits are the small size and light weight. 

It filters faster than many other designs (about one minute per liter) and can also be used as a gravity or in-line filter. It is very simple to back-flush. It is rated for 0.1 microns and is effective for bacteria and protozoa.  It is not rated to remove viruses – so if that is a concern in your area then many other treatments will be more effective after the suspended organic solids have been filtered.

Note that the Sawyer Squeeze filter does not include an activated charcoal element to remove dissolved chemicals. You can add an in-line activated charcoal filter, available from Katadyn or Platypus or you can make your own if you have any concern about chemicals or taste.

Sawyer guarantees this filter for one million gallons. Just for fun, let’s say their claim is only 5% correct – that’s still 50,000 gallons. For 4 people this equals one gallon per person per day for 34 years. 

A shortcoming of the Sawyer Squeeze system is the included mylar bladders for dirty water. They are more prone to leaking than other brands. (The kit comes with three bladders, I’m carrying one as a free backup). A bladder or bottle will require flowing water or some type of a cup to fill with dirty water.

I’ve adapted the Sawyer Squeeze filter to plug directly into a Camelbak Hydrolink bladder in my backpack for quick and easy “on the go” refills and have a system for backflushing without using the syringe included with the filter. My approach also adds a pre-filter as well as protection from cross-contamination.  With so much flexibility I’m going to be listing a lot of options along the way.  Make the system work best for your needs.

Reminder: You should always have more than one way to treat water – I carry Katadyn tablets separately from the filter kit. And protect all filters from being dropped or frozen.

Here’s what I purchased and how I built my system:

1. Sawyer Squeeze Filterthe latest packaging includes a gray dirty water end adapter cap which has a semi-permanent cap on the hose barb. Includes a 60cc syringe for back flushing, 3 mylar bladders, and sport-style pop up drink cap. 

You may need to purchase a Sawyer adapter set. If your Sawyer did not come with the gray male adapter you will need to buy one to seal the dirty water end so that water doesn’t drain out in that direction when you disconnect the dirty water bladder. You will also need a thread protector cap from the hardware store. Buy one with a tight fit. The included blue female cap can be connected by tubing to almost any filter to turn it into a “Squeeze” filter – I recommend having this ability. If you have another filter system you prefer, at least get this adapter and a bladder as a backup to your pump.

2. Platypus or EverNew water bladder. Replace the Sawyer dirty water bladders with a stronger design. Platypus water bladders fit the Sawyer Squeeze (others have written the Soft Bottle style are harder to seal without replacing the Sawyer white washer with a thinner washer). EverNew bladders are described as more durable but they are difficult to find.  I am using the 2 liter Platypus Hoser bladder with a replacement solid cap.

Because there is the chance of confusion, label the bladders you’re using for dirty or clean water and don’t mix them up. And make sure the dirty water end fittings are tight and don’t leak contaminated water onto the clean end of the filter or clean water containers.

Pour dirty water into a bladder or bottle using a cup, a folding bowl, or one of the smaller Sawyer bladders with the top cut off. Still another useful idea is to use a flexible plastic cutting “board” to make a small funnel that will store flat. Or use a small silicone funnel that is sold in some kitchen supply stores. A funnel will double as a bladder filling scoop if you put a finger over the bottom. Don’t reuse a dirty water cup or bowl for eating or drinking.

3. Aquamira Frontier Pro water filter. I use the male/female pre-filter adapter which adds a thick felt pre-filter.  The Frontier Pro includes a Universal Quick Connect (UQC) which you might use on Camelbak or Source hydration systems. It includes 4 felt pre-filters. The Frontier Pro with chlorine dioxide tablets could be a lightweight backup to the Sawyer Squeeze.

A home-built replacement for the Frontier Pro pre-filter adapter can be made from the threaded top to a SmartWater bottle and cap (the threads and caps on the SmartWater bottles fit the Sawyer filter and are sold in many grocery stores – they seem more durable than other brands and are cheaper than the Platypus replacement caps).  Cut the bottle at the top of the neck under the solid plastic ring. Level out the cut on the bottle piece down to the ring with a razor knife and use sandpaper to roughen the surface. Sand the top of the cap and drill a ½” hole in the cap. Use plastic epoxy to attach the pieces.

The closest replacement for the Frontier Pro felt disks that I’ve found is a few layers of the synthetic chamois sold at Home Depot. The felt disks will be placed in the cavity of the bottle thread portion.

Pre-filters will slow the volume of filtered water, but will reduce the sediment getting into the filter and let you filter more water before having to back flush it.

If you want to add an additional pre-filter element you can trim down a Mr. Coffee permanent coffee filter (made of stainless steel mesh) with scissors into disks to fit inside the pre-filter adapter above the felt disk (or below the white washer in the Sawyer dirty water end if you don’t have the pre-filter adapter). The mesh filter is better in the pre-filter adapter for quick removal and backflushing.

Another way to easily minimize large particulates from getting into the dirty water bladder in the first place is to use a woman’s nylon footie (usually sold in a mini-egg container at drug stores) over the bladder mouth when filling.

4. Two bottle or bladder caps. Use 1- or 1.5-liter SmartWater bottle caps or Platypus closure caps to make a double-female fitting. Take two caps and sand the tops to make a rough surface. Use plastic epoxy and press the 2 caps together back to back. Once cured, drill a 1/2 inch hole in the caps.

These caps are also a little too tall to screw down to a tight seal on the filter body (or the Frontier Pro UQC) and need to be trimmed down with a razor knife. The double female lets you fill an attached clean water bladder and also backflush the filter with a bladder.  

5. Camelbak Port Plug. You need to protect the fresh water end of your system from contamination and the Camelbak plug is the best choice. A cheaper option is a soft plastic thread protector from the hardware store that fits just over the end of the fitting.

I found the Camelbak Port Plug release button to be difficult to operate with the Frontier Pro UQC. I removed the plastic button/spring piece on the plug by pinching the “spring” portion together and lifting it out. I then trimmed down the guard lip around the button so I could get more fingertip on the button.

I also trimmed about 1/2 the thickness of the spring (“dishing” it out only on the sides away from the closed end of the cap) to reduce the pressure needed to press the button. I attached a loop of cord to reduce the likelihood of losing this piece.

I noticed the O ring of the Frontier Pro UQC was getting roughed up from the edges of the spring so I very slightly smoothed inside both ends of the spring. Keeping the O ring coated with food grade silicone grease will help. I recommend carrying a couple spare greased O rings.

While working out the fit and release problems with the UQC into the Camelbak Port Plug I found that the diameter of the UQC is slightly larger than a Camelbak Hydrolink.  The UQC was difficult to remove from the Camelbak Port Plug and the Hydrolock on the Camelbak bladder tubing. The O ring was occasionally being knocked off. 

Because of this I recommend another home built adapter - using a Platypus cap and a Camelbak Hydrolink adapter in place of the UQC.

Drill a tight-fitting hole in the top of a bottle or bladder cap (a Platypus cap is stronger than a SmartWater cap for this use – or even better use a Sawyer blue female adapter) and cut down the hose barb end of the Camelbak adapter.  Sand the contact areas and use plastic epoxy to secure the adapter to the cap. Trim down the sides of the cap to seal on the Sawyer filter. This adapter/cap will work better in the Camelbak Plug and replaces the Frontier Pro UQC and double female adapter, attaching directly to the filter body. The hose barb inside the clean water end of the filter may have to be trimmed down for clearance from this adapter/cap. An option is to use a Sawyer blue female adapter with 1/4” tubing connected to the Camelbak Hydrolink adapter.  This may not be as functional as the tubing can kink during use.

7. Additional ideas.
From your hardware store you can pick up a Watts PL-215 Nylon barb-to-MIP adapter 1/4” x 1/8”. Installed in a Nalgene wide mouth cap this will adapt a Nalgene Cantene or MSR Dromedary to 1/4” tubing and fit on either the dirty water or clean water hose barb of your system.

To drink directly from the Sawyer filter or a bladder you could use the cap from a 23.7 oz SmartWater bottle which has a better drink-thru cap (with attached cover) than the Sawyer cap. Trim down the cap so it will seal properly when attached to the clean water end of the filter.  Or Platypus has a bite valve cap (which will also need the sides trimmed down for a seal).

Putting it all together:
Starting at the dirty water end – place the wire mesh pre-filter into the cavity of the Frontier Pro pre-filter adapter, followed by a felt pre-filter disk. (You will notice that this adapter also has a tubing barb if you wish to use it with a gravity filter or in-line setup.) Then attach the Sawyer gray male adapter. This seals the dirty water end of the filter. If your filter didn’t come packaged with this adapter then you will need the hardware store thread protector to seal the Sawyer adapter hose barb. Attaching a loop of cord on the Sawyer adapter might be a good idea to avoid losing this piece.

On the clean water end - to fill a Camelbak bladder attach the Camelbak Hydrolink adapter/cap (or the UQC with the double female adapter if you prefer).  To fill clean water bladders or bottles attach the double female adapter.

The Camelbak Port Plug seals the clean water end and completes the Super System. 

Fill a soft sided bottle or bladder with dirty water and attach to the dirty water end of the filter.  Begin to gently squeeze the container and check for a tight thread seal.  Don’t twist or wring the bladder.  Roll it up as water is expelled. Treat the bladders with care to extend their life.

Don’t contaminate the clean water fittings with hands wet with dirty water.  The Camelbak adapter/cap prevents this. Dry your hands and use a little Purell that you carry in your filter kit.

Remove the pre-filter adapter and dirty water bladder before backflushing. Sawyer advertises that the Squeeze filter does not have to be backflushed as often as other filters, but with the double female cap or Camelbak adapter/cap it’s easy enough to backflush after every use.

The Sawyer Squeeze filter can be backflushed while attached to a clean water bladder by applying rapid pressure to the bladder. Watch the videos at Sawyer’s web site and experiment with the supplied syringe to understand backflushing. You are trying to dislodge particles – slow water flow will not work.

To store the filter after use - flush the filter with a diluted bleach and water solution and let stand for one hour. If you suspect a biofilm buildup is slowing the flow rate try soaking longer with this solution. If you suspect the flow is slowed by mineral buildup try flushing/soaking with a diluted vinegar solution. Drain the filter by shaking water out of both ends. If you must drain the filter faster you might try blowing on the clean water end (mouth only - not with a cold or flu). With even a slight amount of water in the micro tubes make sure the filter doesn’t freeze. Don’t seal the filter with the caps in storage before it has completely dried out.

Understand the limits of your filter as with any other vital piece of equipment. With up to 4 pounds of water in a wet and slippery bladder attached to the filter be careful to not drop it. I would recommend using the filter while kneeling. The Sawyer Squeeze filter is quick and easy to use. Adding a few parts makes it even more flexible and effective.

Addendum: In case you are wondering: I checked Sawyer's customer service desk, and they told me that their filters are manufactured in Safety Harbor, Florida. (Not overseas!)

In response to the article involving the constitutionality of secession, a few other points to consider to perhaps gain a clearer view of the secession situation.  Understanding the individual states sovereignty in relation to the United states government is crucial.
1.  Abraham Lincoln claimed that the Union preceded the states which gave the Federal government authority over the states.  This view is incorrect as the original 13 colonies adopted the Articles of Confederation in which each state retained its freedom, independence, and sovereignty.  Each state delegated a portion of its sovereignty to the Union, thereby making the Union a creature of the state, not the other way around.  Further each state was by name acknowledged as free, independent, and sovereign in the Treaty of Paris in 1783.
2.  Sovereignty is indivisible.  A portion of a states authority, or power may be delegated as is seen in the 9th and 10th amendments to the Constitution.  But the sovereign state retains the right to recall its authority otherwise it is no longer sovereign.  "The powers not delegated to the United States by the constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people."- 10th amendment. In Chisholm v. Georgia (1793) the court found "To the Constitution of the United States the term sovereign, is totally unknown.  There is but one place where it could have been used with propriety.  But, even in that place it would not, perhaps, have comported with the delicacy of those, who ordained and established that Constitution.  They might have announced themselves "sovereign" people of the United States:  But serenely conscious of the fact, they avoided the ostentatious declaration....Let a State be considered as subordinate to the People:  But let every thing else be subordinate to the State".- Chisolm v. Georgia, 2 US 419
3.  Shortly after the ratification of the Constitution, the federal government began its encroachment upon the states.  With the passage of the Sedition Act in 1798,  Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, (creator of the Virginia plan which evolved into the Constitution), were asked by the state of Kentucky and Virginia to  author the "Kentucky and Virginia Resolves of 1798" which nullified the enforcement of the Sedition Act within their states.  All three branches of the Federal government had conspired against the people of the states in violating their right to freedom of speech and press.  The sovereign authority of the states of Kentucky and Virginia interposed between the citizens of these states and the Federal government.
4.  For those states which were admitted into the Union who were not participants in the ratification, the equal footing doctrine would apply basically stating that all states shared the same powers and sovereignty as the original thirteen.  See: Pollard v. Hagan, and Permoli v. First Municipality of New Orleans.
5.  This now brings us to Texas v. White.  This case was decided on a 5-3 vote.  The 5 who voted as a majority were Lincoln appointees.  One of the three dissenters Justice Robert Cooper Grier, an appointee to the court by President Polk in 1846, called Chief Justice Chases opinion a "legal fiction" as he considered Texas to not be a state in the union at the time this case was being decided.  Further  Chief Justice Chase should have recused himself from this case do to himself being involved in the case in 1862 as secretary of the treasury.  There are many more details involved in this case in which one who is interested in further details should consult John Avery Emison, Ph.D. book called Lincoln Über Alles: Dictatorship Comes to America.
In conclusion,  as one searches out the true history of the formation of our Federal government through the eyes of the anti-federalists who foretold with incredible accuracy the results of adopting this contract known as the Constitution with its inherent flaws, one of which would be a supreme court which could interpret its own actions and laws within itself.  A court which eventually saw its actions as sovereign having no higher authority to hold them in check.  Is it any wonder that we should have such absurd decisions as that found in Texas v. White, which become the foundation for the premise of secession as being unconstitutional or at the very least, the supreme court being accepted as having jurisdiction in this area which has not been delegated to them by the states?  I would think that we have been swindled into the notion of thinking of secession as a "rebellion" and  should rather view it as a God given right which is protected under the 9th and 10th amendment to our Constitution.  In contrast the terms and phraseology used to characterize the actions of the Federal government over the past 150 years I'll leave for the reader to decide. - C.L. from Montana 

Washington's wolf packs are spreading west to the Cascade mountain range. [JWR's Comment: I predict that it won't be until wolves start snatching dogs, cats and perhaps kids out of back yards in western Washington that the state legislature takes action.]

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Election maps show "shrunken" Redoubt. These maps illustrate how light the population density is here!

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A reader told me about another prepper-friendly church in Idaho: Grace Sandpoint Church.

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Montana lawmaker asks to be paid in gold. His request was very quickly denied.

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A rare event: Bank robbery in Rexburg, Idaho. SurvivalBlog reader "Jen" sent the link and mentioned: "Look at the picture of the robber leaving the credit union. He is reported to have "cleaned out" the bank after he locked all of the employees in the vault. Note how empty the bag is. That credit union had very, very little cash in it. I guess even the bank robbers are going to have to work a little bit harder. A bank run there would have been over in minutes;"

Paul Krugman suggests a 91% top income tax rate. (If this happens, the congresscritters will see a million or more Americans go Galt.)

R.M. sent a link to article that serves as a word of warning for those who run businesses that have large cash customers: Williamsburg gun business, owner, punished by feds. R.M.'s Comment: "This is a fine shop, with great husband and wife owners.  The shop is in the lower floor of their home in tiny Williamsburg, Iowa.  Great people getting trampled by the government."

The System Will Collapse, It Must Collapse

FHA Red Ink May Be $32.8 Billion, Double Official Audit. (Thanks to G.G. for the link.)

Items from The Economatrix:

Banks Told By Feds To Test For 12% Unemployment (See next article which contemplates a 9.1% unemployment rate just from the fiscal cliff.  It's probably going to be worse than that.)

Industrial Production In US Drops 0.4% On Sandy Effect

November is the month of the year that new phone books are released in most of the country. Take this opportunity to lawfully collect un-used or lightly used copies of obsolete phone books that would otherwise be recycled or hauled to a landfill. A stack about 6 feet tall would make a good paper reserve for a typical family. The paper in phone books has many uses including kindling or ersatz toilet paper.

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32 dead. They have serious cattle rustlers in Africa, and they are obviously willing to kill, to protect their food source.: Kenyan Police Massacre: Residents 'Flee Homes'. (Thanks to F.G. for the link.)

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Possible cause for concern: New sinkhole image shows ‘original edge’ of Napoleonville salt dome may be gone — Section thousands of feet tall. In case you are wondering, it is in Louisiana. Here is a map.)

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Joel Skousen interviewed by Alex Jones about relocation. (Two hour long video!) Thanks to Jim W. for the link.

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Several readers sent this: Growing concerns over 'in the air' transmission of Ebola

"We have four boxes with which to defend our freedom: the soap box, the ballot box, the jury box, and the cartridge box." - Congressman Larry McDonald

Monday, November 19, 2012

The fine folks at Pantry Paratus have announced a Buy One, Give One (BOGO) product offering to benefit Christian Reformed Outreach, South Sudan (C.R.O.S.S.). The BOGO product offering is the Stronghold Haywire Klamper. For each one that you buy, an identical one will be sent to distribute free of charge to villagers in South Sudan. I encourage other gear vendors to do likewise. Particularly needed are earth tone or Multicam magazine pouches (AK and HK-G3), canteens with covers, hydration packs, rifle slings, and rifle buttstock pouches.

As I've mentioned before in my SurvivalBlog articles, I'm am swamped with requests to do firearms articles on particular firearms. While I would love to accommodate all the requests I get, it is impossible. I know a lot of folks believe that gun writers get guns for free to write about, that simply isn't the case. We have to request a firearm from gun companies, I either have to return it, or buy it when I'm done testing them. As much as I'd love to purchase all the firearms I write about, I can't do it - my finances don't allow it - not even close. So, I return many of the firearms I write about. And, many times, I have to pay for the return shipping, which means, it actually cost me money to do an article - I'm a volunteer editor at SurvivalBlog, receive no pay. So, as much as I'd love to write about all the firearms that you request me to review, I simply can't do it. What I will do is, from time-to-time is, request some of the newest firearms that I think would be great for survival purposes - street, wilderness or end of the world survival.
I've also mentioned before that I'm a habitual gun trader - and there is one very good reason for this - I don't have the funds to purchase all the firearms I'd like to purchase, so I do a lot of gun trading. I honestly don't own as many firearms as most folks believe. So, with this said, let's take a look at one of my latest gun trades. I recently ran into a great deal on a brand-new DPMS AR-15 lower receiver, with a fixed butt stock and fully assembled. My local gun shop also had a used M4 Carbine upper receiver, with the complete bolt carrier group. So, I did some horse trading, and walked out with the DPMS and unknown make of upper M4 Carbine receiver group for some testing.
The DPMS lower receiver had the fixed butt stock as mentioned. And, just when I needed a telescoping 4 or 6 position butt stock - my local gun shop didn't have one in-stock. However, they did have a banned no position "telescoping" stock - which means its basically a fixed position stock, but it was going to look better on my project M4 than the fixed butt stock that came with the DPMS lower receiver. Also, the upper receiver I got in the trade - someone had did a camo job on it - spray paint - and it was painted in blue and gray - I'm assuming this was meant to be some sort of urban camo job - and whoever did it, didn't do a very good job.
The first thing I did was swap out the fixed butt stock for the "telescoping" butt stock on the lower receiver, not a problem. I examined the lower receiver and everything was working as it should. I attached the upper receiver to the lower and it actually fit together snuggly - GREAT! I took the gun apart and checked the bolt and bolt carrier group, to make sure everything was there and working - it was. I examined the barrel for obstructions - none to be found. However, the barrel and chamber weren't chrome plated. In my wet climate, I prefer a chromed chamber and barrel to help prevent rust. Also, this upper had the 11-inch barrel with the permanently attached 5 1/2-inch flash suppressor, and I've always just like the look of this set-up. Only thing is, with the shorter barrel, you don't have the accuracy and longer range shooting abilities, as you'd have with a 16-inch barrel. Still, you're good to go for a couple hundred yards. This set-up is really meant for close-up use and not longer range shooting. The upper receiver is of the A1 configuration, which means the A1 rear sight, which is a bit harder to adjust for windage than the A2 sights are, and there is no brass deflector - which isn't a problem for me, as I'm a right-handed shooter. I cleaned and lubed the upper and put the gun back together and took it out for a simple function test - everything worked great.
Next up was a camo spray paint job of my own, and I used an OD green spray paint with a desert camo spray paint. All things considered, the gun looked pretty good - at least it looked better than it did with the upper receiver with the blue and gray camo paint job did. I also used a drill bit to open-up the 200-yard rear sight peep hole - I just found it to be a little bit too small for close-up and person CQB work - it took all of 30-seconds to open-up that peep hole aperture - the longer range peep sight aperture was fine. After the spray paint camo job was dry, I took the gun out to the range for some serious testing. I had a good variety of ammo on-hand from Black Hills Ammunition, Buffalo Bore Ammunition and Winchester. The first thing I did was run three 30-round magazines of the Winchester 5.56mm 55-grain FMJ ammo through the M4 as fast as I could pull the trigger and change out magazines - this really got the gun hot and it is a good function test. There were zero malfunctions at all!
During hunting season, there are a lot of deer hunters out in my area, so I restricted my accuracy testing to only 50 yards, with a mountain for a backstop - I didn't want any rounds going downrange where they shouldn't be going, and having a hunter return fire on me. I don't do a lot of long range shooting during hunting season. But a 50-yard target would give me some idea as to how accurate this little parts gun would be. I tried some of the Buffalo Bore .223 Remington 69-gr Sniper ammo - and I was getting nice cloverleaf clusters for my efforts - shooting over a rest over the hood of my rig. Second up was the Black Hills 68-grain Heavy Match ammo - again, nice little groups of around an inch. I was starting to get impressed with this little M4 parts gun. I'll take an inch group with this little gun, at 50-yards all day long - that computes to two inches at 100 yards. Last up was the Winchester 55-gr 5.56mm white box ammo - and I not only got one inch groups out of this ammo, I also had some 3-shot one hole groups - which was well under half an inch. At first, I thought I had missed the target with a shot or two. I repeated my accuracy testing, only to find out, I was actually getting some very small, one-hole groups with 3-shots - and we're talking one small hole - not a clover-leaf hole, where all shots are touching - but one hole, and not a "ragged" hole - one neat little hole.
I repeated the accuracy testing with the Buffalo Bore and Black Hills loads, knowing that both of these loads have always been extremely accurate in any ARs I've tested them in. I continued to get the clover-leaf patterns with both of these loads. I went back to the Winchester white box 5.56mm 55-grain load, and continued to get the smallest groups with this load. So, I'm assuming that this barrel liked the 55-gain better than the heavier loads from Black Hills and Buffalo Bore. So, you should always test various brands of ammo, as well as bullet weights, to see which loads shoot more accurate in your guns. I was really surprised that the less-expensive Winchester 55-grain 5.56mm rounds shot this fantastic in this little parts M4. I like to use Winchester white box for a lot of my function testing.
Okay, so how would the little parts M4 shoot with another brand of .223 ammo? I dug out some Black Hills 55-grain remanufactured .223 ammo and ran that through the gun - it too shot one hole groups at 50-yards. So, this confirmed my belief that this barrel really liked 55-grain bullet weights the best. I also ran three 30-rd magazines full of the Black Hills remanufactured ammo through the gun as fast as I could pull the trigger - the gun got hot, but no malfunctions - this little gun was a gem. And, to those of you who don't believe in remanufactured ammo - I've never had a single problem with any Black Hills remanufactured ammo - not one round. That can't be said for all remanufactured ammo. I once had an Ultramax .40S&W round let loose in a Glock 23 - it blew the case head off the brass - and I had to dig the case out of the chamber. I wrote Ultramax about this twice - never got a reply - so they weren't too concerned about some bad ammo - I'll never use Ultramax remanufactured in any of my firearms again. I know that Black Hills hand checks each and every round of ammo they make - even remanufactured ammo!
I only wished this little project gun had a chromed bore and chamber - I mean, I can live without it, but in my wet climate, it just means I have to keep an eye on the barrel and keep a light coat of Barricade in the barrel and chamber to help prevent rust. I know many folks prefer a non-chromed barrel, as they get a little better accuracy from their ARs than from chromed ones. But unless you're shooting in high-powered rifle competitions, you should go with the chromed barrel and bore in my humble opinion. My total investment in this parts gun, not counting the spray paint that I had on-hand, was only $520 - and that is a real bargain for an M4. I wouldn't hesitate to take this gun into a gun fight, or use it for long-term survival. The upper was obviously well-used, which meant, at least to my way of thinking, that whoever owned it before shot it a lot - so I figured it would work for me. As for the brand-new lower receiver from DPMS - I knew it would work, too. Whenever I look at a completed "parts AR" I take a really close look at everything - some folks just don't know what they're doing when they assemble guns - and just because the parts all fit together, doesn't mean the parts were "fitted" to specifications and it can be dangerous to shoot those guns. So, be advised, if you happen upon any parts ARs - take it to a gunsmith and let them check it out before you shoot it. I felt confident in my abilities as a trained military armorer on the AR, that I knew this little M4 would work properly. However, if you have any doubts, take your AR to a qualified gunsmith and have them check it out before you shoot it.
One of these days, I'm going to replace the non-telescoping butt stock, with a 4-position telescoping butt stock. I could go with the 6-position telescoping butt stock, but with the carbine handguard on the upper, and the barrel/flash suppressor set-up, I think the 4-position butt stock will work out better, and the gun is fast handling, too - it only weighs slightly more than 6-pounds. It would make a great bedside gun for home protection, or for use in a survival situation. And, for a $520 investment, it's hard to find much fault in this little outstanding shooter. A person could do a lot worse, and best thing is, it really loved the less expensive 55-grain bullet loads, for best accuracy. A parts AR that always goes "bang" when the trigger is pulled, and outstanding accuracy...what more can you ask for? - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

James Wesley:
Can you provide any insight on the banking services and the Lakota [copper, silver and gold] coins from the Lakota Bank? Thanks, - Bryan E.

JWR Replies:
They are to be commended for their pluck, but their fees are high. More importantly, their arbitrary Cu/Ag/Au ratios (2/50/5,000) will certainly come back to bite them.  (Fixed ratios are a bad idea! The silver-to-gold ratio is constantly changing. I expect to see a 10-to-1 ratio by the middle of this Century. Anyone that locks themselves into a fixed bimetallic ratio is sowing the seeds of their own downfall. The Liberty Dollar folks made the same mistake. (But they were shut down by the Feds long before the fixed exchange bimetallic ratio caught up with them. In their case, it was their use of the word "Dollar" and the Dollar sign ($) that cost them.)

The concept of selling a 1-ounce .999-fine copper coin for several dollars is laughable for anything other than perhaps a collector's piece. Copper is a base metal (not a precious metal), and its price ratio to silver is FAR, FAR, FAR from 50 to one! (Copper is priced on the futures market by the TON, rather than by the Troy ounce.)

Sadly, they will likely to get shut down by the IRS, for money laundering and/or constructive tax evasion.  The same thing has happened again and again to other warehouse banks inside the United States.  See, for example the sad story of Richard Flowers and the Christian Patriot Association.

For the present time, it is far better to anonymously buy one ounce silver rounds at just over spot on the open market and store them at home.

Steve in Rhode Island's Dish With No Name

Here's a recipe I'd like to share that's both inexpensive and nutritious. It's been around for years and I'm sure it goes by lots of different names. It was passed down to my Mom from my Grandmother and she fed four of us kids back in the day when prepping and just getting by was a way of life and had no name. I raised my two daughters on it and now that they are grown and it's just the youngest and myself I still make it.
The great thing about this is that it makes a LOT of food and the ingredients are simple and can be bought in any market. It's cheap and you can stock up on the ingredients as they last for years. This is a two pan meal. I can make this meal for under $3.00.
One 28oz can of Whole Peeled Tomatoes.
Two 16oz cans of Pork and Beans. Campbells or store brand. The 16oz is average size.
1lb of Elbow Macaroni.
Optional is a diced onion and some spices. I like garlic powder, oregano, and black pepper.
In a good sized sauce pan, cook up some diced onion in a little oil.
Add the Whole Tomatoes and mash them up with potato masher or something similar.
Simmer, add spices, then add Beans.
Cook up the Elbow Macaroni.
Add the cooked and drained Macaroni to the sauce and mix. Let it sit for a bit.

Chef's Notes:

Add some Parmesan Cheese to taste.
You'll be amazed how good this meal is and how many people it can feed.

Useful Recipe and Cooking Links:

28 Basic Kitchen Safety Tips

The Do’s and Don’ts of Food Storage, Separation and Segregation and Packaging

Cooking with Basic Food Storage: Rice Recipes

Currently Available as Free e-Books (in PDF):

Healthy Rice Recipes For Dinner

11 Free Recipe Ebooks (in one file)

(Note: SurvivalBlog's once burgeoning recipe queue is running low! Do you have a favorite recipe that would be of interest to SurvivalBlog readers? Please send it via e-mail. At present, holiday recipes would be particularly appreciated. Thanks!

And you thought the upcoming 39.8% Federal tax rate sounded bad... Did you see this cliff coming? Ranchers, farmers brace for 'death tax' impact. The exemption drops from $3.5 million $1 million, and the rate jumps to a confiscatory 55%.

B.B. sent: Peter Schiff: Dollar Collapse Before Obama's Out

I missed this when it aired last June: CNBC pundits admit we're all slaves to the central bankers.

Items from The Economatrix:

Ron Paul On Secession

No Surprise!  Jobless Claims Up 78,000 Week After Election; Pennsylvania, Ohio Worst Hit

John Galta:  Gold Will Move $500 Per Ounce Per Major City

Europe's Economy Returns To Recession

Don't miss this: Mother Lode: Big caches of free and legal TEOTWAWKI downloads

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Reader Dave G. wrote to mention: "If 'Superstorm Sandy' was just a Level 1 hurricane, then how well will FEMA and the state-level disaster agencies cope with a Level 3 or Level 4 in the same region? I'll never move back to the coast! And I'm avoiding tornado country, too. American Redoubt, here I come..."

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Preppr Bawb sent a link that he found to a UN manual on drying meat. It is only a few pages but very detailed. Looks like it was developed for Third World countries--or just what you'd expect after an TEOTWAWKI  incident.

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Congressman Ron Paul's Farewell Speech to Congress. (Lengthy, but thought-provoking.)

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The Land of Not-So-Free Speech: In UK, Twitter, Facebook rants land some in jail. (Kudos to J.B.G. for the link.)

"The way to get rid of corruption in high places, is to get rid of high places." - Frank Chodorov (Editor of The Freeman.)

Sunday, November 18, 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 (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 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 (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.

Finding a good sustainable food supply post TSHTF has been a difficult and long journey. It’s going to be a lot more than storing dehydrated food, water and having some seeds. Eventually you will run out of food and will need a way to feed your family in sustainable way.  What are the best options of doing this? A remote retreat with several different types of livestock and a large garden all sound very nice but is it practical? Let’s go thru all of the options. In a post TSHTF situation we might have to consider mobility. Fire, radiation, large gangs or worse yet, our own government troops coming after us are just a few of the possibilities than could cause you to be highly mobile. I do believe it’s a great idea to have a remote retreat and even better if you live there full time. We also have to worry about security and maintaining a perimeter over all key infrastructure including livestock, barns, gardens, cisterns etc. We will have to maintain noise, light & smell discipline. It’s always better to avoid being a target going undetected. I would rather avoid a firefight at all cost. The sound of a generator or livestock, can be heard a long way off. It will mean I have power and or food. Same holds for maintaining light & smell disciplines. Cooking beacon or meat outside can let others know you have food. Blackout curtains will help with light shinning thru windows. The smell of a fire and or food that is cooking must also be avoided. Stealth is a key goal.

There will probably be long hard work days and or nights. This will cause us to need more calories and good sources of proteins. What are our best options?

Better have that garden already planted and know how to save seeds. There is a long learning curve with gardening. A large garden is very time consuming. There is a lot of hard work turning over the soil, planting, watering and weeding especially if it has to be done by hand. It usually takes several seasons to establish a good garden. How large of a garden will you need? A typical family of four will need between 1 to 2 acres of farmable land for use as a garden. Growing in pots or larger cans can help with mobility but the yield will be small. Drought, pests, diseases, deer and rabbits can all decrease production.  Higher calorie and protein needs will be very hard to meet with a garden. You might be an easy target for a sniper in a large open field maintaining or harvesting your garden everyday. Lot’s of work. So, having a garden as large as you can maintain is good but we will have to supplement it with some higher quality of protein. Pros: provides some necessary nutrition & vitamins. Cons: Can’t provide enough high quality proteins, hard work to maintain, poor mobility.

Fish can be raised in a pond if you have one. They can meet the protein requirements that you will need. Usually not too much work if it is already established. Raising fish in a barrel is another possibility. An aquaponic setup is another possibility. If you live in cold weather region where the water freezes you will not be able to produce year round. Pros: quality protein & fish oil. Cons: no mobility, seasonal, expensive set up costs, can be difficult to maintain, uses lots of water, water is very heavy to haul.

Small Livestock
There are many types of small livestock to consider. The best livestock will be one that is easy to care for, no special feed or supplements, reproduces fast, grows quickly, are very quiet, resistant to diseases, good mobility, no smelly waste, easy to protect against predators and large enough to feed a family of four. It would also be nice if it is easy to butcher, cook and tastes good. Let’s check out our common options:

Pros: Eggs (protein & fat) and meat are very high quality protein. Small space, good mobility and easy care.  High production of eggs- usually one a day.                                                                                            
Cons: Hens can be a little noisy at times, need a rooster for sustainability (lots of noise). Vulnerable to predators, need a good coop for protection at night.

Pros: small space, reproduces quickly, good mobility, quiet, good mothers, high quality meat protein, fiber, fertilizer- that can be used immediately.                        
Cons: high maintenance, don’t like the heat, messy, may have to grow some of the feed.

Pros: Milk, good quality meat protein, fiber.
Cons: harder to handle, get intestinal worms, need to rotate fields, hard to keep them penned in, must keep them dry, will need a large quantity of hay in the winter, management problems, noisy.

Pros: Milk, quality meat protein, wool, easy to handle.
Cons: Need to rotate fields, intestinal worms, need hay in the winter, can be noisy, management problems.

Pros: Good source of fat & quality meat protein.
Cons: Can be hard to handle, noisy, can take up a bit of space, poor mobility, can be escape artists and are messy.

Pros: Good quality meat, down, seasonal eggs. No special feed needed, good mothers.
Cons: need a large area to graze, noisy, aggressive, vulnerable to predators, 

Pros: Seasonal eggs, meat. 
Cons: need a large area to roam, noisy, difficult management especially when young.

Muscovy Ducks
Most ducks are very noisy. Muscovy ducks are extremely quiet. They don’t quack. They make a very soft hissing noise as a warning. They make this noise when you corner them or get too close to them. The sound is as quiet as a whisper. So they pass the first big test- noise discipline. The waste they produce is not too smelly. You will have to eventually compost it as they do produce a lot of it. Using a deep litter method, it can be done every 6 months. So they pass the second test- smell discipline. They are easy to care for. They do not need a lot of space. They are very resistant to disease and don’t require a lot of human intervention. Good fencing, minimum of 4 feet tall will help against predators. They free range/forage for their food. They do enjoy a high protein pellet food at the end of the day but it’s not necessary. They will produce eggs, meat and feathers. Feathers can be used to make pillows. They will lay between 80 to 150+ eggs a year depending upon their nutrition and if you remove the eggs or allow them to sit on their eggs. They will accumulate about a dozen or so eggs and then sit on them until they hatch. Training them to use nest boxes will help. Usually if you put their first eggs into the nest box, they will get the idea.

The process takes approximately 35 days for their eggs to hatch. They will hatch an average of ten to twelve baby ducks three or four times a year. After they hatch their eggs they will not lay eggs for 2 months. During this time they are great mothers and will spend all of their time with the baby ducks. The baby ducks will follow their mother everywhere during the first couple of weeks. The mother will protect them for older ducks that will occasionally peck at them. They can co-exist with chickens without any problems. They can eat table scraps or anything that you will eat. They forage well. They grow extremely fast. After 6-8 months the new baby ducks can reproduce.  They do not need a pond. They only need water just deep enough for a quick swim, maybe a foot to eighteen inches deep. A kiddie pool or a nice sized bucket is all that they would need. They will dirty the water fairly quick.

To clip their wings or not? They have a natural instinct to roost up high in trees or on top of the barn. They can and will fly around. Best to clip their wings after they molt, usually in the early summer. Two people are needed. One to hold the duck & one to cut the flight feathers. It does not hurt the ducks. Sort of like us clipping our nails. You cut the flight feathers on one side only. They like the shade, will eat insects and most types of grass. They like fresh water. It’s better to have a small creek then having to haul fresh water everyday. Standard poultry crates can be used to transport Muscovy Ducks. Catching them at night usually prevents as much stress as possible. The more interaction you have with them, the closer they will let you get to them. They grow really fast. Butchering usually occurs around four months of age. Wet-plucking their feathers can be a real pain. Adding a wax or a dishwashing soap can help. They are very tasty.

So Muscovy ducks are number one on my list. Since they get along well with chickens, I would include a few of them as well (no rooster). Rabbits would also be a must have. Goats, sheep, pigs and small cows are nice to have but do require a big step up in care, maintenance and are less stealthy. There is also a big learning curve as well. So if you plan on having these animals you should start now. Add as large a garden as you can care for. A garden may produce 25% of your food on average. Fruit trees and all types of berry type plants must be started now because it can take years before they will yield fruit. Bees can be added for honey and wax. Your time is going to be a big factor in any post-TSHTF situation. Lots of your time will be needed for security. Start your planning today.

There are plenty of times through my day I thank God for allowing me to have a physically capable body.  Appreciation for working out, building strength and mobility to the point I don't have to think about the movements my body goes through.  For example, carrying a laundry basket up and down stairs is something everyone should be able to do without a concern they will injure themselves.

Will I be able to perform the tasks I need to in order to survive? How long will it take me to cover the 12 miles, on foot, that are between my family and me?  Food, water and another location to move to incase of emergency are only good if you don't injure yourself loading the car.  Time to look at another aspect of preparedness.
We all may end up being an athlete or participant at some point in a match of Survival of the Fittest.  The definition of "fittest" is up for debate.  Some will argue they are more fit because they have more guns. Some will argue they are more fit because they have more water.  How about the person who has prepared with the greatest balance?  I'm referring to the perfect balance of preparation of mind, body and supplies.  This leads us to the preparation of your most important tool: your body.

If an athlete is serious about their sport, they will properly train for their sport. This means they may need to build speed and strength but also mobility and stability. Caring just as much about working out as they do allowing their bodies to repair and build.  Once again, balance. 

Over-complicating anything often decreases results.  I'm going to try and highlight just a few crucial aspects of health and fitness: 
Stretching is about proper circulation more than it is about doing the splits.
A strong core will increase your chances.
This one may be obvious to some, but oxygen is very important.
Pull as often as you push.
Strength through breathing.
The sum of all these parts will lead to less discomfort.

There is a high percentage of our population that can't touch their toes.  Don't be ashamed if you are one of them.  Stretching to me isn't about being able to touch your toes or do the splits.  It is about allowing blood and nutrients to flow freely throughout your body.  When your joints are able to move through a healthy range of motion, circulation is not being impeded as greatly, or at all.   When muscles are tight and start to compress a blood vessel or impinge a nerve, you will experience decreased function.  Proper flexibility or mobility will also decrease chances of joint dysfunction. Don't make things harder on your body then they need to be.

Core strengthening is not doing abdominal crunches.  There are over 20 muscles that comprise your "core." The easiest thing to do to strengthen your core is to draw your belly button to your spine.  This engages your Transverse Abdominis (TVA), the innermost unit of your core.   Professionals compare the active engagement of the TVA to wearing a weight belt.  You can start to do simple exercises like holding your body in an up push-up position, while drawing your belly button towards your spine.  A strong core will allow you to walk or run farther distances.  Punches that come from the core do more damage than punches from the shoulder.  The stability a strong core provides is crucial in preventing injuries while performing athletic movements. 

There is only one route to cardiovascular conditioning, and that is to do it.  Cardiovascular function is the ability for your cardiovascular system to pump blood through your body.  Increased cardiovascular function equals increased efficiency of processing oxygen. As I mentioned earlier, oxygen is important.  You will not increase cardiovascular function by reading books, planning to uncover your treadmill or going for a walk.  Start small and increase your activity in small increments.   For someone extremely sedentary, going for walks a couple times a week will increase cardiovascular function.  After a while, your body will adapt and you'll need to work smarter.  Work smart, not hard.  Get moving, start walking or running one time around your block or to the mail box and back.  Then increase to two times, then three times.  When you stop getting winded by walking up or down stars, you know you're making progress!

When you look to increase your strength, you need to be concerned with the muscles you can't see, as much as the muscles you can see.  “Pull as much as often as you push” is in reference to balancing strength from front to back.  Most people have a focus on pushing when they need to balance their strength and focus more on pulling.  Pull-ups, rowing, hamstring curls, glute-bridges are all examples of exercises that can be done to create balance.  When your back is strong, you'll be able to push more weight.  When your hamstrings and glutes (muscles of your posterior hip, aka your butt) are strong, you'll run faster, jump higher and kick harder.  Now that you're increasing and balancing your strength, make sure you stretch. 

Now for an exercise that can help your mind as much as your body.  Everyone when they are born has the natural instinct to breathe with your diaphragm.  When you breathe with your diaphragm, your belly raises or goes out as you take a breath in and your belly goes in when breathe out.  Lie on the ground, put your hands on your belly button and breathe in and out.  Do you feel belly raising and lowering? If you do not, you are more than likely not breathing with your diaphragm.  Practice five minutes when you first wake up and five minutes before you go to sleep.  This will help train your body to breathe with your diaphragm.  This will also give you a time to clear your mind, gain your focus and let your body relax.  Properly breathing provides your body with more oxygen. As we all know, oxygen is important.

Now let's look at just a couple of concerns with improper breathing.  Sometimes it is good to hold your breath when performing an athletic movement.  However, when you have a strong core and you all will, you may find it easier to exhale during exertion.  Boxers and martial artists will exhale or yell when striking or when on the defensive.  Breath holding causes increased pressure in your chest and abdominal cavities and increased blood pressure.  When we breathe properly, we are giving our bodies the opportunity they need to replenish oxygen and clear the CO2 from our blood stream.   Strengthen your core so you do not have to depend on holding your breath to stabilize your mid-section.  Learn how to coordinate your breathing with movements.

When you follow a recipe to bake a cake, you’ll end up with a cake.  When you put one egg and five cups of flour together and then throw icing on top, that is not a cake.  Neglecting either stretching, cardiovascular conditioning or strength training will make it more difficult to reach your goal.  Start your cardio program without stretching and you’ll more than likely wake up in the morning feeling more discomfort than you want.  Stretch without strengthening your muscles and you may injure yourself when doing some strenuous activity.  You may not spend the same amount of time stretching that you do during your cardio conditioning or during your strength training.  That is ok, just incorporate the three in your training.

Keep your training simple and celebrate small victories along the way.  Remember mobility is just as important as strength.  Stretching is about circulation more than touching your toes.  There are proper breathing techniques a person should practice in order to not only breathe more effectively, but more efficiently. This whole article was written on the basis of balance.  The balance of your mind, body and your preparation techniques and focus.            

If you feel you are unable to train yourself, look into hiring a certified personal trainer (CPT).  Working with a CPT for even 12 weeks will be a valuable tool you will see a great return on investment.  You’ll learn proper form and if you take notes, you’ll have exercises you can do on your own down the road. When looking for a CPT, make sure they have a certification through a reputable organization.  Look into NASM, ACSM, NSCA or ACE to find a CPT.  You shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions and you shouldn’t hesitate to let them know what you are training for.  The more they know about what your goals are, the better they will assist you.

Fail to prepare and you are preparing to fail.  I wasn't the first to say this, but like many people, I take it to heart.  For people on a budget, preparing their mind and body for survival is one of the easiest things they can do.  Cars will run out of gas and you will have to move yourself from location to location. Backpacks would be great if they stayed under 30lbs, but the reality is you will have to carry more weight than that from time to time.  Final thought of the article : Wish for the best, prepare for the worst and do not let your lack of physical conditioning put you at greater risk.

Reader Mark H. suggested and an interesting web site for digital mode ham radio (such as PSK31) mapping worldwide. He also sent a video link of an operator making trans-Atlantic contact with less than half a watt, ERP.

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After a hiatus, Granny Miller's blog is back up an running. Great stuff.

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The Survival Doctor: What to Do for Pneumonia

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File Under: COMSEC Comedy: Taliban accidentally CCs everybody on its mailing list. "Moxxu gazma! Use blind carbon copy, you idiot!"

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Michael W. sent this article: Thousands Seen Dying If Terrorists Attack ‘Vulnerable’ U.S. Grid. JWR's Comment: Millions would be more accurate, if the grids go down for a full winter.

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
For by it the elders obtained a good report.
Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.
By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.
But without faith [it is] impossible to please [him]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and [that] he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.
By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as [in] a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:
For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker [is] God.
Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.
Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, [so many] as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of [them], and embraced [them], and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.
And truly, if they had been mindful of that [country] from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.
But now they desire a better [country], that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city." - Hebrews 11:1-16 (KJV)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Safecastle is continuing its extended series of Repel The Chaos sales offers. The offers for Week 12 are particularly attractive, with bonuses including Mountain House Essentials Buckets and even Nuk-Alerts.


Today we present another two entries 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 (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 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 (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’ve always been a “glass is half full…when life hands you lemons you make lemonade…” kind of person.  So despite a divided nation after this recent election, geopolitical unrest, and our nation on the brink of financial collapse, I still see the silver lining. 

My husband and I purchased a small 900 square foot home, because it was all we could afford.  It was near the height of the housing bubble so we bought high.  We then spent the next four years, remodeling the one bathroom the tiny kitchen and living room to suit our needs.  After investing tens of thousands of dollars of our hard earned money, blood, sweat and tears we were feeling good about our sweat equity.  Then the market crashed and I got pregnant.  Deciding not to pour any more money into the pit, and deciding to take control of the financial situation we decided to sell our home and purchase a new one.  By that time the real estate market seemed to have no bottom and loans were nigh on impossible to secure from lending institutions.  We staged the little house perfectly and lived in that staged house for several months, evacuating every time a potential buyer came by, because an extra body in the house made it feel so much smaller.  Fortunately we were able to find a larger home that was more suitable for our expanding family and were able to purchase it at a 30% discount, however we finally sold our first home at a significant loss.  Investment guidelines for the early 2000s had become: “Buy high and sell LOW.”  But not paying two mortgages was nearly “priceless.”

The Tale of Two Mortgages

It was the tale of two mortgages that was the spark that initiated this whole journey.  My husband and I carefully assessed our financial situation and eliminated all “non-essential” expenses.  Those things included:
-Some expensive vitamins that were being shipped automatically and payments were automatically being submitted to our credit card. This was something we weren’t paying attention to until then.
-A wine club gift that we had gifted to our neighbors. We didn’t read the fine print that after the $60 intro offer, you’d be billed quarterly for $200.
-No non-essential food items. Only buy what’s on the list and only if we really need it.
-The Cable Television – Gasp. horror! What will you do without television?  This is the key to us developing our survival plan.

Life Without Television

We did keep Internet, as this was our means for paying bills, e-mail communication, web surfing and phone connectivity.  We began to read, a lot.  In fact, we can’t wait to crawl in to bed, early, once the kids are sleeping and read the news.  The mass media has become such a biased and agenda-driven source of misrepresentation, it is no longer reliable.  It has become a vehicle for propaganda.  The children absolutely did not miss television.  Though we’re not purists, we do have Netflix and Amazon video, so the young one loves the educational shows and the older one loves Mythbusters.  But as a parent I now have total control over what they watch and this includes, not exposing them to the early sexualization of children, the “new normal” of a “modern family” the extols the virtues of a non- mother, father, and God-centered family.

My Favorite Web Sites

I truly admire those talented individuals who are able to organize and centralize great information into a user friendly web site.  I wish I could do it because I occasionally get some good ideas, but I don’t have the time.  My "go to" favorites include:
-The Drudge Report, of course… “Wake the flock up” one of my favorite new quotes!!!  (my ultimate gossip go to site for pure entertainment) (because after watching Forks over Knives I freaked out and went plant based for six weeks)

My Eyes Open

When you begin to piece together the unprecedented power grabbing, freedom-reducing moves our own government is doing and put it in the frame of reference of what is happening geopolitically; it’s enough to lose lots of sleep.  The Middle East is destabilizing and essentially is one misunderstanding or missile away from full out war.  There has been an increasing frequency of climate change that has unleashed massive power outages, gas rationing, and Martial law – as evidenced by Hurricane Katrina, Fukushima, Haiti, Irene, Sandy, and the recent Nor’easter.

So We Became SLOW Preppers
I believe that these patterns are an excellent opportunity to learn “real time” about how people and governments react in times of duress.  We’ve all seen how the grocery shelves are wiped out within 48 hours of the weather channel predicting a storm. 

When we lost power with Irene then the Nor’easter, we decided the first order of business was to install a generator.  That project was eight months in undertaking.  There were no generators to be had, as a freak windstorm affected the western half of the US knocking out power to 3 million people in the southwest.  Once we got the generator, there were no transfer switches to be had.  The demand was high.  We finally got the transfer switch.  It took another three months to get a propane tank and service, again because of the backlog, but we stuck to our guns and finally got it all put in.  This time around, Hurricane Sandy left us without communication by phone but we had power thanks to the generator.

2nd Amendment

Speaking of guns.  Living in the Northeast makes obtaining a firearm difficult.  It took about 8 months.  First to find a class, then get signed up – another backlog there.  Then permits at the police station, state processing, temporary permit, and official permit, followed by my favorite part, shopping.  We started slow, read a lot and made one purchase at a time.  Now whenever we go to Wal-Mart we buy essentials and a box of ammo.  Say it with me now: milk, bread, eggs, toilet paper and ammo.  Try it again, diapers, wipes, and ammo.  See how easy it is?

The Mormons are on to something. I like their idea of food storage and rotation.  We should get into the practice of that.  I’m still working on it.  Christmas = family gift of a case of MREs.  When Mountain House backpacking pouch freeze dried food goes on sale at Wally world I pick up a bag or two.  It doesn’t have to be in bulk, but building it slowly is cheaper and you incorporate it into your lifestyle.  The kids love the camping section of the stores.  Then once in a while we pretend to camp in the basement and “sample” the food stores that are about to expire and rotate fresh stuff in.

Bug Out Tins

There are so many good Bug Out ideas on the web.  I came across “survival in an Altoid tin.”  It’s good to keep a few bucks in the car, some analgesics, band-aids, floss, matches a mini mag lite etc.  It’s always a good idea to carry a case of water in the car, you never know.  Making the tins was a fun weekend afternoon activity for the kids and we may turn this into a Christmas gift idea.


Our new home has a little more land and I grew up with chickens as pets.  My husband loved the idea as we often romanticize “living off the grid.”  Easter came around and we bought three chicks and the kids loved playing with them and caring for them.  My husband is pretty crafty and good with tools.  We purchased a scuffed up Rubbermaid tool shed from the local home improvement store. He cut some windows and a trap door out.  He installed a 2x4 beam for the roosting bar and because of the shape of the interior, was able to put two nesting boxes in there.  My husband thought that pets that give back in the form of food were so cool.  We eat beautiful omelets with tasty eggs that truly are antibiotic-free and hormone-free.  I reduce my garbage by putting kitchen scraps into a bucket and the chickens are so happy to get stale bread, pancakes, and bok choy stems.  The chickens think left-over spaghetti = worms and go nuts!  When we can’t keep up the 15-20 eggs per week, we again make good neighbors by giving away farm fresh eggs.


My parents always made it look easy.  Let me tell you, if you can grow a successful tomato plant from seed, you are waaay ahead of the game.  Gardening is a major skill.  Start by trying to grow anything.  I love perennials.  I have peonies, lilies and some other flowering bushes that come back every year.  Collards and Kale are almost year round depending on how harsh the weather is.  Herbs like rosemary, lavender, thyme, chives, mint, come back every year and are low maintenance.  I just put in some asparagus; we’ll see how it does.  I also am trialing cranberries as a ground cover and purchased a really great book on edible weeds, so I can increase my foraging knowledge.  This really makes you think twice about using poisons in your yard when you free range the chickens and want to forage weeds.


It takes time to build up your stores.  I think you should store things you like to eat because then you use it up and aren’t throwing away expired “survival rations.”  Pick up new skills, whether that’s gardening, weed identification, how to camp or build a fire, start small, make it a hobby.  When a disaster hits your area, open your eyes and perform your own mini SWOT analysis: S – Strengths, W-weaknesses, O- opportunities, T- Threats. 

This is a very individualized thing.  But I can tell you when gas cans become available again at the local store, I’ll be stocking up on a few.  While it’s nice to have a stockpile of gold and silver coins, it can be expensive.  Buy an extra roll of aluminum foil or duct tape the next time you are out shopping.  When you’ve been sitting in a dark cold house for a week, it can be demoralizing; you’d love some hot cocoa with a splash of brandy.  Stock up on cocoa, liquor, comfort foods and items.  Some of these have a very long shelf life and will probably be easier to trade or barter than a precious metal that has precious few calories.  Good luck with your slow and systematic prepping!

How do you balance the secrecy needed when prepping with letting your friends and relatives know that you are a prepper and encouraging them to become one too? Because when SHTF, you want your loved ones to be safe too. Wouldn’t it be wrong to prep in secret and not afford your favorite people the opportunity to prep like you? I know it is not wise to advertise to non-preppers that you are a prepper. But I did it anyway. I just wanted to start a conversation about prepping with my best friend. I was excited about prepping and I wanted her to start prepping too. I wanted to know she would be ok in an extreme situation. And let’s face it; I wanted to brag a little bit too. And that pride, that hubris, can get you and your family killed.

This conundrum was recently brought into sharp focus for me when I was telling my best friend about the new five gallon buckets and bulk grains I had recently secured. I was so proud of myself. Her reply was not “Where did you get the supplies from?” or “How much did it cost – I’ve been saving up and I’d like to get some grains too”. Her response was “If anything ever happens, I know where we’re going”. She meant her family would come here. I was literally stunned into silence. Because I let her know I had secured provisions for my family and about my preparations in her mind I was now responsible for her family too. Rather than plan for her own family’s safety and food security, she let me know her plan was to come here and try to claim a portion of my provisions. How did I feel about this? Would I really turn away my best friend and her husband? Would it depend on the situation or was it just a resounding no? I had screwed up royally. Not only did I fail to inspire her to prep, I jeopardized my family’s food security so I could show off. After she left I realized I had a lot of thinking to do.

And this line of thought, this failure to prepare, it’s not unique to her, and it’s certainly nothing new. People all around our country would rather rely on the government to take care of them, or burden their friends and family who are prepared, than prepare for themselves. Just look at the aftermath of any major natural disaster and you can see that outlook on life manifested. Not only will you have the Golden Hoard to deal with at The End of the World as We Know it (TEOTWAWKI), but some of that hoard will know you personally and will be headed directly to your home. So the bottom line is, are you prepared for that aspect of TEOTWAWKI? Do you have the extra provisions to take these people in? Or would you have to turn them away, with brute force if necessary?

The conversation with my friend made me realize I had talked a lot about prepping and specifically about my family’s preparations to a couple of people. I was trying to help encourage them to prep too. But in the process I had made myself very vulnerable to the people I cared most about. And what would I do if SHTF and they started showing up expecting food, water and shelter? Could our little home and provisions stock pile really stretch to accommodate more people? I didn’t think it was even adequate enough for my family yet, let alone for two or three more people. And if my best friend were coming here wouldn’t she want to bring her sister and her sister’s husband and their son too? What about the grandmother with medical needs that lives with them? Now the hoard in my head was getting bigger and bigger. And what would we do? My best friend comes over every week on Friday to watch television and catch up with me. Her sister’s family are our friends too. Could we shoot these people if that’s what it came down to? We have barbecued with them, been to their weddings, to their parties, their Sunday night dinners. Don’t we owe them something; shouldn’t we help them in an emergency? And wouldn’t they feel that way too?

I decided to make any progress in this thought process, emotion had to tone down and logic needed to be cranked up. What advice would I give to someone else? What if these weren’t people I knew – what if they were random strangers? Well, the ultimate goal is taking care of your family first. But if you have extra provisions or a bountiful crop from the garden, then wouldn’t you want to give them away to help others? That would be nice and it seems like the right thing to do, but it could also be dangerous in a post-TEOTWAWKI world. If you get to be known as the place people can go for a handout, you will soon have more hands than goods to put in them, and that leads to trouble. When the shops run out of food, people often break things and tear up the shops, fighting with one another to grasp at the last few provisions left. Shortly after that comes riots and looting. What do you think they would do to your home? If they don’t respect someone else’s store, why would your home be any different? And in a survival situation people lose a lot of their rationality and morals. Just because you have spent a lot of time with someone, and they are your friend, it does not mean they will not put themselves and their families first. In fact, you should expect them to. And this is the part of it you have got to wrap your head around: no matter how excited you get about prepping and the little stockpile you are amassing, keep your mouth shut about the items you have got! I could have easily told my friend I had picked up a little extra grain and asked her if she did any prepping yet. The recent storm in New York would have been a perfect reason to bring it up. Telling her specifics about the quantities was foolish and could be something that really comes back to haunt me later in life. I was proud of myself for what I was accomplishing, but broadcasting exactly what I was doing could drive people right to my front door in an emergency. Possibly more people than we could afford to help.

My husband and I talked about it and decided we could take in her and her husband in an emergency. He would make a great addition to our security team and she could help with the chores and the baby. The only problem would be what happens if she brings her sister and her sister’s husband and their son too? Could they be a helpful addition to our group? He knows about plumbing, but would there be enough resources to go around? With that number of people we could try to requisition more food and water, but that now takes our home from defensive to offensive, and I am not sure we want that. But that may be where my big mouth has landed me. My friend may be guilty of the folly of failure to prep, but I am guilty of the folly of hubris and letting it run away with my mouth, to the point that I made have inadvertently put my family in danger.

Be smart and keep the particulars to yourself when encouraging others to prep. Answer your friend’s and family’s questions on how to prep, but never reveal exactly what you have. If they ask something innocuous like “Well how much wheat do you have stored?” Always answer with something like “Well it’s recommended you have…” or “In the books I’ve read they say…”. Refer people to web sites and books they can get advice from so they can decide how much to store based on good data, not just by what you have stashed. And it is okay to tell your friends and family why you won’t give out specifics. Explain you aren’t trying to be rude, it’s just not something preppers do. If they really start prepping for themselves, they’ll get it, and they won’t be mad about it. Only get into more detail with other people who are actively prepping who will be in your post-TEOTWAWKI group and even then I wouldn’t tell every little thing. To those in your group you might indicate you have so many months worth of supplies, or more than so many pounds of something, but I wouldn’t list out every amount of everything you have. It is always wise to keep a little something back, especially the specific quantities and locations of your supplies. You want to encourage your friends and family to prep, but be sensible in the way you do it – you do not want to end up jeopardizing your family’s safety and food security by telling the whole world what you have squirreled away. 

A possible preview of the United States in a few years, when the wolf population peaks: Woman with axe versus wolf.

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Kevin S. pointed me to an article about mandated car safety features that I missed when it was posted last summer: A Modern Take on ‘Planned Obsolescence’

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Karl G. sent a video of a rotary wood chopper. Clever, but watch where you put your hands! (I don't think that this would ever be OSHA approved!)

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The editor of GuerillAmerica has posted two interesting articles: Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield and the Community (Overview) and IPB: Defining the Battlefield Environment

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A dark chapter of history appears to repeat: Support for Greece’s far-right Golden Dawn swells amid wave of racial violence. (A hat tip to Kristi N. for the link.)

"Remember, O LORD, what is come upon us: consider, and behold our reproach.
Our inheritance is turned to strangers, our houses to aliens.
We are orphans and fatherless, our mothers [are] as widows.
We have drunken our water for money; our wood is sold unto us.
Our necks [are] under persecution: we labour, [and] have no rest.
We have given the hand [to] the Egyptians, [and to] the Assyrians, to be satisfied with bread.
Our fathers have sinned, [and are] not; and we have borne their iniquities.
Servants have ruled over us: [there is] none that doth deliver [us] out of their hand.
We gat our bread with [the peril of] our lives because of the sword of the wilderness.

Our skin was black like an oven because of the terrible famine.
They ravished the women in Zion, [and] the maids in the cities of Judah.
Princes are hanged up by their hand: the faces of elders were not honoured.
They took the young men to grind, and the children fell under the wood.
The elders have ceased from the gate, the young men from their musick.
The joy of our heart is ceased; our dance is turned into mourning.
The crown is fallen [from] our head: woe unto us, that we have sinned!
For this our heart is faint; for these [things] our eyes are dim.
Because of the mountain of Zion, which is desolate, the foxes walk upon it.

Thou, O LORD, remainest for ever; thy throne from generation to generation.
Wherefore dost thou forget us for ever, [and] forsake us so long time?
Turn thou us unto thee, O LORD, and we shall be turned; renew our days as of old.
But thou hast utterly rejected us; thou art very wroth against us." - Lamentations 5 (KJV)

Friday, November 16, 2012

November 16th is the birthday of Michael D. Echanis (born 1950, died September 1978), a former United States Army Special Forces and 75th Ranger Battalion enlisted man. He was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star with "V" device as a LRRP trooper in the Vietnam War. He was born and raised in eastern Oregon. Echanis was killed in Nicaragua in a plane crash along with colleague Charles Sanders and members of the Nicaraguan armed forces. (This was while Somoza was still president.) There was conjecture that the plane was destroyed in mid-flight by a Sandinista time bomb or barometric pressure-switched bomb. BTW, my novel "Survivors" includes a minor character from Oregon with the surname Echanis, as a small homage to Mike Echanis.


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 (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 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 (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 decided that our family needed a root cellar for maintaining root crops, cold storage and for more extensive water storage, here is our story. Hopefully, others can learn from us and not make the same mistakes. One Sunday afternoon, we went out to the yard and sized up the area we wanted, and marked our spot. Our property borders Federal land that occasionally has people lingering around, we have even caught people in our other shelters on the back of our property, so I wanted to keep this one as close to the house as possible. When we purchased our property it was all woods and we bulldozed a small area for our home. We know where every well water, electric, cable and septic line runs, we knew the area we had chosen was clear. In the back of my mind, we had saved this spot from the beginning to bury a secondary propane tank or water cistern. However; in our state it is mandatory to call “Holy Moley” a specific number to locate underground lines and cables prior to digging anything, even a garden spot. So we called, and waited for them to come out and mark all existing underground elements. We were told we did not need a building permit because it was just a ‘root cellar’.

We have found over the years that there is a little magnetic anomaly on our property, so all the compasses and detectors in the world will be off anywhere from a little to a lot. A kid that looked like he should still be in high school came from the electric company and ended up marking three lines wide, saying “It could be here, or here, or here. It’s somewhere between these lines.” I thanked him and was thankful that I knew where they were. We also noticed others marked the location of the Texas pipeline almost six foot from where it is on the Federal land and across the very corner of our property.  On the opposite side of our land, about six feet from the property line, lies a forced sewer main from the hotel lodge two miles away. They marked it 7 feet off target--we know because we found it very unexpectedly when we planted new cedar trees five years ago. Bottom line, I’m glad we know where everything is located because those who are ‘supposed’ to know don’t always know, and their instruments are not always accurate. NOTE: Always know exactly where your utility lines are on your property, measure from a point that does not change.

Having worked some years of my professional life in architectural design, I had made notes on our set of blueprints exactly where everything is located, measured from the SE corner of the house. My personal notes let us know that the area we wanted to dig in was clear.   We knew the water table was low in our area, as years ago we had to go down 120 feet for our well.  NOTE: Know your local water table and local frost line. We figured we wouldn’t hit water when we were digging the root cellar, nor would there be a need for a perimeter drain as our soils type was good for drainage. Now that everything was officially marked, and materials were gathered, it was time to start digging. We chose to dig by hand as the area we were working in was in the woods, surrounded by mature trees close to our home. We weren’t sure we could get a backhoe in between the trees, and we didn’t want to disturb any tree trunk-roots. Our area was about 12 x 16 feet, hoping after the concrete was poured and the stairs were in, it would end up about 10 x 12 feet finished.

We squared off our area and started digging, all of us, but it seemed to go slowly, so we had a dig party, everyone brought shovels and we started in again. Then the kids shoveled daily after school and the next, and so forth. The ground was much harder than we had considered. NOTE: use a Bobcat or backhoe and pile extricated dirt in area out of the way if at all possible. So after the two weeks we were down about 16 inches on half of the area, so we brought in pickaxes, as we had broken three shovels. We could only work one at a time with the pickaxes so we didn’t hit each other in the head while we worked. Working one at a time slowed us down considerably. We intended to go down about 6 feet, and according to our plans, that would be about 5 feet below ground level and 2 feet above ground level. That would get us below the frost line and above the water table. We also had not planned where we were going to pile the dirt we took out, so initially we all started putting it on ‘our side’ as we were digging, till we realized what we were doing. Then we stopped and cleaned up our mess, and re-piled all the excess dirt in one area and all the rocks in another area.  Telling this makes us sound like  a segment of a ‘Three Stooges’ movie, but we did all have fun with this project and now have precious, priceless family memories. Note: family projects of any kind can strengthen family bonds.

We were coming in contact with some large stones we had not thought about, so we had to devise a way to remove them without giving us all hernias.  After about 6 weeks to 2 months we hit a snag, literally. We were about 3 foot to 4 foot down when we uncovered metal pieces and bones that looked like human remains. I will not desecrate a grave site because I am part Native American, and understand the Grave Repatriation Act, and we understand the historical significance of our area and what we had possibly found. So we called the State Archeologist, and waited another two weeks until he could come. Meanwhile, we were on a ‘stop work’ order. In my heart I knew I had saved that area for some reason. HINT: Obey federal laws, someone will find out, some way at sometime anyway, consequences are much worse after-the-fact. While we were stopped, we revised our plans and decided to use this as a tornado shelter also, since it would be easier to access in our older age than the one we currently had, that was if we could go ahead with our project. There are different requirements for tornado shelters than for root cellars, the concrete walls needed to be stronger, the entry door needed to be different, etc. We incorporated these changes into our plan, since it was only half dug.

After the State Archeologist finally came, he identified the metal parts as being from an early buckboard wagon, as were the wooden fibers. However; it took weeks to get the results of the tests on the bones that in the end tested out to be animal bones. So the ‘stop work’ order was lifted and we could get back to work. At this point we were considering revising our plans again so we could finish quickly as it was late in the fall and we wanted to have the root cellar in by winter. No such luck, an early snow and the seasonal flu knocked us all off schedule. So the deep square filled with fall leaves and snow. People who visited us over the winter could see our little experiment from the house, and constantly asked what we were doing. Our favorite answer was digging a ‘water feature’. When we told someone the truth, that we were building a root cellar/tornado shelter, everyone started laughing at us.

Come spring, we noticed the ground was so very hard that the sides had actually held up very well, even down to the squared off corners. Also it had never collected any water, so it was draining well, even though the ground was very hard. Looking back, it’s a good thing we left it over the late fall and winter into spring, as that gave us vital information about the ground performance that we needed. HINT: In retrospect; leaving the ground gaping open over the winter gave us vital information and hardened the ground. Come springtime we resumed our project, but changed our plans. Instead of pouring concrete for it all, we decided to lay brick for the steps, as we needed the steps to finish digging. Our initial plan called for poured concrete, but we did not wish to pay for poured concrete twice with two delivery charges. We needed the steps at that time, to be able to get down into the ‘hole’ to keep digging, so we used old bricks instead. We gathered together all our spare bricks and used them on the steps. It didn’t match, but it was cute and we made designs with the odd colored bricks in concrete. Our use of brick steps ended up working well, because in the dark you can feel the difference between the brick steps and the concrete flooring.

We put up our concrete wall-forms close to the smoothed dirt, arranged the supports and were ready to have the concrete poured. Then, with a site check from the concrete company, we found out the concrete trucks could not get close enough to the site to pour the concrete. This was like a punch in the gut. With everything in place and ready we decided to make our own concrete. Working with friends, we mixed and poured homemade quickcrete walls, we kept the concrete constantly coming and of consistent value. We had enough help to pour the walls all on the same day. We poured the floor last, then built shelves from 2 x 4 s and ½ inch plywood. We used ½ inch plywood for shelves to support the weight of glass jars without bowing. We put a 110 gallon water cistern in the corner. We realized we were very close to an outside water outlet so we ran a water line over to the inside of the root cellar to the water cistern. Being 32 feet from an electric pole, we had an electrician drop an electric line, so we could put electricity in our root cellar. HINT: We love our water and electric that was spur of the moment decisions, plan for them. Our neighbor is a brick mason, so he volunteered to lay the three rows of concrete brick on top of the concrete wall to bring it up above ground. We laid our beams to support the flat roof. As we replaced the dirt on top of the flat roof, and up the sides, we found since it had been almost two years since we started, that much of the pile of dirt we took out had washed away, even though we had it under tarps. We ended up having to haul two loads of dirt (and transfer it to our site in a wheelbarrow) to cover the sides and top. We had to chose an entry door and now set it in concrete. Our experience of shoveling the dirt out was not near as fun as shoveling it back, we even covered the sides with dirt too, till it was completely covered into a little ‘mound’ then we sowed grass seed. 

In the end we are very glad to see it finished, even though the grass is not growing yet. Our ‘bare minimum’ budget was stretched considerably as the finished cost was almost twice as much as what we had initially projected. The majority of that cost was in the steel reinforcing rods used in the concrete when we moved from plain root cellar to root cellar/tornado shelter, and in the type of door we used. We are glad we ran electricity, for a dehumidifier as well as lights. The running water came in handy for clean-up when we dropped some glass home canned jars of peaches. We have not yet put doors on our shelves as was suggested to us by someone who had been in a tornado. They suggested plywood doors over all the canned goods that lock so the cans and jars do not become airborne during a tornado. We are going to listen and install them over Thanksgiving when all the family is here. In the end we are pleased with our new little spot, but if you plan to do this yourself here are our suggestions; have friends willing to help, don’t modify your plans in mid-stream, double the cost your expect and be prepared for any surprise when you are digging.

Mr. Rawles,
I'm currently trying to do a cogent analysis of the lower 48 and where my optimum safety location/region might be. I've read your articles on the great redoubt, rankings and ratings etc... I can respect your criteria and agree with most of it. The question that I'm pondering however, is that in a serious SHTF scenario, how will mass migrations occur. The "head for the hills" mentality will motivate millions to escape die off zones desperately seeking life's basics. I agree that in a scenario of seriously "grid down", a great many Americans will die. In contrast to your "Great American Redoubt"  however, I would posit the following; 
1. Logistically the "Redoubt" is challenged. From a foraging standpoint, there are precious few distribution points, raw materials or other commodities stockpiled. 2., The population density, while generally fewer than 50 people per sq. mile, will suffer from a lack of abundant skill sets in "post event industrialization". 3. While agriculturally strong, the Redoubt lacks basic transportation infrastructure to economically drive it in a post event scenario. Primarily a sustenance existence with localized bartering.
As an assumption, mass migrations will occur primarily from urban to rural, I'm thinking that most folks will look to their neighboring "mountains" as eden. Meaning that most folks in New England would probably be inclined to migrate to Vermont or Maine. (The nearest "perceived sanctuary".)  Folks in the mid-Atlantic will hit the Blue Ridge or middle Appalachia--south eastern to Georgia/Alabama Appalachia. I realize what I'm speculating is just that but the underlying psychology of terrified sheeple seeking quick gratification I believe, supports my theory of regionalized migration patterns.
Based on the 2010 census county population data, I'm starting to believe that southern Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas might end up fairly well. The large population centers will have exhausted themselves before they breach to deeply into the rural areas of these states. The road networks, outside of the freeways, allow themselves to be easily blocked and the terrain suitable for extended blockades of key choke points. Population densities in these areas average about 50 people per square mile. High enough to have a good bullpen of expertise, low enough to feed off the excellent farmland and growing seasons and also deep in folks that know how to hunt and fish. Added to this is are other points, such as many stockpiled warehouses and transportation hubs, abundant fresh water, mineral reserves, natural gas and oil. In a totally "grid down" situation, these factors, at least to me add up to the positive.
I am new to prepping but have always been an avid camper, hunter and fisherman. I'm a Navy vet, good marksman and Christian man, though not as devout as I should be. I love my country and what it stands for, or used to stand for. I ask for your opinion on my analysis. I know how busy you must be and should I not hear back from you, rest assured that you have an avid fan of your books and precepts!
Kind regards, - John T.

JWR Replies: To begin: urban "foraging" is just a polite term for looting. (Here, I'm not talking about true foraging, for wild edibles.) Urban "foraging" would be conscionable only in near extinction-level catastrophes, where many properties (buildings with intact contents) are left truly abandoned and without rightful heirs. But don't plan on that, since the chances of such an event are very small.

I'm aligned with the geographical determinist camp, in both history and predicting future outcomes. (Although some new transformational technologies such as large scale desalination plants, inexpensive photovoltaics, and perhaps even seasteading may make my determinist stance less firm.) In general, geography and climate have shaped human settlement patterns and in many ways they will shape future events. The core risk in a grid-down collapse will be directly proportional to population density. Think of it this way: during a full scale societal collapse the actuarial risk of having a high velocity lead pellet pass through your chest cavity or brain box on any given day increases with the population density of your locale. There will simply be more starving people with guns surrounding you in cities than there will be in the hinterboonies. While geographic isolation is not a panacea, it certainly beats the odds of hunkering down in the Big City and hoping to persevere to the far side of a massive population crash, with the intent of "foraging", post facto. That would be Armchair Commando naiveté, at its worst.

You might feel comfortable with 50 people per square mile, but I do with five people per square mile.

In my estimation, after the first winter without grid power and pressurized natural gas pipelines, virtually everyone north of the 40th parallel (north) who feels the need to bug out will head south, to warmer climes.

Most of the colder climate regions such as the Inland Northwest and Michigan's Upper Peninsula will not be see any substantial in-migration. Exceptions will include Vermont and Maine, they will likely face temporary in-migration from both New York and from the heavily-populated Montreal region.

If the grids go down and stay down, then I expect population die-off ranging from 15% to 90%, depending on local population density. The highest losses will be in urban centers in the northeast. The lowest losses will be in the Inland northwest and the more lightly populated portions of the southeast. But even southern metropolitan centers like Atlanta, St. Louis, and Dallas/Fort Worth may suffer 60%+ population losses--and notably not from cold weather. Those will mostly be losses from instantaneous lead poisoning.  

After the second winter, we will see an entirely transformed society.  It will be a harsh existence, at least for the first decade.

The ideal solution is to relocate well in advance of any collapse to a lightly-populated farming region that enjoys reliable annual precipitation for growing row crops. (In the west, these are called dryland farming regions.) It should be a region that is well-removed from major population centers. There, you should look for a property with spring water or shallow well water that is geographically isolated from the natural lines of drift that refugees and looters will follow. The key phrase for your property search: "On a side road of a side road.") See my Recommended Retreat Areas web page for further details.

It was not happenstance that I set my first novel Patriots at the eastern edge of the Palouse Hills region. But the Palouse grasslands are not unique.

Relocate, stock up, and team up!

I heard about a new blog that might be of interest: Tactical Tales.

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Michael Z. Williamson (SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large) recommended this instructional video: Racking a Slide Like a Lady

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After a three year wait while MGM nearly went though a full-on bankruptcy and laughably the villains were digitally changed from China to North Korea (just for the sake of boot-licking political correctness), the re-make of Red Dawn will finally be coming to theaters on November 21st.

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K.T. mentioned a snow track system for 4WD trucks that is a far less complicated than the others on the market.

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Petraeus Fallout: Five Gmail Security Facts

"You do not examine legislation in the light of the benefits it will convey if properly administered, but in the light of the wrongs it would do and the harms it would cause if improperly administered. " - President Lyndon Baines Johnson (Ironically, Johnson was the principal architect of the flawed and failed Great Society programs.)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

I'm leading off today with a special announcement from Micah Wood, a former Sheriff's Deputy and Front Sight firearms instructor who has found a higher calling, with Christian Reformed Outreach, South Sudan (C.R.O.S.S.). May God bless his ministry!


Today we present also 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 (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 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 (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.

SurvivalBlog readers and brothers and sisters in our Lord Jesus Christ, Greetings!
My wife, Dania, has always desired in her heart to be a missionary. Until recently, I did not. Yet here I find myself publicly announcing to the readers of SurvivalBlog that God has sovereignly led us down a path, which clearly points to us becoming full time missionaries for our Lord Jesus Christ, in South Sudan.

Growing up, Dania read many of the famous missionary stories and felt God would likely lead her to the mission field one day too. Me? I didn’t read many of the missionary stories and couldn’t even name most of them, but knew missions were a worthy Biblical command and thus prayerfully and financially supported missions over the years (and presently do). But Dania and I shared this in common about our views on missionary work: we both knew that if we were to ever be sent to the mission field, that it would likely be to a harsh and remote place.

So what changed in me that I’m now eager to serve on the mission field, teaching the Reformed Doctrines of Grace? Simply put, God started me down this path without me knowing it about a year ago, working within my nature to guide me to the realization that this is where He wants Dania and me. A key part of this path was Jim Rawles’ posting here on SurvivalBlog: How You Can Help Defend South Sudan back in March, 2012. Another SurvivalBlog post, Learning From Extreme Missionaries, by Chuck Holton contributed significantly to the overall picture God was painting. It also led me and my wife to very helpful advice and mentoring from some wonderful fellow Christians who helped mold this plan into what it is now: God willing, a plan that will magnify His name and spread the Gospel of Christ! Each step of the way, God sovereignly directed me, corrected me and guided me and my wife. Praise God, for without Him I am nothing!

Please see the Christian Reformed Outreach, South Sudan (C.R.O.S.S.) web site for more details on the country of South Sudan, their desperate need for the Gospel and basic humanitarian assistance and our plan (and doctrinal statement) to help with both needs. There is more on how you can help us defend the weak and helpless, and most importantly to assist us in spreading the love and knowledge of Christ’s saving work on the cross and resurrection from the dead! - Micah Wood

JWR Adds: C.R.O.S.S. Ministries plans to support Micah's first trip to South Sudan, early in 2013. I have begun sponsoring C.R.O.S.S. Ministries with monthly support, and I strongly encourage SurvivalBlog readers to do likewise. All donations are tax deductible. (Begin your donations before December 31st to take a deduction for this tax year.) They also take donations via PayPal--either as a one-time donation, or as ongoing monthly support donations. And even if you can't spare a dime, please pray fervently for the people of South Sudan. Also pray that the government of South Sudan will be receptive to this unique ministry and that Micah will get in-country and start training villagers as soon as possible. I also encourage corporate sponsors to donate cash or field gear. Or, they could create "Buy One, Give One" (BOGO) gear, so that one item is donated to C.R.O.S.S. for distribution in South Sudan for each item purchased by a customer here in the States.


The Civil War [aka War Between The States] (or The War of Northern Aggression, depending on your personal view) ended in 1865. However, the legality of secession by the Southern States simply will not die 150 years after Texas formally seceded from the Union and joined the Confederate States of America. As late as May, 2011, secession by part of the State of Arizona from the rest of the State is being proposed. Secession is often bandied about by politicians on both sides of the spectrum but do any of its proponents really understand what secession, from a legal standpoint, is and isn’t?

This article will explore the illegality of secession through the style United States Supreme Court cases dealing directly with the issue. As much as possible, the article will let the Court, through its own words, explain what secession is and its legal effect on the seceding states. All emphasis within the following quotes, unless otherwise noted, are those of the author.
                        Texas - 1861

            The Texas Ordinance of Secession, at least in the opinion of its drafters and the people of Texas, officially separated Texas from the United States in 1861. It was adopted by the Secession Convention on February 1 of that year by a vote of 166 to 8.

            The Texas Ordinance of Secession - (February 2, 1861)

“The ordinance of secession submitted to the people was adopted by a vote of 34,794 against 11,235. The convention, which had adjourned immediately on passing the ordinance, reassembled.  On the 4th of March, 1861, it declared that the ordinance of secession had been ratified by the people, and that Texas had withdrawn from the union of the States under the Federal Constitution.”1

                        Alaska - 2003

“Scott Kohlhaas drafted an initiative calling for Alaska's secession from the United States or, in the alternative, directing the state to work to make secession legal, and submitted the initiative, along with one hundred signatures, to the lieutenant governor.”2                                                  

            The Background

Texas seceded from the United States on March 4, 1861.

The Confederate States of America declared War on the United States.- "An Act recognizing the existence of war between the United States and the Confederate States” - May 6, 1861.

The US never declared war on the Confederate States. Abraham Lincoln (and not Congress, since war was not and would not be declared) did issue a Proclamation that an insurrection existed in the states of SC, GA, FL, AL, MS, LA, and TX on April 15, 1861 (Messages & Papers of the Presidents, vol. V, p 3214). The Congress of the United States retroactively approved these initial actions of the President. 12 Stat. 326 (1861).

The Confederate States surrendered April 9, 1865 (Lee surrenders to Grant)

“Order” is restored in the Southern States via the Reconstruction Laws.3.

Jurisprudence Language By the Winners

A very strong clue previewing the rulings of the Supreme Court of the United States on the issue of the illegality of the secession of the Southern States can be found in the preparatory language of the Court leading up to its decision in the seminal case of Texas v. White, 74 U.S. 700 (1869). The following is a selection of the Court’s classification of the Confederate States’ attempted secession.

Texas v. White, 74 U.S. 700 (1869)

“...At the time of that outbreak, Texas was confessedly one of the United States of America, having a State constitution in accordance with that of the United States, and represented by senators and representatives in the Congress at Washington.  In January, 1861, a call for a convention of the people of the State was issued, signed by sixty-one individuals.  The call was without authority and revolutionary...” 

“...Thus was established the rebel government of Texas.”

...War having become necessary to complete the purposed destruction by the South of the Federal government, Texas joined the other Southern States, and made war upon the United States, whose authority was now recognized in no manner within her borders.

Significant Case Holdings in Date Order

The Amy Warwick, 67 U.S. 635 (1863)


This case involved vessels (and their cargoes) which were seized during the Civil War. One of the significant issues in the case was whether the President of the United States had the right to institute a blockade of ports in possession of persons in armed rebellion against it.

The Supreme Court entered into a detailed, logical analysis of the effect of secession by the Southern States and the right of the United States to react to their secession. The first inquiry was whether a state of war existed when the vessels were seized, remembering that the Congress never formally declared war on the Confederate States. In fact, Congress passed an act “approving, legalizing, and making valid all the acts, proclamations, and orders of the President, &c., as if they had been issued and done under the previous express authority and direction of the Congress of the United States.”4  On the issue of the declaration of war, the Court held:

“        Insurrection against a government may or may not culminate in an organized rebellion, but a civil war always begins by insurrection against the lawful authority of the Government.  A civil war is never solemnly declared; it becomes such by its accidents--the number, power, and organization of the persons who originate and carry it on.  When the party in rebellion occupy and hold in a hostile manner a certain portion of territory; have declared their independence; have cast off their allegiance; have organized armies; have commenced hostilities against their former sovereign, the world acknowledges them as belligerents, and they contest a war.  They claim to be in arms to establish their liberty and independence, in order to become a sovereign State, while the sovereign party treats them as insurgents and rebels who owe allegiance, and who should be punished with death for their treason.”5

The Court acknowledged that only Congress could declare war. However, Congress could not declare war against a state(s). According to the Court, only the president had the authority to use the military force of the United States to combat an armed insurrection as was encountered during the Civil War.

             “       By the Constitution, Congress alone has the power to declare a national or foreign war.  It cannot declare war against a State, or any number of States, by virtue of any clause in the Constitution.  The Constitution confers on the President the whole Executive power.  He is bound to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.  He is Commander-in-chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several States when called into the actual service of the United States.  He has no power to initiate or declare a war either against a foreign nation or a domestic State.  But by the Acts of Congress of February 28th, 1795, and 3d of March, 1807, he is authorized to called out the militia and use the military and naval forces of the United States in case of invasion by foreign nations, and to suppress insurrection against the government of a State or of the United States.”6

The Court concluded that, in light of the “insurrection” of the Southern States, the President of the United States had the right to institute a blockade of the ports in the possession of the rebelling states and that all neutral countries/citizens were bound to recognize same.

Texas v. White, 74 U.S. 700 (1869)


             This case involved the bringing of an original action in the United States Supreme Court by the State of Texas for the recovery of payment from certain bonds of the Federal Government. The issue before the Court was whether Texas, after the end of the Civil War (1867), was entitled to bring an original action in the United States Supreme Court as one of the states of the United States even though it was still attempting to comply with the Reconstruction Acts.


To answer the very significant question of jurisdiction of the Court, an analysis of the actions of Texas prior to its succession, during its succession and after the end of the Civil War was performed by the Court. Its findings were as follows:

Statehood Prior to the Civil War

The Republic of Texas was admitted as a state into the Union on December 27, 1845. By its admission into the Union, Texas and all of its residents were immediately vested with all the rights, and became subject to all the responsibilities and duties, of the original States under the United States Constitution.

“        From the date of admission, until 1861, the State was represented in the Congress of the United States by her senators and representatives, and her relations as a member of the Union remained unimpaired.  In that year, acting upon the theory that the rights of a State under the Constitution might be renounced, and her obligations thrown off at pleasure, Texas undertook to sever the bond thus formed, and to break up her constitutional relations with the United States.


On February 1, 1861, a convention of secession was called (and subsequently sanctioned by the legislature) where an ordinance to dissolve the union between Texas and the United States was adopted and Texas declared to be a separate and sovereign state. The relationship to the United States (and its government) was disclaimed - Texas seceded from the Union. Texas thereafter joined with the other Confederate States and declared war on the United States.

“.......The position thus assumed could only be maintained by arms, and Texas accordingly took part, with the other Confederate States, in the war of the rebellion, which these events made inevitable.  During the whole of that war there was no governor, or judge, or any other State officer in Texas, who recognized the National authority.  Nor was any officer of the United States permitted to exercise any authority whatever under the National government within the limits of the State, except under the immediate protection of the National military forces.”8

.            Status of Texas After the Civil War

And so, the Court came to the filing of the original action by the State of Texas in 1867. The issue clearly before the Supreme Court was whether it had jurisdiction to hear the case. That is, was Texas one of the United States entitled, under the Constitution, to bring its original action before the Court? The issue was raised in light of Texas’ secession, formation and joinder with the Confederate States of America’s declaration of war against the United States, the defeat of the Confederate States and the imposition of the Reconstruction Acts upon Texas and the other seceding states. Stated another way, was Texas a State within the meaning of the Constitution immediately after the Civil War and prior to compliance with all of the requirements of the Reconstruction Acts?

The Court held the following:

1.            “  The Constitution, in all its provisions, looks to an indestructible Union, composed of indestructible States...”9

2.            “.....When, therefore, Texas became one of the United States, she entered into an indissoluble relation.”10

3.            “.....And it was final.  The union between Texas and the other States was as complete, as perpetual, and as indissoluble as the union between the original States.  There was no place for reconsideration, or revocation, except through revolution, or through consent of the States.”11

No citation to the Constitution nor to any prior writings were alluded to by the Court. According to the Court, Texas never left the Union, despite its secession, reformulation into the Confederate States of America and declaration of war on the United States. Texas was before, during and after the Civil War a part of the United States of America (unless it had won the war).

             “Considered therefore as transactions under the Constitution, the ordinance of secession, adopted by the convention and ratified by a majority of the citizens of Texas, and all the acts of her legislature intended to give effect to that ordinance, were absolutely null.  They were utterly without operation in law.  The obligations of the State, as a member of the Union, and of every citizen of the State, as a citizen of the United States, remained perfect and unimpaired.  It certainly follows that the State did not cease to be a State, nor her citizens to be citizens of the Union.  If this were otherwise, the State must have become foreign, and her citizens foreigners.  The war must have ceased to be a war for the suppression of rebellion, and must have become a war for conquest and subjugation.”12

“        Our conclusion therefore is, that Texas continued to be a State, and a State of the Union, notwithstanding the transactions to which we have referred....”13

Based on the foregoing analysis and legal conclusions, the Court held that Texas was and had remained a State of the United States and was thus entitled to bring its original action before the Court.

White v. Hart, 80 U.S. 646 (1872)


A suit was instituted in the Georgia Superior Court AFTER Reconstruction, as it applied to Georgia, was deemed terminated and Georgia had accrued to all of its former rights of representation in the Congress of the United States. Georgia had also amended its Constitution. The suit involved recovery on a promissory note which was secured by a slave. The reconstituted Georgia Constitution, as approved by the Congress of the United States (as required under the Reconstruction Acts) contained a provision that prohibited the enforcement of such a contract. The issue before the Court was whether Georgia/Congress could pass legislation which invalidated a contract that, when made, was legally enforceable. The following is an analysis of the effect of the Reconstruction Acts visited on the southern states. The legal requirement under the Reconstruction Acts that State Constitutions be amended and approved by the Congress will become significant in the Florida case determining the three league limit of Florida’s offshore jurisdiction.

All of the Confederate States, after their surrender, were governed by the Reconstruction Acts. These acts applied until each Confederate State complied with the terms and provisions of the Acts, including the amendment of their respective state constitutions to recognize the rights of freed slaves. This amended constitution had to be approved by Congress before each state could regain its representation rights in the United States Congress.

The court defined the acts of the individual states in seceding and prosecuting the Civil War:

“......  The doctrine of secession is a doctrine of treason, and practical secession is practical treason, seeking to give itself triumph by revolutionary violence.  The late rebellion was without any element of right or sanction of law....The power exercised in putting down the late rebellion is given expressly by the Constitution to Congress.  That body made the laws and the President executed them.  The granted power carried with it not only the right to use the requisite means, but it reached further and carried with it also authority to guard against the renewal of the conflict, and to remedy the evils arising from it in so far as that could be effected by appropriate legislation. At no time were the rebellious States out of the pale of the UnionTheir rights under the Constitution were suspended, but not destroyed. 14

Again, the Court is of the opinion that the Confederate States had never left the Union. They, and their citizens had, however, lost the right to be represented in the Congress. The Reconstruction Acts provided certain requirements that each state needed to satisfy (in the opinion of the Congress) before their rights of representation in the Congress would be restored.


The Civil War Continues

United States v. Florida, 363 U.S. 121 (1960)


When Florida was admitted into the Union it got to keep, as a condition for statehood, its claim to submerged lands adjacent to its state shoreline boundaries. Then came succession and the Civil War followed by Reconstruction. As part of its congressionally mandated duty under the Reconstruction Acts, Florida was required to amend its constitution in certain particulars.

“Florida claims that Congress approved its three-league boundary in 1868, by approving[3] a constitution submitted to Congress as required by a Reconstruction Act passed March 2, 1867. 14 Stat. 428. That constitution carefully described Florida's boundary on the Gulf of Mexico side as running from a point in the Gulf "three leagues from the mainland" and "thence north westwardly three leagues from the land" to the next point. The United States concedes that, from 1868 to the present day, Florida has claimed by its constitutions a three-league boundary into the Gulf.[5] The United States also admits that Florida submitted this constitution to Congress in 1868, but denies that the Gulf boundary it defined was "approved" by Congress within the meaning of the Submerged Lands Act.[6] This is the decisive question as between Florida and the United States.15

The Court held that the Florida constitution, as rewritten and approved by Congress under the Reconstruction Acts, did indeed contain a three marine league boundary. It further held:

“...Thus, by its own description, Congress not only approved Florida's Constitution, which included three-league boundaries, but Congress, in 1868, approved it within the meaning of the 1867 Acts. In turn, the approval the 1867 Acts required appears to be precisely the approval the 1953 Act contemplates.”16


Due to its careful consideration and attention to its offshore boundaries, Florida had affirmed by the Court its constitutionally mandated three league boundary as the same appeared in its constitution which, in accordance with the dictates of the Reconstruction Acts, was approved by the Congress prior to the restoration of Florida’s right to representation.

Kohlhaas v. State, Office of Lieutenant Governor, 147 P.3d 714 (Alaska - 2006)


Secession, long thought to be relegated as a historical aberration, once again raised its head in this new century. This time, it was an individual in Alaska seeking to force the state to place the issue of secession on the Alaska initiative ballot. A modern state court was thus faced with the question of whether the issue of secession was one which Alaska residents could vote on and thus was a proper subject for placement on the initiative ballot. Prior to court review, the lieutenant governor declined to certify the issue for ballot placement since, in his opinion, the initiative sought an unconstitutional end - SECESSION.

The Alaska Supreme Court agreed with the lieutenant governor. That is, it found that it was unconstitutional for Alaska to even consider seceding from the United States. It further found that neither Alaska, nor any other of the states of the Union, possessed the right to secede before admission to the United States and thus, no state would retain such a right under the Tenth Amendment after admission.

“  When the forty-nine-star flag was first raised at Juneau, we Alaskans committed ourselves to that indestructible Union, for good or ill, in perpetuity.”17

Since the act of secession was found to be unconstitutional, the Alaska Supreme Court found that the citizens could not vote on the issue as a referendum item. Alaska would not be seceding from the Union. 

NOTE: Second case on same issues reached same conclusion Kohlhaas v. State, Cause No. S-13024 (Alaska 2010)


Under present federal Supreme Court jurisprudence:

  • The union which is the United States can never be dissolved by an independent action of one state (unless approved by Congress and/or the other states?)
  •  An individual state may never secede. Apparently, only people rebel - the states remain a part of the Union.
  •  Secession can be successful only if accomplished by force of arms (or agreement of the other states/Congress).



The right to secede simply will not die. In 2011, it is not conservative activists seeking secession but rather liberal activists. According to Reuters, a group of liberals want to split Arizona into two states and want voters to decide the issue in the next Presidential election (see Alaska). 

According to Reuters (May 10, 2011): “A group of lawyers from the Democratic stronghold of Tucson and surrounding Pima County have launched a petition drive seeking support for a November 2012 ballot question on whether the 48th state should be divided in two.”

“The ultimate goal of the newly formed political action committee Start our State is to split Pima County off into what would become the nation's 51st state, tentatively dubbed Baja Arizona.

“The ballot measure sought by Arizona secession backers is a nonbinding measure asking Pima County voters if they support petitioning state lawmakers for permission to break away.”

“Before secession could occur, it would have to be approved separately by the Legislature, and by a second, binding referendum by residents of the proposed state.


1.            Texas v. White, 74 U.S. 700 at Page 704 (1869)

2.            Kohlhaas v. State, Office of Lieutenant Governor, 147 P.3d 714 at Page 715 (Alaska - 2006)

3.            Acts of March 2d and March 23d, 1867

4.            The Amy Warwick, 67 U.S. 635 at page 670 (1863)

5.            The Amy Warwick, 67 U.S. 635 at page 666 (1863)

6.            The Amy Warwick, 67 U.S. 635 at page 688 (1863)

7.            Texas v. White, 74 U.S. 700 at Page 722 (1869)

8.            Texas v. White, 74 U.S. 700 at Page 724 (1869)

9.            Texas v. White, 74 U.S. 725 at Page 725 (1869)

10.            Texas v. White, 74 U.S. 700 at Page 725 (1869)

11.            Texas v. White, 74 U.S. 700 at Page 725 (1869)

12.            Texas v. White, 74 U.S. 700 at Page 725 (1869)

13.            Texas v. White, 74 U.S. 700 at Page 725 (1869)

14.            White v. Hart, 80 U.S. 646 at Page 650 (1872)

15.            United States v. Florida, 363 U.S. 121 at Page 123 (1960)

16.            United States v. Florida, 363 U.S. 121 at Page 124 (1960)

17.            Kohlhaas v. State, Office of Lieutenant Governor, 147 P.3d 714 at Page 720 (Alaska - 2006)

JWR Adds: As the preceding article illustrates, it is the victors who write the history books and write the post facto legal opinions. They determine what is "legal" and "justified." But if successful, it is those who were branded "rebels", "traitors", or "seccesh" who get their portraits stamped on the new coins. Modern day secession can work. Just ask the people of world's newest country, South Sudan. The secession of predominantly Christian South Sudan was not just magnanimously handed to them by predominantly Muslim Sudan. The South Sudanese had to fight for their independence, in a costly and protracted civil war.

The White House opened up a data mining public petition web site that quickly resulted in more than 675,000 people in 50 states politely pleading for secession. Unfortunately, this is a futile effort. The Federal government presently does not recognize any right to secede. In essence, secession is not accomplished by asking permission. Rather, it is accomplished by a state (or subdivision thereof) simply declaring their secession, with the full knowledge of the consequences. Audentes fortuna iuvat. This very nearly happened in 1941, with the State of Jefferson, but our nation's entry into World War II completely overshadowed and quashed that movement.

I now have high hopes for the American Redoubt movement, and the spin-off Redoubts in other regions. As conservative demographics and constituencies solidify in the Redoubt regions, the prospect of meaningful change becomes more likely. Vote with your feet!

Just writing in for the first time to bring an interesting incident to the forefront of the readers minds. It's been lost in the national news since it happened .

Saturday night, November 10, 2012 at just past 11 p.m. an explosion rocked a south Indianapolis neighborhood. Officials immediately cordoned off the neighborhood and started doing sweeps of the debris looking for survivors. In all four houses were totally destroyed, two were wiped to the foundations. Several surrounding homes were damaged beyond repair and 80 homes were damaged. The scene looked like a war zone with the look of a 500 pound bomb explosion (minus the crater). Luckily for the couple who lived in the house where the blast originated, they had gone gambling at the casino. They won this bet for sure. The couple in the house next door weren't so lucky. They both perished in the explosion and accompanying fire. The wife was a teacher in the school system that my children attend.

Moments after the initial blast that was heard and felt up to 20 miles away, sirens wailed on  for hours. Emergency crews flooded the neighborhood causing gridlock in the surrounding area. There was no way for survivors in the vicinity of the blast to drive away due to water hoses and emergency vehicles. Many survivors were moved to a school located across a field from the subdivision with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. Gas and electricity was cut off to keep the emergency workers safe. The division of code compliance was soon on the scene in the early morning hours to check the area for structures that were deemed unsafe and they were tagged such so no entry was permitted. Some homes will need to be bulldozed, many of which were knocked off their foundations.

The Subdivision is a standard quarter to third acre lot brick faced vinyl village that has sprouted all over in suburbia. These homes are built to meet and never exceed code requirements. They build them as cheaply as possible! The rafters and deck bracing is all 1.5" x 3.5" (modern 2x4) construction with 1/2" decking and wallboard everywhere. The electrical systems and plumbing are as bare bones as you can get and still pass muster. The houses have little insulation unless you pay for extra and you can gain entry through a wall with a pocketknife. These houses are total junk and sold at the same price as a custom home. I'm not surprised at all that the damage was so severe. The fire department in a town near Indy tried to find out why so many of these type tract homes burned when struck by lightening by hiring experts to come in and inspect the structures for a cause. They found that any time a house of this construction was built, they flexible metal gas lines would take the energy from the lightening strike and make the tubing fail, causing the super heated line to catch the escaping gasses on fire.

Saturday it was near 70 degrees F so many people took advantage of the weather and got some exercise. Luckily my Cub Scout troop had planned a service project at the local church. The boys and I along with many other volunteers were fighting the weeds in a hedgerow wearing short sleeves. Many people opened their windows during the day and enjoyed the warmth. The occupants of the house that exploded had left it closed up and the house was warm enough that the furnace didn't need to operate all day, until about 11:09? The home owner got a text from the occupant (Daughter) a few days before that the furnace wasn't working properly.

At this time the cause of the fire hasn't officially been determined, but I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that it was the furnace. (Many Internet speculators have called it a Predator UAV strike or a plane crash. One even cited Russian intelligence sources as noting a launch profile from their satellites. The American CIA had supposedly lost control of a Raptor and it fired or something along those lines. I have a hard time believing that and the evidence doesn't support it, but hey, it's a nearly free country.)

The response from the alphabet soup government was huge. ATF, NTSB, FBI, State police, County police, City Police and fire services were all on scene to evaluate. All residents were removed for their own safety and the houses were inspected again Sunday. The devastation was immense. People weren't allowed back to their homes until Monday afternoon, were they had an hour to collect belongings from their homes and leave. The residents of homes that were made habitable were allowed to stay as long as no evidence was found in the immediate vicinity of their home. Many residents had no way to get around due to the damage to their cars, or the fact that the cars were trapped under collapsed garage doors. Most were unprepared and caught naked in the night. They scrambled out of their houses with little more than the clothes on their backs.

My house is almost exactly a mile from the explosion, but after a hard days work I was dead asleep when the explosion occurred. I slept right through it. This emergency was too close to ignore, too different form the one's I have prepared for to keep me content with my level of preparedness. Things I've come to realize over the last few days have really shaken me up and have made me consider caches more acceptable than guarded preps at the house.

The idea that a government agency can forcefully remove me from my property for my own safety really bothered me. Not only that, they made the survivors rally at a school that is a "Gun free zone" with regard to the Indiana Code. No firearms, no time to gather preps, no vehicles due to the streets being cordoned off. Had I lived in the vicinity, I'd be homeless, hungry and unarmed in an instant with no recourse to make the situation better. There were relief agencies mobilized by Sunday but no long term accommodations had been made for those without insurance to cover it. It's now Tuesday and there are still people relying on handouts for the basics. This would be totally unacceptable for myself and my family. I need a better plan.

I needed somewhere local I can stash a few buckets of food and provisions to keep the family happy long enough to arrange long term housing in case ours is uninhabitable. At least a couple weeks food, some cash and barter as well as copies of documents we might need. Maybe even an extra credit card and book of checks for keeping a lid on the finances during the event. Toiletries for the whole family. Cash phone with minutes in case there's something else going on to necessitate a bailout. Insurance contact information. Personally, I have 2 locations that come to mind but only one is secure. I'll have to enact my plan in the next few weeks to make sure it's handled.

My biggest failure was with regard to my bailout bags. Mine is still torn apart from the last scout camping trip late last month. I was intending to replace the sleeping bag with a better rated bag for the cooler weather. My eldest son had claimed my old one so I was without until a new one showed up on my doorstep tonight. Had I needed it, I would have been unprepared and so would my eldest son. Neither had the BOB ready to go. Unacceptable behavior on my part.

Interior security on my home is pathetic. Should the inspectors stroll through my house, they would see way too much for me. OPSEC would be totally blown and I'd be on the list for having guns and reloading components stocked up. I've got ammo, powder and bullets strewn all over my garage and the fuel cans are easily visible. All my web gear is hanging where it can be seen without much digging. A looter with someone on the inside would clean me out in a matter of minutes. Our local code enforcement officers are paid at the poverty level so they would be my biggest concern. None of my steel storage cabinets were locked up securely. Anyone could have rifled through my weapons list and exchange books. My financials were laying on my desk for the most recent moves out of the market. Several of my guns were laying on top of the safe because I hadn't cleaned them from a range trip the weekend before the explosion. All my Dillon equipment was out and charged up ready for use. My alarm covers the garage so I just don't consider it a threat.

I don't have Window and door sized plywood cut and ready to go in case I have an emergency. I have several sheets of 1/4" sheet, but none cut for easy install. In the event of a tornado or blast, I would be unable to cover my windows and doors in a timely manner. My house would be a sitting duck without me here to protect it.

Another prime fail point would be transportation. If we were in the same position, we wouldn't have wheels except for my bikes that I keep off site during the winter. Sounds like I need to stash an el cheapo wagon somewhere where we can get to it locally. The bailout vehicle at my bailout location isn't moving, I need another option. I'm thinking a small minivan or station wagon that is unassuming and cheap would do the trick. Need to tint the windows and make it as soccer momesque as possible. Maybe even an Honor Roll sticker on the bumper. To add to my own ignorance, my truck (the primary BOV) is packed to the gills with work supplies that need to be brought into the garage storage system. My converted cargo trailer is also in use with a friend so I can't even use it for temporary housing. It has my backup generator on it as well.

The primary bailout location is a few hours away in a secluded area but without my preps at home, I might not make it if the emergency is serious enough to require us to bring our own fuel. It's all set up and ready to go but it couldn't help me a bit if I was homeless but needed to stay here for work. It's a unique emergency for sure.

The biggest, and most important issue we face is the proximity of our neighbors. By local code, we must not build closer than 10' from the property line. That means our houses can be a minimum of 20' apart. Way too close for my comfort. I'm still 100 feet or so from my closest neighbor, but not enough space if they have an explosion of this magnitude. It's suburbia, so I'll have to live with it. I have not been able to convince the wife to move further away yet but I'm working on it. Montana, the Dakotas, and Utah interest me, but I think she has only Montana on her mind.

In closing I'd like to point out that this tragedy was an opportunity for me to put myself into that situation and learn from it. The discipline to survive should never falter of fade. Vigilance is the key to prevailing in this climate of uncertainty. I've failed myself and my family and vow to enhance our security and ability to survive no matter what is thrown at me. - J.B. from Greenwood

JWR Replies: Our friend Tamara of the View From The Porch blog was about 15 miles away and heard the blast. This dramatic incident is a reminder that it is safer to live in a neighborhood where houses are more widely spaced. Keep your BOB handy. And, of course, the smell of odorized natural gas or propane should never be ignored, as the consequences can be devastating.

Reader Tony S. spotted this: 100 Free Survival Downloads

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F.J. liked this: Hinged Canvas Hides Your Alarm Panel [or other items]

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Regular content contributor F.G. sent: Drifting Fish Farm Yields First Harvest in US Waters

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Dulce et decorum est: Chicago's gun buyback helps group pay for youth shooting camp. (Thanks to Janet U. for the link.)

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Huelga! Transport chaos across Europe as millions take to streets in austerity protest and police fire rubber bullets at rioters

"We have reclaimed our permanent home given to us by God as our birthright. Never again shall South Sudanese be oppressed for their political beliefs. Never again shall our people be discriminated [against] on account of race or religion. Never again shall we roam the world as sojourners and refugees." - Salva Kiir Mayardit, President of South Sudan

Wednesday, November 14, 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 (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 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 (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.

How do you manage the extra expense of prepping when you are already cash strapped? After all, it is like buying for two households. When you are cost conscious you are able to purchase more. I am going to share my experience with you.

I am a single Mom of three and started prepping about a year ago. I would clip coupons and pick up extra cans of veggies a couple of times a month. When I started looking a sites on the internet that listed all the items to have on hand, I became concerned that my cans of veggies were not going to last all that long. Not to mention my kids are picky eaters and feeding them peas and corn every day was a recipe for disaster.

I made lists of food items that added variety, fruit snacks, raisins, cookies, cheese and cracker packs. Individual juice boxes, tuna, Spam (of course.) Soups, canned and dehydrated, beef stew, tortillas, and lots of peanut butter. Individual serving size apple sauce and fruit cups are healthy and convenient. I buy jars of nuts when they are on sale because I have found nuts can fill you up really quickly. We have cereal bars and small boxes of cereal. I have been buying cans of evaporated milk and recently discovered a boxed milk (non soy) because I know powdered milk won’t get drank, not even by me! I felt comfortable when we had about a six month supply on hand. Most stores have their own brand instead of name brand items that can be purchased less expensively and when you are prepping every dime counts.

I have always been a bargain shopper. I love to snoop in second hand shops and garage sales. I made a separate list for tents, camp stoves, canning equipment, hand tools, etc. Every weekend I planned my garage sale route with the items that were listed in the paper. I have recently noticed a number of “man sales” and even though I was the only woman there I found items to stash just in case. Lanterns, radios, flash lights. When I buy these items I try to keep all with the same battery size. Saws, even a brand new packaged solar shower. I found an old cooking device that uses newspaper. Now granted I’m not putting steak on this unit but to use it to heat a can of soup on, this just might be the ticket. I found storage tubs to keep the mice out of the sugar and snacks. I found shelf units and always came home smiling at my good luck, crossing out my items from the list. It’s like God was personally delivering to me what written on my lists.

Wal-Mart is always a place to hunt for bargains, but use a list. The store is designed to make you buy and get distracted by all the latest and greatest. This is where I buy my small bottles of propane much cheaper than I have found at other stores. Also medical supplies we might need. Triple antibiotic, hydrogen peroxide, ibuprofen. Check out the end caps and clearance areas, sometimes you get lucky.  I have gotten used to buying on the internet and found I don’t like paying tax, I also search for free shipping or combined shipping with the same seller. Ebay is one of my favorite sites. Recently I noticed some of the sellers are just getting plain greedy though. For example I had a bottle of 50 water purifying tablets on my watch list, when I put them on my list they were $ 8.99 with free shipping. Yesterday as I was going through my watch list they are now listed for $58.10! Really? That listing got deleted and I found another seller for $8.99 and bought right away, lesson learned. I purchased non GMO seeds last spring on Ebay for much less than the seed sites are selling for. They are also listed under the category of heirloom seeds. Left in the freezer, they are good for ten years. I can also collect the seeds from the veggies I grow. Last year was the first year I attempted growing vegetables by seed. I found a small but sturdy green house on closeout at my local hardware store. Our spring in Northern Minnesota was really wet so we set the green house up inside on the three season porch and used a grow light until the seeds were established enough to be put in the ground. A lot died, but this coming spring I intend to direct sow and put the green house over the garden plot. We had an okay harvest and this gave me the opportunity to use the canning equipment I found at an abandoned storage unit sale. I also found a security system on Ebay for like thirty bucks with free shipping. The cameras face the front and back of the property and we watch from a small black and white monitor.

 I know all the horror stories about Craigslist, but I have found numerous items there. I always bring someone with me (and my trustee stun gun). A month ago I bought a chest freezer for $100.00 and even found a farmer selling beef. My son and I recently took a road trip and stocked the freezer with a ½ beef. Last week I purchased a generator found on this site. Another item crossed off the list. The free listings are an excellent source of possible supplies.

 Harbor Freight has some good bargains as does Fleet Farm a favorite of mine for batteries and pet supplies. I also like to look in Cabela's bargain cave. Then of course I compare prices on other sites just to make sure I am getting the best price. Don’t rule out Goodwill or The Salvation Army stores, they can be a treasure trove. Dollar stores are filled with items that might be helpful, like toothbrushes, razors, plastic silverware, disposable cups, etc.

I also buy the vitamins and herbs we need from a site called Swanson's, they have a great selection and flat rate shipping is $4.99. I am a firm believer in all natural healing. Also use the email sign up on sites for extra savings.

My kids all work so I have delegated some of these items to them. My daughter is in charge of pet supplies. My son went through a catalog and bought ammo and guns, knives, swords, small shovels and solar blankets from Cheaper Than Dirt, online and catalog available. The things I would not think of because I haven’t been a boy scout.

I’ve been able to find some excellent books on living in the wild. Just in case we have to leave the safety of our property.

At some point you have to feel secure with what you’ve accumulated. When I began, I wondered how much is enough? I am finding over time that voice had quieted down and I’m not going about this with a fearful attitude. I feel more empowered. I have not found everything, I am still working down my list. I know I have to start filling gas cans for the generator, not found a decent size tent or two way radios. But I know we have enough food and water to get us through. I still fill empty milk jugs, because my kids keep drinking them!

I have also been known to check out construction sites. It is a great place to get wood scraps for fires or even plywood to cover windows and securing doors. Many of these items are tossed aside.

As you buy consider the items might be used in barter situations. Coins, ammo, seeds, water, food, tobacco, just about anything. I know that I would not turn away from others who need help. I would not actively seek them out, but if they show up cold and hungry I will help. We still have to be human and live by the Golden Rule.

Watching the news the last few days has me in awe of the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. So many people expect help in these situations and complain that it does not arrive instantly. All of us can be our own rescuer. We heard the warning. We have to make time to prepare for any emergency. Plan ahead! Being prepared not just for storms or the end of the world scenarios, but because food prices are on the verge of sky rocketing.
Lastly I would like to put in my two cents. I thought I lived on the greatest nation on Earth. I am angry that I have to plan for the end of the world scenario. That  preppers are considered dangerous people. That we are considered terrorists. How did it get to this point?  I am upset that this is my childrens’ reality. That they can not be as carefree as they should be. That America used to be the nation all others strived to be. But secretly there has been a plot against us. That the powers that be (are) want us wiped off the planet. That is the part I have a hard time with. This is just plain wrong, and I know the strong shall survive, being prepared makes you strong. So quietly go about preparing. We have an obligation to survive and take care of our loved ones, no matter what may come.

Hello Jim,
I wanted to pass on an after action report (AAR) of our experience at Doc Cindy's Armageddon Medicine "102" class, this past weekend.

This class differed from classes we had taken from other Doctors/trainers in the past as it dealt with what to do with sick people rather than a class that focused on trauma treatment. I assume that Cindy's 101 class dealt with those issues.

The mix of the students contained a dentist, a doctor, 2 nurses, a civil engineer, a biochemist, several business people, a gal from Canada, a Federal Emergency Responder, a very bright, well-trained 17 year old and the rest were made up of citizens such as Abigail and myself. The class mix was extremely fun and interesting as we shared various and numerous stories, experiences, thought processes and ideas.

Cindy did a most excellent job on getting the critical information to us that would be needed in a grid down situation. She weeded out all the cosmetic from the practical. However it was still a fire hose of information. We learned which of the current medications could be used on a particular disease and what was perhaps more important what to use if those medicines were no longer available.

One of the areas of discussion was how warts on our feet could affect our ability to travel and keep up with our group. This lead to proper wart removal, and we were given prepared plastic feet to practice on. Before this session was done Abigail surgically removed a wart from my finger. It won't be missed!

I will not go into detail on all that was covered in our three-day course. You can view the syllabus online if you would like a more in depth look.
The long and short of it is this class is highly recommended, for anyone that is concerned about their and their loved ones health in these troubling times.
This class is also Grandma recommended, as it will enable you to be a reliable resource to your children as they combat childhood illness when they enter the parenting field.
We are so glad we took this course and are hoping that there will be a 103 class offered. Our thanks to Doc Cindy.

Yours in Christ, - John and Abigail Adams

Rockaway, Queens: "Like a Scene From an End of the World Movie"

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Over at the Silver Vigilante web site: Looper: A Small Portrait of Silver

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USA Today recently published an article that briefly quoted me: For 'preppers,' every day could be doomsday

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Wal-Mart has posted their Black Friday sale ads and they included a Savage 12 gauge pump-action riotgun at only $169. Needless to say, not all stores will carry these, and some Wal-Marts in the big cities don't carry any guns. I expect an early sellout, despite the fact that Stevens has these guns made for them in China.

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Kevin S. sent: Use Your Webcam For Home Surveillance With These Tools

"President Obama won [re-election in November, 2012] because he promised to steal more things from the people who didn't vote for him and give what he stole to the people who did vote for him, because that is what an election is, right? An advanced auction on the sale on stolen goods." - Peter Schiff

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Now in hardback! The First Revised Edition of Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse will be released in hardback on December 4th, 2012. (Although that date may be moved up to the third week of November, depending on the printing schedule.) This will be the first time that the book has ever been printed with a cloth binding. I've updated the novel slightly to remove some lingering temporal incongruities that had built up in the course of previous editions. I've also added a new introduction. As with the later paperback editions, it will include a glossary and index. There is no special "Book Bomb" Day planned, so feel free to pre-order your copies.

The ISBN for the new hardback edition is 978-1612431666. The cover price will be $24, but sellers like and Barnes & Noble should be selling it for around $14.25. I will only be autographing a few gift copies, and a few prize copies for the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. Case lots are also available from Ulysses Press, for you gun show table guys. (Phone 510-601-8301, for details.)


An anniversary note, courtesy of People History: "Nov 13th, 1940: The prototype for the Jeep featuring four-wheel drive, an open-air cab, and a rifle rack mounted under the windshield was submitted to the U.S. Army for approval by the car maker Willys-Overland. One year later, with the U.S. declaration of war, mass production of the Jeep began. By the war's end in 1945, some 600,000 Jeeps had rolled off the assembly lines."


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 (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 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 (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.

The rustling came again from the back of the shotgun-style apartment. Was it squirrels? We had a few of the little gray buggers living in the trees around us and they made quite a racket. I assured my wife via text that a squirrel wouldn’t come through our window screens.

She got up and looked into our bedroom just to make sure and saw a head and back sticking through about half way onto our bed. Letting out a blood curdling yell, she screamed and ran towards the window as the perp backpedaled out and ran off down the alley. Slamming the window, she called me at work, had me call 911, and waited for the police who quickly arrived on the scene. Everything worked out well in this case. The guy, homeless, was arrested within half an hour and booked on an outstanding bench warrant and for burglary. He plead guilty and did time for misdemeanor trespass.

We live in St. Louis, a city known for crime, and at the time lived in an area which is well on its way to gentrification. Still, on the edges things were a bit spotty. Case in point our apartment where across the alley stood what we later found out was a house central to the local heroin trafficking market. Over in our ground-floor apartment, we didn’t know that. All we could tell is that it was pretty busy with high school age looking kids most days.

The week of the robbery, we were moving in having just gotten married and hauled my wife’s stuff in from out of state. We had boxes all over the place and they were still there the week after the honeymoon. We also didn’t fully realize that our landlord had left the master keys to our apartment building on the front porch the week I was gone to the wedding; someone had already been inside to case the joint and steal my Glock.

It was the perfect setup for a burglary or robbery. Our apartment was at the end of the road by a busy intersection and was beside the major footpath connecting our road with the alley and the road behind it. Many folks walked that path daily to cut the corner and some would stop and sit in the chairs in our back yard enjoying the shade. It was hot, above the century mark for most of the previous month, and everyone had their windows open…especially those of us trying to move. Out back, we had a pile of boxes stacked in and around the dumpster. The inside of the house was such a mess that I wasn’t even sure if my gun had gone missing. And, worst of all, our land lord, experiencing the early stages of Alzheimer’s left the keys out for the taking.

There are so many things that went wrong which set us up so well to be the target of Maurice that day. Each one is something that is small in itself, but when added up, can in the blink of the result in horrible things. Everyone survived that day and although traumatized, my wife and I have come away better for it, I believe. The important thing is that our experiences be used as a lesson for others. Being newlyweds and just starting off in a new city in a cheap apartment is no excuse to allow your safety or alertness to be compromised.

Situational awareness, or the act (or art?) of being alert to your surroundings in a way that allows you to react appropriately is not one of the sexy parts of prepping. However, it is one of the most important. It is a skill that needs to be both practiced and utilized daily. Situational awareness can be seen on numerous levels of time scales. In our case, we were moving into a new apartment and we needed to practice both short term and long term situational awareness. This article will examine both of these in detail providing some general ideas on how to better prepare yourself. Each situation is different and every second changes your individual needs. Use this as a guide and build up your own system depending on what your life requires. Remember to keep alert for any need to change your system. Don’t wait for a failure to revamp; you might not get the chance.

Long-term Situational Awareness
Long-term situational awareness deals with things that are not an immediate threat. In these days of collapsing culture and declines in neighborliness it is even more important to know your neighborhood and those who live near you. Our neighborhood had an online email list as well as regular meetings. We utilized these fairly well and we knew that there was a crime spree in the neighborhood. Unfortunately, there was not enough data before the week of our robbery for even a map-geek like myself to pinpoint the source of our problems. Interestingly, within a few weeks of our break-in, the crime spree focused around a few blocks of us and the correlation was painfully obvious, even to a casual observer. Find out, preferably before you select a place to live, where the problem areas are. Get updated on the neighborhood situation before you even move. The same applies to areas where you work or often frequent. Prior planning is a good thing.

Once you’re in place, keep an eye out on neighborhood traffic. We probably could have spotted people who didn’t belong if we had been more attentive. I should have especially noticed that people walking by our windows had an easy way to look inside and make sure to make that impossible for them and also to deny them access to the chairs in our yard. With them being moved often, I did not think anything of it when one of them was moved under our bedroom window just hours later to be used to vault up into our life.
Most importantly, don’t let your awareness get displaced by something like moving. When you are moving, you are perhaps at your most vulnerable. Trips to and from the moving van provides anyone around a perfect view of everything you are moving and a good idea about where you are putting things, even if all of your blinds are shut. With doors open and air conditioners useless, windows being open in such heat are very tempting. However, this just adds to your advertisement power!

Short-Term Situational Awareness

Short-term, or immediate, situational awareness, is what most people think of when they hear the term. This is not paranoia, it is remaining alert for any potential threats and mounting your guard accordingly. In his book Combatives for Street Survival, Kelly McCann discusses the effects of a surprise attack on the victim: loss of fine motor skills, shaking, tunnel vision, rapid heart rate, etc. These responses make dealing with any threat more difficult, which is why Kelly stresses the importance of seeing the attacker before any attack can happen. As McCann notes, many times just making it clear that you are aware is enough to deter an attack. This is where your short-term situational awareness comes into play.
There have been many systems developed to help people logically process one’s situational awareness in a systematic way. Jeff Cooper’s color code, which he introduced in his classic Principles Of Personal Defense is an easy system to use in today’s world of TSA rainbow threat levels. Cooper’s color code is in essence a categorizing of a person’s mental state (roughly alertness/preparedness) given their ability to respond to various potential threats. The code is as follows:

  • White: You are walking down the street with ear buds in, music on, looking down to text. Basically, you are blissfully unaware of anything going on around you and you are in total denial that anything bad may happen to you. Stress, tiredness, and intoxication all help push you towards this level.
  • Yellow: Often described as “relaxed alert,” this is the level where one should strive to be at even the “safest” times. There is no observed or suspected threat, but you are alert to your surroundings and are minimizing distractions.
  • Orange: At level orange, you are on alert. You have spotted a potential threat and are ensuring that the source of this potential threat has your attention. At this point, should the potential threat become a real threat you move to level Red. Should the potential threat show that it is not a threat, you will return to level yellow. For example, you are walking along and a dog starts growling at you. Were it to charge you, threat level red comes into play. Were you to notice that it is chained and behind a solid fence, threat level yellow may be your choice.
  • Red: The potential threat is now a threat. Actions must be taken to nullify that threat. “Fight of flight” is in play and it is likely that things will get ugly.

Col. Cooper’s system does not directly translate into a system for situational awareness, rather it alerts you to the most important element of surviving a threat- your mental state. No matter how good of a shot you are or how “tacticool” your carry weapon is, if you are caught by a mugger at level white awareness…well, you’ve got a big hole to dig out of at best. Evaluation of your mental state using Cooper’s system (or another that you prefer) should become second nature. It should be a process that runs quietly in the background allowing you to focus more on potential threats and how to deal with them.
Using the example of our break in, let’s walk through how this works using the clarity of hindsight to see what should have happened. Given the presence of known criminals and a drug house, my alert level should have been at a level yellow when my wife and I left the house that morning. Walking to the car, I should have been scanning the house for broken basement windows, “self-walking furniture,” moved plants, loitering strangers, etc. I would have noticed that a chair was placed under our back window and gotten suspicious and moved it, thus denying entry to our windows.

To this day, I do not know where our robber was, but I suspect that he could see us getting in the car and driving off, but couldn’t see that my wife re-entered the house a short time afterwards having walked back from a coffee shop. This means he was somewhere in back of the house (where our cars were). Could I have noticed him? Maybe. Perhaps he was inside the drug house? Regardless, lines of sight work both ways, if he could see us, we could have seen him.

Let’s say I had spotted him standing watching us behind the drug house in the alley as we drove out. He posed no direct threat to us, but he was out of place. I’d be moving my mental state to orange. Driving back around the block and calling the cops in the process giving them his description would likely have sufficed in this case, he had a bench warrant outstanding and wouldn’t have stuck around long if the police showed up. With the potential threat gone, I would return back to yellow.

While looking for potential threats is a topic that would never be completely covered no matter how much ink is spent on it, there are some key points to remember. First, your situation is unique. Much of situational awareness is intuition and gut feeling. If it feels wrong, don’t. It’s much better to be wrong and leave a non-threatening situation needlessly than it is to go against your gut and wind up dead.

Secondly, if you see someone who doesn’t seem to have a reason to be some place, be careful. McCann demonstrates this by using the example of a guy standing in the middle of the parking lot just looking around with no keys out. What’s he doing there? Most people who lose their cars have their keys out and this guy doesn’t even look too confused. This rule can be expanded in any number of ways. Another example: unless you’re a kid playing hide and seek, most people don’t have a very good reason to be hiding behind bushes. Trust your gut and use common sense.

Third, be on the look out for bottlenecks and cover. Most of us do not daily have to worry about armed ambushes. However, criminals like to take advantage of situations which make their job of jumping you easier. The old “dark alley” adage applies here. So does the “don’t be foolish, trust your gut” theory.

Lastly, be aware of how you present yourself. People at level white are obvious to spot (for a fun exercise, go out on the street and count how many people you see who are clearly at level white) and make great targets for crooks. It’s also very easy to make it clear that you are not at white. Why take a hard target when there are so many easy fish out there? That’s the crook mentality. Most of the time, they would prefer not to have to work…that’s why they’re involved in crime in the first place! Walk with purpose. Don’t have your arms full if you don’t have to. Don’t be distracted. Make it clear you’re not a tourist (even if you are). Give off an air of confidence and alertness. It is always better to avoid a confrontation than to have to win one the hard way. This one simple step almost certainly is the one thing that keeps more people safe than anything else.

Situational awareness is clearly a subject about which much has been written and all of us could improve each day of our lives. It is a skill which is improved with exercise and one on which there are many views out there. I don’t feel that any view is mutually exclusive of the others. In this article I have presented Cooper’s color-based system of mental states because it is easy to remember and makes sense to me. There are certainly others. The US Government uses a system known as TEDD (Time, Environment, Distance and Demeanor) which is discussed in an article at STRATFOR: “Threats, Situational Awareness and Perspective.” There is also Col. John Boyd's OODA (observe, orient, decide, act) loop. For further information on this topic, I would recommend, in addition to the works already mentioned the following sources:

Home defense is about more than a shotgun or that security system and decal. It is a part of our lives that requires active participation on our part. With the lingering depressed economy, raging drug problem, and criminals with no respect for life, it is a sad fact that we must face this reality. Best of all, these key steps to home defense are free; it only takes a few seconds and alertness. So, for those readers who live in urban areas especially, take some time to reassess your security strategy. Do not let yourselves grow complacent, even if you have a security system. Let our lessons learned the hard way be an example to get you thinking so that something similar doesn’t happen to you. Oh, and if your landlord starts leaving keys out, move.

About the Author: B.D. lives with his beautiful new bride in St. Louis where they are expecting their first child in May.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
As a pharmacist of more years than I like to admit, I would like to make a few comments and additions regarding Jason J.'s recent excellent post on "The Core Kit - First Aid and Beyond". First, I must thank Jason for his time, knowledge, and insight, as well as for his service to our country. His sense of humor was well-received as well! My comments are minor, but may clarify/enhance an issue or two.

First, as Jason suggests, it is wise to follow "Universal Precautions" whenever you are dealing with the blood or bodily fluids of someone else. In the health care field, these precautions simply mean to protect yourself as if the unknown person has a blood-borne disease, whether you know it to be true or not. However, thankfully, Jason's statement: "Realize that every person has unique blood. This includes pathogens. We all have something in our blood we should not pass around" is a bit of an overstatement. The blood of a healthy person is sterile, except for the living blood cells that are a natural component of human blood.

With regard to the analgesic (pain med) section, I fear that a few typos may result in a misunderstanding of the intended points. First, ibuprofen should not be the long term choice of analgesic if you have stomach problems (especially if you're prone to ulcers). As a side-effect of it's pharmacological action, it inhibits the formation of the essential mucous layer which protects the lining of the stomach from the extreme acidity of the gastric juices. Using ibuprofen regularly, and long-term, is a sure recipe for ulcers and the inevitable G.I. bleed. Perhaps acetaminophen would be a better choice in people with stomach problems. While on the subject of ibuprofen (including its longer-acting sister, naproxen), it must be noted that it does indeed possess anti-inflammatory properties which are very useful in suppression of pain involving inflammation, such as rheumatoid arthritis (an auto-immune, inflammatory disease). In contrast, osteoarthritis (the general "wearing out" of joints which eventually manifests in most of us old geezers) is not considered an inflammatory condition (though acute flare-ups happen!). In this case, acetaminophen may relieve the pain without the stomach and kidney side-effects of ibuprofen.

Speaking of acetaminophen, though it is excellent for reducing fevers and helping to relieve some non-inflammatory pain, I would be remiss in not reminding everyone that it is the second most common cause of liver failure in the U.S. (anyone care to guess the first most common cause?...I'll drink to that!). To dramatically reduce the risk of this toxic phenomenon, many experts are now recommending that acetaminophen should be restricted to no more than 3 grams daily. Since a regular strength acetaminophen (i.e., Tylenol) tablet contains 325 mg, the maximum would be 9 tablets per day. Beware that "extra strength" tabs contain 500mg, and some sustained release products contain 650mg per tab. Also, be alert to other combination analgesics, often containing acetaminophen in a dose of 300-500mg per tab (e.g., Norco, Vicodin, Lortab, Lorcet, Percocet, etc.). If you're taking any of these drugs, this acetaminophen should be figured into your total daily dose count.

Finally, many medical folks (especially dermatologists) recommend the routine use of "double antibiotic ointment" (bacitracin and polymyxin) in the place of "triple antibiotic ointment" (bacitracin, polymyxin, neomycin) because many people develop a sensitivity (allergy) to neomycin - usually resulting in a local skin reaction which may confound assessment of the severity and healing progress of the wound. I haven't studied the data on this phenomenon, but many hospitals have changed to the double antibiotic ointment as the standard. Having said that, whichever you can get is far better than having none! Also, with regard to antibiotics and their appropriate uses, I would recommend a copy of "The Sanford Guide to Antimicrobial Therapy" to keep handy with whatever antibiotics you can store. This is a small paperback "pocket reference" published annually which summarizes the clinical use of antibiotics. Much of it is more detailed than most non-medical folks would need, but the first chapter addresses common infections by affected body system, and recommends empiric (i.e., "best guess without cultures") antibiotic choices based on the most likely involved pathogen. If you know a doctor, nurse practitioner, or hospital pharmacist, ask them if you can have their last year's edition. We usually throw them away when we get the new one, and the bulk of the recommendations rarely changes. You may also need to get a good magnifying glass. If the information is condensed much more, we're going to need a microscope to read it!

Thanks again, Jason, for your post, and, as always, thank you to Mr. Rawles for all that you do!

Best Regards, - S.H. in Texas

Here is a county-by-county map showing the outcome of the November 2012 presidential election, in the same format as the familiar 2008 election map. Note the similar tallies in both elections for the conservative American Redoubt region. Parenthetically, I must mention that the western halves of Oregon and Washington are not in the Redoubt, for good reason. Those parts are largely populated by statists. The eastern halves of those states are solidly conservative, with folks who favor small government.

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Cynthia B. mentioned "a fabulous little company in Columbia Falls, Montana that designs and develops quadrocopters [and octocopters] for do-it-yourself drone builders:" Check out their videos, such as those of flights at Glacier National Park.

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Leftist pressure groups like the SPLC would be very surprised to see this map. (The SPLC mistakenly considers the American Redoubt region to be some sort of hotbed of racism. It obviously isn't.)

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The Sage Mountain Center is sponsoring a series of free Solar Electric and Small Wind Power seminars in Eastern Montana. (In Plentywood, Wolf Point, and Glendive.) These seminars will be presented by Christopher Borton of Sage Mountain Center. No pre-registration required. For more information: E-mail: or call 406-494-9875

Mat P. sent another reminder that folks shouldn't eat mushrooms unless they are 100% sure of what they are collecting: Wild mushrooms kill 2, sicken 4

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Now Canadian police are parroting the same agenda-pushing SPLC "expert" rubbish: Anti-terrorism experts say lone white supremacists are the biggest threat in Canada. Alarmingly, anti-racist preppers, home schoolers, tax protestor, and various other conservatives have been tarred with the same brush as the radical anti-semitic neo-Nazi skinheads and other racists. By doing so, the leftist pressure groups seek to demonize anyone who doesn't share their views.

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I stumbled into a very interesting dramatized documentary produced by the BBC that is now available on YouTube: End Day.

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Lars was the first of several readers to suggest this: Ducking Google in search engines

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Citizens in 15 states file petitions to secede from United States. (Thanks to T.C. for the link.)

"Jeep is America's only real sports car." - Enzo Ferrari

Monday, November 12, 2012

Today we present an article by SurvivalBlog's Medical Editor, Dr. Cynthia J. Koelker. But first, some comments from SurvivalBlog's founder and editor:

Washington D.C. is presently all abuzz with talk of the BHO Administration looking for an opportunity to enact the UN's stalled Small Arms and Light Weapons Treaty. Meanwhile, Senator-For-Life Dianne Feinstein is "consensus building" to reenact the so-called Assault Weapons and "high capacity" magazine ban. (Note that the term "high capacity" is a specious political creation, to wit: A 30 round magazine is standard capacity for an AR or an AK, and anything less than that is a reduced capacity magazine. Get your terminology straight and don't fall for semantics traps!) Rumor has it that this new incarnation of the ban would have no sunset clause and worse yet, no mechanism for transferring guns within a family. (When you die, your family would have to turn your guns in for destruction.) Please contact your senators and congressmen and urge them stop all civilian disarmament schemes in their tracks.

Here are a few of my observations about firearms, their use, and hoplophobes:

Guns rarely go down in value, so they are some of the very best investments. Consider: The used Macintosh II computer that I bought for $875 in 1990 is now worth perhaps $5 in scrap metal value, but the used stainless steel Colt Gold Cup .45 pistol that I bought for $400 in 1990 is now worth around $1,100.

Guns are often tussled over by heirs whenever an estate gets settled, for good reason: They are a compact, portable, and desirable form of wealth.

A gun is almost unique in that it is it's own insurance policy, should anyone ever attempt to deprive you of it, by force. I say almost unique, because a trained pet bear carries the same policy.

Firearms are a popular target of elected officials in part because it is plentiful privately-owned firearms that keep bush league politicians from becoming major league dictators.

If politicians used the same logic that they apply to guns in attempting ban cars (which can squash people) or laptop computers (which can be used to commit libel) then they'd all be hauled off to insane asylums.

Without ammunition and magazines, rifles are just useless ornaments or very expensive clubs. So buy plenty of ammunition and magazines.

It is difficult for miscreants to argue you with you when they are looking at the muzzle of a loaded rifle, and it is even harder for them to argue with a loaded rifle that has sprouted a bayonet. If your rifle has bayonet lug, then buy a bayonet for it. A bayonet can also be a useful knife, but a knife is not also a bayonet.

History has taught us repeatedly that firearms registration is a stepping stone to confiscation. Common sense dictates that you keep your firearms purchases as private as possible. Sign up for bridal registries, not gun registries.

Don't expect just one gun to fit all potential circumstances and every imaginable task. There is no such thing as a concealable elk rifle.

The term "Gun Buy Back" is bald-faced lie. The gun grabbers never owned them, so they certainly aren't buy them back. They merely want to buy them up, for pennies on the dollar. There are just a few pitiable dupes who fall for this ploy and agree to part with their birthright in exchange for cash, sporting event tickets, or gift cards.

I can think of no better barter items than guns, ammunition, and magazines. There may come a day when times are so truly bad that silver or gold may be refused, in a barter transaction. Not so for guns, ammunition, and magazines. They will always be desirable, and they will almost always leave you on the stronger side of negotiating a swap.

Don't be too concerned about the exterior cosmetics when shopping for a used gun. Dings and scratches just show that a gun was used and enjoyed. Spend more time examining the bore and the gun's mechanics. If looks could kill, the streets would be littered with corpses.

When I see seized guns being melted down on the orders of bureaucrats, it makes me want to weep. They are eating the seed corn of our liberty.

When I'm asked about whether I'd consider moving offshore, it always forces the obvious question: Where on Earth could I move where I would have the same level of firearms liberties that I now enjoy in these United States? There are precious few countries. So, for now, I'll make my stand here.

Guns are like parachutes: if you don't have one when you need it, then chances are that you won't ever be in need of one again.

- J.W.R.

As of today, many families are still suffering from the effects of Superstorm Sandy.  Are you prepared, should such a disaster strike your area?
The following is offered as an outline for medical prepping, should you someday find yourself without access to professional medical care.  (Part 1 of this series covered weeks 1 through 6.)
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.  The outline could also be divided into months, rather than weeks, to cover a year instead.
For more detailed information on medical prepping, please visit

Week 7



Assess your progress to date and establish a plan for securing your medical supplies

Identify individual(s) to establish security to protect both patients and caregivers
Identify and acquire secure storage arrangements for your medical supplies



Constipation:  Metamucil, Dulcolax, Surfak, or generics
Diarrhea:  Imodium, Pepto-Bismol, or generics
Nausea and vomiting: meclizine, Dramamine
Heartburn, gastritis, or ulcers:  Pepcid, Zantac, Axid, Tagamet, Prilosec, Prevacid, Tums, Maalox
Solar oven to warm/disinfect water/heat food without electricity or fire



Request a supply of prednisone or a Medrol Dosepak from your physician for emergency use, such as an asthma attack, acute bronchitis, acute gout, bee sting allergy, hives, seasonal allergies, or acute flares of chronic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or sciatica
Consider requesting a similar supply from your veterinarian for pet (or human) use



Discuss potential sources of injury and infection with your group, including necessary but potentially dangerous activities
Educate yourself regarding isolation and quarantine, and make appropriate plans for your location
Educate yourself regarding spread of serious illness, in particular droplet-borne infections
Procure appropriate clothing to protect against sunburn, heatstroke, frostbite and hypothermia, mosquito and other insect bites, stinging insects, chiggers, poison ivy, foot blisters
Educate yourself regarding avoiding acquisition of scabies, lice, impetigo, fungal disease

Week 8



Begin assembling easily transportable bug-out medical kits for identified group members (more than 1)

Assess your group for short-term needs (3–7 days, or longer if desired)
Assemble a bug-out medical kit for each group member



AZO for temporary relief of urinary burning or pain
Cranberry pills or juice
Multistix 10-SG or other urine dipstick
Saw palmetto for middle-aged men with prostatic enlargement
Urinary catheters for anyone with obstruction or potential obstruction; catheter lubricant



Request a prescription for an oxygen concentrator if anyone in your group suffers from heart or lung disease, or may be exposed to carbon monoxide, fumes, extreme altitude, or other cardio-respiratory threat
Consider purchasing oxygen or an oxygen concentrator without a prescription (available online)
For anyone who has ever used nitroglycerin (current or prior angina, history of heart attack, stent, or heart by-pass), request additional nitroglycerin from your physician in small bottles of 25 tablets, which will remain potent long-term if unopened and stored under conditions printed on the bottle



Educate yourself regarding nutrients essential to human health
Educate yourself regarding edible wild plants available in your area, and locate potential sources
Assess your food supply for inclusion of sufficient fluids, calories, protein, essential fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals
Assess your seed supply to assure an adequate supply of “colored” vegetables – yellow, green, red
Assess your supply of medicinal plants and seeds
Assess your group for the possible development of scurvy (lack of vitamin C), dementia (lack of vitamin B12 in the elderly), and rickets (lack of vitamin D and calcium, in children)

Week 9



Begin assembling one or more base-stations for your supplies

Assemble and organize secure storage areas as identified on Week 7



Condoms and/or other birth control
Pregnancy tests
Pregnancy calculator
Gyne-Lotrimin for yeast infections
Pads and/or tampons
Vitamins with folate for pregnant women



Request a prescription for Ambien (zolpidem) from your physician for occasional (or future) use
Other prescription alternatives include any sedating medication, such as low-dose amitriptyline, a benzodiazepine (Xanax, Ativan, Valium), muscle relaxers (such as Flexeril, Norflex, or Soma)
If unavailable, procure sedating antihistamine (Benadryl, Zyrtec, Nyquil) or nausea drug (meclizine)



Have group members share personal health needs (such as diabetes, hypothyroidism, or chronic pain) with other group members for improved understanding and chance of individual and group survival
Make sure at least one other group member has the knowledge to help some with any chronic problem

Week 10



Make a wish list of items you cannot acquire at this time

Identify and acquire items to barter for medical goods
Identify and acquire health care items to barter for other goods (pain meds, dressings, vitamins, inexpensive reading glasses, etc.)



Bacitracin for mild bacterial infection
Lotrimin or Lamisil or other topical antifungal for fungal and yeast infections 
1% hydrocortisone cream (and plastic wrap to cover it with to enhance its strength) for itchy rashes
Bleach to dilute 1:1000  for bathing for recurrent skin infections, eczema, possibly ringworm
#11 scalpel for abscess incision and drainage
Rid and/or Nix for head lice; nit comb; Vaseline to smother lice; hot hair dryer to kill head lice
Wart freeze or salicylic acid for treating warts, or Duct tape to cover for 2 weeks
Warm clothing for preventing frostbite
Long sleeves and long pants for preventing insect bites, stings, chiggers, mites, tick bites
Good shoes to prevent blister and callus formation



Request a prescription for an inexpensive, strong steroid cream for non-facial use, such as betamethasone, which is very useful for itchy skin problems such as poison ivy, eczema, and contact dermatitis



Assess group and community need for current or future pregnancy and childbirth
Acquire midwifery or obstetric books and/or videos for use by your group or possibly others
Consider having group watch videos of childbirth
Locate and become acquainted with midwife or physician in your area


Week 11



Identify others you may need and who may need you
Make tentative arrangements for contact and/or access should the need arise



Spiritual preparation; Bible, hymnbook, inspirational reading
Acoustic musical instruments and/or DVD/MP3 player and power source
Books, both fiction and non-fiction, including how-to books
Games and other forms of entertainment
Arrange group bonding activities to build trust before disaster strikes
Make sure everyone has a meaningful purpose and contribution to your group
Identify spiritual and/or emotional leader of your group
Purchase St. John’s Wort for potential depression
Nyquil or Benadryl for sleep
Caffeine or pseudoephedrine for needed wakefulness/alertness
Meclizine for potential anxiety



Request a prescription for Bactroban (mupirocin) topical cream or ointment for superficial skin infections, mildly infected lacerations or abrasions, or small areas of impetigo



Spend time bonding with your group, focusing on hope, purpose, and faith
Assess each member for prior and expected reactions under stress
Discuss how your group will respond if confronted with suicidal, panicky, or psychotic patient

Week 12



Obtain additional supplies a doctor or nurse could use, even if you can’t use them yourself

Suturing supplies
Plaster splinting and casting supplies
IV supplies



Hydrogen peroxide
Medical alcohol
Distilled vinegar
Johnson’s Baby Shampoo
Sterile saline
Baby formula
IV fluids
Nutraceutical thyroid preparation
Potassium iodide



Anxiety is a common problem now, and will likely worsen if disaster strikes

Discuss nerve medication with your physician and request a (small) supply of fast-acting medication for occasional use.   Possibilities include benzodiazepines (Valium, Xanax, Ativan – which are controlled substances, and so your doctor may not agree), and Vistaril (a sedating, prescription antihistamine)
Consider requesting a slow-acting medication for chronic use, such as Buspar (a non-addicting medicine, but takes days to weeks for relief), or an SSRI (Zoloft, Prozac, Celexa, Paxil) (equally slow to act)



Determine the proximity of nearest nuclear reactor and typical wind patterns
Decide on radiation detection (dosimeter, Geiger counter) and consider procuring
Purchase KI (potassium iodide) for each member of your group (have multiple doses for children)
Decide which (if any) bioterrorist threats you plan to prepare for (anthrax, plague, botulism, others)
Educate yourself on how to protect yourself against specific bioterrorist threats

Week 13



Group meeting to assess any additional needs and to affirm success of preparations

Review each group member’s medical history and needs, especially for important life changes, such as pregnancy, childbirth, and any new health problems
Review each group member’s medical responsibilities, should disaster strike
Affirm each member’s contributions and success



Make written inventory of supplies you have acquired, location, and purpose
Review weeks 1 through 12 to assess for additional needs and/or shortages
If budget allows, procure additional stock of items most essential for your group
Check dates on items with short shelf-life (insulin, liquids) and re-stock as necessary
Be thankful that so many items are available over-the-counter to help your group and others



Make written inventory of prescription medications you have been able to acquire, location, and purpose
Make written list of supplies you would still like to procure
Have various group members make appointments with their physicians, who may have changed their position on personal preparedness, and may be more willing to prescribe



Review what you have learned, and organize material into notebook(s)
Make sure all group members have access to needed information and know location of notebook(s)
Assess group members for progress, gaps in knowledge, and intentions for future learning
Encourage and thank all for their efforts and cooperation


The World Ends in Hickory Hollow by Ardath Mayhar
Copyright 1985 and 2007 Publisher: The Borgo Press, An Imprint of Wildside Press
Audio, e-book, Nook & Secure PDF available
Suitable for children? Yes, by age 10+, depending on the child? (I recommend that parents read it first to evaluate.)

There are two things about this book which strike me as remarkable for the genre:
First, this is a book written by a woman and told from a woman's point of view, and second, this book is very concise. With regard to the first point, I noticed that there was recently another SurvivalBlog book review with similar authorship and perspective, but these certainly seem to be the minority. It is nice to see that there are at least some women writing on these topics. As to the second point, I am going to provide a summary of the first twenty pages of this book. Notice how much the author has packed in and then consider for yourself if that is pro or con for your own preferences. It is a lot of story packed into only 160 pages. Spoilers ahead!

The story is of a young couple who grew up on adjacent farms, got married, moved to the big city, started their family and then realized that the life of the city was not good for them. They sold off their city house, quit their jobs and moved back to the country farms they had left. They had already gotten established in their new lifestyle when the lights went out. Being at the end of the line for service it was no shock for the lights to go out, and even a week later they didn't think it all that remarkable that the lights were still out, but when they went into town for supplies they were surprised to find that the world seemed to have been deserted. Neighbor's houses were clearly vacant, the road was empty and the stores closed. Only once they reached a small town did they notice a few wary folks watching from behind closed doors. Fortunately Zack's (the husband's) mom Allie was waiting for them. Knowing them, she expected they would not know what had happened. She filled them in with what details she had been able to glean from the radio. It was understood that a nuclear war had begun (note the original publication date of 1985) and bombs were dropped on the east coast, the Midwest, Colorado, Houston, and who knows where else. It seemed that everyone who survived the bombings responded by taking off to try to find their loved ones. Mom Allie just waited for the kids to come to her. The local town had chosen to set up a disaster shelter at the armory, but Mom Allie declined to move into there. Once Zack and Luce (the wife from whose perspective the story is told) arrived it was decided that Mom Allie would move back to the farm with them. Determining that the farm was already well stocked Mom Allie sent Zack down to the armory with her stash of home canned food to help out the other old timers who were down there and being fed "bought stuff".

When Zack returned from the armory he still had the canned food plus nine other folks who wanted out of there and back to the farms. Thus is established the core of the community which the reader will follow. And that?s the first twenty pages. As novels go, there is a price to be paid for this degree of conciseness. There is only the barest level of character development for many of the players. By no means does this destroy the story. There is plenty of action and drama to keep the reader engaged in the story line, but it does cause the reader to pause and consider which particular character is this, and where have I seen them before? It is simply the price of efficiency. Survival of the small community is threatened by fallout, tornado, a band of savage prostitutes turned into looters, and a government official who shows up out of nowhere. Fallout poses a concern about which nothing can be done. There is no hard information about where bombs have been dropped nor where the winds may have taken the fallout. Geiger counters and potassium iodide are not even considered (and perhaps were not even available to the general public in 1985). At any rate, all our characters can do is hope for the best on this count. The tornado presents a surprise challenge. It is not that tornados were unheard of in Eastern Texas, but they were not to be expected in summer. Some of the old timers could recall it happening though, and there was the possibility that the nukes had impacted the weather patterns. Regardless of how it occurred, it created some problems and taught the lesson that no one is self sufficient, and no one is coming to help either.

The band of women, the Ungers, seem an unlikely proposition at first glance, but the creation of the problem is plausibly presented to the reader. In essence, the prostitute mother and her prostitute daughters have lost their clientele and business model and resort to looting in order to feed themselves, even using one of their own very young daughters to get unsuspecting surviving farmers to open their doors. Once these women gain access they then brutally beat the occupants, often to death, take all the food they can find and ransack the house. They pose a constant threat throughout the novel, and a growing threat as they refine their techniques. The collapse of society opens up a world of options for those who are already on the fringes. The government official is a surprise vestige of the old world, trying to keep alive the bureaucracy and imposition of those who thrive on such things. More than anything he showed how it will be that everyone will do their best to sustain the world they have lost. Don't count on a collapse being the end of government imposition in private lives. By the end of the book a full year has elapsed. There are no illusions that going forward will be easy, but there are plans for the future and the old are teaching the young so that skill sets will not be lost. Overall, this novel is a good read. There are bad things which happen, but the action is not presented in full, graphic horror. The consequence of those actions are clear however. There is certainly a good deal of drama, but much is left to the reader?s own imagination. I did not notice any profanity. The novel is very quick and concise. This may be better for some, worse for others. Don?t read this book expecting to find detailed information which will help you survive. What this book will show you is the value of a variety of skill sets and of the knowledge of the old ones who have lived through a rougher world.

I was more than a little anxious to get to the new Bear OPS "Bold Action" automatic folder for SurvivalBlog. For those who may not be aware of who Bear & Son Cutlery are, they have been around since 1991 and have a very extensive line of knives and tools for everyday tasks, as well as for survival, hunting and for collectors. Be sure to log onto their site to see their complete line-up. However, for this article, we're only looking at their new division of Bear OPS. The stated goal of Bear OPS is to produce the "best knives made in the USA." Only USA manufactured parts, material, and a dedicated workforce work in this division. They only use premium 154 CM or CPM-S30V steel for these blades and they do their own heat-treat, water-jet and CNC grinding to finish their blades. You also get a Limited Lifetime Warranty on all Bear OPS knives and tools.

My long-time friend, Tom Ables, is handling the outside public relations and marketing for Bear & Son Cutlery. When he told me about the new Bold Action tactical folders from the Bear OPS division, I was more than a little excited to get my hands on a sample or two. Tom Ables spent about 30 years doing the marketing for another major cutlery player, and he knows cutlery inside and out. Now, the new Bold Action automatic folders are only available for those who live in enlightened states that allow automatic folders, or those in the military or law enforcement. However, don't despair, Bear OPS has a good number of other folders that will take care of your needs if you can't legally own an automatic folder.

I received two Bold Action folders for this article, one is the AC-110-B4-T - that has a Tanto-style blade, and the other is the AC-1-B4-T that has a modified drop-style point - probably one of the most useful blade styles ever. Either blade style comes in a 3-inch length, and is made from premium CPM-S30V stainless steel, and is .115-inches thick. The blades are heat-treated to a Rockwell hardness of Rc58-60 - not too hard and not too soft - they will hold an edge a good long time, and will be easier to re-sharpen compared to blades having a higher Rockwell hardness. You can also get either Bold Action with a bead-blasted blade or a black Ti coating .Mine came with the latter. The handle material is G-10, which is super-tough, with grip edges for a secure hold. You can also opt to have good-looking Cocobolo wood. Closed length is 4-1/8" and it weighs 6 ounces. There is a pocket/clothing clip for tip-down carry.

Now, as for the button for the automatic opening on the Bold Action. The button is slightly recessed into the handle - the button is of a good size, too. Several automatic folders I've tested over the years, that have opened in my pocket because the button got bumped and it usually resulted in the open blade "stabbing" me in the leg, or a cut to my hand when I reached in my pocket. Some automatic folders now have an additional safety that locks the button so the blade can't accidentally deploy while in your pocket. The Bold Action does away with any added safety by simply recessing the open button a little bit into the handle scales - nice job, Bear!

I couldn't find any flaws in the blade or the handle scales on either sample, they were done up right in my opinion. I prefer a slightly longer blade on a folder for self-defense purposes, however the 3-inch blade on the Bold Action is plenty long enough for Every Day Carry (EDC) purposes. To be sure, a pocket knife will probably be used 99% of the time for everyday cutting chores, so the 3-inch blade isn't any sort of a handicap in my book. The blades opened with authority and locked in place solidly - I can't say that for all the auto opening knives I've tested of the years - so had way too much side-to-side play when opened. This is not the case with the Bear OPS Bold Action folders.

There is also a nice lanyard hole in the butt on the Bold Action folders, and the liners appear to be stainless steel. To open the Bold Action, simple depress the button and the blade flies open and locks in place. To close the blade, use the same button - press in on it, and you can then close the blade, and it honestly does lock in place solidly! What can be simpler? Both the Tanto and Drop Point blades felt good in my hand - not too big and not too small. I like enough handle to hold onto in a folder or fixed blade knife, and even though the blades on these knives are only 3-inches long, there was more than enough handle to hold onto.

I used the Tanto blade more in my testing than the drop point blade - I'm just partial to Tanto-style blades for some reason - nothing I can put my hand on, but I like Tanto blades a bit more than drop point - even though it has been proven that drop point blades are more useful for more tasks. Go figure. Almost daily, UPS or FedEx brings me a package or two, and I reach for whatever folding knife I have in my pockets to cut the boxes open. I also used the Bold Action folders for chores around the kitchen, and I honestly do a lot of cooking in our house, and the Bold Action handled all my kitchen chores from slicing tomatoes to cutting cucumbers and meat. I also spent some time cutting poly rope - now if you've ever tried cutting poly rope, you know that a lot of knife blades will simply slip right off this slick rope - no problem for the CPM-S30V blades on the Bold Action. I also tested some wet hemp rope - again, wet rope is very difficult to cut - ask any sailor - and I had no problems with the Bold Action samples.

The Bold Action AC-110-B4-T retails for $230, a good chunk of change. But this is one rugged little automatic folder, that would make a welcome addition as an EDC folder. And, I like the idea of Made In The USA and the Limited Lifetime Warranty. I was pretty impressed with the Bold Action samples. And, I'm going to request some more knives from Bear & Son Cutlery to test for SurvivalBlog readers. They really do have quite an extensive line-up of knives and tools, including Damascus blades, filleting knives, double-edge fighting knives, Bowie hunters, multi-type tools, and multi-blade knives. They also make butterfly knives and a host of other tools - too many to list here. Be sure to check out the   Bear & Son Cutlery web site and the Bear OPS web page for a look at all they have to offer. I'm betting good money you'll find quite a few knives and tools you'll want to add to your survival needs or just for collecting. I'm looking forward to testing more of their products. - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

Thank you for your 'forward' as well as the article: Experience with a Restrictive State Pistol Permit Process. We in New Jersey experience similar issues. A regular citizen cannot even obtain a carry permit here. It is basically limited to retired police and that even has to be basically approved or recommended by their former chief. There are limited others that may obtain like private investigators. Even with the concealed carry for retired police they must pay a yearly fee plus qualify (at an additional cost) as if still a police officer two times per year. It really would be nice to be allowed to exercise our second amendment right here. Each pistol must have a permit as well. First you must apply for a Firearms ID card to even be able to purchase ammunition! The process is daunting. You must apply to your local police station. You must be fingerprinted. You must answer and sign a questionnaire about crime/mental health issues.( I don't particularly see that as so invasive.) But you must also allow them to access mental health records as well as contact your employer! The employer contact is especially intrusive. They may not like guns and what business of theirs to give opinion as to whether or no you can buy a gun! May be a reason for them to let you go but of course they would never say that! Sickening. Family members are going through this now and employer of one is questioning why they want it. None of their business! I guess this state is truly trying to dissuade anyone from even wanting to go through it. Same thing for a pistol permit! And all this takes months. Some of my family members applied two months ago and a letter just went to employer. Also, if you move to a new town, you must reapply for the ID card at that location's police department. The whole process completed all over! This also happens if you marry and change your name as well -- reapply! How is this allowing any privacy to honest crime-free citizens? Thank you and God Bless! - Diana

Ray T.'s Baked Rice Pudding


1/2 cup - cooked rice
2/3 cup - Molasses or cane syrup
1 teaspoon - Salt
1 Tablespoon - Butter
1 teaspoon - Cinnamon
4 cups - Milk

Stir together all of the ingredients except the milk. Once they are thoroughly mixed, then add in milk. Stir well. Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Bake for the first hour stirring occasionally. Then finish baking without stirring until it is firm, which is usually about 2 hours.

Useful Recipe and Cooking Links:

19th Century Recipes

Colonial American Recipes

Currently Available as Free Kindle e-Books:

35 Slow Cooker Chicken Recipes

Green Smoothies. 50+ Recipes. Nutrition, Life and Health

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

News from Maker Faire, Nigeria: Teens Create A Way To Use Urine As Fuel

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Florida officials order partial recount in tight House race between Rep. West and Democratic challenger Murphy. (Gee, could it perhaps be because of the 113% to 158% voter turnout? See: Massive Voter Fraud in St. Lucie County, Florida. Avalanche Lily says: Obviously they need to more than just re-count the ballots. Have another election, confirm IDs, and use purple dye to prevent ballot stuffing!)

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Reader S.E.M. gave us: Reason # 1,492,683 not to live in an urban area. And B.B. gave us: Reason # 1,492,684 not to live in an urban area. And C.G. gave us: Reason # 1,492,685 not to live in an urban area.

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Debbie H. wrote to mention that the text of the classic Richard Graves Bushcraft Books are now available online.

"The bottom line in all this is that once the debt collapse begins, it's the preppers who have the firepower, the skills, the food, the water and the farmland. It's the veterans, the farmers and the local sheriffs who have the know-how to get through tough times. While Obamabot voters have put America on a collision with economic collapse, they remain clueless of the reality that they are bringing about their own destruction in the process.

After all, who would you rather be hanging with when the collapse comes: Michael Moore, or James Wesley Rawles?" - Mike Adams, in Natural News

Sunday, November 11, 2012

November 11th is Veteran's Day in these United States and Remembrance Day (or Poppy Day) in the UK Commonwealth. (Although in many places the work holiday will be on Monday the 12th, to make it a three day weekend.)

Please take a minute to visit this web page and this photo gallery.


This is also the birthday of General George S. Patton, Jr. (born 1885, died December 21, 1945.) The Armistice ending World War I was announced on his birthday That was when he was a 33 year old Colonel, recuperating in hospital from combat wounds to his leg.


November 11th also marks Rhodesia's unilateral declaration of independence (UDI), in 1965. Remember Rhodesia. The citizenry could have done a lot better than electing Comrade Mugabe, who has absolutely ruined the country since 1980. Rhodesia Was Super!


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 (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 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 (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.

Beans, bullets, and Band-Aids are the basics of prepping. Each has its own place, and they each lean on each other. Beans are pretty easy, but expensive. You spend the money, organize yourself and learn to use the food. There are more sources to learn about this than you could ever read, we all know about eating, and you are certain to need food in almost any situation you can imagine! Bullets are really not that complicated. We make it complicated, but as an Army Ranger that has been shot at countless times, I promise you will not question if that was a 5.56 or a 7.62 fired your way. I have hidden from a .22, because they all can kill you! The counter to being shot at has been addressed, mass. Have some weapons you can use, know how to use them, and then be prepared to use them. It is about that simple. About the only things I can think to say from my experience is that rookies practice shooting while pros practice correcting malfunctions and reloading and that two decent guns in two different pairs of hands are usually better than a great gun in one pair of hands. Band-Aids are where I think things get more difficult. We all eat, all can buy guns and practice basic marksmanship, but we do not all get a chance to learn professional medicine or practice the skills we have learned about in books! I suppose if you can find someone to let you practice suturing on them or practice a teach then you have a more committed prep group than I do and you need read no further!

I switched from Infantry to nursing when I realized that no one pays you [in the civilian world] to be infantry. While in the Infantry I did get a chance to learn some great emergency/trauma management. In fact, when I went to medic school there really wasn’t much new to me. Your typical American Infantryman has the skills to stabilize most pre-hospital trauma injuries. Basically, stop the blood, keep the wind going.

I want to address the typical person reading this. I bet the typical reader is most likely to start by going to Wal-Mart and buying a first aid kit, a few over the counter drugs, and learning CPR. This is great! If more Americans would do this it would provide quite a stable situation for us as a community. I also want to talk about the more advanced prepper and the things I bet I’d find in his stores.

I started by buying a typical kit for around $15. I chose it because it said “outdoor” on it (a marketing tool that appeals to preppers) and because is useful before the world ends. I plan to toss it in the wife’s car for the normal bumps and bruises my kids and I receive.

I chose a “Be Smart Get Prepared Outdoor First Aid Kit”. It caught my eye because of the eco-friendly packaging! Who brings a paper bag to the outdoors? The first thing I noticed when I opened it was that it had an anti-theft zip-tie on the zipper! That would have been a real pain for my wife to deal with while my son was screaming about his bleeding thumb on the tailgate. Upon opening it I did notice the sort of compartments I am used to in the emergency packaging I carry as a medic. The kit did not come separated into any real logical order. It looked like someone that had no idea what was what had put things shaped similarly together. This would be a pain.

The kit included:
    12 antiseptic towelettes
    12 alcohol prep pads
    3 antibiotic ointment packets
    2 lip ointment packets
    3 sunscreen lotion packets, SPF 30
    3 burn cream packets
    3 sting relief pads
    1 poison ivy cleanser towelette
    3 insect repellent packets
    4 aspirin tablets
    4 non-aspirin tablets
    2 electrolyte tablets
    15 adhesive bandages: 3/4" x 3" (1.91cm x 7.62cm)
    15 adhesive bandages 3/8" x 1-1/2" (0.95cm x 3.81cm)
    5 waterproof bandages: 1" x 3" (2.54cm x 7.62cm)
    5 butterfly closures
    2 moleskins: 2" x 2" (5.08cm x 5.08cm)
    1 waterproof adhesive tape: 1/2" x 2.5 yd (1.27cm x 2.29m)
    4 sterile gauze pads: 2" x 2" (5.08cm x 5.08cm)
    2 sterile gauze pads: 4" x 4" (10.16cm x 10.16cm)
    1 sterile gauze trauma pad: 5" x 9" (12.7cm x 22.9cm)
    10 cotton tip applicators
    1 instant cold pack: 5" x 6" (12.70cm x 15.24cm)
    2 examination gloves
    1 First Aid Guide
    1 pair of tweezers
    2 finger splints
    2 safety pins
    1 Brightstick: 12-hr
    1 outdoor emergency blanket

This looks like a bunch of really good stuff, and it is. There is a reason most kits include some combination of these things. Lets look at each one that is worth looking at. You may be surprised some additional and actual uses for each item and some considerations you should have before you use them:

Antiseptic wipes. These are not sterile! They are real good for cleaning. I find I use this sort of thing to clean my own hands when I work on another person. Realize that every person has unique blood. This includes pathogens. We all have something in our blood we should not pass around. Also, dirt has many, many pathogens in it you should either remove mechanically or deal with chemically. Think of antiseptic as killing most pathogens, not all.

Alcohol pads. Know that there is a segment of our population that is allergic to these. Typically, it is not a huge issue, some redness, swelling, irritation, and minor pain. However, if you find yourself using them there is a reason and an allergic reaction may not help. You need to have another solution. Iodine is one, but the allergy is an even bigger concern. Consider chlorhexidine if you can afford or find it (additional use, extremely flammable, fire starter!).

Antibiotic ointment. This is Neosporin to most of us. I suspect this simple, cheap, and easy intervention can prevent a huge portion of the preventable discomfort many of us may experience. Use it! As I said before, dirt is full of bad stuff. To make my point, bacteria spores can live for decades. Small wounds can and do kill. Even if this were not the case, wounds healing faster and with less pain is a good thing. Buy more.

Lip ointment. I chuckled when I saw this on the Ranger packing list. Weeks later I was borrowing this from other guys. It was mostly a comfort issue. But, as my first Squad leader said, “When in the field; comfort, comfort, comfort!”
Sun screen. See above.

Burn cream. The rule of thumb for a burn is to not get infected! This ointment is not for that sort of burn. Really, if you have a burn that does not break the skin, don’t put ointment on it. Let the heat that has entered you leave. When you take a pot off the stove it is still hot for a while. Putting a cream on it will insulate it. The ointment is useful a bit later. A good way to think about it is how long does your steak take to cool down? In fact, it continues cooking for up to 10 minutes after taking it off the grill. If you have broken the skin barrier, dry sterile dressings are the best first response. Your body is going to be sending fluids to the area. The dry dressings allow the fluid, and the possible invectives, a place to go, away from your body. This prevents secondary complications. For burns that do not cause a breakdown of skin, the cream is really for comfort. Last, don’t pop a blister, that is Nature’s bandage. It is way better for protection and provides a better healing environment than anything you can buy.
Sting relief pad. Comfort issue.

Poison Ivy relief. I have had poison ivy. It is possible to do whatever you need to do with poison ivy. However, it is not fun. Extreme comfort!
Insect repellent. Comfort and prevention. Note that this stuff has an odor you can smell from farther away than you might think. I have noticed it on other people before from quite a distance after a while in the field. People have had infection from insect bites.  Ounce of prevention… Malaria has killed more humans than anything else in the history of humanity. There are seldom perfect answers for every problem.

Aspirin tablets. If the FDA were to consider Aspirin (ASA)[as a new drug] today, you would not find it available over the counter. Be aware that, by order, soldiers are not allowed to use ASA in theater unless there is a very good reason pre-approved by a provider. ASA does help with pain, but it is better understood as an anticoagulant. It does not thin your blood, but keeps you from forming or building clots (a clot on the outside of your skin is a scab). If you have ASA in your blood and suffer a wound, you will not stop bleeding very fast. Additionally, Aspirin has a very real chance to cause gastrointestinal bleeding if you take it often. Your guts will start bleeding! On a positive note, ASA can help reduce the damage from a heart attack and save a life. Aspirin should be kept around, but perhaps not in the field.

Non-Aspirin tablets.  Acetaminophen is the active ingredient you are after when you buy Tylenol. Note, print out or write down the doses for adults and children for all of your medicines. The active drug in all the different packages and forms of most drugs are the same, name brands are not important. The reason the drug looks different in children’s packages is that it is difficult to convince children of certain ages eat a tablet. Mortar and pestle will help here. Liquid medicine and capsules do not store long. Tablets are great. Look into or any of the numerous sources concerning medication storage. Acetaminophen is not only a pain reliever, but also an antipyretic (fever reducer). Fever = acetaminophen. It will reduce pain, but is processed in the liver. Something to consider for that hangover since your liver is already stressed from the alcohol. Motrin, ibuprofen, is a good alternative. If you have any stomach issue ibuprofen should be the choice in the long term. Alternating is an even better idea. Acetaminophen will not address inflammation, a common reason discomfort is noted. If arthritis is the complaint, ibuprofen will do nothing.

Electrolyte tablets. These are like protein supplements in some ways. If you eat the right foods, they are useless. Drink water, eat food. *-- The kit I purchased came with a note inside asking me to request the tablets!! I plan to complain, it is unreasonable to sell an emergency kit and not indicate on the outside that everything on the list is already in the package. Another reason to put your hand on your equipment and know it. -- Your body needs electrolytes, you get them in food! Variety of diet prevents most nutrient deficiencies. I would say to eat variety, but I hate when people are redundant, because I do not like that people say the same thing they just said for the sake of saying things again, after saying what they just said, because they just mentioned it and it was already explained earlier... You need all your macro and micro nutrients. 8,000 pounds of wheat might feel good in the basement, but no teeth from scurvy bites better than you will, inability to stop bleeding is a real drain, muscle cramps and twitches turn you into a jerk!

Adhesive bandages. Band-Aids do a few things. One, they keep blood off your shirts and whatever you may brush against! Two, they help stop bleeding. Three, they keep pathogens out of the wound. The biggest thing, they keep stuff out of your wound. Your body will continue to bleed for a little while; this is how your body cleans an injury. The bandage keeps it clean. For my family, I use a bandage after I clean an injury and then put triple antibiotics on it. Usually it is a perfect answer to put the cream on the bandage. Practical point, joints bend. Flex or bend the joint so that movement does not create a limit to range of motion or large gap in coverage. A bandage is an artificial barrier. If you fail to create a clean wound you are creating a dirty, warm, wet, and isolated environment for any pathogen to proliferate.
Waterproof bandages. Want a bandage and be active? Try a waterproof bandage. Don’t jump into Staph creek and think you are good to hook. This is an active bandage. It is a little better. Think about it, do you trust this thing to keep every environmental factor out of your wound? I don’t, but it is better. I would buy more, they are cheap.

Butterfly closures. These are cheap, DIY, limited solutions to a wound an adhesive will not address. It can replace stitches in a few limited situations, but are not complete replacements. These serve to connect tissue. Have a cut on your skin a bandage won’t fix, use a butterfly. However, if the wound is deep enough to see muscle or anything under the skin you may not be fixing anything. You might be holding pathogens in the wound. If it is very deep you may want to consider a wet to dry dressing. This gets into a place where average people can understand and perform, but need to take time to really inform themselves and think about it a lot. I wish there was a class to take to learn these sorts of nursing things without going to nursing school. Many parents and family members get to learn this sort of thing when a family member has a particular need and hospitalization is not really cost effective. A nurse can teach you, at his/her level of comfort in doing so. Maybe volunteering at a hospital or nursing home would expose you to a few of these sorts of skills. At the very least, you would be familiar with more medical issues.

Sterile gauze pads,  2" x 2". Small sterile gauze pads are good for covering a small wound that is in a difficult position. Also, they can come into play with the wet to dry dressings. Bottom line, if you keep it so, it is a sterile cloth for putting on a wound. You can also use them to clean a wound; the only trouble is a sterile liquid for mobilizing dirt and debris in the wound. You only get two, use carefully!

Sterile gauze pads, 4" x 4". See above, only bigger.

Cotton tip applicators. Q-tips. These are good for cleaning difficult places. Be very careful you are not pushing things deeper in your attempt to clean. Your ears are a perfect example.

Instant cold pack. If you hurt a joint, RICE is a good thing to remember; Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. In the first hours your body is sending fluids to the injury to help it heal. This fluid causes some discomfort. Cold decreases the fluid coming to the area. To let you know how well it works, Ice is the first thing they toss between a woman’s legs after giving birth. People often pass this sort of thing over because it is simple, and they are of course advanced!

Examination gloves. These protect the injured and the person helping. If there is any possibility of fluids getting on you then you should use the gloves. Remember, if I help you, the small cut on my hand could pass something to you while I dress your wound.

First Aid Guide. I always keep these references. I have not used one yet, but I figure it has two good uses. First, I know I am not perfect. If I have time, I look things up. Second, I imagine if I was working on my son while my wife was there, it could be useful to give her something to do. This is not patronizing. It is practical! She may remind me of something and she feels involved. Helplessness is a huge issue for parents.

Finger splints. The big thing to remember is ensuring you do not limit circulation. To keep a digit from moving does not require much. It is really a bit more of a reminder and protector from bumping it against things than keeping the patient from moving it. If the end of the finger feels cold, it may be too tight. Additional note, the finger next to the injured finger provides a decent splint. This leaves your wood splint for additional uses like examination and manipulation.

Brightstick. Chem lights work. It is hard to see things with the light they emit. Practice with the light. It is a great signal device. Make a “buzz saw” by tying the light to the end of two feet of string. Spin it around, very easy to see at night. Remember, once it is on, you cannot turn it off. Bury it, if you must. I can vouch that these are visible while in your pocket.

Outdoor emergency blanket. This is another of those things people do not realize is very useful. You can carry a person with one of these, as long as you do not brush against anything! This thing is a good reflective surface for heat! This is the final step in packaging a person for transport. Do what you can, and then put this on the patient, you just cut all their clothes off! If they say they don’t need it, I bet they don’t.

This sums up what I thought about the kit. Next, I want to talk about other items that the advanced prepper has:

Tourniquet. This is a lifesaver. It is the number one intervention for soldiers! Modern medicine can preserve a limb longer than we used to think. You do not need the expensive ones available for purchase. I have them because I got them for free. For the general public they are expensive. The things to really know is that string will not do. If you have a 550 survival bracelet and that is your plan, you are planning on having no tourniquet and additional injury! You need a wide strap, one inch at least, that compresses the tissue around the vessel. Keep it off the joint. The fast rule, if you are not sure where to put it, put it as high as you can. Make it as tight as possible. The first one I ever put on was interesting. I placed it on an Iraqi soldier. My training had not mentioned that a conscious person may really dislike the tourniquet! It was something of an argument I am amused with now. This was an easy situation where I was able to see when the blood was spilling from his leg, and when it was not. He was in pain from the gunshot. Despite the language barrier, I can tell you the tourniquet seemed worse to him. I kept it on because that is the way to save his life. I have one question for the grid-down prepper; if there is no “next level” of care, what next? Some things are just beyond what we can do without years of school. This is a reality to deal with. I would rather die from hemorrhage than sepsis. This is only an honest consideration to have if you claim any integrity. A book and a surgical kit will not work 99 out of 100 times if you have no real training.

Israeli Dressing/Trauma Bandage. These are great options for dressing a wound fast and tight. They are clean, wrap hard and tight, secure well, and cost a lot. If you got a line on some, go for it, great. If not, there are better things to spend your money on. Cheap gauze and tape can do fine with some practice. The goal with this thing is pressure. We all know pressure helps stop bleeding. The Trauma Bandage keeps the pressure on. If you bleed through it, add more. Do not remove the original material, you may be ripping some of the clot off and starting over again.

Combat gauze/Quik-clot. This falls into the tourniquet area. Great, you stopped the bleeding. If the grid is down and you do not have a medical professional, what next, sepsis? There is also an allergy issue. Shellfish allergy indicates an allergy to many of these options.

SAM splint. These are a bit costly. There are cheaper ways to secure and splint an injury, but these things are awesome! You can immobilize almost any body part, even the neck! Do not play around with them too much. They are just thin aluminum covered in thin foam. Playing with it will create sharp edges and exposed metal. If you have a choice, go for the thin packed ones. They are much easier to stow away than the rolled up sort.

Surgical kit. When you buy these things at a surplus store, know they usually are not sterile. Options to make them sterile can be found on the internet. My wife had the idea to find a tattoo shop willing to help us out. For those not sure of the sort of people working in a tattoo shop realize that they are very regulated and physics works pretty much the same everywhere! Many of these places have an autoclave for their instruments. These machines are very user friendly. I used one in a hospital after a 10 minute class. The wrapper has an ink in it that indicates the correct conditions were met to be considered sterile. Additionally, many of the people that include themselves as preppers have tattoos!

I would also say that surgery is a risk in the best of conditions! This is certainly a time where there can be too many cooks in the kitchen because each cook has his/her own ability to infect the patient. Forget your Rambo illusions and think about being clean. Think stitches, object removal, wound healing, and cleaning. It has been said the reason to have a surgical kit is to have something to put into capable hands. Very true!

Prescription Drugs. I figure there are two main things here, sedation/anesthesia and antibiotics.
I have read about all manner of anesthesia. They all look dangerous. Drinking yourself into a state may have worked a few times in the past, but carries some real consequences. I would love someone to offer a real solution. I doubt there is one because if there was it would be logical to assume that solution would be used today. Playing with consciences is always dangerous. Anesthesiologist/Nurse Anesthetist are very highly trained and have years of school. Do you really think you can mimic this after reading an article online and mixing some solvents from the auto shop? Even if you could do this correctly, you need a very clean room, a plan, a correct diagnosis, good assistance, and many other things. And, you still need to remember antibiotics!

Antibiotics are a more reasonable pursuit. Preppers go for antibiotics sold for fish, find doctors that are ok with their license being on the line with your preps, and some try to keep their past drugs after they feel better, figuring it will help them later. The latter is a very bad idea. First, using only a portion of a prescription leaves the bacteria in your system. You could get sick again, or pass is on as stronger bug for the next person. This means that over time you get super-bugs that are very difficult to treat. The antibiotics we are using for some people now have huge problems and side effects. According to many sources antibiotics for animals are good to hook. However, this is only when you apply the correct antibiotic for a given situation. Penicillin is not going to work for all bacteria. Doctors know which drugs to give based on the location of the infection and the current trends in their area and experience. Your animal drugs are not as specific or broad. I am not saying this is necessarily a bad idea, but that you certainly need to have a hard copy explanation of what you have, when to use it and how to recognize it in simple and reasonable ways. Know how to dose your drug and what a common dose for a child or adult is. Go to the book store and get a nursing drug guide. This will tell you what to look out for while using the antibiotic, possible negative effects, common dose, and when not to use the drug. For the most part, an older used book is fine. The drugs you get from a vet do not change so rapidly that a drug guide from 2005 will be out of date. I strongly suggest a drug guide if you do or do not have prescription drugs.

Some things people don’t think about that are worth having are ways to transport patients, palliative measures/pillows, N95 masks, gloves, sterile blades, Netti-pot, and vitamins. Transporting people correctly limits additional injury and stress.  Pillows can help limit pressure sores after being in the same position for a long time. Palliative measures make people more comfortable, reduces stress, and even help those not injured feel better. If the world ended and you were going to die, being comfortable would be nice. Rotate people’s position every few hours. Just a bit to place pressure on a different spot, this reduces skin breakdown. N95 masks and gloves protect everyone! Sterile blades to cut the umbilical cord are the number one intervention to reduce infection and death after a “normal” birth. A shard of obsidian is not a good answer! A Netti-pot keeps a sinus infection from becoming a bigger problem. Vitamins can help the body heal its self. If you have variety in your diet you should not normally need supplements. If your body has an increased need from injury or illness vitamins can play a big part.

Herbs are an interesting topic and very worth investigating. Mid-level providers are increasingly turning to this old wisdom. However, like any drug there can be consequences and contraindications. You need to know what you are doing before you use your friend or family as an experiment.
Training and knowledge are the biggest part of the puzzle. All the cool, expensive equipment in the world is useless and dangerous in the wrong hands. In some cases, it may even be useless in the right hands. A well-stocked bookshelf is certainly indicated for the prepper, but you actually have to read and consider the information. You will not rise to a medical emergency! You need to have a plan first. Seek out people with the knowledge you want. My experience is that people are happy to share what they know and are interested in.

Some closing food for thought: I attended the survival/preparedness expo in Spokane, WA a few weeks ago. There were many people there spending large amounts of money on preps. In truth, many of them would be better off spending that money on a gym membership to be prepared for TEOTWAWKI! What is the logic of $1,000 worth of gear when you are 50 pounds overweight, pre-diabetic, have decreased cardiac output, decreased mobility, reduced cardiovascular potential, and any host of other problems that come with the sedentary American lifestyle?. Sometimes the answer you have heard all along is the best answer. There are few short-cuts to health and fitness. I question the motivation of a person worried about TEOTWAWKI when they do nothing to prep for the world as we do know.

Mr. Rawles,
An interesting subtext in the latest elections is the that five states had amendments on the ballots, that attempt to prevent anyone from being required to purchase health care coverage such as Obamacare.
The measures passed in four of these states: Alabama, Missouri, Montana, and Wyoming.
A similar amendment failed to pass in Florida.
While generally a moot point as Federal law trumps (remember the Civil War, anyone)...this is an interesting perspective on the mood in some states. - R.T.

JWR Replies: It is not surprising that two of those four states are in The American Redoubt. Wyoming's Amendment A, for example, passed by a whopping 77% to 23% margin. It reads, quite succinctly:

Article 1, Section 38 – Right of Health Care Access
(a) Each competent adult shall have the right to make his or her own health care decisions.  The parent, guardian or legal representative of any other natural person shall have the right to make health care decisions for that person.
(b) Any person may pay, and a health care provider may accept, direct payment for health care without imposition of penalties or fines for doing so.

Resistance to the overbearing Federal government is clearly growing. I expect other States to follow suit in rejecting Obamacare, as well as reserving state sovereignty on issues like abortion, drug laws, control of Federal lands, control of water resources and the right to keep and bear arms.

Reader M.E.W. suggested this essay by Dean Kalahar: America Has Sown the Seeds Of Its Own Demise

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How nice of them to wait until after the election to mention this: After Obama win, U.S. backs new U.N. arms treaty talks

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More legal trouble for Sheila Dixon, one of Mikey Bloomberg's cabal of gun-grabbing, graft-greedy mayors: Former mayor charged with probation violation. (Thanks to G.G. for the link.) She called the charges "a setback". (Coming up $15,000 short may nullify her sweetheart deal with the court, which had allowed her to keep her $83,000 per year lifetime mayoral pension, despite her conviction for embezzlement.) And in related news, after some damning testimony former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's trial on a 38-charge felony indictment has been delayed. Oh, and speaking of our least favorite mayor: Mayor Bloomberg's Food Police Outlaw Food Donations To City Homeless Shelters.

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Donald Alley: The preparedness success triad: Tangibles, training, and mindset

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C.D.V. mentioned this: Stealth Amateur Radio

"Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, [is] therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.
For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.
For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." - Galatians 2:16-20 (KJV)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Today's article is about the frustrations with the issuance procedures for concealed carry permits. It prompts me to make this introductory comment:

Whenever someone must buy a license or pay a fee to exercise a right, then it is something less than a right. It is in fact a mere privilege, subject to the whim of petty bureaucrats. Fundamental rights are not abstract tokens that are given or sold by other men. They are in fact primary liberties bestowed upon us by God, our maker. Rights are not substantially secured by asking, "Mother may I?" of any government agency. Rights are more properly demanded or boldly seized and then conspicuously exercised regularly. This secures the liberties that have legitimately belonged to us since birth. If need be, lost rights can and must be restored through proscriptive use. If you live in a land where your rights have been marginalized into privileges, then it is either time to change your government, or to change your address. Much like a muscle that atrophies with disuse, any right that goes unexercised for many years devolves into a privilege, and eventually can even be redefined as a crime.


November 10th: 1919: The birthday of Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov. He didn't create a lot of designs, but one of his designs was the prototype for what turned out to be the world's most plentiful sturmgewehr, rivaling McDonald's: Over 100 Million Served.


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 (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 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 (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.

First, I live in South Eastern Connecticut not by choice but due to my military obligations. Second, the day I get out of the military will be the last day I live here. I am heading back out West which is where I lived before I joined the military. Third, I survived Sandy just fine. I ensured I had 4G coverage before the storm: Generator, Gas, Grub and Gallons of water. I guess you could add Guns and make it 5G coverage.

On to what I am writing about, the pistol permit process in a liberal / restrictive state. Here in Connecticut you must go through several hoops and roadblocks on the way to buying / carrying any handgun. After much internet research and discussions with the owner of the lone gun store in South Eastern Connecticut, my wife and I started down the road to legal handgun ownership. Notice I said handgun. Here in Connecticut I can walk into Cabela's, pick any rifle or shotgun they are selling and walk out the same day with as much ammunition as I can buy (with a copy of my military orders stationing me here). Without those orders I would have to wait 14 days.

The first step to the process was to attend a NRA basic pistol shooting course. This despite the fact that I have had training in the military on the M1911, the Browning 9mm, 12 gauge, M16, M14 and M249. At $150 each for my wife and I (expensive but it had to be a weekend class that fit into our schedule) we were well on our way to spending big money in order to exercise our Second Amendment rights. This was on Sunday May 6th of this year. Once we had completed the course and had the certificate in hand we then had to schedule an appointment with our local Connecticut Police Department (Groton) for the interview, application paperwork and finger printing process in order to receive a temporary local permit. The city of Groton only has appointment slots twice a month (2nd and 4th Wednesdays) with limited availability (Chokepoint!). We were “lucky” enough to squeeze in an appointment on the 13th of June (someone cancelled).

On to the appointment: In order to do the appointment my wife and I both had to take half a day off. We showed up early with our filled out DPS-799-Cs and the application (or as my wife calls it, bribe) money required by the city. After a lengthy interview by a local police officer to ensure we were who we said we were and not mentally incapacitated or revolutionaries, he collected our money. That was $70 for each of us to the town of Groton as a local authority fee. Also there was the $19.25 for each of us to the Department of Public Safety (DPS) for the federal fingerprint / background fee. And finally the $50 each for the state of CT fingerprint / background check fee. $278.50 in fees + $300 in classes. We are up to $578.50. This doesn’t include lost wages for my wife to take a half day off for the interview process.

Fairly straight-forward and a little expensive so far. Nothing overly difficult. Now the waiting process begins. The local Groton Police Department is required to get back to us within 60 days in accordance with Connecticut law. My wife and I settled in for what we were sure would be the full 60 days. It is the government of Connecticut after all and we counted on them using every day of the 60. We passed the time working on other preparations to include dehydrating fruit and experimenting with canning. During this waiting period we also purchased several rifles (Mosin-Nagants and others) and learned how to shoot them, break them down, clean and upgrade. Time spent wisely.

August 13th rolled around (61 day point) with no word from the Groton Police Department. Having been in the military for several years I am used to the waiting game and the gross inefficiency of government. I proceeded to wait on calling and gave them another two weeks.
August 27th and still no phone call. So now I start calling. After playing phone tag for a week and a half I finally reach a human on September 6th. She says there is a large backlog due to the large amount of applications and it may be a bit before they can get to us. A bit? To me, “a bit” means maybe the next day at the latest. To the local government a bit seems to be measured in glacial time. And how can they be backlogged? They only accept a limited number of applications twice a month. You would think this would prevent them from being backlogged.

September 10th, my supervisor and my wife’s supervisor receive phone calls from the Groton Police Department to verify information on the background check. Progress! I guess I am perturbed/happy. Happy that there is movement, perturbed that it is taking so long. Knowing the process for background checks should not take no more than two or three weeks after they start I marked down the 26th of September as the day to call and inquire if I have not received word.

September 26th. No word from the local Groton Police Department. Let the phone calls commence. Another week of phone tag ensues before I get to talk to what I am now sure is a poorly programmed robot. I receive the same spiel about “backlogged” and “working on it”. I would have had a better conversation with my neighbors Roomba robot floor cleaner.

So my wife and I patiently wait, yet continue to call on a weekly basis. We are both fairly angry at this point. What was a straightforward simple process has tuned into a denial of our rights by government inefficiency and outright incompetence. Yet we continue to call. Not so much that anyone could say we were harassing. Not angrily so we could be denied for threats or whatever. Polite calls and friendly conversations. I learned long ago that angry conversations with government drones results in paperwork mysteriously lost in a black hole somewhere.

October 10th rolls around and we call the Connecticut Department of Public Safety. After several calls and hours on the phone we receive a “we will look into the issue”. Now it has become a weekly routine. Every Wednesday morning the local Police Department receives a call. Every Wednesday afternoon the Department of Public Safety receives a call.

It is now November 6th and we are still waiting. What is most galling is I am not waiting approval to purchase a handgun. I am not waiting on approval to carry a handgun. I am waiting on the local Police Department to give my wife and I a temporary permit which gives us permission to pay $70 a piece to the State of Connecticut to apply for permanent permits (which expire after 5 years). After we receive these mythical permits we can then legally purchase/own/carry a handgun in Connecticut.

Why not just give up? After all I only have seven months left here before moving to a friendlier state. There are a few reasons for that. One, I am stubborn and will see this through to the end. Two, I want to take the Utah pistol permit class at Cabela's in East Hartford so I can be legal in more states. I cannot do that without a Connecticut pistol permit.

Maybe there are past problems they have uncovered and that is why they are taking so long. No. I have very high security clearance for my work in the Navy. I go through a complete background investigation every five years. I am about as squeaky clean as they come (and so is my wife). No tickets, no skeletons in the closet, no vices such as drugs, alcohol or gambling and an excellent military record. If anything, the only “vice” I have is preparing. Other than the occasional post on SurvivalBlog I keep OPSEC high and avoid anything that would draw undue attention to me by any of the alphabet agencies.
Even with all my ducks in a row, all the proper forms filled out, all money paid and maintenance of pleasant persona on the phone and in person my wife and I are victims of government inefficiency and stall tactics. I would hazard a guess that Connecticut doesn’t want too many upstanding solid citizens running around with hand guns.

We will keep on preparing. We will keep on planning. We will keep helping our neighbors and anyone around us who wants to prepare. We will continue to learn new skills (cheese making this weekend). We will continue to take our rifles to the gun range and hone our shooting skills.
I have the patience of Job. I can wait this state out.
Some of the lessons I have learned or have had cemented in from this whole process:

  1. Ensure you have all your paperwork in order. I double checked everything. It made the application process go much smoother.
  2. Don’t trust the government to expedite a process they don’t want to complete but are mandated to by law.
  3. Don’t move to Connecticut. If the bureaucracy doesn’t kill you, the taxes will.
  4. Ensure you understand the exact cost of the process. When all is said and done Connecticut will run my wife and I $718.50 before we make our first handgun purchase in this state.

It is well-reported that America is a land of 312 million people and somewhere between 310 million and 320 million guns. (There is no firm figure, because thankfully only a small fraction of Americans live in locales with gun registration.) Of those, there are about 80 million handguns in circulation. And of that 80 million, I would venture an educated guess that there are less than 50 million holsters, to match. This is because most handgun owners are not regular handgun carriers. The most lopsided "gun-to-holster" ratios are with .22 rimfire handguns, and large-frame, long-barreled revolvers. I suspect that perhaps only 25% of those handguns have an accompanying holster. There are also more rifles and far more shotguns out there than there are carrying slings for them. (I'd roughly estimate that less than 10% of shotguns have slings.)

These disparities represent a huge opportunity for a post-collapse cottage industry.
In a post-collapse world, suddenly almost everyone will want to be armed at all times, and they will be eager to barter to fill those needs.

Get some practice at holster and sling making. Then stock up heavily on leatherworking tools and supplies, tanned cow hides, sheets of brown or olive green Kydex, rolls of brown or olive green nylon webbing (for slings and straps) sewing awls, waxed nylon thread, rivets, snaps, sling swivels, and buckles of various sizes.

Also keep in mind that because of its length and padding, the venerable U.S. military M60 sling is one of the most versatile slings for re-purposing. They can be used with a huge variety of rifles and shotguns. So if you don't have craft skills, then you can at least buy a pile of those slings to keep on hand for barter. (They are quickly and easily shortened, with a snip of scissors.)

I should also mention that nearly any handgun with a positive external safety lever can be safely carried in a Nalgene water bottle pouch. (Warning: Glocks and other "safety in the trigger"-type pistols can only be carried safely in specifically-made holsters that fully enclose the triggerguard!) Yes, these pouches are bulky and slow to access as a makeshift holster, but they will fit about 80% of handguns. But their bulk also camouflages a pistol--since they don't look like a holster. That can have advantages in some situations. If it the pouch is too deep, then just add some balled-up pairs of spare socks, or some Israeli battle dressings, or a couple of folded bandanas. And by the way, the same pouches also work reasonably well for carrying shotgun shells and many types of magazines.

Someday, you may be very glad that you stocked up. - J.W.R.

College Park man fights to keep vegetable garden in front yard. (Our thanks to frequent contributor H.L. for sending the link.)

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Is Pakistan's Paranoia Pushing it Into a Nuclear War with India?

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Commercial airliner crash? Yes, it does matter where you sit. (Thanks to F.G. for the link.)

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Camping Survival has posted an instructional video on how to roast green coffee beans at home.

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Man-Eating Leopard Devours 15. (Thanks to F.G. for the link.)

"Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because [there is] no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.

By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood.

Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven; yea, the fishes of the sea also shall be taken away." - Hosea 4:1-3 (KJV)

Friday, November 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 (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 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 (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 is a little like a “how I spent my summer vacation” story, as I spent mine learning how to can the #10 cans of dried food at a local Latter Day Saints (Mormon) cannery.  The canneries are also referred to as Home Storage Centers.  I have to say up front, I have heard that different canneries may differ in policy regarding non-Mormons using their facilities, but I had the most wonderful experience in Reno with the good people of their cannery.  God bless them for welcoming me with open arms. 
Let me explain briefly the “summer vacation” comment.  My husband and I were planning to build a home on some property nearby, had sold our big city home and moved to the Reno area.  Then we found out the neighbor was a major liability and for other reasons as well thought perhaps we had not chosen so well for a retreat in the mountains. After spending the summer trying to make an impossible situation work, we decided to move on and put the property up for sale.  I have always believed in the “Invisible Hand” as George Washington called it, (thanks, Glenn Beck) and our temporary misery had a purpose: to move us on to where we have a better retreat and to give us the time and resources to build our food stores.  My connection with the Mormons was a beautiful light this summer when everything else felt so rotten and disappointing.
So one day after moving here, I called the LDS cannery and was given the number of the man in charge of the food storage mission. I called and explained I was new in town and didn’t know anyone, and that I was hoping they would let me do some canning.  He was gracious and told me when to come in.  In many canneries, they prefer that another Mormon accompany you. They showed me their Bishop’s storehouse and explained they fast two meals every month and used the money they save for the Bishop’s storehouse to help provide food for others in need.  I was deeply moved by how they provided to those in need. Then they put me to work in the cannery.
I have to digress here; I had one misconception of the cannery before I went in, thinking that they are canning jars of food.  They are not. They are canning large #10 cans of dried food, many with items that store roughly 25 to 30 years.  They do have some items that have lesser shelf life, and also some items in bags, like the pancake mix.  It is all dry canning.  I think #10 cans have an advantage over 5 gallon buckets in that they are lighter and easier to handle, and you are not exposing as much food to the air once you open them. 
Here’s how it works.  The canning was done by appointment two mornings a week.  I called the contact person and would ask if they were canning and if they needed help on a team.  Sometimes they had too many people coming in, but I was still able to place an order if I needed something.  Orders are placed BEFORE the canning session so they can tally up how much canning of different items they need to do and still have items on the shelf for others.  Then they go to work. 
Team members wash their hands, put on an apron, gloves and cap before going into the food storage room.  Bags of the first item are brought out and six #10 cans are placed in a tub so that when the food (like dried carrots or beans) are poured into the cans, the tub catches the spills and can be poured into another can.  The #10 cans are already sealed on one end, and after the food is poured, an oxygen absorber is placed on top of the food. Then the lid is laid on the top and the whole can is fitted into the mechanical canner to seal.  The now sealed can is taken off, and flipped over onto the counter for an upright label to be put on it.  Once the canning is complete, you can pay for your order and take your newly canned items home.
You may ask, why flip the can?  I learned that if you use a can opener that leaves a clean edge (basically cuts the side of the lid) on the now upright end, you can later reuse the can and just buy a lid for 10 cents.  It saves 75 cents a can the second use if you do your own canning at home with a portable canner. I honestly don’t know the difference between the ends, but this is just how it was explained to me. The cannery sells the cans, lids and absorbers. 
Aside from just having some good, clean fun, what is particularly exciting is that is much cheaper to obtain many storage foods this way.  Here is a link to the order form and prices

This is the form you will fill out and turn in when you first get there so they know how much canning they to do that day.
I was also fortunate enough to be allowed to check out a portable canner short term a couple of times.  Because I have diet restrictions and cannot eat gluten, I went to the local grocery store carrying bulk food items and canned lots of gluten free pasta!  I also bought some other items, lentils, 13 bean mix, brown sugar for my oatmeal, quinoa, popcorn and some other grains that I could have. It took about four days to get my bulk bagged food items in at the store and I had to calculate how many cans, lids and oxygen absorbers I would need to buy from the cannery for the process.  When I bought my items, I first calculated how many cans I needed based on the weight of the items.  For heavy grains and sugars that compact well, plan on about 6.0 to 6.2 pounds per can.  For lighter items like large beans, plan on about 5.8 pounds per can.  When I did my last canning session, I just totaled all the weights and divided by 6, and had just the right number of cans!   From this, you will also know how many lids and oxygen absorbers you need.  If you are canning sugars, like powdered, white or brown sugar, do not add oxygen absorbers for those as it will dry the sugar into a hard block!  You can still order extra absorbers if you want, I have thrown them into jars full of spices like bay leaves and red pepper flakes, and it creates a good vacuum.  When using your oxygen absorbers, keep them wrapped up tight until the last moment before you put them in a can.  They will start absorbing oxygen as soon as they are exposed to the air, and you will know this is happening if they feel warm to the touch.  Also, don’t forget to make labels in advance for your cans, so you can label them as they come off the canner and be sure to date your cans for storage.  The LDS cannery also has the plastic lids for using once you’ve opened the can, and you do not necessarily need to have a plastic lid for every can as you will not be opening all of the cans at once.  Just get a few lids.   I was able to do 70 cans in about three hours.  It goes fast.  When you store your cans, it is still ideal to store them in a cooler location, away from your salt stores!
One very crucial thing I learned on the storehouse tour was that grains like rice, wheat and quinoa needed to be frozen for about 4 days to kill any potential bug contamination before canning. It’s definitely something to be planned for in terms of time and freezer space.
In writing this article, I was concern that everyone would now rush to their local LDS cannery and overwhelm them with requests and demands. If you would like to try canning this way, call first, ask politely and work around their busy schedule. When you go in, be freshly washed as you are handling food.  And of course, no foul language!  Wear shoes, not sandals.  One dropped can on your toe really hurts. There are times when they may be too busy to have you come in, and if so, then roll with it.  At Reno they didn’t have the cannery open in July, and they also aren’t in between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  They were busy after Hurricane Sandy as well because people were (at least momentarily) more aware of their need to be prepared. Be willing to go in and contribute to a team when they need extra hands even if you don’t want to buy anything.  Sometimes they do get shorthanded, so give back.  If they are gracious and willing to let you check out a canner, plan well and have everything else in place, so that when you check out the canner, you can use it and return it quickly. Clean it off before you return it. Be appreciative and thank them!  Each cannery has slightly different policies and may ask you to come with another Mormon, so call and check.  Here is a link for the cannery locations in the U.S. and Canada.
Do try the LDS cannery's brand of cocoa.  It is the most expensive item on their list, but well worth it!  God bless all those who touched my life at the Reno cannery the past few months.  I am most grateful for the lessons and the love.  Thanks to God for his Invisible Hand.

Never mind the high tech paper that is bound to help increase a corporations quarterly profit margin and deplete your limited prepping budget.... Here is my input.   Tyvek used to make  various sized mailing envelopes and has replaced the old tan manila envelopes in many cases will work as a waterproof paper.  Granted you might need to use a sharpie or other permanent ink pen, but you can get these Tyvek's  free of charge or close to it in many cases...If the outside of the envelope contains printing of some kind, turn it inside out and cut the paper to fit your needs. 

Also if you want to make a poster or make something to be seen by an airplane, then get a roll of House Wrap used to insulate houses and structures from air infiltration at Home Depot etc.   This could be cut down to smaller sizes as well. Once you have a roll you can actually make clothing or find other uses as it strikes your creative fancy.

Tyvek also has a wide variety of uses among them disposable painters coveralls and the such.  Tyvek is commonly known by the fact that it can be made from recycled plastics like milk jugs.

In the broadcasting business its common to take a thick plastic page protector and insert a piece of cardboard inside to give it rigidity.  Then we use a grease pencil to mark on the outside surface.  Most commonly we use this for weather forecasts and current temp conditions.  This technique might also work for maps and the like.  In a case like this map segments could be laminated ahead of time and a grease pencil could be used to mark locations and routes.  Any adaptation of this might be useable to the Prepper on a budget.

I am going to include on a separate email the Wikipedia page for you to possibility use..... as a link for those so motivated to learn more.

Take Care, - R.B.S.

Dear JWR:
Writer PNG observed in: Letter Re: Durable Paper For Printing Maps and Crucial Documents that the printer paper he had been using has been discontinued by his supplier.

My own choice for cartographic and similar uses is Mylar drafting film, usable as a "tracing paper" for map overlays, and perhaps suitable for use with at least some printers. My supplier for this and other surveying supplies is Ohio-based
PO Box 613
Springfield, OH 45501
Toll Free Order Line: 877-268-4427
Here is a link is to their catalog/price list page for 7-mil mylar, probably the most durable and suitable thickness for cartographic work, but their offerings are far more comprehensive than that. - George S.

Regarding tough paper the company I work for, PPG Industries makes a product called Teslin.  It is currently used in US passports, security IDs and thousands of other paper applications.  National Geographic sells Teslin "paper" in their online store.  When you print anything on it: maps, lists, etc they are then waterproof and durable (after the ink dries).  I use it for all of my map printing.  Sincerely, - R.K.M.

Unfortunately, I have to take issue with the recent article Armed To The Teeth: Essential Survival Contingency. [ In it, Michael S. puts undue weight on firearms.]  I would argue that this is a foolish and dangerously short-sighted view of preparedness.  Michael references his military experience as justification for this view without mentioning that an entire army stood behind him with a sophisticated logistics machine to provide resupply on a regular basis.  Of course bullets matter more than beans over short durations when you know more supplies are coming soon.  You can't count on that in TEOTWAWKI.  
Don't get me wrong:  I love to drink the tacticoolade as much as the next guy, but a big gun won't keep the lights on unless you are using it to rob a neighbor of his generator.  This view that guns-solve-every-problem-in-every-circumstance is an overly-narrow view of SHTF [circumstances] , and anyone who buys into that is in for some big surprises when reality hits.   - Robert in Texas

I am an 18 year old guy in a family of 8 in a suburban home 10 miles from the nearest city in central New Jersey.
We knew it was coming a week in advance. So did just about everyone in the tri-state area. There was no hiding the fact. Even with a looming election, Hurricane Sandy got "saturation media coverage". Terms like "superstorm" , "catastrophic", and "unprecedented" were being used in almost every Hurricane Sandy story. This storm was supposed to bring catastrophic damage to New Jersey and New York, with moderate rain, high winds, and an unbelievable storm surge. Some were already prepared. Some listened and followed the instructions given by government officials to prepare for the storm.  However, even with all of this overemphasis, many people did not prepare to any degree. All involved learned a lesson. Here is our experience.
What we had on hand: We had already purchased an 1,250 watt / 35,00 watt peak inverter to power the sump pump in the case of a blackout during a flood. It had been used only once in the past five years (a freak 4 hour power outage a few months ago) and seemed to be a waste of money, until now. An aperture was installed which connected the sump pump in the basement with the inverter in the garage. We tested the sump pump and the refrigerator on this inverter running off the 2004 Honda Pilot family vehicle and both worked fine. Also, we had recently  purchased a hand crank spotlight from Harbor Freight Tools, more as a gadget than a useful tool. I also repaired a defunct 1 million candlepower spotlight with a 6V 3.5Ah lead acid battery, to be used on nighttime prowlers (effectiveness is questionable). FRS radios are also on hand, but one pair for eight people is not much. Further, my dad likes our house to be in top condition and so made sure every one of the slightest bubbles in the siding or loose tiles in the roof were immediately repaired.
I also had a small personal bug out bag (laptop carrying bag) packed to bursting with survival supplies, as well as accessory supplies and documents in my room in easy-to-carry containers. Supplies were also stored in my 2004 Ford Explorer, my bug out vehicle and bug out location in one. Altogether, these supplies would enable me to live more than a week on my own on the road quite comfortably. Other members of my family did not have any such supplies, despite my pleas. As a family, we probably had 2 days supply of ready-to-eat food. With me sharing all of my supplies, we would have 3 days of shelf-stable prepared food, but as all of you readers know, that is only enough to get yourself into a shelter safely.
Before the storm: After being warned that Hurricane Sandy was a potential threat to our area, we immediately began making plans based on NOAA (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration) forecasts, which were extraordinarily accurate and dependable. (We should have prepared instead for a worst case scenario: remember the New England Hurricane of 1938.) Once we knew a hurricane was heading our way, we got ready for immediate usage of the sump pump by running a cord between the pump and the inverter. During the six inches of rain from Hurricane / Tropical Storm. Irene our sump pump was barely keeping up with the water flow, and an  interruption of power for only a minute would surely mean a flooded basement. Although we were expecting less rain this time around, we were taking no chances. I volunteered as a member of CERT (Community Emergency Response Team). We also filled up on gas on Saturday and Sunday. The Pilot was filled on Sunday night, and even then many gas stations were out of fuel. On Sunday night we also brought in all movable outdoor objects. We did not have to worry about trimming trees because we had no large trees around our house. All rechargeable devices and batteries were charged on Sunday. We did not purchase any food, water, or batteries during the store runs before the storm, although we could have used food. College classes were cancelled on Monday, so I spent the whole day watching the slowly increasing winds and reading news reports (which I generally ignored) and NOAA predictions (which I paid attention to). One of the last things we did on Monday before the power outage was to fill a large tub with tap water. We also filled a 5 gallon pot with drinking water, in case of contamination or a loss of city water pressure. Bottled water was already stockpiled due to recent sales, as a secondary backup.
During the storm: The wind began picking up as the storm made landfall, and the rain came down steadily and lightly, which was not a problem. Reports of the storm surge flooding New York began to come in. The house crackled occasionally as a strong gust hit it. We were reading and studying the Bible as a family at 19:00 EDT when the power was extinguished. Internet, land line, and cell phone connectivity were gone. Most of us had flashlights, so we went on without much trouble. Only one of my sisters and my mom did not have personal flashlights, so we found a crank-charged 3-LED Li-ion flashlight from a educational kit for my sister to use. My mom shared a 18V Ni-Cd incandescent work light with my dad. The rest of us used a 16-LED Pb-acid crank spotlight, cheap 9-LED 3 AAA flashlights, and a recently purchased Chinese 1-LED 1 AA alkaline flashlight. Personally, I am a flashlight fanatic and own over a dozen fully functional flashlights, as well as some homemade ones. I used my pocket 9-LED 3 carbon zinc AAA flashlight for a while but soon switched to my freebie Forever Flashlight III by Excalibur. It used to have a 1 farad capacitor but the original owner needed it and took it out. I installed a 0.1 farad memory capacitor from scrap components. It is nothing compared to its former self but is still quite usable and does not require batteries. The wind increased. Some people did not keep their houses in good shape and we went out and pick up several pieces of sheet metal in our yard in tropical storm - force winds. One of the metal pieces got stuck 40 feet in the air in the top of a tree, attesting to the significant strength and dangers of the wind. We were aware of our surroundings and away from any big trees while outside. Back inside the house, we sat and watched the flashes of greenish light from exploding transformers and shorting wires in astonishment for a while before retiring for the night.
After the storm: Tuesday morning, I prepared for my CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) duty. I had signed up before the storm to work an 8 hour shift (8:00 to 16:00) at the Somerset County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) answering phone calls. There were many trees down in my neighborhood and tree branches all over the road. In the news were reports of death and complete devastation on the Jersey coastline and NYC. I almost ran into a tree with attached electrical wire on a curve on a local road. This disturbance was  the source of the brightest light show last night. I  turned around and after some driving met a second partial roadblock and bypassed it, following the example of the car in front of me. We turned onto a major road and got stopped by a police roadblock, having to make a long detour. By the time I got onto the interstate, I had about 12 minutes to go. A trip that normally takes 15 minutes took me 35 minutes. All traffic lights were out but very few people were driving, so traffic was not a problem. I got to my destination without any further hassle and began my duties. One of the first things I noticed was that the Emergency Management personnel and resources were overtaxed. In only once incidence, several shelters closed over the 8 hour period (one due to a tree falling through the roof), with the unfortunates being herded from one to the next just as they began to get comfortable. When I left at 4 PM, much power was back up in the town where the EOC was located, but my township was just as dark as before. Long gas lines were everywhere, and this was not even 24 hours after the storm. I came home to a hot meal as we are able to run the stove without electricity. We were running the car / inverter assembly as little as possible to conserve gasoline, which was in very short supply due to extensive outages and lack of preparedness on the part of gas station owners. The inverter was never turned on for anything other than the washer or the refrigerator. Devices were charged piecemeal throughout the day. This was in contrast to my neighbor, who had very little gas supply but was running her generator 24 hours a day outside of her garage. We watched a legally downloaded movie on my laptop's battery power before going to bed.
Wednesday went very similarly, with everyone finding things to do that did not require mains power. When the refrigerator was turned on, I charged my laptop. I still did not have any phone service or internet access. Radio was the only outlet to the outside world, and several radios were taken out to find out what was going on. I listened to WNYC, which was covering the hurricane extensively. We did not believe the water supply was contaminated so we continued to drink from the tap after initial usage of stored water. However, several people in our home were getting intestinal problems and we were getting suspicious, especially after hearing a boiled water advisory for the neighboring city. Most of us continued to drink tap water, though. In the evening, we decided to try to get some laundry done. The washer ran fine on the inverter, but we only did one load to save gas. The dryer could not start turning though due to the huge current the motor required. We had to assemble makeshift clotheslines and hang up the clothes in the basement. We rationed the number of clothes that could be used to prevent wasteful washing of slightly damp dish towels, night clothes, etc. The Pb-acid 16 LED spotlight was very useful for taking showers, hanging up clothes, and hanging around, although a hand-crank LED lantern would be much better. We made a rule that significant use by a person required 5 minutes of cranking time by the same person. This kept the spotlight fully charged the whole time.
Our neighbor who ran her generator excessively ran out of gas and asked us for some. We gave her our only 5 gallon tank full of gas. She used it up in two days and went to the local gas station to refill it. A left turn onto a divided highway and a lack of police enabled them to unwittingly cut into the front of the line and get 5 gallons of gas. During the whole power outage, we only idled away half a tank of gas (11 gallons) in a 2004 Honda Pilot for the entire power outage; the gas can was only for our neighbor, who continued to run her generator all night. We heard news about 2 mile gas lines in NYC and a possible water shortage in NJ, with critically low fuel levels for some of the water pumps. All college classes for the week were cancelled, but I had no way of knowing that and decided to just not show up due to the gas shortage. Unfortunately, the EOC tried to reach me several times by email and cell with opportunities for volunteer work, but I could not know that and did not respond. After hearing some news of looting, I decided to take a walk around our completely dark neighborhood at 9:30 pm every night with my renovated spotlight. I also hung a dim LED light in our window to give the idea that our house is occupied. Still, to the hundreds without generators living a short distance from us, our high concentration of idling cars and roaring generators parked temptingly in garages and driveways were a security risk. The more the garage was closed on our idling Honda Pilot, the harder it was to notice and get the vehicle, but the more lethal the  CO concentrations were. We were very careful to avoid breathing the fumes and settled on a 1 foot opening for all 3 garages.

[JWR Adds: Every home should have a couple of carbon monoxide (CO) detectors. If your garage is attached to your home, make sure that the connecting door has a tight seal and DO NOT idle your car for extended periods unless your main garage door is wide open. Otherwise, CO could creep into your house. Beware that CO poisoning is insidious and cumulative!]

We left twice during the power outage to go food shopping and replenish our empty cabinets. Fortunately, the local supermarket prepared well for the disaster, and was well stocked and well lighted. We would have been in a bad situation if there was no good food in the stores. More alarmingly, we began noticing a foul smell from some of the water that we collected during the storm in teakettles and canteens and immediately discarded all of it. This was probably bacterial or sediment contamination due to the storm, and the intestinal problems were explained. Our power came back on Saturday at 11:00 EDT, and we returned to a normal life. After a time without power, we were really getting used to it, and had only good feelings for PSE&G.
Lessons learned: There are several lessons we learned from this experience. Relying on existing infrastructure or government directly after a disaster to any degree is a bad idea. If Sandy had dumped rain like most other hurricanes do flooding would only compound the problem with important roadways flooded or even washed out and utility crews unable to perform their assessments. Another is that perishable items should be consumed as quickly as possible after a storm to avoid any spoilage. To prevent grocery runs, at least two weeks worth of non-perishable items should also be stocked up. To keep appliances going, at least 20 gallons of stabilized gasoline should be stored to deal with up to three weeks without power. To prevent failures like with the clothes dryer, test out disaster supplies before using them; an expensive tri-fuel generator is useless if it cannot provide the surge current for a vital appliance. To prevent intestinal problems, do not rely on city water in a disaster; store your own drinking and sanitation water. To prevent panic and uncertainty, create a full disaster plan encompassing every situation. Get necessary items before everyone else is grabbing for them. If like me you feel overwhelmed by this task, this blog is an excellent source of material for preparedness, from the simplest tools to the most extreme hideout. Use the links on the left to explore the wealth of knowledge in t he archives. Be ready, - Luke


A friend in Pennsylvania e-mailed me this terse note:

We have had no power now for seven days. Most lines to get gas in nj were three hours long all week. We have even/odd gas rationing now (oddly/unfortunately enough we just found out that all seven of our cars have odd license plates!) The phone system is hit or miss, (I've been getting voice mails 2-3 days after they were left without my phone ever saying I missed a call.) The last we heard they estimate we will have power a week from tomorrow. [November 15th.] Our generator is having voltage problems so the washer won't work. I've had to bring my own gas in a can to Brooklyn to be able to get back. Fights have broken out at a lot of gas stations, even Blairstown. Someone in Jersey pulled out a gun at one station. I was offered $50 for my empty gas can. Full ones sell for $100. We had services today in the cold and dark, no power there either. We fill the cars up with gas in Pennsylvania then siphon it out for the generator to save trips.

Regards, - Bob G.

Reader Greg G. sent a link to a video of a hour-long lecture by James Howard Kunstler about his book The Long Emergency.

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Some refreshing honesty in advertising: Cullman Mobile Home Liquidation in Alabama.

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If you own a Kindle reader (or have Kindle software for your laptop), then you might as well load it up with lots of free classic books. Check out the Catalog of Project Gutenberg E-Books (MOBI Edition) There are thousands of free tiles. All of them that are in "MOBI" format can be read with an Kindle-compatible. And of course all of their "PDF" books can be read only nearly any platform.

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Joel of America Stone has uploaded a new instructional video on knife sharpening. (See the bottom of their main web page.)

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A small company that does some interesting re-purposing: Military Bike Bags

"I have a self-imposed rule that I tend to follow - when raiding the stash, always replace what you took with two of the same thing. My reasoning is that if I allow myself to run out of something in my normal daily life, it's because I have either overlooked it, or misjudged how much of it I would need or how long the amount I had on hand would last - and if I did it once, there's a good chance that I'd do it again and run out of it in a 'situation', so I take it as a sign that I should be keeping more of it." - Reader "JABECmfg", as quoted by TheSurvivalMonkey

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Several readers have written to ask me if I plan to stock up on more ammunition and magazines, now that the gun grabbers have further cemented their hold on Washington D.C. My answer: No. I already have lots of ammunition and magazines. But I might buy a hundred Guy Fawkes masks, just to be ready for November 5th, 2013.


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 (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 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 (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.

Many years ago, my two childhood friends and I began to prep for TEOTWAWKI.  At first, we just began buying whatever was recommended by certain web sites, throwing our equipment into a box and then telling the others about what we have.  Doing this allowed us to collect many things, however we were not sure what was really practical since we never used the items.  We decided to change this about five years ago when we got serious about what we are doing and decided to take a camping trip.  The camping trip would include about a one mile hike and the only things we would bring would be the equipment that would be used in a “bug-out” scenario.   My group consists of seven main members who live in four different states, so the gear testing trips take place in two different states twice a year.  The members of my group currently live in four different states: Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee, and California with the majority of the group living on the Ohio/Indiana border.  Obviously, the friend in California is not a viable option for retreat, but the Ohio and Tennessee locations are both large farms and “close enough” for the remaining group members to gather together.  So, we practice bugging out to each location from our respective homes.  The first test trip was quite a learning experience!  The oldest member of our group had equipment that weighed a total of about fifteen pounds.  We younger folk whispered among ourselves that this surely wouldn’t be enough.  While I will not disclose the pack weight of the rest of the group, I will say that we were having trouble going very far without having to take a break; and imagine our surprise when we found ourselves asking to borrow some of the older man’s equipment!  Needless to say, we decided to take a few tips from the older man and have changed the way we pack for these trips!

We travel to each location twice a year, Tennessee in early April and late July, and Ohio in early October and late December.  The reason for this is so we can camp in different temperature extremes.  The difference of Tennessee in July and Ohio in December are huge and require different gear, so this allows us to practice using everything.  Prior to our first travel, we sat down together with topographical maps of Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee.  We mapped the best routes for foot and vehicle travel.  We had to know if we could get to southwest Ohio from east Tennessee without hitting a major city while avoiding the interstate…and vice versa.  The members from Ohio and Indiana and their families meet en route to Tennessee and take a different route each year.  Throughout the trip, they stop to photograph certain areas they believe would be a good resting spot and mark the coordinates on the map.  When my family and I make the trip north (I am the good southerner in this group) I retrace their steps north with photos and coordinates in hand seeing if I agree or disagree with their selected stops.  I also take photos and coordinates of my own if I see something I think is better.  Once we get together, we discuss the trip and compare notes.  As of this writing, we have two preferred routes with several stops marked.   If I am headed north or they are headed south I will know which direction to expect them if we cannot contact each other.   Also, if we know a member is en route and never shows, we have a good idea where to look.


As a group, we agreed with the guns and calibers we would collect.  We went with a Glock 22 in 40 S&W, 12 gauge shotguns, Ruger 10/22 rifle, Savage .308 bolt action rifle, Walther P22 pistol, and an AR-15 in 5.56.  The oldest member of our group (and smartest) carries a Kel-Tec PLR-16 on a pivot harness and carries the Ruger Charger in a holster attached to his pack.  After a long day of hiking uphill, the PLR-16 looked a whole lot better than my AR.  Once again, if you buy it- practice with it.  If you are carrying a gun, don’t just shoot it- carry it! Practice with in every way.  If an AR is your bug-out gun, find out how far you can travel with it comfortably. These are the reasons we decided to start our excursions.  Also, carrying four guns is not practical for long distances.  My group may have 5 or 6 guns, but I do not carry all of them.  On our hikes they are spread between my three sons and wife.  Each one is given a gun and taught not just how to shoot it, but how to carry it and how much ammo they can carry without losing to much comfort or speed.  We also have stored .50 caliber muzzleloaders, bows, crossbows and various hunting, fishing, and camping supplies while they were on clearance during the off-seasons.   

We also coordinated our bug-out bags to be similar, so we know where everyone keeps supplies in their bag.  We follow the first in last out method of organizing our gear. (I would not recommend sharing this information with a group unless these are close friends.  I feel comfortable doing this with my group since we have been close for thirty plus years. ) We use the typical 3 day bag for our trips.  When going out with my sons, I have switched the Eberlestock X1A1 pack, giving my oldest boy my three day pack.  I find this pack is great for carrying my rifle long distances, but you lose the tactical advantage of having the rifle readily available.  Once again, this becomes an issue of practice.  I have decided in a TEOTWAWKI scenario I would probably have two rifles- one in the pack and one slung for carry.   Also, during our trips we all discovered the joy of sleeping in a hammock. Previously, we had carried sleeping bags and slept on the ground. The hammock was much lighter to carry and far more comfortable than sleeping on the ground.  While we all carry a small two or one-man tent, the hammock is the preferred sleeping choice; especially as we are getting older!


Keep in mind while reading this that while we are prepping together, we are also prepping separately.  We each have large families and friends that we expect to arrive at our house if a worst case scenario happens even though we attempt to treat our prepping habit like the first two rules of Fight Club.  Unfortunately, the rules we keep don’t always apply to our wives who will mention our guns and food storage during a conversation with those they are friendly with but not friends.  With that in mind I will briefly describe each bug-out location.

- In Ohio, my friend lives on a 40 acre farm surrounded by other farms to the north, west, and east. There is a large wooded area to the south of his property.  He has a large cache of food stored there and at home he owns in the nearby village.  On his farm, he is currently raising meat rabbits, chickens, goats and horses.  He has a large area set-up for a “survival” garden and two barns.  One barn is arranged with a tack room and can be set-up for temporary housing if necessary.  The rear barn is where the livestock is kept along with their supplies.  His house is large enough to house four families comfortably.  The Ohio farm is also close enough for my cohort in Indiana to travel to without touching an Interstate or city.  If the situation would dictate they need to leave Ohio and head to Tennessee, they would use the farm as a staging area to prepare for the possible dangerous trip to Tennessee.

–In Tennessee the farm is on 200 acres that is mostly wooded.  The area is set-up with several small shooting houses (each equipped with a propane heater, but no air) that are made for hunting, but could be used for a lookout post or temporary housing for a few people.  We have a small garden and recently started orchard, which is in the process of growing to a large orchard with many different types of fruit and nuts.  We have very few farm animals, but are surrounded by a few like-minded neighbors with horses, cows, chickens, and goats.  Our house is also large enough to house four families comfortably.  We also have two barns that could be easily converted to living areas; one barn is currently holding the supplies to complete that task.  My wife has a large extended family in east Tennessee and I would not be surprised if most landed on my door step.  I have discussed this event with a few of her uncles, all of which have a trade skill in farming or mechanical.  My immediate family is storing food for 50 people for one year.  We have split this up between several households that are all within thirty minutes of each other, the plan being that they load up and head to the farm.  I truly believe that the majority of my wife’s family would not make the trip to Ohio if we needed to evacuate our farm.  They are proud people who often discuss fighting to the last man.  While that is great in theory, I plan on protecting my wife and children to the best of my ability.  If that means retreat, I retreat; I plan on living to fight another day.  If they stay and fight, they will cover our exit as we head north.  

If both locations fall or fail we do have a handful of other locations to fall back to.  Only one or two have potential to become long term, but they would give us time to regroup, assess and plan.

In most TEOTWAWKI scenarios communication is impossible.  I am hoping for difficult and improbable, but not impossible.  Best case is we use cell phones to communicate and coordinate our efforts.  We would also discuss on whether to hunker down or travel.  It may be in everyone best interest that they stay north and I stay south.  If cell phones are down we have a ham radio at each farm.  If those go down the back-up plan is signals.  We have made a list of signs we would leave at the farm if we had to abandon them, so the others would know where we are headed.  We also have a small cache of food and ammo for them to resupply with.  Also, we place a few signs on the mapped routes to the farms, in case we both bugged out and did not cross paths.  We each carry a laminated copy of address (coordinates attached) in Tennessee and Ohio that are our fall-back positions.  This list was one of the last things I put together, but will have a great use if we ever have to use it.

End Result

I know prepping with a group will lead to the best possible outcome and I chose to do that with my three closest friends and their families.  When we began prepping and discussing logistics this is the best course of action we could come up with, but the bottom line is if we did not train we would not know.  I can imagine us trying to take I-75 N and having to pass through Knoxville, Richmond, Lexington, and Cincinnati to make it to the Ohio retreat or my friends and the small convoy they have passing through those cities in a worst case scenario and I know it would be madness.  I can imagine the results if we had never discussed ammo or weapons and all showed up with different calibers and little ammo.   How would we fare if we never stored food for a large group and just for our immediate family?  What would we do? How would we handle it if we showed up to one of the farms and it was empty? How well does each member shoot? Does one of us exceed at different roles such as planning, chef, and sharp shooter (growing up together we pretty much already knew where we would fall, but not our wives and children.  My middle child will most likely end up as our sharp shooter)? We would not be as far along in our prepping if we did not start using our gear and training.  Training requires planning, planning requires a vision, and with no vision the people perish.

SurvivalBlog articles have thoroughly covered just about every conceivable angle to the concepts and theories to preparing for TEOTWAWKI situations, from theory to specific skills covering everything from farming to firearms procurement, security, food preparation and storage, water sanitation, just to name a few.  I spent some time contemplating whether or not I personally had anything of value to add, and came across a few articles from the perspective of women who were doing their best to prepare despite numerous setbacks.  They might be divorcees, raising children by themselves, with limited financial means, for example. Or perhaps they had very limited experience with firearms but were determined to learn how to shoot, to acquire a conceal carry permit, and take every step possible to give their family every chance to survive.  I was encouraged to note that many women had taken great strides and were not wilting daisies waiting for some man to help them—a valuable attitude that is true to the spirit of our American "settler stock".

But I had to acknowledge that many people, and especially some women, are clearly at a disadvantage.  It is a sad but true fact that many girls were not taught to shoot and hunt as children, even while their male siblings were encouraged to do so by their fathers.  And statistics today prove that the numbers of hunters is dwindling, so we are potentially losing a valuable skill set.  Sadly, many families have no one who hunts to pass down the skills.

And it is quite clear that in a TEOTWAWKI situation, hunting skills could make the difference between life and death.  I was one of those people whose parents hunted but they never taught me to hunt, so I had to learn on my own.  I then taught a friend to hunt, and he became so fascinated he volunteered with a local division of wildlife outreach program to teach women and youths to hunt.  Soon, I too was volunteering and working alongside other extremely experienced and talented hunters, which was a fantastic opportunity for me to help share what I had learned while also learning from more skilled hunters.
I therefore wanted to share some information to encourage individuals who would like to learn to hunt, but don’t know where to start.  Really, there are very few obstacles to getting started, as I will explain.

First, it is incredibly important to clarify that merely owning a rifle and being able to hit a target at a range is simply not enough to become a successful hunter when the need arises.  There is a reason it is called "hunting" and not "killing"! No matter how much every hunter wishes it was otherwise, God's creatures do not simply wander out and make themselves easy targets.  They have evolved over millions of years to avoid being an easy meal, and any experience hunter will attest to this fact and will have dozens of stories to share about failed hunts.  Target shooting is a prerequisite starting point for anyone wishing to learn to hunt, but after that, there are many skills to be acquired, and it should be done in a safe and educational manner. 
Fortunately, there is a growing number of places to turn.  This will of course vary from state to state, so each interested party should research opportunities in his own state.

Colorado Division of Wildlife
: The state of Colorado is a national leader in hunting outreach and the state Division of Parks and Wildlife has developed a hunter outreach program for women and youths that is one of the most amazing programs you'll ever see.  To start with, a prospective hunter in Colorado must have his or her hunter safety certification.  This can be done very cheaply (generally $10 per participant, and at times, for free) by attending Division of Wildlife (DOW) programs.  Colorado provides courses quite frequently around the state, and the schedules are easy to find on the DOW web site.

Once the hunter has a hunter safety card, a parent can enroll a youth in Big Game (elk, deer, pronghorn antelope), Upland Game (pheasant, grouse, chukar) or Waterfowl  hunts.  The DOW then provides expert Hunt Master guides to organize the hunt.  A parent must attend, and this provides a perfect opportunity for inexperienced parents to get an education right alongside the youths.

They also provide Outreach specific to women as well, under the same conditions.  I would like to assure you that the men I saw on the outreach programs were all gentlemen, well behaved, clean spoken, and very respectable. 

Now, in anticipation for those readers who will groan and say “Sounds great, but I’m not a Colorado resident”, do not despair.  Other states may also have analogous programs.  Here are a few links. [You can find many others with web searches.]

Texas BOW program
: Texas, for example, has a Woman’s hunting clinic they call “Becoming an Outdoors-woman” (BOW).

Pheasants Forever
: Additionally, there are non-profit organizations nation-wide that also provide instruction.  One of the best is Pheasants Forever.  Don’t let the name confuse you; while Pheasants Forever does teach how to hunt pheasants, they don’t limit themselves to these hunts.  They teach various hunting and fishing skills, archery, and even canoeing.  I participated on a couple of Pheasants Forever outreach hunts for women and youths and they are top-notch, very supportive and encouraging, and they can even supply a shotgun if the prospective hunter does not yet own one but would like to try the sport before investing in expensive equipment.  What’s more, depending on the program, they can also provide training shooting clays at a trap range before heading afield.

The National Wild Turkey Foundation
is another organization that provides hunter outreach to youths, and they also have “Women in the Outdoors” programs.
As one would expect, the NRA also has programs to introduce women to shooting sports and hunting.  They also provide training to become an NRA certified instructor, a survival skill that could be very useful.  For youths, they provide the “Youth Hunter Education Championship”, which they describe as a “graduate studies” program for outdoor skills and safety training for young hunters.

Now that you are aware that there are lots of opportunities out there, I hope you feel empowered to find an outreach program in your area or within traveling distance.  Hunting skills are not only important in the SHTF situation, but are also a great way to spend quality time with the family away from computer games, television, and all the other electronic accoutrements that distract us from what is really important: quality family time and acquiring new, and useful skills.

Good luck, and safe hunting! - Patriot Refusenik

"To better serve you..." Baltimore buses to tape driver, passenger conversations. (Just one more reason to avoid the eastern metroplexes. Vote with your feet, folks.)

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Reader J.B.G. sent: Homeowners From Staten Island To Jersey Shore Have Stern Warnings For Looters. Meanwhile, we read: Fear of looting grips NYC as new storm threatens

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Some news from England by way of Ol' Remus: Shooting champ is facing jail over huge cache of ammunition. As a comparison to hoplophobic England, here in The Un-named Western State (TUWS), an accumulation of 40,000 rounds is just considered "a decent supply" for a ranch, and to be judged "well-stocked", a ranch usually has at least 100,000 rounds. The key question is not quantity (which the Brit newspapers dwell on), but rather ownership. Did he lawfully own that ammo? If not, then he needs to answer for it. But for crying out loud, most of it was .22 rimfire--and 40,000 rounds of .22 would fit in a large suitcase. By the tone of the article, you'd think that they'd just captured a modern day Guy Fawkes.

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Readers in north-central Idaho and adjoining parts of Washington will find this of interest: The Lewis-Clark Valley Preparedness Fair will be held on Saturday, November 10th at the Nez Perce County Fairgrounds main pavilion from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.  The location is 1229 Burrell Avenue, in Lewiston, Idaho.  Free admission and hourly door prizes.  Topics from food storage to beekeeping to safety for women traveling alone, and much more.   Sponsored by the Lewiston-Nez Perce County Local Emergency Planning Committee and Emergency Management.

"That's what happened under communism — and increasingly, it's happening in America. As Joseph Sobran put it: 'Need' now means wanting someone else's money. 'Greed' means wanting to keep your own. 'Compassion' is when a politician arranges the transfer.'" - John Stossel

Wednesday, November 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 (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 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 (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.

There are many varying opinions on what makes a prepper prepared. After listening to my contemporaries for some time, and giving their opinions due credence, I always find myself arriving at the same conclusion. I know that food, water and shelter are staples for not only prepping, but also normal everyday life. I understand the importance of self-reliance and sustainability. Topics like alternative energy sources, shelves stocked with supplies, ponds teaming with fish, underground hideouts, rainwater collection, and so on all make clear sense to me. I’ve found that the term SHTF seems to be frequently taken out of context and often misused. I must draw a line in the sand at the notion I’ve found of some people rationalizing how a couple thousand rounds of .22LR in a backpack can make a Ruger 10/22 a serviceable "combat" weapon. While storable food and water are both mission critical, it is apparent to me that arming yourself with the proper weapons, training, and equipment is the most essential part of prepping. I am certainly not regarded as a subject matter expert, or an authority in prepping, but I have been part of an invasion force. I am a combat veteran, a sharpshooter and machine gun expert. I have priceless real world experience and training that many of you will never attain. It seems that time is running out, that is why I have chosen to share my own personal insights.
In an economic collapse, the loss of utilities will be a disruption to your daily life. A collapse such as this could unleash waves of armed criminals, rioters, and looters looking for easy targets and a free meal. The events unfolding on the East Coast following hurricane Sandy are a good reminder of this. The worst case scenario is losing your food and water stores and the creature comforts of your dwelling. Even if you plan to hunker down, situations change and what used to be relative safety can become certain death. Your storable food, water supply, and shelter may all be compromised in an instant by an armed adversary. Far easier is it to disengage a hostile force carrying your weapon and as much ammo as possible, than to carry your food and water supply. The last thing you want is to get shot in the back running away with water jugs. In combat, I have never run to grab MREs when our perimeter was being probed. However, I have never passed up the opportunity to procure extra magazines when an insurgent was in the wire or when I was heading out on a mission. When my convoy was hit with IEDs, my thoughts were not ‘where are the cases of water?‘. That’s something- having no regard for water in the desert. When your life is in immediate danger and you are protecting your loved ones, you will not have regard for it either.

Undoubtedly the .22 LR is a handy piece of kit. Accuracy, affordability, utility, and a seemingly inexhaustible supply of ammunition are very persuasive arguments for any firearms enthusiast that can’t leave a gun store without a new piece. For many preppers, it is impossible for this venerable platform to evade your interest or collection. Limit your .22 LR rifles use to the role of plinking practice and acquiring small game. If this is your go to weapon in a SHTF scenario, you may want to revise your strategy. Here’s why…

I grew up and lived for the most of my life in a large urban center located in FEMA Zone 5. On any given New Year’s Eve, an assortment of automatic gunfire is rampant. Police officers are admittedly ordered back to the precinct for their own safety. It is likely that most, if not all of those weapons are illegal and possessed by individuals under weapons disabilities. Whether legal or not, those same weapons could show up at your door during a collapse. Another aspect to consider is the proliferation of armed criminals who possess bullet resistant vests. Combine the two and you have quite the formidable adversary. To dismiss this threat is suicidal. If well-armed, armor clad men show up at your door with sinister plans for you and your family, you don’t want to find yourself gripping a .22 LR, period. You don’t want to find yourself outmanned and outgunned. Your stockpile of ammo is of no value to you and your family if you are outmatched by the bad guys.

Whether you anticipate bugging in or bugging out in a TEOTWAWKI scenario, you may not be able to avoid a physical confrontation or fire fight. It is of my opinion to always bring enough gun. Take into consideration that you will have no say in who your enemy is or when they will assault you. Unless your survival group is actively scouting the ‘enemy’, which is offensive in nature (subject outside the scope of this article), you will not be able to predict the nature of your enemy’s weapons, armor, equipment, or level of training.


Your training is the cornerstone of all things survival. It is the umbrella that protects all of your other life sustaining preparations. No matter how bad the situation gets, nothing is a SHTF scenario until you are literally fighting for your life. An armed force on force encounter is nothing short of combat. You need to be intuitive, decisive, and deliberately lethal. Your mindset must allow you to freely dispatch your foes, one target at a time, effortlessly transitioning to the next target of opportunity without fixating on a previous target that is no longer a threat. Be prepared to cause serious debilitating injury and take human life.

Regardless of which weapon system or caliber you invest in, it is completely useless if you cannot effectively place rounds on target. It is an utmost priority that you become proficient in marksmanship. For beginners, I recommend acquiring some basic training. Books, videos, and courses have become quite prolific:,, and Military manuals are also a wealth of knowledge. Any book you find authored by the late Col. Jeff Cooper should be a no-brainer purchase. Another great place to look for help is the programming on the Outdoor Network and Sportsman Channel. You should find those channels to be very informative, as they demonstrate a multitude of realistic training drills, tips from the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, expert advice from the nation’s most prestigious firearms training institutes and top national competitors. Study land warfare manuals (MOUT), scouting, land navigation, camouflage, etc. ‘Train hard, fight easy’ was the saying. Well, no fight is easy, but it is certainly better to sweat in training than to bleed in combat. An important aspect of training is that it gives you a realistic sense of your group’s overall mission capabilities. It will help identify your group’s weaknesses and strengths, create discipline, and help build confidence amongst the team members. Establish a chain of command. I recommend the most experienced person in regard to a specific task take charge in those activities. Otherwise, with no leadership your group may fail to react to a threat in a timely manner. This will compromise the mission of your survival. Unit cohesion is a prescript for any organization to perform the duties in which it was designed. Training will allow you to identify the strongest shooters in your group. These individuals should be appointed the role of designated marksman. At the same time it will allow your proficient shooters to coach the others and get them up to speed. Consistently training in small unit tactics will enable your group to move with precision and drastically reduce the risk of fratricide.

Never become complacent. Complacency can get you dead in a hurry. Never take short cuts in training; it will undermine the intended purpose of training in the first place. I am reminded of a story about police training. A SWAT team attending a training session zeroed their weapons to a range in which they would ‘like’ to fight. They were only expecting to engage hostiles in close proximity and this led them to believe they had no reason to train and zero to the maximum effective range of their weapons. I assume this dangerous habit might have been acquired by becoming complacent after numerous house search warrants. The argument (excuse) they presented was that it would be difficult to remember the different points of aim (POA) and points of impact (POI) at different ranges, especially under the stress of combat. Shortly thereafter training was interrupted. They were called out and responded to an incident, in which they found themselves in a field with an armed suspect at a range of 100 yards. They were unable to safely engage the target. Luckily for them he was apprehended and nobody lost their lives. After that close call, they changed their training doctrine. Had the event been more severe and the team been unable to carry out their mission, they certainly would have come under intense scrutiny, or worse. Their own complacency sabotaged their mission capabilities, and it could have cost innocent lives, or widowed their own wives.

Police officers have superior training compared to average citizens (including CCW holders). It is noteworthy however, that police shooting statistics show they aren’t very accurate. Data suggests police accuracy to be in the neighborhood of 17% or so. Remember the Empire State Building police shooting in New York City not long ago? Bystanders were needlessly injured by the barrage of police gunfire. Perhaps some of you will recollect the shootout between Ohio State Troopers and the Kehoe brothers in 1997, where the exchange of gunfire took place at a distance of ten feet. The result was nobody being shot. Well, when the SHTF and you get an adrenaline dump, you’re going lose fine motor skills. If you think you’re going to be able to do any better than police with inferior training you’re dead wrong. You will be half as good in real life as you are on the range, and that’s being optimistic. The bad guys aren’t going to stand there like the targets of a static range, and you had better be moving too. What’s worse is they are trying to put bullets in you. 

When you’re on the farm post-TEOTWAWKI, don’t mope around in condition white with your head attached to your third point of contact. Keep your head on a swivel. If your rifle is not within arms-reach, you don’t have a rifle. When you find yourself completing mundane tasks, pulling long hours of perimeter guard duty or gate guard, your mind has a tendency to wander. You must overcome this tendency and remain focused at all times. It only takes a moment for the uneventful day to day grind to erupt into chaos. While serving in Iraq in 2003 as a member of the 101st Airborne Division, boredom would set in quite often. An order would come down and off we’d go pulling convoy security again. It beat guard duty and guard duty beat handling prisoners of war. The surroundings became familiar, as did the flow of local people. Even the ambushes at a bustling nearby intersection began to seem commonplace. I remember a group of insurgents randomly firing small arms and disappearing before someone could get a bead on those SOBs. As it turned out, that proved to be a poor career choice for those individuals. Sniper rounds often found their way into the airfield in Mosul and a man I know caught one of them. He was lucky, it only shattered his femur, and he was able to keep the limb. IEDs happen and there is no warning. Two of my brethren are very blessed to be alive; especially considering one sustained a shattered shoulder and multiple fractured vertebrae. They both suffered traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). I have also had my share of close calls and near misses. I have seen firsthand the damage military small arms can inflict. These kinds of things happen fast and you need to ‘stay alert, stay alive’. Familiarity breeds comfort. Being comfortable in your surroundings gives a false sense of security. Complacency is a mass murderer.

Your inner circle should only consist of a small and limited number of deeply trusted individuals. You must actively attempt to make additions to your small group based on experience, specialties, and high value skills. Your training will bridge the gap between fear and mission effectiveness. Force multipliers must be identified and properly employed to gain every advantage for your well-trained dedicated force of do-good patriots. If you have never seen firsthand the barbarism of combat, you cannot fully appreciate the suffering it induces. Your survival completely depends on your ability to wage asymmetrical warfare against your enemy. Your ability to promptly overwhelm an enemy with firepower, decimate his ranks, disappear, and live to fight another day will be the key to your survival. None of this can be accomplished hiding in your basement, or foolishly engaging a superior fighting force with sub-par weapons and laughable training. Get real and get in gear. Shoot until it becomes second nature, then shoot some more. Make sure the personnel in your force are cross trained in each other’s skill sets and equipment to an effective degree. Everybody in the group must be familiar with all weapon systems that are deployable in your arsenal. Get the training you need. Keep shooting and prepare for the worst. Choose not to be a statistic, but rather the exception.


Procurement of weapons and ammunition far exceeds the purchase of other seemingly important items. You will have to make choices that are tedious and might push the limits of your financial situation. It is a difficult proposition, but when your life is hanging in the balance spare no expense.  In a real life SHTF situation the only important thing is firepower. It is the only thing. You must absolutely overwhelm the enemy with superior firepower.

In close quarters the 12 gauge is arguably king. However, as effective as it is, if you step out into the street where ranges easily exceed 100 meters, you may quickly find yourself outgunned. Yes, that also includes your slug gun. Your .22LR will fit thousands of rounds in a backpack, yes. However, if this is your weapon of choice, then your plan will inevitably fail. If you can show me a military that fields a .22LR, I can show you a defeated army. Nations around the world have sought out solutions to maximize the number of rounds their soldiers can carry while considering weight limitations. It is not an accident that they haven’t arrived at the .22LR. You are depending on your weapon to keep you alive. Select your weapon’s chambering wisely, and make sure it has enough horse power to do its job of protecting you effectively.  Think in terms of maximizing your capabilities in any scenario. If I only could own one weapon (not recommended), it would be a carbine. Generally speaking, it easily transitions from close quarters to medium, to moderately long range offering far more security than a shotgun. Be aware of your specific weapon’s limitations and capabilities. Understand its intended purpose and keep it assigned only to tasks in which it excels, if possible. An M4 is not an M16 for all intents and purposes. While the M4 is more suitable and controllable in close quarters, your maximum effective range on a point target is limited by its shorter barrel. With the M16, you extend your effective range at the cost of cumbersome handling in confined spaces. If you anticipate longer range encounters in your area of operation you may opt for a different weapon system altogether.

In recent combat in Afghanistan, Taliban fighters have been utilizing .30 caliber weapons to engage our troops at ranges of ,1000+ meters, well outside the effective range of the 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge of the M16 family of weapons our soldiers carry. Those engagements have prompted the United States military to take another look at the fielding of .30 rifles. Don’t just buy a firearm because of its CDI (chicks dig it) factor. Purchase them according to your threat assessment and the unique demands of your specific environment and situation. A firearm vetted at failing in cold weather environments is a poor choice for a defensive roll if you spend 4-5 months out of the year shoveling snow. Those climates are more demanding of you and your weapon. It is important to learn how to maintain your weapon in such environments.

Handguns are highly utilitarian, as your long gun is unlikely to accompany you to the store, to and from work, or anywhere else you are likely to end up. Choice of caliber is up to you, but the bigger the hole, the more bleeding it will cause, and the larger diameter bullet is more likely to hit a vital structure causing greater tissue damage. In context, your handgun should only be used as a back-up weapon, or to fight your way to a long gun in a SHTF scenario.

Keep spare parts on hand for parts that are likely to break with hard use of your weapons. Consider enrolling in a gunsmith course to personally enrich yourself, and to pass on acquired knowledge to your group members, because somebody has to keep those weapons serviceable. Keep your weapons properly lubricated and well maintained. Take care of it today, and your weapon will take care of you when you need it most. Your group should select weapons chambered in readily available calibers. Yes, the HK7 is one cool PDW if you can get one, but how do you plan to feed it? Proprietary ammunition has its niche, but the difficulty in amassing ammunition for them is too great a burden to bear. Limiting your overall ammunition requirements simplifies logistics for your group. It is also likely that your group will be able to barter with or for common ammunition more readily than the fancy stuff that only you have a need for.

Force Multipliers

Once you have become the master of your weapon, you need to keep training, and train harder. The addition of force multipliers to the equation is in order. Red dots, holographic reflex sights, magnifiers, and medium range scopes manufactured by EOTech, Aimpoint, and Trijicon to name a few are excellent choices. Magpul also supplies a number of gizmos for your shooting pleasure. Their PMAGs have become an industry standard and are stocked exclusively in my collection. Lasers are also a welcomed addition to my tiny arsenal, as they serve two purposes. The first is target acquisition. The second is the red dot that it produces on a target is universally recognized and has the intimidation factor that has caused assaulters to stand down in the past. I currently use and recommend Crimson Trace and Insight Technologies lasers. Trijicon also manufactures the tritium night sights that have made their way onto my service pistols. The ability to see your sights in any lighting condition is obviously advantageous. The life span for green and yellow sights is 12 years. Orange sights putter out after five years.

Edged weapons are also important. A hearty blade like the iconic Ka-Bar has numerous applications. You can find great deals on Ka-Bar knives at Combat tomahawks are well suited to the task as well. I recommend picking up a ’hawk’ from the folks at RMJ Tactical Their products have been used extensively overseas and are credited with taking out the trash and keeping our boys safe. They are designed to pierce a Kevlar helmet, which is a pretty nice feature if your proximity to an assaulter momentarily takes your long gun out of the fight. I recall this story airing on television. A bright reliable flashlight should already be part of your daily routine. Surefire is the apex predator in that arena. I have carried several of them on deployment and highly recommend their products. Night vision devices are an absolute must, as they allow the viewer to see in near total darkness without breaking light discipline and giving away their position.

Buyer beware! Simply attaching as many accessories as your rails will accommodate makes you no more a sharpshooter than purchasing a scalpel makes you a surgeon. Likewise, stockpiling ammunition and owning several weapons does not make you a soldier, sorry fellas. They are tools to use in conjunction with, not a supplement to, skill. Keep in mind, every additional piece of kit demands more training. You will have to work hard and train intensely to develop your skill sets.

Regardless of your chosen weapon platform- high capacity magazines, magazine couplers, drum magazines or beta mags should always find their way into your home. Surplus ammo is fine if your chosen weapons will put up with it. I have found that old steel cased ammo, even the moderately rusted kind, still allows my weapon to run like a sewing machine. While not an ideal scenario, it’s better to know that now than to find out otherwise when my life is on the line. The relevancy here is that more ammo allows for extended fighting periods (horse power included). That means I don’t have to cringe if I blow through a mag or four laying down suppressive fire. This may be unlikely, but I‘m planning to win in any scenario. Because surplus is cheaper, you can acquire a whole lot more for the money. You will need a way to carry all of your gear. Load bearing equipment goes hand in hand with weaponry, so be sure to choose quality gear that is able to handle your mission critical load out.

It is important to consider force multipliers when defending against the aforementioned rogue criminal elements. Several companies offer bump fire stocks on the market for weapons such as the AR, the infamous AK series, and even the Saiga 12 gauge and others ( and These stocks increase your standard semi auto weapons cyclic rate to mimic full auto fire. More specifically, around 900 rounds per minute with the AR platform. It will spit out an entire 30 round magazine in under 2.5 seconds! While the criminal hordes have select fire weapons illegally, we have the option to purchase these stocks for mere hundreds of dollars and all approved by the BATF with no tax stamp or waiting period. Your assaulters may not know the difference, or care. But they will know somebody on the other side of the door or down the hall is not to be trifled with.

I believe in fighting fire with fire. This ideal extends to the use of body armor. With so many options available to the consumer, bullet resistant vests are everywhere and can be had for reasonable prices if you look in the right places. And why not? The criminals waste no time acquiring these items to use against you. Make educated purchases as the vest’s bullet resistance degrades over time and with everyday use. Surplus Kevlar helmets are pretty much everywhere as well. There are many more force multipliers than mentioned here, but I believe I have outlined a practical foundation for you to be well prepared and well protected. The people aiming to harm you will be well prepared. It’s up to you to determine the level of threat you face, and how best to protect your family. We’re definitely not talking about the run of the mill home invasion that is seemingly innocuous by comparison.

Being geared up for combat is an intelligent approach to protecting yourselves against the inherent risks of outsiders when TEOTWAWKI arrives. It is the only way to stay alive when the SHTF. Your goal should be to emulate law enforcement and military training, tactics and arms. These brave people risk their lives every day and know very well how to protect themselves. If you are well armed and trained, you have a degree of sustainability. Your weapon can produce food. Your food and water supply cannot protect or defend you when engaged by enemy forces. Your mind is the most dangerous weapon you possess. It is up to you to hone the mind and prepare it to keep you safe. “Safety is something that happens between your ears, not something you hold in your hands” - Col. Jeff Cooper. The weapons are simply an extension of your mind. All excuses will fall silent when the brass meets the grass. There cannot be enough emphasis placed on proper equipment and training. In the end, it is all you have to fall back on.

Some time ago, I sent you an e-mail about durable printer paper. Since then, the HP LaserJet Tough Paper that I then recommended has been discontinued.

I found this out when I tried to order some more, and this forced me to do some research. I found a replacement for the Tough Paper (in fact, I suspect Graytex may be the original supplier of Tough Paper as well as iGage Weatherproof Paper), and a few more options.

So here's a summary of what I found:

There are some good "paper" products for printing documents that need to survive exposure to the elements—emergency contact lists, customized topo maps, equipment operating instructions, radio frequency lists, etc. I use the quote marks because some of them are plastic, not paper.
Rite in the Rain makes paper that is chemically treated to be water repellant, but it’s still paper so it can still tear and abrade fairly easily. On the plus side, it’s available in subdued colors.
iGage’s Weatherproof Paper is actually made of plastic. It’s very strong, to the point that you can’t really tear it without cutting it first, but it’s still compatible with laser printers, Sharpie markers, and Fisher space pens:
Graytex’s Power Paper appears to be similar (and may indeed be exactly the same stuff), but I haven’t tried it.
They also sell a treated paper that seems similar to Rite in the Rain.
Finally, note that none of these synthetic papers can be written on with pencil; the surface is too slippery. Pencils work fine on Rite in the Rain and presumably Graytex’s Ruff-n-Tuff, but if you need a pencil-compatible synthetic paper, then I can recommend Yupo. Used with pencils made from plastic rather than wood, this creates a solution that can be used and even stored under water. Best Regards, - P.N.G.

Dear Jim,
I am board certified in family medicine. I believe D.A. gave sound advice, but  I would suggest staying away from clindamycin as about 20 percent of people who take it get C. Diff. collitis.

I have several patients who have been successful in purchasing medications through Typically, at 75 to 90 percent savings of the U.S. price. Keep up the good work. - J.W.

James Wesley,
By now you probably know that the mountains of West Virginia got snow generated by Superstorm Sandy so our local disaster looks somewhat different than other areas. 

In our case we got better than 3 feet of very heavy wet snow dumped on us in short order.  Trees came down over a couple of day period in numbers great enough to make walking outside hazardous. One of the local farm families I know had to cut their way to the barn to care for the live stock and then cut their way back home.  Over a week later we are still without electric power at the house.

A couple of thoughts on the storm from our perspective: 

You may not be well when Armageddon descends on you. Prepare to be able to do what needs to be done in a diminished physical capacity.  I was just coming down with some flu like bug when we where hit. Being sick really complicated the situation. I managed everything except getting the snow off of the various buildings roofs resulting in the loss of several roof vent pipes when the snow avalanched on its own.

Having back up plans are nice!  We just moved into a new office.  I designed a full kitchen and full bathroom into it the which was appreciated by all the staff that lived out in the country and are also without electric power.  The new office is on the same block as our local hospital so guess who got power back on sooner than just about anyone else.  The office also has a couple of other things that may seem strange do the unknowing that are use to JIT delivery or have never given much thought to this sort of thing.

Having the ability to lock various interior doors makes you feel a lot better if you have to run cords out the door to the generator instead of out the window you planed due to depth of snow and the fact I was too ill to wade through chest deep snow on that side of the house.  I have lost track of how many hurricanes I have been through having grown up in the Gulf Coast region, but this was my first natural disaster to have a generator available so surviving without one is very doable for any who care to think about it a bit.  Having a generator seems to have spoiled us a bit however and I expect to have one big enough to run my whole house before too long.

An All Wheel Drive (AWD) is not the same thing as a 4X4!  Having driven a 4X4 for years the wife talked me into a nice AWD van with the birth of our son a while back.  It is pretty good for lots of things, but bucking heavy wet snow appears to not be one of them.  I broke out my old diesel 4X4 for the duration with much better results.

Coal stoves are God's gift to a cold wet world!  I burned wood for over a dozen years in several different quality wood stoves and would not trade the lot of them for my anthracite coal stove.

PALights which I thought where probably the most foolish flashlight design I had ever seen when I first saw them several years ago actually rock in a disaster situation.  Their Always-On (Off) position is enough light if pointed at the ceiling to not only always be able to find and lay hands on them, it is also enough light to light up the room enough to see kids, wife, dog, weapons, high powered lights etc as well as enough light to see if/when someone steps into the room who is unexpectedly.

I suppose lastly if you remodel your house do so with it being as functional as possible with no/minimal electric input.  I switched out an electric water heater for a pilot light gas fired instant unit and was able to run everything water wise as normal except the dishwasher/clothes-washer which was very well received by all who benefited by the endless hot water even if the bathroom was lit by a barn lantern at the time.

Still digging out!, - S.D. in West Virginia


Dear Mr. Rawles,
I believe that we are not hearing about the situation in the worst hit areas of New York and New Jersey and it may be weeks or months until we do.  Survival blog readers from this area are without power, phone, water, etc. and are struggling to just get through each day. Let me tell you briefly about my cousin on Staten Island.  I managed to contact him last weekend on his cell phone.  We spoke only a few minutes; with him doing most of the talking and me listening.  What follows are his words.
He was not in an evacuation area but was hit by what he called an 8 foot tsunami; it was storm surge.  He and his wife got out of their house when the water was waist high.  They ran for it and are lucky to be alive.  Everything in the basement is gone; circuit panel, oil burner (furnace), his home office with computers, printers, external hard drives, furniture.  There is 2 inches of silt in the basement.  He had three contractors there at the house, working to try to get it in some kind of shape.  Everything has been soaked in corrosive sea water and there is debris all over.  There may be a mold issue to deal with.  The contractors broke open the sewer pipe to allow water to drain backwards out of the basement.  He had another contractor coming in the afternoon to fix the sewer piper after the water drained.  He said, “You cannot believe the devastation” and I could hear sirens and general commotion behind him as he was talking.  He thinks it will take $30,000 minimum to get the house livable again.  He would like to borrow the money from his pension but banks are closed, it is a long process, forms need to be notarized; all of which is unavailable right now.  His wife is going to take a short term loan from her life insurance policy to get the house fixed, and then he will work through the pension loan and pay the life insurance loan back.  He was juggling multiple issues at once and very stressed (contractors, cleaning up, and work calling him if you can believe that).  They were staying at his stepson’s house that lives more inland and did not get flooded. People were waiting in line for 6 hours near him to get gas.  He cannot get up to Yonkers (north) to visit his elderly mother to check on her.  It is a disaster.  He cannot believe what happened.

Closing thoughts;
1.     My cousin and his wife are in their 50s.  They did not need this at this point in their lives.  It will be a huge financial hit.
2.     They have no internet, phone, power, water; couldn’t contribute a posting to something like the web site and having shelter, food, safety, etc. is their top priority now.  We will only hear from people like this weeks or months in the future.  Their stories will wait until then.
3.     Flooding like this could wipe out all or a good portion of your survival supplies.  Re-think where you put them if you live in a flood zone.  The basement may not be a good choice.
4.     Even if the power comes back on, if your circuit panel or furnace has been flooded, it probably is damaged and won’t work.  What will you do for heat?
5.     I watched people on television looking through what is left of their house.  They were looking for photos; only sentimental value but something that people value highly.  I have to re-think what I am going to do with the boxes of photos I have that I took before digital cameras and have not been organized in books. Maybe put them in one plastic container that I could grab and go or put in the car.
6.     I am going back to re-read all those posting on this web site about what to put in a grab and go bag.  I have supplies in the trunk of my car in case of an earthquake but what else would I want to grab?  Photos?
7.     My cousin was not told to evacuate.  The “authorities” don’t know any more than we do about what the effects of a storm or other natural disaster will be.  Use the brain that the Good Lord gave you, make your own assessment and follow it.  Better to be safe than sorry.  You do not want to be running for your life through waist deep flood waters/storm surge.
8.     The US has had floods, record tornado outbreaks, wildfires, drought, unprecedented hurricanes, etc.  I live in California.  I am expecting an earthquake next.  What else is left? I hope I am wrong but this is how all these disasters are making me think.
9.      It appears that disasters are no longer confined to California.  This is the new normal.  Prepare, prepare, prepare. - A.S. in California

Here is Storm Update # 6, one week after Hurricane Sandy.
Margate City:  Not much to add… it’s a mess. Clean-up at the Shore continues, and incoming weather will exacerbate the problems. Mom is energized, edgy and emotional – can’t imagine why. I’ll drive down this weekend if she needs me.
Princeton: Power was finally restored on Sunday. I sent the promised Text messages to all those neighbors that had left for greener pastures. House by house, life returned. We are lucky. My understanding is that several hundred thousand PSEG New Jersey customers remain in the dark, including people in our township. This was also confirmed by an informal poll at school yesterday. The teachers had gathered the children to discuss storm experiences, and one of the questions related to how many were still without power. My wife reported about 25% raised their hands – the school had invited parents to stay for coffee and assurance that everything was safe. The estimate from PSEG is that everyone in our township should have power by Friday. For those counting, that would be twelve days from Hurricane Sandy’s landfall! Consider that reality next time someone mentions storm preparations.
The load of firewood that I requested on Saturday was delivered around noon Sunday. It was the largest “cord” of wood that I have ever seen…  I greeted the contractor warmly, offered coffee and overpaid for the emergency service. I then sorted and stacked for the next few hours. After that, I scooped the mounting ash from our fireplace (it went into our mulch pile), and then reloaded it with kindling and fresh logs – an old habit – I like it ready for the match after each use. During this time, my wife ferried the girls to quilting lessons and pottery. Gas lines at the local borough stations were fairly short – though we are still under the odd/even rationing order. As you travel to the main highways and north of here – gas remains an issue.
In the late afternoon, I serviced and filled the genny, and then stowed it in the garage. The five gallon safety cans will be topped off with gas today. That Nor’easter is coming, and I won’t lay odds on whether the shaken power systems in our area will hold.
On Monday, I finished returning the house systems to their pre-storm configuration. Cable is still down, but so what… we don’t watch much television anyway. Work - yes I do have a job - once the house Internet WiFi was operating as well as the office phone and my desktop computer… I began the process of catching-up on client communications and transactions. I also phoned my youngest brother at his office in New York City, and to my surprise, discovered that his entire team had procured a U-Haul, filled it with food, blankets, toiletries, etc., and had driven to Queens for direct distribution to folks. Well done little brother.
Halloween had been rescheduled for Monday night. My heart wasn’t into it, but our daughters were so looking forward to the costumes and fun. We all got dressed, and we were joined by another young girl who lives a few miles away – her dad was out of town. I took care of the shuttle service. I told the girls not to expect much and that we would only knock on houses with an obvious welcome mat. I also let them know that we would reverse the tradition in part – I was giving away light glow sticks (12-hour green chemical version) and a few bottles of wine for a handful of close neighbors. The night was abbreviated, but we had a nice time after all. I spoke with every family (renewing ties and asking as to status) and then gave them gifts. We all needed a break.
This morning, I have one eye focused on work, and the other on that Nor’easter. A penetrating rain with 50 mph wind gusts is not the prescription we were hoping to hear. Later today, we will take the girls to Vote as a family. They know about the Constitution and our voting system… we also discuss candidates and their parties – Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Tea, Green, Constitutional, etc., and even write-in possibilities. I make no prediction as to the Election outcome, and I truly wish for peace regardless of who wins.
The switch has been flipped – we have grid power – and yet, the events of this past week have made an indelible mark. Things aren’t normal. Folks are discussing house-wide generators, food supplies, solar energy systems, and water sources. Fireplaces that were either non-functional or which served as little more than interior decoration, are being inspected for duty. I don’t anticipate these sentiments will last… it’s so easy to fall into society’s Lotus-flower sleep… but for the moment, I’m encouraged.
Thank you for SurvivalBlog. I have gleaned much over the years. - Bill H.

SurvivalBlog reader W.J. wrote to remind me about letter in our blog archives that bears a new mention: Hurricane Preparedness Steps

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Northeastern Nuke Plants Came Close to Disaster, With Sandy. Reader Pierre M. sent some news that you might have missed: Storm Impact on Nuclear Plants - Oyster Creek, Salem, Indian Point, Peach Bottom, Nine Mile Point and Feds: “Atmospheric steam dump” at New Jersey nuclear plant — All 6 circulators lost at Salem due to debris, high river level.

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G.O. mentioned their editorial in a Utah newspaper that decries the funneling of news through PIOs: Stop The New American Censorship.

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Yes,"Part II" it is still showing in some theaters! Find an Atlas Shrugged Movie Theater Near You

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J. McC. spotted this: In the Gym: Clean Energy from Muscle Power. (See also: Green Microgym expands with franchise model.)

"Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten." - G.K. Chesterton

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Today (Tuesday, November 6, 2012) is Election Day in the United States Please vote for candidates who defend personal liberty and who favor smaller, less intrusive government.


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 (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 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 (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, some brief commentary from your Editor:

The preparedness movement in America just got a huge boost with Hurricane Sandy. In effect, the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy vindicated America's once marginalized survivalists and preppers. It is one thing to talk about major disasters abstractly from a distance, but quite another to live through one yourself. Heretofore, mainstream media reporters have tended to ignore societal fragility and vulnerability issues. But now they've felt the impact personally. Our friend Tamara, over at the View From The Porch blog astutely observed that New York City is "the navel of the news media universe." And the greater New York City region was hit hard by Sandy. So, unlike Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast in 2005, I predict that the Hurricane Sandy experience will spur mass media reporters to cover preparedness topics with greater seriousness.

I was just interviewed by a USA Today reporter and I noticed a pleasant change. He showed no trace of the incredulity, snobbishness, and bemused detachment that I'd heard before from East Coast reporters when discussing preparedness. They have now seen the elephant.

In the coming weeks, I hope to see much more complete and earnest reporting on preparedness from news outlets like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. (See, for example, this recent piece: Dining Through Disaster.) And if you thought that National Geographic's Doomsday Preppers was popular before... Well, in my estimation they've just been handed assurance of a multi-season renewal.

While Hurricane Sandy didn't turn everyone on the East Coast into preppers, it has most assuredly reduced the the teasing and taunting of preppers. And if nothing else, it will raise America's preparedness quotient--at least for a little while. (There will probably be some bargains on "like new" backup generators in about a year, as Mr. and Mrs. Mundane lose interest in disaster readiness.)

Addenda: Just after writing this, a reader sent me a link to an editorial piece by Mike Adams of Natural News that echoes my observations: Liberal media, White House owes preppers and survivalists a massive apology in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy

First let me advise you that I am not an MD, nor am I qualified or authorized to give medical advice to humans.  Keep in mind, however, that we are all animals.  The information herein is for reference only, and I bear no liability for misuse or adverse effects (allergy) by using any of these antibiotics.  Essentially all of the antibiotics used in veterinary medicine are from human medicine, and most were tested on animals before being used in humans.  Although you may have used a particular antibiotic in the past, your body may have developed a sensitivity or allergy to the very same product since then, and you should discontinue any medication if you are exhibiting negative signs (usually a rash).

Everybody gets sick sooner or later.  It can be a mild “cold” or upper respiratory infection, or blood poisoning from an infected scratch.  In a post-disaster situation, the risk of infection likely will go way up, due to lack of medical care, contamination, stress, poor nutrition, exposure, and reduced hygiene.  Even gunshot wounds are possible, or lacerations and broken bones.  Having a stock assortment of common antibiotics ready now is a good idea.

Antibiotics don’t change to poison the day after they expire.  It has been proven that antibiotics are safe to use for at least five (5) years beyond their expiration date.  Don't throw away expired antibiotics or other medications for that matter.  They may not be as effective as when they were “fresh,” but they are probably 90+% still active.  In a disaster situation they may not be available again for a long time, and you’ll be longing for the Amoxicillin you flushed down the toilet. [JWR Adds: The only exception might be cycline family antibiotics, which have been reported to cause Fanconi Syndrome when they break down. This has been previously discussed in SurvivalBlog.]

Try the “First Choice” medicines; if they aren’t working, try another First Choice, or go to the “Resistant/2nd Choice” column.  You won’t have the luxury of doing a culture and sensitivity test to see what is causing your infection and what the best antibiotic is to eliminate it.  This will all be trial and error.  You have to give an antibiotic at least a three-day try before deciding it’s not working, and even slight improvement is a sign to continue what you’re on.  Don’t jump from one antibiotic to another unless symptoms are worsening.  Checking body temperature is a good way to judge.  If your former fever of 103°F is coming down, it’s a good indicator that things are improving.  (Add a digital or “old fashioned” thermometer to your list.)

An abscess generally needs to be drained before it will heal.  That means lancing it at some point to “let the corruption out” of the body.  Your immune system is trying to throw out the bacteria by killing and consuming it, creating pus, but sometimes the bacteria reproduces faster than the white blood cells can work.  That’s where antibiotics help out by interfering with the bacteria’s reproduction or by actually killing the bugs.  Often the abscess will rupture by itself, when the skin over the infection breaks down, but you can also get pretty sick before that happens.  (Add a half-dozen scalpel blades to that list, too; #10 curved edge for slicing, #11 sharp point for lancing.)

There are various categories of antibiotics, such as the penicillins (-cillins), sulfas (sulfa-), tetracyclines (-cyclines), and fluoroquinolones (-oxacins).  If you have Ciprofloxacin and it isn’t working, then the other “-oxacins” probably won’t be any better.  This isn’t always a hard/fast rule.  Amoxicillin may not knock down a cat bite abscess, but amoxicillin-clavulinic acid combination usually will.  Survival medicine is a situation where you do what you can with what you have.  And add lots of prayer.

An antibiotic doesn’t do the job of wiping out infection all by itself; it basically gives your own immune system a “backup.”  You can optimize the effect of an antibiotic by keeping yourself well hydrated, warm, comfortable, well-fed, and by reducing stress as much as possible. 

If you are stocking up, it would be good to have something from each category, such as Amoxicillin, Cephalexin, Ciprofloxacin, Doxycycline, and Trimethoprim-sulfa.  Or substitute Amoxi-Clavulinic acid for plain Amoxi.  It’s a “bigger gun” for treating infection.  Also, you want to use the first line of antibiotics in nearly all cases (exception might be a bullet wound or deep laceration).  If you continually use the strongest/newest antibiotic, you risk developing resistance to that antibiotic.  And use the antibiotic until you are certain the infection is over, and add a few days treatment to be sure.  A wound would usually take two weeks’ treatment or more.

Cost can be an issue with some antibiotics.  I traveled to a very remote atoll in 1997, and I knew the place was a virtual cesspool.  I asked my doc for a prescription for a week’s worth of Ciprofloxacin, and the 14 tablets cost me $100.  Today you can get 30 for $4.  Generics in nearly all cases are just as effective as the original trade-named product.  Some in-store pharmacies (Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, Giant Eagle) offer a 30-day supply or 30 doses of common antibiotics and other medicines for just $4, or sometimes free. 

Viral infections, such as flu, are not affected by antibiotics.  But my opinion always has been that if a virus is causing damage, there are secondary bacterial “opportunists” that are also present, and an antibiotic can’t hurt.  It may reduce the overall recovery time.

I’m not including injectable antibiotics for several reasons.  First, they require syringes and needles, which in today’s world are used only once and replaced.  Before plastic came along, syringes were made of metal and glass and were reused until worn out.  Needles were re-sharpened, sterilized, and reused as well.  Not nearly as sharp as today’s disposables.  Second, many injectable antibiotics require refrigeration and may have a shorter shelf-life overall.  Third, once you put it in, you can’t take it back out, but you can stop giving tablets if there is a reaction.  Lastly, injectable antibiotics are nearly always in glass vials or bottles, and subject to breakage.


Infection Site
Urinary Tract                        First Choice                                                            Resistant/2nd Choice
                                    Amoxicillin                                                            Ciprofloxacin
                                    Amoxi/Clavulinic acid (Augmentin®)           
                                    Cefadroxil                                                               Cephalexin (Keflex®)                                   

Upper Respiratory (sinus, throat)

                                    Amoxicillin                                                            Azithromycin
                                    Amoxi/Clav                                                           Ciprofloxacin
                                    Cephadroxil/Cephalexin                                       Tetracycline/Doxycycline                                   

Lower Respiratory (bronchitis, pneumonia)

                                    Amoxi/Clav                                                          Azithromycin
                                    Cefadroxil                                                            Cephalosporin 2nd/3d gen.                                               
                                    Cephalexin                                                            Tetracycline/Doxycycline
                                    Ciprofloxacin                                                       Combinations

Skin/Soft Tissue (wounds, abscesses)

                                    Amoxi/Clav                                                          Clindamycin
                                    Cefadroxil                                                            Dicloxacillin
                                    Cephalexin                                                            Ciprofloxacin                                   
                                    Trimethoprim-Sulfonamide                                 Oxacillin

External Otitis (ear canal to the eardrum)

                                    Topical therapy:  Clotrimazole, Tresaderm, Ciprodex Otic
                                    (You want to use a liquid that will flow into the ear canal all the way to the ear drum.)

Internal Otitis (middle ear)

                                    Same as first-choice Lower Respiratory

Oral Infections

                                    Amoxi/Clav                                                            Metronidazole plus
                                    Clindamycin                                                            Amoxi/Clav

                                    Amoxi/Clav                                                            Clindamycin
                                    Cefadroxil                                                               Ciprofloxacin
                                    Cephalexin                                                              Metronidazole                                               

Human Dosages

     Amoxicillin:  500mg every 12 hours (severe 500mg every 8 hrs)
     Amoxicillin/Clavulinic acid:  500mg every 12 hours
     Ampicillin:  500mg every 12 hours
     Azithromycin:  500mg first day, then 250mg per day for 4 more days
     Cefadroxil:  500mg every 12 hours
     Cephalexin:  500mg every 12 hours
     Ciprofloxacin:  500, 750, or 1000mg once a day
     Clindamycin:  450mg every 6 hours
     Doxycycline:  100mg every 12 hours for 7-10 days
     Metronidazole:  500mg every 12 hours for 7 days
     Oxacillin/Cloxacillin/Dicloxacillin:  500mg every 6 hrs for 7-21 days
     Tetracycline:  500mg every 6 hours for 14-30 days
     Trimethoprim/Sulfonamide (Sulfamethoxazole/Trimethoprim):  800mg every 12 hrs
Notes:  The two most important things you can do to prevent infection are wash your hands with soap and clean water often, and dental care: both brush and floss your teeth daily or three times a day

There is a “Guide to Veterinary Drugs for Human Consumption, Post-SHTF” that covers readily-available veterinary medicines that we can use [in true disasters].

However, it is just as easy (and probably less expensive) to buy from All-Day Chemist at  These are generics that are very affordable.

            If you are on your own, I would recommend having a couple weeks’ or a month’s worth of the following in the largest sizes (mg):

            Amoxi/Clavulinic acid (Augmentin®)
            Azithromycin (Z-Pack®)
            Cephalexin (Keflex®)

If you need a prescription, you might confide with your family doctor and tell him/her your concerns about preparing for all possibilities.  There are legal ramifications in the good old litigious USA, but if you’re lucky you’ll have a doc with common sense.  It would also be wise to read the antibiotic inserts (also available online at ) and familiarize yourself with what they’re used for, side effects, and dosages for various problems.  The dosages listed above are “shotgun” amounts, or highest levels.

About The Author: D.A. has had a veterinary career in mixed practice (large and small animals)

I don't live anywhere near the affected area from Sandy, but now that we've had some firsthand accounts, I wanted to throw in my $.02 as an observer from afar:
When the storm hit, I defaulted to the main stream news channels and sites, which got old and repetitive quickly without being very informative.  To get a better feel for the local perspective, I resorted to my smart phone's 5-0 police radio app.  By bouncing around and listening in on the various police, fire, and EMS dispatch feeds from Northeast counties and cities, I was able to get a better feel for the ground truth around the region and was also able to learn how "the authorities" prioritized their response to various incidents.  

The first thing I will mention is that government at all levels is better prepared than most citizens.  They have survival plans so that they can maintain operation, but that does not mean they will maintain services to citizens.  This is probably obvious to most readers here, but I thought it was important to mention that the government is heavily invested in the survival business.  They just won't put it in those terms.

The second thing I noticed was that mobility was severely limited for everything but foot traffic.  Sometimes fire trucks could not respond to calls a few blocks away because of downed trees, water, and live power lines in the streets.  Later on, some response vehicles who were isolated from their stations were taken out of commission because they simply ran out of gas and could not get back to fill up the tank.

The third thing I noticed was that looters were the lowest priority during and immediately after the storm.  Responders called in suspicious characters from time to time, but most were too busy clearing roads, putting out fires, and fixing power line hazards to deal with looters.  This makes sense when you consider that loss of life from fires and downed power lines is more important than the theft of Mr. Jones' big screen television.

I did hear one interesting call:  I don't remember what city, but a fireman noticed three people walking in the storm wearing camouflage [uniforms].  I don't know who they were, but they were immediately considered a threat.  If they were preppers, they need to learn to blend in.  If they were looters, God bless them for putting a big police target on their own backs.

One final observation.  This was not WWIII, and it would take something much bigger and of longer duration for things to degrade to that point.  Many amateur preppers put a disproportionate emphasis on armaments, and then when disaster strikes, they lack basic creature comforts and have to go primitive or bug out.  After Hurricane Sandy, which would you rather have had: a $2,000 tricked-out battle rifle or a decent generator and 50 gallons of gas?  From what I've seen and read from afar, thanks to the lack of roving mobs, security during Sandy could be as easily maintained with a .38 Special revolver or even a baseball bat.  After all, what's the point of being prepared for the the zombie apocalypse if it means you suffer more during less severe disasters?
Thank you James for running a site where normal people can find and share reasonable, balanced information on preparedness.

God Bless, - Robert in Texas

A local surveillance camera [in Albuquerque, New Mexico] caught this stabbing incident.  There are lots of lessons here, but I'd point out three: 1--the attack was quick, with no warning and no known reason, and 2--the victim fought back as best as he could, probably saving his life as the attacker was trying to stab him again and 3--"smoke shops" should be avoided. - Scott B.

I am a native New Yorker who has lived in the city for more than 30 years. As much as I would like to live elsewhere safer, I still very much love the city and have to remain here because of work and my mother. The recent devastation left by Sandy wreaked havoc in the city. You can read about plenty of details on the hurricane from the news and other posts so I'm just going to keep this post short based on some of the problems encountered that were unique to an urban environment. In addition to the basic necessities of being prepared, I would like to add some further precautions that can be utilized to help minimize some future problems that can occur in a highly populated city such as New York.

• Electronics/communications: Many people who were in downtown Manhattan had no power and these days, we are tied to our cell phones, laptops, etc. They had to travel uptown in desperation to charge their lifeline. Without a cell phone, there would be no way for many people to contact anyone. Having an extra external charger would've been handy along with another charger that utilizes AA batteries as part of their emergency kit will make a good last resort back up.
• Money: ATMs were down in certain places and because there was no power, restaurants and stores only accepted cash. If you had no cash and the ATM wasn't working or was empty, you weren't getting anything. Always have some cash on hand.
• Gas: This was a big problem since many people from surrounding areas had no gas due to power outages and so people from New Jersey, Long Island were driving to NYC to fill up. People waited more than 3 hours in line for gas. There was a lot of tension and anxiety caused by a gas shortage. Many gas stations were eventually closed when there was no gas left. My girlfriend had the foresight to remind me to fill up on gas before the storm hit so this should be a good lesson to fill up and stock up in advance of a possible disruption.
• Transportation: The lifeline of New York was cut off since trains were flooded along with extensive damage to the rails and tunnels. There was major traffic lasting hours since it created a bottleneck effect at the bridges that were open. There was also chaos at shuttle bus stops everywhere. Many buses were full and simply bypassed many passengers who were waiting for hours to get on and the city put restrictions by creating carpool lanes into Manhattan with a 3 passenger minimum. Any less and you would have been turned away. This turned what normally would have been a 30 minute commute into a three hour commute. Having a bike or being able to walk for long distances would eliminate the dependency on cars and public transportation.
• Of course, other typical events related to post disaster scenarios occurred (especially in poor neighborhoods like Coney Island) such as: food/water shortages and looting.

A great tragedy occurred in this great city. I hope that people here will start to wake up and become more self sufficient. Those who were spared have been given another chance to do better for themselves and their families in the future. For those who were directly affected, we all pray for your quick recovery. May peace be with you all - A.I.K.

Dear James,
Greetings from New Jersey and thank you for your fantastic blog. My power was not restored until Sunday after losing it one long week ago.

Survival preps, i.e. food, water definitely not a problem for me. Between frozen food,cans and home canned then long term food in Mylar and pails, I can go a year or more. This hurricane is a great "dry run" and those that endured devastation, my heart and prayers go out to them.

On the other hand, so many don't even have the simple things a day or too. Simple things like filling the car or truck fuel tank before the storm, or getting a few more batteries. As the storm hit, I sat back, having gotten my sick elderly mom from the New Jersey shore, made contact with friends and relatives to try and get out of harm's way. The power went out very early and within lays a comfort level knowing you can provide for you and your family.

Sitting around the table listening to the hand crank radio under the glow of the Coleman lantern. As the wind howled communications failed. Cell towers along the coast ceased. Roads closed throughout the state. Those with cell phones had no way to charge them if cell service was available.

As our procedure, the emergency two way radios were put into use. At midnight I heard the call signal and a brief verbal check in. We would monitor and contact every 8 hours. Communications are very important. Even someone's a quarter mile away might as well be in Europe during an emergency, without communication, and a source of immediate back up or help if needed.

As the storm hit us harder, we lost contact with friends and family throughout the night. Communications can not be stressed enough.

The next morning, reports of devastation along the coast, of millions of people without power, without water and food. I'm sure not everyone believes in prepping for a year or more, but please, some cannot even feed themselves for two days without demanding that Uncle Sam must help them.

Within the day, people realized that without gas, you can't drive or run generators. Without generators, no gas at the gas stations. Yes I personally saw lines at the few gas stations with gas and open over a mile long. Society was breaking down after just 24 hours.

Milk could not be delivered, no diesel for the trucks. Milk could not be picked up at the farms, again, no fuel. I ask, doesn't anyone prepare?

During the day Tuesday, I get a radio message, rumor has it there is some looting, and its time to lock and load. So be it.

During the frost two days, you would hear generators running day and night. I thought to myself they must have huge amounts of fuel. In order to conserve, I would run it for few hours, shut it off and run it again. One by one, you heard the generators go silent. By conserving, 50 gallons would last for a month or more.

As for eating, oh my, we ate terrifically. Long slow cooked meals and knowing, it would be a long time before we ran out. And yes, there would be lots of rice and beans in the future, but not yet.

As of today, sunday, there still is no fuel available. Food distribution is at a stand still.

What have I learned. Fuel s critical. If you don't have it, you won't get it.

Cell phones become useless when the power s down. Alternate communications are a must. With that a thought. If the government became abusive, how would you spread the word? How would you get pictures out so others can see? Internet was not available locally and can be shut down at will by the government.

Have backups. My transistor radio stopped working. The crank up took its place.

Be ready to move fast. New York City was locked down. Tunnels and bridges closed. Have a way to travel and avoid check points.

People have lost everything and many more are suffering. Learn what you can from these warnings.

God bless America and pray for out country on Tuesday. - Rich S.

Gun sales, concealed permits on rise in Wyoming before general election

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Wyoming's wolf season is starting off slowly, but some zones have already closed, with the small quota numbers already reached. (FWIW, the standing joke in my region is that "wolf tags come 20 to a box.")

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Mapping Migration: Who Moves To Idaho

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Sabotage in the Redoubt? Damage Reported At Sinclair Refinery Near Rawlins

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Man missing for a week came out of Idaho woods on his own

Reader H.L. mentioned another good reason to keep plenty of greenback cash on hand, for emergencies: Sandy Price Gouging Probed: $7 Loaf of Bread, $10 Box of Matches. [JWR Adds: The truth is that in a free market there is no such thing as "gouging"--just willing sellers, willing buyers and a floating free market price. Large demand, short supply, and minimal opportunities to restock necessitate higher prices. The state Attorney General might just as well attempt to hand out speeding tickets at the Indy 500. But of course, be charitable in disasters.]

At Fierce Finance: New York's Financial district creaks back to life

Cash-free Greek communities take off while economy collapses

Last Jobs Report Before Election Shows Economy In Virtual Standstill

Items from The Economatrix:

Consumer Spending Picks Up, But Savings A Worry

Why Germany Wants To See Its US Gold

News Not Revealing Real Reasons For Economic Collapse

Global Economic Crisis:  EU's Jobless Rate Hits New High Of 11.6%

Chinese Financial System On The Brink Of Collapse

Avalanche Lily and I recently watched a movie (via Netflix streaming) that we can recommend: Sarah's Key. Yes, it is the umpteenth movie about the WWII Holocaust, but its particular value is that it shows how obediently the Vichy French authorities became collaborators of Nazi mass murder, and how indifferent the general populace was to the Jewish roundup and deportation. A good companion piece is the documentary The Eye of Vichy. Is there a Velodrome or Drancy in our future? God forbid. Be vigilant for our cherished liberty.

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Some quite troubling news from Canada: Mask Avengers: Protesters To Show Faces Or Get 10 Years In Jail. (The Stasi would have loved this.)

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Poor Prior Planning: NY Man Charged in Gas Hoarding Case. Anyone who attempts to transport gasoline in non-DOT approved containers can expect to face arrest. (Thanks to Chris P. for the link.)

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Shaq's New Shack: The mainstream media seems confused as to why multi-millionaire Shaquille O’Neal would buy a relatively modest $235,000 house in Mount Dora, Florida. (His other house is a70,000 square foot mansion.) Well, I suppose that those reporters have never read Alas, Babylon. ("Fort Repose" was a fictionalized Mount Dora.) Shaq probably reads SurvivalBlog, too.

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James K. spotted this: Drive On: Doomsday truck lets you survive in style. Also see: Multicat Video.

"Our emphasis in times of economic dislocation is reflective of our general emphasis on the individual, on productivity and creativity and on elements of community and cooperation. If we have a bias, then, it will be toward growing food rather than just buying it; toward hunting and fishing; toward being able to build rather than buy housing; toward general competence that abides in the individual rather that to the familiar patterns of consumerism." - Karl Hess, Editor, A Common Sense Strategy for Survivalists, p. 5, 1981

Monday, November 5, 2012

Our friend Patrice Lewis (of the very entertaining Rural Revolution blog) reminded me that November is National Novel Writing Month. And November will indeed be an intensive writing month for me as I wrap up writing the remaining key passages of Expatriates. In a lucid dream, I finally came up with a method by which the Indonesians could attempt an invasion of Australia. I don't want to spoil it, so I won't give you any details. You'll just have to wait until November of 2013 to find out...


This is the last day of 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 at midnight on November 5th.

Make no mistake, given my druthers, I'd rather pick a large knife over a smaller knife. Now, you can get by with a smaller knife, but a larger knife can do more chores than most smaller knives can. When it comes to survival, on the streets, in the wilderness or in a SHTF scenario, my choice would be a larger knife for my needs, especially on the mean streets in our country.

My long-time friend, Lynn Thompson, who owns Cold Steel is a firm believer in big knives - either folders or fixed blade - and I can't really find a lot of fault in his logic. Some months back, I did a review on the Cold Steel "Hold Out II" folding knife, and found it to be super-strong, and priced right, too. Now I'm commenting on the "Hold Out I" plain edge. Let's get some of the specifications out of the way first: The blade length is 6" - yes, you read that right SIX inches! It is made out of one of my favorite steels AUS 8A stainless - which I have found, over the years, to be a great compromise when it comes to price, as well as it holds a good edge a long time, and is fairly easy to re-sharpen. Overall length of the Hold Out I is 13 3/16" - yeah, this hummer is big - even if it were a fixed blade knife. Blade thickness is 3.8mm - plenty of strength there! Weight is only 7.7-oz, so for such a massive knife, it is fairly light-weight. The handle material is G-10, some almost bullet-proof stuff that used to be used exclusively by custom knife makers. There is also a stainless steel clothing/pocket clip on the handle for ease of carry.

A quick review of this design goes back many years, as Lynn Thompson has always been fascinated with the "Black Knife" of Skean Dhu (Gaelic) of the ancient Scottish warriors. It was used as a utility or back-up knife, worn under the sleeve, tucked inside a jacket or slipped into the top of a stocking as it was thin, flat and pointy, and light as a feather. The Hold Out I features the record-breaking Tri-Ad lock, which is simply put, incredibly strong - you really need to check out the tests Cold Steel has performed on the Tri-Ad lock - you'll find it on their web site - and you will be amazed at how strong this locking system is. Lynn Thompson isn't afraid to put his knives to the test, and he proves it on his web site - I don't know of any other knife company that provides this kind of proof on their web sites.

Okay, I know some of you, maybe most of you, are asking "really, a six inch bladed folding knife?" Yeah, and believe it or not, this thing isn't as "clumsy" or hard to pack in pants pockets as you might think. Lynn Thompson usually carries two of the Hold Out I folders in his pants pockets - one on each side. At first, I also thought that this big of a folder would be a bit too much to carry in my cargo pants pocket. However, I hate to admit it, but I was wrong! I slipped the Hold Out I into my right front pants pocket and never gave it another thought - it just didn't feel big or bulky in the least, not even when sitting at my PC for hours on end. Surprised? You bet I was!

The Hold Out I features a thin, acutely pointed tip that's sharp as a needle - it can easily pierce some body armor as is glides effortlessly through many puncture resistant materials. Each blade is expertly hollow ground before being honed to a razor's edge. And, I have said for many years, that Cold Steel set the gold standard for "sharp" when it comes to knives. Once word got out as to how sharp Cold Steel knives were, right out of the box, everyone else had to either jump on the band wagon or get left in the dust. Lynn Thompson is the "King Of Sharp", if you ask me.

The G-10 handle scales are worth a mention, they offer a palm-hugging profile and a thin, flat lightly checkered cross section that resists rolling or twisting in the hand, while remaining comfortable and versatile enough to accommodate a wide variety of gripping styles - I know, I tried! The G-10 handle scales have several holes drilled through them, to lighten the overall weight of the knife, and aid in the balance. There are also friction grooves on the top back of the blade, for proper thumb placement in the fencing grip. Dual thumb studs on the blade aid in quick opening of the blade as well.

I can see the Hold Out I working as a wilderness survival knife, as well as an urban defender. I showed this sample to a lot of folks, and they simply couldn't believe I was carrying a knife "that big" in my pants pocket. When the knife is opened, it will surely get anyone's attention in short order. It reminds me of Mick Dundee saying: "That's a knife..."  That's the same comment you'll be giving a bad guy if you are forced to pull the Hold Out I for self-defense. Believe me, the mere sight of this massive folder will probably be more than enough to make someone wish they had picked an easier target. As a wilderness survival knife - I found I could actually do some serious chopping with it - and the Tri-Ad lock never gave a hint of letting loose - the blade stayed open and firmly locked! The Hold Out I can easily replace packing a fixed blade knife on a camping trip or in a bug-out scenario - I kid you not. I'm a firm believe of less is more - and if I can get by with less, I'm a happy camper...and I believe you can get by just fine with the Hold Out I instead of a fixed blade knife in a SHTF scenario. This is one knife that you need to have in your bug-out bag - seriously!

I liked how fast the Hold Out I was in my hand - it was really faster than many smaller folding knives in different fighting grips. You can also choke-up on the handle for more precise cutting, or move your hand all the way down to the bottom of the handle, extending your reach by several inches in a self-defense situation, or for chopping purposes - we're talking VERY versatile.

I have to admit, when I first opened-up the box the Hold Out I came in, the first thing to cross my mind was "Really, this is too big for a folder." Yes, I was wrong. The Hold Out I will grow on you very fast, and will become a favorite for EDC (Every Day Carry) if you give it a chance. You'll forget you're carrying such a big folding knife, until you pull it out to use it. If someone pulled this knife out on me, I'd be heading to the hills - I wouldn't want to fight against this knife unarmed! My Glock 23 or 27 would be clearing leather - I'm not about to face this knife without being well-armed! Even an untrained person could cause you serious harm with the Hold Out I simply by slashing out at you - keep your distance, simple as that.

As with all Cold Steel products, I believe you get more for your money - you can spend a lot more, but will you really be getting more? The Hold Out I has a full-retail of $159.99 and if you paid full-retail, you'd be getting a heck of a knife. However, you can shop around and find the Hold Out I for less money if you spend a little time on the 'net. Even if you don't, you'll be getting one heck of a folder if you paid full-retail. You will impress your friends and family when you pull the Hold Out I out of your pocket and start doing some cutting chores - you'll even impress yourself, as to what you can do with this folder. You can also get the Hold Out I with a partially serrated blade, too. So, you have a couple choices there. If you're looking for one knife, to do many chores, then the Hold Out I might just be what you're looking for - it can easily replace a fixed blade knife, and it can do most chores that are called upon by smaller folders. - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

All the recent news stories showing people in New Jersey on foot queuing up at gas stations with red gas cans in hand, reminded me: gas cans are heavy! Did anyone think to put a old fashioned Pack Board in with the rest of the supplies? You know the kind, the one with the lip at the bottom? It would hold a two full gas cans with much less strain than carrying them in your hands. Or, how about taking a small load of fire wood to your relatives' house? Just a thought. - Dale K.

JWR Replies: That is a valuable reminder. In addition to the older-generation military pack boards, keep in mind that ALICE Series (LC-1 and LC-2) backpack frames can have a cargo shelf clipped on, for the same effect. There are also commercially made (civilian) equivalent packs, like those made by Stansport and formerly by Kelty. These are often used by people who own remote "pack-in" or "ski-in" cabins, and for those who work at fire lookout towers that are only accessible by foot.

I'd like to tell the readers about an amazingly affordable electronics workbench tool that turns you laptop into an oscilloscope, and a lot more: Analog Discovery. This one card can
replace $10,000 worth of other gear. The student version is just $99. See a quick summary of the specifications.

I think that this is the Pico scope taken to the next level. This puts AM radio, FM radio, radar, sonar, ultrasound, spread-spectrum radio for secure communications, encryption tools for running secure comms over otherwise insecure channels, high-bandwidth servocontrol of machinery and countless other modern technologies in hands of the garage inventors, small businesses and university research groups. At my company we've been using much more expensive versions of this technology for a while.

The Digilent Analog Discovery design kit, developed in conjunction with Analog Devices Inc., is the first in a new line of all-in-one analog design kits that will enable engineering students to quickly and easily experiment with advanced technologies and build and test real-world, functional analog design circuits anytime, anywhere - right on their PCs. For the price of a textbook, students can purchase a low-cost analog hardware development platform and components, with access to downloadable teaching materials, reference designs and lab projects to design and implement analog circuits as a supplement to their core engineering curriculum.

The specs:

Dual 14-bit 105 MSPS ADC
Dual 14-bit 125 MSPS DAC
16 digital I/Os at 100 MSPS
Programmable power supply

It is designed to be an oscilloscope/AWG/logic analyser/digital pattern generator, so the usual caveats (5 MHz analogue input bandwidth) apply for such a device, but the screenshots
of the software look quite nice and Mac OS X and Linux versions are promised.

Like many here, I'm not too interested in this class of oscilloscope, but assuming it's hackable it could be the basis for a cheap software defined radio transceiver. It doesn't look like a schematic diagram is available, but Digilent often provides them. We'll have to wait and see after it's released.

Here is a write-up in EE Times: Disruption in the engineering classroom

And, one in EDN: The joys of tinkering, by Robert J. Bowman, Professor of Electrical Engineering, Rochester Institute of Technology.

Regards, - Chris M.

Let me first say we are doing well compared to the rest of the folks here on Long Island , NY . I am no hard core prepper but believe strongly that the need is there. We are in Nassau County and are served by LIPA, the Long Island Power Authority. As I write there are about 300,000 people here without power. Some of the things I have witnessed are very sad indeed and we were blessed to have our power back within two days.
South of where we live along the water the houses have had their basements flooded out. Even with prior storms my in-laws who live near the water had their basement flooded to the ledger board on their foundation. The water has never gotten that high since they have lived there for over fifty years. Everything in their basement was ruined. They had built up a sand berm but the water kept coming and then rushed into the basement, carrying the sand with it. Note to self, use sand bags. Upon entering their neighborhood the people were all on the streets taking their ruined belongings and bringing them to the curb. Everyone of them as I drove by had the “Thousand Yard Stare” made famous in pictures and photographs from World War II. We were able to give my in-laws our generator after they returned to their house. They bugged out to a hotel in a dry area of Long Island . Their Hotel lost power for a day.
Things that got us through the storm.
Over the past few years we have removed large trees that, had they fallen the right way, would have cut out house in two. We have three pre-teens and could not have dealt with their loss. After both my wife and I grew up near open water and the associated wind that can come off the water we learned not to have overhanging trees. While the shade generated from them cut out cooling bills, it’s just not worth it if you, or god forbid, your loved ones lose their life.
You need a generator (period)
Get a generator strong enough to power your refrigerator, a radio and a few lights. This saved us from having to throw out our newly purchased foods. We are fortunate to have both an old refrigerator (which seems to last much longer than the new ones with planned obsolescence built in, we are never getting rid of it) and a new one. The new one has better insulation. So what we did was take the ice from the ice maker and kept it in the freezer in zip-lock bags. This helped us build us the cooling thermal mass. We kept on letting the ice maker make more ice and put it in bags rather than letting the trip bar stop the ice making. If you think you don’t need a generator then get one anyway when there is a sale because someone you know will need it and being charitable may save someone’s life. After the storm here it got down into the 30’s and people froze in their houses.
Stock up on gasoline and stabilize it before the storm.
The Coast Guard shut the ports in NY which supply gasoline here and there are now huge lines for gas. We had about fifteen gallons in the garage and used about half of it before our power came back and we gave the rest to the in-laws to power their pumps to pump out their basement. We could have used a lot more gasoline. (check your local ordinances for storage limits) Again, learning from this instance, if you live in a low-lying area, rethink what you have in your basement. It was never this bad before and they lost everything in their basement.
Digitize every picture of sentimental value.
On the local news channel most people returned to their home to see if they could salvage any pictures. I can not tell you how sad I found this. If you are like some of my relatives and have, over the years amassed footlockers full of pictures maybe outsourcing is a good solution. Since we take digital pictures now, we save them on our hard drive and back them up to an external one terabyte USB hard drive. If we ever had to bug out we’d just take the USB drive and boogey.
Emergency food
Emergency food has helped us out. We went the canned route and slowly purchased canned meals like Ravioli with Meatballs and had them in-hand for use. We need to work on this as we were running out of milk and a few other items for the kids (lessons learned).
While camping this Summer in New England we went pretty deep into the Maine woods to Baxter State Park . There was no running water and we had to carry it in with the pickup. We used hanging bag showers to clean ourselves and we carried in about 10 gallons of water for a couple of days. Get yourself a good storage container for clean water. We used two five gallon Coleman water containers but a few milk containers with screw-on lids (Sterilized) would have helped.
While it could have gotten to an apocalyptic TEOTWAWKI situation here the big drama on “The Island” was as the gas pumps with fights breaking out as people tried to cut each other in line. One man was arrested for taking out a pistol. There is and was looting in other areas where homes are damaged and abandoned. Thankfully I did not have to rely on all the NRA patches I earned when I was a kid (I got to Barr III )
Batteries and power for “Crackberries” were a pretty big story here. In New York City people who had power ran power lines to the street to let others charge their cell phones. I use a battery back up pack for my phone and fill it with four double-a rechargeable batteries and keep them charged at all times. Link .This doubles my battery life but when the area lost power…so did the cell towers. So I’ll be studying for the Ham technician license. We have four hand held FRS walkie talkies that my son won in a Boy Scout Raffle a few years ago and it did not get to the point where we needed them. But they are great fun to use in the shopping mall to find your lost kids at no cost.
Walkability is how friendly your area is to walking. If you have to travel everywhere by car…in our current situation with gas shortages you’d be walking everywhere to get your food and supplies. While this has great health benefits you may end up burning more calories than you can take in. Get a bike and a hand operated bike pump with either a rack or basket to carry items. I need to get a hand operated air pump as I’ve been relying on the air compressor and it never occurred to me.
Psychological lessoned learned
Having survived the horrific scenes of 9/11 and losing many former colleagues (another  story for another day) and of the 2004 blackout here in NY, I learned that yes, you have to get your news from the media but if you watch the TV 24/7 you will lose your mind and get really really depressed. Get up from the “Idiot Box” as my parents used to call it and “Move a muscle and change a thought”. Getting up and around rather than hunkering down in your foxhole makes you feel “Big and Strong”.
Flaws and future plans
What I have learned is that a lot of people here needed our help. My in-laws come for dinner every night. They needed my generator when I was done with it. Our friends needed our extra heaters as they got their power back but their boiler (in the basement) was trashed and could not heat their house. Plan on being generous. Maybe someday it will come back to you as you have paid it forward.
I need to reconsider where we live. Right now I am unemployed from the financial community here in NY and have worked in Project Management and I am PMP certified. Hopefully the wife and kids will buy-in to the idea. Being a conservative in NY has not suited me well. My father had his life saved by a Naval Scholarship as his dad died at an early age from sclerosis of the liver (as my friend Bill says, he never took the first step).
I tried to join the Military but was unable to pass the physical due to a slight limp, I still got my pilots license though. I have not flown since 1995.
Hopefully my Project Management Experience will be able to help me pick up a job in another field somewhere safe. I have worked in banking and software development as a project manager and business analysis. I have traded for the worlds largest commodities firm (at the time) and know a bit about financial derivatives. Enough to know that it’s not the product but the greed behind it that ruins everything. So long as a trading desk is very profitable everybody in management leaves them alone. I’ve seen some pretty smart people (on paper) “Blow-up” and lose everything and then I’ve seen some pretty “street smart” kids make a killing.
In summation, while I’m no hard core prepper, I got by with the help from God and family. The 5 P’s are burned into my memory like a scar. Proper Preparation Produces Perfect Performance. Yes, I know there are derivatives of this saying. I was very happy to help other people. Because as soon as I got out of feeling sorry for myself I was able to feel great in helping others. This by the way has saved my life in another aspect. I’m an alcoholic and if I had not learned the lessons I had over half a decade ago things would have only gotten worse in this tragedy and I would not have my wits about me nor my family as they would have left many years ago.
I hope this has helped you. Best, - One Lucky Guy (and family).

Dear Rawles Family,
I have been an avid reader of your blog for about seven years. You actually recently featured a link on your blog to my radio show on blog talk radio called The Homeschool Homemaker where I discussed what Homeschoolers and Homemakers can learn from Preppers. I followed that with a radio show on how to prep for Sandy. I will be doing a follow up show shortly as the power was just now restored after being out for six days.
Your blog has changed my life.
The Good Lord Almighty and you are responsible for two proud moments in my life this last week. One, when I walked into Sam's Club last Saturday morning among HUNDREDS of people in full fledged panic and a smart alec greeter at the door said snidely "If you are here for supplies we are out of generators, water, batteries and lots of other stuff." I was able to just as smugly say back to him, "Then I guess it is a good thing that I already have those things on hand at home." He looked genuinely shocked. I spent the next two hours avoiding panic stricken mobs, taking my children through the store and teaching them what they should have on hand at all times and forcing them to watch other people's behavior. I told them what they could use as substitutes. I was able to get together a large list of wants (these were not needs as if I had to I could have survived at home, just not in luxury) and provisions for expected/unexpected guests. I shudder to think of what was going through the minds of those who needed those supplies and couldn't find them anywhere. Those poor people.
The second was when we were able to provide shelter to some friends who badly needed it. They said it was like coming to a luxury hotel, and were able to take warm showers, have a large hot meal and tuck themselves and their children into warm beds. It was a joy. They remarked upon seeing how we were weathering things, "You are the most prepared people I have ever met!". It was an honor to show hospitality in the name of the Lord in a time of trouble.
Here are some things I can share that may help my fellow readers.
1. Preparedness needs to be consistent, constant and progressive.
Had I waited till just the threat of Sandy was here I would not have been prepared to the level of comfort, maybe only to the level of survival.
For the last seven years we have moved, purchased and trained guard dogs, increased security, tucked ourselves into a small and preparedness minded community (hard to find for NJ) and slowly accumulated high quality items with long term preparedness goals in mind. This cannot be done in a week, not even in a month. It makes a HUGE difference.
2. Everything you say is true regarding the progression of things. It truly progressed in that fashion. People ignored the warnings, then were terrified when the storm hit, then panicked when they saw the aftermath. It is heartbreaking to see and I am not even in that immediate area. In my immediate area it is more that the cold and frustration was taking over, but the few neighbors who were not prepared quickly got out of town or found a way to manage. This is not what is happening in other areas.
 There is widespread looting. There is genuine hunger, thirst and terror. Others are moving from place to place as they don't want to be a burden. Prices are skyrocketing and people seem to have lost the good sense God gave them. This is not where the storm damage is, it is just where the power is out!
3.We had an attempted break in on my street last night that happened within five minutes of the Husband leaving. Dogs stopped it. Someone tried my doors the night before. My dogs stopped it. The day after the storm my neighborhood was inundated with people looking for work or just looking. My guard dogs took care of that, but scams and criminals abound in even the areas not hard hit. If you have a choice between a security system and dogs, go with the dogs every time.
I will just say that many times when I have read here I have had a hard time accepting all of your advice. Thinking things would never progress that quickly or that bad. I was wrong. Just days in, you had to be very careful who knew you had hot water. People were starting to remark on who seemed to be living the high life and who wasn't. You can see where this can quickly go.
Thanks to you, I was frying up chicken with mashed potatoes and drinking hot chocolate with whipped cream the day after the hurricane hit. I assumed we would not be able to leave the house as we would have to guard the generator and we were able to hold tight nearly a week now.
Of course now the shelves are all bare and the pumps are being rationed AND we have a huge snow storm coming. I am sorry for those who will lose even more.
This has helped me practice many preps, test them out and clarified places for improvement. People who mocked are now listening. People who thought that security wasn't an issue if you "didn't live in that type of area" have come to the horrifying realization that people who want to break in don't have to live next to you to be a danger.
I am afraid we are in for much more because of the snow storm coming, but we shall see.
Thank you for all you do! - The Homeschool Homemaker


I’m grateful to you for sharing my post-Sandy updates. There is a “comfort” in reaching people. Here is Storm Update # 5:
Sunday morning. Relationships. They matter more than ever in an emergency. Yesterday, we burned through the decent firewood. We are now down to the rot. Before Sandy, I had contacted a landscaper to remove this stuff to make space for a new load. However, it fell to the wayside, in part because I had other priorities, and also because I was using this junk wood in our backyard fire pit. I logged in a call to the contractor who had provided us with firewood for the last seven years – his Fall advertisement was still on my desk. He remembered us, and though he was delivering in upstate Pennsylvania with orders backed-up, he understood the circumstances here and promised to deliver a heaping cord tomorrow. I thanked him, and headed out to clean-up our wood stack. This took several hours. The rot went into the mulch piles, which left two empty six by six inch railroad ties clear for the new wood. I also repositioned our eight-foot metal fireplace holder. Good to go.
Next, I turned to refilling the genny. I was mixing the stabilized emergency gasoline that had been under the tarp since last Spring, with the new gasoline I had obtained Friday. Normally, I would do first in, first out, but I didn’t want to risk the genny with bad fuel. While pouring the gas, our neighbor from behind the house (Mike) surprised me with a visit. He lives on a different street, and our last encounter had been testy as he had attempted to dig a drainage line over our property without permission. Don’t get me wrong, we resolved that episode. He had apologized, laying the blame on his contractor. Without rehashing the details, suffice to say that this was a knowing incursion onto our property. Still, I was of a mind to let there be peace.
Mike and I chatted for a while. He was cooking the last of his freezer meat on the barbecue – thus he had seen me – and was also a bit freaked. Though our prior encounter had not been the warmest, he was looking for camaraderie. Most of the neighbors on his side were also gone, and he never imagined that power-down could happen for a week in NJ! His genny, like ours, was also wired into critical systems. He had gasoline issues, food supplies in his basement and a baseball bat by the bed. He and his wife were “creeped out” at night. They had signed up for firearm instruction, but that was next month. Short story – I extended the olive branch, and told him I’d watch his back and to let me know if he needs anything. He agreed to do the same for us. I didn’t give him every detail on our situation, but enough. Relationships – they do matter. Perhaps one can be an island as a “prepper” in a hardened bunker in the Redoubt, but in my experience the folks that truly understand survival always acknowledge that it takes cooperation by a team of like-minded adults and children.
While I was busy at the house, my wife (Steph) was making a run to Whole Foods to see about fresh food. We got word through our friends on Twitter that the store was open, had generator power and had received a delivery. I reminded her that as the pet store was in the same shopping center, try to buy whatever bags they had available of Aslan’s dry dog food. I had bought two 20-pound bags pre-Sandy, but he’s a 70 pound shepherd and he rips through the chow.
Steph returned a few hours later with groceries. The entire shopping center was dark except Whole Foods. Fortunately, the pet store owners had set up a table outside and were walking customers in one at a time with a flashlight – cash only of course. She bought their last 20-pound bag and a few chewy treats.
Goods were unloaded, dishes hand washed, fireplace stoked, lanterns checked (fresh batteries for the non-rechargeables), dog walked and dinner cooked. Steph had purchased a mashed cauliflower side from Whole Foods, but upon sampling it in the pan with the onions, she tossed it. Spoiled. Lesson learned… she would ask for a taste at the store before buying any prepared items. After dinner - it’s dark, cold and windy – I did the genny refueling for the night, and observed that it was running a hair rougher to my ear. Note to self: could be the fuel mix, but six days of 24-hour running means that tomorrow I need to check the oil, carburetor, fuel line, etc.
Turning to the Shore, and a bit of positive news: I confirmed that mom had checked into the hotel. Eventually, we spoke via the mobile. Her phone battery charger had died the other day and she was otherwise busy with contractors, insurance adjusters, FEMA reps, etc. She had brought enough food with her from Pennsylvania, and in South Jersey, gasoline was not as much of a problem. As for our family home on the beach block, pretty much as expected. The garage had four feet of sand, the doors were destroyed from the waves and everything inside was history. The basement of the home (which is more like a first floor due to the home’s elevation) was trashed, a total loss of all systems (HVAC, pumps, washer, dryer, electrical, freezer, etc.). There was a foot of sand to dig out and everything will have to be removed to the foundation before the mold gets a grip. Thankfully, the first floor and above - having been built high in 1938 and all windows boarded-up for Sandy - suffered minimal damage. Mom told me that the local supermarket will not open for several days, but that other stores are beginning to show signs of life. The overall damage to the City is huge, and there is a foul “smell” in the air. She will do the back-and-forth from the house to the hotel until things are repaired. The only dependable contractor that has been helping her is the carpenter that our family has known for decades. Again, it’s all about relationships.
This isn’t the most riveting update, but life is all about the little things. Sometimes they take more energy than we imagine, and it wears you down. Our family realizes that our situation is so much better than that of others in NJ and NY, as well as other regions of the country. In part, that’s through our decisions and actions, but luck also plays a role. I’m told that power should be restored today, and that although our daughters’ school has one building without power or fire alarms, the main building will be open for classes tomorrow – Monday.
Best wishes to all. This might be the last update – in a good way. - Bill H.

The article on constructed languages [by Snow Wolf] was fascinating. Just two concerns: An outsider might be able to crack your code based on repeated grammar. As was mentioned