December 2012 Archives

Monday, December 31, 2012

I'm put up the blog posts for December 30 and 31 early, to allow time for my son to start assembling our updated Archive DVD. This new edition will cover 2005 to 2012, and have even more bonus material than the previous edition (Which was on a CD-ROM). It will first be available as a digital download, and then in about two weeks as a DVD. (This will allow us time to test prototypes.) You can look for an announcement around January 5th. Thanks for your patience.


Beat the price increase! "Appleseed Gift Certificates for men on sale for only fifty dollars! (Until midnight, December 31, 2012.) Appleseed fees for men will increase to $80 in January, 2013. So here's your chance to get that friend or family member out to an Appleseed event and save $30 before the price increase."

I'd like to believe that after Earth for more than 61 years, that I'm getting a little bit smarter in my old age. Well, maybe not smarter, but a bit wiser, might be a better description. There was a time, not too many years ago, when I could hump 50-pounds around the boonies, with a full-set of A.L.I.C.E. gear and a full combat load of ammo and some manner of AR-15. Those days are long gone! However, I'm actually in better shape physically these days, than I was 10 years ago, but that doesn't mean that I want to pack more gear than needed in my BOB. To this end, is why I believe I'm getting a little bit wiser. I still want to be able to survive - as best I can - with the smallest amount of gear that I can carry. If you believe you can haul all the gear and equipment on your back that you'll need for long-term survival in the wilderness, you are only kidding yourself. However, we can pack smarter, and make wilderness survival a bit easier.
Like many folks, I enjoy a good camp fire, however that isn't always needed, especially when cooking a meal. If you've ever had to gather wood out on a camping trip, or a survival training weekend, you know it can be a lot of work to gather enough wood to keep you going for several days. Consider the Emberlit Camp Stove that can making camping and wilderness survival a lot easier in many respects. With the Emberlit Camp Stove, you don't need to build a big camp fire to cook your meals, all your cooking can be done with this small camp stove, and a very small amount of wood, or other products that you can burn in this neat little stove.
The full specs on the Emberlit Camp Stove are available at their web site, so we'll only touch on a couple of them: First off all, the stove is only 1/8th of a inch thick when folded flat. And, the stainless steel model only weighs in at 11.3-ounces and is 100% Made In America. There is also an Emberlit Camp Stove made out of Titanium, and it weighs a mere 5.45-ounces. I tested both stoves, and for my money, I'd pay a little bit more and get the Titanium model - remember, I talked about saving weight in a BOB - this saves a few more ounces.
I've tried quite a few small camp or cook stoves over the years, and while they all worked to one degree or another, they all required that I carry fuel with me - some required small tablets that when lit produced a heat source. Others required Butane gas, and some required white gas or propane, or even a gel - all a pain to have to carry in the boonies, and you are adding a lot of weight by having to carry these sources of fuel - plus some of the stoves were just too big to carry in a pack. I want to accomplish the same tasks with less weight and less bulk these days - again, I'm getting wiser and thinking smarter these days.
The Emberlit Camp Stove assembles in a minute or less, and your don't even need to read the directions that come with it - I like simple, and simple usually equates to stronger and better in my book - less things to go wrong. You can also get an optional carrying case for the Emberlit Camp Stove - although I believe in my humble opinion that, the carry case should be included with the stove, instead of being sold at $6.95 - but the carrying case does fit nicely on a belt, if you don't want to carry it in your pack. Still, I believe the carrying case should be included with each stove - just my take on it.
We were still in the burn ban part of Fall when I tested the Emberlit Camp Stove, so I had to do my testing in my covered carport, instead of out in the woods. Still, I believe I gave the Emberlit a good work-out several times - cooking several meals without any problems. And, believe it or not, this little stove would really get good and hot with just some small twigs. I did have to add some twigs during the cooking process because the stove is so small, you can only fit so many twigs in the stove at any given time. Still, I had no problem cooking over the stove, with my camp cook gear - read: military pan/tray. I even tried doing some cooking with wadded-up newspaper (without colored ink, of course), and I could cook with that - although I did have to constantly feed the fuel into the stove - still, it worked just fine.
I spoke of "simple" and this is about as simple as it comes for a camp stove - again, simple means stronger and with less things to break. Emberlit does offer extra cross bar members for their stoves, and it's probably a good idea to have a spare set on-hand, just in case. When the power grids go down, and you've run out of propane or natural gas doesn't flow to your kitchen stove any longer, the Emberlit Camp Stove can be a real life saver. And, with the small amount of wood it takes to cook a meal, a person can easy scavenge enough wood to keep the stove cooking for a good long time - just about anything that can burn can be used as a fuel. You could even burn some old tax code books if you had to. A face cord of wood, split into small pieces and cut-to-fit the Emberlit Camp Stove would probably last you a couple years of daily use. I've also written about  having a source of safe water to drink, and one way to have safe water is to bring it to near a boil - and you can easily do this with the Emberlit Camp Stove, too.
The Emberlit Camp Stove is the brain-child of Mikhail Merkurieff, and he categorically states on his web site that he wants all his customers be happy with their purchase, period! How many times have you read that you have a one-year warranty, or a limited lifetime warranty on a product, and there are always "ifs ands and buts" when it comes to placing a claim. Merkurieff doesn't put limits on his promise: If you aren't happy with his products, for any reason, he wants to make it right. That is very refreshing in this day and age.
The basic stainless steel stove cost $39.95, and the Titanium model is on-sale right now for $64.95 and a mini Ti model is on sale for $59.95 - for my money, the Titanium version is worth the added cost. Remember what I said about packing smarter? Well, if you can shave off a couple ounces here and there, it adds-up in short order, and any more, I don't want to pack one more ounce of gear than I need to carry. I really believe I'm getting wiser in my old age.- SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

Author: Louis L'Amour
Copyright Date: 1987
Publisher: Bantam
ISBN: 978-055
Audio, e-book or foreign translation available? Yes, Audio, Kindle & Nook
Suitable for children? Teens and up, yes, particularly males.

I did not pick up the novel Last of the Breed thinking it would be for a SurvivalBlog review topic. Louis L'Amour is one of the authors I read as "mind candy", an easy read just for the fun of it. However, I quickly realized that this book is one of L'Amour's exceptional works and an excellent read for anyone who lives or is thinking of living in the American Redoubt.

Unlike most of Louis L'Amour's books, this novel is set in Siberia, and set in relatively modern times. There are airplanes and automobiles. Perhaps the best clue as to the date is the construction of the railroad in the Amur region which would put the time right about the late 1950s. This would help explain why certain technologies were not a factor in this novel.

Although there are no cowboys, horses or dusty saloons, there is an Indian. Major Joe Makatozi is part Cheyenne and Sioux Indian, and in the author's words "an unreconstructed savage." And while Siberia may be unfamiliar territory to many folks, it is deliberately compared to the American Redoubt, particularly the Snake River territory in Idaho. This is where Joe Mak grew up and where he developed the skill set which makes all the difference in this novel.

Joe Mak was raised in a home which would be the dream home of many preppers. Built by an ancestral Scotsman, the home was in an area without roads and entirely off grid. Trips to town were accomplished in avoidance of all roads. It would be regarded as a primitive home in the eyes of many, but it was excellent preparation for the circumstances with which Joe Mak had to contend.

Spoilers Ahead!

Colonel Arkady Zamatev of the Russian army had a plan to advance his career by acquiring military intelligence for the USSR. His plan was to kidnap fairly low profile individuals who had knowledge of key, cutting edge foreign military and scientific technology. His first several captures went perfectly, and with the confidence of those successes he decided to pursue and capture Joe Makatozi, a pilot with knowledge of the developments of experimental aircraft. And indeed, Zamatev was successful in capturing Joe Mak and bringing him to the specially dedicated prison near Lake Baikal in Siberia. This prison was purpose built, and in fact, still under construction. Set in the midst of one of the harshest climates on earth, surrounded by ten foot tall electrified fences with machine gun towers every one hundred yards it was inconceivable that anyone would even think of trying to escape, yet Joe Mak did just that. Under cover of a brief electrical service interruption Joe Mak pole vaulted the fence and sprinted into the forest, setting into motion a manhunt involving competing political interests and a hostile natural environment.

It was initially thought that it would not be at all difficult to recapture Joe. In fact, it was considered that he would probably be eager to turn himself in if the cold didn't get him first. However, these were the thoughts of men who could not conceive of an individual of the type they were actually dealing with.

The one person who had a sense of what they were up against was a Yakut tracker by the name of Alekhin. The Yakut were Siberia's natives and compared fairly well to the American Indian. Alekhin was a legendary tracker, known for always finding his man, but also for always bringing him back dead. Zamatev made it clear that at least this time Alekhin's quarry had to come back alive and at least able to speak.

From a survival perspective things don't get much more bleak. Joe Makatozi is in a foreign country where he doesn't even speak the language. He is on his own in a deadly cold environment with nothing more than the clothes on his back. He has the army and a skilled tracker on his trail. And there is no one he can call on for help.

It must be admitted that Joe has to resort to theft at several points. Just to make it through the first week he steals a few cans of food, a sweatshirt and a knife. But these are all he needs to get himself into a position in which he can sustain himself. From there he was able to fashion himself a spear and a sling for hunting. Able to hunt he was then able to procure skins for warmth, and once able to kill an animal large enough he was able to obtain sinews for a bow string. Making a bow and knapping his own arrowheads he was able to kill at a distance and bring down even larger game. This allowed him to make his own moccasins to replace the boots he was wearing out. This also made him even harder to track.

Lacking knowledge of the area he was traveling posed a real challenge. It was very much his desire to avoid all human contact. This meant avoiding population centers and transportation corridors. Crossing rivers and mountain ranges posed a challenge. Eventually Joe managed to steal a map, but even then it was difficult to pinpoint precisely where he was. Much of the time he simply had to rely on his own knowledge of the general geography of the area.

One factor which Joe had in his favor is the fact that Siberia is a climate which tends to harbor only those who are of a self-sufficient nature. These folks tend to be inherently distrustful of the government. As a result, most of those who Joe did encounter were in no hurry to turn him in to the authorities, but rather were inclined to let him go on his way and let things work themselves out.

Eventually Joe even finds himself among others who are fugitives in one sense or another. Because Joe is a skillful hunter and can provide food for those who are otherwise on the verge of starvation his presence is tolerated in spite of the high profile search for him which is underway. In this setting Joe is able to learn some of the language and how best to proceed on his course. This situation does not last long, but it provides Joe with better shelter through some of the worst of the Siberian winter.

Overall, this novel covers most of a year. Joe's rate of travel is necessarily slow, and there are times when he must remain in shelter for extended periods of time. His demeanor throughout the ordeal ranges the gamut from being at the point of laying down to die all the way to hunting those who hunt him. At no point is this a slow read. Louis L'Amour keeps the reader on the edge of their seat all the way through this one. There is simply no point in which Joe's life is not in immediate danger. Be it from man, nature or self, Joe's future is constantly in jeopardy.

I will not spoil the ending as to do so would seriously detract from the crafting of this novel, and it is an excellently crafted work. This book was published towards the end of Louis L'Amour's career, and it is one of his most refined. The novel opens with a preview of a scene which will take place later in the story. No clues are given as to how much later, and thus a sense of mystery is added to the story. That mystery is very well resolved by the end and in a manner which a warrior will find quite satisfactory. Those of a tender heart and a peace loving nature may not enjoy this novel, but a fighter will relate to it quite well.

This novel does not go to the level of detail to teach the skills required for survival, but it does give the reader a sense of what they must know in order to keep themselves alive in this setting. It should also be noted that the level of physical fitness required is that of a near olympic level decathlete. A substantial part of Joe's success is the fact that his enemies cannot conceive of his level of skill and his degree of physical ability. It is not that average person who can manage this, the author makes that clear. It should also be noted that a modern manhunt would involve modern technologies which would make Joe's flight much more difficult. I still found it a great read and an instructive one.

Mr Rawles,

In the Odds 'n Sods section on Saturday 29 December, a reader indicates that, regarding AR pistols: "Most people don't realize they exist, and that they can be legally converted to rifles, and back". Anyone considering this route to acquiring an AR rifle should be very aware of the relevant laws about assembling an AR rifle from the pistol configuration. As the rule has been explained to me, any rifle with a barrel less than 16" in length would be considered a 'short-barelled rifle' and would fall under the regulation of the National Firearms Act (NFA), i.e., would become a 'Class 3' weapon. As most AR pistols are sold with barrels ranging in length from 7.5" to perhaps 13.5"' a rifle assembled from such a pistol may indeed fall under the NFA. ATF Ruling 2011-4 and related information may help clarify the rules for anyone considering such a conversion. 

I wouldn't want to see any of your otherwise law-abiding readers get caught out on this issue. Please check the laws before converting an AR pistol to a rifle, and back!

God Bless, and keep up the good work. - NMShooter

I just read your article The American Redoubt -- Move to the Mountain States.  I am confused about something.  On one hand you said to not expect high speed Internet then scrolling down further you refer to using the Internet.  There must be some sort of Internet service where you are. 
My income is acquired using my computer and high speed Internet.  So does that leave me out?
Thanks for your time. - Deborah T. in California

JWR Replies: There is dial-up Internet available in most towns in the Redoubt, but high speed (DSL, or better) is available in just a few towns and cities.  The good news, however, is that high speed Internet service is available everywhere if you are willing to pay more for satellite Internet service.  (Such as Direct PC or WildBlue.)

Check with your realtor, and include DSL on your wish list, if that is a priority.

S.A.'s Killer Potato Soup

I was given this hand-written, hearty recipe 20 years ago by an Air Force wife. It's super nutritious including several vegetables, potatoes for carbs, and bacon for protein.

When planning meals, I like to think of how to incorporate small amounts of protein (a la Dan Fong in Patriots) for nutrition and flavoring from stored foods such as canned meats and either commercial dehydrated foods or my own stores. This soup features root vegetables and is a great starter or can be the meal along with some good bread. It's easy to make as nothing needs to be pre-cooked or sauteed.

4 large potatoes
2 stalks celery 
2 T beef bouillon granules
2 strips canned bacon (or use fresh)
4 carrots 
1 large onion
1/2 t. pepper

Peel vegetables, dice everything.  Combine ingredients, add water, about 2 inches to cover all. If using dried veggies, adjust water for rehydration. Cook everything until soft.  Allow to cool.  Puree in blender.  Heat to serve.

Chef's Notes:

Sprinkle a little paprika or cheese or chopped herbs on top, if desired. A real crowd pleaser. Who doesn't like bacon and potatoes and tons of flavor?

Useful Recipe and Cooking Links:

Reader Louise B. recommended The Food Substitutions Bible: More Than 6,500 Substitutions for Ingredients, Equipment and Techniques by David Joachim

liked this: Homemade Meals In A Jar

Currently Available as Free Kindle e-Books:

Cavelady Cooking: 50 Fun Recipes for Paleo, Low-Carb and Gluten-Free Diets

The Man Cave Cookbook: More Than 150 Fast and Easy Recipes for Dining In The Man Cave

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

First Detailed National Map of Land-Cover Vegetation in U.S. (Thanks to Timothy B. for the link.)

   o o o

Sale ends December 31st! Ready Made Resources has extended their special pricing on genuine full mil-spec AN/PVS-14 Gen 3+ night vision scopes. They are offering these "grade A" autogated scopes with a free Picatinny rail weapons mount, free shutter eyepiece and free shipping. As usual, these include a head mount and carry case. These have a five year warranty and free annual maintenance for five years. Normally $3,895, these are on sale for $2,795 with free shipping. FWIW, I recently bought a second one of these monoculars for our use here at the Rawles Ranch. (After all, "Two is one and one is none.")

   o o o

Nearly 200 Utah Teachers, School Workers Attend Free Concealed Weapons Class

   o o o

K.A.F. sent this news from Nanny State Britannia: British Medical Journal: Ban Long Knives

   o o o

How to Zero your AR15 / M4. (Thanks to F.G. for the link.)

"Health, love and peace be all here in this place
By your leave we shall sing, concerning our King.
Our King is well-dressed in silks of the best
In ribbons so rare no king can compare.
We have travelled many miles over hedges and stiles,
In search of our King unto you we bring.
We have powder and shot to conquer the lot,
We have cannon and ball to conquer them all.
Old Christmas is past, twelve tide is the last
And we bid you adieu, great joy to the new." - Lyrics to The King (as sung by Steeleye Span and later popularized by Loreena McKennitt)

Sunday, December 30, 2012

December 30th is the birthday of Rudyard Kipling, in 1865.


Today we present another entry for Round 44 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 44 ends on January 31st, 2013, 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’d like to thank JWR and all of you for providing such a mountain of good information!  I am in my 30’s and have a family with several small children in the suburbs, and just started prepping about 18 months ago.  I don’t remember the details of why I got started exactly.  It just came up in conversation with a couple of friends of mine and we got serious about it.

I do remember, however, some of the events and conversations that took place to get my wife involved (I mean…at least get her permission!) and so I thought I would share it with you.  Maybe there is another person out there that is interested in being prepared, but doesn’t know how to approach his or her spouse.
I am in finance and my wife was in accounting before we had children, so we both think of things very logically and practically.  (Or at least we enjoy thinking that we do)  So, when I explained to my wife my desire to “be prepared” I used two events to my advantage:

1 – In September 2008 Hurricane Ike slammed into the United States down south and then pushed north inland causing $7.8 billion in damages, killing hundreds, and causing power outages for hundreds of thousands.  My area lost power for a couple of days, but my wife and I were both working at the time and neither of us lost power at work for very long.  Curiously, our block including us were without power for 8 days, while all the houses around our block had the power turned back on after 24-48 hours.  The power company was simply working on highest priorities, and we weren’t one of them.  Fortunately, we didn’t have kids and we could go to work and visit friends who had power, so it wasn’t a big deal.  We gave away what was in the freezer because we didn’t know what else to do with it.  I visited the local store for batteries and such, but it was all gone.  Again, not a big deal.  We had a few yummy-smelling candles and a few spare batteries lying around.

2 – Last winter we had rain for a few days, which became freezing rain, which then just became bitterly cold and frozen everywhere.  It was so beautiful!!!  It was also treacherous.  We have a steep driveway and when I went out to start the car for work I slid (while standing) all the way down the driveway and then fell into the street…sliding all the way into the street.  Thankfully, I didn’t break anything and no cars were coming.  If there were they would not have been able to stop.  I went into work and didn’t notice until later that there was blood dripping from inside of my pants.  I was cut up pretty bad and bruised for probably two weeks.  I’m also certain I was very, very close to breaking my hip or leg.  It hurt very badly!  By the time I made it home and went to the grocery store, there were few batteries and there was absolutely no salt.

Fast forward to 18 months ago and on up to today.  I now have several small children and my wife stays at home with them.  My youngest is a couple months old and I can NOT afford to lose heat in the winter.  Going without power at home would be a severe inconvenience.  And, surfing my driveway is not something that I’d ever like to do again.
So, after the kids were asleep and after warning her I wanted to talk to her about something, I approached my wife with a perspective something like this:
When I think of events or bad things that could happen to us, I see a sliding scale of possibilities.  On the one hand, we have lost power for 8 days before.  Also, I have slipped on the ice in the driveway and been severely hurt.  On one end we have a Jesus Apocalypse and he takes us home!  In between, there are threats of varying degree.  Maybe it would look something like this:


Rapture – Definitely going to happen!  Do you know Christ?  Does He know you?
Ice Storm
Power Outage
No Water
Fire, tornado, flooding
Rioting or Civil Unrest
Injury or illness (no income for period of time)
Natural death (no income for family)
Outbreak (it’s happened before!  The first flu virus killed more people than the war!)
Nuclear Meltdown (do you know how many nuclear power plants we have in the U.S.?  Ever heard of Chernobyl?  How about Japan in 2011?)
War on domestic soil
EMP/Chemical/Nuclear Attack
Rapture – Still going to happen!  Not sure when though?

So, I explained this sliding scale to her.  Change the sliding scale to reflect additional possibilities for your area (earthquake, tsunami, flood, volcano, hurricane, proximity to nuclear power plants, family situation)  Some of them are very likely to occur and some of them are absolutely absurd.  Some of them are more or less severe.  I do not think that I will die within the next 20 years, but if I do, I have a large term life insurance policy that helps me sleep at night and my wife knows the ONLY person that I trust to help her financially if I die.  That person is in her cell phone and we have had a mock “Hubby is dead.  Now what?” meeting because I absolutely demanded it.  Sorry, but I’m a financial advisor by trade.  The thought drives me mad that she wouldn’t know what to do when I’m gone or someone would bamboozle her into doing something foolish with the money.  I’ve also inoculated her against various financial instruments that I think are more about the advisor being greedy than it being good for the client!

…back on track.  So on the More Likely end I want to go out and get some salt for the driveway.  I’d like to get some spare batteries and flashlight bulbs and candles in case the power goes out.  I’d like to get a cheap kerosene heater and some kerosene in case the heat goes out because we have little ones.
We’re not being crazy.  We’re just being smart.  The next time the power goes out we’ve seen multiple times now that it’s too late to buy batteries!  When there is an ice storm it is too late to buy salt!

So, in 18 months’ time on a modest income for a family with several small children, I’ve tried to be very strategic with my purchases because I can’t just go buy everything out there that I want.  Also, I started this venture explaining to my wife how very, extremely, yet simply reasonable I was being.  Many of you are probably locked and loaded and lardered but others of you have yet to get started.  I went searching around online and found this list: and started from there.
From nothing, now we have:
6 buckets (for all sorts of things including toilet)
A few axes and hatchets
Tons of batteries, candles, extra flashlights, and extra bulbs
Kerosene heater and 10 gallons of kerosene (in the detached shed)
20 gallons of gasoline with stabilizer in it (in the detached shed)
Several boxes worth of non-perishable canned and jarred goods from the store (it’s what I first started with as far as food is concerned…but it will go bad throughout 2013-2014)
360 servings of food.  You can get a sample pack first.  You can also substitute meals you don’t like for ones that you do.  I took out spicy foods and added a few extra gluten-free.  We have a friend that can’t eat gluten so in the event that we take on refugees…   This was very expensive and I only recently bought it, but I know that since it lasts for 25 years it is actually the cheapest over time.

I’m writing this on 12/14/2012. In the event that people are idiots on 12/21 I went ahead and grabbed the next 6 weeks’ worth of non-perishables that I would normally buy in the store that we WILL USE and put them in boxes in the garage.  I just walked the aisles and grabbed things that I KNOW will be on the next 6 weeks of grocery lists.
So as far as food is concerned I think I probably have 3-4 months saved up so far for my family.  Less with feeding friends or refugees.
A big berkey water filter -
2 Water bob’s - for our 2 tubs
Several bags of salt for the driveway
A few guns and about 4,000 rounds of ammo (the ammo was bought slowly over time whenever I get groceries and I also made one major purchase online with a friend)
Two-way radios

I also have plans to move to a friend’s farm if necessary for food.  I have plans to hole-up with another friend that lives a few blocks away if necessary for security.  I’ve spoken to 5 families and my parents who are all like-minded and have talked about supporting each other if something bad happens.

All of these purchases (with the exception of the excess quantity of ammo) are all very easily explained as to what they would be useful for.  They are extremely practical and would be helpful if we lost access to power, water, or food.  My wife says she doesn’t like talking about this stuff and it makes her feel a sense of panic.  However, she’s glad that I’m doing something and knows that I desire to help and protect the family.  She’s given me a designated survival pallet in the garage!  I also have some space upstairs in the office.  The guns and ammo HAVE to be locked away, but with small kids I’m totally fine with that.

I’m not ready for the apocalypse.  I do, however, have a loving spouse that understands what I’m doing and I am ready for the power to go out on us.  I’m ready for an ice storm.  I’m ready if we lose water in the house as long as I can get to the river nearby.  I don’t need to worry if there’s a long line at the gas station.  I don’t need to worry if we lose heat in the middle of winter.
I hope that this will help someone else who is now like I was 18 months ago starting from Square One.  I hope that this will help you talk to someone, using the Sliding Scale of Possibilities, and get them to understand that you’re simply “Being Prepared” as the Boy Scouts say.  If you can’t explain it, maybe you can show this article to your loved one and just ask them for their thoughts and feedback?

Thank you all, again, for giving me so many ideas and so much good information!!!  This is by far the best survivalist blog I’ve found on the Internet.  (and I’m a 7th Degree Google Ninja)
Grace & Peace in Christ, - Mr. Reasonable Ohio

Dear Captain Rawles,
Thank you for your fascinating web site!

I found the article entitled, "Observations on Bugging Out By Foot, by J. Smith" to be generally interesting and useful with his shared experiences.  Three items within the article bothered me somewhat and you had an editor's note on at least one of them.

I think that using a plastic fake gun and some M-80s to simulate firing will get you killed or at least arrested.  If you are stealthy enough in your travels, you shouldn't need to brandish a weapon.  Perhaps carrying a take down .22 rifle in your pack would be a better idea.  At least you can hunt some with it.

That takes me to my second point.  Scrounging in some farmer's field could get you shot or arrested for trespassing.  I feel it would be better to try to speak with the property owner first and get permission.  Heck, who knows, he might give you temporary housing and job that pays money of some kind, plus feed you too!

Having a fishing/hunting license for the state your in will save you some questions from a game warden.  Here in Texas, both a fishing license and hunting license combo is fairly inexpensive.  You'll need the hunting license to gig frogs along with snaring rabbits (no seasonal limits) and squirrels (sporadic seasonal limits).  Fishing with a pole and line is just about legal anywhere and using trot lines and bank lines is generally acceptable but not everywhere.  Fishing gear can double as snare gear too!  Also, a book on your state's edible plants would be a good addition to your kit.

Lastly, drinking wild water could be a major health issue.  I'm glad J. Smith didn't get sick from doing that and also glad that he recommends against that.

However, all in all, I did enjoy the article.  I found it useful with my thinking process on the subject.  

Cordially, - Steve H.

"High noon behind the tamarisks,
The sun is hot above us.
As at home the Christmas Day is breaking wan,
They will drink our health at dinner,
Those who tell us how they love us,
And forget us till another year be gone!" - Rudyard Kipling, Christmas in India

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Today we present another entry for Round 44 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 44 ends on January 31st, 2013, 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.

They are not personally prepared at all. The average soldier is no more prepared than the average civilian.

If this is a concern (you live by a military installation), a curiosity (you have a relative that serves), or if you just want a glimpse of military life, let me tell you why the average soldier is not personally prepared.  I must first establish my credibility.   

I have a BA degree from a major university, and various civilian job experiences under my belt, mostly in food service and then social services.  I am an older soldier, low ranking on the totem pole. I am a truck driver in the US Army, and on the front lines where the rubber meets the road so to say.    As in all the clichés, I joined the Army to serve my country and learn about the Armed Forces, but somewhat selfishly, I joined also to learn about first aid, shooting, field sanitation, and the plethora of training that many a survivalist craves and practices, not only gaining these valuable skills for free, but getting paid to learn them.  I have been in the Army for four years, and I was into preparing for TEOTWAWKI years before I enlisted.  I have deployed twice, with many a mission outside-the-wire.

Bird Flu was my gateway drug into the prepper/survivalist community.  Upon discovering this new reality that things can and will go south, I was on the zombie apocalypse bandwagon for a long time.  I still enjoy the movies and the books. The reasoning was "if you are prepared for zombies, you are prepared for anything", and if you want a lighthearted icebreaker to discuss prepping, zombie talk will break it.  In the Army, arguing all things undead is a fun way to pass the hours and hours of hurry up and wait, in between the rock throwing and myriad one-uppers.  Early on in this stint of national service, I would talk about zombies and survivalism a lot. I was under the impression that the Army was full of preppers and survivalists. I was deployed straight out of AIT, and saw very little of my wife and kids for my first year and a half of service, so SHTF scenarios that would be natural conversations in my own family continued as daily conversations in my surrogate family.  I soon found out that there was very little interest in prepping, but fortunately, while breaching OPSEC in an effort to convince others about the benefits of preps, soldiers PCS and ETS, and those I stand beside now are completely different soldiers than those I stood beside early on.     

The military has higher rates of suicide and divorce than the general population.  This is an unfortunate reality.  You might think they also have higher rates of preppers/survivalists than the general population.  This is an understandable misconception.  If we assume only 1% to 5% of the civilian masses are preppers, IMHO, no more than 1% to 5% of military are preppers as well.  In this essay, I will discuss the various barriers to an individual soldier's personal preparedness, and I will discuss various categories of personal preparedness in relation to the average soldier. This is important information because maybe you have stereotypes of the average soldier and the military in general, maybe you have contingencies incorporating the military in one way or another, or maybe your feel scared and threatened, neutral and unaware, or secure and reassured by the military and the men and women in uniform.

There are indeed various barriers to prepping.  These barriers for soldiers at times are unique, and at times mirror the barriers for the general population.  The barriers discussed here are money and complacency/laziness.

Money is one of the single most important barriers to prepping, and affects everybody regardless if you are in uniform or not.  Military pay is different than civilian pay.  Military pay is made up of Base Pay and Entitlements.  Entitlements are pay for things like base allowance for housing (BAH) and groceries, called base allowance for subsistence (BAS).  Money doesn't have to be a barrier for the military family, but it is a great barrier to prepping that affects soldiers in different ways.   

Take for instance the young, single (unmarried) soldiers.  The single soldier receives his entitlement for housing, and each month that money is taken away (canceling each other out) and he is provided with a furnished barracks room.  Rooms nowadays are actually nicer than my college dorm room!  More like suites, where you have your own little room, but share a bathroom and kitchen with only one other soldier.  However, many single soldiers choose to not live in the barracks, and go in together on a lease at an apartment or rental house off-post.  So soldiers are paying for housing already, in lieu of directly receiving the BAH, but on top of that, they are using their discretionary income to pay for even more housing because they choose not to stay in their barracks room.  It gets worse when it comes to filling the belly.  Single soldiers are given BAS each month, but the military takes back the money every month because they are provided with a meal card.  The meal card entitles single soldiers to eat three very nice meals a day in the military cafeterias (DFAC), with food so varied that the average American comes nowhere close to eating that well.  And if you went out and bought the type of variety the soldiers can eat in the DFAC, it would cost a small fortune.  But the single soldier does not take advantage of this, and therefore eats out nearly every meal, or buys groceries and cooks nearly every meal.  So you have a soldier who is spending their discretionary money not only on housing, but also on food, when the housing and food is essentially prepaid.

Married Soldiers don't get off easy either.  Divorce rates in the military are higher than in the civilian world.  Paying for divorces and paying for child support is not uncommon.  Family, when not in it for love/spirituality and when not in it for the long run, can be very expensive.  Expensive to get into, and expensive to get out of.  And often times, it is near impossible for the wife to work.  This is why they are called "Army Wives".  That is their profession.  Soldiers work 24/7, it just depends what your specific task is at any given moment.  Could be PT, could be working in the motor pool, but it could also be relaxing or sleeping.  Point is, you are never really off, and in conjunction with field exercises, 24 hour duty rotations, early mornings and long days, a soldier's schedule is in constant ebb and flow, and this means the wife primarily must be the anchor keeping the house together - cleaning, cooking, rearing the children, and the like.  One income households can prosper and prepping can be achieved, just as single soldiers can save money and prepare themselves if they wanted too, but soldiers are humans, and herein lays the other problem relating to money:   

Just like civilian life, soldiers balance financial issues similar to what civilians do, and maybe even more so.  Debt and vices rear their ugly head on soldiers like shoppers ready to stampede Wal-Mart on Black Friday.  There is comfort and reassurance in getting paid on the first and fifteenth of every month, and once the wheels of short term satisfaction and instant gratification start turning, they are hard to brake.  Let’s talk about debt.  And just one form of debt on top of that - the quintessential American car loan.  In my time in the Army, I have come to learn that not only does the average soldier spend a lot more on accessories and upgrades to their vehicles than the general population, it is not uncommon to have a $600/month car note to finance the endeavor, with 10% to 18% interest rates, and an insurance premium to high to pay at once, creating monthly bills in excess of $150.  Furthermore, there is an unspoken rule of ego propping in the Army.  Hence the perceived need for having the brand new Jeep Wrangler "Call of Duty" edition with the heavy duty Warn winch sporting hard, soft and bikini tops at will, even though it will never go off road, or having the brand new Dodge Charger with low profile tires hugging for dear life on 26" rims, with more than one TV screen for every potential passenger, and a stereo system so loud it could be used for a block party.  Money wasted, preps foregone.  Vices would be another avenue of lost income when it comes to the average soldier.  Drinking, smoking and dipping usage is higher per capita in the military than it is in the civilian world, not to mention daily stops at the gas station for energy drinks and snacks.  All this adds up to little left over at the end of the month to put into food reserves, gold and silver coin, and an ample water supply. 

In addition to the money barrier, there is the complacency barrier.  Complacency about work load is a start.  Think of how you drive through a construction zone and there is one guy shoveling and six guys standing around him.  Well, same holds true in the Army.  20% of the workers do 80% of the work.  Thus we have an attitude that someone else will do it.  That is complacency my friends.  Another type of complacency that is found in the civilian world but amplified in the army is the "government will take care of me" attitude.  Well, guess what, soldiers are in that government, and if you have ever been deployed, you know that getting taken care of is no easy task even in the best situations.  Sure, supply and resupply works great now.  But just-in-time on an industrial scale gives soldiers a false sense of hope.  Complacency sets in similar to the way a corporate hamster wheeler gets his pink slip.  He thinks, "This can never happen to me".  Well, it just did.

Now that we have discussed some of the barriers to preparedness, we need to look at different categories of preps to analyze why and how the average soldier is just not prepared.  Let’s start with the tried and true survivalist doctrine that skills are more important than stuff.  This is true.  But let’s look at skills from an individual soldier's perspective. 

The soldier has a primary job, called a Military Occupational Specialty (MOS).  I am a truck driver.  I have expert skills in this field.  I can secure an M1 Abrams Tank to a trailer that has 40 wheels and tires on it, and haul it off into the sunset.  I can pick up shipping containers and drop them wherever they are needed.  I can run convoys and react to ambushes, roadside bombs, breakdowns and the like.  I can do these things because that is my job in the Army, and I would hope everybody was competent and proficient in their job.  So the soldier has a primary skill at which they excel, which is great as far as preps go, but all the other cool army stuff that makes its way into movies - commo, land navigation, shooting, kicking in doors, treating casualties on the battle field, etc, are trained on in limited scope, and even more importantly, are perishable skills, meaning they are "use 'em or lose 'em" skills.

If you don't get out and get try to find your way around the desert or through the woods with a map and a compass on a regular basis, you will be hurting in a stressful environment.  If you don't practice improvising a tourniquet on a regular basis, time will be against you in the heat of the moment.  If only go to the range once or twice a year, you are not shooting to your potential.  If you don't fill radios and sync with power, time, antennas, and the like, you will be chatting only with yourself.  This is where the average soldier could have a great deal of skills, but in general, loses on such great opportunities.  Take map reading and land navigation as an example.  This skill is often done in teams, but since the 20/80 rule applies, there is usually one or two that are good at it and do the work for the team, while the others don't want to learn and just tag along to finish the training.  Sad but true.

Physical Fitness is an individual skill and is another aspect of preparedness that is very important yet often over looked.  One naturally assumes that since they are soldiers, they are physically fit.  Well, sort of, but there is more to it than that.  Soldiers have to be in shape or they will lose their job.  Period. Point blank.  I have seen soldiers kicked out of the Army for not being able to pass a PT test, and I have seen soldiers kicked out of the Army for being overweight.  If you don't want to be jobless, there is a strong incentive to performing physically.  But how difficult is the PT test really?  Its two minutes of push-ups, two minutes of sit-ups, and a two mile run.  If you are generally in shape and not overweight, it is not difficult to pass.  So soldiers are not the superhuman-athlete types that are often perceived.  What you have is multitudes of young men and women, not too far out of high school or college, who should be and generally are in decent shape and health.  But they are still in their late teens and early twenties.  Energy is abundant and in excess for them.  It really is a young person's Army.  Furthermore, the Army has been changing the PT program for years in the making now, and for years a principle focus was on establishing a new PT test which was more difficult, and guess what happened to that idea?  Scrapped.  Soldiers couldn't pass it.  And if soldier's are physically fit as they should be, that does not mean they are willing to do the work that needs to be done when the SHTF.  Laziness can affect anybody, hard bodies included, and it is a self inflicted hindrance upon accomplishing work.  One time I needed help moving a heavy crate off the top of a flatbed trailer, and I asked a soldier who was rather buff and built, but inherently lazy.  He performs his job with only the bare minimum of effort to get by, he prefers to live in the gym, and when I asked him to help move the crate, the reply was "this is just for show", in reference to his body builder physique.  

Weapons and shooting is also an individual prep and skill.  Most of the Army is not combat arms.  They are not out and about kicking in doors, detaining enemy POWs, throwing grenades and generally causing mayhem and destruction.  This means that for the rest of us, we probably visit a range once a year, a couple times a year if we are lucky.  In comparison, there are varying numbers but it is safe to say that anywhere between 20% - 50% of American households own guns, and many individuals go shoot them regularly.  Your average soldier has an assigned weapon, usually an M16 or and M4, that is locked inside a cage which is locked inside a secured arms vault, which is locked inside a secured building.  Point being that while our primary role is protecting the good 'ole US of A, force multipliers, advanced weaponry and effective and efficient soldiers have changed the role and scope of the modern Army dramatically, and one of the consequences has been a lessening in the amount of range time slotted.  And what about soldiers privately owning and storing guns and ammunition at home?  Maybe, maybe not.  Where this would be in line with the average civilian household owning guns, the questions can go like this - how many guns do they have, do they have a sufficient supply of ammunition, and are they training regularly using those weapons?  When it comes to defense, offense, and things that go "bang", the average soldier is really no more prepared than the average civilian.

What about food reserves?  This is directly in line with the assumption that the overwhelming vast majority of civilians are not prepared for a short term or long term disaster and neither is the average soldier.  Sufficient food in storage is paramount, and one of the main pillars in the foundation of prepping.  The average soldier has no more food on hand than the average civilian.  Furthermore, the average soldier probably even has less, because as soldiers move around to different posts, they are allowed only a certain amount of weight for their household goods, and more often than not, soldiers end up giving away food from their pantries, not only to lessen the weight they are moving but also because its more convenient to just give it away then deal with it (i.e. complacency/lazy).   

So what we have in society is the same as what we have in the military as well.  People will always take the easy way out, instead of going down the road less traveled.  The same reactions to prepping that you find in the civilian world are just as prevalent in the military.  For example, the classic, "well, if anything happens I'll just come over to your house" excuse has been said to me time and time again, back when I was early on in my time of national service.  Attitudes like these are unfortunately what helped convince me to be less extroverted and more introverted, in the sense of community.  It also has left me kind of bittersweet with my opinion of soldiers and their personal level of readiness, especially now that I have had some time in the Army and experiences to reinforce that feeling.  I mean, really, you are a US Army Truck Driver and you don't even carry a flashlight or multitool, knowing you will use both of them almost every single day?  And they were even issued to you and often times gifted to you courtesy of your unit's discretionary funds!  Incredible.  Just incredible.  The golden opportunity for people to prepare their families for an unknown unfortunate event that will happen sooner or later, and they fail to seize the day.  

Personal preparedness is a responsibility for all people and all families, and sadly, we know that the average American family is not personally prepared for a rainy day, much less a stormy day.  Unfortunately, we also know that the average US Soldier is not personally prepared either.  If you have selfishly thought of taking your family to your Army cousin's house during some Schumeresque event because you think he is prepared, that could be a great mistake at best, and likewise, your Army cousin might just show up with his family at your house looking for food and shelter, because he has not prepared for his family and thinks you might be one of them "preppers".  And finally, if you not only want to learn skills that are paramount in the life of a survivalist/prepper, but get paid to learn those skills, take it from me, the military has served me well in that department, and you get to serve your country and be part of something bigger than you in the process.

Mr Rawles-

Thought I would share with your readers my personal experience with the PTR-91 (KF) on the chance it may help those who are considering this weapon as their .308 solution.

1) I went with a PTR-91 because it was one of the more reasonably priced battle rifles available in the powerful .308 caliber I had heard so many good things about.

2) I bought mine through an online broker one year ago for $950 + $25 transfer fee, which was a great price back then (I see they are going for up to $1,800 now online, thanks to the present talk of gun bans).

3) I wanted the .308 because I thought I should have a long-distance weapon (the rest of my battle rifles being chambered in 7.62x39), and had heard that a .308 was used by our military snipers for shots up to 500 yards.

Here is what I found:


1) While the cost of .308 ammo can be a killer, the PTR-91 KF loves the comparatively cheap Russian military surplus ammo. I have yet to experience a misfire, FTF, or jam of any kind firing the Bear and Tulammo rounds.

2) Aesthetically, it is hard to find a cooler looking gun, even if ergonomically, there are a couple things I would change.

3) Magazines (when you could still find them a couple weeks ago) were dirt cheap. Some online vendors were selling them for a couple bucks each.

4) Field-stripping and reassembly is amazingly simple. The gun comes apart into only 4 components (more, if you choose to break down the bolt assembly, which is only necessary about every 1000 rounds of Russian ammo).

5) The magazines only hold 20 rounds. Why would that be an advantage? There is currently speculation that the gun ban measures being considered will only envisage prohibiting 30 round mags (though I have read other info that says the ban could go as low as 10 rounds. There are 10 round mags available too!)

6) The ballistics speak for themselves. Being a doubting Thomas, I decided to test the rumors: I can confirm for you that a .308 round (Silver Bear 147 gr FMJ) will indeed penetrate a 10" maple tree trunk, and shatter bottles behind it. And maple is hard wood.


1) If you are like me, and want the flexibility of using both iron sights and optics, the PTR-91 seems to have limited options. The original Hensoldt Z24 high-profile scopes are almost impossible to find now, and if you do get one, it will cost you $700-800 to get one in good shape (nearly the cost of the gun itself, at least when I bought it).

2) Lack of other good high-profile optics options (I.e., Sure, they make plenty, but I read that without the STANAG claw mount designed to hold the Hensoldt scope, the violence of the recoil on this weapon will take most of them off zero quickly).

3) Recoil is considerable, compared to other weapons I have fired. No problem for a man, but if your teenage daughter has to reacquire a target after each shot?

4) The most accurate ammo, ironically, may not be what works best in this weapon. The comparatively cheaper Bear and Tulammo work great, but their accuracy (at least in my hands with iron sights) could not yield a group tighter than 4-5" at 100 yards. On the other hand, I have heard (but have no experience) that target/match grade brass ammo may not be as dependable in the PTR-91 (though I have also read that this issue has been corrected for weapons produced in the last 3 years, especially in the GI variant).

5) The most affordable ammo is dirty. Filthy, actually. You will go through 100 patches per 50 rounds fired, and still come away feeling you cut corners. Not the guns fault per se, but I am guessing that if you are looking at a PTR-91, you probably have Russian surplus ammo in mind. Despite the ease of disassembly and low parts count, you will spend a good 60-90 minutes cleaning every time you put a few mags through it.

6) Is it really the long range weapon I thought it was? I guess I don't know yet. If there were more reasonably priced match grade ammo that worked in this gun, and a high profile optics solution, I might be able to answer that question. But without those solutions in place, my instinct is to just get a Halo and say this is a CQB, and leave the 200+ yard shots to the old Savage Model 10 .308.


1) I definitely recommend the gun.

2) You won't find a much better .308 battle rifle for the price.

3) Just have the ammo, magazines, and optics piece figured out before you buy the gun.

- Moonraker

JWR Replies: The current shortage of AR-10, M14, M16, and FAL magazines--with correspondingly inflated prices--make HK91 clones the clear choice. They can use military surplus magazines which are still widely available for less than $8 each.

Karl K. wrote to note that during recuperation from injury on active duty, a senior Army NCO is making some informative videos as "Maine Prepper".

   o o o

Mike Williamson wrote to mention: "If anyone is looking for an AR-15, Gunbroke.comr has some AR pistols listed.  Most people don't realize they exist, and that they can be legally converted to rifles, and back.  They're much more reasonably priced than the rifles at the moment, provided people don't get into bidding wars."

   o o o

F.G. sent: How to Can Roast Beast

   o o o

Reader S.O.B. sent: Not Your Grandmother's Pyrex

   o o o

Coppicing & Coppice Crafts. (Thanks to F.J. for the link.)

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.
And ye shall seek me, and find [me], when ye shall search for me with all your heart." - Jeremiah 29:13 (KJV)

Friday, December 28, 2012

Today we present another entry for Round 44 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 44 ends on January 31st, 2013, 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 details on pending legislation.

Here are some details on the proposed gun and magazine ban, directly Madame Feinstein's web site. Also see this PDF.

In summary, the law includes some handguns, it requires nationwide registration, background checks and fingerprinting, even for current owners, just one evil feature-such as a pistol grip--can get a semi-auto banned, and it mentions: "Grandfathering weapons legally possessed on the date of enactment." Does this mean that your heirs must turn in your guns for destruction? Let's wait to see the wording of the bill that is introduced. But regardless, this is definitely bad legislation, so start contacting your legislators! (Thanks to Jim W. for the links.) The following in from Senator Feinstein's web site:

Bans the sale, transfer, importation, or manufacturing of:
120 specifically-named firearms
Certain other semiautomatic rifles, handguns, shotguns that can accept a detachable magazine and have one military characteristic
Semiautomatic rifles and handguns with a fixed magazine that can accept more than 10 rounds
Strengthens the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban and various state bans by:
Moving from a 2-characteristic test to a 1-characteristic test
Eliminating the easy-to-remove bayonet mounts and flash suppressors from the characteristics test
Banning firearms with “thumbhole stocks” and “bullet buttons” to address attempts to “work around” prior bans
Bans large-capacity ammunition feeding devices capable of accepting more than 10 rounds.

Feinstein tosses these measly bones perhaps in the hope of assuaging some boot-lickers:

Grandfathering weapons legally possessed on the date of enactment
Exempting over 900 specifically-named weapons used for hunting or sporting purposes and
Exempting antique, manually-operated, and permanently disabled weapons
Requires that grandfathered weapons be registered under the National Firearms Act, to include:
o Background check of owner and any transferee;
o Type and serial number of the firearm;
o Positive identification, including photograph and fingerprint;
o Certification from local law enforcement of identity and that possession would not violate State or local law; and
o Dedicated funding for ATF to implement registration

JWR's Comment: If this is enacted, we can expect a nationwide shortage of 8" diameter PVC pipe threaded end caps!

Let's say that the SHTF scenario you prepared for has happened.  You are in your bug-out location or somewhere with a bit of land and you envision a return to a normal society will take a few months or years.  You know you need to grow food and fast to prevent depletion of your stores and for a well-rounded diet.
You’ve got your survival seed bank, but now what? Hopefully in your survival seed bank you’ve given some thought to the order and priority in which you will plant, tend, grow and harvest those fruits and vegetables.

My first recommendation on seed saving is to find varieties of open pollinated or heirloom vegetables and plan to sow them continuously to enjoy an evenly spaced harvest.  This can work with many styles of gardening, from a square foot garden concept, to row gardening, and even guerilla gardening.  Basically, what you’re looking to accomplish here is to have food available continuously and not have everything ripen and need harvesting at once.  There are several reasons for this:
1.       You want to eat a variety of foods everyday for the most balance to your diet.  Proper nutrition in SHTF scenario will be difficult and fresh veggies can supply a large number of needs.
2.       Preparing the ground for and planting a large number of seeds is back-breaking labor and especially at the beginning of a TEOTWAWKI situation it’s likely you’ll be consumed with safety, shelter and other high-priority items.  It can be overwhelming to envision planting a successful 1 acre survival garden but planting a 16 square foot area daily is manageable, and for a family of four that’s about what you would need to complete on a daily basis.
3.       If pestilence, disease, excessive rain, or drought, cause damage to your crop you most likely won’t lose your entire crop.
4.       Harvesting a large amount of any crop takes many hours of daylight which you may need for other tasks.
5.       If your garden is discovered by non-friendly two-legged varmints and they steal from your survival garden, they will not be able to steal your entire crop.

So what do you plant first?  There are many factors you should take into consideration such as the availability of sunshine, water and good soil.  However, even more important to sunshine, water and soil, you should have prepped for is the time of year.  If you are in a temperate climate such as Southern California, then consider yourself extra blessed as you can successfully grow most anything year-round.  If you are in an area where the temperatures are more extreme you may not be able to grow year-round. If the SHTF in the dead of winter, you should have sprouting seeds in your survival kit and plan to sprout those and to also start seedlings indoors until they can be transplanted safely outside. If the SHTF in the middle of August then you will have a difficult time keeping seedlings watered and hydrated without wilting or scorching.

For this prep let’s consider two seasons: cool season and warm season.  In cool season the types of seeds you are looking to grow are grown for either their leaves or what happens below ground.  My personal list of top seven seeds you should consider for cool season survival is listed in order of their planting priority:
1.       Turnips
2.       Arugula
3.       Radish
4.       Kale
5.       Beets
6.       Rutabagas
7.       Onions

Obviously if you can store more varieties of seed in your survival seed bank, that’s great, but there’s a method to the madness above, so let’s examine my top seven cool season crops more closely:.

Turnips-Purchasing a bulk quantity of high quality turnip seeds is very inexpensive.  You can get a half pound of seeds for around $7.00.  That’s a million turnip seeds, which is plenty to plant for yourself or barter.  Additionally, you can eat the root bulb of a turnip as well as the leaves.  If left in ground, they go to seed very easily and will readily self-sow more turnips for you in the same area.  They also grow very quickly.  Some heirloom varieties grow in as few as 42 days.  Variety recommended: Purple Top Turnip.

Arugula-The Rocket variety of Arugula again grows very quickly, leaving you with an ample amount of peppery leaves that are full of vitamins and minerals. These are a great choice for guerilla gardening because they look like a weed when growing and flowering.  You can eat the leaves as soon as they start appearing and the plant will keep producing.  And just like turnips if you leave a few plants in ground they will eventually grow a flower and re-seed themselves.  In temperate climates you’ll end up with more arugula then you could ever want. Variety recommended: Rocket Arugula.

Radish-Radishes require very little space and dirt, 3-4 inches of soil depth and 25-30 days of growth will yield you mature radishes.  So again, this grows quickly and will re-seed if left alone.  This is a great choice for guerilla gardening and most pests leave it alone.  Variety recommended: Cherry Belle Radish or French White Finger Radish.

Kale-This is a well-known super-food full of Vitamin A, C and it has a ton of fiber.  It takes a little longer to grow, around 55 days, but is much hardier than a lettuce and can take more extreme temperature changes without bolting or dying.  Curly Kale especially will blend into a guerrilla gardening environment.  You can eat the leaves in any size, just harvest from the outside of each plant and let it keep growing. Kale will also readily self-sow. Variety recommended: Dwarf Blue Curled Kale.

Beets- As you can see the varieties on the bottom of the list take longer to grow.  Beets take between 55-80 days, are full of vitamins and minerals and can you can consume both their root and their leaves.  Beets are also a good item for canning or long term storage. Variety Recommended: Detroit Dark Red Beet

Rutabagas-Another root crop suitable for long term storage, Rutabagas can be eaten raw or cooked.  When cooked they resemble mashed potatoes, but they can be boiled, mashed, fried or eaten raw. They take about 90 days to mature, and are a very forgiving crop to grow. Give them a little sunshine and water and they are happy. Variety Recommended: American Purpletop Rutabaga.

Onions-When gardening in a SHTF scenario you’ll probably not spend a whole lot of time spraying pesticides or handling insect invasions, so onions are your secret weapon.  Planted around the perimeter or your vegetable garden, they will help with naturally deterring many pests from invading!  Onions are also fantastic for flavoring foods, lowering fevers and blood pressure naturally and are very suitable for long term storage if harvested correctly.  They’re also a very easy crop.  They will grow small when placed fairly close together or large if spaced out further.  Either way you get an edible onion.  You can harvest parts of the green tops as the plant is growing to use immediately without harming the plant. Varieties typically take between 90 and 180 days so this is a long term commitment in the garden. Varieties recommended include: Walla Walla and White Bunching Onion (but I haven’t met an onion seed that didn’t easily grow, so as long as it is a non-hybrid you’re good to go.)

In general, warm season crops are grown for what happens above ground or for their fruit.  You’re not growing for their leaves.  Leaf crops, like lettuce, cannot stand high temperatures and will not last for any sort of time either growing or once harvested.  Also during the height of summer, you can expect to be harvesting constantly and watering quite often.  In my experience warm season growing is more labor intensive than cool season crops.
My personal list of top 7 seeds you should consider for warm season survival are listed in order of their planting priority:
1.       Tomatoes
2.       Beans
3.       Squash
4.       Pumpkin
5.       Cucumber
6.       Watermelon
7.       Winter Squash
Let’s examine my top seven warm season crops more closely:

Tomatoes-Tomatoes can grow in almost any soil type given proper sun and water.  Tomatoes also can be sown indoors utilizing window spaces etc to get them started.  What you’re looking for here is to have a good 10-12 weeks of indoor growth, sown continuously and hardened off for use in the vegetable garden.  In this way your plant will be stronger and you will end up with ripe tomatoes several weeks earlier. There are two main types of tomato plants: determinate and indeterminate.  Select a variety of these types of seeds to store.  Tomatoes are useful to can, dehydrate and preserve for use throughout the cool season so plant as many tomato plants as you have room for.  Tomatoes also need to be staked and they’re not particular about how, just about anything will work to keep their leaves off the ground so tomatoes are a perfect post SHTF crop.  Also because I view tomatoes as such an important survival food item, I include several varieties in my seed bank including hybrids to plant.  (Top) Varieties recommended: Sweet 100 Hybrid Cherry Tomato, Russian Tula Heirloom, Yellow Pear Heirloom, Green Zebra Heirloom, Roma Heirloom, and Mortgage Lifter Heirloom.  Again, having multiple types of tomato seeds is important and there are hundreds of heirlooms out there .  The varieties recommended have all done well in my garden in multiple situations so I can heartily endorse them. I would have on hand a small tomato like the cherry tomato, a paste tomato (Roma) and any variety of the larger tomatoes.

Beans-The top reason to plant beans is the protein, followed closely by their ease of growth.  Now beans are very easy to grow but you need to plant many rows and feet of beans to get a decent amount to eat, and to dry and store for cool season.  So here’s my advice on beans.  Have at least 3 varietals in your survival seed bank and have at least one pound of each varietal to plant.  That may seem like overkill but trust me, even in a small home garden most gardeners are planting 40-50 beans to get back 1000 bean pods in harvest.  Keep the 1:20 ratio in mind and you can calculate just how many beans you need to plant.  Varieties Recommended: Blue Kentucky Runner Bean.

Squash-There are many varieties of squash out there but the Heirloom variety called Black Beauty Zucchini is a productive and very vigorous plant.  From a seed in the ground to food on your plate in 55 days, squash can’t be beat in the survival garden. You can eat squash when it is teensy tiny for a tender melt in your mouth vegetable or squash can double in size overnight during the warmest parts of the year so if you’re really hungry and can wait another day you will have a lot more food to bring to the table.  One squash plant in a home setting can produce enough squash to make you sick of it, so just imagine if you planted a few dozen in a survival garden.  You can grate zucchini and mix it with flour to make a bread, you can eat it raw, fry it, bake it, stuff it, dehydrate it, etc.  One other note is that in the event that the bees have died off severely it is easy to hand-pollinate a squash blossom, so this is a plant in my view that is a super prep. Variety recommended: Black Beauty Heirloom Zucchini Squash.

Pumpkin-The only reason you would grow pumpkin during the warmer months is for cool season storage.  Pumpkins require a large amount of space and time (around 120 days) to grow so if space is at a premium you won’t get very much food for the space but you will get food that can store through winter without any special process. Variety Recommended: Sugar Pumpkin Heirloom for a small variety and Connecticut Field Pumpkin Heirloom for tasty pies as well.

Cucumber-Cucumbers are great for eating fresh but they also turn into pickles.  Over the years I have grown many varieties and some varieties tend to get bitter if left on the vine too long.  The clear winner in my opinion for the best variety of cucumber in the survival garden is the National Pickling Cucumber. You can pick it when it is small but let it mature to its full size and it still doesn’t get bitter like other varieties.  It is a squat looking cucumber so it is less appealing visually but this is for survival and function over form wins hands down. At only 52 days from seed to your plate it is a vigorous addition to the survival garden. Harvesting cucumbers is easy and the more you harvest the more productive the plant is, so for that reason cucumber is not as viable in a guerilla style survival garden but if it will be tended daily then it is an excellent choice. Variety Recommended: National Pickling Cucumber.

Watermelon-Many survival seed banks out there include watermelon in their product line and I recommend it in my top seven list but only for experienced growers.  Growing a watermelon to a size of 50-100 pounds is easy, knowing when to harvest it is not.  One of the toughest parts of growing watermelon is to indeed know when the inside has ripened, and take it from someone who has gotten it wrong multiple times while learning, if you think it is ripe, it’s not.  Wait a week and come back to harvest it.  There are a few things to look for when harvesting your watermelon.  First, have enough days passed for the melon to possibly be ripe.  Keep records of when you planted the seed and do not even attempt to harvest it until those days have passed.  Has the vine started wilting around the watermelon and has the yellow spot under the melon become more white than yellow?  These are all signs the watermelon is ripe.  Watermelon will not ripen off the vine, so if you can’t practice this prep now, watch a few You Tube videos or ask someone who gardens to show you their technique.  Another thing about watermelon is that it loves heat so planting the watermelon seeds near a slab of concrete or asphalt and letting the plant vine over the concrete or asphalt will help your plant grow more vigorously and in a situation where garden space is at a premium this can ideally take up very little garden room, not to mention you don’t have to weed concrete!  Variety recommended: Black Beauty Heirloom Watermelon for large watermelon or Crimson Sweet Heirloom for a medium size watermelon.

Winter Squash-Growing a butternut squash or an acorn winter squash is also done with cool season eating in mind.  Growing a winter squash is easy; they are a vining plant and can be grown in the same technique described for watermelon above if space is at a premium.  Harvesting is simple but it does take a bit of space and you can only expect to get 3-4 squash from each plant so plan accordingly.  I have had a home grown butternut squash last for a year in a cool cupboard so once grown these can easily be stored for winter eating.  Varieties recommended: Butternut Squash Heirloom and Acorn Squash Heirloom.

Corn -Before you think I’ve forgotten about corn as being an important crop or something that you can grow with beans and a vining squash in the 3 sisters technique, just note that this is my top 7 list
but corn would make it on a top 10 list.  The reason why I did not include it in the top 7 is that it is a wind-pollinated crop that requires a very large minimum amount to be planted bunched together in hopes of successful pollination.  If that doesn’t occur then you won’t have any corn to harvest.  I find it too risky. Even with disease and pests the other vegetables in my list are always at least marginally successful and I have tried for years in a home garden various amounts of corn and it seems best suited for large field growth rather than home growing or a survival garden.  If you plan on planting an acre in corn, you’re probably going to be just fine but anything less than that seems high risk for a survival garden.

Preparing Seeds for Planting
In a survival situation preparing seeds for planting is very important, more so than in a typical day to day scenario where you can run to the store and buy extra seeds. 

Soak Seeds
Before you put a seed in the ground prepare the seed for planting by soaking it in water or in a diluted fertilizer, preferably a weak compost or manure tea.  You should soak small seeds with a soft coat for 1-4 hours and seeds with a hard coat or larger seeds can be soaked overnight.  Soaking seeds will greatly increase the rate of germination and is a small step that is made more important in a TEOTWAWKI situation.

Plant Spacing
Don’t pay attention to the seed packet space planting instructions.  Think about what size the plant will become and space the seeds according to the mature plant size and do not plant more than one seed per hole. 

Planting Depth
In a TEOTWAWKI situation you may be given or barter for additional seeds to plant that do not come with planting depth or other instructions. In this scenario, follow the rule of thumb that a seed should be planted at the depth that is 2-4 times the size of the seed.  An example would be pumpkin seeds which are very large and can be planted up 1-2 inches deep whereas a tomato seed is small and can be planted 1/4-1/2  inch deep.

Soil Preparation
Prepare the soil by tilling in compost or manure if available.  If not available break the soil up to a depth of 6 inches at a minimum and remove any large stones, wood debris, etc.  I do not plan to till the soil to any further depth than 6 inches in an area that has not been utilized for vegetable gardening because doing so can bring up more weed seeds that have been long dormant in the soil.

Protect Your Seedlings
As your seedlings begin to germinate and grow protect them by doing a few simple tricks.  Crushed eggshells around the seedling will keep soft body insects away. As the plant grows larger and develops more leaves, strip the lower leaves off the plant to remove any insect ‘on-ramps’.  You should also plant onions around your vegetable garden to deter insects.  It is very important in a survival garden to avoid mulching your seedlings.  Wait until you have a large and healthy plant then consider mulching to conserve moisture.  Adding shredded leaves, bark, straw will help conserve moisture and keep weeds at bay, but it can also harbor insects that will eat your tender seedlings.

In general, seeds need to be kept moist until the second set of leaves appear, also called the ‘true leaves’.   Do your best in the given situation to keep seeds evenly moist.  As the plant matures you can reduce watering dependent upon your soil and growing conditions.  My plan will be to put a small water bottle with pinholes in the bottom down next to each seedling and pour the water directly in there.  In that way it will slowly percolate into the soil to keep the seedling evenly moist even while I am away.  However, procuring enough (100’s) of small water bottles may be difficult so a water filled zip lock bag with small pin holes would also work.  For guerilla gardening, it would appear to be trash and not bring attention to the area which is another advantage.
Now that you know what seeds to store and what order to plant them and why, create your own plan for your survival garden and start growing today if you can!  Practice makes perfect!

Hello Mr. Rawles,
I don't like to bother you, but I would like it if you could let your readers know that if they are wanting to do something to help protect kids/ teachers in schools that don't allow weapons, a gift of a ballistic clip board (from one of SurvivalBlog's advertisers) would be a small step. I have a female teacher friend that accepted the gift to her. I know she's not pro gun, but also know she's pro kid, so I figure this is a fairly inexpensive way to allow some sort of capability of protection in a 'gun free' zone, without having to debate/preach the necessity of using weapons.
Just a thought, and thank you for your time. - Earl

"Observations On Bugging Out By Foot" was a great article by J. Smith.  Like him, we use the Military Modular Seep System.   It can be purchased new on eBay for $120 to $150.  We keep them in our bug out bags here in cold country.
Another item we have tested and found to be very useful is the Solo Stove wood gas stove.  It only weighs 9 ounces and you can cook a meal with just twigs.  It has an alcohol stove option that fits inside and only weighs a few ounces.  You can get both stoves as a kit for about $90 on Amazon.
Lastly, I should mention that the stove works well with the Esbit Fuel Tabs.  You then have three fuel options to cook with in a very compact, lightweight package.
Keep up the great work, - PED


I appreciated the article 'Observations on Bugging Out By Foot, by J. Smith'. As a 'seasoned' citizen I would like to offer this suggestion. In my youth I did 15 - 20 miles with a 45 pound pack with no problem. However, now in my mid sixties, I may well be able to walk extended distances, but I could not do so with a full pack. Even if I was able to, I can assure that my wife could not. Consider also the younger family man with a couple of kids. The extra food, water and supplies could very well overwhelm dad's ability to carry all that was needed. Yet, the need may still arise. My solution to this problem is the 'deer cart.' They are easily portable, highly mobile and rugged enough to carry a heavy load.

Side note: If you were going to bug out on a bike, you could consider a bike trailer! - Fred K.

Jim S. sent: Don't Fear That Expired Food

   o o o

Reader W.C.P. suggested a piece by LTC Dave Grossman: The Enemy is Denial

   o o o

The fledgling C.R.O.S.S. missionary organization is looking for a volunteer publicist. In essence, they need someone to schedule interviews and to help write press releases. This is a way that you can help out that requires no cash outlay whatsoever. This position is not geographically bound. (You can live anywhere that there is a reliable Internet connection.)

"Why has the government been instituted at all? Because the passions of men will not conform to the dictates of reason and justice without constraint." - Alexander Hamilton, 1787

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Today we present another entry for Round 44 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 44 ends on January 31st, 2013, 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.

Doing “Double Duty” is a concept that I was first introduced to during my first enlistment in the US Army.   It is a term that simply implies that an item or material (or person) could be utilized to fulfill an additional purpose besides the one that it was specifically designed or trained for.  As a young soldier in an infantry company, I quickly learned the value of being able to “get creative” with my equipment and supplies in order to increase their versatility and make them go farther. 

Chances are that this idea is not new to you.  With our economy in the US getting further and further out of control, many Americans have already changed their buying habits and now consider the versatility of a product to be an important buying point.  It just makes good practical sense.  During normal circumstances, planning for double duty is relatively easy to do.  Matter of fact, you’re probably already doing it.   But planning for double duty in preparation for unusual or emergency situations is considerably more difficult. 

In this article, we will discuss why planning for double duty is a good idea, how to plan for double duty both at home and in preparation for a “bug out” scenario, and finally some common items that can perform double duty; at home and on the trail.

Probably the best answer to why is, “to make better use of your resources”.  Most of us have limited income, limited space, and limited time to spend on preparedness.  Therefore, we need to make the most out of what we have and make it go as far as we can.  Double Duty Planning is a tool that can not only help us to be better prepared in the event of a disaster or emergency, but can also serve to make our daily lives more efficient and simple.

Limited Income                 
In order for your income to be of any benefit to your survival, you need to invest in those things that will be of most use to you and your family.  And it has to be done before you need them.  During a disaster, TEOTWAWKI, or other calamitous event, it’s a good chance that your money will be worth far less than it is now. 

When making purchases, we have all been conditioned by mainstream media to look for and identify what marketers call the “USP” or “Unique Selling Point”.  The USP is that one quality or characteristic that supposedly makes the product “the best” at doing one specific thing.  Chances are that our cabinets are full of products that specialize in one specific thing.  Bleach for example is a product which meets a specific need; to keep whites white.  No other product on the market enjoys bleach’s popularity in the market for this one purpose.  But what about the other uses for bleach?  Most people would be hard pressed to name any other uses.  But that is exactly where double duty planning or dual purposing comes in!  Bleach does much more than just whiten whites.
If I could show you how you could save hundreds of dollars a year on groceries and other household goods; would you be interested?  Well, even though it may sound like a sales hook and too good to be true, planning for double duty can potentially save you hundreds of dollars per year.   The way that this is accomplished is by eliminating those products that we purchase that only serve one specific purpose and replacing them with products that have multiple uses.  If you look in your cleaning cabinet or closet, how many different cleaning products do you have?  Do you have two, three, four, or more?  Or do you use a multi-purpose cleaner?  How much money would you save if instead of buying glass cleaner, floor cleaner, stove and countertop cleaner, toilet bowl cleaner, shower, tub and tile cleaner, pot and pan cleaner, etc; you could buy one product that did it all?  Better yet, what if the product or products that you replaced all of these with had other uses as well?  You could save a lot of money in cleaning supplies alone.

Limited Space
The issue of limited space is often resolved by our attempts at saving money.  This is natural in that as we consolidate the various kinds of products that we purchase, we need less room to store the replacements.   As we replace single duty products with double duty products, we will not need as much space to store them.  This is space that could be better used for storing additional food and medical supplies; or ammo.

Space becomes a lot more crucial when considering a bug out situation.  We will be limited to what we can carry with us or cache along the way.  The size, shape, and weight of survival gear become chief concerns when a bug out scenario becomes likely.  But, as within the home, dual purposing our gear can save us a lot of space.  I’ll use my own personal experiences in the Army as an example.  In the movie Platoon, the new soldiers were preparing to go out on their first patrol when their platoon sergeant went through and battle stripped them; leaving them with only what they needed to survive.  I went through a similar event before going out on my first patrol.  My rucksack was whittled down from a hefty 65 pounds to about 40 pounds.  I had packed many tools and items that were unnecessary because I had other items that could do multiple jobs.  Not to mention that I now had the space to carry more crucial supplies like water, food and ammunition.  It took an experienced platoon sergeant to teach me the value of versatility.  Years later, I became a platoon sergeant and made it a point of teaching my soldiers how to pack with double duty in mind.
One of the purposes of a cache is to serve as a resupply point.  Many people’s philosophy on caching is, “more is better”, but this is not always true.  The larger that you make a cache, the harder it is to hide.  Cache size is also limited by the geography of an area or route.  Space in a cache can be limited as well and could therefore benefit from the optimization that double duty items can provide.  During egress, BOBs and caches kind of go hand in hand; the more stuff that you can cache along your egress route, the more space you have for other items in your BOB. 

Limited Time
Time is a variable resource in that we will have more of it during one situation than we will during another.  When at home during normal life, time may be easy to manage.  But during the beginning of a TEOTWAWKI sort of event, time will be in short supply.   The more we prepare now, the less we struggle later.  So, how can planning for double duty save us time?  Ultimately it boils down to choices.  When you go to the grocery store and are confronted with buying dog food.  How do you decide which one to buy; price, your dog’s favorite, nice packaging?  You only have twelve different brands, seven flavors, three sizes, and twenty prices to choose from.  We can save a lot of time if we know beforehand what we’re going to buy.  Go there, get it, and leave!  The more choices that we have to make, the more time it takes.  Make your choices while time is plentiful. 

Another Reason                 
Have you ever been in line in the grocery store behind someone who was into Extreme Couponing?  It’s amazing to watch as they unload buggy after buggy at the checkout.  You can literally feel their excitement and dread building as the total rises ever higher.  As their coupons are tallied, we experience the suspense and danger of failure that this great adventure offers!  Then we get to see the glorious sense of jubilation that the shopper feels when their once high total is reduced to mere pennies!  All of the long hours spent searching, cutting, and planning have culminated in one flawless victory! Marvelous!  This is what makes the adventure worthwhile!  If it were simply about saving money, it would not have been worth the cost.  It’s about the victory!

Planning for double duty is a similar endeavor; it’s not only about saving money and stretching resources.  It’s about the victory!  It’s about being able to use what you have planned for in a pinch when it is needed most!

To find out how requires the most growth on our parts.  This is the step that requires us to do our homework.  The process that I am going to layout in this article is what I view as being the most simple and is the process that I use.

At Home
First of all, I created an inventory of what I had on hand.  Then, out beside of each item, I noted its use or uses.  If the item only had one specific use, then I placed a star beside that item signifying that it needed closer review.  My next pass on the list, I’m looking specifically at those items that have more than one use and whether they can take on the additional duty of those items that I marked with a star.  If they can, I put a mark through the item with the star that can be eliminated.  Next, I investigate to find out if there is a product which I don’t currently have that would assume multiple uses on my list.  Finally, I look over my list again to determine if those items have other uses.  I have included my cleaning supplies list for reference.

Cleaning Item List   Uses
Windex Window Cleaner     Glass
Comet Abrasive Cleanser   Sinks, tubs, toilet, showers, pots, pans, tile
Pinesol Surfaces, sinks, tubs, toilet, floors
Orange Degreaser       Surfaces
Carpet Fresh        Carpets/rugs
409 Multipurpose         Surfaces
Ammonia      Surfaces, floors

At this point, I have identified how other items on my list can perform the same duties as those that can only perform one.  The next step is to investigate to see if there is a product out there to replace those items still on my list. 

                  Baking Soda – can directly replace Comet Cleanser and Carpet Fresh.
                  White Vinegar – can directly replace the 409 Multipurpose cleaner, Pinesol, and the Ammonia.

Here is what my truncated cleaning supplies list looks like now.

Cleaning Item List   Uses
White Vinegar       Glass, surfaces, floors
Baking Soda  Sinks, tubs, toilets, showers, tile, carpet, rugs, pots, pans

Baking soda and vinegar both have additional uses in food preparation and in medicine. And both tend to be relatively inexpensive and environmentally safe compared to many other name brand cleaners.  Baking soda and vinegar mixed together also make a nifty science project for kids and is great for cleaning drains.   
I’m not telling you to go through your cleaning supplies and throw out everything and replace it with vinegar and baking soda.  I’m just saying that you could if you chose to.  Or, if by necessity, you had to.  This same process will work for other areas of home and survival preparedness as well.  The main question that you want to ask yourself is, “how many different ways can I use _______?” 

On The Trail
For those of us that hike and camp recreationally; and I mean survivalist type camping without a camper or grill, packing light is always a priority.  If I can consolidate the items that I need to take with me from 30 down to 8, that’s a big advantage for me so long as I know how to utilize what I brought for more than one purpose.  Let’s look at tools.  When I go camping, I know that there are certain tasks that I may need to perform.  I will need to cut brush and vines, chop down small trees, construct shelter, cut/chop food, defend myself from animals/people, and maybe skin and or butcher game.  So, is there one tool that I can take that will allow me to do all of these tasks?  If I inventory my tools the same way that I inventoried my cleaning supplies, the process will work the same.

Camping/Survival Tool List  Uses
Hatchet  Chopping wood
Machete     Clearing brush & vines, chopping food, Butchering, chopping wood, protection
Mallet   Driving tent stakes, hammering
Utility Knife Chopping food, skinning, butchering, general use, protection
Shovel/Spade    Digging
Saw   Sawing tree limbs, roots

Naturally, we can’t carry all of this stuff with us on a hike, so it’s in our best interest to consolidate.  The machete can accomplish everything that the hatchet can.  The addition of a military E-tool would eliminate the need for the shovel, the saw, and the mallet.  Taking an idea from the Russian Spetsnaz (Russian Special Forces), I could sharpen one edge of my E-tool to a knife’s edge and could use it as a bladed weapon and to skin animals.  As a result, my new list may look like this.

Camping/Survival Tool List Uses
Machete   Clearing brush & vines, chopping wood, chopping food, butchering, protection
Military E-tool  Digging, sawing, driving tent stakes, hammering, protection, skinning
Utility Knife       Chopping food, skinning, butchering, general use, protection

Notice that there is still some overlapping of duties.  It is important to remember here that consolidation of supplies and tools can be taken too far.  You can reach a point where you end up compromising your preparedness.  Some ascribe to the “Rule of Three”; as in that you need to have at least three ways of fulfilling a need or completing a task.  Although you can take it to extremes and purchase three of everything, the point of the rule is to stress the importance of having a back-up plan.  In the above refined list, if I lost or broke any one of my tools, I could probably make due with what I had left.  They may not fit the bill perfectly, but they’ll get the job done.                 

Double Duty Items & Supplies
The following list is simply a starting point.  But there are plenty of good web sites where you can increase your knowledge.  Matter of fact, there are probably many more that you know about that I don’t.  If so, please write an article so that we can all learn from your experiences. 
Rather than create a list for “At Home” items and then also for “Survival/Bug Out” items, I’ll leave it up to you to decide how these best fit your needs.

Item Use/Purpose
Baking Soda  Cleaner, deodorizer, cooking, toothpaste, medical
White Vinegar  Surface cleaner, clothes whitener, food, medicine, preservative
Bleach  (Plain, Calcium Hypochlorite)       Clothes whitener, water treatment, surface cleaner
Hydrogen Peroxide     Disinfectant, water treatment
Salt     Preservative, food prep, antiseptic
Pure Vanilla             Antiseptic, mild local anesthetic, flavoring
Olive Oil Cooking, skin moisturizer, lubricant, lamp oil, burn treatment
Chap-stick       Soothes chapped lips, zipper lubricant, seam waterproofing
Multi-tool (Gerber, Leatherman, etc.)  Knife, screwdrivers, saw, file, bottle opener, scissors, pliers
Entrenching Tool, Folding ("E-Tool") Shovel, saw, mallet, weapon, food preparation
Machete   Clearing brush, chopping wood, food prep, weapon
Tomahawk              Chopping wood, food prep, mallet, weapon
Rope/Cord/String      Climbing, tying, binding, pulling, trapping, fishing

I will not go into dual purpose firearms in this article mainly because that is a subject that has already been covered exhaustively by others far more knowledgeable than me. 

Let your imagination be your guide.  But I would also advise you to not take my word for it because what works for me may not work for you.  Take the information in this article and customize it to your specific needs.  Then put your strategy to the test.  I recommend that everyone take a voluntary “bug out” to test yourself and your preps.  It will undoubtedly show you where your weaknesses are.

Captain Rawles,
I have seen this statistic of "13% of people are leaders, 74% are followers, and 13% shut down during a crisis". I have seen this stat mentioned on Dr. Koelker's blog, on your blog, and it was even mentioned on a NBC Dateline program covering the Costa Concordia cruise ship accident. Despite seeing this stat mentioned in a variety of places I have yet to see who created the stat. I have never once seen where it was cited from and I can not seem to find any citation of it on the internet. Have you ever come across the origin of this data?

Please Advise, - Arthur K.

JWR Replies: Reader Kris N. reminded me: "In the book, "The Survivors Club" by Ben Sherwood , in chapter two, he tells of the studies of John Leach. Mr. Leach was curious about why so many people died when the "Herald of Free Enterprise" ferry capsized outside the port of Zeebrugge, Belgium in March of 1987. His subsequent Theory of 10-80-10 was the result of examining this as well as many other disasters. It states that roughly 10% of people will handle a crisis in a relatively calm and rational state of mind. Under duress, they will pull themselves together quickly. They assess situations clearly and their decision making is sharp and focused. The majority of people however will be stunned and bewildered with significantly impaired reasoning who will behave in a reflexive, almost automatic or mechanical manner, such as the commuters in the King's Cross fire who trudged forward with their routines despite the smoke. The other 10% will just simply do the wrong thing in the crisis."

Feinstein's 'assault weapon' ban would be tantamount to confiscation. (A hat tip to Jim W. for the link.) Here is a summary in Feinstein's own words about how she plans to "perfect" renewal of the 1994 to 2004 ban. The law would be worded so that you semi-auto rifles could not be passed on to your heirs. When you die, your guns would have to be turned in for destruction! Please contact your senators and congressmen and urge them to vigorously oppose any new restrictions on guns and full capacity magazines.

   o o o

Reader Vince W. alerted me to an anti-preparedness hatchet piece in the leftist The New Republic: From "Walking Dead" to "Doomsday Preppers," What's Behind TV's Post-Apocalypse Fantasies? It was authored by "James Berger". (I suspect that this is a pen name for one of the magazine's senior editors, since it is the first time his byline has appeared in the magazine.) This grossly irresponsible and intellectually vacant editorial attempts to smear those who prepare as psychos craving violence and somehow insufficiently represented by minorities. By extension, it tars us with the brush of xenophobic, antiemetic redneck bigots who can't wait for the excuse to shoot neighbors with darker skin. The truth is that "James Berger" needn't worry about his well-prepared neighbors. Rather, it is wholly un-provisioned neighbors who are suddenly ravenous and out of drugs that pose the more likely threat. When an actual disaster strikes, I have no doubt that Mr. Berger will come crying like a little girl to the doorstep of his prepper neighbors, seeking: A.) Sustenance (since he bought a BMW 7-Series F02 instead of storage food and a water filter) and B.) Protection from the predations of his neighbors (because he thought that guns were "evil" and he fell for the lie that self defense is encapsulated in dialing 911.)

   o o o

Fast and Furious and Profitable, Too! Pistol purchased by ATF agent found at alleged cartel crime scene in Mexico

   o o o

Reader R.B.S. suggested this by Dr. Gary North: In Defense of the Second Amendment

   o o o

The term "high capacity clip" presently being bandied about by the politicos and television talking heads aggravates me. The term is a specious political creation. The fact is that a 30 round magazine is standard capacity for an AR or an AK, and anything less than that is a reduced capacity magazine. It is fine to say "full capacity" or "standard capacity" but calling 30 rounds "high capacity" is nothing but demonization and political grandstanding. Get your terminology straight and don't fall for semantics traps!

Oh, and FYI, at present, here are the bans in effect at the state level (some with grandfather clauses--be sure to research your state and local laws):

States prohibiting magazines over 10 rounds: California, Hawaii*, Massachusetts, and New York. (The latter only if a magazine is post-9/1994 production)
States prohibiting magazines over 12 rounds: Washington, DC
States prohibiting magazines over 15 rounds: New Jersey
States prohibiting magazines over 20 rounds: Maryland
States prohibiting magazines over 31 rounds: Ohio

* The Hawaii Rifle Association web site notes: "Hawaii state law prohibits greater than 10 round detachable pistol magazines (including rifle magazines capable of use in any pistol, such as the AR-15/M16, M1 Carbine, H&K carbine, Thompson, AKs, and aftermarket Ruger .22 magazines) unless blocked to hold 10 rounds or less and “not readily restorable”. Possession of illegal magazines [by themselves] is a misdemeanor, and possession of a handgun with even an empty one inserted is a Class C felony. "

"The complexity of social organization does not change. Our technologically sophisticated industrial society is more complex than the agrarian society of America in the eighteenth century. In this regard, that was 'a simpler world.' But the complexities of politics (politics here meaning the science of governing) do not change much. The basic political problems confronting the Framers of our Constitution were as complex as our political problems today—perhaps more so, because they were striking off into the dangerous unknown, whereas all we need do is return to the fine highway we were once on." - Congressman Larry McDonald

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Today we present another entry for Round 44 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 44 ends on January 31st, 2013, 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 widow of over three years whose youngest son was serving our country in the Middle East when my husband’s death happened.  My husband lost his job and was forced into early retirement before his death.  I will not go into the details of all the turmoil then and of having a child home with injuries of war.  In a SHTF situation there will be many people with war injuries in our own neighborhoods.  My other children and I are so glad he is still alive.  My income dropped further not long after this.   It was the end of the world as I knew it mixed in the downward spiraling economy. I cannot move from this area.  I live in the country near cities.  I have grandchildren and children who will no doubt come here if cities rapidly become uninhabitable.  For several it is within walking distance if they must walk, about 13 miles. I can only think of how living in a heavily populated area can work to my advantage.  Buying and storing bulk foods is not an option.  Here is how I am surviving and preparing for a future on a fixed income.

I will be doubling the size of my garden this coming spring.  Weather from the drought literally scorched the ground this past summer.  I planted lettuce over and over never to see it raise from the ground. That is just one example of what the drought did to my garden. I am sixty years old today and have never seen anything like the weather this past summer.  Horrible and truly scary but now I only see it as a lesson for future gardening and for the times when my garden may be raided. I have to think outside the box. I now have a simple irrigation system to help through another drought. My garden is located on the back of my property so I may plow for another garden closer to my house.  Two better than one.  Though I have plenty of seed for my garden needs, I will be buying extra seed for barter and trying to save more heirloom seeds than I do now.  I am using a hoe for weeding instead of a tiller.  I can plant more this way and keep in shape at the same time.  Gardening is the best summer gym!  I can barter fresh produce. For now, winter is just a stone’s throw away yet I can walk to my garden and pick greens I planted late in summer when the drought was over.  Asian greens, an onion, pepper, mushrooms with other vegetables and a chicken breast cooked in a stir fry over organic brown rice is a cheap and healthy meal, especially if the veggies come from the garden.  A chicken breast from the grocer can be replaced by a squirrel.

I have two grain mills I purchased since my husband’s passing.  One mill is a used hand mill I paid ten dollars for and the other a small electric Blendtec I purchased from  Since I live in an area of corn, grain and soybean fields I hope I will be able to bargain {barter} with local farmers for grains to use in my mills.  I ordered a large bag of organic wheat from a local health food store a while back and the bread is delicious made with fresh milled grain. Trading fresh bread or produce for grains will be an option. 
 I have two woodstoves.  I heat my home with the one in the basement and the other is in my garage/workshop. Most of my 8 acres is wooded so I will not be cold in winter.   I could barter extra wood for food, gas etc.  I pile brush from cut trees to attract quail that are coming back into this area.

I can cook over a fire when I run out of fuel for Coleman Cook Stove during blackouts.  I keep two Coleman outdoor stoves plus one of their ovens to place on top the burners for baking. Coleman ovens can be purchased for around forty bucks.  Once I thought of outdoor stoves only for camping.  Several years ago the tail winds of Hurricane Ike helped me prepare for days of no electric.  That hurricane was a true wake up call!

Many homeowners in my area have ponds.  I can barter for fresh fish.  I really need to have a pond built on my place.  That is something to think about for the future.  I advise anyone with the acreage to build a pond.  There will be no fresh or frozen fish if electric is out for weeks.  A pond will provide fresh bluegill, bass, crappie, catfish etc.
I do not have chickens.  I buy eggs from a couple neighbors when they have extra eggs.  Again, I can barter for eggs. 

This area is abundant with deer.  I have deer in the freezer.   Deer would be scarce in a collapsed society but I would still have a few around my property plus other wildlife.   Again, think barter.
Double coupon for groceries and other products.  It is a pain to categorize coupons cut from newspapers but it is a must when economizing.  I use envelopes for coupons in a small folder.  My canned section of the folder has envelopes for canned soup, veggies, condiments, meats, salad dressings etc.  The health section has individual envelopes for cold medicines, band aids and salve section of drug store, shampoos, etc.  The list goes on for dairy products, frozen foods, cereal brands, ethic foods such as Italian, Chinese etc.  Sometimes you can buy food for little or it may be free after couponing. 
 Catch the sales.  Since most of the garden burned this summer I purchased canned veggies at 25 cents per can early this fall.  There was no limit so was I able to store over 200 cans in my basement until the garden comes in next summer.  By Thanksgiving canned vegetables were more than twice that price when on sale.  A vegetable stand in a nearby city sells 50 pound boxes of potatoes at half the price of 10 pound bags in the local produce section of big chain grocers.  They will store well in the garage until zero weather hits then I will bring them into the basement. 

I have a lot of designer clothes in my closet from Goodwill [thrift] stores.  I constantly receive compliments on clothes I pay little for.  I try to buy when there is a half price sale.  My hiking boots are a name brand I purchased at a Goodwill Store still in their box.  I have a juicer, DVD/VHS player, steam canner, cook books and much more at a fraction of the new price purchased from Goodwill, Salvation Army and other second hand stores.  I do not make special trips to town for shopping.  When I go to work in town I always run several errands to keep from wasting gas.  An extra trip to town for a single item is unaffordable.

Eating out is a definite no, if possible.  If I do, I use coupons or use the dollar menu at a drive-thru.  I keep snacks in my desk at work.  I make 24 pizzas at a time using a #12 can of pizza sauce, bread flour from a 25 lb bag from GFS, two 5 lb. bags of cheese, salt, yeast purchased in bulk at GFS and olive oil.  I mix the dough in four used bread machines purchased for few dollars each.  Add ingredients such as pepperoni on top before placing in oven.  Grandkids and guests love the pizzas made for less than two bucks.  It is hard work for one half day but worth it.   Three pizzas can be made with one small jar of pizza sauce if you are not up to making 24 at one time.  Beats paying fifteen bucks for a single deluxe pizza.

One of the grocers where I shop gives discounts on gas at the pump.  Some months I can save up to 30 cents per gallon.  I sold a vehicle I loved for one that is more economical to drive.  The increase in mileage per gallon has saved me.  I paid cash $3,500 for the vehicle.  This way I will not have to make payments that would amount to several hundred dollars per month for a vehicle to drive.  If I have to sell my present vehicle and drop down to a $1,000 vehicle it can be done if need be.  There are good deals out there for good used cars that have former owners with a good track record taking care of their vehicles.  It took a while for me to find one and drove my granddaughter’s car a couple weeks before finding my deal.  I borrowed her car before she got her license. 

Most important are personal relationships.  My neighbors and I have never held a meeting as a survival group.  I have been lucky through our conversations that many of us are like minded and we will be there for one another when needed.  I am a private person for the most part and so are my neighbors or we would not be living where we live.  I know by their lifestyles I can barter with them.  I have skills, they have skills.  We can complement each other.  Further on relationships, as a widow I chose not to pursue a relationship with a man.  I decided if God chose to send someone my way it would happen.  I went about my life with all its problems and I have had many the past years.  Well, God did send someone in my life most unexpectedly.  He is a widower who hunts, can fix nearly anything, has grandchildren and has not run when problems in my family have seemed overwhelming for me as when two of my children were sick.  That is important.  When a person’s world falls apart, patience for any type situation must be in order or a relationship will not survive. I was not progressing past my husband’s death as I should have.   I am healing and the new man in my life has been a big part of that process.  Again, if you find yourself single for any reason please take your time getting into a new relationship with one of the opposite sex.  You need the breathing time to catch up with knowing yourself again as single and go from there.  I would certainly have sabotaged a relationship had I started dating too soon after losing my spouse.

I also want to point out that we live in a society that falls apart after a few days without electricity.  Other traumatic events will spur post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD )in the best of us.  Part of my survival experience the past three years is with a person with PTSD in my life.  In a world spinning out of control all of us need to become well read understanding what war and a society falling apart does to the human psyche.   Please read and find out all you can about the emotional fallouts caused against individuals before, during and after war and societal unrest.  It may mean the survival of a child, grandchild or a dear friend.
Two of my grandchildren cannot play outside their condo in a nearby city because of crime.  Crime is everywhere, even in the countryside where I live but children can play on my land.  I keep a swing set, plenty of toys, bikes, games, a pool table in my basement, scissors, paper and more for children.  If I can eventually afford an above ground pool I will have one for grandchildren to enjoy.  Such things relieve stress in children and is good exercise.   There is always a small pile of brush needed burning for marshmallow roasting on my place.  I have been purchasing VHS tape movies for 50 cents to a dollar and stocking up.  Games for children help too.  I dedicated a room in my basement to sewing and crafts.  Small things costing little mean a lot to small children during times as these.

I have guns and ammo in a safe.   My family has lived in this area a long time and most around here know I have guns.  I am left alone as far as thefts go, so far.  My safe is tied into the floor joists of my house.  Presently it would take a chain saw to remove it in less than an hour’s time, not within the five or so minute time frame of local thieves.  At my husband’s death my oldest son drove in from Colorado and picked up my youngest son at the airport.  They bought the safe on their way home from the airport and installed it.  My own sons and daughters have helped me make it to today.  I do not know what I would have done without them.  Sure, we have our problems and disagreements from time to time but we are tight, regardless.

As you can see my preparedness is quite cheap and simple.  I would love to have solar panels for electric and more for the future but economics limits the extremes I would love to go with.  My small generator would run my freezer long enough to can frozen meat over a gas grill burner.  Would not want to do that but I could if need be.  Boundaries as lack of funds keep me thinking outside the box.
The best preparing is letting God be in control.  It is unbelievable at the situations I have found myself in to come up with funds to pay bills.  One time a check came in the mail within minutes I urgently needed to pay bill.  I have been humbled many times by the grace of God these past years.  No one is perfect and all of us make mistakes, some quite terrible but God is there regardless if we let him in our lives.  He helps us prepare if we let him.

Years before my husband’s death we took an extreme cut in income.  I was upset and could not understand why God was letting this happen to us.  Little did I know we were being prepared for a further loss of income.  When an economic fire storm hit the area we lived in we were a great deal more prepared to face the music than most because we had already had to live through that loss.  So the problems you have today may be God’s way of preparing you for the future. 

I have been watching the evening news more often as of late.  It is unbelievable the amount of shootings, stabbings, robberies and home invasions taking place in the area I live.  It will continue in this direction for many years to come.  I cannot move as I stated once before.  For economic and family reasons I will remain here and sit it out.  I search the web and stores like Goodwill for items that can be purchased at prices I can afford to make life more comfortable the coming years.  I know the fire storm is coming.  One of my grandfathers of many generations past was one of the first white men to come down the Ohio River to the lands of Kentucky.  I love reading the history of our country and I know we are headed for rough waters.  It cannot be stopped at this point regardless of who is in charge in Washington.  It is too late. We may remain the United States of America but it will be an entirely different landscape.  Practice preparing. Prepare as best possible with what you have, even if it is only a tomato plant in an Earth Box on your condo patio.

Dear Mr. Rawles,

I was recently treated for an abscess in my foot and was reminded of the importance of stockpiling large amounts of everything, gauze in particular. The good news is that a nasty staph infection is treatable in a TEOTWAWKI situation. The bad news is that you need to have antibiotics and gauze, and lots of it.

A few weeks ago I went to see my doctor after developing a large and painful abscess that didn't look like pimples I've experienced before. It was deep under the skin, large and painful, so I thought it should be checked out by a professional. My doctor diagnosed it as a potential MRSA infection because of its appearance and the speed with which it had developed (it went from zero to the size and consistency of a cherry pit in 48 hours). Normally MRSA is diagnosed in the laboratory, but the doctor recommended treating it immediately because it could have gotten worse while waiting for the lab results.

Do a web search for "abscess," "MRSA," and "staphylococcus aureus" to get more information about what I was dealing with.

The treatment program was first, the doctor wiped down the area with hydrogen peroxide, injected the area with novocaine and then punctured and drained the abscess using a sterile knife. He then packed the wound with iodoform packing gauze (basically a string with powdered iodine embedded in it), covered the wound with ordinary gauze and taped it down with medical tape.

I came back to his office the next day to have the gauze replaced, and the day after that to have the second piece of gauze removed from the wound.

The program of treatment with antibiotics was as follows: injections of rifampicin once a day for 3 days, plus cephalexin and trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole taken orally twice a day for 10 days. In addition, I had to replace the gauze twice a day for 2 weeks and apply topical mupirocin every time.

Disclaimer: This treatment program worked for me, but I am not a doctor and I am not claiming that this is the best course of treatment for you. Your doctor may disagree with mine, or may prescribe a different course of treatment for the type of abscess you might have, or to work around any allergies or other individual issues you might have. If the world has not ended yet, please see a professional for any semi-serious condition you have and do not rely on what some guy (in this case, me) writes on the internet.

Now, let's do some math: 3 injections of rifampicin, 20 trimehoprim/sulfamethoxazole pills, 20 cephalexin pills, and about half a tube of mupirocin ointment. In addition, every time I changed the gauze, I needed to use one piece of gauze soaked in hydrogen peroxide to clean the skin around the wound and then another fresh piece of gauze to apply to the wound. That was twice a day for 14 days, so I went through a total of 56 medium-sized (2" x 2") gauze pads. Most boxes of gauze you might buy at the drug store contain 10 or 12 pads.

All of that for a single wound that was smaller than a dime. Imagine what you'd need if you had a larger injury, say a big gash in your thigh from sawing wood.

Now, I have to ask the other readers out there, how much gauze do you have in your first-aid kit? How much do you have stockpiled? I'll admit that before I developed the abscess, each of my 3 first aid kits (home, car and BOB) only had 3-4 medium-sized (2" x 2") gauze pads and 1 large (5" x 9") gauze pad. After this experience, I went out and bought 100 medium-sized gauze pads for home, another 100 for the car, and a dozen large gauze pads for each. Because of space limitations, I only added 10 medium-sized gauze pads and two large ones to my BOB. I'm not fully squared away yet, but it's a start.

I'm going to acquire more sterile gauze in the future, and I'm also going to think about ways to stockpile recyclable gauze, i.e. sterilize and store cloth rags, which seems to be the only long-term solution.

The general rule for prepping is to figure out how much you need and then double it. In this case, what I found out I actually needed was more than I thought I needed by at least a factor of ten. I hope my experience is useful to some of your readers. Many thanks for maintaining this great blog!

Best, - Ted from Maine

Mr. Rawles,
I wanted to write to you about my recent experience with the US shortage of semi-automatic rifles, full-capacity magazines, and .223 ammo.
I am relatively new prepper.  So far, we've got the bug-out bags, the bug-out bins, the emergency plans, the food and water, some other stuff, and a start on guns and ammo.  As of last week, I had my 9mm Glock, a 12 gauge Remington 870 shotgun, various pellet guns (and ~2500 rounds of various ammo).  I had been thinking of my next gun purchase, and leaning toward the Ruger 10/22 takedown model.  That would have gotten me up to minimal firearm preparedness: a rifle, a pistol, and a shotgun.
Then came the Sandy Hook tragedy.  And a renewed discussion on gun control (pushed relentlessly by the media).  And the possibility of a ban on so-called assault rifles (we know that term is much-debated elsewhere, so I will not discuss its meanings/implications here).  And I began to worry about the availability of semi-automatic rifles. 
A good semi-auto defensive rifle has always been on my list of intended firearm purchases.  However, it was way down on my list.  But my worry about availability just got it promoted to the top.
A week ago last Sunday, I was checking the news, and seeing more and more articles about congressmen (and women) planning to re-introduce the ban on assault rifles and so-called full-capacity magazines (more than 10 rounds!).  Then the president announced that he would speak to the country later that night.  I began to worry that he was going to alarm the purchasing public, and there would be a run on guns, mags, and ammo. 
Fortunately, I had been researching different ARs, and had my eye on the Smith & Wesson M&P 15 Sport, as a good quality, relatively inexpensive, entry-level semi-auto rifle.  So, around 5 pm that Sunday afternoon, I called the large sporting goods store (about 10 miles away) and asked if they had any in-stock.  They had two; I asked them to put one on hold for me, and they agreed to hold it until closing time (7 pm).  My wife had been out that afternoon - when she walked in the door at 5:30, I informed her that I was going out for an emergency shopping run, and off I went.
The store was busy (probably due to Christmas shopping), but the gun counter was very busy.  There were about 5 employees manning the counter, and about 30 people waiting to look at guns.  Lots of people were getting background checked, standing in line at the register, and walking away with those long, flat cardboard boxes.  And the long-gun displays were starting to show bare spots.  
Finally, my turn came, and the clerk fetched my box from the back.  The rifle looked gun, felt good, and seemed as advertised.  Sticker price was $1,050, and by God's providence, I could afford it.  I told him I would take it.  It came with one magazine.  I asked about extra magazines: they were all out.  I asked about .223 ammo: they were all out.  Okay.  On the way out, I grabbed some full-capacity magazines for my 9 mm.  Then, I exercised my credit card and I was out the door, with a piece of fancy metal and some empty plastic magazines.  Back at home, they went into the gun safe, and I felt pretty good about front-running the surging demand for these guns.   
The week kept me busy, and I didn't have a chance to look for magazines and ammo until Thursday.  I called several large sporting goods stores in the area.  No one had any AR-15 magazines or .223 ammo, and none had any estimate on when they would get restocked.  It was time to expand my shopping horizon.  A Google search informed me that there were three local gun shops in our area. 
By now, I was somewhat panicky.  Would I be able to find anything?  Would there be a continuous shortage on mags and ammo until a gun control bill is passed?  Would I be stuck with my fancy rifle, and nothing to shoot?  Back on the phone, I talked with the owner of gun shop number one: he was out of AR mags and .223 ammo: no estimate for restocking. 
Over the phone, a clerk at gun shop number two claimed to have .223 ammo, so I was out the door again, and in 20 minutes, I was visiting a tiny little cinder block gun shop with huge bars over all the windows, and more guns per square foot than I had ever seen.  The very surly owner had 11 boxes of Federal .223 for $20 each - I told him that I would take them all.  I asked about AR mags, and he just laughed and told that he was "not selling them."  Okay.  With another plastic swipe and signature, I was off to gun shop number three.
Gun shop number three was in a tiny strip mall, and at 6 pm, it was the only store still open in the plaza.  What was amazing was the number of cars in the parking lot and the number of people in the store.  The store was about 20 feet wide and 50 feet deep, and had about 20 customers either at the gun counter or scouring the remains on the racks and the shelves.  About a dozen other customers were outside the store, talking on the sidewalk.  All around the store, were printouts telling customers about purchase limits on magazines and ammunition.  No AR magazines were left.  But, there was a small stock of .223 'varmint' ammo at $13 each.  So I took ten (the maximum allowed number) of the boxes, up to the counter. 
The shop owner and his three clerks, were doing their best to serve the high demand, but the stress and strain were evident in their manner.  At the counter, several customers were looking at guns, and the owner was very blunt with them, saying: "If you think you want this gun, then you should buy it now, because if you wait and come back later, it's going to be gone."  The owner was also talking about the price increases from his suppliers.  Talking about buying an AR, the owner said that, over the course of the week, his price had gone up "$100, then $300, then $500."  At first, I thought that he was talking about a cumulative price increase, then he clarified: "now I'm paying $900 more for this gun, than I was paying last week."  The owner also said that people were buying guns, just to get the magazine(s) that come with the guns.  Wow.  I made my ammo purchase and I was out the door.
So far, no luck in finding extra magazines.  From what I hear, all stores in my area are out of ARs, AR magazines, and AR ammo. 
So, maybe this letter gives an example of one story in this situation.  But, I think that it also gives some lessons for preppers, in their purchase of firearms.
First, consider availability issues, when determining priorities about the purchase of firearms.  Second, don't expect to count on the ability to purchase full-capacity magazines at a gun-show or from a private seller.  As I understand it, the proposed ban on full-capacity magazines (more than 10 rounds!) will make it illegal to transfer (i.e. purchase) such magazines.  Third, even if you're still working up to a firearms purchase, it pays to do your research, so that you know what you want when an opportunity (or necessity) presents itself.  Fourth, learn about gun shops other than your local big-box stores.  The big-box stores seem to run out of stock first, and (at least some of them) seem to be vulnerable to pressure to limit sales of certain firearm items.  Fifth, where possible, try to build relationships with gun shop owners (and other firearm suppliers).  The owners I recently met were reasonably courteous to me (as a new customer) but they certainly didn't go out of their way to help me.  Sixth, in your preparedness efforts, think about how to stay in front of the herd, when it comes to purchases.  In your hour of need, you don't want to be at the store with a hundred other people, competing to pay huge upcharges on scraps - you want to be at home or at your retreat, planning your next step in preparedness. 
Let's hope that supply and demand get back to normal in the near future, so we have a chance to make those purchases that we've been putting off. 
  Best Regards, - Chuck W.

One more reason to flee the over-populous eastern seaboard Nanny States: Outrageous… Lib NY Paper Publishes Names & Addresses of Legal Gun Permit Holders

   o o o

10 Best Personal Defense Stories of 2012

   o o o

Gregg suggested: The Crude Homemade Guns Of The Chechen Army

   o o o

Matt B. recommended: Christianophobia

   o o o

Antique Firearms is liquidating all their inventory. SurvivalBlog readers can use coupon code SURVIVAL for 20% off. All offers are considered. The Federal exemption for no paperwork pre-1899 guns may become a thing of the past, with upcoming legislation. Stock up!

"Note to Mayor Bloomberg: No guns in America isn’t quite as easy as no 32-ounce soft drinks in New York City." - SurvivalBlog Reader J.B.G.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Today we present another entry for Round 44 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 44 ends on January 31st, 2013, 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 simulated bug-outs on foot in a variety of environments in order to test gear, test myself, and to learn from that single best teacher: experience.
I walked with various loads, pack configurations, and equipment through stretches of Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Missouri, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Illinois. I walked on every type of road imaginable, from the shoulder of bustling interstates to rural roads with a stripe of grass growing in the middle. I walked on railroad tracks, by rivers, in desert, mountains, forests, prairies, and more. In more than a month, I walked around 200 miles while testing various locations and different bits of gear. As a result, I have some observations regarding gear, travel, shelter, sleep, water, food, miscellany, and fasting to share with you all.
I sincerely hope that it helps you.


For my primary backpack, I used a military surplus CFP-90, manufactured by SDS. I got it used from Ebay for $83. It is an internal frame pack. It has a woodland camouflage pattern. Everything about it screams ruggedness. I used and abused it, and the only apparent damage is a few frayed threads around the top opening.
The CFP-90 is very sturdy, and has a place for up to two rifles or shotguns along the side of the exterior. There is a main pouch that you load from the top, with an interior pocket for storing a Camel-bak watering system—or anything else.

There is a bottom sleeping bag compartment that is designed to carry the GI sleep system; I use it for this, and also for a hatchet, survival knife, folding saw, e-tool, and fillet knife. The sleeping bag compartment is intuitive, simple, and greatly aids in organization.

Then, there are three side pockets, two smaller ones on one side, one bigger one on the other side. A map compartment on top holds my maps and other small things. It accepts ALICE-compatible equipment and has PALS webbing. You can adjust the height of the shoulder straps by sliding a plastic connector up and down the height of the bag.
I have left it outside during rainstorms 6-7 times in direct rainfall, and, with one exception—a heavy storm where I did not seal the bag adequately—each time the items inside my bag did not get wet. The outer shell sheds water enough for my practical purposes. Overall, this pack is very solid, relatively inexpensive, and quite good. I am very pleased with my CFP-90, and I recommend it.
Along with my main pack, I tried out these pieces of gear essential: shoulder pack, fanny pack, vest, and tool belt. These helped me organize the gear I needed often, while making it easily accessible. Also, it helped with distributing the weight more comfortably, counterbalancing the main backpack. This was extremely helpful and is recommended. Otherwise, you will be wasting lots of time taking off your rucksack, going through it for specific items, and putting it back on. Save yourself this unnecessary ordeal.

For now, I use a small backpack as a shoulder pack. It is not the most comfortable thing, but it does work. I’ve also tried a tool belt, fanny pack, and smaller shoulder pack. The tool belt wasn’t a good idea because the pouches were open on the top. Things fell out. A fanny pack and smaller shoulder bag worked well, but I gave these to a friend. Just make sure it zips or buttons closed at the top, and you will be fine.

I also pack an empty, flattened, Jansport backpack in my main pack. After setting up camp, I left my CFP-90, packed the Jansport with fewer, lighter items of gear, and went off to gather resources or explore the area. I also use it as an improvised shoulder pack and attach it to the exterior of my main pack.
Finally, if my main pack broke, I could salvage most of my gear, place it in the Jansport, my other shoulder pack, and clothing pockets, and continue on.
One thing I learned very early is: do not over pack your bag! This will hurt you. Plan ahead and prioritize. Ditch everything else or store it at your destination.
I liked to put more of the weight towards the bottom. This seemed to give me better balance. I then tied some paracord to the top of my main pack and made a loop so that, while walking, I could pull the bag closer to my back, easing strain on my shoulders and neck. It wasn’t necessary, and wasn’t convenient, but it did work. Play around with your pack, try out different configurations, and settle on the best one.

From my experience, a slightly smaller pack than the CFP-90 has some notable benefits and drawbacks. First, the bag itself weighs less. Second, it is more difficult to over pack. You’ll be able to cover more ground quicker with a lightened load. However, when you set up camp, you won’t have as much gear. I enjoyed my experiences with a smaller pack and lighter load, but mainly just because it was more comfortable and easy. Overall, I still prefer my CFP-90 rucksack; I just pack it carefully.

For a tent, I use a USGI Gore-Tex bivy bag. I bought it used from eBay for $35. It is made of tent materials and is slightly bigger than a sleeping bag. I chose it based on its small size, light weight, and the ease of set-up. No tent poles or stakes required. The tight interior space is slightly suffocating at first, but I got used to it. There is actually enough room inside to store a small backpack, a few items, and still sleep comfortably. It is waterproof, windproof, adds another layer of insulation underneath and around me, and is highly portable.
It is incredibly durable. A solid and rigid spring was sticking out of a couch over which my bivy bag was draped. The spring hooked the bag; I yanked to get the bag off, then, puzzled by the resistance, yanked very hard. During this time, I heard a tear, and stopped. A very tiny tear in the innermost layer was the result. Barely a scratch. I fixed it immediately with duct tape, and it works fine. Given the amount of abuse I gave the bag, I was very impressed with how little damage occurred. My brother, who saw my foolish antics, was also impressed by its durability.
A regular tarp, on the other hand, had many small tears from twigs and branches after only using it for one night. It was bulky and took much longer to fold and unfold it. Also, it is less camouflaged than a primitive lean-to, which I prefer to build if I need to have a bigger shelter. In my experience, just say no to tarps.

All in all, I recommend this bag highly. The only downside is that you have to be careful when you are inside of it; if you seal it too tightly, it becomes a little difficult to get fresh air. This is easy to fix; just open the flap to get better airflow. However, this can become a bigger problem when it is cold; you then have to make the tough choice between letting cold air in or having less fresh air. However, even when fully sealed, the air restriction was never life threatening, just a minor nuisance.

For a sleeping bag, I have a used USGI intermediate cold weather mummy bag, which supposedly works down to -10 degrees Fahrenheit. At 20 degrees outside, with one layer of long underwear on, 85% wool socks, and a wool winter hat, it was moderately comfortable, but my feet were a little cold, and I would imagine that would get unbearable at -10 degrees, the minimum range it is rated for. However, for only $32 dollars, it was a great deal and works well—just probably only down to 0 degrees Fahrenheit, not -10.
For packing, I put my sleeping bag into my bivy bag. Then, I fold it over in half, and roll it up, and put it into the lower compartment of my CFP-90. There is even enough room left for placing my tools in the lower compartment. I find this works very well. If I want a better shelter, I can make one. Otherwise, this is a very compact, light, inexpensive, and efficient way to set up a shelter.

Boots and Socks

For boots, I use a pair of leather hiking boots from Cabela's for $80. So far they have worked well. The waterproof liner works. They are relatively comfortable. When buying boots, check for waterproof webbing around the tongue of the boot. Otherwise, water can seep in around the laces. This was what happened with my extra pair of leather work boots from Farm and Fleet; while the exterior was waterproof, there was no webbing. They got drenched a few times, making walking miserable and producing many blisters.
If you do drench your boots, do not put them too close to a fire to dry them. The heat can melt the outside of the boot and the rubber and glue inside of the boot sole.
Have waterproof boots! However, even if you do have waterproof boots, don’t get cocky. Water can still go over the top of them. Be careful around water. You do not want soaked boots!
I found that waterproofing my boots preemptively with neatsfoot oil was beneficial. Clean your boots and rub it evenly into the outer leather layer until it has soaked in. Note how long the neatsfoot oil is supposed to last on the directions.

You can use regular animal fat to waterproof your boots, although it is not nearly as efficient as using neatsfoot oil. Also, it does stink a little. I rubbed some groundhog fat on my boots and evidently the oils in it do repel water, although not perfectly or for more than a week.
High-wool content socks are wonderful. I have used some from Cabela's, some by the Fox River brand, and some from military surplus. The military surplus ones were too thin and the heel tore after light use. Both non-military brands have worked very well, but I spent quite a bit more on them. Make sure that there is padding on the bottom of the socks to absorb impact and that there is a high percentage of wool, preferably merino.

Liners made specifically for wearing under a regular sock can cut down on chafing and blisters. Cabela’s makes specialty liners for this purpose. It cuts down on chafing by absorbing much of the impact, which would otherwise reach your skin unimpeded. I found that these Cabela’s liners, while very thin, greatly cut down on blisters and made a big difference when compared to walking without them. They were especially helpful when traveling long distances with added weight.

The thickness of socks can make all the difference. Pay attention to how much room is in your boot. If the boot is very big, you can put two pairs of thick socks, keeping your feet warm in the winter. Otherwise, having too many socks will restrict blood flow to your feet and cause chafing and blister problems.
Have two pairs of boots, or an extra pair of shoes plus boots, so that you can change into dry ones if one pair gets wet, while tying the others to the outside of your pack, and letting them dry while moving. Boots are superior to shoes in many ways. Only have shoes if you already have boots.
Finally, don’t forget to break your boots in ahead of time.


For clothing, I have two pairs of clothes: one for being in society, with regular, solid, earthy tones that also double as camouflage; and one military surplus “uniform” for the rural, wild areas. I like the military surplus items a lot. They really are made for a similar situation to bugging out, and I recommend them.
A hat with a wide brim is helpful. It blocks the sun from your eyes, cools you off, and prevents sunburn. I used a boonie-hat and a cowboy hat. I preferred the boonie-hat because it can be folded up easily and stuffed into a pocket.

For gloves, I have a pair of Rothco military replica gloves. They help with tending fires, gathering resources, cooking, give mechanical advantage, and they protect my hands from sunburn, blisters, heat, fire, cold, punctures, scratches, and cuts. Gloves are essential. Any good leather pair will do.
Extra socks and underwear are the most useful clothing additions. They absorb the most seat and are also more compact. I had 4 pairs of underwear and 6 pairs of socks. These will require more washing or airing out, which can easily be accomplished by washing them in water with or without a bit of soap, wringing them out, and air drying them on the outside of your pack or coat.
Stay dry. Get an oversized poncho that fits over you and any vulnerable packs. I have tried this, and it works despite being cumbersome, but since my CFP-90 seems waterproof, I use smaller rain pants and a coat.

I use a Columbia shell for outerwear during cold weather. It is waterproof, windproof, and durable. I’ve had it for 6 years. Underneath that, I put however many layers are necessary. I have a thin fleece coat, long sleeved shirt, undershirt, and Underarmor shirt. I adjust as needed.

I personally find that my legs stay very warm, especially when I am moving. At 20 degrees Fahrenheit, I just wore some fleece long underwear underneath jeans.
Get wool for cold weather, never cotton. Wool—especially thick wool—wicks away the moisture from your skin, whereas cotton gets sopping wet, which cools you off quickly. Cotton, on the other hand, is good for hot weather, since it stays wet with sweat or water, aiding evaporation, and cooling you.
For tools, I used an E-tool, or entrenching tool, purchased from a military supply store for $30, lightly used. It has served all my shoveling needs. It also can clear the ground of brush and rocks fairly well. It is a small shovel made of three connected pieces that fold along two hinges. It isn’t as easy as using a full size shovel, but it can dig. It is a bit heavy, though; this is one of the things I am almost tempted not to bring along with, in order to lighten the load.

For my main knife, I use a Ka-Bar with a tanto point. The blade is 5 and 1/4 inches long; the full length, handle included, is 9 and 3/8 inches. It has a serrated spot near the handle. The knife has held up, albeit with superficial scratches. I did melt some of the protective coating by placing it in a fire. It works as a makeshift machete, can clear protruding branches off a tree quite well, and seems fairly easy to sharpen. I like the handle grip, although it is symmetrical; this makes it difficult to discern by touch alone whether the blade is facing out or in. The sheath works well. Honestly, I do not like the tanto tip. I think that was a mistake. Other than that, it works well, and for $42 from Amazon, I am perfectly satisfied.

With the Ka-Bar, I find that a small loop of paracord tightened around my thigh and running through two loops at the bottom of my Ka-Bar's sheath is helpful. This keeps the sheathed knife near my leg and in a constant position. This makes a quick draw easier and keeps the sheath from getting caught in branches, cords, and other things. It makes it easier to put my knife back into the sheath, too.
I used a folding saw for cutting down medium sized branches and thin trees. The BAHCO 396-LAP, or the Laplander 8” folding saw has been excellent, quickly cutting through many different types of branches, logs, and trees, is highly portable. I highly recommend it, and everyone who used it thought highly of it. This is really the piece of equipment I was most impressed with. The only downside is that I do not know how to sharpen it, but so far, after plenty of use and abuse, it seems to cut almost as good as new.

For a hatchet, I use a Fiskars X-7 hatchet. When I first got it, I was very impressed, but a few minor chips in the blade have slightly dulled my enthusiasm. It still works very well, however, and I definitely abused it to see what it could take. However, please note that I would seriously consider not bringing this and the e-tool along; they are somewhat heavy with limited, non-essential utility. The BAHCO folding saw cuts through branches and logs faster. The hatchet is better at splitting wood and cutting down trees too big for the folding saw. When you consider how much smaller and lighter the folding saw is, the hatchet appears somewhat superfluous.

I recommend a Leatherman, Swiss Army knife, or similar multi-tool. I have a Leatherman Wingman, which is great, except for the scissors, which are pretty difficult to use, and the clip, which caused the knife to fall to the ground once. I’d prefer a sheath. However, I’ve put the Wingman on my belt and pulled it off about a thousand times with only one drop. The wire cutters work. The pliers are tough. There are screwdrivers for all basic projects. The knife is great for eating with and doing precision tasks like cleaning small game. I highly recommend a multi-tool like this.
Then, “The Traveler”, made by Chicago Cutlery, is my medium sized knife. It fills a nice gap between my KA-BAR’s large size and my Leatherman’s small size. It, like all Chicago Cutlery knives, is very high quality, quite sharp, easy to cut, and comes with a good sheath.

You will want sheaths, clips, or someway to keep your tools attached and in easy reach. Sheaths are more secure than clips. Consider that when buying tools.
For first aid and medicine, I would say painkillers and multivitamins are the two most important things. A rub-on pain reliever like Ben Gay, as well as pills like aspirin and ibuprofen, allows a two-way assault on pain.

Everything else I have I consider optional but helpful. I now touch on these medicines here.
Diphenhydramine is a very helpful drug, as it doubles as a sleep aid and an allergy medication. Be sure to buy it for allergy medication and use it as a sleep aid, as it costs more when being sold as a sleep aid. I carry a few dozen, and use as needed.

Caffeine pills are a compact, lightweight, effective, inexpensive alternative to coffee or tea. They also eliminate the preparation and equipment requirements. They can be crushed and swallowed to speed up assimilation—and the stimulant effects. [Editor's note: This is not a safe practice with many other medications!] Be careful not to overdose.

Anti-itch and anti-fungal cream is helpful. I never got athlete’s foot, but the conditions are ripe for it, especially if it is warm and your feet get wet. Thus I have some cream for athlete’s foot and jock itch.

Sunscreen helps prevent sunburn and aloe-vera helps for if you get sunburned. You will want to have your intestinal ailments covered with laxative, stool softener, anti-constipation, and anti-diarrheal medicine.

Foot powder for keeping feet fresh and moleskin for blisters is also very useful. Some wet-wipes can be useful for keeping clean and for making you feel clean. Use them sparingly, first targeting the groin, armpits, hands, face, and feet. Other than that, all the regular little first aid things come in handy: Band-Aids, gauze, alcohol wipes, and so on.
I didn’t have any antibiotics or antiviral medicines. I haven’t researched these, so I can’t recommend any.

Last time I checked, Wal-Mart is selling medicines useful for bugging out for very low prices. If you buy these, many medicines have individually packaged capsules; open the packages and either remove the capsules or, if you want to retain the seal, cut around the capsules without puncturing the seal, then round the corners to prevent the sharp edges from puncturing things.
For keeping tools and knives sharp, I have two small sharpeners.

One is from DMT products, and is their red portable sharpening stone. It is quite good at sharpening knifes, but its small size makes it unwieldy to use on anything other than my Leatherman’s blade. However, if you are careful, you can use it to put a fine cutting edge on larger blades. To do this, you have to push the sharpening stone towards the blade, which is very risky. It was probably only luck that stopped me from cutting a finger while using this thing. I would not recommend it simply because of the small size and the associated complications.

I got a Bear Gryllis knife sharpening system made by Gerber. It has two integrated sharpening slots: one for coarse sharpening and the other for fine sharpening. You put the knife or blade into the slot, and pull it through at the correct angle. These two slots are very easy to use. Then, there are two small sharpening rods for sharpening serrated blades. This is less easy and straightforward to use, because the sharpening rods must match the size of the serration. Overall, I like this system more, but I find I can’t get as fine an edge on the blade as with the DMT sharpener.
If it is cold, carry lighters by your body so they continue to work. Pens freeze, pencils don't, but pencils can puncture clothing and skin. Get a pencil case, or mechanical pencil, which is lighter, refillable, and saves space. Or just carry pens by your body. Have a notepad, a journal, or both.
A small bit of liquid or solid soap can go a long way if used very sparingly. Hand sanitizer is also good, can be used to purify water, and is great for lighting fires. Dish soap can be used for anything that requires soap, not just dishes.

Try to have all your bottles be refillable and reusable after they are emptied. Big bottles, especially when barely filled, are very annoying. They waste space. Wal-Mart has refillable travel bottles, which have served me well.

Headlamps are optimal because they leave both hands free to do chores. The strap can be hung over a protruding pole, easily making a makeshift lantern. Having your hands free is incredibly important, and I would recommend you get a headlamp before you get a flashlight. I use both, but I got a headlamp first. I prefer LEDs because they last a lot longer than regular bulbs. However, LEDs do seem to mess with my depth perception at night. Bring a lot of backup batteries. If the nights are long, it can be a big, boring waste to sit still for hours before going to sleep. Although, on the bright side, this is a good time to pray and plan ahead.

When it comes to eyesight, if you have contact lenses, get glasses. Glasses do not require saline solution or generally clean fingertips to put in. You will have trouble with both these factors while bugging out. If you have glasses, get a second pair. Apply as many special treatments, such as scratch resistance and glare resistance, to the glasses that you are willing to able. They will go through a beating. Once while hiking, I fell and broke the lens of one pair of glasses. Good thing that I had a second pair.

Polarized sunglasses help with fishing. They allow me to see through the reflective surface far better. They also shield my eyes from too much sunlight.
A small container of fog preventative is helpful in cold weather; it prevents my warm, moist breath from fogging up my glasses. I use Liberty Sport’s anti fog lens cleaner. It works well except that it slightly increases glare when there is no fog. Also, it comes off when you clean them.
Get a small cord to attach to your glasses and loop behind your neck so that your glasses don’t fall on the ground and get broken like mine did. Stores sell straps specifically for this, but you can save money and improvise.
Also, I have a pair of cheap safety goggles that fit over my glasses for going through dense terrain so branches don’t poke me in the eye or steal my glasses. They can also be used to keep my glasses on my face.
For cooking, I used an imitation Army mess kit and a camping silverware set. It worked adequately. I would have liked a bigger pot for cooking, but it takes up too much space.
For repairs, duct tape fixes almost everything. I shove some paracord into the donut hole to save space and organize these items. Paracord is very useful and highly recommended, but I have also found a good supplement to it: fishing line.

In general, fishing line is immensely useful. You can twine and twist two to three strings together to make an improvised but effective bowstring. I did this, although I did not hunt with it. If the line is strong enough, you can make clotheslines or even hang a tarp from it. It can be used for many things that paracord can be used for such as lashing together a temporary shelter. You can use it for clothing repairs, but takes up far less space and is cheaper foot for foot than paracord. The downside is that the narrow strands can be somewhat difficult to tie and take time to braid together. However, once done braiding, if tied correctly, it can be used many, many times. Of course, it also works for fishing!
A small sewing kit and tackle box takes up very little space. Just be sure that it is a solid container. A few needles, some thread, a small bobber, a few hooks, and a sinker can be put into a very small space.

Instead of using floss, I bring along three reusable toothpicks. These are small plastic strips that work almost as well as floss. I got them for free from my dentist. I think that they are called Oral-pix or Ora-pix, but I threw away the box and just use the toothpicks. It takes very little soap to clean such a small item. I haven’t had any problems with these and I’ve used them for years. These take up less space than floss, and, so far, not a single one has broken.

Certain fireworks can provide an effective distraction or intimidating tool in any armed conflict. Loud, short single explosion fireworks are more effective. I saw both M-80s and firecrackers used for distractions, and the firecrackers were far less convincing or distracting, whereas the M-80, making one loud noise, was far more intimidating and realistic.
Another innovative defensive idea that was demonstrated to me was the many benefits of a fake gun. If you would like to save money and weight while looking armed, buy a replica plastic gun or airsoft gun. Spray paint the orange tip black, and if the gun is not black, paint that as well. Get a holster or sling, depending on what type of gun you’d like to impersonate. You now look intimidating without having to carry around a heavy gun, spare clips, and heavy, potentially noisy, clinking ammunition. When I first saw a holstered and painted airsoft pistol on the hip and in the hand of my friend Ramsey five feet from me, I thought it was real.

This is a versatile trick. It helps you be stealthier, lightens the load, and is cheap. You do not have to care for fake guns, saving space that would be filled by real gun care products. Combining fireworks and fake guns, my friend detonated a single loud firework and held the fake gun; if I did not know what was happening, especially from a distance, I would have thought it was real. An attacker may suspect something, but it would be difficult for them to call your bluff. Just be sure to carefully paint the fake guns—any orange left may give away the ruse. [Editor's Note: a ruse like this might work ONCE, but I wouldn't risk my life on depending on it.]
You can pack some toilet paper, but unless you pack rolls of it—wasting space in the process—you will run out. Survival isn’t pretty. Use whatever you can. Small bits of cloth found on the side of the road can be washed in running water, dried, and used a few times, then discarded or burnt. Or you can just use them without washing them. Be creative. If you’re going to try to carry some toilet paper, take out the cardboard tube or flatten it to save space.

Fishing maps, available from many Wal-marts or the internet, are helpful both for path-finding and for information that helps you acquire food. However, they are more geared for fishing, not travel. Thus, I prefer Delorme’s series of state maps, which have incredibly detailed maps. Delorme’s maps are a little big, but the detail makes them worth it.
I also print out maps and store them somewhere waterproof. Then, I have backup maps stored somewhere waterproof, just in case. I do not want to get lost.
For containers, plastic grocery bags can be compacted by twisting them while forcing air out. They take up very little space this way.
When unfolded, these can be double or triple bagged by placing one bag inside of another in order to carry weight more reliably. Most are lacking in durability, but they can be easily restocked. I carried twenty pounds of items in two triple-bagged plastic bags, one in each hand, ten pounds in each, while hiking twenty miles over five days. The handles stretched a little, but held up. Not a single bag broke.
If you have extra plastic bags, you can also create basic compartments within the triple bag shell. Just take a bag, place the items you want into it, and put it inside the triple bag shell. Repeat with other items. You can always double or triple bag these compartments. These are also the most water resistant areas, especially if you tie them shut and place them above the bottom of the bag. It was very easy to find replacement bags, as they are a common piece of litter.

These are very handy, multipurpose, water resistant, and windproof items. I highly recommend having a dozen or so in your bug out bag. Always look for more bags. I have some reusable cloth tote bags, but I have left them behind, favoring the plastic bags. The cloth bags take up too much space for their function. Should your main pack fail, the plastic bags can be pressed into service carrying your gear. While not optimal, it does work so long as you don’t overload them.
Larger plastic trash bags are also very useful. They can be folded into small spaces, but are tough. These are great for gathering resources, and, when stuffed, can insulate a shelter or to cover your sleeping bag.

If possible and practical, keep all electronics and batteries near to your body in a waterproof container like a Ziploc bag. Incidentally, Ziploc bags are also highly helpful for organizing any items and are recommended. Cold drains batteries at a hastened pace. Keep batteries out of electronics when not in use to extend their battery life. Or, if you can, put a small plastic disk cut from a bottle into the electronic device to prevent the battery from forming a circuit with the device. You’ll know the circuit is disrupted when the device doesn’t work.

At camp, I like to have an area where tools go when not in use so I can find them and don’t lose them. Also, I make it a habit to obsessively double and triple check my camp for stray items before leaving. At this time, I check my inventory to make sure that everything is there. I highly recommend packing and repacking you rucksack and bags, doing your best to memorize where each piece of gear is. This saves time in the long run and prevents lost items.

For fire, four Bic lighters, four match boxes, and a Swedish fire steel were sufficient for my travels. It is tedious and difficult to get a fire started from just a spark, but it is possible. Practice beforehand. Mainly, I just use a lighter or match to get a fire going. If you need a fire-starter, cattail down is amazing. Tear it up and fluff it up into a big, air filled mass and, so long as it is dry, it burns like something soaked in gasoline.

For bathing, a small washcloth bath with a bit of soap was sufficient. When it was cool outside, or exertion was minimal, I would go about a week between any bathing. This didn’t bother me very much, nor were there any problems as a result of this. When it is warmer, I sweat more, and thus bathing became a higher priority. Still, I only had to keep my hands, face, feet, groin, and armpits fairly clean occasionally. It was easy to do. Not a big deal.


While walking, do not overexert yourself. I temporarily crippled myself once by walking 33 miles over 18 hours with about 50 pounds on my back. This was done almost entirely on a solid road. Afterwards, my knees hurt and were so stiff that I was almost entirely lame, only capable of a very slow and painful limp for nearly a day. My feet were in agony at this time. The blisters were uncomfortable and an infection risk. It took me almost a week to fully recover, but I was able to move fairly well after about two days. Learn from my mistake; don’t overexert yourself.
When I took breaks while walking, it was very tempting to extend the breaks, eventually becoming hour-long siestas. This can severely cut into your overall efficiency, making the overall bug out take much longer. Try your very best to stay on target and not waste time. A five to ten minute break is optimal to rest, stretch, massage sore muscles, adjust equipment, and change socks if necessary. Be vigilant and disciplined to minimize the time spent on breaks. Of course, don’t overexert yourself, either. The only way to find your personal balance is to practice.
If it is too cold at night to sleep effectively, travel at night in order for the exercise to keep you warm. This has the added benefit of making you more difficult to see, so long as you keep your lights off or directed carefully to make a minimal prism. Of course, a lack of light also makes it more dangerous that you will trip and fall.

Railroad tracks make a good, elevated vantage point, although they are somewhat tricky to walk on. Also, you will often have a silhouette to any nearby observers. Keep that in mind. Consider getting off the railroad tracks when there are beneficial, flat, dry fields or an equivalent ideal footing, and getting back on the railroad tracks when going through a swamp or something difficult to traverse.
Otherwise, roads for cars can be a very good, flat way to cover a lot of distance quickly. If there is a flat strip of grass by the side of the road, use it. The additional cushioning effect of grass will save your ankles, knees, and hips from the jarring effects of constantly stepping on concrete or asphalt.
Gravel roads can be slightly tougher to walk on, depending on the size and stability of the gravel, but dirt roads generally work quite nicely. Again, I usually will look for flat stretches of short grass or solid earth to walk on. I found that this cuts down on the relentless strain of repetitive impact. The country roads are probably what you will want to look for with bugging out: less population density and generally useable roads.

It is very time consuming going over rugged terrain or through woods, and you increase your risk of injury. One loose rock can cause a tumble, which can be disastrous with a pack on. You have to spend time finding a trail through dense woods. All steep hills, especially ones with loose rocks, should be avoided if possible and, if they must be navigated, done so with a walking stick or two and caution.
You will slow down going over hills and mountains. It uses tremendously more energy. Avoid it whenever possible. Instead, stick as much as possible to roads, railroad tracks, fields, and other easy surfaces.
Stay alert while walking and look for useful items. I found an unlit police flare along a busy interstate in Texas. Cotton cloths, rags, small bits of clothing, Ziploc bags, plastic bags, and plastic bottles are useful and common. I also found some plastic sunglasses, a hat, and unopened and perfectly edible bags of dry crackers.
Finally, while traveling and camping, stay away from sand if you can. It clogs everything and gets everywhere.


When it comes to shelter, first, plan your location wisely. Is it visible from a road? From a trail? From above? Are there useful trees nearby? Is food nearby? Where is water? Is there a flat place to sleep? Are there materials for insulation? How do I get out of here? Think these things through before you start building. It saves time and resources.
Use whatever is available: a building, a wall, a cave, etc. If you are walking along roads or railroads, there will probably be usable buildings. Look for roofs. If you are going through the woods, make a basic shelter. I mainly just used my bivy bag sleep system, sometimes combining it with a lean-to or A-frame. I did sleep on concrete a few times, too. It is uncomfortable, but at least it is flat.
I experienced temperatures from 95 degrees to 20 degrees Fahrenheit, and I found the cold was much tougher to deal with. A few nights were more or less sleepless. I didn’t use my sleeping bag or bivy bag. I tested the lower bounds of comfort, shivered, built a fire, fell asleep, and woke up as the fire dwindled. I added wood and repeated the process. The cold woke me up and motivated me to do work in order to heat up. I never cut so much firewood so quickly.

If the night will get cold, do not sleep in a mountain valley. I camped by a river in a valley. Big mistake. All the cold air sunk to the bottom at night, and I got cold. Camp on the side of the mountain instead. The top of hills and mountains get more wind and you leave a more obvious silhouette. The only problem with sides of mountains is it can be difficult to find a flat place to sleep, but if you have an e-tool, you can make some minor adjustments to otherwise uneven ground, making a flat sleeping area.
If you can, build a noise-making barrier surrounding your camp made of brittle twigs and branches piled one to two feet high. This causes people, but mainly animals, to make noise walking over or through it, hopefully waking you up. It isn’t perfect, but the animal, which was, judging by the sound it made, about the size of a fox or small cat, didn’t seem to figure it out. I never had to face any human intruders, though.

It can be good to camp for an extended period of time in a shelter that offers conveniences like fresh, running water and plentiful food. This saves a lot of time and gives you the advantage of experience and routine: knowing the fastest routes to the survival necessities, not having to pack and unpack your sleeping gear, and many other small benefits. This can give you more time for rest and leisure or allow you to get more done. Whenever I stayed at a camp longer than a night, I began getting into a rhythm, partially learned the lay of the land, and generally felt better. Besides, it is important not to overtax yourself. Give your body time to recuperate after it is being put through what will be one of the most physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually taxing times of your life. Of course, balance this with the need to actually make it to your destination!


I simulated lack of sleep while hiking 22 miles over four days with 50 pounds of gear on my back. I gave myself around 8 hours of poor sleep over four days. It is certainly possible to bug out with little sleep, but towards the end of this, I was getting uncomfortable, miserable and inefficient. I wish I had slept instead. Learn from my mistake; get some sleep.
To improve sleep and relaxation, earplugs help. However, these can make it harder to hear important events around you. Improvise a facemask. Make a thick mattress of soft things for cushioning and insulation from the earth. A small, insulated lean-to or A-frame shelter can be cozy and, since it traps your body heat, warm.
In addition, try the drugs diphenhydramine or melatonin, available over the counter. If I was having difficulty, these greatly helped me get to sleep. However, they sometimes left me feeling groggy the next day.

For water, I used plastic bottles and a 2 liter Last-Drop system, which is an off-brand Camel-bak. It provides a collapsible canteen and the ability to drink without having to stop. I used one from Wal-Mart with a Last Drop system daily, and it worked perfectly, other than some slight leaking from the mouthpiece. Then, I used a GI steel cup for boiling teas or for cooking food.
I personally drank from two moving rivers in rural Missouri about 40 times without purifying the water at all. I just dipped in a cup and drank. I suffered no noticeable ill effects. In fact, it tasted quite good. However, listen to the experts and purify it through boiling, chemicals, or both.

I recommend a small travel bottle filled with bleach with the dosing information written on the bottle and memorized: 8-16 drops per gallon, more if the quality appears poorer. Add the appropriate drops of bleach, wait the recommended amount of time, and, if you want, you can boil it too. I never had any problems with only bleached water, but bear in mind that I never had any problems with water straight from the river, either. If you want to be incredibly redundant and safe, have some water purification tablets, too.
If you can, plan your route next to bodies of water. Always fill your water carriers when leaving a watering spot, because you may not know the next time you will find water or how pure it will be.
To spice up your water, pine and spruce needles can be boiled in water, the resulting brew drank, and the needles eaten. While you can only put a few needles in to have a mildly flavored tea, I like to just cram as many as I can into my steel canteen cup, boil for about fifteen minutes, cool, and drink. This pine and spruce tea feels very wholesome to drink.


Food was repeatedly the weakest link in my simulated bugouts. This may have been because I planned my routes near rivers, creeks, lakes, and ponds, giving me plenty of water. Also, I did not trap or fish because I did not have a license for this. Nor did I glean from farm fields. Still, food will be the weakest link because an immense amount of energy is required to lug 10-50 pounds around.
Raisins and peanuts are good for an inexpensive high calorie food that can be stored at room temperature and doesn’t require cooking. Don’t reinvent the wheel; use trail mix. Rice is good for when you have time to cook. A bag of rice can also double as a pillow.

You can glean food from farm fields. The combine loses some, and sometimes farmers leave a patch unharvested. While the quality, nutrition, taste, and edibility do deteriorate, in a survival situation, I saw enough to keep me alive. I found a smorgasbord of unprocessed soy beans, some on the ground, and others still on the plant, in many already harvested farmers’ fields in early November in Northern Missouri.

Foraging is fairly easy; the inner barks of pines and many other trees can be eaten raw or dried, pounded into flour, eaten, or mixed with water and eaten; while it does not taste good, it does work to keep energy up. You can also just eat pine needles.

Most nuts will keep for a while on the ground, but you will want a nutcracker to process them efficiently. Paw-paws, persimmons, apples, wild onions, wild garlic, cattail, sumac, wild grapes, and, depending on the season, many more edible plants are there, but first you need to know where to look, what to look for, what to harvest, and what not to harvest. For instance, hemlock looks almost exactly like carrot, but, in sufficient amounts, it will paralyze and kill you. Preparatory study and practice is necessary, quite fun, healthy, and delicious.


Consider carrying a few extra pounds of fat on you. This can be metabolized by your body into extra fuel during tough times. Before a big bug-out simulation, I would over-eat slightly, putting on a little bit of weight. As I walked, it would reliably dwindle away.

Think of this added weight as your own pack of meals ready to digest: MRDs. These are highly efficient, portable meals: no cooking, heating, silver-ware, mess-kits, clean-up, or even eating required!
If you do this, plan ahead with your clothing. You may want some suspenders or a good belt so that your pants still work after you lose weight. A regular leather belt worked fine for me, although the most my weight ranged was from 175 pounds down to 155 pounds. You can make your belt tighter by carefully poking the tip of a knife through it, creating another hole. I did this two years ago with a regular leather belt from Kohls, and I haven't had any problems.
Finally, when it comes to packing on a few extra MRDs, everything in moderation! Too many MRDs stashed around your midriff and thighs have their own set of problems for survival.


One major problem I ran into was that the necessities of survival were constantly on my mind, threatening to eclipse the greater necessity of religious renewal before God.
In order to combat this, I took a “fasting vacation”.

A “fasting vacation” of a few days gave my body time to relax and my spirit time to intensely focus itself on God. I recommend Paul C. Bragg’s “The Miracle of Fasting” for an overview of the dynamics of fasting. Basically, I have found that it allows heightened focus, concentration, and a sense of deep optimism. According to Dr. Bragg, it also purifies the body through the elimination of stored toxins. In a nutshell, fasting has lots of good benefits.

What I did for this “vacation” was find a relatively safe place and set up camp. Then, I did pretty much nothing.
While fasting and praying, I had much less physical energy. After four days of a water-only fast, I hiked 4 miles the fourth day while carrying around ten pounds. I was thoroughly drained afterwards for about six hours. Otherwise, that would have been a very easy hike. Plan accordingly and don’t fast before a twenty mile hike.

Also, remember that the subjective mental, emotional, and spiritual clarity I have reliably experienced while fasting may not occur for you. Try it out so that you know the effects for yourself.
In addition, some periods of moderate mental discomfort may also occur, but I have generally found that drinking more water and urinating tends to eliminate this. It is worst when I first wake up. This is, according to Dr. Bragg, due to toxins accumulating during the night; these are easily elimination in the morning.
In a fast, it is up to you how much time to dedicate to the Almighty. Perhaps you have more pressing survival needs than I did, or your needs for spiritual renewal are more great; adapt this for your situation.

During the fast is a wonderful time to read and reread useful survival information, plan routes, sharpen tools, become more familiar with your packing schemes, as well as all other low-intensity but useful activities like leisurely foraging for food. It is a good time to read the Bible and other religious literature, as well.
For me, two to four days of a water-only fast are effective for stepping back, relaxing, praying, and realigning my priorities from mere survival to serving God.
Bear in mind that it can take a day to even a week for your digestive system to fully restart. This is a difficult thing, and does take a while; try not to gorge yourself immediately coming off of a fast. I have gorged myself many times, and my digestive system does resume, but it takes much longer and is uncomfortable while it starts up. Slowly eating small amounts of food, and increasing meal sizes over time, works much better.

Coming off a fast, I find that fruits and vegetables are a lot kinder to my system, while meats, cheese, and dairy products, for whatever reason, tend to cause discomfort. A laxative and stool softener is also helpful.

If possible, eat less before beginning a fast, too. This allows your digestive organs to slowly wind down, rather than just cutting off all food instantly. I find that slowing down instantly is much less traumatic than starting up instantly.

I would recommend doing a fast at a safe place when you have 1-2 weeks to pre-fast, fast, and restart your digestive system. It is certainly possible to begin hiking immediately upon breaking your fast, but you will probably have some intestinal issues for a while. Finally, if a forced fast is thrust upon you by the hand of scarcity, be aware of these dynamics to optimize your health.
At the very least, understand the many proven and potential positive health effects of fasting, so that when you find yourself in a food-scarce scenario, you can remind yourself that, in at least some ways, your body, mind, and soul is improving. This will be good for keeping you and others optimistic.

Well, that should do it. Obviously I can’t cover everything in full detail. I left out many minor details, items, and tips to save space.
Really, experience is the best teacher, and it is extremely recommended that you do a simulated bug out with all of your gear, trying out each and every piece of equipment in as many different environments and situations as possible, especially the ones you would go through during a bug-out. Have fun. Be rough on your equipment. This shows you what works, what doesn’t, what you like, and what you don’t. From there you can perfect your gear. If you simulate a bug out, you’ll be more prepared if the real thing hits. And carrying 10-50 pounds of gear on long walks is a highly effective way to get into shape, which is essential for optimum living.

Given the immense practicality of most of the gear, and the many destabilizing forces at work in today’s world, having a bug-out bag and practicing for a bug-out makes rational sense. If you enjoy backpacking, camping, and the great outdoors, a bug-out bag serves two purposes. Hopefully, you don’t have to walk in a real bug-out, but if you do, I hope and pray that these observations can be of help to you. Your situation and needs may differ from mine, but that is just another reason why you should personally test out you and your family’s bug out gear!
May God be with you!

Thank you for your wonderful service,  and Merry Christmas!

On the subject of Hemorrhoids, my favored,and very effective,  treatment for this problem is tincture of witch-hazel (Hamamelis  Virginiana)

It grows plentifully in damp woods in central Appalachians---maybe elsewhere,

I simply cut a bunch of the small twigs, stuff them in a jar, and add alcohol. I prefer drinking-grade ethanol, as it is the least toxic of the alcohols.

After a couple of days steeping, I begin using it by soaking a small pad of toilet paper or cotton , and pressing it to the affected area a couple of times a day.  IT BURNS (from the alcohol)!  But the burning sensation last only a minute or so. Relief (for me) in two days or so.

If alcohol were unavailable,  I would try a decoction in water (boil the twigs in water)  I think I would add a lot of salt to help preserve the decoction and discourage the growth of bacteria in it, and I would make a fresh batch every few days. The alcohol tincture lasts nearly indefinitely.   Alcohol has the added advantage of dissolving (extracting) both water-soluble and oleoresinous substances in the plant, and carrying them into the tissues.  The modern reductionist tendency is to decide that an herb has ONE "active principle" responsible for its beneficial effects, and that should be extracted and purified, but I prefer to assume that many of the herb's constituents are there, together,  for a reason, and the closer I can get to using the whole herb, the better.  I would also consider using a ground- or smashed-up pulp of the whole twigs, moistened with clean water or brine.

I would like to emphasize that I believe this condition usually is caused by a long period of bad "bowel habits", that is, straining, which usually means you are not eating enough fiber.

Start eating more fiber NOW.  Lose the white flour! Do not wait until you have damaged yourself.

Thanks again for SurvivalBlog. - From Darkest West Virginia

Dear Editor:
Hemorrhoids are, in some cases, related to caffeine intake.

Reducing one's coffee consumption is a good step, but changing one's brand of coffee is better.

Switching to something like jasmine tea helps, too. Regards, - Richard C.

I had the same problem that Matt in the Evergreen State did with my doors.  I inherited a house from my family here in The Tar Heel State and after my recent marriage, my wife and I decided to make it our home for a few years.  It was a typical warbaby house, built in the 1940s and remodeled a time or two.  It has a mix of plaster/paneling/drywall walls, a handful of fireplaces, and lots and lots of glass windows and doors.  In fact, when I moved in all someone would have to do to take a stroll through the house was break a small pane on the door and reach through to turn the lock.  Since then, I have been replacing locks with double-sided deadbolts and replacing doors.  My front door was mostly glass pane with floor-to-ceiling windows on each side, like Matt's.  I replaced the door, left the glass in the windows, and took half-inch plywood, cut to fit, and screwed a piece in on both the inside and outside of the glass.  On the outside, I covered it with vinyl siding to match the exterior of the house, and on the inside I covered it with drywall so I could paint it to match the room color.  Presto, not a piece of glass anywhere around the door someone could break through.  I have left all of the windows untouched, but keep a stash of plywood handy in the barn so I could cover them quickly if need be.

Thanks for all you do. - A.

Pro-liberty, survivalist community of thousands planned for North Idaho. (Thanks to reader B.F. for the link.)

   o o o

The Bakken Oil Boom: Moving "Back Home" to Montana?

   o o o

The Fastest-Growing States in America (and Why They're Booming)

   o o o

Police: US Sen. Crapo arrested, charged with DUI

   o o o

The scope offerings from Night Force Optics (in Orofino, Idaho--deep in the Redoubt), just get better and better.

What Does It Mean to “Prepare for the Economic Collapse”?

   o o o

Space Fence program moving forward

   o o o

Legally Make Your Own Gun.

   o o o

T.M. recommended as a supplier of reverse osmosis systems.  T.M. notes: "The unit is easy to assemble and top quality.  This is small American company, I would like to support the owner.  I do not have any financial ties to him."

"Have I then no work to work in this great matter of my pardon? None. What work canst thou work? What work of thine can buy forgiveness or make thee fit for the Divine favour? What work has God bidden thee work in order to obtain salvation? None. His Word is very plain and easy to be understood, 'To him that worketh not, but believeth in Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.' (Rom. 4:5). There is but one work by which a man can be saved. That work is not thine, but the work of the Son of God. That work is finished." - Horatius Bonar

Monday, December 24, 2012

As we celebrate Christmas, I wish all SurvivalBlog readers the joy of the knowledge of Salvation and eternal life, through Christ. May the love of Christ Jesus be with you all!


SurvivalBlog's once lengthy queue for Recipes of the Week is running low! Do you have a favorite recipe that would be of interest to SurvivalBlog readers? Please send it via e-mail. Thanks!

It's no secret that I like big knives, especially folders. While I can get by with small/medium sized folders, I'd take a larger folder over a smaller one if I were out in the boonies, and all I had was a folding knife instead of a fixed blade knife. I still remember when Kershaw Knives started their newest division known as Zero Tolerance (ZT) and their goal was, and is to produce folding and fixed blade knives meant for serious military and law enforcement use - knives that can take a real beating and keep on going. If you're in a profession, such as law enforcement or the military, you can't afford to have your knife fail - period! With that goal in mind, Zero Tolerance Knives was started. They don't have a huge line-up of of fixed blade or folders, however, they have a little something for everyone, from medium size and large size folders, to a boot knife, fixed blade knives and even the stoutest bayonet you'll ever run across - their ZT-9. You may even seen the ZT0301 folder featured on the popular television show, NCIS - it's the knife that Special Agent Gibbs carries - and one of his rules is to always have a knife with you - I concur!
For this article, I selected the ZT0560 for review, and this is one super-sweet folder. A quick run-down on the specs is: Made in the USA - which I like, KVT ball bearings, Titanium frame lock, with quad-screw mounting for blade up or blade down carry on both sides of the handles, steel is Elmas, the handle is 3-D machined G-10 on the front, and 3-D machined on the Titanium back, blade length is 3.75-inches - which I believe is the perfect length, and the weight is only 5.8-ounces.
The blade material is Elmax, a stonewashed, powdered steel, and I've got to admit that, when powdered steels first came out in knives, I wasn't too sure just how strong this steel would be, as compared to forged or blanked steel blades. Needless to say, powdered steels a super-tough, much stronger than I thought they would be, and they hold an edge a really long time, too. The Elmax blade is not only strong, it is also highly corrosion resistant, too - not two properties you usually associate with many knife steels. I also like the stonewashed finish on the blade, makes in non-reflective and I just think it looks cool, too.
The KVT ball bearings - they are mounted in the frame, and the blade rolls out like it is mounted in soft butter - without a doubt, the smoothest opening folder I've ever run across to date. There is also a "flipper" on the back of the blade, in addition to thumb studs for opening the blade. Once you use the flipper, you'll forget all about thumb studs, the flipper is fast - very fast opening, you simply apply a little bit of pressure against the flipper and the blade easily opens, it is so smooth, you'll think the blade is an assisted-opener, I kid you not.
As you point the knife to the left, the handle material is the 3-D machined G-10, and on the reverse is the Titanium handle scale, that also serves as the framelock, giving this folder a very strong lock-up. And, its not easy mating the frame scale to lock-up to the blade, if I recall, custom knife maker, Chris Reeve, is the pioneer in this manner of locking-up a folder. When done right, it's a great set-up, when done wrong, the blade has a lot of slop to it and never locks-up properly - the ZT 0560 is done right, no doubt about it.
On the quad-mounting of the deep carry pocket/clothing clip, not many folders made today allow you to carry it with the tip up or down, and for right or left hand/pocket carry - this is rare for a knife to offer all this. And, the deep carry pocket/clothing clip really allows the knife to sit deep in your pocket - nothing is showing other than the pocket clip in your pants pocket, yet the knife is easy to draw and open as well. There is also a nicely configured lanyard hole on the top back of the knife - but no lanyard is included - which ZT would offer this.
I really like the way the ZT0560 felt in my hand - it's one of those folders that feels like it was custom made just for my hand - yet many others who examined this knife thought it was custom made for their hands as well - they did a great job on designing this folder, no doubt about it. There are also friction grooves on the top of the handle and back of the blade, as well as friction grooves on the bottom of the handle - and they are nicely done - not too sharp and not to dull - they afford a great hold on the knife in all weather conditions.
Over the course of several weeks, I used the ZT0560 for a number of tasks around the homestead, and did all manner of cutting. And, one of the tests I like to use is chopping blackberry vines, they are tough as tough can be, and many knives simply slide off these vines without doing any cutting at all. The ZT0560 easily chopped blackberry vines down with a single chopping motion - I was impressed. And, the Elmax blade cleaned-up easily, too!
You know, I wish I could report something negative about the Zero Tolerance ZT0560 folder, but try as I might, I couldn't find anything in this folder that I didn't like. Even the manager at the local gun shop I haunt, Fast Cash LLC, in Lebanon, OR - loved this knife and he is highly critical of most knives I show him. The ZT0560 is done to perfection - not a single manufacturing flaw could be found, no matter how hard I looked. This knife is better made than many custom knives, costing two or three times as much, if not more. I don't see this knife failing you under the harshest of conditions - it is a great folder for wilderness or urban survival if you ask me.
Quality never comes cheap, yeah, you can purchase a lesser knife, but you can't purchase better quality than I found in the ZT0560. Now quality materials and workmanship make it a bit spendy - the ZT0560 retails for $325. Is it worth it? You'd better believe it! I've owned quite a few custom knives over the years, but not many came close to the quality of this folder - and they couldn't even come close to the retail price of this knife.
Be advised, if you happen to pick-up a ZT0560 folder, you won't be able to put it down, except to reach for your wallet or credit card. You will be totally impressed with how smooth this knife opens - nothing comes close to it in smoothness. If you're in the market for a classy, yet super-strong folding knife, that is one of the best on the market, then look no further - the ZT0560 is what you're looking for. Drop a hint to your spouse or kids, that this is what you want for your birthday or CHRISTmas - it will bring a smile to your face, and you'll have a folder that can handle all your cutting chores and one you will be extremely proud to show to your friends - just don't let them walk off with it!

After the Sandy Hook tragedy I got thinking of my own personal security . From limited information in the press the perpetrator came though the window because the doors were locked . After  sending a few rounds through the tempered glass , the glass pulverized and he simply stepped though and started his killing spree . Question , where was the window located ? If it was a side-light to the door then it would be a double paned tempered glass window . Question, if it was a side-light window why no laminated wire mesh? That would have slowed him down trying to bust out the mesh . Was it a standard school window with all it's double paned shards of glass. As you can see so many questions and no answers yet. 

We are a nation of glass . We use glass in our homes ,schools, hospital, offices, but just how secure is glass? Safety glass is not security glass , the very nature of tempered glass makes it poor for security . I just installed two security doors but right next to the doors is floor to ceiling glass, now what do I do. Below is a link to a video of a fellow walking through 15 panes of tempered glass in little over one second each.  As a nation we need a low cost solution to this glass problem.  - Matt in the Evergreen State

Mr. Rawles,
I would like to comment on the recent article by P.S. in Virginia on the sensitive (pun intended) subject of hemorrhoids.  I would suggest the use of arnica montana or just Arnica.  It comes in gel, cream, and sublingual tablets and acts as a very powerful anti-inflammatory agent.  Don't use the topicals on open wounds.  I am not in the medical field, but my chiropractor/nutritionist recommends it and I have used it for this very purpose and for others.  I purchase mine from, but it is available at many local health food stores,, etc.  I have a good supply of the tablets and they are currently inexpensive.  I generally take a couple under the tongue and if it hasn't helped within 30 minutes, I can take more.  Obviously one must not take my word for it - do your own research -, but it's an inexpensive and powerful method to reduce many kinds of inflammation.  Hope that helps someone else. - Kevin K.

Mike W.'s Stir Crazy Cake

I have seldom found a cake recipe this easy not to mention tasty as well. This is called Stir Crazy Cake and I found it in a small book sponsored by a cigarette company that purported it to be "Chuck Wagon" cooking. I will pass it along as it stands for all to enjoy.

For the cake itself--

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup cooking oil
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups cold coffee (or cold water, but you should use coffee)

For the topping--

1/4 cup sugar (Raw sugar, or turbinado, would be best)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350.

Put flour, 1 1/2 cups sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt into a mixing bowl; mix well. (I used a wire whisk, and was careful to break up any cocoa clumps.) Then, transfer it to an un-greased 13x9x2 inch metal baking pan. Form three wells in dry mixture. Pour oil into one well, vinegar in one and vanilla in one. Pour cold coffee over all ingredients and stir with a large fork or whisk until well mixed. (I started with the fork but switched to the whisk, and found it much better than the fork to get all of the dry ingredients combined.) DO NOT BEAT.

Combine remaining sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over batter. Bake in 350 degree F oven for 35-40 minutes.

There. That's better. It's quick and easy to prep, bakes quickly and turns out very well. Enjoy!

Useful Recipe and Cooking Links:

Favorite Slow Cooker Recipes

Top 20 Recipes Sites

Currently Available as Free Kindle e-Books:

Top 30 Easy & Delicious Burger and Sandwich Recipes

Diabetic Breakfast Recipes: How to Cook Easy and Delicious Breakfast Recipes for Diabetes Diet (How to Cook Easy and Delicious Recipes for Diabetes Diet)

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

"Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this life, in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; So that, at the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal." - The Book of Common Prayer, 1662

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Today we present another entry for Round 44 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 44 ends on January 31st, 2013, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

One of the best ways to learn something is by doing for yourself or if it's a painful learning experience then the best way to learn is from someone going through it so you hopefully won't have to. A couple of days before Thanksgiving (Tuesday) I managed to end up with the wonderful surprise of a hemorrhoid. I would like to think I have a high tolerance to pain but let me tell you, this puppy took me down for the count. When these first start there is just no comfortable position you can get into, sitting, standing or laying down. Fortunately I happen to keep in my supplies some Preparation H suppositories and ointment. Neither of these are fast acting but it was a start towards the healing process.

I have had hemorrhoids before and remembered it was just going to be a long uncomfortable time. I quickly fired up the internet and looked up several sites on what to do, what to expect and when to contact a Dr. One of the things I read was too make sure I increase my fiber intake. I also keep in my supplies a healthy stock of orange flavored Metamucil.

If anyone has had one of these happen to them you know how uncomfortable sitting can be. That evening my wife called me on her way home from work and when she finally was able to stop laughing she listened long enough to go into Wal-Mart on her way and pick me up an inflatable donut to sit on. I now have spares of these in my emergency supplies. I preceded with the suppositories and ointment and on the Friday after Thanksgiving I noticed bleeding. The best thing I can think of that may have caused it was using the combination of the suppositories and ointment at the same time. I'm sure any Dr. reading this is laughing and thinking "What an idiot" I immediately stopped using both items (it actually says that on the box). For the time being I padded up some toilet paper and placed it as a barrier to absorb the blood. My wife called me on her way home from work and when she finally was able to stop laughing she listened long enough to go into Wal-Mart on her way and pick me up a package of Depends [adult diapers] for men. These are now also part of my emergency stock.

To add insult to injury, when my wife was in Wal-Mart she called me and asked where in Wal-Mart they would be, I guided her over to the medical area and told her to look along the wall where they keep woman's supplies for similar situations. My wife is from Peru and her English is still improving so we were having a communication problem. I kept telling her my waist size and she was insistent I needed a large when my size is actually in a small / medium for Depends diapers. The next thing I know I was talking to a female employee of Wal-Mart explaining my situation and what I needed them for. Moral of this part is buy ahead of time, it's less embarrassing.

Sitting on my donut I was able to get back on the internet and look up more information on what to do. To tell you the truth, the bleeding was a new one for me and it had me a little worried. Being a Friday night and Dr. offices being closed I knew if I needed to do anything it would be a trip to the emergency room. Fortunately I found out that the bleeding can be normal and not to panic. One of the things it mentioned was to take a sitz bath. This is nothing more than sitting in a tub of warm water just high enough to cover the affected area. You can add salt or vinegar to the water to aid in reliving the pain of the bleeding area. I chose to use salt which I have plenty of in my emergency supplies. You do not need a lot, just enough to give the water a salty taste. I highly recommend that if you choose to taste the water you do it before you sit in it. Just to add as a note here, I didn't taste the water before or after, I just kept pouring in the salt until I figured I had enough. I did however spend about 15 minutes cleaning the tub prior to getting in hoping to get it as sanitary as I could. I wasn't sure to what extent the bleeding was and how much was open to any further infection from a dirty tub.

After about 20 minutes of sitting you should be able to get out and dry yourself off. A note I would like to inject here is it would have been much more comfortable sitting in the tub if I had brought my donut with me. Lesson learned! To dry off use something soft and just pat it gently, do not use a towel and dry like you normally would. After it was dry, I did not wish to use the ointment anymore but I felt I needed some lubrication to relieve the dryness and chafing. For this I used Petroleum Jelly (Vaseline) which I also have plenty of in my emergency stock.

With my diaper on, my wife laughing and my dog wanting to sniff everything, I finally went to bed and hoped for the best. I kept the diaper on until after my morning rituals, starting coffee, letting the dog out to use her restroom, feeding the dog, drinking my coffee, watching the news, getting upset from all the idiots in Washington and eventually my morning time in the bathroom. The fiber really helped and as bad as it sounds once done the last thing I wanted to do was wipe with toilet paper. Before I got into the shower I had remembered a conversation I had long ago with a retired Navy Captain who was an MD.

We were at a CERT sponsored search and rescue exercise and I had time to sit down with him and go over several questions. One of the things that came up was, what would he put into an emergency pack if he needed to bug out into the wild. This man was so brilliant and such a pleasure to listen to, he mentioned that some of the most important things to make sure you have are, bottles of water, clean white wash cloths, Ivory soap (the plain unscented), a soft bristle brush and plenty of gauze pads. He mentioned you can have plenty of food, but if you get a cut or abrasion and it gets infected its game over. These items would be very necessary to make sure you properly cleaned any wound.
Not feeling the need to use a soft bristle brush on my situation, I went to my stock and picked out a bottle of Ivory dish washing liquid and a white wash cloth to clean the area. Once dry I again used Vaseline and put on a fresh diaper. Sitting was still very uncomfortable but I have to admit, the diaper offered a lot of additional padding. Every time I felt the need to change the diaper I opted for the shower and Ivory soap. Come Monday there was just a small amount of bleeding and still a little swelling but it was getting more comfortable to deal with.
I felt the bleeding was more from irritation on the outside then from internal bleeding so I stopped using the Vaseline and started using Neosporin which is also a part of my emergency stock. The Neosporin seemed to work like magic in stopping the bleeding and reliving any irritation.

This whole thing started on Tuesday afternoon before Thanksgiving and come the Thursday after Thanksgiving I was no longer needing the Depends and things were much more comfortable. I know this may sound like a strange topic to tell people about, but what if we were in a TEOTWAWKI situation and could not make it to a Dr. Anyone who has had one knows just how painful and uncomfortable these can be. If you ever end up with one, plan on being down for about a good week. The sooner you can get rid of it the quicker you can get back to working around the house or on your survival. If you don't nip this in the bud quickly and you end up making it worse you can truly end up with a medical emergency. I can't help but think if the time comes when the SHTF and peoples diets change, this may become more common than any of us would like to imagine. I came out of this realizing there were a few new items to add to my emergency storage. I now have added spare inflatable donuts to sit on and also packages of Depends diapers. Good luck prepping and God Bless.

Some new findings on treating gunshot wounds. (Thanks to Russell P. for the link.)

   o o o

SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson has posted, this more for entertainment than practicality: The Steampunk AK-47

   o o o

R.B.S. was the first of several readers to send this troubling news: Next-generation handcuffs deliver electric shocks, drugs to detainees

   o o o

Reality Check: Are calls for stricter gun laws really about guns?

   o o o

Good for a belly laugh: Bloomberg: There Is Not 'Anybody That’s Defended the Second Amendment as Much as I Have'

"And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying,
Blessed [be] the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people,
And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David;
As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began:
That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us;
To perform the mercy [promised] to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant;
The oath which he sware to our father Abraham,
That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear,
In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.
And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;
To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins,
Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us,
To give light to them that sit in darkness and [in] the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.
And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel."

- Luke 1-67-80 (KJV)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Dawning of the Day of Discarnate Discomfiture. Well, golly gee, it is December 22, 2012, and to the chagrin of some, the world didn't come to an end yesterday. The sun did rise in the East this morning, the magnetic poles did not reverse, Yellowstone didn't go ka-boom, the atmosphere was not ripped from the Earth by the passing of that allegedly-so-sneaky-that-even-astronomers-can't-see-it Nibiru, and Woody Harrelson didn't get his life-imitates-art "I told you so" close-up. The crystal channeling New Agers have now had their equivalent of Y2K. What is the real meaning December 22, 2012? I would say that it is that we can expect to see some bargains on still "new in the box" back-up generators advertised on Craigslist and there will be minty AR-15s walking in the door of gun shows, come January. I simply look at this Day of Discarnate Discomfiture as a buying opportunity for those of us who are truly preparedness-minded, and not fixated upon hokey numerological nonsense. But it is a good thing that people stocked up for December 21, 2012, even if they did so for the wrong reasons. Every well-prepared family represents one less family that will will be cleaning out the grocery stores shelves, when the Schumer hits the fan.


December 22nd is also the anniversary of the death of SP4 James T. Davis, the first uniformed American combat casualty of the Vietnam War, in 1961. This ASA soldier (of the 3rd Radio Research Unit) was killed in a Viet Cong ambush on a road outside Saigon.


Today we present another entry for Round 44 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 44 ends on January 31st, 2013, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

As any survivalist quickly learns, the “three basic essentials” to survival are air, water and shelter. However, I learned to realize that there is a fourth basic essential, that being a stove--which provides a way to reliably purify the water, cook the food and make the shelter more comfortable.

Of course, there are many types of water filters, solar ovens and warmer clothing for those needs but, somewhere along the line, the ongoing need for a practical, portable, concealable, quick and highly-efficient means of heating will be needed. SHTF heating that can purify your water, cook your food and warm your shelter.
Like many other survivalists who began their prep “journey”  in preparation for Y2K, my knowledge and supplies have since grown exponentially, expanding my supplies and knowledge with countless lists, articles and learning from invaluable web sites (such as, to prepare for the soon-to-come world upheavals to come.

Over that time, I’ve also concentrated on learning ancient & medieval survival techniques, as well as learning how people survive in today’s war-torn areas and third world countries. Such information has given me real insight into real-world situations, with the internet and books such as “Life in a Medieval Village” or the “FAMA Sarajevo Survival Guide” being invaluable resources.
My explorations began in ancient history, where cooking fires were open, basic and offered no protection from wind or rain. Perhaps ringed by stones and supporting some type of grill, this type of fire continues through U.S. campgrounds today, as well as many parts of the world. The biggest disadvantages to this type of fire are a tremendous inefficiency in cooking and fuel use, as well as the smoke-trail. Fuels then, as now, include anything that will burn, including animal dung. Also, smoke is composed of unburned particulates so, the denser the smoke, the less efficiently the fire is burning.
In addition to outside fires, native peoples began moving fires indoors with holes in the center of the shelter’s roof, for smoke to draft upward and escape. This was much more efficient, lowering problems with wind and rain, as well as heating the shelter interior. However, it was still largely inefficient and still had the very visible disadvantage of a smoke-trail.
The medieval world brought about the castle and the fireplaces large enough for a man to stand in. While used for cooking, another crucial purpose of these larger-than-life fireplaces was for the heating of the stone castle rooms, aided by large tapestries on the walls and covering both doorways and floors. With an addition of a canopied bed with side-curtains and thick blankets, one could stay cozy on a cold evening. But these also left a dense smoke-trail and were inefficient in fuel use.

South American adobe ovens brought about more efficiency by enclosing the fire and concentrating heat to an interior cooking space. The smoke escaped through the chimney and, although more efficient for cooking, the dense smoke-trail continued.

Victorian times brought  multi-story dwellings with a fireplace in every room and the Colonials continued that practice here in America.
The industrial age brought about the smelting of metals and the iron age. Fireplaces evolved into standalone stoves which would allow a home to be fairly airtight and still vent smoke outside with piping. However, once again, portability and efficiency was’t available.

Since then, standalone units have evolved to be highly efficient, but many are now dedicated to heating only, using pellets or some other renewable fuel source. This evolution will, no doubt, continue… That is, until the SHTF. Once this happens, and it gets closer every day, you will be forced to re-think your methods of purifying water, cooking food and warming your shelter.
That is why you must learn now the principles of making and using a Rocket Stove, as well as having one in your supply. The Rocket Stove concept was developed to aid third-world countries, where fuel-wood is scarce and resultant pollution is severe.  Over the past years, many experiments, tests & contests have been conducted worldwide to develop a highly-efficient method of heating, which also uses a minimum of fuel.

The recent leader in tests has been the Rocket Stove design, the principles of which were presented by Dr. Larry Winiarski from Aprovecho in 1982 and stoves based on this design won Ashden Awards in both 2005 and 2006. The Rocket Stove design has been shown to operate on ½ the fuel as a traditional open fire, using smaller wood.
The principle is simple in that it is based on an “L” shaped combustion chamber, which allows for maximum draft at the low end and heat/height enough vertically to fully burn any fuel particles, which we call “smoke.” Many Rocket Stove designs are also highly-insulated, to minimize heat loss and maximize efficiency.

The Rocket Stove excels by having excellent air flow and high-temperature burning of fuel, as well as allowing the user to carefully control the heat by addition or removal of fuel as needed. There are four main components to the Rocket Stove: Fuel Load Area, Burn Chamber, Chimney and the Cooking/Heating Vessel.
The Fuel Load Area is at the lowest area of the Rocket Stove and enters toward the center of the stove. The fuel is not merely thrown in, but is set upon a “pedestal” which is usually ½ way up in the opening and allows a excellent air flow beneath the fuel. The pedestal does not fully enter the Chimney, but extends to the forward edge of it and allows the fuel (i.e.: sticks/branches) to hang over into the center of the Chimney.

The Burn Chamber is the intersection of the Fuel Load Area and the Chimney. It is the area where the fuel is burned and, when in operation, the burning ends of the fuel wood are centered in the chimney area.

The Chimney is a round, vertical shaft, extending upward from the Burn Chamber and of such height to both provide enough  updraft to maintain the fire, as well as enough length to assure the complete burning of all fuel particles (smoke), resulting in a burn clean enough to allow little or no smoke to be seen.

The Cooking/Heating Vessel is whatever unit you are using your Rocket Stove for. My StoveTec Rocket Stove came with a “pot skirt” to retain heat closer to the pot sides and is very useful for that purpose.

There is an abundance of videos on YouTube on how to construct your own Rocket Stove, of which I have made several. There are even Rocket Stove designs which have gravity-feed fuel loading and many different designs, such as off-the-floor ideas which can allow fuel storage beneath and less danger of child burning.

My current Rocket Stove was purchased from StoveTec (, a leader in Rocket Stove research and manufacturing which also provides these to third-world countries.
Their Rocket Stoves come in several model designs and have the benefit of being totally portable, designed like a 2-gallon steel bucket with side handles. Their basic 1-door model (the one I own) is excellent for general cooking, while their 2-door model also allows slow-cooking and baking capabilities. With whichever model, fuel use is minimal, usually needing only small sticks or branches.
They also offer cooking accessories and a “water pasteurizer,” which I just purchased, which fits onto the Rocket Stove. It holds several quarts of water, has a hole through the center to allow heat up through the middle of the unit and, looking down through is, has somewhat of a “donut” design in that the water is housed in a “jacket” which surrounds a “chimney.” The water is also “pasteurized” for purification and a reusable “dipstick” lets you know when the water is safe for consumption.

In addition to a main convenience of transportability, the lack of smoke trail is an obvious benefit in a SHTF situation. When water or food becomes scarce, neighbors will be on the lookout for any type of activity denoting cooking

In addition to no smoke trail, another excellent reason for owning a Rocket Stove is the ease of concealing your firelight in night or dark situations. Although there will be obvious firelight coming from the top of the Rocket Stove, the addition of a potskirt and pot will minimize any upward or side-view shining of  light coming out of the top of the Rocket Stove. However, light will still shine out of the lower Fuel Load Area. To help conceal this light, the easiest way is to face the Fuel Load Area away from any prying eyes. In addition, I also recommend the construction of a “tunnel,” much like the entry to an Eskimo igloo, long enough to minimize light and, ideally, painted flat black or blackened with ash to minimize reflection along the tunnel. The only drawback to that being the need for longer branches/sticks to keep fueling the stove without the tunnel needing to be removed.

In summary, my Rocket Stove has all the features necessary to be that fourth Essential, which is easily transportable, highly efficient and leaves little or no smoke trail.


I asked my Reverse Osmosis (RO) supplier if I could use his RO system in a bug out trailer by sucking out of a pond.  He told me that if I have at least 50 psi, it will remove 98% of everything.

I am building a bug out trailer using old Elite styrofoam panels from house trailer patios.  I am going to have a solar panel on a stand that I can set in the sun.  I will have an extension cord to the controller and two 12 volt golf cart batteries.  I am using a 60 psi flo-jet pump which is 12 volt.  I am going to use camper drinking water hoses for the suction line.  In the pond I am planning on using a short PVC well point in a loose bag made from garden ground cover which will keep out large particles as a prefilter.  I am using a sand filter before the flo-jet pump and I will use a charcoal house filter after the pump.  That pump will go to a stainless restaurant sink I got from the salvage yard.

The RO system is water pressure activated and requires no electric power.

The purpose of the trailer is I can now consolidate my prep supplies in one location and I can move it anywhere on a moments notice or bug out with it.  Since reading Patriots in 2006, I have developed living situations in the woods that I own but I feel the need to be flexible.  I am putting two bunk shelves in the front of the trailer and it will have LED lighting.  I am going to hook up an outside shower but it may require a larger (lower pressure) flo-jet pump to get the flow high enough.

Forget the Mayan calendar! Meet the 'preppers' who are getting ready for nuclear war, natural disasters, famine, and economic collapse

   o o o

For a short time, Archer Garrett's economic collapse novel The Western Front is available as a free Kindle book.

   o o o

H.L. sent: ‘How-to’ for EMP weapon stunningly accessible

   o o o

What Feinstein, Schumer and MSNBC hath wrought: Gun Buying Frenzy Photos and Firearms Supplier Sells More Than Three Years Worth Of Magazines In Just Three Days JWR Adds: I just placed a substantial magazine order with CDNN, by phone. It took two days on auto-dial to finally get through.  Once I did, I heard "sold out" so many times that I felt like I was in the Monty Python cheese shop routine. They told me that they are sold out of PMAGs, HK93 mags, AK74 mags, and many others.  They do have some supplies left of a few types that I hadn't expected (like FN PS90, FiveSeven, Steyr AUG, Ruger Mini-14 and FNC), but they are going fast.

   o o o

Directive 21 has announced a sale on Royal Berkey Systems for $270.50

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." - Isaiah 9:6 (KJV)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Aaron Zelman passed away two years ago, today. He is greatly missed.


The Winter Solstice reminds us that Gardening Season is coming soon! :-) Seriously, at least try some indoor sprouting.


Today we present another entry for Round 44 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 44 ends on January 31st, 2013, 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, from your editor...

The Nanny Statists are on the war path, here in the United States. While their incessant calls for a ban on semi-auto firearms will probably fail, I predict that a bipartisan compromise in Congress will result in a new ban on full capacity magazines. This renewal of the 1994 to 2004 ban will likely have a grandfather clause, but no sunset clause. So TODAY is the day to do your best to round out your family's multi-generational supply of magazines. Even if you' don't already own an AR-15 or and AK-47, buy a dozen magazines for each. And for all of the guns in your battery that can accept 11+ round magazines, consider six magazines per gun to be a bare minimum, and 20 per gun to be a comfort level. Do not hesitate on this, folks. Prices are likely to gallop, once the details of Senator Feinstein's ban bill are announced! And even if common sense prevails in congress, at a minimum we can still expect an executive order that will ban the importation of 11+ round magazines. So this makes buying magazines for your foreign-made rifles (AK, FN PS-90, FN-FAL, FNAR, Galil, HK, etc.) or handguns (Beretta, FN, Glock, HK, SIG, etc.) your highest priority.

With an endless and ever-growing supply of preparedness items and gadgets for TEOTWAWKI, it is easy to forget where we all came from.  Each and every one of us alive on this planet today is in large part due to the sheer will, strength, and survival ability of our ancestors.  We are all, literally, direct descendants of the toughest and smartest humans the world has ever seen.  Our ancestors were the ones who survived plagues and diseases of all types, hunted the largest of beasts, survived harsher conditions than most of us can imagine, always procured food, and still managed to procreate, eventually passing on that genetic material to each and every one of us.  In each one of us, is them, and we contain hundreds if not thousands of generations of genetics that survived.  We are the culmination of all those who have endured before us.  Sure, luck and the grace of God has much to do with this and I do not discount that fact.  Frankly, I thank God everyday for my life and the lives of those I love.  The reason I decided to write this article is because I feel that too little emphasis is placed on these necessary skills by both survivalists and preppers alike.  Don’t get me wrong, I am 100% in favor of being fully stocked with everything necessary for any “what if” type scenario.  I fully believe in the necessity of being well prepared whether stationary at a retreat location, mobile in a vehicle, or loaded like a beast of burden on foot.  But I don’t like to be dependent upon store bought items.  For me, preparedness is a mindset and a lifestyle.  So, my point is, what happens when we lose those items, they break, are stolen, or our supplies run out?  Don’t think it can’t happen to you.  We’re all preparing because it provides a sort of insurance against the countless what ifs.  Think of primitive survival skills as your reinsurance or back up to your back up plan.  The purpose of this article is to provoke thought and discussion to the subject of primitive survival and to serve as a brief introduction on “how to.”  When I say bare bones survival I mean just that.  No knives, saws, axes, cordage, rope, water filters, bottles, bladders, portable shelters, lighters, flints, matches, stoves, fuel, or food.  I think you get the point.  The one exception is the clothing on your back since practicing primitive skills nude in the woods would probably be a one way ticket to the insane asylum.

Most primitive survival situations, pre or post TEOTWAWKI, will require shelter.  It’s probable that this will also be your most pressing need, one to be fulfilled first.  Shelter keeps you warm, dry, and concealed. It gives you the ability to escape the elements as you plan your next step.  Six of our seven continents are inhabited and have been for millennia.  What this translates into is that almost anywhere on earth the natural materials already exist to provide you with a sufficient shelter.  From igloos to adobe settlements, all these materials are free for the taking if you know how to use them.  These are just examples, so I’m not suggesting you build an igloo or sun bake bricks because of the time and energy required to do so.  What I am suggesting is that you familiarize yourself with the natural materials present in your neck of the woods in order to build an efficient and expedient shelter.  Be it sand, snow, dirt, grass, rocks, sticks, moss or leaves, they all can keep you relatively warm, dry and alive.  After that, you must practice repeatedly.  Otherwise you’re simply an armchair survivalist, and we all know what happens to them. 

I live in an area with plenty of deciduous forest and mild winters (mid-Atlantic state), which is probably one of the easiest places to construct a survival shelter.  The shelter I build most is often referred to as a debris hut and I do so because it’s simple, efficient, and the materials required for doing so are abundant in my area.  I typically make a pile of leaves two feet deep and two feet longer than I am tall against the trunk of a fallen tree.  I then lay sticks perpendicular to the trunk over the entire length of the pile angled from the ground to the top of the trunk and tight enough together to not let leaves fall through.  A few more feet of leaves are piled on top of what should by now resemble one half of a ribcage with the trunk being the spine and the angled sticks being the ribs.  A few feet of leaves will shed absolute downpours leaving the interior dry.  I leave a small opening so that I can enter feet first and keep another pile of leaves at the entrance to plug it when I’m in.  For colder temperatures it’s necessary to keep the interior barely larger than yourself to minimize heat loss.  In windy conditions you may need some sticks on top of the shelter to keep the leaves in place.  Before constructing, be sure to look up and around you for any dead or dying trees or branches that could be brought down on top of you during a storm.  If possible face your shelter opening to the east to take advantage of the rising suns warmth.  If you cannot tell direction without a compass, learn to do so.  

There are countless primitive shelters one could build, and they all have advantages and disadvantages based upon where one resides.  This article is not intended to be an exhaustive list of all those shelters and how to build them, but rather an attempt to get you thinking along the lines of what you would do without a permanent or portable roof over your head.  Most of these structures can be constructed within a few hours and really do not require hand tools or supplies of any kind.  Do your research and see which type of primitive shelter best fits your locale.

Under normal survival circumstances, such as being lost or caught in an unexpected storm, one would usually choose a shelter site with plenty of natural material nearby as to minimize having to carry debris any distance and thereby conserving energy.  Ordinary survival situations also assume that someone wants to be found.  In TEOTWAWKI type scenarios we probably do not want to be found, therefore minimizing our “sign” left behind as we construct our shelter is paramount.  Leaving bare spots on the forest floor as we rake up every last leaf to use as insulation may be noticed by others and further investigated by them.  The point is to do your best at leaving as few clues behind as possible.  Using the existing landscape to your advantage will help in this regard.  Caves, crevices, overhangs, thickets, hollow logs, boulders, etc may provide the basis for an adequate shelter with minimal caloric expenditure as well as provide added insulation, wind proofing, and concealment.  By taking advantage of natural structures, your shelter will blend in to your environment much better than otherwise.  When you’re finished you should be able to step back from your shelter, looking from different angles, and not even recognize it as such.  If possible, construct shelter near a water source, just be sure you’re above the high water mark, which should be obvious.  Locating shelter near a water source isn’t always possible, just try to if feasible.  But don’t force it, shelter is typically priority number one unless you’re already approaching dehydration, starvation, are being pursued, or it’s warm and dry enough to forego it.  If you’re not familiar with basic primitive shelters I suggest that you research it.  You may even want to construct one near your retreat or on the way to it as added insurance.  Once you have established a sufficient shelter that will keep you warm, dry, and well concealed, you can move on to priority number two, which is hydration. 


Where I reside, water is abundant and very easy to find.  I have no experience in more arid regions of the US so I’ll leave that to others to discuss.  First, let’s dispel some myths regarding water.  Clear, fast moving water is not always safe to drink.  Springs are not always safe.  Dogs do drink disease laden water.  And the liquid in some plants can kill you, or at minimum make you ill.  Frankly, I treat all water as potentially disease causing until I’ve purified it in some manner.  Notice I said purify, not filter.  All too often I see people touting their homemade water filter consisting of leaves, moss, sand, charred wood, etc as a viable means to filter pathogens from water.  Simply put, this is incorrect and should only be used for filtering sediment from water and not pathogens.  Charred wood is not the activated charcoal commonly used in water filtration. 

Just a side note, activated wood charcoal is vastly inferior to activated coconut carbon in terms of the porosity needed for high level water filtration.  We’re talking about macropores vs micropores so keep your coconut hulls or stock up (they’re inexpensive, in bulk) if you make your own activated carbon for these purposes.  When searching for water keep a few things in mind.  First, water flows downhill which means that you’re generally more likely to find it at lower elevations than at higher ones.  There are exceptions to this, but I’m speaking in general terms.  Specific vegetation is an excellent indicator of water or at least wet ground.  Certain trees, shrubs, vines, and herbaceous plants will only grow in or very close to water or damp earth.  At higher elevations, look for threads of more dense or more varied vegetation tracking downhill.  The same principle applies to lowland areas as the vegetation will usually change and be denser near water or damp soil.  Learn the plants in your geographic locale that need wet earth and memorize them.  Learn to recognize them year round.  Knowing your trees in the dead of winter without leaves present is a critical skill to have.  The same thing applies to the dead dry stalks of certain herbaceous plants.  Also, having the ability to recognize these plant species from a distance can save you time and energy on your search.  Once you’ve located damp earth, try to figure out the drainage in that particular area and start your dig in low points located along the drain path.  If enough water is present it will seep into your hole.  If you don’t want to wait, somehow mark or remember this spot so you can return as you seek other sources.  Once again, minimize your signs left behind.  I like to thoroughly scatter any dirt I excavate and fill the hole lightly with leaves to conceal my efforts.  Where you decide to dig is critical.  I’ve dug two feet down in a dry streambed and did not get any water but moving ten feet in another direction with the same size hole yielded a quart every hour.  For dry stream beds, usually stick to the outsides of any curves.  Only practice and experience can make you better at this.  You can use a broken stick, rocks, and your bare hands to excavate.   

Animals, including birds, can also tell you where to look.  Many animals, but not all, must drink water to survive.  Therefore, following animal trails, especially when these trails converge and widen more and more, can be a reliable indicator.  Birds, with the exception of flesh eaters, are fairly reliable indicators of the presence of water.  The overall flight pattern of birds in a particular area at dusk and dawn is a great clue.  Also, bugs and insects can be telltale signs.  Bees, small black ants, flies, mosquitoes, and others are rarely too far from water.  Although in the case of some of these insects it could only be a few ounces of water in the crotch or rotted section of a tree.   Another great and often overlooked source of water is dew or condensation.  Given that you do have clothes on your back, use some article of clothing to “mop” it up.  From dusk to dawn is the best time for dew formation and gathering.  Sometimes in shaded areas you can still gather dew hours after the sun has risen.  If you’ve experienced a rainfall recently, keep in mind that rotted wood and moss will hold water long after everything else has dried.  Simply squeeze the water out.  The last source of water I would like to mention is tree sap.  It’s my favorite since it doesn’t require boiling. I’ve consumed box elder, red, black, and sugar maple, black birch, black and white walnut, shagbark and shellbark hickory, and sycamore sap as my sole source of liquid for days.  I’ve also drank large quantities of sap from many other tree species. 

Some refer to the sugar content as a possible source of dehydration.  I haven’t experienced this to be true but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t.  As an added benefit, most tree sap has an abundance of vitamins and minerals.  Not all tree sap is potable.  Check out the Plants For A Future Database and look under the heading “plant uses” and scroll down to “sap” to see which trees grow in your area.  Just a side note, many of the trees with potable sap also have edible inner bark, which was extensively used by Native Americans.  Once you have positively 100 percent identified that species, sample a small amount first.  Then progress to larger amounts of consumption.  You should do the same with anything your body has never consumed before.  We all may potentially have food allergies were not yet aware of.  The downside to using sap for hydration is that it doesn’t flow year round and not all trees flow at the same time or for the same length of time.  Maple sap, for instance, will flow best when nights are below freezing and days are above freezing and it’s sunny or partly sunny (high pressure).  With maples in my location, sap flow begins after the trees have gone dormant in the fall.  This usually occurs after a few hard frosts and will continue through winter and into spring as long as the tree isn’t frozen and the aforementioned criteria are met.  These principles do not apply to all tree species. 

An example is birch, which averages 3-5 weeks of sap flow in early to mid spring depending on the weather.  Once the leaves have emerged the sap of most tree species loses its clarity and palatability as the chemical components change.  Shortly thereafter, sap flow will cease and does not begin again until the weather warms after a sufficient dormancy period.  Given that all trees do not leaf out all at once in the spring but rather in a slow progression this can be a source of water for many months if you have the knowledge.  In my area, by utilizing all tree species with potable sap, I can drink for nearly six months out of the year as long as the trees are not frozen.  Maples are among the first to leaf out in the spring therefore they flow first.  In my area, this is followed by birches, walnuts, hickories, etc.  Tree sap is highly perishable and must be used quickly.  One of my favorite methods for preserving it in early spring is to pile the melting snow around and onto the container to keep it cold.  Be sure to cover the container opening with wood or a rock to keep the snow out.  Using this method sap will keep for days. 

Harvesting tree sap without tools is more difficult but not impossible given that it were Native Americans who taught Europeans how to do this and did so without steel implements.  Maple and birch syrup producers rely on drills, buckets, taps, tubing, etc to procure their liquid.  Primitive survival does not afford these luxuries.  Gouge a v shape incision into the tree on a side that faces the sun using a sharp rock (research flint knapping to provide you with an adequate knife).  Then insert a thin twig into the base of this v and slope it downward so that the sap can drip down it.  Better yet, break the end off of a lower branch that is pointing in a downward direction or hang deadfall on it to make it point downward.  You can also bore a small hole into the trunk with a rock and insert a hollow stem of a non poisonous plant to act as a tap.  Just match the diameter of your tap very closely to the diameter of your bored hole creating as tight of a fit as possible.  You can speed up the flow by sucking as through a straw.  While testing certain trees pre-SHTF to see if they are flowing I suggest breaking off the very tip of a twig instead of gouging a hole into the trunk unnecessarily.  This is just a good conservation practice in my opinion. 

Grape vines are also a good source of liquid during certain times of the year.  When grape vines are flowing I like to break one off low to the ground, wrap it up, and bring it with me.  When I’m ready to use it, I’ll cut or break this vine into many equal sections and bundle them together allowing the liquid to drip into a container.  As with trees, grape vines have a prime flow period which closely coincides with trees.  Other times of the year sap doesn’t flow or isn’t palatable.  Although these are just a few of the plants I like to use for water, there are many others available as well.  As a general rule for herbaceous plants, if the entire plant is edible so to is the liquid within it.  By now you should be asking, “okay, well I found water, but what do I put it in and how do I purify it?”  The answer is found in fire.


Making fire with sticks is referred to as friction fire.  The concept is to rub or spin two pieces of wood together producing a fine dust that will ignite into a glowing ember or coal at around eight hundred degrees Fahrenheit.  This coal is then transferred into a tinder bundle and blown into flames.  The flaming tinder bundle is placed underneath a pre constructed arrangement of small twigs and progressively larger pieces of wood.  I like to arrange my sticks in a tepee fashion with one side open to insert the flaming tinder bundle.  There are countless methods invented throughout history but the two I like the most are the bow drill and hand drill methods, with the latter being my preference.  An experienced person could easily write a 50 page article on all the nuances of friction fire.  Instead of giving an in depth “how to” I think it’s better that you start by watching internet videos on this subject as it’s much easier to understand when you see it.  It can be rather verbose to explain.  Do searches for both the “hand drill fire” and “bow drill fire” and watch many different videos to gather more information as no one video or source of information is the best. 

The bow drill is the best place to start for beginners as it’s usually the easiest.  This video shows the basics of the bow drill by Ray Mears.  Although he does use a knife, machete, and nylon cordage, a sharp rock and natural cordage can achieve the same results with slightly more time invested.  Developing an understanding of sound basics and technique on the bow drill will make the hand drill that much easier.  Outside of proper technique and form, the next most important factor for success is the right selection of wood or plant material.  Not all wood can be spun together to make fire and dead but not rotted wood is almost always best.  If you can dent it with a finger nail with moderate pressure that is likely an appropriate hardness.  Softer woods are easier to create fire with than harder woods.  Avoid most oaks, most maples, hickories, walnuts, persimmon, beech, birch and any other wood than is generally considered hard and durable.  This is not to say that it can’t be done with these woods, it’s just much harder than with woods such as buckeyes, basswood, elms, willows, sycamore and some members of the pine family.  If you’re using the bow drill method you’ll need to make some sort of natural cordage. 

My favorite sources of natural fibers are stinging nettle, milkweed, dogbane, and basswood, although there are literally hundreds of other trees and herbaceous plants that can provide adequate fibers.  Do a search for making natural cordage to see this first hand and to see which of these species grow in your area.  Also, pencil thick roots from some members of the pine family make excellent bow drill cordage.  When you’re first learning the bow drill use paracord or an old shoe lace as you’ll quickly get frustrated when your natural cordage wears thin and breaks.  My favorite tinder is cedar bark shredded and balled up like a birds nest but many other materials will work as well.  For firewood, especially in wet or rainy weather, it’s imperative to gather wood that is off the ground.  Dead twigs and branches still attached or hung up in the tree are an excellent choice.  Fatwood, which is the heartwood of certain pine trees usually located in decaying stumps, is probably the best kindling there is.  Its high resin content makes it rot resistant and will easily catch fire.  Friction fire can be physically demanding and to have your tinder bundle fail to ignite wet wood is not a good thing.  As far as wood selection goes, the easiest to produce fire using a bow drill in my locale are buckeye, basswood, elm, willow, and eastern white pine.  There are many others that work well, but these are simply my preferences. 

The hand drill consists of only a spindle, fireboard, and tinder bundle.  It has the advantage of not needing cordage or as much preparation time but is less technically forgiving.  Here is another clip of the same guy performing the hand drill.  Although he is performing this in the desert, all the materials needed to do so are easily found anywhere south of the tundra.  My favorites for this type of friction fire are basswood, buckeye, willow, elm, and yucca for the fireboard and mullein, cattail, evening primrose, and goldenrod for the spindle. After you learn the basics, it is persistence and a desire to succeed that makes all the difference in success.  Because this method most often utilizes the dead stalks of herbaceous plants it’s imperative to be able to recognize them at this stage.  Many people can recognize plants when they’re flowering but cannot do so when it’s a dead dry stalk in mid-winter.  As with any skill truly worth learning, it takes practice and dedication over an extended period of time.  I constantly read how these methods are impossible or worthless.  Well, I’m here to tell you that if you’re willing to put in the effort you can start a fire with these methods at will anytime you please.  I do it all the time.  The last primitive method for fire starting I feel worth mentioning is flint rock.

Most of us are familiar with the flint and steel method of fire starting as well as the more modern ferro rod.  But given that we’re talking about primitive skills this would predate the invention of steel.  Flint rock has a decent distribution across the US and that’s why I mention it.  Before steel, many native cultures simply scraped flint against an iron ore containing rock.  Quite a few different rocks will work but the most commonly used was marcasite or pyrite.  It produces small sparks and is tedious but can be a viable alternative to friction fire if your local geology has plenty of these rocks available.  This is another good research topic specific to your locale.  Here’s an excellent link showing how.   And one more for a different look  Once you have fire it’s now time to purify your water. 

You’ll need to fashion a container by using coals from the fire to burn out the center of a piece of wood.  You can make bowls and cups capable of holding large quantities of water with this method.  Find an appropriate piece of wood and place some hot coals onto it.  You can speed up the process by blowing on the coals.  Every so often remove the coals and gouge out the charred material of your cup and repeat the process until you have something capable of holding your desired amount of liquid.  I recommend sticking to something quart sized for mobility.  If stationary, burn a large depression into a fallen tree capable of holding gallons of water.  Birch bark containers, animal stomachs and hides work very well for transport.  You can use pine sap to seal up any leaking areas of the bark.  Once you have a container you need to heat up rocks in the fire and using two sticks in a chopstick manner transfer them into your wooden container to boil the water.  Your rocks should be gathered from a very dry area that doesn’t sit in water.  The reason being is that trapped moisture will cause the rocks to crack when heated and sometimes these sharp sections are flung outward.  Basalt is the rock of choice as it rarely cracks and if it does it doesn’t go flying outward towards your face.  Rocks gathered from stream beds or any other wet areas are poor choices as they almost always invariably crack.  If you must use these types of rock, cover your eyes when placing them into the water and keep back while it’s boiling.  Continue to transfer more rocks into the water until you’ve boiled it for the desired period of time.  Placing a large leaf, flat piece of wood or rock over your boiling container will increase efficiency and negate any flying hot stones.  Burn out multiple containers to gather tree sap and place them under your taps.  Or if you live in an area with bamboo you already have a container.  Check out this kid to see what I mean.  Instead of cutting the bamboo into sections as he does, I like to keep the bamboo stalk intact and gouge a hole at the top of each section and lay the entire bamboo stalk into a water source to fill up.  This way all the sections will fill with water and can easily be transported to the fire location.  You can then keep the stalk upright and take off one section at a time for boiling.  Fire is sort of a double edged sword, you may need it to keep warm, cook food, and purify water but its presence may give away your location.  My favorite low profile method for fire is the Dakota fire hole.  Research it.  It consumes far less wood, doesn’t smoke as much, and doesn’t cast as much light.  Also, to keep your fire “near smokeless,” use the driest wood possible and keep the flames going.  A fire smokes the most as the flames are dying down. Now that you have shelter from the elements, water to quench your thirst, and the all important fire, it’s time to eat.

In a short term survival situation food is the least important.  However, in a long term scenario food is paramount.  To date, I’ve consumed and or used approximately two thousand different edible and medicinal plant species and I can recognize them at all stages of their growth.  I do not use this number to boast but rather use it to illustrate what our Creator has given to us that is free for the taking.  Even in the dead of winter an abundance is still available if you have the knowledge.  Domestic produce pales in comparison to wild food in taste and nutrition, although certainly not all edible plants taste great.  I always feel my best when consuming wild plants and animals and I try to consume something from nature daily.  Many people feel that one cannot entirely survive off wild food indefinitely.  They claim that too many of the Native American staples have been greatly diminished due to loss of habitat.  This is true to an extent and I’m deeply concerned with loss of biodiversity.  However, with this loss has come a substantial influx of Old World plants and animals to fill the fields and meadow that were once forested.  Many years ago I set a goal for myself which was to see if it was possible to still “live off the land.”  Honestly, I doubted that one could only consume wild food and make it.  But the more I continued to learn the more I realized that I was wrong.  Simply put, it is my firm conviction that one can not only survive but absolutely thrive consuming only wild species when armed with the right knowledge and skill set.   

As I mentioned in my introduction, almost everywhere on earth has been inhabited by natives that did just that.  The downside to this is that it takes years of learning to develop this skill and knowledge and a TEOTWAWKI type scenario will make it much more difficult to live this lifestyle.  Procuring wild food by far has the longest learning curve of all primitive survival skills.  It involves plant identification, harvest, and preparation.  It involves hunting, fishing, tracking, trapping, stalking, snaring, processing, as well as other skills.  These are things that take time to learn.  I don’t say this to discourage you but rather to be realistic.  Shelter, specific to your locale, can be learned in a day.  You can become really proficient in finding water in a slightly longer period of time.  It takes a few months to become good at fire, practicing twenty minutes a day three to four days a week.  And it can be nearly mastered in a year to the point where you can do it almost anywhere anytime.  But to learn food, you really have to be dedicated.  It’s probably best to start learning all the poisonous plants in your location to rule out what cannot be eaten.  These will be a huge minority of the overall number of species in any given area.  In fact, in most geographic locales it’s extremely difficult to locate more than a handful of species that can kill you.  Besides, with very few exceptions, poisonous plants taste so terrible that it would be difficult to ever consume enough quantity to kill you.  We have taste buds for a reason, don’t ignore them!  To really learn plants you’re going to need books and some basic botanical knowledge.  You can also learn a tremendous amount on the Internet.  Just like survival authors, some wild food authors are better than others.  I consider only a few to be authorities, as I find mistakes in almost all wild food literature.  Fortunately, these aren’t mistakes that could kill us.  Many authors, I think, just copy others’ work.  The authors I find to be most reliable and accurate are Samuel Thayer, Thomas Elpel, Linda Runyon, Steve Brill, and John Kallas.  There are many others so do your research, read reviews and make an informed decision.  Outside of books specific to edible plants you’ll need field guides for your region that cover all plants not just those that are edible.  A taxonomic guide for your locale is indispensable. 

Once you have positive identification, research that plant for its edibility.  Basic rules for foraging are: 1) never eat anything unless you’re one hundred percent sure it’s not poisonous.  2) know at which stage of growth and what part of the plant you can consume since some are edible young but become poisonous later or may have one edible part and other poisonous parts.  3) know if any special preparations such as boiling are required for that plant species.  4) when consuming any plant for the first time, only sample a small amount to be certain you’re not allergic and then increase your consumption.  5) use at minimum three references to ensure a plants edibility.  6) use latin names including genus and species for identification purposes.  Start learning plants now since it takes time to become proficient.  Don’t assume you’ll be able to head to your retreat with a few field manuals and then start learning these necessary skills.  I say this because plants are mainly identified by dissecting and/or counting their flower parts and the edible parts may precede or succeed flowering, which would leave you out of luck.  So, just because you’ve identified an edible plant it doesn’t mean it’s at the appropriate stage for consumption.  It can be, but not always.  If you haven’t learned edible plants in advance then at least memorize the universal edibility test to leave you some options.  Type in into a search engine to learn it.  I chose not to go into detail on which plants are edible simply because it would be specific to my locale and would only be good info for some.  I would rather conclude with you knowing that there are tens of thousands of edible plants within the United States and if you apply yourself you and your family will never be without food.  I love to gather seeds of edible plants and scatter them near where I live, as well as my family’s garden, to add to my local abundance.  I may succumb to disease, I may be shot or die in an accident, I may live to a ripe old age and simply die of natural causes, but I can assure you I will never starve to death. 

I’ve chosen not to cover hunting, trapping, snaring, and fishing in a primitive manner simply because it’s illegal in most areas.  Most places require steel snares and traps that conform to state laws as well as fishing with a rod and reel and hunting only with certain weapons.  However, it’s certainly not illegal for you to research these topics and I strongly suggest doing just that.  Snares and traps work round the clock in as many locations as you place them.  They will consistently outperform a hunter for this reason as he or she can only be in one location at one time and only for a limited amount of time.  I personally prefer snaring over trapping because of all the supplies needed to trap.  Trapping is heavy and bulky and I can carry many more snares than I can traps.  Trapping can be great when you’re stationary but if you’re on foot, I wouldn’t even consider it in my opinion.

This concludes Bare Bones Survival.  I hope I’ve sparked your interest in some of the things within our past that make our present possible.  God is simply magnificent, and as we all scramble to make sure we purchase everything on our “list of lists” before the SHTF, it’s easy to forget that He has already given us everything we need in nature.  Slow down a little and get back to nature and you’ll find peace that doesn’t exist within the rat race of American culture.  When you start learning and practicing these skills, by all means use anything that will make success more of a probability.  If something doesn’t work for you, don’t assume it doesn’t work altogether.  You may just need to adjust something in some way.  Be persistent.  Don’t run out into the wilderness without gear and expect to be able to do these things overnight.  Start small and work your way up.  Take a trip with a fully stocked backpack and work on these skills over an extended period of time.  The first time you make shelter, bring your tent, bag, and pad as a backup.  Bring your water and filter when you work on finding water.  Bring your flint and knife when practicing friction fire.  And bring food when working on edible plants.  Learn to hunt, fish, and snare using legal methods as you will learn many things that are transferable to doing the same in a primitive manner.  If you’re willing to put in the time necessary to learn these things, you’ll be rewarded by always being at home in the wilderness, never to hunger or thirst or to be left out in the cold.  Good Luck and God Bless you all!

The folks at Pantry Paratus mentioned that they can now sell Berkey Water Purification Units to California residents.  California's previous regulations were very ambiguous and so the company required dealers to omit sales to California to prevent any conflict of regulation.  Now that these have been clarified, people in California can drink the same pure water that we enjoy!

   o o o

Randy K. suggested a new e-book(let) about starting a mutual assistance group for survival by a former Navy SEAL. Randy says: "Some deep thoughts for just $3.95."

   o o o

Sandy Hook massacre: Official story spins out of control

   o o o

James C. pointed me to this useful site: PVC Pipe Plans

   o o o

Texas school’s ‘Guardian Plan’ allows teachers to have guns. (Thanks to Rob C. for the link.)

"A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes - and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Thursday, December 20, 2012

I've previously mentioned the tragic accidental death of Chuck Lamb (the husband of Jenny of The Last Frontier blog.) A Special Memorial Fund has been set up by Wells Fargo bank, to benefit Jenny and her two young sons. The account number is 7348691358. It is in the name "Chuck Lamb Donation Account". You can make a donation via any Wells Fargo Bank branch.


Today we present another entry for Round 44 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 44 ends on January 31st, 2013, 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.

Modern neonatal care in a fully equipped and staffed hospital connected to a power grid will be all but a memory in TEOTWAWKI. In the event of SHTF where professional medical services are no longer available it is completely up to the parent(s) to assist the newborn in the traumatic transition from womb to world. Knowledge of basic neonatal field care will increase the chances of survival for a newborn. This article is divided into three sections: Pregnancy, Transition, and First 48 Hours.


The first section of this article deals with pregnancy. To begin our discussion of field care for your newborn, it is prudent to address women’s lifestyle choices today that will directly impact the success rate of their pregnancies and infant health tomorrow. In anticipation of potential TEOTWAWKI, we maximize our survival chances through diligent stockpiling, training and construction. In the same spirit, women should maximize their future children’s survival chances through healthy lifestyle choices that could contribute to a more robust pregnancy.
Women who have medical conditions such as diabetes, asthma and/or high blood pressure are at increased risk of having infants with difficult transitions. In addition, women who smoke, drink and/or use controlled substances during pregnancy are also increasing the risks for their future children. I thereby urge women to adopt and maintain healthy diets, exercise regularly, and break any addictions to nicotine and/or alcohol ASAP. Healthy lifestyle choices apply just as strongly for men, of course. Pursued jointly as a couple, healthy lifestyles can be more easily achieved and maintained. When SHTF, we must be in prime condition because there will be nobody and nowhere to run to for help.
It is estimated that approximately 15-30% of pregnancies end in miscarriage regardless of access to professional medical care. Of the uncomplicated, full-term pregnancies that result in delivery, 90% of infants transition without need for any intervention. 10% of infants will need some form of help, and of those, 1% will need intensive intervention. It is crucial to be prepared to assist the 10% with the acknowledgement that there is little that can be done for the 1% with intensive needs. Simply put, out of 100 babies born, 9 will need your help to survive the transition.


The second section of this article covers transition. The “transition” for a newborn is generally the first six hours of life. A newborn needs to be immediately evaluated to determine its initial state of health. Doctors have developed a simple system to do this called APGAR, which stands for APPEARANCE, PULSE, GRIMACE, ACTIVITY, and RESPIRATION. Each criteria are given a score from 0–2 based on the appearance and behavior of the baby. All scores are added up to determine whether your newborn is healthy or needs immediate help. The scores are calculated as follows:
APPEARANCE: blue=0; pink with blue extremities=1; pink=2
PULSE: no pulse=0; pulse<100=1; pulse>100=2
GRIMACE: (response to rubbing/scratching) no response=0; weak cry=1; loud cry/pulling away=2
ACTIVITY: floppy limbs=0; some flexing of limbs=1; flexing of limbs against resistance=2
RESPIRATION: absent=0; weak and irregular=1; strong, crying=2
The sum of these scores gauges the initial health of the baby as follows:
NORMAL: 7–10
LOW: 4–6
APGAR can be administered by anybody. But in the heat of the moment, rational behavior and memory can be impaired. I suggest that you write down the basic APGAR scorecard on an index card and pack it in your BOB. If the APGAR guidelines are lost or forgotten, remember these basic guidelines: a baby born at term, crying or breathing with pink color and good tone can stay with the mother; a baby born floppy, silent or bluish must immediately be resuscitated.
Basic resuscitation is begun by briskly rubbing down the baby with a clean towel or cloth. This stimulates crying and reduces the risk of hypothermia. Infants who are not in severe danger should respond fairly quickly to physical stimulation. If they do not, they need advanced neonatal resuscitation. Infant CPR, unfortunately, is far beyond the scope of this article. While many individuals might have training or have cursory knowledge of basic adult CPR, all of it goes out of the window when it comes to infants. Infants are extremely delicate and can be fatally injured with even the most delicate efforts and loving intentions. This is why as a professional physician I direct parents and young couples to attend Infant CPR and/or Neonatal Resuscitation classes that are offered by the American Red Cross and American Heart Association as well as numerous institutions recommended. Go to or to learn more.
Keep in mind that it is well within your abilities to rescue an infant in jeopardy. Nearly one half of all newborn deaths occur within the first 24 hours after birth. Many of these deaths are caused by asphyxia (inability to breathe). This means that with proper training, you could be equipped to effectively deal with a common complication among newborns. If you expect to become a parent within the next ten years, equip yourself with this valuable training and knowledge while it is still available.

First 48 Hours

The final section of this article covers general newborn field care topics including delayed cord clamping, umbilical stump care, skin-to-skin, breastfeeding, and nutrition.
The average newborn has about 300mL of blood (one can of soda) with a portion of the blood still in the placenta after delivery. If you were to place your hands on the umbilical cord before the placenta was delivered, you could feel the cord pulsating; this signifies that blood is being transfused back into the baby from the placenta. People pay thousands of dollars to collect and store the umbilical cord blood, with the hope that in the future the stem cells in the cord blood can be used if needed. There are OBGYNs who encourage the use of delayed cord clamping to auto-transfuse the baby with its own stem cells. The process is simple: do not clamp and cut the cord until you feel the cord stop pulsating. If there is concern for fetal compromise and resuscitation must be performed quickly , milk the cord several times towards the baby before clamping and cutting. Make sure to use sterilized instruments for cord clamping and cutting. In a survival scenario, submerge all knives, instruments and towels in a pot of boiling water for five minutes or more. Note that the tool or implement with which you retrieve the sterilized items from the pot must itself be sterilized first. A simple workaround is to pour the boiling water out of the pot and handle the knives and instruments upon actual intended usage.
There is no evidence that there needs to be any further care of the umbilical cord stump if the umbilical cord was clamped/cut in an aseptic (free from disease-causing bacteria) manner. In a sterile environment, dry cord care (keeping the stump clean and dry) is effective. Take care that the infant’s diaper is folded down below the umbilical stump. Dry cord care is recommended when sterile instruments have been used during delivery but this cannot be guaranteed without an autoclave machine. Therefore umbilical stump care may be necessary. Studies have shown that cleaning the umbilical stump with chlorhexidine reduced the rate of infection and newborn mortality. In the absence of chlorhexidine, use an antiseptic ointment or rubbing alcohol. The umbilical stump will separate after one week.
Skin-to-skin care – also called “Kangaroo Care” – describes a way of holding a newborn so that there are no clothing barriers between the infant and the mother. This form of mother-infant interaction has been shown in multiple studies to be beneficial. The benefits include assisting the baby to sleep better, breastfeed sooner, breastfeed better and increase weight gain faster. Research shows that this form of contact helps regulate the baby’s physiologic processes including pain responses, temperature, breathing, and heart rate. Preterm and low-birth weight infants who are born in resource-poor settings particularly benefit from kangaroo care. In a typical labor and delivery floor, stable infants are immediately placed on the mother’s abdomen in this manner to ease the stressful transition they undergo in childbirth. In a resource-poor setting, kangaroo care should be initiated immediately after childbirth for at least 30 minutes, but can last as long as the mother is able to tolerate. There are no guidelines for how long skin-to-skin care should continue, but many proponents encourage multiple daily episodes (short or long) for up to six weeks postpartum. Fathers may also contribute to this process and perform skin-to-skin care.
Breastfeeding is the recommended form of infant feeding by multiple medical associations because of the numerous benefits to the infant as well as to the mother. Breast milk promotes intestinal growth/motility, protects against infections or certain chronic diseases, and provides optimal nutrition. This process can be frightening and frustrating for some parents. Adequate positioning and latch are important for successful breastfeeding.
For good positioning, place a pillow on the mother’s lap for support, and then place the infant on the pillow. Using the arm opposite the breast that is being used to breastfeed, cradle the infant so that his/her head is supported by a “C” formed with the hand around the base of the skull. An effective latch is characterized by the infant’s mouth covering the entire nipple and much of the areola. The baby should not be sucking the nipple only.
Newborns in a hospital receive a regimen of standard care: eye ointment for the prevention of gonococcal infection, vitamin K to prevent bleeding, hepatitis B vaccine, and blood sugar and bilirubin monitoring. This battery of care will of course not administered in TEOTWAWKI. Certain steps can be taken, though, to evaluate and improve the health of the baby with the means at hand.
Infants are born with nutritional stores that will supplement them during the first few days after birth. Weight loss is normal in infants in the first week of life. However, weight loss greater than 10% is cause for concern. Signs of infant dehydration include: lethargy, loose skin, decreased urine output, and delayed capillary refill time. Capillary refill can be assessed by applying pressure on the infant’s sternum for 5 seconds; if the color fails to return in less than 3 seconds, this suggests dehydration. Monitoring of input and output ought to be done as well. Newborn babies feed every 2-3 hours during the first month of life. Also, urination and defection should occur within the first 24 hours of infant life. Consider supplementing with formula if available.
In summary, this article has attempted to promote awareness about TEOTWAWKI field care for your newborn. Hopefully it has provided numerous touch points from which you can launch your own study, training, and preparation. While all our means of shelter, sustenance, and defense will ensure our personal survival in a WROL, only our children ensure our collective survival.

Disclaimer: This article for educational purposes. It is not a substitute for medical care under the direct supervision of a physician or in a hospital.


In a recent TCCC class, more info was covered on why hemostatic infused gauze is preferred over Hemostatic granules.
The concept for Hemostatic agents was first explored with the use of instant mashed potatoes dumped into a wound. The blood soaked the potatoes thickening them up and helping aid the blood in clotting. This was efficient, until it was realized that the potato “granules” were being carried into the blood stream and causing blood clots. Obviously, this is a very bad thing. When the hemostatic agent was first created in a granule form, it did the same thing as the mashed potatoes did, only faster. However there was a small chance of the granules once again escaping into the blood stream causing blood clots.
In a combat zone where helicopters were used for evacuation of wounded – same as in most rural areas of America, the rotor wash would blow the granules out of the wound (bad) and sometimes blow them into the eyes of the medics or others present causing eye issues.
After application of the granules, Gauze of some sort as well as a trauma bandage had to be applied.
Next up in the evolution of progress was Hemostatic Infused Gauze. This has avoided the issue that the granules had, and helped speed up the blood clotting due to the Gauze being applied as the Hemostatic is. In a situation where a Hemostatic agent is being applied, clearly time is life. So removing one step out of the blood stopping and bandaging equation is a good thing.

Just something to be aware of. - Bluelinesheepdog

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) addresses solar flare concerns.

   o o o

Judy C. mentioned a link for free maps and travel guides for every US state. Judy notes: "Many also link to DOT sites listing closings and constructions. Order hard copy maps for bugout bags and bookmark the DOT info for states on your route when it's time to Get Out of Dodge."

   o o o

E. Holder Channels J. Edgar: Attorney General Secretly Granted Gov. Ability to Develop and Store Dossiers on Innocent Americans. (Thanks to B.B. for the link.)

   o o o

Fred The Valmet-meister sent the link to a fascinating 25-minute video: SAAMI - Sporting Ammunition and the Fire Fighter

   o o o

C.D.V. sent the link to a handy map: Lockpick Laws in the United States

"Great God, what do I see and hear!
The end of things created!
The judge of mankind doth appear
On clouds of glory seated!
The trumpet sounds; the graves restore,
The dead which they contained before;
Prepare, my soul, to meet Him!" - Martin Luther

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

This is the birthday of physicist Albert A. Michelson (Born 1852, died May 9, 1931), the first American to be awarded a Nobel Prize in science, for measuring the speed of light.


Today we present another entry for Round 44 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 44 ends on January 31st, 2013, 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.

Hi James, 
Sometimes the easy solution to a serious medical supply problem is hidden right in front of us. I am and adult-onset Type 2 insulin-dependent diabetic prepper. My life depends on a regular and continuous supply of medicines.

What will I do when all of the available test strips for my "Accu-chek" Aviva blood tester strips are out of date and will not function in my Veterans Administration-supplied tester?

In the military we were taught that the winners  learn to adapt, overcome, and improvise. After the military, as a self- employed father of four, I learned another  basic rule of success in difficult times, for dealing with dangerous events, and for most important activities. When I see that I have a serious problem, and I am not winning, I change the rules! This is not all that complicated.

When my glucose test strips are out of date for my Veterans Administration (VA) supplied tester, I simply change the date in the tester itself. 12-12-2012 becomes 12-12-2011, or what ever past date will allow the tester to only see a test strip that is not out of date. 

I lie to my tester about the date. My tester  knows that I am a nice guy, and it always believes me, and uses the out of date strips.

An additional small piece of knowledge, which can be extremely valuable to  folks like myself, is the real time facts about refrigeration of insulin. Most refrigerators cool the contents to 37-38 degrees F and that is  below the recommended safe temperature range of 60 - 86 for insulin. Our home is well insulated and I keep the current usage insulin bottles on top of my desk with full confidence that it is safe to use because our inside house temperature stays at about 65 - 70 F all year. One bottle of insulin lasts me about 9 days.  from the Internet concerning insulin temperature safety:

  It is usually okay to keep a bottle of insulin you are using at room temperature for up to 28 days provided  the room temperature is 59º to 86º F. 

We live in the high desert in the southwest and of course there are seasonal summer days of 100 plus degree outdoor temperatures. For cooling in the event of a serious power outage,  we have pre-positioned the materials for our Zeer Pot Fridge, in our garage.  For full written and picture instructions on construction and usage just doe web search on the phrase "zeer pot fridge" and you will be in the cooling stuff business. Just don't wait until the power goes out to search for instructions. Although we have not yet needed it, we have tested it. We  feel very safe knowing it does work and  having the required materials needed on hand. 

A Zeer Pot is is a zero electrical power evaporative cooler that will take most items from 95 degrees down to 35 degrees in about 12 hours. Fresh vegetables will actually stay fresh for about 7 - 10 days.  It is simply two inexpensive large clay pots with a smaller one inside a larger pot. They are separated by a thick, about 2 inches, layer of very fine ground sand. Just pour water slowly into the sand until the sand is fully saturated with the water, then put your item to be cooled into the smaller pot and cover the 2 pots with a damp cloth . The evaporation process will cool the contents very nicely. Just keep the sand and the cover wet!

Now let us talk about paying for our preparedness stuff. We have been able to partially fund our prepper medical supplies thru my status as a VA-enrolled veteran. I took my private non VA doctors medicine prescriptions into my VA primary care doctor.  

The VA doctor then wrote new VA scrips for the meds and filled them for me at little or no cost to us. There's a maximum $8 co-pay for "some" higher income  vets. This co-pay varies with the specific county a vet lives in. Google and search the site for co-pay information.

I do not get our less-expensive OTC medical items from the VA because the congressional funding for VA is never enough. Lets not even think about politics and funding for our vets health care. Forget what the military recruiters said about lifetime free health care. They actually believed that line themselves. They are not getting free care either. Additionally when we can afford to get both the VA meds and the non-VA meds, I have been able to buy some extras to build up a medicine reserve supply. 

I also have to deal with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which is very serious and often very dangerous. For respiratory emergency quick relief, which is usually 3-4 times daily, I use an albuteral inhaler. The VA  sends them to me monthly at no cost to me. And we do appreciate the VA care I get!

For the all important reserve supply, I use an (S)albuteral puffer.  These inhalers are inexpensive and area available from India. Before I made my first overseas purchase, I did my regular safety research and  talked to my non-VA doctor about the Indian supplied medicines.  He did not have a problem in any way.  I do try to remember to rotate my medical supplies so as to use the oldest first. I tested their service with a single stand-by box of 15 inhalers I purchased from an Indian pharmacy that were manufactured in Australia by Smith-Glaxo-Kline, a huge company. My cost, to include their standard $25 shipping, for 15 inhalers,  was $77.50. The inhalers themselves cost were $3.50 each. That bought me a full one year supply

About ten years ago at Costco my inhalers cost about $4.50 each.  With the federally required new propellants, these inhalers locally now cost about $45 each without insurance, and about $10 each with insurance, provided you have a written prescription. There is no requirement for a prescription by  the overseas vendors. There are many Indian pharmacies available and I have had good results doing business with This Indian company supplied inhalers use the same  FDA-required type propellants as do the American-supplied inhalers. 

The small shipping box was plainly marked as a personal health product not for resale. Nothing was hidden and everything about the medicine contents was completely honest and open. It came through our Customs cleanly with no import costs and then passed through our U.S. Postal system with zero complications or delays. 

I now have an ample 2++ years reserve inhaler supply on hand.  We also have great peace of mind and enough meds to be able to share with others if it should become necessary. We believe that we do not have enough for ourselves unless we have enough to give some to the needy, those who are truly not able to help themselves.

We have been taught many important lessons of preparedness and frugality by the many entries published in your blog site and by the many friends with who we have spent countless  hours talking about current event and how best to be ready for whatever may come our way. We are very fortunate to have a terrific relationship with our close neighbor the world’s best veterinarian who smiled and handed me a thick catalog of everything that might ever be used in his clinic. To this very day I have an icon of that web site on my Mac computer startup screen.  There are a great many good veterinary supply sources available through the Internet. Google is a great way to search, but it really doesn’t matter which search engine someone uses. 

We have used the Internet to obtain most of our preparedness supplies and my sweet wife even bought some medical scrubs to do her gardening chores. They were on close out sale at 99 cents per item.

Another great buy was FISH MOX FORTE (Amoxicillin 500 mg ) @ 100 tablets for $27.96.

It is very important to maintain a low profile in situations where a person is planning to acquire animal medications for possible disaster times usage. Try to be sure before you bring up these topics that the person you are going to ask for help in your buying activities will not be likely to say no and never forget that you asked.  It may be best to wait until you are at the veterinarian for a regular pet care visit and ask about backup pet meds in cause there is another serious power outage. Just start the topic and then wait for the veterinarian's response .

You will be able to gauge the veterinarian's prepper status easily. You will benefit greatly from a diligent web search of information concerning the use and availability of pet medications and vet clinic supplies that are readily available through the internet.

Support the troops coming home from these very difficult multiple deployments. They are usually in bad shape emotionally. The stats are frightening. The Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) rate is 41%. The marriage breakup rate is 80%. And 15% of our "combat" returnees are female. These fabulous women fly our planes and drive our trucks and live in harm's way every day. We have the finest military force this nation has ever fielded. Better educated. Better motivated. Better trained. They are our best. I am proud to be a veteran of our military. I am proud of my American Legion brothers and sisters. I am proud to be the grandfather of a infantry grandson.

After reading the follow up to automotive preparedness, (I am Toyota fan) I figured I would share a few thoughts. Some background , I use to be a tractor mechanic for several years, repairing all kind of engines, transmissions, and other systems. I have also owned four  1980s-era Toyota trucks since I was in high school  (all 4x4s). I  progressed from no power steering or air conditioning as a kid, to wanting all the extras later in life. I also have many friends and family which have Toyotas that I helped work on. I also have a neighbor that is the parts manager for a large urban Toyota dealership.

  The main point I want to express is choosing the proper replacement parts, or more importantly when to pay a little more money for original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts and their dependability . I like shopping at the local auto parts shop with people who know me, that  know automotive parts , and are not totally lost without a computer (books work too)! I don't mind saving money going to a large chain store for some parts either. Finally I have no problem spending higher dealer prices for critical parts.

The two best examples I want to share, start with a 3,000 mile round trip I made on the west coast. Over my vacation, I had an alternator fail not once, but three times, and each replacement I installed was a rebuilt large chain store part bought in a different state. Nevermore! Once I raced home on batteries only trying to beat the sunset ( I didn't want to kill the battery using headlights) , I decided to spend more money and get a new aftermarket high power alternator. I never had a problem after that. The next example involves my uncle`s truck. He had to replace the water pump, and while we were doing this we replaced the timing belt , which had 120,000 miles on it ( it should have been replaced at 80,000 miles). We used a  new timing belt from a large chain store. About 12,000 miles later his truck started running a little rough, he adjusted the ignition timing and it ran fine for 2 more days, then died. I was helping him figure out what went wrong, which took some time because we never considered the "new timing belt" failing. Once we got the timing belt out, we  were shocked to say the least. The belt with 12,000 miles on it had missing cogs , had a glazed over  look to it, and was cracked everywhere. I gave the belt to my neighbor   at the dealership to show his customers, and installed a factory belt with no problems for another 80,000 miles.

   I have other stories , but don't want drag this out. My new rules for buying replacement parts are as follows,

     1. Rubber seals/gaskets on the motor itself, timing belts, drive shaft U joints/ bearings , and  water pumps = only purchase  factory/ OEM parts, when possible.

     2. Alternator or electrical equipment on the motor = try to buy  OEM or new aftermarket.

     3. Hoses, fan belts, filters, smog equipment  ,and  any components not directly connected to the engine = save money and go to local shop or large chain store.

      Starters can fall into either rule 2 or 3 since they are not being worked continuously the way alternators are, plus manual transmission vehicles can be push started most of the time if the starter fails ( I avoid automatic transmissions whenever possible.)

  Enjoying my 349,000 mile  Toyota, - Solar Guy

"The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him." - G.K. Chesterton  

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

This is the birthday of Charles Wesley (born 1707 – 29 March 1788). He wrote more that 1,700 hymns. My middle name was chosen in honor of the Wesley brothers. (My family has a strong Reformed tradition.)


Today is also the birthday of Jørgen Haagen Schmith (born 1910, died October 15, 1944). He was better known under the codename Citron, was a famous Danish resistance fighter in occupied Denmark. His exploits were dramatized in the movie Flame and Citron. I pray that I'm never put in the same difficult position that Schmith was in. Wars of resistance are rarely neat and pretty.


Today we present another entry for Round 44 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 44 ends on January 31st, 2013, 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 have nearly thirty years of law enforcement experience. That experience was gained as a local police officer, a deputy Sheriff and finally as a state trooper.  The last decade or so of my trooper career was spent as a crime scene investigator for a state police agency.  I only tell you this for you, the reader to weigh the opinions and statements that will follow.  This experience serves as my only true “skill” as I’m a terrible carpenter, plumber, cook, welder, gardener or nurse!  What follows is my small contribution to the “how to” lessons for a prepper that are contained within this blog.
Law enforcement experience has shaped my preparations.  I always had a “storm kit” ready as I lived in an area that is prone to summer tornadoes and severe winter storms.  But after working a security and anti-looting detail in a city of 35,000 people that had been devastated by a tornado, I rethought my preparations and increased the food, water and medical supplies that it contained.  I saw first hand that rescue, recovery and a return to normalcy takes time. In addition, after 9/11, we were required by our agency to keep water and emergency rations in our patrol vehicles.

Even so-called routine occurrences such as a traffic crash can take on survival tones if it occurs in a remote area or during a blizzard.  I once helped search for an elderly woman that simply ran off a road and moved down a steep embankment into a grove of trees. All she had with her was a cell phone but after phoning the police, but she couldn’t tell them where she was. She only knew that she was somewhere between two towns that were twenty miles apart.  We had difficulty using the phone company to triangulate her position so we drove in the area with our sirens on until she heard us and advised the dispatcher.  That was a decidedly low tech solution to an everyday problem.

The woman was not physically able to leave the car and it was winter.  If she had not been able to call for help, she might have succumbed to hypothermia before anyone discovered her car.  What would happen if this same situation was after TEOTWAWKI?

While as a police officer, I was always conscience of security matters in and around my home and my focus was anti-crime.  In other words, I prepared as best I could against a burglary or a home invasion scenario.  It is only within the last few years that I have given considerable thought to major civil unrest due to an economic situation, the likes of which most of us have never seen.  Another prime concern is a grid down scenario for an extended period of time. Both of these threats seem to become more real each day.

Within the last five years or so, many things have changed globally, nationally, locally and within my own family.  I took a friend’s recommendation and read Patriots and it changed me deeply. I have shifted my thoughts and energies to serious preparations that I would not have even thought of before.

Another significant personal change was my retirement.  I was lucky to be able to retire early and moved to a retreat area that due to OPSEC will remain unnamed.  My wife and I built a home with an eye toward growing older and the changing social landscape.  I began making personal choices for my family’s safety in the long term.

First, our house appears to be “normal” and does not attract undue attention. No heavy duty gates or fencing or anything unusual.  A closer inspection does reveal a heavy gauge metal roof and fiber cement siding for some fire protection (we live in the woods). A looping perimeter lane provides a three hundred sixty-degree firebreak around the house.  Hose bibs and hoses are found on all sides to provide some water for minor firefighting. Rain water collection barrels are also present.

The house is situated on a commanding hill (always take the high ground) with a large, cleared area between the house and the dead-end road we live off of.  A gravel drive is the only way into the property.  Ever try to sneak up on someone surrounded by gravel?  I’ve also installed some “force multipliers” such as driveway alarms to cover different routes and a house alarm system.  A whole-house generator was permanently installed and is fueled by a large, underground propane tank.

Another force multiplier is a dog.  Don’t be so worried about which breed, you only need to be made aware of noise or movement you can’t readily detect.  About any healthy, trained dog will do. Few people are willing to have a “guard” dog but any dog can be a “watch” dog, they just need to let you know that something requires your attention.  A dog is a cheap, reliable security system.

Our home armory consists of twelve gauge pump shotguns, identical service rifles and forty caliber semiautomatic pistols.  Others have their own opinions, but I have chosen these weapons for performance, reliability, simplicity, parts and ammunition availability.  I have sold fancier and more expensive guns to purchase these choices.

Any cop will tell you that a 12 gauge pump shotgun is an awesome attention getter and a truly devastating weapon at 50 yards or less. Buy a couple and get a variety of shot shells for everything from hunting to home defense.  Two and four-legged squirrels have fallen to this time-tested weapon!

As for service or patrol rifles, I’ve opted for .223 as I can rarely see farther than 200 yards in our hilly and wooded environment. There is no real need for a long range rifle in my region.   In addition, I can throw plenty of .223 downrange if needed. This choice would change if I lived on the Great Plains or in the middle of a flat cornfield.

I will not argue about a .45 Model 1911 being a good combat pistol.  I just like a .40 to have a few more high velocity rounds available that also do a tremendous job of creating a huge wound channel. I’ve attended many, many autopsies and base my choice upon that experience.  I also remember my department’s transition to a Glock sidearm and seeing all the shooters on the range line shooting consistently better groups with the well-fitted Glock. Whatever firearms you decide upon, you MUST be familiar with the weapon, how it functions, how to clean it and how to shoot it.  Post-TEOTWAWKI, you will also have to know how to fix it.

Political winds blow in different directions.  Buy ammunition. Buy extra magazines for the guns you now have. Do it now. Read this paragraph again!

Of our preps, water, food and fuel take the most space, time and effort.  We have endeavored to stock for a year but are you ever really done?  I used the LDS web site as a baseline for our food preps.  We are to the point now that we only purchase more supplies if it’s a bargain that we can’t pass up.

We have bug-out-bags stocked and ready but given our situation, we will probably “bug in.”  We can go mobile if we need to however and I have stocked our vehicles with “get home” bags as well. No one knows where they might be at a crucial time.  If you live in an area that does not allow concealed carry or vehicle carry of a loaded firearm, consider pepper spray or other alternatives.  Be innovative, how about a can of foaming wasp spray? It’s legal to have in a car, it sprays several feet and administered at an attacker’s face, would give him pause to reconsider his plan and time for you to escape.

Mental preparedness is the most important. You must know that there are people among us that are just simply evil.  Most folks are securely insulated from crime and it’s ugliness.  My guess is that the tougher things get, the more evil will become apparent to us. I cannot overemphasize the cruelty that some among us possess.  We must be prepared to deal with viciousness and violence in a most extreme manner. Ever wonder what will happen when prisons cease to pay their correctional officers? Governmental units may stop paying law enforcement entirely, placing us on our own in confronting crime and criminals.

While stockpiling food, water, ammunition and precious metals are important, perhaps it is time to communicate with your family about security and their response to attempted attacks.  Spend some quality time learning about the firearms that you have and practice using them at a range environment with an emphasis on safe handling.  Please, no accidents now or especially after TSHTF.

Like fire safety drills, conduct intruder drills if the front door is breached, or the rear door, or the dining room window. What should you do if you arrive home to obvious signs of a burglary? At least run some scenarios in your head and use the phrase; “What if?”

Lastly, lets briefly discuss communication.  In my experience, communications are usually the weak link of any operation.  If anything can go wrong, it will be with some aspect of communication.  This can be low tech such as not repeating exactly what is to be relayed to someone else or high tech like a hand-held radio not working and thereby isolating its operator from receiving or transmitting any further information.

Our special response team had a series of hand signals to fall back on if our radio communications went south.  Our patrol officers had verbal cues to alert other officers to a dangerous situation without being overt.  My point is to develop a communications plan that certainly includes some sort of radio communication for distance and backed up with additional visual signals to relay vital information to others in your family or group.

Jessica B wrote a good article entitled "Self Defense and Stress" and to add to what she wrote about the lack of articles on "...that moment that you find yourself in a stressful, self-defense situation and how to overcome it," Col. Cooper's "Four Conditions" immediately came to mind. That great man not only gave use the "Four Rules" for firearms, but the "Four Conditions" for mental preparedness for self-defense, both of which are as perfect as simplifying the complex can be. I assume they have been discussed before, but are worth repeating. From Father Frog's web site, a good place for all thing Jeff Cooper, The Color Code:

White - Relaxed, unaware, and unprepared.  If attacked in this state the only thing that may save you is the inadequacy and ineptitude of your attacker.  When confronted by something nasty your reaction will probably be, "Oh my God!  This can't be happening to me."

Yellow - Relaxed alertness.  No specific threat situation.  Your mindset is that "today could be the day I may have to defend myself."  There is no specific threat but you are aware that the world is an unfriendly place and that you are prepared to do something if necessary.  You use your eyes and ears, and your carriage says "I am alert."   You don't have to be armed in this state but if you are armed you must be in yellow.  When confronted by something nasty your reaction will probably be, "I thought this might happen some day."  You can live in this state indefinitely.

Orange - Specific alert.  Something not quite right has gotten your attention and you shift your primary focus to that thing.  Something is "wrong" with a person or object.  Something may happen.  Your mindset is that "I may have to shoot that person."  Your pistol is usually holstered in this state.  You can maintain this state for several hours with ease, or a day or so with effort.

Red - Fight trigger.  This is your mental trigger.  "If that person does "x" I will shoot them."  Your pistol may, but not necessarily, be in your hand.

Col. Cooper described himself as always in Condition Yellow - plus- as long as he was awake. I need to zone out, i.e. Condition White every day if possible so I can "smell the roses," so fences, hardened barriers, dogs, lights, alarms, a loaded gun within reach,etc, all help in this regard.
God Bless and thanks for all your hard work in this worthy cause. - John M.

The author has laid out many very important ideas regarding keeping one's vehicle(s) in working order and having the tools and know how to do repairs "on the fly".
I'd like to add one very important consideration - the MANUFACTURER and vintage of your vehicle. It hit me like "a ton of bricks" when the author mentioned his vehicle was a 1995 Chevy 1500.   I had one!  Without a doubt it was the worst vehicle I've ever owned. Brakes were worthless off of the showroom floor. By the 62,000 mi mark when I finally traded it the metallic blue paint had peeled off of cab, hood and fenders, five speed manual tranny was bad, exhaust system was rusted through, alternator had seized , caught fire and melted down (good I had a fire extinguisher / not good, I was over 50 miles from the nearest town) and it had gone through at least ten serpentine belts.  My daughter called me last week mentioning that they'd gotten a "new" used pickup and coming home the alternator caught on fire and melted. I jokingly asked of it was a Chevy half ton -- and she said: "Why, yes!"

I traded this vehicle for a  1996 Toyota Tacoma with 82.000 miles logged, back in 2000. I have a heavy camper on the bed and mileage is now over 160,000. To date I've had to replace a clutch, slave cylinder, starter, and a muffler. I also replaced the timing belt at 107,000 mi as routine maintenance.

Some vehicles are simply better made than others and can be expected to last longer and require far less emergency maintenance. - Rob in Colorado

Take a look at these cell phone coverage maps -- note the big gaps in the American Redoubt. Bad news? Well, for some of us who want to "get lost" it isn't! (Here at Rawles Ranch, it is a looong drive to the nearest cell phone signal.) If nothing else, these maps certainly tell you something about the low population density in the Redoubt and some other hinterboonies regions. Think of these regions as the last frontiers in the Lower 48.

   o o o

Panel says hunting could help manage grizzly bears. Hunting grizzlies could become legal in three Redoubt states.

   o o o

I heard that Mitchell Supply in Great Falls, Montana has expanded their inventory.

   o o o

White's Boots (with their factory in Spokane, Washington), has expanded their product offerings to include Smartwool undergarments and a lot more. (Even coffee!) Now, don't go too yuppie on us...

A link courtesy of The Woodpile Report: Mysterious radiation event of 774 might be (a little) less mysterious. A solar flare 20 times more powerful than the oft-cited Carrington event! (How do you like your microcircuits? Regular or extra crispy?)

   o o o

Bob Owens: The terror of the anti-liberty movement. (Thanks to G.S. for the link.)

   o o o

H.L. was the first of several readers to mention this news story: Florida nears 1 million permits for concealed weapons. [JWR's Comment: In the 1980s and 1990s many hand-wringing editorialists loudly predicted that crime rates would skyrocket and that there would be blood in the streets and an atmosphere "like the Wild West" in those states that adopted non-discretionary CCW laws. (And, BTW, they still are still parroting the same nonsense, in Illinois.) But instead, at the same time that CCW became predominant in the United States, crime rates fell steadily, "baffling the experts." I'm not baffled, in the least! Some of the drop in crime is attributable to America's aging demographics, but the rest can be chalked up to criminals living in fear of an increasingly armed citizenry. If you aren't packin', you're slackin'.] And speaking of keeping guns handy, F.G. sent this: Mass Killings Stopped by Armed Citizens.

   o o o

Wayne S. mentioned a good article by Massad Ayoob, arguably the most respected trainer of law enforcement officials and other citizens in the US in the use of firearms. His thoughts on how to prevent mass murders.

   o o o

A clever new product: the Snare-Vival-Trap. From the photo, some folks can visualize another potential use that, ahem, relates to self-defense. I'd recommend buying a few.

"He who would do some great things in this short life must apply himself to work with such a concentration of force as, to idle spectators who live only to amuse themselves, looks like insanity." -  Francis Parkman, author of The Oregon Trail

Monday, December 17, 2012

Today is the birthday of Simo Häyhä (born 1905, died April 1, 2002), was the world's most successful sniper. Using an iron-sighted Mosin–Nagant in Finland's Winter War, he had an astounding 505 confirmed sniper kills.


In addition to two articles of my own, today I'm posting a piece by our Medical Editor and a product review by Pat Cascio. Please note that they are both volunteer editors. Their efforts are greatly appreciated!

I've come to the conclusion that our worst imaginings of Canadian timber wolves (purposefully introduced to the Lower 48 by do-gooder bureaucrats in 1995) might have been insufficient. To those of us who live in the rural west, these land sharks are well known for their fanged depredations on sheep, cattle, deer, elk, and moose. But their greater menace--at least to humans--might actually be in the form of a tiny tapeworm that they carry: Echinococcus granulosus. This tapeworm was endemic with these wolves, long before they were introduced. Tapeworm cysts have been identified in both Idaho and Montana in recent years, and wolves have been confirmed as definitive hosts and the primary vectors.

Take a few minutes to read this: Two-Thirds of Idaho Wolf Carcasses Examined Have Thousands of Hydatid Disease Tapeworms. Also read this summary and a few of its many linked references.

It bears particular mention that this variety of tapeworm is incurable, except by invasive surgery. (Antiparasitical drugs are ineffective.) And even worse, there is no simple test for infection. Only chest-abdomen scans or whole body scans show "hot spots" where the worms have triggered the formation of cysts. Echinococcosis is not pretty. The Echinococcus granulosus tapeworm cysts are mainly found in the lungs and liver. The tapeworms themselves are just a half inch long, but their cysts are large, ugly, and eventually life threatening, especially in mammals with the longest life spans. (Read: humans.) In some cases they can grow in the heart, the thyroid gland, and although rare, even inside bones and in the brain. I would not like them to start breeding inside my skull. Not good.

The life-cycle Echinococcus eggs and worms is insidious and incremental. The eggs can be viably dormant in the soil for up to 41 months. They can potentially become endemic in a wide variety of mammal populations. Here is just one example: In areas where wolf packs travel, the scat they leave in random locations can be handled by mice and rats that are attracted to the hair that makes up as much as 40% of the scat pellets, by volume. (Rodents actively gather hair, for nesting material.) So they bring the tapeworm eggs home, and are infected. Then the infected rodents get eaten by the local foxes, coyotes, wolves, bobcats, lynx, and mountain lions. And, oh yes, your house cat. Then your sweet little kitty leaves moist deposits in your garden raised beds, or in your child's play sand box. Charming. This is sort of like watching the movie Prometheus, albeit with the critter life cycles in extreme slow motion, and on smaller scale.

I am particularly troubled by the fact that wildlife biologists knew that Canadian timber wolves carried the hydatid tapeworms. (It has been well documented since the 1930s, and was studied in detail in the 1950s.) But because of their enthusiasm, the biologist-activists were silent about it and went ahead and supported the wolf introduction plan. There are some sick puppies out there, and not all of them are canids.

The bottom line: Encourage your state legislators to allow wolf hunting and trapping, to reduce the number of wolf packs. And if you live in wolf country, then DO NOT handle the scat of any predators without wearing gloves and a good quality dust respirator. That includes handling feces from your house cat.

One final parenthetical note: Be on guard for anyone who uses the term "reintroduction" for the introduction Canadian timber wolves in the Lower 48. These wolves were not reintroduced. They are in fact an invasive subspecies. The Canadian timber wolf is a larger subspecies of wolf: Canis lupus occidentalis. The Canadian Timber Wolf (aka Mackenzie River Wolf) can weigh up to 170 pounds and travel up to 70 miles per day. Most of the wolves that originally inhabited the Lower 48 that were extirpated a century ago were the 80 to 110-pound Great Plains Wolf subspecies. (Canis lupus nubilus.) This disparity in part explains the rapid decline of the deer, elk, and moose herds in Idaho and Montana since 2000.

I've been warning SurvivalBlog readers about the debasement of the nickel for several years. It now costs the U.S. Mint 11.2 cents to produce each nickel, so debasement seems inevitable.

After a two-year study, testing 80 different alloys, the United States Mint's findings on alternative metals were announced on December 14, 2012. In essence they've said: "We need more time." Here is the key line from the report summary: "The Mint has made significant progress and, at this time, has concluded that additional R&D is necessary before it can recommend any changes to the current coin composition." Here is a link to the full report.

Based on the biennial R&D report, the U.S. Congress will probably either delay making changes to the penny and nickel, or they may just suspend further production. (Following Canada's lead, with pennies.)

Hopefully the Mint's dawdling will give us another year or two to stack up our boxes of nickels. (Once a composition change takes place, we will have to laboriously sort nickels.) If you read the contractor's report, you'll see that one of the goals of the planned debasement is that is be "seamless", meaning: "Differences and abilities to recognize or process incumbent coins and coins produced from alternative material candidates cannot be distinguished through normal coin processing." That is bureaucratic doublespeak for "Let's make our new worthless tokens look like real coins, even to vending machines."

I found the following buried in the contractor's report:

"Stainless steels, despite the having an electrical conductivity that is about half that of cupronickel, were recommended for testing for the 5-cent coin. The ideal stainless steel for coinage would be non-ferromagnetic (so it would not be mistaken for a steel slug), have low flow stress (i.e., result in low striking loads), have excellent corrosion resistance and be comprised to the greatest extent practical of elements that are not as expensive as nickel. Nickel and molybdenum contents should be low to reduce costs. Austenitic stainless steels (3xx series) are preferred because they are non-ferromagnetic and thereby are more likely to be accepted by a majority of fielded coin-processing equipment."

So I stand by my assertion that unless this denomination is dropped altogether, the cupronickel five cent piece will be replaced by a stainless steel token. It now appears that the 301, 302, 302HQ, or 304 stainless steel alloys are the most likely choices. Perhaps they'll lean toward choosing 302HQ or 304, since they both include some nickel for Austenitizing. Hence, the bureaucrats could save face (partially) by being able to claim that the new stainless steel slugs are still "nickels." But they'll still be just about worthless, compared to a real cupronickel nickel which contains more than five cents of base metal value. (See the details at the Coinflation web site.) The report cited a fully burden production cost (including base metal, tooling, labor and transportation) of 6.77 cents to produce each nickel out of stainless steel, but that is certainly an improvement over the current cost of 11.2 cents. To the citizenry at large, the real consequence of the debasement is this: The melt value of a stainless steel nickel will be less than half a cent. We will be robbed again folks, just like our parents were, in 1964. Let's not lose sight of the real underlying crime: general currency inflation. There would be no need to debase coins except for continuing, insidious inflation.

The goal of all government mints is to maintain seigniorage --which is making a profit on the coins that they produce. (Where their cost to produce each coin is less than its face value.) The U.S. Mint's current champion of positive seigniorage is the much-maligned Sacagawea/Presidential "golden" dollar coin, which is a Manganese-Brass token with a base metal value of just 6.22 cents--just one cent more then the base metal value of a nickel. No wonder people instinctively hate them. (By the way, I consider putting a "gold" finish on those coins the most heinous bit of legerdemain in the history of the U.S. Mint.)

Governments don't put up with negative seigniorage for very long. Debasement of nickels and pennies is coming, but thankfully the wheels of bureaucracy turn slowly. Let's just be thankful that we'll have a some more time to keep stacking up our nickels.

Soon enough we’ll know whether December 21, 2012 portends a cataclysmic event. One approach regarding how to prepare is to consider what might kill you in a day, in a week, in a month, or a year.  Your preparations will vary depending on your health now and how long you expect to live without the prospect of professional medical care.

The most common life-threatening conditions that can kill in a day include acute allergic reactions (anaphylaxis), heart arrhythmias, pulmonary embolism (blood clot to the lung), various severe traumas (gunshot wounds, excess blood loss, cervical fracture (broken neck), and of course, suicide.  Without sufficient fluid replacement, cholera victims will die within days.  Without insulin, Type 1 diabetics will soon be comatose.  Dehydration can kill in a week, as can many infections including untreated cellulitis, pneumonia, intestinal infections, sepsis, and several others.  By a month children may succumb to starvation, though adults generally take somewhat longer.  Shelter, water, and food are every bit as important as other medical needs.  At a year, all of the above scenarios remain a threat, but in addition, chronic diseases and nutritional deficiencies will begin to take their toll. 

With these considerations in mind, I suggest procuring the following:

  1. Asthmanephrin.  Released only a month ago, Asthmanephrin is the only currently available over-the-counter inhaler for asthma (and an alternative for anaphylactic allergic reactions).  It is similar enough to Primatene Mist to consider it a replacement, and an option when an Epi-Pen is unavailable.  At approximately $55 for the starter kit (10 doses, including EZ Breathe Atomizer inhalation device) and about $30 for the refill kit (30 doses) it should be in every prepper’s medical kit.  Before you say that you’re not asthmatic, consider that it could also be used for anaphylaxis in a bee-sting or other allergic patient, help a COPD patient in a pinch (with careful attention to side-effects discussed below), or in any patient with significant bronchospasm.  Doctors generally advise against using inhaled epinephrine, not because it is ineffective, but due to the greater likelihood of increased blood pressure and heart rate (as compared with current prescription beta-adrenergic agonists such as albuterol).  Not all pharmacies carry this yet, so call first for availability.  Locally, our CVS has it in stock.
  2. Antibiotics.  The antibiotics that are both readily available and most likely to save a life include amoxicillin-clavulanate (Augmentin), cephalexin, ciprofloxacin, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, doxycycline, erythromycin, and metronidazole.  If you haven’t yet obtained them from your physician, or don’t believe doing so is possible, then consider the “fish antibiotic” route (which I have addressed in other articles on this site).  Should you or a loved one become ill, consider carefully before using your stock of antibiotics, which should be reserved for life-threatening infections. (Also see #14, below.)
  3. Wound cleansing and closure supplies.  A laceration isn’t likely to kill you, but a subsequent infection may well do so.  Clean water and any antibacterial soap are sufficient to clean a wound, though I am partial to Hibiclens (available OTC).  You may want to include a baby hair brush for gentle wound debridement and cleaning.  You will also need a needle holder and suture material (4-0 and/or 3-0 silk or nylon, such as Unify, available OTC).  Anesthetic is optional, but a good idea at least for children.  OTC tattoo cream contains lidocaine or similar medication and is pricey but somewhat effective.  Surgical staplers can be obtained online without a prescription.  A few staples can be placed more quickly than anesthetic can be administered and with no more discomfort than the anesthetic itself causes.  If you doubt this, purchase a surgical stapler a nd try it out on yourself, even without a laceration.
  4. Clean (non-sterile) medical gloves.  Useful to protect both patient and caregiver.  Sterile gloves should be used when the possibility of introducing a life-threatening infection into a wound from the outside environment is high, such as with an intra-abdominal wound.  However, clean (non-sterile) medical gloves can be rinsed in alcohol and worn when suturing superficial wounds, and are quite inexpensive, at under $10 per box of 100.
  5. Immunizations.  If you can’t get in to see your doctor, then visit your local health department or your local pharmacy for a flu shot, possibly a pneumonia vaccine, and to update your tetanus immunity with a Tdap injection.  These are the minimum.  You might also want to consider a Hepatitis A vaccine and an MMR (measles-mumps-rubella).  Even more important than updating your own immunizations is making sure all your children are up to date on theirs.  And don’t forget your pets.  At a minimum update their rabies and distemper vaccines.
  6. Pain medication.  Over-the-counter pain relievers are so inexpensive that you should buy them by the thousands.   If you doubt you’ll need them yourself, consider their value as barter items.  Tylenol is the primary pure pain reliever and the only one without the possibility of anti-inflammatory-related stomach distress.  On the other hand, the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), which are somewhat likely to bother the stomach if used more than a few days, are often better at pain relief, especially when inflammation is present (gout, most other forms of arthritis, pleurisy, tendonitis, bursitis, etc.)  For many patients, the combination of Tylenol plus an NSAID can provide pain relief equal to that of a narcotic.  However, NSAIDs are not effective for stomach pain or intestinal pain (and sometimes worsen such problems).
  7. Stomach acid reducers: Proton pump inhibitors (OTC generics for Prilosec and Prevacid) and H2-blockers (generics for Zantac, Pepcid, Axid, and Tagamet).  For ulcer sufferers, these medications are worth their weight in gold.  If you don’t think they can be life-saving, you haven’t seen a person bleed out from a perforating ulcer, which is almost a disease of the past, thanks to these highly effective medications.  They are useful for any esophageal, gastric, or duodenal problem related to acid-irritation.  The H2-blockers are ridiculously cheap, and have the added benefit of an antihistamine effect, useful for treating hives.  The proton pump inhibitors are more effective in reducing stomach acid production, but also more expensive.  Again, if you don’t think you might need them yourself, they could be highly valuable for barter.  People have plenty of stomach problems now, in good times, and will have more when stress increases and food decreases.  Also, using an acid-reducing medication often makes it possible for patients to tolerate NSAID pain relievers (especially when narcotics are unavailable).
  8. Splinting and casting supplies.  Plaster is cheap and available online without a prescription.  Even if you don’t know how to work with plaster, someone else may.  It is easily adaptable to almost any fracture or sprain of both upper and lower extremities.  In addition to 3” or 4” rolls of plaster, stockinet and gauze rolls are helpful in producing professional results.  If you don’t know what you are doing, then do not apply a circumferential cast, which can act as a tourniquet and cut off blood supply, which could lead to amputation.  Plaster splints are generally safe for the layperson to apply, as they allow room for some swelling.
  9. Antihistamines.  Good for treating a variety of minor problems, antihistamines should also be used for life-threatening anaphylaxis, generally in combination with epinephrine (see #1 above).  People are most aware of their value for treating colds and allergies, but all the OTC antihistamines can be used for treating hives and itching of other causes.  The sedating antihistamines (diphenhydramine, doxylamine, and chlorpheniramine) are useful as sleep aids and are somewhat helpful for reducing anxiety.  The non-sedating antihistamines (Claritin, Allegra, Zyrtec) are best if alertness is essential.

  10. Meclizine.  This OTC medication is the same drug as prescription Antivert, and is the best OTC medicine for nausea and vomiting, as well as vertigo-type dizziness.

  11. Imodium.  Best OTC drug for diarrhea.  Also sometimes useful for stomach cramps.

  12. Long-term refills on your own prescriptions.  Most all doctors will give you at least a 3-month supply of medications for diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, COPD, heart disease, and other chronic conditions.  Insurance will generally pay for a 3-month supply, but you could request an additional 3-month supply if you pay cash. 

  13. Protective clothing.  Depending on your climate, activity, and expectations, protective clothing can help prevent respiratory ailments, poison ivy, sunburn, frostbite, malaria, gunshot wounds, sprained ankles, blisters, calluses, lacerations, and amputations.  In addition to weather-appropriate clothing, you may want to consider steel-toed boots if you’ll be chopping wood, a Kevlar vest if you’ll be dodging bullets, high-topped boots to support ankles on rough terrain, well-fitting shoes for long marches, and anything else you can come up with to prevent a health problem.  My own bald father suffered second-degree sunburns from not wearing a hat on a sunny day, and with his diabetes, these took weeks to heal.

  14. Educational information.  Doctors and nurses consult books on a daily basis, and so should you.  While of course I’m partial to my own book, Armageddon Medicine, written with TEOTWAWKI in mind, there are other several others I recommend, listed at my web site.  If you haven’t started prepping yet, you likely don’t know how to recognize a life-threatening infection, or how to suture a wound, or apply a professional cast, but you can learn if you have print resources to help, should the need arise.  Evenå if you’re not a medical type and the sight of blood makes you faint, a nurse, or EMT, or even a mother may appreciate the resources you have on hand.

  15. A Bible.  Why are you prepping, anyway?  Some people believe preppers do so out of fear, but in my experience, this is not the case.  I have been so impressed with people who have attended my Survival Medicine classes.  While everyone wants to protect their family and loved ones, the majority of attendees have been caring people looking to help others as best they are able, striving to honor the “Great Commandments” (Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind; and your neighbor as yourself.) I suggest thinking beyond your family’s needs to others you may be able to help (and who might benefit you in return).  In the medical arena, this might include procuring more supplies than you’re likely to use for your own needs.  If you have an extra thousand bucks to spend, why not consider what a clinic might require in the way of supplies?  Even if you’re not a health care provider, professionals will appreciate your foresight – I know I would.  In the event of a disaster, no man is an island. 

In a single shopping trip and one hour online, you can accomplish most of what I’ve outlined above.  If you do so, you’ll be ahead of 99% of the population.  And if every one of the hundreds of thousands of readers of SurvivalBlog is prepared, imagine how much good we could do for the world.

Editor's Note: More of Dr. Koelker's advice can be found at her web site:

I've been a huge fan of the M14 rifle system, ever since I was in Basic Combat Training in the US Army, way back in 1969. The .308 Winchester cartridge is the most popular long-range sniping round in use today. The military version is the 7.62 NATO - and they are not exactly the same round - the .308 Winchester round is actually a little bit hotter than the 7.62 NATO round is - not a big difference, but still a difference. When I went into Basic Combat Training, I was a mere 135 pounds - when I finished Basic, and my AIT Infantry School, I was a lean, mean fighting machine coming in at 165 pounds. The one thing I didn't like about the M14 was how long it was - and for a scrawny little guy, the M14 was a bit hard to wield. Back then, I found the M14 a bit too long, but I still loved the gun, and went on to compete with it (a match-grade version) while on the Illinois Rifle & Pistol Team, when I worked for the Illinois National Guard in a full-time capacity. Every match I entered, in my class, I easily won - it was a combination of the match-grade rifle, the match ammo and my meager skills. My love affair with the M14 only grew over the years, and I longed for a civilian-version of the M14 in semi-auto so I could own one myself.
The Springfield Armory M1A was first introduced in 1974. The M1A is a semi-auto only version of the M14, and if you've ever fired the M14 on full-auto, you can appreciate how much that gun kicked and how pretty much useless in full-auto mode. I don't recall when I laid claim to my first Springfield Armory M1A, but it was many years ago - and I'm totally ashamed to say, I don't presently own an M1A of my own. However, I have vowed to correct that, and my goal is to get the SOCOM version of the M1A - it's shorter, lighter and faster handling than the full-sized M1A is. Matter of fact, my local gun shop just picked-up a used, but as-new, SOCOM at a gun show, and I'm tempted, real tempted to get it - but I'd have to do some serious gun-trading, and I'm not sure I'm up to the task - at present. UPDATE: I did a gun deal and now have my own SOCOM 16!
Now, while the SOCOM is a faster handling and shorter version of the full-sized M1A, it can still benefit from a little improvement, especially in the fast handling department. The kind folks at US Tactical Supply contacted me and wanted me to check out a SOCOM 16 that they put in their new M14 Juggernaut Rogue Chassis System, by Juggernaut Tactical. I was intrigued to say the least. I picked-up the SOCOM, that was now transformed into a very short bullpup stock design, fast-handling little carbine. Now, I'll admit up front that I have never been a big fan of the bullpup design - it is just foreign to me.  For some reason, the bullpup design doesn't look right to my way of thinking, and I've tried several bullpup carbines over the years, and they just didn't appeal to me - I'm old school!
Okay, so what do we have here with the Springfield Armory SOCOM set in a bullpup stock set-up? The first thing that catches your attention is that, you don't think you are actually looking at a full rifle/carbine - I thought I was just looking at a stock design, with a phony barrel installed on it. Surely, this couldn't be a .308 Winchester chambered rifle I was looking at, could it? The Juggernaut stock shortens the operating length of the SOCOM by close to 12-inches, yeah, you read that right - almost 12-inches are reduced from the SOCOM in a GI issued stock, without modifying or shortening the barrel. "Can't be" I said to myself, it just can't be!
I'm not going to cover all the specs of the Juggernaut bullpup design, you can read them for yourself on the above link. But I do want to touch on some of the the highlights of this design. The Juggernaut is manufactured out of hardened T6-6061 billet aluminum, and 4140 chrome moly and Mil-Spec Type III hard coat anodized - we're talking tough stuff here. There are also Mil-Standard M1913 rails located at 3, 6, 9 and 12 o'clock on the front of the bullpup, and that measures out to 39-inches of rail space, for all the neat things you plan to add to this platform. The Juggernaut will fit all USGI M14s and commercial variants including the SOCOM-16, as already mentioned above. The platform also installs easily, but it does take some time, without a gunsmith - but be advised, it will be time-consuming, but well worth it when you see the finished product. The Juggernaut is also available in black on black, tactical tan and black - the sample I tested was black on black. The pistol grip is the Hogue AR-15 style which I really like. And, the barrel is free-floated in this bullpup design, which will only add to the accuracy of the finished product. There is also an adjustable neoprene bedding system that eliminates tolerance issues with different manufacturer's receivers, while still maintaining the accuracy potential that is there.
The SOCOM Juggernaut sample I tested had an ACOG mounted on it - and this is an outstanding scope system that is also sold by US Tactical Supply  and is in-use by many military personnel all over the world, is a very tough optic system. And, there are several different versions of the ACOG, so make sure you know which model you want, if you're in the market for this type of optic. (Some are made with ballistic cams to match the trajectory of 7.62mm NATO.) I found the ACOG very fast on-target, in all lighting conditions, too. The SOCOM Juggernaut also had the Grip Pod attached to the 6 o'clock rail, and I have previously reported on the Grip Pod - a very worthwhile addition to many tactical weapons, and in the case of the Juggernaut set-up, it was most welcomed.
The one thing I was a bit concerned with was, how well was the trigger going to work on this design with the longer linkage? Well, it felt a little bit different to me, but it only took a couple shots to get used to the trigger pull - which hadn't really changed much but it "felt" a little bit different for some reason. There is also a left-side charging handle on the Juggernaut design, and I found it much easier and faster to use than the standard M14/M1A right side charging handle - it was very instinctive to use. It did take me a little practice getting used to inserting and removing the magazines with the bullpup design, but nothing that can't be learned with practice. I'm just used to reaching forward of the trigger guard to remove and insert the magazines, with the bullpup design, the magazines are behind the trigger instead of in front of it. Also, the gun's safety is now behind the trigger, and it is a push button design - I liked it!
So, what are the advantages of this Juggernaut bullpup design on a Springfield Armory SOCOM? Well, for starters, it makes the gun as short as possible, without having to get a special permit for a short-barreled rifle, and I refuse to jump through the red tape involved in licensing a rifle as a short-barreled rifle if the barrel is under 16-inches. The total overall length of the Juggernaut bullpup is slightly over 26-inches, which is as short as you can legally go according to FedGov gun regulations. However, even though you will be meeting FedGov gun regulations for overall length, there are some backwards thinking states and locales that won't allow you to have a gun 26-inches in length - they require it to be longer - so check your state and local laws before converting a SOCOM to this super-short Juggernaut design - you don't want to be in violation of gun laws. Another advantage is how fast the Juggernaut handles - and adding the Juggernaut bullpup stock to a SOCOM adds 2-pounds to the weight of the gun. It feels heavier - but it handles much faster - it could possibly be the ultimate CQB .308 Winchester carbine on the market. The added weight really tamed the recoil of the .308 Winchester round, too.
I have to admit, I played around with the Juggernaut SOCOM for quite a while, before heading out to the range to actually fire it. I had a good supply of Black Hills Ammunition .308 Winchester ammo to include their 168-grain Hornady A-MAX HP load, and their 168-grain Match Hollow Point load. From Buffalo Bore Ammunition I had their 175-grain Sierra Match King JHP load, that they call their Sniper Load. I had my target set-up at 100-yards, and I was firing over the hood of my SUV, using the Grip Pod, which made for a very stable shooting platform. The first shot caught my attention - really caught my attention! The SOCOM comes with a muzzle brake instead of flash suppressor and I knew that it would cause more muzzle blast. However, what I didn't take into consideration was how the muzzle blast would reflect off the hood of my SUV- it was loud, and I could really feel it on my face. Before firing a second shot, I placed a sleeping bag on the hood, and when the second round was fired, the sleeping bag really absorbed the blast. See, one is never too old to learn - but my wife might disagree with that statement. I didn't fire the SOCOM Juggernaut from the prone position - the ground was wet, and quite frankly, I'm getting too old to go prone, unless I absolutely have to do so. I don't believe the muzzle blast would be as bad while prone on the ground - but shooting over the hood of a car, with that metal under the muzzle brake caught my attention, but it was easily solved with a sleeping bag under the gun.
The first magazine full of ammo was a mix of the Black Hills and Buffalo Bore ammo - I wanted to fire the gun to see how it would function with a mixed mag of ammo - there weren't any problems. I just plinked at some rocks before getting serious and loading-up for some accuracy testing. I had some concerns that the empty brass might catch on the Juggernaut stock set-up - there wasn't anything to be concerned about, and empties were flung far from the gun, without causing any problems at all. I had a beautiful Fall day for shooting - the temps were in the upper 50s and overcast, and I do my best shooting on overcast days for some reason. Keep in mind I've been shooting high-powered rifles for about 44 years, and I shoot several times per week - so I get a lot more practice than most folks do, and I'm a more than average shot with a rifle.
The added weight of the Juggernaut stock really kept the muzzle down when firing the SOCOM, and as I pointed out earlier, the bullpup stock really makes the gun faster handling, too. The nubbed recoil pad on the butt of the Juggernaut really kept the SOCOM in my shoulder, for follow-up shots, too. With the Black Hills 168-grain A MAX hunting load, which is from their Black Gold line-up, I was getting groups just a hair below 2-inches, and that is great accuracy from a 16-inch semi-auto M1A in my book. I fired a number of groups with this ammo, and they were consistently a hair or two under 2-inches. Next up was the Black Hills 168-grain Match Hollow Point round, which has always been a great round in any .308 chambered rifles I've fired it through. If I did my part, I was getting groups right at a bit over 1-inch - that is outstanding accuracy. Next was the Buffalo Bore 175-grain JHP Sierra Match King Sniper Load, and I've found this to be an outstanding round - it shot great in a FAL I tested some time ago, and I won an informal shooting match with this round - without trying very hard. I was getting groups of 1.25-inches and they were ever so slightly higher on the target than the Black Hills 168-grain loads were - which I expected. I suspect this Buffalo Bore 175-grain Sniper Load would be a little bit better longer range round when we are getting out there 500-yards plus because of the slightly heavier bullets. As an added point of interest, I have used the Black Hills 168-grain Match HP load and the Buffalo Bore 175-grain Sniper load to win a few friendly shooting matches recently - both are outstanding in the accuracy department.
What was amazing was how consistent the SOCOM was shooting with all three loads. I worked hard, real hard to try and get a group or two under 1-inch at 100-yard, but it just wasn't my day. Perhaps on another day, when I'm fresher, I could break that 1-inch group at 100-yard. I worked extra hard to wring-out all the accuracy potential of the SOCOM Juggernaut, but no matter what I did, I couldn't break 1-inch - I was more than a little disappointed with myself. And, after a couple hours of shooting, I knew I had to call it quits as my groups started to open-up, and open-up quite a bit. I was getting tired and was losing a good focus on the target with the ACOG. I still believe this gun is capable of breaking 1-inch groups at 100-yards on another day. The Buffalo Bore 175-grain Sniper Load was right on the heels of the Black Hills 168-grain Match Hollow Point load, and I believe with more trigger time, these two rounds would be in a dead tie for best accuracy. The Buffalo Bore Sniper load, while not designed for big game hunting, could also be used on deer in my humble opinion. The Black Hills 168-grain Hornady A-MAX hunting load, from the Black Gold line-up shot great out of the SOCOM Juggernaut, but I've had much better accuracy out of this load in bolt-action hunting rifles - much better accuracy!
So, does the SOCOM Juggernaut have a place in this world? You bet it does! If you want what might just be the ultimate in a very short .308 M1A package, you can't get it any shorter than the Juggernaut set-up. While not designed as a "sniper rifle" per se, the SOCOM Juggernaut can fill that role with the right ammo combination - and I believe it is good to go as a sniper's rifle out to 400-500 yards  with the right finger on the trigger. It can also fill the role of a CQB gun, when going against hard targets. The gun is very fast-handling, and you have the power of the .308 Winchester round in a very small package, that is controllable and very shootable, too. If I were to set-up a SOCOM in a Juggernaut stock, I'd take the muzzle brake off and put a flash suppressor on the end of the barrel - I don't especially like muzzle brakes - but that's my choice. I'd also add some pop-up front and rear sights on this set-up, as you have to remove the SOCOM's front and rear sight when putting it into the Juggernaut stock. Other than that, there's not much I'd add to the Juggernaut - I believe less is better - but there will be some folks who will most of the 39-inches of rail space and that's fine with me, if that's what they want to do.
Now, the Juggernaut conversion isn't for everyone. The price is $999. However, you are getting the highest-quality bullpup stock set-up you can possibly get for a .308 chambered gun, and there isn't anything else on the market that comes close, for an M1A rifle.

Okay, the Fed's recent decision to boost its monetary stimulus (a.k.a. "money printing," "quantitative easing," or simply "QE") by another $45 billion a month to a combined $85 billion per month demonstrates an almost complete departure from what a normal person might consider sensible.

To borrow a phrase from Joel Salatin: Folks, this ain't normal.  To this I will add ...and it will end badly.

If you had stopped me on the street a few years ago and asked me what I thought would have happened in the stock, bond, foreign currency, and commodity markets on the day the Fed announced an $85 billion per month thin-air money printing program directed at government bonds, I never would have predicted what has actually come to pass.

I would have predicted soaring stock prices on the expectation that all this money would have to end up in the stock market eventually.  I would have predicted the dollar to fall because who in their right mind would want to hold the currency of a country that is borrowing 46 cents (!) out of every dollar that it is spending while its central bank monetizes 100% of that craziness?  

Further, I would have expected additional strength in the government bond market, because $85 billion pretty much covers all of the expected new issuance going forward, plus many entities still need to buy U.S. bonds for a variety of fiduciary reasons.  With little product for sale and lots of bids by various players, one of which – the Fed – has a magic printing press and is not just price insensitive but actually seeking to drive prices higher (and yields lower), that's a recipe for rising prices.

Then I would have called for sharply rising commodity markets because nothing correlates quite so well with thin-air money printing as commodities.

That's what should have happened.  But it's not what we're seeing.

Instead, stocks initially climbed but then closed red.  Gold was mysteriously sold in the thinly-traded overnight markets and again right after the announcement in large, rapid HFT blocks that swamped the bids. U.S. Treasury bonds actually sold off on the news.  The dollar hardly budged. Commodities were mixed across the board but more or less flat on the day, with the exception of the metals, and especially the precious metals, which were sold vigorously.

The markets are now well and truly broken.  Not because they don't conform to my predictions, but because they are no longer sending useful price signals.  Instead, my hypothesis here is that the markets are now just a giant and rigged casino, where a relative handful of big firms and other tightly coupled players are gaming their orders to take advantage of this flood of money.

When your central bank badly misprices money and then bids up everything related to bonds, nothing can be reasonably priced.  Risk is mispriced; the few remaining investors (as distinct from speculators, which are now the majority) are forced to accept both poor yields and higher risk – so we know the price of everything, but the value of nothing.


So what exactly is this new thin-air money printing program all about?  Well, unlike any prior Quantitative Easing (QE) announcement, this one was tied to a fuzzy and quirky government statistic: the unemployment rate.

QE4 is Just-In-Time Fed Policy to Avoid Calamity

Dec 13, 2012

We got the most thunderous Just-In-Time monetary policy today that is a substitute for the absence of any degree of stimulative fiscal policy.

You might say that QE4 is now going to act as both monetary and fiscal stimulus– another $85 billion worth of Fed accumulations of Treasury bonds and mortgages- that is meant to keep stock prices moving higher and residential home sales climbing briskly.

The goal is to drive economic activity, especially residential home building, so that unemployment drops from 7.7% to 6.5%. The surprise move is meant to signal the Fed’s awareness of the softening economy; it sees the gritty numbers before we do.

Getting unemployment down to 6.5% without inflation rising to a level higher than 2.5% is not expected to happen until 2014 at the earliest. And it could go longer if there is no deal and we go over the cliff.

But, you should know that the only reason unemployment is 7.7% is because hundreds of thousands of males have dropped out of the search for regular work. A very depressing tale.

The key point here is that the Fed is now actively running both monetary and fiscal policy because it will now be in the business of funding nearly 100% of all the new government deficit spending in 2013.  And it is pumping a bit more than $1 trillion of hot, thin-air money into the economy as it does so.

The odd thing here is that by tying their policy to the unemployment rate, we could be in for a very long wait for the stimulus to end.  The reason is that the unemployment rate has a couple of moving pieces, one being the number of people who are unemployed, and the second consisting of people who have given up looking for work, which is tracked in something called the 'participation rate.' 

As more people leave the labor force and the participation rate goes down, the unemployment rate goes down, too.  Somewhat confusingly, as more jobs are created, the unemployment rate goes down, too.  As you can see, these numbers work in opposition to each other because as more jobs become available, more people re-enter the work force.

Before the crisis struck, the participation rate was around 66.5%. But now it sits at just 63.6%, meaning that, at roughly 1.4 million jobs for each percent, a bit more than 4 million jobs would have to be created just to absorb the folks who left the labor force but presumably would like to work again. As those 4 million folks come back to work, the unemployment rate will not budge at all.

It will require two full years of 150,000 jobs per month just to absorb the 4 million missing workers, which means that this QE effort will be with us for a very long time.  Three to four years is my best guess, and that's only if the economy magically recovers.  And I have very strong doubts about that.

This means that the Fed is most likely on track to increase its balance sheet by another $3-4 trillion.  Ugh.  That's 300% to 400% more money created in the next year than was created than during the entire 200 years following the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

The other part of this new QE policy is that they will continue this as long as inflation remains below 2.5%.  Again, this is a very fuzzy government statistic subject compared to the usual massaging and political biases, but it has top billing as the one that is most likely to force an early termination of the thin-air money printing efforts.

However, I remain convinced that the Fed will change any rules and move any goalposts it needs to in order to continue its mad money printing experiment.  Because there really isn't any other alternative at this point.

Secretly in the Open

Once upon a time, it would have been considered in bad taste to suggest that the world was being centrally managed in secret by a small-ish cabal of bankers whose actions served to either prop up the excessive spending habits of the very governments that conferred upon them the power to print money, or to bolster the health and profits of the banks they mainly serve.

That was then. Today you can just read about it in the Wall Street Journal:

Inside the Risky Bets of Central Banks

Dec 12, 2012

BASEL, Switzerland—Every two months, more than a dozen bankers meet here on Sunday evenings to talk and dine on the 18th floor of a cylindrical building looking out on the Rhine.

The dinner discussions on money and economics are more than academic. At the table are the chiefs of the world's biggest central banks, representing countries that annually produce more than $51 trillion of gross domestic product, three-quarters of the world's economic output.

Of late, these secret talks have focused on global economic troubles and the aggressive measures by central banks to manage their national economies. Since 2007, central banks have flooded the world financial system with more than $11 trillion. Faced with weak recoveries and Europe's churning economic problems, the effort has accelerated. The biggest central banks plan to pump billions more into government bonds, mortgages and business loans.

Their monetary strategy isn't found in standard textbooks. The central bankers are, in effect, conducting a high-stakes experiment, drawing in part on academic work by some of the men who studied and taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the 1970s and 1980s.

While many national governments, including the U.S., have failed to agree on fiscal policy—how best to balance tax revenues with spending during slow growth—the central bankers have forged their own path, independent of voters and politicians, bound by frequent conversations and relationships stretching back to university days.

If the central bankers are correct, they will help the world economy avoid prolonged stagnation and a repeat of central banking mistakes in the 1930s. If they are wrong, they could kindle inflation or sow the seeds of another financial crisis.

If it feels like you are part of a very grand, high-stakes experiment, congratulations!  You're exactly right. We are all collectively prisoner to whatever outcomes are in store.

The rather politely ignored truth right now, at least by most news outlets and politicians, is that the world's central banks have wandered very far off the reservation and are running an experiment that really has only two possible outcomes.  One is a return to what we all might call 'normal and stable' economic growth.  The second is the complete collapse of the fiat money and their attendant financial systems and markets.

While it is technically possible to achieve some other middling outcome, that possibility has been receding to ever more remote territory with every passing month and new round of money printing. 

The basic predicament here is that more and more money is being printed while the world economy, predictably for those who follow the net energy story, has been entirely stagnant and constantly threatening to slip back into economic retreat. Of course, more money + the same amount of (or even less) hard assets = the perfect recipe for inflation.

So the rise of inflation will signal the beginning of the end of this slow-motion tragedy.  I use the term 'tragedy' here because it doesn't have to end this way.  We have other options; we could make other choices and use our time and resources to try and do something other than maintain a broken financial system that desperately needs to be changed.

In Part II: It's Better to Be a Year Early Than a Day Late, I explain the facts behind why I am more convinced than ever that this all ends in one of the most disruptive financial and currency events ever seen on this planet.  And while the repercussions will be felt by all, taking prudent action while there is still time can greatly improve our individual odds of weathering them safely.

(Part II has a free executive summary, but enrollment is required for full access).

Hey James,
I just read your comments on the Springfield Armory M1A and found it super interesting, I've been an avid hunter and shooter all my life and am very used to shooting rifles both long and short range/ scoped and unscoped. I've primarily owned and heavily customized both bolt action and AR platform guns and have been super happy with their accuracy and performance, however I've always wanted an M14 or M1A. Seeing the specifications on the "Loaded" model, match grade 22 inch - 1-11" twist barrel, I suspect it will be quite accurate. I am a young guy with not a ton of money to throw around so I want to make a good purchase. Will the Springfield let me down if I want to shoot it scoped at sub-MOA to accurately hit man-sized targets out to 1,000 yards? I'm planning on shooting my custom hand loads through it, 178 Hornady A-Max HPBT. Thanks for your time I'm a big fan of your blog, BTW. - Jason L.

I've owned a half dozen M1As over the years, but I eventually sold all of them, during the 1994-2004 ban. I replaced them with several L1A1s, later supplemented by some HK91 clones.

The "Loaded" M1A is a decent choice, but you must consider that it is an expensive rifle ($2,022, retail) and spare U.S.G.I. M14 magazines and spare parts are very expensive!  And you probably won't get sub-MOA accuracy unless you fiberglas bed the rifle. I recommend only buying original USGI magazines. many of the aftermarket magazines cannot be trusted to function reliably. (See my M14 / M1A Magazine FAQ, for details.)

For the same money as a "Loaded" M1A with one magazine and no scope, you could buy a PTR91-GI rifle (a HK91 clone), AND 100 spare alloy G3 magazines (under $3 each!), AND a Savage Model 10 .308 bolt action that is sub-MOA, right out the box.

For comparison, 100 spare original M14 magazines would cost you around $2,600. And just a spare USGI M14 operating rod ("op rod") now costs around $250. You should dispassionately consider not just the initial cost of the rifle, but rather the full lifetime cost, including magazines and and a supply of repair parts.

If you buy a PTR91, make sure that it is the PTR91-GI variant that has chamber flutes that allow you to shoot the widest variety of ammo.

And if you feel that you must buy an M1A, then see this recent article: The Rise, Fall and Rise of the M14.

Captain Rawles,
Regarding the multiple letters you are receiving on the Nigerian scams, you may want to warn your readers that participation can lead to incarceration. The reader who told his story of USAA bank taking the amount of the fake checks from his account was lucky. Frequently, these scams prey on people who get greedy and suffer the consequences. In many cases, people receive a check (sometimes out of the blue, with no prior email contact) in the mail with a request to deposit it and send back 10% or 25%, etc to an international address (often in Canada). Since the check is normally for a substantial amount ($15,000 to $30,000 is common) greed overcomes common sense and the recipient deposits the check in his account. Sometimes these scams involve overpayment for a purchase or a sad story about trying to circumvent foreign banking laws. In any case, the recipient deposits the check, and maybe sends some money back, or just starts to spend the money himself.

When the check comes back as counterfeit, the bank deducts the amounts from his account and reports the incident to the police. In most states, this qualifies as Forgery, a felony. In my city, most banks spot the counterfeit check during the deposit attempt and calls law enforcement at that point. Although you may be saved from losing money you at least end up with a contact with local police that you wish you had avoided. If you have a criminal history and try to bluff your way through by justifying the check, you might get charged. Even if you end up with a not guilty judgment in the end, you have spent a lot of money, and had your freedom (not to mention your ability to possess firearms) endangered for no return.

In the end, it comes down to this: “If it looks too good to be true, it probably is!” Common Sense and Self Responsibility rule! Please keep up the good work with the blog. I read it every morning. - S.T. in Arkansas

Cobalt's Cabbage Stew

1 ½ lbs. lean ground meat
½ bell pepper, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
½ average size head of cabbage, rough sliced (thinner than ¼ head)
1 can Ranch-style beans
1 can Ro-Tel tomatoes (or comparable diced tomatoes with chilies)
1 can crushed or stewed tomatoes
1 tbl spoon chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Brown ground meat with bell pepper, onion, and celery. Drain.
Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.
Drop temperature and simmer covered for 1 ½ hours.

Chef's Notes:

Serve with cornbread or french bread.

I usually double all ingredients and freeze the leftovers. I'll also use a beef roast instead of hamburger. Cook the roast in beef broth and cube it to go into the stew.

Lastly, I've found more cabbage is better. For a single batch, I use as large a head as I can find.

Useful Recipe and Cooking Links:

Cabbage Soup Diet

Bredie (South African Lamb Stew) Recipe

Currently Available as a Free Kindle e-Book:

The Home Baking Guide to Substituting and Measuring

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

I often get questions about rust protection for long term storage of firearms. There is a company called Italian Gun Grease (all American-made products, but their chemist is Italian--so they thought it would be a catchy name), that have some good products for storing pistols and rifles. They are offering a special 25% introductory discount for SurvivalBlog readers. Enter the coupon code RAWLES25 when you check out. Full disclosure: They offered me a 10% piece of the action for mentioning their products.

   o o o

A reminder that the tax year ends December 31st, so it is important to complete your charitable contributions for 2012. One charity that I can highly recommend is Christian Reformed Outreach, South Sudan (C.R.O.S.S.) The situation on the border of Sudan and South Sudan requires intervention. If governments won't, then NGOs and missionaries must step in to help. Please pray for South Sudan!

   o o o

A glimmer of hope for Illinois gun owners: Big win for gun-rights groups: Federal appeals court tosses state ban on carrying concealed weapons. (Thanks to T.J.P. for the link.)

   o o o

Reader Rob N. sent this news article from The Daily Mail: Connecticut shooting being tied to "Doomsday Preppers movement". Rob notes many key words are embedded in the article: obsessed, stockpiling, survivalist, hoarding, prepping , etc. If just five guns constitutes an "obsession"...

   o o o

Frequent content contributor Jim W. suggested: How to Cure Common Shooting Mistakes

"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." -  Philip K. Dick

Sunday, December 16, 2012

This is the birthday of Philip K. Dick (born 1928, died March 2, 1982.) Phillip Dick penned a remarkable number of science fiction novels and novellas that have been adapted into Hollywood movies including Blade Runner, Total Recall, Screamers, Impostor, Minority Report, Paycheck, A Scanner Darkly, Next, and The Adjustment Bureau. Though he had a troubled personal life (with drug abuse and several failed marriages), his captivating books certainly had a knack for envisioning potential futures.


Today we present another entry for Round 44 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 44 ends on January 31st, 2013, 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 firm believer that a TEOTWAWKI situation will happen, and in my lifetime.  I consider myself a prepper, and am a daily reader of “prepping articles,” and almost always read about “bug out bags,” or “72-hour kits,” call them what you will.  I also read allot of articles devoted to bug out vehicles.  A bug out vehicle is a great concept, but is only as good as the distance it will take you, or for the length of time that it will last.  I do believe that bugging out is a necessity in prepping for a TEOTWAWKI situation, but to my surprise I very rarely read articles on preparing for automotive repair during a TEOTWAWKI situation!  Imagine this:

The grid goes down, you and your family and/or team are preparing to “bug out.”  You gather all of your supplies, and start your journey to your retreat.  On the way your vehicle starts running very rough, sputtering, and stalls on the side of the road, which is not a very good place to be during a TEOTWAWKI situation!  What do you do?  If a member of your family, and/or team is an experienced mechanic the situation may not seem so dire.  That person may be able to repair your vehicle fast, and proper.  But what if no such person is a member of your group?  How did you prepare for this situation?

The basics of all automotive mechanics are as follows:  Diagnosing the problem (figuring out what is wrong), and fixing the problem.  This may seem difficult for someone who is not experienced in mechanical repair, and can definitely be a frustrating situation.  Here are just a few from a very long list of tips:

  • Become very familiar with your vehicle, and how it operates.
  • Have a service manual for the specific year, make, and model of the vehicle.  This will provide you with detailed information on your vehicle, and offer you detailed directions on how to replace parts, and more.
  • Include an experienced mechanic in your group, or become familiar with common automotive problems related to your vehicle, and the ways in which to correct those problems.
  • Always include a set of tools (wrenches, socket sets, jack stands etc.) in your prepping list.  Preferably tools that you know will fit the various bolts, nuts, and screws found on your vehicle.
  • Remember that one size tool does not fit all or solve all problems.  Always use the right tool for the job, to help prevent further damage. 
  • Include a jack; tire tool, and spare tire.  Many vehicles already come with a spare tire, tire tool, and jack, but not all of them do.
  • Make sure that your jack can safely lift the weight of your vehicle, and any added weight from supplies.
  • Include a set of Jumper cables.
  • Include a fire extinguisher.  You don’t want fires making an already bad situation worse!
  • Include a set of tire plugs, so that small holes can easily be patched on the go.  Also include a few cans of fix-a-flat for the same reasons.  Many types of fix-a-flat exist, and most of them contained compressed air, which will aid in airing up the tire.  These are for temporary use only.  Tires should be changed, or repaired as soon as possible.
  • Determine the average amount of oil changes you will do in a year, and stock up on oil and filters. On average for most gasoline engines oil should be changed every 3,000 miles.
  • Know what kind of, and how much oil you should use with your vehicle.  Not all vehicles use the same viscosity and/or amount of oil.  The type of oil and amount you should use can be determined by reading your owners manual, looking for information under the hood, or on the side of the driver’s side door.  Temperature will also play a role in determining the type of oil you should use.  
  • Determine the average number of tune-ups you will need in a year (tune up-changing spark plugs, plug wires, and distributor cap/ rotor if applicable), and stock up!
  • Always make sure your vehicle has a full tank of gas.  This helps to not only remain prepared to leave, but keeps moisture from building up in, and rusting out your fuel tank and/or fuel lines.
  • Check fluid levels regularly so as to maintain readiness, and to ensure the absence of leaks!
  • Always carry extra gas cans in your vehicle so you can store, and use fuel as needed. 


In addition to making sure your vehicle has a spare tire it is always a good idea if possible to include more than one spare tire, and even a complete wheel and tire so as to change in a hurry, as you most likely wont have all day to work on changing a flat tire on the side of the road in a “bug out” situation.  Just the other day a friend of the family was posting on facebook that she had a flat tire, and her donut (a common type of spare tire) went flat within an hour of it being changed, that’s two flat tires in one hour!  It is impossible to predict every scenario, but you are always better off to plan ahead, plan ahead, and again plan ahead!

Currently my own personal vehicle a 1995 Chevy 1500 pick up has a bad exhaust system, brake problems, bad spark plug wires causing a misfire, and a tire that needs attention as it has been slowly leaking air!  I think to myself, why I am I setting my self up for failure by putting off the work that needs to be done.  How far would I make it if I needed to “bug out?”  Probably not very far!  Don’t set your self up for failure.  Properly maintenance your vehicle as much as possible so that you are ready when SHTF!

Remember that this list only contains some of the basics.  Your situation, and type of vehicle will both play a huge role in preparing for automotive repair in a TEOTWAWKI scenario.  The best advice I can offer is to regularly check the fluid levels on your vehicle.  Look for, and repair any leaks as soon as they are noticed to prevent further damage.  Get a service manual for your vehicle its value is immeasurable!  Familiarize yourself with common automotive problems, and ways to correct those problems!  I hope this list is helpful, and that you are prepared when, and if your bug out vehicle breaks down!

An interesting near-future novella is free on Kindle for a short time: Coastal Event Memories

   o o o

Gary North: The Day General Grant Expelled the Jews

   o o o

Kevin S. sent: How to Rig an FCC Spectrum Auction in Five Easy Steps

   o o o

I just heard from my editor at Penguin Books that because of strong demand they are printing another 20,000 copies of "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It". That will bring the total in print to 240,000 copies.

"Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly [places] in Christ:
According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;
Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; [even] in him:
In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ." - Ephesians 1:3-12 (KJV)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The tragic mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut underscores that fact that in 1996 our own congress turned public schools into gun free zones, making them ideal killing grounds for lunatics. (Where they will only find unarmed victims.) Please contact your legislators and encourage them to rescind the Gun Free School Zones Act (reenacted by Congress, Sep. 30, 1996 --P.L. 104-208.) If even a minority of school teachers were armed (as they are in Israel and South Africa) then slaughters like this could be prevented, or at least minimized.


December 15th is Bill of Rights Day. I encourage my American readers to gather publicly and read the Bill of Rights aloud. And go to a gun show, and buy a gun. (If you live in a state that allows it, make it a private party intrastate purchase. Avoid paper trails!)


This is also the birthday of Uziel "Uzi" Gal (born Gotthard Glas, in 1923.) According to Wikipedia, he was "...born in Weimar, Germany. When the Nazis came to power in 1933 he moved first to England and later, in 1936, to Kibbutz Yagur in the British Mandate of Palestine where he changed his name to Uziel Gal. In 1943, he was arrested for illegally carrying a gun and sentenced to six years in prison. However, he was pardoned and released in 1946, serving less than half of his sentence." Uzi Gal is of course remembered as the inventor of the famous Uzi submachinegun. Uzi Gal is not to be confused with Israel Galili, the chief weapons designer for Israeli Military Industries (IMI) who along with Yaacov Lior designed the Galil improvement to the AK-47, which was the progenitor of the South African R4 rifle.


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 44 ends on January 31st, 2013, 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 have seen many articles on Self-Defense. What I have not seen is topics regarding that moment that you find yourself in a stressful, self-defense situation and how to overcome it. I have taught my children from age 4 that you are your own last line of defense. This realization in itself can be pretty stressful. What most people don’t realize is that when attacked you only have ½ a second to react. This may not seem like a lot of time, but I assure you, your life can be ended by what happens in that initial ½ second.

People that have not prepared themselves for this have an initial reaction of holding their breath.  Any ground they could have won by defending their self from a hand to hand attack is lost as the attacker gets a better and tighter hold on their victim. Go ahead, take a moment right now to hold your breath. You just lost your ½ second of reaction time.  In that moment, the heart starts beating faster, the blood begins to flow and by holding your breath, you have begun to starve your body of the life giving oxygen needed in order to react faster, and think clearer. You have created extra stress on the body at a time when your body needs to be at its quickest.  When you suck in that one breath, your body contours even change, giving your attacker the edge in which to squeeze you tighter. How do you defend against your body’s natural reaction? You have to train. In order for this to be overcome, you have to employ the “no mind” technique of the ancient warriors.

Mushin no shin is the technique of having a “mind with no mind”. Highly trained martial artists enter combat in a state of “no mind”. I am a 2nd Degree black belt in Small Circle Jujitsu, Ryu Kyu Kempo and Tae Kwon Do. I am also a 1st degree black belt in Modern Arnis or Escrima (stick fighting). I also teach self-defense classes to ladies. What I try to teach them is that you don’t have to be a highly trained warrior in several different martial arts. You just have to overcome the initial reaction and trust your instincts and training in a survival situation. In every single self-defense class, 99% of women stiffen up and immediately hold their breath when attacked. They begin to doubt themselves, second guess themselves and make excuses. How do I teach them to overcome this? I make them work through the same technique over and over. When they believe they have got a certain technique, I have them go over it some more. Then, when they are ready, I randomly attack them. If they defend without holding their breath or pausing within the technique, they can move on to the next technique. What happens during this training period? Have I magically imparted a secret knowledge to them? No, the truth is, they begin to become comfortable in their own bodies. As they become comfortable in their own bodies, they begin to trust themselves. When they learn they can trust themselves, they can react without the halting fear that freezes a victim.

When fear freezes someone, the breath is shallow and unnatural. This sends all sorts of signals to the brain. Some people that have physically been attacked have told me that they felt like a deer caught in headlights. They were unable to move let alone breathe regularly. This sometimes led to disastrous consequences. This is when I work with them on a few martial arts techniques. After they become comfortable with them, I begin to coach them about their breath. Most people breathe shallowly, from the chest. This results in never providing the brain, organs or muscles with enough oxygen. Therefore, most people walk around stressed and oxygen deprived without even realizing it.

There is a simple technique to training yourself to breathe deeper. The martial arts master’s that employed the “no mind” technique were keenly aware of how important breath is to the body. In order to achieve deeper breathing, sit down in a comfortable quiet spot and close your eyes. Take one inhalation. Ask yourself what rose, the chest or the stomach? If your answer was the chest, then there is a strong possibility that you are a shallow breather. Take another breath. This time focusing your mind on the chest rising and then the belly button pressing away from the spine. You will have more oxygen intake if you do this. The next step is to take an inhale and use a counting method. Try to inhale for 5-7 counts. Then try to exhale just as slowly, pressing the navel into the stomach and rolling the exhalation upwards. This breathing exercise fills your body with much needed oxygen, reducing stress and enhancing focus. It is the focus that works our brains just like a muscle, allowing us to push out all random thoughts and allow the mind to become focused and unwavering. When unconscious deep breathing is achieved, it is easier to defend yourself.

This technique of “no mind” can be applied not only to martial arts, but to operating a firearm, bow or any weapon. If you are stressed while operating any weapon, you will not handle it well. In order to move past this, you must know your weapon. Your weapon should be viewed as an extension of yourself. Whether you are training with escrima sticks, bo staff, or the sword, your weapon is simply an extension of your arm. You can’t just drop your arm when you get scared. You can’t forget how your fingers work. It’s your arm and they’re your fingers. The idea of you forgetting how they work is comical. They are yours! This view does not just pertain to ancient weaponry; the same thought should be extended to your pistol, shotgun, rifle or bow.  Know them and use them until they feel as if they are a part of you, just as your fingers and toes are a part of you.

When I received my first compound bow, I carried it around the house with me. Everywhere I went, my bow was there. I examined every part of it. I practiced with it day after day. I wanted to know it. What I knew was I was a horrible shot. That’s when I realized, every time I released my arrow, I was holding my breath. I was thinking about what if I lost my arrow again, what if I hit the target here instead of there. What if, what if, what if ran through my mind. I had lost my “no mind” mentality. When I became aware of this flaw, I removed it from my mind.  When I began to shed the extraneous thoughts and trusted myself and breathed, I became a better shot.

When we practice or train in self-defense, the mind can become cluttered. We want to be able to perform like we think we should. We have a preconceived notion of how things should turn out. We have to release those thoughts. If the mind is that crowded, we will never perform the way we want to. These simple techniques will serve to help anyone that wants to employ the “no mind” sentiment and take their self-defense skills to the next level.

  1. Trust yourself. You are the only you that you have! There’s no other, better you that’s out there waiting. Just as a 4 year old can be their own last line of defense, recognize the fact that you are your own last line of defense. You are going to have to rescue yourself.
  2. Clear the mind. It’s just you and your clear mind allowing you to focus and react. If you wait and ponder things, you could be dead in just a second. Remember, you may only have ½ a second to react.
  3. Breathe! Breath is life. If you hold your breath, then your muscles are immediately starved for oxygen and your reactions are slower. You grow tired quickly.
  4. Practice. And then practice some more. When you think you have practiced enough, you are just beginning to learn that you should practice even more. Without practice, all the weapons and martial arts in the world aren’t going to help you.

We are not born knowing how to walk. We had to crawl first. Did our finite minds vacillate back and forth about if we could crawl and therefore walk? No! We practiced, and therefore learned a skill that we do not even think about when we use it today. We are not born knowing how to execute the perfect kick to blow out a knee, or how to hit a bulls eye from 100 yards. We practiced. We began to trust ourselves. We began to feel comfortable in our abilities. This is how the experts excel at what they do. They have employed the “no mind” technique. They have learned how to “crawl” with their weapon and now can “walk” with them unconsciously, perfectly.

When you have practiced in your chosen self-defense so much that you feel comfortable and trust yourself, you begin to eliminate doubt and fear and replace it with confidence and a higher level of skill. This is the beginning of “no mind”. You have begun to eliminate hesitation. You have eliminated any excuses. You have grown and therefore begun to attain the ranks of the ancient warriors that entered combat with “no mind”. You can perform without conscious thought. Your actions to an outsider would seem spontaneous, but they are only the actions of someone that has removed the stress factor out of the equation and replaced it with action.

When you are practicing your chosen self-defense, be aware of your surroundings. Recognizing a threat before it presents itself helps to eliminate hesitation with your course of action. One of the ladies that I train was at a gas station. I decided to see how close I could get to her before she realized I was there. I got three feet from her. She turned around with eyes wide, focused and poised. When she realized it was me, she was relieved. I asked her what her initial reaction was. She said her first thought was, “How did I let someone get so close to me?” Her second thought was, “I’m going to target the knee, blow it out with a side kick. Then I’m going to palm strike the nose upwards.” While she was down on herself for her first reaction, I congratulated her. She assessed the situation and was fully prepared in a split second to react with force to save her person.

If you do find yourself in hand to hand combat and react accordingly, you then deal out a measure of surprise. This is not normal behavior for a victim. Remember, the attacker also has an expectation of your reaction as well. For example, if they grab your arm and pull you, the normal reaction is pull away from the impending danger. If, however, you were to step into the attacker’s personal space and execute a hand to hand self-defense, you have just reacted in an abnormal way to the attacker. You have then taken the power away and now they are the ones that have to react to the “surprise”. This could give you vital extra time to save your life.

If we want to fully prepare for our lives and world to change as we know it, we must be well rounded. Our focus and determination can only carry us so far without practice in real life applications. Clearing our minds through breath can lead us to be focused enough to react quickly to save our life or one of our loved ones with no hesitation.  We can further reduce stress in our lives by meditating on scriptures as they contain much wisdom. After all, the first Master of martial arts was God as he taught David’s hands to war in Psalms 18:34. We must rely on our determination, focus and dedication to teach our hands to war in the correct way as well.

Hi Captain Rawles,
I'm a long time SurvivalBlog reader and occasional commenter.

Just had to respond to EagerGridlessBeaver with his post and review of the Paklite LED flashlight battery life test (WOW!) and the possibilities for IR use.  If you could afford to purchase numerous of the IR LED models, these same could be sequestered around your property connected to clothespin  type contacts and trip wires.  With a quick scan at night with your NVGs you would know instantly if any of your wires were tripped, with invaders being none-the-wiser if they were without NVGs.  It could provide an alert and invisible “light on target” so to speak.  They could be hidden under many things like bluebird nesting boxes, etc. and otherwise camouflaged. Not that they are that big anyway.  Any idea how far the light would be visible?

I don’t know which of the two IR bandwidths (880nm or 940nm) that are available would be the better for this purpose.  Any experts out there with suggestions?
Regards, - Steve in Florida


Meth's devastating effects: Before and after

   o o o

Nightmare in Mexico: Friends, family call for the release of ex-Marine jailed in Mexico after trying to declare an antique shotgun. And if this sounds absurd (24" versus 25" barrel length), just consider that here in the nominally "free" United States, 17.9" versus 18" of barrel length for a shotgun will similarly earn you a long trip to prison on a felony conviction. All gun laws are repressive and repugnant to the Constitution!

   o o o

Russell S. mentioned: National Prepper Radio Calling Frequencies

   o o o

Steve H. sent: Global GPS Infrastructure 'Vulnerable to Attack'. The article begins: "Up to 30 percent of the world's Global Positioning System infrastructure could be taken offline by a 45-second message sent from equipment that costs only $2,500, researchers, say."

   o o o

US gun website sued for alleged ties to slayings. Of course what the statist MSN fails to mention is that what they advertise at the site are PERFECTLY LEGAL intrastate private party transactions that are entirely outside of Federal jurisdiction. They can't be blamed if someone circumvents their rules and commits a crime by making an interstate purchase of a modern gun. (A hat tip to H.L. for sending the link.)

"The Constitution begins with the words ‘We the People’ and the last three words at the end of the Tenth Amendment are 'to the People'.  So, you see, the Constitution is really all about the People owning a central, national government. Since that is the case, how in the heck did we wind up with the federal government owning us?" – Phillip Marsh, in The Compleat Patriot

Friday, December 14, 2012

The U.S. Mint's report to the U.S. Congress with firm recommendations for new coin compositions is due to be released today, December 14, 2012. Once Congress acts to debase the nickel (most likely switching to almost worthless stainless steel coin planchets), the window of opportunity will close. This may be our last chance to stock up on real nickels in quantity without any sorting. If you haven't yet assembled your stack of nickel boxes, then do so NOW!


This is the birthday of Air Force General James Harold "Jimmy" Doolittle, (born in 1896, died September 27, 1993.)


Today we present another entry for Round 44 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 44 ends on January 31st, 2013, 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 appears as if there are some new developments going in on the Continent, that unfortunately appear to be old memes being resurrected for the 21st Century.
Let's take a look at the highlights of recent events:

  1. Greece continues to have widespread protests and riots as unemployment remains above 25% (25.4%, when measured in August, 2012) and austerity measures continue to be implemented.
  2. Spain is in a deep recession, and has been since 2008.  The banking industry in Spain alone could require 60 Billion Euros to remain solvent.
  3. Portugal and Italy are in similar straits to Spain and all three are close to emulating the protests, strikes, and general unrest taking place Greece.
  4. Germany has provided a foundation for the EU economically but has taken major spending cuts in order to support that activity.
  5. Britain, and France have scrapped or idled their capital ships.  In other words Britain and France no longer are operating carriers and have limited power projection capabilities as we saw from the Libyan events.
  6. On Tuesday minority members of the Hungarian parliament "urged the government" to draw up a list of Jewish members of the government that might be security risks.

We know that the ethnic melting pot that Europe has never blended well and remains stratified.  There has never been a bending of cultural characteristics and acceptance of differing religious beliefs. Over the centuries the conflicts that have been fought in Europe have at their lowest levels either been about resources, or cultural clashes.  The Balkans have devolved into a set of small "city-states" for lack of a better description, that are essentially cultural enclaves.  Areas in this part of Europe remain a hotbed of ethnic conflict, and have been the scene of genocidal conflict since the end of the Cold War.
In 1984 Sarajevo was the host to the Winter Olympic games.  The city was a shining jewel of modern architecture blended with the "old world".  Nestled in the mountains the area was one that had been unseen by most Westerners until the Iron Curtain had begun to tear and dissolve.  Four years later, civil war in Yugoslavia resulted in massive damage to the city.  The source of this conflict remains today, the ethnic division within this region.

This is not a new conflict as it has its roots far back in history with genocidal atrocities taking place every half century or so. The great experiment that was Soviet Communism and Central planning failed.  In Western Europe over the past 60 years we have seen a trend toward big government, and broad social entitlement programs with the offset being less individual freedom.  This too appears to be a form of government that is producing less than optimal results, as we see Greece, Spain, Portugal, and to some degree Italy on the verge of failure.  We see Germany  trying to support these states to prevent total economic collapse that will result in a flood of refugees to the more prosperous nations, and in turn pull the entire Euro zone into the quagmire.  Governments have made major reductions in their ability to project power.  Whether this is through elimination of capital ships, reduction of air, naval, and ground forces is immaterial.  The bottom line here is that training, maintenance, and knowledge has been lost such that rebuilding these forces in an emergency will be close to impossible.
If the Eurozone were to collapse into distinct nation-states, with varying degrees of domestic strife I think we would see:

  1. A rise in the implementation of extreme policies in their governments.
  2. A broad rearming / rebuilding of forces. Which in turn will decrease unemployment by providing direct and indirect jobs, as well as shift government spending to the defense sector.
  3. An increase in genocidal actions, that is the result of the expulsion of large ethnic enclaves to...someplace.  Where is that place?  Unknown, it could be concentration camps, or it could just be the "anywhere but here approach".
  4. As we see point 3 accelerate, we will see the need for stronger border protection to prevent immigration, which may lead to the concentration camp approach.
  5. Eventually the nation states of Europe will remember that they really need the other nations for trade because they cannot produce food or goods to support their population.  At this point the situation on the ground has already devolved, and food is scarce, power is scarce, neighborhood level law enforcement will result in some areas being able to maintain some sense of the rule of law.  Many areas will be in anarchy.  I think at this point, if the sense of despair is widespread across the continent we would see historians refer to this as The Second Dark Age.
  6. In some regions we will see "strong men" and "warlords" take control and work to exercise age old hatreds.
  7. In some regions we might see a charismatic individual strike a chord with the populous that leads to a rapid change in government.  In many respects, the situation in Europe is beginning to resemble that period from 1920 where the National Socialist German Workers' Party was born and began it's rise to power.
  8. Stabilization will only occur when population levels and concentrations are reduced to a level that can be supported by the local region.  Then we will begin to see smaller regional governmental units form to support open markets, and defend their resources.  It will be a long way out of that dark time.

Could this tale of gloom and doom spread globally   Absolutely.  Would other factors weigh in to prevent the deepness that my crystal ball foretells   Most likely.  Would we like those other factors?  Probably not.  

What could happen?  Let's see, Turkey could move to unify Muslims in Eastern Europe pushing the western boundaries of the old Ottoman empire into the Mediterranean and Balkan states.  The Vatican would likely have a resurgence in the Catholic Church and push the boundaries of their influence back to the levels held in the 13th and 14th centuries.  The Russian Federation would exploit their large resource holdings to gain political influence in Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, eventually taking some level of control of these areas.  Africa will be waiting for someone to come rescue it, as Western aid will all but dry up and there will be anarchy, chaos, and tribal conflict on an epic scale over most of the continent.  This creates opportunity for China, and other nations with global aspirations (Iran, etc.).
I could go on and on but, my crystal ball is somewhat murky and obviously pretty gloomy right now.
These are observations and potential consequences of the situation that we see in Europe.  We can learn much from the recent events in Europe, as well as history.  It is up to you to draw your own conclusions and take the appropriate actions.

For what is worth, my thoughts are:

  1. The global economy is fragile.  That will never change, their are too many variables that are driven by human beings that may or may not have altruistic motives.
  2. Keynesian Economic Theory is a bust.
  3. On the other hand I believe that the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics is valid, and so is Chaos Theory
  4. Europe is going to remain unstable for the foreseeable future.  We will see cycles of civil unrest throughout the continent.  The key for governments will be to dampen the cycles over time.
  5. There are consequences to actions and policies, in Britain the National Health Care program is a disaster with doctors making decisions to let patients die, from starvation and dehydration rather than care for them.
  6. High Tax programs are driving the wealthy out of their native lands.
  7. China, Russia, and Iran will not support any programs that the US might put forth to help Europe dampen the chaos that is brewing there.
  8. The US is at an inflection point.  The make up of the Congressional and Executive Branches of government have created and adversarial situation that will cause a form of gridlock.  During that period, globally, the US will seem to be adrift.  While we can most likely survive with our foreign policy being muddled and unclear we can only recover from this situation by having a vibrant, market driven economic growth that can be leveraged to provide a foundation for the larger global economy.
  9. Budgets are important, and deficit spending is bad.
  10. We must pay attention to what is happening to Europe at both the societal level, and the economic level.  The high tax, high entitlement approach to government has had limited success in Europe.  Around the Mediterranean we see the results of what happens when governments are on the verge of failure.  Couple that with the ethnic conflicts that are historical, and endemic in Europe and there is the potential for a serious meltdown of society and civilization.

I will offer you this advice: As you are living through an event it may not seem significant or a turning point in history.  When we look back though, we can see just how pivotal it was.  Trust the "coalmine canary" inside your head, if it starts to tell you something dramatic may be underway, then pay attention.  Keep your eyes on the events in Europe, we may see the same thing happening here in time.

You recently linked to What is that big huge area of brightness in [ostensibly lightly-populated] Northwest North Dakota? That makes me question the usefulness of that map at all. - Sam D.

JWR Replies: Those lights are the main concentration of activity in the Bakken oil fields--see this map.  (See also, these photos.) Reader Rob H. tells me that the dots of light shown are mostly the light of burning off excess wellhead gas. (Plus, presumably: floodlights around drilling rigs, and floodlights around equipment yards, and the light of burning off excess wellhead gas, and floodlights, and the flames of burning un-needed fractions at refineries, and the temporary housing for the oilfield workers.) It is quite a booming area! Similarly, the bright lights seen in the heretofore "wilderness" NNE of Edmonton, Alberta are the extensive new Athabasca-Wabiskaw tar/oil sands fields.

I am a long time SurvivalBlog reader. I read the review on the Paklite and I wanted to post a link to my non-commercial blog which has some posts on the
(where I experimented with the battery life).

They are great little lights and we now own 3 of them. (Two are standard blue-white LED and one is red LED to retain night vision). I regularly encourage people to get them.

Thanks and keep up the good work! - EagerGridlessBeaver

Over at Zero Hedge: Art Cashin Previews Our $202 Trillion Destiny

Reader Andre D. recommended this essay: The West is signing its own death sentence

Pam C. wrote mention: "In most banks, the bulk teller is the person in charge of the ordering of currency and the vault. The bulk teller is normally stationed nearest the vault and handles the commercial deposits. This is the bank employee that you should contact about bulk ordering nickels."

Items from The Economatrix:

US Stocks Rise With Metals On China; Italy Bond Plunge

The Coming Derivatives Panic That Will Destroy Global Financial Markets

Will The Government Confiscate Your Gold?

Packin' for the 'pocalypse: Several readers have sent me letters with this theme: "Due to the erroneous Mayan prophecy date of December 21st, 2012, there is a strong possibility of some self-fulfilling prophecies on an individual level, such as suicides, murder-suicides, mass-suicides, or people 'going postal' in public places." They recommend that everyone that has a CCW permit or that lives in a Constitutional Carry state to fully exercise their right to carry (and pack a few extra magazines) between now and December 31, 2012. That sounds wise to me!

   o o o

G.G. sent this: Congressman calls for ban on 3D printed guns. Note that only the lower receiver is printed in plastic. The upper group (the part that takes the chamber pressure) is all alloy and steel. So the "invisible to metal detectors" claim is utter nonsense. Also note that the leftist editors of BoingBoing conspicuously omitted the congressman's party affilliation and home state. No great surprise that he is a Democrat from New York.

   o o o

H.G. flagged this: Taking the Table to the Farm: Portraits of Radical Off-the-Grid Living. (Warning: One photo has frontal nudity. I guess this journalist missed the day they taught photo cropping.)

   o o o

Reader M.P. sent this news from Seattle: Bridge closure raises issue of our disaster readiness

   o o o

Decidedly Dangerous Dingbats Department: Pelosi Accuses GOP for Lack of Concern for Kwanzaa. Well, let's see...The First Amendment is supposed to make the government silent, neutral, and butt-out-ski about religious practices, so why does she have so much anguished concern? Congress shouldn't promote any religion, in particular. And does she realize that this is an entirely fabricated religious practice, to boot?

"At the beginning of a 4th Generation civil war, everybody starts with a finite amount of ammunition. The ones who never run out are those who make every round count and thus are able to forage out the ammo pouches of the dead men who didn't. That's why marksmanship training matters." - Mike Vanderboegh, Sipsey Street Irregulars, October 11, 2012

Thursday, December 13, 2012

December 13th is the birthday of Sergeant Alvin York. He was quite a guy.


Today we present another entry for Round 44 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 44 ends on January 31st, 2013, 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.

Caring for a chronically ill family member takes an emotional and physical toll on the caregiver. Compound this in a time of disaster, civil unrest, social and economic collapse and you might feel there is no chance for survival. I cannot say that. There might be insurmountable odds against a seriously ill family member living in harsh conditions for very long, but it is my goal as a caregiver to ensure I have the tools and knowledge to keep that family member as comfortable; physically, emotionally and spiritually as I can.

As the wife of a recent kidney transplant recipient, I am familiar with all aspects of his care, before transplant while he was on dialysis and now, with a severe regimen of anti- rejection drugs. I have researched and found very little information on varied “prepping” sites as to what to do for those family members that may require medical devices that require electricity, medications that prolong life, such as anti-rejection, anti- viral, chemo, asthma to name a few. These medications are usually very expensive, and generics are few. No doctor will allow you to stockpile these. I have tried. You may only be able to obtain a 3 month supply at best. So you might have a generator to run the dialysis machine, but when the supply chain that brings the boxes of dialysis fluid breaks down, you won’t be able to make it in your kitchen. What do you do when the medications run out, or the nebulizer canisters stop coming in the mail?

How do you prepare yourself and your loved one for the inevitable outcome? Depending on the condition your loved one suffers from, I surmise most people will try to stretch out certain medications in a disaster scenario, such as blood pressure meds, if the ill family member is not exerting themselves. My plan for my husband is to keep him comfortable and hydrated, occupied with low impact activities to keep his blood pressure down when we run out of his meds. There is not much I can do for his anti-rejection drugs other than halve the dose so they last longer. The key is to keep normalcy and good attitude combined with communication. Speaking with your ill loved one and making the care plan together. They might not want to alter the medication schedule, and may just want to abandon it all together. They might not want to be a burden, or might want to face the inevitable head on. They might want to survive at all cost. It is crucial to your survival that you face all outcomes and discuss these with your loved one in detail. Having a Medical Power of Attorney, with a Healthcare Directive in place makes sure that your decisions, directives, and care plan will be followed if the loved one is cared for outside the home in this type of scenario.

It is beyond the scope of many people’s thoughts of having to watch a family member deteriorate in the absence of medical care or medications. In a SHTF scenario, many will be experiencing the same anguish. Many will lose family members quickly, some will watch over a protracted time frame, a loved one wasting away. What you can do in that time frame, is mentally prepare yourself and your loved one for a dignified and comfortable passing.

What my husband and I have decided on, is to allow the meds to run out, treat the symptoms of kidney failure as they come, and live as normally as we can, given the variables that we are faced with. I have come to terms as has he that he will not survive without the drugs. I have always been the stronger, optimistic one, he is my beloved pessimist. Knowing each other’s strengths and weaknesses helps you realistically view your action plan and implement it together. I have stocked up on several of his favorite foods, a warm and inviting bedroom with books and a view of our yard and chickens, a photo album, and will surround him with the best attitude I can.

“But who cares for the caregiver?” That is a crucial point. You may be blessed with a large family that can offer help and respite. You may find yourself in a small group banded together to increase your chances of survival, or you may find yourselves isolated with the ill family member. It is your responsibility to maintain the wishes and directives of the ill person to the rest of the group or family. It is up to you as the caregiver to eat, sleep, hydrate, and keep healthy before you can even begin to take care of a chronically ill family member on a daily basis let alone in a disaster. The stresses are numerous, as is the often precarious mental state you can find yourself in if you allow yourself to be run ragged. I always make a feasible list of the daily tasks I need to accomplish. In a SHTF scenario, daily life will most likely end up with an abbreviated list. Food, shelter, water, protection. Daily life in a SHTF world will make that small list 100% harder. Imagine having to start a fire to bake bread, removing waste from your living area, skinning game, chopping wood, pumping water, and bathing your ill family member, all before a cup of coffee in the morning. Imagine having to guard your perimeter from looters, day and night, and making sure your ill loved one eats, or has help with the most basic tasks. I would have to do all of this myself, as my husband is also severely sight impaired.  I am prepared to ask, or barter for help when I need it. I would not be serving myself or my husband if I tried to do everything myself.

I have a vast supply of medical and first aid items from the years of dialysis that I intend to donate or barter should the occasion arise. I also have skills in herbal remedies. My skill set as a caregiver insures my worth in a group. What skill sets do you have that may help you survive in such a scenario? If you haven’t thought about what you’d need to do in this type of situation, or might end up being the one to care for a chronically ill person, it would be of great benefit to take a CPR and First Aid class, or invest in an EMT used textbook. Learn as much as you can about the condition your loved one has, so you are better equipped to handle it. Read about hospice, and yes, read about dying. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross wrote a wonderful book titled On Death and Dying. I suggest it to anyone caring for the chronically ill. Having some foundation to act on will make the journey you and your loved one face together less of a surprise. Ask your health provider about your condition, in the instance of a disaster much like Hurricane Sandy, what will happen. What is the worst case scenario? What kind of symptoms can I expect as my condition worsens? What can I discuss with my spouse or family to make it easier to care for me? Of course, you will be reassured that nothing like that will happen, but at the risk of sounding like a tin foil hat-wearing Doomsday Prepper, a few innocent questions soon after an extremely damaging natural disaster would not seem that out of place.

I cannot place enough emphasis on having a positive mental outlook in the face of illness. In a SHTF world things will look bleak, and you might not want to go on. As a chronically ill person, you might not want to be a burden. You might even think about taking your own life in this type of situation, fearful of succumbing to your condition. This is a time to talk to your family or spouse, or group. Everyone deserves to enter and depart this world with dignity. It is up to the individual, family, spouse and the faith they hold to sustain them in survival. I have no doubt that somewhere there will be drugs that can be bartered or stockpiled that in a large enough dose could end a loved one’s suffering. Although I don’t condone that as a solution, I know that that could and would happen possibly on a larger scale than would be spoken about. I don’t think anyone who has not experienced a loved one’s death can truly say what they would do. It is a deep and personal choice that must be made with compassion, communication and love. It is our duty as families, spouses, communities to make sure that the chronically ill in our homes and neighborhoods are cared for to the best of our abilities, and offered safe and comfortable departures when they pass.

Mr. JWR:
A suggestion for the old bike tubes when they need to be replaced; cut out the stem and slit them along the inside of the tube curve, all the way around.  Lay it inside the wheel and nestle the new tube inside it.  You now have an additional rubber layer between the new tube and the puncture threats of the road. - Adventane

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I have "lurked" for several months on your site and have learned a great deal from it. Regarding Banjo's article about survival bikes, he did not mention these solid rubber inner tubes, like these:

Bell No-Mor Flats Bike Inner Tube, 26-x 1.75-Inch to 1.95-Inch

They are available at Wal-Mart online and I have found them in store locally. They should be available at good bike specialty shops as well. I have used them on my garage sale purchase mountain bike for the last 5 or 6 years.

They take a good bit of effort to install but follow the instructions and use a plastic bike "tire iron" and they will pop right on.
I learned of them from a now deceased friend who rode in an area of very abrasive sandy soil which "ate" regular inflatable tubes. He swore by them and he was right. Check them out.
I hope some of your readers find this of use. - John from Texas

JWR Replies: Foam-filled tires and solid rubber tires have been previously discussed in SurvivalBlog. They do indeed have some utility, particularly in situations where you don't have access to a bike shop. (For example because of living in a remote location or because of economic disruption.) However, the rolling resistance of these tires is high. This makes riding tiresome, especially over long distances. So my advice is yes, do buy a pair of them, but put them on a spare set of rims. That way your can switch back and forth, and enjoy the best of both worlds.

Reader Adam B. mentioned that the dramatic difference in population density between the eastern and western United States is apparent in this new NASA satellite photo montage. The American Redoubt is largely a dark patch in this photo, which is a good thing. On a similar note, reader Will G. mentioned this zoomable map:

   o o o

Ken B. suggested this article: Thinking about backyard poultry?

   o o o

Reader G.K.C. set a link to a video clip of Senator Durbin (Democrat of Illinois and Senate Majority Whip) recorded last summer wherein he confuses the Right to Keep and Bear Arms with the right to hunt. JWR's Comment: This requires some clarification. The Second Amendment is about protecting your right to go deer hunting the same way that the First Amendment is about protecting your right to publish poetry.

   o o o

M.O.B. sent: Apple Maps Fail Almost Deadly for Several in Australia

   o o o

Words from the wise, in a recent Charles Carroll Society podcast: How I Found my Redoubt Land. Never buy land sight unseen! (And BTW, Palouse is pronounced: "Puhl-loose.")

"True, you still have butch T-shirts – 'Don't Tread On Me,' 'These Colors Don't Run' ... In my own state, where the Democrats ran the board on Election Night, the 'Live Free Or Die' license plates look very nice when you see them all lined up in the parking lot of the Social Security office. But, in their view of the state and its largesse, there's nothing very exceptional about Americans, except that they're the last to get with the program..." - Mark Steyn

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

For just today (12/12/12) Camping Survival is giving away a free 50-foot hank of paracord with each order.


Today we present another entry for Round 44 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 44 ends on January 31st, 2013, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

  Most of us are aware that the world is full of “WHAT Ifs.”
  “What if… my house catches fire, and I have to get out quickly?”
  “What if… my purse or wallet is stolen?”
  “What if… my family is separated, and I need help finding them?”
One of the most useful items in a well-prepared survivalist’s inventory can help in almost any disaster scenario… and is simple and inexpensive to acquire. We call ours the “Bug-Out Binder,” but you can give yours any name you choose. The best part of an Emergency Binder is that it is completely customizable, and easy to assemble.
  We started out by purchasing the following items:
1. A ziploc, cloth-covered, three ring binder. Ours has four interior files, an interior pocket, several exterior pockets and pouches, and a “headphone access” slit. We bought our binder for $13.00 at a popular department store, but prices range from $9-$20.

2. Two packs of 8-count tabbed dividers (These came from the local dollar store). You may need more, or less, depending on how many sections you want to include.

3. Two three-packs of waterproof, zip seal document covers (These also came from the local dollar store).

4. A pack of the binder inserts that hold baseball cards (you will probably only use a couple).

5. A printer, paper, and a hole-punch. Alternatively, you can use notebook paper, if you are willing to do your note taking by hand.

  Once you have gathered the necessary items, you are ready to start putting your binder together.
  Step one: Decide, on a piece of notepaper, what categories you wish to use to organize your binder. Make your list. Afterwards, reread it. You may find that some of your categories can be put together. Others may be too expansive, and you might want to separate those into individual sections. Underneath each category, you may wish to jot notes on the types of subjects each category may cover.
  As an example, here are the sections we chose to include in our binder, with examples of the contents of each one:
  The first section is dedicated to our home files.

Emergency contact numbers (including work, school, neighbors, poison control, gas leak hotline, power outage hotline, and so on)
Family emergency plans
Shut-off instructions for utilities
Operating/maintenance directions for well pump, generator, back-up heaters and oil lamps, etc.
Wallet contents, with bank and insurance information and contact numbers

Inventories for pantry, freezers, icehouse/root cellar, and food stockrooms (with exp. dates)
Shelf life/Expiration chart for food items
Dietary guidelines
Shopping list

Inventory of first aid supplies, by location (with expiration dates of medicines)
Inventory of hygiene supplies
Inventory of firearms and ammo, cleaning supplies, and repair supplies
Inventory of tools and gear, by location
Contents lists for EDC, BOBs, INCH bags, etc.
Shopping list

Planting and harvesting charts
Propagation and seed collection/storage
Preservation guidelines (canning, freezing, drying/dehydrating, etc.)
Yield guides and conversion charts

Planting and harvesting charts
Propagation and seed collection/storage
Preservation (drying/dehydrating, oils, freezing, etc.)
Culinary/medical/personal care usages, dosages, indications
Recipes for teas, tisanes, salves, etc.

(sorted by type of animal)
Care guides... feeding, breeding, shelter, etc.
Recognizing/treating injuries and ailments
Charts for each animal (birth date, health history, breeding record, date and cause of death OR slaughter date and yield)

7. HOME-
Maps of each room, indicating measurements of room, windows, doors... location of outlets/plugs/vents... fabric and paint swatches
Maintenance/repair records
Fuse/Circuit Breaker box chart
Cleaning supply inventory
List of various info (like the bag and belt sizes for the vacuum, household chore lists...daily, weekly, monthly, and seasonal/annual, etc.)
Directions for completing common housecleaning chores, without electricity/running water
Cleaning supply recipes
Stain removal guide
Inventory list of all valuables, with serial numbers, etc.

Maintenance records
Info on replacement parts (bulb sizes, tire sizes, etc.)
Fuse chart
Auto emergency kit inventory, and expiration dates of any perishable items

The second section is more "survival-oriented." It includes:
First aid guide (with emergency pages on neon paper)
Dental guide

Several shelter types
"Camping furniture" instructions

Purifying and filtering

4. FIRE-
Firestarting (several methods)
Burn index of wood types
Tinder chart

Traps and snares
Processing meat
Preserving meat
Tanning hides/fur
Other uses for body parts (bones, organs, etc.)

Bait suggestions and recipes
Water temperature chart for various fish
Fishing knots
Making flies/lures
Line fishing tips
Fly fishing tips
Other fishing tips (nets, fish traps, etc.)
Cleaning and preserving fish

Plant identification and usage guide
Mushroom identification guide
Tree identification and usage guide

Compass and map

Cloud reading
Weather prediction guide
Cold weather survival
Hot weather survival
Storm/flood survival

Tensile chart
Making cordage
Tying knots and lashes

Weaving (basketry, etc.)
Clothing patterns, sewing stitches
Crochet stitch guide

Firearm manuals
Making primitive tools
Ax, knife, archery, and sling manuals

Constructing ovens, stoves, etc.

Glossaries of codes, signals, etc. (Morse, phonetic alphabets, and such)

Soapmaking and saponin chart
Basic hygiene (latrines, bathing/showers, dishwashing, laundry, etc.)
Recipes for toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, lotion, etc.
Lice treatment
Communicable disease prevention
Trash and sewage disposal

Evasion techniques
Hand-to-hand combat

  Some of these categories may not be practical for your particular plans. Eliminate those, or replace them with topics that suit you and your lifestyle better. Some suggestions might be Pets (Pet supply inventory, pet care routines, pet food recipes, first aid and medicine, etc.), Childcare (Activity ideas, baby food recipes, infant supply inventory, home schooling curriculum outlines), Religious (favorite Bible verses, prayer journal), Sewing (patterns, fabric charts, techniques), Internet (favorite web sites, user names and passwords, Microsoft and Windows certificate numbers), or anything else you find suitable.

Step two: Label each of your dividers, according to the topics you want to include (and in the order you wish to include them).

Step three: Now, it’s time to compile your information.
  For the home sections, this will include taking inventory of supplies, measuring rooms, noting what each of the circuits in your house and vehicle fuse boxes operates, copying contact numbers, listing family emergency plans, documenting the numbers of bank accounts and insurance policies (as well as contact numbers, in case the cards are stolen or a claim needs to be filed), writing down the locations of utility shutoffs (and how to shut each off),documenting the identifying information for household valuables (for instance, the Makes, models, and serial numbers for electronic goods… plus the date of purchase, store, and cost), guidelines for household chores, and so forth.
  You may want to print off copies of  food storage guideline pages, stain charts, and so forth, to finish this section of the binder.

Step four: For the “survival section,” remember that most articles and books on these subjects contain information you may already know, or that is repetitive of other articles, or paragraphs that are better placed in a separate category. If you include all of the material you compile from the wealth of pdfs, online pages, or books out there, you will have a mess. It will be disorganized, and far too bulky. Your mission, here, is to sort through it all and pull out the most important details for your notes. Use your word processing program, and collect these notes (and any relevant diagrams or illustrations). Keep your notes concise, but helpful. When you are satisfied with your material, print it out and include it in your notebook in the appropriate section.

Step five: Print a current photo for each family member, trimmed or sized to fit into the baseball card page’s slots. On the back of each, list the medical and identifying information for that family member. Birthdate, height, weight, hair and eye color, identifying marks, piercings or tattoos, allergies, medical conditions and current medications, blood type, shot records, dates of illnesses/hospitalizations, etc. may seem like a chore to document, but it could make all the difference in the event that one of your family members is missing, or injured in an accident.
  Put each photo into a slot of the baseball card sheet, and insert this in the front of the binder.

Step six: Separate your important documents into the waterproof document holders. Since we have four folders, we divided ours in the following manner-
        Family (marriage certificates, divorce records, custody and child support papers, protection orders, current grade cards and school schedules, diplomas, military discharge/I.D.s, etc.)
        Property (Deeds/leases, vehicle titles, and so forth)
        W2’s, copy of prior year’s tax form, banking account information, retirement/pension information, and other related papers.
         Health (For each member, I included shots records, eye prescriptions, dental records, copies of current prescriptions (if any), and health insurance information)
         Death (information on organ donation wishes, Living Will, Last Will and Testament, life insurance information, letters I’ve written to each family member, etc.)
       Social security cards, birth certificates, passports
  Again, customize your folders in a manner that suits you.

 Step seven: If you wish, download your favorite files in their entirety to a disk or flash drive. You can do the same thing for favorite movies, books, photographs, pictures of the items in your home inventory list, computer games, music, or anything else you’d like to preserve. Jot the contents of each media storage item on an index card or print the list out, and store these in your binder. Many flash drives, today, come with a keychain attachment which you can attach to one of the concealed key rings, in these binders. Alternatively, you can store the flash drives or disks in a binder pocket, and use the key ring for duplicate keys to your home, car, business, safe, etc.

Step eight: Complete your binder, by adding whatever additional items you desire. You can tuck maps into the back interior pocket. The pouch with the headphone slot can store an E-reader and charger. Another pouch (or, if you have the space, a pencil case made for a binder) can store items like a multitool, firestarter/lighter, compass, first aid items, a mini fishing kit, or anything else you wish to store!

Step nine: A lot of people express concern, at having this much security information in one place. They are justified in their concerns. Consider a safe spot where you can keep your finished binder. It should be secure from theft or snooping eyes, but it should also be easily accessible to other family members. A fireproof safe is an expensive, but excellent, solution. Alternatively, you might want to keep your binder with your Bug-Out Bags. Whatever you decide, make sure that it is easy to grab (or retrieve) in the event a sudden evacuation is needed, but that it is also protected from theft.

Step ten: Update your binder, regularly. Update inventories, replace family photos, add to medical histories, add new notes, reorganize as desired… this is your binder. Practice your family emergency plans, and take notes on what worked and didn’t. You can use these notes to reformat your plan, for the next practice run. Practice the skills, in your survival notes. If something you took notes on doesn’t work, get rid of it! If something works well, highlight it or add a foil star sticker beside it. If you make changes or adaptations, write them down! Before you know it, you will have… the Ultimate Emergency Binder.

First, thanks for the great blog.  I wanted to take a minute and let the readers know of a great way to test what it is like to be stressed and carry a load of 40 plus pounds for an extended period of time.  Last weekend I participated in a GoRuck Challenge.  The premise is based on Special Forces type training where participants (max of 30 per event) act as a team to accomplish any task that the cadre gives them.  There are a few requirements, the most notable being that each person 150 lbs or more must cary six bricks, 149 or less four bricks, in a backpack for the entire event.  This challenge is not for the faint of heart or for those that are new to exercise.  My total pack weight was 47 lbs dry at the start.  After many a trips into the ocean and rolling around in the sand, pack weight got to be about 55 lbs.  For those who plan on bugging out, being under stress, acting covert, and taking care of others, this is the ultimate test run you could have.  It goes way beyond putting on your pack and going on a hike.  Think a crossfit challenge combined with a marathon, while wearing a weighted pack.  The final stats for my event were 14.5 hours long (start time was 10 pm, finish 12:30 pm following day) covering 24 miles.  Each event is different and is based on the cadres experience so what we did will be irrelevant.  I will say that after nine months of intense training and diet, I was prepared physically for the challenge.  Mentally I was pushed to my limit.  I drank three gallons of water and lost eight pounds (total kCal expended was 25,000 to 30,000).  If someone wants to know what there body and mind will do in a stressful bug out situation this is the event.  Though six bricks is a minimum, you could add more if you want to get it to the weight of you bug out bag.  It is also a great way to test gear and know what your caloric and water requirements will be to get to your final destination.  The only way you could get this level of experience would be to join the military and do the real thing.  I must warn anyone who takes on one of these challenges, that it is addicting, and you will want to do more!! 

Thanks for your dedications to helping others prepare!  May God bless your efforts and those that seek to be self-reliant. - Scott L.

Another variation to watch out for is when the scammer asks you to pay using an escrow account supposedly managed by Amazon or eBay.
A too good to be true add is found, you respond, the scammer/seller tells you he sells using an eBay escrow account. The merchandise will ship to you after you send a check to Escrow. The scammer directs you to a link sent in the scammers/sellers email that appears to be an eBay site.
The scammer creates the illusion of security using a brand like eBay with some official looking legal contract showing how you are in control of the escrow and the funds will only be released once you get the merchandise and are happy with the transaction.

The reality is once the money is in the escrow account, everything disappears and you never see your merchandise. eBay will tell you they don’t operate an escrow service and your options to recover your money are slim to none. 

Your basic rules of thumb, poor sentence structure, punctuation, spelling and vaporware merchandise are all tell-tale signs.  When in doubt, push to see the merchandise live somehow. The scammer will redirect you back to the scam or ignore you since you are not taking the bait. Keep up the good work!
Regards, - Mark in Michigan


I wanted to write and give your readers another word of caution regarding Nigerian scammers; my experience involves a much more sophisticated expression of the scam than is normal.

I had placed an ad in Craigslist to sell some Morgan silver dollars; I was emailed by an out of state party who inquired as to whether I would be willing to ship them. Normally this would be odd for a Craigslist ad, but I'd dealt with this several times legitimately with regards to metals trades so it didn't strike me as that out of the ordinary. He offered to send a check, which at the time I didn't mind (now I always require the money to be wired). When the check arrived it was for an amount less than we had agreed on; he told me to go ahead and deposit it and he would send me another check. I deposited the check and waited.

Suspicious about a few things (the email misspellings, the erroneous check amount) I emailed him again and insisted that we speak on the phone. After a little bit of back and forth (he claimed he was deaf) he agreed to let me speak with his lawyer. Soon after an American called from a California area code and assured me everything was ok. This certainly helped set my mind at ease.

During this time my bank (USAA) had confirmed deposit of the check and credited my checking account with the funds. I looked up the depository agreement and found that USAA promised that once funds were in the account for two business days it was a confirmed transfer and the check was good. I'm a bit more cautious, so I waited four business days and then called and spoke with a representative; he looked into the account and confirmed that the funds had transferred from the other bank and that the check had proven legitimate. Now having waited double the amount required by the depository agreement and confirmed from a bank representative that the first check was good and the second check (which had arrived and now been in the account for two business days) was showing good as well; having spoken with an American on the phone who confirmed it was good; I sent the coins.

The next business day USAA notified me that the checks had bounced and withdrew all of the deposited funds from my account; adding insult to injury they tacked on on a small penalty for having deposited fake checks (as if I did it on purpose). Outraged, I spent every business day for the next two weeks on the phone with USAA, demanding that they return the money they had confirmed was in my account; bounced checks were one thing, but once I'd been informed both in writing and in conversation that the money was in my account I expected my bank to stand behind what they had told me. After speaking with two separate resolution managers who robotically repeated: "we don't cover bounced checks" I finally quit calling.

In the meantime I was contacted by the scammer who offered my coins back if I joined him in his scheme. In an attempt to discover any information that might lead me (and thereby the police) to him, I played along as if I were interested. He outlined his nefarious plan: he scammed people in the United States and then recruited them to actually mail the checks (so they came from the US) and do much of the emailing (making the English more believable) and occasionally make phone calls for him (e.g., the fellow who called me); in exchange for their participation he offered them a scam commission and they slowly "earned" back the money that had been stolen from them as they stole from others. All of this information was obtained via internet chat; I took screen shots of all of it as it commenced. I was also able to obtain a list of the next 25 people he planned to scam, along with their email and mailing addresses.

As I played dumb and required more information I was able to glean the contact information for two of his minions and the name and ID information of another. I put together all of the information I had gathered and made an appointment at the nearest FBI station (the police report I had filed with the local police department had been ignored). When I met with the agent I explained the situation and handed over all of the information, highlighting the contact information for the Americans who had actively participated in scamming me. After thumbing through the information, he looked me in the eye and said: "Since you're in uniform, I'll shoot straight with you" (I'm an Air Force officer). "You've given us everything we need to catch at least a couple of these fellows. However, it's your choice," he continued, "I can tell you I'm going to look into it, walk in the back, file it, and never think about it again, or I can hand it back to you and you can walk out the door with it." Flabbergasted, I asked for an explanation. He replied: "Our fraud department is so busy that we don't even look at fraud cases that involve less than $10 million at stake. Your case, as much work as you've done on it, will never be examined." I attempted to explain that with as many folks as this one fellow had scammed it probably totaled $10 million, but he just shook his head and explained it had to happen in a single instance or it wasn't worth their time. Disgusted, I walked out. My tax dollars pay for the FBI but they'll never protect me unless I'm worth more than $10 million? In the end, the only effectual change I could make was contacting the 25 people whose information I'd been given and warn them that they were about to be scammed.

Was I foolish? In hindsight, yes. I now take extra precautions whenever I'm not dealing face to face. However, I think it comes down to the old saying: "Fool me once, shame on me..." I trusted my bank to interact on my behalf in the banking system and was only told after the fact (by one of the resolution managers I was eventually elevated to) that banks reserve the right to withdraw funds from their depositors account for the life of the account; it doesn't matter how much time has passed. I don't know if this is true or not, but two months after all of this went down I received an email from USAA notifying me that the depository agreement for all checking accounts had changed; when I looked at the list of changes, every single paragraph I had cited for how USAA had failed to hold up their end of the agreement had been adjusted. As far as banks go, USAA is among the best I've dealt with, but never doubt that they'll act in their best interest and leave the customer out to dry if that needs to happen.

As far as Nigerian scams go, they can get pretty sophisticated. Once I start dealing with Americans who know how to exploit at least some of the ins and outs of our banking system and will do the calling and emailing themselves, then most of the common rules of thumb for avoiding these types of scams go out the window.

Lessons learned:
- Deal face to face whenever possible. Accept only cash in small, worn bills. Few of us are intimately familiar with what crisp, brand new bills feel like and could be easily fooled by counterfeits. As the dollar inflates and bills began to get newer and less valuable, this is an added incentive to trade using "junk" silver - this is easily verifiable with a value that's easily discernible. Avoid larger denominations of metal; even silver rounds can be faked relatively easily.
- If buying long-distance, ask for proof of life like JWR suggested. However, this still doesn't guarantee they'll send the item once they receive your cash; try to deal only with businesses or dealers that have a legitimate storefront presence and a vested interest in not cheating you. If you know someone in the local area ask them to pick up and ship the item for you; that's putting a face-to-face presence in the mix.
- If selling long-distance, only accept cash via wire (think Western Union). Only ship items once you have literal cash in hand.

Consider this a plug for a libertarian mindset: banks may treat you great until they have to put their own money on the line to back up their word. Police may seem great until they're too busy to help you out. The FBI is great in theory, but don't trust your welfare to a federal agency. Be careful out there. - J.B.

"Inflation is like sin; every government denounces it and every government practices it." - Frederick Leigh-Ross

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Update: A reader near Fort Sill, Oklahoma should jump on this big lot: Auction for 21 Pallets of Razor Wire. This variety of wire is more expensive (and effective) than traditional concertina wire. The auction ends at 5 p.m. EST on December 12, 2012.


Today we present another entry for Round 44 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 44 ends on January 31st, 2013, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I’ve been reading a lot lately about types of bags and the many different options for BOBs that are out there. A staple of all prep web sites is the gear list and there is no shortage of suggestions on what you should have with you. What I’m not seeing is how to stow your gear. I’m not talking about the actual packing of your bag. I’ve actually seen an article or two about this, tips like keeping the heavy items low and close to your back, use of ditty bags, or packing your rucksack in a columnar system. What I’m talking about is an overall strategy of where on your person, and where in your transport system certain items should go.

Most military types will be familiar with the information I’m about to present, especially if they were in any way involved in long range patrolling techniques. Basically we’re looking at three tiered system. You’ll divide your gear into three parts and carry it either on your person, on your belt, or in your rucksack.

On Your Person
Working outwards from the body we’ll look first at what you should have on your person. Think of this as your wilderness everyday carry (EDC). A good way to determine what should be on your person is to think the worst. Think about what you’d need if for what-ever reason you had to bail with just the clothes on your back. Say you’re caught in an ambush and had to drop your ruck and cut and run, or some nasties raid your camp and again you have to run for it. It could be something as innocent as losing your pack. I recall being on a canoe trip with friends. We ran a fairly serious set of rapids and one of the canoes went over. Not serious, but when we recovered everything a rucksack was missing, the tether that had secured it to the canoe dangling free and empty. We bumped around for the better part of an afternoon, getting wet and taking chances in the fast water but never did find the ruck or any of the gear that was in it.

Very important items, like a compass or a Swiss Army knife can go on lanyard around your neck, making them even more secure. Beware the Pain In The A** (PITA) factor. A full-sized Silva compass or a large multi tool hanging around your neck and getting in the way every time you bend over or move around will quickly become a PITA. It gets taken off and stowed elsewhere. Murphy’s Law seems to be ever present in these situations and that means that when the SHTF your compass or pocket knife is not where it normally is. It may seem like a good idea to keep some items “next to skin” but keep them small. I have a little plastic case on a lanyard, you’ll see folks who work in controlled access areas with their passes in them, in it I carry my ID card, drivers licence, and a credit card. You could also fold and squeeze in a good chunk of cash, especially here in Canada with our new ultra thin polymer bank notes. On the lanyard I also have a little pen knife. The entire issue goes under my shirt and is barely noticeable. Another item that you might consider keeping “next to skin” or at least under your basic clothing is a money belt.

We’ve already touched on four basic items that should be on your person, pocket knife, (or multi-tool) compass, cash, and documents. As well you should always have your survival tin well stocked and in a pants pocket or in a small pouch on your belt. There are a plethora of articles written on building a small survival tin and there are commercial versions available. It should be small enough that it can be carried all day and night and be barely noticeable. If it’s too big or cumbersome it may get left elsewhere when it’s really needed. Matches or a lighter should be on your person. This goes without saying for smokers, but it’s usually one of the things I forget and need to go digging in my main ruck when I need to light something. A small flashlight is must, either a small Maglite or a tactical light like a Surefire. While in the military I always tried to have at least some food on me at all times. A chocolate bar, Power Bar or similar snack fits nicely into a shirt pocket and might make all the difference in that first night after you had to bail on your gear. Personal comms, such as a cell phone or Sat phone should also be on your person, though this depends on the coverage available. The situation will dictate, as it does with all gear choices. Choice of clothing should be made with a view to having as many practical pockets as possible. Outdoor gear and military style clothing fit the bill nicely. Belt pouches are fine, however if you have too much stuff on your belt it becomes uncomfortable if you have to sit or lay down, your waist band on your ruck may not sit properly, not to mention it will be difficult to keep your pants up with your belt loaded with kit. Leave the utility belt for Batman. One thing that should always be on your belt is your sheath knife. I’m a bit of a believer in knives so on my person I have my Buck sheath knife, a Spyderco pocket folder, and my little Swiss Army knife around my neck.

On Your Belt
A good sized belt pouch should be next. A regular belt with a large pouch attached would work well, as would a good sized butt pack. This is where you’ll stow gear that you need readily, but without the survival importance of gear you’ll have on your person. A satchel with a shoulder strap works well too. It will swallow up a lot of gear and it doesn’t have to go around your waist. A large metal cup, coffee or tea, creamers, sugars, along with a small solid fuel stove can provide refreshment without digging into your main pack. Spare food, spare batteries, a back-up multi-tool, small water bottle, back-up fire starter, extra ammo, bigger flashlight, signal mirror or panel marker, lots of matches or lighter, water purifier, and a survival blanket are all items that can be considered for this belt pack. Again use the worst case scenario when deciding what to carry here. What if you had to run for your life and that meant ditching your pack? What if you’re foraging or scouting away from your camp and get separated from your pack for an extended time? As a rough rule of thumb your belt kit should be able to sustain you for one full day and night away from your main pack.  Keep the PITA rule in mind also and that if an item is too large or cumbersome it can quickly become a detriment instead of a benefit. Choose your equipment based on your situation and ease of carry.

Weapons and Ammunition
Generally the best possible way of being armed is with a long gun as a primary firearm and a pistol as a back up. This gives the flexibility to respond to all threats, it also gives depth to your personal defence plan. Where these weapons are carried is easy, your long gun and its ammo are part of the intermediate layer, integral to your belt kit. Your hand gun is part of your gear that goes on your person. A little trial and error with holsters, shoulder rigs, or gun belts is necessary to come up with an efficient and comfortable carry for both your primary and secondary weapon. A third layer of firearm protection is tempting, a small derringer type gun or “belly gun” kept under your shirt might alleviate an otherwise hopeless situation. On the other hand be aware of being over gunned. More guns mean more ammunition and the added logistics of carrying different natures. Again the PITA rule bears attending to. Be careful of having too much gear around your waist. A gun belt is good but how will that effect your rucksack carry? How will it ride in conjunction with a belt kit? Questions to consider and find a solution to before the SHTF.

In Your Rucksack
The rucksack is the heart and soul of any load bearing system. It becomes the “mother ship” for all of your gear. It will contain most of your necessities but keep in mind that the ruck may not be with you at all times. If you establish a base camp, and are away hunting, scouting, or foraging the ruck will generally be left behind. There should be nothing in your ruck that you absolutely cannot do with out. You might lose your main shelter, water, and the bulk of your food should you need to ditch the pack, but you should have alternate survival supplies on your belt or on your person.

What you put in your main pack will come under three headings. Food and water, shelter, and environmental clothing. A good water purifier will cut down or eliminate the need to carry a lot of water, allowing more food to be carried. Ten days food is about the max that can be carried without seriously overloading but you’ll need to be frugal and use a strict ration plan. Included with your food is a stove and fuel. You might consider leaving the stove and fuel behind and using fires instead. The downside of this is fire and smoke can give your position away and attract attention while a stove can provide a hot meal or hot drink with out too much of a signature.

Shelter can be a tent or a tarp suitable for building a shelter. This will depend on the ground and the environment. Obviously in more temperate areas a bivvy will suffice, while in colder harsher environments an enclosed tent will probably work better. A bivvy bag can be an alternative if you’re traveling alone and speed and ease of carry is an issue. There is one main disadvantage to this. In bad weather or adverse conditions you can stay put and “ride things out” a lot more comfortably in a tent. A bivvy bag is good for sleeping in but not much else. In a bivvy bag you can’t sit up and have a coffee or read a book while the blizzard rages outside.

Speaking of inclement weather brings up the subject of environmental clothing. Here in Canada, working and living in cold environments is a matter of fact for almost half of the year. You’ll need to allow room in the pack for heavy parkas, wind pants, and insulated boots. The problem here is that you’ll need to move and work in lighter, better vented clothes, while at night or in-active you’ll need serious insulated cold weather gear. Moving or working in your warm gear, and getting overheated and sweat soaked can be disastrous. Environmental clothing can take up a lot of space. Space that might seem better used for food or other niceties, but remember the old adage; “pack light, freeze at night”

Practice using a small sled to haul your gear in the snow. After years of humping big rucksacks I got a small kids sled, lashed my ruck to it and went on an overnighter hauling my gear as opposed to carrying it. The difference was quite pleasant and as long as I was in relatively open ground the pack towed along behind me effortlessly. I did end up jury rigging a set of small poles to replace the tow rope so the sled wouldn’t pass me or run me over on the down hills. It alleviated a lot of the problems we talked about earlier about having too much kit and belts around your waist.

In summary, have a good look at where each item you carry goes. Assess the value of each item and put it where it belongs. “Must haves” go on your person so if you have to bail with the clothes on your back you won’t be without your critical survival gear. “Nice to haves” come next on a belt kit or shoulder bag. These are items that can make a night or nights away from camp bearable weather they’re forced on you by weather, a navigational error, or by the action of hostiles. Lastly “Everything Else” goes in your main pack. It is your main carry and the center piece of any load bearing system. It is also the first thing that gets looted, dropped, lost, left behind, or abandoned. Nothing that is critical to your survival should be in the ruck. Dropping or losing your rucksack will be a serious situation but it should not be the end of the world for a savvy survivalists.

Reader T.K., who lives in the Tri-cities [Richland, Pasco and Kennewick] region of Washington wrote to mention that local credit union, HAPO, is ordering in $2,000 in nickels for him with no fee charged. "I'm simply taking $2,000 out of my account with them and they are giving me $2,000 in nickels. It is going to take a week for the order to go through and they asked me to have some kind of bins to put them in but other than that they had no issues with me getting a bulk shipment of nickels. Yet another reason to live in the Redoubt." [JWR Adds: My bank in the Redoubt has accommodated my many requests for nickels in bulk over the past four years with no ruffled feathers. They have never requested any fees, even though I've often asked them to order nickels $1,000 at a time. (Ten $100 cardboard box "bricks" per order.) It is nice living in a place where even your banker doesn't feel the need to poke his nose into your business.]

   o o o

Montana Courtroom Incident Proves Wild Fire Can Burn Twice. (Thanks to Steven W. for the link.)

   o o o

Boise company's products kept the (solar) lights on during Hurricane Sandy

   o o o

Preparedness pays off: Snowmobiler survives weekend avalanche near McCall, Idaho

   o o o

Reader A.B. wrote to mention that there is a group of cloistered Carmelite brothers who are building a classic gothic European monastery in Wyoming.  They get a significant amount of the revenue from selling coffee beans that they roast.  You can read about them on the Charles Carroll Society web site. A.B's comments: "These brothers live and work exclusively for Christ.  They live separately from the world’s distractions praying for it and those in it.  They looked all over to find an unspoiled area where they still could buy a mountain top to build an isolated monastery and guess where they choose?  The American Redoubt!  These brothers appear to be traditional Catholics. (Notice the habits and they use a version of the traditional Latin Mass.) They participate in the public life by opening their monastery to Christian men who are looking for an isolated retreat, and they also have men-only services on Sunday.    I am also researching a cloistered group of sisters, but they initially appear to be much more progressive. It may not be a bad thing to know a bunch of traditional monks living in a remote castle in the Redoubt in the future."

   o o o

Duck hunter describes near-death experience on Snake River

Half of America: I'd Kill to Protect My Own--Survey reveals stunning attitudes about surviving in catastrophe

   o o o

For the SurvivalBlog readers who have supported Anchor of Hope Charities (the folks who run an orphanage and mission school in Zambia), this is your annual reminder. Many thanks for supporting such a worthy and financially responsible charity. They operate with almost no overhead.

   o o o

Blogger Sarah A. Hoyt talks societal collapse: Preparing For The Long Rains

   o o o

A reminder that the Freeze Dry Guy two-week 25% off sale of Mountain House freeze dried foods in #10 cans ends on December 13th, so order soon. This sale offer includes free shipping to CONUS!

   o o o

Jim W. sent: Here's A Homemade Tank Using A Playstation Controller To Fire At Assad's Troops

"Technology is a blessing for those who understand it and can develop and maintain it. It can be a snare for those who can can only depend on getting it 'off the shelf.' If it malfunctions they are lost. Tools, supplies, and technological equipment should play a part in anyone's survival plans, but they should not play a part that overreaches the person's ability to deal with it." - Karl Hess, Editor, A Common Sense Strategy for Survivalists, p. 37, 1981

Monday, December 10, 2012

SurvivalBlog readers often buy gear for their retreats using Craigslist and Internet message boards such as Buddy's Board and eHam to buy equipment. There are some genuine bargains out there, but be advised that these web sites have become the favorite hunting grounds of Nigerian Scammers. They prey upon people who are looking for bargains. Typically, the scammers place fraudulent ads offering items for sale in the Want To Sell (WTS) category , or they respond to Want To Buy (WTB) ads.

Some Red Flags that may indicate that you've been contacted by a Nigerian merchandise scammer:

1.) The seller offers new or like new merchandise for around 1/2 of the regular retail price.

2.) The seller writes in broken English, and with strange punctuation.

3.) The seller seems ignorant about the technical details of what he is selling--never going past "copy and paste" from other ads or a manufacturer's marketing descriptions..

4.) If you are the seller, then the buyer offers to send you a check for more than your asking price with a request to wire back the difference.

5.) Their e-mails are sent at odd hours . (At 3 a.m., Pacific Time, it is 12 noon in Nigeria-- a nine hour difference.)

6.) The seller claims that he is deaf, so that he cannot converse with you by phone.

7.) The seller asks for any unusual form of payment.

8.) If it is an ad at a forum that lists member numbers, the seller has a high member number, indicating that he just recently joined the forum.


I was recently looking for an expensive and scarce Trijicon ACOG scope for one of my guns. So I placed a WTB (Want To Buy) ad on Buddy's Board. I got this offer via e-mail, originating from a Gmail address:

Good day,

Have you got any leads/order on your WTB ads listed on my subject
Email?? Let me know as i have one up for sale.



I wrote back:


What is the condition of the ACOG and your asking price?

He replied at 2:57 AM:

It,s in LNIB conditions with an asking price of $640 Shipped. Ben

It is notable that this is a scope normally retails for around $1,500. Note his poor punctuation of "It,s " and the misspelling: "conditions."

Smelling a rat, I wrote him in reply:

Yes, I'll take it.  But because Nigerian sales scams have become so commonplace, I need you to provide me "proof of life".  Before I send you payment, I need you to do the following:  Take a magic marker and write your e-mail address and today's date on a strip of paper and DRAPE IT in a curve over the scope and take a crisp digital photo of the scope, showing that paper strip draped in place. This photo will prove to me that you actually have the scope in your possession.

Without this photo, we have NO DEAL.  But with it, I will send you immediate payment via US Postal Service Money Order.

Pardon me for being so cautious, but we are living in the age of deception and betrayal. - ~Jim Rawles

Not surprisingly, the scammer made no reply. Beware folks, and take precautions when dealing with potential scammers. Making a "proof of life" photo demand will almost always send a scammer scurrying back under his rock. If there is ever any doubt, one final test that works well in ferreting out scammers is to pose a fake technical question. For example, if the item in question is a gun, ask the seller to "provide its PCGS grade." If it is a scope, ask the seller to "describe it's bore condition." Or if it is a ham radio, ask him "how much squelch are you including?" Such questions will almost always trip them up.

The bottom line: If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.

Addendum: I have heard that one of the latest schemes used by Nigerian scammers is to buy merchandise from American vendors, making payments via wire transfers. Then, after he goods have shipped, they use a loophole in the wire transfer rules to withdraw the transfer, snatching the funds back overseas. Beware! - J.W.R.

This is a simple fact; without a source of fresh and safe water to drink, you will die within four days - depending on weather conditions. As I'm writing this, the folks back East are still suffering the effects of Hurricane Sandy. Many are still without power or heat in their homes after two weeks - at least 40,000 people were totally homeless right now, and winter temps are setting in. I read one news report, where people were paying $7 for a loaf of bread, and $10 for a box of matches. FEMA ran out of bottled water less than a week into this emergency and folks were left to fend for themselves for a source of safe drinking water for several days.
Many poke fun at "Preppers" or "Survivalist" for preparing for bad times. I just don't get it! What is wrong with storing some extra food and water, for a future emergency? And, sooner or later, the lights and power go out, and I don't care where you live - it happens! The folks on the East Coast had plenty of warning of the impending hurricane coming their way. However, may chose to ignore the dire warnings, and went about their usual daily routine - instead of spending a few dollars and a little bit of their time, stocking-up on extra food and water. Instead, they depended upon FEMA and the Red Cross to take care of them. I read numerous reports that the Red Cross was giving hot chocolate and cookies to hurricane victims. Really? There are also victims living in unheated tents that FEMA set-up, and depending on the FedGov to feed and care for them. Don't you ever trust or depend on the FedGov to care for you in a time of disaster. And, reports stated that 50 million people were affected by Hurricane Sandy - there is no way that the FedGov can possibly care for that many people in a disaster.
We can all go a good long time without food - some say people can go weeks or even a month, without food. However, without a source of clean, safe drinking water, we'll all perish in short order - this is a fact! While its a good idea to store some bottled water, I wouldn't want to only have that as my source of drinking water. Some excellent filters are made by Clearly Filtered water filters. I recently received three of their products for testing: One is their Athlete drinking bottle, another a military-type canteen, and lastly a straw - all filter waster so that it is safe to drink. The Bottle can filter up to 100-gallons of water, removing approximately 99.9% of many nasty things that can make you ill or even kill you. It filters 99.99% of Giardia, Crypto, bacteria and viruses - ditto for the Canteen and Straw.
I set about to test all three of these products over more than a month - along with the assistance of my wife. She took the Athlete bottle to school - where she works as an elementary grade teacher. Living in the boonies, we have well water - which tastes much better than city water, that is loaded with chlorine. Most folks who live and work in the town, don't taste the chlorine because they are used to it. However, if you depend on well water, you can smell and taste the chlorine in city water, so my wife would usually take a bottle of water from home each day to drink while at work. She decided to give the Athlete water filter bottle a good work out - she said, and I concur, that the first few bottles full of filtered watered had a bit of a "taste" to it - after that, the water was clearly "filtered" and had no strange taste. I found the same true with the Straw and Canteen - after a use or two, the "taste" was gone, and we were drinking great water.
The Athlete bottle will last up to 6-months or 100-gallons of water - and I drink a lot of water each day. The Canteen can also filter up to 100-gallons of water or 6-months of use. The straw, which is very small, can filter up to 25-gallons of water. The Athlete bottle and canteen replaces up to 800+ plastic water bottles - stop and think about that for a moment. I don't know many people who store 800+ bottles of water in their homes - that's a lot of room they would take up. One water bottle or canteen can replace 800+ water bottles - this is a win-win situation in my book. Of course, these water filters do not filter salt water, so don't attempt this. However, if there is a mud puddle in your yard, or standing water any place, you can filter it so it will safely take out all that nasty stuff that will make you sick or even kill you. And, right now, back East, they have plenty of water around - but they just can't drink it. Also, the Clearly Filtered water bottles are 100% BPA free, if this is a concern to you.
Living in Western Oregon, we always have plenty of water - we get about 48-inches of rain each year - we have two seasons - one is about four months of beautiful summer sunshine, and then 8-months of rain (with a little snow) so there is plenty of water around to drink if we ever had to bug out - however, it simply isn't safe to drink from a stream, creek or standing water - without first filtering it. I tested the Straw, and it was difficult to get centered over a body of water and drink it. So, the solution was simple, just take my canteen cup and scoop the water into it, and then drink the water from the canteen cup through the straw - piece of cake!
I also tested some dirty looking water that was standing along a logging road - not something you'd even consider drinking. I placed my Canteen on the side and let the dirt water flow into the canteen - and then, just to be sure the water was actually "filtered" I squirted some of it out before drinking it - and it came out crystal clear - so I took the drive and drank so - no nasty taste and it tasted great!
Just think of what people back East would be giving to have their own source of filtered water right now? FEMA tells everyone to be prepared - and they used to say that folks should have three days worth of food, now they are saying to have two weeks worth of food and water. Too bad they didn't take their own advice and have enough food and water stored to help Hurricane Sandy victims. Anyone who depends on FEMA or the FedGov for anything is a fool in my book! While the Red Cross does some good, did they really think people were gonna survive on cookies and hot chocolate? I just read an article where the Red Cross said their response was "near perfect" to Hurricane Sandy. Huh?
People who had only debit/credit cards of their welfare debit cards, were out of luck, when it came time to purchase food or water, in grocery stores that were able to open, even without power. The debit machines couldn't work without power, so cash was king. Take that to heart, even if a grocery store can open, if they don't have power, they can't take your credit or debit cards - you have to have cash!
Don't wait for the next disaster to hit, or for your power to go off. Start storing some extra food and water, and make sure you have an alternate source of fresh drinking water. The Clearly Filtered Athlete's bottle is on-sale right now for $34.99, the Canteen is also $34.99 and the Straw is $19.99. Additionally, if you'll go to the Clearly Filtered web site, you'll find many more of their water filters that you might want to consider purchasing. In my neck of the woods, a store-bought bottle of water is about a buck or more - and that's a lot of money in my book. To be honest, I've rarely drank bottled water - I don't see any sense in paying that kind of money for water - when I can get it for free at home from my tap. If you purchased the Athlete or Canteen filters, you could drink 100-gallons of fresh, clean water for $34.99 - that would be about $400 in bottled water, and odds are, that bottled water came from a water tap, just like you have at home - so you aren't gaining much in the way of "safe" drinking water. With a Clearly Filtered product, you know you are drinking extremely safe water, and at a bargain price too boot. Plus, the filters in the Bottle and Canteen can be replaced, so you don't have to purchase the entire product - just replace the filter, and save money.
Don't depend on FEMA, the Red Cross or anyone else for a source of safe drinking water - take responsibility for your own needs and the needs of your family and do the smart and right thing - make sure you have a way of obtaining safe drinking water. The Clearly Filtered water filters are a step in the right direction. Check out their web site for complete information on all their products. You'll be glad you did! - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

Authors: Multiple. Edited by John Ringo and Brian M. Thomsen
Copyright Date: 2010
Publisher: Baen Publishing Enterprises
ISBN: 978-1-4391-3347-7 (also 978-1439134603--mass market paperback)
Suitable for children? Not young ones. Teens depending on maturity. (Parental screening recommended.)

Citizens is a collection of fifteen military science fiction short stories. From a prepper's perspective these stories are not going to provide in depth detail for making provision for an uncertain future, but they do illustrate the mentality required to survive, or at least succeed, in combat.

It should probably be noted that in several of these stories success does not equate with survival. There are heroes in these stories who give their lives so that others can survive. Some of these stories, and particularly "The Long Watch" by Robert Heinlein, are very powerful. Even several weeks after reading it my throat still tightens up thinking about the choices Johnny Dahlquist made
and the consequences he accepted.

It should also be noted that other stories are downright funny. "Allamagoosa" by Eric Frank Russell is a largely humorous jab at the bureaucratic side of a military organization. "The Question" by Patrick A. Vanner, while largely dealing with the delicate matter of introductory contact and negotiation with a completely foreign culture, ends on a humorous note due to the naiveté of a

What makes this book most worthwhile is the philosophical side. These are thought provoking stories about how decisions are made and how one life may be valued in comparison to another. These are stories in which responsibility has a very tangible meaning and consequences reverberate through entire continents. These are stories for a warrior to ponder, and to the extent that a prepper anticipates the role of a warrior in their future this book has merit.

Given that this is science fiction, most of the stories involve factors such as space travel, alien life forms, artificial intelligence, genetically modified hominids and other such dreams for the future. However, those details do not detract from the value of the philosophical issues which arise. The question of the value of a genetically modified hominid is very much parallel to the historical treatment of minorities, lower classes and slaves.

For one who would survive in an uncertain future these stories provide examples of adapting to situations in order to stay alive. Both "Exploration Team" by Murray Leinster and "Neither Sleet, Nor Snow, Nor Alien Invasion..." by Dave Freer provide clear contrasts of those who will adapt and those who would not. Both of those stories involve creative measures for coping with deadly alien species. For one who would step back for the sake of perspective, the issues involved are comparable to different methods of warfare which have evolved over the centuries and over different continents.

For the most part these stories are free from profanity and sexuality. There are no graphic sex scenes, but there are references made in a couple of the stories. A parent wishing to screen this collection should take a look at "Under the Hammer" by David Drake as that one is the roughest one in the lot. It is still substantially better than much of what is published anymore, but it
does have some expletives, references to deviant sexuality (worth noting that the protagonist is repulsed) and graphic deaths.

Overall this is a book for the guys, and probably best suited for a young man considering enlisting.

[JWR Adds: It is noteworthy that one of the short stories included in the anthology, "The Price" was penned by SurvivalBlog's own Editor at Large, Michael Z. Williamson.]

Dear Jim,

I have found an invaluable free tool for your pre- and post-SHTF operations that allows you detailed and accurate mapping for your location(s) within the U.S.  Here is a link to the U.S. Geological Survey Map Store where you can download at, no cost, detailed topographic, contour, road maps, etc. even including satellite images. These newer maps usually are around 20 megabytes, so if you have a slow Internet connection, be aware of that.
 First navigate to the USGS Map Locator and Downloader Web Page
Now Double-Click to Zoom-In and Click-and Drag to Re-center the interactive map until you get to the area you want.
Next Select “O  MARK POINTS: “ instead of “O  NAVIGATE: “ on the right side of the window. If you are not zoomed in too tight this will cause grid lines to appear. These indicate the approximate borders of the most recent maps available.
There is a Pull-Down window near the middle of the right side of the window indicating either “30 Minute and larger” or “7.5 to 15 Minute”.  The “30 Minute and Larger” refers to maps covering about 30 miles by 30 miles or larger. Always use the “7.5 to 15 Minute” selection. I will explain why in a minute.
Click on the map in the center of an area you want to map out. The map will then refresh with a marker pointing to your spot.
Move your mouse pointer to this marker and left click on the target dot.  This will create a popup window showing all maps available which include the spot you selected.
The left column shows the location name for each map listed. Do not use this hyperlink unless you wand to purchase a hard copy of the map. The maps with a place name followed by “US Topo” have the best details.
The second column indicates the geographic size of the map in minutes of longitude and latitude (roughly one mile per “Minute”).
The third column indicates the date the map was made (Very Important).
The fourth column is a link to show you a compressed preview of the map.
The fifth column shows the size of the PDF file of the map. It is also a link to allow you a free download of a zipped PDF version of the map.!
The icon in the last column of the map list is a link allowing you to add multiple maps to a download cart. I recommend against using it.
Find the most recent map for the area you need and click on the file size for that map.
This action will generate a “Save As” window with a generated .zip file name which you can download to a folder on your PC.
Once Saved, go to the folder where you saved it.
Right click on the name of the .zip file, and select “Extract all…”.
Be sure to use the browse function to place the final map in the folder where you want the actual Map stored on your PC.
The unzipped file will be in a PDF format (readable with Adobe Reader).
The newest maps (2010 and later with the “US Topo” following the location name) actually contain multiple map information layers including satellite images, roads, hydrographic features, contours, etc.  If you download and install the TerraGo software (available free at the lower left corner of the interactive google map window) you can select and manage which layers to include or exclude when you’re viewing the map with Adobe Reader.
I recommend against using the download bundle icons for obtaining a collection of maps.  The process for using it successfully is not user friendly, and can cause a lot of confusion. If you want multiple maps, simply repeat the process that is described above.

Whether you are looking for a suitable or alternate routes when traveling from one location to another, scouting your own area, or looking for a suitable location, these maps are great and free. 

God Bless You and Yours, - Scott S.

Your reference to SASOL's gas-to-liquid synfuel project in Louisiana reminded me of a recent news story about Sinopec's joint venture in Medicine Bow, Wyoming to produce liquid fuel from coal.

They claim to be able to convert 1 ton of coal (Powder River Basin mine-mouth value: $10) into two barrels of petroleum product (value: $200+).

A great idea, if it works, but I can't say I'm excited about inviting the Chinese into our backyard to do this.

Best Regards, - Don in Oregon

This article bears special mention: Into the vault: the operation to rescue Manhattan's drowned internet Hurricane.

Steve [an acquaintance who is a telephone lineman] wrote to note:

"Having a cable vault under a central office flood is a major disaster in the telecom industry. One splice getting wet is a big job. Losing the entire office brings up comments like I didn’t want any days off this year. Having fixed splices like this that have gotten wet I have a good idea what is involved to fix this. It’s a lot of slow meticulous work. If the damage is only in the splice case and the copper is plastic insulated and not paper then drying and replacing the connectors may be all that’s needed (Two guys around the clock 2 or 3 days). If it’s paper insulated then it’s fish out each pair and replace it across the splice repeat 3,000 times (Two guys around the clock for 5 or 6 days per splice).

Most of these cables will have water under the sheath several feet from the opening which can’t be removed or blown out completely. Eventually this water will rot the plastic insulation on the copper and cause various problems, mostly static that will be intermittent. The only way to fix this is to open up the splices and dry those out. You then cut back on the sheath until you find dry cable or you hit the wall, that’s when you start replacing cable.

They describe replacing the copper lines with fibre optic cables in some of the pictures. The future of the telecom industry is fibre but this will require installing switches at all the customer addresses, no small job in itself. First you have to get a new cable into the building (anybody want to dig up the street in front of every customer because that is where the cable duct lines are). Then you have to find space in the building to place the switch. Building owners are being bombarded with requests for space from all the various telecom competitors for space under normal circumstances and they just don’t have space to spare which they aren’t being paid for. After that it’s time to provide power for these switches. Most of the time you need multiple dedicated circuits and UPS’s for these switches. By the way you think maybe all the electricians might be busy?

Bottom line they have a lot of work to do before they are back to normal. The cost for just this one office could easily reach millions of dollars and if somebody said $50 million I wouldn’t be surprised."

A few more thoughts on survival bikes, especially two readers' recommendations to use Presta-valve tubes. Mark L. might be a bit of a bike snob; I understand that, having myself been into high-end
bicycles and raced and toured thousands of miles, but his comments on Presta valves and suspension bikes I think are off the mark in a TEOTWAWKI situation. You cannot buy a Presta valve anywhere except a [high end] bike store or online. In my area, in the winter, there are no bike stores open within 150 miles in the best of times. Of course, if you're thinking of stocking up on Presta tubes, remember they will
grow brittle with age. Big-box stores, which stand a better chance of staying open in a civil crisis situation, DO NOT CARRY THEM--only Schrader. You cannot fill a Presta tube at a gas station. Schrader
valves have served cars well enough. The late bicycle tourist Ken Kifer, whose web site is still up through the kindness of a friend, was a pragmatist who lived in a Thoreau-inspired cabin in
the woods and toured many thousands of miles on bicycles--on Schrader tubes. (Detailed diaries of most of his rides are on his site--he powered a laptop with a solar cell on the carrier of his bike.)

And suspension bikes WILL break; without welding tools (and of course the power to run them) you will be out of luck. The only possible realistic reason for any suspension on a bicycle is on a racing trials
bike. Otherwise, all the vehicle's wheels are on the ground 95% of the time (which is the purpose of suspension on a four-wheeled vehicle). One can always stand on the pedals for rough terrain.

Mark's right, though, about Kevlar tires when you can, and about "seats." A small saddle on a bike that's well-fitted (and fitting and riding technique can be researched on the Internet--it's quite
important) is much better in every application than any "seat" with too much padding or springs (except the highest-end Brooks and Ideale saddles).

I also agree with all about the superiority of steel lugged frames and avoiding buying bicycles in big-box stores. (Although bicycle manufacturing is so low-tech that a simple bike from Wal-Mart or Kmart
nowadays will probably last a good long time with proper care.) - Peter H.

N.G in Minnesota's Rye and Cranberry Stuffing

This recipe started off as an “oops” and turned into a great side dish. I was making a Rye Batter Bread, but hadn’t greased the pan well enough. When I went to remove the bread, it came out of the pan in chunks. The taste was great, so I didn’t want to waste it, but it wasn’t going to work for sandwiches.
We’ll start with the Batter Bread:

1 ¼ cups warm water (100-110F)
2 ½ t dry active or instant yeast
2 T honey
2 T oil or softened butter
1 c Rye flour
2 c Wheat flour
1 ½ t Salt
1 T Caraway seeds

Combine water, honey, and yeast. Let rest for 5 minutes. Stir in oil or butter, the rye flour, and 1 cup of wheat flour. Stir in remaining wheat flour, salt, and caraway seeds. Cover and let rest in a warm place for about 30 minutes. Stir down the batter. (It will not have raised much in this step) Spoon into a well-greased 9x5 bread pan. Cover, and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or until doubled in size. Bake at 350 for about 35 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool on a wire rack.

Now for the Stuffing:

4 T butter
1 small onion, minced
4 ribs of celery diced small
1 loaf Rye bread, cut into small cubes and dried
1 c dried cranberries
2 to 2 ½ cups chicken broth or apple juice
2 t sage

Melt butter in Dutch oven or deep sided frying pan. (I prefer cast iron, because it can go from the stove top to the oven, which means fewer dishes to wash.) Cook onions and celery in butter until soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and add cranberries, sage, and Rye Bread. Stir in chicken broth or apple juice slowly, until mixture is moistened. The amount needed will depend on how dry your bread is. You don’t want mush, but you don’t want to end up with cardboard either. Cover and bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes. Check once after about 25 minutes. If stuffing is too soft, remove cover for the rest of the baking time. If too dry, stir in a little more liquid. If just right, don’t touch it!

Chef's Notes:

The pie won't set up completely but does become firmer as it cools. Mmmmm. Super tasty!

Useful Recipe and Cooking Links:

Stuffing Recipes

More Stuffing Recipes

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

G.G. flagged this: Why Are People Hoarding Coins?

Reader Steve L. sent: Cost to Make Penny and Nickel Rises, Annual Loss Reaches $116.7 Million. When seigniorage goes negative, modern era governments almost always move to debase their coinage. The window of of opportunity to acquire nickels without sorting will be closing soon!

Drought expands, concerns mount about wheat and rivers

G.G. flagged this: Government borrows 46 cents of every dollar it spends. And meanwhile, we read: Federal Budget Deficit 24% Higher Over Same Time Period Last Year. How long can this go on? Protect yourself by diversifying out of Dollars and into practical, barterable tangibles.

Items from The Economatrix:

Central Bank Gold Purchases To Top 500 Tons This Year In A New Record Supporting Prices

Food Stamp Enrollment Up As Unemployment Rates Declines

Many Jobless In US Don't Collect Unemployment

The Freeze Dry Guy two-week 25% off sale of Mountain House freeze dried foods in #10 cans ends on December 13th, so order soon. This sale offer includes free shipping to CONUS!

   o o o

A Heapin' Helpin' of Chicago Hypocrisy: Anti-gun Legislator Faces Weapons Charge

   o o o

The folks at Tattler Reusable Canning Lids have announced a One Day Sale.   On Monday, December 10th, 2012 their specials will be as follows:
Regular Lids/Rings - 1/2 case (12 dozen) - $69.95 - 30% discount
Wide Mouth Lids/Rings -1/2 case (12 dozen) - $78.95 - 30% discount
1/2 case each of either Regular or Wide Mouth Lids/Rings - $137.95 - 35% discount

   o o o

This new hand/pedal-cranked generator looks promising: Crank-A-Watt

   o o o

Your editor asks: Why is it, that in this Age of Big Government, that when a corrupt, thieving, perjuring, or philandering politician gets caught hand-in-cookie-jar that the first question is not whether or not they'll serve a long stretch at Joliet, but rather: whether or not they'll be allowed to keep their lucrative pensions. Cases in point: Mayor Sheila Dixon, Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., Congressman Anthony Weiner, and Canadian Senator Raymond Lavigne. And for those of them who go Full Kwame, there can even be the opportunity to collect a six-figure pension while in prison. (For example: Congressman Duke Cunningham and Dan Rostenkowski.)

"As for old school secession, it's not the sort of power that is granted or earned. It's taken, along with the consequences. The practical nexus is confiscation of federal property and loss of revenue and compensation for repatriation and so forth. It's said "stealing their money" is the only crime DC takes seriously. Secession would be seen as robbery by DC, especially those states comprised largely of federal lands. No vilification would be enough, no remedy too extreme." - Ol' Remus, in The Woodpile Report blog, December 4, 2012.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

December 9th, 2012 would have been the 98th birthday of Maximo Guillermo "Max" Manus. He was was one of the few Norwegians who had the testicular fortitude to put his life on the line, fighting the Nazi occupiers. (There surely would have been many more active resistance fighters in Norway, but fearing widespread reprisal executions by the Germans, King H7 urged the civilian populace to stand down.) Manus passed away in 1996. His exploits are fairly accurately shown in the movie Max Manus: Man of War


Today we present another entry for Round 44 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 44 ends on January 31st, 2013, 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.

[Editor's Introductory Note: I didn't write the following article. It was written by reader A.D.G. Normally I wouldn't run an article that discusses loathsome behavior. Stealing from your employer or from your fellow employees isn't conscionable. But I decided to post it because it underscores the importance of keeping a well-stocked Get Home Bag (GHB) ready whenever you are away from home. Do not put yourself in a position where you must loot to survive. - J.W.R.]

I found myself at the office during a power failure and I started thinking about what to do in an emergency situation if I was at work and for some reason without my GHB.  Of course the best option would be to already have the bag constructed, but in the event that this was not possible, I began scouting around for items to gather should the need arise for me to construct a GHB on the fly and then get out of there. 

As a side note, I work in a corporate office building for a medium sized employer on the edge of a big, but not Chicago or Atlanta sized city.  While the power was out and I had some time to think thanks to my computer being out, I compiled a list of items to get and how to gauge their effectiveness.  As an employee it may be helpful to find out what your company’s emergency plan is and what resources the company has available to respond to emergencies.  Even if you don’t have to start collecting these resources to get out quickly, knowing where the AED and other first aid supplies are located may save one of your co-workers lives.  Also, if you are familiar with your office plan, you will know how people will be instructed to react in an emergency and be able to plan your collections accordingly.

I would start by securing some provisions for the trip home in our cafeteria.  We have a great salad bar that contains walnuts, craisins, sunflower seeds, cracker packets, raisins, croutons, those little crunchy things and the usual lettuce, cheese, bacon bits and dressing.  The kitchen has several storage containers, and our supply closet contains some ziploc bags, which is where I would begin my storage.  In a real disaster I expect the kitchen to be abandoned as individuals are either in the designated storm area or trying to get out.  I would create a trail mix out of the dry items in one bag and then create a bag of the more perishable items, which I would try to eat first.  I would also try to grab a chef knife, small pot, and plenty of sugar, salt, pepper and other compact calories.  I would grab as many of the breakfast bars as possible and hopefully have enough to get me home.  If the aluminum foil were accessible, I would pack some along to help cook and even keep me warm in an emergency.  For water, we have several sources throughout the building.  One of the least considered sources is our icemakers throughout our kitchens located on each floor.  While the pipes may be broken and the bottles may disappear, the ice maker will stay frozen for a few hours and if everything melts it should still hold some residual water.  Fortunately, the cafeteria has bottled water, and most of our conference rooms have fridges stocked with bottles of water.  I would grab as many of these as I thought I could carry and proceed back to my office.  To carry all of these items, typically have a good sized briefcase with a shoulder strap, alternatively I would go to the workout room and look for a gym bag of some sort.

After securing food I would try to find better-suited clothes to get home in.  We have a workout room with open lockers.  I would prioritize finding spare socks and grab a towel while I was down there.  If I found suitable shoes and workout type clothes, I would try to change into these for my trip home and leave my suit behind.  I would then grab the first aid kit off the wall and go on to scout out more provisions.  Many of our offices have candy dishes on the desks.  I would try to get the candy for trade or extra calories and move on to the break room.  We have several coffee pots and if I was not able to get a pot out of the kitchen, one of these would work though the plastic handle might melt off.  For cordage, Ethernet cables not only contain a thin string but also have 8 individual small wires, which can nicely bind things together.  I would grab some paperclips to fashion fishhooks (it is tricky but still possible to catch a fish on one) and some binder clips to function as clamps.  Around my office I would also try to gather my thermos, my wire coat hanger that stays on my door, my letter opener (which is very sharp) and the tea bags I keep in my desk.  Unfortunately we don't have cans of coffee grinds (ours come in a plastic pouch) but if we did I would take the can to cook and store things in.  Hopefully a few packs of our plastic coffee would give me the extra energy to make it home, even if I ended up eating it.

If your office doesn't have a cafeteria, consider raiding departmental fridges and freezers for provisions (just be careful because I have found some nasty things when cleaning out one of our fridges).  Additionally, try to notice who always seems to have snacks and make a note of where their desk is.  When they leave they might just leave their snacks behind.  If this doesn't work, you may have to raid the vending machine.  If the power is out, you will likely have to smash and grab what you need, but be careful not to cut your arms on the glass in the front.  If the machines have cages, it may not be worth the time and energy to try and break through them to get to the food before leaving.

On to our janitor's closet, a mop handle makes a suitable walking stick / spear to help you keep your footing and fend off any dogs you may encounter on the way home.  Some of our cleaner is just chlorine bleach.  I would try to get a small container of this (perhaps in a clearly labeled water bottle) to purify water as I traveled.  Further, some of our cleaner is denatured alcohol diluted down.  This would make a great antiseptic and fire starter should the need arise.  I may also be able to get a utility knife and some extra garbage bags for creating a shelter, a poncho and for keeping my stuff dry.  As I made my way down the hall, I may be able to grab one of our few emergency flashlights, but these would likely be gone in the event of a power outage.  Hopefully I cold grab the hose off of the fire extinguisher, but if not, I would try to stop by our maintenance shop before leaving.  This area is usually secured, but if it were accessible, I could add a crowbar, flashlight, batteries, tape, pliers (the tool you can't make in the wild), and perhaps even a radio. 

I try to notice who has access to certain rooms and who has keys to access our building.  Many of our office keys are sitting in a filing cabinet that is unlocked or on a shelf near the door.  This may be convenient but it is not very secure.  If you need to get into a room, look around for a public bookcase, small side table or filing cabinet and then look around to see if there is a key.  The maintenance, IT, and janitorial closets can often be a good source of keys, as can manager and secretary desks.  Look around and you may be able to avoid having to break in to a room.

The bathroom is the final destination on my supply expedition, where I would try to get at least one roll of white gold, toilet paper that is.  Other items I would find useful are: the hand sanitizer they keep in there, hand lotion and possibly even the smaller trash bags they store the trash can.  While these are not top priorities, white gold can in fact be traded for much more expensive items, as I found out in the Rockies when an extra roll got me a small maglite.  If your restroom has any sort of powder, this can be invaluable to control sweat and the chafing that comes along with it.
When you make the decision to go on your supply run within your office, you should be certain that you need to do so.  If there is just a little severe weather and you'll be back at work in the morning, it is probably best not to get fired.  The above plans are for a major incident where I don't plan on coming back to work for a while, if at all.  If there is a collapse, however, make your run quickly and get out.  Even if you already have a GHB, consider looking around your office for additional provisions you my need and prioritize getting them before leaving.  A few minutes spent preparing before your journey could provide the tools you need to survive.

Hey James;
I just want to comment regarding the article just posted about survival bikes.
It was a generally good article, but I have a few points of disagreement with the author.
The first point where I would disagree is in regard to the type of tubes he recommends.  His recommendation is bikes with Schrader valves as opposed to Presta.  I believe Presta valves to be far superior and more durable than the Schrader valve.  His reason for using the Schrader valve tube is that it is more universal.  While that is true, generally, most bicycle pumps have Presta valve adapters, and it is also possible to buy a small adapter that screws onto the Presta valve, that you can keep in your patch kit.  Another reason for picking the Presta valve tube is that most quality rims are drilled for Presta valves, not Schrader.   Presta valves also come with a small nut that tightens down and holds the Presta valve in a vertical position in relation to the rim.  This is important, because Schrader valves will shift, especially if the air pressure gets low and results in the rim actually cutting the valve stem.  Finally, a Schrader valve requires a plastic cap that keeps dirt and debris out of the valve body (which can cause the valve to leak).  These are easily lost.  A Presta valve can have a cap but it is not required, as there is a small nut, built into the valve, that tightens down and creates a very effective seal that prevents inadvertent release of air from the tube.   To sum it up, there is a reason why high-end bikes use Presta valved tubes almost exclusively: they are just better.
My second point is regarding suspension.  While his point regarding simplicity is well taken (and that is my reason for not having a suspension bike as my bug-out bike), there are some definite applications for at least a suspension fork on a bike: comfort.  A suspension makes for a much more comfortable ride and aids in control of the bike on rough terrain.  Riding a bike over a long distance can be brutal to your hands especially.  A suspension fork does much to alleviate this problem.  I would suggest simplicity in the fork design however, and would go for a fork that uses springs or elastomers over air or hydraulic….which will eventually have to have extensive maintenance to continue to function.   For a survival type bike, if rear suspension is desired, I would go for a suspension seat-post over a rear shock.  Again, virtually all modern bikes with full suspension utilize some form of hydraulic or air shock for the rear suspension.  That is a maintenance problem in a SHTF situation.
When it comes to tires, if you can afford them, get tires with a Kevlar bead that are foldable.  They take up much less space and are much lighter and easier to mount to the rims. They are also generally a better quality product.
When it comes to the bike’s components, (brakes, shifters, etc.), middle of the road is the way to go here.  You don’t want the top of the line components  (too expensive and sometimes what we call “stupid-light”), but you don’t want cheap.  Cheap components do not perform well, aren’t durable, hard to adjust and keep working and are just a pain in the neck in general.
A quality saddle is an absolute must.  And while this may be counterintuitive, you don’t want a big mushy sofa cushion type saddle.  It’s best to have a saddle with a moderate amount of padding that does not restrict movement.  You won’t find many of these in the $20 range. The $50-$70 is more likely. This is an area where you don’t want to cut corners, trust me.  A poorly designed saddle can put you in agony and actually do some pretty severe damage if you ride the bike a lot.  An anatomically designed saddle is a must here.
He mentions finding bikes at places like garage sales.  Not a bad idea, but one must exercise some caution here.  Yes, Chrome-Moly bikes are outstanding.  But some people don’t take proper care of them and the downside to Chrome-moly is rust and this can be hidden. I is not readily apparent to the naked eye.  So while older bikes can be a bargain, I’d steer away from any bike that has even a hint of rust or corrosion.  And while we are on this topic…another thing to watch out for would be damaged components..such as shifters and brakes.  These can be costly to repair, and can make a cheap bike into an expensive bike very quickly.  Some older bikes have components that are almost impossible to repair or find and the bike’s design may not accommodate the newer design components.   Bike maintenance can be learned, but some aspects of it are almost an art, especially when it comes to the bike shifting mechanism.  Another thing that you have to watch out for are badly worn chain-rings.  And then there is the matter of the wheels and hubs.  Sealed hubs are an absolute must.  The author mentioned quality rims and he is correct.  Used bikes can definitely be a good deal….you just have to be careful and know enough about bikes to be able to spot problems that the bike may have.  A cheap bike can turn into an expensive bike very quickly if you aren’t careful.
And I totally agree that big box department store bikes should be avoided at all costs.
I guess what I’m trying to say here, is that when one is considering a bike for a survival vehicle….especially if one is looking to use a bike as a bug-out vehicle, then cutting corners on the quality and condition of the bike is probably not a good idea.  I would compare it to the purchase of a cheap firearm.  You don’t want your firearm to fail you at a critical time.  And you don’t want the bike to fail you either.  This is another one of those cases where you truly do get what you pay for.  It is not necessary to take out a second mortgage to get a quality bike, but I think a person should not be afraid to spend $400-$500 for a good quality, recent model bike with decent components.  I recently sold a very nice Bianchi racing bike and then turned around a purchased a nice Hybrid (or city bike).  This bike is extremely versatile and I can even ride it off road, since I made sure that the rims and tires were adequate and designed for that.  I purchased the bike on sale from a reputable shop and only paid about $400 for it. (Normal retail was $600).  The key was, I purchased a bike that was not a popular color (brown)…but it was perfect for me, since it wasn’t flashy.  I immediately upgraded the saddle to a Brooks leather, which are incredibly comfortable once they are broken in.  And I recently purchased a trailer that is rated for 200 lb. load capacity.  It is my ultimate bug-out vehicle. What I would resort to if I had to get out of Dodge and fuel for my car was unavailable.  A person in reasonable condition can easily cover 50 miles a day on a bike and trailer combination like this.  And no person on foot could ever carry 200lbs on their back.  I could pack a lot of gear and food on this .  Both the bike and trailer will go in the back of my pickup.  So if the truck fails, or travel in a motor vehicle is impossible, then still have the bike.

Thanks James for your blog site and what you are doing.  I listen to you every chance I get on YouTube.  And I especially look forward to hearing you on Alex Jones.  I think you’ve been one of his best guests. - Mark L.

Banjo gave a very good introduction to bikes as useful/usable transportation in an emergency situation by Banjo. The author is correct and covers most pertinent points well. Just a few additions from me:

If you can find one, a steel-framed bike is potentially preferable to an aluminum frame for several reasons, including greater flexibility and, thus, resilience on bad roads or backcountry. The most pertinent in a survival situation is that it is much easier to weld steel than aluminum. Aluminum is more prone than steel to crack at the joints (welds) and if you're covering rough country, you may encounter an break that can be repaired relatively easily via welding, although soldering is preferred for steel -- and that's even easier than welding.

As someone noted recently on SurvivalBlog, bicycle tubing can be relatively easily dismantled. If you want to carry an emergency stash of silver dimes or quarters or cartridges, for example, you can wrap it in something to insulate it (keep it from rattling) and stuff it down the seat post, in the handlebars, etc. If it's in the handlebars, it'll be even easier to access. Put the same mass in each end so it doesn't unbalance the bike's steering.

If you plan to use a trailer, practice riding the bike with the trailer loaded, whether it's with a child or supplies. And make sure some of the practice rides are done with the people you plan to evacuate with. I haul my daughter around in a bicycle trailer frequently. We live close to stores, my wife's office and other necessary stops, so we commute by bike when possible. It's free (now that I have the bicycle) and I get some exercise. Recently my wife and I tried to take a ride together to the grocery store and she repeatedly got in front of me and stopped quickly, not realizing that with an extra 60 pounds of weight behind me, I wasn't able to stop as quickly as she could. Also, at times my 3-year-old has managed to unbuckle her restraints, open the front of the trailer, and attempt to jump out. Plan ahead, know what you're getting yourself into, and remediate as necessary. I am currently working on a fix to the child buckle situation. That kid is ingenious.

One minor correction: Banjo says tire rubber "actually ages just from exposure to air, so if you are really serious you can put a bunch of tires, tubes, and rim bands in a 55-gallon drum or something with nitrogen (sold at car-parts places to fill tires with) or at least an oxygen absorber." Actually, bicycle racers sometimes purchase a stockpile of tires and intentionally let them age in a dark, dry environment. Aged tires are much more puncture resistant and long-lasting. Some of their elasticity goes away and they may not have the same non-slick qualities as a new tire, but they last. On my most recent bike, for example, I left one old tire mounted and replaced the other immediately due to obvious damage. Since then, I have replaced the new one twice due to wear, and fixed about 12 punctures on tubes for it. The old tire, which was probably 15-20 years old, hasn't had a problem of any sort.

If nothing else, a bicycle is good transportation. I've personally done up to 140 miles per day on one while touring, but that was 26 years ago when I was significantly older. But if all else fails, you can also use the chain drive much as you would the power-take-off (PTO) on a tractor, to power a grain mill or many other tools, as JWR mentioned in his novel Patriots. I've even seen one used to operate a blender, if that's high on your list of priorities.

Best of luck. Buy something high quality if possible, use it often, and learn how to change a tire. If you live in an urban area, buy something ugly but mechanically sound so it won't get stolen, then get out there and ride. - JDC in Mississippi

CPT Rawles,
Though I enjoyed Banjo's article, I feel the article on survival bikes was a bit too narrow-sighted in scope. First, Presta valves are a completely viable option in a Shrader world. Bike shops regularly carry brass and aluminum (which weigh next to nothing) Presta-Shrader adapters. These cost upwards of a
dollar and can be left on the bike so that you're never unable to fill at a gas station.
Secondly, Tire sizes (fat or skinny) have also come around. 29" bikes have been making a hit the past few years. The extra few inches really seems to make a difference in the ride, especially over uneven
terrain. If availability is an issue, buy several and keep them around.

Finally, don't overlook Craigslist. I've found plenty of deals (like my own hard tail 29") for a third of the original price. Many people rushed out to get the latest 29" bike, and it has sat in their garage

Thank you, - Jim in Wyoming

Michael Z. Williamson (SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large) suggested an informative piece about EOD robots.

   o o o

Reader E.A.B. mentioned this tremendous online resource: The LSU Agriculture Center Library

   o o o

Should We Ice Injuries? (Thanks to Larry R. for the link.)

   o o o

Yishai sent: Agriculture Secretary: Rural America Is ‘Becoming Less and Less Relevant’

"Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? [It is] God that justifieth.
Who [is] he that condemneth? [It is] Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? [shall] tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." - Romans 8:33-39 (KJV)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A follow-up on the tragic accidental death of Chuck Lamb (the husband of Jenny of The Last Frontier blog.) A Special Memorial Fund has been set up by Wells Fargo bank, to benefit Jenny and her two young sons. The account number is 7348691358. It is in the name "Chuck Lamb Donation Account". You can make a donation via any Wells Fargo Bank branch.


Today we present another entry for Round 44 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 44 ends on January 31st, 2013, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

My husband tells it the best: the utility power was out for miles around after the transformers blew. Driving up to our home in a darkened neighborhood after a harrowing commute, our house shined with soft glow outside of solar lights along the driveway and in the windows, candle light flickered inside, food was cooking out back on what appeared to be a stack of blocks, music from a wind up radio played in the background and my wife handed me a steaming mug of hot chocolate as I walked in. No generator in use….no power….yet warmth and reassuring life in a grid down neighborhood! "Lord, am I glad I married a prepper”!

Massive snow/ice storms, utility interruptions,  hurricane aftermath, solar flares, EMPs….many different problems can cause serious and lasting power outages. Thinking about having a plan….and having a real plan that works and that you have tested is different. When responsible for food preparation, you have to Plan to “Never Fail”!!!

We all know of the massive “bug out plans” in the event the grid goes down. Unfortunately, most of us who live in more populated areas such as suburbia would not be able to implement such a plan due to the traffic gridlock and high security risks that would occur within minutes. Being trapped on the highway exposes needless vulnerabilities for short term (weeks) of rustic food preparation. Setting up now and staging in needed skills and food stuffs will help you to transition into primitive skills our grandmothers were experts in.

Call it “Short Term Transition Crisis Cooking”. In every situation, the first stage can be the most frightening and you will feel overwhelmed. Face that fear head on and work through it a step at a time calmly. With a little planning, scheduling and advanced preparation, you can keep a regular nutritious and comforting meal schedule. You will calm the jangled nerves of all family members by your preparation.

Establish a Routine, then expand it. Families exist better with an established daily routine. Set meal times, then work backwards to ensure your preparations are in order and ready and all is done before darkness descends. Our grandmothers were marvelous at not wasting energy, food resources and keeping everything on track. Any bored or restless youngster was instantly put to work helping prepare for the next meal or tomorrow’s meals. Without modern conveniences we all take for granted, there will be a lot more manual preparation tasks to be done. Learning by doing will also teach your youngsters better self reliance; a mind set skill that is vastly needed.

Make a list for instant response for the first three days while you adapt to your new reality! Include how you will cook, what you will cook and how you will clean up. It matters equally!

Know your cooking resource, and know better it’s limitations! I hear many urbanites touting their piped gas stoves which are wonderful. However, many piped natural gas systems rely on electric pumps to move the resource. Depending on your utility’s emergency plan, you may have interruptions due to location, pumping limitations, physical damage (earthquake) etc. I highly recommend having a few back up plans. Practice every chance you have now. You’ll thank me later!

For example, our cooking plan is as follows:

Cooking Resource




Flame ignition/heat  source. Have as many options as you can muster!


Ranges from weather proof pocket matches or lighter to other fire starters, self ignition for grills etc. Solar

Weather, skill, tools to start fire with.

Gas Grill or charcoal grill

Most of us are familiar with grills so can instantly bring a meal together from the freezer etc with little stress in the hours following a crisis.

175 Lbs on hand in cylinders

20-10 lb bags of charcoal stored in metal garbage cans with lids.

Weather. Not frugal for long term cooking or boiling of water, soups etc.

Piped natural gas stove



Disruptions of pumping by utility, physical damage from earthquake etc

Canned heat, sterno etc. camping style cooking


20 hours worth

Temperatures hard to regulate, good for quick warm ups or small meals. Canned heat can leak and must be checked. Not good for ultra large meals.

Volcano Stove

Long term. Medium investment

Unlimited only by fuel such as wood or charcoal

Learning to use, regulating heat source. Recommend starting with hard to burn foods such as soups or stews, stir-fries and advance as skill and familiarity increases

Rocket Stove, either metal or made of bricks/blocks
*Recommend two! Comes in handy for cleanups, cooking more than one large item or even laundry.

Long term. Tiny investment to build from cans/bucket or used blocks or bricks. Many plans available on and online.

Unlimited only by fuel such as wood or charcoal. Uses miserly amounts of wood per meal. Regular use extends other precious resources

Weather can be a problem with high winds/ pouring rain or pelting snow. Harder to use after dark.
*set boundaries/barricades for children and pets

Solar ovens

Long term. Investment varies from home made versions for a few dollars to ultra sophisticated models. Plans to build your own available widely on line

Unknown. Limited by amount of sunlight.

Extremely slow process for some cooked items depending on time of year and how often you must redirect oven. Extended poor weather impacts ability to cook. There is a learning curve to using one and making enough variety during sunlit hours. Volume of food cooked can be a limiting factor too.

Now for the meal planning itself:

Plan time for each meal to “build” to the next meal. For example, when cooking dinner, use the residual heat to start that pot of beans or rice rehydrating for tomorrow. If cooking pasta for dinner, I stir fry dry pasta in a little oil at lunch to enhance the flavor before adding water/broth using the last heat of the lunch cook time. I personally cook from bulk supply, so when I cook oatmeal for breakfast, I use the extra leftovers in bread for the dinner meal etc to avoid waste. (you can set up your recipes this way too) If you are a “store bought” kind of cook, stock up on the large sized pre-packed soup mixes in different varieties. Having these ready to go will only require some type of hot bread to be fried, baked etc. Reduces stress….for the cook and those eating.

Plan for more hot food than needed in the first weeks of any high stress time. I can not stress this enough. During these first days there will be many demands on your time, and bringing a hot delicious meal on time to the family will be a huge comfort.  The first week is the hardest! Start with tried and true items that are hard to burn (like a simple soup) and build your skill set as you evolve. Nothing breaks a cook’s nerves worse than choruses of “I’m hungry” in between meals and ever circling herds of family foraging while you are trying to work! Setting up a stockpot of constantly low simmer soup will help deal with the high stress, technology void and fear of the unknown and instantly supply a cup to anyone hungry in between meals. I recommend a slow cooker method such as a cinder block rocket stove so that few resources are used for hours of cooking. (good to add any leftovers into as well!)You can also have a constant pot/kettle of hot water on the ready with one of these. Our grandmothers knew this lesson and always had a soup pot on the stove and a kettle filled and ready. It brings normal into an otherwise surreal situation.

An often overlooked item is clean up. Paper plates are wonderful, but chances are will not last. Establish how you will clean up after meal time. Personally when starting the meal, I set a large older dishpan on the second rocket stove to start heating for wash up. A dish pan is wide and not so deep, and add a little soap and dishes as needed to begin soaking. When full pull off the fire (add another one) and wash, then rinse in cold water. Use the final pot of water to wash your dishcloths/sponges to hang dry, rinse any food residue near your cooking area, clean tables/counters etc. so that you can begin set up for the next meal making it easier to start over. (If needed you can add that last hot wash water onto any waiting laundry too for presoaking)

Most of us have endured utility interruption….we can overcome this by creatively planning and not just knowing our limitations…but by showcasing them! Practice your plans and experiment with your cooking methods. In times of stress, we all need the comfort emotionally and physically of timely meals or a hot drink, even a plate of rice crispy treats! Choose to cherish these skills you are learning, and face the challenges with a smile and cheerful outlook! With a few resources and practice, you provide inspiration and encouragement, uplifting the spirits of those around you.

CPT Rawles,
In reference to the article Making Our Bug Out Bags Work: Shaving Weight, I applaud the efforts of Joshua H. taking the opportunity to hike 22 miles in three days, however, without any other information, his resulting experience is not surprising.  As a fellow Army officer, you can attest that ruck marching is essentially a practiced art.  One builds up to those distances and weights.  Cutting weight is good, but only those items not deemed necessary.  Don't cut weight because of a lack of practice carrying a weighted down backpack.  Practice carrying that weight, and build up the weight you can carry, over progressively longer distances.  Otherwise, you will find that you have moved 22 miles in three days, and that is the end of your trip due to medical reasons.  Slowly build up your distances and weight, keeping a standard 15 minute mile time on flat ground. - CPT D.

Thank you for all your efforts. I pray they are never needed but fear otherwise. We run a safety training and supply company specializing in custom first aid/survival kits for various customers. We agree that Coban is wonderful stuff. A hint for the budget minded preppers use a vet supply house or feed store and buy "vet wrap"-- same stuff at lower price. - A.K.S.

Coban is not a panacea for your wound dressing needs.  While it does offer self-adherence,  ease of use, durability, availability, selection of sizes and colors, etc.  There are a few flaws with this material.  The first and most dangerous is while this material is self adhering, it is also progressive in nature, e.g. it will continue to tighten over the first few minutes on it's own.  This means there is a learning curve to the proper application of Coban and serially (several times) monitoring to ensure the extremity distal (further from the heart) has not been subject to neuro-vascular compromise, this is easily done by determining light touch sensation, capillary refill, pulse and movement.  Second, it is not typically re-usable nor as durable as a simple Ace bandage.  

I have used both daily as a Physician Assistant in both Orthopedics and Emergency Medicine and both have their advantages/disadvantages, but if I had to chose, I would pack a few aces. - Charles T.


I love Coban! We use it at Appleseed [rifle marksmanship training] weekends to hold pipe insulation to rifle stocks to build up cheek rests. It is great to bind anything you don't want to mar with duct tape. We purchase it by the case from veterinarian supply houses, it is much cheaper and comes in MANY fun colors. Look for it as vet wrap. - Elizabeth B. in Colorado

Mr. Rawles,
I just wanted to echo Frank L.'s enthusiasm for the class of medical products generally known as self-adhering bandages.  In 2010 I earned my EMT certification for prep skills and I work in the EMS world on the side.  We use the self-adhering bandages for many applications.  They not only perform compression, but will also adhere when wet.  They are excellent for holding a dressing in place and are superior to medical tape for such applications.  I helped provide medical coverage for a church youth camp at a beach with 2700+ students and another 700+ adults.  We used a case of this stuff for sprains, lacerations, abrasions, and holding ice packs in place.  I keep several rolls in my personal medical gear at all times.  Avoid storing in high heat as prolonged exposure to hot temps will degrade the adhesive.  Thanks. - Old School

Marilyn R. sent this: Fed-up Homeowner Catches Thief in the Act with Homemade Security System.

   o o o

I just heard that until December 31st, the complete set of the excellent Homesteading for Beginners DVDs is currently being offered for $30 off retail. FWIW, we use a couple of their large clothes drying racks here at the Rawles Ranch, and we love their videos.

   o o o

Chuck keeps flinging around more legislative Schumer: Charles Schumer Makes A Move In The Senate To Deny Veterans The Right To Own Firearms . (Thanks to Jon E. for the link.)

   o o o

Detroit, Michigan descends further into societal collapse: Robbers With AK-47s Hit Two Detroit Gas Stations and Execution Style Slayings Leave Four Dead In Detroit and Detroit 2012 Murders Outpace 2011. (Thanks to H.L. for the links.)

   o o o

I stumbled into this 21-minute gem on YouTube: Stop That Tank - Classic Cartoons - Walt Disney (Boyes Anti-Tank Rifle)

"Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer.
From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock [that] is higher than I.
For thou hast been a shelter for me, [and] a strong tower from the enemy.
I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah.
For thou, O God, hast heard my vows: thou hast given [me] the heritage of those that fear thy name.
Thou wilt prolong the king's life: [and] his years as many generations.
He shall abide before God for ever: O prepare mercy and truth, [which] may preserve him.
So will I sing praise unto thy name for ever, that I may daily perform my vows." - Psalm 61 (KJV)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Today we remember Pearl Harbor Day. The sacrifices made that day were great (2,402 lives), and the sacrifices that followed in America's involvement in World War II, even greater. We are still indebted to that generation.


Today we present another entry for Round 44 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 44 ends on January 31st, 2013, 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.

Lots of people are getting out of their cars and onto bikes these days, because of the high cost of gasoline , parking hassles, and concerns about staying physically fit. When natural disasters or terrorist acts strike, people repeatedly find that a good bicycle is a fine thing to have. On a "bang for the buck" basis, the bicycle is one of the finest travel machines Mankind has devised. When the motor vehicle was still in its infancy, armies the world over were putting their troops on bicycles. The armies knew they could move a lot of soldiers, with gear, impressive distances in impressively short times.

I highly recommend bicycles as part of your preps. A bike for each member of your family or group is best, and having ridden around on them quite a bit, I have some definite opinions on what's best to look for in a "survival bike". It should be durable, comfortable, versatile, and easy to work on. I should note that my experience is in the US, so if you're outside the US you might want to translate what I recommend to your local area. But I think the kind of bike I recommend is fairly universal.

First, any bike is better than no bike at all. Secondly, your survival bike should be one you're familiar with, ride often, and are comfortable on. It will be your every-day, or at least one of your everyday bikes. If you have more than one it may be your "winter bike", or the one you do grocery errands on, or putt around on your local trails or unpaved roads. Consider it a mule who's an old friend who you can always count on.

So, what's best to get? Let's work from the wheels up. These days you'll see a lot of skinny bikes with skinny wheels and little, skinny, tire valves. These skinny ones are called Presta, generally need a different pump head, are more complicated to use, and are generally on skinny wheels on the kind of bikes I don't favor. We don't need to win a bike race here, and we don't need European-standard valves. I also say avoid the old skinny-tire 10-speeds, the one your Dad may have bought in the 1960s and left you, for instance. These have Schrader-valve wheels, but they're an older standard for "vintage" skinny-tire bikes, and tires and tubes can be hard to find, in limited choices, these days. Leave all this skinny-tire stuff to the racers, messenger kids, and vintage-bike enthusiasts. Stick with the Schrader valve, the Schrader valve is found on car tires, pumps that fit it are found everywhere, and in the US it's by far the most common, proven, and user-friendly valve type.

What I recommend is, you get a bike that has 26" wheels. That's the standard in the US and is found on cruisers, a lot of "city" or "commuter" bikes, and on the tons and tons of mountain bikes that are out there. You want something you can get tires and tubes for everywhere, fill up just about anywhere, and there are pumps widely available.

An older mountain bike is what I recommend. What goes under the name "mountain bike" these days is most often something I'd avoid. The reason is, almost all of them have suspension, springs and shock absorbers, on them. Those are to be avoided. They have their place, but on a general-purpose bike all they do is make the ride mushy, wasting your pedal-power, make the bike heavier, and add complication and expense. Sure, they cushion the bumps, but that's what pneumatic tires were invented for. The high-end bikes are very expensive, and made for "downhill" riding, going fast and bouncing over stuff. You won't do that with your bike, you'll lift it over that log etc. The big-box store cheapo mountain bikes are made to look "hi-tech" and are heavy, inefficient, and really not much fun to ride. Any big-box store bike isn't going to last, and at their low cost they're still too expensive. This is why I like older, "hard-tail", mountain bikes. When mountain bikes were a new thing, people were willing to pay a premium price for them. Also, the manufacturers weren't sure how roughly they'd be treated, so they tended to build them really well. This was the age of quality steel frames (look for Cromoly or Cro-Mo, on a sticker on the frame) with lugged construction which means at every joining point, the steel is double-thickness. Look up "lugged bicycle frame" on a search engine's images, it's a very handy thing to know how to identify.

These older, non-suspension mountain bikes have often been living in garages for a decade or two, and since a lot of people don't appreciate what they are, you can get them reasonably. They often have stainless-steel spokes on the wheels, and often the wheels are made by Araya, a Japanese wheel maker well-known for making motorcycle wheels. These are signs of quality to look for. In fact as a rule-of-thumb, if the spokes aren't stainless-steel, pass on it. Stainless spokes will have a dullish shine and feel smooth when you run your fingers down them.

I recommend garage sales and thrift stores and so on for price, over Internet sites because I feel the prices trend high on sites where someone has to go through some effort to list it and describe it, and likewise there's a large, well-informed public scanning the ads. You want the bike that gets pulled out for the garage sale "because we've had that old thing forever" and so on. Just remember: look for quality.

You'll want to look into bike fit, seats, various rack and pannier systems, etc. You can go fancy on racks, but the humble folding wire jobs that hang off of a rear rack are better than nothing by far. At the high end you have Ortlieb panniers, and then there are many types of homemade panniers made out of buckets and ammo boxes and so on. There are lots of plans online. A basket on the front looks a bit nerdy but they're extremely useful. Put one on and you'll wonder how you got by without it. Trailers, and those made by Burley are generally the best, are an additional thing. You can carry 100 pounds in a Burley Nomad, for instance. Again, look for them used, as they're quite pricey new.

Now some more about tires and tubes and wheels. After all, they really are where the rubber meets the road! First, you may have heard of a product called Slime. If you have "goat head" (Tribulus terrestris) weeds growing in your area, Slime is going to be a must-have. You can get tubes with it already installed, or you can put it in - the directions on the bottle are very easy to follow. You should know how to fix a flat anyway, and 26" wheels seem to be about the easiest to work on, as far as changing out tires and tubes. I recommend learning how to patch a tube, using the old-school patch kit with the "vulcanizing" cement in the little tube. Tubes are expensive these days! I'm about to go back to my old rule from my college days: Re-tire a tube after three patches.

Used bicycle tubes are extremely useful for all kinds of uses, so don't throw 'em out. For tires, with Slime, the tires you get with the bike should be fine, assuming they're not old and dried out (look for cracking in the sides of the tires). There are some highly regarded tires with Kevlar in them for hard usage like touring, or police-bicycle work, like the Schwalbe Marathon. If you've got to have "the" tires and have the budget, by all means get 'em. But you can get tires in all price ranges. Don't forget rim-bands, which are little strips of rubber or plastic that cover the nipples (bases) of the spokes inside the rim - uncovered, those will eventually wear through the tube and give you a flat. Remember that the tube needs a little TLC; if you get a flat, you must remember to check the tire to make sure the thorn, piece of glass, etc., that caused the flat isn't still in the tire.

You can buy bike stuff in a bike shop of course, and it's good to patronize your local bike shop just like any small business. But if you're on a budget or stocking up, that big 'Mart can't be beat. Or your local hardware store. There's a large population of people who go around by bike and are on a budget, and "dime stores" and their descendants generally have a bike department with basic tires, tubes, lights, all the things utilitarian riders need.

I suggest stocking up things that wear, like tires, tubes, grips, rim-bands, seats, pedals, cables, brake pads, all kinds of "consumables". Tires don't store well in the sun, so a dark part of the garage is much better. The rubber actually ages just from exposure to air, so if you are really serious you can put a bunch of tires, tubes, and rim bands in a 55-gallon drum or something with nitrogen (sold at car-parts places to fill tires with) or at least an oxygen absorber.

I want you to get the best bang for your buck, so I really suggest you check garage sales, church sales, places like that for bikes and parts. Lots of small things like a decent seat ... that'll run you a minimum of $20 at a bike shop and often quite a bit more, are often found looking for a home at a garage or church sale for a few dollars. Grips, tubes, really every little part, will show up at bargain-basement prices. What I'm leery of and think you should be, is the large commercially-run "swap meet" or "flea market" because a lot of stolen bikes show up at those. You can being a smartphone and check against the listings on the National Bike Registry ( but what if the owner didn't register theirs? You just can't tell. One suggestion is to get a bill of sale and take a photo of the seller's driver's license, and if they won't let you do that, steer clear. Be careful in the jungle of deals-too-good-to-be-true.

Helmets are a personal choice in most areas, also in a lot of areas they're not a choice if you're a minor. I'm not going to recommend buying a used "lid", fortunately there are a lot of them out there new at reasonable prices. A more expensive helmet may be lighter, cooler in hot weather, or the one worn by this year's World champion, but it's not necessarily any safer than a sensibly-priced one. The one opinion I have about helmets is, if you wear one, might as well get a light-colored one, like yellow. It will increase your visibility to drivers, although in tough times you may not want to be seen so easily. That's when you get out the camo tape.

Lastly, if you have to visit one bike site online, check out Sheldon Brown's site. Sheldon has passed and will be missed, but his bike shop has kept his work online because it's so helpful, friendly, and comprehensive. In fact it can be almost overwhelming so the other resources I recommend are videos on YouTube, and classes, generally free, held by your local bike shop or bike club.

Short and sweet:

* Bikes have moved armies, officially and un-officially. They can move you.
* 26" wheels, with Schrader valves, by far the most common in the US; that's desirable.
* Get an older mountain bike, no suspension, Cro-Moly frame, stainless steel spokes.
* Learn to use Slime
* You can build a fine stable of bikes from thrift, garage, and church sales.
* Stock up on consumables, like tubes and tires.
* There are a few things you always buy new. Bike helmets are one of them.
* Learn more from Sheldon Brown, YouTube, local shops, clubs, and groups.

Hi Jim;
Here is an easy project with some super results. A clever fellow used an old television to create a 2,000-degree solar oven. You can see:

Merry Christmas, - Karl G.

Regarding the recent article by "Will Prep":

The otherwise well written article with lots of good information overlooked mentioning amateur (ham) radio as the very best mode of communications when he asks: "What will I do for Communications?" Any General or higher class ham with a few radios that he/she uses on a regular basis will have no problems with communications!

"Will Prep" must have lots more spare cash than the average person to even mention satellite phones!

Thanks again to JWR for this great site! Keep up the good work. - Ken M.

You gotta love Texas: Burglar calls 911 to save himself from gun-wielding homeowner (Thanks to T.J. G. for the link.)

   o o o

James C. sent this sign of the times: Missouri Farmers Fight Rise In Hay Thefts

   o o o

File under: Jackboot Mega Overkill: FBI and State Police Conduct Massive Manhunt and Raid Against Prepper Who Was Angry Over Obama Reelection

   o o o

Sasol to Build the First Ever Gas-to-Liquid Plant in the US

   o o o

I just heard that Ready Made Resources now has the PS-24 FLIR Scout thermal imaging scope on sale for $1,895, with free shipping.

"There aren't any great men. There are just great challenges that ordinary men like you and me are forced by circumstances to meet." - Admiral William Frederick "Bull" Halsey Jr.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Jenny of The Last Frontier blog has reported the tragic death of her husband, in an accident. Please keep Jenny and her two young sons in your prayers. She mentioned that they are moving back to their homestead for the rest of the winter. I'll post word if I hear about a memorial fund. (She hadn't been posting to her blog much in the past couple of years because of the high cost of flying in propane for their genset. She and her husband built their Alaska homestead on a limited budget.)


Today we present another entry for Round 44 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 44 ends on January 31st, 2013, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

In a survival situation whether this is a crashed airplane, lost on hunt or a collapse scenario where normal items become scare, inexpensive or both knowing how to construct your own arctic survival footwear could be the difference between life and death, comfort or pure agony!

I was reading this old book called “THE ARCTIC SURVIVAL GUIDE” written by Alan Innes-Taylor for the Scandinavian Airline System in 1957, it has a lot of good info in it, and I believe most of it is the same info that is in some of the old US AIR FORCE Arctic Survival Manuals from the same period. Among the various survival techniques described in these books are some very primitive yet effective techniques. These include:

One way to get a nice pair of shoes is to use a method of footwear as old as the caveman.
For this you can use the hock skin of caribou, moose, elk or any large game animal.
Basically look at the animals foot, where the bend is that area above and below is what you are going to use, tailor it to your own foot. 
CUT A: Will be the area above the bend that will be body of the boot that goes up your leg, make sure it is long enough to make it med calf so it will be like a legging of sorts
CUT B: Will be BELOW the Bend and will be sewn up to keep your toes from hanging out!
• You will want to cut Areas A & B all the way around and deep.
• Separate from the Leg and pull it off over the hoof, you now basically have a L shaped piece of hide.
• In a less immediate survival situation you could clean and tan the hide, for long term use.  In a survival situation, try to scrap the loose bits of meat off as best you can, but this is about survival and getting home, so a little left on there is ok, just not optimal.
• At part B (the bottom end) sew that up with whatever you have (This is why a Paracord Belt would be great! the fibers from a piece of paracord would work perfect!)
• Then poke holes with the bottle opener/leather punch (if you have  a Leatherman handy) or just holes from a knife will work fine to create holes for laces.
• Then take the laces from the destroyed boots if possible or paracord(see another use, I'm not kidding about how useful that stuff is buy Spools!)
You know have a decent footwear.  Don't discard this as “gross” or too “primitive living”, try walking on a nice day through the woods with just socks, now imagine that in Arctic, cold weather survival situation!
Since the Moose provides you with four hocks, you can make two pairs of these shoes, and be able to change them out whenever you need to, definitely take advantage of the material to make a second pair.

Note:  The Book “ARCTIC MANUAL” which was written by  Vilhjalmur Stefansson for the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1944,  is an excellent resource for many different arctic survival needs, recommends caribou for homestead/primitive living boots.

“The sole, shoepac type as always, is of August or September bull Caribou, and form the back skin.  October hides are sometimes used but as said, the skins get thinner as the season advances…August or early September bootsole is so durable that on snow exclusively, or on snow and grassland, one pair of soles will carry you a thousand miles at least.”
Pretty neat stuff right?

Your Moose hock shoes will work fine, but what they lack is insulation, this leads me to the next thing to consider…

Simple grass has been used by northern natives and hard living European hunters/trappers, etc for a long time to help augment the insulating factor of your socks, or to preserve your socks as well.
The biggest killer in an arctic environment is not the cold as much as it is inaction or getting wet.
When you walk around for awhile you start to perspire (sweat) For a quick walk in the woods, this is ok, but in a true survival situation you will want to slow your pace enough to keep you warm and conserve energy as well as to control your perspiration.  If you have good insulating boots and socks your feet will perspire, making your socks wet and when you stop that wetness will turn ice cold.

Grass insoles are good for three things
• Good dry grass will absorb the perspiration and your socks will be dryer
• The Grass will add another layer of insulation to keep your feet warm (as you get colder your body will make sure the core stays warm and your extremities such as your hands and feet will get much cooler)
• The grass can provide more cushion to your feet AND insulation if you are wearing improvised footwear like the moose hock shoes mentioned above.
How to make the insoles
• You will want to take ANY tall grass that grows throughout the north.  Grasp large handful in both hands (the guide mentions a “sheaf” of grass, basically enough so both your hands, on on top of each other, aren't touching) twist it in opposite directions.  take that bundle and fluff it up into oblong shapes so it is “fluffed up” like a nest (this is so there is air insulation in between the grass).
• Make sure this oblong shape is “foot like” but wider than your actual foot and a inch thick, carefully put that into your shoe/boot.

If you have socks (hopefully a couple) use this to further your insulation.
• Put your first sock on
• Using the same method for the insoles put that in your second larger sock and roll it down so it is very short
• Carefully put your foot in, and try to have overlap over the edges onto the top of your foot with grass.
• Pack loose grass around the open space all the way up the sock, rolling it up as you go.
Now the picture in the book shows parachute fabric as the outer layer, this is a military manual and is for pilots that have to bail out of their aircraft, so they would have this available.  This same method would work perfectly with the moose hock shoe, depending on the size of the moose and the room you have inside.
At night or long periods of rest take these out and dry them.  Discard them if possible in place of new grass if you can find it.
If you cant find dry grass, make a wooden “grate” and attempt to dry the grass on that, you could take rocks and put them in the fire to warm them and then place them under the grate to dry the grass or just set them near enough to dry but don't let them catch fire of course!
The Hudson Bay Duffle

Another form of insulation for boots or improvised footwear could be the “Hudson Bay Duffle”

The Hudson Bay Company had a trade with the Natives for insulated socks.  They would make triangular pieces of fabric from soft blankets and sell them for use inside of Moccasins.
All you need is some piece of cloth cut into a triangle, and you stick your foot in that with it pointing towards one point of the cloth.
Edge 1: Is the point in front of your foot
Edge 2: Is the point to the left of your foot
Edge 3: Is to the right of your foot.
• Edge 1 would go straight over the top of the foot
• Edge 2 and 3 would be wrapped OVER the instep
The “completed” Duffle would look rough but useable.
This would then be eased into the moccasin and firmly lashed. DONE

This has a few advantages over socks:
1. Depending on material it could be washed and dried quickly
2. Foot can be placed differently to help even out wear, and avoid holes that may form in the heel
3. It can be made from any soft material, from jackets, to multiple shirts, blankets, etc.
You can definitely use this if you have an extra blanket in your pack that you can cut a piece from, then use Grass as an insole and then put inside the Moose Hock shoe.
I would definitely try to get your hands on these books if possible, check out local libraries or see if libraries in other areas would loan them to yours so you can check them out. 

Dear James:
I'm a long time reader and love the SurvivalBlog site. I really wanted to point out one little thing that  I think is a very important item in any kit: Coban Wrap. (Sold under several brand names.)
I'm a former medic and now live in the northeast on the water. I have young kids and we do some of boating and spend a fair amount of time on the remote rocky beaches of the area. When we got here earlier in the year I put together a little first aid kit focused on multi-use items and scalability and try to keep it with me especially when we're far from emergency services. I broke into the kit a lot this summer and the one thing that stood out was how glad I was to have Coban.
Coban's a self adhering wrap and I've been impressed its versatility for a while. This last summer I used it many times.
Here's what it came out of the kit for this summer (these are off duty situations):

  • Foot laceration. Happened in the ocean, nasty cut. Coban kept pressure on and sand out. It really helped with the long walk out.

  • Compression wrap on a metal door to forearm collision. Was told it helped a lot.

  • Ankle sprain.

  • As [the equivalent of] an Ace bandage on my own sprained knee while wade fishing. This got me through the half mile walk home over a very rocky shoreline.

  • Stabilization of a large fishhook in a young girl's foot. Seemed to calm her down and let her parents get her to the Emergency Room.

That's what I actually used it for in just one 2-month period as a civilian... In more dire trauma situations it's an extra hand when there are multiple wounds and holds things together a lot faster than tape. Many problems big and small can be addressed with a roll of Coban and a trauma pad and I keep both of them even in my smallest kit.
Suffice to say that I think the versatility of Coban is worth noting especially since it is rarely supplied in stock first aid kit lists. I'd urge folks to consider adding it to their kits.
Best Wishes, - Frank L.

Hi James:
I can attest to the veracity of the recent article Making Our Bug Out Bags Work: Shaving Weight. My journey to cut weight was spawned by a previous article from your blog.

This past May I went camping and hiked 22 miles in 3 days with my bug out bag. The weight was around 41 pounds which is considered light by most standards. I'm 31 years old and in pretty good shape, run 10-15 miles a week and exercise. But just that amount of weight was tougher than I expected, it exhausted me, and caused me to get blisters on both feet.  So for all those people with 50-70 pound bags I suggest they wake up to reality and actually test out their system.

Since then I've cut the weight of my pack down to 28.5 pounds total, with four days of food and one day of water, sleeping system, tent, pad, first aid, minimal gear, rain gear, clothes to sleep in, and a 2nd change of clothes.  My base pack weight (minus food, water, fuel) is 17 pounds. I can tell you that is a huge difference. I've also started walking with my pack each week to build up those back muscles that rarely get used. Yesterday alone I did 6.2 miles without a problem and the week before I walked a total of 13. 

I suggest everyone with a bug out bag go walk 5 miles with it as it currently is. Upon returning I bet everyone will be ready to cut weight! "Ounces Equal Pounds and Pounds Equal Pain". - Regards From Joshua H.

Great news for California residents! Some Berkey water filter products can once again be shipped to California.

   o o o

I heard from one of the Bulgarian consultants to the translators of my books that the Bulgarian edition of Patriots and the Bulgarian edition of How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It are now available online. For the latter book, there have been 12 foreign publishing contracts to produce editions in 11 languages. The German, French and Spanish editions are also already in print, and I expect the Russian, Portuguese, and Korean editions to be released soon. It is amazing to see the popularity of the preparedness movement, worldwide.

   o o o

James C. sent this: Bubblepack window insulation.

   o o o

I just heard that Duncan Long's e-book, "You Can Survive the Very Worst Manmade and Natural Disasters: A Handbook for Self-Reliance" is available FREE on, but only through December 6, 2012.

   o o o

More ethnic cleansing in Sudan: Scorched Earth Near Al-Abassiya

"Remember that there is nothing stable in human affairs; therefore avoid undue elation in prosperity, or undue depression in adversity."  - Socrates (469 BC - 399 BC)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Today we present another entry for Round 44 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 44 ends on January 31st, 2013, 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 could endlessly debate which threats are of immediate risk during a wilderness bug out. However, one of the most important is rarely discussed, avoiding injury. A quick sampling of Youtube videos or forum “bug out lists” quickly gives the impression that in the survivalist community, we carry too much weight. Many people plan to carry 60-70 pound packs for days at a time, while covering 15 miles per day. For some readers, this is feasible, but for most people, myself included, it is not. When talking about the dangers of bugging out, I often read about mudslides, wild animal attacks, bullet wounds, and a plethora of other comparatively unlikely events. Rarely does anyone talk about overexertion, and when they do, it is always in the context of physical fitness. Fitness is important; if you are not fit, it does not matter how many pounds of rice you have on your back. However, lowering your pack weight is one of the best ways to increase mobility, possible distance covered, and overall energy levels, all skills that should be high on our list. Every ounce does count; ask anyone who has gone on a long distance backwoods trip with 30lbs and then again with 35 pounds. The difference almost seems unbearable by day six. Every ounce you save is an asset towards your survival. Injury on a bug out makes you a liability for a group or a target for aggressors; it should be our number one priority to avoid it.

There is a large cultural difference between ultra-light backpackers and climbers on one hand and preparedness-minded individuals on the other. There is some overlap, but overwhelming, the climbers and ultra-light backpackers I have met have been gun-averse yuppies. However, these are communities that have a rigorous culture of shaving ounces and they have valuable things to teach us. Some things obviously do not translate (e.g. they do not have to carry guns and ammo); however, many things do. I have tried to provide some practical skills for shaving ounces off your pack. Yes, some of them are more expensive; however, simply saving the change in your pocket each day can make up the difference. Furthermore, a philosophy of weight vs. use can be the difference between life and death in the bush.

As a brief side note, stop buying military surplus. What? Blasphemy! We need to look at why we value military surplus items. The answer is, on face, simple. Military gear is made with two ideas in mind: price-point and durability. For many preparedness-minded individuals, the combination of rugged and cheap is too good to pass up; however, military surplus always comes at the expense of weight. If you have no plan to bug out or have a vehicle in your plan, weight is not as much of an issue. However, for backcountry bug outs using your own two legs or an animal (like sled dogs or a horse), we need to seriously weigh the price-point versus the weight. It is imperative, and literally a matter of life and death, that you are not buying military surplus merely to “look tactical.” Many of the tips explicitly compare military surplus items with alternatives in the civilian market. This is not because I have any qualms, per se, with surplus items; it is because we have to always compare value to weight and sometimes, surplus items just do not hold up. If it is all you can afford, by all means buy it, but understand the drawbacks. Surplus items are not the “end-all, be-all” of survivalism.

What a mess! How are you cooking?

Most of the pack lists I see legitimately have more pots and pans than I have in my kitchen. You do not need a frying pan, you do not need a one-gallon pot, and you most certainly do not need a Dutch oven. 95% of all foods that you carry on your back can be cooked in a 1-liter cylindrical pot, which also doubles as a cup. Your basic foods are freeze-dried food, which requires boiled water, and stews. Bacon and eggs should not be in your bug out plan, nor should peach cobbler. Lose the heavy mess kit with 18 various pots and pans and get one, single pot. You will be surprised that you never did so before. On that note, invest in a pot. Yes, invest. A 1-liter titanium pot is expensive, no one will tell you otherwise. However, I went through five “quality” mess kits before I plucked up the balls to drop the dough on one. It drops your whole mess kit to a fraction of a pound and it will last you a lifetime. I have met tons of people who will spend over $1,200 on a custom 1911, but would never spend $70 on a good pot. Their reason is that “it will last me forever.” Good point, I will almost certainly be able to pass my titanium pot onto my kids. Consider it a lifelong investment and save for a month or two if necessary. If it just is not an option, you still need to forgo the heavy mess kit and get one, solid pot that you can work with; of course, weight and durability are your main concerns. I am a big fan of stainless if you cannot drop the money on titanium, but I still think, after three years now, that it was the best $70 I have ever spent. On the utensil route, buy a cheap plastic set for under $3 that legitimately weighs nothing. I prefer hardened plastic to disposable options simply because they are more durable and cost virtually nothing; however, budget minded people may forgo the purchase altogether.

Foods: where you can make a real difference

One of the most important lessons I have learned is that your larder and your bug out plan need drastically different food choices. No food in your pack should have water in it; it doubles the weight because you are already packing water. Throw out the cans and find freeze-dried options. You do not need to spend $20 per meal on expensive pre-packaged food. Learn to freeze-dry your own food; it is actually easier than you think. If you do want to go the MRE route, strip them down. Excess packaging adds weight and many of the items will be doubled-up in your pack. Most of the items are unnecessary and while it may seem like nothing, every ounce counts. Lastly, expandable foods like rice and pasta weigh slightly more but pack tons of calories and cut water weight on a budget. All of this literally shaves pounds off your pack for essentially the same price.

Water: How do you carry it?

Most of the conversations on water deal with how it is procured. However, an equally valuable conversations needs to happen around how we carry it. This is where surplus can be handy; you need one or two 1-quart plastic canteens. Surplus canteens are great for this; they are cheap, durable, and relatively lightweight. However, you need more water than 2 quarts. Collapsible plastic water reservoirs are a great way to save weight and space as you move through water. Unless your pack has a purpose-driven holder for a Camelbak type system, I would forgo it to avoid the extra weight of effectively carrying it. Canteens are tried, tested and relatively lightweight. Use cordage to hang the canteens over your shoulder to get the weight off of your hips. All of this seems like a worthless endeavor for a few ounces; however, empty canteens are wasted weight and have fewer uses than an empty, clear water bladder.

Sleeping systems, not sleeping bags

Where do you live? Before you pack your sleeping system (and I use the word system intentionally), you need to analyze the weather. Prepare for the worst; however, if it rarely freezes where you live, you do not need a sub-zero bag. Over packing for the climate is a surefire way to add on unnecessary weight. Sleeping bags are a big investment but the technology has come a long way in recent years. I finally decided to trade in my 8-year-old mummy bag for a newer model and was shocked by the weight, and price, advances that have been made in recent years. I bought a new bag for half the cost; it weighed ¼ what my old bag did and compressed into about a fifth of the size. That is serious value for the dollar and online shopping can be your friend on this front. Lastly, consider your entire sleeping system. A tent and pad might add weight over a tarp but cut weight off of your sleeping bag. Research how your entire system works together. A heavier pad may wash out the weight instead of going 15 degrees colder on your bag and give you added comfort. If you live in alpine or plains environments, a tent that cuts the wind can literally shave pounds off of your sleeping bag. Do not just say, “lighter is better,” but understand how the system works together.

Guns: where everyone has an opinion

This is where I tread into dangerous ground. Everyone has an opinion and thinks their gun is best for the job. I will merely try to offer some guidelines; however, when thinking about carrying a gun, there are two main factors only occasionally discussed: total gun weight and total ammo weight. I have hiked around with a steel-framed, full-sized sidearm and will never do it again. You may love that 1911, but know your abilities. If by day six you wish you had brought something else, that is bad news. Some people have no problems with hiking around with a 70 lb pack and another couple hanging on their hip; I am not that person. I get fed up with it and you should know if you would as well. For rifles, switch out wood stocks for synthetic to cut pounds. I’m confident with my .270 Winchester but if you want to go with a semi-auto, explore your options. Consider a carbine and lose the fancy accessories like laser dots. These seem like nothing but after a week they seem like a lot more. Secondly, consider ammo weight. A .416 Rigby packs a punch but the thought of lugging around ammo for it makes me shudder as I type this. You may love your .45 but consider how much ammo you could carry for the same weight with a 9mm. The obvious caveat is to pack what you shoot well; backcountry hiking with a gun is always a compromise. I have a friend who cannot shoot anything other than his 1911 any better than my grandmother can shoot a .416 Rigby (do not ask me why; he can shoot someone’s finger off with the 1911 while drunk and blindfolded). That would warrant the extra weight; however, understanding what you shoot well is coupled with understanding the weight drawbacks of a certain caliber. “Stopping power” should not be your only consideration.

Caching: make your time easier

Let us hypothetically say my bug out plan included a 100-mile cross-country ski trek through unplowed snow. Carrying 7-10 days worth of food is a lot of weight but you need the food nonetheless. Creating multiple cache points full of some food, water, ammo, and emergency medical supplies can cut weight and strategically increase your options. Have multiple bug out plans with multiple cache points along each, giving you versatility. This cuts weight off your pack for the immediate time and gives you adaptability. These do not need to be $1000 worth of food, water, and ammo, simply a resupply along the way.

Make friends, even different ones

Climbers and ultra-light backpackers often will not share your desire to plan for a WROL scenario. However, they love the outdoors and shared trips can help you build valuable skills. I learned my technical rescue skills from anti-gun climbing and SAR friends, not from my survivalist friends. You will be surprised what kinds of people the outdoors can bring together, even with different political views. They also value saving ounces and have some amazing tips to add. Lastly, many of them are budget minded and gear focused. That means that they love new gear but often have to sell old gear to pay for it. Being first in line for top-notch used gear pays off in the long run.

The first thing you will learn when you get into the ultra-light backpacking game is how fast saving an ounce or two here and there saves pounds. You will never be able to hike with a 50 pound pack again knowing what you know. I have focused on the “biggies” where I see mistakes made in the preparedness-minded community. There are thousands of other ways to save weight, from stoves, to clothing, to pack style. However, I feel this has been a good introduction.

My favorite planned substitute for welding in TEOTWAWKI is brazing. It can be done with a carbon arc torch, an oxyacetylene torch or on a old fashioned forge. The latter is particularly attractive to me as it requires no gas or electricity to accomplish. I have a charcoal fired forge and find that by sandwiching two pieces of metal together around some flattened brass rod and flux then using tie wire to hold all in position. I can place the pieces in my fire and increase the air (turn the crank) until the brass melts and flows to the two pieces of metal. I stop the air (reducing the heat), let the brass solidify then remove the bonded pieces, cool, then cut and grind the tie wire off. It's a lot easier then forge welding but not as quick and easy as using modern equipment. - Axman

"There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who think there are two kinds of people in the world and those who don't." -  Robert Benchley’s Law of Distinction

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The U.S. Mint's report to the U.S. Congress with solidly-researched and tested recommendations for new coin compositions is due to be released in just 10 days--on December 14, 2012. Once Congress acts and debases the nickel (most likely switching to almost worthless stainless steel coin planchets), the window of opportunity will close. This may be our last chance to stock up on real nickels in quantity without any sorting. If you haven't yet assembled your stack of nickel boxes, then do so NOW!


December 4th is the birthday of Gregory "Pappy" Boyington, an AVG ("Flying Tiger") pilot for the Chinese Nationalist government, WWII Marine Corps aviator, and Medal of Honor recipient. (He was born in 1912 and died January 11, 1988.) A proto-Redoubter, Pappy Boyington was born in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho and raised in Spokane, Washington. In 2007, the Coeur d'Alene, Idaho airport was re-named Pappy Boyington Field, in his memory.


Today we present another entry for Round 44 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 44 ends on January 31st, 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 has been a lot of debate over whether or not to remain in place or to leave your home and retreat to another location within the prepper community. Both have their advantages and disadvantages but that is not the scope of this article. I simply want to address the moment that all of us may come to, both the bug-in crowd, when they realize their initial plan is untenable, or the bug-out crowd, when they have made their decision to move to “higher ground.”
We all remember the game “Red Light, Green Light”, we played as kids and tried to outsmart the signal caller and get to our “destination” without the caller catching us. If we take this same approach and label the “signal caller” the economy/collapse, I feel we can apply the same basic principles to our decision making process in regard to leaving our current location for our safe haven, retreat, bug out location, etc.

Several years ago I was driving home with my family from a wedding we had attended in Chicago. On the morning of our departure, there had been a fairly strong storm the night before that dumped a lot of water on the I-80/I-90 corridor. The weather was clear in the morning and when we left at 0800 in the morning for our return trip to PA, we had no idea what we were in for as the Interstate had become impassable on the east bound lanes. I am not one prone to panic but there was a growing uneasiness in the pit of my stomach as I realized we were in for a very long delay. As it turned out, the highway was closed for a majority of the day as the water had flooded certain sections out. Whether by dumb luck or by the grace of God (I choose the latter), I decided we needed to turn around and get off the highway pronto. I was in the far right lane and saw a cut in the retaining wall several hundred yards up and needed to get over quickly but this was problematic since it was a 4-lane highway which had become a parking lot. The long and short of it was I was able to inch over, very slowly, and get to the turn around and head west bound to re-assess our plan and get off the highway. This episode is one that will likely repeat itself throughout the country in the event of a catastrophe, man-made or natural disaster, and solidified my belief that I don’t want to be anywhere near a scenario like this if it does occur.  We got off the highway, made our way south to Route 30, but that was blocked as well due to the influx of the I-80 traffic doing the same thing we were doing. We finally made it all the way to the Indianapolis bypass before we could head east towards Pennsylvania. We arrived 14 hours later at midnight at our home, completely exhausted, when a normal trip should have taken us 8 hours. With three small children in the car who were thankfully sound asleep, my mind was made up that I would never again consciously put my family in a position like that and have since then thought long and hard about what I need to do to protect my family when we travel long distances; both before a SHTF event and even more so after that. The event shook me to my very core, not because we were close to any dangerous situations, but because it illuminated how quickly a situation can change from a normal family trip into one of potential disaster.

What I did wrong on that return trip was fail to plan. I had no extra food or water in the car, I did not have a full tank of gas when I left Chicago (I was just going to fill up on the highway when I left) and I had no means to protect my family if the situation required it since I didn’t even have a handgun with me. I was traveling to Chicago which has the most restrictive gun laws in the country. With that said, I do not see myself traveling to the Windy City ever again with my family until the gun laws are changed in favor of concealed reciprocity.  Although nothing happened during the trip, it made me realize how fragile the thin veneer of normalcy is in this country and how quickly it can turn into a volatile situation; putting you and your family at risk.
A lot of preppers have an exfiltration plan from their current situation to a safe haven if the SHTF and we are no different but we all need to drill down on our plans and ensure they are workable in a less-than-desirable socioeconomic catastrophe. Our plan is to bug-in but we have an alternate plan to bug-out to western South Dakota where we have extended family and a large self-sufficient ranch. The only problem is getting there in one piece. How do we do this? I have asked myself this very question and have come up with some ideas and wanted to share them with your readers and also look for feedback as I know that no plan survives the first volley of shots fired.

When will I go? This is what gave me the idea for the title of this article. Presently I can see three types of scenarios that involve traveling. The first level of travel is our current social situation, which I will call a “green light” scenario. There is little to no impediment to travel across the US with the exception of high fuel costs but essentially, if you want to, you can load up and drive from coast to coast. This will not last forever. Whether by man-made or artificial catastrophes, a pre-planned False Flag or Black Swan event, at some point in the future, our ability to travel freely within this country may very well be curtailed. This is the gray area of the decision making process. Obviously we would like to be able to pick up and go at our leisure but that is simply not realistic unless you are able to see into the future so I will concentrate on the “yellow light” scenario which is that some event has triggered a less than optimal travel scenario within the US and you will not have complete access to fuel, food, water and the expectation of security so you need to plan for that contingency. The “red light” scenario is one in which travel is essentially prohibited either by law, force or instability and there would be no expectation of being able to make it from point A to point B so I will concentrate on the yellow light scenario and the assumption that you are ready, willing and able to make this monumental move before it is too late.

Where will I go if I have to leave in rapid fashion?
This is based on the premise that you have decided to leave your present location and move to a safer haven. If an apocalyptic event transpires, the looting and mayhem that happened during Hurricane Katrina and the Los Angeles riots will look like child’s play. Have an exfil plan from wherever you live, to a place of safety and make the decision to leave early and DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE. Remember, this is a move to a place where you are going to settle for a long period of time. Family and friends who live in the country, away from large cities,  and who have land are your best bet but you must make arrangements with them well beforehand. Do not show up on their doorstep without talking to them about your plans long before you leave, and make sure they have agreed to this arrangement as well. Also, do not show up empty-handed if at all possible.  This may not be possible but as a prepper, you are doing your family a disservice if you are not ready to make a large scale move with your provisions from your present location to you safe haven. Think about how you will embark all your gear and move to your new location and have your family do at least a dry-run through.  The time to find out that you need an essential piece of equipment is not when you are doing this in prime time. The pre-planning for this move is probably the most crucial aspect of your entire relocation. Going back to my Chicago incident, had we simply looked at the local news or weather channel, we would have saved ourselves several hours even if the trip would have taken longer. We never would have gone near the interstate had we simply planned ahead. Bottom line, have a plan on where you are going to go, what are you going to bring, how are you going to transport it and when are you going to make the decision to leave?                 

What will I do for reliable transportation?
This exodus will most likely be accomplished in caravans like the wagon trains out in the old west except this time it will be SUVs and trailers. You will need to plan for food/fuel & water from your location to where you want to go and you need to be able to do it without the aid of gas stations/rest stops or any other modern day convenience (remember, this is yellow light time).  Although there may be gas available while you travel due to multiple circumstances and the type of SHTF event that you are preceding or escaping from, you should absolutely plan for a self-contained move with no outside assistance. If the assistance is there, fine, but don’t make it a lynchpin of your plan or it will fail. For my own family, I will travel west to South Dakota where we have extended family. It’s about 1,500 miles from our home so I have to answer the question; how do I refuel along the way? You do not want to carry fuel in your car and to travel that kind of distance would require more fuel than there is room in the vehicle. In addition it is highly dangerous to do this, even in the trunk. I would recommend getting a small trailer capable of towing 1,500 to 2,000 lbs and make sure your hitch has the same capacity. Inside or on your trailer, you will need a fuel storage/delivery system that allows you to refuel quickly. 55 gallon drums are relatively cheap so I would probably need two of them to make the trip. Calculate your mileage, divide by the worst gas mileage your vehicle gets and that gives you the number of gallons you need. For me its 1,500 miles divided by 15 mpg = 100 gallons. (2) 55 gallon drums will give you 110 gallons so it should do it. For me, I would add 20-30% for detours and carry 150 gallons minimum to get me where I was going. If you want to go the path of least resistance and buy the red Jerry cans, that’s 30 containers to make 150 gallons. Although simple, it is not optimal in my opinion. I have been practicing refueling with them on a regular basis and they do have some drawbacks. First, they leak, plain and simple. No matter what you do, they will leak a little and sometimes a lot if you get the nozzle twisted around while refueling. Secondly, there is the storage requirement of 30 red 5-gallon fuel cans and most garages don’t have the room for that many and everything else we have stored in there. Can it be done, sure, but I think there are better ways, especially if you have the time to plan. Regardless of what container(s) you will use, I recommend that you buy a simple pump attachment for your fuel container and run a hose from the fuel to your gas tank. This avoids a lot of spillage with the “lift and hold in place for several minutes until the fuel can is empty” routine. I have a local Tractor Supply store which carries simple hand-cranked pumps and electrical ones as well. Using the Rawlesian computation of 2 is 1 and 1 is none, having multiple ways to pump fuel is probably a good plan to have!

I will travel with my 5 x 8 enclosed trailer with a towing capacity of 3k lbs. so I can bring more gear with me. (3) 55 gallon drums will weigh approximately 1300 lbs. so I’d have an extra 1700lbs to play with for supplies. As an alternative, you may have a vehicle in your convoy that does not have a trailer but is still part of the overall plan. I have a 2’ x 6’ platform trailer that hooks into my trailer hitch. The sides of this platform are 5” tall and can carry (12) 5-gallon Jerry Cans totaling 60 gallons. With a full 15 gallon internal capacity, I can travel 1125 miles on just what I carry on the platform combined with internal fuel and would only need 20-30 more gallons to make it to our destination. The additional fuel you carried in your trailer could easily make up this shortcoming.  In the military, we called this war-gaming; thinking of every possible thing that could happen and coming up with a plan to deal with it. Have everyone take turns acting as the “doubting Thomas” and have them try to shoot holes in your plan. If it is apparent that your plans need adjusting, make it so.

Do not travel anywhere near big cities (remember my Chicago episode!). Only use the stretches of highways and Interstates where they do not go near cities like New York, Chicago, etc. My route out west, by the shortest route, takes me right near Chicago but I will bypass to the south and add upwards of 200-300 extra miles just to stay safe. I expect the cities to be congested and potentially dangerous. In addition, always have an alternate plan that gives you the ability to change routes along the way with little backtracking required. This may require some detailed planning and I would even recommend that a few persons in the group travel the route and do a route reconnaissance beforehand. Let’s say you are traveling through Iowa on your way to Wyoming and the American Redoubt and realize that your original route is blocked or less than safe. Turning around and executing a “shift on the fly” route change should not be the first time you execute this. Practice it beforehand so you get the feel for how much time and effort it will take to get a 3 to 4 vehicle convoy going in another direction. Have each vehicle ‘commander’ take turns in executing a route change so everyone is comfortable in that position if the need arises for them to take over the navigation responsibilities.

What will I do for security?
Bottom line, more crowds = more potential danger. Do not travel as a single family if at all possible. In the novel The Raggedy Edge by Michael Turnlund, there is an episode when the husband and his wife are trying to move through a roadblock and he has to make the decision to have his wife drive while he shoots from the passenger window. Don’t let this happen to you and plan for this contingency and how you are going to deal with it. If you have a convoy, you can set up a hasty blocking position and have a designated element envelop the trouble spot from the sides while the rest of the convoy sets up a base of fire.  Some of you may be reading this and saying to yourself, “I can’t handle this type of situation” and while that may well be true, you need to have individuals within your convoy who are capable of dealing with this situation or your bug-out to your safe haven may be cut very short.

If a catastrophic meltdown does happen, there will probably be rogue elements that would prey on families and take their food, fuel and gear. Think: Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. I would travel in as large an SUV as I could and have a minimum of 2-3 other vehicles that were going to the same place or area. Remember there is safety in numbers. If you already know who you might want to travel with you, start getting together on a regular basis to discuss your evacuation plan, much like someone in a flood zone, hurricane alley, etc. Sit down with them and discuss everything that could go wrong and have a plan to deal with it. The more prepared your group is, the easier it will be to make the decision to evacuate. Discuss emergencies, vehicle breakdowns, health issues, food, water, weapons, ammunition, and fuel. A previous article on Survival Blog discussed convoy security and this should be part of everyone’s plan. Don’t just talk about it, exercise you plan on smaller trips to uncover any potential problems you may have missed during the planning stages. Discuss how you will deal with a catastrophic vehicle breakdown where you might have to leave one behind. Also, now is not the time to discuss the issue of firearms and the right to bear arms. Deal with it, everyone will be packing heat and everyone will know it too. That’s not a bad thing. My guess is that a lot of folks will be scared but at the same time, we are a nation of mostly law abiding citizens, so take comfort in the fact that a lot of people are in the same boat. Always be cautious but do not be afraid to help someone who obviously needs it. This will be the cornerstone of the communities that will rise up from the ashes of this national emergency. 
Since everyone will need more human power to work their land and provide security, most reasonable and logical persons will understand the efficacy of allowing you to join them at their safe haven. This is where you trade your labor for a safe haven, a place to live, and the fruits that the land bears but negotiating on their doorstep when you show up un-announced is not the appropriate time to do this. Make sure they know you are coming so they can prepare as much as you should have!

What will I do for communications?
Make sure that you have a communication plan and the ability to talk to those within your caravan. And do not rely on a single point of failure system either. Have a back-up and a back-up to the back-up. Cell phones will not necessarily be reliable if the power grid goes down but the portable walkie-talkie type radios will be invaluable. Some forward thinking folks may have SatPhones which, unless the Chinese shoot down our satellites, should work during this period. This is not to say that they will always operate. Whatever form of government remains may not have the ability to maintain a system of satellites that we currently have but it’s worth it if you have the money to purchase them now. The government may also be less than accepting of the type of communication that is going on via the grid and try to shut it down as well. If you live in a place where you absolutely know you will not stay in the event of a societal meltdown, send a SatPhone to the place where you will go and have your family and friends on both ends practice with and test the system to make sure it will work for you.  I will use the MURS hand held radios and have a full set of cheap walkie-talkies as a back-up (in addition to cell phones). That’s three modes of digital communications in addition to hand and arms signals. I would also recommend that you buy good quality headsets that have either a push-to-talk (PTT) capability or voice actuated (VOX) for hands free comm. I flew helicopters in the military and the VOX capability is a force multiplier in the cockpit since it is a multi-tasking nightmare at times.

What will you do if your transportation breaks down?
Make sure you have a complete extra wheel/tire combo, not just the tire. If you get a flat, you will not have access to a garage to change your tire. I would have two extra wheels/tires as well as enough Fix-a-flat to re-inflate several tires. Remember to be completely self-sustainable and walk-through all the potential hazards of a long trip that you would normally take but add to this the fact that you cannot count on any water, food, or logistical support outside of what you can carry in/on or behind your vehicles. Several companies make roof racks that are specifically designed for carrying maintenance, camping, and survival gear and can easily be adapted to carrying tires and wheels as well. You may look like the Beverly Hillbillies but you are much less likely to be stranded on the road with an immobile vehicle. In addition, let’s make sure to practice changing a tire on the side of the road prior to having to do it in an in-extremis situation for the first time.

What should I do about carrying weapons?
Some of you may be worried about carrying weapons in your car. If this scenario goes down, this will be out the window as law enforcement officials are just like you, they have families and concerns of their own and will not be worried about what is inside your vehicle if it is obvious you are relocating your family to a safer place. If it makes you feel better, apply for a concealed-carry permit.  The scenario that may be of a gray area will be if you have decided to bug-out well in advance of the collapse and it will be relatively easy travel to your safe haven. In this event, I would not advertise the fact that you are carrying an arsenal in your vehicles but make sure you have the ability to defend yourself and your family should the need arises. This will be a call on your part depending on when you leave.

With the exception of Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and a few other states, a state concealed carry permit is recognized in many other states. In addition, the US House has passed its version of the nation-wide concealed carry reciprocity bill, H.R. 822, the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011. If the Senate passes it we will get a clear indication from the current occupant of the White House whether or not he supports the rights of gun owners across this country. I have a Pennsylvania concealed carry permit and an out of state non-resident permit, and I could drive all of the way to South Dakota and still be in accordance with state laws, with the exception of Illinois, with a loaded weapon in my car. Remember, your family’s safety is your primary concern. Do not let anything deter you.

At this point in time we are in a “Green Light” scenario in regard to CONUS travel but it will most likely not last indefinitely.  Start planning your exodus now and do not leave any details unattended or they will come back to bite you in the rumpus! Have a place already picked out, stage as much gear and supplies there as is humanly possible and work towards completing a self-contained move that includes all aspects of the move; vehicles, fuel, food, water, supplies, security, and communications. While this is not an exhaustive list by any stretch, it should give you a starting point. Blessings to all and Semper Prep.

I just wanted to throw this out there for general information. This past Saturday my neighbor was cutting some trees with his chainsaw. Not long after he started he was over to my house asking to borrow one of my chainsaws because he got his hung up in the tree.

I grabbed one of my three saw and went over to help him out. I figured he got his hung up I did not wish him to hang up mine also. After we got his cut out, I mentioned to him if he had a spare bar and chain for the saw, he could have very easily removed the drive engine from the bar and chain put on his spare and continued cutting. He was lucky I was at home and had a saw. I know when many people with chainsaws prepare. They pick up spare chains, oil, bar oil and such but hopefully they think ahead and also pick up a spare bar or two. - Tom in Virginia

JWR Replies: Having a spare bar (or better yet two) and a half dozen spare chains is indeed important. In addition those rare pinched bar situations, keep in mind that bars can get bent, chain guide grooves can get distorted, and tip rollers can wear out. (Or burn out, if you forget to check your bar lube oil reservoir consistently.) If you run a saw a lot, at some point you will need to bolt on a spare bar.

If and when you ever do have to extricate a bar that has been pinched, it calls for great caution. A bar is usually pinched when a tree is in a precarious position-often when a tree has a rotten core, so the trunk has shifted in a unexpected way. So use extreme caution. and work only from a side where the tree won't fall. Also, if you need to cut out a pinched bar, work very slowly and exactingly, to make room for plastic or hardwood felling wedges. You should have at least three felling wedges. And of course never use steel wedges for felling! When making a cut toward a pinched bar, go slowly and conservatively, or you will end up with two destroyed chains and two destroyed bars and the potential to throw shrapnel. Again, your goal is to make room for a wedge that you'll drive in enough to free the bar. Lastly and most importantly: Never fell trees when it is windy and be sure to keep you eyes up very frequently, watching for any signs of the tree tilting, so that you can make a hasty exit. Leave yourself a couple of clear escape paths and if need be, drop your saw to speed your escape. The saw is replaceable, but you are not.

Spokane man invents safe hidden in couch. (There are more details, here.)

   o o o

From The Idaho Statesman: Seed library preserves the Valley’s botanical heritage

   o o o

And speaking of Idaho, This company is noteworthy: Freedom Munitions. They have great prices and are willing to sell by mail order, so it is worthwhile to put together a "group buy" of ammo with your local friends, anywhere in the United States.

   o o o

Thusfar, much of the American Redoubt is enjoying a mild winter. Here at the ranch the weather has been easy on our livestock, but it has been pitiful for those in our family who enjoy sledding and cross-country skiing.

Jamie W. was the first of several readers to mention this, from Nanny State Massachusetts: City: Give Us Your Guns, Get A Free Flu Shot - And A Wegman's Gift Card. You have to love this logic: Sara Schastok, president and CEO of the Evanston Community Foundation says, "Of course, no one is under the illusion that people who intend harm as a way of life are necessarily going to turn in their guns." JWR's Comment: Perhaps the gun grabbers' real intent would be more obvious if they also included the phrase: "Also get a free bowl of pottage!".

   o o o

For just this week (through Friday December 7, 2012), novelist and SurvivalBlog reader Archer Garrett is making his novella Flashback available free of charge as an Amazon e-book. Archer describes it: "The story is about resistance in the face of oppression, and also has some strong faith Christian undertones."

   o o o

Michael Z. Williamson (SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large) flagged this: Sturmgewehr 44s used by Syrian Rebels.

   o o o

Also from Mike: More Pallet Houses

   o o o

A great Bill Whittle lecture: "Where do we go now?"

"Men prefer a false promise to a flat refusal," - Quintus Cicero

Monday, December 3, 2012

Sales have been brisk for the First Revised Edition of Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse which was released in hardback on November 26th. 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.

Living out in the boonies, we often have the power go out, especially in the winter months, when trees fall over power lines. More often than not, when the power goes out, it is usually at night, and on a weekend, and it takes repair crews hours, and at times, even days, to get the power restored. When the lights go out in the country, its dark - real dark! I have flashlights in every room of our home, and I can usually just reach for a light when the power goes off, so I'm good to go, in order to find my kerosene lanterns or other lights. However, I remember when I was "young and dumb" and I fell into the trap of buying cheap flashlights - only to be let down by them when they were needed the most in an emergency. And, to be honest, the old flashlights didn't give very much light, nor did they give light for very long.
With modern technology today, flashlights have come a long way, and you can get a really bright flashlight, that runs on AA or AAA batteries, that throws a super-bright light a good long distance. And, living out in the country, this is a good thing to have, in case you need to check outside of your home for things that might go bump in the night. However, I don't always need "that" much bright light inside the house, just to light-up the living room or the bedroom, or out camping, to light-up a tent.
The PakLite, 9-Volt LED flashlight I'm proud to say, it is assembled here in my home state of Oregon. PakLite was born from necessity in 1999, and invented by then 15 year old, Ben Henry, when his brother, Barclay, decided to hike the 2,600 mile Pacific Crest Trail and needed a light-weight flashlight that would last from Mexico to Canada! Armed with two unbreakable LEDs and a switch, it simply snapped to the top of a 9-volt battery and lit the entire trip for Barclay. It couldn't have been more efficient on power AND weight. With no extra bulbs or batteries to carry, it was loved by others along the trail as well.
Okay, I've gotta admit it, when I received the PakLite sample, I was more than a little skeptical about how well it would really work as a flashlight. I mean, come on, we're talking nothing more than two little LEDs in a plastic housing, with a switch that snaps on top of a 9-volt battery. Could the darn thing actually work as advertised, and would it provide enough light to see in the dark and light-up a dark room at night? Well, I'm happy to report, this neat little invention works and works extremely well.
What we have is a little flashlight that will run on "high" for 30- hours, and on the "low" setting for 600-hours. No, that's not a misprint, it will run for 600-hours on low - giving you enough light so you are left in a dark room when the power goes off - and we all know that, sooner or later, your power will go off - you'll have a lighted room.  Now, if you purchase a Lithium 9-volt battery and they are a little more expensive than standard 9-volt batteries, the PakLite will run for 1,200-hours on "low" and 80-hours on the "high" setting! I can't think of any other flashlight that even comes close to this. I put the PakLite to the test, and if actually ran a bit longer than 30-hours on the high setting, and I replaced the battery, and tested it again on the low setting - and I completely lost track on how many hours it ran on the low setting - but it was on for more than 3-weeks, before I finally noticed it had went dead!
The sample PakLite I received has the glow-in-the-dark cap attachment, and it will glow for 12-hours after being exposed to a light source. So, should your power go off in the middle of the night, you will be able to easily find the your PakLite because it will be glowing green on your nightstand or dresser, or an end table. Kool! You can also get a little belt carrying case, and have the PakLite with you at all times - another clever idea. On top of this, you can get the PakLite in a number of different colors including Blue, that is extremely bright, green with is the brightest light, infrared for use with night vision equipment, oran is a soft light, red to preserve your vision at night, turquoise is also extremely bright, ultraviolet for forensic work, yellow that won't attract bugs and of course, the white light, which is best for all around use.
PakLite also has some other clever items that you might want to consider, they have a headband holder that is great for hands-free work and holds up to three PakLites. You could also mount a PakLite on your bicycle with rubber bands so other vehicles can see you at night. With Velcro, you could attach a PakLite to just about anything. Over 4,000 PakLites were in use by the US Air Force Special Operations Command in Iraq. The American Red Cross, US Navy and FEMA also uses the PakLite during emergencies. There is also a 25-year warranty on the PakLite and the LED bulbs will burn for 100,000 hours - so they should never need replacing.
The PakLite is easy to operate - it comes with a toggle switch - one setting is "low" one is "off" and one is "high" - what could easier? They also offer a PakLite version with a flashing mode - and that would be great for campers or hunters - if you got lost, it would flash for hundreds of hours, allowing a search and rescue unit to find you. This is another one of those "gee, why didn't I think of that" inventions, and it is simple and in my book, simple means it works longer and better. Retail on the PakLite is $24.99 and it is one great bargain if you ask me - if you've ever been in the dark for a couple days, due to a power outage, you'd give anything for a long-lasting source of light, wouldn't you? My oldest daughter confiscated my sample after I was done testing it, now I have to get another one for myself - I might even pick one up for the wife, and she can keep it in her purse. If you're serious about survival, or if you don't like being the dark when the power goes off, you need the PakLite. - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

No Easy Day: The Autobiography of a Navy SEAL by Mark Owen
©2012 by Mark Owen,
Published by Penguin Group, New York, New York
ISBN: 9789-0-525-95372-2
Available at your favorite bookseller

Note: "Mark Owen" is a pen name used to protect the real identity of the author. [He was recently "outed" in a widely publicized incident by Fox News.]

This well-publicized book is the story of one man’s wish to be a US Navy SEAL since childhood, how he realized his dream, and the reasons he left the service to return to civilian life in Alaska. Wrapped up in this well-written narrative is the systematic mission of a handpicked team of the best of our best to finally kill or capture Osama bin Laden. This was the most publicized mission of the author, but not the only one. He gives us great detail on his other missions that you will find just as interesting.
The author has written the proverbial “can’t set it down page-turner.” I began reading on the second day of recovering from surgery with painkillers nearby. I did not use any. I was pulled into the story and read it through to the end in one day. It is that good.

One of the revelations for me is on page 141 in the description of battlefield political correctness. Once again, politicians have emasculated our military and possibly insured our defeat in the long war against Islamist extremists.

The author has included detailed descriptions of the weapons chosen, and why the choices were made. I was not aware until reading the book that each SEAL carries a personal arsenal based on his mission and what works best for him. Some weapons are customized by military armorers.

We learn of the requirements to be a SEAL that do not stop once you are selected. The training requirements are forever as long as you wear the uniform. The personal sacrifice of being on call at all times is described, and should be better publicized for these extraordinary men. At the end of the book is a list of the casualties suffered since September 11, 2001.

There are twenty-four color and black and white photographs in the book showing Osama bin Laden’s compound, the weaponry carried by the author, and much more.
This is an interesting, timely story by an extraordinary man and his comrades. I highly recommend it.

35 years ago I knew a very old Sourdough mountain man who lived very high up in the Colorado Rockies.  He once told me you could leaven bread with the yeast that grows on aspen tree bark.  Rubbing your hands on the bark of the aspen tree will remove a bunch of white powder that he claimed was very close to bread yeast.  I never heard of this before and have never tried it.  If any of your readers know about this or would be willing to try it, this would be a very good survival skill to know.  I also found this article online from The Mother Earth News that verifies what the old Sourdough told me. Thanks, - Montrose Prepper

Pumpkin Soup, by Mama in Texas

Pumpkin Soup
Serves 6
(Adapted from a recipe in the classic "More With Less" cookbook)

Melt in a large heavy kettle:
                2 T. Butter
                ¼ cup chopped green pepper
                1 small onion, finely chopped

Saute until veggies are soft, but not brown.

Blend in:
                2 T. flour
                1 t. salt
                2 cups chicken broth
                2 cups pumpkin puree (1 15-oz. can)
                2 cups milk
                1/8 t. thyme
                ¼ t. nutmeg
                1 t. chopped parsley
Cook, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened.

Chef's Notes:

This is a fall and winter soup favorite in our house.  We often serve it over rice.  It is not at all a "sweet" soup.   It has a great cheesy flavor.

Useful Recipe and Cooking Links:

Squash Soup Recipes

Soup Recipe Collection

Currently Available as Free Kindle e-Books:

Where Is Your Picnic Basket?

The Paleo Aficionado Lunch Recipe Cookbook

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

The folks at Agora Financial are currently hawking a report (that only comes "free" with a paid subscription to their newsletter) via an online slide show presentation that remarkably parallels all of the major points in my truly free 2009 article on Nickels. It is downright agonizing listening to this presentation wherein the narrator talks around the real topic (which is nickels) for nearly half an hour. By the way, the "hedge fund manager Kyle B." that is mentioned is of course Kyle Bass, who acquired $1 million worth of nickels in 2010. I have a lot of respect for the folks at Agora Financial, but not for the hard sell marketing approach that they chose to employ this time.

Dollar-Less Iranians Discover Virtual Currency. (Thanks to R.B.S. for the link.)

How not to spend taxpayer funds: Navy purchaser diverted $74,000 for his private kit plane and gadgets

Items from The Economatrix:

Our Economy is in Big Trouble

Good-bye 401K, Good-bye IRA, Hello Argentina

Consumer Spending in U.S. Declines as Sandy Reduces Wages

11 Facts that Show That Europe is Heading Into an Economic Depression

Here is an article that quotes your editor: Secession Theology Runs Deep in American Religious, Political History

   o o o

Fast and Furious fallout: Jeff Knox provides an update on the Reese family's travail.

   o o o

Reader F.J. liked this Life Hacker piece: Use 2-Liter Soda Bottles Instead of Sandbags for Winter Driving. JWR Adds a Proviso: Make sure that you stow those bottles low and behind a seat. Otherwise they will become head-smashing projectiles if you ever get in a wreck.

   o o o

Gregory R. suggested this Weather Channel video of the post-Hurricane Sandy northeast: Living a Month Without Power. I was amazed to see the man using bottled water to flush his toilet! Converting roof downspouts to fill rain barrels would be far more cost efficient and eliminate reliance on outside supply. This is something every homeowner should do, well in advance of disasters.

   o o o

R.C. sent this sign of real Hope and Change: The Nullification Movement

"Keep your friends close, and your foes at 9 power distance." - Robert M. Fogarty

Sunday, December 2, 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 44 ends on January 31st, 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 was raised in a family with a survivalist mentality. We were the family prepared for Y2K. I learned to shoot at age six. We lived on a farm and had the knowledge and ability to grow all our own food. I was taught self-reliance and how to think as a "prepper". Basically, my parents did the best they could to impress on me that the stability and safety we experience in the United States is precious and very possibly temporary. But even with all this training, my first year living away from my family I was caught unprepared.

In 2008 I left Oregon to attend college in Southern California. Two months later, I was A College Student’s Guide to Prepping, by Connie E. placed into one of the very situations I had been prepared for all my life: a natural disaster. In mid-November a wildfire started less than a mile from my campus that is nestled in the foothills of Santa Barbara. The fire started a few minutes after 5pm in the evening. Less than twenty minutes later the fire alarms went off. I was recovering from a knee injury at the time and was on crutches. As I limped out of my dorm, I was frustrated that someone had, once again, burned popcorn or some such item causing the alarms to sound. Because it didn’t even enter my head that there might be a real threat, I grabbed only my cell phone and keys. As I slowly hobbled down the stairs and turned to look behind the dorm, I saw the flames. Already twenty feet high, they looked as if they were right behind my dorm. All of a sudden, I realized that I had practically nothing with me. Dressed in the clothes I had worn to my chemistry lab that afternoon, I had no ID, no money, none of my prescription medications, no plan beyond following the directions of the college to go to the gym in the event of wildfire, and no time to go back to my room for anything else.  

When I arrived in the gym there was mass panic. Students were frightened, annoyed, and hungry. Many had been about to eat dinner after a long day of classes, when the fire alarms sounded. Quickly, the school accounted for all the students, and tried to calm us down. Over the next hours, the gym filled with smoke so thick that we all had to lay down on the floor to breathe. Members of the Santa Barbara community were sheltering in place with us. A six week old infant was among those that sat in the smoke filled gym. The fire department decided it would be too dangerous to move the 800+ people out of the gym and decided to have us shelter in place. Surprisingly, after the initial panic everyone was calm. Groups of students formed prayer circles, or talked quietly. When I got up to use the bathroom, I could see ten foot flames just outside the gym windows. As the hours passed, news slowly trickled in that campus buildings, including dorms, had burned down. By the early hours of the morning the fire department had things under control enough to let the Red Cross bring hundreds of blankets, food, and water to the gym for us. I slept on a blanket on the gym floor between two friends for a few hours.

The next morning we were allowed outside for the first time. The campus was still smoldering. Many buildings were still intact, but the physics department, the math department, the psychology building, dorm housing for over sixty students, and some campus storage space was destroyed. Sadly, sixteen houses in the faculty housing development next to the school also burned down. Because I needed a prescription medication, I was able to go back to my dorm. I was also able to grab my ID and wallet at the same time. After that I went to stay with the family friend of a girl in my dorm. The next day my parents arranged for me to get on a plane back to Oregon. I returned home grateful to be alive and very thankful that no one on the campus had been injured.

By the time I arrived home, I had already had time to reflect on the things that I should have done differently. Most of the students at my college had never heard of a bug-out-bag, but I had. I should have known better. I, of all people shouldn’t have been caught off guard, but I was. When taken out of the relative safety of my prepping family, I had no idea how to be prepared as a college student. I had left my dorm room without ID, food, water, or any plan to get to safety.

Being prepared as a college student seems like a difficult task. You don’t have a permanent space to store supplies. You have to explain just about every item you own to your roommate. You are likely living in an urban environment, and money is much too tight to buy anything extra. Following the wildfire on campus, I was faced with these problems, but I was unwilling to be caught unprepared again. I went to the traditional prepper web sites and forums, but found they lacked any information about prepping as a college student. Because of the limitations of being a student living on a college campus, and the general lack of interesting of the college age group, it seemed hardly anyone had written on the subject. What follows is the preparations I made after the fire. They are especially tailored to a college lifestyle, and are meant for Get-out-of-dodge and short term local emergencies, not end of the world as we know it scenarios.

Have a basic bug-out-bag
My bag is just an extra backpack I had lying around. I filled it with a box of energy bars (remember I wasn’t planning for a long term emergency, just enough to get out of dodge of a natural disaster or to get me back home). I also included two liters of water in disposable water bottles. This is also where I stored my hiking emergency and first-aid kit when not hiking. I know doubling up like this is not ideal, but I already had about seventy dollars invested in this hiking kit, and I didn’t want to purchase all new supplies for a bug-out-bag. In this kit, was a basic first-aid kit, plus an emergency blanket, fire starter, and duct tape. I also had a pair of warm gloves, a hat, a rain poncho, an extra jacket, a change of underwear, and two extra pairs of socks. (I also made sure to include some feminine care products as well.) Basic hygiene items are important as well. I also kept a couple of twenty dollar bills in my bag. Most of these things I already had on hand, making putting this bag together not only quick, but also inexpensive.   

Have a plan
If you had to evacuate your college dorm today, where would you go? Do you have family in the area? Do you have a close friend to stay with? If your family is far from you school would you have a plan to get home quickly? If you own a car, would you plan to drive home? Are you dependent on public transportation? These questions and more are something you need to have an answer for in the event of an emergency. When my school was evacuated I stayed with a friend of one of my dorm-mates. The next year when I had a car on campus, my plan became to drive home in the event of TEOTWAWKI scenario. This would have been a thousand mile trip, meaning getting out quickly would have been crucial to it working. As a college student your plan depends on many factors, but the key idea is: you need a plan!

Have a charged cell phone
I can not overstate how important this is. I have been guilty of having a poorly charged phone at times. One of those times was the night of the fire on my campus. I can’t tell you how many times I have let a friend borrow my cell phone after they failed to charge there’s. But this is probably one of the easiest things you can to do be prepared as a college student. All it will cost you is a little awareness. There is, of course, no guarantee that your cell phone will work in an emergency, however, that is something that is out of your control. What you can control is if your cell phone is fully charged.  

Have a full gas tank
This may be the most expensive of all my recommendations, and know that it just might not be feasible for some students. However, if you are serious about the possibility of needing to get out of dodge, then the last thing you are going to want to do is find a gas station to stop at on the way out of town. Even if you are just getting out of the way of a wildfire you want to have a few hours of driving time before you need to stop for gas.  

Take advantage of no cost/low cost training
After the fire my college started offering earthquake disaster training to students and staff. I learned how to identify unsafe buildings, how to clear a building, and how to use basic mechanical levers to move heavy debris off people. The next year I took a lifeguarding class for Physical Education credit, which not only taught me valuable first aid skills, but also gave me a professional-CPR certification, at no cost beyond my normal tuition. Many other colleges offer similar classes and training, at no cost to students.

Know what the potential hazards are
If you are like me, you may have gone to college in a very different location from where you were raised. Up until there was an actual wildfire on my campus, I never considered wildfires to be a threat, because of where I had grown up. Do a little research about the area you are moving to, that includes the crime rates, socioeconomic trends, the potential natural disasters.   

If you are prepared, help your friends  
Most people of college age think they are invincible. If you know better and have taken steps to be prepared, then talk to your friends about it. You will only help yourself in the event of emergency if you are surrounded by a group of people that also prepared. If you are having to take precious time and resources to help your friends then you are putting yourself at risk.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
Another advantage of sourdough bread is that it is lower on the glycemic index than most other breads and is better for diabetics and people with blood sugar problems. As a diabetic myself, it's about the only kind of bread I eat and would be very useful in a survival situation in which I would be forced to to regulate my sugar levels with diet.
- Burke in Ormond Beach, Florida

Reader Bill W. pointed me to some surprising poll numbers, over at Zero Hedge: Ready For The Apocalypse? I amazed to read that 8% of respondents said that that they've built a fallout shelter of safe room. (Perhaps some of that was just "I have a basement, so that counts"- wishful thinking

   o o o

Dave Canterbury shows how to make your Wrist Rocket shoot arrows. (Thanks to Curtis R. for the link.)

   o o o

B.B. sent us word of some hard times down in San Berdoo: City Attorney Tells San Bernardino Residents To ‘Lock Their Doors,’ ‘Load Their Guns’ Because Of Police Downsizing

   o o o

James K. sent a link to yet another Instructables piece: Homemade smoke flares.

   o o o

Inmate Freed At 11AM Due To Budget Cuts Arrested For Bank Robbery - And Back In Jail In Time For Lunch. (Thanks to B.B. for the link.)

"We then, [as] workers together [with him], beseech [you] also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now [is] the accepted time; behold, now [is] the day of salvation.)
Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed:
But in all [things] approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,
In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings;
By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned,
By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left,
By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and [yet] true;
As unknown, and [yet] well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed;
As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and [yet] possessing all things." - 2 Corinthians 6:1-10 (KJV)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

We've completed the judging for Round 43 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest!

First Prize goes to D.A., DVM for: A Veterinarian's Perspective on Prepper Medicine, which was posted on November 6, 2012.

He will receive: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A $200 gift certificate, donated by Shelf Reliance.

Second Prize goes to Eli in The Southwest for: Constructing and Finding Hiding Places, which was posted on November 29, 2012

He will receive: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training. Together, these have a retail value of $589. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, E.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize goes to Sarah in California for: Sourdough Bread Baking, which was posted on November 30, 2012.

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

Another 11 writers will each receive a $30 gift certificate (via e-mail), for these fine Honorable Mention articles:

The Family Cow, by Faith S.

Building a Super Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter System, by Pretty in a Blue State

Family Continuity Planning, by John from Virginia

The Core Kit: First Aid and Beyond, by Jason J.

Quiet Rimfire Shooting Without a Suppressor, by M.B.

The Aesthetic Pantry: Trading Ornamentals for Edibles, by Matthew C.

Wilderness Survival in a Northern Climate, by F.D.

Starting From Nothing: Preparing Quickly, Efficiently and Cost-Consciously, by C.M.F.

From the Kitchen to the Garden, by G.T.

Dutch Oven Cooking, by Louie in Ohio

RVs and Camping Trailers Provide Multiple Backups on a Budget, by Judy C.

Note to Top Three prize winners: Please e-mail us your UPS and US Mail address as well as your current e-mail address.

Note to Honorable Mention prize winners: Please e-mail us your current e-mail address.

Round 44 starts today and ends on January 31st, 2013, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. There are more than $5,600 in prizes. 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 first few entries posted in Round 44 will be the overflow from Round 43. (We were deluged with entries in the last 10 days!)

Here is the first entry for Round 44:

I am a retired journeyman pipefitter who is a Certified Welding Inspector.  I teach at a nearby community college two days a week.   Welding encompasses such a large body of knowledge that no one person can know all there is to know and certainly cannot condense e