March 2013 Archives

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Today is celebrated as Resurrection Sunday. Christ is risen!


Today is the birthday of Dr. Walter E. Williams, a PhD. Economist and one of my heroes. He was born in 1936.


Today we present the last two entries for Round 45 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course. (A $1,195 value.) 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 gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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. C.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of D.) 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, E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 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. E.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value), and F.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

The queue of articles for Round 45 is full, but we are now accepting entries for Round 46, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

History has shown that empires, nations, societies, and individuals all pass, and that the events of our lives can be, and oftentimes are, very uncertain. 

About a year ago, my wife and I read the novel One Second After by William Forstchen.  While this book is a fictional account of a catastrophic event and the resulting collapse of civilized society, it may depict a disturbingly accurate account of events that could occur in a real-life catastrophe in the near future.  Reading this book resulted in a complete shift in our mindset and caused us to re-evaluate our pursuit of the “American Dream.”  It opened our eyes to the realities that the near future may consist of issues far more serious than retirement and buying our dream home.  While these things are still important, they are not the only factors to consider, or even necessarily the most important factors to consider.

Thus began our journey towards preparing our family for a future event that will change the lifestyles and priorities of our society.

Initially, we read blogs, books, magazine articles, and many other sources of information to educate ourselves in the necessities of preparedness.  We immediately discovered that a person could spend a lifetime researching and learning, and still not know everything there is to know about prepping for a variety of catastrophic circumstances.  We also discovered that prepping is costly, both in time and money.

As we began making plans, lists, and gathering supplies, my wife and I discovered that we each had a mindset unique to us.  This difference was, and is an obstacle that has to be overcome and collaborated in order to maximize the effectiveness of our preparations.

For example, I am a Law Enforcement Officer in a small, rural town in the Rocky Mountains.  I am also an avid outdoorsman, survivalist, and gun enthusiast.  These qualities tend to guide my mind towards preparing a “bug out” location in the mountains, far away from human populations, and living off the land.  It also causes me to consider tactical preparations as a primary issue.  While there are some positive things to be said for this, I have learned that there is far more to prepping than living off the land and shooting the bad guys.

My wife on the other hand, is a stay at home mom who home schools our two children and keeps the home.  Her mindset is to prepare our home to be a safe haven, well stocked with the necessities to survive.  She tends a garden, cans food, sews, cooks, collects and stores food and water, and makes plans to “hunker down” and thrive on our collected resources in our “bug in” home.

These very different mindsets are both important, but must be melded in a manner that creates a balance.  This, along with a limited budget, made it imperative that we prioritize our preparations by order of immediate importance.  To successfully accomplish this prioritization, there are several factors to consider.

Factor #1 – What circumstances are you preparing for?
People prep for many reasons.  In our minds, the most logical preparations take into consideration a wide variety of realistic circumstances, and prioritize the supplies and skills that will prepare you for many different circumstances.  For example, if you prepare exclusively for a worldwide pandemic, but do not prepare for a complete collapse of our current society, your family may starve to death.  This is along the same lines as the commonly quoted idiom, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”  Our personal opinion is that there are numerous circumstances that may lead to the collapse of our society, creating a shortage of necessities, and a breakdown of civil order.  Therefore, because it covers such a broad spectrum of circumstances, it makes sense to us to be prepared for that situation.  When those preps are complete, then narrow down your continuing preps for a particular situation.  We scour web sites such as,,, and for useful and practical prepping information.  

Factor #2 – Financial limitations.
Prepping is not cheap.  You could spend infinite amounts of money preparing for the end of the world as we know it, but, if you are like my family, you do not have infinite financial resources.  Thus, you must carefully prioritize, plan, and shop in a manner that maximizes the financial resources that are presently available to you.  For example, if you don’t presently have the financial ability to purchase a solar power system to power your home, you may have enough money to purchase a large supply of non-hybrid seeds, enabling you to plant a garden.  The point is, purchase necessities of survival when you can, and plan to save up your money for the large expense items.  We visit internet sites such as, and for information and ideas on prepping with a limited budget.

Factor #3 – Organization
When my wife and I first began prepping, we had all kinds of great ideas, priorities, and purchases which we wanted to implement.  What we quickly discovered was that we often times were making something an immediate priority when there were other items or skills which were a more pressing priority.  We decided to get organized and began to make lists of what items and skills we needed for our preparations.  What we then discovered, is that these lists are always growing, and that, while having a list is great, the items and skills on the lists must be prioritized by order of importance, and must be adaptable to ever changing circumstances.  This organization requires time and effort to create and maintain, but will ultimately result in a more efficient preparedness plan.  This organization and planning is unique to each individual and family, but there are innumerable web sites on the internet that provide insight and opinions into this topic.

Factor #4 – What is truly important?
This is a question that can also be relatively unique to each family or individual.  With that being said, there are several factors that are universally important.  These factors are: clean water, shelter, and food.  It is our personal opinion that these necessities should be prioritized in above order because, while you can live for a while without food, you can’t survive without water for very long, and shelter may be just as important, depending on the situation.  Other factors may be relative to a person’s marital situation or geographic location, but every human on earth requires these needs be met.  That will never change, so make these a #1 priority.  Beyond these necessities, each individual and/or family must decide for themselves what preparations are most important.  One family’s plan may not be the best plan for the family next door.  The point is, meet the necessities first, then prioritize and implement the other preparations.  There are many great books and web sites devoted to these topics.  One web site we have found particularly helpful is, and our favorite book so far has been JWR's How to Survive the End of the World As We Know It.

Factor #5 – Who are you prepping for?
This is a very important issue to think about.  Are you prepping for your family? You’re extended family?  You’re friends or neighbors?  Or all of the above?  The point is, when these people come knocking at your door and looking for help, what are you going to do?  This needs to be thought out and planned for so that when the time comes, you are not caught unprepared.  Personally, my wife and I feel that the more people we educate on this topic, the less people there are that will be knocking on our door (or knocking down our door), looking for help.

Factor #6 - Learn what you can.
There are almost unlimited resources to assist you in preparedness. Make use of as many resources as possible.  Learn from other people’s mistakes or successes, and do the best you can to avoid making mistakes of your own.  Remember, knowledge and wisdom are two different things, but both can help you survive and thrive in a bad situation.

My wife and I are still very new to the world of preparedness.  We learn new things every day and struggle with balancing prepping with living our lives in way that does not require us to stress or obsess to the point of unhealthy mental strain. 

Prepping can be exhausting and stressful.  Or it can be rewarding, exciting, and fun.  Be diligent, but don’t be militaristic.  Include your entire family and work at your preparations at a pace which best suits your family.  Find ways to make your prepping fun and adventuresome.  Prepping can be used to bond families together.

Our world is ever changing and we must adapt to, and overcome the challenges that arise with these changes if we are to survive them.  If you wait until the last minute and don’t plan for the unexpected, you may find yourself unprepared to face the potentially life altering, or life threatening circumstances you may encounter.  Better to be prepared and not need to be, than to be unprepared when necessity strikes!

Good luck and happy prepping.

In my conversations in person and online as well as select daily readings including SurvivalBlog; it seems to me that there are a few very common themed roadblocks that people throw out as reasons why they can’t or don’t need to prepare or are unable to take their prepping to the next level.
The four that come to mind are:
1)      My spouse doesn’t buy into the need to prepare
2)      We can’t afford to move
3)      God is in control; He will take care of us.
4)      Your prepping is actually a sign of a lack of faith: The Pre-Tribulation Rapture theory.
For the purposes of this article I am going to leave number one alone as much has been written about it and I don’t feel that I have much to add to the topic other than to say that if you are “equally yoked” with a spouse who is also a survivalist then count your blessings. That being said I believe that the conclusions I will draw regarding the latter three topics is also likely the reason a spouse is not “on board” with prepping.
We can’t Afford to Move;

Let me begin this topic by excluding those who are in the heart of major metropolises doing “great commission” work and those who are serving our country. I know brothers who are survivalists and in the military who when serving in "The Sand Box" are very concerned that the flag could go up and they would likely be up a creek without a paddle. Also stateside they realize that their preparations are lacking due to where they may be stationed, frequent moves, lack of storage space and too much month left at the end of the paycheck since they are the sole bread winners for their families. They deserve our praise for being in harm’s way.

Many people have given their testimony regarding pulling up stakes and moving to a safer location. My personal favorite was the SurvivalBlog submission “The Big Picture – Making a Life Changing Move” by A.L.  His writings remind me of the colloquialism of "nuff said."

Another popular testimony is that of Pastor Chuck Baldwin; they pulled up stakes after 35 years of preaching and deep roots from their home in Florida moving to where they now reside in Montana. Read his testimony titled The Hardest Decision of My Life.

Pastor Baldwin has said some controversial things in the past that not everyone agrees with but allow me to make two points. First, I was impressed by the fact that it wasn’t just he and his wife who made the move; in fact if was five families and 17 people. Secondly when he says that it was the hardest decision of his life, I take him at his word.

My testimony is not as impressive as those two but it follows the theme. 25 years ago my wife and I moved from a large metropolitan area in California to a mid-sized city in what is now called the American Redoubt. We did our homework and had visited said location twice. When it came time to move it meant leaving all our family and friends behind. We loaded all our worldly possessions (we were newlyweds so my dog was probably the most valuable possession)  into my pickup and my wife's small car. We arrived at our new “home town” with no place to stay, no jobs lined up, not one person in the region we knew, no credit available to us and $5,000 in cash.

I can report that from that day to this we have never borrowed a nickel from anyone other than for the purchase of real estate. The journey has been incredible and the blessings that we have received by taking that leap of faith are uncountable.

There are many great people and blogs out there with similar stories. I think of the homesteaders I know in the Clark Fork, Idaho area, Enola Gay’s blog Paratus Familia and Patrice Lewis in her Rural Revolution blog. [JWR Adds: Those are two of Avalanche Lily's favorite blogs.]

The common themes are this. Very few people relocate to a safer location with significant resources at their disposal, nor do they relocate to pursue the treadmill of creating (paper) wealth. Most stories you hear have required a leap of faith and very frugal living to “live the life." In a word; sacrifice.
Another theme you will see is that the definition of wealth  has been redefined by those who have moved out of the cities and suburbs to their piece of ground, homestead, rural retreat, etc. From my observations most of those people tend to be happier even though they work extremely hard. That happiness, I believe is derived from a sense of purpose that is hard to find in the work-a-day world of large cities.

Several years ago we were new to birthing (goats and sheep). We had a few successes under our belts but we ran into a problem and of course it was in the middle of the night in the middle of winter with zero moon. Bottom line, we were in a bind. It was clear the babies were not going to make it so it was all about saving our prized  French Alpine. We don’t like to impose on people but like I said, we were in a bind and over our heads. I called our neighbors who live two miles away and 3:10 am who have much more experience with livestock.

They answered the phone straight away with a “hello?”  I said Dan this is Jeff we are having problems with a birthing and wondered if you had any advice for us. He said “I will be right over." He and his wife arrived at our place nine minutes later. His wife gets out of the vehicle and in a very upbeat and cheerful tone says “good morning neighbors!” It took an hour of physically and emotionally draining work but we saved the babies (Kids) and the doe. That to us is wealth. Having neighbors who have your back that you can call on any time day or night and they are there for you means more to me than a fat 401k would.

I will concede that there are people who through no fault of their own lack the resources to make a move. I also believe in personal responsibility and cause and effect and know that when a good number of people claim that they can’t afford to move what I hear is that they are unwilling to make the sacrifices entailed in such a move.

It’s a choice. Can you afford not to move?

God is in Control
I will never forget a conversation I had with a gentleman after a Bible Study we attended. Based on that study I knew the answers he would give to my first few questions. For OPSEC reasons he did not know that we are survivalists.

Me: So John you believe that Christians will be here on earth during the Great Tribulation?
John: Certainly, that is clear in the Bible.
Me: And you believe that the Great Tribulation is coming soon?
John; Very soon.
Me: And you believe in the concept of the Mark of the Beast?
John: Yes, I believe that we as Christians who do not take the mark will not be allowed to conduct commerce, buy, sell and so on.
Me: So that means what? You can’t buy groceries, fuel, clothes etc?
John: Yes exactly.
Me: What are you doing about that?
John; What do you mean?
Me: I don’t know, this is your scenario, I just wondered if you were doing anything to prepare for this?
John: You mean like storing food?
Me: Well, I don’t know, like I said, this is your scenario but sure, if you won’t be able to buy groceries, how are you going to feed your family? (Husband, wife and three pre-teen children)
John: Well I had thought about that but I would just end up giving all the food away as charity.
Me: Wouldn’t it be better to be in a position to dispense charity rather than to have to rely on it?
John (pause); Our main course of action is to pray and get close to God and put our faith in Him.
Me: I see.
John: My wife has brought up the same questions (come to find out she is a closet prepper). But I don’t want to get all bogged down in trying to sort through every conceivable disaster to prepare for.
Me: (The guy hasn’t gotten bogged down in anything) Are you in danger of that?
John: I just want to be careful not to turn inwards towards myself rather than outwards towards God.
Me: Well, I would say that using your resources and time to help insure the health and safety of other people is the inverse of selfishness.
John: Maybe, I just don’t want to take away from what God's plan is for Me: to be a blessing to other people.
Me: (gag) Well, again, this is your scenario but it would seem to me that if what you think is going to come to pass, does come to pass, and you don’t do anything to prepare for it, you will be the inverse of a blessing to those you love the most.
John; (long pregnant pause)…it’s something to think about..he changes the subject.

My suspicions are that there are a lot of people like this. On the one hand their eyes are open but on the other they have every conceivable reason why they don’t have to do anything. These are also the types where if you start talking about firearms for self protection you can get the; “Oh, we want to be careful about that, remember those who live by the sword die by the sword.” Wow! What do you do with that?

In the safety of a blog that doesn’t compromise OPSEC I think what you do with that is call a spade a spade. The doing of the Bible and the doing of survival might not be required to save your soul but it could save your life and the lives of people you care about. My sense is that likely it is just a means to an end to support laziness. When all Hell is breaking loose I really think that God is going to have “bigger fish to fry” than keeping food on your table. Don’t ask God to do for you what you should be doing for yourselves.

A few weeks ago I read an article and I cannot remember who wrote it but the gentlemen had no compunction about telling it as he saw it. To paraphrase he was talking about this very subject about all the places the Bible (Jesus) warns us to be prepared for myriad things. Then he says, so if you don’t heed the Bible's warnings and prepare like it tells you to; when you and your family are starving that will be the least of your pains because you will be gnashing your teeth for not doing what you should have, then you will die and go before God and you will get to explain why you didn’t do what He told you to do!  Yikes!  No holds barred there, but I like his bluntness.

The Pre-Tribulation Rapture: "You see, your preparations are actually a sign of a lack of faith on your part."
This is a good one.
First of all let’s not meld three concepts into one as they are want to do. There are personal times of “tribulation” there are “tribulations” and there is “the great Tribulation." So, even if you’re certain that you won’t be around for the “Great Tribulation” it does not mean that there is nothing to prepare for. Twice Paul begged God to be” taken away home” out of his personal tribulation and God refused as He had additional plans for Paul. If Jesus’ right hand man Paul didn’t get a pass from his tribulations why do you think you will?
I am not a “man of the cloth” rather just a man trying to walk the walk but in my opinion the concept of the Pre-Trib rapture is false doctrine. Potentially dangerous false doctrine.

In no way does the Bible clearly articulate the concept of Pre-Trib rapture. To my reading the citations used by those to support the concept are subjective in nature. "The cow jumped over the moon which was made of green cheese." So clearly the cow represents Israel and the moon means the Euphrates River and the fact that it was made of green cheese means the moon was not kosher.

Okay, so I exaggerate but you get the point. This is what I refer to as the “clearlies” and the “obviouslies."  When you are reading “The Theologians Guide to the Pre-Tribulation Rapture”, etc you run across a lot of “clearlies” and “obviouslies” and that to me means it is not “clear” or “obvious." Without getting bogged down with back and forth scripture citations let’s ask some common sense questions that deserve common sense answers.

1)    The Pre-Trib rapture first got introduced as a working idea in the 1800s. Prior to that there is no mention of it that I can find by any prophet, scholar, preacher, writer, nobody. Why?
2)    What does Satan have to offer? Three things to my thinking: lies that contain half truths, the allure of “enlightenment” and the desire to divide Christians. God offers whole truths, no lies, the offer of redemption not enlightenment and desires for us to unite.  "Love your neighbor as yourself."
3)    Did this notion of a Pre-Tribulation rapture serve to unite or divide Christians? If you’re not sure you need to get around the Internet a bit more and see the vitriolic arguments for and against levied by “Christians” at each other. If the modern notion of a Pre-Trib rapture served to divide Christians in a big way (and it has) it serves Satan's purposes, not God's.
4)    What explanation do some Pre-Tribbers offer as to why this concept was never spoken of prior to the mid 1800s? Yep! Some form of enlightenment by the believers bestowed upon them in that day that was previously not known. Who was it that offers enlightenment again?
5)    Do the Pre-Trib believers of today that you know see their beliefs as more enlightened than those who do not hold those beliefs? The ones that I know do. Do those who don’t believe in Pre-Trib rapture carry an air of more enlightenment than those who do?  I for one don’t. This is best illustrated by the fact that Pre-Trib rapture believers have absolutely told me to my face that my preps are a lack of faith. Satan's lies are so subtle that they have convinced themselves that the false doctrine they embrace is a higher level of faith (enlightenment and division all in one) than those of us preparing to provide four ourselves in times of trouble. Who was it that seeks to divide us and offers enlightenment again?
6)    The Bible is the book for believers. Our handbook if you will. If the believers are all going to be “taken away home” just in the nick of time what is the point of the Bible going into great detail about the Great Tribulation period if none of us are going to be here? We really wouldn’t need to know anything about that would we? What purpose does that information serve if everything in the “Good book” is there for a reason?
7)    Not the least of which the Mark of the Beast. Why would we need to think about that or hear about that if we are all gone?
8)    The Pre-Tribbers assert that at the rapture (at the onset of the Great Tribulation) Jesus comes down to the clouds and at the end of the Great Tribulation. He actually walks on Earth and that that is the second coming. So which one is Judgment day? Those who get raptured to Heaven and those left behind at the beginning of the Great Tribulation; is that judgment day? Or is it judgment day when Christ returns?  Are there two judgment days? Two unsealing of the Book of Lambs? If all the saved Christians are taken away home right before all hell breaks loose why have a great tribulation at all?
9)    Be extra leery of theses that support your biases. i.e. people with lazy streaks who  convince themselves that they don’t have to do anything. Nothing worth having is attained easily. We know that our salvation is attained through grace not works but we also know that there is a certain element who are all too keen on the idea of having to do nothing. “Works for me, back to the ball game." That is fine, it’s a choice, but when you castigate those of us preparing that doing so is “lacking faith” it is hard for me to not think of the word “foolish” or even “mockery." Mocking God's people seems like a bad idea to me.
10) And now we get down to brass tacks. Does the Pre-Tribulation Rapture theory better serve the desires of Satan or God? How could we know? Using logic I think we can certainly gain some insight. What happens if I am wrong and the rapture occurs prior to the tribulation and I am taken away home? Nothing really, I will be saved and in Heaven and probably won’t even know what hit me, much less have the time to rationalize, “Oh I guess I got that Pre-Trib rapture thing wrong.” Now let’s go the other way. What happens to Christians who have built much of their belief system around the Pre-Trib rapture, what if they are wrong? The great tribulation is “game on” and they are still here on earth. How many of them are going to question God? Question their faith? “He” didn’t come through for us, it was all a pack of lies! How many of them are going to renounce their faith? How many of them will swallow the next big lie that God doesn’t exist and turn their allegiances to the antichrist and become the sworn enemies of those remaining Christians? To me, that’s the main “rub” right there. This is exactly what the Pre-Tribbers have been set up for in my opinion. Not all of them will swallow the next big lie certainly, but many will.
To me the main lesson here for those of us who count ourselves as Christian Survivalists is this; In a SHTF scenario identifying friend from foe is going to be a huge challenge. None of us are naive enough to think that the bad guys are going to introduce themselves as evil. But let us also not be naive enough to think that all “Christians” are going to be your friends. The Bible is clear on this and maybe none more famous than Isaiah 3:5:

“People will oppress each other-- man against man, neighbor against neighbor. The young will rise up against the old, the nobody against the honored.”

Since, like Judah, we have broken our covenant of protection, this may well metaphorically speak to our futures as well.

God is in charge but that doesn’t make doing nothing a wise call.

Dear Editor:
In response to R.B. and his comments on "Things to Understand When Interacting With the Police," I'd like to share "Some Things He Needs to Understand When Interacting With Civilians."

We've long abandoned the idea that the police are interested in helping us when they interact with us. We expect, for good reason, that any encounter with a police officer is going to be a reminder that right or wrong, he or she is a cop, they must be respected no matter how inhumane their behavior, and that any error on the part of the officer is inconsequential. I may have to accept the ticket for allegedly running the red light, pay the fine, and suffer the insurance consequences, but if my dash cam video shows that the officer lied, the most I can expect is that the ticket is thrown out. No matter that my time was wasted in by a fraudulent traffic stop and a day off work to come in and prove my innocence in the absence of an officer actually being able to prove I was guilty. What we almost never see happen is that the officer is reprimanded for lying.

We also know that in nearly every encounter with police, the only reason they speak to us is to find something indictable. They aren't looking for a reason to exonerate us or for a reason not to cite or arrest us, and that means any discussion with a police officer has the potential to lead to consequences for us, and silence will never incriminate us. That is why we have a right to remain silent, and it's ludicrous for an officer to suggest that it's a good idea to talk to the police.

For the perspective that only 5% of defense attorneys are honest, I don't disagree, but that statistic can be just as easily applied to the police, but with a more insidious element; defense attorneys are only trying to defend the impropriety of their client (a potential criminal) while the police routinely defend the impropriety of each other.

There is no denying the fact that there are a lot of bad cops out there. They are truly a stain on the tradition of law enforcement, but the idea that they are a "few bad apples" ignores several facts. 1. Their fellow officers (the supposed 'good' cops) never interfere when one of these bad officers is violating someone's rights. 2. They usually cover for these bad cops, whether through silence, looking the other way, or outright lying. 3. The police enjoy immunity from the mistakes they make which often ruin lives.

These things considered, please don't be surprised that the public view of the image of law enforcement is crumbling. We are tired of the videos of perpetrators being assaulted by the police while not a single officer steps in to stop the assault. The ludicrousness of the police justifying their actions when they asphyxiate a subject and then beat him for "resisting" when his guttural instinct for survival kicks in. The repeated instances of the police demanding that civilians turn off cameras in public places, where they assault people for recording them, and where they illegally confiscate recording equipment which so often goes 'mysteriously' missing. This indicates two key problems; the police know that their words don't match their behaviors, and such evidence cannot be tolerated, and that we really need to think about the level of accountability among an institution that loses more video evidence (both police dash-cam and confiscated video) than Hollywood.

The one thing that is predictable in these discussions is that the blame for law-enforcement misbehavior is quickly directed back at the citizens, where civilians are somehow at fault for the misbehavior of the police and that we can't possibly understand why they do what they do. This is illogical and insulting. The bottom line is that the police are responsible for their own image, whether good cop or bad, and it's not enough to say "those are the bad cops, I'm a good cop" and leave it at that. Unless you are taking specific action to protect the citizens (as sworn?) from bad cops, then you are no better than them, falling somewhere on the 'respect' list between used car salesmen and the Nigerian prince who wants me to help him collect his inheritance. It's your responsibility as a police officer and as an institution to consider why your image is falling like a North Korean satellite, and to address ways of resolving it. Blaming us is not the answer. Calling other people a liar is not the answer. Look inward and then show a good faith effort the people who are losing trust and respect for you, and therein you might regain our trust.

One thing I've learned is that when an "executive officer of the state" tells me that someone else is lying, that someone else is probably telling the truth. We aren't "anti-police," we are anti-bad-police-establishment." - S.T.


Mr. Rawles,
The recent article by G.S. suggested that prepper's maintain a distrustful attitude when interacting with law enforcement personnel.  This was followed by R.B.'s disdainful view of the defense bar and belief that law enforcement personnel can be trusted to protect the constitution rights of citizens.  Taken together, these viewpoints demonstrate something that preppers should carefully consider; the law enforcement environment in which they are operating, and what steps to take to protect themselves.

I have no doubt that in the Western state that R.B. works to keep safe, law enforcement officers use common sense and can be trusted to understand the Constitutional rights of Americans.  Similarly, we have seen enough stories to know that there are parts of this country, certainly where G.S. resides, where police view Constitutional rights as nothing more than a hindrance and common sense plays little role in decision making.

It is vitally important to learn about your legal and law enforcement environment before significant contact with law enforcement, rather than after the fact.  Here are a couple ideas:

- Talk to a lawyer.   If you don't already have one or know one, it is much easier to shop around for a good plumber before your pipe breaks. The same is true for attorneys.  Ask around, find one with a good reputation.  Many attorneys will set up an appointment for a nominal fee.  While attorneys cannot divulge the content of your discussion, there is no need to share details about your preps, numbers of firearms, etc.  It may be enough to ask "what should I do if and intruder is on my property or breaking into my home?"  or "Do we have a 'stand-your-ground' law here?"  The answers may be different depending on where you live.

-Find out about the prosecutor in your area.  Is the prosecutor elected or a political appointment and if so, by whom?  Are judges elected or appointed?  Is your local prosecutor or police chief involved with anti-Second Amendment groups?  The mayor?   Does your local prosecutor have a history of filing charges against citizens protecting themselves and their families? 

-Learn about the police and sheriff.  Knowing what precinct and beat you live in is particularly helpful if you are monitoring a radio scanner or an online police scanner.   If there is a neighborhood police meeting, take the time to show up and meet the officers working in your area.   You can get a read on the officer's view of public safety and information about the crime trends in your area could be critical to your family's safety. 

-Check the news.  Have there been a string of police misconduct complaints?  In proven cases of misconduct, have offenders been punished or is everything swept under the rug?   Do the police have a written or unwritten policy of making an arrest every time someone defends them self from attack?

In many cases, the law enforcement environment in an area is reflective the quality of local government in general,  the area economy, level of personal freedom, and so forth.    When it comes to interactions with law enforcement, like everything else in preparedness, know your environment and have a plan.

How you would deal with a deputy who you know on a first name since grade school would be completely different than a police officer while visiting a major East coast city.   Regardless of your environment,

-Be courteous.  Presume that the officer is doing his job in a manner that deserves our respect. 

-Know your rights.  Don't think you know them, find out exactly what you can, cannot and must do in your jurisdiction.

-Do not lie.   You may have the right to stay silent, you don't have the right to say something is untrue.

-Keep your paperwork straight and vehicle in good working order.  Avoid interactions in the first place by ensuring your tags, insurance, etc. are up to date, and your vehicle is in good shape.  This is particularly important if you preparations include a bug-out plan using your vehicle.

-If you determine that an officer is acting in an inappropriate manner and you must invoke your Constitution rights to refuse to make a statement or consent to a search, continue to be courteous and even tempered.  If your rights are violated you can tell the judge, citizens review board, or other authority when the time is appropriate.

After reading both articles, I believe that both G.S. and R.B. are correct as concerns their locale.  Preppers should examine their own locale, and consider their own legal environment and what that environment might become in the event of a local or widespread disaster. - R.L.W.

Necultchurny! The haircut news from Cyprus just got worse: "This morning Sky [News] reported that the levy on balances over €100,000 had now increased to 60%..." This now qualifies as full scale bank robbery.

Ricky L. sent a link with some disturbing news: Fake 90% Silver U.S. Coins. Silver dollars are most often faked, but even smaller dominations should now be scrutinized.

Bill Whittle: Canaries in Coal Mines

You Will NEVER Look At MONEY The Same AGAIN.

Items from The Economatrix:

No Matter Outcome, Cyprus Crisis Is Blow To Business (And To Bank Customer Confidence Worldwide)

International Monetary Fund (IMF) Policy Paper Urges Higher Fuel Taxes to Offset Post-Tax Subsidies and "Externalities" Like Global CO2 Emissions. These Pigouvian ("Corrective") taxes might push the price of gasoline to $4.67 per gallon in the U.S.! (Scroll down to "Appendix Table 1. Corrective Motor Fuel Taxes, Selected Countries". Note that the suggested tax increase is 36 cents is per liter, not per gallon!)

Have The Russians Already Quietly Withdrawn Their Cash From Cyprus?

Eurogroup President Spooks Market By Saying Cyprus Deal Is A Template

Joe K. suggested: Emergency Preparedness & Outdoor Adventure Planning Checklist

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Americans Are Migrating To More Free Republican States. It is noteworthy that the study (see summary here) would have ranked Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana higher, except that "freedom" as they define it includes so-called "same sex marriage" and the freedom to use marijuana. This skewed their results.

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F.G. suggested this vintage video that explains vacuum tube technology: AT&T Archives: Bottle of Magic

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Ten Reasons Why Senators Should Vote Against the Gun Control Bribe-o-thon

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One man's approach to packing a 72-Hour Bag.

For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the [same] night in which he was betrayed took bread:
And when he had given thanks, he brake [it], and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also [he took] the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink [it], in remembrance of me.
For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come." - I Corinthians 11: 23-26 (KJV)

Saturday, March 30, 2013

You've probably already seen this: 40+ Officers & ATF Agents Raid Home of Youtube Gun Personality FPSRussia. So the "explosives experts" at the BATFE are ignorant about Tannerite exploding targets? Take a look at the FPS Russia videos with explosions. All that I've ever seen are explosions producing sandy-brown smoke, which is indicative of a Tannerite binary low explosive, (ammonium nitrate and aluminum powder-based), and/or orange flames from gasoline, both of which are perfectly legal under Federal law, and ditto in most of the 50 States. That includes the state of Georgia, where Myers lives. There was also an implication that this raid was somehow related to the death of his business partner, Keith Ratliff. But the facts, as reported, are confusing. The raid took place on Tuesday. (I'm writing this on Friday.) If Myers was a murder suspect, then why didn't they arrest him then, or since then? If he was holding explosives that didn't belong to him, or in possession anything other than just Tannerite, then why didn't they arrest him then, or since then? If he was in possession of high explosives but lacked a Blaster's Permit, then why didn't they arrest him then, or since then? Somehow this whole thing stinks, to me. It was probably just another F Troop fishing expedition. And why 40 officers? Talk about grandstanding! They certainly make people's lives miserable in the process, even when no charges are filed.


Today we present another entry for Round 45 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course. (A $1,195 value.) 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 gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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. C.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of D.) 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, E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 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. E.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value), and F.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

The queue of articles for Round 45 is full, but we are now accepting entries for Round 46, 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 know this blog is primarily aimed at folks preparing for a long-term crisis, but I have a unique perspective on living without electricity after a regional disaster that I thought some might find informative. I live in the hills of northwestern New Jersey, and I have lived through three sustained (my definition: 4 or more days each) power outages caused by extreme weather events during the last two years. These power outages were caused, respectively, by Hurricane Irene, 19 inches of wet, heavy snow in October before the trees had lost their leaves, and Hurricane Sandy. I have learned important lessons from each power outage that I would like to share.
A wood stove and lots of firewood are necessities. I live in a county with tens of thousands of acres of forest. Today, however, most folks are too lazy to cut and process firewood. As each generation passes, fewer and fewer know how. Fortunately, I grew up on a farm and my dad always heated our home with firewood so I learned the joy of hard work and more about trees than I could begin to write here. As the temperatures plunged in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the inside temperature of homes in my neighborhood dropped to near freezing and those of us with woodstoves became havens of comfort each day for friends, children, the elderly and neighbors in need of warmth. I think anyone who doesn’t have a wood stove and 10 cords of split, stacked and dried firewood in the backyard by October is unprepared. It’s a low-technology essential that works on simple principles, it warms your home, cooks your food and dries your clothes. Get a wood stove. Trust me when I say your wife won’t complain about the mess that comes with one when it is warming your house. Get a bigger wood stove than you think you need, it will make it easier to load and you won’t have to work as hard cutting small pieces of firewood. The side benefit is that a wood stove will save you thousands in heating costs each winter and will pay for itself in short order.
Water. It seems so obvious, but even most country folk today are dependent on electricity to run their well to provide them with water. Having a generator is much more useful if it powers your well. For starters, this means you can flush your toilet, wash your hands and take a shower, things we take for granted when the electricity is running. I learned after our first extended power outage that I wanted to get a generator and a lot of gas cans to protect the venison in my freezer. After the second one I realized that I wanted a Reliance transfer switch to hook up my generator in a safe way to my electrical box so that I could provide power to my well pump. As a bonus, I could also run my freezers, a refrigerator, a few lights and outlets. But I needed water. For a longer-term crisis, I am looking into a hand pump such as the Simple Pump that has the capability to pump water by hand from my existing well. Because I believe in redundancy when it comes to water, I also picked up some high-quality water containers that hold 7 gallons of fresh potable water. You can use it for drinking, cooking, washing and filling up the toilet. There’s a stream about a mile from my house that I could drink from if I had to (I strongly discourage this unless it is a true survival situation because of water-borne illnesses found in most surface streams), and I would be glad to haul the water back home in a wheelbarrow each day if it came down to it.
A generator coupled with a transfer switch. I made this a separate category because I think it deserves special attention. I personally bought a 5,000 Watt generator that can surge to 6,250 Watts, made by Briggs and Stratton. There are myriad choices in this area so do your research, evaluate your budget, and get the most appropriate generator for your circumstance. It has performed admirably for over 100 hours and has only required minimal maintenance. For starters, it is recommended that you change the oil every 40 hours or so. You should also drain the gas out when you are done using it. No problem here, but if you don’t use the generator for six months you ought to run it for half an hour or so. This means you are bi-annually putting a little gas in, running the generator, and draining the fuel out. A model which lets you easily detach the fuel line to drain the leftover fuel out makes this chore much less of a hassle.
I suggest having a two-week supply of fuel on hand, because it is amazing how quick it runs out during a crisis. I never would I have believed that I would live to witness gas lines, gas rationing, people driving to other states to get fuel, etc. until I actually experienced it. It can happen. That being said, I believe that within two weeks after a regional disaster, supply chains will develop to get things moving around again. If they don’t, then we are talking about a situation that is truly dire and you’d better think about how to live without electricity from any source for the long haul. My generator burns a little less than 4 gallons of gas in twelve hours (I turn mine off each night), so 10 gas cans gets me there if I conserve a bit. I could get by on eight hours, but my wife immeasurably appreciates being able to open and close the refrigerator with four kids. If I have learned only one thing in thirteen years of marriage, it is that having an appreciative wife is invaluable.
I had a neighbor with very large whole-house generator that was burning over 10 gallons of gas a day, and he ran out of fuel within a few days. So bigger is not always better. I also learned that diesel fuel is more available than gasoline during these situations, so if I were to do it again, and money were not an issue, I would consider a diesel, natural gas or propane generator. I found out the hard way that having a can of carburetor cleaner and a small piece of wire is invaluable because carburetors get gummed up easily if a little gas sits in there for a few months. If this happens, you have to clean it (which is easy once you have done it once) or run your generator on partial choke all the time (which is less than ideal and may not work). Drain your gas completely when you put it away and this shouldn’t be a problem.
Food. This was actually the least of our worries. We had plenty of food on our shelves to last for months if necessary, and we didn’t really even plan it that way. I guess with four kids and one income we are just used to buying in bulk when sales hit at the local grocery store. There has been a lot written already on this subject, so I will defer to other essays on this topic.
Medical Supplies. Everyone has different needs here, but it is just good sense to keep a few extra of whatever you need around in case the pharmacy isn’t open (which it won’t be if the store doesn’t have a back-up generator).
Feminine hygiene products. Keep a few extra boxes around.
Lighting. Because we had plenty of firewood and a fireplace, we lit the fireplace each night and everyone in the family loved it, but it didn’t light up the bathrooms or the other rooms in the house. And when I went out in the dark each night to turn off the generator and bring it in the garage, a lantern came in really handy. LED lanterns that can run over 100 hours on one set of batteries are great, and are easily available on Get two of them because you need one in the bathroom and the rest of the family doesn’t have to sit in the dark while they wait for your return if you have two. I also purchased two old-fashioned kerosene lanterns and a gallon of kerosene after the last power outage. The more flashlights and batteries you have around the better when the power goes out. Those little LED book lights are nice luxuries as well when you want to settle down and read a book in the evening.
A hand crank radio. This is one item I used every day during lunch. We sat around and listened to the local AM radio station as people would call in with all sorts of useful information, such as which gas stations had gas to sell and a generator to power their pumps, which stores were open, where one could get potable water (some buildings have emergency generators), what roads were cleared of trees and now passable, and where the electrical crews were working. On top of this, listening to a radio lifts your spirits when you have no other contact with the outside world.
Relationships with your neighbors are vital. No one knows everything, and a plumber, electrician, farmer, mechanic, doctor, dentist, police officer, etc. each possess unique and valuable skills and knowledge. You can only access those skills and knowledge if they trust you before the crisis and are regularly communicating with you during the crisis. Build friendships now with your neighbors. Find out what their strengths are. Forgive those whom you have had past disagreements with, as those arguments will seem truly unimportant if the SHTF. One of the unexpected benefits of Hurricane Sandy was that I built several long-lasting friendships with neighbors as we spent two weeks cutting trees, dragging branches, splitting wood and stacking firewood. We worked together to get warm, make food, get gasoline and other supplies, take showers and watch children. And everyone in my area has give a lot of thought about surviving when the government and the utility companies cannot help you. I can honestly say it was, in some ways, a blessing.  
Cash. Try buying something when nobody in town has power and you find out real quick that cash is still better than a credit card or a debit card.  A few hundred bucks was more than enough for the short-term outages I have experienced, but a longer-term situation would require more. In a truly long-term disaster situation, actual goods that you could barter with would have the most value.
Intangibles. I would like to conclude by suggesting that maintaining a positive attitude in spite of adversity is of immense value. Being a person who smiles while working to meet daily challenges lifts the spirit of everyone you come into contact with, and your attitude will have a marked impact on children. My children actually think that power outages are something to be celebrated (no school and you get to pretend like you are living Little House on the Prairie)! Having faith helps us see the good that comes with difficulty, and gives us strength to forge ahead, no matter what.
Our world is becoming more like a Rube Goldberg machine every day. Our infrastructure and supply lines become more fragile as they become more dependent on new layers of technology. My advice to everyone is to build redundancy into every system you control, and pass on practical knowledge to the next generation. A co-worker who was not prepared for any of these circumstances suggested to me that preparing for them was wrong, that it amounted to cynically saving yourself at the expense of your neighbor. I replied that quite the opposite was true: those who are prepared are far more able to help their neighbors than those who are not, and my real-life observations actually back up this assertion. Thank you for taking the time to read this essay and God Bless!

In my opinion 99.9% of preppers are law-abiding citizens who fear God and want nothing more than to be left alone to live their lives in peace and prosperity. Having said that I take extreme exception to the recent article entitled, “Things to Understand When Interacting With Police”, by G.S. from Florida. G.S. is a defense attorney who used to be a prosecuting attorney. Let me introduce myself as much as I can. I am a prepper and a police detective in a Western state and have arrested many criminals over the years. I have been in many jury and bench trials and have had many dealings with defense attorneys. There is a common joke in the world of law that it is very difficult to be an honest person and be a defense attorney. It is my belief and opinion that 1 in 20 defense attorneys are honest people. That is a mere 5% that are honest and I will explain why that is.

It is a defense attorney’s job to represent people accused of committing crimes and they are an important and necessary part of the judicial system. But often times the defense attorney knows full well that his client is guilty of the crime he is accused of. Unfortunately for the defense attorney, this knowledge usually comes directly from the defendant. So there lies the dilemma. How do you represent a person you know is guilty, when your client has told you himself he committed the crime and especially when the crime is heinous? Well an honest person would say “I can’t.” But a defense attorney will say, “What can I do to get my client off these charges,” and will use various dishonest practices that I have seen defense attorneys employ. Defense attorneys attempt to get their clients off on technicalities (such as on DUI charges) and practice character assassinations of witnesses, police officers and most horrifically on victims. I saw a defense attorney make a rape victim break down and cry on the stand during a jury trial as he attempted to paint the victim as a culprit during his character assassination of her. A defense attorney outright called me a liar on the stand during a jury trial because the trial was not going well for his client who had admitted to me, post Miranda and on recording, that he had committed the aggravated robbery he was accused of. I could go on but my point is that be weary of defense attorneys. There are some good ones who have a conscience and don’t lie. But many believe that the ends truly justify the means.
Let me be clear. Police officers must never violate a person’s Constitutional rights and must always arrest on probable cause with clear evidence. If in doubt I don’t arrest and I let the district attorney’s office decide if there is enough evidence to prosecute. G.S. is correct about the level 1, 2 and 3 stops and I beg each citizen to be familiar with each of these.

Next G.S. recommended not speaking with police. I think this is false and let me give you a great example as to why. One night, while on patrol, I responded to a call where a man was waiving a gun around in a parking lot and other people were running away. A description of the man and his vehicle were given by dispatch. I was first on scene and located the “suspect” vehicle leaving the parking lot. Myself and other officers conducted a “high hazard” stop of the vehicle. The driver was removed from his vehicle and his handgun was located. Also in the vehicle were his wife and several children. The witness said that she saw this man pointing his handgun at several people who then fled the scene prior to our arrival. Next I wanted to speak with the accused suspect who happened to have a carry permit. I read him Miranda and he was anxious to speak with me. He said that a group of four males approached him and were asking him about where he was from and what his religion was. When he told them that information two of them produced knives and were going to attack him. A fact the witness did not know and did not see. Fearing for his life and for the life of his children and wife, he produced his handgun, which he pointed at the suspects. In this situation he could have shot them and would have been justified in doing so. We all complimented the man for doing what he needed to do protect himself and his family, returned his handgun and sent him on his way. If he had chosen not to speak with us that night (which is his right), as G.S. recommended, he would have been taken to jail at least for reckless endangerment and his handgun would have been seized. I understand a person’s apprehension to speak with police but it is my experience that it is only beneficial to you to do so.

In the next section G.S. writes about the force matrix. This is where his experience as a defense attorney shines brightly for all to see as he twists facts and information into what he wants them to be. He said, “Note that under the matrix, active physical resistance by a person can be met by police with deadly force.” This is not true and the chart that he linked says it is not true. I implore each of you to look at the chart he provided and recognize his false statement. The chart listed “Aggravated Physical Resistance” as being met with deadly force. There is a huge difference between “Active Physical Resistance” and “Aggravated Physical Resistance” and G.S. knows it. Let me give you some examples of “Aggravated Physical Resistance” against police: pulling a gun, pulling a knife, attempting to disarm, strangling (like a rear strangle hold), attempting to cause death or serious bodily injury, etc. G.S. would have you believe that police can kill you just because you are actively resisting, i.e. running away, taking a fighting position, not putting your hands behind your back, etc. What he would have you believe is true and what is actually true are two different things.

I will not delve too deeply into police corruption other than to say it does exist and in my department it is dealt with swiftly and severely. Any officer who is corrupt is a disgrace to the office and has not upheld their oath to protect and preserve the Constitution of the United States. Many may not know this but as executive officers of a state we, as law enforcement, are bound by oath and affirmation to support the Constitution (last paragraph of Article VI).
I understand that G.S. was just attempting to write an article to help the prepper community. His world is tough because he is always dealing with the criminal element and criminals are often times disheartening. But I found several of his points to be false.

Over the years I have read several articles on this blog that seem anti and pro police. I want the prepper community to know that most police officers I work with don’t want to bother you and only want to protect the communities in which they serve. Look for truth in all things and be a watchman of the night.  - R.B. 

Say Goodbye to the Purchasing Power of the Dollar -- Mr. Bernanke goes to Crazytown

Reader L.C.A. sent a link to some alarming charts on food an oil prices. Following the global credit collapse of 2008, inflation has returned with a vengeance.

Peter Schiff explains how a US depression can cause a global 'death spiral'

Too big to fail or ignore: How the US went from over 13,000 banks in 1987 to 6,000 today. $7.4 trillion in deposits backed by $32 billion dollars. (It is high time that we pull our money out of this high stakes casino. Build up a month to two month supply of cash at home. Get out of US Dollar-denominated investments and diversify into barterable tangibles. For example buy guns, ammunition, and full capacity magazines if you can find them at pre-panic prices. (Don't buy during the current market peak for those items. Wait until prices moderate.)

Items from The Economatrix:

Steve Forbes:  Cyprus Isn't Over, It's Still A "Disaster For Us All"

BRICS Nations Plan New Bank To Bypass Word Bank, IMF

Market Collapse Predicted By Scientist

Dear Respected Comrade, Supreme Leader, Great Successor, First Secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea, the Chairman of the Central Military Commission, First Chairman of the National Defence Commission of North Korea, the Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army, Kim-Il Sung Jr., Jr. seems to have gone full-on Col. Jack D. Ripper "Sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids " bonkers. There has been news of North Korea targeting Guam, Anchorage, and perhaps even Oahu or Seattle with their handful of low-yield nukes--which are probably not yet compatible with their missiles. (And their missiles most likely still lack the requisite range.) Reading these reports makes me feel relatively safe, since I live deep in the lightly-populated Redoubt, a long way from any likely targets. But of course every family should have a fallout shelter, regardless of their locale.

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The Get Prepared Expo will be held April 6-7, in Lebanon, Missouri. I will be one of the featured speakers (via teleconference.) I will be on from 11AM to 1 PM on Saturday April 6th. They will have 100 exhibits and 80 of their 1-hour seminars, running six at a time for two days.

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B.B. suggested: You Need To Prepare - Clip from Glenn Beck

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J.B.G. sent us this: High-Tech NYPD Unit Tracks Criminals Through Facebook and Instagram Photos

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Camping Survival has reduced their prices on Potassium Iodate pills and capsules, and offers free shipping.

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Dr. Gary North: 13 Assumptions That Put Your Children at Risk

"But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take [any] person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand.

So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me."  Ezekiel 33:6-7 (KJV)

Friday, March 29, 2013

Today we present another two entries for Round 45 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course. (A $1,195 value.) 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 gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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. C.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of D.) 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, E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 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. E.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value), and F.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

The queue of articles for Round 45 is full, but we are now accepting entries for Round 46, 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 seeing fruit and nut trees for sale now in the Southeast where I live so I wanted to share some thoughts on how I approach tree cultivation. I usually try to plant trees earlier in the winter in order for the roots to get a good start but retail outlets know that people start getting restless towards the end of winter and want to get their gardens and orchards going and they are only too happy to accommodate them. I am an arborist by trade and I’ve provided some guidelines I follow in raising trees. It is not all-inclusive, it is just a quick read for folks who are trying to start or tend to their trees and don’t have much experience. You could spend a lifetime growing and studying trees and still not learn all there is to know but you have to start somewhere so don’t be worried that you won’t get it right- if the location you chose doesn’t turn out to be ideal, move it. You can spend a small fortune on having a contractor put in a tree or if you have the time and the strength, you can do a little research and get a smaller, less expensive tree and do it yourself. And trees are very forgiving!

Trees are long-lived enough to have phases of productivity that include adolescence, adulthood and advanced maturity. The important thing to realize with trees (and most living things) is that their goal in life is to pass on their genetic material by producing and germinating seed. This is their sole purpose in life. How they look, what their flowers and fruit smells like- all these things contribute to the perpetuation of their species. If a tree can produce a luscious fruit, it will entice an animal (man included) to eat the fruit and spread the seed. When a once-healthy tree is nearing the natural end of its life, you will often see a one last grand effort, a flush of buds as they give up all their reserves for one final fruit/seed set, then die in the dormant season. You could call it a selfless act, if trees had a conscious, because they could otherwise limp on for a few more rather unproductive seasons. And even after death, trees provide compost and mulch. So, with that in mind, here are my few basic guidelines for growing trees to their full potential and productivity:

1. Buy healthy plants- don’t start off at a deficit. Price is not always an indicator of health so look closely at the pot- if it is in a container, is it root-bound? You probably won’t be able to pop off the pot and check (which will also show whether the root has wound its way around the pot, also bad) but you can try to wiggle your finger into the potting soil. Can you? If you cannot even penetrate more than an inch or so, pass it by. Also check the graft site (fruit and nut trees are grafted onto root stock trees) at the base of the tree for fungus or poor grafts- you don’t want that either. Some of the best pear trees I’ve ever planted came from a Big Lots store. I tend toward the older varieties because they are tried and true and I don’t have the time to experiment. The other consideration is whether to buy dwarf, semi-dwarf or standard size trees. Dwarf and semi-dwarf will produce sooner but will die sooner, too. But if you cannot manage heights, go with dwarf. A standard size tree will live a long time and produce great quantities, in general, but it takes longer for standard trees to begin producing. Your best bet is to plant a combination of dwarf, semi-dwarf and one or two standard trees.

2. Location, location, location. To plant, that is. Do a little research on your species and variety- if it needs full sun, give it full sun or it will likely not reach full potential. Be wary of planting on high spots in general- think of how water flows and wind blows. Hilltops can catch the wind and are the first areas that water flows from- if nothing else, plan for the ‘military crest’ of the hill, just below the hilltop. Giving your trees a bit of protection from the wind in their early years will give them time to grow deep roots for both stability and water uptake. Planting trees in a slightly lower area allows for the possibility of water availability longer after a rain but make sure the site drains- very few trees can tolerate wet feet! The other consideration is air flow –while protecting your trees from the wind, you also want to make sure there is adequate air flow to help combat bacterial infections such as fire blight by allowing the site to dry out after rains. Make sure there is enough spacing between trees (check the spread for your variety on the tag) to allow for good air flow- this small act of prevention can keep many diseases at bay just by naturally regulating surface moisture levels.
A quick word on pesticides- I try to avoid them whenever possible. I may lose some trees but too often, pesticides are used to make up for poor siting or bad stock. I am not able to fence in my current orchard so I spray a deer spray (which is mostly concentrated urine) to keep the deer and rabbits out and it works pretty well for me. It has a very strong urine smell so be aware of the wind direction when spraying or it will keep your ‘dears’ away from you, too!

3. Nutrition. There are three main nutrients plants need: nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) - commercial fertilizer is labeled with the parts of each (N-P-K), for example, 10-10-10.  Just like your children need calcium for strong bones as they are growing, so your trees need phosphorus to develop a strong root system. I’m old school and prefer to feed my trees real food instead of chemicals- there’s debate enough about that for another forum- so for phosphorus I give them bone meal. I will sometimes toss an old sun dried bone in the planting hole if I have one. For nitrogen I have access to a Starbucks that gives me all the old coffee grounds I could want and the worms love it, too. For potassium I use wood ash and throw a few small chunks of charred wood in the there, too, for biochar. I find that the chemical nutrients release too quickly and you get peaks and valleys of fertilization whereas the bone meal and coffee grounds slowly decompose at an even rate.

4. Water. They need it, and will die without it. If you don’t get at least an inch of rain per week during the growing season, give them water. Better to use a soaker hose or apply it to the ground directly rather than spraying the leaves for a number of reasons but mainly because the roots uptake the majority of water. But remember, the leading cause of death of plants in general are water-related, either too little or too much. And that brings me to the final point…

5. Mulch. Mulch will hold in moisture around the root ball, it will help protect the roots from frost damage in the winter and dryness in the summer and hold back weed growth while slowly decomposing and providing nutrition. Use composted mulch – green chipped wood requires nitrogen to decompose and will rob your tree of it.  But, do not pile up mulch against the trunk, making the ‘volcano’ look! This actually harms the tree by promoting fungus growth around the trunk and can actually smother the roots, inhibiting respiration. So visualize a ‘crater’ instead of a volcano- always make sure the flare of tree trunk is exposed and start your mulch ring about an inch from the trunk, building a crater outward about two feet, with the edge being about 4”-6” thick. Now you have formed a bowl for water to be held in for a slow absorption. You can take the mulch ring all the way out to the tips of the limbs (called the dripline of a tree) if you wanted and reduce further the grass under the tree, which will also rob your tree of nutrients in order to feed themselves. Do be careful to change out the mulch and fallen leaves in the late fall or early winter- disease spores can over winter in the mulch!

So if you have room for a tree, make this year the year you start your orchard. You don’t need any specialized equipment or knowledge beyond what I’ve covered in order to get started. A little time investment every month or so during the growing season to keep the weeds and grass back and keep it watered will pay dividends for many years to come.

 As I compose this essay the news of the proposed “taxation” of the depositors of the banks in Cypress via a confiscation of up to 9.9% of the balance from all savings accounts (and then the decision to not take that step) is rocking the financial world. The government of Cypress expressed the need for this measure in order to meet their obligation to the European Union. They called it a “tax on deposits” and “giving depositors a haircut”. I think a better term would be “stealing depositors’ money”.  So go to Plan B….seizing funds in pension accounts and turning them into government bonds to pay for the bailout? Plan C?

Of course that could never happen here in America.      Right ? 

Don’t think that for a moment.  First of all, put aside any preconceived notion that the markets are honest and fair to all participants. The multi-trillion dollar printing by the runaway Federal Reserve that is controlled by the mega-sized private banks is nothing more than another engineered plan to acquire your assets.  Artificially suppressing interest rates is essentially robbing blind every person who has money invested in a savings account, checking account, money market, or CD. The next step will be to orchestrate a plan to grab every last dollar held in IRAs, 401ks, pension accounts, etc. by those who control the money supply and have the mechanisms in place to manipulate the markets. The game is rigged…and you don’t stand a chance of surviving without implementing a plan of your own.

I have been a Certified Financial Planner for almost two decades and in the financial services industry as a stock broker with both a regional and wirehouse brokerage for a good number of years before that.  In 2005 I became an independent advisor because I could no longer stomach the corporate environment and how customers were forced into packaged products.  I have seen complete economic cycles over that period of time….falling and rising interest rates….business expansions and contractions….periods of relative peace as well as war…..boom and bust.  I have always been able to tell my clients that they could count upon the strength of American Industry, the American Workforce, the American Taxpayer, and the American Consumer to provide stability and steady growth to the American Economy. 

I have also been a prepper since the late 1970s. After returning from my wartime military service in Southeast Asia in early 1974, I watched the economy stagnate and then evolve into a chaotic jumble of escalating interest rates and soaring precious metals prices.  Americans contended with rising gasoline prices, shortages of heating oil as well as regulated natural gas supplies,  a hostage crisis in Iran, and the “general malaise” that Jimmy Carter told us was to blame for all our woes.  It wasn’t until the election of Ronald Reagan and some new economic policies that we were able to recover as a nation. Things improved, then got better. The 80’s and 90’s were good and productive years for America.

But the differences between yesterday and today are truly jaw-dropping.  Back then the U.S. was economically sound despite the expense of the Viet Nam War financed with newly printed dollars that were not backed by gold  (Nixon closed the window in 1971) and the growing  (but manageable) social welfare programs.  Tax revenues back then essentially covered and met the government’s expenditures.  One just knew that every economic downturn would be followed by recovery ….because that’s just the way things worked. 

Today the U.S. has spent the nation’s blood and treasure as well as our emotional capital on the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have become involved in Libya, Egypt, and Syria.  Potential issues with Iran and North Korea loom large. There are 47 million people on food stamps. Unreported millions are unemployed. Spending on social programs has exploded.  The housing market collapsed and has never fully recovered. The banking system is on life support. The Federal Reserve is purchasing $85 billion dollars each month (a trillion dollars a year) in U.S. Treasury issues because no one else is willing to do so.  Despite government statistics and reports Inflation has driven prices on energy, food, clothing, health insurance, and everyday items beyond reason.  Expenditures outstrip tax revenues. Government spending is out of control and we are approaching $17 trillion dollars in national debt with untold (and unfathomable) amounts in promised future benefits, entitlements, mandates, and promissory notes.  By some estimates the U.S. has 238 TRILLION DOLLARS in unfunded liabilities.  We can’t cover it. We are flat busted.  And if our leadership refuses to address and fix the problem, the rest of the world will fix it for us.

People are genuinely concerned and are looking for answers. Yet they are also experiencing cognitive dissonance as well as normalcy bias. They are fearful at what might happen and fearful of taking steps towards addressing that fear because doing so conflicts with their ingrained belief system.  They want to believe  that an economic collapse could never happen in America.  Life continues to be pretty good for most Americans….we shop, vacation, purchase luxury items, and enjoy eating in restaurants.  Life appears pretty normal.  

But perceptive Americans have an intuitive feeling that something is really wrong.  Despite the message spread by the talking heads on NBC, CBS, ABC, CNBC, and  MSNBC  that the nation is in “recovery” or “the employment picture is improving”  or “corporate earnings are growing”  these savvy folks dismiss the messages as much akin to the old Soviet press releases back during the Cold War. The mass media has refused   to acknowledge that the Federal Reserve’s continued money printing is a complete disconnect   from the reported   “improving” economy. 

I am assuming that since you are reading the “SurvivalBlog “ that you have made plans for your basic needs for the other aspects of survival.  My focus is on the financial aspect….protecting the value of what you have worked so hard to put away.   Again, set aside all preconceived notions that the marketplace is honest and fair to all participants.  What’s the difference between loss of purchasing power via paying depositors low interest rates or stealing the money outright. Depositors will lose money one way or another…thru actual loss (theft) or loss of purchasing power (inflation).  And the FDIC doesn’t really exist for the protection of depositors….it exists to protect the banks who operate on a fractional reserve system from bank runs.  A perception by the public that their deposits are somehow covered from all risk prevents those runs. If you think your money in the bank is safe, you better grow up. There is also a concerted effort to grab every last dollar held in IRA’s, 401k’s, pension accounts, etc. by those who control the money supply and markets.  Americans will find the funds they worked so hard to save for their retirement years raided and invested into government securities. The American people will essentially be forced into placing their retirement dollars into financing the country’s debt.  An outright theft.  The game is rigged against all of us. If you think your money in the bank or in that 401k, IRA, or pension account is safe, you better wake up and smell the coffee.
So what is a prudent and careful person to do?

First of all, commit this mantra to memory: 

I am suggesting that you take the following steps to have control of your funds, maintain purchasing power, and protect those assets from confiscation:

  1. Start taking inventory of funds currently invested in savings and checking accounts. Try to envision what your life would be like if those accounts would be frozen by a government-mandated tax on deposits followed by a bank holiday.  
  2. Now estimate what your expenses for living normal life for 2-3 months might be assuming you had to pay cash rather than relying upon the use of a credit or debit card or assuming that a retailer or vendor would accept your personal check for a product or service (their banks are closed too, remember).   
  3. Pull those funds from your account(s) and hold as cash (banks are paying little or no interest so what’s the difference?).  Please keep this cash in a very safe place (not a safe deposit box at a bank that will be closed).  At the minimum it should be placed in a fireproof safe, security box, etc. in your residence or at the residence of a very trusted relative or friend. Tell no one else of your plans other than someone who has the same vested interests as yourself.
  4. Now assess the remaining balance of the funds in your accounts. You will want to begin the process of converting those funds into a vehicle that will preserve your purchasing power when the fiat currency ultimately collapses….precious metals…gold and silver. Start taking funds out of your account in an amount that will not arouse suspicion (think under $5,000) from a nosy bank clerk who is bound by regulation to report transactions above a certain threshold or that look suspicious. If asked, tell them that you have some home improvement projects or major auto repairs and your guy offers a discount for cash payments. They can relate to those scenarios.
  5. Think of gold bullion and gold coins as a very good way to place a lot of wealth in a very small package. You will want to have gold for a portion (25% to 40%) of your wealth preservation plan. However, they would not be very useful for day to day transactions. For that I suggest silver (60% to 75%) in the form of one ounce Silver Eagles from the U.S. Mint or (even better) pre-1965 U.S. coins (dimes, quarters, and half dollars) that have a composition that is 90% silver.  This is commonly referred to as “junk silver”. Each pre-1965 coin will have actual silver in its composition (dime .0715 oz., quarter .17875 oz., half .3575 oz.).  Thus every dollar in face value contains 0.715 oz. of silver. You could also consider U.S. Silver Dollars (0.77oz) minted during the late 19th and early 20th centuries but they often carry a numismatic premium. There are other choices out there that will vie for your investment funds but I have found the U.S. junk silver is usually your best value, easily recognized and accepted, and very liquid.  You will want to make your purchases from a reputable and trusted local dealer. Ask around and make a few inquiries. Most will accept cash and are generally tight-lipped.  Make your purchases periodically as a way of cost averaging. Take physical possession. Never buy and let someone hold it for you. Store it securely. Again, OPSEC should be of the highest importance. [JWR Adds: The recent advent of the Chinese-made fake Silver Dollars is yet another reason to stick with the smaller denomination 90% silver pre-1965 U.S. coins.]
  6. Now begin thinking about how you would be impacted if your IRA, tax-deferred annuity, or retirement account would be devastated by a market meltdown, seizure, or government-mandated purchase of printed securities with no real backing.  I am an advocate of taking at least a portion of your funds and converting to precious metals. You have worked hard to put away funds for your golden years but what if those funds no longer existed? This will be a big decision and a tough pill to swallow for most people. But I contend that taking a distribution, paying the taxes, and yes, even a possible early withdrawal penalty, and then converting those funds into precious metals will be a wise decision for almost everyone. It is an even easier decision if you are older than age 59 ½ and not subject to the premature distribution penalty. If you are worried about your tax obligation you might remember that the government is essentially taxing your money already via the fiat system that currently exists and that you will be more responsible with your assets than any politician. You might also want to consider making some tax deductible gifts to your church, favorite charity, or philanthropic organization to reduce some of your tax obligation and possibly “bunching” those deductions into one tax year for good measure. Better that they have it where you can see the good works done firsthand. Opening a “Precious Metals IRA” has also been touted as a solution but you are not able to take physical possession of your metals until you actually take a withdrawal/distribution. This means that your metals will be held in “safekeeping” by a custodian….usually a money center bank. How do you think that’s going to play out if the SHTF?
  7. Lastly, and something else to consider, is beginning to take your Social Security distributions prior to your normal retirement date for full benefits. If you are aged 62 or older you are eligible for Social Security benefit payments prior to reaching “normal retirement age” but at a reduced rate. You will have to do some calculations to determine how much  of a reduction it will be from normal retirement benefits, how it will affect your taxable income level,  how it will affect survivor benefit levels for your spouse, and  if doing so will place a hardship on your living needs.  If it makes financial sense and you have other reserves,  then taking a reduced  monthly check and purchasing precious metals (a certain payout and purchase of hard assets) with those funds might be a wise choice rather than waiting until you reach the normal retirement age (an uncertain promise for payment in fiat currency at some future date). You can log on to  to access the Social Security calculator link which will enable you to create a variety of personal scenarios.

The U.S. dollar is just the latest in a long line of currencies that have had their value stolen due to decisions made by politicians and central bankers. Taking a valuable commodity like paper and reducing its value by printing numbers, images, promissory verbiage, and fancy artwork is a criminal act. Currency backed by gold and silver will eventually return. But until then it is wise to convert the existing currency to the real thing.  Fight the debt….become your own central banker.

Hi Folks,
I’m a transplant to my now-home state of Colorado.  When I came here where I’m living now was about the edge of suburban development.  Denver has a law that restricted it from growing called the Poundstone Amendment (wherein cities couldn’t annex without a vote of approval of land owners.)   My wife is a fifth generation native, her ancestors settled and farmed northeast of Denver for a few decades.  Winter wheat was a big crop, Rocky Ford produced perhaps the best melons I’ve eaten and in the summer it was nearly impossible to drive around without tripping over a small farmer’s market (even in the city).
Fast forward...  Farmers in Rocky Ford sold their water to a Aurora.  Farmers in the Northeast corridor (east side of the divide) sold their water to Denver.   Urban planning boomed (again) and even during official drought years it was not uncommon for 30,000 new building permits a month to be issued in the metro area.   With their new-found water wealth, the urban planners created sprawl, they loved the income and were addicted to it.  While we were told to conserve, they’d build a few thousand more homes with the water we didn’t use.  Their formulas used a usage ratio of existing users, so the more we conserved – the more building permits they could justify. 
Remember the Listeria deaths attributed to melons from Southeastern Colorado?  Do you know how the Listeria got a hold?  The farmers had “upgraded” their facilities, and were assured that city provided water was sufficiently chlorinated that they could just use city water, and not recycle and treat their own – all those nasty chemicals they added to the wash water were ruining the environment!  Well, as any dummy can figure out – chlorination varies day to day in any municipal water supply – and there was insufficient chlorine to cleanse the melons for market – so whereas the old environmentally-unfriendly method kept us alive, the new-improved city mandated solution killed several people – killing, essentially, the melon growing industry in that part of the state.
Many people don’t realizes that Water has it’s own court system, at least in Colorado it does.  Water is politics and big money urban developers have managed to buy nearly all the surface water and aquifer accessed rights in the state.
Our agriculture isn’t producing the same amounts of food as it was ten years ago not because we have a drought problem, it’s because the farmers don’t have the rights to the water anymore – they were “squandering” it and environmental lawsuit after lawsuit put most of them out of business – forcing them to sell their water rights to a city.  When you look at the agricultural production numbers plummeting in Colorado, don’t attribute it to the “drought” attribute it exactly where the blame belongs – urban sprawl.  What else did we get with urban sprawl?  Hundreds of thousands of city-dwellers dependent on the state for their every need.   With government employment and service industry growth the majority of people were liberals who moved here for the “rocky mountain high” – bringing their needs for cheap housing and water with them. 
We are a liberal majority-controlled state only in the cities. Everywhere else in the state, reason reigns.  Our farmers will never produce again, because the city will never return water rights to the land.  Our drought has always been a fact of life in Colorado, according to my wife’s relatives water has never been abundant for farmers.   Our farmers weren’t victims of G-d’s will and poor rainfall, they were victims of political realities and urban sprawl.  So, yes, we are part of the seven states with water problems, but it’s a redistribution problem not one of agriculture. - Jim H.

Hello Jim,
You have had a couple of good articles about having dogs for retreat/home protection recently. I couldn't agree more that dogs are a wonderful resource in many ways. I have two German Shepherds who keep my farm and home safe from humans and predators.  There are a couple points I would like to add.

First of all, not all dogs will fight to protect their pack. I had a German Shepherd several years ago who would try to hide behind me if there was danger. He was a complete coward, in spite of his attack training. When picking a protective dog, a person should size up the personalities of both parents, if possible. If the parents are rather laid back and unprotective, the puppies will probably grow up with a similar temperament. I have noticed that two dogs seem to be four times as good for protection, but they are also more difficult to control.

And once you have a protective dog, it is important to recognize that the dog doesn't always know when not to bite. A dog bite can be a death sentence without antibiotics, as infection is almost a guarantee. If your dog accidentally perceives someone to be a threat and bites him, there are numerous bad things that can happen to the you, dog, and the victim. My dogs are very protective and aggressive. I have to "protect" them from being in situations where they could get themselves in trouble. Although they are definitely my buddies, I have to handle them more like weapons than pets.

And lastly, dogs are not bullet proof. If there are desperate people who want to raid your retreat, do not believe they will hesitate to shoot your dog. In this situation, the dog will need to be protected too.  - Hobby Farmer

The recent experience in Cyprus set a dangerous precedent. With similar debt levels in Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece, Slovenia, and Spain, the European Banksters are likely to stage more heists. I suspect that there will be bank runs and some draconian withdrawal limits will be imposed. And FWIW, I'm not the only one predicting this. Oh, and I should also mention the Debt to GDP levels are even worse in the U.S. and Japan than they are in Europe's southern tier. The bank runs could quickly spread from Europe. Be ready for them. Keep plenty of cash at home, and diversify out of dollars and into tangibles that can readily be bartered.

Egon warns about derivatives, over at Gold-Eagle: The Reality Is The Financial System Could Fail At Any Time

World's First Bitcoin ATM is Announced, First Location Cyprus. (JWR's Comment: The Bitcoin to US Dollar exchange rate was a whopping 93.6-to-1, the last time I checked. I've been using and advocating Bitcoin since May of 2011. Since it has recently become a popular alternative currency, I expect to see an all-out demonization of Bitcoin in the Mainstream Media, shortly.)

Guns and ammo sales spark jobs boom. (Thanks to H.L. for the link.)

Rocketman suggested: Unbanking vs. Underbanking: How to Break Up with the Financial System

Items from The Economatrix:

Cyprus Banks Reopen With Capital Restrictions. €300 withdrawal limit, €1,000 limit for travelers, wire transfer controls...

Another Gold Shortage?  Dutch ABN Amro To Halt Physical Gold Delivery. I assume that they are settling in cash. Oh well, that beats Pork Bellies. But this underscores the fact that there is no substitute for holding precious metals in your own possession.

Fears Grow as Banks Reveal Exposure to Cyprus Euro Crisis

The Coming Derivatives Panic That Will Destroy The Global Markets

F.G. sent this short video: Cerakote Generation II Coatings For Night Vision Camouflage

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Prepper Fest Arizona will be held April 26-28, 2013.

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Senate votes 53-46 to stop US from joining UN Arms Trade Treaty. It is frightening to see that this vote was so close. Take note of which Senators were willing kiss goodbye US sovereignty over the key issue of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. (The yea votes listed were pro Second Amendment.)

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F.G. liked this: International Morse Code: Hand Sending Pt. 1-2 1966 US Army Training Film

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Safecastle is continuing their big "Bucket List" sale. Check it out!

"There is no criminal class in America, besides Congress." - Mark Twain

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Today we present another entry for Round 45 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course. (A $1,195 value.) 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 gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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. C.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of D.) 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, E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 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. E.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value), and F.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

The queue of articles for Round 45 is full, but we are now accepting entries for Round 46, 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 read a lot of articles on preparedness and agree full heartedly that any thinking man or woman should be fully prepared for the worst. However in most of the blogs I read I have not seen to much about reality self defense. I feel that all preppers should enlist a hand to hand self defense program into their lives. I am not promoting any certain form. Nor am I saying that people should blow a bunch of money on things that do not work.

In my honest opinion, WWII combative styles and other quick to learn and employ techniques trained on home built practice dummies are the way to go. I do not suggest that anyone should truly practice on another person due to the inherent way that you teach yourself to pull the strikes, which would not be useful in a real life or death situation.

As far as how to gather the equipment a quick internet search would show you links to videos and plans to build a dummy to fit you’re needs as you see fit. Also a quick search will give you ample books and videos to buy, or free videos out there to teach you the basics of most styles. The basics are really what one needs to build off of, you would be surprised how many arts are formed of the base that another built.

Basics are the foundation that you will always come back to. Much like a house in sand without it you sink. Boxing fundamentals are great to know. You learn a good stance for defense and you learn a great deal about delivering a blow without projecting to you’re opponent you’re intentions. The same applies to Thai Boxing.

Some suggested forms to look into from my humble opinion would be Thai Boxing, American Boxing, and WWII Combatives. Thai Boxing is a martial art that is much like American Boxing however you incorporate your  feet, kicking, fists, punching, knees, and elbows. What I think is best about both Thai and American Boxing is the great footwork and blocks you learn as well as the simple strikes. The reason I feel this is important is because the fancy locks and throws and ground fighting techniques that are hard to learn and even harder to remember in an adrenaline fed moment are non existent. Both of these styles become instinctive responses.

Now for WWII Combatives, this is a gray area to say the least. Many people feel that this form of fighting is very brutal and should be left to military forces and police units. However in my opinion this is the form of fighting that any survivalist is best to learn. Prepping and learning survival techniques are all wonderful to learn but not useful if some thug or bandit has beaten you to death or disarmed you and has taken all of you’re gear.

Amongst the obvious reasons I see for wanting to train in this form of survival I also feel that people learn a need for being fit. I am not talking about washboard abs or that nonsense, but a good cardiovascular health and functional strength you gain from this kind of training is extremely useful when you are all you got to do the work that needs doing. Also you learn the value of self, bullets can only be fired while they are there and arrows and other projectiles must be either built or stored. Eventually you will only have you’re hands and what you have time to come up with to defend yourself.

For me, I practice at home and buy or search the information that seems most useful and learn it on my own time. I am currently working on my own homemade dummies for training, and stock up on what ever knowledge I can to become more self reliant and self sufficient. WWII Combatives are a huge portion of what I try to learn, as well as boxing principles and Thai striking. I also try to learn what I can from Krav Maga because of the way the style chains strikes and blocks to efficiently subdue an opponent.

My warning on learning WWII Combatives is simply that it is not for the meek. The strikes and targets are highly lethal, this was after all where the most recorded kills in WWII came from. So as I have said this is a warning as well as a heads up that this is a very efficient way to defend yourself. If you find a few styles that are giving you the things you need I suggest reading up on the physics of fighting and the scientific side so you can better learn what works and learn to put it together so it is your own way of life.

There are so many forms out there and if you have time or the will to learn do as much as you can in as many as you can. For my needs though I will keep it simple efficient and dirty. I do not presume to call myself a saint nor would I ever want to be considered one so my choices have no bearing on my conscious because consciously I know I want to survive for myself and my family. That said some of my suggestions maybe be a little more inhumane for some of the populace but you are ultimately left to chose your own path and what you feel comfortable with doing in the event that a blade, gun, or any other object is coming at you.

To me the reasons of why are vast, but for you it might be a news report or a policy on the job that prevents you from having a weapon for self defense. No matter what I feel all people should take a look back at their roots and learn that much like animals we need our claws and fangs ready to strike at a moments notice. Other people are prepared and they are not always on you’re side. Muggings and home invasions are a part of day to day life not just TEOTWAWKI. I refuse to be a victim and you and you’re families should too. 

Each day all over the world people are pushed into a life they do not want for whatever reasons. With proper training and maybe a bit of luck this might not happen. I wont get into the politics but, in the event of martial law or any other sort of take over those of us that can use our hands and improvised weapons still have a fighting chance at survival and life as we want it. So take on a “Don’t Tread on Me” attitude and learn what you can to be a true survivalist.

A bit of a side note on improvised weapons, if you can do it with a knife or so forth you can do it with you’re hands and feet. This I learned while practicing Indonesian Styles as well as Filipino Martial Arts. The amount of objects at a persons disposal to pick up on a street to hurt someone is incredible and makes me wonder why gun laws are even a political concern.

I will not list titles or sites that I use but someone with the need will find what he wants. When you decide to take this kind of lifestyle up please remember that safety is the cornerstone that you build all your survival skills from, so do this and all endeavors with safety in mind. Push where you feel you can and block where you need to block. Most important though strike hard and fast when the opportunity presents an opening.

A reckoning is coming and I do not care what color of horse a man is coming on but I hope you will be as ready as I to fight until the fight is done and hold fast to you’re loved ones and have them also ready to carry the torch in to the darkest corners of life to prevail where many fall. Self defense and preparedness are a hand in hand subject and we all should be aware that any one is capable of atrocities and be prepared to do what must be done to preserve our own rights.

I hope your readers don’t lump all police officers into the ignorant category. I’m retired now, but I clearly remember an instance about 15 years ago…
I was on grave shift and received a call of a man with a gun in a Shari’s restaurant at about 2 a.m.. When I asked the dispatcher what the man was doing, she told me he was eating.
I walked in and spotted him fairly quickly. He had a Ruger Blackhawk in a leather western style holster. I sat down in the booth with him and asked him why he was wearing the gun.
He explained that he and some friends had been out 4-wheeling and target practicing. Since his truck didn’t have doors, (it was summer), he didn’t want to leave it in the truck and since he didn’t have a CCW permit, he decided to wear it open carry.
I congratulated him for exercising his Second Amendment rights.
I then informed him of a little known fact in Oregon law: One may carry concealed if one is going to or from hunting or fishing or to or from target practicing. I then told him that he should alway carry a cardboard-backed target, earmuffs, live ammo and fireed brass in his car as “proof” that he has just been target practicing. And that he could carry concealed to not alarm the sheeple. I showed him the law in writing with my pocket guide I always carried.
The restaurant manager seemed rather displeased that a patron had a gun. I then pointed to mine and asked her if it bothered her. She said no, because I was the police. I told her that her restaurant was a safer place with an armed customer and left.
My sergeant was rather displeased that I didn’t have the “suspect's” name. And that is another story. - Tom in Oregon

Regarding the recent post "Dealing With Mentally Unbalanced Trespasser, I'd like to begin with a relevant Bible passage, Matthew 25:31-45, King James Version (KJV):

When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:

And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:

And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:

I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

Having dealt, one-on-one with many folks like the "Mentally Unbalanced Trespasser" in many positions over the years, I offer some insight.

1.  We naturally fear the unknown.  Jesus invites us to engage that fear and recognize that "unknown one" as him.  Easier said than done.

2.  Here's the "done" part.  Offer the stranger food.  If he ignores you or refuses, offer it again.  How many times would you offer Jesus food if he initially regarded you with suspicion?  "Hey brother, have a cookie."  "Would you like some water or lemonade?"  I have seen people who you might think were crazed from bath salts or meth (a diagnosis best left to the pros) relax and engage with me.  A little kindness calls the fellow to "wake from the trance" and perhaps remember he is one of God's children.  Of course, we have to remember that he is one of God's children first.  Of course, you can wear a sidearm as you offer the cookie.

3.  Hearthkeeper notes,  "The man went with the officers with no struggle thank goodness and we then gave our statements."  Note especially the words "with no struggle".  Peace officers are more and more being trained to calmly offer help to people "in the trance" (Drunk, drugged, possessed, or whatever.) When you approach the stranger with kindness, as if you are addressing Jesus, you are preparing for a time when there may be no 911.  Take turns, as part of your prepper practice,  play the role of the stranger and of the one offering kindness.  As we used to say in the Marine Corps, 'Practice makes prepared."   

4.  I'll quote Hearthkeeper once more,  "We pressed charges for trespassing simply because the man otherwise would have been let go to terrorize some other family."  Based on the description of his behavior, the stranger was simply pulling on the chicken wire and threatening no one.  We human beings often claim, in our fear, that someone has "terrorized" us.  This serves to detract from out power to respond to a situation.  In tactical situations, the better we can describe what is going on without ascribing power or intent to the other, the more effective is our response.  I'll paraphrase Mother Theresa here, "Our challenge is to show kindness to Our Lord in all his repellent disguises."

5.  I am in no way suggesting you become a bleeding-heart liberal.  I simply invite you, if you choose Jesus, to heed his words.  Certainly, you can keep the option of violent response ready in your hip pocket--or holster. - Dancing Marine

Reader Ryan B. sent: Here's 52 issues of a 19th-century British craft magazine, courtesy of a Brooklyn tool company.

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LPC Survival has announced that they've dropped all Wise Food Storage products from their catalog. They instead now offer the complete line of Mountain House long term storage foods, packed in #10 cans and in stacking plastic buckets.

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Keith B. spotted this: Ms. Cheap: Franklin family takes a break from modern conveniences

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F.G. mentioned that at a recent armorer's course, Glock USA representatives in Smyrna, Georgia told him that Glock is now producing 5,000 pistols per day. They also mentioned they are backlogged 1.3 million guns.

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An unintended consequence of biodiesel: United Kingdom Besieged By Cooking Oil Thieves

"The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary."  - Donald Kendall

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Today we present another entry for Round 45 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course. (A $1,195 value.) 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 gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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. C.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of D.) 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, E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 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. E.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value), and F.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

The queue of articles for Round 45 is full, but we are now accepting entries for Round 46, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

As a former prosecutor and now criminal defense attorney practicing in Florida, I offer some insights gained by experience for the patriotic reader.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2,266,800 adults were incarcerated in U.S. federal and state prisons, and county jails at year-end 2010 – about 0.7% of adults in the U.S. resident population. Additionally, 4,933,667 adults at year-end 2009 were on probation or on parole. In total, 7,225,800 adults were under correctional supervision (probation, parole, jail or prison) in 2009 – about 3.1% of adults in the U.S. resident population. With the statist establishment criminalizing everything, and the prosecution machine grinding out prison inmates every day, a dedicated “prepper,” gun-owner or survivalist has much to be wary of when dealing with of law enforcement officers.

Obviously, the first bit of advice is to not violate the law. Unfortunately, there are so many laws on the books that almost everyone is a criminal. For more on this point, see Go Directly to Jail: The Criminalization of Almost Everything by Gene Healy and Three Felonies A Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent by Harvey Silverglate. With the new proposals to ban certain capacity magazines and firearms and to seek a universal gun registration system, many people have become concerned that the law abiding citizen will be labeled a criminal by the state.

We must also recognize that when lawful gun owners discuss the use of force (including lethal force) in defense of self and others, we are not talking about a hypothetical construct. In the event of TEOTWAWKI, this may be an everyday reality. How functional the police and law enforcement agencies are in such an event is unknowable, but planning for such an eventuality can only be smart. It is not hard to imagine a scenario where you defend your home against a home invader using your legally carried firearm, but are faced with the ugly possibility of life in prison. The taking of a human life is no small thing. In Florida, the illegal use of a firearm that results in death carries a minimum mandatory life in prison sentence. Would you plea to a reduced charge for less prison time or take your chances with a jury? Are you sure? The best thing to do is to give your defense attorney the best case you can by planning ahead and understanding how to react to police.

One is reminded of the dilemma faced by the survivors in JWR’s novel Patriots where the protagonists must decide what to do with the bodies and belongings of the armed marauders who have attacked their camp. I would suggest that having a flexible plan to deal with the aftermath of armed citizen conflict should be part of your considerations. Obviously, TEOTWAWKI can come in many varieties with varying levels of societal dysfunction and different responses to such a situation may be called for. This essay presupposes that the police are still actively functioning and that the current U.S. Constitution is still in force.

You must understand that police are state agents. While most of us perceive the police are our friends, neighbors and protectors, it is very easy for this relationship to flip wherein we are the targets of tyrannical state power. Note, for example, the demonization of certain “right wing fringe groups” that believe in such crazy ideas at the founding documents and the right to gun ownership! I am of the belief that the likelihood of Blackhawk helicopters, drones or military strikes against civilians is remote. On the other hand, when TSHTF, the behavior of the local police forces will be one of the critical components as to how things will unfold. All the preps in the world will be of no use if you are sitting in a jail or prison cell. Knowing how to stay out of jail and prison is a critical bit of knowledge for everyone to have. Because the local police forces are the entry point for our prison and jail populations, you should know how the police deal with you.

It is important to understand that there are three levels of police citizen encounters: 1) consensual encounter, 2) investigatory stop and 3) detainer and arrest. See Popple v. State, 626 So. 2d 185, 186 (Fla. 1993).

The first level, “consensual encounter,” involves only minimal police contact, during which a citizen may either voluntarily comply with a police officer's requests or choose to ignore them. A consensual encounter is not a seizure, so it may occur without repercussion, even when a police officer has no reason to suspect that criminal activity is afoot. Because the citizen is free to leave during a consensual encounter, constitutional safeguards are not invoked. Therefore, anything you say in a consensual encounter will be admissible against you. Often, consensual encounters are the basis for many a search. The police officer will ask, “Do you mind if I search your car?” Because it is a question, you have a right to refuse the offer – and you should. An officer may ask you at a highway check point, “would you mind pulling over to the side of the road for a moment?” The response to this is a polite, “I would respectfully decline. I would like to be on my way. Are you ordering me to the side of the road?” If the answer is yes, then understand that you are now adversarial to the police, and are being targeted for arrest. If you are free to leave, then by all means leave. 

The second level of police-citizen encounter is an investigatory stop. At this level, a police officer may reasonably detain a citizen temporarily if the officer has a reasonable suspicion that a person has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime. In order not to violate a citizen's Fourth Amendment rights, an investigatory stop requires a well-founded, articulable suspicion of criminal activity. An investigatory stop requires a factual basis to support it. Unfortunately, this test is subjective and can be falsely created after the fact by an officer. In an investigatory stop police have a right to search for weapons in what is called a Terry search (after Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968) if they suspect a person has a weapon. Thus, if you are detained and a police officer asks you if you have “anything on you that he should know about” the correct response is “I have a permit to carry a concealed weapon which is located in my right front pocket.” Note how you say you have a permit first, which reduced the alarm for you being armed. Do not grab for the weapon. Let the officer retrieve the weapon, if he chooses.

The third level of police-citizen encounter is an arrest supported by probable cause that a crime has been or is being committed. A person is arrested or detained. It is only at this point that your ‘right to remain silent’ and ‘right to an attorney’ protections apply. Invoke them immediately. Further, always be polite. There is no reason to get indignant, angry or out of control – those things can only make your life worse when dealing with a police officer.
Back to our earlier example wherein an intruder is justifiably shot, what is it you should say to police? The answer is quite simple: Do not talk to the police. Instead, immediately invoke your right to remain silent and ask for an attorney. There is nothing you can say that will dissuade them from arresting you if that is their intent. There is nothing you can say that cannot also be told to them through your attorney. Having your attorney speak for you allows you to tell your side without the problem of implicating yourself in a crime. Exercise your right and then keep quiet. In many jurisdictions, police are given a 48 hour cooling off period before they are questioned about any police involved shootings. If the police have a waiting period to talk about justifiable shootings, then why not you? Help those who want to help you – and we are not talking about the police! The police are there to put you in jail. Otherwise, why do they want to talk to you? There is no information that you can give them that will persuade them to let you go that cannot also be provided through your defense attorney. If you are under arrest, you are not their “friend.”

I have seen people hang themselves with a statement to police on life felonies for the price of a cop-bought basket of chicken. Thus, do not talk with the police. Sadly, I have also seen many cases where an accused citizen’s comments were misunderstood by the police (either intentionally or accidentally) and used against them. If you find yourself being questioned by the police, politely decline to answer, and tell them you would be happy to answer any questions directed to your attorney. If you are read your Miranda rights, immediately and unequivocally invoke your right to remain silent and ask for an attorney. Then, do not talk about your case! That means, do not talk about it with the friend they bring into the room with you (your conversations are being recorded). Don’t talk about it on the jail phone (also recorded). Don’t talk about it in code (doesn’t work.) Don’t talk about it with fellow inmates (they will turn snitch.) Police love to place you in situations with other people (other than your attorney) that tempt you to talk about your case. The only person you talk to about the case is your attorney.

Another point: don’t be discouraged that an attorney does not magically appear in front of you when you request one. Your attorney only has to be provided to you at arraignment, which can be many days off. Often the police will use this delay to wear out the person being held. People become impatient with the system when after they invoke their right to an attorney they are abandoned in the questioning room for several hours as the police prepare the paperwork to transport them to jail. Time after time, citizens give up their rights and talk to the police to their detriment because the arrestee thinks they can talk their way out of jail. All they end up doing is talking their way into prison!

It is also vital to understand the police use of force continuum. Many police agencies rely on a use of force continuum (also called the use of force matrix) when dealing with citizens. Generally, law enforcement can utilize an amount of force one level above what is presently being exerted against them. Here is an example of the matrix.  As you can see from the matrix, if you are only verbally opposing arrest, the police officer may use physical force against you. It is vitally important for the responsible gun owner to know about this matrix. Many people get into big, big trouble when they think they are being wrongfully arrested and argue with the police. The police then respond with an allowable use of physical force, which is then physically resisted by the suspect. In Florida, while it is true that one can resist an illegal arrest without violence, a person cannot in any circumstance resist arrest (even an illegal arrest) with violence. A citizen’s righteous indignation may have been originally justified. But by trying to resolve the dispute with the police on the side of the road, they turn an encounter with the police into a felony charge that lands them in prison. If you are being detained and “think” you know the law and decide to oppose your arrest understand this: whether an arrest is illegal or not will not be determined on the side of the road. Instead, it will be in a courtroom by a judge and prosecutor who are agents of the state. When the police are writing up their report, guess whose side it will take. The worst mistake you can make is to become indignant and physically oppose an arrest. Note that under the matrix, active physical resistance by a person can be met by police with deadly force.

Finally and sadly, you must be aware of the reality and existence of police corruption. While it is true that defense attorneys perceive higher rates of wrongful conviction in the jurisdictions than do judges, prosecutors, and police, the differing opinion of the defense attorneys could be explained by their closer relationship to the defendants. See Ramsey and Frank “Wrongful Conviction” 2007. Judges, prosecutors, and police rarely have contact with a defendant at his most candid, whereas the defense attorney often gains substantial insight into a case through the defendant’s perspective. Often, there are factual disagreements between a defendant’s version of events versus that of a police officer. While it is a defense attorney’s obligation to advocate for their client, defense attorneys also recognize that the other groups almost always side with law enforcement when matters of credibility are at issue. Most defense attorneys understand that the current legal regime provides no protection against unreasonable illegal searches by corrupt police officers and law enforcement officials. This is rarely accounted for by the other three groups, who often work closely together as part of a law enforcement regime.
While actual framing and planting of evidence by law enforcement is possible, most of the corruption does not involve such blatant frame ups. Rather, it takes the form of self-justification, i.e. since we know the defendant is guilty, lying about the circumstances of an arrest is justified since “they are guilty anyway.” Such lying, when accepted and institutionalized as a regular part of the process, effectively eviscerates the individual protections of the Constitution. The individual Rights enshrined in the Constitution only exist if the procedures afforded individual defendants are respected.

Police procedure is where the rubber meets the road in Constitutional law. Fabricated justifications by police destroy Constitutional protections. For example, “Stop and search” has become an increasingly common tactic for normal law enforcement. “NYPD "Stop and Frisks" Hit All-Time High - City police officers stopped and questioned 684,330 people on the street last year.” Feb. 14, 2012 Can it be said that all of these stops were supported by probable cause? What exactly is going on here?

Many laymen would be surprised to learn that since 1996, there is no longer any such thing as a pre-textual stop. The Supreme Court case Whren v. United States, 517 U.S. 806 (1996) effectively removed any defense attorney check on corrupt police officers. The Court ruled, “As a general matter, the decision to stop an automobile is reasonable where the police have probable cause to believe that a traffic violation has occurred.” “Subjective intentions play no role in ordinary, probable-cause Fourth Amendment analysis.” Whren; See also United States v. Holloman, 113 F.3d 192, 194 (11th Cir.1997) (stating that Whren “squarely rejected the pre-textual stop analysis” and that an officer's “ulterior motives” for a stop are not relevant so long as it is justified by probable cause). This ruling effectively disarmed the defense check on police corruption, thus placing the entire burden for rooting out impermissible behavior on law enforcement themselves and the prosecutors who often serve as a rubberstamping branch of their local law enforcement agencies.

Two common scenarios are commonly subject to this type of corruption: 1) justifying probable cause to stop a vehicle and 2) justifying probable cause to search a vehicle or person. When justifying probable cause to stop a vehicle, there are many un-falsifiable strategies an officer can use to justify a stop, placing his word against that of the defendant.  This places the prosecutor and the court in a position of having to doubt the word of a law enforcement agent over that of an accused defendant. Most courts, almost as a rule, side with law enforcement in this circumstance. It is not my intent to argue that anything like a majority of cases are in fact falsified. Rather, it is to explain that there is no external check on police falsifications available to defense attorneys. Therefore, it is currently incumbent on prosecutors, judges and other law enforcement officials to self enforce. Understanding some all too common techniques of petty police corruption (in the Appendix below) should shed some insight into the indices of falsification.

As someone who could be on the receiving end of this, you, the reader, should know that the best way to deal with police officer (whether or not they are operating in a legal manner) is not to argue with them, but to remain silent and ask for an attorney.
How petty police corruption often undermines the current constitutional search and seizure framework.

The following are ways a corrupt officer can justify stopping a vehicle based on probable cause. Because the current state of the law does not have a defense check on police power, a police officer who is willing to lie can stop any vehicle based on an after the fact, made up, unverifiable reason. Some examples of the many excuses that can be used to justify stopping a vehicle in Florida are outlined below:
I.                    “You rolled a stop sign.”
A.      (The officer testified unequivocally that defendant failed to stop at the stop sign, while defendant testified unequivocally that he made a full and complete stop. The officer's testimony was more credible in those areas where it conflicted with defendant's testimony. As a matter of fact, defendant committed a traffic infraction in violation of Florida law by failing to come to a complete stop at the stop sign. Therefore, the officer's stop of the vehicle did not violate the Fourth Amendment). United States v. Maddox, 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34838 (M.D. Fla. Dec. 6, 2005)
B.      (Officer stopped a truck for running a stop sign when exiting the complex and received permission to search the truck from the male driver.) Holland v. State, 696 So. 2d 757, 758 (Fla. 1997)
C.      (Defendant committed various moving violations-rolling through several stop signs-which prompted the officers to lawfully stop his vehicle. Thus, the officers had probable cause to stop Defendant.) United States v. Jefferson, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 143674, 6-7 (S.D. Fla. Dec. 19, 2010)
D.      (Officer alleged Defendant drove his van past an agricultural inspection station he was required to stop at, justifying stop). Grimes v State, 1982 Fla. App. LEXIS 19563 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1st Dist. Mar. 29, 1982)
II.                  “Your tail light was out.” (Police officer had probable cause to stop the vehicle for driving after dark without its tail lights illuminated). United States v. St. Louis, 255 Fed. Appx. 432 (11th Cir. Fla. 2007) Note that this allows for the possibility that the individual simply had turned out his lights with the switch, making the fact completely dependant on the officer’s observations.
III.                “Your tag light was out.”
A.      (Officer can stop a car for an inoperable tag light) See Cole v. State, 838 So. 2d 1205, 1205 (Fla. 2d DCA 2003)
B.      (While maintaining that the tag light did not work, the State also argued that the validity of the stop of defendant's vehicle did not depend on whether the light worked; the State claimed the stop was valid if the deputy had a reasonable suspicion that a traffic infraction had occurred). State v. Lee, 957 So. 2d 76 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 5th Dist. 2007) Note that the language of the opinion allows for later testimony that the tag light in fact works – all that is required is that the deputy had a reasonable suspicion that it did not. This inquiry into the officer’s subjective intent is exactly the inquiry that the Supreme Court was trying to avoid in Whren.
IV.                “Your window tinting is too dark.” (Officer can stop based on a tint violation), See Lawrence v. State, 942 So. 2d 467, 468 (Fla. 4th DCA 2006); Davis v. State, 788 So. 2d 308, 309 (Fla. 5th DCA 2001).
V.                   “Your license tag is dirty and I can’t read it.”
A.      “… the word "Florida," the registration decal, and the alphanumeric designation shall be clear and distinct and free from defacement, mutilation, grease, and other obscuring matter, so that they will be plainly visible and legible at all times 100 feet from the rear or front.” Fla. Stat. § 316.605 Note that the officer’s opinion of a dirty tag cannot be falsified, since the officer can claim that the tag was subject to post-arrest cleaning.
VI.                “Your windshield is cracked.”
A.      (Stop is valid when a deputy stopped defendant's vehicle after he observed a severe crack in the vehicle's windshield). United States v. Anderson, 367 Fed. Appx. 30 (11th Cir. Fla. 2010)
B.      Any police officer may at any time, upon reasonable cause to believe that a vehicle is unsafe or not equipped as required by law, or that its equipment is not in proper adjustment or repair, require the driver of the vehicle to stop and submit the vehicle to an inspection and such test with reference thereto as may be appropriate. Fla. Stat. § 316.610(1)
VII.              “You crossed the center line.” (Officer testified that he stopped the vehicle because he observed it cross over the center line twice and because the vehicle was impeding traffic by traveling far below the normal speed limit). State v. Thomas, 714 So. 2d 1176 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2d Dist. 1998)
The following are ways a corrupt officer can justify searching a vehicle based on probable cause.  Based on the current state of the law, after the vehicle was stopped a police officer can the search any vehicle based on a made up, unverifiable reason. The following are examples of the many excuses can be used to justify searching a stopped vehicle or person in Florida are outlined below.
I.                    “He acted nervous.” (Defendant became extremely "nervous" and "jittery" during his pre-search interaction with Officer) State v. Betz, 815 So. 2d 627, 633 (Fla. 2002)
II.                  “He made furtive movements.” What exactly is a “furtive” movement? This term, while hardly ever used in normal conversation, is commonly used by deputies when testifying to justify searches and actions, as a search of the term “furtive movement” in Westlaw easily demonstrates. [See, for example, Lightbourne v. State, 438 So. 2d 380 (Fla. 1983) (Pat down of individual justified when officer observes furtive movements combined with nervous appearance), and over 112 such references.] A search indicates 135 hits in Florida, and 2740 hits nationwide. The relative suspiciousness of a movement, or even its existence, is a matter of opinion of the officer who is subject to prosecutorial and judicial deference even in the face of defense disagreement.
III.                Detainee is “Unusually calm” (Defendant was unusually calm, actually lounging on the side of the interstate). State v. Petion, 992 So. 2d 889, 892-893 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2d Dist. 2008)
IV.                “He gave consent to search.” (Consent to search after tag light stop includes tearing the vehicle apart for an hour with tools). State v. Petion, 992 So. 2d 889, 893 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2d Dist. 2008) (Consent can be a mere shrug). State v. Jennings, 968 So. 2d 694 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 4th Dist. 2007). (The inspector asked to look in the van, and inspector alleged that appellant consented). Grimes v State, 1982 Fla. App. LEXIS 19563 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1st Dist. Mar. 29, 1982) Consent is often a matter of opinion of the officer, who is subject to prosecutorial and judicial deference even in the face of defense disagreement.
V.                  “I smelled what appeared to be marijuana.” (The odor of burnt cannabis emanating from a vehicle constitutes probable cause to search all occupants of that vehicle) State v. Williams, 967 So. 2d 941 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1st Dist. 2007); Wynn v. State, 14 So. 3d 1094, 1096 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2d Dist. 2009); Nazien v. State, 36 So. 3d 184, 185 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 3d Dist. 2010); State v. T.P., 835 So. 2d 1277, 1278 (Fla. 4th DCA 2003); State v. Williams, 739 So. 2d 717 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 5th Dist. 1999); State v. Betz, 815 So. 2d 627, 633 (Fla. 2002); (Odor of burnt or burning cannabis detected as the deputy approached defendant provided him with probable cause to search the vehicle). State v. Lee, 957 So. 2d 76 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 5th Dist. 2007); (The odor of marijuana gave probable cause to search the bales), Grimes v State, 1982 Fla. App. LEXIS 19563 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1st Dist. Mar. 29, 1982) While the smell of marijuana alone gives an officer a basis to search, it does not appear dependant on actually finding marijuana. Therefore, invisible and transitory smells can be not be independently verified outside of the officer’s word.

On March 20th, Colorado's Democrat Governor John Hickenlooper did a very foolish thing. He signed into law a ban on any magazine over 15 round capacity with a ban on shotguns with tubular magazines that can hold more than 28 lineal inches of shotshells, and another law that will ban private party sales of guns. (All transfers except a few within families will have to be handled through Federally licensed dealers. )

Because the magazine ban won't take effect until July 1, 2013, I can predict an unintended consequence: Close to one million magazines of 16+ round capacity will be purchased by Coloradans in the next three months. It is in their own best interest to immediately stock up their lifetime supply. So, instead of reducing the number of full capacity magazines in private hands, Colorado's legislature has triggered a spending spree that will likely double or triple the number of 16+ round magazines in the state. Perhaps one million more magazines will be marched (well, mailed, actually) into Colorado.

The next few big gun shows in Colorado will surely be memorable events. Something tells me that the dealers will be headed home in substantially lighter vehicles. (Any readers who are gun show vendors, take note. Reserve your tables, soon, and bring a large inventory of magazines.)

As I've mentioned before, the new law's grandfather clause is not multigenerational. It will be limited to only then-current owners on June 30th. Therefore I have urged Coloradans to be sure to properly document the gift of your magazines to your children and grandchildren, and have those records notarized.

If you have friends who live in Colorado, help them out, before the end of June. Many magazines are scarce, at present. Even Glock magazines are hard to find. Do you bit to support the Boulder Airlift. And if any Coloradans wisely vote with your feet and move to a Free State before July, then I recommend that you sell most of your 16+ round rifle magazines and 9+ round shotguns magazines to local friends before you depart, and then immediately buy replacements once you've moved.

Another unintended consequence of the new laws will be be political. The democrats have enraged Colorado's gun owners. In the 2014 election we will probably see a huge backlash. As recently as December, Governor John Hickenlooper was deemed "safe for re-election" in 2014. I have news for him: Gun owners have a long memory.

The national political landscape may change in 2014, as well. Let's not forget that 20 Democratic US senators face re-election in 2014. If they push civilian disarmament too far, many of those senators may get the boot. - J.W.R.

Mr. Rawles,
I read your essay "The Right to Open Carry Guns: Use It or Lose It," with interest.  I watched the videos you linked to with horror.  I was awestruck.

It is a shock to my system to see law enforcement officers so poorly trained and so willing to violate rights of citizens.  Perhaps I should know better by now.  To think that just one telephone call from a "concerned citizen" is enough to cause the police to violate a law abiding persons civil rights is terrifying.

I live in an extremely 2nd amendment friendly state, Arizona.  It is very common to see open carry just about everywhere, with the only real exceptions being schools, court houses and bars.  If you venture out, even in the large cities, you will see a variety of people from all walks of life going about their daily business with an openly carried handgun.  No one freaks out and no one calls the cops. It's been this way as far back as I can remember.

But, one of the freedoms that makes Arizona special may actually cause a hindrance to liberty if we are not careful.  Constitutional concealed carry passed a couple of years ago here in Arizona.  And while it is still extremely common to see open carry, many people have moved to concealed carry since the law passed.  I am a little afraid that this trend could cause the local population to become less familiar and comfortable with open carry. Plus, we have many people that move to Arizona from less gun free states.  I hate to think that in the near future, our law enforcement may be pressured to react because someone saw a "person with a gun" in public.  What a sad day that will be.

In an effort to stop the trend, I would like to encourage my fellow Arizonans to not take our exceptional freedom for granted.  Even if you regularly carry concealed, as so may of us do, set aside one or two days a week to open carry.  If we can keep it commonplace, we may save everyone problems down the line.  

Thank you for the work you do. - Ralph in Arizona

[Editor's Note: The following letter was edited substantially, for factual accuracy and for protection from potential libel litigation.]

Dear Mr. Rawles,
Readers should be made aware that the ALERT Academy has some connection to the defunct Worldwide Church of God. I would never put any child of mine under this influence. While it sounds like a wonderful program, their founding roots were in a group that at one time had very dangerous doctrine. To understand the influence of cults, I recommend the Under Much Grace web site. I believe that you never intended SurvivalBlog to endorse this kind of doctrine. - Dawn S. in East Texas

JWR Replies: While I appreciate getting your letter, it is important to recognize that people and churches change. The Worldwide Church of God no longer exists. After Armstrong's failed prophecies about the year 1972, the church went through several splits, with the largest portion of their congregations adhering to Grace Communion International, which now has much more mainstream evangelical doctrine. Their statement of beliefs has radically distanced them from the wacky beliefs of Armstrong Senior (Herbert) and Armstrong Junior (Garner Ted). While the positions of Grace Communion International have modified substantially for the better, they might still have some doctrinal beliefs that do not match those of many Christian families--especially those who (like me) are five point Calvinists. (Most evangelical churches have Arminian doctrine.) I advise readers to closely examine the doctrinal position of any school or summer camp before enrolling their children!

According to Chuck Holton, ALERT was not founded by former members of WWCG. The academy was founded by Bill Gothard of Michigan. Later, the old Worldwide Church of God campus in Big Sandy was purchased by the Mardel family (owners of Hobby Lobby) and donated to ALERT for their use.

I enjoyed the Become Your Own Herbal Doctor article very much as herbal medicine is my current interest and latest preparation.  Because I did not learn this type of information from my grandmothers or mother, I have opted to take a class to speed up the learning curve.  The author is correct; the home remedies our families knew just a hundred years ago have already been lost to most of us.  Taking this class has been a fun and educational process.  We have learned so many herbs and their uses; we’ve even crafted our first (sprain/strain) salve.  There is a lot to learn in this field, but the process has been rewarding.  The class I take is also offered as an online course for those of you like me who need some structure to make any real progress or just want a fast track to learning herbal medicine.  One day soon, I hope to begin teaching my kids these valuable skills.  For me, the choice to learn herbal medicine now makes great sense and I appreciate how the author provides information to help others get started.
The school (The Human Path) I am referring to is lead by Sam Coffman, whose medical background started as a U.S. Special Forces (a.k.a. “Green Beret”) medic.  He started becoming very interested in plant medicine while in the field as a medic on teams.  At the time his interest was based on the need for a backup if there was no pharmaceutical medicine available.  However, over the past 20+ years, Sam has devoted his time to integrating plant medicine (“herbalism”) into every day acute illness and injury care.  His goal has been to work with plant medicine as a first alternative rather than a last resort, for injuries and illnesses that people normally go to the Emergency Room for (non-surgical care).  He runs the previously mentioned school that focuses primarily on post-disaster and remote medicine using medicinal herbs both from the area as well as worldwide.  He also runs a non-profit organization (Herbal Medics) that takes students into remote areas to create off-grid solutions for health care, clean water and self-sustainable food solutions.
People located in the central Texas region ought to give this school a look, as there are many types of classes offered. These classes have been a fun way to learn skills and meet people. - Laura in Texas

Ready for the apocalypse! One American family shows what it takes to prepare for the end of civilisation as we know it. I certainly hope that they used assumed names, but somehow I doubt it. Think OPSEC, folks!

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Reader James K. suggested this: Tell-all cars put your driving business out in the open

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Time to switch cable TV companies! “'Consistent with long-standing NBC policies, Comcast Spotlight has decided it will not accept new advertising for firearms or weapons moving forward,' said Chris Ellis, a spokesman for Comcast’s advertising sales division, Comcast Spotlight." Oh, and speaking of firearms: Gun Store Owner Cancels Mark Kelly's Rifle Purchase

   o o o.

Another Get Prepared Expo will be held April 6th and 7th, 2013 in Lebanon, Missouri.

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Alabama's Castle Law: A Man's Home is His Castle--Unless It's a Rental. (Thanks to L.W.H. for the link.)

"What remains are games of musical chairs, Ponzi schemes, frauds, swindles, stonewalls, ruses, ploys, scams, dodges, bluffs, subterfuges, QE martingales, interventions, rehypothecations, pretenses and other modes of evading or disguising reality. The reality is that there is not enough real wealth to go around, certainly not enough to cover the giant web of obligations that masquerades as 'money.'" - James Howard Kunstler in an essay titled The Cyprus Fiasco Is A Metaphor For The Entire Global Financial System

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Today we present another entry for Round 45 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course. (A $1,195 value.) 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 gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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. C.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of D.) 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, E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 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. E.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value), and F.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

The queue of articles for Round 45 is full, but we are now accepting entries for Round 46, 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.

Should you shelter-in-place or move to a retreat?  Lots of pros and cons about this, and most of it depends upon strength in numbers.  Obviously, the more remote and inaccessible your castle is, the harder it will be for intruders to discover or invade.  But I’m 65, and I don’t own any remote property.  My house sits on a very defendable cul-de-sac, essentially surrounded on three sides by water – my “moat.”  I could pull stakes and move to a national park or wildlife preserve, but it would be a simple campsite with tent and no walls, and I would need several families to go with me for security.
When our civilization collapses, which seems inevitable with our current insane government, I plan to do all the right things to ensure my home and area are secure.  There will be perimeter alarms and felled trees for roadblocks, trip wires and night vision.  But one thing that people overlook may be the very best alarm system ever known to man.  A dog.  But, better yet, two dogs.

I’ve been a veterinarian for over 30 years, and I’ve owned, seen and worked with a lot of dogs, including military working dogs and police dogs.  Recently I accompanied an incredible Labrador retriever, “Buster,” in search of World War II Missing In Action (MIA) Marines and soldiers.  Buster can sniff out bones that have been buried up to 100 years ago, detecting the miniscule amounts of aromatic organic compounds still leaching up through the soil from what’s left of the body.  Incredible, but just an example of “superhuman” abilities of dogs’ senses that include hearing, sight, and, perhaps, a sixth sense or even seventh and eighth senses.
We’ve just adopted two 5-month-old female German shepherd littermates into our household.  Or, as they would see it, our “pack.”  Although people try to treat pets as human members of their families, the dog will always consider the family a pack, with an alpha male leader, and alpha female head of the female members of the pack, and a definite peck-order of all. 
Detect fear, evil, danger, “something wrong”
The stories about military working dogs (MWD) and other extraordinary dog-related events are endless.  Dogs have been used by military units since Roman times and before.  Soldiers and Marines who served in canine units during World War I and II, Vietnam, and more recent conflicts tell about being alerted of the enemy long before approaching an ambush.  Some tell about doubting the dog, that the handler couldn’t see or detect anything wrong, but the dog was always right.   The handlers learned that no matter what, you always trust the dog’s judgment.  If not an ambush, then it was a trip wire, mine, dead enemy soldier, or something wrong. Nothing yet has been invented that can do a better job.
Regarding a sixth sense, I’ve heard stories about cat owners who have a group of people over to their homes, and if there is one person in the group who doesn’t like cats, the cat will find that person and focus on them!  Unexplainable.  Then I’ve heard mothers say their child brought home some friends from school and the dog growled at one of the kids when introduced.  I’d trust the dog, that there’s something to be cautious of about that one child.  Always trust the dog.
On Alert 24/7
In a home or retreat, it would be ideal to have a “dog door” so that the dog(s) can come and go as they feel the need.  We have a fenced yard and our dogs can go in and out of our heated garage, where they stay when we aren’t home.  I prefer that they be with us always, but I do have to go to work.  This brings up another issue:  separation anxiety.
Dogs are pack animals, and now you and your human family are the pack.  With just one dog, when you leave them alone to go to work, some dogs become stressed.  “Where are you?  Are you coming back?  Why did you leave me?  I’ve got to find you!  I’ve got to find you NOW!”  You come home to the door frame chewed up, with scratches all over the door (the one you left by).  Or there is other destruction due to frustration and anxiety; general freaking out.
I don’t think animals other than man have a concept of time.  They truly live for the moment, and don’t understand, “I’ll be back in an hour.”  Alpha (the pack leader) must be kept track of in case he/she needs me.  “Where’s Alpha?”  “I’ve got to find him/her!”  There have been medications to help with separation anxiety, but who wants to have their pet on meds all the time?  I usually advise obedience school and another dog for companionship (part of the pack is still here), or at least a cat friend.  Dogs aren’t fooled by leaving the television on, even if you run “Lassie” on it.  Sometimes this is more of a puppy thing than with an adult dog, but all dogs (and cats) seem to have a “fuller life,” and are more content with another dog to relate to.  I say, “Cats speak French and dogs speak German, so the same species is always better.”
Since dogs don’t understand time, they are “on guard” 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  They probably don’t know what day it is, either.  They learn the sound of your car coming down the street and are at the door to greet you.  Common sounds, scents, and sights are recorded as “normal,” and everything else becomes suspect and in need of investigation.
Don’t need to be attack trained/naturally protective

Attack training would be a plus, but I’m a firm believer that all dogs need to go through at least level one obedience training.  That includes learning to, “Heal” (on and off leash), and unhesitatingly respond to the commands, “Sit,” “Stay,” “Come,” and “Down.”  Remember, these are COMMANDS, not requests.  If you have to repeat the command more than once, the dog needs more training (generally that means more assertiveness or “alpha-ness” from you).  In a bad situation, this may mean the dog’s life or yours if they do not respond immediately.  I’m always impressed by a dog with good manners.
Try to find a dog training club near you.  We have a local volunteer organization that offers basic and advanced courses at reasonable prices ($90 for 8 weeks/8 one-hour sessions).  Be involved in the training yourself, don’t give your dog to someone to train for you.  The dog will learn to obey the trainer very well, but who are you?  The trainer should be teaching you how to train the dog, not doing it for you.
Dogs are naturally protective of the pack, and will fight to the death to protect any and all pack members.  That doesn’t need to be taught.  Dogs seem to have the ability to detect evil/danger/threat, either through a sixth sense or from pheromones given off by the subject.  Pheromones are invisible clues that most animals live by.  A dog can walk out to the patio, sniff the air a couple times, and know that there are three dogs upwind; one a female (estrogen/progesterone), one a male (testosterone), and one “not right” (neutered).  Like the story of the male moth that can find the female moth on a tree miles upwind, they pick up on the ever-expanding “plume” of scent from the source.  By staying within that plume and moving toward increasing strength, the animal or insect can locate their quarry.
On patrol or translocating
When traveling, dogs tend to enjoy the trailblazing part; they like to run on ahead.  They are your “point” when patrolling or moving out.  Again, two dogs afford twice the sensory strength and can scan better than one.  Dogs can be trained to “alert” by lying down or freezing on point.  Down would be better, if you have to fire over them.  More training beyond the level one obedience will give you better control and more options.  In any situation, dogs are tremendous “force multipliers,” extending your eyes and ears well beyond human capacities.  Most sensible people also fear big dogs, and some ethnicities abhor them.  Because of this, dogs are sometimes shot first.  You don’t want this to happen, but it will put you on maximum alert and make you more than willing for payback.

Long before there were pet foods in bags and boxes on the grocer’s shelves, pets ate what we ate, or the scraps.  In general, if there is a balanced meal for us, the dogs can eat the same foods.  Commercial dog foods contain enough fat to go rancid if not kept in oxygen-low or vacuum storage.  Preservatives help delay spoilage, but all foods eventually degrade.  Certainly the dog will hunt on its own and eat wild game, as well as vegetation.  Eating a whole rabbit provides meat protein, some fat, calcium from the bones, and vitamins from the liver and organs.  But they are also eating everything the rabbit ate in the previous 24 hours, providing other vitamins and some roughage.
There are numerous dog food recipes online today to make your own balanced diet, but realize that all the ingredients may not be available in a future situation.  Share your vitamins and what you are eating, and the group will probably survive.  I won’t mention eating your dog in a survival situation!

Keep your dog’s vaccinations current.  Nine-way “distemper” shots are good for a year or more.  Rabies vaccine is good for one year the first time given, then should be boosted every three years thereafter.  Some states don’t recognize a 3-year rabies shot, but that doesn’t mean it won’t last that long.  Lyme disease (Borrellia) vaccine is also available, as is kennel cough (tracheobronchitis - Bordetella).  The nine-way shot includes canine distemper, hepatitis/adenovirus-2, parvovirus, parainfluenza, coronavirus, and four types of Leptospirosis vaccine. 
Post-collapse it will be hard enough to find human vaccines, let alone veterinary ones, so keeping your dogs away from other stray dogs will be important, too.  Some of these diseases are more deadly for puppies under a year old than adult dogs, such as parvo and kennel cough.  Mature dogs that have had several annual vaccinations should be well protected for years beyond their due dates, but anything is possible.
Flea/tick/heartworm/intestinal worm control

Many of the preventive products for dogs have very long shelf lives, and some have no expiration date.  In general, medicines and preventive products are good for at least five years beyond their expiry dates.  Mosquitoes carry heart worms, so basically all dogs are susceptible to infection.  The infection takes about three years to debilitate and kill a dog, but it is easily prevented with monthly heartworm medicine that you can stock up on and rotate annually.  Many heartworm preventives also contain intestinal worm medicine to kill roundworms and hookworms as well every month. 
Flea control is necessary to keep your abode from getting polluted with fleas, and monthly liquid applicators do a great job of keeping these bugs down.  Be sure to get high quality (98+% control) flea products from your vet, rather than over-the-counter look-alikes that are about 50% effective.  Some flea products also control ticks, but there are some very effective tick collars available that do an even better job.
Not From Pet Stores
I’ve been battling the puppy mill-pet store connection for more than two decades.  I didn’t know what puppy mills were when I graduated from vet school, but learned about them when I worked for a humane organization.  Pet stores (and now enterprising individuals who set up a puppy sale web site) buy puppies directly from the puppy mill breeder, or through a “broker,” who cleans up the puppy, vaccinates, de-worms them, and creates a “pedigree” of sorts.  The broker generally has the puppy for two or three days, then they are shipped out to the pet store.  The pet store pays $25 to $50 for the puppy (some breeds are more), then adds a zero or two to the price and has them on sale the next day.  People who say they, “rescued the puppy from the pet store,” are simply perpetuating this industry and creating an open pet store cage for a replacement puppy to take their place.
Not all puppy mill puppies turn out to be “lemons,” but quite a few have problems from inbreeding and neglect.  Realize that puppy mills (intense breeding facilities, dogs kept in “rabbit hutch” confinement, no vet care, minimal overhead investment) are the only consistent source of puppies for pet stores.  No matter what the pet store owner or staff tell you, the puppies are coming from mills.  One pet store chain was proud to proclaim, “We do not buy from puppy mills.”  That was a legally true statement, because they bought from a broker, not directly from the puppy mill. 
Puppy mill dogs are more likely to have genetic problems due to inbreeding.  When a mother dog is no longer producing sizeable litters, a female puppy is often kept to replace her.  When she comes into heat, she’s bred back to (guess who?) her father dog.  The pedigree is fudged, and business continues.  Congenital defects include bad hips, trick knees (patellar luxation), eye problems, epilepsy, and other issues not immediately detectable.  Ear mites, Demodectic mange, intestinal parasites, eye infections, lack of socialization, and exposure to distemper and parvo viruses are also common.  If the puppy is exposed to a virus, then vaccinated the same day, it’s virtually a race to see which wins.  Incubation time for the virus and the time it takes for a puppy to develop immunity against it are about the same, so it’s a gamble.  Also, if you take into account that many of the mother dogs are unvaccinated or behind in their vaccination schedule (overhead, remember), then the puppy lacks adequate maternal immunities.
Today you can find hundreds of online web sites that sell puppies, but the situation is the same; they buy from brokers or directly from mills, and only have the puppies for a few days to weeks before they are sold.  It’s all smoke and mirrors on the web site.
Here are some red flags to help prevent a puppy mill purchase:
1.    The mother dog is not on the premises (don’t believe, “She’s at a show” or some other excuse).
2.    There are a bunch of different breeds for sale by the same person.
3.    They’ll “meet you halfway” to complete the transaction (that’s because they don’t want you to see their facility or lack of one - all a sham).
4.    If registered, it is not through the American Kennel Club (AKC).  There are many “registration” companies out there that provide phony “papers.”
5.    The comment that “She was rescued from a puppy mill.”  That usually means she was bought at an auction or directly from the mill owner.  The source is the same.
People are making six-figure incomes by selling puppy mill puppies.  That’s why they do it, not for love of dogs.  Some will offer a lower price for cash, because they don’t claim the cash to the Internal Revenue Service.  So you are picking up some of their tax burden as well.  You are generally better off adopting a dog from a humane shelter or dog pound than buying one from a pet store or web site. 

Choice of Breed
If you want a particular breed, check with local kennel clubs about reputable breeders in your area.  You may have to drive a few hours to visit a breeder, but it will be due diligence.  Don’t be in a hurry to get a puppy.  Sometimes the breeder won’t have any puppies available just then, but have a litter or two on the way and you can put a down payment on one or get first choice.  It will be worth the wait to get a sound dog from a reliable breeder.
Breed rescue organizations should not be overlooked.  We’ve adopted three Dobermans from a rescue source that places adult dogs from various situations.  One of ours came from a home where the young son developed extreme allergies to the dog.  He turned out to be the best one ever.  Google “rescue” and the breed you’re looking for, and you might find a great match in your area.
Recommended breeds (personal choices): German Shepherd/German shepherd crosses, Belgian Malinois, Akita, Border Collie, and Doberman
Now, I know some of you are going to say they had a Jack Russell that was incredible, or a Staffordshire terrier that could hear a leaf turn over in the yard, but there are reasons why the military and police forces choose certain breeds.  Size is intimidating, and with size comes strength.  Herding breeds are more conscious of their surroundings and are always scanning the horizon and listening for clues.  Some breeds seem to be easier to teach than others (Irish setters come to mind at the slower end of that scale).  There are always exceptions to the rule, such as an occasional Lab that makes the cut, or beagles for airport sniffing, but the best overall dog, in my opinion, would be a shepherd or shepherd cross.  The smartest/sharpest/most alert dog I ever owned was a 65-pound German shepherd cross (3/4 shepherd by appearance).  She was $20 at a farm home with a hand-lettered sign out front. 
No reason to reinvent the wheel here.  Pick a breed that’s now being used for security work.  I’ve had several shepherd crosses over the years, three Akitas, and four Doberman pinschers.  Also a collie and a couple dachshunds.  Never owned a malinois or border collie, but I’ve worked on quite a few, and I totally respect the malinois.  The border collies are just high-energy, super-alert dogs that are anxious to work and anxious to please you.  I take care of a family of champion Rhodesian Ridgebacks, which are sight hounds, and they are very alert, fast, and powerful, but they’re going to cost you more.  Remember, you should get two.

James –
I am on Long Island in New York. Recently I ran into a great deal at my two local Costco stores for 72 hour [storage food] buckets.  This was advertised as a combination food, cooking (fire) and water (filter) kit. At Christmas these buckets were $79.99 each--a bit pricey. However when I was there on Tuesday, the [local store's] price had dropped to $9.98 a bucket! So I cleaned them out. These buckets are still on their web site for $79.99 apiece. I just wanted to pass this on to you so your readers could get in on it.   
Thanks again for all you do. - Rick C.

JWR Replies: The Rawles Gets You Ready Preparedness Course was designed for beginning and intermediate preppers, with this premise: Could you prepare your family for a major disaster, with just one or two trips to your local COSTCO or Sam's Club store. It seems that COSTCO is now making that shopping a little easier.

My favorite gunsmith for rebluing guns is Mel Doyle's in Plummer, Idaho. They have very reasonable rates, and they do fantastic work. They can also handle more than just bluing and Parkerizing. For example they've done a few Saiga shotguns conversions for our family and cured Avalanche Lily's Galil rifle of a wicked "Curse of the AK" trigger slap. Mel and his staff run their bluing tanks almost every workday. If you aren't local to the area, you can simply mail them a rifle or shotgun, and they will reblue it and mail it back to you. (Handguns or handgun frames have to be shipped via UPS or FedEx.) You won't be disappointed by their work! Phone: (208) 686-1006, for details.

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Montana legislators vote to nullify news Federal guns laws.

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Owners of FAL and L1A1 rifles will find this of interest: Light Tactical Rail (LTR) scope mounts. They are made in Laclede, Idaho.

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Black Gold Custom Arms (a maker of premium AR-15 lowers and uppers) in Belgrade, Montana reports that they've been deluged with orders. I've never seen better quality receivers!

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Why Idaho's Governor Switched From Fighting Obamacare

The Seven States Running Out of Water. JWR's Comment: But consider that watching year-to-year drought conditions give you only the micro view, while monitoring long term the depth of aquifers (water tables) gives you the macro view. (Looking at longer time frame provides better long term planning.) Be sure to study aquifer depletion before choosing a retreat locale!

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Sacred mystery: Blockbuster ratings for ‘The Bible’ confound Hollywood. JWR's Comment: What "mystery"? People just like to watch uplifting and wholesome things.

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A bit of humor: As every real prepper knows: Le papier ne sera jamais mort

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James C. suggested this piece by Dave Hodges: How Ripe Are the Seeds of Revolution? JWR's Comment: I must raise a key point: If there is an uprising in these United States (political or otherwise) it will be a counter-revolution. The revolution has already been accomplished. That was a slow, incremental, and insidious campaign that conducted by statist socialists, over the past 70 years. BHO & Company are merely the latest manifestation. Now it is time to counter that revolution. Viva la contra!

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New York States Budget Indefinitely Suspends Seven Cartridge Magazine Limit. (Thanks to Peter S. for the link.)

"To see why stock prices and hiring are not correlated, imagine yourself as the owner of a pizza shop. The economy has been bad, and people are buying less pizza, so you fire two of your cooks and reduce the number of pies you prepare. Suddenly, your cousin Ben wins the lottery and decides to give you $10,000 for a piece of your business. Now that you have another 10 grand in the bank, and your business is worth a bit more, are you suddenly going to hire back the two cooks to make more pies that nobody will buy? Or will you just put the money in the bank and wait for when demand returns? The stock market exists to help companies raise capital. With most stocks near all time highs and US corporations holding record cash on their balance sheets, access to capital is not the problem. Lack of demand is the problem, and no amount of financial manipulation is going to change that. What’s worse, if you are that Pizza owner with too much cash and not enough patrons, you now have your crazy cousin Ben to contend with. It turns out Ben has never run a business and has some very naive ideas."  - Omid Malekan

Monday, March 25, 2013

Today's first article was written by L.K.O., SurvivalBlog's Central Rockies Regional Editor.

(Note: This article is part of a series of feature articles about alternative / sustainable / renewable energy solutions for self-sufficiency. Previous related articles in SurvivalBlog that complement this one are "Home Inverter Comparison: Off Grid and Grid Tied" and Home Power Systems: Micro Hydro. Upcoming article topics in this Home Power Systems series will include: Photovoltaics, Batteries, Wind generators, Solar Water Distillers, Solar Ovens, and Solar Water Heating.)

Overview of Energy Efficiency and Conservation : The First Step in a viable Home Power System The most recent article in this series, Home Power Systems: Micro Hydro, in a way 'jumped the gun' a bit, since the foundation of a cost-effective, sustainable home energy system is an honest and accurate appraisal of both average and peak energy requirements. While often not as important in many micro-hydro systems - due to abundant year-round falling water in certain prime locations that can allow for less finely-tuned system efficiency - it's still an important preliminary assessment. It is particularly essential to carefully perform this crucial first step in systems relying on sun, wind or other renewable energy sources that might not be in quite as abundant supply before investing any significant time or money in a photovoltaic (PV) and/or wind-powered system. Doing a fairly meticulous power usage study (and usually re-configuring) of your home may require a bit of work and establishing new conserving habits (the 'bad news'). The good-to-great-to-outstanding news is that - depending on whether you plan to make relatively minor, inexpensive changes to your home energy loads and usage or a major retrofit or a completely new home design (including location siting) - you can potentially save an enormous amount of energy. Therefore, you will save correspondingly on initial alternate energy equipment and maintenance expense, making your family vastly more self-sufficient, in terms of energy, expense, and vulnerability to external energy dependency. Another oft-ignored benefit of down-sizing your home energy budget - while maintaining the same (or often improved) comfort, safety, security and enjoyment of your home - is that by moving yourself farther from the 'conspicuous consumption' category and grid-dependency, you also become less vulnerable and less of a target for attacks of any kind. That's hard to put a price tag on. Having less to defend can simplify defense. Yet another advantage of tightening one's metaphorical domestic power belt is that it starts paying off right away, plugging the leaks in your household's energy ship, keeping you afloat and more maneuverable financially. This often can shorten the time required to save up for the more expensive components for a Renewable Energy (RE) system, such as PV, wind or micro-hydro.

Energy Conservation: Good, Better, Best There are several levels to re-thinking domestic energy usage. We'll start with the simplest (free) actions which everyone can do, proceed to measures that require minimal to moderate expenditures of money and/or time, and finally, for those in a position to completely reinvent their living situations - either by remodeling their home, buying a carefully selected existing home, or best yet, finding optimal property and building a custom energy-efficient home. When one experiences the gains achieved by the simpler steps, it can often fuel (pun-intended) the momentum and enthusiasm for trying more involved changes, which in turn yield even further benefits, economies and self-sufficiency, a win-win scenario.

Big Picture Perspective on Typical Energy Use Before getting into specifics, it's helpful to have a good general idea of where most of the economies can be made in a typical residential energy budget. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory did a study in 2009 which showed seven primary household energy uses and their approximate typical percentages:

  • Space Heating: 29%
  • Space Cooling: 17%
  • Water Heating: 14%
  • Appliances (including refrigerator, dishwasher, clothes washer and dryer): 13%
  • Lighting: 12%
  • Other (stoves, ovens, microwaves, coffee makers, dehumidifiers, etc.): 11%
  • Electronics (computers, monitors, DVD players, televisions, etc.): 4%

As you can probably see from these percentages, some of the biggest energy uses (heating/cooling, water heating, and many appliances) are built into the design of most homes, so retrofitting can involve medium to high expense. However, how often and how efficiently they are used can vary widely and is included in the next section. If your main (or initial) interest in an alternative energy system is to provide just essentials that can only be provided by electricity, consider buying or building a home that has as much of the space heating/cooling, water heating and major appliances (e.g. refrigeration) provided by non-electrical means. Wood-burning stoves, passive solar and/or earth integrated home design, thermal convection cooling, and a variety of other strategies can make a well-situated and well-designed home very comfortable year-round when no grid power is available. A similarly wide variety of solar domestic hot water (DHW) heating systems and water heating coils in wood stoves are examples of non-electric (or minimally electric) alternatives to water heating. Propane refrigerators or super efficient (e.g. Sunfrost) refrigerators, while expensive in terms of initial purchase price compared with convention units, can - in some cases - achieve 'break even' status in just a few years in full-time off-grid locations when factored into the total cost (purchase price plus operating costs) of an integrated solar, wind and/or micro hydro system by offsetting the need for buying a much larger RE system. We often forget that the overall trend over time is ever-increasing utility energy costs, so trade-offs between higher initial purchase price in a more efficient energy system can - with planning - be more than offset by amortizing those costs against what would be spent on equivalent grid electricity over the life of a system.

First: Go For the Low Hanging Fruit: Conservation Ironically, our usual approach - and this goes for traditional government subsidies as well, although the trend is changing - is to rely on expensive and unsustainable sources of energy rather than doing the simplest things to conserve energy that cost us nothing, aside from a little (or sometimes a lot of) mindfulness to change everyday behaviors.

Measure Twice, Cut Once Before getting started on cutting energy waste using the suggestions in the lists below, it's often helpful - and satisfying - to measure the 'before' and 'after' performance to see how your 'energy diet' is doing. Then when you implement as many of the suggestions below (and this can be done a month at a time and compared with your electric utility bills), you can see the 'after' difference the improvements are making. These measurements can be done for many of the pluggable items in your household with a Watt-meter. Here's a low-cost meter that calculates daily, weekly, monthly or annual expense based on your current utility rates. A short, heavy duty extension cord can assist in providing access to more items when a plugin meter like this might not allow reaching some appliances and devices. Owners manuals for some household electrical devices list both standby and active power ratings. (Remember that many, if not most, manuals can be found online these days by web searching for the manufacturer and model number, so try there first if manuals are stashed deeply away or tossed long ago.) The listed ratings will help especially if you don't have a wattmeter or have a device that can't be measured directly with one. It's also interesting to compare the rated wattages with the actuals from the manufacturer's specifications to see if they are accurate. By going through your home - and don't forget outbuildings including sheds, garages, greenhouses, well pumps, etc. - room-by-room, outlet-by-outlet, you can easily estimate your 'before' usage on these items. If you've ever traversed a maze, you might have learned the technique of keeping your hand on a wall until you're back to your starting point. The same technique works well when traversing the walls of your home to find all the outlets, remembering that not all outlets are just above the floor, particularly in kitchens and bathrooms. Don't forget closets, attic fans, attic lights, basements, sump pumps, well pumps, crawl spaces and outbuildings. Wherever your house wiring goes is a potential load. Peeking inside your circuit breaker box can reveal loads that might be missed otherwise. Measure plugged loads that can be in standby mode in 'full on' and 'standby' modes, as well as 'full off' to make sure there isn't any residual current flowing. Unless you completely unplug these loads when not in use, assume the standby power is flowing 24/7/365.

Here's an article about energy monitoring that explores various options available that help show not only which items use the most electricity, but also where and when peak usage occurs. Then add in the remaining non-outlet items and estimate current monthly, seasonal and annual usage of specific appliances and lighting by noting wattages of bulbs, appliances, water heaters, Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) equipment, etc. around the house, multiplied by their approximate monthly use in hours. To do a 'reality check', compare your calculated estimates with the last few years (or as much as you have if you've moved recently) of electric bills, noting the kilowatt-hour amounts on each bill. A spreadsheet such as Excel or Numbers can be handy for this. Make a row for each of the household loads, and a column for each month to track energy usage in KWH (Kilowatt hours). If you have the luxury (or necessity, depending on how you look at it) of waiting a few months (or a year or more) before investing in 'big ticket' energy-saving and/or energy-generating technology, it's often an advantage to see how your improvements are doing over the course of a year, or at least 2-3 months of typical implementation. If you just want a quick rough estimate or your energy usage, you can start with an online energy calculator or have your utility company assist you (many have services for this). These online calculators will give you rough approximations, but it's generally essential to do a full, detailed room-by-room, plug-by-plug (plus all the other loads) analysis before sizing an RE system, or even just being more scientific about your energy usage to see what's working and what isn't. If you need help, there are professional home energy audit services that can help you make an accurate assessment of your energy usage É and suggest options you might not have considered.

Example of An Energy Budget
Here is an example of a 'before and after' energy budget; scroll down the page to see 'before' and 'after' spreadsheet examples and impressive improvements. Another resource for examples and case studies is Home Power magazine, which, BTW, is a superb resource for energy efficiency education as well as information on alternate energy systems, components and reviews.

Simple, Free, Easy Energy Waste Reductions
Among the simplest: turning off unused lights when leaving a room, unplugging unused appliances (e.g. extra refrigerators that have don't have much in them so their contents could be consolidated with a primary fridge), unplugging chargers not in use, etc. For example, it's amazing how much needlessly wasted energy goes into 'phantom loads'; those that run 24 hours a day, but only are needed a small fraction of the time. How many chargers of various sorts run 24/7/365 in your household? and how many could be switched off when not in use (e.g., via outlet strips)? Here's a partial list (and you can probably think of many others) of free ways to conserve energy (and a more detailed list). Most of these are common-sense, every-day, obvious strategies, but we sometimes forget the obvious!

  • Turn off unused lights (at home and at work).
  • Plan reading and work times during the day when natural light is optimal.
  • Unplug seldom-used or unused appliances.
  • Unplug 'phantom loads' (a.k.a. 'wall warts'); chargers not in use.
  • For lights and appliances that have remote control or 'standby' modes, switch completely off (or unplug) when not needed; here are more details on standby 'culprits' and large 'plug loads' like wall air-conditioners, space-heaters, coffee machines, toasters, toaster ovens, clothes irons, popcorn makers, microwaves, hair dryers, set-top cable boxes, aquariums, color copiers, video games, other illuminated kitchen appliances, etc.
  • Use timed 'sleep mode' on computers and other devices instead of screen savers for devices that must be left on (for security or other reasons); set sleep start time to when you want a reminder to 'call it a day'.
  • Set screen saver start times to kick on (e.g. within 3-5 minutes) just a minute or so after your typical trip away from the computer (e.g. stretch, bathroom or kitchen break).
  • Use power strips to switch off home entertainment and computer systems.
  • Turn off all but essentials and safety-security systems when leaving for vacation É or even extended day trips more than a few hours; a good family ritual to assign to whoever is ready first for an outing to check around the house.
  • Check furnace or air conditioning filters monthly; clean or replace as needed.
  • Use sweaters, robes, warm socks and slippers or 'indoor boots' for extra winter warmth.
  • Use extra blankets in winter, and for 'kick-back' (sedentary) time in living areas.
  • Set space-heating thermostats to a low winter temperatures (and lower night-time temperatures.
  • Set air-conditioning thermostats to a high summer temperatures (keeping the difference between indoor and outdoor temperatures minimal year-round also has the benefit of reducing the 'thermal shock' of going in and out of buildings).
  • Find thermostat settings that work for everyone and don't change them; it's more efficient to keep temperatures steady than to 'throttle' or keep changing them.
  • Use fans (including whole house fans) instead of air conditioning when appropriate, and position fans to remove the most body heat; this usually allows slower fan speeds for the same cooling; small personal fans do a much better job compared to a single large fan for people a distance apart.
  • Open sun-facing shades on sunny winter days to capture solar heat.
  • Close all blinds and drapes at night in winter to conserve heat.
  • Close windows in winter to conserve heat.
  • Close daytime windows and blinds in summer to minimize heat infiltration; exterior blinds and shades often are most effective to keep heat out before it enters window glazing.
  • Open windows at night in summer to evacuate heat and allow cooling breezes.
  • Only cool or heat rooms you occupy. Close doors and vents of unused rooms.
  • Set hot-water thermostats to 130 degrees Fahrenheit, or lower (e.g. 120) if you have water pre-heaters for dishwashers and clothes washers and/or instant 'flash' (tankless) hot water heaters; large houses, particularly those with long plumbing runs between water heaters and hot water loads can benefit from these local on-demand water heaters.
  • Set refrigerators to 38-42 degrees Fahrenheit; keep full water bottles in extra fridge space to minimize cold air loss each time doors are opened.
  • Set freezers to 0-5 degrees Fahrenheit; keep extra ice or frozen items to minimize cold air loss each time freezer doors are opened.
  • Check fridge and freezer gaskets; replace those that leak air; it should be difficult to pull out a piece of paper between gaskets with doors closed.
  • Periodically (e.g. quarterly) vacuum fridge coils to keep them running efficiently.
  • Use oven lights momentarily to check on 'in-progress' cooking instead of opening oven doors more than necessary.
  • Check oven seals for heat loss and replace or repair as needed.
  • Use microwave ovens for heating water, cooking or reheating small items.
  • Cook larger meals (for leftovers) and multiple items in ovens or stove-top steamers at once; next best is to cook multiple items in a row using residual heat and/or heated water from prior oven or burner use.
  • Use larger burners for larger pots/pans, smaller burners for smaller pots/pans.
  • Use lids on pots and pans to keep heat in while cooking.
  • Use only as much water as needed in teapots, coffee makers, kettles, etc. Heating extra water just wastes energy.
  • Wash only full dishwasher loads; use short cycles after hand pre-scrubbing/rinsing any items that wouldn't get clean no matter how long the cycle runs.
  • Air dry dishes and plan run times so that dishes can air dry well in advance of their next use.
  • Wash and rinse clothes in cold water whenever possible; use detergent formulated for cold water.
  • Wash clothes in full loads whenever possible; set water level appropriately.
  • Clean clothes dryer lint filters after each use.
  • Dry light and heavy fabrics separately; don't add wet items to a load already partially dry.
  • Take items that need ironing out of the dryer before they're completely dry to minimize ironing time É and effort.
  • Use a clothes dryer's moisture sensor setting to minimize drying time; better yet, use a clothes line and/or indoor clothes drying rack. Even in winter, a garage clothes drying rack usually dries clothes in a day or three.
  • Take shorter showers or baths; a quick burst of water, followed by a 'water-off' lather/shampoo cycle, then rinsing quickly can save lots of water and associated heating costs.
  • Turn off (or fix) dripping or leaking faucets, hose bibs or other plumbing, especially those using hot water.
  • If you have an older-generation toilet, a brick, plastic bottle full of water or toilet dam (making sure none of these impedes proper operation) in the toilet tank can save lots of water; any water-saving measures are particularly important for systems that rely on pumped water for domestic use, such as well-pumps or pressurized holding tank.
  • Even if you don't have a garden, orchard or other agriculture, consider using rainwater harvesting and gray water reclamation/recycling. If you do have outdoor plants of any kind, definitely include agricultural water conservation measures and xeriscaping in your conservation planning, particularly in dry climates and/or when using electrically pumped water. Think of water usage as somewhat analogous to electrical usage, particularly if your electricity usage involves moving water around.
  • If your family size has decreased (e.g. kids off to college, etc.) consider selling larger appliances and downsizing to smaller items (e.g. refrigerators); in some cases selling newer large items can pay for the cost of smaller items (used or new).

The list above is far from exhaustive, and represents some of the more typical examples. If you think of other ways to conserve, practice and share them. The consistent cumulative and additive effect of these simple practices as a whole can really add up, more than just practicing a few of them sporadically. It's helpful to record energy usage by looking at your utility bill monthly and track which measures are in place that contribute to cost savings and energy reduction.

Low-cost Upgrades For Energy Efficiency Assuming
you've implemented as many of the 'low hanging fruit' ideas above as possible, the next category to look at (now that you're already saving energy and money with the 'free' list) are low or minimal-cost items or replacements for existing electrical devices you have in your home. These can be implemented in order of greatest savings first, based on your current usage, if you've already created a spreadsheet as suggested above to itemize your current energy use and have a better idea of what to go after first. Just as one plugs the biggest holes in a leaky boat first, going after the biggest loads in your domestic energy budget can pay off the quickest. In general, before shopping for new appliances, lighting or any electrical items that might affect your energy budget, consult the Energy Star web site and/or make note of the Energy Star ratings on the appliance under consideration to find the optimum tradeoff for your budget and energy efficiency, keeping in mind the useful life of the product, payback period based on current and projected energy costs, and - very important to include - the defrayed expenses saved by not having to buy more PV panels, wind generating equipment, batteries, etc.

  • Replace incandescent lighting with Compact Fluorescent Lighting (CFL) light bulbs. Some early versions of these energy savers had lower frequency ballasts, were noisy and expensive not any more.
  • Replace incandescent lighting (particularly for task-lighting such as reading, sewing, art, etc. required for close work) with high-efficiency broad-spectrum LED lighting. Small LED lamps have become popular as book lights and can serve other purposes where extended use, optimum quality and minimal eye fatigue is needed. Here's an example of a 5W under-counter LED lamp that is equivalent to 20W halogen/xenon lamps.
  • Timers, outdoor motion sensors, indoor occupancy sensors and dusk-to-dawn light sensors can all minimize lighting 'on time', regardless of the lighting technology used (although CFLs don't work well with some switching technologies).
  • Replace older Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) televisions and computer monitors - if you still have any - with energy-efficient flat screens.
  • Repair or upgrade weatherstripping, caulking and other building components and interfaces that subject your home to significant heat loss/gain areas due to infiltration. Don't forget attic crawl space air leaks. Utility companies often provide or recommend services such as infrared photography (e.g. FLIR) to spot the most egregious energy loss culprits. If you already have access to infrared night-vision equipment, you can scope this out yourself, both indoors and out to find trouble spots. Here's an economical tool to assist in the detection of thermal leaks.
  • Water heater blankets can improve the energy efficiency of both electric and gas-fueled water heaters, and benefit both older and newer more efficient models.
  • Install low-flow shower heads and sink aerators (if you haven't already) to reduce water consumption, particularly hot water use.
  • Low-wattage hair-dryers are probably more important in planning for peak loads, but they can also impact average load calculations and savings, too.
  • Add movable exterior shades (many of which can be easily rolled up to allow evening summer breezes) to minimize summer heat gain.
  • Use area rugs over bare floors to add insulation. The psychological effect of warmer winter feet can minimize the temptation to nudge thermostats upward.
  • Add strategically placed landscaping (trees, trellises with dense seasonal foliage, etc.) to provide summer shading and maximum winter insolation (heat gain through glazing).
  • Replace desktop computers with laptops when possible; if occasional extra 'screen real estate' is needed. Switch on external monitors only when needed, for both laptops and desktop models.
  • For privacy, use light-diffusing sheer curtains to let in winter light and heat but obscure visibility from the outside during the day as needed, then use heavier curtains (with high insulation value and magnetic seals around window frames if possible) at night to keep heat in.
  • Add or enhance home insulation in attics, walls, under floor crawl spaces, etc. Since the greatest heat loss (and summer heat gain) is through the roof, this is the usually first place to start before enhancing lower spaces. A licensed insulation contractor can both recommend and install the needed insulation to match the optimum tradeoffs for your specific home situation.
  • Replace single-pane windows and glazed doors with double-pane or triple-pane glazed units, including skylights. Add storm doors and windows where they can add extra insulation value.

If you want to get even more scientific about which energy loads are consuming the biggest (or smallest) portions of your household energy budget, a Watt-meter is a good investment. Here's an inexpensive Watt-meter to measure periodic energy expense based on current utility rates.

Major Home Remodeling or New Construction The last category of home energy improvements typically applies only when one has the good fortune to be able to do a major remodeling project, or best of all, a new construction on an ideally situated parcel of land. There are a number of general strategies that can be employed to make new homes (and major remodeling projects) particularly energy efficient. As one might expect, implementing as many of these as possible will realize the greatest potential energy savings.

Passive Solar Design: Orientation, Insolation, Thermal Mass, Insulation The general idea of passive solar design is to maximize winter (or summer below the equator) heat gain and minimize it in the opposite season. In some locations the sun's power can provide all the heating (and often electricity via PV panels) required if adequate insolation (sunlight entering the building), thermal mass (heat storage) and insulation (means for keeping heat from moving in or out of a structure) are available in appropriate places with appropriate control mechanisms. Typically, windows should face true south (ideally within 10 degrees) or north in southern hemisphere locations. Natural obstructions such as hills or trees should be minimal in the path of the winter sun, and it can be worthwhile to carefully select a site on a given property to optimize the total winter sun exposure. A solar site selector, using a compass, bubble level and tripod can be used to map out obstructions in proposed sites during different seasons (e.g. solstices and equinoxes) to choose the optimum home site. Together with statistical weather data about a proposed site's potential (such as degree day maps and degree day data) one can predict approximate solar potential for a given site for various times of year. Good passive solar design may incorporate movable elements such as adjustable overhangs that let in just the right amount of sun for each time of year/day, and/or seasonally variable foliage such as sun-facing arbors or deciduous trees and shrubs that provide summer shade, but let most of the sun in during colder months when leaves have dropped. Combining site selection with careful window sizing, ventilation characteristics and placement will afford the optimum design solutions. There are free software tools such as those provided by Sustainable by Design to calculate sun angle, position, path, overhang design, analysis, horizontal and vertical shading, window heat gain, etc. As always, if the technical aspects of any part of these processes seem daunting, get professional help and also use online resources to complement your knowledge and expertise. Once the sun enters your home, it must heat adequate thermal mass. Good candidates for this heat storage include traditional materials like adobe, tile or water in containers (the darker the better to aid in heat absorption), as well as creative options such as passive solar slab cement floors (which can be colorized, scored and grouted to look like tile. The importance of thermal mass is often underestimated with less than satisfactory results. Skimping on thermal mass can mean the difference between a home that is chilly (read: expensive) in the morning and overheated in the afternoon vs. one that has a comfortable temperature that doesn't vary much from one time of day to the next. Think of thermal mass (some times called a thermal flywheel using the metaphor of a wheel's momentum) as your passive solar system's heat battery.

Most modern homes are well insulated, but in many cases a super-insulated home (such as a monolithic dome) can offset other negative factors, such as low thermal mass or insolation. Needless to say, adequate-to-above-average insulation is usually a prerequisite for any good solar home design. One way of achieving superior insulation by using local indigenous materials is through the use of earth-berming, often most evident on north-facing walls. If your intent is to combine passive solar home design with photovoltaics, the selection of the site should address the roof angles (e.g. large surface area facing due south) and amount of sun received by either roof-mounted collectors (typical) or remotely ground mounted panel arrays. To combine wind and solar, it might require finding a location close enough (to minimize power losses from long electrical cables) for both PV panels and wind generators to receive the sun and wind required. Different site considerations need to be factored into an integrated design when contemplating optimizing for solar (space heating and PV), optimizing for wind generators, and optimizing for micro-hydro systems.

The simplest solar design approach makes for homes that are long along the east-west axis and typically 1 room deep (or not much more than that) along the north-south axis. For homes that are more than 1 room deep along the north-south axis, it helps to carefully consider both air circulation - which optimally can be achieved by natural convection or, next best, efficient fans and/or ductwork - and daylighting. Skylights, light tubes, translucent doors and clerestory or transom windows can assist with getting light back into northern rooms and minimize the daytime lighting needed. Another technique deserving mention is the use of vestibules for entries to minimize heat gain and/or loss. Commercial buildings often make use of this method of minimizing the amount of lost or gained heat each time an exterior door is opened, and it works well for homes, too. Entry vestibules also make great laundry and/or mud rooms as well as coat, boot and other storage areas.

Early in the design phase, if possible, minimize long plumbing runs between water heaters and hot water loads by consolidating plumbing runs along a single wall, as short as possible. This also saves on initial plumbing costs as well as ongoing expense due to heat losses, as well as time wasted waiting for warm or hot water. If a bathroom or kitchen far away from the water heater is unavoidable, consider an on-demand, tankless hot water heater for those locations, to eliminate running taps for up to several minutes to bring water to the desired temperature. For passive water heating, also consider, if possible, locating a renewable source of hot water lower than intended loads and keeping plumbing bends to a minimum. This can often allow for a completely passive 'thermo-siphon' system where the circulation energy (a convection loop) is provided by the temperature differential between the warmer source (e.g. DHW solar panel or wood-stove embedded water heater) and the cooler water in the bottom of the storage tank. Some thermosiphon solar DHW systems integrate the heat source and storage tank for optimum efficiency. If a thermo-siphon hot water loop isn't feasible, choose an efficient pump to circulate the water or other heat transfer medium.

There are a wealth of books, web sites and other resources on the subject and it's best to pick a design strategy optimal for your particular location, climate, budget and locally available building materials. This article just touches on a few of the ideas important in a well thought-out energy efficient home design or re-design; consult experts to get even more ideas and do reality checks on concepts and techniques that you're considering for incorporation in your next home. You can also elect to have energy-efficiency professionals install various components of your home energy systems as well as assist with the designs and component/appliance/device selection. Don't forget to explore any and all federal, state, regional or local energy efficiency rebates, tax credits, etc. These can be substantial depending on the energy saving technology being considered and include biomass stoves, efficient HVAC systems, insulation, roofing, water heaters, windows, doors, PV and wind turbine components, geothermal heat pumps and other items. These can be significant and potentially offset much of the initial financial outlay for the specific item(s) used. Sooner or later, one reaches a point of diminishing returns for scrutinizing home power expenditures, but there are lots of things you can do, regardless of your financial budget, to optimize your energy budget. All these improvements improve your economic and self-sufficiency bottom line, regardless of if - or when - these enhancements go toward a renewable energy system installation.

Additional References

Getting Started with Home Efficiency
Easy Efficiency Improvements Pay Off

Passive Solar Home Design
Making Your Home Water-Smart

How Does Your Home Measure Up?

Beyond Your Utility Meter

How to Reduce Your Energy Consumption

Passive House Institute US

Vendor Contact Info

Here are a few manufacturers of home energy efficiency technology products; there are many more online:

Find ENERGY STAR Products

Home Efficiency Equipment and Products

Renewable Energy Businesses in the United States by State

The American concealed carry movement can now be chalked up as a bona fide victory. CCW permits are now available in 48+ states. (To be safe I'd say around 46 or 47 states, depending on several factors. For example, permit issuance policies are not always uniformly non-discretionary in every county within a state.)

The logical successors to the concealed carry movement are the Constitutional Carry Movement (aka permitless concealed carry) and the Open Carry Movement. In my opinion, both of these are worthy endeavors.

I've said the following before, but it bears repeating:

Whenever someone must buy a license or pay a fee to exercise a right, then it is something less than a right. It is in fact a mere privilege, subject to the whim of petty bureaucrats. Fundamental rights are not abstract tokens that are given or sold by other men. They are in fact primary liberties bestowed upon us by God, our maker. Rights are not substantially secured by asking, "Mother may I?" of any government agency. Rights are more properly demanded or boldly seized and then conspicuously exercised regularly. This secures the liberties that have legitimately belonged to us since birth. If need be, lost rights can and must be restored through proscriptive use. If you live in a land where your rights have been marginalized into privileges, then it is either time to change your government, or to change your address. Much like a muscle that atrophies with disuse, any right that goes unexercised for many years devolves into a privilege, and eventually can even be redefined as a crime.

(Note: I occasionally quote myself, but at least I don't refer to myself in the Third Person.)

I applaud the folks who open carry in states where it is legal, but where it is still frowned upon. This is principled patriotism, in action. Some might consider this merely grandstanding, but it is not! Rather, it is an important educational process, both for the public at large and for our public servants. (Many police are woefully ignorant about their own state laws.) At times these open carry encounters with police involve risk. Sometimes they take persistence. And they generally require standing firm when the police apply a double standard. (Repeatedly, courts have found that open carry, in an open carry state, does not give police a reasonable articulable suspicion that any crime is occurring--hence an open carrying pedestrian or motorist should be treated no differently that someone who is unarmed.) At times, proving such points requires litigation. (Thankfully, most of those court cases--like a 1920s case in North Carolina or a 2009 case in Wisconsin--rule in favor of the plaintiffs.)

Just rarely, negative encounters with police even take place inside The American Redoubt.

Overall, the effect of open carry demonstrations have been positive and restorative. But in some statist bastions, they have resulted in the state enacting even worse laws.

I'm confident that eventually our public servants will learn.

Before exercising your right to open carry be sure to research your State's open carry, concealed carry, and Stop and Identify ("Terry Stop") laws, in detail.

In closing: To America's open carriers: You are to be commended, as Watchmen on the Wall! - J.W.R.

Mayor Mike Bloomberg's Mayors Against Illegal Guns political pressure group is hard at work. Working with several paid lobbyist, advertising, and public relations firmss, they are about to launch a $12 million television ad campaign, pressing for "comprehensive background checks". Banning private party sales of used guns (forcing all gun sales to go through licensed dealers) will lay the groundwork for a nationwide system of gun registration. But Bloomberg's Buddies have some public relations problems...

The latest news is that another member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns has been arrested. This time it was Mayor Craig Lowe of Gainesville, Florida, arrested for drunk driving. The arresting officer found the mayor sleeping it off, in his wrecked car. Lowe was one of 30 mayors recently featured in a Bloomberg-funded anti-gun commercial.

And the same week Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania, Mayor James Schiliro, got himself in very deep trouble, by falsely imprisoning and providing alcohol to an underage man, and drunkenly firing a gun inside his home, reportedly to intimidate the young man into having oral homosexual relations. (In this incident, it was also reported the Mayor had first ordered a borough police officer to pick up the 20-year-old and bring him to his home.) As with many other criminal mayors, Bloomberg's anti-gun organization quickly dropped Schiliro from their roster, to distance themselves. (Coincidentally, it was a desire for boys and young men that also landed Coaldale Pennsylvania Mayor Richard P. Corkery in jail on 28 charges of possession of child pornography. He too was a Mayors Against Illegal Guns member. )

Meanwhile, sentencing is expected this week for John Bencivengo, the former mayor of Hamilton Township--a suburb of Trenton, New Jersey. He was convicted last November on extortion, money laundering and bribery-related counts. He too was a Mayors Against Illegal Guns member.

These events were heralded just a few weeks after former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was indicted, and just days after former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was found guilty of 24 additional corruption charges. They too were Mayors Against Illegal Guns members.

Illegal guns aren't a problem, but illegal mayors in Bloomberg's "crime fighting" group certainly are! (There were at least 20 of them (if you include Felix Roque), at last count.) Mikey Bloomberg seems to attract these low-lifes. Contact your legislators to insist that they Close the Mayor's Office Loophole! Tell them that you support comprehensive background checks on Mayoral candidates. That's just a commonsense step. And something needs to be done about High Capacity Mayors--you know, the mayors with a high capacity for corruption and influence peddling, a high capacity for campaign contribution fraud, a high capacity for pedophilia, a high capacity for alcohol abuse, a high capacity for assault, a high capacity for theft, a high capacity for money laundering, a high capacity for conspiracy, a high capacity for extortion, and a high capacity for racketeering.

These criminals have gained access to mayor's chairs one too many times. It is far too easy for criminals to become mayors. Demand a Plan and Demand Action, America! - J.W.R.

A few months ago, I did a review on Clearly Filtered water purification products, and the response was overwhelming to say the least. You can't survive for more than a few days without a source of clean, safe drinking water. We aren't necessarily talking about surviving out in the boonies, with only mud puddles to drink from. There are many times, when your tap water isn't safe to drink. Think about it, how many times have you heard on the television news about contaminated drinking water, from a big city water supply,and "boil water" warnings? This happens too often if you ask me. And, for the life of me, I still don't understand people paying a buck or more for bottled drinking water from the store. More often than not, that clean safe bottled water simply comes from the tap of a big city water supply. So, why are people paying for water from a bottle when they can get the same thing from their own tap - which doesn't mean it's always safe to drink in the first place?
The simple fact is, you can go many days, even weeks, and some can go a month, with food. However, you can only last a few days without a safe water source. And, I don't care where you live, I honestly don't believe city tap water is all that safe to drink to start with. I live in a rural area, and get my water from my own well. The water is run through a filter in my pump house - and this filter has to be changed every two years, at a cost of about $400 each time it's changed. And, this filter doesn't make my water safer to drink, instead it removes some of the iron bacteria from the well water - without this filter, my drinking water would come in brownish - ugly, and not that safe to drink. Still, in the past, I used one of the popular commercial water pitchers to aid in filtering my drinking water. Only thing is, those commercial filters don't actually purify the drinking water - at best, some of 'em only remove some bad tastes from the water, and honestly don't do anything to purify my drinking water. Enter Clearly Filtered, and all their fine products that actually purify your drinking water - there is a difference between "filtering" your water and purifying it.
Clearly Filtered has some more products that I deemed worthy for testing for another article for SurvivalBlog readers. One is their water pitcher, and it's not like the Brita, PUR or Zero Water pitchers, that don't truly filter all that much from your tap water. First of all, the Clearly Filtered pitcher can filter 200 gallons of water with one filter For comparison, the Brita is 40 gallons, the Zero Water is 22.5 gallons and the PUR is 40 gallons. Also, one of the things I notice when drinking city water - which isn't that often - is the chlorine smell from the city water. The Clearly Filtered pitcher removes 99.99% of chlorine, the rest only "reduce" chlorine. Clearly Filtered removes 90.00% of fluoride, and the rest make no claims at all. Lead removed is 97.50% - the Brita and PUR make no claims and the Zero Water "reduces" it. Mercury reduction is 99.60% - Brita "reduces" and Zero Water and PUR makes no claims. Chromium 6 reduction is 99.87% and the Brita and PUR no claims and the Zero Water "reduces" it. The Clearly Filtered pitcher costs about 30-cents per gallon for pure drinking water, the Brita is 55-cents to 90-cents per gallon, the Zero Water is $1.77+ per gallon and the PUR is 50-cents per gallon. This is a no-brainer in my book, the Clearly Filtered pitcher makes your drinking water safer, and does so at a lower costs than the other filters. The Clearly Filtered pitcher is $69.95 right now - and that's a good deal in my book.
I also tested the Clearly Filtered plastic water bottle with the RAD filter - this filter not only reduces all of the above, it also eliminates 100% of: Radon 222, Uranium, Plutonium, Cesium 137, Strontium, Beta and Iodine 131 - again, the RAD water bottle removes 100% of all these elements - something to take into consideration, if you believe you might be in an area that could have radiation from a nuclear bomb or nuclear plant accident.The water bottle with the RAD filter is normally $74.95 but is on-sale for $69.95 right now. And, you can purchase additional RAD filters if you already own the standard water bottle - a wise investment in my book - no matter where you might live.
For those who want something more than the plastic bottle for everyday use, Clearly Filtered offers a stainless steel water bottle, with a filter in it, and it is one very classy-looking drinking bottle, and it comes in a variety of colors.the stainless steel drinking bottle is $39.95 and would look nice on your desk, as opposed to the plastic bottle or bottled water from the local big box store - that you already know isn't all that much better to drink than tap water.
In my previous article on Clearly Filtered products, I reviewed their military-style canteen, and I was swamped with e-mails, asking me if this canteen would fit in a US military canteen carrier. It does indeed fir very nicely.
For further information, check out my previous article on Clearly Filtered products in the SurvivalBlog archives, or go to the Clearly Filtered web site. In this day and age, its foolish to not protect yourself from the nasty bugs and other things that lurk in your drinking water. To be sure, no surface water is really safe to drink as-is! Sure, that clear mountain stream might look pure and safe, but it's not, so don't drink it without first purifying it, and one of the best methods is with one of the many products Clearly Filtered offers on their web site. It just makes good sense to protect yourself as much as possible from all the things that can hurt or kill you - in your drinking water. And, in the event of a SHTF scenario, odds are, that you city drinking water isn't going to be the least bit safe to drink. And, if you're in the wilderness, you can always find a water source, however, don't drink it without first purifying it - it can kill you if you don't, or at the very least, make you very, very sick - which can lead to being disabled and can lead to death, too.
Look, a safe source of clean and purified drinking water should be right at the top of your survival gear and equipment list. Food is important, or course, but not nearly as important as safe drinking water is. Take the time to check out the many products Clearly Filtered has to offer, and make a small investment in your future survival, but insuring you have safe water to drink. - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

Dear Mr Rawles,
We are looking for a good security system for our land. Animals and IR alerts aside, we are now in the market for a good multiple camera system. As the area is heavily wooded and vast, cables are out of the question. We would like purchase something that requires little maintenance, in order to prevent continuous activity in the area; blackout technology is a must. We were wondering if you or other SurvivalBlog readers have any recommendations? Thank you for your time, and May God Bless you and yours. - Mary B.

JWR Replies: These days, wireless web cameras with audio pickup and IR lights are inexpensive. I recommend buying several inside your house. (Outdoor webcams are also available but note that these are not completely weatherproof, so to cover outdoor areas such as porches they should be placed under the protection of eaves. And by placing them in faux birdhouses or clustering them with floodlight fixtures they won't attract much notice.)

Just be sure to locate the computer that these cameras feed in a hidden room, in a wall cache, or completely off site. Otherwise, if burglars steal your computer, they will take with them the evidence that you would need to get them convicted.

K.A.F.'s Italian Tomato Bisque

This bisque is made from Dried Storage Foods


1⁄2 c dried chopped onions
1 c dried carrot dices
1⁄2 c dried celery
2 qts water
1 c dried tomato powder
1⁄2 c dried tomato dices
1⁄2 T italian seasoning spice blend
1⁄2 T granulated garlic
1⁄2 T seasoned salt
3⁄4 T kosher salt
1⁄2 T texas pete or any mild hot sauce
1 T balsamic vinegar
1 c heavy cream
1⁄2 c parmesan cheese


In a 6-quart stock pot, combine the onions, carrots, celery, water, tomato powder, diced tomatoes, Italian seasoning, garlic, salt, and spice blend and bring to a simmer, stirring to blend well.

Let soup simmer for about 20 minutes covered, until all items become tender.

Add the hot sauce, vinegar, cream, and parmesan and stir well to blend.

Chef's Notes:

For a thicker soup, reduce the liquid by simmering longer before the final cream is added. Use a hand-held blender and puree soup to a smooth consistency, taste, and adjust seasoning as needed.

Useful Recipe and Cooking Links:

Tomato Bisque From Scratch

Shrimp Bisque From Scratch

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

Reader Mark H. sent: Data on MRE Shelf Life Dictates Shorter Shelf Life --New Chart

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What Is An "Assault Rifle"? - You've Probably Been Lied To. Starting a 5:55, watch him transform a humble Mini-14 into something "Evil" looking--at least in the eyes of Chuckie Schumer and Dianne Feinstein. But we must remember that outward appearances are meaningless: Esse quam videri. (Translated: "To be rather than to seem.") That should be our byword, whether we are judging the looks of a rifle, or the looks of people. Just because a rifle is black doesn't make it evil. And just because someone has a different skin color doesn't make them any better or any worse than you, either.

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Peter S. sent: New York State Sets Up Gun Snitch Line With $500 Award

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The two children of American Civil War veterans who are still receiving soldiers' pensions nearly 150 years after war ended. (Ronald Reagan was right, when he said: "The closest thing to immortality on this Earth is a federal government program.")

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H.L. sent: Obama presses Congress to vote on assault weapons ban. JWR's Comment: If congress votes down the magazine ban bills, I anticipate BHO soon issuing an Executive Order that would ban the importation of any magazine that can hold more than 10 cartridges, except for police or military use. I urge my readers to stock up on full capacity magazines, especially for any guns that are imported, such as Glock, SIG, HK, Taurus, Tavor, et cetera.]

"Why do you allow these men who are in power to rob you step by step, openly and in secret, of one domain of your rights after another, until one day nothing, nothing at all will be left but a mechanised state system presided over by criminals and drunks?" -  Die Weisse Rose (The White Rose), Resistance Leaflet 3, 1942

Sunday, March 24, 2013

March 24th is the anniversary of the mass escape of Allied POWs from Stalag Luft III, in 1944. Of the 76 men who escaped, just three made "home runs" to Allied territory. In a dastardly deed, 50 escapees who were re-captured were executed by the SS, on orders from the highest echelons of the Nazi government.

I had the honor of meeting one of the Stalag Luft III survivors, Colonel Jerry Sage (1917-1993) of the OSS, late in his life. (In the movie The Great Escape, Steve McQueen's character "Captain Virgil Hilts" was loosely based upon Jerry Sage. Sage once commanded the 10th Special Forces Group.

March 24th is also the Birthday of Dr. Art Robinson. (Born in 1942.)


Today we present another entry for Round 45 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course. (A $1,195 value.) 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 gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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. C.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of D.) 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, E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 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. E.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value), and F.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 45 ends on March 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.

Since I am Jewish, I read with interest "A Prepper's Holiday" by C.E.B. (posted March 7th), in which the author described what he has learned by observing the Old Testament holidays of Passover and Sukkot.

It occurred to me that Jewish history and culture - being largely a five-thousand year track record of survival against all odds - actually has quite a few lessons that would be relevant to SurvivalBlog readers of all faiths. Here are a few.


In 1941, Adolf Hitler invaded the Soviet Union. At the time, my grandmother and her family were living in a small town in the Ukraine, not terribly far from the Soviet border. The Stalinist propaganda machine, of course, assured the populace that the German army would be crushed with ease. However, one of my grandmother's uncles was a senior member in the local Communist Party, and had a clearer view of reality. He gathered the family together one evening and told them that it was very likely that the Nazis would reach their town, with devastating consequences to the inhabitants. He spread out a map of the USSR, and pointed to a small province much farther east: the Uzebek SSR (now called Uzbekistan). "You have to go there," he said. "Hitler will never get that far."

Having suffered through generations of persecution and "pogroms" (anti-Jewish riots, often conducted with the approval of police and political authorities), they had every reason to believe him. So, they quietly packed up and moved to Uzbekistan, where they waited out World War II far removed from the death camps and other atrocities of the Third Reich and the Stalin regime.

Fast-forward to today: while the mass media assures us that the recession will be over any day now, folks like SurvivalBlog's Captain Rawles are busy telling anyone who will listen that heading for the hills would be a very smart idea.

If you wait until you hear the sound of jackboots on cobblestones, it will be too late. The time to get out of town is now. As American poet Robinson Jeffers wrote, "When the cities lie at the feet of the beast, the mountains will remain."


Even well-meaning politicians can easily be influenced to implement terrible policies. This is illustrated perfectly by the Book of Esther, which is commemorated by the Jewish holiday of Purim.

To make a long story short, a beautiful Jewish girl named Esther is selected to be the wife of King Ahasuerus. Aware of anti-Jewish sentiment in the King's court, she keeps her heritage a secret. Esther is an orphan, and her guardian is her older cousin Mordechai. While visiting Esther at the palace, Mordechai offends Haman, the king's chief adviser, by refusing to bow to him. Mordechai explains that he will prostrate himself before God, but not to a man - even the King.

Enraged, Haman tells the king that the Jews do not follow the law of the land (which states that everyone must bow to the king), and suggests that they be executed. The king, being a typical politician, agrees.

Haman gleefully makes plans for soldiers to go out and exterminate the entire Jewish population of the kingdom in a few days. For Mordechai, against whom he has a special grudge, Haman sets up an impaling pole.

Queen Esther finds out what's happening, and decides to risk her own life for the sake of her people. Through some high drama involving a banquet and a secret plot against the king (which Mordechai exposes), the king winds up offering Esther anything she desires. She asks him to spare her life, and the lives of her people. Outraged that someone would threaten his queen, the king quickly discovers what Haman has been up to, gives Esther the authority to overturn Haman's orders, has Haman impaled on his own pole, and gives Haman's estate to Mordechai.

With that story in mind, consider the fact that West Point's "Combating Terrorism Center" recently released a report entitled "Challengers from the Sidelines," which classifies "the 'Militia' or 'Patriot' movement" as part of the American "violent far-right," describing its members as dangerous extremists who promote "anti-taxation, gun rights, survivalist practices, and libertarian ideas," and who "support civil activisms, individual freedoms, and self-government." Of course, this describes perfectly the interests and ideals of all of America's founding fathers, but that irony is apparently lost on the scholars at West Point.

A variety of other quasi-governmental reports have made similar allegations. In other words, just as Haman (and, of course, Adolf Hitler) twisted the facts to classify Jews as enemies of the state, these so-called "think tanks" are twisting the facts to classify the typical, security-and-freedom-loving SurvivalBlog reader as a terrorist-in-waiting. Since our politicians are engaged in a never-ending War on Terror, it's a very small step to you or me finding ourselves being treated to the indefinite detention, torture and summary execution that the US government has established as being appropriate for terrorists.


The traditional narrative of the Holocaust is that the Jews went meekly to the death camps, like lambs to the slaughter. In reality, many Jews fought, guerilla-style, against Nazi troops in the streets and alleys of Europe.

One of the most remarkable of these Jewish guerillas was a young man named Imi Lichtenfeld, who was a champion boxer, wrestler and gymnast in his native Slovakia. As the tide of anti-Semitism began to sweep Europe in the 1930s, Lichtenfeld and his fellow Jewish athletes banded together to defend their communities from the increasingly violent attacks of Jew-hating gangs. Lichtenfeld quickly discovered the difference between combat sports and life-or-death brawling, and developed his own fighting system, which he taught to his compatriots.

Seeing the writing on the wall in 1940, he left Slovakia and served with distinction in the Free Czech legion in North Africa. He spent the remainder of his long life in the newly-established State of Israel, teaching his system - Krav Maga - to the Israeli Defense Forces.

The moral of this story is not only that Krav Maga is one of the most practical and combat-proven self-defense systems in the world, but that having the WILL to fight is just as important as having the ABILITY to fight. In the Jewish tradition, life is viewed as a gift from God. Therefore, to allow your life or the life of another to be taken, if it is in your power to prevent it, is actually disrespectful to God. My understanding is that, with the exception of certain pacifist denominations, most Christians agree with that rationale. Therefore, we must be ready to act, without hesitation, to defend ourselves and our loved ones, and must do so in the certainty that self-defense is not only a moral right, it is a moral obligation.


In medieval Spain, there was a period - from about the eighth to the eleventh centuries - called "La Convivencia" - "the coexistence." During this time, Jews, Christians and Muslims lived together in relative peace and prosperity, freely associating with each other and openly exchanging knowledge of medicine, philosophy and commerce. As you might expect, the members of all three communities benefited from this interaction. Although there were certain social barriers in place, in principle everyone was protected by the law.

That pleasant situation gradually deteriorated, and many Jews and Muslims converted to Christianity to protect themselves. Unfortunately, the powers-that-be had serious doubts about the sincerity of these conversions, and in 1481, the Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition was formed to root out and punish "heresy." Overnight, the law went from protector to persecutor. Anyone with a grudge against a neighbor could accuse that person of being a "crypto-Jew," and report them to the Inquisition. Thousands of innocent people - many of whom weren't Jews at all - were imprisoned, tortured, and then hanged or burned at the stake.

Christians today face similar persecution in many middle-Eastern countries, where being openly a non-Muslim is seen as a crime, and sometimes a capital offense (witness the murders of Copts in Egypt, for example). In fact, the only middle-Eastern country where Christians can worship openly and in safety is in Israel - the Jewish state. But leaving aside religion for a moment, consider the bigger picture: anything can become a crime, just because the government says so. Remember, it wasn't too long ago that a black person who drank from a "whites-only" water fountain was a criminal in this country. It is because "law" does not necessarily mean "justice" that Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote, "One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws."

When the Department of Homeland Security stockpiles hundreds of millions of rounds of ammunition (according to one report enough to keep our troops in Iraq supplied for 20 years) one is forced to wonder exactly whom our "representatives" expect to become criminals - or, to put it another way, whom they plan to CALL criminals. We all love law and order, but - God forbid - if the day ever comes that the law of the land is no longer our friend, we must be prepared to do the RIGHT thing, even if it is not the LAWFUL thing.


Being part of a community means looking out for each other. It is this trait - more than any other (with the exception of Divine intervention) - that explains why the Jews have outlived the Ancient Egyptians, Philistines, Persians, Phoenicians, Romans, and every other culture that tried to stamp them out.

From the 40 years of wandering in the desert, after escaping from slavery in Egypt, to the Diaspora, when Jews were forced out of almost every country in Europe, to the Holocaust, to today, if a Jew needs a hand, other Jews will help him. And Jews are not alone in this: you see the same thing, for example, in the Latino community: if a Mexican immigrant opens a restaurant, other Mexicans will go there to eat. Or consider the informal fraternity of military veterans: if a newly-retired Marine applies for a job, and the business owner is also a retired Marine, odds are the younger Devil Dog has a good chance of getting the position. Historically, church congregations have also helped their less-fortunate members in times of illness, unemployment and hardship.

This may sound like simple human nature, but in some neighborhoods, the opposite is true: if a person opens a laundromat, his neighbors will break his windows and vandalize his machines. And, from an outside perspective, community solidarity is often criticized as conspiracy or clannishness. The folks at the Aryan Nation meetings certainly aren't thrilled to see Jews and Mexicans supporting their own communities. They recognize - in their own twisted way - that Malcolm X was exactly right in his assertion that, "when you spend your dollar out of the community in which you live, the community in which you spend your money becomes richer and richer, [and] the community out of which you take your money becomes poorer and poorer."

The job that went to a Marine, the meal bought from a Mexican immigrant, the suit bought from a Jewish clothier, or the housing given to a frail parishioner, represents dollars that did NOT leave the communities in which those people live. Is it wrong to give preferential treatment to members of your community? To "your own kind"? By the politically-correct, non-judgmental, morally ambivalent logic of modern thinking, yes it is.

According to the voice of history, experience, and common sense, no, it absolutely is not! If we do not support our own communities - however that term is meaningful to ourselves - we are in fact harming them. If you, retired USMC Captain, don't give that young Sergeant a chance, who will? If you, Juan, buy lunch at McDonald's instead of at the neighborhood Taqueria, whom are you helping? As Malcolm X explained, "And then what happens? The community in which you live becomes a slum. It becomes a ghetto. The conditions become rundown. And then you have the audacity to complain about poor housing in a rundown community, while you're running down yourselves when you take your dollar out."

Rabbi Hillel, a famous Jewish scholar who was a contemporary of Jesus, famously asked, "If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?" Those questions have been food for thought for 2,000 years, and they are as pertinent today as ever. If you don't look out for yourself, who will? But if you only look out for yourself, and ignore your community, your society or the Earth, what kind of person does that make you? If you put off meaningful action, how will you know when to act? All of us - regardless of race, creed, color, or background - must be willing to answer those questions honestly. We must be willing to protect ourselves, to support our communities, to recognize the dangers in our society, and to respond accordingly. And if we have not yet begun, we must do so now.

I would like to thank B.H. in North Idaho for his candid discussion of world views and the church.  As a Christian, I have the same beliefs that he has. 

And as a Christian, there is no way I cannot feed the hungry and the poor.  Jesus said the most important commandment is to love God and the next is to love your neighbor.  That means charity.  And charity entails feeding the hungry.  I may run out of food and die myself, but I know God would bless what I did for others.  As long as I'm doing what God instructs, I'm not scared of dying. That said, I won't hesitate to use a firearm if necessary to save lives, including my own, from some evil person.   

In "The Apology of Aristides," dated 125 A.D., Aristides wrote the earliest apology of the faith that we have outside the New Testament, a letter to Hadrian during the time Christians were being persecuted in Rome.  In this letter, he says, among other things, that Christians would fast for 3 days so they could give food to hungry fellow Christians.  How far we have drifted from what the first Christians did for each other. 

The church needs to be a leader through charity.  Why?  Because the one that gives charity is the one with the power.  Why do you think government wants so much to be the one that gives people what they need, in the form of Social Security, Food Stamps, Medicaid, etc?  Power.  And control.  The church needs to take this power back to show that God is the one that has power and God is the one that provides.  As B.H. said, the church needs to position itself to be ready to handle the hungry and the poor, as the Bible commands.  This is so government does not become the "savior" of mankind when everything falls apart.   We already have a savior.  And Christians need to do what the good book says, love they neighbor.

(For more information on how to put the church back in its proper role of providing for the needs of others through charity, I suggest reading the Biblical Blueprint Series.  It has loads of ideas for the church to help the deserving poor.  One of the books is titled, "In the Shadow of Plenty."  If you see this book, you'll know you have the right series of books.)

The Biblical Blueprint Series contains the following 9 books:

Introduction to Dominion, Biblical Blueprints on Dominion
Honest Money, Biblical, Blueprints on Money and Banking
Who Owns the Family?: Biblical Blueprints on the Family and the State
In the Shadow of Plenty, Biblical Blueprints on Welfare and Poverty
Liberator of the Nations, Biblical Blueprints on Political Action
Inherit the Earth, Biblical Blueprints on Economics
Chariots of God, Biblical Blueprints on Defense
The Children Trap, Biblical Blueprints on Education
Entangling Alliances, Biblical Blueprints on Foreign Policy
Ruler of the Nations, Biblical Blueprints on Government
Protection of the Innocent, Biblical Blueprints on Crime and Punishment

My own plan when things fall apart is to have enough food stored to be able to feed people.  I won't be able to give them much but it will be a meal at least.  But my main plan is to teach people how to live in the tough times and to introduce them to Christ. 

For the people that live in my area, I plan to have extra seeds available to give out along with instructions for how to grow them and how to make compost for future growing.  Hopefully, within 30-60 days, they'll have at least a little food to eat from what they planted.  Yes, I know inexperience doesn't produce the best farmer, but they will learn.  In the meantime, I plan to teach them which foods they can scavenge, such as dandelion, stinging nettles, lemon balm, chicory, acorns and others nuts, and which berries are safe, etc.  I also plan to have extra small traps, like the ones for squirrels, etc, that I can give to others so they can supplement whatever they scavenge.   I'll teach them how to catch and cook grasshoppers, snails, how to fish and catching/shoot birds and cook them.  Even as a female, there's a lot I can teach.

Living in the Deep South, we have an advantage: kudzu.  We are inundated with it.  People don't realize that every part of this plant can be used for food.  The root can be ground and made into a meal, which, when mixed with water and heated, can make a nutritional broth.  The leaves and flower petals are edible.  And for those with sugar, the petals and small stems can be used to make kudzu jelly. (As a footnote, the Japanese ate kudzu root after the atomic blasts.  The roots are deep enough that they do not get contaminated by the fallout, which is good to know if there's a nuclear attack.) 

I also plan to teach people how to make filters for water, how to build fires if necessary, etc.  These are the types of things I feel will help people get by.  If they keep busy, maybe they won't have as much time to get depressed or mad.  And if they can start finding food and growing food, perhaps the idea of stealing won't enter their heads, although that may be a bit optimistic.  

In other words, I plan to teach people to fish and not just give them fish, while at the same time, telling them of God's love and how he provides for us. - Vic from South Carolina

In Hearthkeeper's account of the man arrested for trespassing while attacking a chicken run, she mentions that they had decided to “press charges” as it seemed the cops were aware of the guy, but nobody else had wanted to press charges.  Her rationale was that now he would get some kind of evaluation in jail.
Well, he probably won't.
I don’t work in a jail environment anymore, but when I did it wasn’t that long ago.   What they did was well-intentioned and the right thing to do, but let’s point something out...
Under every state law I’ve ever seen, a person who appears to be unable to care for themselves can be taken into custody for their own safety if the arresting officer witnesses the person acting in a manner that would lead the officer to believe so.
Let’s examine the facts as we know them.
1.  The man acted out in front of the cops
2.  The homeowner wanted charges pressed
3.  The cops indicated that they had had prior contacts with the guy but nobody wanted to press charges.
So, it begs the question, why didn’t the cops simply use their power of detention for the man’s safety?  I’ll tell you why.  They would have gotten counseled for wasting taxpayer’s money and leaving their beat unnecessarily.   Depending on your jurisdiction and accessibility, the average time a cop will spend just processing someone “for their own good” is from 1.5 to 3 hours.  Why?  Because he needs to be medically cleared first.  That means the cops have to take him somewhere where a doctor can evaluate his medical condition, the guy might actually need intervention medically and the “crazy behavior” might not just be mental illness.   So, I take him into custody – and then I call the jail to ask them if they have a room for the guy (since I’m arresting him for a purported mental state, he cannot (by most state law) be housed with other inmates until he’s evaluated.  This means solitary confinement in most cases, and it means he has to be under observation 24/7 some jails set up for this by putting the person in a cell with a big window that jailers can look through, some use video cameras – but in all cases this means special treatment and you have to call the jail to see if them have the right facility.   Next step – you think he’s whacko?  Are you a doctor?  You can’t know, so, again – before involuntarily committing someone you have to have a doctor sign off on it, the jail nurse doesn’t count.  Remember your reason for arresting him was for his mental state not that he trespassed (nobody pressed charges, remember?)  In most jurisdictions this is a policy issue not a legal one, policy is set to help deal with legal issues in a fair and proper manner.  Mentally ill people are not “prisoners” in the legal sense of the word, they will have no judicial review of their case unless they are held longer than the state mandate.  Anywhere they are held, they will be held alone – and that’s resource intensive – you will have to get permission from someone to do this.  So, that’s the purported reason for why a cop might not arrest someone “for their own good”.  The biggest reason is cost.  Once you’ve undertaken to seek treatment for this person, guess who foots the bill?  The Sheriff or city that employs you.  So, there’s the Emergency Room (ER) visit for evaluation... The bill will come to your department, since once the guy is in your custody you are responsible for any medical care he may need, your status as a peace officer makes this seem easy.  Your employer, however, may not see eye to eye with you on the matter.  In many cases it will be impossible for you to do what’s right because you will need to watch commander’s specific permission,  many times you’ll summon the paramedics to let them “evaluate” the guy, and they will ask the guy if he wants to be treated – if he says yes, you’re off the hook – because once he’s in their care your hands are clean.   
While you’ve been doing the right thing by this crazed citizen, your entire beat has been doing without you, officers who work alongside you have been doing dangerous things alone because they have no backup, in some cases calls may not be answered because policy may dictate two officers responding (like with a domestic violence case) so it’s entirely possible that some wife out there is getting whacked around for a lot longer than she should be, all because you had to do the “right thing” and tie yourself up for three hours.   Let’s also hope you’re not pushed beyond your end of shift, because overtime isn’t something your supervisors like – you might need approval for that. 
But let’s assume we follow this guy’s course after he gets a ride to the jail.
He gets booked, just cursorily medically evaluated (if he’s cooperative), and since it’s simple trespass (a very low quality misdemeanor) after processing he’ll be given a summons and released, usually within the first eight hours.  Then he’s back on the street.  It can be quicker if the jail staff decides he’s no real danger and they’re overpopulated (a constant problem) and he could get released without four hours.  Now he’s back on the street, and he’s received no medical intervention – because he’s no longer under your control, the jail staff now makes the decision and remember, you didn’t bring him in for mental evaluation, right?  They absolutely will not try to create a bigger thing out of it, they’ll process the trespass and release him if no bail is called for – and even IF bail is set, it’s almost always a release upon personal recognizance (so you become your own bondsman).   I would estimate that there’s less than a ten percent chance that the jail staff will go out of their way to find this guy treatment, commonly in a setting like a jail a mentally ill person will become quiescent and not exhibit any of the behaviors that you found crazy, they’re sorta in a “happy place” and don’t feel very stressed – which in many cases will just make them quiet and non-threatening. 
How an arrest is conducted and the reasons for it are many and complex, it all boils down to dollars and cents, you’d like to think a cop is a caretaker for your community – but he’s not and there are probably policies in place to keep him/her from becoming one, because it creates liability and big medical bills for the jurisdiction in question.  
Let’s not forget that now they’re witnesses/victims and they’ll have to go to court to testify – unless he takes a plea bargain.  But guess how many times that happens to someone who’s mentally ill?  It’s actually about 50/50, compared to the 95 percent plus of normal people who just take whatever is offered in way of punishment for a minor crime like trespassing.    True story.  Local hotel did a local homeless shelter a favor by taking in one of their “overflow” people for a night for free.  Well, the guy orders a couple hundred dollars worth of room service, and when he leaves refuses to pay.  Arrest (defrauding an innkeeper) and it’s revealed he’s a heavily addicted bipolar heroin addict.   Hotel staff gets subpoena’d.  Hotel staff shows to court.  Defendant is supposed to get his meds in the morning, but since he’s getting transported to court he misses his morning pill and the judge continues the case because the guy isn’t in the right mental state.  This happens five times over a period of three months.  Each time the judge sends a note to the sheriff about getting this guy his pill before ending him to court.  The reason?  You must be able to understand the judicial proceedings and participate in your own defense – this is not a competency hearing, you have no court assigned guardian.  Finally seven months later the guys gets his pill, says, “yes I understand” takes a plea deal and it’s over.  But in the meantime five staff from the hotel have taken six half-days off to appear in court because they are subpoena’d to do so.  You should be ready for this if you’re going to “press charges” it can happen.  It will happen. 
But let’s get another thing clear, I can’t speak for other states, but here’s what I’d need to arrest someone in my state.  The person would have have to enter into a property without permission and then refuse to leave when asked to do so.  If they jumped a six foot fence to do so, and the fence was locked, then they don’t get the “leave or else” thing, they can be arrested without being given the opportunity to leave.  What do I mean?   I mean that the cops showed up at another place under the same conditions, they should have been able to arrest him without the other parties “pressing charges” they witnessed his uninvited presence in someone’s back yard – they didn’t need to – but used a convenient out to stay in service “citizen declines complaint” and they move on hoping the guy wanders into someone else's jurisdiction.
Liability for prisoners is becoming a very big headache for most communities.  Putting someone in jail and keeping them there can create liabilities that get a city sued, most cities that have jails routinely pay out a couple million a year for petty complaints for mistreatment or bad conditions as the cost of doing business, we don’t hear about it because there is no access to the information within a court system, and all settlements become confidential.   Sheriff’s have a different problem, they’re elected and responsible for their own budget, reducing costs is a big thing – and if you don’t have the $5,000 per patient for a 3 day mental evaluation, you’re going to put a stopper in the possibility that your deputies do this. 
There is no good way to deal with mentally ill people who become violent, in many cases they don’t even know they’re breaking the law – having to shoot one would be something too horrible to contemplate.  My advice for anybody investigating an intruder outside of your home (but still on your property) would be to not do it alone, ever.   If you do decide to do it you need to do it from a far enough distance that you can retreat behind a locked barrier – bad guys can move fast, for most people this should just be their doorway with the screen closed and a loud voice.   

It’s not a matter of you having the right to defend yourself or your property, it’s a matter of never knowing if you’re willing to be killed or kill someone in an unknown situation like that described.  I’m pretty certain they’re glad they didn’t have to hurt the guy, and that the husband didn’t get hurt – I’ve committed so many stupid-brave acts in my lifetime I know exactly how it happens, and never judge someone for doing it – but if you can plan for it better, it’s always best to never do it alone and never get within running and grabbing distance of someone like that.  What the police have is civil immunity for their official acts and even if it does lose them their jobs, individual cops generally don’t have to pay money for what they do – we do not have civil liability, any act we commit against someone may get us sued, because as you all know – lawyers need to eat too, and sometimes it’s just not convenient to put on the roller skates and snag the bumper on a speeding ambulance. 

The Role of Biometrics in Future Domestic Conflicts

   o o o

The television series Revolution is scheduled to resume airing new episodes on Monday, March 25, 2013. While it is not up to par with Jericho or even Terminator - The Sarah Connor Chronicles, it is the only quasi-survivalist game in town on television.

   o o o

Kensington digs in with ban on 'mega basements'

   o o o

J.B.G. sent this from England: Could we face gas rationing? British gas reserves could run dry in 36 hours after freezing householders turn the heating up

"But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.
And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.
Use hospitality one to another without grudging.
As every man hath received the gift, [even so] minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
If any man speak, [let him speak] as the oracles of God; if any man minister, [let him do it] as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen." - 1 Peter 4:7-11 (KJV)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Today is the 238th anniversary of Patrick Henry's famous "...but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!" address at St. John’s Church, Richmond, Virginia. (March 23, 1775.) See today's Quote of The Day.


Today we present another entry for Round 45 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course. (A $1,195 value.) 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 gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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. C.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of D.) 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, E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 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. E.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value), and F.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 45 ends on March 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 the survivalist/prepper world, one can argue that we are all leaders, yes?  Well, ask yourself, what happens when you thought you were going to be the leader of your compound/ neighborhood/ community but got to the party late and someone else is in charge?  What happens when you can’t or simply aren’t THE leader?

You lead from the middle. This article proposes two ways in which you can lead without being the designated leader. 

As survivalist/preppers we know a neighborhood or city block is better than one home, while a community is best. Let’s assume the SHTF and you are executing your plan.  You were able to get your family out to your community’s compound. Having fought off several looters on the way, you managed to collect several critical items from your cache. You are definitely prepared for this event and have various skills crucial to surviving the next riotous year.  Relief overwhelms you as you realize that you are exceptionally skilled, and there is  no one better equipped to handle the upcoming chaos as you are able handle it.  Let the games begin.

Once you arrive at your community’s compound, Grey Beard is in charge and he designates you “firewood collector guy”.  He directs you to stow your food and supplies in the pole barn and report to the fire-master.

I exaggerate because I am not sure there is a “firewood collector guy” or “fire master”; if you were assigned to collect firewood with your leadership experience and mammoth suite of survival skills, you might feel slighted, indignant perhaps.   You might feel as though you deserve to be elevated to a recognized leader status.  Who wouldn’t, right? 

So what’s to be done, expert survivalist/ prepper turned firewood collector? 

Be the best fire wood collector you can be.  You will ensure that there will never be a minute, an hour, or a day without ample firewood. You may improve the firewood collection process, perhaps automating your wheelbarrow.  Focus on your task and do it with dedication and focus.  And go one step further, have fun while you are doing it.

All compounds are organized differently, and I am not being frivolous by suggesting someone be designated the task of collecting firewood.  What I’m trying to convey is that if you have a PhD in Chemistry, you would feel silly if you were hired by a University to mop the floor…in the chemistry wing. 
You would feel undervalued and underused – a non-contributor.  You would be operating below your capability. 

At this point, you might be thinking, “Nah, I won’t feel that way.  I’ll do what is asked of me.  I’ll be a great team player.  I don’t need to lead.”

I sure hope so!  However, I think, that anyone who is so earnestly invested in the welfare of others would not be so quick to surrender leadership, especially us A-types who spent the last several years preparing for a SHTF moment.  We must be prepared to lead from the middle because it may be our primary mode of leading. 

For me, leading from the middle arose from necessity.  Six weeks of indiscriminate Scud missiles during the opening of Operation Iraqi Freedom kept me sleep deprived, anxious, and frustrated.  As a 1st Lieutenant surrounded by field grade officers, my objections were overruled with suggestions routinely ignored. Ultimately, I was relegated to doing a job that a Lance Corporeal could perform.  Simply put: I was not leading and it was frustrating.  Add to that combat stress, no sleep, and irregular meal times and I was ready to implode.

Working took my mind off the frustration.  Conscientiously monitoring communications kept me active. Concentrating on doing my job well relieved stress and I started to have fun—I smiled often and laughed a lot.  When I began to really study my communications plans, I saw deficiencies.  I corrected those deficiencies.  I discovered new commo devices different units had and that weren’t be used, so we trained on those devices.  We talked communications over chow and sometimes in our sleep.  I was no longer worried about the sea of officers that surrounded me—I was doing my job better than I had ever done it in the past.   

In time, lower enlisted sought my counsel, not the senior enlisted or other officers.  I was consulted on our intelligence briefings and our daily operations updates.  Our foreign partners sought my advice and suggestions concerning scouting missions and decontamination sites.  People began putting faith in me.

Reflecting on that time I realize that all I did was successfully do my job and tried to have fun doing it.  Do your work well, efficiently, and expertly.  In a SHTF environment I am willing to bet it’ll look and feel a bit like combat; days of downtime interrupted by minutes of panic.  Complacency creeps in and people get restless.  When they look at you getting firewood every day –cheerful and working hard - those around you become less anxious.  They will look inward after watching your example and realize their own work needs to be done and they will go and do it. 

You have just led them.  From the middle. 

My second piece of advice is to follow well.  Great leaders are great because they possess the capability to follow as good as they lead.  When SHTF dialogue is over, it’s time to do.  Protests must stop and you must act.  As long as you are conscious and morally not violated, follow that order. Others, who have witnessed your worked ethic, will see your enthusiasm.   They won’t be scared because you are not—you are too focused to be worried about other things.  They will ask you questions, for help or for advice.  Your skill set, even-keeled demeanor, and enthusiasm will inspire others.  You will be able to demonstrate all your skills as well as your leadership acumen when others’ speak with you and work by your side.  You, again, will be leading from the middle.

One aspect of following well is to offer solutions, not problems.  Sure, Grey Beard’s idea is not great. You can pick it apart blindfolded.  However, it’s not all that bad.  Don’t play “stump the chump”: offer suggestions that look like you love his plan and are working to make HIS plan even better.  Hide a weakness in his plan with a well worded suggestion.  People will see you are on board and are working toward making it better—not usurping it.  Think about the “sheeple” in your everyday life who say, “Oh, that’ll never work, you can’t do it like that!” and offer nothing but negativity.  Think about how you feel toward that person.  Sheeple bring problems, not solutions—being a good follower means you bring solutions.  Leading from the middle means you are not a sheep, but a clear thinking, highly skilled, insightful level-headed leader.

Some may argue against the necessity of being able to follow well.  They may say that the one with the best skill set and best leadership ability should lead and, in the case of survival, should fight to do so.  Let me offer you this—amongst an entire block or community or compound of skilled survivalist/ preppers, do you think any leader would do anything so egregious that you would be required to take over?  If so, you might need to reconsider belonging to that group.

Following well will show others that order is good; that you have courage and are not scared; that your faith in others and your abilities in your job will see whatever situation through. No one will panic because you are calm.   People are watching you—not the leader; they have their orders so there is no need for the leader right now.  Their behavior cues are coming from you because they want to see how you are going to follow the order.  You are the leader at this given moment - leading from the middle.

You have already set the conditions middle leadership.  People around you are recognizing your natural abilities as a spearhead, plus your excellent skill set has started to become apparent—you were able to weld a small motor to your wheelbarrow and you were able to suture a bad cut for your friend. 

In a small group setting like a block or compound, everyone doing their job is critical to survival.  You have to set the example - and the impact is immeasurable.  Being a good follower by being a problem solver makes you a contributor to the plan and also sets the tone for the subsequent behavior of your peers.  People may not move until you move, they won’t decide until you decide, and they won’t feel safe unless you let them know they are safe and have told them what they need to do.

Eventually, you will be the leader without being the appointed leader…because you led well from the middle.

I offer these two lessons learned because they have helped me throughout my life, not just during my time in the Middle East.  It was exceptionally hard for me to deal with being a junior officer and having no one to lead.  Imagine saving money for the entire year for prom and the woman (or man) of your dreams agreed and has said yes. You have the limo, the tux (or gown), flowers, and reservations at the best restaurant in town.  This will be the most magical night ever!

Yet you never get to go…

I was not prepared for being underutilized.  I had no idea, with the stress, fatigue, and hunger that I would feel so desperate to use my skills.  I was paralyzed by how frustrating it would be to watch a sea of senior officers completely disregard anything I had to say while refusing to acknowledge my contributions. It was one of the toughest emotional tests I had faced as a young man.

Leading from the middle and being a good follower saved my sanity, quite possibly my life, and the sanity of others.  I learned that a leader has many definitions and that being in charge of everyone is just one small definition of a leader.  Perhaps the greatest lesson was that no one cared about my idea of leadership - they cared how I demonstrated it.  So, I did my job well and followed even better.

After a few years as a defense contractor and now as a science teacher I’ve used these two lessons continuously with great success.   

I learned the value of humility by doing my tasks and following; I learned how to be a selfless team player and that alone is at the core of any great leader.

I hope this article at least wrinkled your eyebrow a bit.  God Bless!

Hi James,
I was very concerned about some of the things C.C. recommended in her letter to you for a woman giving birth, post-collapse.  I am a strong believer in natural childbirth.  After my first birth at a hospital with a doctor I swore never again!  I had my next three babies with midwives, two of the births being at home.  I read every book out there over the years on natural childbirth, including several of the ones the above writer listed.  I even trained to be a doula (woman who aids a labouring and post birth woman).  Two things the writer advised are not just foolish but down right dangerous in a home-birth and post collapse situation.  

First is her suggestion that a woman should "catch"  her own baby. Anyone who has attended a number of natural births will tell you that many women who are in the last stages of birth and actually pushing go into an almost trance like state, only really noisy!   Often times they are concentrating so hard on just getting that baby out that they cant even really hear what people are saying around them.  To then expect the woman to reach down and help guide the baby out is ridiculous.  I did in fact help to "catch" my third baby, but with the midwife helping guide my hands, and only after she had checked to see that my daughter didn't have a cord wrapped around her neck and that her mouth and nose were already clear.  Also a birthing woman cannot ascertain if the baby has a cord wrapped around its neck or is in distress.  That is what a midwife, or birth attendant would do.  Not only is the labouring woman a little busy at the moment, she also is in a very bad position to see the baby clearly.  And last but not least if a woman does have the wherewithal to grab the slippery baby and pull it up to her chest she could accidentally tear the umbilical cord if it is short or wrapped around the baby causing blood loss to both mother and child.

Also most babies need to have their mouth and nose cleared and checked before the mother immediately starts nursing as the writer suggested.  There is obviously lots of fluids happening during birth and if a mother were to try nursing before the babies nose and mouth were cleared really bad things can happen.

The second suggestions of allowing the placenta to stay attached to the baby via the umbilical cord is downright dangerous to a newborn and totally unnecessary.  Those who practice it probably feel that they are being more back to nature or something.  Where they ever got that idea is beyond me.  I have had goats, rabbits, and dairy cows and watched births more times than I can count.   Every mother animal who gives birth rapidly severs the umbilical cord from the birth leftovers by urgent licking and gentle biting until it is detached.  If the mother animal doesn't eat the placenta herself then she will move her newborn(s) as far from it as possible for two reasons.  One is that the smell of the placenta draws predators, but second and most important in our case is that the placenta is the perfect place for breeding bacteria.  To keep such a thing close to a newborn with a weak or non-existent immune system is begging for infection.  And considering that post collapse we will not have access to neo-natal units, antibiotics, or doctors the risk is too great to chance.  The first and foremost goal of anyone helping a woman to give birth is to reduce the chance of infection to mother and child.  People need to remember that childbirth was the number one killer of women due to post birth infections!   The cord should be cut and clamped as soon as it stops pulsating and then when the placenta is delivered it should be checked over carefully by the birth attendant to make sure some is still not in the womb.  Then is should be disposed of as hygienically as possible. Preferably by burying it by a tree or some other large plant that could use it for good. - C.W.

JWR Replies: Thanks for those comments. I should add that one of the books that C.C. recommended, Spiritual Midwifery, while entertaining to read, has some dated information. It was written by a hippie from The Farm in the 1970s. In this book contractions are euphemistically called "rushes."

If the US markets are considered the "safe haven" amidst all the recent EU turmoil, then why isn't the US Dollar Index skyrocketing? (Mr. Market has some foresight.)

And if the global economy is in "recovery", then why is the Baltic Dry Index for shipping rates back in the dumpster? (JWR's Comment: Sounds like more like a "Lohan" recovery to me, to wit: she's checked into rehab, but there is no willingness to actually change.)

US Begins Regulating BitCoin, Will Apply "Money Laundering" Rules To Virtual Transactions

I found this linked over at Gold-Eagle: The Dark Truth About The Safety Of Your 'Savings'

Reuters reports: Euro zone call notes reveal extent of alarm over Cyprus

Items from The Economatrix:

A 900 Million Euro Trade Rocked The London Options Market This Morning
[Cheryl's Comment: Hmm... Sounds like someone is betting against the Euro?]

ADP:  Private Sector Job Growth Remains "Sturdy"

Ick!  America's Economic Signals Are Wildly Mixed

Interesting Interview With Duane Liptak of Magpul

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G.G. sent: Sun Storm Forecast: Tiny Chance of Havoc

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R&N wrote to mention that the reloading primers shortage is getting worse. Both Bass Pro Shops and Cabela's are sold out of most types of rifle primers.

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James C. sent: 36 Sneaky Hidden Compartments

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DHS questioned over decision to let Saudi passengers skip normal passport controls. (Thanks to Peter S. for the link.)

"This is no time for ceremony. The question before the House is one of awful moment to this country. For my own part, I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfil the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offence, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the majesty of heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.

Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.

I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided; and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past.

They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance, by lying supinely on our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations; and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come.

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!" - Patrick Henry in an address at St. John’s Church, Richmond, Virginia, on March 23, 1775.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Today we present another entry for Round 45 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course. (A $1,195 value.) 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 gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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. C.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of D.) 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, E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 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. E.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value), and F.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 45 ends on March 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.

There is a crisis of manhood in America today.  The numbers are astounding:  One in three children live in fatherless homes.  Since 2011, women receive more college degrees than men.  And recent decrees by the Obama administration will now see our wars being fought by women and homosexuals - it’s enough to make a guy like me be glad I won’t be around to see what this country looks like fifty years from now, and get a knot in my gut knowing that my children most likely will.  It makes me realize that my sons will need the skills to survive even more than I.

If you think like I do - that wisdom is more important than knowledge, and see very little of either coming out of America’s universities;

If you shake your head at today’s youth shuffling around the mall, looking like tattooed and pierced zombies-in-training; 

If it disgusts you that the average 34-year-old American male spends more time playing video games than the average 12-year-old boy;

and If you remember a time when a male of eighteen was considered a man, and expected to work like one, and you lament that so many of today’s high-school grads...aren’t and don’t;

This article is meant to bring you hope.

With three sons of my own, I take the issue of raising Godly sons as seriously as my spiritual walk, my marriage or my business.  If you have sons, you probably feel the same way.  If you are blessed with daughters, I hope you are fervently praying for them to find true men who will be able to give them what they truly need - provision, protection, affection and direction.  

We do everything we can as a family to be prepared for an uncertain future, from stocking the larder to making firearms training a regular family event.  To that end, we homeschool our children, because as Ayn Rand wrote in Atlas Shrugged, 

“I would not surrender them to the educational systems devised to stunt a child’s brain, to chaos with which he’s unable to deal, and thus reduce him to a state of chronic terror.”

If you aren’t sure what I mean, just google “pop tart pistol.”  

Sometimes I feel like the world’s worst prepper.  I am a videographer by profession, something that will be as useless as paper money in a post-collapse world.  I never hunted as a kid, and can only wish someone would have made me join the Boy Scouts.  But we all have to start where we are and work with what we’ve got.   

I had no say in my upbringing, but I can control that of my children.  And with a farm to manage and perhaps protect someday, I’ve decided to invest my time and energy into ensuring my children have what they need in terms of survival knowhow, even if that means they have skills that I don’t. 

As our kids get closer to completing their high school curriculum, we’ve had many family discussions about their best options for continuing their training and education.  My boys, especially, are looking for more “real world” skills.  For my part, I’m more convinced every time I turn on the news that emergency skills training will incredibly valuable in the years ahead.   

Most of all, I hope my kids’ll find a way to continue their spiritual growth long after they’ve left home to take on the world.

Several years ago we found an amazing course of instruction tailored to making young men into well-trained first responders capable of handling almost any emergency.  It’s called the Air Land Emergency Resource Team, or ALERT for short.  In the interest of full disclosure - I receive nothing for recommending them to you, except the hope the ALERT program will still be around by the time my youngest is graduating.

It’s a one-year program that takes young men just out of high school and gets them trained up on a whole host of skills.  For example:

Emergency Medicine - Paramedic
Aviation - Flight Training
Auto Mechanics
Rescue SCUBA and Aquatics
Technical and High-Angle Rescue
Building Trades - construction, electrical, HVAC, plumbing
Sawyer and landscaping
Wilderness Survival
Land Navigation
Law Enforcement

The International ALERT Academy is headquartered in Big Sandy, Texas, where they have turned a defunct 2,600-acre college campus into something like a combination between a Boy Scout camp, a Monastic order and the United States Marines.  The entire one-year course takes place here, with the exception of various “deployments” undertaken as they travel around the world on missions that include disaster response, humanitarian aid, search and rescue and missionary security.

These seventeen to twenty-five year olds are treated like men, and not surprisingly they act like it.  They are given man-sized responsibility from day one, and are expected to embrace their calling to take dominion over themselves - and then the world.  

It isn’t a course for adjudicated youth or problem children; but rather appeals to an, ambitious “cream of the crop” of high-school grads who is serious about squeezing every morsel of training out of a fast-paced year.  One example: each class or “unit” since 1994 has made a commitment to forego the distractions of music, movies and entanglements with females altogether for the duration of their time at ALERT.  

Awhile back I was asked to be a guest speaker at a local public high school.  If it’s been several years since you’ve walked the halls of one of those, you might be surprised, as I was, to see how much it has changed since I graduated in nineteen *mumble mumble*.  I won’t bother with a litany of shocking things I saw that I’d file under “advertisements for home schooling,” but suffice it to say I was appalled.  So few of the seniors I spoke to were capable of expressing themselves in complete sentences, looking me in the eye, or shaking my hand rather than grabbing their own crotch and grunting, “Sup.”

My first visit to the ALERT training center couldn’t have been more different.  Every one of the square-jawed, uniformed young men I spoke with shook my hand with confidence, looked me in the eye and spoke with conviction about the things they were learning in the program.  I was especially impressed at the level of spiritual maturity on display, as the men articulated their daily “wisdom searches” and other devotionals.  Questions like “What makes you passionate about the future” produced instant, well-considered answers that left me tempted to send my daughters to hang around here once they are ready to find a mate. 

I’m not normally the kind of dad who has designs on my children’s career or life choices once they get out on their own.  I simply hope to make men out of them and then let God call them into service to the Kingdom.  To that end, I am doing whatever I can to raise Godly men(a term I consider to be redundant), and will encourage all of my sons (and both of my daughters) to spend some time at the academy.

The ALERT academy was founded upon the realization that 100 years ago, boys aspired to manhood, not extended adolescence.  Our grandfathers, at age 18, could build things, fix things, hunt, fish, skin, trap, and take care of themselves like men.  By contrast, it seems today’s high school grads are more likely to be experts at playing HALO or Minecraft, but little else.  Americans today spend 25 billion dollars per year on video games - coincidentally the same number of hours spent on facebook annually.   ALERT set out to change that by giving men the skills to make them confident, competent and spiritually mature leaders in the real world.  Their first responder training makes them especially helpful in any kind of crisis, and well inured to challenging circumstances.  

In addition to the one-year course for men, ALERT hosts an annual one-month summer course called “Quest” for boys aged 14-16 who want a taste of what the full ALERT responder course has to offer.  Last year my oldest son attended this course, and even in one month’s time, I was impressed at the air of quiet competence he developed while there.  

For girls, there is a one-month summer course called STEP, which stands for “Skills Training for Emergency Preparedness.” It teaches a range of similar subjects in a female-only environment.  Our sixteen-year-old daughter attended somewhat reluctantly, but afterwards had this to say about the experience:

“At STEP I got more than just survival training and life skills, I learned the importance of teamwork and getting along with a big group of people. Through daily devotionals and sessions, I learned so much about God and how big He really is. I made great friends at STEP and I’m excited to go back for STEP Advanced.”

The cost of the full year course ranges between seven and seventeen thousand dollars for the year, including tuition, room and board.  The price depends on the advanced skills the responder chooses to pursue.  The course is broken up into three phases, and some attend just for the initial “basic” portion of the year.  The men wear uniforms, carry rank, live in barracks and do PT daily while at the training academy, but with the exception of the Law Enforcement track do no training with weapons or hand-to-hand combat.  That’s something I’d like to see added if they could find a good instructor.  Every stage of the training is based around a solid Biblical curriculum that, by the end of the course, gives each man a grounding in the principles of Godly manhood.

I’ve now visited the ALERT campus several times, and always come away astounded by  the men and the program.  We have decided as a family to support ALERT with our donations as well as by sending our children there, because we want to see this program succeed, and believe it is worth every penny, and then some.  

About a third of those who graduate from ALERT go on to join the military.  Another third enter the mission field, and the rest move on to other endeavors.  No matter what they choose, however, they will have garnered a tremendous skill set in a positive-pressure environment, and will be ready to face whatever the future holds.

In the Army I learned the maxim, “The more you carry in your head, the less you must carry on your back.”  Training my sons in emergency preparedness gives them a great head start on developing a full set of survival skills.  And unfortunately, I fear they’ll need it sooner rather than later.

About the Author: Chuck Holton is a former U.S. Army Ranger and now works as a freelance war correspondent. He is the author of several books, including Making Men: Five Steps to Growing Up.

I saw J.A.N.'s letter about MSDS information for chemicals.  A comment J.A.N. made indicated the lengthiness of some MSDSs – very true with amazingly confusing info.  Another source is the international chemical safety card (ICSC) and can be located here.
These are typically only two pages in length, have standardized format, and are available in numerous other languages.  As an FYI – the “MSDS” is quickly becoming archaic as the U.S. is finally catching up with the international concept of SDSs  (no “M”)– with mandated format, international symbology, and definitive info for personal protective clothing/equipment (PPE).  Too many MSDS indicate simply to wear “gloves” as PPE – well, is that nitrile, or latex, or neoprene, or what? - Bill C.

Reader H.L. mentioned: Federal Firearms License Granted for 3D Printed Guns

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Reader Ryan B. found this great online resource: Academic Life in Emergency Medicine

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VOA is still experimenting with digital modes. (Thanks to PNG for the link.)

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The folks at Ready Made Resources mentioned that they now have just four DPMS TAC-2 AR-15 carbines in stock at $1,399 with free shipping. (Must be shipped to an FFL holder.)

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New Jersey tries to intimidate NRA instructor and steal his guns. JWR's Comment: As previously mentioned, Facebook is a bad idea, in general. But to see it be used as a Pre-Crime enforcement tool (like something out of Minority Report) is sickening.

"Private rights once surrendered are unlikely ever to be recovered fully." - Robert Higgs, Economic Historian and Author of Crisis and Leviathan: 
Critical Episodes in the Growth of American Government

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Some disappointing news: Colorado's Democrat Governor Hickenlooper just signed two new laws: a law that will ban any magazine over 15 round capacity, a ban on shotguns that can hold (or that can be converted to hold) more than 8 shells, and a ban on private party sales of guns. It seems that he has a reading disability. (See Colorado Constitution's Article II, Section 13.) The only glimmer of hope is that the magazine ban won't take effect until July 1, 2013. So Coloradans have until then to stock up their lifetime supply. Since the law's grandfather clause will be limited to only then-current owners, Coloradans should be sure to properly document the gift of your magazines to your children and grandchildren, and have those records notarized. And if any of you wisely vote with your feet and move to a Free State before July, then be sure to sell all of your 16+ round magazines to local friends before you go, and then immediately buy replacements once you've moved.


The Emergency Essentials semi-annual Mountain House Sale ends tonight. All Mountain House cans are priced 20-25% off. The sale ends at midnight on Thursday, March 21, 2013, so get your order in, right away! 


Today we present another entry for Round 45 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course. (A $1,195 value.) 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 gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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. C.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of D.) 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, E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 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. E.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value), and F.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 45 ends on March 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.

Common ailments can really keep you down in the best of times, but when the SHTF you won’t have the luxury of staying in bed and taking a sick day when a bad cold or diarrhea strikes.  In a TEOTWAWKI scenario, there will be no doctor to call and no over-the-counter medicines to treat your symptoms.  If that sounds at all scary to should. But fear not!

Luckily, we all have the ability to become our own doctor, as plant medicine is all around us.  But it takes more than a reference book or cursory knowledge of herbal medicine to be prepared to use it.  To be really prepared to cure yourself when TEOTWAWKI strikes, you must start now, just as you have with your other preps. 

Before we embark on the path to natural healing, let me offer this disclaimer. I am not a least, not in the sense that most people use the word. Rather, I am a self-reliant homesteader. I grow my own meat, vegetables fruits and medicinal herbs. Like many of you (hopefully), I make my own soaps/lotions/shampoos and have long sworn off chemicals and fancy pharmaceutical products. From my gardens and land, I make specialized medicines and use them to prevent or cure many family ailments, from arthritis relief to the common cold. But all of the information presented here is from my own experience and intended for informational purposes only.

With that disclaimer out of the way, let's begin our journey to self-reliant health.

The first hurdle to over come may be the toughest – to realize that you can be your own doctor.  In a way, we've all been on life support our whole lives, having been trained that the doctors are experts and that they have the magic answer to whatever problem we present.  As a result, we have lost our own intuition and confidence in our ability to heal ourselves.  While a trained doctor may be what you need for surgery or severe medical trauma, there is no reason why you can’t heal (and even prevent) your own common ailments. 

Thanks to relentless advertisements and lobbying of doctors by the pharmaceutical industry, we have also been brainwashed into believing that a little pill made in a lab is safer to take than a naturally grown herbal tea of weeds we can find in our own backyard.  Medicine from nature has become a foreign concept, one we now look at as unsanitary or potentially toxic.  In retrospect, it’s amazing to consider how quickly we allowed this to happen.  Just a few generations ago our ancestors had knowledge of basic home remedies that included things like horehound cough drops and chamomile tea.  When the doctor wasn’t so easy to get to, families took care of their own during times of fever and flu.  So the first thing you have to realize is that people have used plants for medicine far longer than they have used pharmaceuticals, and without all the side effects. The knowledge is in our history and our confidence must come from our experience.  You can start preparing now by resisting the urge to call to a doctor when you feel a twinge of illness coming on, if at all possible.  Instead, begin experimenting with being your own healer and making your own medicine. This will prepare you for a time when it may be your only option. 

The second thing to do is to change your mindset of illness and medicine.  Start by knowing that being a little bit sick is actually a good thing.  When your body encounters invading bacteria it has natural defenses to combat them.  For example, one purpose of a fever is to raise the body temperature to a point in which it is inhospitable for the bacteria to live.  A bit of a fever can be a good thing!  Our reaction however is to quickly take a fever reducer at the first sign thereby limiting our body from doing its job.  Those fast acting chemical medicines have also trained us into thinking that medicine must work quickly in order to be effective. The medicine is also so concentrated and potent that it can alleviate symptoms often with just one dose.  In addition to introducing chemicals with potentially harmful side effects to your body, you are also treating your illness with a crutch rather than allowing your immune system to strengthen and do its job.  This means that the next time you encounter the bacteria, you will need more medicine rather than relying on your immune system’s memory, which could have built up a natural resistance, had you not taken the medicine.  The only one who benefits from this approach is the shareholders of the pharma giant that hooked you on the medicine!

Using plant-based medicine helps you to realize that tolerating a little bit of sickness will just make you stronger in the long run.  It also teaches you to listen to your body and feel the instant that something is out of balance. Plant-based medicine is also far gentler. This is good on your bodily systems, but also means you often have to take it at the first signs and in low doses over the course of a few days in order to keep symptoms at bay.  Much of what herbal medicine does is to boost your immune system so that your body can defend itself.  This, paired with the natural properties of the plant, can alleviate pain, reduce swelling, or increase circulation in order to help your body function at it’s most effective level.  Changing the way you think about being sick NOW will make an easier adjustment to herbal medicine.  Also, not reaching for an over-the-counter aid at the first cough or sneeze will help you to become more in tune with your body and allow you to focus on what it’s natural reaction is.  Practice listening to and trusting what your body is telling you and find natural remedies that will complement your own defenses rather than taking over the fight.  Most of all, don’t be skeptical when one dose doesn’t bring you back to 100%. Instead, realize that fully experiencing the illness is much like exercising your muscles.  Giving your body and your immune system this workout will make you that much stronger over time. 

One of the best things that experience will teach you is what you can treat on your own and what you need expert help with.  We will most likely each draw the line at a different point, but as your confidence grows you will feel able to treat more serious conditions.  This is why starting now is so important.  You do not want to wait until the doctors and medicine are unavailable before you turn to herbal medicine.  The best way to truly be prepared for TEOTWAWKI is to make it a commonplace every day thing that you are already accustomed to. 

To ease into it and start off simply, begin with herbs and plants that you are already used to consuming.  Culinary herbs and spices are easily identified and considered safe to everyone as we use them in cooking almost every day.  What we have overlooked is that they are also medicinal.  Learning to make basic medicines from kitchen herbs is a great way to feel comfortable and build your confidence. 

Now, let’s explore some basic medicine making techniques and apply them to some common every day herbs. 

Infusions and Decoctions
Simply put, this is making tea.  Tea used for medicine is much like regular tea that you drink, but it is just a bit stronger.  Having a mesh tea ball that can hold lose herbs is handy, but you can always just strain the herbs out through a clean piece of cloth, such as a bandana or T-shirt, if necessary.  Teas can be made from either fresh or dried herbs. 

Infusions are made from softer plant material such as leaves and flowers and decoctions are made from harder plant parts like bark and roots.  For either process, begin by boiling water and gathering clean, washed herbs.  To make an infusion, simply pour boiling water over the herb and then leave it to steep for 15-20 minutes.  You will want to cover it loosely so as to not let steam escape. Rather, the aim is to direct the essential oils of the plant back into the cup for consuming.  After steeping, strain out the herbs and press them to get the last bits of medicine out, and then drink the tea.  If the herb you are using holds it’s medicinal properties in the roots or bark (or something harder), then you will make a decoction.  Just add the herb to the boiling water, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes.  The continued heat will help to draw the medicine out of the tougher material.  After steeping, just strain, press, and drink the tea. 

Infusions and decoctions are great ways to take medicine if you have fresh or recently dried plant material and access to boiling water.  Once you harvest a plant, the medicinal value begins to deteriorate.  Fresh plant material is the most potent.  You can dry the material and preserve much of its power, but the longer it sits the less potent it will be. Therefore, if you require a certain plant that is only available for a short time, relying on tea to consume it may not be the most effective option and you should look to other ways of preserving it. However, teas are sometimes the best ways to take medicine due to the other properties that hot tea can provide.  A cup of hot tea can warm the body, soothe a harsh throat, and the steam can loosen congestion. Children easily consume teas and teas do not require previous preparation. Rather, they can be made in just a few minutes when symptoms first appear.  They are highly perishable, though, and will not last longer than a day or two before growing mold and bacteria.  

Try a simple infusion:
Mint is an herb that is easily grown.  It tolerates neglect and will spread like crazy in just about any environment.  Although starting from seed is more difficult, buying a transplant or taking a division of a plant from a friend is an easy way to start growing your own mint.  Try peppermint to help with stomach and intestinal complaints.  In many climates, mint is available year round, but in colder areas it may die back in the winter and then re-grow when the temperatures warm up.  The leaves hold the medicine and can be harvested whenever the plant is growing and dried for later use.  When a stomachache comes with gas and bloating, make a cup of mint tea following the infusion directions above.  Drink a cup every few hours until relief is felt. 

Try a simple decoction:
Ginger is an plant that everyone is familiar with.  The root is the part that holds the most medicinal value.  You can buy ginger root from the store and then sprout it yourself by submerging half of it in a cup of water.  It will take a few weeks, but will eventually grow roots and green shoots.  Then you can plant your sprouted ginger in a pot and it will grow into a beautiful plant.  Each year it will grow offspring roots that can be harvested.  Ginger plants like warm weather and will need to be brought indoors for protection during cold periods.  Chop or grate your cleaned ginger root and dry it for future use.  Make a decoction using the directions above with a piece of ginger root to ease a nauseous stomach.  Whether it is due to motion sickness or illness, a cup of hot ginger tea will soothe and relax the stomach muscles taking away the nausea.  Try a cup every few hours until relief is felt. 

A tincture is made by soaking the plant material in a strong substance such as alcohol or vinegar over a period of time, with the aim being to draw out the medicinal qualities.  The substance you choose to use serves two purposes.  First, it will attack the plant’s cell walls and release the medicine. Second, it will preserve the extracted liquid by creating an environment that is inhospitable for bacteria and mold growth. The stronger the alcohol or acidity content of your substance, the longer the medicine will last. This means that grain alcohol will preserve your medicine the best and substances with less alcohol content such as wine or brandy will not last as long. However, some may find them more enjoyable to consume. 

When stocking your pantry with food storage, be sure to include grain alcohol in abundance not only for bartering, but also for medicine making.  Otherwise, learning to make your own alcohol and vinegar will provide you with an endless supply of ingredients with which you can preserve your herbal medicine.  Once you have your extracting substance, then you must gather clean, washed fresh or dried herbs. 

Place the plant material in a sealable container, then pour the extracting liquid over it until all material is completely submerged.  If you are using dried plant material, then you may need to top it off in a day or two as the plant matter rehydrates and absorbs some of the liquid.  As long as all material is covered, it will not mold.  Put the lid on the container and leave it in a protected area that you can easily get to, as it will need daily maintenance.  Each day you will shake the container at least once, but more often will only help and not hinder the process.  By shaking the container you are helping to break apart the plant cells and forcing the extracting liquid deeper into the plant matter to extract more medicine.  You are also making sure that all parts of the plant matter are coated with the liquid that will preserve it.  In 14 days your tincture will be finished.  Strain out the plant material and press it to push out all of the last bits of medicine.  The liquid that remains is a concentrated form of the herb’s medicine.  Storing it in an opaque glass bottle out of direct light and protecting it from temperature changes will help it to last the longest.   

Tinctures are a great way to take medicine because they are preserved so well that they can last months to years depending on the extracting liquid used and how they are stored.  They are also easy to store and transport because they are concentrated, so only a little bit is needed.  Tinctures are usually taken by dropperfuls or teaspoon sized doses.  The drawbacks of tinctures are that they usually contain alcohol and might not be the best way for some people, especially children, to take medicine.  They also do not offer any other medicinal properties the way hot tea does.

Try a simple tincture:
Garlic is well known for its antibacterial and immune boosting properties.  It is also easy to grow.  You can buy a head of garlic from the store, pull off the individual cloves without peeling them and plant them in your garden.  Garlic is planted at different times of the year depending on your zone so refer to a planting guide for your area.  Each clove that is planted will grow into a new head of garlic.  Be sure to save some cloves from your year’s harvest to plant for your next year’s garlic crop.  Make a tincture by chopping a few cloves of garlic into very small pieces and then follow the directions above.  Your garlic tincture can be used for many purposes including lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, speeding the healing process of an infection, and serving as an antiseptic.  The next time you feel a common cold coming on, reach for your garlic tincture and take 20 drops three times a day to boost your immune system and help fight off invading bacteria.  To make the medicine more palatable, mix the dosage in a cup of water to dilute the taste. 

Medicinal Oils and Salves
Medicinal oils are made in a similar way as a tincture, but in this case it is the oil that extracts the medicinal qualities of the herb. The first rule to remember is that oil and water don’t mix and if you have water in your medicinal oil, you will get mildew and mold.  Fresh plant material contains water and therefore is unsuitable for making medicinal oils. 

In order to make medicinal oil, harvest and clean your plant material and then dry it until all of the water has evaporated.  A dehydrator works fine if you have electricity or a solar one, but you can just as easily dry leafy plant material by hanging it up in your house or laying a single layer of plant material in a dry spot outside.  If drying outside, cover the plant material with a screen or cheesecloth to keep bugs and birds off of it, and do not dry it in direct sunlight.  Also, be sure to take it inside if morning dew is expected.  Leaves, stems, and flowers can be dried whole and will crumble easily once brittle, but roots and bark should be chopped before drying to speed the drying process and also because they may become too hard to break up once dried.  You will also need oil and this is a good item to stock up on in your food storage. If you do not have oil, medicinal oil can also be made from animal fat or pressed from seeds if necessary.  Learning how to harvest animal fat and render it into lard and tallow is as valuable skill as is learning to grow things like sunflowers for seed. If you do grow your own seed for oil, having a simple hand cranked oil press will be a very valuable addition to your preps.   

Once your material is dried, put it in a sealable container and cover with oil.  You may need to top it off after the plant material rehydrates and absorbs some of the oil.  Make sure that all material stays covered with oil in order to keep it preserved. Seal the container and put it in a warm location, such as a sunny window.  The heat will help the oil to penetrate the plant material.  You will also need to shake it at least once a day to force the oil deeper into the plant material and to ensure that all parts are covered.  The ideal temperature for extracting the medicinal qualities of the herb is around 100 degrees.  Too cool and it will either take a much longer time to extract the medicinal values, or else will be unable to extract the plant’s properties.  Too hot and the heat could kill some of the valuable properties of the plant’s medicine.  In a TEOTWAWKI situation where mechanically creating a constant temperature via appliances such as a crock-pot or stovetop is more difficult, the sunny window is a perfect solution.  While constant temps at exactly 100 degrees would be sufficient to extract medicine in as little as 24 hours, a sunny window is less precise and therefore leaving your jar there for around 14 days is a better idea.  After this time, strain out the plant material and press it to extract the last bit of medicine.  Your medicinal oil should be stored in an opaque airtight container out of direct sunlight and protected from extreme temperature changes. 

Medicinal oils are best used for topical applications.  While you could soak a cloth in some freshly brewed tea and apply it to the skin, this would require fresh or recently dried plant material and is highly perishable.  Also, you could apply a few drops of tincture to the skin, but this could sting if it was an open wound.  Medicinal oils work great because they are preserved for a long time and can be applied in any circumstance.  Rub them into muscles, cover wounds and bruises with them, or even apply to a cotton ball and place in the ear for ear infections. 

Medicinal oils can be messy to transport and use though.  Turning your oil into a salve is easy with just one additional ingredient.  If you have access to wax, possibly by keeping your own beehives, all you have to do is to put the oil in a pot over a heat source or water bath and grate some wax into it.  The wax will melt into the oil and, once cooled, will harden in to a solid and more easily transportable salve.  The amount of wax you add depends on how hard you want the salve to be and will take some experimentation.  For a muscle rub you may want a looser salve that easily melts into the skin.  For soothing chapped lips you may want a stiffer salve that will sit on top of the skin without being rubbed away as quickly.  Try making your salve with only a portion of your medicinal oil. That way, if the texture is not what you want initially, you can re-melt your salve and add more wax to harden it or more oil to soften it as needed.   

Try a simple medicinal oil or salve:
Thyme is a very common culinary herb used to flavor meats and salad dressings.  It is also one of the most useful and powerful medicinal herbs.  Among its many properties, thyme is highly antiseptic and can be use to disinfect anything from kitchen counters to bed linens to infected wounds.  There are many varieties of thyme so you can choose the one that is best suited to your gardening needs.  Thyme is a perennial that can withstand cold temperatures, so in most climates you can have access to thyme year round.  During an extremely harsh cold spell the most care it may need is a blanket to give some protection from a freeze. Thyme can be started from seed or you can buy a transplant or get a division from a friend.  To make oil infused with thyme simply cut a few of the small branches and lay them out to dry.  Once dried you can follow the directions above to make an oil or salve.  Immediately rub the oil or salve onto any cuts or scrapes to kill bacteria and avoid infection.  If you already have an infected cut, blister, or incision, apply the oil or salve 3-4 times a day directly to the wound.  The thyme oil will draw out the infection and kill the bacteria promoting healing. 

A poultice can be thought of as an herbal bandage.  To make a poultice, you can use either fresh or dried plant material.  Gather and wash your plant material and then use a mortar and pestle to break up the plant pieces.  If you do not have a mortar and pestle, just smash the material between two clean rocks. Even chewing it will accomplish the same goal.  Fresh material may release enough water to make a paste, but dried material will need a few drops of water or saliva to rehydrate it enough to make a paste.  By smashing the material you release the medicine, and by adding just a bit of liquid you are able to create a substance that binds together. Shape a piece of thin cloth into a pouch and wrap the mass of plant material in it.  Cheesecloth or gauze work great, but you could also use a bandana or piece of T-shirt.  You want the material thin enough that the plant juices can seep through to the skin.  To use the poultice, hold it over the affected area or tie it on in place and leave it to do its work.

Poultices are great ways to apply medicine to the skin and will be most potent if you use fresh plant material.  They are very perishable, however. Therefore, they are only useful if you have fresh or recently dried material.  They are best to use if you have an ailment that will benefit from constant medicine.  For example, if you have an infected wound, then a tincture will sting and medicinal oil may wear off, but a poultice tied on the area will apply medicine all day long.  They are also very effective if you require something to be drawn out of the skin, such as venom or splinters.  One of the best things about poultices is that they can be easily made and used on the go.  For example, if you get a bee sting while out in the woods, you can quickly grab a leaf, chew it up, and hold it on the skin to draw out the venom. 

Try a simple poultice:
Oregano is a popular herb used in many Italian style dishes.  It’s also very easy to grow either from seed, transplant, or a division of a friend’s plant.  It is a perennial in most climates, but may need cover in extremely cold areas.  Oregano also grows very well indoors in containers if you live in an area where it is too cold to survive the winter.  The medicine is held in the leaves of the oregano plant.  To make a poultice, strip the leaves off of a few stems then follow the directions above.  Oregano has strong anti-inflammatory properties.  The next time you have a bruise or swelling, try adding an oregano poultice to the area.  Leave the poultice on all day or change the poultice a couple of times a day to a fresh one if the material becomes dry. 

By starting with some common herbs and spices that you already know and probably have on hand to treat minor conditions, you can familiarize yourself with medicine making and build your confidence.  Soon you will be researching the medicinal properties of other herbs and learning to identify native plants in your area that can serve as medicine.  Also, by starting now, you will begin to build up a natural medicine cabinet of medicinal oils and tinctures that will supplement your preps of stored bandages and gauze. 

The most important benefit of becoming an herbal medicine maker before you really need it is that you can develop a garden of plants from which you can always rely.  Once you have perennial herbs all around your home or bug-out location, you will learn to save seeds and cuttings from annual herbs that will provide you with medicine from year to year, no matter what happens in the world around you. Indeed, you may become one of the most valuable members of your community, a new-age doctor with skills so valuable that others will help trade their resources/skills to ensure your survival and allow you to prosper.

Mr. Rawles;
Yesterday I was in my local Costco store doing some shopping for my prepper pantry, and I noticed something new that Costco is selling, a vegetable oil blend. It's labeled as "Mediterranean Blend" and is a mixture of canola, olive, and grapeseed oil. It may be attractive to value-conscious preppers, because the cost per liter is low; $2.97 a liter vs. Kirkland (Costco's house brand) olive oil for $5.97 a liter. 

Beware of this oil. According to Mary Enig, Ph.D., who is the current world authority on trans–fatty acids, Canola Oil is actually derived from the rapeseed, a member of the mustard family. Rapeseed is generally unfit for human consumption and was once more commonly used as a pesticide and lubricant, among other things. Because of its high sulphur content, Canola Oil goes rancid easily, and baked goods used with the oil will rather quickly develop mold. Gross!

The fact that it does go rancid easily means that Canola Oil is not fit for storage food; it just won't keep. The canola oil in this "blend" make the whole bottle rancid. The low price may be attractive, but what good is that if it all goes bad? - C.H.R.

JWR Replies: In the Rawles Gets You Ready Preparedness Course I mentioned that Olive Oil as the best choice for preppers to store. When purchased in plastic bottles (as sold at COSTCO), it can be stored frozen for at least eight years and still safely used.

Captain Rawles,
People may already know this one, but if not, then here is a trick for anyone with a Mossberg 500/590 shotgun who wants to know how to remove shells from the tube magazine without cycling the action"

Inside the loading port located on the left is a small piece of metal [called a shell stop] which holds the shells in the magazine (it's easy to see with a shell in the magazine).  Pushing this in allows shells to be removed from the magazine one-by-one swiftly and silently.  Push the piece in until a shell pops out of the magazine, release the metal piece, repeat.  I use this trick during hunting season to unload my shotgun for transportation purposes.  It takes some practice, but it works well on low/high brass shells.  It sure beats having to pointlessly manipulate the action and damage the rims of shotshells by doing so. 
Respectfully Yours, - D. from Michigan 

Mr. Rawles: 
First off A Big Thank You for all the information you make available. 
I have been putting together a notebook for my office with Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)  for all the chemicals that we use.  Old timers (like me) called these books HazMat Books/sheets.  This  got me to thinking about the chemicals that I use in my house; and started to put one together when the SHTF.
MSDS sheets will tell you:
1.       The Product and Company identification,
2       Ingredients ,
 3.     Hazards identification,
 4.     First Aid Measures ;  
 5.     Fire Fighting Measures
 6.     Accidental Release Measures,
7.     Handling and storage
 8.     Exposure Controls/Personal Protection
 9.     Physical and Chemical Properties
10.   Stability and Reactivity
11.   Toxicological Information.
12     Ecological Information
13.    Disposal Considerations,
14.   Transport Information]
15.      Regulatory Information.
Some of the "sheets" are many pages long and some are just one page.  But no matter how many pages there are; it is a great help in an emergency situations. 
I was surprised how easy it is to find these sheets.  Just go to your search engine and put the brand name of the product in and then look for the MSDS information (usually at the bottom)  If you cannot find it, just email the brand name/manufacture of the product.  They will be happy to send you the MSDS sheet.
Most families do not realize how many chemicals they have in their houses (usually in under the kitchen/bathroom sink and garage) and how harmful they can be.   Dish Soap really surprised me on how toxic it can be.    
I have tabs in the notebook identifying the group of products – like soap.  All information about any kind of soap is in that section.  I have also written an index at the beginning of the book so I can find the product fast.  I would recommend every household or any  retreat location to put together a notebook of MSDS sheets.  It might safe a life.
Blessing and prayers coming your way. - J.A.N.

A new record: 13 Million Silver American Eagles Sold in First Three Months of 2013. (Thanks to Doug C. for the link.)

Reader Mark in Rochester wrote this reminder to Americans: "With all this talk of Cyprus and the sovereign debt levels in Europe's southern tier, we shouldn't got forget that our debt-versus-GNP rate is higher. (See this article from last November.) And remember that Bernanke is still creating $85,000,000,000 per month ($272 per person, per month) via Quantitative Easing monetization to bail out his buddies in the banking industry."

G.G. flagged this from Bill Freeza in Forbes: How To Protect Your Retirement Assets From The Coming Crash

Items from The Economatrix:

Will Cyprus Turn The Tide For Gold?

Future Of The Housing Market "A Great Unknown"

The Great Cyprus Bank Robbery Shows That No Bank Account, No Retirement Fund And No Stock Portfolio Is Safe

Ex-Chancellor Warns Of Bank Runs Across Europe

California Businesses Fuming Over Retroactive $120M Tax Grab

Why Housing Will Limp Along At Best

Reader Tom R. mentioned that Armageddon Online is offering 297 free online reference books.

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Growing Number Of States Eye Bills To Defy Federal Gun Laws

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Another couple of signs of the times: 1.) Here at the Rawles Ranch, we just received the latest Cabela's mini catalog. This one is for "Self Defense & Tactical." It included NO magazines of any capacity! Apparently their magazine supplies are so thin (or so deeply backordered) that they didn't dare list any. And, 2.) The following was in the latest DoD Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) e-newsletter: "The CMP does not have any caliber .223, .22LR, or .30 carbine ammo for sale at either store. We are sold out and expect to receive shipments of these calibers in 3-6 months. We continue to accept orders for these calibers and will fill those orders when we receive the replenishment shipments from the manufacturers. We do have caliber .30-06 ammo at both stores, but a 10 can purchase limit per year per customer applies. We also still have the Atomic caliber .308, but expect to run out in the next 60 days."

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I noticed that Atlas Shrugged II and Argo were both just released in DVD and Blu-Ray formats.

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25 Things That the SHTF Doesn’t Care About

"Big government likes big providers. That's why ObamaCare is gradually making the local doctor-owned medical practice a relic. In the not too distant future, most physicians will be hourly wage earners, likely employed by a hospital chain. Why? Because when doctors practice in small offices, it is hard for Washington to regulate what they do." - Scott Gottlieb in a Wall Street Journal editorial, March 14, 2013

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

March 20th is the birthday of Mel Tappan. (Born 1933, died 1980.) His perennially popular survivalist books Survival Guns and Tappan on Survival have a well-deserved following.


Today we present another entry for Round 45 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course. (A $1,195 value.) 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 gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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. C.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of D.) 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, E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 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. E.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value), and F.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 45 ends on March 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.

This article isn’t designed to cover all aspects of childbirth, of course, but it is meant to reassure people who are unsure of their abilities to do prenatal care and their own or a neighbor’s birth, if the stuff hits the fan. I am a Certified Professional Midwife, and have assisted people in birth as a childbirth educator, doula, and now midwife since 1984. (My North American Registry of Midwives certification, however, is fairly recent, since I have concurrently raised three children alone, and earned a BS in Computer Information Systems.)

One of the first things to remember when the stuff hits the fan, is that most births, if not tinkered with, are straightforward.  Most women are quite capable of birthing at home just fine. I would recommend having several good books on hand, such as Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin (the only midwife who has had a procedure named after her), Heart and Hands by Elizabeth Davis, and either Varney’s Midwifery, or Myles Midwifery. Varney’s is for the American audience, Myles is British, but easy to read and understand.  Laura Shanley’s Unassisted Childbirth, and Dr. Gregory White’s Emergency Childbirth are two others. There is also the book Where There Is No Doctor; it has a good section on childbirth, but doesn’t go into the details that one might need in a post-collapse situation.

I am not calling this article Emergency Childbirth for a reason, because most home births are not! They are normal physiological functions that only require good nutrition, watchfulness and cleanliness to have a good outcome. One should study, to know what normal is. If you have time before the birth (months, I hope), try to find your nearest CPM. They are trained in out-of-hospital birth, and are trained to know how to help the mom birth twins, breeches (a variation of normal) and Vaginal Birth after Cesarean Section (VBAC).  In a post collapse scenario, there won’t be access to the hospital for pregnant women in labor, as was discovered during Hurricane Katrina. (Laboring women were turned away from the hospitals, and either birthed alone, with family, or with the two CPMs that were available to help until more help arrived).

If there is no one that can assist you, then concentrate on the best nutrition you can do, specifically plenty of protein (50 mg daily, minimum) and green leafy veggies (at least 3 servings daily, but more is better). The protein helps maximize fetal development, and the green leafies provide B Complex, Iron and other necessary nutrients. Nutrition is covered more thoroughly in the books mentioned. Better nutrition means a healthier mom and baby, often an easier labor and breastfeeding and better ability to withstand blood loss. Avoiding caffeine, illegal drugs, pesticides, chemicals, and tobacco goes a long way to a healthy pregnancy.  Some people follow a vegan diet successfully, and as long as you get enough protein, it should be okay. In the first three months, the following herbs should be avoided (see Herbal for the Childbearing Year, by Susun S. Weed); Basil, Caraway Seeds, Celery Seed, Ginger(except in small doses for morning sickness and/or heartburn), fresh horseradish, Savory, Marjoram, Nutmeg, Rosemary, Saffron, Sage, Parsley, Taragon, Thyme, and Watercress, Aloe Vera, Angelica, barberry, Buchu, Buckthorn, Cascara Sagrada, Coffee, Comfrey, Ephedra, Goldenseal, Juniper, Lovage, Male Fern, Mistletoe, Mugwort, Wormwood, Pennyroayal, Rhubarb root, Rue, Shepherds purse, Tansy, Yarrow, Senna, and Mandrake. Seems like a long list, but most people won’t encounter these herbs.

Red Raspberry Leaf tea, however, is a great uterine strengthener and just tastes good! If you have access to prenatal vitamins, those should be taken as well. Folic acid is very important to help prevent neural tube defects and any vitamin regimen should have at least 4 mcg daily.

Exercise is very important, for both physical and mental health. Just getting outside and walking in the yard if weather is inclement is a great stress reducer and helps blood flow to the baby. Yoga, tai chi, and other relaxing stretching types of exercise can help the mom’s body adjust to the changes that are occurring over the course of the pregnancy, and prepare for the birth. Massage is a wonderful relaxing tool and can be used during the birth as well. Learning simple massage, and reflex points can help tremendously during birth. Whatever it takes to get mom loose, can help. Talking to the baby in utero helps the baby learn your voice (Dad’s too!) and helps establish a bond that will make breastfeeding easier. Reading good books, thinking good thoughts (I bet that won’t be easy during post collapse, but it can be done), prayer, meditation, visualizing an easy birth, saying birth affirmations,  and examining your birth beliefs (overcoming negative ones) is calming to the spirit. You have to come to a place within yourself where you recognize that birth is normal, and your body can do this, that it was designed for this. Mind has a lot to do with how easy or difficult a birth may be. Not everything, but negative emotions and unspoken fears can inhibit labor pretty significantly. Mothers who learn to draw on their inner strengths can often know when a situation during labor needs correcting. They learn to get in “touch with the baby”, so to speak.

Rest each day if possible, especially in the last trimester. The baby is getting bigger and it takes more energy just to keep up with daily demands of the family. Napping helps recharge mom’s batteries. If that isn’t possible, getting off your feet for 15 minutes twice a day, can both give some rest, and help avoid varicose veins. Especially with a multiple gestation, getting your feet elevated helps blood circulation to the babies.

You can do your own prenatal care, writing down your blood pressure, taking temperature and pulse, and your weight. You or whoever is helping you might be able to learn to feel baby’s position in the uterus (palpation), to better prepare for labor. A baby that is posterior (his spine is laying near mom’s spine, feet kicking outwards) can often be turned around before labor, avoiding much backache and a long labor. Spending 15 minutes twice a day on hands and knees can frequently turn a baby anterior (spine facing out, away from mom). There are other tricks for turning a posterior baby on  Optimal Fetal Positioning by Jean Sutton  and Pauline Scott is an excellent resource for this. Paying close attention to nutrition in the earlier parts of pregnancy can pay off by helping avoid Metabolic Toxemia of Late Pregnancy, otherwise known as preeclampsia, and noting weight gain in the last trimester, along with any swelling (edema) of the hands, face, or legs (some in the legs/feet is normal especially during the summer months, but should not maintain a depression if pressed with a finger (pitting edema). Facial swelling is not normal, and may indicate a need for medical help.  This is one of the reasons  blood pressure is checked so often. Dr. Tom Brewer developed a nutritional system for nearly eliminating preeclampsia in a low-income population in Denver Colorado. (see

List of items to have on hand for the birth:
Cotton shoe lace (preferably unused, or you could make a “friendship bracelet” out of embroidery floss) (both can be placed in a pan of water during labor, boiled for 20 min, then heat turned off and covered until after the birth)
Bulb syringe,
Chux underpads or black and white newspapers(they can be rolled up to make a bowl of sorts),
4 receiving blankets warmed on a heating pad or near a wood stove (not on it! Or you can heat some water, fill 2 or three mason jars with hot water, put on lids and rings and wrap the blankets around them)
Maxi pads, or cloth menstrual pads
Bath towels, at least 6 if planning a water birth
2 Shower curtains or plastic drop cloths (to protect the mattress and/or floor)
Sheets that are clean, for after the birth, and a set of older sheets for labor/birth that you don’t mind if they get stained.

Herbs: Shepherd’s purse, Ladies Mantle, or Motherwort tinctures or commercial ones like HemHalt or Wombstringe (in case of bleeding),
Superglue (for vaginal tears(small ones, less than an inch long-although those very small ones will heal just fine by themselves as long as the moms stay in bed for the first few days and keep legs together! No tailor sitting or climbing stairs)). For longer tears, you might have to know someone who knows how to suture. Most home births occur without any tears at all, since mom is more relaxed, and water births help too!(we’ve seen 12 lb  babies born with no tear to mom at all) If no suturing available, have mom keep legs together, only moving to get up to potty for the first few days. Nori seaweed is also used as a binding agent on mom’s bottom to help hold a tear together until it heals.
Large bowl or pan (or newspaper bowl) for placenta
Pen and paper to write times or notes on labor/birth
Baby diapers and clothes
Stethoscope, if possible
Tape measure and hanging fish scale(for newborn)
Sling for weighing baby(or you could use a receiving blanket. Just remember to weigh the cloth and subtract that to get the weight of baby.
St. Johnswort tea or capsules (for after pains)

To make the bed for birth, put a plastic shower curtain or drop cloth on mattress, place the clean, “after the birth” sheets on bed, then put plastic drop cloth or shower curtain over them, then the birth sheets. After the mom is cleaned up, all you have to do is take the dirty sheets and first plastic off and voila! Fresh bedding.

For the actual labor and birth, just let mom do what she wants to do. Most women will walk some, rest, dance or sway, eat, sleep, shower, etc, till the contractions become so close together and long (usually 1-2 minutes apart and long) that she cannot move much during them. She will probably vocalize, oohing, singing, or making noise, which is perfectly fine and normal (women are not beached whales, and should not be silenced!) As Ina May says, “an open mouth makes an open bottom”. At some point, the mom will start pushing, and she can reach down and catch her own baby. She can bring the baby to her breast and baby can start nursing right away. Nursing will help the uterus contract, and help the placenta separate more easily. There is no need to cut the cord at this time. One third of the baby’s blood volume is present in the placenta and cord, and it should be allowed to enter the baby (although the term “polycythemia” is used, to my knowledge it hasn’t caused any problems to the baby. He absorbs the extra blood, the unneeded cells break down and they are excreted).

If there is a tight cord around the neck, there is a technique called “somersaulting the baby out”, whereby the attendant holds the baby’s head near mom’s thigh and allows the body to be born over the cord. Unwrap the cord, and baby gets the rest of his blood supply. (I have seen wraps 4 times done this way). Baby should be moving, if not, you can rub baby gently on the back, or flick the bottoms of his feet, and mom can talk to him. He is still getting oxygen from the cord, and it will assist transition to breathing well. If it’s a Water birth, the baby is brought up out of the water right away, and placed on mom’s chest, with a warm towel placed over both mom and baby. The baby usually starts breathing and looking around, connecting faces with the voices he’s heard for the past 9 months. After this point (usually within an hour, but a little longer might still be okay), the placenta separates, there is a small gush of blood from mom’s vagina and she feels a need to push. Once the placenta is birthed, make sure the uterus remains firm(it’s about the size of a grapefruit and easy to feel) and mom breastfeeds baby, if not done earlier. Even if she isn’t planning on nursing baby, (but in a post-collapse, it may be the only source of pure nutrition for baby) breastfeeding helps shrink the uterus to pre-pregnancy levels (over the next few days) helps mom lose any extra weight gained, and minimizes bleeding. The cord can be cut, if desired, when it is limp and white. That shows the baby no longer needs it. Some people don’t cut it, just leave it wrapped in a diaper and carry it around with the baby for a few days until it dries naturally and falls off  (Lotus birth), but unless herbs are used on the placenta, it has a tendency to get a little stinky.

Mom should get up and see if she can urinate (this helps uterus clamp down) and if she wants a shower, someone should be there to help her. In the meantime the bed can be changed of its dirty linen and fresh put down, with plastic underneath. Someone should get mom something to eat and drink, high in protein, and some sugar(mom has done a tremendous amount of work!)  and let her rest and recuperate. Keeping an eye on mom for bleeding (blood pressure checks, color of her face, firmness of uterus) should be ongoing for the next few days.  She and baby should be kept together, to establish bonding and nursing. Wearing the baby in a sling, Mei Tei, or other wrap, helps the baby stay warm, regulate his heartbeat and respirations and establish other rhythms. Within 24 hours, he will probably have his first bowel movement (meconium) and will have peed. Milk will probably come in around the 2nd-to-4th day postpartum. Until then, the breasts produce colostrum, which helps clean out baby’s gut, add good flora to baby, and is anti-bacterial.

I hope this wasn’t too long, but birth is an amazing function, that is awe-inspiring to participate in. It can be a little scary sometimes, too, but the more you know, like any preparedness subject, the better you can be to deal with the unexpected.

In reference to "The Commerce Model of Prepping", that was one of the best written and thought provoking pieces I have read on your web site in quite some time. If one can afford the Rawlesian Approach to having a high quality retreat in a highly rural location I believe that is a great decision, because it will allow that retreat to help kick start the local economy after a SHTF event, while continuing to be a blessing to those around them (acting as Christ to one another).

I thought the authors point, to those who are not in a position to build a Rawlesian Approach rural retreat, was excellent. Depending on the severity of the event that causes the SHTF, his approach might work quite well. I believe the first goal is to join a small community or town (as you have often suggested - Less than 2,000, as I recall) where your mostly of one mind with the community. This will provide both strength in numbers and will allow the community to maintain some level of security and commerce. The key is finding that type of community. This could be very difficult while still maintaining a reasonable distance from major population centers. Being born into that community works best. Being invited to join that community is a close second. As the author also suggests, be sure to store and save something that can act as barter, such as bullets, fuel or food. There is no free lunch.

God bless our nation and your good work, - Suburban Farmer

Dear James:
The Commerce Model of Prepping, by B.H., is an interesting analysis, with equally interesting opinion. What struck me is how closely he has described what I am doing with zero analysis. I've been self employed for 25 years, so a business approach comes to me without thinking. I agree with the notion that commerce will restart as soon as possible after a "Game Changing" event. It may never actually come to a complete standstill.

As has been pointed out in previous articles on prepping on a budget, or what to do if you cannot relocate, not everyone can take the Rawles approach. In our case, we haven't the resources to move, and for the time being are dependent upon a clinical trial for one member of our family. However, I'm diligent about storing food and acquiring things of value that I feel I need, or might want to trade. My business is making gear, and I already trade with preppers. As soon as I can get out of the house after Schumer hits, I will be helping others and trading goods.

The simplest and smallest example of The Commerce Model would be the Rag Man of European legend, an honest man of God, a peddler collecting cast-offs from some and selling to others, who distributes the news and builds networks among people. As sailors are wont to comment, there but for the grace of God, go I. - Mac

I'll start with a Bible quotation:
“Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”-- Proverbs 27:17 NASB

We need to speak the truth to each other in love. I believe that B.H. in Northern Idaho had nothing but love of God and His people in mind when he wrote The Commerce Model of Prepping: A Personal Re-Evaluation. I loved the use of humor throughout and appreciated his insights and intent.

B.H. sees the flaws in some forms of prepping, including what he’d practiced. Those weak points should be taken seriously and prayerfully by those who feel most challenged by his essay.  So too what he addressed about house-churches should be taken seriously and with prayer. Accountability and fellowship with those “of like precious faith” who may differ from you in non-essentials is both Biblical and healthy and should be pursued as long as it is possible to do so.

Ironically I have time to write this today because a family member was ill enough to have kept us from going to church. We have to travel over thirty miles to our church home, so on occasion we will visit similar churches nearby rather than just doing a home Bible study, because we know that we need fellowship. While I prefer my church home, it’s good to know that I don’t live as an island, cut off from fellow believers.
People of good faith are being led to prep in different ways because God is using them and will use them to witness in different ways in different areas, just as He does right now. In 1 Corinthians Paul was inspired to speak of the Body of Christ with different functions and ministries.
God fits us with different temperaments and gifts to use as He directs.  God uses the introverts who need great swaths of time alone to energize just as much as He does the extroverts who get energized by being around people. He made some to preach, some to write, some to spend a lot of time in prayer, some to say absolutely nothing at all and yet share the gospel profoundly through acts of service and love.
A recent example of the latter from our church; mechanically inclined men reached out to a widow and her single daughter who had car trouble; they hadn’t known where to turn for help knowing they were vulnerable and not wanting to be exploited. That spoke to the ladies’ whole family and all of their friends of the great love for each other that is supposed to be the mark of Christians.  Love happens spontaneously where there are relationships among believers. No relationship, no love, no witness.
Some prep in place so that they can continue the ministries they have now.  Others feel driven to find a place of refuge to protect their children from what is a voracious system of worldly brainwashing. The practice of sending Christian kids to public school ‘to be a witness’ has been more failure than success over the last 20 years. The majority of children educated secularly walk away from Christianity when they graduate high school. I will never second-guess a parent who decides that their children’s salvation and discipleship is the most important ministry and priority of their life.
When we can see the dangers and flaws of other forms or prepping and styles of life, it is good and right to call attention to them so that they can be addressed. That said, we need to be careful lest we sit in judgment of each other.
This verse is a great comfort to me when I see other Christians in error or doing something I believe is not wise or holy according to my ideas and convictions:
“Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand." --Romans 14:4 NASB
Once we’ve faithfully shared what is on our hearts, we need to leave the rest up to the Holy Spirit to lead and convict our listeners with regard to God’s will. We know how He would lead in the essential things, but in regard to non-essentials we need to be especially hands-off and not take it personally if someone decides that they must act according to their understandings and convictions and not ours. I believe that prepping styles are among the latter.
Eschatology is another area where I believe we need to take a step back and allow for differences. What we believe about the end times is important as it profoundly impacts what we do today and how we interpret the events around us and the actions we take in response.
We do need to be certain that scripture interpreted with scripture is the foundation of what we believe. Because of what I see in scripture I find myself unable to believe in neither dispensational rapture eschatology nor dominionism. The words of Christ to his apostles in Jerusalem and the Revelation to John at Patmos paint a picture of an oppressed minority of the faithful, enduring until the end.
When they arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit.  Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death.  You will be hated by all because of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.—Mark 13:11 -13 NASB
These words were spoken in the context of the end of the age, not the launch of the church age though it applied then as well. Jesus went on to speak of the final things and his main instruction was “to be alert.”

It was also given to him (the beast) to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him. All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain. If anyone has an ear, let him hear. If anyone is destined for captivity, to captivity he goes; if anyone kills with the sword, with the sword he must be killed. Here is the perseverance and the faith of the saints. Revelation 13:7-20 NASB
Where in these passages do we see the church gaining dominion over the world? Rather we see what the church encountered immediately in the book of Acts; the gospel spread through persecution throughout the Roman world. When persecution stopped, the pace of evangelism also dropped off so that there are still some unreached places in the world.  
Look around you today and you see that where the church is growing or where it is standing up to worldly powers, it is being persecuted. You see believers standing firm in their faith despite losing everything, and their witness is powerful because God is at work. Persecution, by the very words of Christ, will continue until the end. We need to be mentally and spiritually prepared to face that and to not lose heart if we never subdue the world system under our feet.
Those who believe in the rapture need to consider that they could be living in a time such as that faced by the believers in the USSR ; decades of persecution. How faithful can you be if you believe that this shouldn’t be happening to you? This may not be the beginning of the Great Tribulation, but of a lesser tribulation which will still require all of us to overcome day by day. Challenge yourself to get ready and to be strong.
I believe there is very good reason to believe that we are in the last days now:

But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come.  For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy,  unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good,  treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. --2 Tim 3:3-5 NASB
It’s difficult to read this passage and not see our own times and culture reflected strongly in the inspired words Paul set down.
I was raised in a Bible-believing Wesleyan holiness tradition that fits the pun about pan-millennialism: “However it pans out is fine with me, I’ll just focus on being faithful.” That may seem a cop out, but a focus on faithfulness will prepare our souls for whatever persecution may come, will lead us to attempt great things for Christ will expecting to see great things from Christ  and keep us on the alert as if waiting for the midnight cry.  In closing, I’ll leave you with the words of Jesus: 
“What I say to you I say to all, ‘Be on the alert!’” Mark 13:37 NASB
- Sigi

Mr. Rawles,
[Since they have been superceded by flat screen HDTV technology, many] old projection-type big screen televisions are being hauled away daily to landfills or "e-waste" collection points.

I believe that many preppers who find themselves without sufficient fuel post-Collapse, could benefit from a devices such as the one shown in this video and this video.

This easily assembled solar cooker could really stretch the use of precious fuel supplies, and it would cost "peanuts" to construct. Just about all of it could come from salvaged materials.

Waiting until after a Collapse to begin searching for the components, however, might be problematic, so "strike while the iron is hot." (No pun intended!) - E.M.

Unfortunately, it has become common for preppers to express outrage at the exorbitant post-Newtown pricing of ammo and certain magazines and firearms. Frequently, the complaints are accompanied by vows and pleas for others not to patronize certain offending retailers after things return to "normal." Apart from the implicit assumption that things will return to "normal," I think that this sentiment is way off base. Although I like paying "reasonable" prices as much (and probably more) than the next guy, I find the notion that retailers should not raise prices to meet increased demand both fundamentally flawed, and ultimately dangerous for preppers. 
First, we have to be true to our principles. Either we believe in free markets where supply and demand sets prices, or we do not.  And if we do not, Heaven help us. If we admit that free market principles really are not truly important, we open the door to all kinds of unsavory alternatives, including both "voluntary" and mandatory government-sanctioned price and wage controls. (I, and perhaps you, are old enough to remember our country's last attempt at wage and price controls, to "Whip Inflation Now (WIN)." Younger readers can either take my word for it or do the research: the government's efforts to control the markets did not work.) 
Second, why do consumers think high prices are unfair, but have no compunction about buying at "below market" prices? No one who snags a good deal at a gun show thinks that it is unfair to the seller. Rather, we all instinctively understand that the seller wouldn't sell at that price if he did not want to. If he wants to sell "below market," we assume that he has a reason (maybe he doesn't want to carry it home, he needs the money right away, his wife is impatient and wants to leave, or his feet are tired). But it is his decision. So why should our attitude change when the seller is demanding a price that we think is too high?  I think that most of the reason is bias in favor of self interest; most preppers currently see themselves as primarily buyers, not sellers. That motivates a lot of complaining about "price gouging." But those that are preparing for TEOTWAWKI presumably will be net sellers when the big day comes. In other words, it will likely be those who have prepared (and set aside items for barter) who will be trading a couple jugs of clean water for a box of ammo, a box of ammo for a FN-FAL, or a FN-FAL for a cabin, a cow and ten acres.  We should be very reluctant to stake out the idea that the fair value of an item is what it sold at for years, months or even days earlier. The fair value of an item is the price that a willing buyer agrees to pay now and a willing seller agrees to accept now--not a penny more or a penny less.  
Third, although the retailers that raised their prices post-Newtown are motivated by self-interest, they are performing a critically important public service, by keeping scarce items available. For example, although I thought that I was pretty prepared pre-Newtown, I took to heart your admonition to make sure that my family's future generational needs were satisfied, especially with respect to certain magazines. So within days of Newtown, I purchased some used, high quality steel AK-47 mags, at the still pre-Newtown price of $15. I was equally successful in buying some other mags at pre-Newtown prices. But I dallied, and did not fare nearly as well with respect to Glock mags. So I hedged my bets. I placed one order with an authorized distributor at "reasonable" prices. (That retailer recently informed me that I am still at least four months away from receiving my mags.) And I simultaneously went on Gunbroker and bought some others at the then-market price (which was about three times their MSRP). The mags arrived the next week. Did I make a good decision? It is too soon to tell. If transfers of the backordered mags are outlawed before I receive them from the authorized distributor, then I was a genius to buy on On the other hand, if I receive the mags from the distributor before I actually want to use them, then I wasted my money on the mags. But the important thing is that I had a choice. Because sellers in the marketplace were willing to "gouge" people like me, I had the freedom to get my mags when I wanted them.  
Similarly, within days of your recommending the Mako Group E-Lander AR-15 magazines in early January, I placed an order at "reasonable" prices. I am still waiting for mine (and have heard nothing from the supplier, despite my e-mails). Nevertheless, based on your experience and others', I expect to receive them any day now, in which case I will be happy with my decision. But irrespective of whether it was a good or bad decision, the important thing is that it was my choice. I could have bought similar magazines from another vendor at maybe double the price (or more), and received them months ago. Although I chose to wait, the freedom to do what I think is best is of great value to me. In the future, I want to continue to have options.
I came across a recent example of what can happen when consumers intimidate vendors into not raising prices during a shortage. I sometimes patronize an Internet retailer, Classic, which is physically located in Monroe, North Carolina. I do not know anyone there, but have been very satisfied with their merchandise quality and customer service, and especially their candor. (And, as their web site makes clear, they are owned by Believers.) I also think that they tried hard to keep prices down the last couple months. (For example, shortly after Newtown, I bought 40 round Bulgarian AK mags at $19.99 each. When I decided to buy more the next day, the price had gone up to a still "reasonable" $22.99. Subsequently, they went to $24.99 and then were quickly out-of-stock, which is their current status.)  In any event, Classic Firearms recently advertised on their web site that they would soon have corrosive milsurp 7.62x25 ammo available after a period of unavailability, at a price of $499.99 per case of 1260. Although this price is less than many other calibers, it is about three times the price that this stuff was selling for a few months ago, when supplies were plentiful. (Although I did not spend a lot of time looking, I cannot find anyone that has milsurp 7.62x25 ammo available now.) But according to the Classic Firearms  web site, their announcement generated a lot of negative feedback from their customers about the new price, though they were merely planning to pass along their own high wholesale cost with a "very small profit margin." So they decided not to offer the ammo at all, out of concern that it "would reflect badly on us as the seller."  Although I am not in the market for 7.62x25 ammo (and certainly not at $499.99 per case), this is a crazy result. Having the option of buying 7.62x25 ammo at $499.99 a case is infinitely preferable to not being able to buy it at all. 
In fact, history teaches that attempts to persuade/coerce sellers into keeping prices below that which they can sell to others never works. That is why black markets exist. As anyone who has ever been a visitor in a country with currency controls knows, you can always find a burly guy on a street corner who is willing to give you more of the local currency in exchange for your dollars than will the government-owned bank. And here is an example closer to home: in December, the operator of a classified ad web site specializing in certain firearms was dismayed that sellers had jacked up prices. He therefore decreed that ads for exorbitantly-priced firearms would no longer be accepted. Presumably, he thought that the sellers would lower their prices for the privilege of listing on his web site. Guess what--they didn't. As could have been predicted, they simply stop listing on his web site. The sellers didn't care that the bump in prices might be temporary, or that market prices were higher than what the operator deemed reasonable; they weren't going to voluntarily sell below the market that then existed. And anyone who has read through this lengthy posting can probably guess how this story ends: the operator's policy lasted only a few days. Rather than become irrelevant, he relented and let sellers post their ads at the prices that they thought appropriate.  
In short, the law of supply and demand is as immutable as the laws of physics. Attempts to ignore either one do not end prettily.
Keep up the good work. - A Consumer Who Likes Choices

JWR Replies: I concur. As a believer in free markets I am of the opinion that "price gouging" is a myth. This is a fiction perpetuated by Keynesians, societal malcontents, and people who don't take the time to fully observe free market forces. The fact is that there are buyers and sellers in every market, and that supply and demand do indeed drive pricing. The few price disappointments that we encounter in our daily lives are more than offset by the successful gains made when we are simply observant. In a free and fair market, intelligent people who are forward thinking generally win. But, in contrast, those who are unobservant and stupid generally lose.

I liken all this to the inherent difference between those who are math and market astute and those who are math and market illiterate. The former do things like:

  • Clip coupons
  • Studiously comparison price
  • Pay cash
  • Buy tangibles
  • Buy into long term up-trends
  • Take advantage of seasonal sales
  • Buy in bulk
  • Fill their underground storage tanks with fuel during price dips
  • Buy quality-made products that hold timeless value
  • Make ratio trades
  • Invest using dollar cost averaging
  • Closely watch market trends
  • Cash out during market spikes.

But he latter (the market illiterate) do things like:

  • Pay on credit
  • Buy shabby products
  • Buy products that decline in value. ("Contrapreneurs.")
  • Make impulse buys
  • Buy consumer products that are popular and faddish
  • "Invest" in timeshare condominiums
  • Major in the Social Sciences
  • Buy conceptuals
  • Buy lottery tickets

Since 2005, I have consistently urged SurvivalBlog readers to invest in tangibles like common caliber ammunition, full capacity magazines and guns. Those who took that advice up to December 13, 2012 (the day before the Newtown Massacre) are presently sitting very pretty. Many of these tangibles have doubled or tripled in price. Not wishing to gloat or to sound trite, but I told you so. Oh, and FWIW, I still stand by my often-maligned advice on stockpiling nickels. (In a couple of years, I can foresee again being able to say "I told you so.")

Scientists warn Oregon legislators of cataclysm when earthquake, tsunami strike

   o o o

Radio Free Redoubt reports: Voice of America tests transmitting on digital mode.

   o o o

Kerry Voices U.S. Support for NRA-opposed U.N. Arms Treaty. [JWR's Comment: Can we really trust his sincerity when he states: "We will not support any treaty that would be inconsistent with U.S. law and the rights of American citizens under our Constitution, including the Second Amendment." Yeah, right. Kerry gives new meaning to the term lip service. Since this treaty would undoubtedly diminish our constitutional right, then why would even consider it? ]

   o o o

M.W. suggested this: The Internet is a surveillance state

"If you are taught bitterness and anger, then you will believe you are a victim. You will feel aggrieved and the twin brother of aggrievment is entitlement. So now you think you are owed something and you don't have to work for it and now you're on a really bad road to nowhere because there are people who will play to that sense of victimhood, aggreivement and entitlement, and you still won't have a job." - Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Today we present another entry for Round 45 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course. (A $1,195 value.) 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 gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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. C.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of D.) 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, E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 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. E.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value), and F.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 45 ends on March 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.

The biggest weakness in preparedness planning is not a forgotten survival item, or too few cartridges.  The invisible weakness is lack of real time experience   It's one thing to say your going to raise your own food, and maybe you have all the seeds and tools to do it stored away.  But if you have never actually planted a huge garden and tried to live off it your first year is going to be full of failures (see: learning opportunities) that could be potentially deadly in real survival time.  The same goes for every aspect of survival and emergency situation response.  Personally I have always wondered how I would react in a real SHTF situation.  Would I freeze?  React too slowly?  Freak out?

Police agencies recommend that you think out potential dangerous situations frequently and plan how you would react.  Such as an intruder in your house, or someone trying to break through the door.  This helps when you actually are confronted by the situation.  My husband and I have talked about what we would do, and even discussed it to a certain extent with out daughter who is 15 so she can be safe and help keep her younger siblings safe while we deal with the situation.  She often complained about it because we have always lived in the country or in small rural towns.  I have tried to tell her that drugs are still just as much a problem in these kind of communities, but like most people, she thought that if you live in a small community is must be safer.  Most people do not realize that while the population is small, the statistical drug abuse rates and alcohol rates are as high or higher than large cities.

As a woman moreover, my concern is how I would react and effectively defend myself against a man coming onto my property or into my home and threatening me and my children while I'm alone.  I am a home-maker so I am alone with the children most of every day.  This is one reason I keep firearms as protection.  Guns have been called The Great Equalizer and for women this is especially true.  I know that when it comes to a confrontation with a man I am not going to win.  Men are bigger and stronger and no Politically Correct foolishness is going to change that fact.  My father stressed that women should know how to handle guns and carry one because violent crimes against woman are common.  He taught his daughters how to use all styles of firearms with proficiency and safety so while I wish that I lived in the world of puppies and rainbows I see the necessity to posses guns.

Yesterday morning started out just like normal.  I was making breakfast for my four children and drinking a cup of coffee.  Everything was fine and dandy when suddenly my four year old son said "Mommy a man just walked through our side yard!"  I was surprised and concerned since it was 7:00 in the morning and nobody should be in our yard.  I called to my husband, who was luckily still home.  If it had been 15 minutes later he would have been gone.  I told my husband what our four year old had said and after asking which way the man had gone, which was towards the back yard, he went out to take a look.

While all this was happening our amazing guard dog golden retriever was snoring gently in corner!  My husband first looked out that back window and sure enough a man was out at our chicken run.  He let me know that and then walked out to talk to the man.  Almost instantly he was back in the house.

"Lock the doors and call 911, he said, this guys is off his rocker"  The man was at that time trying to pull down our chicken fence and when my husband asked him what he was doing he said "This is a mirror and it must come down".  He had no slurred speech and was walking just fine but my husband said the way he looked was extremely creepy.  The man was obviously on some sort of drugs or in the grips of a psychotic episode.  

My first thought was bath salts or spice, as both of those have been in the news allot.  People in the grips of these drugs are extremely dangerous as it can cause violent psychosis to the point where they strip off their clothes and attack people.  There have been constant and increasing reports across the country of people on these drugs not just attacking but also trying to eat other people!  They do not respond to pain and have unnatural strength.

Needless to say neither my husband or I wanted to get into a physical altercation with this man.  My husband monitored him through a window while I immediately got the children upstairs and into a secure room.  Our back door is very unsecure, I could probably break through it with one kick so I was concerned what would happen if this man tried to come in.  I also considered that this man may be armed and wanted my children as far away from flying bullets with as many walls between them as possible.  This took about 20 seconds and then I was calling 911.  I felt no fear or panic, just an eerie calm with very clear thinking.  Every thought of mine was to  keep my children safe and remove the threat from my family.  As soon as I got to the phone my husband went and got the pump action shotgun loaded with slugs.  He stood by the window and continued to watch the man and report what he was doing so I could then tell the 911 operator.  

After trying to rip down the fence the man was now hitting his head repeatedly against it.  I told the operator to warn the responding officers that the man appeared to be hallucinating.  Now my husband told me the man was shaking and twitching and had again switched to trying to tear the fence down.  

Within four minutes of the initial 911 call the officers were on our property, which is one of the great things about living in a small town.  As soon as they arrived and had engaged in conversation with the man my husband went and put the shotgun away.  No need to get into an uncomfortable discussion on our firearms.

The man went with the officers with no struggle thank goodness and we then gave our statements.  Apparently the man had been causing trouble all night but since the previous people had not wanted to press charges he was allowed to walk.  We pressed charges for trespassing simply because the man otherwise would have been let go to terrorize some other family.  In jail he would be evaluated and not let go till he sobered up off of whatever he had taken.

All in all I think we handled the situation just right with only a few mistakes.  The first mistake was my husband going out and confronting the man without any defensive weapons.  Due to the fact that people hyped up on street drugs are often impervious to pain and display extreme strength this could have been really bad if the guy had gone after my husband.  My husband is very physically fit and strong.  He also is pretty confident on handling dangerous situations, but if taken by the element of surprise he could have been overpowered before he could react.  I of course would have gotten the shotgun immediately and dealt with the situation but my husband would have been injured.

Also I should have been armed as well.  That way if the guy had gotten through my husband and the shotgun he wouldn't have gotten through me.

The after-effects of this incident were what you would expect.  There was much soothing needed for my children, and we had to explain why the man was acting the way he did.  That night both me and my husband had a hard time sleeping.  Also my husband came up and hugged me right after the police left.  We had been having an ongoing marital debate about locked doors.  I always keep the doors double locked even though we live in a small town and this annoyed my husband when he would come home at night.  My statement every night was the same.  "I don't want anyone able to just walk into my house!" to which he would then blow off as unnecessary paranoia.

After this incident however he told me that if he ever gave me trouble about the locked doors again I was to punch him in the face!

During this whole incident I certainly felt concerned, but not panicked   The main reason for this was because both my husband and I are armed and know how to use them.  This man was not getting into our house.  This gave me a real calmness.  I cannot imagine what I would have felt like if we had not been armed and had to rely on nothing more than a locked door to protect us.  I have been teased often by anti gun family members about my penchant for carrying defence weapons.  But as I have heard stated many times before you don't need a gun until you really need a gun.  And then if you don't have one you are screwed.

What really disturbed me was what would have happened if one of my children had gone outside to feed the animals like they usually do while that man was out there.  They would have tried talking to him not realizing he was unbalanced.

I definitely recommend planning out what you would do in situations like these. It is so important to think out your priorities and who does what in a crises.  From our previous discussions it helped us spring to action and not panic.

As a last note we are this very weekend re-enforcing our back door so that it will take more than a hard tug to get through it.

In response to C.D.'s letter "Advice on Retreat Properties in Southwestern Oregon" found here:

I would suggest this person change their retreat property search to just east of "the hill". Klamath County and Lake County are within driving distance to allow continued work in Medford during the week (if renting in Medford) and travel to the retreat on weekends. I would suggest triangulating a search between Klamath Falls, Lakeview, and Bend (Deschutes County) or Prineville (Crook County). Personally, I set the western edge of the Redoubt at the eastern edge of the Cascades.

There are several advantages to these counties:
1. Significantly lower property prices.
2. Lower property tax rates.
3. Significantly lower population density.
4. Less intrusive county governments. The difference is stark. See

5. More traditional conservative values. Less statist views among the people. Preparedness as a way of life - not something new.
6. Less trafficked area (no I-5 corridor).
7. Not within 100 miles of the border - AKA the DHS "civil rights free zone".
8. High gun ownership rate. (Too many people west of the Cascades support gun control.)
9. High concentration of "awake" people. More Gadsden flags per square mile than anywhere I have been, and I have traveled a lot.
10. Less "polluted" with "Californian" influence.
11. Colder climate deters golden horde refugees in winter. Cascades serve as a natural barrier to the west. (And the Sierras do the same to
the south.)
12. Fewer pot growers.
13. Still has significant agricultural base.
14. More NFS land than Jackson county.
15. A local population that is willing to fight back when they think they are being wronged. See:

Along with some disadvantages:
1. Potentially less economic opportunity.
2. Weather is not as favorable for food production; shorter growing season.
3. There are still some pot growers here.
4. Water is less plentiful, and in some areas can be problematic. See:

Take care. - B., from the (hopefully) southwest corner of the Redoubt

Regarding the discussion about appendicitis - While it is definitely not something you want to try at home, in 1961, Soviet physician Leonid Rogozov, removed his own appendix. He was the only physician in a Soviet Antarctic expedition station. In the words of a Russian account:

"At night, on the 30th of April, 1961, the surgeon was being helped by a mechanical engineer and a meteorologist who were giving him the medical instruments and holding a small mirror at his belly. Laying half bent on the left side, the doctor made a local anesthesia with novocaine solution and made a 12cm incision in the right iliac region with a scalpel. Either watching in the mirror or by touch he removed an inflamed appendix and injected antibiotic in the abdominal cavity. In 30 or 40 minutes from the beginning of the operation there developed a faint and giddiness and the surgeon had to make pauses for some rest. Nevertheless, by midnight the operation lasting 1 hour and 45 minutes was over. In five days the temperature normalized, in two days more – the stitches were taken out."

There are few survival stories that can top that one. - Stephen in Florida

Like so many others, I thank you for all that you and your family do with SurvivalBlog. It is immensely helpful. I just caught up on a bunch of recent posts related to diabetic preps and thought I'd toss in my 2 cents' worth.

For the record: I am a (female) type 1 diabetic, diagnosed at age 13 and currently in my mid-thirties. The info below is based entirely on my own 20+ years of personal experience; I am not in any way a medical or pharmaceutical professional. As always, consult a medical professional if you need advice regarding diabetes management - YMMV.

I am currently taking Lantus once daily (basal dose) and Humalog with every meal (bolus dose, thrice daily). I am personally still a little freaked out by needles (can apply them to myself, but prefer to do so as minimally as possible), thus the idea of having an insulin pump semi-permanently attached is not appealing. I am still old-school, with syringes & vials (this becomes important later). I test my blood sugars before every meal, and keep a written record to help spot patterns of highs or lows, so that I can adjust my dosages accordingly.

When I started contemplating diabetes management and long-term preparedness, two problems stood out: the ability to acquire a stash of meds, and the ability to store them. I'll address these in that order.

How does one acquire even a minimal store of vital meds when severely constrained by both budget and insurance bureaucracy? A sympathetic doctor is very helpful if you can find one (mine is only a phone call away; I usually address him as "Dad," and he's on board with the whole prepping thing), but there's not much he can do if my insurance won't play along. The thing that helped me the most in building up a supply of insulin is the fact that one vial of insulin lasts me more than one month, but less than two. Ditto test strips for the glucose meter. The idea is to refill like clockwork every month, whether you need to or not. Over time your stash will accumulate ahead of your actual usage. You may be able to refill every three or four weeks, instead of monthly (gives you at least one extra month's supply every year) - ask your pharmacist, or just go up to the counter and try it. If it's too soon for your insurance to pay out again, they will tell you when to come back. Note that this probably won't work for pills - they know exactly how many of those you will use in a given time frame. I use this strategy for test strips, too - they are just a little cheaper on prescription with a copay than OTC (over the counter), although if you have the budget for it you can just walk up and ask for them. Store brands work just as well as the big names, as long as you have the meter to match.

Other supplies (syringes, alcohol swabs, lancets, extra/replacement meters) are readily available OTC, and should be part of your regular prepping budget just like water, food, and other goods. Do the math on how many you use in a day/week/month, multiply by how long your prepping time frame is (i.e. 3 weeks/3 months/3 years), and build up to your goal. Extra alcohol swabs are good to have in the first aid stores anyway; I keep my spare meter(s) in a Faraday cage, with the rest of the last-ditch electronics.

Once you have it, how do you store it? FYI, I personally break a LOT of rules. See disclaimer above re: medical advice. The micro-print on the insert tells you to keep insulin at 36-46 F if unopened, below 86 or refrigerated after opening, and that you must discard the stuff 28 days after you open it, regardless of whether the vial is empty. And don't freeze it, either. Expiration dates on my refills are nearly two years from date of purchase.

I have NEVER discarded a drop of insulin just because it was 28 days old. My vials last about 40 days, and I have never had a problem. The vial currently in use rides around in my purse, at room temperature, the entire time. Still no problems. Last year, I started to carry spares of each type, in addition to the ones currently in use, with me at all times. This means that by the time I finish one, rotate the spare into use, then use it up, it has spent 80-100 days out of refrigeration, at room temp. STILL no problems.

A word about grid-down: you really can't let this stuff freeze, and it will denature (become completely inert and useless) above 80-86. If you are caught out in winter weather, remember to keep your insulin warmish but not clear up to body temperature. Try a pocket; in the BOB/GHB is probably a bad idea. If you are dealing with summer temperatures and need to keep it cool, IT JUST HAS TO STAY BELOW 80. Do a web search on "Frio case" for a nifty little portable evaporative cooling pouch (I am not affiliated or compensated in any way, just a satisfied customer). There are other companies with similar products. For medium-term grid-down, I have a cooler-sized propane-powered fridge; a root cellar would be a more permanent, less fuel-dependent option. I would not care to test both expiration dates AND temperature tolerances with my entire store of meds. I have yet to push past an expiration date, but I figure that slightly expired insulin has to be better than no
insulin at all. I appreciate the input from an earlier poster on the subject.

A word about BOB/GHB: don't forget the extra syringes! You may be able to get away without finger sticks for a couple of days, but don't try skipping the shots. And for crying out loud, throw alcohol swabs in so you can keep the whole process clean. You should carry enough to match the quantity of insulin you carry around every day. For me, that's about 50-90 days.

A word about syringes and lancets: I break the rules, big time. I reuse both of these items, and have for more than a decade with no ill effects (no infection, no noticeable difference in site irritation). Lantus does not play well with others (I can't mix it in the syringe with another type of insulin), so I use one Lantus needle every two days. I keep that vial and syringe tucked in same interior pocket of my purse, next to my spare vials. I use one other needle for all three of my daily Humalog injections, and one lancet for all three (or more) daily blood tests. So I go through three syringes and two lancets in two days, plus six test strips and alcohol swabs. I originally did this on a purely economic basis - I couldn't afford to blow through four syringes and three of everything else, every single day. Now I'm just used to it, and why spend more than I have to? You may not want to take measures this extreme (and if you are prone to infections or irritation at your injection sites, DO NOT ATTEMPT this). It may come in handy if you need to stretch your supplies.

A word about insulin pumps: I don't use one, so don't take only my word for it. But I have heard from those who do that the cartridges must be discarded every three days, empty or not, due to risk of infection. This would make it difficult or impossible to sneak your supply ahead of your usage. And my dad (who has spent his career in emergency medicine, and is an EMS medical director) has confided that he is glad I've never gotten one, because they seem to be associated with a higher risk of hypoglycemic reactions. I know there are a lot of people out there who love their pumps and wouldn't go back to vials/syringes for anything, but IMHO insulin pumps are not the best choice for preparedness.

One more thing. Diabetes management is a three-way balancing act with medication, food, and exercise. We all know we'd be better off eating right, exercising, yada yada blah blah blah. I did not realize what a dramatic difference that last one would make until I started self-defense classes last summer. My insulin requirements started to drop almost immediately; at this point, my dose is down twenty percent across the board! And still falling! (I'm getting ready for a belt test this month.) And I've lost two clothing sizes! And I know how to put fingers, fists, feet, elbows, knees, heel palms, head butts, and shins into an attacker's soft tissue, from a crazy number of vantage points! (Yes, it's krav maga. "We do bad things to bad people.") Bottom line, getting in shape is part of both diabetes management and emergency preparedness. Find something you like, that is useful and fun, that you will stick with.

Thanks for reading; hope it comes in handy.
Keep your powder dry and your insulin cool! - Sarah in Missouri

The folks at Bison Barrels (near Gillette, Wyoming) also make complete custom rifles.

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Of Plowshares and Swords. “We happy farmers of the American Redoubt…”

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Some eastern Idaho schools to get gun safes. (Thanks to R.B.S. for the link.)

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House clears bill protecting Idaho-made firearms

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Black Dog Machine down in Nampa, Idaho is making magazines as fast as they can, without sacrificing quality control. Their web site still shows that they have some of their .22LR magazines for ARs and 10/22s stock.

U.S. Game Changing Renewable - Geothermal Power. Note that the preponderance of the nation's geothermal potential is in the Rocky Mountain States and the Intermountain West. The American Redoubt just keeps looking better....

Signs of the Times: Food stamps put Rhode Island town on monthly boom-and-bust cycle

Could The "Cyprus Fiasco" Occur In The U.S.?

Brian S. like this piece by Charles Hugh Smith: The Deeper Meanings of Cyprus

A 15% Haircut for Italian depositors? Tyler Durden of Zero Hedge mentioned this quote in a Handelsblatt newspaper article from Commerzbank chief economist Jörg Krämer: "'So it would make sense, in Italy a one-time property tax levy.' suggested the Bank economist. 'A tax rate of 15 percent on financial assets would probably be enough to push the Italian government debt to below the critical level of 100 percent of gross domestic product.'" See the original Handelsblatt article here and an automated translation here.

Items from The Economatrix:

Jim Sinclair:  Gold Is Going To Take Out $1,600

Former US Treasury Official - US Financial System To Collapse

Forced Loans They Can Take Your Money Giving You {Worthless} Government Bonds

Emergency Essentials is continuing their semi-annual Mountain House Sale.  All Mountain House cans are priced 20-25% off.  The sale is for one week only, ending the night of March 21st at midnight. 

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D.C. recommended this: An Orwellian America

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Pantry Paratus has recently added American-made Chop Rite brand grinders and presses to their catalog. These are made in America and have been since the late 1800s. In fact, if anyone has an old antique Enterprise brand meat grinder, that is the company's original name and all of the replacement parts and attachments are still available. These grinders can be used for meat, fruit, or nuts. They are Old School, and built to last. A good quality grinder is a must for off-grid living, and in the event of dental problems as a jaw injury, they could be a lifesaver. (They will chew when you can't.)

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Reader Tim R. sent: Zimbabwean police are interrogating young children (aged 4-6) at school about whether their parents have radios. The police are confiscating wind up radios in night time raids.

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RBS sent us some BigGov warnings that sound a lot like descriptions of normal folks: Complete post of FBI Terrorist Watchlist Pamphlets

"Expecting the U.S. to balance its budget is like expecting my Rottweilers to hoard sausages." - Economist Marc Faber

Monday, March 18, 2013

Congratulations are in order for Joel Skousen, who by God's Grace recently walked away from the crash of his Glasair kit plane, in in a forced rough field landing, following a fuel system failure. The crash landing occurred last Tuesday near Spanish Fork, Utah, on the return leg of cross country flight to Las Vegas. Joel was a fighter pilot in the Vietnam era, and has had countless hours of stick time as a private pilot, ever since. He kept a cool head in the incident, and that helped save his life. His plane was thoroughly pranged, but he walked away with nary a scratch. Joel Skousen is well-respected and well known to SurvivalBlog readers as one of founding fathers of the modern preparedness movement. He is the author of the excellent books Strategic Relocation--North American Guide to Safe Places and The Secure Home.

Without a doubt, the hottest selling long-gun these days is some sort of AR-15/M4 type of gun. Thanks to the efforts of anti-gunners like Dianne Feinstein and Barack Obama, with their proposed bans on certain classes or types of firearms, there has been a run on these types of guns that has never been seen before. With looming threats of banning certain types of firearms, as well as magazines over 10 rounds, the American People are waking up, and are spending their hard-earned money on what they presume will be banned or regulated. Without a doubt, this has led to a buying frenzy, like no other in firearms in history to the best of recollection. This has also led to a shortage of ammunition, the likes we have never seen before, and I suspect it will take the ammo companies a couple years to catch-up with supply and demand. The hottest-selling ammo right now is .22 LR followed by .223 Rem/5.56mm and then 9mm - however, most calibers are in short supply these days. Retail prices on ammo has about doubled or even tripled in may instance. Some mail-order ammo reseller companies have completely ripped-off their customers - what used to cost $150 now cost almost a $1,000 for certain types of ammo. I hope that SurvivalBlog readers are taking note of which companies are doing this, and won't throw their business to these companies. I know I won't!
For the past three months, I've been testing the SIGSauer M400 Enhanced version of their M4-type carbine. This is, for some reason, one of the most in-demand M4-type rifles on the market these days. At my local Wal-Mart, they usually carry a SIG-Sauer M400 in-stock. However with the recent buying frenzy, these firearms go out the door as fast as they come in. For several months now, there have been customers camped out in the sporting goods department of my local Wal-Mart store. They arrive early in the morning, and borrow some folding chairs from the camping section, and sit at the gun counter, waiting for UPS or FedEx to arrive with a few M400 guns. Some days none arrive, and some days only a few arrive.
I requested the M400 Enhanced version, because I wanted something a little bit different. The Enhanced version comes with a flat-top receiver, that has a fold-down rear sight. It is also equipped with MagPul Original Equipment (MOE) furniture - butt stock, pistol grip and forend. I like the look and feel of the MagPul furniture, especially their butt stocks. The M400 also comes with a MagPul 30 round magazine. (An aside: You had better get plenty while you still can. MagPul is located in Colorado, and they have promised to move from that state, if they enact a ban on magazines over 15 rounds. If MagPul does indeed move, it will take quite a while for them to set-up shop again, so get some of these mags while they are still available - or before they get banned by the FedGov with some of their looney legislation that has been proposed.)
The M400 is a 5.56mm caliber rifle, that can also handle .223 Remington, and FYI they are not the same caliber. If you happen to have a rifle that is a .223 Remington caliber, do not shoot 5.56mm ammo through it without consulting the manufacturer's web site!  The M400 is also direct impingement via a gas tube, just like the original AR-15s are. Overall length is 35.6-inches long with the stock fully open, and 32.5-inches with the stock fully closed. The barrel is 16-inches long with a 1 in 7 inch twist, so you can fire some heavier bullets. The gun weighs in at 6.7-pounds and the trigger pull is stated at 7.8-pounds, but my sample felt much lighter than that, with no over-travel or grittiness at all. There is also a flash suppressor on the end of the barrel and the barrel has a unique shape to it - not quite M4-ish, nor is is plain, either - check it out on the web site. The barrel is forged with a phosphate coating on the outside, and chrome-lined inside, that helps it stand-up to harsh weather conditions. The lower receiver is forged aluminum - 7075-T6!
Okay, so we have a very well made M4-type of carbine, but what sets it apart from any other similar carbine, by any number of makers? Well, that's a good question, and first of all, it is manufactured by SIG-Sauer, so you know the quality and workmanship is there - just like it is in all SIG products. You can also get a plain-Jane version without the MagPul MOE furniture on it, for a little less money. And, the Enhanced version comes with black furniture, OD green or tan - my sample was black. For the slight difference in price between the plain-Jane M400 and the Enhanced version - go with the enhanced version.
We have a couple unique features on the M400 that set it apart from other M4-type of firearms. First of all, we have a tensioning device in the lower receiver - this is a spring-loaded pin, that takes any slack out of the upper and lower receiver - no rattling between the upper and lower, and the upper and lower are perfectly matched, too. A lot of AR-type guns require a little rubber tensioning device that you insert into the lower, to take-up the slack between the upper and lower receivers to the two parts don't rattle. Secondly, there is a spring loaded pin in the upper receiver, that goes into the chamber, and this applies pressure to the extractor that is in the bolt. What purpose could this serve? Well, one of the parts that wears out or breaks is the extractor. With this spring-loaded pin, keeping pressure on the extractor, it allows a good bite on the rim of a round, and this aids in extraction. It also helps keep the extractor from blowing out, should you have a hot round that might let loose - bringing your gun to a deadly stop - when you don't need it to. So, two really great ideas were incorporated into the M400 by SIG. They also incorporated a ambidextrous magazine release. And, they also have ambidextrous mounting points on the lower receiver for installing a single-point sling. Here's where I have a complaint. SIG didn't include any type of sling, not even a mil-spec two-point sling. And, if you want to mount a single-point sling on your M400, you have to purchase the little sling adaptor that snaps into one of these two mounting holes. Come on, SIG, you could at least have included a cheap $5 mil-spec sling or gone the extra mile and included some type of single-point sling with the mounting hardware.
With the ammo shortages we are seeing these days, it's even a bit hard for gun writers, to lay their hands on sample ammo, and I'm no different than any other writer - it's hard to get ammo these days, but my usual suppliers came through for me. From Winchester Ammunition, I had their USA brand 55-grain FMJ ammo - which I like to use when testing an AR-type gun for function - and I run through several magazines as fast as I can pull the trigger - no malfunctions at all with the M400. From Buffalo Bore Ammunition I had their superb 69-grain JHP Sniper load - which is always an outstanding performer. From the good folks at Black Hills Ammunition, I had quite an assortment of ammo. I had their 55-grain FMJ reloads as well as brand-new ammo. Their 52-grain Hornady V-Max, 55-grain Soft Point, 60-grain Soft Point, in reloaded and brand-new ammo, their 68-grain Match HP and lastly, their 75-grain Heavy Match Hollow Point (HP) load. In all, over a three month period, I burned-up close to 1,000-rounds of ammo - again, something I regret doing, as replacing all that ammo is hard to do right now, but I'm still begging!
My M400 sample didn't much like the Black Hills 52-grain V-Max load, and I suspect its because of the 1 in 7 inch barrel twist, which is more suited for heavier loads - but this load still came in at around 3.5 inches at 100-yards if I did my part.The Black Hills 55-grain FMJ, 55-grain Soft Point and 60-grain soft point loads all came in slightly under 3-inches - not bad, but not as good as I expected. The Black Hills 68-grain Heavy Match HP starting shrinking my groups under 2-inches, again if I did my part - and my accuracy testing took place over 3-months, in all types of weather conditions. Things started to get very interesting when I fired the Buffalo Bore 69-grain JHP Sniper load - I was getting groups about 1.5-inches, and I was starting to get impressed with the M400 sample. However, when I tested the Black Hills 75-grain Heavy Match HP load, I consistently got groups under an inch and a half. Again, I shot in all types of weather, and some days were better than others in the accuracy department. I did manage some groups under an inch and a half with the Buffalo Bore 69-grain JHP Sniper load, but the Black Hills 75-grain Heavy Match HP load was ever so slightly more accurate in my M400 sample.
I'd like to see SIG-Sauer offer the M400 with either a 1 in 7 inch barrel twist, as well as a 1 in 9 inch barrel twist. I believe the 1 in 9 barrel twist would give better performance with lighter bullets, like the Black Hills 52-grain Hornady V-Max load and even lighter loads. And, the 1 in 9 barrel can still handle bullets up to about 69-grains a little bit better than the 1 in 7 barrel could - in my humble opinion. However, when going over 69-grain bullet weight, you'd want the 1 in 7 barrel twist. Now, I will say that, during all my testing, I never once cleaned my M400 sample and I had no malfunctions. I was also testing Italian Gun Grease lube in the M400, and found it to hold up quite well over several months of testing. Now, seeing as how I never cleaned the M400 during all my testing, I know the barrel was getting dirty and fouled - so this could have contributed to accuracy not up to par with some of the ammo tested. I think, with proper maintenance, and a good break-in period, and proper barrel "seasoning" the M400 will be a pretty consistent shooter in the accuracy department with most bullet weights getting you 2.5 inch groups on a regular basis. Of course, the different bullet weights also shoot to a different point of aim - I zeroed the M400 for a 55-grain bullet at 100-yards. Needless to say, some rounds hit dead-on, some slightly lower and some slightly higher. But the groupings were there - the gun can shoot and it shoots quite well - and I was only using the open sights - not a scope mounted on the gun - and you can easily mount a scope or red dot sight on the flat-top receiver.
Now for the bad news, the M400 is hard to come by right now - even at your local Wal-Mart. And, I've been checking some of the gun selling web sites, like, and people have been going crazy bidding or buying the M400 - over the past couple of months. The M400 has been selling for $1,800 to as much as $2,400 while the suggested full bolt retail is only $1,234.00 on the SIG web site, That can be attributed to supply and demand. Again, some gun sellers are taking advantage of the short supply and jacking-up their prices on anything AR or AK these days. I have no problem with a gun dealer making a decent profit, but when they go way above and beyond, and rip people off because of shortages, I simply won't do business with them. And, the M400 is probably one of the most in-demand M4-type carbines out there right now, and they are still a bit hard to come by, but prices have started to come down a little bit. And, if you want to camp out in your local Wal-Mart sporting goods department, you might possibly get your own M400 for under the suggested retail price. Much as I don't like Wal-Mart, I will applaud them for not taking advantage of the current supply and demand, and they have kept their prices where they were before all this market turmoil started last December.
Overall, I was very favorably impressed with my SIG-Sauer M400 Enhanced sample, and I'm keeping it. Now all I have to do is find the funds to pay for my sample, but one thing is certain, it will not be going back to SIG. The gun is well-made, has some features other M4-type carbines don't have, is quick handling, and the accuracy is there, with a variety of ammo. So, if you're in the market for a well-made and popular M4-type of gun, give the SIG-Sauer M400 a close look - if you can even find one. And, if you do find one, don't hesitate, buy it 'because if you put it down, the guy next to you will buy it right out from under you. - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio  

Book Title: Ashfall
Author: Mike Mullin
Copyright Date: 2011
Publisher: Tanglewood Publishing Inc.
ISBN: 978-1-933718-55-2
Audio, e-book or foreign translation avail? Yes--Kindle
Suitable for children? Perhaps late teens, but very dependant on the values you want to pass on to them.

Ashfall is the first book in a trilogy of novels by Mike Mullin. This is a story of what the world could look like if Yellowstone blew up, portrayed through the eyes of a 15/16 year old boy who must quickly become a man in order to survive.

Alex Halprin is alone in his home in Cedar Falls Iowa on a Friday evening when the blast happens. His family had left earlier that day to visit an uncle's
farm in Warren Illinois, but Alex had refused to go along with them on account of his disdain for the smelly farm. Alex much preferred the idea of staying home and playing World of Warcraft. His parents decided it wasn't worth yet

The author makes it clear that Alex isn't exactly a pleasure to live with. He regards his little sister as a brat and argues with his mom on everything.
It is also somewhat telling that his parents left him without any "admonition(s) against wild parties and booze. Mom knew my social life too well, I guess. A couple of geeks and a board game I might manage; a great party with hot girls and beer would have been beyond me, sadly." (p.3)

Alex does have one well earned source of pride however: A display case of ten Taekwondo belts, from white to black. The skills those represent are the one thing going for him in the book.


That Friday night while mining gold in World of Warcraft Alex feels a bit of a tremor, which was odd because earthquakes are not the norm in Iowa, and then the power goes out. Suddenly there is a loud crack and the floor under Alex tilts and he finds himself sliding across the floor where he ends up trapped when his desk follows him to the wall, leaving him in a little triangular cavern. It is only a minute before he smells smoke and feels the wall behind him beginning to warm up. It takes everything he has to escape this predicament, but he manages to get out and find that part of the house is fine, but the part he was in is on fire. Finding that the neighbors' cell phones do not work he runs the six blocks to the fire station. No one's phone or radio works there either, but Alex is able to prevail on the firefighters to come and put out the fire at his home.

Once the fire is out the situation can be assessed. Something evidently fell from the sky and hit Alex's home. (There is room for some scientific debate
about this, but the author makes mention of the science behind this in the afterword.) The rest of the homes in his neighborhood all seem fine, but no one
has any power or phone service of any type.

Alex's mom had evidently asked Darren and Joe, the gay couple next door, to keep an eye on Alex while the family was gone. His own home partially destroyed, Alex goes to stay with them. At this point the noise begins. It is a wave of sound that hits like a gust of wind and sounds like endless, exceptionally loud thunder. It is literally painful and makes conversation impossible. The noise keeps going all night long and is still there in the morning. Except, along with the noise, there is ash. It is not until lunchtime that the noise stops, but the ash keeps coming, along with the smell of rotten eggs. Then the noise starts again around dinner time. There are several more hours of the thunder, plus endless ash. Once the noise finally abates, then comes rain. The mix of water and ash creates a new set of problems. A crash outside the house reveals the gutters and eaves pulled off one side of the house. Within minutes the same thing happens on the other side. And trying to walk in the wet ash is all but impossible. It is like walking in wet cement.

The next morning Joe decides to excavate the barbecue grill from under the ash and set to work cooking the food which has begun thawing in the freezer. The food is a heavenly respite, but while napping that afternoon someone starts banging on the front door. When Joe opens the door in rush three thugs armed with a baseball bat, a length of chain and a tire iron. The ensuing fight ends with an enraged Darren shooting the thugs with a pistol and Alex fleeing to escape the nightmare.

The only problem is, the world into which he flees is no better than that which he left behind.

His shoes lost in the muck while fleeing, he quickly realizes he has no place to go, but he knows he doesn't want to return to the blood soaked home of Darren and Joe. The best option he can come up with is his own ruined home. There he changes into his father's clothes and shoes. His bicycle a failure in the wet ash, he ends up finding his father's old cross country skis and sets off to find his way to Warren Illinois.

His first stop is the taekwondo dojang where he hopes to pick up his training weapons for the sake of self defense. He finds the studio looted and trashed,
but does manage to find his instructor's bo staff. Conflicted as to whether or not she would mind, but deciding that circumstances are anything but normal, he sets off for what will be an extremely challenging and arduous trip.

That's a summary of about the first seventy pages.

Hopefully it is evident that this book addresses a potential reality and survival challenge. The subject matter is relevant to the SurvivalBlog audience, however, I would be remiss if I did not also inform this audience that the novel does not uphold the same values as are promoted on SurvivalBlog.
It is not a matter of language or explicit behavior, but more a matter of modern social values.

The first thing to strike me was the gay neighbors and the mother's choice of them for keeping an eye on her son while out of town. I can't see how it added anything to the plot, and in spite of all the noise that is made by those of such a persuasion they still constitute a substantial minority. It is a
noticeable choice on the part of the author.

I then noticed the replacement of traditional male role models with females. It started with the taekwondo instructor and is continued with a mayor and Darla, Alex's travel companion. Throughout the novel, anyone helpful or capable of making wise decisions is female. Most males encountered are either villains or largely helpless geeks. One or two of these situations might have been discounted as coincidence, but by the end of the novel it is a fairly consistent pattern. The only males who did not fit the pattern are the gay couple at the beginning and the uncle who we meet at the very end, and the uncle is portrayed as a fuddy-duddy.

It was also remarkable that Alex missed his mom so much, but had very little to say about his dad. If anything, his dad was nothing more than a benign
background character in Alex's life. At the age of fifteen Alex was able to wear his dad's pants and fill his dad's shoes.

Religion is also cast in an unfavorable light. The first example is the Baptist church in Cedar Falls. They were all gathered together on the roof of their
building where they were waiting for Jesus to come save them. It is pretty clear the author doesn't view these as rational folks.

Later on Alex is rescued and kept alive by a Christian woman and her daughter. Nothing bad is said about this woman, but she dies a most horrible and degrading death at the hand of the vilest of the villains.

The last contact with anyone religious is in the FEMA camp where the Baptists are feeding the children. The one lady who seems like she could be able to help just up and disappears with no real explanation as to why. In short, God comes across as useless in this novel.

The last issue with regard to values is that which seems to be the ultimate goal of the novel: The boy gets the girl. Except in this book, the symbol of
success is not a pair of rings, but rather a pair of condoms.

Given the values represented in this book I cannot recommend it to anyone in my family. For others these perspectives may not matter, but for the sake of the standards upheld on SurvivalBlog I believe they do. Be advised.

Thank you for your service and for your tremendous witness and testimony shown through your blog!
I am not an expert on poison, but a recent event made me realize this is probably an important topic to cover on this forum. My forum searches did not produce anything on this subject.

About a month ago, my daughters small dog wondered into the garage while I was taking out the trash. When I went back into the living room I found him eating something green... which turned out to be an old rat poison bait he found in the corner of the garage. Knowing these can kill in a single feeding (he's very small) I rushed him to the all night emergency animal clinic with the remains of the poison cube in a small Ziploc. They asked me what type of poison he ate and I produced the green cube. They said they are all green and that there were no tests available to determine what kind it contained. One type was treatable and the others weren't. Fortunately they were able to make him throw up and basically empty everything from his stomach. I have been treating him with supplements (just in case) for a month and he is doing great.
Here are the key lessons that I learned… If you are storing food and decide to place poison with the storage and on the approaches:
1.      know the exact poison you are using
2.      keep the original boxes just in case
3.      know the treatments and be prepared to administer
4.      place them in a way protected from children and pets
5.      monitor them regularly
There are many different kinds of poisons available for rats/mice/etc. It is my recommendation to only use a type that IS treatable. These may not be as fast working, but at least you have a chance to save a child or pet.
A common type of poison I found that is treatable is called Brodifacoum - which should be listed as the primary active ingredient. There are many brands that offer this product. This type is highly lethal (4 to 5 days) and attacks the body’s production of vitamin K causing the blood to lose its ability to clot. As with my daughters dog, you may be able to treat an exposed animal by forcing them to throw up and giving them vitamin K supplements twice a day. I purchased some beef flavored vitamin K tablets from my vet to ensure he would eat them and that he received the proper dose. Note that this poison is 2nd generation.. so it lasts much longer in the body (from 20 to 130 days) than older similar types. My vet felt we successfully emptied his stomach and that I had caught him before he ingested much at all, so she recommend I treat him with supplements twice a day for 30 days just to be safe.
I'm sure there are many readers who have more knowledge on this subject and particularly the medical aspects of human ingestion. I look forward to their comments.

If someone decides to use poison and has any doubt at all about the type you have... I recommend that you throw it all away. Start over with something you know is treatable and obtain the treatment. - J.W.M.

Mr. Rawles,
Now that you're recommending we all vote with our feet and move to the American Redoubt, it seems you have created a demand that is causing prices to rise in those areas. How are those of us who wish to stay out of debt supposed to pay upwards of $300-400,000 for a retreat? - Barb in the Frozen Mid-West

JWR Replies: I only have about 300,000 readers. Of those, less than 5% are likely to make a move to the Redoubt, so their impact will have a negligible impact on housing prices.

The bargain retreat properties are remote and either off-grid or outside of commute distance to any large employers. Many suitable retreats can be found at our spin-off site:

Also be sure to watch for foreclosure and short sale listings.  There are some bargains out there!

As I go through life, I see the world through the eyes of a Prepper (Survivalist was the term used before I joined the ranks.).  I’m also a Type A personality with light to moderate obsessive-compulsive disorder. What this means in practical terms is every action I take in my daily life filters back to preparing for a disaster of some sort.  And I want to try and wake-up as many people as I can.  But at the same time, I don’t want to freak out everyone I come in contact with. 

My wife and I started prepping in August of 2009.  At first we were very hush, hush about what we were doing.  At first we were frantic.  We thought the world had maybe 6 months to a year left.  Here we are in mid-March of 2013.  Now I think the world has a few weeks, maybe a few months left.  But, I was wrong back in ’09, so who knows. 

What I do know is that the people I meet are divided into four categories. 

The first type would be the American Idol, Jersey Shores crowd.  They know nothing of the world beyond pop-culture television and current fashion.  If I start taking about politics or disaster, their eyes glaze over faster than Bill Clinton accepting an invitation to a female intern convention.  This group I generally don’t talk with directly about my concerns.  Usually if it is a cocktail party or work water-cooler setting, they may be nearby and overhear me talking to someone who may actually be interested in this subject matter.  My hope is that through serendipity they may begin to wake up, but I haven’t seen it happen yet. 

The second type of folks are, for lack of a better way to put it, the Obama maniacs.  These people know only what they are told by the White House Press Corps and the Mainstream Media (I know, these days that is kind of the same thing.).  They cannot comprehend the coming storm because the sources that they get their information from are assuring them all is well.  For the first few years of my awakening, these people drove me nearly insane.  I now watch them with a detached sort of amusement.  I know when it all comes crashing down, somehow us evil Conservatives will still be to blame.  But, they can blame me all they want while I am at my retreat and they are trying to decide if the storm-drain water is safe to drink.  Needless to say, I don’t waste any time on this group.  It is worth noting that there is a sub-group in this category.  They are liberals who won’t go all the way to the mat for Obama, but still feel more positive than negative about him.  They also get all their news from the left.  But often, the current situation has hit close to home.  Either they or a spouse lost a job, a home, etc.  I will work with this group in trying to get them to see the light and prepare.  But I will avoid political talk, as I don’t want to alienate them.  You can’t really help someone you’ve offended.    

We all know plenty of people who fall into the third type – “Yeah, I know I should probably prepare, but….”  You can fill in the blank as to what their excuse is.  No time, no money, ultimately the government will eventually get things squared away, this list continues ad nauseam.  This group can be more frustrating than the first two groups.  At least with them you know when to cut your losses and move on.  But these guys fill you with hope, because they seem to know, or strongly sense, what is going on.  But then your hopes get dashed like Charlie Sheen waking up from a blackout bender alone in a dry county.  All you can do with this group is try to gently remind them, as year after year goes by and they do next to nothing.  Although once in a while, a breakthrough will occur.  I had a fellow who fits in this category call me and asked about gun advice, the upcoming gun show in our area, that sort of thing.  So I felt good that he was at least doing something.  And it felt good that when he had a question, he thought to call me. 

With this group (and the next one I’ll talk about), there is another thing you have to consider.  If they call you during the collapse (and you know they will) will you let them into your retreat, or turn them away?  I have talked to my tribe about this, and we’ve decided that we will let some of them in.  Our reasoning is, we are only eleven people, and can accommodate a few more.  While we have the cat herder (me), the camp cook (my wife), the ER nurse, the mechanical genius, the electrician, the combat vet, and three adult children, we still wouldn’t mind having a few more folks to help with gardening, fence building, standing watch, etc.  And we already plan on making them work a little harder to make up for the fact that we did all the heavy lifting and they just came waltzing in.  And when they call in panicked desperation, they will be made aware of that fact.  And I have no doubt they will agree.  They’ll be as scared as Donald Trump on a windy day without hair spray.  But their penance won’t be forever.  Maybe just a few weeks or a month.              

The fourth and final type are the fatalists.  I’ve met more than one person who has said, “Well, if everything falls apart, so be it.  I’ll just die.  I wouldn’t want to live in that kind of world anyway.” 

This is an easy thing to say with bravado while things are relatively normal.  But the people who say that obviously have not thought it out.  For one thing, very few of us could put a gun in our mouths and pull the trigger (not to mention that it is a sin in many religious views).  The survival instinct is much stronger than these people realize.  And what if a wave of rioting comes through your neighborhood and you become a victim of unspeakable atrocities before you can even react?  Then there is the thought of dying of starvation and or dehydration.  These people push such horrible thoughts out of their mind with the “well, I’d just kill myself” mantra.     

In Summary, while the endgame seems as obvious to us as Paul Krugman filing bankruptcy, it can be painful to watch others we care about not getting in the game.  But your best bet is to figure out which group they are in, and treat them accordingly. - Mountain Man Virgil

Dear Editor:
Congratulations to TJ and family for getting connected with a great dog. I love German Shepherds!

Allow me to offer a couple of additions to the concept of survivalists utilizing guard dogs.

Food; When you ask people my grandparents age how they fed dogs “back in the day” you are likely to get the answer “the dogs ate table scraps” or the dogs ran around and found their own food. In a survival scenario there aren’t going to be any scraps nor is there going to be much to “forage.” Therefore if bringing a dog on to the team is your plan then you need to ensure you will be able to feed them. “Dog preps” if you will.

Vaccinations;  In addition to food preps it is a good idea to have a years worth of de-wormer on hand. How often you de-worm depends on the environment the dogs are in. Meaning in the suburbs once or twice a year should suffice however if they are around livestock they should probably be de-wormed every three to four months.

In a Schumer scenario rabies and “rabid” dogs will likely be rampant.  Have your dogs vaccinated with a three year rabies shot every year
Breeds;  The author mentions “watch” dogs versus “guard” dogs and there is a third category frequently referred to as “working guard dogs”. Working guard dogs sometimes referred to as “livestock protection dogs” do just that.  The litmus test amongst goat and sheep people of what breeds qualify as working guard dogs is breeds that can kill a cougar and run off a pack of wolves.  Much as I love German Sheppard’s and agree that “dobies” and Rottweiler’s can make excellent guard dogs, they are, on balance, no match for a cougar or wolf.

There are a good number of breeds used around the world as working guard dogs most of them are in the extra large breed category (German Sheppard’s are a large breed dog). The two most common working guard dogs are The Great Pyrenees’ and the Anatolian Shepherd.  The Great Pyrenees is an awesome breed but we opted for the Anatolians for two reasons. First where we live (within the American Redoubt) gets very hot in the summer and we felt that their thick bodies and long hair would not do well in such heat. Secondly the Anatolians have more of an “edge” towards people protection so they can function as both a guard dog and a working guard dog. These are very independent and head strong animals so don’t expect to teach them to attack on command but they are highly intelligent and fiercely protective so you don’t have to.  They are a 6,000 year old breed of dog from the Anatolian region of Turkey. In fact I was looking at some of the maps in my Bible and you can read about the area called "Anatolia" in the days of Moses.  With 6,000 years of breeding a “guard” dogs they know what to do instinctively.

The AKC web site states that the Anatolian is “a working guard dog without equal”.  However these dogs need space and are not for the uninitiated dog handler.  You can love these dogs up and play fetch with them etc but they are not pets. They do not go to the dog park ever, we have the veterinarians come to us or if they have to go to the clinic they go in through a side door directly to the exam room. These dogs are not to view any person or animal who is not part of the “pack” as anything but outsiders who need to be chased off.

Lastly any survivalists who decide to employ dogs should have a perimeter fence. That is your line in the sand and keeps your dogs from running away which helps insure their safety.

There are many great dogs and breeds out there and the German Shepherd may well be the best fit for TJ and family but I wanted to throw these ideas out there as a compliment to his article. - Peter P.

I read the recent post about guard dogs with interest, as I'm a new owner.  I agree with most of the points submitted.  A guard dog can be a 'heightened sensor' so you can rest as well a fierce opponent of aggression toward you and your family.  I have owned mine for a year and to be truthful never had an interest in dogs beforehand.  Even though I am a prepper, and practice stocking up on the 5 Gs (Gold, Guns, Ground, Gas, and Grub  - a Robert Kiyosaki-ism) I never gave considerable thought to a guard dog. 

Recently a friend of mine was very generous in that he gave me a puppy.  The breed was Black Russian Terrier and was shipped to me from the Ukraine.  As stated, I never had an interest but felt compelled to accept this gift if for nothing else that show appreciation for the immense generosity.  After being around this dog I quickly grew attached.  I also saw just how intelligent and quick to learn this breed is.  Even though I have limited knowledge of dog training, I could teach him basic commands in a few hours or no more than a day.   He is big and strong - tops out at about 130 lbs.   He doesn't slobber and doesn't shed.  I had him house broke in a few days and now he guards my family while I am away on business.  After saying this I guess I was a bit disappointed that this breed wasn't even listed in Caesars Top 10.  It's possible that it wasn't listed simply because of rarity and many Americans never heard of it (my vet included).  Even so there are several kennels in the USA that raise these unique canines and I would encourage those in the market to research them before making a purchase.  I would also encourage them to study the breed.  It's beginnings were founded in the Soviet army.  It was a highly classified project to make the perfect working dog/Guard dog.  Roughly 20 breeds were mixed together to produce what is now a Black Russian Terrier.  Such dogs as the Giant Schnauzer, Rottweiler, Newfoundland, Yorkshire Terrier etc were mixed together in an attempt to make a working dog that was durable in the diverse  terrain and climatic conditions of Russia.  My friend showed in various Ukrainian competitions it almost always outperformed the German Shepard.   And I personally watched them in attack drills - seeing them perform immediately on command.   

The only breed that was close was the Belgian Malinois.  I have also seen where the breed is used to pull small carts which could be useful if you had some walking to do.  Of course there are pros and cons to everything, and with me the maintenance of it's fur is the big drawback.  Keeping him groomed properly is a continual task that I usually do every 90 days.  And monthly I brush him out.  Other than fur maintenance, I find nothing negative and would recommend him along side the 10 submitted - and feel confident to say he could even outperform them.  In a TEOTWAWKI situation he would be a force multiplier. - S.K.

I enjoyed the posting by TJ about getting a dog to help out with protection during the long emergency, especially when you are "out of options".  There were many relevant points made, and I congratulate the writer's decision to add a protection dog to his limited preparation supplies.  That said, in my opinion, no dog will replace the necessity for other forms of self defense and home security.  More importantly, it is not as simple as it may takes a great deal of repetitive training to keep those dog-skills finely honed.  The addition of a dog to your mix is an augmentation, and a good one, if you have the right dog.  Chances are that even with zero background and training, a dog who has had the right exposure will come through for you.  A good chance exists that in the event of an attack upon your home, your dog may unfortunately be the first casualty, but in the meantime, we all have an inherent fear of getting bitten, and even a small dog's aggressive bark when we least expect it, can make us jump out of our skin.  I would also not recommend a "junk yard dog" that never gets the benefits of human interaction or controls.  The risks far outweigh the benefits...unless of course you actually have a junk yard.

I am a  former K-9 handler with a medium-sized Sheriff's Department in California prior to my retirement;  I was blessed to have lived and trained with the Danish Police, the source for my k-9 partner, "Sheik" (pronounced "Shike").  We worked night patrol and trained hard, for 5 + years, until I promoted out of the unit.  We lived together in my bachelor years, and became very close buddies.  We handled many high-risk situations together, from crimes in progress to felony car stops, and I miss him, to this day.  My only complaint?  That dog never wrote one report or testified in court even one time!. 

Needless to say, I have many fond memories.   His nickname among our squad was "John Wayne" because he was such a hard charger.  If he could talk he would say that I was a knucklehead and a pain to work with, but I had never been loved by an animal more.

It took a while before I was competent, and even longer to become really good at being a handler;  that came only after I learned from Sheik, and learned how to read him.  One of the enduring traits of Shepherds is that they are very loyal and forgiving.  I also witnessed and played the decoy or "bad guy"(taking bites or being a hidden suspect for the dog to find) for lots of K-9 teams, from departments all over, including the Danish Police.  I saw lots of dogs and lots of handlers, in all stages of training.  Most of the teams here in the states had dogs that were "Shutzhund".  More on that later.  Compared to the Europeans, who have been at it much longer, Americans were in the infant stages of understanding how dogs tick, and utilizing them  to their full capacity.  Our military has a much better grasp than the civilian/LE world, but of course the mission is entirely different.   I will also note that there are scientific studies going on now that are opening up whole new realms of understanding about man's best friend, and how he got to be so.

 A word about the mission.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with having an "alarm dog", even a sissy-pooch, who will notify you whenever anything goes bump in the night.  Know that you will have many false alarms, but he is just doing his job, and to the dog, a possum intruder, a butterfly intruder, and a man intruder are equally suspicious, and worthy of sounding off with an alarm.

Most if not all dogs are naturally suspicious, and protective, of their territory, whether that is the car, or your yard, some more than others.  Keeping your dog kenneled, or confined to your fenced yard, will make that suspicion grow.   He will become extremely suspicious of anything that makes a move or a sound on your property, which he views as his own.   I am a fan of kenneling, because it helped to protect my dog from the outside world, not the other way around.  Encouraging him to "watch him" when the moment presents itself will also help him in knowing what you want from him.  The right dog desires to please you! While his senses will be heightened outdoors, if the dog lives in your bedroom, frankly, his alarm will be too late coming, his sense of smell will be less sharp, and his sense of natural suspicion will be short, he will get lazy!

 In no case, ever, should the animal be allowed to wander the neighborhood.  That is a death sentence for him, not freedom.  Remember that dogs are pack creatures, their DNA is identical to wolves.  Don't let those floppy ears, wagging tail and soulful eyes fool you...they are pack animals (and you  must become the pack leader!)  Capitalize on the keen sense of smell that the dog is blessed with and that has proven itself time and time again, the acute hearing, his instincts to identify and neutralize dangers, and his physical fighting attributes, to your advantage.

On breeds.  Naturally I am biased toward Shepherds (the term "German" Shepherd is not used in Denmark, where they are known as Shaeferhunds, or "Shepherd dogs").  Of the 250 dog teams in the country at that time, there were only two that were not Shepherds, a pretty good indicator that the Danes did their homework on which breed would be best suited.  With respect to my Rottie-owning friends out there, just be aware, that Rottweilers require special handling, because they are stubborn!  One very major factor is the physical characteristics.  Shepherds have great endurance, and are able to withstand harsh climates.  Like some other breeds, there is an undercoat that acts as an insulator.  In my area, the short haired breeds are probably not the wisest choice for an outdoor dog.  A down side to having a Shepherd is that in certain parts of the country, they can be mistaken for a wolf or coyote, at a distance.

Nor does the dog have to be huge. One of the best working dogs I ever witnessed was a female Shepherd no more than 50 pounds...but you did not want to be on the receiving end when she hit you from six feet out on the run (and you will not outrun most dogs);  the "decoy" would hit the deck like a sack of potatoes, and without protection, would have been out of the fight, period.   The same holds true for the Belgian Malinois;   wirey, fast, and tough, now a leading figure for our military's combat needs.

Larger dogs have more physical problems, and of course can be expensive to feed as well.  They die sooner, and invariably suffer from joint and bone problems.  Never allow your dog to jump into car windows, crawl around on ladders in the air, jump over limbo sticks, all for the sake of "trials" that have nothing to do with the real world.  This will shorten the life of your dog and/or subject him to injury;  all of that pounding on the joints and tissues are not good for the animal, just like it is for us.  Yes, I did open the car door for Sheik, and no, I never competed in trials.  We would have received poor scores, undoubtedly, but I was more interested in the patrol dog attributes than what some judge determined to be the perfect "heel".  I would put my dog up against any other, any day.  We were actually one of the few teams who were always asked to do the "call off" drill during public relations "demos".  Why? because I had every confidence that the dog would call off in the midst of a full-on attack, even on a decoy without protective gear.  But it took training.

All of that said, folks will make up their minds on which dog to choose, much like firearms and motor oil, so let's move on.

Shutzhund dogs are impressive!  Just keep one thing in mind.  Shutzhund is more or less a sport, or competition, that tests obedience, scent work, and aggression, mainly.  It takes place on flat ground, usually a soccer field or similar setting, and is entertaining, as well.  Anyone would find it thrilling to watch.  Not to say that Shutzhund dogs will not "transition" to law enforcement or protection work, believe me, I have seen some fantastic dogs with a Shutzhund background.  But not always.  Put the dog and handler in a real world setting, on rural ground or an urban environment, like the roof of a department store as my memory serves me, or a pier jutting out into the ocean, and all of a sudden it is not the trial, or competition setting.  Stress enters in, and if the dog has what is known as "trained courage", and his heart is really not in the real world, you may have a problem if this is your sole source of protection.

I remember testing, and then rejecting, a police donation from a couple whose dog had a lineage to be proud of, and a high ranking in the dog show world and Shutzhund arena.  A beautiful animal with perfect conformation.  However, once away from his handler, on his own and early on in the test, the dog showed signs of extreme stress, i.e. diarrhea, straining to escape, etc.  I shut the test down immediately to avoid trauma, but at the owner's requests, brought the dog back a few days later for another round of different tests.  Unfortunately, when the handler was absent, the dog freaked out, clearly unable to handle a threat coming his way.  Perhaps his training was too harsh in the early phases, who knows.  The couple were miffed and bewildered at the same time, but could not but accept that their (expensive) prized animal was not even close to Rin-Tin-Tin status.  He was, undoubtedly, a great alarm dog, and a loving pet, and a dynamite show dog.

Some dogs are actually what is termed "sleeve happy", which can be attributed to misdirected training or just a dogs' obsession for the happens when a decoy can simply slip out of protective garb when the dog is hanging on during a bite, and run off, leaving the dog to wrestle with his prize, having torn the suspect's "arm" off.  Or "ball happy";  he loves to retrieve so much that he will leave the bad guy on his own, in order to go chase a thrown ball or other object.  These examples beg the will the dog perform under stress, multiple assailants, gunfire, around a female in heat, or offered food?  These are all things that must be included in training routines, constantly, so that the dog is always thinking.  Do you have the time, energy, or expertise to really tackle that?  If not, then settle for a giving, energetic, forgiving, and loving dog that also has protective traits, and suspicions of what he senses.  In other words, a good alarm dog.  That training is a lot less intense, and you have a good tool in your arsenal.

You will find that most "dog people" readily admit that they do not have all of the answers or pretend to have the correct fix for a problem each and every time.  The "dog whisperer", Caesar Millan, gets it.  He knows that the dog has a prey drive and other natural instincts, that he wants to interact with his human master, that he wants to have a job in the order of things, and above all, that the dog owner/trainer must be the pack leader in order to be successful.  Until our canine friends learn how to talk in order to tell us where we go wrong, then we will never be sure, at least this side of Heaven.  

Bottom line?  Choose the right dog for your mission, at least give it your best shot.  Do not pick up a freebie with "issues" and expect to change the animal to your liking.  You will, through love and patience, bring a traumatized dog "back to life", but you will not turn that dog into the hero that you may be seeking.  Dogs are much like children, they react negatively to trauma, but unlike children, they do not learn how to cope  as they mature.  Trauma has a huge negative impact on the dog's life, throughout his life.

So what would be characteristics to look for?

Besides the obvious health issues, look for a natural inquisitive nature.  Which pup chases the toy tied onto the fishing line, which one actually grabs it, and the ultimate, will he give it up to you when you ask him for it?  This is the classic retrieve, which in the form of a game will tell you a lot about the dog.  It goes against his grain to give it to you, but if he is willing to do that, this is a major plus...the desire to please, to make friends, to share his new-found bounty when he doesn't have to.
Test him with like models, just never demand at this stage, or frighten him.  Know this:  the dog who will not retrieve will usually not meet your demands of him.

Look for the leader of the litter, one who displays confidence.  Size is not the issue here.  How many times have we seen a Chihuahua-sized dog rule the roost in a group of dogs?  We hear, "he doesn't know how little he is".  This guy is the alpha, and dogs respect the leader.

Does he react with curiosity to noise, like some pebbles inside of a tin can that you have rolled into his world.  Does he chase it, poke it with his nose, bite it, bark at it, or, does he run away to the safety of the litter, never to return to that vile thing that makes a strange noise.  Does he show no ambition to check it out?  The ideal youngster is the one who cautiously approaches, perhaps barks, and grabs it!  This is a trait of courage, and overcoming his prey.

I personally like a pup that is mouthy, a big mouth.  Usually these are happy fellows.  This usually ties into that trait we seek, the alpha, the fighter jock, the confident one who wants the world to know that he his there and does not intimidate easily, that the world is his kingdom.  Dogs that bark on command are a huge plus, and keep in mind that once this command is mastered, and he knows exactly what it means to follow it, it is far easier to then teach him "Silence!" when the time for silence is appropriate.  

As previously stated, size is not necessarily the number one aspect of why you should choose a particular dog.  As Americans, we love everything big...big cars, big guns, big horses, you name it.  Just remember, the bigger the dog, the more problems you must deal with, not to mention that the larger dog is usually slower, and agility suffers as well... just as in the human world.  Picture that nimble Border Collie vs. a tank like a Mastiff, moving that herd around.  On the other hand, if you have ever wandered into a sheep pasture being guarded by a Newfoundland or similar livestock protection dog, you quickly realize this guy's capabilities, and will, to crush you like a rodent.

Male or female?  The facts are, that males are usually chosen for their fighting spirit rather than the females for their nurturing spirit, in the world of K-9.  That said, I have broken up my share of dog fights (a dangerous pastime that also gets real tiresome) to know that one usually does not suffer the same fate when handling the ladies.  Ditto for cat chasing, peeing on everything in sight, and other knucklehead things that, okay, males do.  Sheik, bless his heart, even went out of his way to drink from another dog's water bowl on the training field, and then, with a look on his face as if to say, "...bring it dude",  he peed in it.  The choice is yours, but just know that many of the same attributes are there for males and females alike, but with less aggression for the females who do not have the testosterone that the males do.  

A word on nutrition.  We have a 16 year old Dachshund, with Cushing's Disease, which is in essence a benign cyst on the pituitary gland.   Her weight ballooned, and with her severe diabetes-like symptoms,  I was preparing myself to say good-bye to this beloved little pet.  A friend told us about "Honest Kitchen" food, which is dehydrated, all natural, organic, USA-made dog food.  It comes in varieties depending on needs, and is easily prepared in small batches ahead of time.  It completely turned our little girl around.  The Cushing's has taken it's toll, and she has little muscle left now, but she is pain free, and for being the age that she is, gets around, at least for now.  We were blessed to have been given the gift of having her around for a little while longer.   The vet was amazed at how quickly she got back to her 8 pound ideal weight.  So I highly recommend it, and will keep it in my larder from now on as a nutritional, and tasty, protein-rich main source of dog food.  I read where it is actually approved for use by humans...if you were so inclined of course.  The poops, normally a messy and smelly chore, come out quite different with this food, easy to pick up and with far less unpleasantries, I am supposing due to the high fiber content and all natural ingredients.  Even in the case of occasional indoor "accidents", it just picks right up with no stains, smears, or intense odor.

At a cost of $50 or so for a 10 lb box, at first glance this stuff sounds unaffordable for most of us.  Keep in mind, however, that it is dehydrated, so in adding water, it is equal in duration to a big bag of high quality kibble.  It would be a great food for a working security dog.

Don't forget one final aspect of all of this: People who have dogs have a happier and more adventurous life, with less stress.  They live longer, and just enjoy their existence more.  Dogs are even taken into nursing homes and cancer wards, with fantastic results.  These animals can be our companions, our friends, and can make our tasks a bit easier.  In a world where chaos and social unrest are the rule of the day, I would say that owning and caring for animals, especially a good dog,  just might put a smile on your face.  As one pastor put it, the "Goodness" and "Mercy" mentioned in the Psalms, that follow us all the days of our life, are just the names of our four-legged pals. - L.R.D.

Tina M.'s Mashed Potato Soup
28 cups potato flakes
10 cups dry milk
1 1/4 cups chicken bouillon (smash the cubes)
5 teaspoons celery seed (heaping)
2 teaspoons pepper
5 teaspoons parsley (heaping)
5 teaspoons chives (heaping)
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, blend well.  Store in an airtight container.
Serving instructions:
Place 1/2 cup soup mix in a soup bowl or mug.  Add 1 cup boiling water and stir until smooth.  Let soup stand 1-2 minutes to thicken.

Useful Recipe and Cooking Links:

A Creamy Potato Soup recipe

Easy Potato Soup Mashed Potato Flakes Recipe

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

Denouement of the "austerity" measures in Euope's southern tier: The planned seizure of of up to 9.9% of bank account holdings in Cyprus (and the revelation that Germany and IMF's initially demanded 40%) revealed a paradigm shift: banksters and bureaucrats are no longer bound by a core tenet of the Social Contract. While for years most of us meekly went along with gradually increasing taxes, we had the solace that one thing was sacrosanct: We only pay taxes on our earnings ONCE. Apparently, this is no longer true. (Yes, Mojo Nixon was right, albeit crude and premature.) My oft-repeated advice: Get out of Dollar-denominated investments and into practical, barterable tangibles. These are our only true safe havens in the era of inflation, over-taxation, and now double-taxation. The advent of double taxation makes it clear that the gloves are off. But so brazenly revealing their true role as plunderers may come back to bite them.

Here is some commentary on the Cyprus situation, over at Zero Hedge: JPMorgan Asks "Has Europe Bazookaed Itself In The Foot", Answers "Yes"

Speaking of involuntary short-cropped haircuts: Tennessee Legislature Set To Talk About Police Piracy Of Motorists

European economy struggles under debt and staggering unemployment: EU unemployment at record while nations pile into massive levels of debt. Inflation censorship.

Items from The Economatrix:

Sinclair:  One Of The Most Important Events In History & Gold (Regarding the Cyprus bank account tax situation. Some claim that 80% of those deposits are Russian "black money.")

Deutsche Bank:  Only Jesus Can Save The Euro Area

Factory Data Underscores Economic Momentum

Minimum Wage, Factoring For Inflation, Is Lower Than 1956

Reader Jeff H. sent: Guns & Ammo Ranks the Best States for Gun Owners in 2013.

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Some inevitable news, from New York State: Silver Creek man becomes first arrest under new gun laws. (If the 2nd Amendment doesn't apply to modern firearms like the AR-15, then the 1st Amendment doesn't apply to modern media like television and the Internet.)

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Seed for Security is offering their Seed Saving Guide, with the purchase of each Super Survival Pack. This guide includes instructions on how to save corn, bean, Pea, winter squash, pumpkin, spinach, tomato, dill, beet, cabbage, pepper, cucumber, melon and eggplant seeds.  This guide was written by Nan, the owner of Seed for Security. They are also offering a bonus pint of Winter Rye Grain (approximately 13,200 seeds) and a bonus packet of Soldier Beans (approximately 150 seeds) with every order $45 and over. This offer is for a limited time.

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Just like NIJ, Illinois state representative says magazine bans useless without confiscation

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Senators Aim to Protect Vets Gun Rights. Please contact your senators and congressmen about this issue!

"We, here in America, hold in our hands the hopes of the world, the fate of the coming years; and shame and disgrace will be ours if in our eyes the light of high resolve is dimmed, if we trail in the dust the golden hopes of men." - Theodore Roosevelt, Address at Carnegie Hall, March 30, 1912

Sunday, March 17, 2013

March 17th is the birthday of Józef Franczak (born 1917, died 21 October 1963.) He was a Polish Army Corporal who fought in the World War II resistance against the invading Germans. He then carried on after the war, fighting against the occupying Soviets and their Polish communist stooges. Eventually he was one of the last of the Cursed Soldiers resistance in Poland. His nom de guerre was "Lalek."


Today we present another two entries for Round 45 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course. (A $1,195 value.) 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 gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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. C.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of D.) 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, E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 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. E.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value), and F.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 45 ends on March 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.

Today's first article comes from B.H. in North Idaho, the author of the first prizing-winning article in our writing contest, "On Preparing Your Children", which was posted back in October of 2005.


Over the years since I first read the novel Patriots by James Rawles and made the decision to embrace prepping my idea of prepping has changed.  It started when I recognized that friends, acquaintances and strangers all had varying ideas and degrees of preparedness even within very similar prepping models.  The greatest characteristic of is that there is something for everyone presented in articles and information.  Regardless of your station you’ll find information pertinent to your specific situation to help you improve your own preparedness level.

I realized that my own prepping mindset was slowly shifting over time as I pursued knowledge, skills and dealt with changing personal circumstances.  Health issues, children getting older, economic changes and political changes have all required minor to major changes in my original preparedness model.  These changes and realization led me to begin classifying the different levels or approaches to prepping.  It began with a realistic and unbiased look at the location I had originally determined as a great location for prepping.  My research began to reveal some hidden assumptions and biases I was holding that caused me to ignore critical factors.

Of course, some folks will adamantly disagree with my assumptions so I feel it necessary to establish a broad disclaimer:

My assessments and research are non-scientific and are particular to me and my personal familial situation.  I try to use a broad brush for informational and statistical research and apply it to general trends and loosely defined geographic, demographic and economic particulars to my own education, experience and life skills.

I stated above that I have come to recognize general trends or categories in the preparedness mindset or commitment levels.  I try to define these now:

Rawlesian Approach (RA):  The original, at least from my perspective, retreat or prepper model-the Gray’s Ranch depicted in the novel Patriot’s.  A free-standing and completely self-sufficient ranch/homestead that requires no outside contact for a 3-5 year survival situation and is off-grid.  Keep in mind the Gray’s didn’t meet this point until after the Barter Faire when they accumulated livestock and more kerosene.  Basically, they were able to survive and thrive without outside contact.  Essentially, an Island. (If you have heartburn about this definition please re-read disclaimer)

Modern Homestead (MH):            I think this can be separated into two unique sub-classifications depending upon the isolation or close proximity to smaller metropolitan areas.  The ultra-rural MH is at least 1-2 hours from the nearest Wal-mart at highway speeds.  East of the Mississippi River this is at least 75 miles, rural and isolated from larger metropolitan areas with box stores and trauma center.  If the homestead is closer, like 30 minutes to one hour, then I consider it a rural homestead.

In the American Redoubt a drive 30 minutes to one hour can put you out into the woods or other terrain fairly quickly.  For example, one hour from the Spokane Valley can put you into another county and even into another State or National Forests of Idaho Panhandle.  The MH may be off-grid, on-grid or a mix of the two.  The main characteristic is distance and the fact that the MH is NOT self-sufficient or an island.  The MH needs commerce or access to commerce for survival.

Suburban Farm (SF):            The SF falls within 30 minutes of smaller metropolitan areas.  SF communities are where homes sit upon larger parcels 1+ acre or larger.  These areas usually have local ordinances or GMR’s that restrict sub-dividing parcels or restricting high density dwellings.  These communities usually have a “country” feel and many homes have gardens and small pasture/orchards.  In my area I generally see 1-3 homes out of every 10 homes are growing vegetables and/or raising animals other than pets.  The remaining 6-9 homes could raise something if they converted their manicured lawns or fallow pasture to productive use.  The SF area usually has people selling fresh produce through the growing season right from their property or at the local farmers market.

The SF is usually attached to a local water district but outside metropolitan waste water treatment facilities (septic).  Some SF’s have access to irrigation districts that allow larger water access for irrigation.  The irrigation district water is usually cheaper and is untreated.  In my local area the water is drawn directly from the aquifer and is substantially cheaper than municipal water.  SF’s have a considerable number of parcels on well water systems.  In general, the SF is well water with septic system.

Urban Garden (UG):            This is a broad category defined by its close proximity to the metropolitan center.  The UG is minutes from all modern services like Costco, Trauma centers and fast-food outlets.  A great test is to determine the outer boundary of the UG with the SF is what I call the Nacho test.  Just order nachos at Taco Bell and start driving.  You’ve hit the outer limits of the UG when the canned cheese hits room temperature.  Eat the nachos at your own risk.

The UG is limited.  Limited in ability to produce, support and defend.  The UG can support salad garden with some exception for green houses and creative landscaping.  We see occasional stories about the UG prepper being persecuted by zoning Nazis for having a garden in their front yard and other such nonsense.

It must be stated, even if it’s obvious, the RA would take considerable financial resources and time to achieve.  I only know of three people who have attained the RA and yet they lack the human capital necessary for long-term success.  The last few years I have moved from one style/station to the next and made a habit of looking for the natural or organic things that came with preparedness and each station.  What commonality was being ignored or taken for granted?  Were there any consistent commonalities present?  How would these affect my preparedness station? And, as a Christian, was I being obedient to God’s Word?

All these questions brought me to my new view of preparedness—The Commerce Model of Prepping.

The Commerce Model of Prepping:
This model of preparedness makes a major assumption as a foundation of its premise.  The assumption is that human nature drives people to attempt a return to normalcy in the shortest time possible.  Even if that normal is different from what was previously known—they will still plan, act and work toward that new normalcy.  To better understand what I mean we should characterize or assign levels to “events” that initiate or launch usage of our preparations on a full scale.

I’ve loosely defined these events by severity.

  1. Habit Changer-Lay-offs, Illness, Regional Disaster, Personal or Localized Events.
  2. Life Changer-Economic Depression/Collapse, War, Pandemic, Modified Societal Collapse, Regional/National Disaster.
  3. Game Changer- EMP, Civil or Global War, Pandemic and other survival fiction-worthy events.

These events can overlap somewhat.  For example, a long-term layoff or unemployment may change habits at first and then become a life changer by forcing a move or shift in socioeconomic status. 

The latest economic “recovery” (quotes denote sarcasm) has been a habit changer for most and a life changer for many.  Regardless of impact, what was/is the single largest common denominator for people experiencing “Hope-N-Change” (again Sarcasm)?  The answer is immediate adjustment and subsequent pursuit of normalcy. How?  Salisbury Steak instead of Sirloin Steak--Tilapia instead of Salmon--Staycation instead of Vacation--shopping at a Goodwill thrift store instead of the mall.

Okay—simple economics.  What does this have to do with preparedness?  This natural tendency should be a major decision factor in your preparedness plans—especially location.  How?  IMHO it should flavor all your preparedness systems and decisions.  Why?

The Commerce Model of Preparedness stipulates that safe, free and consistent commerce and trade will be the catalyst for any long-term success for personal, familial, community, regional and even national recovery. 

Again, IMHO, every aspect of preparedness needs to be viewed through this perspective.  Unless you have achieved the RA level of preparedness you must be prepared for commerce. One could argue that even if you are an RA level you should be ready just the same.  A business approach to preparedness puts you into a prime position to thrive and thrive abundantly.

The commerce model forces you to think in terms of efficiency, cost-effectiveness, economies of scale and supply and demand while you pursue your prepping goals.  I would like to use one comprehensive example to address this point.

The Modern Homestead, especially the ultra-rural variety, has many pitfalls when viewed through the lens of commerce.  In a way this example will be a de-facto assessment of North Central Idaho-specifically Idaho County.  I believe the only system that has long-term viability in these ultra-rural areas is the RA.  If you are an island with all your preps then you are an island.  You have the luxury of riding out most events or situations.

North-Central Idaho has many enticing qualities.  Good quality land at reasonable prices, large percentage of freedom-minded individuals, elected officials that apply limited government and self-policing models, distance from large urban populations and on and on.  Obvious negatives are lack of jobs and the [higher] average age of population [41.7 years. Statewide, the median age is 33.2 years.] At first glance its ideal but add some likely and probable factors and the picture changes rapidly.  Let’s start with fuel—either prohibitive pricing and/or scarcity of supply—which can happen for a variety of reasons.

Fuel scarcity or price would limit trade and the ability to travel for necessary items for success.  If you did have the fuel the additional expense would put you at a competitive disadvantage versus competitors.  Trade within an ultra-rural setting will likely have immediate limitations due to scarcity of products.  Any entrepreneur who tries to fill demand will be able charge higher prices.  Fuel scarcity creates a “lesser of two evils” situation.  Use the fuel to get what you need or don’t and suffer the consequences.

(Author’s Note:  An underlying assumption of my work is that there will always be a currency of some sort used to support the function of trade--it may be greenbacks, blue bucks or .22LR ammo.  The point is no trade functions, with economic efficiency, without a trusted, recognizable medium of exchange.)

The small towns that pepper this region have only two days of fuel and no back-up power to run the pumps. A regional earthquake of meaningful size would close all roads for days or even weeks with rock slides.  Economic Collapse or a substantial increase in fuel prices begins to limit and stunt economic activity.  Most of the MH’s in this region are 20-30 minutes’ drive up and out from the small towns and then an additional hour or more to an actual metropolitan center.  Scarce resources would immediately become scarcer, too expensive or even inaccessible.  Unless you are a true RA the MH that is one hour or more from smaller metropolitan areas need to honestly assess their viability.  How long can you last without electricity, cheap fuel and open roads?  Just the loss of one would render 99% of the homesteads in this area unviable if lost for more than two weeks.

The stark reality of this vulnerability came to light when discussing my own personal research of this area.  The local sheriff made a revealing comment about the region.  His belief was that if the government wanted to depopulate the area they would just turn off the power and stop fuel deliveries.  In his estimation the first third would leave in a week, the next third the following two weeks and within a month only the RA’s would be left.  I had to concur.  My research showed that the largest towns between Lewiston, Idaho and Missoula, Montana have only a two day supply of fuel and 5-6 day supply of food—under normal demand.   These inherent vulnerabilities make the MH, especially the ultra-rural MH, dangerous and success unattainable.

My personal conclusion was that if I couldn’t reach or become an RA then I needed to seriously modify my preparedness plans.  I began to apply the Commerce Model to determine best case or most applicable outcome coverage—what gets me the biggest bang for the buck!  Again, consider the types of events and their potential likelihood and then combine with the Commerce Model.  The result is a strategic location between small metropolitan areas and the MH.  Locations that are close enough for commerce and yet far enough away for seclusion and security.  Close enough for aid and close enough to provide aid depending on the circumstance.

From a Christian perspective I started to ask myself questions about charity and service to the community.  Am I behaving Christian-like if I remove myself from the stabilizing role of neighborhood and community member?  If my model is to “wait out the carnage/die off” in the cities is that appropriate when I could have been in the trenches from the beginning making a positive influence back to normal (whatever that may be)?  It really comes down to a question of Christian Worldview.

Is the Kingdom of God in decline and will continue to get its collective rear-end kicked by the God-haters?  Or is Jesus sitting on His throne, at the right hand of the Father, and all power and dominion been given Him?  Uh-Oh!  Yes I went there.  I opened the can of worms that pits those who grab their “left behind” and are waiting for the proverbial “mothership” to come whisk them away from “end-times” and thus any potential suffering.  (If my sarcasm seems over done please re-read the gospels and take note of how Jesus wielded sarcasm and humor.)  The opposite crowd is the Dominion theology crowd who thinks America is in decline because the Church as a whole in the US has abdicated, capitulated and quit working to further God’s kingdom.  The evidence is divorce, public homosexuality, abortion and economic/monetary ignorance, and all the other outcomes and sanctions America deserves for abandoning and condoning through inaction.

The point isn’t to offend but to challenge.  I will finish my de-facto assessment of North-Central Idaho with this generalization.  A majority of Christians in this region are there because they are “fleeing” the world.  They’ve over-applied the command to not be “of the world” at the expense of “being in the world”.  They have become islands upon an island.  No mindset for dominion of this world but more of a “let’s hide here and scrape out an existence while we sing kumbaya.”  The belief in a pending “rapture” (a word not found in the Bible) has created a Church wide pessimism that slowly erodes the Church’s desire to think generationally for the Christ’s Kingdom.  Why bother building cathedrals when the “mothership” will be here any day?  Obama must be the anti-Christ—right?


The American Redoubt’s ultra-rural areas have many families are living at or on the edge of poverty because they feel “led” to flee the city but arrived with no means to support their family.  I was amazed at the amount of grown, able-bodied “Christian” men who worked part-time while on public assistance.  They refused to provide basic needs to the point of having homeschooled children that were unschooled.  The parable of Talents once again applies.

A common characteristic is home churches (islands) that resent and openly castigate the role of pastors and formal church government of any kind.  Home churches have a place where open congregational worship is forbidden or restricted.  Often used as a defense for home churching is the New Testament but the young Church in the book of Acts only home churched when they couldn’t worship corporately at the local synagogue or temple.  It is difficult or impossible for a home church family to bless the local Church and vice-versa when they don’t worship together consistently with an eye toward spiritual maturity.  Even in "Patriots" the fictional Group only home churched when they had too otherwise they met corporately at church.  Modern day China gives us a real model of the Church—corporate worship in secret and home churching as the last option.

The real problem with this retreat mentality is the tendency to avoid accountability—especially the husbands and fathers as providers.  One can’t be challenged to be active, prosperous, church growing and people serving if they are a part of an inward looking, self-contained, meat (spiritual) avoiding, hide from the apocalypse mindset.  How can the Church conquer the World for Christ when the Church is hiding in the wilderness?

Let me point out that most of these folks are kind and would gladly give their shirt off their back.  My point ties in with commerce.  These folks are, IMHO, wasting the most precious of all commodities—TIME.  The asset (or talent for a biblical reference) of human capital is being misappropriated and wasted and are they are positioned for an epic failure of tragic proportions.  How?  Let’s go back to an example or one limiting factor—Fuel.

If fuel becomes scarce or extremely expensive most of the islands I’ve referred to will be in immediate poverty and limited in options.  They will, tragically, become a huge burden to the church community.  How is the Church to serve those around them when there is no apparatus or strong foundation for service?  Relatively speaking, times are good now and this community/region has a weak spiritual, financial, vocational, economic and geographical position.  Will they sit and starve for Jesus or become a moving hoard of good mannered locusts?
A very legitimate question I say!  My point has merit in two ways: the first assessment is to ask if I had to walk to town for commerce could I do it in less than four hours?  Second, make a list for one month of every item you get from the store or mail order and apply a scarcity model to that list—could you survive without commerce?  Who could?

Are you skeptical?  Remove fuel and add any other category on your list.  If you are ultra-rural do you think those scarce items would be more readily available for commerce in your ultra-rural location or in small to mid-sized town (30,000 pop or less)?  Assume your area can and would become a closed system at some point.  I really want to connect the entire piece by asking you the reader to combine both main points.

Is the community or America better served by Godly people removing themselves from populated areas in the best interest of stability and return to normalcy?  If God is to sanction America and allow habit, life or game changers to occur-- is the pillar and culture changing news of the gospel better served hiding in the ultra-rural or better served with “boots on the ground” in closer proximity to greater populations?  I think of Gen. Patton always moving to where the fight is to take the initiative.  Can you be a tent-maker like Paul?  Providing commerce, stability and service to man while being a platform for the transformational truth of Christ’s work on the cross?

In closing, I hope I have challenged the reader on two levels.  First Spiritually--Examine your worldview and study God’s word and the subject of end times. It does matter as one worldview, by nature, creates a natural pessimism and one doesn’t.   For deeper understanding I recommend the unanswered and authoritative work By Dr. Kenneth Gentry.  “He Shall Have Dominion.”  Here you will find a deep review of the recent (1830s) move by the Church in America to embrace Dispensational Pre-millennialism (Rapture Theology) and Post-Millennialism (the Church's historic position). 

Second- I hope I challenged your “prepping model”.  I believe one’s end-times worldview and beliefs about commerce are interconnected and dictate one’s prepping model by either causing an “isolate and prep mindset” versus a “stay, prep and positively impact mindset”.  Are you thinking about the next 5-10 years or the next 100-200 years?

I left the ultra-rural area because God challenged the fallacy in my worldview that held the idea of “prep for the worst but hope for the best.”  The idea that I could avoid or ride out any sanctions or events He allows America to endure is wrong.  The Church, with Christ as the head, is the glue of civilization and the only hope for America and more importantly the World.  Christ’s Church is the army and this victory must be worked out over time.

The modern preparedness movement, even the Rawlesian Approach, is distracting the Church from its real mission of serving those in need  Preparing your house, neighbors and local churches to be a network of support, and yes commerce, is Biblical.  The Union Gospel Mission has taken these marching orders and followed them superbly.  Food, clothing and shelter while growing the Kingdom for Christ.  It should be our model also.

Solar [coronal] mass ejections occur most frequently at the peak of the 11 year solar cycle.  Statistics show that Earth will get a direct hit from a major solar mass ejection every about every 500 years. This estimate comes from the number of solar mass ejections we see and frequency. Now figure in the size of the Earth versus the size of the solar mass ejection. The calculation is similar to the odds of a pin landing on a particular point on a globe, except Earth is the pin and the globe is the sun. In the end, we can estimate that Earth will get hit every 500 years or so by a flare large enough to affect our electronics.

This doesn't mean that life will end when the next one hits. Solar storms come in different intensities. The impact of a solar mass ejection our civilization will depend on its strength and the technology we think we need to get by.

Satellites in orbit are the most sensitive when it comes to solar radiation. They lack the protection of Earth's atmosphere. Those satellites on the side of the Earth that is facing the Sun during a major solar flare would have component failures. However, not all satellites would be lost. There are different designs of satellites, with some more shielded [or "hardened"] than others. Satellites on the back side of Earth couldn't be affected unless the solar flare and its accompanying radiation showered the Earth for many hours as the satellite's rotation brought it to the day side. And variations in the Earth's magnetic field could offer protection to some satellites. We would see a mix of charred, failing and fully functional satellites. We can’t know when a flare will hit except for the likelihood of it occurring during the peak of the solar cycle, so no nation can protect all of its satellites by keeping them on the night side of the Earth.
Your Best Defense Against This

Don't rely on GPS or Global Positioning Satellite Systems for navigation. Know your route or know how to get there with only paper maps. And never rely on GPS-based geocaching to find hidden supplies in an emergency. If we see a massive release of solar radiation that is the natural equivalent of an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) weapon, then your GPS capability will probably be gone.
Long AC Transmission Lines

Safety equipment designed to prevent overloads will protect most of the transformers connected to long Alternating Current or AC power transmission lines. However, some transformers will get overloaded by the field strength of a solar flare or solar storm. The bad news is that this means that utility crews will still have to replace hundreds of transformers in addition to resetting thousands of circuit breakers where the safety equipment prevented the transformer from overloading. This is a slow process, and it is hampered by the fact that we don’t have a huge stockpile of transformers for a disaster of this scale. (Although stockpiling spare transformers has been recommended as a step to minimize the impact of a nuclear weapon or EMP pulse weapon unleashed on the United States.) The task is made more complex by the need to bring thousands of [power plants and] power lines back on line and in [phase] sync to restore the [three] power grids in CONUS]. [JWR Adds: The manufacturing lead times for large transformers are as long as 24 months!]

Power distribution systems would be massively disrupted for anything greater than a mid-scale flare, but the power distribution system would be spotty failures for anything less than mid-scale flares.  These failure rates will be affected by any improvements in the overload protection devices that hopefully have been made since the Northeast Blackout of 1965. If the recommended overload protections were put in place and maintained, the size and scope of outages would be reduced.

Your Best Defense Against This
You should know how to disconnect your home from the local power grid as soon as you have warning of imminent power disruptions, [via your main breaker.] At a minimum, have the means on hand to live a few weeks without electricity. It would be better to have renewable power sources or a generator and fuel stores on your property.

The Internet

The Internet itself will go mostly dark. Why? Imagine what happens if 99% of the servers go off line. They have not all been destroyed. They simply need power to be available. Without the power grids up, the Internet will be crippled. 

Many servers will be without power due to the damage to the power grid. Those servers that are still running will be isolated by power outages to the hubs they use to transmit information. A functional server in a computer room is a hub in the Internet. If it cannot connect to the major nodes to relay information then it might as well be turned off. And in an emergency like this, facilities running off of generator-supplied power will focus on properly shutting down rather than keeping extra servers running once they’ve backed up their data.

Fiber optic lines will be okay. However, with the disruption of power in the AC transmission lines, means that the fiber optics will be "dark" until they get power again. Those relying on Skype or Internet access will be left in the dark, since fiber optic lines won't run without power, and the backup option of Internet via satellite will not be an option.
Your Best Defense Against This
Have other methods of contacting family members, such as [FRS , GMRS, or MURS] walkie-talkies and ham radio. Document everyone’s phone number in a [hard copy] address book, and make multiple copies so that you can find their contact information even if the Internet is essentially dead.
Back up your data locally, regardless of whether or not you perform online backups. Have local sources of any information that you frequently reference. And make sure you have entertainment on hand that does not rely on an Internet connection.


Laptops with batteries are relatively immune to solar flares. They receive power from the battery and so will remain operational until the battery runs out. [If disconnected from outside power or data cables] they will not get fried by a solar flare. However, they could be ruined by an EMP weapon [if in very close proximity].  Desktop computers will be in worse shape. The thousands of miles of power, phone, and Ethernet cables connecting many desktop computers act like long antennas, picking up the voltage generated by the solar mass ejection. The cables connecting the computers thus have the potential to damage desktop computers [or any laptops that are connected.]
Your Best Defense Against This
Use surge protectors and UPS in your home network. Keep laptop batteries charged, and have spare batteries. [Leave computers disconnected from power and data cables when not in use.]


Land line telephone [handsets] will probably be fine. Land line phones receive power through the same copper wire bundle that the phone signal travels through. Each land line home phone is connected to the phone company with up to several miles of telephone line.  These lines are generally far too short to be affected by an event like a solar storm, but they are at much more at risk to EMP  The Central Offices (COs) changed over from tradition relays to computerized switching decades ago. So the phone systems are now at greater risk since the computerized systems are less robust.  In short, the phone lines may work but the computers than handle the call routings may go down.

Cordless phones in homes with land-line phone lines will work as long as there is power to the home or the batteries are charged. Households relying entirely on cell phones are in trouble.
Your Best Defense Against This
Keep at least one tradition land line phone handset in your home. Own additional methods of communication like ham radio rigs, and know how to use them. Some of the hand-cranked Emergency Radios can also charge cell phones, and this is a good 'tie-breaker' when deciding which Emergency Radio to buy.

Ham Radio

Amateur radio or ham radio would be temporarily affected by the solar flare, disrupted until the radiation [in the ionosphere] has peaked and passed. After that point, ham radio equipment will run as long as there is power to run them. Those with hand crank radios will be able to listen. Ham radio operators with backup generators or photovoltaics will be able to transmit. 2 meter transmissions that depend on grid-powered repeaters will be limited to line of sight transmission.

Your Best Defense Against This
Find battery-powered ham radio equipment, so that you can always stay in touch. Own at least one method of recharging the batteries that is not reliant on the power grid, whether it is a hand-crank receiver or a PV panels (for transceivers.)

Personal Electronics

Small personal electronics like cell phones, laptops, tablet computers and televisions will initially be fine after a solar mass ejection.
They have the Earth's atmosphere shielding them. Their electronic components will be fine. However, the device's functionality depends on power, whether this comes from a crippled power grid, local generator or renewable power.

The problem for users will come from the damage to the communication networks these devices rely upon. For example, television stations and cell phone towers will be out. Cell phone towers have good backup batteries; they are designed to last 4 to 8 hours off of the battery. This works well during electrical storms that disrupt power [briefly], permitting local users to still make calls. However, in an extended power outage, the cell phone towers themselves will go offline within 8 hours unless they are powered by PV panels [which is very uncommon]. generators or a working local power source. At this point, even those with a working cell phone [handset] cannot complete calls.
Your Best Defense Against This

For each device you cannot live without, maintain at least two spare batteries for it. Better yet, have a battery charger for those batteries so that they will continue to function no matter how long the grid is down. You may also want to buy an antenna to ensure that your television can still receive local channels [rather than relying on a cable television service provider. ] Local television stations often have generators and transmitters on site and will continue broadcasting news even if a solar storm ruins satellites. [Their ability to do so will be limited by the depth of their fuel supplies for their backup generators.]


[Vehicles will be unaffected by solar storms.] The studies I have read say that about 1 vehicle in 10 will be rendered inoperable [by EMP], not the near 100% that some alarmists have predicted.   Older vehicles [with traditional ignition systems nd fuel management systems] will be completely unaffected as long as the owner has gasoline to run them. [JWR Adds: If the field strength of EMP is high enough to destroy a vehicle's electronic ignition system or fuel management system microprocessors, then you would be so close to a nuclear weapon that you would inside of its blast radius. So you would probably be dead before you'd ever have the chance to see if one of the affected vehicles started.]

The greater problems will come from the power outages. If satellites are out, the payment systems that rely on satellites to connect to a bank and withdraw payment will not work. If power is out, most gas pumps will not work. Traffic becomes a nightmare when power outages wipe out traffic control.  
Your Best Defense Against This
Stock up on stabilized gasoline. Carry cash so that you can pay for gasoline, if necessary. Carry maps in your car, instead of relying on GPS.

[JWR Adds: For additional perspectives with greater technical detail, see the EMPACT America web site. My recent blog article, titled Islands in the Darkness: Some Local Power Utilities Have Prepared to Go It Alone may also be of interest.]

Dear Mr. Rawles,
A.N. presented some excellent overall information in Beginning Bee Keeping, but a few additions are in order:

A nuc is not just a screened package of bees but rather is a nucleus colony, usually of 5 or fewer frames.  It is a working colony complete with drawn comb, brood, pollen stores and honey, often with a new queen.  For those thinking about jumping into bees, it is a great hobby, but not an easy one.  Most new beekeepers do not last past the third year, often discouraged due to repeated bee losses.  There are lots of tricks to this business (hobby) to be able to keep going.  Parasitic varroa mites, small hive beetle, two types of foul brood disease and other challenges are not small obstacles.  But they can be tackled, and there is plenty of info out there to help you.  Get some books and read, read, read! 

For splitting or "making increase" with colonies, you must either have an additional new queen, or queen cell, or eggs or newly hatched larva less than 24 hours old in the new or divided colony.  With enough healthy bees in the split and eggs or larva, the bees can make a new queen if you don't have one (depending on the time of year and available drones for mating). But there is a significant break in the colony brood cycle and decrease in hive strength while you wait for the bees to make an emergency queen. If possible make splits with thousands of bees, not hundreds for best results.  (1 lb of bees is about 1,700 bees.) The easiest way to make increase is make splits when you see already capped queen cells in the hive, in spring or early summer. 

All honeybee colonies have a natural tendence to reproduce and send out swarms. You can use this tendency to build your apiary. Most honey production is in a very short, two week period no matter where you are located.  Few areas of the world except Australian have multiple nectar flows.  The rest of the year colonies are usually in a net loss situation. Swarming is a greater tendency for the Russian and Carniolan lines of honeybees versus the traditional Italian lines. All bees are different, so study the difference and use to your advantage.  With a table saw you can make most bee hive components yourself, but it would be wise to stock up on the more difficult items in advance of TEOTWAWKI, particularly frames and plastic foundation.  All the best, - Beeman2

The folks at Pantry Paratus wrote to mention that thusfar they have raised $3,312 for Christian Reformed Outreach, South Sudan Ministries (C.R.O.S.S.) And of course the recent C.R.O.S.S. benefit auction of a PVS-14 Gen 3+ Night Vision Scope brought in $3,900 in one felled swoop. Special thanks to Ready Made Resources and Night Ops Tactical, who split the wholesale cost of that scope.

   o o o

G.G. sent: SWAT officer attracts ridicule after he’s pictured with his rifle sight on backwards. (Gee, if they can't cure s"stupid" with training, then perhaps with an equipment retrofit.) The scary thing is, he isn't alone.

   o o o

Reader V.R. suggested this YouTube slide show: Public schools, gun control, and communism

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The folks at Camping Survival already have a great price on the LifeStraw (the lowest that the manufacturer will allow) and they just implemented free shipping on it, as well.

   o o o

Chris H. sent: Gunning for a Fight - Idaho lawman: “We, as sheriffs, have to decide upon ourselves if laws are unconstitutional.” The reader comments that follow show that quite a few liberals moved into Boise. Keep in mind this article comes from "Idaho's only alternative weekly newspaper". The author of the piece (George Prentice) let his bias show when he belittled the sheriffs. He spilled more ink about Payette County Sheriff Chad Huff's mispronunciations than he did the substance of the discussion that evening. That is is indicative.

"[Let] love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
[Be] kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;
Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.
Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.
Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.
[Be] of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.
Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.
If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but [rather] give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance [is] mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.
Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good." - Romans 12:9-21 (KJV)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Emergency Essentials has begun their semi-annual Mountain House Sale.  All Mountain House cans are priced 20-25% off.  The sale is for one week only, ending the night of March 21st at midnight. 

Today we present another entry for Round 45 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course. (A $1,195 value.) 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 gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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. C.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of D.) 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, E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 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. E.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value), and F.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 45 ends on March 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 always planned to have a bee hive someday but someday had not come until I mentioned my interest to a friend who promptly told me he was splitting a hive (taking a few hundred bees out to prevent them from feeling over crowded) in one week and that he would share the "split" (a couple pf hundred bees) with me.  I promptly ran to the library and checked out three books on bee keeping.  Many questions and concerns kept floating around in my mind, a few of which included:  I know nothing about bees!, What equipment do I need to start a hive?, How do I care for them?,  How will I get the honey out?    Following is the answer to all of these questions.  This will hopefully guide you in your steps to managing your own apiary (scientific name for bee keeping).  It is important to start beekeeping now and make mistakes before you really need the honey.  But if  you are reading this post TEOTWAWKI there are still ways that you can obtain a honey bee hive that I will address. I now have one hive in production and plan to build more.

Bees live for one purpose only and that is to work.  They spend their entire lives working themselves to death.  During the summer, when bees are the busiest they can live up to 6 weeks.  If a bee is born during a non-busy season they will live up to 6 months.  Within the hive you have three types of bees: Queen, drones, and workers.   The Queen bee is bigger than all of your other bees.  She looks different with a shorter thorax (the middle of the 3 sections on a bee), small wings, and a longer torso which enables her to back up her behind into a cell and lay an egg.  She puts off pheromones (a scent) that inhibits all other female bees' ovaries from working.  She can lay up to 2,000 eggs daily. 

A drone is a male bee that exists in the hive at a ratio of 1 drone to every 100 worker (female) bees.  The drones exist for the sole purpose to mate with the queen.  They are not able to feed or care for themselves and are cared for by their kind sisters. 

Worker bees, once hatched from a cell, start their work within the hive cleaning cells,  (a queen will only lay an egg in a clean cell), feeding and caring for baby larvae, grooming and feeding the queen, removing dead bees to the front of the hive, cleaning dust pollen and debris off other bees,  building wax from wax glands (located on the underside of their abdomen) and rendering it to honeycomb, capping pupae and ripened honey from their secreted wax, fanning honey in the cells to remove water which preserves the honey, and placing propolis (a sticky substance they make) in any crack that needs to be filled.  Once a worker's mandible and stinger are fully formed, at three weeks, they can work outside the hive foraging for pollen, nectar, and water and protecting the hive from impending dangers.   

The life cycle of a bee starts when a queen lays an egg in a cell.  The eggs, shaped like a small grain of rice, are hard to see inside each cell.  A pair of reading glasses may help a beginner spot the eggs easier.  The workers regulate the ratio of males to females by constructing larger cells for males and smaller cells for females.  The queen recognizes the cell size and deposits the correct egg within.  Usually drone and queen cells are on the edges of the frame and females are concentrated in the center of the frame.  Eggs develop for three days before moving to the larva stage where they look like small pearly white semi-circles in their cell.  The top of their cells are sealed to enable them to spin a cocoon around themselves and turn into a pupa.  They will emerge 7, 10 or 14 days later depending on if they are a queen, worker, or drone.  A queen takes 16 days from egg to maturity, a drone 24 days, and a worker 21 days.  
This is a brief overview of the life and function of a honey bee.  There are great resources to learn about honey bees if you decide you are interested in bee keeping.


It is important that you obtain a hat with a veil.  There are many options but I like an XXL (I normally wear a women's medium)  jacket with the veil attached.  This way the back of the jacket will cover me at all times no matter how much I bend over.  I will have no chance of being stung on the back.  You will need a hive tool to pry apart the boxes and the frames.  A smoker is used to induce the bees into a more submissive state.  Smoking a hive takes a lot of practice and has not come naturally to me.  You also want white gloves.  Bees do not like dark colors and if you can find white goat skin gloves it is best. 

The type of hive I have is called a Langstroth hive named for the man who invented a way to obtain honey and avoid ruining the hive each time honey was harvested.  For the hive itself you need a bottom board.  They come solid or screened.  Where I live in the Rocky Mountain region I have chosen to go with a screened bottom board to prevent significant condensation inside the hive in the winter that would drip and kill the bees.  You will need 2 hive bodies called brood chambers.  The height on these boxes are 9 1/2 in. and most of the eggs, growing larva, and pupa reside within these chambers.  When these boxes are full of brood, bees, honey, and pollen they can weigh 60-80 pounds.  On these brood boxes "supers" are often placed.  These boxes are shorter at 6 5/8 in height which makes them easier to carry and move around when they are full of honey and you are ready to extract.  Full they can weigh 40-45 pounds.  Within the boxes you will usually have 10 rectangular shaped wooden frames that contain foundation sheets stamped with a honey comb pattern to guide bees in building regular combs with uniform cells.  There are many types of foundation including:  pure beeswax, plastic with beeswax overlay, and plain plastic.  The foundation can be bought separately or already in the frames.  An outer cover rests on the top to protect the hive from rain, hailstones, and snow.  There are many other parts that can be added to a hive but these are the basics.

You will need to fashion from a net like material a hood that will keep your head and neck covered to prevent being stung.  Light colored gloves are preferable but any gloves will work.  Many beekeepers do not wear gloves because a stinger left in the glove will put off a scent that tells the other bees to sting. 

Early settlers frequently  used "bee gums" or hollow sections of a tree with a board placed over the top and the bottom to house their bees.  The problem that occurs with this type of hive is it will have to be destroyed by breaking it open in order to obtain the honey.  When you chop down the tree keep a few sections of the it to be able to replace the section that is dismantled every year to obtain the honey.  Make a few openings in the front of the hive small enough for the bees to enter but not large enough to allow mice or other small rodents that are looking for a warm house.
A smoker will be difficult to come by but a big torch from a branch will work just as well and will assist in helping the bees become more docile.  Over the centuries, wildfires have trained the bees that when they smell smoke they gorge themselves on honey and then leave the hive to find a new home. 


Placement of a hive is important.  You want good drainage around your hive.  Raising it off the ground onto cinder blocks or wood will usually keep moisture from getting inside the hive due to run off.  The hive needs to be in an area that you can get around and access easily.  You need to have water accessible.  Water is crucial to a bees survival.  They may need a float in your water source to prevent drowning your bees.  A windbreak will help them maintain their temperature during summer and winter.  A southeastern exposure is ideal to provide morning sunshine to stimulate the foraging bees to get up and get busy. 

Putting the bees in the hive

Early spring is the best time to start beekeeping.  This gives the bees all summer to build their stores for winter.  During the first year you will likely not extract honey.  The bee population is usually not high enough to produce extra honey and the bees will need the top and bottom brood boxes full to feed themselves from during the winter.  Bees are shipped in a box with a wire screen (also called a nuc box), with a can of syrup that will feed them on their journey through the postal system.  Be prepared for an early morning phone call from the post office to come pick up your buzzing package.  The queen will be in a small cage inside the package with several bees attending to her needs from the outside. 
            1. In the late afternoon or evening put on your protective gear, open the hive up to have access to the frames, place the nuc box near the hive and light your smoker
            2. There are 2 ways to do the next part, either a) splatter a syrup mixture onto the wire cage.  This will calm the bees.  Continue doing this until they quit eating. or b) Spray a sugar water mixture onto the bees.  This will not hurt them but will make it difficult for them to fly.  The sugar water mixture will also give them a snack as they will clean it off of each other.  Rap the cage onto the ground and let the bees fall to the bottom of the cage.
            3. Take the cover off the cage, remove the queen, and put the lid back on to prevent escaping bees.  Make a small hole in the candy plug that will allow the bees to eat their way through to the queen and release her.  Wedge her small cage between 2 frames within the hive making sure the candy plug is accessible to the bees. 
            4. Again rap the cage on the ground, then remove the lid and pour/shake the bees onto the frames in the hive.  At this point they are not going to be territorial and try to sting you.  They currently have no home and are not going to try to protect this hive.  It will take a few days before they call this new box home.  After you have poured most of the bees onto the hive, lay the box on its side to allow the other bees a way to crawl out and get into the hive.  Put the lid on top of the hive and then leave them alone.  Bees do much better without our help. 
After 3-5 days you want to make sure the queen has been released from her cage.  Open the lid during a warm sunny afternoon.  Hopefully most bees will be foraging and not at home.  If she has not been released, pull the candy plug out or push it carefully into her cage being careful not to squish her.  After this, leave them for a few weeks.  It is not prudent to check them more than every 2 weeks and many people wait 4 weeks.  When you do open the hive it will be hard to separate the boxes and the frames.  Bees use a sticky substance called propolis to glue all openings and frames together.  You will need to separate the box lid and the box with your hive tool, then put a little smoke into the crack.  This will induce the bees to go down into the frames and gorge on honey making them more sluggish.  After you take the lid off, lean it against the hive.  Pry a frame apart and lift it up, being careful to keep it over the hive so the queen does not fall off onto the ground.  When you look at your frames you want to make sure there are eggs and brood (growing baby bees).  The egg should be in the center of each cell and there should only be 1 egg in each cell.  If there are more than 1 egg in each cell it could mean your queen has failed and the worker bees have taken over by laying non-fertile eggs.  This will produce an all male (drone) hive which will die off very quickly as they are not able to care for themselves. 
In the spring before bees have a lot of plants to forage from they may begin to starve because they have eaten their reserves and have nothing to forage.  At this point it is a good idea to feed them.  There are many contraptions you can buy to feed them but last year the method I chose was to make a syrup with a 2:1 ratio of sugar to water, place it in a gallon zip lock bag, lay it on top of the frames, and then cut an X in the top of the bag.  The bees will land on the bag and eat from the syrup oozing out of the X.  My only expense was the sugar.  There are other recipes and substances you can use to feed bees but the important thing to remember is that during early spring you may need to feed your bees.
When working with bees use slow and gentle movements.  If you are quick or abrupt they will feel threatened and are put on high alert.  If a bee stings the stinger rips away from the bees body and the bee dies.  The stinger continues to pump venom into your skin so brush the stinger off quickly.  If you grab the stinger to pull it out you will force all of the venom into your skin. If a bee is squished this sends the bees into high alert and they are more likely to sting.  To get the bees off of the rim of the hive before putting the lid on use the smoker and they will bury back down into the frames, to again gorge on honey, you will be less likely to squish the bees and they will not try to harm you. 


In the event you do not already have bees, you can try robbing a hive to get your bees.  If you see honey bees around your property and are not sure where they have their hive hidden you can try this trick.  To do this you will need to make yourself a box with a glass or plexiglas top piece that will fit onto the box by sliding into grooves.  Place honey, molasses or a syrup mixture inside the box and place it somewhere you think the bees might come.  Once a few bees are in the box filling up on your sweet substance sprinkle them with flour.  Let them fly away and watch where they go.  They will go back to their hive and recruit other bees to come get food.  Other bees will come to your box.  Once your original flour coated bees come back to the box place the lid on the box and walk in the direction the bees flew off to.  This will bring you closer to their home.  At this point the bees will be full and ready to fly away.  Put the box on the ground when you no longer know which way to go, take the lid off, and let them fly away.  The bees will be confused for a minute, once they find their bee line they will head off towards home.  Watch them to see where they are headed and make a note of the landmarks you should walk to that will bring you closer to their hive.  When the floured bees come back do this again.  Put the lid on, walk their bee line (the path they take to and from their hive), let them out, watch them.  Do this again and again until they lead you to their honey tree.  Likely the tree the bees are in will need to be chopped down.  Doing this at night will be easier because the bees won't be active.  They will be sluggish and sleeping, especially if the temperature is a little cooler.  When you chop the tree down, place your hollow log (with a board nailed to the bottom) next to your main body of bees.  You want to find the queen, which is much larger and has small wings.  When you find the queen, deposit her into your hollow log and the other bees will follow.  You can take a stick and pick up bees on the end to shake into the log being careful not to squish your queen.  Place the lid on your hollow log and place them in their new location during the night.  At this point you would want to also take all the honey you can. 


There are two ways to extract your honey.  The first way is to buy or make an extractor.  Using centrifugal force the honey is spun out of the frame, collects in the bottom of a vat or bucket and then can be poured from a gate/nozzle near the bottom of the bucket into containers.  The second way to extract honey is to crush the comb and honey together and then strain the wax out of the honey.  One reason most people use an extractor is to save the bees the work of making beeswax.  For every pound of beeswax formed in the hive the bees could have made around 10 pounds of honey.  By using a machine that will spin the honey out of the frames the bees do not have to work to make more beeswax.  They spend their time and energy refilling the wax that is ready.  Extractors bought from a bee supply company range in price from $199.00 to $2,000.   Many people make their own extractors out of scrap metal, a food grade bucket, and a tool like a grout mixer that fits onto a drill and allows the frames to spin.  Many plans can be found online how to make an extractor.

Post TEOTWAWKI, unless you have an extractor, you will extract honey by crushing the comb and honey.  When a frame is 80% capped off (the bees seal the honey with a white/ yellowish waxy seal) you can harvest the honey.  Materials for your gravity extractor include two buckets, one of those buckets needs a lid.  To get a mental picture of what your setup will look like when you finish you will have two buckets stacked one on top of the other.  The bottom bucket will have a lid for the top bucket to sit on.  Poke or drill 3/16 in. holes in the top bucket to allow honey to drip down through.  This bucket will be placed on a bucket of the same size that has a lid.  Cut the middle section out of the lid.  This will allow the honey to drip down from the top bucket into the bottom bucket while sitting comfortably and securely on the lid of the bottom bucket.   If your frames have plastic foundation inside them you will cut or scrape the comb and honey into a pot or pan.  If you have wax foundation in your frames you can cut the foundation right out of your frames and place it a pot or pan.  Working in small batches crush the comb honey in the pot/pan and place it in the top bucket.  The honey will separate from the wax, for the most part, and move down through the holes into the second bucket.  Once your honey has moved to the bottom bucket, which can take hours to days depending on how warm the honey is and how much you have, it is a good idea to strain it again using a cheesecloth or strainer.  Make sure you do this in an area the bees can not get to.  They will rob you of your honey quickly if allowed the opportunity.  
Once you have completed your project, put your sticky tools and buckets outside near your hive.  The bees will usually clean the honey off of them and take it back to the hive.  Bees can not reuse their wax.  You can take the beeswax from the top bucket and use it.  Here are a few recipes for bees wax:

Candles:  Place wax in a pot or a crock pot and heat until liquid.  Use old metal food cans or small jelly or half pint jars, place a candle wick inside and fill with beeswax

Taper candles:  Cut a long piece of flat braid wick.  Heat beeswax in a pot and dip the wicks into the wax to make them the desired length.  Tapers are made in pairs because you dip both sides into the wax which allows them to hang while drying.  For the first dip leave them in the wax one full minute to allow the wick to soak up the wax.  Thereafter keep dipping until they reach your desired width.  When you pull them out hang them over a dowel or a rolling pin to dry.  This process will usually take a few hours so give yourself ample time.  Let them sit for a day before using them. 

Hand lotion:  1 part beeswax, 4 parts olive oil- heat the beeswax and mix in the olive oil.  You can add essential oils but that is optional. Mix thoroughly, place in a small container while still liquid.  It will harden up.

Chapstick:  2 parts coconut oil, 1 part beeswax a few drops of vitamin E.  This can also be used as a hand salve.  Use a cheese grater to get small pieces of beeswax.  Heat these, mix, then use.

Honey is amazing when I think about the health properties it has.  It is full of vitamins, antioxidants and minerals.  It tastes great and can be substituted for sugar in smaller ratios.  I am fascinated as I stand by my hive watching them come in and out interacting with each other.  Whenever someone asks me about my bees I tell them, "I don't know why I didn't do this sooner.  They are fascinating little creatures."  If you have thought about bee keeping in the past, just start.  Honey bees are very easy and beneficial to have around.      

Recipes using honey
Cough and sore throat remedy: 1 T of honey, 1 T of lemon juice, 1 c. of hot water

Soft Whole Wheat bread
2 1/2 c. very warm water
1 Tbsp. yeast
3-4 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. vital wheat gluten (secret ingredient)
1 Tbsp. dough enhancer (opt.)
1 Tbsp. Lecithin (opt.)
2 tsp. salt
1/3 c. softened butter
6-7 c. freshly ground wheat flour
Put water in mixer. Sprinkle yeast on top, then drizzle honey over it. Let sit for 3-4 minutes, or until yeast has bloomed and risen to the surface.
Mix in vital wheat gluten, dough enhancer, lecithin, salt, butter, and 1 cup flour. Slowly add 5 more cups flour. Let mixer knead dough for 8-10 minutes, then add more flour if the dough is still sticking to the sides. Add flour until dough pulls away.
Take dough out and knead on OILED surface. CUT, do not tear dough into 2 equal parts, and shaped into loaves. Place in greased bread pans, and allow to rise 1 hour uncovered. Place in cool oven and turn on to 350°F.
Bake for 30-35 minutes.
Remove from pans immediately, brush tops with butter or spray with a fine mist of water. I usually let them cool to room temperature while enjoying a few pieces with jam or honey, then slice completely and store in bread bags. I recommend freezing and thawing out the pieces as you need them - it is not hard, they defrost very nicely. Just make sure not to put it in the freezer while it is still warm, or the pieces will stick together and break when you try to pull them out.


Adams, John, 1972: Beekeeping: The Gentle Craft
Delaplane, Keith, 2007: First Lessons in Beekeeping
English, Ashley, 2011:Homemade Living: Keeping Bees with Ashley English: All You Need to Know to Tend Hives, Harvest Honey & More   
MacBride, Roger Lea, 1995: In the Land of the Big Red Apple (Little House series)
Readers Digest, 1981: Back to Basics

Dear Mr. Rawles,
We relocated from the San Francisco Bay Area at the end of 2012 to southern Oregon, as I was able to find a job with [deleted for OPSEC] in Medford.

We have been spending part of each weekend looking for a retreat property, while renting a modest home in town. We were even under contract for a lot outside of Jacksonville, but the well produced just 0.16 gallon per minute and other wells surrounding were over 400 feet and were also low producers, Oregon has plenty of water not to struggle with that unknown outcome of re-drilling. So we have been looking again, and what we keep finding is, pot growers!

There was a nice seven acre parcel with an upper and lower meadow, leading to a stream and wooded back 2 acres, on our second visit the next door 10 acre farmer greeted us and proclaimed that he and many neighbors were "growers", and they have a "great neighborhood watch, with armed guards 24/7  for 3 months a year." Okay, no thanks to living next to the farmer with the creepy armed dudes camping out in the pot field with guns, before the collapse.

Another homestead outside Jacksonville, in Ruch, population 840 had potential we thought until Internet research revealed it was "8 seconds" by car on Google maps from a September 19, 2012 DEA raid than netted "truckloads of plants."

So I am discouraged. I know the Lord has blessed us to be able to leave the San Francisco Bay Area, and by awakening us to the potential for societal collapse. Our preps now measure in not just pounds but tonnage thanks to a few years of Bay Area double incomes, and now my wife is able to stay home with our baby daughter, and her development is really taking off, by being with mommy and not in daycare.

But we are sure that Medford is still large enough and depressed economically to be a serious disaster when the collapse of the dollar takes full hold.

Can you offer any recommendations on areas surrounding this community which are less prone to be riddled with pot growers?

Thank you for any insight you might share. Sincerely, - C.D.

JWR Replies: Unfortunately, most of western Oregon is infested with pot growers. That is one of just many reasons why I did not include it when I delineated the American Redoubt region. (Along with factors like high property taxes, crime, welfare dependency, statist attitudes, etc.)

In any of the western counties in Oregon, the chances are fairly high that you will have pot growing neighbors if you buy land outside of city limits unless your neighbors are legitimate traditional produce farmers or stockmen. If you could find a property with mostly farms or ranches around it, then that would be your safest bet.

How many times has the President said that we need to raise taxes on those making more than $1 million per annum?
Some believe that the government will also confiscate gold and silver.
As many know, our government already confiscated gold in America, circa 1933.
Even so, collectable coins were exempt, which is reason enough to own gold/silver coins that have value beyond the base metal – a discussion topic for another day.
Many of us at retirement age receive some form of retirement income from the federal government.
Some receive disability pay as well, but the feds would take a massive hit for even thinking about taxing or reducing disability pay.
But in that same vein, our government has NEVER met a tax they dislike.
If any of the foregoing is true, or even close, congratulate yourself – you just might be a millionaire!  
If you can work backwards for a moment (something left handed people have always done) consider this:
     A federal retirement paying you $33,000/year would require a private sector principle of $1,100,000, and paying 3% annually to maintain the principle.
     Finding a safe 3% annual yield in this economy is just about impossible, excluding 30 year bonds and junk paper.
     If my left handed calculator is correct, that is more than a million dollars – congrats, you are a millionaire.
     Even though you may not feel like a millionaire, but you sure look like one on paper.
     Remember – this is the same government that tells you that social security is sound.
     Bernie Madoff would be pleased.
For those of us that are or will be “quintuple dippers” (military, civilian retirement, disability, TSP/401 K plans, and Social Security) we look like fat on paper.  
Nationalizing not just federal retirements, but all retirements would be far easier than confiscating gold or silver.
Of course, the program would be couched as a measure to ensure that everyone receives a fair share – But you’re a millionaire, quit complaining.
Food for thought.
- Dan X. (A retired U.S. Navy Commander.)

H.L. sent this Reuters article: More US States Weigh Gasoline Taxes. Unfortunately this superficial article failed to detail the aggregate gas taxes--it only talks about the recent and planned increases, such as Wyoming's 10 cent cent rate "leap." But this map from 2012 gives a more complete picture. In fact, Wyoming merely normalized its gas tax rate with its seven contiguous neighboring states. It is noteworthy that the Northern Rocky Mountain states have taxes that range from 40 to 46 cents per gallon, which is well below the national average of 48.8 cent and far below the west coast states which range from 49 to 67 cents per gallon. It also failed to mention that Wyoming has no personal income tax. Also, keep in mind that gas taxes are road use taxes. Data from the Census Bureau shows that the average American has a 25.1 minute commute to work. Most Wyoming workers would consider that a dream job. A 45 minute commute (at 70 miles per hour) is not unusual in Wyoming.

Jim. W. sent: The National Debt to the Penny and Who Holds It. (These are truly frightening numbers when you consider that the only way that this debt could ever be repaid is via The Weimar Solution--mass inflation.)

Physical Silver – Record Industrial & Investment Demand

Items from The Economatrix:

The Federal Reserve May Be Responsible For The Biggest Financial Meltdown Yet To Come

17 Signs That A Full-Blown Economic Depression Is Raging In Southern Europe

Retail Sales Rise But Consumer Is Not Back

Reader C.D.V. mentioned this handy online table: How many cups in a pound of...

   o o o

Drone Strikes On American Citizens: Peter Schiff / Rand Paul Interview

   o o o

Census shows record 1 in 3 US counties are dying off. (Thanks to Tim J. for the link.)

   o o o

Reader C.D.V. sent some more demographics: America's sadness belt: Alarming map shows residents in South and Midwest are far more likely to be depressed, obese and hate their jobs

   o o o

Kevin S. pointed me to this prototype: Quadski. [JWR's Comment: In our heavily-wooded part of the Redoubt, we often crawl our quads over small downed trees. And then there are the rocks. Something tells me that that the Quadski's plastic boat-like underbelly would not fare well here. But your mileage may vary. OBTW, Gibbs Amphitrucks is located in Auburn Hills, Michigan. That is apropos, given Michigan's 11,000 lakes and its automotive history.]

"The church used to be a lightning bolt, now it's a cruise ship. We are not marching to Zion – we are sailing there with ease. In the apostolic church it says they were all amazed – and now in our churches everybody wants to be amused. The church began in the upper room with a bunch of men agonizing, and it's ending in the supper room with a bunch of people organizing. We mistake rattle for revival, and commotion for creation, and action for unction. " - Leonard Ravenhill

Friday, March 15, 2013

Today we present another entry for Round 45 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course. (A $1,195 value.) 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 gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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. C.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of D.) 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, E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 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. E.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value), and F.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 45 ends on March 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 came late to the prepping party.  We didn’t own any guns.  We lived paycheck to paycheck in a suburban area.  We couldn’t afford to buy property in Idaho, while it’s still a dream.  We have slowly stocked up on short term and long term food and water, bought heirloom seeds and learned to garden, loaded up on firewood for two huge fireplaces for cooking and warmth, but that’s about it.  Recently our son, honorably discharged from the Armed Services, came home to start his life as a civilian.  He owned a 9mm and promptly proceeded to purchase a .22 handgun for ma and pa.  The problem was, we couldn’t find any ammo, anywhere.  We are a long way from being prepared, but better off than most people we know.  We decided to get a guard dog.  The difference between a guard dog and a watchdog is the guard dog is trained to protect the family using aggression, while the watchdog will alert the family by barking and making a fuss (with not much to back it up).  Our Brittany Spaniel is a good watchdog.  She barks at every new sound, when she needs to outside, and when she thinks it’s time to eat.  I think she trains us.

After searching for the right dog, we stumbled upon good fortune.  An acquaintance, a breeder and trainer, was looking to place her prized purebred German Shepherds trained in Schutzhund (google it or youtube it) with good families for personal reasons.  Schutzhund trained dogs learn to control their drive and learn to obey the owner even when very excited.  We gratefully met the dogs and selected a lovely 5 yr old gal who had won awards in self-defense, provided puppies over the years, and who was ready to relax with a good family.  If you didn’t know this gorgeous animal, she would scare the daylights out of you if you met her in a dark ally.  Our experience with her so far, is that she is obedient, playful, loving, and loyal.  She bonded quickly with our small family, including our existing family dog.  Our Brittany Spaniel was quite put out with the very big Shepherd invading her space, but the Shepherd helped her along by being respectful and careful.  They now can eat and nap in close proximity to one another.  It only took 48 hours for the dogs to come to terms with one another.

Our goal is to ensure our new dog doesn’t forget her good training and we have some planned exercises with her former owner to learn the Schutzhund commands and routines.  It is amazing that you don’t need to collar or leash this dog.  She responds immediately to voice commands and hand motions.  One afternoon she decided to explore the neighbor’s backyard (we have very low fences between yards).  With one firm call of her name, she turned around immediately and raced back to me, almost apologetically.  Impressive.  I’m not sure my Brittany Spaniel would have been so obedient.  She would have played hide and seek for a while first.

Schutzhund training includes tracking, obedience, and protection.  The most important part to understand about protection is that the dog has been trained to attack upon command, but more importantly to quit the attack by command.  The bite force of a German Shepherd, depending upon size and ferocity, is quite strong as compared to other dogs.  However, this is not an out of control attack dog.  This is a dog that works on command and quits working on command.  She only barks if confronted with a threatening situation.  She hasn’t made a peep since we’ve had her.  We are learning the German commands, but were assured by the trainer that she is very smart and will adapt quickly to our version of the commands without a problem.  This gave us a great sense of confidence. 

Some people believe that getting an aggressive-tempered guard dog is the right way to go, but how do you know that dog will not attack one of your
sweet grandchildren, the mail carrier, or a neighbor walking his or her dog?  One of my daughters is terribly afraid of German Shepherds having been bit by the neighbor’s Shepherd when she was a young teenager.  That dog took a huge bit out of her thigh, requiring a trip to emergency and many stitches.  She still has scars and is terrified.  The dog was not teased or threatened in any way; it just decided to attack for no good reason while the children were playing in the front yard.

One of the web sites I found that provided good information on what type of dog to get for personal protection was Cesar's.  Cesar listed the top 10 dogs in this order from best to least protection dogs:

1.       Bullmastiff – very big dogs
2.       Doberman Pinscher – need room, very fast, very smart
3.       Rottweiler – big, loyal
4.       Komodor – needs socialization to become a family pet
5.       Puli – very active and love to bark
6.       Giant Schnauzer – requires strict training
7.       German Shepherd – calm, smart, reacts quickly to threats
8.       Rhodesian Ridgeback – strict training required
9.       Kuvasz – very territorial
10.   Staffordshire Terrier – requires strict training and socialization

You can do your own research and talk to other dog owners.  Our choice was to find a highly trained and skilled German Shepherd for family loving and protection since we didn’t have the fortitude or experience to train one from puppyhood.  Every family is different and has different needs.  We wanted to snuggle by the fireside with our protection animal, as well as expect her to attack an intruder.  Purebred Shutzhund trained shepherds can cost into the thousands of dollars.  We were graced with a great deal by a loving trainer after searching for months online for the right dog, so I don’t suspect you will find the same kind of deal.  However, selecting a guard dog should be part of your preparation plans. 

Should SHTF, home invasions are expected to commence by the have-nots. The CCW By State web site provides home invasion statistics for 2011.  According to the web site:

“…1 in 5 homes in the US will be broken into or experience some sort of home invasion – in other words, more than 2,000,000 U.S. families!”  Other statistics cited: 8,000 home invasions occur every day in North America, 720 forcible rapes occur every day (that’s 1 every 2 minutes), 1,440 robberies occur every day (1 every minute), 4,320 violent crimes per day (1 every second), 2,468 grave assaults per day (1 every 35 seconds), 8,640 burglaries per day (1 every 10 seconds), and 28,800 property crimes (1 every 3 seconds)."

You may live in a low crime area, as we do, but should SHTF expect the aforementioned statistics to skyrocket.  These statistics cover all of North America, but just think about it.  I confessed to my husband that I had slept better than I had in a long time, since we brought the Shepherd home.  She hears what I cannot and is alert even while resting.  We all need our sleep to remain alert and make good decisions.

While you, like us, wait out the ammunition shortage, think about investing in a guard dog.  I would rather have our dog scare off would be intruders prior to using what little ammunition we have and save those bullets for worst-case scenarios.  Do your research and understand your family needs.  Understand your own limitations in regards to breeding, raising, and training a guard dog.  It is a huge commitment.  Don’t think you can go to the pound and pick up a Doberman or Pit Bull (which are plentiful at the pound) and hope for protection.  The dog may turn on you, your family members, or neighbors if not properly trained and socialized.  And the neighbors will sue.  You don’t want to stick out as the one house in the neighborhood everyone is afraid to walk by and be subject to a police visit for suspicion of having an aggressive and dangerous dog.  We made the choice to invest in a mature, fully trained animal rather than go it alone.  Good luck and good hunting.

Many folks have an interest of viewing solar information and typically subscribe to raw data feeds; however probably do not understand a lot of
the science behind the numbers. There is a gentleman who produces daily morning youtube forecasts typically from 3 to 4 minutes long which covers the
gamut of space weather and it's impact on terrestrial weather.

These broadcasts are extremely informative and he does an excellent job breaking down all of the information. His Youtube channel is called Suspicious0bservers. I have become a regular daily viewer of his short yet extremely informative broadcasts.

Warm Regards, - Dave in Florida

I saw that the Colorado law banning magazines of greater than 15 round capacity passed – outrageous but not unbelievable for this state. Colorado  used to be a great and conservative one, but no longer.

[Regarding the law's limited grandfather clause,] I have written out documents for all of my magazines, which I have had notarized, transferring ownership of the magazines I own to my children. This way, when I die, it can easily be ascertained that the magazines were actually their property before the law went into effect. I am not a lawyer, but this sort of thing is done with many other objects so it should be acceptable with these as well. Only time will tell, but this was the best I could do or come up with on short notice.
All the Best, - Tim P.

JWR Replies: I urge Colorado SurvivalBlog readers to relocate to one of the American Redoubt States, if possible. The laws in Colorado will likely get a lot worse. Vote with you feet!

UN Arms Trade Treaty 2013 – It’s Back…

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Some news from Utah: 'Constitutional carry' law could create showdown between governor and legislators

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This retreat property, recently added to our SurvivalRealty spin-off site, is proof that there are still some great rural properties in Northern California: New Long Valley Retreat. If work or family commitments have you stuck in California, then this is about as good as they get.

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Wary of Attack With Smallpox, U.S. Buys Up a Costly Drug. (Thanks to G.G. for the link.)

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F.G. recommended an interesting, if quite opinionated, read: So you want to buy a 1911? A basic primer

"Remus respects vegetarians, sort of, although he thinks vegetarianism is an unalloyed crock and its adherents are being rather silly, or conflating appetite and hunger, having known one but not the other. What they really need is a 'teachable moment' and some fresh road kill. He suspects vegetarianism started when somebody lost a World Series bet, maybe during the Harding administration. Or perhaps it's a holdover from the Sylvester Graham-Charles Post agri-marketing fervor of the nineteenth century. Are we allowed to mention Hitler was a vegetarian? 'I'll have the barley soup with alfalfa tips and a side order of Czechoslovakia.'"- Ol' Remus, The Woodpile Report

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Today we present another entry for Round 45 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course. (A $1,195 value.) 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 gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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. C.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of D.) 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, E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 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. E.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value), and F.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 45 ends on March 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.

Having a baby under normal circumstances is a great and beautiful thing, but when disaster strikes there’s going to be some issues.  Obviously in dark times one might not be able to deliver at a clean, safe hospital, or run to Walgreens in the middle of the night to get formula and diapers, or to Target to get extra pajamas for baby.   As a mom (and EMT 3 years, 8 years as a First Responder before that) I feel a certain responsibility to help others and to encourage preparedness in others.  Here are some helpful shopping tips, knowledge, and other items that are always good to have on hand for moms and babies in times of emergency. 

I live in a state where we have disasters and evacuations every year, so the concept of getting out of Dodge quick is something that we are familiar with.  As an EMT and as a Venturing Scout I have responded to and given aid to those struck by disaster many times, and in between I teach others how to be better prepared.  I know that sometimes response to emergencies can be delayed, resources get stretched thin at big disasters and you may not get help at all if your problem isn’t immediately life threatening.  This is why everyone should have a bag ready with supplies and waiting by the door readily accessible and more importantly a place to go to that is safe.  As a parent and wife I have a responsibility to protect and care for my son and husband and vice verse, this should be your priority too.   
If you have a member of your group who is pregnant and or has small children you’ll need to take extra care for them.  While pregnant women can do a lot of things, they will need help and, for certain duties, partnering up for safety.  Some light duty jobs you could consider are working the ops desk, the communications desk, KP, or watching the groups other children.  Jobs that you might have a partner for could be laundry, gardening, milking cows or goats (no horse riding if it can be avoided), feeding livestock, water hauling (with cart, don’t push to hard) or other not too strenuous work.  There are going to be some exceptions to this list as pregnancy progresses and morning sickness gets better or worsens.  For instance I couldn’t handle the smell of raw meat when I was pregnant, so I couldn’t cook certain things. 

There are also some comfort items that you can keep at the retreat for anyone who is or becomes pregnant.  Candied ginger and ginger ale are always great to help with nausea.  Saltine crackers are also good for this purpose.  Pregnant women will also need a good multivitamin with folate in it to ensure good gestational health and neural tube development in the baby.  A good stool softener (such as Colace) and extra fiber in the diet are both highly recommended and pregnant women will also need and extra 300 -350 calories a day.  Some pregnant women might become anemic and requite an Iron supplement.  There are also some things that pregnant women should avoid like cleaning the litter box, over exertion/lifting, and excessive stress.  Taking care with your words and actions can go a long way (like not saying that the pregnant woman is a burden or implying it).  Stress can adversely affect not only the mom, but also the baby.  When you are stressed your body secretes a lot of hormones that then affect the baby and put it under stress which can then affect fetal health.  All pregnant women should have regular Blood pressure and blood sugar tests throughout the pregnancy.  You will especially want to monitor for preeclampsia and diabetes.  Make sure you get a thorough medical history prior to delivery especially important are has the mother had a ultrasound and if so what was the placement of the placenta, medical issues like diabetes or preeclampsia, past pregnancies and any complications with those, and finally any signs of possible health issues with the baby.  

In times of disaster there is a great likelihood that the mortality rate will rise when it comes to deliveries and pregnancies.  So it is here that I shall list a little about miscarriage.  According to The Everything you need to know about pregnancy book, “up to 20% of all detected pregnancies miscarry before week 20.”  After week 20 your chances of miscarriage greatly decrease, but are not totally eliminated.  Sometimes miscarriages happen because of trauma to the baby and mother, but other times the baby could have genetic abnormalities.  Some bleeding does occur after implantation and is normal, but all bleeding should still be taken seriously.  If it’s bright red blood then this would be the time to seek out a professional.  If there is a doctor or midwife in the area then get the mother to them quickly.  A paramedic from the local fire department would have some training in child birth and complications and could also assist.  Signs and symptoms of a miscarriage are: Bright red bleeding in copious amounts, severe abdominal cramping, low back pain (contractions), high fever, extreme nausea and vomiting beyond morning sickness with quick onset, amniotic fluid leakage, and severe headache.  One of the first things that you can check for, before advanced help arrives, is a fetal heart rate by using a stethoscope. If it’s a good scope you should be able to hear the heart rate post week 10.

If the mother does miscarry or lose the baby after the delivery this will affect her not only physically, but mentally as well.  It doesn’t take long to fall in love with your baby, and when a woman miscarries or the baby dies post delivery she’ll go through the full spectrum of mourning plus additional guilt, doubt, and depression.  Again other members of the group should support, offer help, prayer, and counsel the mother.  Allow her and the father time for grieving.  It is also advisable to let her rest and recover so that she can deal with her loss.  Don’t let her rush off to work to avoid grief as this may compound the problem.  Grieving is a very individual thing and only that person will know how they need to deal.  Most importantly watch for depression and suicidal symptoms and get the mother professional help and medications if at all possible.
I won’t comment on the actual birthing process itself as this was well covered in Mr. Rawles' book.  Some additional helpful reading if you are interested thought, would be any Recent EMT Manual published within the last 3 to 5 years as these have a detailed chapter on field childbirth and complications.  You can find used copies on or  I would also advise taking a Emergency Medical Responder (previously First Responder) level aid course and few ambulance ride-alongs or hospital clinicals.  These will give you a lot of valuable training and experience and can make all of the difference in a bad situation.  Volunteering at your local hospital in the birth center can also provide you some valuable experience and you can gain helpful knowledge from the experienced RNs.  Above all else keep your head cool and mind calm, your most important tool is the one on your shoulders.               

Now let’s talk a bit about some supplies for baby.  As a parent you learn to budget (money, time, sanity), and prepping for an emergency is no different.  You must have a budget and plan in mind well before you head to the store.  When it comes to baby clothes a great, frugal place to buy is the second hand store.  From 25 cents to a dollar an item secondhand stores are a great place to stock up.  You can find all seasons of clothing, shoes and toys there for a fraction of the cost new.  Just use your head and watch for the quality of the items you buy.  Usually for a baby all through the toddler stages you want 6 outfits, 3 PJs, 6 pair of socks, 2 pair shoes, a light and heavy jacket, and a few hats and mittens per size (Remember little babies grow at a very exponential rate through years one and two,& go by months).  You will also want a stuffed animal or two, some pacifiers, extra sheets, and at least 5-7 warm blankets with 3-4 light ones.  Look into a decent port a crib (either foldable mesh or collapsible fixed material) a new one can cost as little as $20 new.  It is not advisable to co sleep with infants as there is a high risk of smothering.  The only time you might consider co sleeping is if you are on the run and sharing a sleeping bag, even then much caution must be taken.     

Let’s talk bathing and medication for baby.  Go to your local big box store (Costco/ Sam's Club) and get the double pack of baby body & hair soap.  This will last you two years if used conservatively.  You might also want to buy extra of this for wound cleaning, trade or charity.  As far as babies go there are some basic must haves for your kit: baby acetaminophen (Tylenol), baby Vic’s vapor rub, nasal saline, Pedialyte, band aids, Neosporin, and Baby Ora-gel for teething.  Children’s Benadryl would also be prudent to have, but check with a doctor on dosages for children under 4 years of age.  When babies are sick, these are the top fall backs, a humidifier would be nice but if the power is down you can use a few tea pots and a towel or bed sheet to make a steam tent.   

Making sure that babies stay hydrated and fed is a must.  Here are some good things to have:  lanolin ointment, a manual breast pump or if there is power a portable pump (I like Madela), in case of latching difficulties a nipple shield, nursing and sleeping bras, feeding and storage bottles, and a firm pillow for nursing.  A note on the shields, these are very handy for women who have odd shape nipples (flat tops or inverted) when babies have a hard time nursing, if you don’t use them you can always trade them.  If there is a problem nursing don’t be afraid to employ the pump and bottle feed off and on, get that sustenance and hydration in the baby.  Long term storage of liquid formula may be difficult and costly, but having even a little on hand can be handy in case something happens and mom can’t nurse (the powdered formula stores longer, but you will need a clean water source).  When babies get bigger you can use a hand grinder to make fresh baby food. 

Diapering can be a difficult topic to broach when it comes to emergencies, do we use cloth or buy bulk disposable.  I say do a bit of both.  During the first week or so while you’re waiting for the umbilical stump to fall off and getting through those first very dark and sticky poops my recommendation is disposable.  This will save you a bit of time while mom is healing up and decrease the risk of infection.  After this time I would go with cloth (disposable diapers might become hard to come by in a long term scenario), but the eventual decision will be up to you.  A note on the cleaning of cloth diapers, boil to rinse and then dry in direct sunlight if you can.  Between the sterilization in the water and the UV rays the bacteria should be killed.  You will also want to stock up on the big box store wipes, if not for baby then they work well for general hygiene needs.  My husband was deployed to Afghanistan for a year while I was pregnant with our son and one of the top 3 things he would ask for was baby wipes.  His unit was often assigned to FOBs (Forward Operating Bases for those who don’t speak Army) that were little more than flattened earth and concertina wire so he used the wipes to bathe. Disposable diapers also make for very absorbent abdominal wound pads so keep a few in your field first aid kit.  I would recommend getting the big box store double pack of diaper cream, at least 2 of them (it lasts forever & it’s good for trading). 

Let’s talk about some things we can do for Mom post partum.  Good things to have for sore mommies are tucks pads (or witch hazel and gauze), sanitary napkins, pain killers (Ibuprofen [Advil] or Acetaminophen [Tylenol] are generally considered safe but check with a doctor first; aspirin should be avoided), Epsom salts, stool softener, disposable ice packs, seat cushions, and a back brace or girdle.  Buy in bulk and you can always trade later.  When it comes to post partum pads the bulkier, cheap variety work best for this purpose (burn after use).  For moms who have had to get sewn up a sitz bath at night, ice packs, and the tucks pads/ witch hazel go a long way for relief.  The girdle will help shore up a new mom while her abdominal muscles repair acting as a back support.  Moms should ideally take a good 4-6 weeks off minimum to heal, but can perform light duty tasks during that time.  Don’t let the mom over do it and hurt herself (Been there, done that, Got the PT bill to prove it).  If you need to have a new mom up and on duty put her at a watch desk for short watches and make sure she takes a nap in between, eats, and nurses or pumps. 

Lastly I wanted to mention a few things about children and getting out of Dodge.  Kids don’t like big sudden changes, so keeping them apprised of any plans would be prudent.  If they know the plan it’s easier on them mentally and they know what’s going to happen.  You may have to leave in a hurry and leave many things behind, but don’t forget their lovie (security object, toy never seen without).  It may be the only thing they have to play with and their only comforting object if you have to leave during an emergency, so don’t forget it.  Have copies of birth certificates, updated family pictures that show you all together as a family, and any other important papers in your go bag (preferably in a waterproof box like Otterbox or Pelican).   If you become separated from your children you may need proof that they really are your kids when you find them again (as seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina).  You might consider sending copies of your papers to the family members you will be staying with if you trust them implicitly (if not then a bank safety deposit box near them could work also).  When leaving town one of the better options is to go at night and right away, don’t hesitate and don’t wait.  If possible take those back roads and avoid the highways as these will not only clog up but become targets for looters and banditos.  When driving out have an adult in the back seat with the kids ready to help them bail if it comes to that.  Above all else remember operational security and do what you have to do to protect your family.  Hopefully this knowledge will be helpful and informative for any preparedness savvy parents out there.

SurvivalBlog reader Diana V. wrote to mention some good news: Colorado ban on campus concealed weapons defeated.

But the same day, reader Bill C. sent some bad news: The Colorado legislature passed H.B. 1224--a ban on any magazine over 15 round capacity. It is now headed to the Governor's desk. It appears that he will sign it. The only glimmer of hope is that the law has a grandfather clause.

Updates: Reader K.A.W. wrote to mention: "The grandfather clause in HB13-1224 only applies to current owners.  There are NO transfers to anyone else, including descendants, upon death.  The only way to make sure magazines get passed down is with a trust or corporation owning the magazines, and the descendants being part of the trust or officers in the corporation".

To take advantage of a brief window of opportunity before the law goes into effect, I made an offer to Colorado Citizens who are SurvivalBlog readers, to sell about 200 assorted full capacity magazines at my cost. Those magazines all sold out in less than three hours. Thanks folks. I'll be praying that you are soon able to vote with your feet - J.W.R.

When considering the question of appendicitis at TEOTWAWKI the most important questions are these:
1.     What is the cause?
2.     How can it be recognized?
3.     Who is most at risk?
4.     Is it always fatal?
5.     Can it be treated non-surgically?
6.     Should it be removed before TEOTWAWKI?
Appendicitis is caused by a blockage of the appendix, which varies according to age.  In children and young adults this is usually due to infection.  In the elderly it is usually due to hardened feces.  In developing countries appendicitis may be caused by parasites.  In people with an inflamed bowel it can be due to swollen lymphoid tissue, which can also occur with stomach flu, viral respiratory infections, measles, or mononucleosis.
Once the blockage has occurred, the appendix swells due to continued production and trapping of secretions, causing the appendix to enlarge like a water balloon until it bursts, spewing the contents into the abdomen (peritoneal cavity), leading to sepsis (overwhelming infection), and death.  The inflammation also draws white blood cells to the area, which produces pus and additional pressure.
Also, once the pressure within the appendix rises too high, this acts like a tourniquet, cutting off the circulation to the appendix.  This injures the lining of the appendix, which allows infection to invade the wall of the appendix, and may lead to gangrene of the appendix and/or perforation (a hole in, or bursting of, the appendix). 

What symptoms does this lead to?  As S.M.G. describes, the classic history is one of loss of appetite associated with pain around the navel, followed by nausea and right lower abdominal pain.  Unfortunately, no single symptom or test is completely accurate in diagnosing appendicitis.  Only 50% of patients have vomiting.  Because the location of the appendix varies, the location of the pain may vary.  Even with modern medicine, 20% of cases of appendicitis are misdiagnosed as something else.  Though surgeons hope to be 100% accurate, even now up to 40% of patients who undergo emergency appendectomy are found to have a normal appendix.  When someone claims that they have cured appendicitis at the painful and nauseous state by administering a purgative, I question the accuracy of the diagnosis.

The classic signs described above occur only half the time in true appendicitis (diagnosed with surgery and pathological examination of the appendix).  Nausea and loss of appetite occur most but not all the time, and at the same rate that occur with other causes of abdominal pain. Vomiting that follows onset of pain is more typical of appendicitis than vomiting that precedes abdominal pain.  Diarrhea or constipation may occur with appendicitis, and the diagnosis of either as a cause for abdominal pain does not rule out appendicitis.

Abdominal pain is the most consistent symptom of appendicitis.  The migration of the pain from one location to another increases the likelihood of a correct diagnosis of appendicitis.  Fever is not usually present early on.  Appendicitis can be confused with bladder infection, kidney stones, endometriosis, ovarian cysts, diverticulitis, gallbladder disease, intestinal virus or other infection, or duodenal ulcers.   
If this is the case now, what will it be at TEOTWAWKI?  Will diagnostic accuracy improve in a scenario without blood testing or internal imaging (CAT scans, MRI, ultrasounds).  Not likely.   No doubt cases of appendicitis will not be diagnosed as such, possibly leading to fatality.  Other causes of abdominal pain will be mistaken as appendicitis, sometimes leading to treatments being mistaken as cures.

Since a person can live a completely normal life without an appendix, should it then be removed to prevent a life-threatening emergency at TEOTWAWKI?  The current incidence of appendicitis in the U.S. is about 1 per 1,000 people per year, with a 7% lifetime risk.  (This is less than the incidence of breast cancer.  Should women have prophylactic mastectomies before TEOTWAWKI as well?  Just a thought.)  No doctor is likely to perform such a surgery unless you have a documented genetic predisposition to appendicitis (and insurance is not likely to pay either). 
The incidence of appendicitis is less in undeveloped countries where the intake of dietary fiber is much higher, and is actually decreasing in developed countries where dietary intake of fiber has increased.  Dietary fiber draws water into the stool, making feces softer and less likely to form fecaliths (stone-like feces) which may obstruct the bowel or appendix.

The best answer for prevention of appendicitis is a high fiber diet, high enough to keep the stools on the softer side.  A bowel movement that has the consistency of a soft banana is about right.      

Without treatment is appendicitis always fatal?  The standard answer is “yes,” though the truth is “not always.”  If an obstruction is relieved, the inflammation may resolve without treatment.  I have seen a few cases of recurrent appendicitis which were not recognized as such until the appendix was eventually removed.  At times the body will wall off the infection resulting in a local abscess which prevents bacteria from entering the blood stream.    
Can antibiotics help?  An interesting study by Eriksson (BR J Surg. 1995; 82(2):166-9) compared antibiotic therapy alone to surgery.  Their conclusion was that IV antibiotic treatment (followed by oral antibiotics) was as effective for acute appendicitis as was surgery, though 7 of 20 patients who took antibiotic therapy alone had recurrent symptoms within a year (and underwent subsequent appendectomy).

Can appendicitis be treated with oral antibiotics alone?  While I have never tried this, if surgery were not an option, I would treat acute appendicitis much as I have treated acute diverticulitis, a fairly common illness in the middle-aged and elderly.  For diverticulitis I commonly prescribe either ciprofloxacin plus metronidazole, or Levaquin plus metronidazole.  Other possibilities might be amoxicillin-clavulanate plus metronidazole or trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole plus metronidazole.  It generally takes two antibiotics used in combination to kill intestinal bacteria (aerobic and anaerobic bacteria).   
If you believe you or your loved one is suffering from appendicitis, go to the nearest emergency room.  However, at TEOTWAWKI, if no surgeon is available, administering the above antibiotics may be life-saving.  It will not cure everyone, and the likelihood of recurrence is high.  Still, it is a much better answer than doing nothing at all, and gives the patient at least a fighting chance of survival. 

About the Author: Dr. Cynthia J. Koelker is SurvivalBlog's Medical Editor. Her web site is: 

I am an Emergency Room physician in Arizona and a preparist.  When I treat people with Type 1 diabetes I routinely mention the need to stockpile and safeguard insulin and diabetes supplies.  When the patient is agreeable I write prescriptions for extra supplies on the spot.  One of my patients told me about Wal-Mart's ReliOn brand of regular insulin, which is about half the price of other U-100s.  Those SB readers who are physicians and other healthcare providers have an obligation to their patients to inform them and help them obtain the medication and supplies they will need when TSHTF. - Dr. John in in Arizona

First, many thanks to AERC for a very well-written article on Type 1 diabetics in SHTF situations. It was greatly appreciated and well written.

My youngest son (now 7) was diagnosed as a Type 1 diabetic about 2 months after I read [the novel] One Second After by William R. Forstchen (the daughter of the main character is a Type 1 diabetic), and along with getting used to our "new normal" lifestyle, I have also been trying to get prepped over the past 18 months in case SHTF. We are stocking up on insulin, test strips and other supplies, but I felt more was needed. My biggest concerns are 1) refrigeration for medications, and 2) protecting vital equipment from EMP/solar flare bursts.

My solution to refrigeration has been to begin testing a small "six-pack" refrigerator with a battery connection, which my father-in-law found at a swap meet. (I've also seen "battery powered coolers" for sale elsewhere.) This refrigerator is big enough to hold a few dozen vials of insulin and requires much less power than any other refrigerator. To keep it going long-term, I plan to rotate several car/deep cell batteries with a solar trickle charger for the duration of the emergency. Based on AERC's article, I'll also be looking at other alternatives as well. [JWR Adds: With a couple of 40 watt photovoltaic panels and a charge controller, you should be able to keep a refrigerator running for up to eight years. (The limiting factor is the sulfation of lead-acid batteries.]

For protection against EMP and solar flares, I intend to build a Faraday cage for extra diabetes electronic equipment such as an extra blood glucose test kit (along with radios, laptop, etc.). One possibility I will be trying is a 2-drawer filing cabinet conversion; the instructions are at Instructables. There are other possibilities I'm researching now for small, easy-to-build Faraday cages.

Even with a prepper mentality, along with a parent's acquired nerves of steel....I still haven't been able to pick up and read One Second After again since my son's diagnosis. Just can't do it. But articles like this one give me hope that, with proper planning, we can weather almost anything as a family. Thanks again. - Z. from Arizona

Dear JWR:
Another option not mentioned in the article is a DC refrigerator, batteries, charge controller, and a few solar panels.  There are other uses for this setup as well. One brand of compact refrigerators to consider is Sundanzer. - S.B., MD

G.G. suggested this at Popular Mechanics: How to Stock Your Disaster Pantry

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Defense Distributed’s Cody Wilson: Rebel. Cause. Some Assembly Required.

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Chris Walsh of Revolutionary Realty suggested this video: How To: Break an axle on a Daihatsu Hijet

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Deeper Schumer: We Have Language for S. 374, the Transfer Ban. (Thanks to Bill N. for the link.)

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Statist scheming, perfected: After Aurora: How Mayor Bloomberg Planned to Make the Next Massacre Count. (Thanks to Pierre M. for the link.)

"I believe the single most significant decision I can make on a day-to-day basis is my choice of attitude. It is more important than my past, my education, my bankroll, my successes or failures, fame or pain, what other people think of me or say about me, my circumstances, or my position. Attitude keeps me going or cripples my progress. It alone fuels my fire or assaults my hope. When my attitudes are right, there is no barrier too high, no valley too deep, no dream too extreme, no challenge too great for me." - Charles R. "Chuck" Swindoll

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

I recently turned in the manuscript for Expatriates: A Novel of the Coming Global Collapse to my editor at E.P. Dutton. The novel should be released in November, 2013. It is a departure from my previous novels, as the majority of the story takes place overseas, and there are no crossover characters with the previous novels except for ProvGov President Maynard Hutchings. But rest assured that the story is set in the same exciting near-future period, amidst the economic collapse. (But geographically is set primarily in The Philippines, Australia, and central Florida.) The cover artwork has already been completed. This is another great cover by Tony Mauro, Jr., who also created the dramatic covers for "Survivors" and "Founders."


We are now quite busy at the ranch, as this is calving/lambing/kidding season. My wife ("Avalanche Lily") has been bearing the brunt of it. The many hours required--especially feeding the bummer bottle babies--can be taxing. Lily is an amazing woman and I love her dearly.


Today we present another entry for Round 45 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course. (A $1,195 value.) 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 gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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. C.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of D.) 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, E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 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. E.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value), and F.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 45 ends on March 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.

About five years ago, my husband started worrying about many things happening to our country and the world in general.  Bird flu, inflation, resource grabbing, bank bail outs, government policies, Peak Oil… and more provided fuel for his concern.  As I listened to him talk about what was happening in the world, I began to think about what to do in a situation that would dramatically alter our “way of life”.  We already had goats, sheep, pigs, rabbits and chickens.  We already had a nice sized garden and I already canned what we didn’t eat fresh, but it wasn’t done with a plan to store anything for more than a few months.    We started working on our food storage and stockpiling animal feed until we hit a huge wall:  How would I deal with having diabetes if I couldn’t get my monthly insulin and blood checking strip refills? 

I have been a diabetic since the age of 6 – so about 40 years.  I became diabetic when all insulin was derived from pork or beef pancreases.  Blood checking machines weren’t even available until I turned 14.  Back then, I had to collect urine and use an eye dropper to put a certain number of drops of urine and add a reagent to see if I was spilling sugar in my urine.  Unfortunately this is one of the least accurate methods of checking how the body is processing food and if the person needs more insulin which is why I would need to go into the hospital for a finger prick and blood test once a week.  As a child, my blood sugars would vary from 200mg/dl to 350mg/dl and higher (normal is around 70).  Control was very difficult to achieve, particularly in a young person who is growing and going through hormone changes. 

Today, we are fortunate in that we can buy blood checking machines in several different brands and blood checking strips to go with them.  These wonderful devices give a result in 5 seconds and tell the person what is going on in their body right now (taking blood from a finger actually shows what happened 10-15 minutes prior, but it is the most accurate result that is available at home).  We also have different kinds of insulin available, from insulin that will react within a couple minutes to insulin that will last 24 hours.  All insulin available in the US right now is human insulin (it is human derived insulin which is grown in the laboratory using e-coli bacteria that is genetically modified to make insulin that is virtually identical to the insulin made by human pancreases) We also have insulin pumps that can include a device to give up to date blood sugar readings.  A diabetic has so many options that they can have extremely tight control and can live very normal lives with few complications. 

Unfortunately, all of the supplies needed to keep a diabetic under control would soon run out if anything interrupts the system needed to run the laboratory that makes this lifesaving hormone and all of the paraphernalia a person with diabetes needs to keep good control.  Sure, pharmacies keep a supply of insulin on hand, but it needs to be refrigerated and even then, has a relatively short shelf life.  So what can a diabetic do if they are confronted with a widespread grid down situation or even a long term break down of “normal” operations? 

The following is not to be used as medical advice.  I am not a doctor and even if I were, what you take from this article is meant to give you some suggestions based on my experiences.  Make sure that you talk to your regular medical professional and take their advice and make informed decisions.

The diabetic confronts some serious issues in a SHTF situation.  They may not be able to obtain insulin.  They may not be able to keep the insulin they have cool.  They may not be able to check their blood sugar.  They may be able to obtain one kind of insulin but not their usual insulin.  They may be on more than one kind of insulin but only be able to obtain one of them.  They may not have enough blood checking strips.  Their blood checking machines may no longer work (in an EMP situation).  They may not have batteries for their machines.  Their pumps may no longer work.  They may not be able to get the pump components.  Diabetics on Ace inhibitors may not be able to get their pills.  Diabetics who are experiencing complications from their disease may not be able to obtain dialysis or other vital treatments.  The problems facing a person with diabetes seem almost endless.

As a diabetic, I had to take a hard look at what I could be facing if I were not able to get my supplies.  I pondered the problem for a long time.  I did lots of research and came up with all kinds of conflicting information on storing diabetic supplies.  All of the official sites talked about how open vials of insulin should be thrown away on day 28 (because it degrades at room temperature). Syringes were to be used once and tossed.   Insulin was no good after the expiration date.  So, I decided to use myself as a guinea pig.  First I began reusing syringes.  I would keep my bottle of insulin on the refrigerator shelf and put the syringe beside it. Amazingly, I did not get any infections.  I also continued using both kinds of insulin after the 28 day mark.  Here again, I didn’t experience any issues with the insulin degrading past the 28 day mark.  I decided to talk to my doctor about what I had found.  My doctor was not the “prepper” type and was a bit dismayed at my using my insulin differently than before, but knew that not only was I stubborn, but I was also extremely well controlled (HA1C of 6.5).  She told me that if she noticed a spike in my HA1C readings she would take issue with my new way of doing things.  Of course, I check my blood sugars a minimum of 10 times a day before meals, after meals, before bed and during the night so if I had a spike or drop in blood sugar I could immediately correct it.  A little background to explain what an HA1C is; Hemoglobin A1C (HA1C) is a component of hemoglobin that glucose binds to.  Doctors use this measurement to give a broader picture of diabetic control.  This means that it is an average of the blood sugars for the previous three or four months.  A “normal” person’s HA1C should be between 4.5 and 6. 


What Is What Is A1C And What Does It Measure?


The Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) Test for Diabetes (at WebMD)

Prior to my experimenting, I had been using the insulin pump but had stopped for a period of time.  I didn’t like the pump because I was prone to getting infections at the injection site.  I talked to my doctor and came up with a Lantus/Humalog combination that worked for me and kept my blood sugars under control.  I then decided I would start stockpiling insulin, but how was I going to overcome the expiration date issue?  I talked to my doctor and mentioned that I was concerned about issues that would cause problems with being able to get diabetes supplies and she gave me a prescription for double my monthly prescriptions. So every month, I used a bottle and saved a bottle.  Of course I rotated my stock but occasionally, a bottle would get overlooked and near its expiration date.  I decided to perform an experiment and leave a couple bottles and use them past the expiration date.  The first bottle I used was 6 months past the expiration date and it worked like one that was brand new so I let another bottle go a year past the expiration date and again, no problems.  Right now, I am using insulin a couple years past its expiration date and it still works.  Of course, my bottles of insulin are kept very cold in a very good refrigerator which might be a reason they haven’t degraded, but they still work as normal.  I think we can conclude that if insulin is kept at optimal temperature, which is around 40 degrees Fahrenheit it doesn’t degrade like insulin kept at improper temperatures which might shorten its storage ability.  As an aside, pork and beef derived insulin is available internationally and might be able to be stored longer due to it being pure insulin and not chemically manufactured.  Keep in mind that using any other kind of insulin other than what your doctor prescribes carries with it a risk.  You need to make sure you are discussing this with your doctor and getting his or her suggestions as far as boluses and times.   If you do decide to go back to using animal derived insulin you are in good company.  I know many diabetics who feel that the genetically modified insulin has made them feel “unhealthy”.  Do your research and decide for yourself with the help of your doctor.

The first concern a person with diabetes should have is how to ensure their insulin is kept cold in a grid down situation.  There are several ways to keep things cool.  The first is a root cellar.  Root cellars which are dug deeply enough and insulated well can maintain a year round temperature of about 40F.  The most important thing to remember is that a thermometer needs to be kept inside the cellar to keep track of the temperature.  If the goal is to create an environment to keep insulin at a constant temperature this needs to be a priority.  A second method of refrigeration could be a “Servel” LP Gas refrigerator.  Unfortunately, long term LP might be a bit iffy, but it is definitely an option which should be considered.  [JWR Adds: There are still a number of brands of LP refrigerators being made. Most of these are made for the RV market and hence are fairly small and thrifty to use. A couple of SurvivalBlog advertisers sell them. Also keep in mind that almost any LP freezer can be run at its lowest flame setting to have it work as a refrigerator, with an interior temperature in the low 40s.] I have heard that this refrigerator is no longer being manufactured in the US due to issues with leakage, but I have used them and as long as they are kept in an outbuilding, and they are monitored for malfunction, they should work just fine.  I have seen them on CraigsList as well.  

Another method that can keep insulin cold is a “pot-in-pot” which uses a large earthenware pot with a smaller pot set inside of it.  Wet sand is put in between the two pots.  The moisture in the sand evaporates and cools the contents of the smaller pot.  The sand needs to be kept wet, but this could be an emergency way of keeping insulin cold. The fourth is to put the insulin in a waterproof container and an insulated cooler (the cooler is to add an extra layer of protection against fluctuating temperatures) and immerse the entire contraption into cold water such as a lake or a stream.  Before doing so however, the temperature of the water must be measured over a period of time to determine if it is an appropriate temperature for the insulin.  However, even if it isn’t, as long as the temperature is not at or below freezing, and it is cooler than ambient temperature, it can help to prolong the life of insulin.  I have heard some medical professionals mention that an additive has been put in human insulin to make it “shelf stable”.  Regardless of this, I still keep my insulin refrigerated.  If only to ensure that I can store it for the longest period of time possible.

The second concern for the diabetic is to find ways to check blood sugars and ketones.   A dangerous problem that diabetics who have prolonged high blood sugar can experience is ketoacidosis.  This is when the body doesn’t have enough insulin to digest food that is ingested and instead starts to break down fat and muscle for fuel.  The waste product created is called ketones.   Now everybody has heard of protein diets and how they cause ketones which in turn cause weight loss.  In a diabetic who is experiencing ketoacidosis, they not only have ketones but they also have high blood sugar.  The biggest problem is that the body has no way to deal with high blood sugar other than insulin and if a person is diabetic, their pancreas does not make any, so a vicious cycle is entered into.   Both ketones and sugar are excreted by the kidneys and can cause kidney damage as well as further complications due to dehydration.  If a person has high blood sugar and ketones for more than 24 hours and this situation is not corrected with insulin, the diabetic will enter into diabetic coma and ultimately die.   

Because of this, diabetics should stockpile Ketostix which is a urine test that can show if the diabetic is spilling ketones.  If they are, checking blood sugars would be the first thing to do.  The easiest way to check blood sugars is to use a blood checking machine.  There are many excellent brands on the market.  I have purchased several of the same brand and keep many months of blood checking strips and batteries.  Blood checking strips can be purchased over the counter but many insurance companies will cover them.  I have a very good relationship with my doctor and routinely ask for about 100 strips more than I use a month.  Of course strips also have an expiration date but I vac pac them to keep moisture out which is the biggest no-no for the reagent strip.  But, what if there is something that causes a problem for the machine?  The best thing to do is to have back up strips that can give a visual reading.  Unfortunately these are not available in the US but will ship them worldwide.   The key to avoiding ketoacidosis is to make sure to check blood sugars regularly and correct high blood sugar.  This issue needs to be discussed thoroughly with your doctor and a sliding scale of bolus insulin should be charted.  This is vital. 

Many diabetics today use one of the insulin pump models available on the market today.  These devices have helped many people with diabetes achieve very tight control.  Unfortunately the pump components may not be available if we experience an interruption in modern services.  Make sure to store extra batteries for the pump, extra pump sets and reservoirs, extra sterile pads, extra glucose monitoring supplies if you use “continuous glucose monitoring” and/or any other things needed to keep the pump operational.  Additionally, make sure to store plenty of extra insulin.  Not only the fast acting insulin used in the pump, but also long acting insulin for a pump failure.  Prepare for a SHTF situation by having a discussion about what injectable insulin to use with your doctor. 

Many doctors will put their patients on several different medications that will lower blood pressure, protect kidneys or lower cholesterol.  It goes without saying that the most important thing a prepper can do is to make lifestyle changes that will protect the circulatory system, but it is vital that a diabetic who is on these medications stockpile them as well.  It is crucial that the diabetic speak with his or her doctor and ask for double prescriptions.  This is easier to do than most people think.  If the diabetic is on a 50mg pill once a day, ask for a prescription that is 50mg twice a day or 100mg once a day and split the pills.  This way the person can put the extra away every month.  It might be a good idea to look outside of the US to purchase additional stock of these medications.  These meds can often prolong a person’s health and are an important addition to a diabetic’s medical stockpile.    Again, discuss this with your doctor.  Some pills can’t be split without it affecting the medication delivery.  These choices should not be attempted without thorough research and medical advice.

Unfortunately there are diabetics that have had additional complications that have compromised their eyesight or kidneys (or other organs).  It can’t be stressed enough that the person with these complications be completely forthright with their doctor with concerns about the future.  Discuss options that can be done at home.  A good way to get your medical professional on your side is to talk to them about the aftermath of Katrina, Sandy and the weather issues that have caused blackouts and power failures.  Talk to them about how you can deal with this.  This is particularly important if you are on dialysis or suffer from infections that aren’t healing.  Talk to them about how to manage these problems if you can’t go into the clinic.  Ask them what medications to use and ask them for additional supplies “just in case”.  Talk to your medical professional about alternative dialysis procedures, and if you are a candidate for these.  If you have already had transplant surgery, make sure you discuss what you should be doing for your immune system and how you can get additional anti-rejection medication as well as the shelf life of these necessary drugs. 

Something that needs to be discussed is pregnancy in diabetics.  In a long term SHTF situation, pregnancy must be avoided.  A diabetic pregnancy is very high risk now when we have modern conveniences available.  If they are interrupted long term, the repercussions could be terrible for a diabetic.  I have had three children and my last was the most difficult.  My blood sugars were perfect throughout my pregnancy but diabetes affects the entire system.  My daughter was born 6 weeks early because of placental insufficiency.  In a SHTF situation both she and I would have died.  Make sure to store condoms, birth control pills, and/or anything else to prevent pregnancy. 

The last part of this is dealing with reality.  I know that if systems are interrupted long term that I most likely won’t survive.  Yes, I feel as if I can stockpile my medications for years, but ultimately they will lose their effectiveness over time.  If I am unable to get more, I need to prepare for the inevitable.  I don’t want to think that way, but just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean I shouldn’t prepare for it.  We do the best we can for as long we can but a diabetic has an organ that no longer works.  If insulin is no longer available it won’t take long before the diabetic goes into ketoacidosis, coma and death.  This conversation should be had with all family members so all can prepare for this eventuality.  I hope and pray that if we do experience a SHTF scenario that we can rebuild before my stockpiles run out, but if not, I want my heart, soul and family to be ready for the end.

There are 25.8 million diabetics in the US and about 371 million worldwide
. Most of these are Type II diabetes but for those of us who are Type I, we need to think ahead.  Most Type II diabetics can control their disease with diet and exercise, but not all.  For those of us who need insulin and other medication, we need to plan.  I hope that this will help a person who has diabetes as well as their family prepare for a SHTF situation.  Do your research.  Decide what the best approach is for you and talk to your medical professional.  Find a doctor that is willing to work with you and help you prepare.  I have included some links at the bottom of this article that can help give some suggestions about the different types of insulin available.  Look at the links that are included in the article as well as those at the bottom.  Learn as much as you can about your condition and prepare, prepare, prepare. 

Further Reading:

I work in the oleochemcals industry, just a little info on oil storage.
Oxygen is by far your worst enemy when it comes to long term storage for any fat based materials. The oxygen will primarily interact with any of the double bonds located on a fatty acid chain, breaking down the fatty acid and creating the compounds that cause the oil to become rancid. The more unsaturated the oil is the more double bonds that will be available for the oxygen to interact with. Coconut oil is naturally highly saturated (typically ~94%), therefore fewer double bond sites on the fatty acid chain for oxygen to attack and degrade the product. That said, it is still best to store any of these oils in an environment where there is little to no exposure to oxygen.
• Purchase only high quality oils, if it is a major brand - it is high quality. These will already have been processed to eliminate the vast majority of the compounds that occur naturally in the oils that help to speed up the degradation of the oils.     
• At our facility, we nitrogen blanket our tanks for product protection. Use of dry ice, similar to long term storage of grains, will provide the same effect. 
• Plastic is NOT impermeable. While convenient and unbreakable, I have had Olive oil (poly unsaturated) go rancid while still in its original unopened plastic bottle. Metal and glass are better choices. 
• Storage as a solid (frozen) will ensure that only the material on the top can have any exposure. We actually do this also at work for some of our high $ materials that don't get processed as often. Melting point of coconut is ~75 Degrees F, just keep in a cool place.
Use of these methods can stretch oils storage times greatly - far past the 2 years on the label. - P.M.R.

I'm writing about the recent letter on coconut oil. It takes away odors as well. It is antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal. I use the natural tasting extra virgin coconut oil when using for everything except cooking items where I really don't care for the coconut taste in a particular food. Since coconut oil melts at 76 degrees it can be easily melted and used in place of unhealthy corn oils. My local Costco started selling this only about 6 or 7 months ago. I have found unflavored Extra Virgin coconut oil at Swanson Vitamins (an Internet/mailorder company that I have used for years that has very good prices in North Dakota). We only use coconut oil for my daughter's babies and not only is it healthy, no stinging or horrible taste if it gets into their mouth. Hope this helps. God Bless, - Diana

David S. was the first of several readers to send this: It’s Official – L.A. Officials Say : Prep For Two Weeks On Your Own

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H.L. sent: Has Gun Ownership in American Homes Really Decreased This Dramatically? H.L. opines, perhaps correctly: "No, gun ownership has probably increased, but the willingness to mention them to government officials and pollsters has decreased."

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Some food for thought: Christians, The Second Amendment And The Duty Of Self Defense

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Freeze Dry Guy has announced that they are giving back 20%-30% back in Survival Bucks  on all "Necessities" unit orders placed by March 31, 2013. As usual, they offer free shipping in CONUS.  

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Schakowsky: Assault Weapons Ban is Just the Beginning. (Thanks to J. McC. for the link.)

"And many a man with life out of tune
All battered with bourbon and gin
Is auctioned cheap to a thoughtless crowd
Much like that old violin

A mess of pottage, a glass of wine,
A game and he travels on.
He is going once, he is going twice,
He is going and almost gone.

But the Master comes,
And the foolish crowd never can quite understand,
The worth of a soul and the change that is wrought
By the Touch of the Masters' Hand."

Excerpt from The Master's Hand, by Myra Brooks Welch

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The C.R.O.S.S. benefit auction for a PVS-14 night vision monocular has ended. See details in the Auction Recap, below.


Today we present another entry for Round 45 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course. (A $1,195 value.) 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 gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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. C.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of D.) 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, E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 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. E.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value), and F.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 45 ends on March 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 was quite a shocker when I couldn’t get my husband’s heart medication prescriptions filled in January.  After numerous phone calls to our pharmaceutical insurer, I finally found someone who assessed and fixed the problem, but it took over 6 weeks to get his prescriptions filled.  (Fortunately, I had stocked up last year, so he wasn’t completely out of his medications.  Stocking up was not intentional.  The insurer accidentally sent twice the amount requested and when I called to let them know, they said not to worry about it and they would stop the auto-refill feature).  As to why my husband’s prescriptions could not be filled, the customer care representative said something about a “glitch” in the system.  At least, that is how it was explained to me.  How one customer care representative described it – “…all Medicare eligible persons are being switched over to a Medicare type plan and your husband’s record did not make it into the new database”.  The net effect was that it appeared he didn’t have any drug insurance coverage.  The problem was “fixed”, but the costs skyrocketed.  

Hey, wait a minute, we have private drug insurance through my husband’s previous employer – he is now retired.  We didn’t sign up for Medicare Part D because we didn’t need it.  We already had good insurance.  How can they switch you over like that without your knowledge or permission?  ObamaCare, that’s how.  The out of pocket costs for his prescriptions is now more than 10 times what they were the last year (i.e., $10 co-pay versus a $100 co-pay per prescription + a deductible that quadrupled and an out of pocket cap that doubled).  And this happened with no warning.  Our budget is fairly tight each month, so it was a budget shocker too.  I scrambled to rob Peter to pay Paul to get the medications he needed, but I was angry.  I thought of all the seniors who are less fortunate than ourselves.  How would they pay for their medications?  And how in the world can anyone stock up on medications for TEOTWAWKI?

This article provided some information about skyrocketing drug costs and the changes being made in Medicare right now under ObamaCare.  (Listen up people, the sequester and the Republicans have nothing to do with this, as Mr. O declares.  These changes are a direct result of ObamaCare.)  The title, Medicare drug costs to fall in 2014, but donut hole widens, is a bit misleading.  Costs are up for 2013, so don’t believe they are going down in 2014.  Here’s a quote from the article:

“Seniors fall into the "donut hole" when spending on drugs (the combination of what the individual and the insurance company spend) reaches a predetermined threshold.  This year, the number is $2,970; after that point, the senior pays 50 percent (a new change this year from the Affordable Care Act) of brand-name drug costs, until individual spending exceeds $4,750...

But for 2014, the CMS has proposed that beneficiaries enter the hole when combined spending reaches $2,850 - $120 less than in 2013.  That means seniors would start paying more out-of-pocket at a lower level of spending.  That will surprise seniors, since one of the key touted benefits of President Barack Obama's healthcare reform law is the gradual closing of the donut hole entirely between now and 2020.”

Can you make it until 2020 for things to improve?  There’s a lot of double talk put out by the federal government on how costs are going to be lowered for seniors.  I’m not seeing it.  Neither are my friends and family.  Our cost spike was a result of being forced from a private plan into a Medicare plan.  However, my parents have both Medicare and a private plan and experienced huge increases when they went to refill their prescriptions in January this year.  Something’s fishy, right?
I shared my story with a few friends, and they had also experienced the “sticker shock” and this includes people who are not Medicare eligible.  I don’t know what’s going on, but I’m not going to put up with it.  I have choice (ah, so American of me, right?).  I started my quest to find an alternative source for medications.  Something I had never thought of before.  I recall my sister mentioning to me that her doctor at a major medical university had prescribed her a drug that was not FDA approved and gave her the link to a Canadian pharmacy.  I researched Canadian pharmacies and there appears to be a lot of confusion about them.  Is it legal for a US citizen to purchase medications from a Canadian pharmacy?  Some say yes, some say no.  I went to the source, the FDA, and read their policies.  It appears that for personal use and in small quantities (30-90 days), the FDA may “look the other way” when US citizens “import” Canadian pharmaceuticals.  The trick is finding a legitimate online pharmacy and protecting yourself against identity theft by purchasing from an legitimate source.  There exists policy only and I have not found a federal law on the books that prohibits US citizens from purchasing pharmaceuticals for personal use from Canada.  (Maybe that will be made a law as the vast ObamaCare bill is slowly morphing into legislation.)

Just a quick note:  If you travel overseas and are able to purchase your drugs there, make sure you dump the pills into existing pill containers (that you have taken with you) that are labeled by a US pharmacy; trash your receipts and new pill bottles prior to traveling home, just in case a customs agent decides to hassle you upon re-entry.  You never know how far the federal government will go in forcing people into paying into the ObamaCare system.  Without your dollars, the system will fail and they know that.

There is an organization,, which is fighting to retain the right to purchase prescription drugs from overseas.  God bless them.  They wrote an article that described the FDA’s new campaign to warn citizens away from purchasing drugs from outside the United States.  The FDA’s web site for the campaign (BeSafeRx: Know Your Online Pharmacy) can be found here. Key points from the FDA: Know the Risks, Know the Signs, and Know your Online Pharmacy.  (The very fact that the FDA is counseling citizens about safely buying outside the US, is permission enough for me.)  However, depicts the FDA’s campaign as being misleading by scaring people away from online pharmacies. stated that “…a recent Consumer Reports survey indicated that nearly half of those under age 65 without prescription drug coverage neglected to fill a prescription due to cost in 2012.  As Americans struggling to survive in this economy seek ways to save money, scare tactics are not what they need”.  And yes, there are many rogue Internet pharmacies out there, so BE CAREFUL, but don’t be deterred.  I am going to use the pharmacy that my sister’s doctor recommended.  

We have a close relationship with our family doctor.  Something I didn’t really care about a few years ago, but major health changes in our family forced us into regular doctor visits.  Now, I see this relationship as critical as we all work our way through what ObamaCare has done to destroy healthcare in America.  Our family doctor also practices what I call “Chinese medicine” in addition to traditional medicine, which is an indication to me that she is open minded.  She also listens and she cares.  When my husband’s insurance changed to Medicare primary, she continued to see him.  Many doctors are stating that they are “not taking new patients”, but that’s a response you will most likely get after you answer the question, “What is your insurance?”  It’s the first question asked, when you call to make an appointment now.  My next step is to call her for a new prescription and I will ask her for a couple of copies and explain that I am going to “shop pharmacies” due to the increase in drug costs.  I don’t think she will complain, but we’ll see.  This where your relationship with your doctor counts.  

I called my sister and she explained that getting her drugs from the Canadian pharmacy was fairly straightforward.  First, she had to call them.  Secondly, she had to fax her prescriptions to them.  Once she paid (they take Visa and Mastercard), her medications were shipped to her with no problems.  I have high confidence that her recent positive experience will be the same for us.  We are forced in this direction because the Affordable HealthCare Act is not affordable and the government takeover of private insurance plans is an outrage.  Once accomplished, I am hoping to be able use several online reputable pharmacies for stocking up purposes.  Expensive as it may be, I can still refill his prescriptions through our insurer, (and oh by the way – your insurer has become Big Brother too.  If you don’t refill your prescriptions in a timely manner, they not only will send you a letter or call you on the phone, they will alert your doctor as well.  Maybe they instituted that practice under the guise of “we care”, but I think more likely it’s about “we want your money”.)  My plan is to use the insurer despite the cost, and also use the online pharmacies for stocking up.  I can do this because I can.  If you can’t, get what you need any way you can.

2013 started out with increased taxes, higher healthcare premiums, higher food prices, higher gas prices, higher utility bills, and a huge increase in drug costs.  Inflation is here as forecasted.  Family budgets were slaughtered.  Not a good start.  I hope this helps others in finding a reputable online pharmacy, understanding the process, and understanding the risks in preparing for TEOTWAWKI.  

I've observed that we are now living in The Age of Sequestration, in many senses of the word.

First, and most noticeably, is all mass media talk about the Federal Budget Sequestration. Despite all of the hoopla and handwringing, it is actually just a token decrease to an already enormously bloated budget.

Second, is the forced sequestration of some Bad People. You've probably heard the latest news: following a lengthy jury sequestration former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilppatrick was found guilty. But his upcoming sequestration is hardly a news flash. Everyone knew he was a crook and this is of course his second conviction.

OBTW, does Mayors Against Illegal Guns have a special Life Sentence Membership option? And coincidentally it looks like former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin (another one in Mikey Bloomberg's Elite "Crime-Fighting" anti-gun club) may also be sequestered. If convicted, Nagin would join a long list of very ex-Mayors. One thing more gratifying than seing a bit of the Federal budget sequestered is seeing more of Bloomberg's Band of Fools sequestered for long stretches in Club Fed, where they can't do the public any more harm.

Third, Germany is sequestering its gold reserves. Once thought safe under the streets of New York City, the German government has announced that it is repatriating its gold. Since there are probably more banker IOUs than there is physical gold in the depository, this will surely be seen as a wise move, in retrospect. (Nobody wants to be the proverbial Third Guy In Line.)

Fourth, in reaction to economic turmoil and Quantitative easing (monetization) the citizens of many countries are wisely sequestering part of their life savings by buying more silver and gold.

Fifth, a bunch of collectivists are trying to sequester your gun collection. They tell us that melting our guns down to make manhole covers is for our protection. Yeah, right.

Sixth, American gun owners, in reaction to the gun grabbers, are sequestering part of their life savings by buying more guns, more ammunition and more full capacity magazines. That is a wise move.

Seventh, and most important to SurvivalBlog readers is the quiet exodus of American gun owners and other freedom lovers. They are moving from Blue States to Red States. Many people are fed up and have wisely chosen to vote with their feet. They are moving to places like The American Redoubt. May God bless them, provide for them, and protect them. We have our own ideas about where we want to sequester our gun collections, and sequester our kids, too. - J.W.R.

Mr. Rawles:
I am writing to address some of the questions in the letter on The Human Appendix. I am a physician who works at a large academic center.

Regarding The letter writer's questions, an inflamed appendix is not uncommon (This is know as appendicitis), and removal of the appendix is one of the simplest surgery's we perform in modern medicine. It is unclear why the inflammation occurs, but if untreated it can be fatal. The appendix was historically thought to be a vestigial organ (useless), or an immune presenting organ ( i.e.: helps the immune system fight off infections). It is thought to have no role in the digestions of foods, and people can live a normal life span without it. The symptoms that go with appendicitis are mid belly pain (pain around the belly button) which moves to the lower right corner of our abdomen over time, and the inability/lack of desire to eat. Recent evidence in the scientific literature points to the fact that the appendix may actually be more important then once thought (see the recent Wired Science article which points to the original science) though this is still under debate . There is nothing you can independently do to keep the appendix healthy (other then try to eat a healthy diet and not take unneeded antibiotics), and we no longer remove appendixes prophetically, that is we do not take them out unless they are infected. There is nothing you can do to keep your babies appendix healthy beyond possibly breastfeeding to make sure he/she develops a healthy immune system.

The Gallbladder is a different story. Most gallbladder problems are caused by gallstones, which are stones made of bile and cholesterol (two substances which the gallbladder stores in order to aid with digestion). When we think about people who get gallstones, the classic med school mnemonic is "fat, female, fertile and forty". Woman, of reproductive/middle age who are fat get gallstones. So the only preventative measure is to stay fit and skinny, as you can't really control your age or gender.

I hope this helps, - S.M.G. MD

 Regarding Letter Re: The Human Appendix, I am not a medical professional but I've had reason to learn about some of what was asked regarding the appendix and gall bladder as I had both of mine removed when I had a gastric bypass.  First, there is evidence the appendix actually has a purpose by storing good bacteria.  It's not critical, but it is helpful.  Without an appendix, the some antibiotics can cause you GI distress.
Next, the gall bladder helps you digest, among other things, fatty food.  Without a gall bladder, you will likely regret eating too much fat for dinner as you will tend to need the bathroom more urgently the next day.  Without the gall bladder, tracking what you eat is important to maintain good GI comfort.
As a GB patient, fat rushes through me and I don't have a very big stomach which can not easily process certain foods (especially proteins) thus causing discomfort.  Further, as a person over 50, my body naturally does not grow the helpful bacteria or enzymes as well.
I've read various medical sites talking about probiotics and there are certain probiotics that create a very good mix of the suggested helpful bacteria.  However, they need to be encapsulated properly to bypass your stomach and get into the intestines lest they be destroyed by the stomach acids.  Probiotics can help you maintain a comfortable life and help you draw in the nutrition from the foods you eat.
I use a product that I found on the internet and researched their claims.  After some consideration I decided to try them and have been happily using their products for over a year.  I found that after a few weeks, I can back off of the probiotic pill to every other day or so.  Can I live without them?  You bet!  But my overall GI comfort level is harder to maintain without them.  
I have not had much luck finding medical information regarding enzymes beyond the fact that as you get older, your body does not produce as many.  What I have learned is that certain freshly picked greens make my digestive system very happy and, for everything else, the enzyme pills help me digest protein and other foods with greater comfort.
I have no ties with this company and am simply an avid user of their products. I personally use them and swear by their effectiveness.
IMHO, their web site leaves much to be desired, but their products perform quite well. - J.W. from Virginia


I've benefited from so many tips from survivalblog that I'd be gratified if you could pass this preventive measure on to your readers.  I have on several occasions cured a case of appendicitis at the painful and nauseous stage by administering a purgative.  Appendicitis is caused by a blockage in the bowel, a hard piece of stool that is blocking the secretions of the appendix.  A purge that leads to full elimination can remove the blockage and give immediate relief.  Aloe vera or gum of aloes is excellent for this purpose.  (Do not use senna or epsom salts if ulcers or hemorrhoids are present.  Purgatives should be used with caution during the first trimester of pregnancy.)
In an environment where people have no choice but to eat high fiber foods, appendicitis would be a rare problem.  There are many other "modern" diseases that would disappear if our diet were not so "modern".  For example, diabetes is only a problem because of the high percentage of refined starches and sugars in most people's diet.  The natural human diet is one of the many things that God set and humans tampered with, to their own detriment. - Suzan G.


There was an article from the Institute for Creation Research just yesterday on this topic, highlighting recent research showing that the appendix harbors a "cache" of bacteria that are used to re-colonize the gut following a major illness or condition that disrupts the digestive system. Evidently there are no vestigial organs. - Tip H. in Washington

Dear JWR:
The excellent article, "Fire: Your Partner in Survival, by Pledger" mentioned the BTU ratings of certain trees. Wanting to know a bit more, I did some searching and found a chart of the BTU ratings of various types of wood.

On another note, Pledger's reference to a cord as 4x8 feet by 16 inches threw me. I looked it up and found that a "full cord" measures 4x4x8 feet, which is the number I was familiar with, ranging from 80 to 100 cubic feet stacked. The web site I found uses 90 cubic feet for its BTU ratings. However, a "face cord" is one-third of a full cord and measures 4x8 feet by 16 inches. This is the one Pledger's article uses. - Larry X.

Reader M.V. was the final high bidder in the auction AN/PVS-14 Gen 3+ Night Vision Scope, with his very generous bid of $3,900. All proceeds (100%) will be donated to C.R.O.S.S. Ministries. (A very worthy Christian ministry that is sharing the Gospel of Christ in South Sudan. Their outreach method is unique: They are teaching rural villagers tactical marksmanship, water purification, and firefighting skills, free of charge.)

The monocular is one of these. (The same model that we use here at the Rawles Ranch.) These night vision scopes normally retail for around $3,600. (Although Ready Made Resources sells them at the discounted price of $2,695.) This monocular was kindly donated by Ready Made Resources, in cooperation with Night Ops Tactical.

Gunwerks in Burlington, Wyoming has introduced several new products and they now offer a ballistics calculator, but their phenomenally accurate long range rifles are still their forte. Their long range shooting courses have been taught in Wyoming, Utah, West Virginia, Texas, and Canada.

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Larry Pratt will be speaking at two southern Idaho Patriots Night events! Friday, March 22, 2013 at the Nampa Civic Center, 311 Third Street South, Nampa, 6:00 p.m. Social Hour/Meet and Greet, 7:00 p.m. Keynote Speaker Larry Pratt followed by Q&A. Admission is $5.00 for Club members (Parma Rod and Gun Club, Nampa Rod and Gun Club, or Gem County Rod and Gun Club) and $10.00 for the general public. This includes a raffle ticket for door prizes. You can reserve tickets at the Parma web site, under Special Events.

A M1911 pistol from STI will be raffled during the event. For questions about this event, please contact Aaron Goodfellow.

Then, the following evening: Larry Pratt and Chad Huff (the Payette County Sheriff) will be the guest speakers on Saturday, March 23rd, 6 p.m. at McCain Middle School, 400 N. Iowa Avenue, in Payette, Idaho. Organizers say: "Larry Pratt will explain the dynamics of the federal 'gun control' push and how it is being used to attack our Second Amendment Rights." Admission is $10. Doors open at 6 PM for social hour and dessert bar. Event begins at 7 PM. Seating is limited, so get your tickets in advance. For more information or to buy tickets, please call: Howard at (208) 642-3854 or Bruce at (208) 440-9080.

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The folks at Nemo Arms (in Kalispell, Montana) are reporting "brisk" sales. That comes as no great surprise, in today's market. Also in Kalispell, Sonju Industrial (SI) is working as quickly as possible to crank out AR-15 and AR-10 receivers. By the way, it had been planned for SI to be acquired by Nemo Arms, but that deal fell though. But the two companies are still working cooperatively.

   o o o

For those who observe the Feasts in the Spokane, Washington area, I heard about this Messianic congregation:

Kehilat HaMashiach
13506 E. Broadway Ave
Spokane Valley , Washington 99216
509-465-9523 (Phone) / 509-465-0451 (FAX)

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Idaho bull sells for $600,000, sets world record

How to Use a [BUSTED] Cell Phone to Meet 5 Basic Survival Needs. (Thanks to Otter for the link.)

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G.G. flagged this: UPDATE: Number Of U.S. Gun Makers Refusing Sales To Gov't In 'Firearms Equality Movement' Triples In Two Weeks

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Reese Case: Prosecution Appeals Judge Brack’s Decision

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According to the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arm (CCRKBA), you should be aware of five pieces of pending Federal gun legislation:

• H.R. 138 would ban transfer or possession of standard-capacity magazines, targeting those that hold more than 10 rounds.
• H.R. 142 would ban Internet or mail order ammunition purchases, require a federal license for all ammunition sellers and mandate reporting of "bulk" ammo purchases.
• H.R. 21 would ban all private firearms transfers. 
• H.R. 34 & H.R. 117 are both gun registration bills overriding long standing protections of gun owner privacy.

Of these, the magazine ban (H.R. 138) and the private party transfer ban (H.R. 21) have the highest likelihood of passing a Senate floor vote. Please contact you senators and congressmen!

   o o o

Mr. Smith sent this: Wonder Gel Instantly Closes and Stops Profusely Bleeding Wounds

"No enactment of man can be considered law unless it conforms to the law of God." - William Blackstone, author of Commentaries on the Laws of England

Monday, March 11, 2013

This is the last day to bid in the C.R.O.S.S. benefit auction. See details, below.

CURRENT BID is $3,900. (Generously bid by Reader M.V.) Hit reload to see any updates to this post made this evening.

This is the last day of the benefit auction of a brand new AN/PVS-14 Gen 3+ Night Vision Scope. All proceeds (100% of your bid) will be donated to C.R.O.S.S. Ministries. (A very worthy Christian ministry that is sharing the Gospel of Christ in South Sudan. Their outreach method is unique: They are teaching rural villagers tactical marksmanship, water purification, and firefighting skills, free of charge.)

The monocular is one of these. (The same model that we use here at the Rawles Ranch.) These night vision scopes normally retail for around $3,600. (Although Ready Made Resources sells them at the discounted price of $2,695.) This monocular was kindly donated by Ready Made Resources, in cooperation with Night Ops Tactical.

Simply e-mail us your bids. I will post regular updates on the bidding. The final deadline will be Midnight EST on Monday, March 11, 2013. Thanks for your generous bids in support of C.R.O.S.S. Ministries.

Awhile back, I tested some automatic folding knives from Bear Ops, which is a division of Bear & Son Cutlery and was favorably impressed with the little tactical folders. Now, while I sincerely enjoy all the new types of stainless steel blade materials used on knives these days, I've always been fascinated with Damascus steel. Bear & Son is one of the few commercial knife manufacturers offering knives with Damascus blades. What we have in Damascus steel is a combination of different steels with different properties, that is hammer forged and folded back onto itself, to give you blades with extraordinary toughness and edge-holding ability.
Living in the Pacific Northwest, we get a lot of rain. We have two seasons in my part of Oregon, we have four months of beautiful summer weather - not too hot and not too cold as a rule. But then we have eight months of wintry weather - which means liquid sunshine - RAIN! We get a lot of rain, not much snow as a rule, but a lot of rain. So, whenever possible, I try to get gear that can stand-up to the elements, and I enjoy stainless steel knives and guns - when I can get what I'm looking for, to fill a particular need. Even so, with stainless steel, it can still rust - it just rusts less - "stains-less", and it still must be maintained, just not as much maintenance goes into keeping a knife or gun from rusting in my climate. Most of the knives I own, are manufactured out of some type of stainless steel, and only a few are tool steel. And, no matter how hard I try to maintain the tool steel knife blades, they still develop some patina rust and pitting, if I don't pay close enough attention to them. For all my guns and tool steel knives, I use a product called Birchwood Casey Barricade. It's a simple spray it on, and let it dry a bit and wipe it off, and it gives metal a nice coating that protects it from the elements. Still, regular maintenance is required to prevent a gun or knife blade from rusting.
So, why my fascination with a knife blade manufactured out of Damascus steel - and in this case, tool steels, that can easily rust in my climate? Well, first of all, I love the different patterns on Damascus steel blade knives, no two are ever the same. Damascus steel was first produced in Damascus, Syria, more than 2,000 years ago, so it has stood the test of time, when it comes to toughness and edge-retention. Also, when viewed under a microscope or high magnification, you can the tiny saw-tooth carbides what are formed in the blade's edge by the forging and coal fire. What you will discover with many Damascus blades is that, they may not feel as sharp as other tool or stainless steel blades, but they are - very sharp! Even when you feel the blade's edge, it may not feel as sharp as you'd like, but the sharpness is there, and it holds an edge a very, very long time. Also, when ground on an angle, as in grinding a knife's blade, the blade displays a pattern that is stunning, to say the least. To my eyes, a real thing of beauty and art.
Bear & Son Cutlery produce 416-layer Damascus steel blades. Now, I've seen some custom knife makers offering Damascus steel blades with 2,000 layers of steel, and I'm not sure how much stronger those blades are compared to Damascus steel blades with a lesser number of layers. I'm sure there might be some advantage to more layers, but just how much that matters to me, is a moot point. To get more layers, the steel is folded over onto itself and forged again and again, each time getting more and more layers. A very time-consuming process if you are doing the forging by hand, as opposed to having a power forge. In any event, Bear & Son Cutlery still has very limited supplies of their Damascus blades on-hand at any given time. They are in great demand. Knowing this, when I placed an order for a sample Damascus blade for this article, I placed several alternate choices - just in case. Good thing, because my first choice wasn't available. (Like I said, they are in great demand.)
I obtained the Model 549D  which is a no frills Drop Point Hunting style fixed blade knife. It has an overall length of 7-7/8 inches with genuine India stage bone handle scales and a nickel silver bolster. I've always loved the look of genuine India stag bone handle scales on a knife, and Bear & Son did a fantastic job on this sample, the golden honey hue with the roasted grooves, really caught my attention. A nicely done leather sheath also comes with the 549D and the blade was heavily oiled - as is necessary with any Damascus tool steel knife, to prevent it from rusting. The handle scales are attached by two stainless steel pins, and the workmanship is second to none on this sample. You would believe it was a custom knife because of the attention to detail. The handle is nicely configured to fit my hand perfectly, and everyone I showed it to liked the way the knife felt in their hand, too.
Now, before using a Damascus tool steel knife, you really need to wipe off the oil coating, especially if you are dressing out game, you don't want oil contaminating the meat. There was a lot of oil on my sample, and you don't need that much in my humble opinion. Still, Bear & Son are being cautious and putting a heavy coat on the Damascus blades, you don't know how long they might sit on a shelf in a warehouse, or at a dealer's store, before being purchased. Better safe than sorry. I cleaned all the oil off my sample, and gave it a coat of the Barricade, let it dry for a bit and wiped off the excess, and I was confident the blade had a good protection against the elements.
The sharpness of the blade, as mentioned earlier, didn't feel "that" sharp to my way of thinking, however, it was much sharper than any stainless steel blade knife I've laid my hands on, it would easily slice through meat, rope, poly rope (and that is difficult to cut) blue jeans canvas material, cardboard boxes and paper could easily be sliced by the edge into slivers. At the conclusion of my testing, I took the 549D sample and gave it a quick touch-up on some Crock sticks, and it was even sharper than when I got it. You can, if you're careful, actually feel the microscopic teeth on the edge of the blade with your finger - do this carefully, as the blade will cut you. No, I didn't get cut!
The 549D is just the perfect sized fixed blade knife for wearing on your belt when you're out hunting or camping, and the size is not too big and not too small, for just about any reasonable task you can use this knife for. Of course, it's not big enough for chopping wood, nor was it intended for that, you can find bigger knives or an axe for that task. However, most tasks around a camp or in a survival situation, can be handled by the 549D. Now, we're not talking hard-core combat, or taking out an enemy sentry - if you are into a Rambo mentality, then this knife isn't for you, nor will you survive out in a hard-core combat role very long with that mentality - sorry! Being realistic here! I honestly don't believe most SurvivalBlog readers have a Rambo mentality, and I hear from a lot of readers regularly. I've found you are a very intelligent bunch of folks, and I enjoy hearing from you.
In the past, if you purchased a Damascus steel knife from a custom knife maker, on average, it would cost you about $100 per inch for the knife - if you wanted a 10-inch knife, it would set you back an easy $1,000 or more, depending on the handle scales, sheath and other variables. The Bear & Son 549D is priced at only $209.99 and that, is a fantastic deal to my way of thinking. So, if you are in the market for something a little bit different than what everyone else is carrying, take a look at the 549D, and if it's not to your liking, check out some of the other models they offer, I'm betting you'll find something that will fit the bill, and at prices that are very affordable for what you are getting.
As a side note, during all my testing, I did touch-up the coating of Barricade protectant I put on the 549D, I didn't want to have to fight the beginnings of rust. It only takes a minute to put another coat of Barricade on a knife, and its an inexpensive product. Everyone should have a can of Barricade in their survival gear, it can make a difference in keeping your metal gear in tip-top condition, or allowing it rust. A can of Barricade will last you years. I t doesn't take very much to give you a protective coating, that lasts a long time.
Take a close look at the Bear & Son web site, and you'll see several types of fixed blade as well as folding knives, manufactured out of Damascus tool steel. I know you'll find something that catches your eye. And their prices won't break the bank, either. - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

Thanks again for the recent posting on my piece: Local Food and Energy from Top Lit Up Draft Micro-Gasification Stove. That was much appreciated!

Are you tracking woodgas powered vehicles?

You may have heard of it from WWII stories and FEMA manual.

The old systems worked in emergencies, but were not really practical for long term use.

Wayne Keith has a new book just out on practical applications, Have Wood Will Travel. In it are detailed instructions for building, operating, and maintaining a modern woodgas powered vehicle.

Wayne has tinkered his way into the first system that is practical (in areas with abundant wood or stemmy biomass) for modern fuel injected engines. It works okay in carbureted engines as well. He has been driving all over the US on wood power for almost 8 years now. Longest single trip, 7,000 miles, also holds the LSR for wood power at just under 80 mph. I have ridden with him at higher speeds, but in his first trip to Bonneville he mostly just learned a lot about the protocols. He can go a lot faster.

Auburn University did a study on his design running on gasoline and wood. His 318 Dodge Dakota gets better BTU-to-energy conversion from wood than from gasoline.

I will have a copy sent to one of your reviewers, if you will give me a mailing address.

When I joined the forum a little over a year ago, when there were 8 subscribers. Today there are over 1400. Their web site has the largest collection of woodgas info on the web. Woodgas has its addicts, I am one of them. I have an old farm truck, a 1984 F-250 with a 460 cubic inch motor that runs great on wood. I have a gooseneck hitch in it, because it has enough power to pull a trailer.

Seeing is believing, and I no longer believe the PhD-spouted myths about woodgas not having enough power to do useful work. The engine, originally built to run on high octane, sounds better running on woodgas than on any modern grade of pump petroleum.

For off grid electrical power generation, the wind doesn't always blow, the sun doesn't always shine, but smoke always rises.

I have a medical question that I thought that maybe you could forward to Dr. Cynthia Koelker, your Medical Editor, on perhaps she could write an article.
My appendix was enflamed recently and they performed emergency surgery to remove it before it burst. My doctor said that his granddad, also a doctor, performed preventative surgery to remove his daughter's (my doctor's mom's) appendix. He said that there is really no purpose for the appendix except to get infected and inflamed and burst. I agree that he is probably correct in this day and age, but when I asked the same question of my surgeon, he said that pandas have the largest appendix, and they live entirely on raw plant materials, that the appendix is to make it easier to digest plant materials.
So here are my questions:
1. What IS the purpose of the appendix in the human body?
2. In a survival setting, how would you insure keeping the appendix healthy, especially in climates where there is a long winter and thus, difficulty in obtaining fresh food? In hot climates? In asking this question, I am assuming that TEOTWAWKI has occurred, like 10 years ago, maybe I had a baby somewhere in there, there is no food save what I have grown, no modern devices, etc. So for people that are alive now, we can go get the surgery before it gets bad, to prevent the appendix getting sick. But how would I prevent the inflammation of the appendix of a future baby?
3. I haven't experienced problems with the gall bladder, but how do you keep it healthy?
Thanks so much, - Anita L.

JWR Replies: Dr. Koelker is now writing a reply. That should be posted tonight.

In my military life I can relate the reason for the expiration date on the bag is due to the bag not the fluid.  Plastic is not impermeable.  The rationale is after the date of expiration enough time has passed to question the integrity of the fluid.  The purity of the fluid can be compromised.  If you started a line and pushed the fluid you have a increased risk of infection.  The fluid is perfectly good for oral use.  It doesn't taste very good but in a pinch it works. - Ken L.

When I was in Costco this week, I noticed that they had Organic Coconut Oil. This coconut oil is a good storage fat because it is very shelf-stable. The manufacturer says it has a shelf life of two years, but a friend of mine told me that she had some that she stored in her basement for 6 years, and when she used it it was just fine. 

Coconut oil is definitely healthier for you than Crisco (which is hydrogenated vegetable oil) or hydrogenated lard (the lard you commonly find in the grocery store); we've all heard about the health issues associated with hydrogenated fats. Coconut oil is very heat-stable, and can be used for high-temperature cooking. It can also be used as a skin moisturizer, and it has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. 

It seems like an ideal storage item! - L.A.

JWR Replies: The health benefits of coconut oil are well known. I highly recommended it. In my Rawles Gets You Ready Preparedness Course I described the quandary that many preppers face: Fats and oils are essential for nutrition, but they generally don't store well. It is easy to find foods that store for a decade or more, but not so for fats and oils. The good news is shelf life of olive oil and coconut oil can be extended to ten years or perhaps more by storing them in a chest freezer.

KAF's Five Fruit Bread

1 16 oz. can fruit cocktail
3 c all purpose flour
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/3 c melted butter
1/4 c toasted slivered almonds
1/2 c sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 Tblsp grated lemon peel

Drain the syrup from fruit into a measuring cup and add enough water to it to make 1 cup.
Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.
Stir syrup into flour mixture along with the eggs, butter, and lemon peel.
Stir in fruit and almonds.
Pour into greased 9 x 5" loaf pan.

Bake at 350 F for 1hr and 15 minutes.

Useful Recipe and Cooking Links:

Fruit Bread Recipes at

Bread Machine Fruit Loaf Recipes


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

John Michael Greer: The Hard Road Ahead. (A piece recommended by Jeremy M. in New Zealand.)

The new Dodd-Frank rules on collateral requirements for derivatives were scheduled begin in January, 2013. This legislation was passed in 2010, in reaction the 2008 Mortgaged Backed Securities (MBS) fiasco that had triggered the global credit market collapse of 2008. Perhaps this in part explains why the U.S. Treasury and the Federal Reserve selected MBSes as their junque de jour for Quantitative Easing Round 3 (QE3) "out of thin air" purchases. MBSes will remain solid as long as Uncle Sugar keeps buying them, month in, and month out. I have some suspicions about the quality of the MBSes that are being bought up. So QE3 is propping up three sectors: the bond market (directly), the stock market (indirectly), and the real estate market (indirectly), and the derivatives casino (directly). How incredibly convenient for the folks on Wall Street. Your (inflated) tax dollars at work: boosting the bottom line at the brokerage houses. OBTW, any bets on the collateral level of the MBS paper that is being bought up? Hmmmmm? The Fed plans to buy up $40 billion worth of MBSes per month, indefinitely. OBTW, the derivatives collateral requirements are briefly explained in a Business Week article: A Shortage of Bonds to Back Derivatives Bets.

Items from The Economatrix:

Average Americans Are Feeling Pain of US Debt

Business Spending Improves as US Profits Grow

January Factory Orders Confirm Manufacturing Slump Continues

One of the newest advertisers over at our growing SurvivalRealty spin-off web site is Mark Twite Realty. Along with some larger parcels, they have listings for some bargain-priced mining claims and small rural properties in western Montana. Oh, BTW, the map of listings at SurvivalRealty is fully zoomable, and there is a new page featuring all properties and contacts in the American Redoubt.

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Reader T.T.C. sent: Mark Levin's take on the current ammunition shortage.

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A tyranny alert: Christian, Please Wake Up! by Chuck Baldwin

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There is a lesson here: Cubans evade censorship by exchanging computer memory sticks, blogger says
Stay Connected

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Avalanche Lily liked this piece over at the excellent Paratus Familia blog: Ten Things to Do Until the Revolution

"Freedom, privileges, options, must constantly be exercised, even at the risk of inconvenience." - Jack Vance

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Today we present another entry for Round 45 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course. (A $1,195 value.) 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 gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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. C.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of D.) 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, E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 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. E.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value), and F.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 45 ends on March 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.

Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the Lord of hosts: Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and that which your fathers have stored up till this day, shall be carried to Babylon. Nothing shall be left, says the Lord. And some of your own sons, who will come from you, whom you will father, shall be taken away, and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.”
Isaiah 39:5-7

God’s word to Hezekiah, king of Judah, through the prophet Isaiah immediately followed a dramatic sequence of events that twice should have led to Hezekiah’s death, but ends with his miraculous healing and a visit by Babylonian envoys bearing gifts and congratulations. Hezekiah welcomed these envoys gladly and, for some reason, decided to show them “his treasure house, the silver, the gold, the spices, the precious oil, his whole armory, all that was found in his storehouses. There was nothing in his house or in all his realm that Hezekiah did not show them.” Isaiah was not aware of the envoys or their grand tour, and upon discovering their presence began questioning the king about them and what they had seen. The king’s confession prompted Isaiah’s prophecy above, and so it was that some 100 years later the first wave of Babylonian invaders began to deport Jews from their Judean homeland into what became known as the Babylonian captivity.

My theological beliefs hold that God is sovereign in all things, and He used Hezekiah’s actions and the subsequent Babylonian invasion to ultimately point the Jewish people back to Him. I also believe Paul in his second letter to Timothy when he said “all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16). It follows then that the Bible is replete with great examples of how we should live our lives daily, not just in a spiritual sense, but in a very practical sense. God used Hezekiah’s mistake as part of His ultimate plan of redemption, but that does not take away from the fact that Hezekiah made a very grave error in judgment by laying open all the possessions and capabilities of his kingdom to foreign visitors, ultimately making and giving justification to their later invasion.

So what lessons do you and I stand to learn from Hezekiah’s actions? Any student of history, and certainly any frequent reader of SurvivalBlog, should be intimately familiar with the concept, application, and importance of Operations Security (OPSEC). However, being familiar with OPSEC and putting it into practice are two very different topics. Today we face the same danger that Hezekiah faced. Relatively speaking, things are good for many of us in this day and age. We lead busy, active lives and while we know dangers exist, our busy lives have a way of lulling us to sleep and coaxing us to take our guard down because total chaos has been averted for yet another day. Just as you should not wait for a disaster to begin making use of your preparations and training, you should not wait to begin practicing OPSEC in your daily lives.

Where do you start? Any writing on OPSEC that tries to address the entire concept in a few short pages is being overly general and probably not very useful. With that in mind, I will try to focus on one specific aspect of OPSEC: the role of critical information in maintaining essential secrecy.

Let’s begin with two definitions:
Critical information is that information that is either 1) important to you successfully
achieving your objective or mission (i.e. your route to your retreat WTSHTF) or 2) information which may be of use to an actual or potential adversary (i.e. the fact that you have a deep larder when Wal-mart’s shelves are empty and never being restocked).
Essential secrecy is actually a condition that is achieved by denying critical information to actual or potential adversaries, through the combined means of traditional security (physical boundaries, guards, etc.) and OPSEC.

As preparedness-minded people, our goal is to maintain some type of essential secrecy. Note that there is a difference between maintaining essential secrecy and being paranoid. If you treat everyone in your life as a potential adversary, then you already have little hope of surviving, much less thriving, through TEOTWAWKI. This is where the often understated importance of community comes into play. It is a subject that I feel we do not emphasize often enough, but nevertheless, it is not the topic of this article.

We achieve and maintain our essential secrecy by protecting our critical information. In DoD parlance, it would be incorrect to refer to your critical information as “secrets,” but for our practical purposes it is fundamentally the same thing as few of us have a tiered system of classifying documents. To practice OPSEC is to keep your secrets secret. One of the first and most important steps in the OPSEC process is to identify information about you and your capabilities, activities, limitations (including vulnerabilities), and intentions (CALI) that you consider to be critical in nature. What is critical, you ask? Naturally, it depends.

Immediately, the size and location of your larder, the grid coordinates to your retreat, and your bug out route may come to mind. Yes, these are very important capabilities and activities, but do not stop there. Go back to the CALI acronym above. We like to focus on positives - the fact that we have made preparations and plans. Equally as critical to the things that we have done are the things we have yet to do - our limitations and vulnerabilities.

As you begin to formulate in your mind what information you would classify as critical, it is good to set a few parameters. First, you should initially limit your list to ten items. Over time and as your OPSEC practices improve, this list can expand. Trying to prioritize pieces of information in importance can become cumbersome, which brings us to the second point, prioritization. To those in your immediate circle who are like-minded and cooperatively preparing with you, your critical information will be common knowledge. However, as new members are brought into the fold, the extent of their knowledge of your preparation should be based on your critical information list and revealed incrementally as deemed appropriate by their proven level of commitment and upon approval of the primary members of your group. Next, the critical information list should be physical in form and its content and importance known by all in your group, with the understanding that its existence highlights the importance of keeping it secret from those outside. Why keep a hard copy? To serve as a reminder of what is at stake. If you cannot protect that document, what makes you think you can protect your family during a disaster? Finally, your critical information list is a living, breathing document. As your level of preparedness changes, so too should your critical information change. You should reexamine and update your critical information list quarterly, ideally at the conclusion of a rehearsal or training event (you are rehearsing and training for WTSHTF, right?).

The ability to protect your critical information is a result of the total process of OPSEC, rather than a few simple, one-time steps that will lead you down a mythical yellow brick road to essential secrecy. The fight to protect yourself is ongoing and ever-changing. This process only begins with identifying your critical information. In order to protect that, you must analyze threats against you, analyze your own vulnerabilities, assess the inherent risks, and implement measures to counter each of these areas. Each of these steps in the process have been the subject of countless pages of analysis and policy implementation, but for all the various means of implementing OPSEC, the first step will always be to identify your critical information. Without knowing your most important secrets, what use is it to plan painstaking measures to protect them?

To conclude, let’s go back to our analogy using King Hezekiah. We see that he exercised absolutely no discernment when it came to protecting the critical information and CALI of the Kingdom of Judah from his Babylonian guests. The foolishness of his actions, however, was all too clear to Isaiah when he learned of what had transpired, and God revealed to him the prophecy of what was to come for the people of Israel in the future as a result of these acts.

Now think about your own experience in taking steps to be prepared for the unforeseen. Whether you are preparing for a complete economic meltdown, an infrastructure-crippling CME event, or next year’s hurricane season, there are certainly things that are better left unsaid, especially to those who do not bother to reign in their own tongues or some who would undoubtedly turn to barbaric behavior as a result of their own failure to prepare. Perhaps you have even made an error in judgment of another’s character and trusted them with information that you now regret. Now is the time to begin systematically structuring your OPSEC plan so that it is an inherent, organic part of your preparedness plan, rather than a simple buzzword in your prepping vocabulary that you use on occasion. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” so spend this weekend identifying your critical information and start taking steps to protect it. Do not let the wisdom of the Bible as portrayed in Hezekiah’s mistake slip by unheeded.

CURRENT BID is $3,700 (Bid by Reader M.V.)

Simply e-mail us your bids. I will post regular updates on the bidding. The final deadline will be Midnight EST on Monday, March 11, 2013. Thanks for your generous bids in support of C.R.O.S.S. Ministries.

We are continuing a benefit auction of a brand new AN/PVS-14 Gen 3+ Night Vision Scope. All proceeds (100% of your bid) will be donated to C.R.O.S.S. Ministries. (A very worthy Christian ministry that is sharing the Gospel of Christ in South Sudan. Their outreach method is unique: They are teaching rural villagers tactical marksmanship, water purification, and firefighting skills, free of charge.)

The monocular is one of these. (The same model that we use here at the Rawles Ranch.) These night vision scopes normally retail for around $3,600. (Although Ready Made Resources sells them at the discounted price of $2,695.) This monocular was kindly donated by Ready Made Resources, in cooperation with Night Ops Tactical.

Chris P. spotted an item of interest to ATV owners: Polaris introducing flat-proof "airless" tires.

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Do You Count As an Extremist 'Patriot'? A Closer Look at the SPLC Report. Readers are warned that the SPLC specializes in besmirching almost anyone who is right of center. They often attempt to make anyone who does not follow their collectivist agenda looking like a neo-Nazi or KKK member. This is a form of gray propaganda. Their key weapon is guilt by association. They even attempt to cast guilt by non-association. That is what they recently did with me.

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UK deer numbers spiraling out of control, scientists say. What sissybritches! There is a solution to the problem. It is called venison--and quite tasty.

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A UK site rates the Top Ten Threats Envisioned by Preppers

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Reader G.T.J. wrote to mention that LeftistAgendaPedia has apparently declared Don McAlvany an Unperson.You see, to the Wikipedian Elite, the fictional Papa Smurf is notable enough to have his own Wiki bio page. And so are academic nobodies like James Lentini. Oh, and let's not overlook the all-important Wedding dress of Kate Middleton. But in contrast, some published conservative economists are "non-notable". (All non-Keynsians are immediately suspect.) FWIW, Wikipedia's biography about Yours Truly went through a couple of unsuccessful Articles For Deletion (AFD) campaigns. But they DID successfully delete the Wiki pages for two of my novels, claiming that there was "consensus" that they were "non-notable", even though they had both been on the New York Times bestsellers list. To clarify the convoluted logic of the Wiki world: In the eyes of Wikipedia's editors "Bestseller status does not confer notability."

"And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:
And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,
Blessed [are] the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed [are] they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed [are] the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed [are] they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed [are] the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed [are] the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed [are] the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed [are] they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye, when [men] shall revile you, and persecute [you], and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great [is] your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." - Matthew 5:1-16 (KJV)

Saturday, March 9, 2013

March 9th is the birthday of Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first man to ever travel in space. (He was born 9 March 1934. He died 27 March 1968 in the crash of a MiG-15-UTI fighter.)


Today we present another entry for Round 45 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course. (A $1,195 value.) 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 gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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. C.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of D.) 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, E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 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. E.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value), and F.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 45 ends on March 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.

Eons ago when people lived in caves, one of their most important tools was fire.  Its ability to keep them warm, cook food, provide light, and scare away predators was of the utmost importance.  Some kind of a societal upheaval may not necessarily mean returning to a stone age existence, but when the systems that keep our everyday life humming along go down, fire will once again have a huge impact on our ability to survive.

This fact was brought home to my wife and me two winters ago, when a February blizzard knocked out the power to several counties.  It was early evening - the lights flickered a few times, and then the house was plunged into darkness.  Everything became eerily quiet, save for the wind howling outside and snow pelting against the window.

Then there was another sound – the reassuring popping of a log in our big airtight Franklin stove which continued to throw off its heat, oblivious to the fact that the juice was off.  For the next thirty-six hours we used it to keep us warm,  melt snow to flush toilets, and even did a some cooking over its coals.  While other folks along our country road bundled up in sleeping bags and shivered until the outage ended, the disruption to our lives wasn’t nearly as great.

If you live in a northern climate, staying warm is important for nearly half of the year.  Did I say “important”?  Make that “vital” because without a way to keep the temperature in your home or bug-out place at a life-sustaining level, you will die of exposure!  Your gas or oil furnace will be fine… as long as your fuel supply lasts or the electricity doesn’t fail.  These are finite resources, however, and during a long-term disruption of goods and services, your pilot light will go out at some point (probably just when a January blizzard comes howling in). 

The only logical solution is to turn to wood heat, or more precisely, a wood-burning airtight stove (fireplaces are fine for ambiance, but horribly inefficient for warming you since most of the heat goes up the chimney).  The next question, then, is where will your wood come from, and what skills and tools do you need to convert it to usable fuel for your stove? 

The countryside is full of burnable litter.  Next time you’re out and about, take a look around.  Fallen branches and even a downed tree or two are common sights in any woodlot or park, or along rural roads.  Most of it, though, is too small to keep a fire going with the BTU output that’s needed to warm your home.  Real “firewood” consists of pieces of thick branches or trunks that have been cut and split to a size of about 16” long and roughly 5” or 6” in diameter.  Anything smaller will require re-stoking the stove every few hours, while bigger pieces may smolder unless the fire is wastefully large.

At present, I get most of my firewood supply from a local landowner, who doesn’t like downed trees lying around and sees it as a favor when I clean up the woods for him.   After a big summer storm, city folks without saws will gladly offer you a tree that’s toppled in their yard.  Likewise, a downed tree across a rural road usually belongs to the first one who’s there to cut it up.   During bad times it would likely be possible to barter for timber with a landowner who doesn’t have the tools or know-how to utilize it himself -probably working together and then sharing it.  State or federally-owned hunting land and wildlife areas also have downed timber, which can often be claimed by anyone with the gumption to go get it.

If we ever arrive at a point where vehicles and trailers are no longer available, all of your wood will have to be hauled by hand.  That means that laying in a good supply now, when you can still move it efficiently, would be a good idea.  Having a sizable woodpile to begin with puts a buffer between you and calamity.  Get your wood from the more distant locations while you can still truck it, and leave the easier pickings for when you may have to move it manually. 

Wheel barrows are, in my opinion, a poor way to transport anything heavy for any distance due to their chronic balance problems.  With their single, small, pneumatic tire, they are not made to move loads over uneven ground.  Take one into the woods and roll over a few blackberry brambles, and the tire will inevitably puncture and go flat.  A better alternative is one of those “game haulers” with large, hard rubber wheels.  They’re made for going over rough terrain easily, and can handle a maximum load with a minimum amount of effort (they can also haul around a lot of other heavy stuff that might need moving).

Literally any wood will burn.  One year we survived two months of a Wisconsin winter heating with willow – a wood near the bottom of the BTU list.  Likewise, this past winter we used a fair amount of box elder – another low grade tree.  Woods like this certainly will throw out enough heat to keep you warm, but they burn fast, requiring a larger supply.

The “primo” varieties include oak, hard maple, locust, hickory and apple.  Next down the line but still good, are ash, birch, cherry, and hackberry.  Unless there is nothing else available, however, avoid any of the evergreen species, since their resin content tends to start chimney fires, spit sparks, and can flash back when you open the stove door.

Firewood should season for at least six months after being cut green (a year is better) although a few varieties, like ash and locust, will burn without much drying.

We’ve just been through a mild winter here. Spring has arrived and, after checking the wood shed, I see that we’ve gone through about six face cords of mixed hardwood (a stove face cord is a stack four feet high, eight feet long, and 16” deep).  A bad winter, like last year’s, would probably have required another cord.

A household could get by on a lot less, though.  For one thing, we have a large stove and heat the entire place with it.  The fire is usually lit in November and doesn’t go out until late March.  A smaller stove heating a smaller area would take far less fuel.  And if our wood supply had been limited, instead of basking in 70 degree temperatures all winter, we could have stretched the supply by burning less – in an extreme case, just enough to keep the place at 50 degrees.  This would have been uncomfortable, but it would have enabled us to survive.

If you envision doing your cutting with a chain saw after society falls apart, picture those last precious (and irreplaceable) drops of gas disappearing into its tank.  Even if you’ve stocked a large supply of fuel and bar oil, gas has a shelf life, and how many chains do you have?  The other problem with a chain saw (besides the fact that, being a machine, it will need unobtainable replacement parts at some point) is that it makes noise.  This broadcasts a message to anyone within a mile that someone’s cutting a pile of firewood that could be pilfered from the producer as soon as he’s finished the work.

Long-term survival requires stepping back into the 19th century and taking up the hand saw.  Do you have one capable of cutting through a 30 inch tree trunk?  Probably not, but realizing the need for producing burnable chunks suitable for splitting that will hold a fire all night should inspire you to get one.

A crosscut saw capable of handling tree trunk needs to be either a one or two-man model 48” - 56“ long.  If you’ve got a partner, go with a two-man type.  I’ve got one that can be set up either way, with add-on handle on one end that converts it from a solo saw to a duo.

There are two basic tooth types – “Lance” and “Tuttle”.  The former is designed more for softwoods, so go with the latter.  One company that carries a good assortment of saws in various designs for serious cutting is the Traditional Woodworker (

Also consider buying a second smaller, less cumbersome saw with a standard tooth arrangement for doing the medium cutting jobs.  This one would probably have a 24” - 30” blade with 4 ½ to 6 teeth per inch.  Such a saw could also be used in a pinch for the big stuff.  For cutting up smaller branches for kindling or your cooker (which will be discussed shortly) bow saws work fine.  They’re cheap, so get a couple of different sizes and a number of spare blades.

But having an assortment of saws isn’t going to keep you cutting indefinitely.  No matter how good the steel is, that blade is eventually going to get dull.  A good stock of files will be important for keeping your saws working efficiently.

Do you know how to sharpen a saw?  Are you familiar with things like “Fleam”, “Rakers” and “Jointing”?  Do you have a tooth setter in your tool box?  Becoming proficient at sharpening your cutting tools is a skill you can’t overlook (the afore-mentioned saw dealer also sells an excellent book by Harold Payson on setting and sharpening hand saws).  And besides keeping your own tools chipping away efficiently, being the local “saw sharpener” can make you a vital asset to a small community of survivors.

Axes can play a role in firewood production, too.  They’re not as efficient as a saw, but a century ago lumberjacks used them to take down mature trees.  Felling a tree with an axe, however, requires a lot of skill as well as effort, something you will soon discover when tackling anything bigger than a mid-sized aspen.  I’ve found that the best use for an axe is limbing a downed tree.  Just remember to stand on the opposite side of the trunk, and chop off the limb from the root end of the trunk towards the top. 

Like saws, axes come in several styles and sizes.  The “limbing” axe, with a 25 inch handle is also good for cutting up small limbs on a chopping block, while a full-sized axe can be used for splitting smaller pieces with a straight grain or, if you have to, felling a tree.

One more thought on axes:  Like any edged tool, keep it sharp!  The old saying, “a dull knife is a dangerous knife” holds true for axes as well (and you can do a lot more damage to yourself with one).

To round out your wood processing equipment you should have a good splitting maul, two or three wedges and a sledge hammer.  If you’re lucky enough to get into some straight-grained ash or oak, the maul alone will do the job, but often you’ll need the encouragement of a wedge or two to get many pieces to split to the size you desire.

Not all wedges are the same.  Get one that has a narrow entry edge for efficiently starting a split, and a wider one to open it up when you bury the first wedge (which often happens).  I like the model made by True Temper which has two built-in “wings” near the top for my second wedge.  The wings open the crack far enough to allow the head of a sledge hammer in, so you can continue to pound on the wedge until the split is complete.

A couple of final thoughts on cutting firewood:  If you don’t know what you’re doing, standing timber can kill you in a heartbeat.  Any written description here of exactly how to take down a tree would not be adequate, so go out and find someone who works in the woods, and ask if you can tag along sometime to learn how it’s done.  Some of the important things they’re likely to point out are:

  • The “hinge” (the uncut area between the notch and the felling cut) controls the direction which the tree will fall.  If you cut through it, the tree can go anywhere (including in you lap).
  • More branch weight on one side will influence a tree to fall in that direction.
  • A dead branch near the top that comes loose due to vibrations while cutting can be lethal (that’s why they’re called “widow-makers”).
  • Be aware of wind direction.  This can influence a tree’s fall – especially if it’s leafed out.

Fire is important for more than just keeping your core temperature above 98.6 degrees. In the event of a prolonged TEOTWAWKI catastrophe, everyone will need some way to cook food and boil water.  White or bottled gas, however, is not the answer, since eventually your supply will run out.  At that point you’ll once again have to turn to wood.

A traditional campfire will work, but is hugely wasteful of your hard-earned fuel resources.  The best option is to use something that will give you a big boost in efficiency over an open fire, and that “something” would be a well-designed wood-fired cook stove.

Some Preppers’ stocks of provisions include large amounts of freeze-dried food which doesn’t need to be “cooked” per se, but does require a cup or two of boiling water.  The most effective way to do this is with what is known as a “Kelly Kettle” (sometimes called  a “volcano kettle”). 

The Kelly Kettle is an odd-looking stainless steel stove that resembles a cross between a miniature milk can and a bowling pin.  It has a small fire chamber in the base which draws air from below, and the heat rises through a long chimney.  Surrounding this chimney is a hollow jacket that holds water.  The heat coming up it contacts a far greater surface area of the water than it would if it were merely concentrated on the bottom of a pan, and brings it to a boil in only a fraction of the time.

Another thing that makes the Kelly Kettle a great survival tool is the fact that it can be fueled with just about anything that burns.  Collect the wood chips from where you’ve been cutting and splitting your stove wood, break up small, fallen branches or twigs, or use pine cones or even bark – it’s all the same to the Kelly Kettle.  The bottom draft arrangement (the same principle as a Dakota fire) will make just about anything you put in it burn hot and fast.

For your actual cooking needs or for heating larger amounts of water, a special stove based on the Kelly Kettle will work far better than an open fire.  The only problem is that as far as I know, there isn’t such a stove on the market.  This means you’ll have to make your own.

 There’s a plan on a survival blog for a pipe stove with a “rocket elbow”.  I followed the basic design and tweaked it just a bit.  My version consists of an eleven inch length of  6” stove pipe nested inside a twelve inch piece of  8” stove pipe.  A vent (1 ½” diameter piece of exhaust pipe) goes from the bottom of the inner pipe and sticks out an inch past the outer one.  This tube serves both as an air intake and a chute to add fuel.

The interior pipe is closed off at the bottom using a removable standard 6” stovepipe cap and then cement is poured in the space between the two pipes.  This acts as insulation as well as giving the stove more weight, and hence, more stability.  Several one inch deep scallops are cut into the top rim of the outer pipe to allow smoke to escape, and what’s left supports the utensil you’re cooking with.  Like the Kelly Kettle, the fact that it draws air from the bottom and has a long chimney, will make the fire burn with a hot, focused flame.  A stove such as this also allows one to utilize easily collected scrap wood as fuel.

Following the basic design concept, it might be possible to build larger stoves for bigger cooking tasks.  The only drawback I’ve noticed with mine is that because it uses small pieces of wood that burn quickly, it needs to be fed often and hence, can’t be left unattended for long.

A bonus to cooking with wood is that the ashes the fire produces can be used as soap to clean up with.  Since they contain lye, merely mixing them into a paste with clean water and using it as a scouring compound will allow you to keep utensils clean long after your supply of soap has run out.
The best “starter” wood to get a fire going - whether it’s you cooker of wood furnace - is dry cedar.  If you can find an old telephone pole lying around somewhere, saw it into short lengths and then split each round into thin pieces. Unless you hit a knot, the straight grain of cedar splits easily into extremely thin sticks which take a flame in seconds.  I call this stuff “fire candy”.  It catches quickly and burns intensely for starting a fire, as well as rejuvenating one that is nearly out.  If you can’t find cedar, something like well-dried aspen or willow is also a good starter.

Don’t forget that before you can burn anything, you’ll have to have a way of starting your fire.  A large stockpile of traditional matches, metal matches and butane lighters take up little space and have no maximum shelf life.  If you run out, though, you’ll have to resort to a fire bow or a magnifying glass.

And for each fire you light, you’ll need some tinder to get it going.  A supply of newspapers and dryer lint will work, but know that when it’s gone you’ll have to rely on fuzz sticks or natural materials like mouse nests.

If and when TEOTWAWKI arrives “keeping the home fires burning” will be right up there with food and water.  Prepare for it now!

As hinted by C.E.B's article, Pesach (Passover) and Sukkot (Festival of Booths) are Jewish holidays -- two of the three major festivals -- in the Jewish calendar. That calendar is a Lunar/Solar calendar that does not correspond with the Gregorian calendar, which is why which holiday dates vary each year in the Gregorian calendar. Watching and marking the phases of the moon is not all there is to the Jewish calendar.

Before the calendar's calculations were settled by Hillel II in the fourth century the first sliver of the new moon was reported to the Sanhedrin. Based on the report of two witnesses who were both reliable and independent of each other the Sanhedrin declared it to be the first day of the month (Rosh Chodesh). A shofar (ram's horn) was ritually blown and messengers carried the announcement. Rosh Chodesh is, after all, a festival day each month.

However, it is most important to understand that the Jewish calendar is not a lunar calendar. A lunar month is about 29.5 days. Twelve of them only amounts to 354 days so another 11 or 12 days or so would be needed to make it correspond with the 365.25 day solar year. The difference gets even worse when simplified too much by using 29 days instead of 29.5 days per lunar month. Without intercalated days to compensate for this difference the Torah-mandated seasonal (solar) holidays would be out of sync by nearly two weeks every year. Using a 13-month lunar year is just as bad in the other direction: too many days instead of too few. With ancient Jews spread throughout the world (diaspora) getting word of the new month from declarations by the Sanhedrin simply could not work. Hence, the Jewish calendar.

Taking C.E.B.'s assumption that ordering delivery of a current calendar may become difficult or even impossible in SHTF conditions lasting longer than a year, having personally printed copies of the Jewish calendar may be as important to many people as having hard copies of selected books instead of depending on PDFs or other electronic versions.

There are several Jewish perpetual calendar web sites one could go to generate and print several years of calendars. One great one I recommend is at Aside from selecting the Gregorian or Hebrew calendar year to generate, selections exist to show holidays, Rosh Chodesh, fast days, special Shabbos days, and so on. It will also generate candle lighting times for your local zip code's time zone. There are other options.

The web page with the calendar generated can be printed of course, but there are also download format options for Windows, Mac OS, Google Calendar, Yahoo! Calendar, and others. Furthermore, click the next month link or next year link at the top to advance the calendar for the next printout or download.

As for one last detail from C.E.B.'s article, it isn't likely that those who pay attention will lose track of which day of the week it will be. The Jewish names of the weekdays were always First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Shabbos! - Larry R.

CURRENT BID is $3,600 (Bid by Reader D.J.G.)

Simply e-mail us your bids. I will post regular updates on the bidding. The final deadline will be Midnight EST on Monday, March 11, 2013. Thanks for your generous bids in support of C.R.O.S.S. Ministries.

We are continuing a benefit auction of a brand new AN/PVS-14 Gen 3+ Night Vision Scope. All proceeds (100% of your bid) will be donated to C.R.O.S.S. Ministries. (A very worthy Christian ministry that is sharing the Gospel of Christ in South Sudan. Their outreach method is unique: They are teaching rural villagers tactical marksmanship, water purification, and firefighting skills, free of charge.)

The monocular is one of these. (The same model that we use here at the Rawles Ranch.) These night vision scopes normally retail for around $3,600. (Although Ready Made Resources sells them at the discounted price of $2,695.) This monocular was kindly donated by Ready Made Resources, in cooperation with Night Ops Tactical.

Reader John J. liked this piece that ran last November over at The Art of Manliness: How to Bug-In: What You Need to Know to Survive a Grid-Down Disaster

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This series of videos shows that it is no longer fun to live within 60 miles of the Mexican border.

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Will states go where Congress hasn't on gun laws?

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Synching the US Power Grid to Protect Against Blackouts. I have always suspected that the planned inter-tie between the Eastern and Western power grids had an ulterior motive. Methinks this is all about Power, and not the sort that is measured in megawatts.

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Reader F. G. sent: Graham introduces background check bill with NRA backing. F.G.'s comment: "[After this enacted,] watch how quickly the Fed-Gov / ObamaCare approved version of what constitutes 'mental illness' changes!"

"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.

Of the increase of [his] government and peace [there shall be] no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this." - Isaiah 9:6-7 (KJV)

Friday, March 8, 2013

Today we present another entry for Round 45 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course. (A $1,195 value.) 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 gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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. C.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of D.) 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, E.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials and F.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 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. E.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value), and F.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 45 ends on March 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.

Operational Security (OPSEC) has been around since the first Stone Age battles were fought. In an effort to provide the element of surprise and in order to keep what one had only those that need to know where told. I have always considered my friends and/or people I associate with and of what I considered similar moral fortitude worthy of my trust when it came to discussion of prepping. However I have recently discovered that not everyone is of the same mindset.

First a little back ground on me. I moved out at 18 and went on to higher education like many. I worked part time retail jobs and went to school then I was in a motorcycle accident and couldn’t get thing back on track. I joined the U.S. Army and served 2-1/2 years as an Airborne Infantryman (11B1P) and unit Armorer. After an Honorable medical discharge, I moved home and after two months living with mom and dad and not being able to find a job. I worked in the retail firearms industry for some very big names for more than eight years. I then followed my dream of a career in Law Enforcement where I have been for the last five years.

This is not your typical OPSEC that we are talking about. You know where you don’t let the boxes from your favorite long term storage company or the new big screen television stick out of the trash can. This is OPSEC regarding people you invite into your home. Whether they are family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, business professionals you deal with on a regular basis people you share common hobbies with and that may seem to have the same ethical way of thinking. The people who given the opportunity do the right thing do the right thing in our non-state of emergency day to day life. They buy the homeless person a burger, help the little old lady put the gallon of milk in her car, are in a job that is for the benefit of society, they may be Doctors, Law Enforcement, Military, or Fire Fighters. You know the types people who help people in their day to day lives.

I was recently told by an individual that I held to a higher standard than most people in the community, that he and another person on my list of Friends that I thought were like minded and trusted confidants were Prepping. You can imagine the joy these two individuals are well respected in the community that I participate in and many of my friends participate in. The first is a Sales representative for an international firearms company (Mr. Gun) and the other is a Successful business owner (Mr. Business). Names withheld for OPSEC and they are after all still friends, however they may never know what hides behind door number 1 at my house or where my family and I will end up if the Schumer does Hit the Fan.

As I’m sitting in the office of Mr. Business and we are discussing our two biggest common interest shooting sports and guns. He drops the bomb that he and Mr. Gun are Prepping for when “The Stuff Hits The Fan.” At this point I’m thinking alright I have just added two very important people to my pool of resources and possibly to my group should anything happen. I may also point out that both are in my opinion and in the opinion of many exceptional well trained, practiced, and experienced with engaging multiple threats at close distance with a handgun. Mr. Gun is also very capable with a rifle and shotgun at distance. Then he says those dreaded words “we are making notes of people we know who are Prepping and we will just go to their place and take what we need.”  I had to use every ounce of strength in my person to keep my jaw from hitting the floor and letting my secret be known. These two have told me that if I ever need anything just ask and if they could they would. In fact Mr. Gun loaned me $50 no questions asked which was paid back after my lunch break. We worked together for more than years. Chances are they have a good idea what I have for defense and my capabilities.

"Wow!", right? Here we have two respected individuals that I have known for over 12 years talking about just taking what they need/want from their own friends. Then my mind goes into overdrive what have I told them, what do they know, what if they come to my house will my kids just open the door for them. Heck my kids call Mr. Business “Uncle.” How do I tell them not to tell them what we have or what we are doing to Prepare. I now have to figure out a way to tell my family that some of the trusted people in our lives are not to be trusted when TSHTF and that we really don’t know who these people are. I also now have to figure a way to have my kids go about as nothing has changed when we are around these two individuals.

Sounds like just a bad day right? Well it gets worse I’m at work later the same week and talking with one of my partners we are discussing firearms, as they pertain to our current profession and which ones we like. He starts talking about the television show Preppers and how he thinks it’s a good idea so he’s trying to stalk up on ammo but with the current state of things it’s difficult. Again I start to get that happy felling of finding another like-minded person. Then the conversation from earlier that week flashes to the front of my mind. So I tell him I have about 400 rounds of this so I can practice for re-qualification later this year and 100 rounds of that just to have around and a few .22 LR around. I seriously down played the amount on purpose trying to feel the waters. Then he comes out and says he just wants enough so he can go take more ammo and food from other people he knows that are stalking up. What did I just hear this is a guy I work with, a guy I trust my life with on a daily basis. I think to myself maybe I didn’t hear him correctly so I asked if he had any food set aside like they do in the show. The answer I was hoping for did not come he just stated that he would eat what he had and when that ran out just go and take it for people who told him they were prepping or those that he thought may have extra. He was adamant that he would take it by force if need be. At this point I am about to fall out of my chair here is a person who is supposed to uphold the law talking about taking other peoples life for food.

While discussing how my inventory was going and that I am close to a goal anther co-worker entered the area we were working in and started asking questions because we were looking at some new tactical gear for our personal use luckily the gear could have been for work also. I was fending off the probing questions with great flair.  Here is how the conversation went and a few example questions from that day:

Question 1: Are you guys preppers? Answer 1. I Look at my partner with the OPSEC look and ask in reply: "What is that?"

Question 2: "You know like the television show 'Preppers' on National Geographic." My reply: "Never heard of it. I will have to check it out."

Question 3: :"Do you have any food stored? My reply: "I went to the store last night and bought steak for dinner is that what you mean?

Question 4: "No. You know, like stored water? My reply: "I have a 10,000 gallon swimming pool, will that work"?

"Yes that should be good."

Needless to say I felt bad about misleading hi. He sounds genuine but with my recent let down of learning that close personal friends and having no real way other than sarcasm and a poor attempt at wit to try and weed out the true prepper from the fisherman looking for the next Honey Hole to add to his list of house to hit when things get bad. I may get back with him and do some probing of my own. He has no skills that are of benefit to me or my group but that won’t stop me from making an ally.

I am now stuck with the dilemma of how to weed out the people who seem to be of the same mindset from the people who are of the same mindset. The question of how to let my kids know that it’s ok to trust Mr. and Mrs. Soandso right now but when things go south they are not to be trusted ways heavy on me and I have yet to do it. Telling them that they only want our food and don’t care how we survive after they take it is going to be difficult.

The fishers need to be turned be careful in how you approached this. Take time, pray, and talk to others that it will effect if these people come knocking when TSHTF. If you don’t think you can turn them don’t give them a reason to come to your door.

Thought for the day. They may be lifelong friends but are they friends for a long life? Be careful divulging to people you trust they may just be the ones coming to take what you have when the chips are down and TSHTF. If they want your help, help. Be cautious when the probing questions start get good information take some time turn it around and ask them questions make it seem as if they just planted the prepper seed, when the time is right and your sure OPSEC is good let them in to your little secret.

As always stay alert and Prepare for the Worst and Pray for the Best.