Notes from HJL:

I have to confess that my personal remarks on today’s posts are somewhat limited. JWR and I are frustrated at the unreliability of our web hosts servers over the last two weeks, and I have spent much of the day importing 20,000+ posts to a new server and converting the format to a new blog format, while maintaining continuity with the original site.

You will see some minor changes as we try to bring the styling of the new software inline with the old. If you notice that something is broken, feel free to let me know. I may not be able to respond to every notice, but know that I am reading them and will direct my attention to the problems as I find them. For a short while, we will be running on the new backup server, allowing me to move the original server. You will also notice that there are two IP addresses in the left panel now. Keep an eye on those, as they may change over the next couple of days while we work out the kinks in the new system.

o o o

Today we present another entry for Round 52 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The $11,000+ worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course (a $1,195 value),
  2. 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,
  3. Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  4. A $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear,
  5. A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value),
  6. A $300 gift certificate from Freeze Dry Guy,
  7. A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo,
  8. A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of GoldAndSilverOnline.com, (currently valued at around $180 postpaid),
  9. Both VPN tunnel and DigitalSafe annual subscriptions from Privacy Abroad (a combined value of $195),
  10. KellyKettleUSA.com is donating both an AquaBrick water filtration kit and a Stainless Medium Scout Kelly Kettle Complete Kit with a combined retail value of $304,
  11. APEX Gun Parts is donating a $250 purchase credit, and
  12. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $300 gift certificate.

Second Prize:

  1. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  2. A FloJak EarthStraw “Code Red” 100-foot well pump system (a $500 value), courtesy of FloJak.com,
  3. Acorn Supplies is donating a Deluxe Food Storage Survival Kit with a retail value of $350,
  4. The Ark Instituteis donating a non-GMO, non-hybrid vegetable seed package–enough for two families of four, seed storage materials, a CD-ROM of Geri Guidetti’s book “Build Your Ark! How to Prepare for Self Reliance in Uncertain Times”, and two bottles of Potassium Iodate– a $325 retail value,
  5. $300 worth of ammo from Patriot Firearms and Munitions. (They also offer a 10% discount for all SurvivalBlog readers with coupon code SVB10P),
  6. A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials,
  7. A full set of all 26 books published by PrepperPress.com (a $270 value),
  8. Two cases of meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value),
  9. Autrey’s Armory – specialists in AR-15, M4s, parts, and accessories is donating a $250 gift certificate,
  10. Dri-Harvestfoods.com in Bozeman, Montana is providing a prize bundle with Beans, Buttermilk Powder, Montana Hard Red Wheat, Drink Mixes, and White Rice, valued at $333,
  11. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $150 gift certificate, and
  12. Organized Prepper is providing a $500 gift certificate.

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. 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,
  3. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  4. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security,
  5. A MURS Dakota Alert Base Station Kit with a retail value of $240 from JRH Enterprises,
  6. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances, and
  7. Ambra Le Roy Medical Products in North Carolina is donating a bundle of their traditional wound care and first aid supplies, with a value of $208.
  8. SurvivalBased.com is donating a $500 gift certificate to their store.

Round 52 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Why We Make Certain Decisions, by J

So, I wanted to chat about something a bit different. It’s been really helpful for me, and I hope it will be for you, too. It’s about why we do certain things, about why we make certain decisions.

I’m starting to get a little older now, and for many of you, you are as well. You can look back at your life and see certain things about yourself and, maybe like me, can see choices made by you or others that had big implications. I’d like to talk about something that I learned about how people work, and I hope that you’ll stay with me here. I’d like to share some stories. My hope is that this will make a positive impact on you, as it has for me. These stories are true.

So, years ago there was this woman named Hetty Green. She was massively wealthy. Regardless, she lived in a run down apartment in Hoboken, New Jersey, which at the time was a rough town of docks and warehouses on the coast of New Jersey. Hetty had so much money that when the banks needed to be bailed out, some of them went to her for loans. Regardless of her wealth, Hetty was an extreme miser. She had a son, and her son’s leg got injured while sledding. Rather than taking the child a doctor, as needed, she took him to a charity clinic where improper treatment led to gangrene. Eventually, the boy’s leg had to be amputated. Now, to be clear, and perhaps like yourself, I’m not against some careful finances, and I don’t panic at every ache and pain in the body, but this was over the top. Someone had lost focus on what was important. When a choice had to be made, that person made the wrong decision, which had profound implications for someone else (and likely the relationship between a mother and her son).

Why am I taking up your time regarding all of this? Well, you and I face decisions in life. What we do can have lasting consequences. As many of us, who read this website believe, there is coming a future time in which the world will be much more savage than it is today and the decisions we face will be much more serious for us and those we care about. Keeping that in mind, I believe that it’s important for us to understand why we make some of the choices we make and why we say some of the things that we say.

Okay. Here’s another story. So, some decades ago, there was this skinny kid in middle school (we’ll call him “J”), who started to find his self worth in exercise. This continued for him into high school. He eventually felt good about himself and thought that he was a little bit special because of his physical abilities. There’s nothing seemingly that bad about that; exercise is good, and it’s good to work hard. J eventually graduated high school and went to a college, which had tens of thousands of other students. It got harder for him to think of himself as special or uniquely good at something when there were 10,000 other kids to compare himself to. Regardless, the kid doubled down on what he did to feel special. (Let’s see where this goes.) Eventually, by his second year in college, he could do stuff like four one-armed chin-ups and bench press two 110-pound dumbbells when he only weighed about 175. J worked out 13 times a week. He worked out five days in the gym, and seven days a week he did push ups and sit-ups at night. (At this point, you may be noting that someone was going off the rails.) Okay. So here comes the relevance of this small example– the point when a decision was made. J was sitting at a table studying when a tall German friend of his from class comes by and sits at his table to do a bit of studying himself. The two got to talking about exercise. To J’s surprise, the friend didn’t know that J worked out a lot. Accordingly, and in good nature, J felt compelled to show his friend by challenging the friend to an arm wrestle. There’s nothing wrong with that, except that J’s joints, which had been in regular pain from the constant over exercise, finally had enough. J managed to lose the first arm wrestle but doubled down to arm wrestle with his left arm and left the experience still friends, but he had two torn rotator cuffs and a severe and permanent curtailment of his ability to aggressively exercise. There are things in our life about us that are not just things. They have some special place in our heart. Okay, so what’s wrong with that? I agree that some things should be in a special place, but others, perhaps without us consciously realizing it, move to a higher priority than they should have. So, if one were to agree with this, what’s the impact? Well, briefly stated, these things that we have or are, which likely may be good things, instead of serving us become something we serve. That’s a big deal. The problematic results: We overreact when these things are threatened or not respected. We may start to do things that we shouldn’t do to advance or increase the special things that we have or are. Unknown, perhaps even to the person himself or herself, the person may unbalance or misdirect their life by making many small decisions that are improperly biased in favor of this thing. To explain it in religious terms, we have an idol in our life.

Not many of us, I suspect, have a carved wooden idol from some tropical country that we worship. No. However, idols (if I may use that language for convenience sake) are prevalent here, but they are invisible and usually comprised of things that many people view as good things. Idols might be our good reputation, wealth, charity, unique ability at work, or skill in sports. They could be our knowledge of information about history, science, sports, or anything else. It could be the good grades we received while in school, our current or prior great looks or popularity, or our life experiences, fame, hunting ability, the car or cars that we own, our house, our job, our beautiful spouse or stellar kids, our connection to someone else (maybe someone famous), our good memory, or intelligence (a word I had a hard time spelling and found using a spellchecker). Our idols are good things that become overly magnified. They, thereby, cause us to make poor decisions at critical moments or unbalance our life and possibly send us in the wrong direction. They can weigh us down with burdens we are not meant to carry or distract us from things that we should do. Somewhere, someplace, a line between positive “drive” and “idolatry” is crossed, and the results can have major implications.

So how is this relevant to you? I guess what I’d like you to consider, if you would, is whether there are things in your life that are unbalanced, which could impact your decision-making process now or at key points in the future. Is there something that you have or are that you would improperly protect? Is there something that you would overly resist letting go of, which would therefore place you in inappropriate risk or cause you to do something that you shouldn’t? Are your relationships or decision-making process being hurt because of something that improperly controls you? Idols put us in a prison of our own making.

Let’s take it a step deeper. Idols are actually multi-tiered. The ones identified above, including wealth, cars, sports, appearance, and so forth are considered by some to be “surface idols”, but there’s actually something underneath. Time for another story.

I knew this guy in high school. He was a rotten student, but somehow he got into college, where he remained a rotten student. He eventually struggled through. Some years later, he’s a municipal bond trader. I meet up with him with other high school friends. This guy, who wouldn’t study in school now is completely focused and dedicated to his job. He works long hours, and I was shocked to find that he doesn’t take vacations; he only gets a couple days off here and there when the stock market is closed. How did this guy go from being a slacker that partied all the time to being a guy who was overly devoted to his job, even to the extent that he wouldn’t even take vacations?

Another example to consider: I was working this job and had a boss. The guy was completely out of shape, and there was no perceivable evidence to me that the guy’s physical health or abilities were something of any substantial value to him. Of course, he would talk about cholesterol and things like that, but when it came to making decisions, health always got pushed aside. One day, after knowing him for multiple years, I found to my surprise that this guy used to play ice hockey and was good enough to play at the college level. He, at the time, was passionate about it. So, I thought to myself, “How is it that this guy, who was so passionate at sports and who devoted so much of his life to and excelled over his peers, somehow now completely ignore not only hockey but even his health to the extent that now in his early 40’s, he is challenged by climbing a flight of stairs?” I realized that the same passion and devotion in which he played hockey in his youth, he now puts into his career. When it came to what he was passionate about, everything else fell away. The hockey was just a temporary expression of something deeper.

For convenience sake, let’s call these deeper things “subsurface idols”. Maybe you know the underlying reason why you or someone you know has a surface idol. For myself, I have found that subsurface idols are easier to identify when viewing a person as they progress through different phases of life. You may see a common thread that seems to be woven in.

Some people, including a decent guy named Tim Keller who helped me realize these problems in my own life, have identified that the subsurface idols are often power, control, comfort, and approval. If we can understand these things as they apply to us, we can remove problems from our life and strength us, plus other good things may happen too.

Here’s how to explain this. Let’s take the surface idol of money. Some people hoard it, and some people flaunt it. If someone’s subsurface idol is “approval”, it may be that they will be overly inclined to buy things that advance their status among their peers. If someone’s subsurface idol is “control”, it may be that they will hoard their money or overly put in into something that maintains their control over others. I can’t tell you what is the subsurface idol, if any, of the hockey play turned boss or of my friend turned worker. It could be that more than one idol is at play or that the reason was something else entirely. Think, however, about yourself and how your passions have changed over the years. Perhaps you will find something. It’s also possible that you’re not like me, and there is nothing problematic to find.

While most of the time these tendencies we have will not have critical implications, sometimes it may be a matter of life or death for us or someone we know. Most of the time these tendencies we have will not lead us to life and death situations; however, they likely will cause our lives to be unbalanced, which is a common slow train wreck of tragedy.

Just the knowledge of a tendency can be helpful. It helps me to know that I like to be in control and that I sometimes say things or act in certain ways to do this. What if you are the same? What if, for example, you are in control of a group or are “next-in-line” to be so? If you have the subsurface idol of “control” and at some point in the future another person is proposed to enter your group who would be of substantial benefit to the group, this person might possibly threaten your position of control. Under these circumstances, is it possible that your idol will cause you to think or do things that you shouldn’t?

Some less survivalist tending people we know may have a subsurface idol of “comfort”. These people may have a hard time leaving certain comforts of modern life when the conditions demand it. In discussing with them whether it is necessary to prepare for risks, they may make up all sorts of reasons for their decision to take no action. It, however, may be that for them to accept a future or course of life that would require leaving modern comforts behind is more than just about their loss of certain comforts, it’s about attacking something that gives them purpose in their lives. It may be attacking something that they grasp onto to justify themselves above people they know. You will have a hard time reaching this person, unless you (and perhaps more importantly they) understand what could be a key underlying factor in their decision-making process.

What if you or someone in your group has a subsurface idol of “power”. This person may get a kick out of having power over others. In a situation where laws and societal constraints are loosened, will a person like this be more likely to do certain things or act in certain unfavorable ways? Know yourself and know others.

I hope you’ll think about what was written above and how it may impact you. Is there some tendency in your life? It may be hard to ferret it out, but think about your life over the various phases of life. You may discover additional aspects of these things, as you consider and re-consider over some longer period of time. Maybe someone you know and respect could have some helpful input for you or could benefit from your insight. Think about people around you and how these issues may influence them. Maybe you can help set them free. Also, as you interact with people, you may start finding yourself thinking of these issues as you consider them. This may help you in interacting with them, understanding them, and predicting how and what they will do in the future and why. There’s another layer of the onion. Something is below the subsurface idols. We’re getting closer to some religious content, so if this will greatly offend you, I’m sorry to hear that. I hope you will find some good in the above and it will have a positive impact on your life. I hope that you, like me, are now more able to see the prisons we made for ourselves and the things that have enslaved us. I want you to be free.

To be clear, I’m in no way saying that I’ve conquered my battle against my subsurface idols. Mine are approval, control, and power. (I think roughly in that order.) Now, I have a better understanding of the nature of the war at issue. Okay. Here comes the religious content. The question arises of why I have subsurface idols in the first place. I think the answer is partially found in what the idols do for me. They are essentially tools of self-justification. Deep inside of me, and I think others, is a competitive desire to justify myself– to prove myself worthy, of value, and possibly better than others. So why do I have this need? I think it is because deep, deep inside, I know that I need to prove myself. Why? Because I am lacking and because I have need of justification.

That’s where Christianity comes in. Christianity says that you are correct; you don’t measure up. In fact, you are infinitely far from God. Like a single blade of grass in a field of grasses turning to the blade next to it and correctly saying, “I’m closer to the Sun than you”, we also compare ourselves to our peers using yardsticks (our idols) of our own making. As each blade of grass is infinitely far from the sun, we also are infinitely far from God and God’s standard of holy perfection.

Regardless, God loves you with infinite love and wants you to be free of the sin that binds you. His infinite love is balanced with His infinite holiness. His holiness prevents Him from the complete communion with sinful people, like me. Therefore, He did what was only possible for Him to do; He sent His only Son to live a perfectly holy life and then take the death penalty to pay our debt of sins. Your justification to God can be had by accepting that you are a sinner before God and you don’t make the grade and then accepting Jesus’s death to justify you to God. By doing this, your sins will be remembered no more by God. (Heb. 8:12).

I think that to help you in your fight against your surface and subsurface idols, a key is found somewhere in (1) accepting God’s free gift of justification for us, (2) finding out what our subsurface idols are (i.e. power, control, comfort, and approval) and, (3) knowing/considering/thinking/appreciating that Jesus, as God (who’s record you now have allotted to you as though adopted by God), has ultimate power and control and has the full approval of God the Father and dwells in heaven– a place of ultimate perfection and comfort.

With love, and for your freedom.

Letter Re: Eye for Eyes

B.A. makes some very valid points. I have worn glasses all of my life for distance and now need them for small print as well. During my most recent annual exam, the doctor told me I was developing cataracts. In all my years of going for eye exams, I had never been told, until that visit, that to slow the progression of cataracts sunglasses should become my best friend. I was advised those with lenses rated at UV 400 were the best. I have found one type by a company called Cocoon, and there are others that make sunglasses to fit over glasses (not the clip-on shades). These have side panels as well to block out the maximum UV rays from any angle. I have found some el cheapo sunglasses but given I want to slow the progression of this condition, the higher bucks for maximum UV protection is worth it for me. I got fitted locally and plan to order online, which is about $15 cheaper. Sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats will definitely be a necessity, if we become more agrarian in a SHTF scenario. – M.B.

Letter: I See the Light

Hugh,

FYI. Sam’s Club has a 3-pack of TASCO XR5 “Tactical” Cree LED flashlights for $19.98.

They are 250 lumen on high power with a low power setting and a strobe setting. Three AAA batteries are included per flashlight (nine total).

It is brighter than my Fenix TK 10 (~$70.00 for one) and about the same size. They’re also shock proof and water resistant.

The Fenix uses a CR 123 battery, which is much more expensive but will also last much longer than the one hour @ 250 lumens from the three AAA batteries.

Still, it is 1/10th the cost of the Fenix. It’s a great deal for a reasonable flashlight. I’m going back and get s’more. – Mark the hairless

Hugh Replies: Be careful with those flashlights. I purchased two three-packs of them, four months apart. They are the same brand and the same make, but the brand obviously changed manufacturers since none of the parts are interchangeable. Note: The ones I purchased were made in China. You have to cycle through the entire range of functions to turn it on and off– high, low, strobe, and off. I have also noticed that the flashlights still draw power when turned off (because the on-off function is software based), so you really have to watch your batteries closely. I used one of these flashlights during a recent tactical training course, and I would hesitantly use the word “tactical” to describe these flashlights. The thumb switch is not very ergonomic, and your thumb’s joint will hurt after heavy use.

Odds ‘n Sods:

You saw his proof. Now meet BLM Whistleblower Rusty Hill who uncovered the corporations and shady land deals connected to Reid Bunkerville LLC, Zion Bank Corp, and BLM lands surrounding the Bundy properties. BLM Whistleblower Reveals Financial Motive Behind Bundy Ranch Raid. – J.W.

o o o

‘I blame both sides,’ Oklahoma militia members join fight against feds. – P.M.

o o o

The Next Shoe Just Dropped: Court Denies Attorney-Client Privilege . – H.L.

o o o

Meltdown America – YouTube (Removed by YouTube) – B.B.

Notes from HJL:

Today, April 22, is the birthday of the late Charles Rankin Bond, Jr., born in Dallas on April 22, 1915, one of the last of the AVG Flying Tiger pilots.

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Manufacturers and distributors, if you have a product that you would like to see reviewed in the blog, contact our new Field Gear Editor

Scot Frank Eire at his new email address <fieldgeareditor AT survivalblog DOT com> and let him know.

o o o

Today we present another entry for Round 52 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. I hope you enjoy reading this one as much as I did. Having moved my wife from the comforts of the “Big City” to the roughness of the “boonies”, it really hit home. The $11,000+ worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course (a $1,195 value),
  2. 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,
  3. Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  4. A $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear,
  5. A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value),
  6. A $300 gift certificate from Freeze Dry Guy,
  7. A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo,
  8. A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of GoldAndSilverOnline.com, (currently valued at around $180 postpaid),
  9. Both VPN tunnel and DigitalSafe annual subscriptions from Privacy Abroad (a combined value of $195),
  10. KellyKettleUSA.com is donating both an AquaBrick water filtration kit and a Stainless Medium Scout Kelly Kettle Complete Kit with a combined retail value of $304,
  11. APEX Gun Parts is donating a $250 purchase credit, and
  12. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $300 gift certificate.

Second Prize:

  1. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  2. A FloJak EarthStraw “Code Red” 100-foot well pump system (a $500 value), courtesy of FloJak.com,
  3. Acorn Supplies is donating a Deluxe Food Storage Survival Kit with a retail value of $350,
  4. The Ark Instituteis donating a non-GMO, non-hybrid vegetable seed package–enough for two families of four, seed storage materials, a CD-ROM of Geri Guidetti’s book “Build Your Ark! How to Prepare for Self Reliance in Uncertain Times”, and two bottles of Potassium Iodate– a $325 retail value,
  5. $300 worth of ammo from Patriot Firearms and Munitions. (They also offer a 10% discount for all SurvivalBlog readers with coupon code SVB10P),
  6. A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials,
  7. A full set of all 26 books published by PrepperPress.com (a $270 value),
  8. Two cases of meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value),
  9. Autrey’s Armory – specialists in AR-15, M4s, parts, and accessories is donating a $250 gift certificate,
  10. Dri-Harvestfoods.com in Bozeman, Montana is providing a prize bundle with Beans, Buttermilk Powder, Montana Hard Red Wheat, Drink Mixes, and White Rice, valued at $333,
  11. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $150 gift certificate, and
  12. Organized Prepper is providing a $500 gift certificate.

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. 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,
  3. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  4. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security,
  5. A MURS Dakota Alert Base Station Kit with a retail value of $240 from JRH Enterprises,
  6. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances, and
  7. Ambra Le Roy Medical Products in North Carolina is donating a bundle of their traditional wound care and first aid supplies, with a value of $208.
  8. SurvivalBased.com is donating a $500 gift certificate to their store.

Round 52 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Home On The Range, by Rustic Barbie

When I first began this experiment, I must admit, I was under romantic ideologies. Can 21st century people step back in time and homestead like our forefathers? Whenever I passed an abandoned house in the middle of nowhere, I would dream of the chance to do this. Then the chance was presented. Here is the scenario. Take a California Valley Girl to “Green Acres”, and see if she and her friends can do it like their forefathers. Granted, I have had modern luxuries, such as running water and electricity (sometimes, depending upon the weather). Still, even with the modern luxuries, this has been harder than I thought it would be.

Back in the 1860′s, you had to homestead for five years in order to own the land. I have a mortgage payment, and I am actually buying the land. However, for the past four years, I have tried to train myself to think like my forefathers had to do. Sometimes, I have cheated and used a lawn mower. I have the old fashion push mower, but I have indeed cheated and used the motorized mower and the weed eater. At least 3/4 of the time, I have done this all old school. Let me tell you something; I can bare witness to the fact that our forefathers were indeed amazing. The ingenuity and handling of hardships just amazes me.

I went from only using a microwave or ordering delivered take out to cooking on a wood stove. I went from turning on my heat with the push of a dial to heating my house with a wood stove. I have had to haul water, eat dinner by candlelight, and “break sod” for these gardens without the use of modern technology. In my old life, I had two houses– one in Philadelphia and one in Seattle. I would take a jet back and forth to whichever house I needed to be at. I had a Cadillac and a new Jeep, an auto garage door opener, and all the creature comforts. I left all of that behind to become “Rustic Barbie”. I seriously used to put my Jeep into four wheel drive when Seattle had frost to avoid crashing into the garage door. Wow! It has been a change.

You really have to hit the floor running in the morning. First off, it is a little chilly, so you have to start the stove. Secondly, you are hungry and want to cook. Third, it is time to start the day. You have to change your ideology in order for it all to work. Now, unlike my forefathers, I am seven miles outside of town, so I can get to services. I can go to the doctor, and I can buy food. Back then, they just did not have these options. If you did not store enough food, you died. Mortality rates were high, especially among children. So, I have had all the creature comforts of the 21st century nearby (and some on site), but it was still pretty hard to pull this all off.

The hardest part was to remove my ideologies of the 21st Century. Onsite, I have ebay. (GRIN) Technically, I can order in any product that you can imagine, but my forefathers did not have this option. So, I have tried to think up new inventions to compensate for problems. That has been one of my hardest obstacles. I am a “techie,” which means that the computer is one my best friends and the Internet is a lifeline– for products, friends, and support. Last year I disassembled a bread machine and made an oven that would work on my wood stove. Now, granted, I could have just bought the thing on ebay, but I was trying to use what I had available, as if I did not have ebay, to solve a problem. It worked!!!!! I was so amazed. I do not want it to sound like I have been so roughing it, because I have had it easy in comparison to my forefathers. I am simply saying that it was much harder than I suspected it would be.

It has been four years now. Let me tell you a couple of things. Animals are really kind of hard to take care of. Those goats are ********turds and will eat all of your gardens, if they get half the chance. The foxes will eat your chickens. Cougars will eat your sheep and goats; they are sneaky, too. You have to be very careful. Rattlesnakes are pretty respectful creatures and hate humans more than we hate them. So, although they are a hazard and are a concern, they really aren’t as scary as I thought they would be. For the most part, you just have to be respectful back. Dogs are a great tool on the frontier. They keep the coyotes and bears at bay. They also keep the deer out of your gardens. Cats eat mice, though it is seriously gross.

I woke up one night to a commotion in my kitchen and there were mice. I could not sleep with that thought. They had been on my counters.. Now to the experienced homesteader, this statement is funny because where there is food, there are mice. However, to me, that is not funny. I come from a place where you just call the exterminator for any problem at all. The nice guys come out and fix it, even the spiders. I was so freaked out that I had nightmares of mice. Eventually I learned more about them and made sure to eliminate the temptations that were causing them to come into the house in the first place. I even started to feel sorry for them and got a catch and release system. So, now I can release them back to the wild. My cats make sure that once the mice are released, they do not get back into my house.

There are many kinds of snakes. Some are actually good for your homestead because they eat mice and stuff, but they can and will come into your house if you have any opening at all. One time, Shadoe went to use the bathroom in the house and came out screaming. We had a snake in the bathroom. Joe killed it. I started sealing holes faster than you can say scary. I had nightmares for weeks of snakes in my bed or in my room, hiding in my clothes. I just could not deal with that.

Always make sure you shut your door, if you go to town. Not only can a snake come in, but so can your sheep and goats. One time I went to town. When I got back. I had a goat sitting in my recliner, and I had a sheep drinking from my toilet. Okay, that sounds funny, but I was not pleased.. There was a trail of poop down my hallway, and you could tell that both the goat and the sheep had been living it up in party mode throughout the house. Next thing I have learned is to never bend over to pick something up near a ram. WHOA! First of all, Rams do not care what species you are. They will try to mate with you. If you are near a ram and you are female, you better be very careful. Joe saved my butt a couple of times from that awful ram. I even tried to defend myself against that ram,and he just would not take no for an answer, even when I hit him on the head with a shovel to get him to back down. “Thank you, Joe!” In fact, it was downright scary.

Do not buy geese! We had one donated. Okay, I must admit they are great protectors, but have you ever been bit by a goose? It seriously hurts. Thank you, John, for showing me how to stop a goose from biting. The bruises were getting severe. Bees are pretty smart. I used to freak out and grab the fly swatter. Then I realized that they are brilliant creatures. So are wasps. If you have a bee in your house, open the door, point to the door, and tell it to get out. It is almost like they understand. If you point to the opening of the door, they will fly back out. It is like they get lost and are searching for a way out. It is the craziest thing I have ever seen. On the downside, if they have built a nest outside, they are territorial. You can not tell them to move. That part is a little harder. They are also meaner in mass. If you have more than one or two in your house, grab the bee spray.

Those are just a couple of the things I have learned. There is more, such as to make sure you have most of your supplies on site before winter. Around here you have to haul them uphill to the house. Ugh! I am not sure how many of you have an exercise membership. Exercise memberships here are asinine. Just wait until winter and try to haul in groceries. That is harder than you think it is. On the plus side, it sure makes for some very tone legs. Make sure you have the next day’s wood already staged. There is nothing like getting up and seeing you forgot to get the wood. Then you have to go gather it before you have even had your first cup of coffee. It is cold, and you want heat.

Now for the experienced person this is all just a no-brainer, but for me it was a serious life changing event. When I went through airport security, I had to be wanded because I wore so much jewelry that it would take hours to get it all off– rings on every finger, bangles all the way up my arms, nose ring, belly button rings, toe rings, anklets, necklaces, earrings all the way up my ears, arm cuffs, and more. You name it, I was wearing it…in mass. Out here, the jewelry just gets in the way. Try hammering with that many bangles. It is like strapping weights to your arms and trying to hammer.

There were other changes. I can no longer call limo service. I have to start the truck and take myself where I need to go. In the winter that scares me. Remember, for me, frost equals four-wheel drive; snow equals a long vacation somewhere warm. Thus, driving in snow equals insanity. I have really had a hard time with that ideology. It has been hard to change it. I can no longer call Safeway to deliver my groceries, like I did in Seattle. If the weather was bad, just order some take out delivery or call Safeway and have your groceries delivered. It was simple. Out here, you have to Fedex a pizza to yourself.

At the beginning of this year, I was very wary of plumbing. I have never done much plumbing, but my pipes froze and broke. Granted, I had help from a friend to do the pipes down at the well, but it was still a little intimidating. However, after my new experiences with plumbing, I found my kitchen sink was leaking. I went under there and fixed it, easy peasy, no questions asked. I am so very proud of myself!

I still love my high heels and furs. Other than showing off my legs and helping me walk “lady like”, my high heels have another good use, too. One-inch spikes are great in the garden. Walk with one-inch spikes down your row, putting one foot in front of the other, and you create a line of one-inch holes to plant your garden. three-inch spikes are awesome for aerating the yard, especially if you have a lot of friends wearing them and can have a little dance party. Just be sure to use the ones with ankle straps so that you do not twist an ankle. Fur is great, too! Even the fake fur is awesome. Just NEVER EVER wear it during hunting season! Now, I am into gardening and how to make this happen as old school as I can with free supplies. Non-GMO, organic food is what my goal is.

Well, I will wrap this up with the fact that I am very proud of our forefathers. This homesteading has been a lot harder than I thought it would be. The experience has been more valuable than I can tell you. If any of you ever get the chance, you should give this a try for just a couple of months. It will really open your eyes to what life was and what it is now in the 21st century. It will also open your eyes to what kinds of stresses that we add to our lives with 21st century achievements, products, and worries. In many ways we have advanced, but in many ways it was not positive.

Some of the lifestyle ideologies of the 21st century are the exact problems that are killing us. For instance my problem of take out or frozen dinners for every meal rather than wholesome, non-preservative foods was killing me, and I did not know it. If nothing else, try turning off the television and electronics for six hours and find something else to do that is old school. It is the most amazing thing.

Have a wonderful day. This “Rogue Barbie” is off to take a walk through the woods to watch my deer.

All My Love

Writing Projects Update from Jim Rawles

As most of you know, for nine years I posted SurvivalBlog daily, almost without fail. (I did take a break for a few days, immediately after my first wife passed away.)

In January, I decided to hire a Managing Editor, to allow myself the time to concentrate on some other projects. Hugh Latimer assumed the day-to-day responsibilities of editing and posting SurvivalBlog two months ago. He has done a truly commendable job of maintaining the continuity of the blog.

Not one to rest on my laurels, I have been quite busy with completing two contracted book manuscripts:

  • Liberators: A Novel of the Coming Global Collapse– a contemporaneous sequel to Patriots. It will be released October 21, 2014, by E.P. Dutton. It is set primarily in western Canada. It is longer than my other sequels, and it ties together several storylines from other installments in the novel series that intersect in Bradfordsville, Kentucky; Moscow, Idaho; and near Bella Coola, British Columbia. If you enjoyed the resistance warfare sequences in “Patriots”, then you will really enjoy this novel. (Without spoiling it for you, I can mention that it describes two waves of invasion and subsequent resistance in Canada.)
  • Tools for Survival: What You Need to Survive When You’re on Your Own. This book is a guide to the selection, use, and care of tools. It should be released in December, 2014, by Penguin/Plume Books. (This is the same company that published the bestselling How to Survive the End of the World As We Know It.)

Note: Unlike my previous books, I’m not planning Book Bomb days for these two books, so feel free to order your copies whenever you’d like.

I’m also in the early stages of drafting a novel that is tentatively titled Silver City Station. This is a science fiction novel for Young Adults, that is a bit reminiscent of Robert Heinlein’s classic Have Space Suit, Will Travel. Since e-books now nearly predominate the publishing world, I intend to publish this novel as an e-book under my Clearwater Press imprint–with just the option of a hard copy book, for those who insist on it. Silver City Station will probably be released in October of 2016.

Meanwhile, my #3 Son (Robert H. Rawles) and I have collaborated in creating a new press organization: The Constitution First Amendment Press Association (CFAPA.) Our motto is: “A Free Press Deserves Free Credentials.” Since we now live in the era of ubiquitous camera-equipped cell phones and YouTube, nearly everyone is technically capable of being a video journalist, and since we still have the First Amendment after 223 years, everyone can now qualify as a member of “The Press.” So the intent of this organization is to bolster the emerging Citizen Journalist movement by putting valid press credentials in the hands of any responsible adult Citizen who requests them. We do so free of charge, and with no paper trail or electronic trail.

If you want to avoid situations like this or this, or any of these many incidents, then please take a few minutes to become a CFAPA member and print out your free press credentials at home.

I will of course still be writing articles for SurvivalBlog and guiding the editorial process. But for the next couple of years I will also be quite busy at the ranch with some upgrades to accommodate more livestock and some expanded gardening under glass. And there will be a bit of travel and a variety of other projects. One of these will be helping my #1 Son (Jonathan E. Rawles) to expand his SurvivalRealty.com web site. (He already has more than 200 retreat property listings, but his goal is to more than double that.) Another will be designing and promoting a custom folding knife. And another will be consulting with an associate on his planned movie production. I have also been asked to help edit book manuscripts by several aspiring authors. (I do my best to do so, free of charge, as time allows.) Something tells me that my life won’t be slowing down, even if I want it to! – J.W.R.