Charity Category

Saturday, March 22, 2014


Preparing for Family and Friends” by Thor1954 was a thought-provoking article, but I would include basic cooking directions and perhaps a recipe or two concerning the rice and beans. Do you really think that people who are unprepared for emergencies and disasters will know what to do with plain rice and beans that weren't part of a packaged meal? - D.M.

Hugh Replies: Hunger is a great motivator. While I like my beans well cooked and spiced up, it's really not necessary. All they need is a pan of water to make something usable, but I'm sure that small packets of spices and directions would always be appreciated. It's not hard to do either. Just print the information out on a 3x5 card.

Friday, March 21, 2014


I have a mental illness and know that if things go south my chances are slim, but I will persevere until the “oops” occurs. I suggest reading the fictional book "One Second After" to get a glimpse at what might happen to the old and the mentally ill; it is not pretty. Also, "The Walking Dead" did an episode, "The Grove", where there was a mentally ill person. For the seriously mental ill, a bullet to the head might be the only choice. That stinks but is realistic. For the less serious, like me, you have to decide whether to put up with my inability to produce any type of work. The stress of a collapsed society and the need to fight could be too much. For Americans that believe you have to pull your own weight, this will no doubt be a breaking point.

HJL Replies: This is an area that really sets people apart. Throughout history eugenics has cropped up under many guises. Much of what we despise about “Obama care” smacks of eugenics. Hitlers ethnic cleansing started with eugenics. This is an area that sets Christianity apart from much of the rest of the world. (To the horror of many, the church does not always have clean hands in the matter.) In fact, most violations of human rights can be traced back to some form of eugenics. You may hear that the Bible does not speak to eugenics, but that is not so. The word “eugenics” may not be present, but the concept certainly is:

“The murderer rising with the light killeth the poor and needy, and in the night is as a thief.” - Job 24:14

and again:

“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.” - Mathew 25:35-36

“I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.” - Acts 20:35

Both of these scriptures make it abundantly clear that we are to care for the weak and those who cannot care for themselves. I fear that as our nation has withdrawn from God that most mentally ill will suffer the same fate in a TEOTWAWKI situation that the unborn suffer now. Some will be cared for, but many will not be. While not every mentally-ill person will be my responsibility, I will prepare to take care of those family whom I know will require it; perhaps a few more if God so lays it on my heart. The belief that EVERY person under my care must pull their own weight is foolhardy. I am under no such illusion. We must have a place in our preps for those who cannot help themselves.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

I hope some of you know most of these things, but I’m sure most of you won’t know all of these things.

I took a camping trip not too long ago where I made one of my favorite childhood camping dishes, the hobo dinner. I’m sure those of you who camp have had it a few times. Put some potatoes and veggies in some aluminum foil and throw it right on the fire. Easy enough. Tastes great. Don’t even need a plate. I, however, am not your average cook. I like to try new things, and I don’t eat plain old potatoes. I need cheese, so I added some. All was going well until it came time to eat and guess what, the cheese stuck to the aluminum foil and I didn’t get any of it. Not a lick. The potatoes were still edible, of course, and I didn’t go hungry by any means, but it teaches a good lesson. It’s the little things that make or break your meal. So it is with life and so it will be when the SHTF or TEOTWAWKI comes. Just FYI, add the cheese after it cooks and it works great, now on to it. As the appropriately named hobo dinner shows us, those who have nothing find ways to make something that works. You need a meal? You don’t have fancy cookware or a nice electric stove? No problem if you’re a hobo, and it shouldn’t be a problem for any of us to survive given almost any situation. Just use your head and think of those little things. The ones who have invested hundreds of thousands won’t necessarily be the ones still living, and thriving, in a bad situation.

I don’t sweat the big things, I’m sure there are a million articles on them already and you have read them all, but I hope there are a few little things here that will give you food for though, and that might just save your life some day.

First things first, don’t panic. Could this be obvious enough? If I were reading a top five list of things that will save your life in a disaster and this was number one, I would roll my eyes and toss the list aside as obvious and unhelpful. Wait! Don’t toss it aside so easily(note to self). Even those of us that have a set plan and have rehearsed it to death need to take a minute and assess the situation. Time is not always our enemy. A well panned trip tomorrow may be more successful than a rushed one today. We are all human and can and will make mistakes. A few minutes of planning or double checking can save hours or lives later. There are very few situations when acting instantly is the only thing that saves your life, and presumably when that time comes you are prepared enough to make the quick choice. You can’t, however, be prepared for everything and until you’ve been in a bad situation, you can’t be sure how you will react. You can, however, try and get into the habit of good planning now. It’s also a good exercise in using your head. A tool you should never be without, so don’t leave it behind. Daydream, just as a fellow prepper enjoys sci-fi to get ideas, I daydream. It’s also often a valid way to entertain yourself when bored. Imagine you’re at work and there’s a zombie attack. How do you get out? Where can you get supplies? Do I think that a zombie attack will ever happen? No, but if there’s an earthquake guess what, I already know where supplies are and an evacuation route. Ever tried making up a lie on the spot? It’s more difficult than you think. You will inevitably find yourself regurgitating information that’s already in your head. It’s very difficult to think of something new on the spot. If you haven’t already planned on possible evacuation routes and know where supplies might be, you may find yourself walking the wrong direction and right past valuable supplies as you try to get out. Don’t panic, analyze the situation and take things one step at a time.

Water, hopefully, you already have stored. You can’t go long without it. I won’t try to tell you how much to have or how to store it, I hope you already know, but here are a few things about water you may want to think about. If you are ever without water for a long period of time, life will change drastically. By long period of time I mean like…three days. I’m sure we would all be fine for a day or even two before it starts to get really annoying that we have to bring in water to flush the toilet or can’t take a shower. What happens in four days or a week. Your daily routine will change dramatically. Think about this for a second. Who is really ready to haul a gallon of water to the bathroom every time they have to use it, or take a sponge bath because there is no shower? Even if you have a little water stored, lets say a few 55 gallon barrels, that is hardly any at all. Given the average family of four and each person needing a gallon of water a day, that’s 120 gallons just for a month. Those two 55 gallon barrels just ran out on you. I’m not concerned with can you get more or how much you currently have stored. What I really want to bring out here is are you prepared for how your life will change? Running water is nothing short of a miracle and we take if for granted much too often. Say you have an unlimited supply of water. Are you prepared to get it to where you will use it? I have some water stored in my basement. Just thinking about hauling gallons of water up the stairs every day makes me inwardly sigh. What a bother. Maybe a should add a water pumping system in my house to easily move water upstairs manually? Just a thought. That’s what I hope to invoke here. For those of you planning on bugging out, what about filters. I’ve got a great filter you say, it can purify 100 gallons a day or I’ll boil water till the cows come home. Great, good for you for having an alternative, but that won’t do you any good while bugging out. Do you have a small and effective filter for the road? If for some reason your chosen transport fails, are you aware how long it takes to walk to your bug-out local? How much water will you need for that trip? To end my thoughts on water, do you know how much water weighs? Eight pounds per gallon. That’s 440 lbs. for that 55 gallon barrel. It’s not moving anywhere. Safest thing in your house if you get robbed. They aren’t taking it with them. I’m promise.

With food storage, I hear stories that I really hope aren’t true. Like the guy who has 365 cans of soup and thinks he has a years worth of food. Good luck with that. He may survive but I can almost guarantee he will be crazy by the end of the year. Don’t ever forget the old adage, variety is the spice of life. You have an unlimited supply of spirulina, meal worms, rabbits or even wheat. I don’t care what it is. You better have a lot of something to go with it because you’re going to get sick of it really fast. We are blessed to live in a country where we have just about everything. That variety is great for everyday life. The transition to nothing will be as hard for some as the actual living afterwards. Don’t discount those stories of people who commit suicide because they just lost everything. It will happen. Life can’t just be, it has to be worth living. Concentrate less on staying alive and more on living. There is a huge difference.

Travel and bugging out. What a huge topic. Let me just say a few things. There are about a dozen situations I can think of off the top of my head that would prevent someone from using a motorized vehicle. Too big, too noisy, no fuel, roadblocks, just to name a few. Have you ever tried to walk somewhere, and I don’t just mean down the street? I mean walk 30 miles to the next town or 100 miles to your bug-out locale. The average human walking speed is about 3 miles per hour. Assume a bad situation where you may only make 2 or less. Even at the small distance of 30 miles to travel, that 30 min trip by car now takes you 15 hours to hike. That’s 15 hours that you may be getting shot at or avoiding hazards or whatever else may happen. What if you’re trying to outrun something like an angry mob or radiation. Good luck with that. Unless you’re a marathon runner you probably just ran out of time. I see people paying lots of money for these big bug out vehicles. Well guess what. If it hits the fan, it may be the guy with a nice bicycle and some leg muscle that lives to fight another day. You could easily increase speed to 10 miles per hour on a bike, or more. They’re inexpensive, easy to use, and allow for more weight for supplies than you could comfortably hike with. There are great fold up models if you work in an office building and want one with you at all times. Over-reliance on tech may well be a downfall for many. How many can navigate to their bug-out without GPS or a Google map? There are places I’ve been to a hundred times in my youth that I would get lost going to now, at least without glancing at a map first. How many of us have a good paper map and know how to use it? How many are prepared, both physically and mentally to leave everything and jump on your bike and go? For those bugging-in, you may still want a bike. I consider it a vital piece of equipment. That mile to the grocery store, without a car, gets old really fast.

Now let me say something that may be a touchy subject for many. I think that the prepper community is great. I’m glad that so many people are taking thought for tomorrow, but I’m afraid that too many aren’t taking thought for today and are being way too narrow in their preps. Don’t miss the forest for the trees. Don’t get so caught up in planning your bunker for a nuclear strike that you die when a big earthquake hits. Don’t be so concerned with yourself that you forget about the six family members you have that will show up at your house and turn your food storage from a nice one year supply to a two month supply. Don’t spend so much money prepping for an attack that when you lose your job you can’t pay your bills, lose your house and thereby lose all your preps. The best prepper is a well rounded one. Have things, have skills, have people. You loose just one leg of a three legged stool and you will find it very hard to sit. Health is a big one, I’ve seen people with all the preps in the world and they are in such bad health that I expect they will be the first to go. A healthy person with a pocket knife and a head full of knowledge may be the only one to make it out, all your fancy preps notwithstanding. Prioritize, getting a personal trainer may be more worthwhile than another year of food or a better bug-out vehicle. A five dollar map may save your life when your $400 GPS fails. Plan generally for all possibilities and then add extra supplies for the most likely SHTF scenarios, not the other way around.

The way I see it most people are prepared for the imminent catastrophe. The whole prepper community is ready for it to hit the fan tomorrow, but I don’t think they are actually ready for it to hit next year. It’s very likely that there will not be one huge life changing event, but that a collapse of life as we know it will be a long and grueling process. You most likely wont wake up one day and say, times up, red light, everyone to the bug-out location. Most likely, life will get worse and worse over a period of weeks or even months and by the time you realize it’s time to go it may be too late. You had gas last week, but you’ve been going to work and running the generator every day and now the tank is empty and suddenly you can’t get more. Now it’s time to bug out, what do you do? It’s usually the combination of things that get you. You have a car, but no gas. You have food, but not enough people to stop that 10 person gang. You have a bunker, but you find after a few days that you’re getting claustrophobic. You have all the preps that man can buy, but you panic in the heat of the moment and get yourself killed. Life will change once TEOTWAWKI hits. Don’t just prepare for it, but for after it, and don’t let your hobo dinner be ruined because of the cheese. It’s those little things that will get you in the end.

You are the light of the world, let your light shine forth. Save someone.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Many SurvivalBlog readers are familiar with the Orange Jeep Dad (OJD) blog. It is a great blog written by an X-ray technician prepper with a wife and six daughters. For more than two years, he's been earnestly striving to live self-sufficiently. Two days ago, he posted about the tragedy of his house burning down. And today, he posted a follow-up. As I mentioned before, I doubt that his renter's insurance will cover all of their losses, especially for things like storage food and ammo.

In a recent e-mail, OJD mentioned these details:

"For now, I for sure lost my Glock 27 and old double barrel side-by-side hammerless. Hadn't verified the age yet. It was not one of the $1,000 type. More like $250. My thousands of rounds of ammo in every caliber is gone.

My wife's .38 Special revolver survived in our safe as did our certificates and licenses. Our bullion silver seems to have made it although I have to pry it out of the melted plastic to see for sure. (It was not in the safe.)

All of our #10 cans of freeze dried food preps are gone (dehydrated strawberries, blueberries, banana chips, powdered eggs, apple cubes, butter buds, meat substitute. But all the stuff we had in mylar bags that I had just suspended from garage rafters after the rats go into it survived since it wasn't in the house. (Yay!)

We lost all appliances including a Wondermill wheat grinder ,and two large griddles.( I haven't found the dutch ovens in the ashes yet to see if they are salvageable.) There was also a Bosch universal mixer, spools of paracord, Jack Lalane juicer, meat grinder, Presto (62 quart?) pressure canner, dozens of mason jars and lids/gaskets, BlendTech blender, Macbook, Dell laptop, Dell desktop, several thumb drives, all of my knives! all my medical kits (IV start kids, Coban, creams, quik clot,  dozens of lidocaine bottles, too much to list really. It was a collection of years of discards from working at the hospitals. I could have patched up a village with the stuff I had established.)

My 12 gauge and .22 rifle made it [through the fire intact] in a gun safe."

You can send donations via PayPal to:

A snail mail address where tangible donations can be sent is:

Orange Jeep Dad
2532 N. Fourth St. #230
Flagstaff,  Arizona 86004-3712

In addition to survival and kitchen gear, I'm sure that toys suitable for girls would also be appreciated. For instance, a Breyer toy horse might cheer someone up...)

To save on postage, I recommend using Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes.

Note: Anyone who does not have a PayPal account can send checks or money orders to that same address, payable to "Orange Jeep Dad.".)

For my own part, in addition to replacing his melted Glock magazines and sending a big box of assorted books, I am auctioning a full tube of 20 American Redoubt Silver -1-ounce coins on eBay, with 100% of the gross proceeds going to OJD's family.

Even if you can't afford to help, please pray for OJD and his family! - JWR

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Mr Rawles,
Thank you for taking the time to read my articles and to comment on them. I appreciate the points you raised regarding charity via the church and other local organizations. I was possibly a little unclear and maybe should have stressed more that I was referring to the time during a collapse when getting supplies to organizations in order that they can disperse them could be difficult if not downright dangerous.

I disagree that I am your diametric opposite Mr Rawles. I am neither a thief nor a looter and I agree with your assessment that a collapse would have to be massive before I would consider such measures. Myself or anyone else who undertook to use materials from people's homes should be prepared to compensate any proven heirs who did arrive at a later time.

The purpose of these articles is to make people think. To remove them from their comfort zone and make them consider how truly vile a total collapse would be. To hopefully make them think about some of the situations they may face that they have never faced before and to force them to consider what they would do in these situations.

If anything I hope my articles make people stop and think about their future, about preparedness, and about making sure that their relative isn't the 'old Mrs Jones' I refer to, and that something good comes out of my writing.

I think we have a responsibility to look at all aspects of a given picture and I believe there are many different ways of doing that. Raising awareness is I believe, why we write for public consumption.

I stand by the articles I have written. They have raised a great deal of debate and questioning on several sites and that was the intention.

Once again thank you for taking the time to read and comment on the articles.

Wishing you all good things for the future. - Chris Carrington

Regarding Chris Carrington's essay, "Why I won’t be charitable when the SHTF":

Admittedly, this is an issue I have struggled with and despite trying to adhere to WWJD ("what would Jesus do?") in all things, whether to give, when to give, who to and how much is something I would have great difficulty deciding on and given my terrible location in terms of population density, the temptation is to take a blanket approach of don’t give as to not put me and my loved ones in detriment (unless we’re bartering, which isn’t charity anyway). While using a third party through the local church is a possibility, the risk of that third party revealing their source whether mistakenly or under duress is too great a risk to OPSEC. What if there are no Third Party volunteers for this position? And would I be comfortable putting this potential hazardous vocation on their shoulders? It is a real quandary.

While family and some very close friends are aware of my interest in preparedness (yet no idea to what extent) I still picture myself begrudging their lack of foresight despite certain warnings I and the general political/economic/cultural landscape has given, and a subsequent argument on the doorstep  with my partner (who’s generosity know no bounds) about “what do we do if supplies run out before society gets back off its knees?”. While they spend on cinema memberships, drinks out, uneconomical vehicles, perpetuation/ of indebtedness  and other whimsy, my personal expenditure is on food and travel to work alone (with the odd date, some fishing bait and a brew with a buddy) everything else goes towards options, shielding us from indebtedness and hurt down the road. So “give until it hurts” sometimes feels like a preparedness oxymoron (not to take away from you sage counsel Captain Rawles, your view to do this is inspirational).
“I know where I’m coming when disaster strikes” – How many times have you possibly heard that when discussing preps? (with trusted folk of course) and how frustrating it can be that they miss the point entirely, that they should prep too and their lack of understanding on the logistical nightmare prepping for one can be, never mind immediate and extended family. A lesson they are going to learn the hardest way imaginable (Praise be that the Lord has given dreams to the least prepared members of collapse, prompting some action). Again, charity is one of the toughest areas of survival I have come across.

I dread to think where my conscience would side in the event of charity cases in TEOTWAWKI, would it be my rational, harsh reality thinking brain which agrees  with Chris Carrington, or my staunch faith in Christ  and belief in Psalm 23?

I think the only solution to this comes down to our best assets when the SHTF, community and knowledge. Surrounding yourself with people who come to understand and more importantly appreciate the survival database you hold in your head (without revealing what you have) and quickly make yourself invaluable to those around you, in turn creating opsec as opposed to compromising it. Those that have read Lucifer's Hammer may recall the intellectual (septic tank man, I forget the name) who in ill health steered the chemical weapon project that secured the defeat of the antagonist horde, and how valued he was by his cohort due to his knowledge base. This being a prime example of the “give a man a fish/teach a man to fish” principle. The Mongols under Genghis knew to look out for skilled individuals to bring into the fold, the “bad guys” in schumer time may apply the same theorem, if they know what’s good for them. Not a desirable situation but the alternative could be far less palatable.

I’m prepping for me and mine and putting together anonymously authored pamphlets of essential precepts to urban survival and becoming part of the solution (eating perishables first, rules to avoid a public health nightmare, encouraging trade and barter with some etiquette pointers, security tips, steering folks to church for community building purposes, encouraging people to come forth with their skill set, which I will monitor covertly through the church etc) with water purification tablets and instructions attached. This will hopefully begin the networking process necessary to pulling through.

Be the welder, be the medically adept individual, be the mechanic, be the CB radio operator, be the large scale gardener with seed bank, be the tree surgeon/wood cutter,  the security consultant and so on, in other words, make yourself an asset to those around you so your preservation is to their benefit.

Any other “crunch” vocation suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

May the Lord preserve us and judge us fittingly and my prayers go out to my American Brethren. - R.D.  in England

JWR Replies: Mostly for "grid up" circumstances, I made some suggestions on Depression-proof jobs in these SurvivalBlog posts:

What Recovery? Find Yourself a Recoveryless Job

Depression Proof Jobs for a 20 Year Depression - Part 1: The Counter-Cyclical Jobs

Depression Proof Jobs for a 20 Year Depression - Part 2: Developing a Home-Based Business

More About Depression Proof Jobs--Consider the Three Ks


A Second Income--A Key Goal for Family Preparedness

Friday, March 1, 2013

CURRENT BID is $3,000 (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.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Part of preparing for any emergency, including TEOTWAWKI, is making plans for those who cannot take care of themselves. Yet, there is very information out there about what to do about Grandma and Grandpa in a crisis situation, or those who just may not be the “fittest.”   Having elders who have been struggling with dementia or who are in cancer treatment, having seen so many of our soldiers come home with PTSD, having loved ones who are chronically ill or permanently disabled, I think about prepping in perhaps a different way than others. After seeking out the information I needed myself from doctors, mental health professionals and fellow preppers, I am now sharing some of the practical advice I’ve found for helping those we love who do not appear to be the best candidates for survival. Why?

For some, caring and preparing for those with less than optimal survival chances may seem like a foolish, even dangerous, goal. Certainly, some soul-searching is required when thinking about who you are willing to “carry” (figuratively and perhaps literally), and just how far you are willing to put yourself and other members of your group in jeopardy to care for someone who may not make it in even a best-case scenario.  You will have to make your own decisions about who to help and who to abandon. But I could not leave my parents, in-laws and grandparents any more than I could leave my children to weather the chaos on their own. I also cannot justify leaving other relatives or friends where they could be victimized by those who prey on the weak. The Biblical commandment to “honor thy father and mother” means not just that I honor them, but that I must also care for them in a crisis. I cannot bear the consequences of writing them off, or leaving them to the unkindness of strangers or the bureaucracy of FEMA. The same goes for all of those I am responsible for, by virtue of my being able, even if they are not.

In the case of illness or dementia, even if it meant that moving them might hasten their deaths, I would choose to care for my own family and friends. Perhaps it is my own rationalization, but I would prefer that if they do indeed die, they do so in the company of people who love them and who will treat them with dignity, not at the hands of mobs or criminals.

If my loved ones were currently in a hospital, nursing home or assisted living situation, I would know the facility’s emergency plan and contingency plans. In case of an emergency, would my people be evacuated, by what means, by whom, and to where? (And I would make my own plans to take custody of them instead).  I would try to be as low-key as possible to avoid alarming the powers that be about any specific disaster or emergency, but I would get the information that could protect them, and make it possible for me to intercept them as quickly as possible in a crisis.

For those who require daily prescription medications, such as cardiac patients, diabetics, epileptics and other chronic illness patients (including those recovering from cancer treatment), some logistical planning now will save anxiety and life-threatening repercussions later.

You will need to know (and have written down) all medications, what they’re for, dosing schedules, and danger signs to watch for. At first, the problem will be in stockpiling enough medication when most insurance covers only minimal monthly quantities. Many times though, a sympathetic physician can prescribe a twice-daily med instead of a once-daily, for example. Explain you’d like to keep a back-up supply for the patient in case of loss, misplacing or forgetting when traveling.

As your supply grows, be especially diligent about rotating meds, using the oldest for current needs and storing the newest in a cool, non-humid environment, and including desiccant packets whenever possible.  (Ask your pharmacy, as they throw these out by the hundreds). 

One of my doctor friends tells me that more than 80% of his geriatric patients are on mood-altering drugs. A similarly large percentage of handicapped and cancer patients are routinely put on these drugs as well. For those who are on antidepressants, antipsychotics or anti-anxiety meds, benzodiazepines or steroids, special cautions apply. These drugs can cause terrible effects if stopped suddenly, and most require a very gradual weaning off the drug if one wishes or is forced to discontinue use. Check with your patient’s physician, and do your own research on ALL of the drugs your patient is taking ( is an excellent resource), and plan accordingly.

While health can vary widely among seniors, there are specific concerns that are common to most. Circulation issues such as edema, bruising and bleeding, dehydration, and constipation can all be more serious in the aged, no matter what the fitness level. Falls and resulting injuries should always be avoided and prevented, as the consequences for elders can be much more serious than normal.
Simple observation and precaution about everyday conditions is necessary. We lose the ability to adapt rapidly to temperature variations as we age—most elderly people feel “cold” faster than younger companions and are at special risk of hypothermia. Your preparations will have to include supplies that ensure more warmth, such as extra clothes, hats, socks & gloves, and you will have to be vigilant in caring for elders who get wet or chilled.

Response to heat or exercise can also be a problem. Fluid intake of seniors must be monitored closely at all times. Dehydration during exertion or other stress may occur rapidly and without warning, causing diarrhea, vomiting, delirium and ultimately, death.

Many seniors will have dietary deficits, due to waning appetite, poor digestion, or self-sacrifice for others’ needs. Without adequate fiber-rich foods (or supplements) and liquids, constipation can become a life-threatening situation for an elder, not merely a painful inconvenience. Stool softener and laxatives should have a starring place in your senior’s medical kit. Lack of vital nutrients may also affect sight, hearing and balance. Keep an eye on their diets and make sure they get the nutrition they need.

Seniors are subject to painful and dramatic bruising when injured, especially if they have been on blood-thinning medications, commonly prescribed to prevent arterial plaques and stroke. Excessive bleeding and inability to clot are also effects of these drugs. Avoid injury first, and if unsuccessful, treat bruises and bleeding quickly to forestall further complication. Every cut or abrasion is also a potential site for infection, which can overwhelm one who is already weak, so be particularly aware of your charges’ skin condition.
Swelling of the extremities due to poor vascular circulation can incapacitate your older loved one. Compression socks, or in a pinch, elastic bandages, are a good addition to the clothing or first aid kit.

Preparation for your loved ones begins with talking to them. You may be surprised to find out that oldsters are more prepared than you thought. After all, many have lived through tough economic depressions and wartime shortages, and they know a thing or two about living well with less convenience. Someone whose breathing depends on oxygen may have already prepared for a power failure or disruption of supply. If not, you can help that person get prepared.  Someone who is overweight or in poor physical condition can benefit from a daily walk or strength training, even without the threat of an emergency. You might be the motivator or the companion to help improve the quality of that person’s life, now and in case of future crises.
Approach with a sincere offer of help, but be sure to ask what general and specific help they would need from you in case of an emergency. You do not know what the unique needs are until you ask.
For those that still don’t accept the idea that all sorts of manmade disaster and mayhem can happen here, and can happen at any time, the conversation can take place in the context of preparing for a natural calamity, such as a tornado, earthquake or fire.

Be aware that some of the sick, disabled and elderly may need to be convinced that their survival is possible, even probable, if they prepare themselves mentally and physically. You may hear this type of defeatism in statements such as “Don’t worry about me, I wouldn’t want to live in that world anyway…” Your people need to know that that a can-do, positive attitude combined with practical planning and preparation can up their chances. They need to know you’ll be there to help them. Most importantly, they need to know that their survival is of paramount importance to you.

You should not assume that because your parent is sick, your grandparent is old, your friend is diabetic, your relative is obese, or your neighbor is blind, that these people are helpless or even less than capable of survival.  Emotional strength, mental tenacity, technical skill sets or ethical leadership can quickly trump any physical challenges, depending on the situation. Lack of emotional resiliency or deteriorating mental stability can quickly turn a strong athlete into a greater liability to the group than Granny who needs a cane.
For example, I have a physically-fit friend who stocks an “earthquake kit,” a 72-hour stopgap to see her through a brief disruption of water and food supplies “until help arrives.” She refuses to consider anything more than that, because it would mean that she would be on her own for longer than she is willing to be. She refuses to own a firearm, because that would mean that she might have to use it. This head-in-the-sand attitude is not preparedness, in spite of her pride in running 10Ks on the weekends, having a few gallons of water and a three-day supply of food in the garage.
On the other hand, my 85-year old mother bought a retreat back in the 1970s, stocked it with supplies and learned to shoot. She has a stay-put plan, several bug-out escape routes, keeps her stock rotated, tests her equipment regularly and maintains situational awareness, even when she’s just going to the bank or grocery store. She has a mental toughness that belies the physical weaknesses of a woman her age.

All of the people you care about have combinations of physical and mental challenges. What we all have in common is our need to be useful, no matter what our abilities or lack of abilities. A person without functioning legs can still wield a weapon or man a security cam. Someone who is blind can still direct audio comms. Everyone has skills and talents that the family and community need, and the survival of the whole group dictates finding appropriate jobs for everyone.
Those who are critically ill or in the advanced stages of dementia may need to have round-the-clock caregivers, which could put a strain on community labor resources. The whole group would ideally have the same reverence and respect for all the members’ quality of life, even the infirm and ill.

Much of the information about surviving natural disasters or man-made insanities assumes that we will prepare not only our environment, but ourselves as well. In order to deal with a crisis, realize that while we are teaching ourselves new skills, setting aside food stores, preparing security and energy options and planning for those who are weaker than ourselves, we must diligently prep our own minds and bodies to withstand the multiple demands that will be required.

Knowing that stresses of panic, physical exertion, mental exhaustion, and lack of sleep will pile up and collapse you if you are not ready, is not enough. Add in caring for others who are young, old, chronically ill, obese, disabled or just darn difficult, and your preparedness becomes even more critical.
Part of the process requires that we must be physically fit ourselves before we can take care of others. So put down that list and go exercise, at least some part of every day! Do not allow yourself to become out of shape, while you’re stockpiling supplies and securing your environment. There are people depending on you. Make sure you are the fittest you can be, physically and mentally. Then you can expend energy on building a community that includes everyone you care about, even the unfit.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I have been reading your articles for quite a while now and I have a comment on the article Prepare To Share. This has been a difficult subject to deal with. I have been prepping for 2 1/2 years. At times my wife thinks I'm going a little over board. Last winter when we had such mild weather ( I work on heaters) we lived off the food I had stored due to the lack of work and income. This was eye opening and it has set my resolve to store more for the coming problems while I have work and money. In my efforts to prep I've talked with my brother and other family members to encourage them to prepare. As of now they are taking a laid back approach and plan to rely on the Lord for their needs. God is awesome and great and can do all things, but I believe he expects me to do my part. So the dilemma starts with my family. If I have enough stored for my wife, son and myself for when things un-zip, how can I take care of my brother and his family as well. This would add another 12 people to the mix. And what about the wonderer who come to my door with kids who are crying because they are hungry. Soon I will not have enough for my own family. I'm reminded of the story of the ten virgins. Half prepared for the unexpected and the rest didn't. The ones who did not prepare were not evil bad people, they were just unprepared. The ones who prepared weren't able to help them and have enough for themselves at the same time when the unexpected happened. This is the point I struggle with.

One idea is something I am reminded of from the great depression. Those without went looking for help while those who had offered to help in exchange for work. I live in the country, and I have a big barn. My thoughts have been to offer help to those who seek food, shelter & water in exchange for work. I heat with wood, I will surely welcome the help. If some one is un-willing to work then I might not have anything to share. If they help then I can share. These guest will sleep in the barn and I will offer food shelter & water. This is not slavery... I am reminder of the scripture "If a man will not work then he shall not eat."

With my family and friends who might need a hand, I have another thought: I have some super pails I made up for my-self with various items. While preparing these the thought occurred to make a pail to share. I have included some basic food items like noodles and sauce with a couple cans of meat down to two rolls of toilet paper and a P-38 can opener. There are matches, a candle and a inexpensive flashlight with some inexpensive over the counter meds. These 5 gallon pails are filled to the max. My wife is excited about these and she wants me to make 10 more. This is something I can do for my family members and friends without taking away from my wife and son.

I do not know if this is the right way to prepare and share with those around? I pray that when I am faced with this decision he will provide the means and the wisdom.

In His Service. - Keith R. in Kansas

Friday, July 20, 2012

Growing up, we are taught to share.  Share our toys, share the chores, share our parents attention.  When we get to an age where we can earn some money, whether it be allowance for household jobs, or something like a paper route, our parents teach us to be sure to give God his 10%.  (Here is a little is ALL God's, he just allows us to keep 90%, if only the government would be so generous).  Well, as we get even older, let us say, after high school or college, we get a 'real' job.  This is theoretically speaking of course, since there are so many who don't have jobs, whether because there are  none available in their field of skills or because they just don't want to work and would rather have someone else support them.   Now, saying we have this job, and we give 10% to God (via His church), we also have to give a share to Uncle Sam...he is the uncle we pay to stay away and leave us alone.  If you do not pay enough, he will come after more than his fair share.  So still, we share.

Let us take the master that gave to his servants talents, to test their abilities.  He gave to one servant five talents, to another two talents, and to another one talent.  Well, you know the account, the servant with five talents used his abilities and increased his talents by five more.  The twp talent servant did likewise and increased his talents by two more, but the one talent servant just buried his talent, keeping it to himself, and when the master returned, the first two servants were given praise for their good work while the one talent servant was punished. (Matthew 25: 14-30).  The one talent was then given to the 10 talent servant and the master said, "For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance:  but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath." 

I would like to give a few examples of sharing.  In 1 Kings 17, Elijah was sent by God to give a message to Ahab, that there would be a drought in the land.  After delivering the message, Elijah was told to "hide by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan."  At the river, he was able to drink and God had ravens to bring him food for a while.  Then the brook  dried up, "because there had been no rain in the land."  Elijah was then told to go to Zarephath and dwell there, where God had prepared a widow woman to sustain him.  He met the widow woman as she gathered sticks and asked her to give him something to drink.  As she was going to get the drink, he asked her to also get him something to eat.  "And she said, As the Lord thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse:  and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die."  Well, she did make that cake for Elijah, and because she was willing to share, God made the meal and oil last so that she nor her son had to starve.  It was by sharing what she had that she was blessed.  

On another occasion, there was a different widow woman and her sons who were fearful of her late husband's creditors. They were planning to take her sons as slaves for the debt her husband left behind when he died.  She cried to Elisha, the man of God, for help. "And Elisha said unto her, What shall I do for thee? tell me, what hast thou in the house?  And she said,  Thine handmaid hath not any thing in the house, save a pot of oil."  So he told her to go to her neighbors and borrow vessels, and not just a few, but many vessels.  She was then told to go into a room with her sons and shut the door and pour out the oil into the vessels, which she did, until there was not another vessel to fill.  And still she had oil. "Then she came and told the man of God.  And he said, Go, sell the oil, and pay thy debt, and live thou and thy children of the rest."  Again we see how God took the little she had and made it last.  

When Jesus fed the multitudes with the fishes and loaves of bread, He could have just as easily spoke and produced food out of the air, as with the manna for the children of Israel and with the raven feeding Elijah, but He did not.  He took what they had and made it last until everyone present had been fed.  When the children of Israel left Egypt and were fed by the manna, they had to leave all they had known and trust in God.  Elijah had to leave town and hide, and trust in God.  The widow women also, used what they had left, and trusted in God.  On the one hand you have those who had to flee and on the other hand you have those that stayed, but had something, although sparse, to start with.  In all cases, the individuals involved had to trust in God completely to take care of their needs.  Likewise, we have to trust in God to provide our needs.  If we have goods, and share with our brethren, God can increase our goods as he sees fit.  If we have nothing and someone shares with us, that is a blessing to us as well as the person sharing their goods, and we should be sure to thank God for his blessings and ask blessings on the sharing party.

Jesus wants us to share and help the less fortunate.  That is not to say that we should provide total support for able bodied people who just do not want to work.  An old Chinese saying, "Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime."   In helping others, we may need to teach them new skills so that they can help themselves. The Bible also teaches in Paul's letter to the Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians 3:10-15, "...that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.  Now them that are such we command and exhort by or Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.  But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.  And if any many obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.  Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother."  And also in 1 Timothy 5:8, "But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel."  

We need to encourage others to prepare for hard times.  Even as our economy  is failing daily, some will not hear of making plans for the future, but live only for that day.   And while we are not promised tomorrow, and should live every day as if it were our last, we can plan for the future we hope to have if we live and if the Lord is willing.  And do not be afraid to help others in genuine need, (Hebrews 13:1-2) "Let brotherly love continue.  Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unaware." And Jesus said in Matthew 25:34-46, "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 hungered, 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 hungered, 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 thee, 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."  We do need to share with the less fortunate that are trying to help themselves and do it willingly. "But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully, Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity:  for God loveth a cheerful giver." - 2 Corinthians 9:6-7.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

As a professional project manager for a large international corporation, my position requires me to mitigate the risks of unknown variables that can alter the success of large and small projects. Donald Rumsfeld quote that ‘we don’t know what we don’t know” comes to mind. It is my job to insulate our company from cost overruns, time delays, or catastrophic project failure by identifying those variables and reducing their impact. These principles of project management applied to small personal events to those effecting us globally has led me to recognize some concerning trends in the preparedness community.

My observations have evolved as I have reached out or involved myself with various groups, whose vision and goals were to help other become aware of the fragile society and economy and how to prepare for it. I have discovered that the vast majority of people prepare themselves and their families, then stop at that point, thinking they have what they need to weather the storms of life. That discovery is what led me to move people beyond a personal stockpile of “stuff” and develop a Concentric Circle Preparedness Plan.

The goal behind this next step in preparing is to build a personal community, enhance your skills, resources and knowledge base and insulate you from the crisis with circles of defense. Concentric circles multiple your ability to survive. From small events, such as job loss, to major events, such as a global socio-economic collapse; adapting this along with a color code of awareness will help you identify what actions you should take and when.

Your Family Circle
This is your Primary Circle and where most people start and stop. They lay up food, water, medical supplies, fuel, shelter plans, guns, ammunition, maybe some cash and silver. They may develop some new skills such as sewing, canning, gardening, animal husbandry and acquire books as reference material. Yet they get to this point with a new level of confidence and assurance and falsely believe all is well or at least better. They may be prepared more than the masses but this is not the end of the journey. This initial circle is very important, because without it you become a refugee at the mercy of others or worse case FEMA.

Areas you should focus on are: Food, Water, Shelter, Fuel, Security, Medical needs, personal Hygiene, Currency/Barter skills, Gardening, Basic First Aid, etc. I would suggest finding a comprehensive list here on the List of Lists.

Extended Family Circle

This becomes your Secondary Circle and by its nature and mindset of awareness, an individual will naturally reach out to mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and cousins, your extended family. All of us have done this at some point or another and have our message both accepted or we are given the look (you know the one I am speaking of).  Developing the second circle is important to acquire trustful partners in a time of crisis. Additionally, a family member may have a farm to act as a retreat or access to skills and talents you neither have the education nor training, such as mechanic, nursing, welding, etc. Your extended family circle gives you a multiplier effect to your resources, tools and supplies that you may not have or the ability to purchase. Since typically, (family dependant) the trust factor is high in extended families, the sharing of information becomes less of a factor than in the outside circles. This second circle along with your family circle becomes the basis for your primary community of support and security.

At this point the creation of additional circles becomes more difficult as the trust factor diminishes and OPSEC issues arise. The benefits are great but I would caution and use extreme discernment in reaching out to others without a thorough knowledge of others ideologies and personal beliefs.

The following Circles are interchangeable in their position. For instance,  your Church Circle may well be more important or relevant to your personal situation than a Neighborhood or Friend Circle.

Neighborhood and Friend Circle

This can be broken into two separate and distinct circles. As you move to develop this circle the selection process of people to include should be done with care. Again, if you know your neighbors you can pick out the individuals that would be hostile to any mention of preparedness or political differences that may jeopardize your inter-circles. I know in our neighborhood we are surrounded by “opposing” ideologies that would expect us to share what we stored. An Occupy movement for my storehouse would likely ensure if they knew of our preparedness mindset. Nice people under normal circumstance but potential threats should the crisis develop beyond the point of stretching regional resources. We do not mention our plans or thoughts on preparing to these individuals. Choosing friends and neighbors under extreme situations is left to your discretion. There are advantages, you may have certain friends or neighbors who can add to your skill and knowledge base or those that you know are all ready preparing and the subject matter would not be threatening to them. These individuals become additional multipliers and another layer of security and insulation to mitigate risks of a crisis.

Reaching out to unknown neighbors is not a wise decision. One way to evaluate a neighborhood mindset is to start a Neighborhood Watch program. You will find out very quickly those that are armed, concerned about crime or possibly even have a similar mindset.

We have friends that have developed over the last year from our Homeschool Co-op. They have a farm with cattle, milking cows, a private shooting range. We are working together now to learn new skills, their location is not ideal for a retreat since it is a farm in the midst of a highly populated area, but the resources we have access to are beyond our individual efforts.

Church/Organizational Circle

I would hope your church would be supportive and what better core of individuals to build community support. I would say that in my experience depending on your denomination, that some church leaders may oppose preparing or at least look at you with the same look you get from skeptical family members. The groups I have been involved with have reached out to Churches with mixed results. The reason may vary from those that believe preparing is equal to not trusting in the Lord (which I believe He does) or that the Rapture will let them escape any major crisis (which I have no doubt He is capable to do). Unfortunately most automatically jump to a TEOTWAWKI situation and fail to see that hurricanes, tornados, ice storms, and job losses are everyday crisis’ people deal with. When they hear preparing, they hear Revelation events. That being said, I have found that most church members understand the principles found in scripture concerning preparing and are not opposed to it. The Joseph Principle, Noah, the Ant proverb, and the parable of the Ten Virgins are great examples.

The benefits of building the relationships in this circle are vast. Your trust factor should be higher than the population at large, the number of people (depending on your church) gives you access to more skills and resources of knowledge, a pre-structured community, access to large commercial kitchens equipment to feed large numbers of people and most importantly a support group of people of like faith.

Local Authority Circle

I know the mention to some will send shivers through your spine but bear with me. In no way am I suggesting you reveal your preparedness plans to local law enforcement. Especially in light of recently signed Executive Order -- National Defense Resources Preparedness. If you are not familiar with this order I suggest you read it.


What I am suggesting is to make yourself acquainted with your local sheriff’s office or in my case we have a Deputy Sheriff that lives next door. He does not know that we are have a preparedness plan, in fact he does not even know that he is part of my circle, he knows who I am, and to some extent my views on life. Remember the crisis may be personal or global so mitigation of any risk is your goal and having knowledge and a personal connection with the local county sheriff or fire department may prove to be an extra layer of security. I would also add that including a Deputy Sheriff at your Neighborhood Watch Program actually provides you with information on the Sheriff in your county. You may discover that your sheriff is an Oath Honoring Constitutional minded Sheriff willing to assist citizens in his county to prepare.

By no means should your circles encompass any or all of these, you can tailor your concentric circles according to your own personal situation. But as you do, you will start to gain even more confidence in your survival skills, knowledge and resources.

How and when to engage these circles will be dependant on the event you are experiencing. Of course a job loss will not require you to engage the sheriff’s office but you may reach out to family, then your church, etc., yet a regional chemical spill may. Remember each circle provides a resource to mitigate risk.

Codes of Awareness

Now that you have a circle of security to insulate and mitigate risks to your family, establish a Color Code of Awareness. Information is key and if you plan to bug out it is imperative that you are the first ones out the door. While everyone else is watching Fox News to learn of the most up-to-date report on the crisis, then it is time to go. My personal opinion depending on the crisis will be that 80% of people have no where to go and will stay glued to the television for up to the minute news. The remaining 20% will have the sense to leave but 80% of those will hesitate because they are not ready, have nothing packed and no plan of action. That leaves us. The question my primary and secondary circles discuss on major events is What is the trigger? I still don’t have an answer for that question. We have thoughts and ideas and those are used to form a basis for decisions. But this is when we venturing into the “don’t-know-what-we-don’t-know-area”. We all have a sense in today’s world that events are upon us that can go badly very quickly. This unknown variable can only be provided with contingencies, a If this-Then this scenario, and in no way could every possible scenario be accounted for.  Under that unknown variable, we apply an OODA Loop.

Observation: You information do we have; what is going on around us, etc
Orientation: Formulate a plan around the Data you have received
Decision: Is the information valid, is it sufficient to make a decision, if not then more observation, reach out to your circles to uncover other information that will assist you
Action: Based on the information, is it a trigger event for you to implement a plan. What are the implications of delaying action?

Using an OODA loop for engaging your circles will help you from jumping the gun or crying wolf. The color code may also be used to determine when you call upon on more levels of your circles. Those decisions should be based upon your specific circumstance.

Code White
Means there are no potential hazards, ongoing crisis or crises on the horizon. Anything that happens would be a complete surprise. Personally we have never been in a Code White. With all the events going on politically, economically, socially a Code White would be a welcomed relief.

Code Yellow
Code Yellow means there is no specific threat but you are aware of some crisis that may be on the horizon. Example: A potential hurricane, snow storm. We have Code Yellow occasionally in North Carolina. In a Code Yellow we may contact those in our Extended Family and Friend Circle

Code Orange
Code Orange means there is a specific threat serious enough for us to have gassed up all the vehicles and be prepared to bug out. Bags are at the ready, Daily phone calls to members of our Primary Circle are made with location and daily plans. A sound like over kill but it is nice to be in touch with a spouse or children on a regular basis even if just to check in on each others status. The cause for a Code Orange in our operational book is terrorist threats, economic uncertainty, looming war, severe weather alerts, political uncertainty, etc. Yes, we seem to stay recently in Code Orange. We are in contact on a regular basis with Extended Family, Friends and Church Circles.

Code Red
This is the most severe of Codes. This means the event triggering a Code Orange has a high probability, has effected our immediate area or has national implications. Events such as a terrorist attack on a major city, Urban Riots, Collapse of the Markets suddenly, outbreak of a regional conflict in the Middle East are classified as major non-weather events with devastating impact. In these cases we will have contacted multiple circles (if possible) and have initiated our evacuation plan of action.

I suggest that each of your Codes have a specific reason, specific plan of action, reasons why the Code would change either to less or more extreme level. Don’t trigger a Code without using your OODA Loop. You will prevent much heartache and stress if your Code decisions are based on sound Observation and Orientation.

As you see, once each circle is developed, you start insulating yourself and developing an increased probability of successful survival. We have lost too many years of not developing our personal communities. Communities in the past, survived because they developed these connections, if not by design but through necessity. Your survival can not be based on only your resources alone; you can not be an island unto yourself. It has been said many times before; if your plan is to scamper off in to the woods to survive by yourself off the land then your chances are slim if not zero.

This may seem hard but just as when you began preparing your inter-circle, it took a small step. Now you need to take another small step and call a family member and start building on your secondary circle today. Start with those family members that will be more accepting to your message or plans and branch out from there. There is nothing more motivating than early success and building early connections.  If that circle is complete, which I would assume it is, then start your next circle, you may never use it but like insurance its there if you do.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Reading Paul's "Combating the Darkness Within" article, I can see that he has a scientific mind, lacking faith in God, or maybe even belief! And this is one of the first things you need in the survival mind set, a true faith in God, and guidance from the Holy Spirit, and without this guidance, no matter how prepared your are materially, your chances of making the right decisions when the time comes are questionable at best, without God's spirit guiding you. This is why you always store a little more than what you need for [charity for] your family, friends and neighbors! With the right spiritual guidance, your oil bottle and your grain bucket may never go empty!
I am willing to help those in need, if they come asking! But I'm also just as prepared to kill those that come to take by force, or try to do harm to me, my family, or my friends or neighbors! And I believe God will forgive us for this type of killing. We have an obligation to protect our own, and those around us when times get rough. My suggestion to Paul is spend a little more time in the Bible and not so much time in books like "The Lucifer Effect"! Read books that build your spirit up, not take it down. Or [those that] make you question whether or not you have a dark side, which we all do, but strong faith keeps our compass needle pointing north at all times, if you get my meaning. - J.M.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

I am a new arrival to the survival community.  Until recently I was just another mindless suburbanite going about my daily routine blissfully ignorant of the world around me.  It was only by chance that a series of events happened in my life that opened my eyes to needs of survival preparation.  I won’t say that I was completely clueless about survival, but rather it simply wasn’t real to me.  Yes, I knew that tough times are just over the horizon but I simply believed that I would make it through somehow.  Ironically, it was the housing crisis that completely changed my life.  My wife and I moved to another town in 2008 so that I could start a new job and when our house didn’t sell we found ourselves in a financial struggle that has lasted to this day.  Somewhere in the midst of all this I came to the realization that what we were going through was a microcosm of the greater survival struggles that lay ahead.  Survival had suddenly become very real in my life.  When I thought about these things and how my own actions, or lack there of, had made our situation so much worse I realized that I needed to begin preparations so that future struggles aren’t so chaotic.  This is why food storage and similar topics have become so important to me.  I want to be ready for whatever life brings.

Aside from being a scientist by trade I am also an amateur writer and wannabe author.  I’ve written a number of short stories and even a full length novel but none have managed to create much of a spark in the literary world.  I find that writing has become the therapy that helps me get by and is certainly cheaper than professional counseling.  Recently, I wrote a very long piece about some observations I had made concerning survival based on my struggle for financial survival.  All in all I thought it was pretty good and considered submitting it here for publication on the SurvivalBlog.  I decided not to do so because it is a rather ponderous work and really doesn’t have anything new to say.  Some of the bullet points are to expect the worst of humanity, beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing, expect to do the hard things, always expect a situation to be as difficult as possible, and expect the experience to change you.  I expanded these concepts with specific examples I had observed in how I was handling my situation or in what I had seen in others.  Some time after writing this I realized that very little of what I had written had anything to do with physical things or tangible objects such as food or money.  One might think that while experiencing a financial crisis I would have written at length about money or financial preparation, but ultimately I only covered it briefly.  The entire work was mainly a piece on human behavior; either other’s or my own.  For me the things that were of most significance weren’t physical but rather moral and spiritual.  What I did and what others tried to do to me were what I remember most.  With this in mind I wonder sometimes whether survivalists are asking the right questions when considering future survival and TEOTWAWKI or SHTF situations.  Should we be focusing only on tangible things like the best survival weapons or how much food should I store, or should we also be asking ourselves, “What will I become?” or “How will I behave?”  Ask yourself, “What will I become as a person, a parent, or a spouse when my world comes crashing down around me and how will those around be behave as well?”  Having a firm understanding of the answer may well determine whether you succeed or fail at survival.

What Is Survival? 
            When we make survival plans are we simply trying to ensure our physical survival or are we also attempting to maintain the envelope of normalcy that surrounds our lives and makes us who we are.  As people we are the sum of our circumstances.  We think, act, and believe in ways that are dictated by our own values and the world around us.  Some of the things in our world that make us be ourselves are the rule of law, contemporary culture, established religions, our families, our upbringing, our friends, our jobs, etc.  We are also motivated by our perception of our world and of ourselves.  Can we truly expect to be the same people and act as we always have once our world is stripped away and we are thrust into a situation where the future is completely unknown?  How could we?  Shouldn’t we expect that when our world changes we will also change?  The greatest question is whether we will change for the better or for worse.

Are you an evil person?

            I’m in the process of reading a book entitled The Lucifer Effect by Phillip Zimbardo and I strongly recommend it to all survivalists.  The title of this book is also the name of a process by which ordinary people are transformed into doers of evil by the circumstances around them.  The bulk of this book is a narrative about something called the Stanford Prison Experiment.  For anyone who isn’t familiar with this experiment it was done in 1971 and consisted of a mock prison where prescreened young men played the rolls of prisoners and guards.  In the years since this experiment took place it has become a classic model of how people can be transformed by their situations.  In the case of the Stanford Prison Experiment the guards became sadistic, brutal, and even sexually abusive while the prisoners became ever more obedient and compliant to the point of suffering severe emotional distress.  Another interesting aspect of this experiment is that it spilled over into the community of individuals conducting the experiment and even changed their behavior in remarkable ways.  The remainder of the book is actually the more interesting part with an analysis of the experiment data and other real world situations where seemingly ordinary people have done evil.  As I’m reading this book I can’t help but see correlations between the Stanford Prison Experiment, the Lucifer Effect, and a TEOTWAWKI survival situation. 

Before I get too much further into this I should bring out one of the key concepts of this book and that is the difference between dispositional and situational evil.  Dispositional evil is the concept or belief that people who do bad things are bad people to begin with.  Conversely, is the belief that good people will do good things regardless of the situation.  Situational evil is the belief that good people can be turned evil by the circumstances they are in and the degree to which they become evil is directly proportional to the severity of the situation and the power they possess.  I believe the truth is somewhere in the middle and both factors play a role in human behavior.  Regardless of how much situations play a roll in our behavior it would stand to reason that we should explore such possibilities as part of our survival preparations.  Consider this quote from The Lucifer Effect:

Good people can be induced, seduced, and initiated into behaving in evil
ways. They can also be led to act in irrational, stupid, self-destructive, antisocial, and mindless ways when they are immersed in "total situations" that impact human nature in ways that challenge our sense of the stability and consistency of individual personality, of character, and of morality.

If the world as we know it does end and we are all thrust into survival mode then wouldn’t this be the ultimate “total situation” that would challenge our sense of stability and morality?  Could such a situation induce or seduce good people, i.e. us, into behaving in evil ways.  If evil is too strong a term then how about unspeakable.  Allow me to give an example in my own life. Recently, I discovered Marjory Wildcraft after hearing her interviewed on Coast to Coast AM.  The next day I visited her web site and signed up for her newsletter.  I also watched the preview for her Food Production Systems for a Backyard or Small Farm DVD and something very profound struck me.  As I watched the segment on raising rabbits it occurred to me that part of Mrs. Wildcraft’s survival scenario is the slaughter of young rabbits for food.  The sight of that adorable white rabbit on my computer screen associated with terms like “harvesting” and “roasters” really disturbed me.  Jokingly, I said to my wife, “I can’t kill little bunny rabbits,” although I wasn’t joking.  The thought of it really disturbed me.  My wife’s response was even more disturbing.  She looked at me stone faced and said, “You would if you got hungry enough.”  At that moment I realized the power of our situations to change us.  For me the act of killing a small animal is unspeakable.  After reading how to kill a rabbit on-line I find it even more unspeakable, although I fully understand that if I got hungry enough I wouldn’t be able to kill that little bunny fast enough.  Certainly, killing a rabbit for food is not evil but it is something that many would consider to be an unspeakable act yet it is something that I believe we would all do gladly if it meant surviving another day.

Respect My Authority!

Another concept that is explored at length in The Lucifer Effect is that of power.  The acquisition, maintenance, and administration of power are the key factors in the transformation of individuals from good to evil.  Consider again TEOTWAWKI.  In such a situation the powerful will be those who control survival resources such as food and water.  And, this power will be absolute power over life and death and will be happening without any rule of law.  Can anyone argue that suddenly being thrust into a situation where one controls whether others live or die wouldn’t have a profound impact on that person?  We all want to believe that we would be loving and benevolent stewards of our resources but can we really be certain of this until are actually in that situation?

Don’t Rock the Boat!

Another concept explored in The Lucifer Effect is that of obedience and the evil of inaction.  The book explores a number of different situations in which blind obedience led to or helped facilitate evil even to the point of parents murdering their own children such as in the case of the People’s Temple in Jonestown, Guyana.  Not everyone can have power so in any situation there are those with power and those who must obey that power.  In a survival situation the prospect of death will be an overwhelming factor to ensure obedience.  How vigorously would someone protest another’s abuse of power if it meant being cut off from basic resources or cast out of one’s survival community?

If It Feels Good, Do It!

Another concept that I will touch on that is explored at length in The Lucifer Effect is that of ethics, both absolute and relative.  People will find a way to justify their behavior in any situation and survival will be a tremendous justification of almost any act.

What Would You Do?

You’re a man, a father, and a husband.  You’ve made survival preparations for your family and finally the day comes when you must put your plans into action.  It’s chaos in the streets but you are safe at you bug out location.  Something has happened and the world has degenerated into bedlam.  You’re worried and the stress has pushed your marriage and family to the brink.  You have some survival resources but you don’t really know how long they will last or if things outside will ever get back to normal.  You also worry that someone will discover that you are doing alright and realize that you have the things that everyone now needs.  The thought of an armed intrusion or overwhelming odds scares the daylights out of you.  So, you wait and hope for things to get better.  Suddenly, onto your doorstep wanders a young woman holding a small child.  You can see that they are in distress and that the child will soon die without food and water.  What do you do?  Let me throw in one more thing:  She’s young and beautiful. Consider this continuum of options.

  1. Do you give the young woman what she needs, knowing that it only shortens your own survival time [in an environment where there is no source of resupply]?  You know that you can’t let her leave afterwards because she might tell others about you, what you have, and where you are so she would become a permanent addition to your community draining you of even more resources.
  2. Do you turn her away with the justification that her child is going to die any way and you can’t spare the food?
  3. Do you allow her to stay with the hopes that maybe you can develop a relationship with her behind your wife’s back?
  4. Do you kill your wife and replace her with this younger model?  After all, who is going to say anything?  There are no cops.
  5. Do you openly extort sex in exchange for food with your wife’s full knowledge?  What is she going to say?  She’ll keep her mouth shut or find herself out in the cold.
  6. Do you put a bullet in the young girl’s brain and then her child’s on the belief that it is ending their suffering and saving them from having to face this ordeal any longer?
  7. Or, do you do 5 and then 6?

We all want to believe that we would take the first option, but can any of us be certain how we would react until we face such a situation?  I believe that there are people who could justify any of those options through ethical relativism and their new-found power would only serve to corrupt their thinking. 

Let’s assume that you are the young woman.  You love your child more than life itself?  Would you turn your head and allow some lecherous old man to do unspeakable things to you knowing that it will save your child?  Would you gladly stand by or even conspire for the disposal of the current wife so that you can take her place?  What if you were the wife?  In your fear of losing your source of survival would you cover your ears and ignore the screams of a young woman being brutalized in the next room?  Would you stand by and refuse to come to her aid in complete obedience to your husband if it meant you and your child might meet the same fate if you tried to help?  These may seem like harsh questions but one day we may all face such harsh situations.

Who Are They?

The last concept that I’m going to touch on that is explored in The Lucifer Effect is that of “Others.”  What does that mean?  The concept of an “Other” is any group that can be identified, denigrated, dehumanized, and de-individualized.  Evil against other people doesn’t start immediately.  It often starts with the creation of an “Other” group and the process of transforming them from human beings into objects worthy of ridicule, scorn and extermination.  Consider Nazi Germany and the extermination of the Jews.  The Nazi propaganda machine had so successfully transformed the Jewish people into wretched objects where the extermination of which was greeted with cheers and gleeful participation.  Such has happened many times since in places like Rwanda and Cambodia and it even played a role in racial discrimination in our own country.

Why point this out?  It doesn’t take much reading on the many survival sites to realize that survivalists are a proud bunch.  I have seen countless articles and rambling forum entries about how much better “we” are than “they.”  In this case the “they” are the unprepared, the unenlightened, or those who have not converted to the survival ethos. 
Imagine if the husband in our above scenario had this same opinion about the unprepared.  How much worse would his reaction to the young woman be?  Would he think that his treatment of her is what she deserved for not being better prepared?  I’ll answer that with a firm yes.

Once the SHTF you’re going to see a great many “Others” become targets.  I’m talking about minorities, liberals, elderly, Christians, or simply that bully who was mean to someone in the fifth grade.  Unfortunately, we will all carry our baggage with us into a survival situation.  The biggest mistake that we can make is to assume that just because we are enlightened about preparedness that we are somehow more moral, more trustworthy, or somehow better human beings than the vast unwashed masses.

Yeah, So What?

Is there anything that I can offer as an application to survival?  Perhaps the greatest is to know yourself and those around you.  Don’t allow anyone to control your survival resources but you.  Make a connection with people through charity and other good works now that gives you a more compassionate heart.  And lastly, perhaps we should all make as much effort in fixing our broken society as we do in preparing to leave it in order to keep the world from ending altogether.

JWR Adds: What Paul has discussed is some serious food for thought. In the context of a post-collapse world, just the fact that you have stored up tens of thousands of rounds of ammunition, while most of your neighbors have just have a couple of hundred rounds on hand might someday give you the equivalent of a rich man's bank account. If you haven't already, I beg you to accept Christ Jesus as your savior, as a key part of your personal readiness. Charity and self-control are seen in their full as fruits of the Holy Spirit. The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit indwells us, when we become Christians. I can think of no better way to be sure that we are up to facing tough decisions, in traumatic times. Get right with God!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Spokane was sparkling with light and still bustling when I looked out at it from a downtown building last night. So beautiful in the darkness. My thoughts went out to the hundreds of thousands of little children, women, grandmothers, grandfathers, boys, girls, and men those lights represented. Not just people – persons, each one unique, each with God’s calling on their lives for His purposes. Yet most of them are lost: hopelessly adrift in an empty, frantic, stupid, shallow culture of blindness and conformity and entertainment. Like the people of Jonah’s time they metaphorically don’t know their right hand from their left hand. They’re not so much like sheep anymore these days (I have sheep and know their nature), they’re more like stereotypical lemmings rushing to their mass suicide, in a million different ways.

My heart goes out to them – there, but for the grace of God, go I. There are so many of them. Thankfully, interspersed among them are those who are good, who are strong, who are aware and informed, who can be counted on to rise to the occasion in a crisis. Many of these are already prepared for the spectrum of nation-destroying crises which loom ahead in the mist of time: EMP, pandemic, a New Madrid earthquake, mini-ice age, drought, nuclear terror, persecution and tyranny. And still more – you know the list...

They – like my wife and I – have worked, studied, sacrificed, and planned so that their families will be shielded from the brunt of whatever comes that our sovereign God permits in these last days. Together we preppers are “brothers in arms” as it were, in this exceptional pre-crisis mobilization.
I’ve long pondered what my purpose in these days might be. And I’ve concluded that it’s not enough – for me, at least – to survive merely in order to survive another day. There must be a greater purpose. And so there is.

A few weeks ago our pastor shared this passage that held a vital insight for me: A person once asked Jesus, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘… you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” – Mark 12:29-31 (NLT)

Much to my surprise, no matter how preoccupied I become with the many concerns and issues and problems of our day, my heart always comes back to my Creator. I may wander, but He guides me back. I'm drawn irresistibly to him, as the Sun's gravity holds the earth to its course in space. I may not always show it – how I WISH I did – but Jesus has become the center of my existence. And in Him is great strength, and the peace I so desperately need. Most of you know of what I speak. It’s certainly not about what great followers “we” are. It’s about how great HE is and how he captivates our hearts. And in this way we begin to fulfill the “most important” purpose of our lives.

But there is a fundamental second goal – a deep purpose worth living – and dying – for: to “love our neighbors.” Unfortunately, the task of preparing for an End-of-The-World-As-We-Know-It catastrophe is well nigh overwhelming, particularly at the beginning. Prepping can easily become so intensely focused on studying/training/purchasing for self- and family-preservation, and it’s so intrinsically defensive, that we lose all perspective. And as “survival” becomes everything, so we slowly begin to forget that the path of satisfaction and joy, healing of our own hearts’ wounds and an enriching sense of purpose – those things we long for and work so hard for – is found in serving others.

And, yes, it’s just hard to think charitably about the very ones who might become in desperation the dreaded Golden Horde and prey on those we love. “It’s their own fault, they could have gotten informed, they do not deserve our help, they played while we prepared, they are fools…” – it’s all, tragically, true. But this is what the virtues of mercy and pity and compassion are all about! Tragedy and calamity and danger do not negate the simple truth of this second “most important commandment.”

This is easier to consider if our preps are well along. But even if we are in the “panic phase,” realizing we’ve begun “too late” to prep, we can still do something now. We need not wait until all of our own plans are totally complete before we consider others. It’s true, that we cannot save them all. We just can’t. But can we really just do nothing and hunker down while the world goes mad around us? We turn our backs on them today only at our own peril and loss. Yes, certainly, our families come first, then the local survival community – our team, our friends. Yes, we must avoid giving potential adversaries information about our capabilities and resources that they might take advantage of (i.e., OPSEC), and plan for a strong defense if and when that time comes, and all those other wise things.

OPSEC is an important principle, but it cannot be the most important factor. There is always risk (sometimes unforeseen risk), in everything we do and not do. I dare say there are ways to help others that would not risk OPSEC at all. It's really a continuum, from zero risk right up to sacrificing oneself for a reasonable, worthy cause. Some risks are worth taking.
Even while we work to protect our own we can be reaching out to make a difference. If we don’t, who will? You know that answer.

This calls for bold and daring action. We can prepare and teach and warn and equip in a hundred creative, savvy ways. Photocopy articles to share, “jump start” the widow’s preps with rice and beans and wheat (don’t forget the diatomaceous earth!), and make plans with other preppers how we might work together to feed and rescue our unprepared neighbors.
“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” – Matthew 9:36 (NLT)

Like the four intrepid Bielski brothers in WWII Poland who saved 1,236 Jews from death at Hitler’s hand, our call, our purpose in this regard, is to “save as many as we can.” And the strategy and scope of that will be different for each of us! Never forget that God has given us each unique skills and resources and station in life for a purpose.
Pray about it, and watch for the opportunities. Find a way. Save as many as you can.

Once there was a great storm that washed thousands of starfish up onshore. As an old man walked the beach he saw a young boy picking up stranded starfish and quickly returning them to the sea.
The man approached the boy and said, “What are you doing? The sun is rising. What difference does it make? They're all going to die anyway.” As the boy rose from gently tossing back yet another starfish he said, “I made a difference to THAT one…”

Thursday, November 17, 2011

My husband and I moved cross-country to The American Redoubt this past spring with our two young sons.  We had never even visited this area, but our research over two years caused us to fall in love with an area we had never seen in person.  My husband flew out on his own about a month before our move and found us a rental house on a couple acres within our budget.  He thought he saw fruit trees at the time and took pictures to show me, but we couldn't tell for sure.

Our transition was very tiring and tedious, but we are adjusting nicely to our new home.  The bounty from our fruit trees and other foraged edibles has us very excited about our blessings.  Our cup overflows - with fruit - and we almost have too much!

As we investigated our yard and watched the trees bloom, we understood that, indeed, we had several fruit trees.  One I felt sure was an apple and another looked like a pear tree to me, but I wasn't positive.  As the blossoms faded and fruit began to form, we knew we had at least three apple trees, but one was definitely different than the other two, as the blooms were pink and not white.  About mid-June I realized it must be a crabapple tree, so I began to research what I could do with this fruit. Growing up, we had a crabapple tree, but we considered it a nuisance with the fruit not fit to eat.

Lessons From a Crabapple Tree
I learned I could make many delicious goodies from crabapples, including jelly, sauce, and butter. I began picking them as soon as they seemed ripe enough. I actually didn't pick them at all, though - I shook them from the tree and then gathered them (along with my helpful young brood) into buckets. I then proceeded to wash them and cut off both ends for jelly making. My jelly didn't turn out so good and was more like a syrup, so I decided to use the rest for butter. I grew up on apple butter, which is a lot like applesauce, but  thicker and sweeter with spices added. It's used just like jelly or jam and smells wonderful while cooking. From the many buckets of crabapples we gathered, I now have 16 pints of apple butter in my basement.
I didn't waste the liquid from the cooked crabapples. This I canned also in quart and half-gallon jars and will use for hot spiced cider when cold, snowy days arrive. Though somewhat weak compared to regular apple juice, I plan to add frozen orange juice concentrate and spices to simmer all day in the crock pot.

My Crabapple Butter Recipe
Wash and cut off ends of crabapples. Place whole apples in large pan and just cover with water. Bring to a boil, then cook over medium heat until apples are pretty soft (about 30 minutes or so). Scoop out crabapples into strainer, leaving liquid behind. Press through strainer. In crock pot, combine crabapple pulp and one to two tablespoons of spices (cinnamon, cloves, and/or nutmeg) to taste. Cook on high for 8 hours until mixture cooks down to about half, stirring once every hour. At this point, you may can or freeze the apple butter or simply refrigerate and eat up, depending on the amount you have.

Lessons From Two Apple Trees
One of our apple trees ripened right along behind the crabapple tree, and we harvested about 8 buckets full from this tree. These apples are a light green with thin skin and a wonderful refreshing flavor.  The problem is they don't keep very long, even in the fridge, so we processed them quickly, eating as many as we could before they started to shrivel.  I made applesauce from these and also froze some sliced for pies later on. I have 10 quarts of applesauce canned and 6 quarts sliced in the freezer.

I also sliced some of the apples for drying. I don't currently have a dehydrator, but in the hot summer months my car heats up nicely, and I found that sliced apples dried within several hours on a hot day in full sun.

My Applesauce Recipe
I simply made my applesauce by cutting the washed apples in half and cutting off the stem and blossom ends. Then I cooked them the same way I cooked the crabapples, just covering with water. I then pressed just the apples through the strainer, reserving the liquid for canning as well.  I then processed the apple pulp in hot jars in a water bath canner. I didn't add sugar or spices to the sauce, preferring it more natural.

The other apple tree ripened later. These apples have thicker skin and are proving to be much better keepers. We will keep them in our cool basement as long as we can, eating them fresh.

* How Much Saved From Apple Tree Fruit - Apples are at least $1 per pound in season, but organic apples are even higher. I estimate that we ended up with at least 12 buckets of regular apples and about 4 buckets of crabapples. I estimate that each bucket weighed about 10 pounds.  This would make about 160 pounds of apples, which would cost at least $160 if purchased.

Lessons From a Pear Tree
The next tree to ripen was our pear tree.  We could see fairly early on after blooming that it was a pear tree, but I didn't personally have high hopes for it.  Growing up, I had a pear tree in my yard, and it never did well, always having very small, scrubby pears that were never fit to eat.  My husband loves pears, however, so I wanted it to do well for his sake (and our boys).  They never seemed to get soft on the tree, but they were getting bigger and bigger, so I decided to do some research.  Turns out, pears are better picked hard, as they will have a better taste and be less grainy.  Also, certain varieties do better after being placed in the refrigerator for a few days. Seems that they have a better texture after chilling.  Well, it worked!  Our hard pears got soft, sweet, and smooth!  Best pears I've ever tasted! We harvested about 4 buckets full and are mostly eating them fresh. Some of them, however, are getting old and too soft, so I've also made pear sauce.  Plus, since pears are much more juicy than apples, I have had to take an extra straining step with them when making sauce, thus getting some wonderfully sweet pear juice out of the deal.

* How Much Saved - The pears weighed about 60 pounds and would cost at least $2 per pound in the store, so our savings was at least $120.

Lessons From a Plum Tree
The last of the fruit trees on our land to ripen was the plum tree, which my husband discovered while exploring a little further over from the other fruit trees. We didn't know about this jewel early on and didn't have high hopes once we discovered it, thinking it wouldn't produce very valuable fruit. Needless to say, we have harvested 3 buckets full so far (about 36 pounds, we estimate) and have at least one more bucket full on the tree. These are the small Italian plums that sell for quite a bit in the grocery store. The first bucket we picked wasn't sweet, but once frost hit our area, the ones on the tree turned very sweet and delicious.  I wasn't planning to make jams or jellies due to what I believed to be a long, drawn-out process (and the fact that my crabapple jelly didn't turn out), but I decided to try a very small batch of plum jam to see if it would be worth it.  Plums are pretty easy to deal with.  These have pits that are freestone, which means they don't stick to the flesh of the fruit. This made it very easy to pit them. I simply washed them, cut them in half, and pulled the pit out. Many of these we are eating fresh, but I know we won't be able to eat them all before they go bad, so I have chopped up 8 quarts for the freezer for breads and cakes later. I also have 2 gallons of plum wine fermenting in the cabinet. With the rest that we don't eat fresh, I am making plum jam, as the trial run turned out wonderfully!

My Plum Jam Recipe
Wash whole plums. Cut in half and remove pit. Chop or leave in halves. I like to blend my plums in the blender, but for those who like chunks I advise chopping in small pieces and not blend.  Otherwise, leave halved and blend.) For every cup of chopped plums, I used 2/3 cups sugar. some other recipes call for more sugar (up to a 1:1 ratio), but I don't like too sweet, and this turned out perfect to me. For halved plums, make sure to heap the cup as high as you can get it (I fit 10 small plums per cup). Blend the plums in a blender or food processor. Add plum mixture and sugar with about 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon per cup of plums to saucepan (don't fill more than half full due to mixture boiling up during cooking).  Bring to boil, stirring often. Boil vigorously for 15-20 minutes (needs to thicken somewhat). I used pectin for my first trial run, but it didn't do any better than my second trial without pectin. If you use pectin, just follow the directions on the package. If canning the jam, can right away while hot. Otherwise, let cool for about 30 minutes before refrigerating.

* How Much Saved - The plums weighed approximately 48 pounds, which would cost $2-3 per pound in the store to purchase. This saved us at least $120.

Lessons From Foraged Elderberries
Sometime after we discovered how wonderful our pears were, my husband saw some elderberries growing wild behind his work place. We weren't positive what they were at first, but upon researching and positive identification, we discovered what a treasure we had found. Elderberries are very potent against colds and flu, and we had already been using this wonderful elixir in previous years to help keep our immune systems strong. Turns out these berries are very prevalent here, as we saw more after we picked this batch. Make sure to pick only the dark purple/black ones, as the red ones are said to be toxic.

Here's what I did with the box we gathered. I made elderberry syrup, frozen blocks, and extract/tonic. For the syrup and frozen blocks, I first placed the berries, stems and all, in the freezer. I had read that this would make the berries easier to remove from the stems. It worked well, and I had my entourage help me pluck the berries (which they were happy to do!). After plucking them off, I then washed them thoroughly in a colander. Then I just covered with water in a saucepan, bringing them to a boil. I cooked them until they were soft, and the whole mixture was very dark purple (almost black). Next came the very messy part! I pressed them through the strainer, but I got a lot of seeds through, since my strainer is not fine. I then used a screen-type strainer with cheese cloth layered in it to strain out the rest of the seeds. Everything that the berries came in contact with were stained dark purple - so beware!

I then canned 3 pints of this elderberry juice/syrup and filled 2 ice cube trays as well.  After the ice cubes were frozen, I popped them out and sealed them in a freezer bag. These will be handy to add to hot tea in the winter to add flavor and immune-enhancing properties.

I also made an elderberry extract/tonic with vodka. This was more simple, as it didn't require any cooking or straining. I simply plucked and washed the elderberries as above.  Then I filled a quart jar halfway with elderberries, followed by vodka added to the top. This mixture sat in a dark place for about a week until it was very dark in color. I then strained out the berries and added 1/3 cup sugar, shaking vigorously. I then returned it to the dark cupboard. Over the next couple days, I checked on it and shook it again as needed.  It was ready for drinking after 2 weeks, but will last indefinitely without canning or refrigeration (as the vodka preserves it). I plan to drink a small amount when feeling "under the weather."  In order to remove all or most of the vodka, it can be added to a hot drink as well.

* How Much Saved - The elderberry extract I was purchasing each year to help ward off flus and colds cost me $13 per 8-ounce bottle. I now have on hand the equivalent of 8 of these, which saves me $104.

Lessons From Foraged Rosehips
Another foraged fruit we discovered that has great nutritional value is the rosehip. Rosehips are very high in Vitamin C, one of the richest sources, which is crucial in the winter months when colds and flu are at their peak. We discovered tons of the bright orange/red jewels on a family walk by a nearby lake. It was evident that they hadn't been sprayed due to their wild habitat, so we spent about 20 minutes picking as many as we could reach. I got a small pan full (approximately 3 cups). At home, I proceeded to pick off the blossom ends (with the help of my sons again), washed them, and then placed in saucepan just covered with water. I boiled the rosehips until they turned soft and the water turned orange/red. I then poured off the liquid and added more water to the mixture, wanting to get as much of the benefit as possible out of the hips. Each time I added more water, I would let the mixture sit a few minutes and then would mash down on the rosehips, releasing some more of the juice. When I felt I had gotten most of the benefit from the hips doing this, I then poured the liquid into ice cube trays. When frozen, I removed the blocks and sealed in a freezer bag. I got 22 blocks out of the mixture and plan to add these to herb teas throughout the winter.

Rosehips can also be used to make jelly, jam, syrup, or wine.

The rosehip and elderberry frozen blocks are especially useful for children. My boys love drinking herb teas with honey, and I can add these blocks to serve more than one purpose - They add nutrition and immune support, and they also cool off the hot tea for safer, quicker drinking.

General Lessons
* Just about any fruit will stain your hands if you work with enough of it - even if it's white fleshed. Wear gloves if you don't want to dry out and stain your hands.
* A china cap strainer is invaluable if you want to process fruits for jam or sauce - worth it's weight in gold for sure!
* With all this fruit, I have had to limit my young sons' intake so as to not cause intestinal distress. Eating two plums, two apples, and two pears per day is not good for young tummies!
* Harvesting fruit trees is hard, messy work, and you have to work quickly to decide how you will use all the fruit. However, it is worth all the work to know you have some delicious, nutritious fruit available for the winter months.
* Growing fruit trees is very educational and fun for kids, and they really enjoy helping at all stages. Get them involved!

In conclusion, we are very humbled by the blessings we have found on our rented land. We are reaping from that which we have not sown, and our bounty is so rich we feel almost overwhelmed (in a good way). We plan to plant some more trees while here, and even if we aren't here to enjoy the benefits, someone else will be. We are glad at that thought, as we know God will bless us again wherever we go.

What Can You Do If You Don't Have Fruit On Your Property?
In our driving around, we have seen tons of apple trees loaded with fruit that are going untouched by those living there. If we didn't have so much fruit ourselves, we would certainly stop and ask them if they will be using theirs. This works well, as we did this at our previous location. The apples we asked to pick were a nuisance to the homeowner, and they were glad to let us take them - They even said, "Yes, please take them, so we don't have to clean up the yard." I'm also amazed that the elderberries went untouched, even by the birds. Many people still have the mentality that they don't want to work for something they don't have to yet, and still others don't know how valuable certain fruits are, such as rosehips and elderberries.

We have seen nut trees also that are not on our property, but they don't appear to be ripe yet.  Once we see them falling from the trees, we plan to ask if we can gather some of them. Those things that are treasures to us as preppers are many times seen as a bother to others.  I recently saw a local Craig's List ad for someone asking for unwanted fruit. They clearly stated that it was for their family's use and not for animal use.

Don't let the fruit on your property go to waste. And if you don't have your own fruit, seek out locations for potential free fruit from those who don't want theirs. You'll be pleasantly surprised at how much money you can save and how much more prepared you'll feel heading into the winter months. We saved a ton of money by working hard to process this free fruit on our rented property and the fruit we foraged wild. The total I estimate we saved from our free fruit is around $500, and that's low-balling it.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Many SurvivalBlog readers have been prepping for awhile and are comfortable with their plans.  However, the process can be overwhelming for people who have recently “woke up” or who are trying to convince loved ones who aren’t sold on the need or desirability of prepping.

This shouldn’t be minimized or downplayed.  It can be very disturbing when you first realize you aren’t   self-sufficient.  It is easy to become overwhelmed with the scope, cost, and time necessary to prepare.  The concept of TEOTWAWKI can be troubling and concerning even to completely self-sufficient preppers. 
Even the possibility of angry mobs trying to fight off starvation, heavily armed gangs running wild with little or no law enforcement, and rampant disease and poverty seems like something out of a Mad Max movie.   We have been raised in the “land of plenty”; these things happen in other places, not here.  It is troubling enough that a person’s mental processes can shut down as the normalcy bias kicks in.
People then convince themselves that things won’t get that bad.  If you raise these ideas in certain social circles, you will be met with looks that suggest you belong in a mental institution.  It is easy to feel embarrassed and unsure of what to do, or have fear, doubt, uncertainty, and anxiety cloud your judgment.
Based on my own recent experience, I have a few suggestions for people who are just starting out.

What I’ve listed below is a mental framework for how to approach your survival planning.  I found it is easier to develop a strategy if you utilize this framework.  It is also easier to explain to loved ones or friends who may not be sure that prepping is necessary or advisable.
Please keep in mind that the three categories below are not hard and fast rules but a general conceptual approach.  Many prepping activities can be classified in more than one category.  Depending on your circumstances, you may have to make adjustments in your planning for the three stages.
The first step for prepping I recommend is to prioritize your needs into three categories: immediate, mid-range, and long term survival needs and goals (I refer to them as Steps 1, 2, and 3).

Step 1 is for short term needs.  This is the easiest for both the prepper and those people he is trying to convince.  I also call it “natural disaster prep”.  Many people live in areas that may be prone to natural disasters or at least heavy snowfalls that can take out electrical power.  Many people have survived these events or have heard stories from those who have.  Therefore, Step 1 is not mentally or emotionally difficult to accept and prepare for.
This step involves thinking about no electricity or modern conveniences.  Emphasis is on stockpiling water, MREs, batteries, etc.  You should purchase a water filter, and be prepared to cook without electricity for awhile.  You should also maintain a “stash of cash”.   There are many good resources to help you plan for what may befall you following a natural disaster.  Even many “ostriches” can see the need for this.

Step 2 is for intermediate needs.  I also like to call this “economic insurance”.  It’s a bit harder to prepare for mentally, but is still not too alarming or threatening if you approach it (and communicate it) correctly.
The idea is to accept the fact that we are living in a tough economy.  It is easy for people to lose their jobs, or to have to take a pay cut.  Inflation is also a concern.  Sadly, over the past few years, most people no longer have to be “pushed” into seeing this.  Food and gasoline prices have obviously gone up; it doesn’t take much imagination to see things could get worse.
The solution?  Stock up on food and supplies!  The method I use is to point out that my family is self-employed.  If we should have to shut down, and it takes awhile for us to find new jobs, I don’t want to have to worry about the grocery bill.  I want to have plenty of food and supplies on hand.  We will need the money for other items.
Most people see the wisdom of this.  If you handle the situation correctly, you can get loved ones to “buy in” and over time become supportive.  Being self-reliant is a trait that people instinctively feel good about.  Over time, you and your loved ones can gain confidence and knowledge as you continue prepping.

Step 3 is for long term needs, and is primarily for either TEOTWAWKI, or at least some pretty ugly circumstances.  This involves building a very deep larder, and includes items such as seeds, 5 gallon drums filled with wheat, canning equipment, etc.  It also involves wrestling with the idea of “bugging out” if things get too crazy, or establishing a deeply stocked, remotely located retreat.
I believe this is a psychologically and emotionally difficult process for most people.  The idea of societal collapse is something most folks are simply not prepared to deal with.  It is very easy to become depressed or overwhelmed after taking a serious, realistic look at what the world would look like and what one would have to do to survive TEOTWAWKI.
I believe that prematurely confronting the difficulties of Step 3 is what causes many people to go into denial or become depressed and quit preparations.  This step shouldn’t be seriously considered until someone (at a minimum) has mentally and emotionally accepted Steps 1 and 2.  It is best if they have done their research and gained some practical experience with their preparations.

A few general guidelines when starting:
When prioritizing needs, I would first obtain firearms and ammunition.  This can be easily explained as part of Step 1 preparations; you are defending against potential burglars and post-disaster looters.  I place this item first because given our current political climate, it is almost certain that the current administration will do everything possible to make firearms more difficult to obtain, or more expensive through regulation. 
Obtain as much training as you can.  If you take classes in firearm training, first aid, canning, etc. you not only are gaining survival skills, but you can also find a new hobby.  Don’t think of it (or describe it) as trying to “fill up” holes in your skill set, but a chance to grow and develop as a person.
Learn what things cost, and what they are truly worth.  In order to combat inflation, I recently began to use couponing strategies.  You can save quite a bit of money, and it’s also a good way to stock up on barter items, or additional supplies for charitable giving.
Study economics.  It is difficult to make concrete plans if you have no idea of the economic forces at work around you.  Try and learn not only about basic economics and free-market principles, but what is happening in the world and the likely results. 
It is very difficult for most people to understand that fiat money is not wealth.  It is even more difficult to accept (after a lifetime of “education”) that numbers listed on an “IRA” or “mutual fund” account statement can only provide for a person under certain economic conditions.
During periods of hyperinflation or currency collapse, re-education will be terribly painful as people realize that actual, useful goods (food, tools, seeds, guns, ammunition) are the only true forms of material wealth.  If you can accumulate some gold, silver, and goods that can be easily bartered (Survival Blog has many excellent examples of these) you will be far ahead of most people.
Develop flexibility and realism in your plans.  You may not be able to afford a retreat property, or be able to live there full time with your current job.  You may not have enough money or time to purchase all the items you want or the skills that you need.  Bear in mind that there is no “perfect plan”, and that everyone faces shortcomings of some sort.

Make the best plans you can under your circumstances, and keep a constant eye on the world around you (and at large) to see if you have to make revisions.  If you combine a can-do attitude and self-sufficient mindset with even modest planning and accumulation of needed goods, you will be in far better shape than most other people.
As you go down the path of your prepping journey, at some point you must confront many things you do not want to believe or are afraid of, such as economic hardship or TEOTWAWKI.  Don’t allow this to dominate your life or make you live in fear.  (This can happen if people try to do too much too fast or don’t mentally establish some realistic guidelines of what they need to accomplish).

Continue to go to school, spend time with family activities, and enjoy life to the fullest.  Maintaining a sense of balance in your life will help you develop the mindset and traits you will need should everything come apart.

Most of all develop your spiritual life.  Put your faith in the Lord, and trust in Him.  Develop firm beliefs about how you will behave and live your life, even if things grow difficult.  If you take even a casual glance backward at history, you will see many instances of ordinary people surviving extraordinary times with faith, courage, hope, and mental and spiritual toughness.  Don’t allow despair or fear to cripple your mind or destroy your plans.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Be prepared. This is the core logic of the survivalist movement. We work to be prepared for a variety of situations, from the common natural disaster to outbreaks of disease to TEOTWAWKI. We conduct thorough research, create organized lists and plans, shop while scrutinizing the fine print, test the products we buy, and then carefully store it all away for possible use in the future. A great deal of control and independence is involved. These steps we take to prepare, at a minimum, provide us with a sense of comfort and security. They can also save lives in an emergency.
But what if the worst happens and we find ourselves without vital supplies? It’s the potentially nightmarish scenario of any survivalist, and it can happen at any time. Some would call it a cruel twist of fate for those of us who have taken the time to prepare to suddenly be without. But it’s a very real possibility we must consider in order to ensure our survival in a time of chaos.

Why would you, as a survivalist, suddenly find yourself without supplies?

1. Looters. We’ve seen it repeatedly throughout history in disaster-stricken parts of the world. People take advantage of a society without rule of law. At first the majority of looters will fall on chain stores and businesses because they’re easy to access and literally advertise exactly what they hold. But as supplies dwindle and desperation increases, people will begin robbing one another of their very means to survive. Don’t fall under the false belief that if you have a gun for security then you’re protected from robbery. Some thieves will rely more on stealth than violence and come quietly in the night, leaving you to awaken to empty storage space and bare cupboards.
2. Damage. In the case of natural disasters such as floods, fires, earthquakes, and tornadoes, all or a portion of your supplies may be rendered useless. Your supplies may also be victim to random gunfire in a society without rule of law (an unseen hole in a water tank, for example) or damaged in your haste to bug out. Perhaps you failed to test a portion of your supplies and in the process of assembly, you break a vital piece of equipment. There are countless ways for supplies to be irreparably damaged in an emergency.
3. Inefficiency. Even with testing directly after purchase, there are times when supplies simply don’t work efficiently enough for their purpose and we’re forced to abandon them. Such can be the case with hot plates and camp stoves, battery-powered appliances, and anything else which requires energy to perform. Perhaps it’s been five or ten years since testing and the efficiency has dwindled enough for the batteries, fuel, or heat to be put to better and more efficient use elsewhere.
4. Breakdown. Breakdown can occur to brand new supplies without a reason why, or due to long-term use years into TEOTWAWKI. This is especially permanent when dealing with electronics and machinery. Hand-crank radios, two-way radios, generators, solar-powered lights, fueled stoves, water purifiers . . . eventually they won’t perform anymore. While we might have the skill to repair items like clothing, bicycles, and roof leaks, few people have the knowledge and tools necessary to repair broken down technology.
5. Charity. Most survivalists take charity into consideration when stocking up on supplies, and as they well should. But what if you’ve helped as many people as you planned for, and people in dire need of your help just keep on coming? This isn’t a question you can answer now, as you aren’t presently staring into the eyes of a starving pregnant woman and her toddler on your doorstep. Just know that there’s the possibility your supplies will be used by more people than you originally anticipated.
6. Duration. Few people who prepare for emergencies, even survivalists, will have enough of every kind of essential item to last five, ten, or twenty years into a societal breakdown. The severity of a situation could increase this problem as far as wounded people and medical supplies, outdoor heat and drinking water, strenuous labor and food, and threat and ammunition. Supplies will run out.
7. Budgets. It costs quite a bit of money to stock up on emergency supplies and to restock expired supplies. Survivalists can only stock up as their budgets allow and don’t typically buy everything they need at once. The pitfall of this necessary pacing is that disasters don’t wait for us to be ready. We all have wish lists. We could only be halfway through them when we find ourselves in the midst of TEOTWAWKI.
8. Oversight. You may overlook something. Right out of the gate there may be something you need that you just don’t have. For example, perhaps you failed to take lumber into consideration and your house becomes damaged. Maybe it’s something even more vital than lumber. All the lists in the world can’t prepare you for this moment, as it will be a shock. But no matter how many times you slap yourself on the forehead for forgetting a particular item, it doesn’t change the fact that you now must go without.

There are other reasons why you may suddenly find yourself without supplies. Perhaps you don’t know how to assemble a survival item no matter how hard you try, such as a four-person tent. Maybe you don’t properly clean your supplies and they become too dirty to use over time, such as a particulate water filter. The lack of one item may cause a chain reaction which makes other supplies useless, such as a safe key and a safe with a gun in it. There are limitless reasons why just having supplies in your possession isn’t enough to survive.

Now that the comfort and security of having supplies is all but gone, allow me to replace it with the knowledge that you can, in fact, survive without them. Supplies are a luxury which make our time during an emergency much more bearable, but luckily for the general populace, they aren’t one hundred percent necessary.

How would you survive with no supplies?

Water: Let’s take a brief look at survival with no stored water and no specific water treatment for purifying water.

If water is still coming out of the tap and the emergency situation hasn’t given you cause to question its quality, you must begin collection immediately, as it could be turned off at any time. Fill the bathtub, all kitchen glasses and bowls, heavy duty boxes lined with garbage bags, the washing machine (just be sure to turn it off when it’s full), anything and everything that can hold water. You can even fill garbage cans for non-potable wash water or plant irrigation. Even if you find out afterwards that the water isn’t deemed safe to drink, depending on the situation it may be non-toxic enough for bathing, or at the very least, useful for flushing the toilet. Cover the filled containers with plastic wrap if you intend to drink it in the future.

If water isn’t coming out of the tap, there are still several places to find clean water in your home and the homes of others. One of the most abundant sources is the standard water heater tank, which may hold anywhere from 25 to 60 gallons of water. To access the water, first turn off power to the tank. This could be a gas valve on the tank or a circuit breaker in a panel depending on your set up. Next, close the valve on the pipe which fills the water tank so that no (possibly contaminated) water can flow into it. Now: there’s a valve near the bottom of the tank where the water can drain. Turn on a hot water knob all the way at a faucet in the house so the water in the tank can drain through the valve at the bottom. If there’s dirt in the water you collect, let the water sit so the dirt settles to the bottom and collect water from the top to drink.

Collecting rainwater is an option for people who live in moist climates, as is collecting ice to melt with body heat for those who live in cold climates. For those who live in hot climates, making use of condensation is a viable option, as the necessary supplies are those found in the average garage. A type of solar still can be created by digging a cone-shaped hole with a diameter of three meters in a sunny spot, placing a clean collection container in the center of the hole, and covering the entire hole with plastic sheeting. Anchor the edges and place a rock in the center of the plastic sheeting just over the collection container. The inverted plastic cone should be deep enough that the condensed water runs down the plastic and into the container, but not quite touching the sides of the hole.

In extreme situations you may also drink your own urine. Urine is around 95% water and five percent non-toxic waste products. To safely drink your own urine, you must be free of bladder health problems, such as urinary tract infections (UTI)s). It’s also best to drink it along with another source of water if possible because of the high sodium content. To drink your own urine, you must first urinate for several seconds to clear the bacteria from the urethra before you begin collection for drinking. You must also drink it immediately; otherwise bacteria will begin to accumulate.

Other sources of water include fruit, certain canned goods like vegetables and tuna, ice cubes, water from your pipes, and even the water in your toilet tank (not the bowl) if you have the means to boil it.

It is important to remember that most water can be used more than once, such as for washing clothes and then again for flushing the toilet. You should also reduce the amount of water your body requires by staying out of the sun and limiting physical activity when possible. But however resourceful or conservative you are with water, nearly all sources of water will eventually run dry. It will then become necessary to move on and seek out new sources in order to survive.

No Stored Water (Review):

  • If water is still coming out of the tap, fill anything and everything with water.
  • The water heater tank is a prime place to find 25 to 60 gallons of water.
  • Make use of your climate by collecting water from outside.
  • Drinking your own urine can be an emergency source of water.
  • Use your own resourcefulness to think about where more water could be.
  • Conserve and recycle the water you have.

Food: Let’s take a brief look at survivalism with no stored food and no specific means to hunt, fish, or grow food.

It’s possible to live for at least three weeks without food. Possible, but not realistic. Going so long without food wouldn’t present a problem if we were in the physical condition of our ancestors, but most people today aren’t healthy enough for such a long fast. The strain on the heart would prove too much for those who are obese and would threaten the lives of those who are overweight. When you also factor in how many people are diabetic, having underlying health problems, and are on medications, we’re talking about hundreds of millions of people who simply can’t fast safely.

Luckily there are several alternatives to going hungry, and one of the best is foraging. There’s a great variety of edible plants, berries, and roots hiding in plain sight and edible raw or cooked. Take the ever so common Dandelion, for example. Every part of the Dandelion is edible, from the yellow flower to the leaves (young, small leaves taste better) to the roots. Earthworms are another source of food, and full of protein. Depending on where you live, you may also have access to Cattails which have edible roots year round, the pine needles of pine trees, the leaves of Plantains, or live (not beached) seaweed.

It’s worth researching now what other edible plants are found in your part of the world in case you need to depend on them as a source of food. Here’s a great link for knowledge on how to test a plant you aren’t sure is edible in a time of survival:

Berries are another nutritious survival food, although before you dive in, there are some general rules you should know. If the berries are yellow, white, or green, then you should most likely stay away from them. About half of all red berries are edible, and dark colored berries are edible nine times out of ten. Most of us remember picking berries when we were children and can easily spot blackberries, raspberries, huckleberries, salmon berries, and other types of berries. The down side to berries is that they’re seasonal and one of the most easily recognized wild foods, which means in a TEOTWAWKI situation, they may be incredibly scarce.

One of the means to obtain food some people may overlook is teaming up with people who have food to feed you in exchange for work. Most likely the work will be hard labor and the food will be carefully rationed. However, working for food will be much safer than being caught stealing it in a world without courts and juries. Furthermore, working in a group provides benefits which go beyond food, such as protection, companionship, a wider range of knowledge and skills, and a greater chance of long-term survival.

No Stored Food (Review):

  • Food isn’t as vital as water. Healthy people can fast for up to three weeks.
  • There are edible plants all around us. Take time to research those around you.
  • Berries are a nutritious addition to any plant-and-root-based diet.
  • Working for food may be a practical option during TEOTWAWKI.

Keeping Warm and Staying Cool
Let’s take a brief look at survival with no means to start a fire and no air conditioning.

Warmth is a vital part of survival. Any emergency which causes a power outage could make staying warm difficult. All long term emergencies will eventually result in loss of power, or at the very least, the need to conserve power sources.

Depending on the emergency, you may need to dry off before donning dry, warm clothing. Clothing that will wick moisture away from your body and dry quickly, such as nylon or polyester, is best for a first layer. Most people who have these fabrics on hand will have them in the form of workout clothing for the gym. For bad outdoor weather, wool stays warm even when wet. Put on as many layers as you need and keep in mind that people can lose up to 75% of heat through their head. So on with those winter caps!

Moving around is an effective way to keep warm and if you’re short on supplies during an emergency, you will be doing plenty of it. But there are several ways in which exerting yourself too much could be dangerous. Aside from expending energy you may not have enough food to restore and injuring yourself due to exhaustion, you may begin to sweat and then get chilled when you stop to rest. Pay attention to your comfort level and peel off layers if you need to. The key is to be warm, but also dry.

Seal off one room of your house, preferably the smallest one. If you live in a two-story home, remember that heat rises and an upstairs room may be easier to keep warm.
Create a “fort” about the size and shape of an igloo, where the heat from your family is trapped in the small dome you’ve created. Blankets draped across chairs will work for the inner shell. Crumpled newspaper or pieces of cardboard should be piled on top and around the shelter for a dense layer of insulation. Crumpled printer paper and posters would also work. The outer shell of the shelter should be as impermeable as possible to keep the heat in and the cold out. It can be created using standard garbage bags, even saran wrap or tin foil, and tape. Don’t forget to seal off the sides. Make sure there are plenty of blankets left to insulate the floor of the shelter.

To keep warm throughout the night, have your family to sleep in this shelter parallel to one another so that body heat is shared. You can take turns sleeping on the outside ends if there are more than two of you.

Keeping cool can also be a life-saving survival skill. It can lessen the amount of water required by your body and keep you from developing heat exhaustion, or worse, heat stroke.
Wearing shorts and a tank top (or simply going without clothing as this may be TEOTWAWKI after all) is a good start to keeping cool. If you’re outside, be sure to protect yourself with sunscreen and be careful to keep the integrity of your skin intact. The best place to be inside is in the lowest room of your house. You can also be outside in the shade, relaxing in the breeze. It’s important to drink water whenever you’re thirsty (if you can) so you don’t become dehydrated. Drenching a scarf in second-use water and then tying it around your neck is an effective way to cool off quickly. Last, who could forget those fold-up manual fans? With a little thought and resourcefulness, you’ll come to find that there are many ways to keep cool without air conditioning.

Keeping Warm and Staying Cool (Review):

  • Layer your clothing and keep your head covered.
  • Move around, but stay dry.
  • Create an insulated igloo shelter in which to sleep with your family.
  • When wearing little clothing, protect your skin.
  • Stay in the shade when possible.
  • Drink as much water as possible.

Keeping Conditions Sanitary: Let’s take a brief look at survivalism with no basic toiletries, showers, trash service, or toilets.

Hygiene is something many of us take for granted. We don’t think twice as we wash our face, brush our teeth, take a shower, or put on clean clothing. We also take for granted how lack of good hygiene can make us sick. Here are some ways to stay clean and sanitary with what you already have in the house.

The Basics:
There are several basic rules worthy of review, as we tend to disregard them when we have plenty of hygienic supplies at our disposal. First and foremost, keep your bacteria-covered hands away from your head. Don’t rub or pick your nose, wipe your eyes, pick at your teeth, lick your fingers, or put your fingers in your ears. Second, don’t handle food or drinking water directly with your hands; instead, use clean winter or Nitrile gloves. Finally, cover your coughs and sneezes with the crook of your elbow. The only thing more annoying than being sneezed on is developing a disabling cold that leads to life-threatening pneumonia.

brushing your teeth with no toothpaste is nearly as effective as with toothpaste. Don’t attempt to use sugar or salt to clean your teeth as this may irritate your gums and wear away the enamel, but you may use baking soda if you have it on hand.

First and foremost, know that you won’t be bathing everyday. Twice a week, at most, is how often you’ll be bathing. The easiest way to get “clean” is to collect water from a nearby lake or river and scrub away even if you don’t have soap. The reason you want to collect water for scrubbing down instead of simply jumping in is because you don’t want to contaminate the water source, dirty as it may already appear. When you’ve finished with the water, use it a second time to wash your clothes and then a third time to flush your toilet. If you aren’t located near a water source, you may need to use some of the water you’ve collected from the water tank.

Any soap can be used to wash clothing. Even if you have no soap, dunking the clothes and rubbing them against each other will be sufficient enough to further dirty the water. The clothing you can expect to wash regularly include the undergarments: bras, boxers, underwear, socks, and tank tops. All other clothing will be of secondary concern and only washed once in a while. I recommend buckets if you have them, as the tub only allows for washing and not rinsing. Once the clothes are washed, simply wring them of excess water and hang them out to dry.

If you have a septic tank that isn’t full, you may continue to flush the toilet for “number two” simply by pouring a bucket of water into it. Be aware that sewage lines may be damaged in an emergency, in which case your best bet is a shovel. Be sure your pit is at least a football field away from any water source and located in the lowest spot in your area. The deeper the better. Place a board or sturdy plastic lid over the pit so that no one falls into it. A plastic tarp over everything is a good idea if you live in a rainy climate. Cover each waste deposit with some dirt to discourage mosquitoes from breeding in the pit, and don’t allow water to pool in the bottom. You may run out of toilet paper, but leaves, newspaper, and small disposable rags will work fine. Do not flush these items as they may permanently clog the toilet. Dispose of them in a deep pit far from any water supply.

Trash: The best option for dealing with trash is to have as little as possible. Think before throwing any item away. Could you use it for anything else? You’ll need to burn or bury the trash you have. If you don’t have the means to build a fire, that’s alright. Pick up a shovel, a pick, even a metal rake. Allowing trash to accumulate is inviting germs and sickness into your living space. Depending on where you live, you may also be inviting wild animals. Get rid of your garbage as soon as possible.

Cleanliness: Even if you keep your space as clean as possible, eventually you will be faced with the need to abolish bacteria you can’t see. Modern day cleaning products are convenient, but they aren’t they only solution for killing germs. The Provident Living web site is a wonderful resource, where they explain how you can use common household items to create an effective cleaning solution. You can condense these recipes to the amount of water you have on hand.

Keeping Conditions Sanitary (Review):

  • Keep your bacteria-covered hands away from your head.
  • Soap isn’t always necessary. Scrubbing is.
  • Keep waste and trash disposal far and low from any water source.
  • Household items can be mixed to create cleaning solutions.

As you can see, there are many ways you can survive without disaster-specific supplies. It would be much more difficult and you would encounter more hardships such as sickness, weight loss, and stress, but you could survive. It’s just a matter of being intelligent and resourceful.

So if TEOTWAWKI or another emergency comes to pass and you’re standing there without a portion of those supplies you held so dear, don’t think about tomorrow. Keep your mind focused on today and the puzzles (not problems) that need solving right now. Make a list, mentally or otherwise, of all the items you have access to and/or around you. Think about how you can use a combination of them to solve your puzzle. With the right attitude and rational, logical thinking, you can survive no matter how many traditional supplies you don’t have.

James Wesley;
I came into the prepper movement (without being aware there was any such movement) by degrees, through religion, a few years ago.  As an old “Latin Mass” traditionalist Catholic, there is a tendency amongst our ilk to look with suspicion upon that which is trumpeted as “progressive” or “liberal” or even “modern.”  Not that we are against real progress in some area, or resist modernity for its own sake, but because a real Catholic ought to be a spiritual man, who rejects much of what the modern world tells him is “good,” since these same things so often hinder spiritual progress, family stability, and focus on salvation and the afterlife (e.g., Television, immoderate or impure internet usage, music which appeals to the base emotions rather than lifting the mind to God, etc).

It would probably not surprise you then to learn that, with this suspicious gaze fixed at the modern world, there are many amongst us who focus that suspicion on world politics, economic issues, and social trends.  One among us, Bishop Richard Williamson (of the Society of St. Pius X), being a broadminded pastor of souls, is charitable enough to comment upon some of these “not strictly or directly religious” matters, because he understands that nevertheless, these socio-political-economic matters will have a direct bearing upon the ability of us to work out their salvation.  And so he speaks frequently upon matters such as gold/silver as wealth preservation assets; gardening and food storage; 911 as an inside job (I.e., warning of the police state, and those who control this nation’s foreign policy; etc).

So one day after Mass, this guy I knew started talking to me about buying physical gold and silver, and from there I progressed to learn about food storage, guns/ammo, and the whole “shebang.”
Not too long ago, I read "Patriots" and recommended it to several people who also read it.  I will read it again soon.  The appeal of the book for me (other than that it served as a very practical checklist of things to consider in my own preparations) was that it was set in a good versus evil context.  The men and women who were the Patriots were good, moral people.  Their enemies were those who were evil-doers.  I took from the book that the “collapse” was portrayed as a chance to start this country over again, and an opportunity to remedy many things that fly in the face of Christian morality and Constitutional government (i.e., No collapse was not desired, but if it must come, the survivors would have to rebuild this country into……something).
About that time, I broadened my list of regularly visited survivalist internet sites.  What I saw from those that contained chat forums was heartily depressing: I was shocked to learn that most preppers had a hatred, contempt, or at best a heavy distrust of religion and God.  It made me wonder: If there is a collapse, what kind of country would these survivors rebuild?  Would such men really be of the caliber depicted as Patriots in the book?  How would they be any different than the biker gang depicted if things ever got tough?  Can Godless men really be good men (that is, Godlessness was tried in communist Russia and China, and also in Nazi Germany with less than flattering results). To me, that the atheists (if there really is any such thing; mostly they are those who believe in, but hate, God) have the ascendancy in the prepper movement is worrisome: Modern secular Godless society is disgusting enough in many respects.  What do you think a post-collapse society of atheists would degenerate into?  So the primary purpose of this article, then, is to exhort--even at the risk of minor OPSEC violations--fellow Christians to spread the prepper movement amongst themselves, to ensure that if we ever have to rebuild, there will be something better than Mad-Max to look forward to. 
Here are a couple things that I do, for what its worth, toward this end:

1) Network with people at Church: Generally, these people tend to be of a higher moral caliber than those who disregard Church (Yes, there are legions who fall short of attaining to the morals they profess, but at least they are in the fight; at least Christian morality is important to them, and as Archbishop Fulton Sheen once commented: If the Church had to be as perfect as you seem to want it, you wouldn’t be welcome to join it!).  Generally, they are people you already know something about, which will make your prospecting more productive.  To a higher degree, you will know who will be worth the time to talk to, and who won’t than if you spoke, for example, to people at work or school.

2)  When talking to those you know to be irreligious preppers, do not wear your religion on your sleeve (which is not to say you hide it either).  Try to impress them with the integrity of your character.  Most people--religious or not--respect this in people.  If someone respects you as a person, they have a better chance of being receptive, and seeking out, your opinions.  As St. Francis of Assisi used to say: “Preach always, and if necessary, use words.”

3) Write!  I would view myself as a hypocrite having such concerns, but never doing anything to try and turn the tide.  There are so many internet forums, magazines, newspapers, etc which are overrun with anti-Christian preppers that one would think prepping itself was somehow at odds with Christianity.  Instead of despairing, formulate your opinions and get them out there!  Do not let the Godless hordes out-maneuver you.  They are organized in a unified hatred of even the natural law (i.e., those things all men know to be right and wrong, until their consciences are indoctrinated into confusion).  If you want to live in a better post-collapse world, you need to be prepared and organized to put a plan into place, and this means heightening awareness through the various media outlets and personal communication.  You need to write.  The globalists, Masons, atheists, etc all have plans ready to go.  What do we have?  Little bunker ghettos and isolated retreats, but no plan as to how to remake a better society.  If collapse happened today, we would be snuffed out fairly easily.

I want to end with you all dwelling on the three preceding points.  If the Christian preppers do not increase in proportion, and coordinate and communicate with each other, what is the point of surviving a collapse?  The barbarism that follows will be much worse for them than dying in the initial conflagration (Have you ever seen "The Road”?).

Saturday, June 18, 2011

As I was reading the letter about the Vancouver riots, the part about the homeless man reminded me of one of the ways I rotate the food in my bug out bag (BOB). I know that a lots of people don't like to give money to beggars, because they don't want them to just buy booze. I also know that many people don't use the food in their BOB (I've personally seen some rather old, funky smelling granola bars). Yes, I know you can use them when you go camping or hiking for practice, or just have MREs or freeze dried food that doesn't need to be rotated very often, but I don't have the money for MREs and I like to eat better than that when I camp.

So what I do is when I rotate things that expire, like granola bars or fruit leathers, is I put them in my car and/or my purse. Then, if I see someone asking for handouts, I ask them if they would like some food. I've never had anyone turn me down. That way the food doesn't go to waste, and you feel good about helping someone in need. This is a "win-win" solution. - Sarah M.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Mr Rawles,
I first posted this in a Survival forum I frequent often in response to the widespread, violent riots that broke out in Vancouver after the local hockey team lost in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

I just was reading up on it this morning and you got to ask yourself: If your "countrymen" would essentially devolve into barbarian hordes over a stupid game - what do you think they'll do when they have no food, water, heat, electricity and no government to bail them out or keep them in their place?

I was speculating this morning that Vancouver is a pretty extreme Canadian case, with the disparity between rich and poor being so large that it shouldn't come as a surprise that something like this would happen. The slightest excuse and the thin veil of civilization can come undone.

I might add that as something to consider - while it's an undeniable, logical fact cities are worse than rural areas if TSHTF - some cities might (and I do mean, might) fair better than others.

I'm reminded of the 2004 playoff run between Calgary and Tampa where after the game 7, the mood was more dampened, but people were still happy and there wasn't much in the way of civil disobedience besides a few women flashing and a few drunkards being idiots in the street.

I'll also note, having some experience volunteering and donating to local charities that while Calgary has a big disparity between rich and poor, we also have a great deal of non-profit, non-governmental services available for the poor. The Drop In Centre, for example, is the largest homeless shelter in the country (something I'm quite proud to say for the city I live in).

I'm a big fan of Rawlesian survivalism, especially because of his emphasis on Christian charity - that being the obligation (but not a requirement to "earn" salvation) for voluntary charity to the less fortunate.

Last year when my wife and I visited Vancouver, I was very disgusted when walking down a very busy, ritzy street I saw a disheveled homeless man on his knees in a street corner, holding a Styrofoam plate and hundreds of people just walking past him as if he didn't exist.

Poverty is no excuse for what the rioters did last night. However, at the same time, wealth, and the belief that wealth elevates an individual to a transcendent level over the poor is no excuse to deny charity to your fellow man.

This is why one of the best preparation for when the SHTF is to foster a charitable spirit, to help build up your community so when it does happen, your community doesn't devolve (or is more resistant to devolving) into a brutish, survival-of-the-fittest, war zone like Vancouver did last night. - N.L.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

James has a family of two which include his wife and four year old son. He loves them both very much and would do anything to see to their well being. Given the recent events in Haiti, Thailand and most notably Japan, James has decided to prepare himself and his family for a natural disaster. Living in the Southern California area, he has focused his preparation for an earthquake and possible tsunami. In his home he keeps enough canned food and fresh water for his family to survive for at least one week. This week long time frame is about the length of time it would take for emergency services to come to grips with a major disaster and restore some form of normalcy. Various forms of equipment are included in his survival kit that include basic hand tools, water filters, sleeping bags and tents should the need to vacate his residence become a necessity. He has also instructed his wife to keep at least a half a tank of gas in her car at all times and that an emergency kit be kept in the car as well.

James has shared his efforts with close friends and has advised them to prepare themselves for a natural disaster along the same lines as he has taken. After all, it does not cost much and takes little imagination to prepare for the worst. The advice given by James is met with skepticism and is really not given much more thought by his friends.

On a Friday night at just past 10 PM the worst happens. An earthquake in the range of 8.7 hits the Southern California area. Subsequent to this a large tidal force makes its way to the coast of Southern California and Baja as the quake was centered offshore. After shutting of the gas and power lines to his house and making sure his family is safe and uninjured, James takes stock of the situation. The house is still standing and safe, emergency rations and equipment are undamaged and accessible and the cars are in perfect working order. Without power and without information, James turns on his battery powered radio and learns the magnitude of the quake and that the low lying areas off the coast have been flooded by a tsunami. Luckily, James and his family live on top of a mesa that overlooks the swelling seas. A few hours after the quake with candles burning, James looks at his sleeping family and counts his blessings. Just then a knock come at his front door. Rising to answer it, James expects to see a uniformed officer or fireman. Instead he is greeted by a close friend and his family. At the threshold, his friend tells him that his house was washed away in the flood and that he barely had time to throw his wife and child in the car and make it to high ground. This friend did not follow the advice about preparing for a natural disaster and came to James’ door for help. The friend knew that James was prepared and looked for a reprieve from the ensuing disaster. James told his friend that he had few supplies and that he should take his family to a shelter. James told him where the shelter was and told him to drive there as they could provide real relief and medical assistance. The friend came to James’ house with a car that had less gas in it than a lawn mower and barely made it to his front door. They would surely not make it the twenty miles inland to the nearest shelter. James’ friends asked for an open door and help.

Dilemma: Should James let his friend and his family into his home?

Given the situation, let us identify the people involved. James, his wife and four year old son along with his friend , his wife and three year old son. All of them have something to lose. There are no neighbors, police, rescue workers or resources of interested to speak of. Just the six of these players and the situation that they are in are all that are involved.

James has a few ways to look at this situation that could help guide him to making the right choice. From a teleological standpoint, this case has many variables that could be considered. Let us assume that James simply has food and supplies for his family for one week only and that for whatever reason outside help from anyone is absent for the period of one week. Also assume that no other help is available to his friend and his family in the immediate area. Given that James has the choice of either letting his friends in his home or turning them away.

If James lets his friends in a few things are going to happen. By doubling the amount of persons in his home to look after his food, water and supplies basically get cut by 50 percent. This means that his supply window has become three and one half days instead of the comfortable seven days. This could mean that after the fourth day he, his family and friends would be without food or water. While the adults could make it another three days without supplies the children certainly could not. Moreover, in their weakened condition on days four through seven, fighting off looters and taking care of unforeseen events could become difficult. While the entire unit would be flush with supplies for the first three days, the last four days would be met with hardship and possible death to some or all of the members. This option seems a tough path to follow as James prepared to take care of his family while the other family did not even with warnings from James.

Alternately, James could simply turn his friend and family away. This would mean that James and his family could comfortably survive until services were restored. However, shutting the door on his friend and family would mean that they would be out of doors on their own, on foot, with no food or water. With no real survival training and with a three year old child in tow, it would seem that they have little chance of making it twenty miles to the nearest aid station. In reality, James friend and his family would meet serious trials on their way to the aid station. These trials would most likely be too much for he and his family to handle. James knows that by closing his door to them that it would mean almost certain death for at least one member, if not all members, of his friend and family.

In this situation, given that James thinks that by closing his door to his friend and his family they would have a chance, it is important to explore what James is required to do by law. There really is no rule that says that James must open his door to his friend. All of the food, water and equipment that James has are his and he is free to do with them what he wants. No law forbids him from closing his door. He has the right to protect what is his and given the situation has the right to vigorously protect what is his. The concept of justice in this area is interesting though. James would, of course, hope that his friend would open his door if the tables were turned. With that, James advised his friend to prepare for such an event and asked for no favors. James really has done all he could for his friend up to this point. No debt is due to his friend. No favors to be cashed in.

James knows that he could simply shut his door to his friend. He knows that he is well within his rights to do so and knows that he would guarantee that his family would survive the next week. He also knows that his friend and his family would endure incredible hardship. James must now look into himself and demonstrate what kind of a man that he is. In this moment, all of the character of his being will be demonstrated.

By taking another look at the concept of justice, James’ could do a few things. Justice really is doing to others what they deserve. James warned his friend to take care of preparations in case of a disaster. He advised his friend that with just a little forethought and planning that he could provide for his family when the unthinkable happens. From this view point it is apparent that James’ friend is going to get what he deserves. On the other hand, it would be hard to imagine that he and his family deserve to be let out in the cold under such dire circumstances. He and his family would surely meet with hardships that most could not endure and it is very possible that someone could become hurt, injured or even die. James’ friend has done nothing to him that would warrant that type of justice. James’ friend and his family do not deserve to be put in a situation that could result in death.

However, is it justice for James to let these people into his home knowing full well that he is now putting his family in danger by cutting their supplies in half? James and his family deserve to be taken care of because preparations were made at no cost to anyone. James did it all on his own and took no favors.

In interesting aspect of this dilemma is that James believes in God. He is what most would call a religious man. James also knows that to be holy he must act as Jesus would have acted. James must also act as Jesus would because he wants to not because he has to. He also knows that his longing to be holy makes him accountable for his actions. James needs to act with moral purity (Hill, 26-28). A holy man trying to emulate Jesus would not turn his back on someone in need, especially a friend.

Love is another concept that James has to come to grips with. The people knocking on James’ door are friends. A positive relationship has been created between them. Closing his door to them would not be an act of love. James needs to take care of his friends not because he has to but because it would be an expression of love. Turning his friends away might cause them to meet with hardship and death. With that, James needs to be empathetic to his friends and imagine what it would be like to be standing outside in the middle of a disaster zone with your family (Hill, 53-56). No food, no water and only one hope. This hope is that you will let them in and take care of them.

What of the love for James’ family? James surely has love for his family. In this instance he prepared to take care of them. He took pains to make sure that they were safe in the face of an emergency. It would not seem a very loving thing to do to take three and a half days worth of food away from his family. Because by letting his friend in, that is what James will do. By expressing love for his friend and empathizing with his predicament, James must to consider the effect on his family. He must place himself in his families’ shoes and see things from their perspective. At once his family felt safe knowing that everything was taken care of and that they would survive this disaster. With the knock at the door the possibility of survival potentially just got cut in half. James’ family does not feel as safe as they did and James knows that. If James is to express love to his family he must take care of them. If James lets his friend in, he is placing his family in danger. Putting his family in harm’s way is no expression of love.

James faces another subject for thought when it comes to making a decision about what to do about his friends at the door. James knows that he has a duty to care for his family. He cares greatly for them and does whatever he needs to do to make sure they are safe. After all, they are the closest thing to him. Close to are his neighbors and friends. James must exhibit the same caring for his neighbors and friends that he does for his family. This ethics of care demands that James care for the well being of those near to him (Velasquez, 59-60). This includes his family, neighbors and friends. James’ character is made up of all the experiences in his life. His character is crafted by the inputs from his family, friends and neighbors. His character is defined by his religious beliefs. In ignoring the ethics of care in this situation, James is ignoring everything that he has learned in his life and the definitions of his character. James has a duty to care for those around him and failing that would be to fail his own character.

This ethics of care brings up an interesting question. Just how many friends and neighbors does James let into his home? There will come a point when all that he has prepared for will be consumed in just a few hours if he opens his doors to everyone. Knowing that his resources are finite James would have to make some choices. Is one neighbor better than another? Is one friend’s life worth more than another? How much food will he take out of his family’s mouth to feed those around him?

James could turn away everyone that comes to his door. He has the right and reason to. The more people that he lets into his home the less time his family has to survive. James is normally a caring and virtuous individual. He gives of himself and of his time to his friends, neighbors and family. He is also active in the community and always has a kind word to say to anyone he encounters. Thrust into the situation that he is in James rationalizes that in this situation that it is alright to show some cruelty with the excuse that if he cares and lets his friend in that it will take away from his family. Surely no one could fault him for that. Given the circumstances he is well in the right to turn his friend away and put his caring nature completely towards his family.
While this rational is not necessarily wrong, it does bring up the concept of dual morality. James is normally a caring and loving person for all people and things. As a God fearing man he knows that this reasoning for turning his friend and his family away is fundamentally flawed. He would demonstrate a dual morality by insisting that he is a caring man normally but in this instance he has the right not to be. This thinking is ethically flawed. If James is in fact a religious person then his dual morality is attacking the basis of his belief system (Hill, 71-74).

Weighing all of the facts together and looking at all of the pros and cons of this dilemma, James decides to let his friend and family in. This decision was not made lightly. From a cost benefit stand point only it is clear that by letting his friend in that James’ family would be put into danger. James also has no law stating that he must open his door to his friend. No disaster rule exists that makes it a duty of James to open his door as well. Rule of rights also tells James that his friend has no claim to his preparations as he did not help in the construction of this kit and that none of the equipment James has is borrowed from his friend and that his friend has no contractual right to any of James’ equipment. James also could claim that his friend is getting what he deserves by being left out of James home because his friend was advised to create a disaster kit and emergency plan.

However, James is a man of character. He knows that while a view of justice tells him that his friend would get what he deserves by not listening to James in the first place, he knows that his friend has done him no harm. His friend made no demands of James but simply asked for help. Looking at justice from another angle shows James that no one deserves to be put in a situation where severe hardship would be endured. James can see how by letting his friend find his own way is no justice at all.

Further, James decides that he needs to show an ethic of care here. He needs to ensure for the well being of those around him. These people are his friends and James is duty bound to take care of them. James also has a duty to his family as well. James must balance what he gives to his friend and what he needs to provide to his family. James decides that only the rations that were intended for him should go to his friend and his family. In this way James is taking care of his friend and taking care of his own family.

This rationing method also answers the question as to how many people James would ultimately let into his home. What if another friend or a stranger came calling for help? In that instance James can only give what he has. He can give from himself but cannot take from the mouths of his family.

The decision to let his friend in is also influenced by holiness. James is trying to walk in the same path that Jesus did. James is trying to emulate Him in as many ways as he can. James knows that Jesus would never turn away someone in need and especially a friend.

This holiness also brings up the question of dual morality. James knows that he is a caring man and that he cannot put that caring away in certain situations. By doing so, it would undermine the entire idea of ethical behavior. James stands on the pillars of holiness, justice and love. To act with a dual morality base would weaken the very foundation of what makes up James’ character and ethical thought (Hill, 16). 

In the end James’ ethical dilemma comes down to a question of his character. Justice, holiness and love as well as an ethic of care outweigh the cost and rules in this case. James knows that his decision could save some lives, add comfort to a friend in need and will shape his entire ethical life. James is also showing a positive example to his family and to his friend. If everyone could learn by this example there would be much less pain and suffering in the world. In the end, it is just a few days of food that is coming out of James’ mouth. James can take comfort in knowing that his good deeds and ethical reasoning will keep him fully nourished during this dark time.

Hill, Alexander. Just Business. Second Edition. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press., 2008
Velasquez, Manuel. Business Ethics Concepts and Cases. Sixth Edition. Pearson Education, Inc., Upper Saddle River, NJ. 2006

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I have always been fascinated with history and might have become a history teacher if there had been any possibility of making substantial money at it.  Growing up in the 1950s and ‘1960s in rural Texas the lessons of the U.S. “Great Depression” were still fresh in the memories of my family, so our frequent family get gatherings produced many stories from those days, some of which were “not so good old days”. 

I want to relate some of this story for the benefit of those preparing for possible future, harder times:

There was no money.  For a few years before 1920 Grandpa Robert had been a successful cotton farmer and had put away his profits in the local First National Bank.  But after boll weevils hit Texas, the soil was depleted and cotton prices plunged, he had to move on to other pursuits.  My uncles often said the only time they ever saw Grandpa cry was when the bank went bust during the run of 1929.  He had been standing in a long line of farmers and townspeople for several hours before the announcement was made that the bank was finished.  On the other hand, I believe the bank still held a partially unpaid loan on his 87-acre farm which he and Grandma had bought in 1914 for $500.  LESSON: Be flexible, and don’t count on the bank.

It was actually Grandma who made the deal for the farm, as when they looked at it only a quarter of a mile from their rented farm, Grandpa said it was too expensive, and he would not borrow the additional money to buy it.  But Grandma knew the potential the land possessed.  So after Grandpa left for a long day in the fields, Grandma walked back to the owner’s house and cut the deal.   When Grandpa came home that night, he was surprised, but pleased at the same time.  LESSON: A woman’s intuition and business savvy is a valuable asset.

I am not sure how, but the bank did not foreclose on that farm during the lean years and Grandpa at least paid the taxes religiously.  Grandpa always said, “If you pick up all the pecans each year, you can at least pay your taxes.”  And if the money was not plentiful, what the family had went to pay their obligations. The bank president reportedly told him, “Robert, just do the best you can.”  And he did.  LESSON: Be careful to preserve and conserve every resource.

The family of 9, with 5 boys and 2 girls was flexible if anything.  When the railroad started buying coal from a small mining operation in the town 4 miles away, they found that the miners needed props and caps to keep the shafts open.  The woods in their bottomland became the source of materials for a small new industry: sturdy young willow trees, cut to order, became prop timbers, and flat sections of cottonwood trees, cut like cedar shakes were the caps.  These were delivered by wagon and mules and later with their used Model T dump truck. Unfortunate in the early 1930s the railroad converted from coal to oil fired locomotives and the prop and cap business ended.  LESSON: Find out what others need and provide it.  But don’t count on it lasting forever.

Grandpa always had two teams of mules as well a few working horses.  These were critical to plowing, cultivating, and harvesting as well as other pulling chores.  When the dirt road into town got wet, and the nearby clay hill was impossible for the automobiles to climb, the boys were always ready to give a pull with a team of mules, day or night.  LESSON: Animal power multiplies human power and sometimes is better than mechanical power.

Their bottomland held another treasure: sand and gravel.  Grandpa and his brother had a conveniently located sand pit, near a road and could dig sand and gravel by shovel.   They could deliver it to most any construction site in the county.  When one of my uncles wanted to go to college, Grandpa traded sand and gravel to the local college for tuition, instead of cash.  The college used the sand and gravel to build a rock wall around the football field so they could enforce admission fees at the games.  You see, Texas football has always been a popular sport and the college knew it was losing a lot of revenue by letting the fans stand outside and watch thru the wire fence.   LESSON: Think outside the box; when possible find ways to barter for what you really need.

Corn was always a staple crop for the family, the first among several important plantings.  Down in the fertile bottomland a harvest of the dried ears of corn were said to be able to fill a whole wagon with the produce from only one row of corn.  The corn was carefully stored away in the corn crib and used as needed all year long.  One of my uncles was often designated to periodically pull out some corn, shell it in the hand-cranked sheller, and then sack it up in two equal bags.  The bags were lashed together by rope and thrown over the rear of the mule.  Then he rode the mule into town to have the corn ground into meal at the store.  The miller kept a portion for his trouble, and my uncle rode the mule back home with the corn meal.  This corn became the basis for a week or more of meals of cornbread and beans, the main fare for the whole family.  Sweet corn could also be cooked, then cut off the cob and dehydrated in the sun in a day or two.  Stored completely dry in canning jars, when reconstituted and cooked it was a delicious treat.  LESSON:  Corn can keep you alive; it must be the first among survival grains.
Grandma must have been an efficiency genius.  She always had a pot of beans on the back of the stove.   Unlike many of their city cousins, the family seemed to always have enough food to get by.  The relatives from the bigger towns would come out to the farm on weekends to visit, eat and to stock up on the abundance.  LESSON: You can survive indefinitely on cornbread and beans, and if you have food, your relatives will want to visit often!

Christian charity was always a part of our family values, and it was particularly applicable to any extended family in need.  No passing stranger was refused a meal. And in a couple of instances young men in their teens with no family stayed on for a year or two, working, eating and sleeping like one of the brothers.  LESSON:  Alliances and charity are okay, but everybody must work.

| My uncles were good hunters always seeming to know which woods contained a few squirrels, an opossum or raccoon; additionally they always seemed to know when certain landowners were away from their property.  The family joke was that a boy would be given one cartridge for the single shot .22 caliber rifle, and the family would be disappointed if he came home with anything less than two squirrels.  My dad knew how to get a squirrel out of a hollow in a tree by climbing the tree and using a length of barbed wire stuck in the hole and rotated around and around.  The hunters from town always gave him a nickel or a dime for climbing the tree to help them get their squirrel.  LESSON:  Hunting is a skill that must be developed, but there are other ways to get game besides shooting it.

Canning was an important skill practiced anytime there was excess.  The garden produced large quantities of beans, peaches, and other fruits and vegetables.  The dug storm cellar just outside the back door was always packed with jars of fruit preserves, jellies, jams, and vegetables.  When the wild plums on a nearby place became ripe, the neighbors sent word that the joint harvest could begin.  Half gallon canning jars were helpful when feeding a family of 9 or 10.  Canning a batch of 50 or more jars (quart and half gallon) of each commodity was not uncommon. Used sparingly it could last until spring. LESSON: Use all food sources available and think big if you have a lot of mouths to feed.     

Things were different back then.  When times were hard they just “made do with what you had” and or did without.  Shoes were for school and church only.  When possible barefoot was the order of the day.  After shoes were well used, they were re-heeled and re-soled.  Family members handed down clothes and shoes to younger members as a matter of course.  Without electricity kerosene lanterns had to suffice.  Fire wood had to be kept split and dry.  Kindling was critical.  A smoke house was essential for preserving pork.  Butchering hogs was almost always in November and December.   Apple butter made in the fall can last all winter in 1 gallon crock jars.   And it tastes great on bread, toast, hot cakes, buckwheat cakes, etc.  Unlike regular flour pancakes, making buckwheat cakes requires a bit of yeast. But once it is started, more buckwheat flour can be added daily and the yeast will keep multiplying.   LESSON:  Make do and work hard.

Baths were for Saturday so you would be clean for church.  Outside showers were standard as long as the weather permitted.  Well water was for drinking so a swim in the nearby stock pond or down in the creek often substituted for a real bath.  Fishing was an important skill essential for providing supplements for much needed protein and vitamins.  An outhouse was standard for the family with both white and red corn cobs being carefully conserved to use in place of toilet paper.   LESSON:  Living well does not have to mean living in convenience and luxury. 

Nobody wants to return to the challenging times of a hundred years ago, but living the survival life is a challenge that can be mastered.  To be prepared we must study, practice and preserve the knowledge used by our predecessors and be willing to innovate, working and praying constantly. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I’ve been a daily visitor to SurvivalBlog for nearly three years now.  I really can’t believe it has been that long since that desperate day when anxiety from losing my job took over and compelled me to search for survival information on the Internet.   You see, I was a 20 year mortgage originator.  Not only had I lost my job when my company folded, it was clear to me that I and millions of others had lost any ability to make a living in that crumbling industry.  The music stopped while I was chasing the dollars and it was game over.  At first, I was sneaking around learning how to store water and food.  Next, a budding interest in gardening blossomed into a permaculture addiction.  And all the while, I was reading and becoming acutely aware of how fragile the whole system is and how we had been lulled into such a vulnerable state. By now my self-sufficiency agenda was becoming clear to my husband and although well employed, he too feared the house of cards could collapse and take with it the dollar. Collecting that fiat paper had been all we knew to do to prepare for the future or an emergency.  We were out of the closet with each other and now prepping together instead of worrying and toiling alone.  Together we took the plunge into guns and target practice, skill learning and resource gathering.  Each step helped relieve some of the uncontrolled anxiety we were feeling and prayer still works on the rest.

My husband and I are in our late forties and this is a second marriage for both of us.  Between us we have six young adult children, two are married and there is one grandchild.  None of the children live with us and never have, since we were married only a short four years ago.  Aside from supporting the youngest who is in her last year of college, they are all employed, living on their own and generally great  kids.  Unfortunately, none of them seem to take this preparedness stuff too seriously.  They listen and even engage in conversation, but no real action.  They are busy living their life the way we taught them and they don’t seem to have time to be concerned.  In a way, I am envious of them. We both raised our children as Christians, in the suburbs, playing every sport available etc.  Suburbanites…. Now we have learned things we would like to introduce to our grown children and the teachable moments are few and far between.  So we try to prepare for everyone.  This is where things get difficult!

While all six children would be welcomed to our retreat with open arms, there are others that come along with them.  While only two are currently married, the others are involved in some lengthy relationships that may result in more in-laws. I am an optimist, a peace maker and a diplomatic person.  I believe that the significant others of our children would all add value to our group and be able to contribute something. My husband may disagree about the potential contributions of some but he is in complete agreement about their inclusion in the group.  This may seem an obvious conclusion to some, but I firmly believe these decisions need to be discussed in the open before a crisis to avoid any last minute disagreements. My nightmare begins when I consider the other familial bonds.  In particular, we have one daughter-in-law (official and also the mother of our only grandchild) who is dysfunctionally close to her dysfunctional family. These people are living breathing examples of everything wrong with our country.  While I believe them to be generally decent hearted people, they are card carrying members of The Ugly American Association.  Picture politically apathetic, fast food eating, video game playing (males), shopping mall wandering (both), Coach purse carrying (females), no life insurance or savings holding (neither), job hopping, baby-making, non-breast feeding, obese, insulin dependent, American Idol and Bachelor watching, gun loathing, lethargic and of no notable talent, skill set or physical ability group of five adults and currently four children.  Our son, who married into this tribe is their rock and his wife would never leave her family.  Of course, none of them will have prepared for even the most minor emergency, never mind the big Schumer.  They will be in need and our son who refuses to be alarmed will be unprepared. 

I don’t mean to sound harsh, but sitting in a room for a few hours with this group of people for birthday gatherings, ballet recitals and such is almost more than my husband and I can bear.  So it becomes obvious that there is no way we could accommodate this group at our retreat when the SHTF.   I have to assume that our son, his wife and our granddaughter will not bug out to our place without the rest of that clan.  They all live in two houses and spend most of their waking hours together.  We will have to make it very clear who is included on the retreat guest list. While it is difficult to accept, we will most likely not be joined by our oldest son, his wife and our only grandchild. After acceptance of our retreat limitations, our son’s leadership role in his wife’s family and refusal to prepare; we have embarked on Plan B to attempt to assist him with this daunting responsibility that he doesn’t even know he owns.

In addition to Plan A -the ongoing retreat preparations for the remainder of our family, we have compiled the following list of actions to help light the way for our son and his adopted clan.

  1. Present maps showing different routes to the retreat and explain that he, wife and daughter are of course on the guest list…but it’s invitation only and limited resources and space availability. OPSEC explained.
  2. Create a basic bug out bag for him (highlighting the importance for the safety of his baby girl) and suggest he has the others follow suit. We will highlight their need to include maps to wherever they intend to bug out.
  3. Attempt to get him to the shooting range. We have tried this twice and failed…we will continue to reach out to him.
  4. We will give the gift of "Patriots" the next gift giving season.
  5. We will share fresh fruits and vegetables from our garden to attempt to develop an interest in nutrition and sustainable gardening. We do this, but usually at our home- This time we will deliver.
  6. We will deliver storage food as well.
  7. We will ask him to tag along when we purchase a generator in the next few months. 
  8. We will play Wii with him to express interest in something he likes and hoping for reciprocity. (Think shooting range)
  9. We will stop spamming him with articles and blogs that he never reads and doesn’t seem to appreciate.

Instead we will make a notebook of useful information available during an emergency.

  1. We will pick up our granddaughter at least twice a month and attempt to foster a love of knitting, cooking, gardening and general love of outdoors activities.  No television!
  2. We will love them and accept that they are God’s children and know that we have done everything within our means. Pray.

We must consider the possibility that our wishes will not be respected with regard to our son’s in-laws.  When the SHTF I can imagine he may be unable to behave “cold-heartedly” enough to leave them behind.  I can see him asking us “What was I supposed to do, leave them there to die?”  Of course the answer is “You were supposed to tell them to prepare.”  However, a single “I told you so” is enough.  In the event we are faced with this circumstance, we will have extra rations and gear to temporarily help.  We can be charitable, but we cannot be responsible. Since most of these adults are dependent on insulin or high blood pressure medication etc, I assume they will need to move on rather quickly to a location where meds might be available.  We currently have no need to attempt stockpiling those types of medications.

While our other children may present similar challenges, at this time there is none so apparent as the above mentioned.  I cannot tell you how many hours I have spent evaluating our options.  It is heartbreaking to think of our son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter being somewhere else during a collapse. There just isn’t any other alternative without compromising the safety and security of the rest of our family. I will continue to pray for my son to prepare and for the flock to follow suit. Take inventory of your people and their connections.  Make decisions now while you are calm of mind because in a crisis situation you may not have the capacity to make a rational decision.  Know who you can count on and let others know to what degree they can count on you. Survival plans should not be vague nor should they leave room for misunderstandings.

JWR Adds: I've found that the best way to keep kids and visiting relatives from wasting their time watching television is to not own one.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

As your storage foods--both wet-pack and dry-pack--near their expiry dates, I recommend that you consistently donate them to a food bank.

This approach has several advantages:

1.) You will be charitably helping the less fortunate.

2.) Food will not be going to waste.

3.) Your own larder will be stocked with fresher, more nutritionally- complete foods.

4.) You can take a tax deduction for your donation. (Be sure to get a signed receipt.)

If you are concerned about OPSEC when making donations, then drive 40+ miles to a food bank in a neighboring county.

Keep in mind that most food banks will not accept food that are out of date. So keep close track, and donate the foods at least six months before their marked expiry.

If for some reason you do lose track of an expiry date and have to discard foods, then I recommend that you save the containers. This has multiple "gains":

1.) It provides you containers that you can re-use. As I've previously mentioned in SurvivalBlog, steel cans have umpteen uses, even if you don't own a can sealer.

2.) It reduces your OPSEC risk. (There will be no labeled cans for your trash collector to see.)

3.) Grains and vegetables can be composted. (Do not attempt to compost any meat food products.)If this is done gradually, some expired storage foods can also be used as livestock food supplements. But remember to rehydrate foods first (soaking them in water), and dole them out on small quantities to avoid any gastric distress.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

I have been an avid SurvivalBlog reader for a couple of years now, and I have been a lifelong prepper, although never like I am now.  Through this blog and other excellent sources, I have gained immeasurable information and comfort, and the feeling that by the grace of God and diligent effort, I am finally obtaining a level of preparedness which ensures a very good chance of providing safety and security for my family and me through whatever the future may bring.  Though I have made many personal preparations, I don’t feel that I have done enough to help others prepare, which is why I decided to submit this article.
Over the last 3 years I have reached the conclusion that most of the problems in our society are caused by a lack of thinking about the future and then planning for it.  This is true for individuals, for families, local and national governments, and for humanity as a whole.  Although our individual preparations such as storing up “stuff” for the future are extremely important, these are only one part of our responsibility.  It is, of course incumbent upon us as responsible individuals to prepare individually for TEOTWAWKI, but it is just as important to try to prevent that event from occurring in the first place.  Those who think that TEOTWAWKI will just be some exciting adventure will be sadly disappointed.  It will definitely be challenging and doing things for ones’ self can be extremely satisfying, but all in all it would be far better if we can avoid experiences the worst case scenarios.

There are certainly many things that could necessitate the preparations that we (the preparedness community) are all making.  These include natural disasters, war, chemical or industrial accidents, pandemics, food production failures due to too much genetic manipulation, floods, fires, climate change (if there is such a thing), EMP bursts, nuclear war, meteor showers, financial meltdown, zombies, aliens, or crazy bird attacks.  Some of these could be an inconvenience; others could throw us into TEOTWAWKI, others are not even remotely realistic.

A Key Concern:
Personally my biggest fear is a national or even international monetary collapse caused by the United States debt and monetary policy.  Let’s face it, our government has been borrowing and printing money from thin air to support our collective spending habit, and it is bound to reach a boiling point sooner or later.  Such a monetary collapse would completely upset our comfortable lives of extreme specialization, simplified trading via our currency, and an almost infinite array of goods and services virtually at our fingertips.  Moreover, it would throw our society into complete chaos almost overnight.  Let me pause here to provide some background about myself – I have almost 15 years experience as a law enforcement official for a large agency in a large metropolitan area.  I have had countless opportunities to witness what people will do when they are pushed against a wall, be it physically, emotionally or financially.  People who are otherwise well mannered, generally reasonable individuals are capable of horrific behavior.  The group I am most concerned about is the ever growing entitlement class.  These people generally have poor upbringing, low education, a low level of practical skills, and are therefore not generally very capable of taking care of themselves.  Due in part to their own shortcomings, and in part to our willingness as a society to continue supporting them they are stuck in a mode of expecting and demanding that things be provided for them at the expense of someone else.  I will expand a bit more on this later on.  Suffice it to say that these are the people that will cause the major portion of the civil unrest that will certainly follow a monetary collapse.  One needs only to look at the examples of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina or the L.A. "Rodney King" riots for a small sampling of what we can expect.  The difference in the complete monetary collapse scenario I am worried about is that law enforcement had virtually inexhaustible resources at its disposal to restore order and protect the innocent citizens in these cases….not at first to be sure, but in both of those cases backup poured in from other agencies in nearby and even far away jurisdictions to provide relief for the first responders.                    

Even with all this backup assistance, particularly in the case of New Orleans it was weeks before order was restored.  Now imagine if civil unrest simultaneously occurs in every large and medium sized city across the country.  There simply will not be enough police to protect everyone from those who feel that they are entitled to whatever they need, irrespective of who it belongs to.  Many officers will not report to work, as they will be busy protecting and attempting to provide for their own families.  Many other officers who are less dedicated than they should be will figure “what’s the point, I’m not getting paid for this anyway.”  I have heard that sentiment under far less exigent circumstances than a total monetary collapse.  Understand that if money is no longer any good, many police officers will not report to work, and good people everywhere will have to rely on themselves and each other for their mutual defense from the unsavory elements of our society.

Strategy 1. Getting educated and staying informed:

If you are reading this blog, you are well ahead of the curve.  Be encouraged that you are being joined by more people every day.  The question is, will enough people start educating themselves and then work to change the problems before things spin out of control and we reach a state of TEOTWAWKI?
Learn the issues - political, monetary and social, they are all related.  Study and understand the events that have taken place to get us to the point where we are.  Find out what caused our current problems.

Read articles on the internet (as I mentioned this blog is a great start), read books, and talk with people who know more than you do.  Listen to talk radio every time you get in the car rather than listening to music. Philosophize on your own, with careful consideration; you can reach many truths which are self-evident.  Watch the News, and for anyone that hasn’t figured it out yet, the most reliable source of television news is FOX News (the cable network, not necessarily your local affiliate station).  If you only have time to watch one News program per day, then I suggest the Glenn Beck Program.  Although it is not exactly a pure news program, it will inform you of a lot of the current events, but also teach you about the unreported stories that no other show reports, about history, it will expose conspiracies (real one’s not the crazy alien ones), and even help you build your own faith.  You will also gain encouragement by watching this show.  Don’t take any one source and believe it without questioning.  Do your own research and reach your own conclusion.

Learn the skills to deal with the problems that you can foresee, both the self reliance skills as well as the investing and monetary skills.  Learn to make the very best use of your funds, and squeeze the most possible value out of a dollar.  Learn how our government system works, who is responsible for what, how it is arranged and so forth, so that you can do your part to help effect political changes.
Share what you learn with your friends and neighbors.  Don’t go crazy forwarding every article you read to everyone you know, if you do then they will just start deleting them without reading them.  Instead pick and choose the best ones and selectively direct the information that you find to the person that you know will get the most value from the information.

Strategy 2. Changing our political course, cutting out our collective government waste:

So what can we do to prevent the monetary collapse I am so worried about?  Government must shrink in a huge way if it is to survive.  I am not endorsing the complete dismantling of government, only proposing that it be limited as our founding fathers intended, especially at the federal level.  Primarily the federal government was established for our common defense from foreign invasion.  There are several other constitutional responsibilities of course, but they are miniscule by comparison with all the roles that the government has illegally assumed. 

As a people, we have become too comfortable and too lazy.  We have come to rely on the government for far too much.  I know this might upset a few people, but we need to each be willing to sacrifice whatever it is that is dear to us that is being provided by the federal government.  If that is Medicare or Social Security, we must be willing to give that up.  If it is department of education money going to our local school system, it needs to go to.  If it is government assisted housing, endowment for the arts, college grant money for our kids, tax refunds for having more children than our neighbors, whatever our own special entitlement program may be, it needs to go, regardless of how painful it is.  It is easy to point at wasted money that benefits someone else and say eliminate that, but it requires real moral character and sacrifice to give up our own favorite program.  If you are reading this and thinking that you have paid into social security for your whole life and you deserve to keep it, then please consider that the money you paid in is gone.  We have spent it long ago on other things – this is the collective fault of all of us, not just the politicians who sign the checks.  Remember we the people are the government… the bosses in this society.  Yes the politicians were reckless and irresponsible and deserve to be prosecuted for what they have done, but at the same time we have hired them over and over and over to continue doing it.  Some of us have been directly responsible by voting for them, and some of us indirectly by perhaps not voting against them, or by not paying attention to what they were doing.  For those of us who were paying attention all along and consistently voted the right way, we are guilty of not doing enough to educate our friends, neighbors and co-workers about it and by not crying foul loud enough.

Once we come to the realization that we all collectively got ourselves into this mess, we must resolve to get out of it, but we must do it without doing so at the expense of someone else.  I have heard many theories that we can simply never pay the money back to the Chinese and the others that we have borrowed from.  I have heard lots of people say that we can simply inflate the currency and pay it back in inflated dollars, which is the path our politicians seem to be taking currently… of course it won’t ever be paid back because despite this tactic, they are still spending and borrowing more than they are repaying.  This is morally reprehensible.  We borrowed this money from other nations and from little old ladies in the form of government bonds and it is our responsibility to pay it back.  We must demand this of our politicians.  If they want to keep up the spending and avoid repayment of our debts then they are not worthy of managing the money and resources of this great nation and must be fired immediately.  It is our job to understand exactly who we are voting for when we go to the polls.  Voting for the [D] or the [R] is not good enough - there are lots of bad apples, and a few good apples in each group.  We must also notify everyone we know every time a politician makes or embraces a reckless fiscal policy.  Whether it is at the federal, state or local level and we must tell that politician how displeased we are with him or her.  Emails to their offices are good, letters and faxes are better because a staff member must handle a piece of paper rather than just hit the delete key.  Phone calls and personal visits to their offices are best because they know that people are really watching what they are doing.  When we take time out of our hectic lives during regular business hours to contact them they know we are serious.  Attending a town hall meeting or a Tea Party rally is a very powerful way to get their attention.  These events usually receive news coverage too, and the larger they are, the more coverage they receive.  If you get there and the place is too full to get any more people inside, then don’t feel like you missed out, hang around anyway and take comfort that you helped get the message across by your presence.  When the place is standing room only, again the politicians know that people are watching their every move.

Strategy 3. Putting all Americans to Work:

If we get our spending under control, then I am convinced that we can work our way out of the hole we have dug for ourselves.  Yes it will be an uphill climb, yes it will take a generation, but I would rather work very hard and sacrifice for the rest of my life rather than leaving this massive debt problem to the next generation, and if you are reading this blog then I suspect you would too.  Once we eliminate the government programs that encourage people not to work by providing them with enough to make them comfortable in their poverty, they will find ways to become self sufficient, and by working they will begin to contribute to society by creating wealth – goods and services that can be consumed by their neighbors.  Perhaps all these newly created goods can even be exported to other nations to help with the trade deficit that we have.  Moreover, all the government employees that are administrating these myriad spending programs can then also devote their skills and talents to innovating and producing in the private sector as well.  Then instead of being net tax consumers, they will become net tax contributors and assist in repaying our massive debt instead of adding to it.

I mentioned the trade imbalance we have in the United States; this brings me to my next point.  One thing that we can and must do as individuals if we are to reverse the financial mess we are in is to buy American goods.  I know you’ve heard this before, and I know it’s easier said than done sometimes, but I have made a concerted effort to do this for over a year now and the more you do it the easier it gets.  Yes sometimes (although not always) you end up paying more for a product that is American instead of Chinese, but if you help to keep one of your neighbors employed then they will have more money next week to come and buy something from you, keeping you employed.  This keeps everyone earning and paying taxes so that we can repay the money that we owe to so many debtors.  Sometimes it’s very difficult to go to a big box store such as Home Depot or Target and find things that were actually made in the USA; Wal-Mart is particularly difficult.  I make it a policy that if I am looking for a luxury item and they don’t have an American made one, then I pass on it, and look for it on the internet instead.  I have had great success locating web sites that sell USA made products using Google, and I have really enjoyed my experiences with all of them.  Here are just a few I have found:

I also recently found a grain mill that is made in Montana by a small company.  I am saving up my money and look forward to ordering one in a couple of months.  Buying USA made goods is extremely important, but if you haven’t noticed a common thread in all my strategies yet, I need to point out that it is just important to get your family and friends on board doing the same thing!

Strategy 4. Individual preparedness:

I won’t spend time here going into all the things that each of us can do to prepare our own households because there are thousands of articles on this site and others about that already, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the importance of that individual preparation.  In case all of the above strategies fail and we do arrive at one stage or another of TEOTWAWKI, we should be simultaneously preparing for it, even as we continue to carry out these other strategies.

Strategy 5. Encouraging our neighbors to prepare:

Why is this so important?  As I mentioned previously, most problems in this world are caused by a lack of thinking ahead and making preparations.  All the social chaos that I am concerned about that will follow the monetary collapse would be avoided if everyone was prepared, or even if most people were prepared.  If everyone has the things they need stockpiled and a plan in place to take care of their families for an extended period of time, then no one will have any reason to panic when the lights go out.  We will have cooler heads, which will allow us to develop plan B to get our society operational again.

As many of us have experienced, it is difficult to come right up to someone and tell them that TEOTWAWKI is coming so they need to start saving their beans, bullets, and Band-Aids, because if you do then many people will think you are crazy.  There are many tactful approaches that you can take to introduce this concept gradually to your less informed friends and neighbors.  I have found that most people these days are very concerned about the economic direction of the country right now, and since this is a more realistic problem to them than a nuclear war or a pandemic, it is easiest to approach them on this basis.  I usually start by feeling a person out about their financial situation, often by sharing something about my own situation.  You don’t have to tell them you are poorer than dirt or anything, you can say something like “boy the prices of clothes sure are going up lately”.  If they share your sentiment then you can introduce the basic concepts of how our monetary system works and what causes inflation.  Next you can point to the moves being made by our federal government and the Federal Reserve and educate them to the fact that massive inflation is imminent.  Once you get to this point it is a very simple leap to get them to understand that buying extra goods right now is a way for them to save money, and almost everyone is looking for ways to save money these days!  Of course these conversations may happen one at a time over an extended time frame.  I usually don’t tell people that I have piles of things stored away for a rainy day immediately, I say something like “every time I go to the grocery store I buy 2 of anything that is on sale, because I know I’ll use it sooner or later and I would rather get it cheaper now”  then I explain to them that the more I have in pantry the more I have found that I never need to buy anything until it goes on sale, and never paying full price means  I have more cash available to buy sale items!  I have many friends that have said “I could never do that, I don’t have a single dime to buy anything extra”.  At that point I loan them one of my books like America's Cheapest Family or Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half with America's Cheapest Family.  Sometimes if they have a Kindle, I give the book as a gift.

For those that you really care about – perhaps a close friend or family member -that just refuse to do it, there are other ways to help them get prepared.  As we all know saving up piles of stuff is by no means all there is to preparation.  Probably the second most important thing to do is to learn new skills, or some would even say that gaining skills is the most important thing to do.  You can invite a friend or family member to learn a new skill with you such as working on an engine, sewing or mending clothes, going on a hike in the woods, gardening, canning, woodworking, doing some basic machine work, doing some home repair or improvement, helping to tend to animals, taking an EMT class at a local community college, or any number of other important skills.  Of course the best skills to concentrate on are those that you can do with limited raw materials and whether you have electricity or not - in case of the worst scenario, but all self sufficiency skills are important.  Even if the total society collapse never comes, at least you will be able to save money by doing some of these things for ourselves that in our modern world we tend to source out to someone else.

Strategy 6. Preparing to be charitable:
No matter what we do to get others more involved and to become more prepared, there will still be those who don’t listen.  Some of them will certainly perish if TEOTWAWKI comes, either by their own inaction or during altercations with each other, with police, or with prepared persons and groups who they will try to rob and steal from.  Others will pick themselves up, be resourceful and become productive members of society and outstanding citizens.  Still others will be able to make it, and will want to do it without stealing from or hurting anyone else…..they may be very willing to work hard but they will need some help initially moving into the new era that will ensue.  It is for this group that we should prepare to be charitable and helpful.

We should prepare to be charitable, but we need to understand why the government’s “charity” give away plans have failed so miserably.  Things like government housing, welfare, disability payments, food stamps, and all the other myriad “social benefit programs” have just encouraged people to stay in them. 
Benjamin Franklin said "I am for doing good to the poor, but...I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. I observed...that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer." I have personally observed this effect on people over my lifetime.  What Mr. Franklin said was very insightful, especially considering he didn’t have the benefit of observing the wildest government giveaway charity system that the world has ever seen, like we are able to see.  All these government programs, even when well meaning have been ineffective because they fail to address the long term problem and create more dependency and irresponsibility than existed making the “charity” necessary to begin with.

We should prepare to share to meet someone’s immediate needs but it is more important to help them achieve long term security and self reliance skills.  For example, plan to give away enough potatoes for this week’s soup, but also enough to plant to grow a whole row of potato plants, and a shovel to plant them, and some of your time teaching the needy person how to raise the plants.  Be prepared to share raw materials as well as valuable life skills with those who are prepared to learn.
Bartering can be charitable too.  For example, let’s say TEOTWAWKI hits - you are an older person with some resources like tools and property, but you can’t do everything for yourself because of physical limitations, then taking a plot of your land and sharing it with a needy family who made no preparations, but have the ability to work could be very beneficial to all parties.  Any reasonable self respecting person would be far happier with an arrangement like this instead of just having things given to them anyway, so in the long run you are encouraging them to be self sufficient, but making sure their self esteem is not destroyed either.

If you have a large home, especially one that is owned free and clear, and have made a lot of other preparations already, then you could consider sectioning off an area now as a separate living area for that family member that just refuses to prepare.  It will be far easier to do it now than later when building materials may be much more difficult to come by.  In many cases, this will also be infinitely better than sharing one living space with your extended family, especially under the stressful circumstances that TEOTWAWKI will bring.  It will be good to have that extended family close by for mutual cooperation and defense, but you may all want some space at times too.  If the worst never happens then you have created an area you can rent out or use as a guest area for the mother in law when she comes to town, and you have added value to your property, which is quite likely a better and more responsible investment than keeping the worthless green paper that we call money.

Final Thoughts:

These strategies only work if you implement them.  The first strategy, educating yourself and studying are very important, but no more important than the second strategy of affecting the political change.  If you spend all your time educating yourself and never get to any of the other strategies, and everyone else does the same thing, then TEOTWAWKI will come for sure because things will continue to deteriorate as we all sit around just reading books. 

I am implementing my multi-pronged approach across the board, devoting a reasonable amount of time to each part whenever I can.  It makes sense, just as it makes sense to build your food storage evenly with not only wheat, but beans, honey, meat and vegetables too.  If you only eat wheat for the rest of your life your body won’t get all the nutrients it needs.  Similarly, if we don’t try to change the future for the better and encourage the rest our community to prepare, educate themselves, and learn good moral principles, then what is the point of surviving, unless you are planning on being a hermit and never interacting with anyone in the future after TEOTWAWKI.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I wanted to share with my fellow preppers a way to rapidly increase your food storage. Yes, it's legal and for real!  I have no sales pitch and nothing to gain out of this, I've been doing this for almost a year now and the results have been just amazing.
My wife and I started a Farmer's Market in our community almost three years ago.  The following "system" I have developed since then has come from our experiences there as well as my almost 20 years in restaurant management.  It can easily work for you with minimal effort.  Please stick with me because I'll run the numbers for you off of actual prices in my area and you'll be shocked and amazed at how much all of us are getting charged by our local supermarkets!  Even if you don't have the time or inclination to do this, read on, as there is some very valuable information that could save you big money on your preps! 
If your family is like ours we don't have a lot of money left over after paying the bills. Times are tough.  So if you could find a way to put a little cash in your pocket, eat fresh fruits and veggies for free, and be able to can or dehydrate them for free, then wouldn't you?  Even if you and a few friends pitch in and buy produce in bulk and split it evenly amongst yourselves you can dramatically reduce your current food costs as well as your future food prep costs.  You can then use that saved money for other prep areas like medical supplies, ammo, and guns etc.
I call what we do a Local Food Co-op because it's not really a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).  Basically I buy an assortment of produce (fruits and veggies mainly) by the case or bushel and sell boxes (or bags) of assorted produce for either $10 (small family) or $20 (large family) with plenty left over for our family to eat for free and we have our dehydrator going 24/7 kicking out dehydrated food free for future use.  Now let me clarify a few things before I get into the "nuts and bolts" of this operation.
First, the people that buy produce from me get it for far less money than they can get it from Wal-Mart (or any other supermarket in our area ) and it's almost always better quality or at least the same quality.
Second, it doesn't take too much time at all to run.  You'll need to spend a little more time up front getting all the needed information but after that less than five hours a week should be all you'll need to devote to your food independence.  I spend an hour and a half once a week going to buy the produce. ( An hour of that is the round trip to buy it and about a half hour to purchase everything needed.)  I might spend another hour and a half dividing out the produce into orders for the customers and then getting them to the customers.  (Most of my customers are either friends, family, neighbors, or coworkers.)  Is it worth it to you to spend three hours a week so you and your family can eat all the fresh fruits and veggies they want for free all week long and all the produce you can dehydrate and can for future use for free? 
Third, you don't need to be an expert to set this up and run it for yourself and lastly, you don't need dozens and dozens of customers to do this. I started with just 10.  People will come looking for you when word gets around about how good a deal they can get.  Most people are in utter disbelief about how much produce they get for the money when they get their first order!  A few have even tried to give me more money than what I  charge.  Now on to the meat and potatoes...

First we'll run some numbers.  I'm using the actual prices I'm paying right now (12/2/10) for this example:

This is roughly based on a weeks worth of produce for a family.  Let's say you get 10 larger size families wanting "in" at a $20 share a week. So week 1 goes like this:

10 families at $20 =                              $200

That $200 you take and go buy:

100 lbs of potatoes for                             $40
25 lbs (case) of tomatoes for                   $12
bushel (30 lbs+) of green beans for         $19
bushel (40 lbs+) of oranges for               $20
bushel of cucumbers (40 lbs+)for           $10
a bushel (25 lbs) of bell peppers for        $14
bushel (40 lbs+) of red delicious apples  $20
case (25 lbs) of yellow squash for           $12
case (12 lbs) of zucchini for                    $12
50 lbs of onions for                                  $20
Total money spent:                                  $179                                                                

You go and divide up the produce and each family gets:

5 lbs of potatoes
2 lbs of tomatoes (that's around 6)
2 lbs of green beans ( that's almost a half a plastic grocery bag full!)
3 lbs of oranges (about 5-6 oranges)
3 lbs of cukes ( about 4 or 5)
2 lbs of bell peppers (5 to 6)
3 lbs of apples (5 to 6)
2 lbs of squash (6 to 8)
1 lb of zucchini (3 to 5)
3 lbs of onions (5 to 7)
That's 26 pounds of food for $20! Can you walk into any one store and come out with all that for $20?

Now here's what you and your family get out of the deal:

$21 cash (offsets the gas and wear and tear on your vehicle to get produce)
50 lbs of potatoes
5 lbs of tomatoes
10 lbs oranges
10 lbs cukes
5 lbs bell peppers
10 lbs apples
5 lbs squash
2 lbs zucchini
20 lbs of onions

That's $21 cash and 117 lbs of produce for three hours worth of work!
You could sell off two more shares for another $40 in your pocket and still have a bunch of produce to eat all week and plenty more to can and dehydrate for future use.  You could also give more of the produce to your customers that is entirely up to you. That's free food now and free food later!
About the only up front investment is you're going to need a scale to weight the produce.  I got mine from the kitchen department at Target for around $20.00 and it's weights up to 11 or 12 pounds before the scale tops out.  I also bought a bigger cheap plastic bowl to put on the scale to weight out bulkier items like green beans or potatoes for another couple of dollars.  Just remember to "zero" out the scale when you put it to use or your weights will be off.  It wouldn't hurt to have a heavier duty scale to weigh your bulk cases just to make sure you got what you paid for.  I just use our bathroom scale and set the cases on that. It works great and I didn't have to go out and buy one. [JWR Adds: In many jurisdictions, scales must be state-certified as "legal for trade."]
So, obviously, you have to figure out where to get your bulk produce from and there are several ways to do that.  I would start by opening up the phone book or do a web search for produce companies for your local area or biggest city by you.  Ask them to fax or email you a copy of their latest produce price list.  Some update them daily, some weekly.  Get on their e-mail/fax list so you get updated pricing.  Get pricing from several produce companies if possible.  The price lists also include the case count (how many of something come per case or case weight.
Also be sure and sign up for their newsletter if they offer one.  It will tell you about shortages (huge price increases) due to weather etc. as well as price swings due to being in between growing seasons.  For instance, as summer winds up, tomatoes wind down in most areas of the country leaving about a four week span until Florida's winter crop comes online.  Prices can spike from $12 a case to well over $20 and I've seen over $40 last year when Florida had a freeze that wiped out a bunch of tomatoes.  This is useful information as you can stock up on some produce that has a longer shelf life or brace your customers for temporary outages or reductions in their usual amounts of that specific item.
You should also check with your local farmers.  Most are willing (and want) to sell directly to you during their growing season.  It can never hurt to build a relationship with your local farmers.  In a SHTF scenario they may be your only option to source food if you can't grow it yourself.
  Another place to get bulk produce is from Restaurant Depot if there is one in your area.  It's free to join you just have to show proof you have a business. (Any business!)  They generally want to see your business license as proof but are pretty lenient usually.  Even if you don't have a business bring a friend or coworker who does as they gave me four cards with my business name on them.  Meaning anyone with a card can shop. (Hint, hint!)  They have unbelievable prices on a wide variety of produce as well as bulk foodstuffs such as spices, bouillon base, instant potatoes and hash browns, #10 cans of everything, bulk dried fruit, etc.  And if that's not enough they also carry 20-to-100 lb bags of wheat, assorted flours, assorted rice, assorted beans, split green peas, lentils, corn meal, sugar, et cetera.  They also beat Sam's Club on most prices also including lunch meats, chicken, and beef etc.  This place is a Preppers dream!
Once you get the price lists you now know the bulk pricing your typical restaurant would pay.  Next get a few weeks worth of newspaper ads from your local supermarkets.  That, combined with going to the grocery stores will tell you what the average consumer pays for produce.        

Do the math from the bulk price list from the produce companies to get a bulk to retail comparison.  For example... bulk price on a 50 lb box of potatoes might be $20.00 and a 5 lb bag from the supermarket might cost you $4.00.  So $20 / 50 lb = 40 cents per pound x 5 lbs is $2.00. Or pay the $4.00 at the supermarket.  Just bring a pocket calculator with you when you go and you'll know before you buy it if you can make money on it (or at least break even) before you purchase.  When you get to know your pricing it ensures you won't be paying retail prices on bulk purchases.
Now you might run the numbers and find just buying from you local produce companies will work.  You may even be able to get them to deliver!  But, there is usually an even better way.
Every decent size city usually has a "downtown" area where all the produce comes in by train or ship. ( Which is also usually where your produce companies are located)  Usually there is a downtown open air market or Farmer's Market (or combination of both like in my city)  What happens there is the public can buy wholesale from the Farmers themselves or from the market.  These are where the real deals are, folks.  The same 50 lb bag 'o potatoes you bought for $20 from a produce company can probably be had for $12-15 there.  Most places like this are open 7 days a week, 365 days a year.  They are open real early in the morning too, so you can beat the rush hour traffic by going either before or after.  They also seem to have a lot of the seasonal produce a week or so ahead of them appearing in your supermarkets.
The people there are usually pretty helpful and will answer questions about how many per case or pounds per case etc.  Just ask!   You can also open up and inspect the cases or boxes too.  You might need to buy the $14 case one week because the older $8 case looks a little too close to the end of it's "shelf life", while the next week the $8 case might be perfect.
The produce quality is usually better there also if you take the time to look around and comparison shop.  You'll also have a choice of different sizes.  A 25 lb case of tomatoes can have 25 tomatoes in or it could have over 50.  (Far more than 50 if you get Roma or cherry tomatoes)
A few other items of note:  Pay attention to how many of an item come in a case or bushel.  Items like tomatoes, squash, zucchini are sold in different sizes or grades.  If you buy the largest size of tomatoes for instance there might only be enough to give every customer one where if you bought medium size case they might be able to get 3 or 4 even though the weight and cost could be the same.  When possible try to notice where your each of your produce items come from.  People would much rather buy local or regional than from some scary sounding city in a third world country.  People will ask and the more you know about your produce the happier you can make your customers. 

It is important to note that rules, regulations, and requirements imposed by various government agencies vary from location to location so I can't even begin to cover that here.  But suffice it to say that a group of friends or co-workers buying wholesale and dividing it up amongst yourselves is viewed differently than if you have so many customers you have a warehouse with a retail shop up front and full-on marketing and advertising.  If you feel you need to know more on this by all means please consult your local government, lawyers, accountants, and experts in general.
I've been in the restaurant management business for almost 20 years and I can get produce far cheaper than the major international restaurant chain I currently work for with over 1,500 locations in 31 different countries, and now you can too.
Produce in this country and around the world is not nearly as abundant as you might think or are led to believe!  I have seen several severe shortages over my almost two decades in the restaurant business and they are happening more and more frequently.  I'm aware of on more than one occasion several national restaurant chains temporarily (meaning weeks or months at a time) not selling certain items because of shortages--caused by a multitude of reasons--here in the United States.  The restaurant chains stop selling it for reasons such as:

1.  They flat out can't procure enough to supply their restaurants. 
2.  The quality of product they get is just too substandard to sell to their customers.
3.  Because of the shortage it becomes too cost prohibitive and would kill profitability.  
4.  They stop selling it so you can still buy it at the supermarket.  They fear the public's reaction to food shortages will be to quit eating out and stock up and stay home.
So be warned: Get it while it's still abundant and you still can afford it and can or dehydrate it for your future security.  I'm going to start including rice and various dried beans and put it in with my customers orders.  I plan on telling them to store it in 2 liter soda or juice bottles for their emergency food supply and buy a dehydrator with the money they are saving and get busy.   The U.S. government is now suggesting a minimum of a "few weeks" supply of food now.  They used to say three days was sufficient.  I wonder what's changed all that?  Wouldn't you feel a bit safer if you knew your neighbors and local community had emergency food you provided for below market cost?  If they have enough food to get though an emergency you won't have to worry about sharing.  Tricking them into recycling/reusing the soda and juice bottles for storage would be an added bonus too!
I have found it helps retain customers if you switch up or rotate the types of produce from time to time.  Also throw in some different recipes or ways to cook or prepare some of the produce.  You'd be surprised how many people have no idea what to do with a sweet potato or that kids who hate green beans generally love them with Asian salad dressing on them.  (That is if you can get them to try the green beans in the first place!)
That's pretty much it.  You find people who want to pay less for better produce.  Find out where to get the best bulk prices then you buy it, divide it up, and hand it out to your customers.  A couple hours a week tops for free produce and a little food security. You gotta love it!  I hope you have found this article helpful and informative. It has made a huge difference to my family of seven as it has helped greatly cut our food bill, sped up our emergency food preparations, and we now eat healthier than we ever have in the past.

Even if it's not for you, then help a brother or sister out and pass it along because if you'd just take a minute to think about it, you probably know someone who could use this system.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas isn’t what the television commercials would have you believe. It’s not about diamond jewelry, new cars or power tools. It’s not about trinkets and treasures and toys. It’s not about online shopping and last minute bargains.

It’s about love.

Not love of possessions or material wealth, but love for friends and family.

And because you love them, you naturally want them to be happy and safe. In easy times, this isn’t a problem. But what if the Schumer really does Hit The Fan? Will the ones you love be able to sustain themselves and survive? If your family is anything like mine, there are people in it who do not see the need to prepare. Fortunately, Christmas represents the ideal opportunity to help them learn to help themselves.

By giving a basic starter survival kit, you will put them on the path of self sufficiency and in doing so, give them the greatest gifts – confidence and the means to weather the coming storm.

When preparing the kit keep in mind the spirit of the gift. It’s not to show off how much you know. It’s to put them on the path to prepping. Give them what they need, tell them why they need it, and show them how to use it, always with the subtle caveat that they must learn more on their own. Though it has already been covered very well in this blog, I humbly offer my personal opinion of the very basics of what might go into a starter prep kit. This, in the physical sense, will be your gift. If you don’t have enough redundancy to spare, you can purchase the items in this kit for far less that you’d spend on a new “stuff”.

At every stage remember that this is not a fully grown bug out bag; it’s a seed that will hopefully grow to fruition. Accordingly, each part of the kit should have a note on a 3"x5" card telling “why” it is important and “how” they can build upon it. These notes can - and should be - very simple. Information overload is not the goal; kick-starting their thought process is. For example, with the water you might write, “What happens when the taps won’t work? Several sources of water include swimming pools, ponds and solar stills. Did you also know that a small amount of bleach will help kill the bad stuff in untreated water?” Keep it short, interesting and friendly.

If you haven’t made a survival kit before, here’s an easy way to get a grip on how to start. The next time you go shopping, look around at all the shiny packages and think for a moment what you’d do if the shelves were empty. What would you feed your family? What would you use to light the lights, cook the food, cure a cold, guard the homestead? Imagine if you couldn’t buy what you needed. This is the sudden, terrifying situation that most will face, including your loved ones. Yes, those same mothers, father, sisters and pals who didn’t heed your hints, warnings or exasperated pleadings to be the ant and not the grasshopper.

Chances are if you’re reading this, you feel comfortable in your basic preparations. Can the same be said for your child, mother-in-law or best friend? If you’ve been practicing your best OPSEC, they might not even be aware of the hard work you’ve put in. If so, how can you expect them to have followed your lead and taken the necessary preparations to take care of themselves?

How long will they survive without your help? Give it to them. Remember the famous saying, “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.”

As a Christmas gift, the starter kit perhaps will not elicit the same shrieks of joy that a “stuff” will bring, but it’s one that will keep them safe when storms (natural or man-made) come to shatter the calm. It won’t last forever, nor is it meant to. By giving it to them now in times of relative calm, along with some helpful tips and suggestions, you’re giving them a lifeline in times of trouble, and hopefully a head start into the prepping adventure.

My gift to the unprepared in my family is a starter prep kit that includes the following. Keep in mind that this is representative of what my budget allows. Everyone’s financial situation is different, and you may find that you’re able to add more or that you must cut some items. If you have an extra backpack, you can even pack all these items inside it so that they will have a self-contained kit that they can grab at a moment’s notice.

Food – Protein bars, granola bars, MREs, canned meat and vegetables (and can opener). Snares, fish hooks, small fishing net and knife. A propane camping stove with extra fuel. Saucepan, fork and spoon. Salt and pepper.

Water - Bottled water, purification tablets, Katadyn water filter, Gatorade mix for electrolytes.

Fire - Flint and steel, lighter, matches, magnesium fire starter, cotton balls saturated in Vaseline and stored in a film canister and a fire starter stick.

Shelter - Survival blanket, extra socks, warm clothes, sleeping bag, wool hat, gloves, scarf or shemagh, hand warmers, hatchet or small saw for building a lean-to or cutting branches to make a windbreak. Flashlight and candles.

Self-Defense – Depending on preferences and your local legalities, a firearm or hunting knife, Sabre pepper-spray, staff, or stout rod.

First Aid - A basic small first aid kit will do, available anywhere and everywhere. Be sure to bolster it with items that may not be included such as an anti-diarrhea medicine, anti-histamine allergy pills, antacids and whatever else their personal condition may require. In the case of prescription medicines that they take, a note inside the first aid kit advising them to stock some will be a good reminder.

Hygiene – Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, foot powder, soap, shampoo, sunscreen, small towel.

Serenity – Emotionally and spiritually reassuring items like the Bible or a book of their particular faith, playing cards, pen and notebook, hobby or heritage craft supplies to productively pass the time, small game or toy for children. Most importantly, a small photo album with pictures of their loved ones to remind them what they are fighting to survive for.

Information - Compass, street and topographical maps of the immediate and surrounding areas. An empty envelope inside a Zip-Loc bag with a note telling them to fill it with copies of their birth certificate, driver license, health insurance information, medical records, emergency contact numbers and other important documents.

Very basically, what I’m giving them in this kit falls into three categories: supplies, information and support.

Supplies – The starter kit I just detailed covers this. Some readers will disagree and find fault. Many will suggest additions or improvements. And they’ll be right. The kit is personalized to the individual. Having the basics is vital, but specializing the kit to the one who will carry it is likely the key to their survival.

Information – This comes in many forms, but your loved ones may be panicked or fleeing and have access only to what you provide in the pack. Include a selection of concise how-to books, survival guides, maps and a printed plan of how and where you will all meet in case of an emergency, or a plan detailing your bug-in procedures. A printed version will be important since the unprepared are more likely to panic and a reference guide will be paramount to their survival.

Support – Include a card that is both relevant and sensitive to their situation. Try to maintain a positive tone. Do not judge or frighten. As an example, consider using this: “Dear Mom, I am giving you this because I love you and because I want you to be able to have what you need to deal with whatever life throws at you. If there’s a bad storm, or you have to leave town on a sudden emergency, I hope that this will provide you with what you need to make it. If you have any questions or want to learn more about anything please know that you can always reach out to me.”

The goal here is not to give them every last thing they could possibly need. That’s a long term project. Instead, make it your mission to open their eyes and give them the impetus to start thinking outside their safe box and taking the simple steps necessary to protect themselves.

At the end of 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7, “In a word, there are three things that last forever: faith, hope, and love; But the greatest of them all is love.”

With this gift, you are giving all three. Faith in themselves in case of an emergency. Hope that they can carry on and provide for themselves and their family. And, of course, the greatest gift of all that you can give, and one which needs no explanation - love.

Friday, December 10, 2010

My wife and I live in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina and we have been in serious preparation mode for about a year now. Let me explain what I mean by serious preparation: I am talking about creating a defend in place (bug-in) plan and a bug-out plan along with identifying and obtaining the necessary resources to carry them out.

Understanding how to Hunt, fish, trap, raise livestock, garden, can and preserve food along with the necessity of having an alternate heat and readily available water sources are still a way of life in the Appalachian Mountains. My gardening is the most vital resource for food availability, I could write an entire article on gardening for preparation. For now I will just say that I use heirloom seeds and some hybrid seeds. I keep them in my freezer until ready to use this keeps them fresh. I always have a supply of various seeds on hand. In a without rule of law (WROL) situation seeds may be more valuable than gold. Until the last few years our main concern has been natural disasters, i.e. snowstorms, flash floods, thunderstorms, tornados and the like, so we like many others across the nation are raised in a culture which teaches us to be prepared for the unexpected. Also our heritage is one of being a self reliant people relying heavily on our Christian faith and each other. I feel we are blessed in the area of understanding preparation.

Where my wife and I fell short was the realization that in a TEOTWAWKI situation people will be stealing, looting and scavenging without regard for human safety or life. About a year ago I realized our weakness and began to establish what I call defend in place, some call it “bug-in” so I began evaluating my property and home for adaptation, this is what I wound up with. We have a small home, about 1,000 square feet of living space with a full basement. I only had one access to the basement and it was outdoors, I immediately saw that was a real problem. I began looking for ways to create an indoor access, without remodeling the house along with a means of better securing the outdoor access. I removed an old abandoned in place floor furnace, kept the floor grating and built a set of steps from the opening into the basement. I then made a swing open access door that can be locked in place from the basement, while unlocked it can be opened from either side and with the grating in place and the door closed it looks like the opening has been attractively boarded closed and the grating used as a floor covering. By the way I sold the old furnace for scrap metal and had enough money to finance the project. I built a new door for the outdoor access out of two 3/4” pieces of plywood and used barn door hinges on the inside with security hasp padlocks on each side.

Why worry so much about the basement? I’m glad you ask, my basement doesn’t have windows, instead I have four 8” x 12” vents, if they are removed these make excellent observation ports for my hilltop location and if necessary shooting ports without providing an access point for any troublemakers on the outside. I have a small wood stove down there for supplemental heat and alternate cooking means for my propane camp stove. For an alternate lighting means we have propane lanterns and candles. I also store a supply of food down there (right now we have several weeks of canned and dried goods). I have ABC fire extinguishers and I am looking at a few gas masks with eight hours of cartridges. These would be for short term use by those using firearms in a defensive situation. Others may need to cover their face with wet cloth to help filter smoke or gas. Right now I have a basement that can serve as a bunker if necessary and we can even accommodate our married children and their families. This would give us the ability to function as a compound with security 24/7.

A co-worker of mine introduced me to the bug-out concept and we realized we were not prepared for this either. So I took an inventory of what we had on hand measured it against what we needed and quickly figured out we had everything, we only had to organize it into a bug-out bag(s) and plan. I now have a main pack with tent, sleeping bags, and clothes, two types of fire, folding saw, cook kits, leg hold traps, connibear traps and related items in it. I have a secondary pack with 3-to-5 days of MREs and food supplies in it. We also have a medical kit (not first aid) my wife assembled. She is former Army medical and has been a tremendous help with not only the medical side of things but also with planning and application. We have an older small pop-up camper that serves our camping needs and now fits into our bug-out plan just fine.

I can’t leave out self defense. Having a heritage in hunting and the outdoors I have at my disposal an assortment of hunting firearms that can also serve as a means of self-defense.  I realized it is impossible to take a cache of firearms on bug-out. My wife and I decided on a 12 gauge pump shotgun with choke tubes a .22 rifle and a .30-06 bolt action rifle along with three handguns. A .357 Magnum revolver for me, a 9mm pistol for her and a .22 revolver for general purpose use. I will carry the .357, she will carry the 9mm and the 22 revolver is in a hard plastic case for packing. For ammo we have a load bearing vest already prepped with ammo ready to grab and go.

Now that you know a little about our inventory let me discuss our plan with you. Concerning our defend-in-place scenario it is pretty simple since the basement is already supplied we would only need to move weapons and ammo in, lock it down turn on a radio (AC or batteries) or television if power is still on and organize the area for the situation at hand. The food we have stored in the basement is in five gallon containers they are easily stacked and don’t take a lot of room and they store quite a bit of canned and dried goods (food dehydrators and vacuum sealers are great investments). [JWR Adds: I discuss both of these in the Rawles Gets Your Ready Family Preparedness Course.] The five gallon buckets when empty can serve many other uses, i.e. planters, toilets, water containers, just to name a few.

Concerning a bug-out situation; first let me say that a bug-out situation is possible for my location but not really probable. In the event we had to bug-out I would hook up the pop-up camper; this takes me about two minutes. Then move the two packs the med bag and ammo vest to the truck. While I am doing this my wife is gathering the firearms along with five gallon buckets of food from the basement, the camp stove and lantern along with a five gallon bucket filled with propane canisters and candles. While doing all this I am carrying the .357 and she is packing the 9mm. We can do this in about five minutes with our four-wheel drive truck loaded we still have room for others who need to go with us and their supplies. If we need to lose the camper we can use the tent and sleeping bags. If we need to lose the truck we can as well and back pack it.

When considering a bug-out you need to decide on where you’re going in advance, we selected three locations, one local, one within a hundred miles and one west of the Mississippi river, the type of event will determine which location we will move toward. When planning a bug-out have multiple routes picked out, use an old fashioned paper map and don’t depend on a GPS, under certain situations they may not be operable or they may take you the most congested route. Know the gas mileage of your vehicle when loaded and store enough gasoline to carry with you for the trip, this way you do not have to stop and risk safety or pay extremely high prices for gas if it is even available. You never know how bad things may be and how restricted travel may be having options will only increase your chances of safety and survival.

As I am learning my way through preparation I see it as something that will always evolve. One of the fundamentals is that all of us must have a plan ready to activate which allows us to be flexible with its implementation; I personally see this as an important component of preparation. Since we do not have a specific scenario to prepare for its imperative we have the ability to adapt and improvise for many different situations.

I want to change gears just a little, let’s not lose sight of charity; I am not asking for anyone to give away the farm only to do the best you can to help others during a TEOTWAWKI situation. Set aside something for charity, we know there are individuals in our community who for various reasons cannot do much for themselves and they will not have much to barter with when the time comes. I’m sure there are similar people in your area. This area of preparation is something each person must determine for themselves. There will be con-artists, men and women who will even sacrifice their children if necessary in order to get hold of food and supplies. It’s difficult to comprehend but those people do exist and we must be prepared to deal with them. Also there will be those in true need, orphans, widows, elderly and the disabled. It will benefit everyone to consider it and have a plan in place to deal with it. We have some pre-made packages that contain some food, hygiene supplies, matches, an emergency blanket and a home made fishing kit (hooks, line, sinkers and bobber) and a personal New Testament. This kit cost a few dollars each and may make the difference in someone living or dying.

Learning self-reliant skills isn’t difficult it does take creativity, patience and some practice. For instance you don’t need several acres to plant a garden. Ten inch deep by three feet long plastic planters are available at most home improvement centers, dollar stores or lawn and garden centers of variety stores. They will work great for a mini-box garden they can be used indoors or in a garage or basement moving them outside occasionally for daylight. Several of them can grow a variety of vegetables that are nutritious and flavorful. Also don’t try to be a mountain man, while that may seem adventurous it is for the most part not possible for the average person today. You don’t have to kill all your meat, as a matter of fact hunting is a very big waste of energy, most of the time you will expend more energy hunting than you will gain by the game killed. The question comes; what do I do about meat? The answer is simple raise it. With a few exceptions most people can raise chickens and rabbits for eggs and meat. Did you know that rabbit is actually a white meat and has more protein than chicken, if you have never eaten rabbit you have missed a real treat. Hunting and trapping is great for alternate meat sources and should be learned and done when safe and practical.

Use your head, think, plan; read different magazines, books and forums listen to various ideas and adapt them to your specific circumstances. Most of all remember God, pray daily, read the Bible for guidance and encouragement, if you will allow Him the Lord will help you prepare for the difficult days ahead. I hope there is something in this article that will help others adapt what they have for a TEOTWAWKI situation and still be functional for day to day living.

Since I have a background in electrical and electronics systems my current plans include a photovoltaic (PV) power system that can be used in house to supply low voltage power 12/24 VDC for lighting and power for CB radio, scanners or other devices that would make life more comfortable and safe during a difficult time. This PV system would be portable and could be taken with me in a bug-out situation. Or I could build a second system and install it onto the roof of my pop-up.

Like I said in the beginning of this article, preparation is an evolutionary process that will grow with your experience and location. We must once again learn how to learn so we can be creative and live a fulfilling life. In the event of a TEOTWAWKI event I plan on living not just surviving and I plan on being as comfortable as possible given the circumstances we are in. My prayer for everyone reading this is that you will be able to do the same.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Hello James,

I see that you link to from your blog site. Any Soldier is a great organization that works hard to support our troops in the time that they need it most.

As a Gulf War veteran, I really appreciated the support from Any Soldier when I was over in Iraq. Now that I am back safe and sound, Airsplat, the company that I work for, it doing their part to help Any Soldier. They have pledged to send 5% of all sales to Any Soldier from people who come to the site and enter the coupon code "any soldier". The buyers also get a 5% discount. You can check it out on the Any Soldier site.

Thanks for your time. - John Durfee,

Monday, October 4, 2010

In Defense of Prepping: When Disaster Doesn’t Strike, by A.S.D.

Hi everyone. I’m relatively new to the prepping scene, as I’ve only been at this for a few years or so. I’d like to attempt to tackle a subject that, somewhat naturally when you consider what this site is all about, doesn’t often seem to be addressed on Survivalblog: what happens if disaster doesn’t ever happen?

You see, thanks to the diligence and enthusiasm of JWR, we have literally thousands of detailed articles and opinions at our disposal regarding a myriad of topics: food storage, guns, ammunition, homesteading, homeschooling, cache-building, spouse-convincing, water-procuring, and even forging your own metal, if you like. These are all excellent resources and I’m grateful to have them.

But I’d like to take a look at the benefits of prepping for those of us that will never suffer through a disaster. Why? Because statistically all of us will be inconvenienced at one time or another, and some will be in the path of a natural disaster, and at those junctures (and I’ve been through both) prepping already pays some dividends. However, by most estimates, an entire country only completely disintegrates every once in a great while, and the world has yet to end as far as I know it. In the interest in being candid about my position, a lot of people make a lot of money by instilling fear (and compulsion to buy and hoard stuff) in people. I should know, I’ve been a marketing professional for almost a decade and fear (of not being pretty enough, smart enough, or even prepared enough) can be twisted to sell almost anything to almost anyone. I hope it goes without saying that I am an ethical marketer, but it doesn’t change the facts about fear-based profiteering.

Here’s a little background on me. The town I was raised in was a sizable one (about 350,000 people) in the Midwest, with terrible urban planning, lots of sprawl, and at times fairly congested traffic. I grew up in a suburban home with parents living paycheck to paycheck. They had a little money saved, but not much. Our family never went camping, nor did anyone, except me, ever pursue any type of outdoor activity or skills. The most prepping my family ever did was to put a few jugs of water into our chest freezer so that it would run more efficiently. So even though we were completely and utterly vulnerable, I still lived just fine through the gas crisis of the 1970s, the recession in the 1980s, several fugitive murders escaping from prison and roaming our neighborhood (they actually robbed and killed an elderly woman that lived across the street from us), Y2K, and the tragedy of 9-11. We never ran out of food, the government never collapsed, and no riots or natural disasters forced us from our homes. It was, in short, a very peaceable and secure upbringing, despite the thousands of Chicken Littles that swore the world was going to end today (or tomorrow at the latest) from innumerable natural and man-made disasters.

So for the purposes of argument, let’s assume this: regardless of all of the dire predictions about fiat currency, wheat rust, global warming, militant extremists, bird flu, pig flu, dog flu, or e.coli, the world pretty well carries on as normally. I know that’s not a popular conjecture on this site, but let’s assume it does. Your storage food goes uneaten, your home arsenal never gets deployed, your gold sits around collecting dust, your favorite moderate libertarians take over and shrink the government and protect America’s assets and build upon her values, and you never have to stoke up the forge to make your own horseshoes (unless you just want to for fun).

What would the point be of prepping? Would the time and money still be worth it?

Although I believe that the world won’t end tomorrow, my answer to the question above is unequivocally, “yes.” What follows are my reasons why. I think these thoughts are very important to the prepping community as a whole, because let’s be honest, there are a lot of people who think we’re plumb crazy. And there are a lot of us that, Lord willing, will probably not experience the end of the world in our lifetimes. What follows are my reasons of why I will prep anyway.

Prepping is fun.

Prepping, for all of the doom and gloom that can surround it, is a blast! Shooting guns, imagining scenarios, discussing “what-ifs” with like-minded people, shopping, winnowing, and selecting the right things to buy, making things yourself that you used to pay for, what’s not to love?

Prepping can be like a “choose your own adventure” novel (remember those?). There are so many scenarios, and you have to pick a path that will enable you to be prepared for all of them while operating within the constraints (time, money, spousal approval, etc.). You get to focus on gear and equipment that helps you to be more self sufficient in the present as well as the future. While the rest of the world gets caught up on Lady Gaga and the latest political scandal, preppers are engrossed with fascinating survival gear while trying to figure out the real politics that matter to the average person. Plus, you’ll never look at a Sam’s Club or Costco the same way again.

I’m not being trite or facetious. I believe that most of the prepping community enjoys what they do and for them it’s as much a sport or hobby as a necessity. I’d love to hear from your readers on this.

Prepping helps put us in touch with the future.

Several years ago, my wife and I spent a month in Africa among the pastoral Maasai people of Kenya. These are people that live completely off of the land, and whose wealth is always measured by the tangible goods on hand (particularly cows) as opposed how many pieces of green paper they happen to have stored up. They make their own clothes, live off of the land and their livestock, and kill marauding lions with nothing more than a spear they have forged themselves and a handful of homemade arrows.

What’s interesting about the Maasai is that although in many ways they are the very embodiment of self-sufficiency, the most isolated tribes would make truly horrific preppers.

This is because some tribes do not even have a word for the “future.” They live completely and utterly in the present. Because they only focus on today, and they look only to the past for their other answers, the Maasai amass nothing but as much livestock as they can sustainably care for in their present environment. They respond to change by changing their location, but are otherwise extremely vulnerable to any real systemic change such as a long-term drought or the tragedy of urban encroachment upon their traditional lands. In other words, if something were to permanently alter the Maasai ecosystem, such as a bovine flu for example, their way of life and likely the Maasai themselves would be completely destroyed.

So where is this going? Prepping is good for everyone in that it causes the prepper to take pause, asses his or her current trajectory, and to plan where he or she is going. Executed properly, prepping causes us to stop living only in the present and to consider where we might be in the future. So many Americans live well beyond their means and under the crushing pressure of crippling debt solely because they “need it now”. They are literally borrowing against their families’ future by only considering their desires in the present.

Preppers are forced to think about the future. To sacrifice present comforts for future security. Even if disaster never strikes, the prepper is better off for preparing because the prepper’s mind is on tomorrow as much as it is today’s. While this can be done to a fault, it’s definitely a mind-shift from today’s “need it now” consumer, and that by any measure is a good thing.

Prepping can make our community circles even tighter.

Prepping is awesome because by definition is pretty useless to approach it as a solitary activity. Forming small groups or participating in virtual communities like SurvivalBlog is a great way to fellowship with one another. In a way, it’s kind of like we all get to build (hopefully only in our minds) our own little nation-states. Prepping communities discuss governance, utilities, security, recreation, and faith, and they do it with an earnestness and alacrity that goes well beyond simple conversations. They are in it not only for each other, but for an American way of life, religious freedom, and community values.

Plus, in our modern urban society, most don’t know their neighbors anymore. I lived in the suburbs for awhile after I got married, and here’s how my day went.

Get up, get ready for work Go into closed garage and start car. Open garage door. Close car door. Drive away.

Getting home was just the reverse. We never got to know our neighbors because they had cars and garages, too, and with air conditioning and central heating there really wasn’t much of a reason to be outside. It was sad, until we discovered that by intentionally reaching out to them by baking cookies or inviting them over for a cookout, we could get to know them. It took work but was absolutely worth it.

Prepping encourages us to engage our neighbors in conversation and to really get to know them. A close community is a secure community that looks out for one another. This is essential for prepping, and also a fine and satisfying way to live. Even if the sky never falls, it’s a heck of a lot better to know and commune with your neighbors than to live life from garage door to garage door commutes.

Prepping fosters self-esteem.

As a former Boy Scout who stuck with the program for a long time and now continually hikes and camps, I’ve seen this happen not only to myself, but to countless others. The first time someone goes camping, starts a fire, or learns how to cut down a tree, a little light goes off in their heads. Male or female, young or old, these basic essential skills prove to everyone that “I can do it!”

Think about this. As America transitions from a manufacturing and production economy (think building and designing stuff) to a primarily service-based one (think outsourcing, lawyers, and web site designers), fewer and fewer people are interacting with the tangible elements of life. Earth, wood, fire, water. Elements essential to the human experience for thousands of years. Now you can go through an average day and experience none of these things, and most of us do.

Prepping brings us closer to the natural elements we were created (or whatever your persuasion is on this subject) to live in. There is just something in our DNA, something in our soul, that cries out for the types of genuine experiences that activities encompassed by prepping can provide. Milking a cow, going camping with friends, burning wood in a stove or on the ground, grinding grain, growing some of your own food, learning a new outdoor skill. That’s where we’ve come from as humans, and doing these things in the spirit of prepping just feels good and reminds us of just how capable a human being (you!) can still be.

Prepping done right is charitable and sustainable.

To quote the “Story of Stuff,” if all of the countries in the world consumed natural resources in the same way the United States does, we would need 4 more Earths to provide the natural resources that world would require. While I don’t think all of the creature comforts we Americans have designed for ourselves are necessarily bad, I do know it’s not a sustainable way to live on this planet.

Buying houses that are too big, cars that guzzle gas, and eating only fancy imported foods from all over the world aren’t really lifestyle choices that are supported by the prepper. It makes no sense to him or her because such excess consumption now means nothing left for later – for surviving the end of the world as we know it, even.

This is a good thing. And as a practical aside, the prepper that stores food and rotates it periodically can give the rotated food to charity. Same thing applies for the other supplies that a prepper may amass. I have a friend that keeps an industrial pallet of canned goods in his garage rotates it every year. When he rotates it, he gives it to charity with still 1 year left on the expiration dates. That’s good prepping, and great community service.

With a focus on sustainable, self-sufficient lifestyles and keeping enough goods on hand to help out the neighbors, prepping is a win for the individual, the environment, and the community, even if disaster never strikes.

Prepping is Christian (but not in the way you think I mean).

One other piece of personal background you should know is that I’m a follower of Jesus Christ and he saved my life, both this life and the eternal one. One doesn’t have to be a Christian to be a prepper, but I’d like to make the case that the two are mutually compatible. In a loose paraphrase of the words of C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity, if you don’t believe, you can skip this part. If you do believe, read on and be challenged.

There’s a rather poignant reference to the ant in Proverbs, where the reader is admonished to “Go to the ant, O sluggard, Observe her ways and be wise.” It goes on to say that the ant, even with no one telling it what to do, works hard during the summer and stores up food for the winter, whereas the “sluggard” plays all summer long and then complains about having nothing to eat in the wintertime.

Prepping is Christian from this standpoint, which is also reinforced by the apostle Paul when he writes, “For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: "If a man will not work, he shall not eat."” For preppers this is often applied as “don’t sit around and wait for the government to bail you out, get your hands dirty and provide for your family,” with which I couldn’t agree more.

A theologian I am not, but after much personal study and discussion with individuals who are much smarter than me, I think the way that prepping is most Christian is a bit different than simply a robust and inspired application of the Protestant Work Ethic. In contrast (and Jesus was often wont to do when it came to certain Old Testament laws), I think the way that we can be the most prepared for the future is to recognize that we will all die one way or another, and that before we prepare anything physically we had better get our souls in order. Whether a prepper dies in a bus accident this afternoon or after 30 years of fighting for their family after TEOTWAWKI, he or she is just as dead in the end. Jesus Christ said, after all, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

At first blush, this may seem like the very antithesis of what preparing is all about. And in a certain way, it is. Our security can’t be found in our goods, physical things, or our communities, which can always be destroyed or taken away. But once this fact is known and truly believed, it frees us to be more generous and future-focused than ever before.

Like the ant, we are responsible to provide for ourselves and to constantly look out for our communities and our homes. Christ’s charge to place our trust in Him doesn’t mean that we sell everything and just sit on our laurels and expect manna to rain from heaven. He tells us to follow (this is an action, by the way) Him, to be like Him, to love like Him. Unlike the ant, our souls do not cease to exist after our bodies do in this world.

The one disaster that will strike all of us with 100% certainty is our own death. Living, and loving, like Christ makes a prepper’s plans completely future-proof, and life worth living even if the other disasters never strike.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

We do not know what the future brings, though in the survival community there is no shortage of speculative events that may occur. This article is a brief primer on psychological techniques that can be used in a TEOTWAWKI scenario to help prepare for and stave off psychological fatigue until a time at which you can properly cope with the situation at hand. Also, it provides some coping techniques to help get you back on track after all has settled.

Why are we so driven to preparation? The answer is death. It is inevitable, and we must all face it when it is time. Freud, whether you like him or not, posited that there is a death drive (later dubbed “Thanatos” by his follower, Stekel) which is innate in all humans. This drive, whether figurative or literal, can be used to explain our compulsion to survive and the reasons behind post-traumatic stress disorders and the recurrence of traumatic imagery. The idea is that we all have a drive inside of us that compels us toward our own end and that this drive acts contrary to our usual motivation, which is to seek pleasure. Being a more basic drive, it overrides the drive to seek pleasure and instead focuses us on our demise. In terms of Evolutionary Psychology, it is more important to survive and continue to propagate than it is to experience pleasure. In more general terms, this conflict between our expectation of death and desire to live (seek pleasure) creates anxiety in us.

This anxiety produces stress, which we tend away from and want to relieve. In order to do so, we begin to prepare to negate the fear of death. Preparation of the mind, body and local resources give us a feeling of security and reduces our anxiety.

Can I prepare too much?
In some, this becomes compulsive--almost to the point of [clinical] hoarding. “I can use this when TSHTF,” would be a common phrase that many survivalists and “preppers” have used when picking up secondhand items. Even if it is for a very unlikely survival situation, “You never know….”

Preparation for future unknowns in and of itself is not a bad idea. In fact, it is recommended by our own government to a certain extent. (Imagine them actually giving good advice!) However, it should be cautioned that when survivalism rises to a clinical state of obsession and compulsion, one should be cautioned that what may be occurring is a psychological reaction to fear instead of logical and rational preparation for future events.

So how do you know if you are a survivalist or engaging in unhealthy behaviors? A good rule of thumb is to honestly evaluate if it is causing distress or interruption of your everyday routine and relationships. For example, if you cannot make rent payments or buy groceries because you are stocking up on survival supplies, then you may need to seek professional help. Likewise, if you have sacrificed personal relationships with friends or loved ones to prepare for TEOTWAWKI, it may be time to speak with a professional. Any counselor worth their salt will be able to assist in setting healthy boundaries when preparing. Further, if you are constantly questioning whether or not you are going too far, then it is okay to speak with a therapist. It is better to alleviate your fears than to stress whether or not you are psychologically well adjusted.

This is all said with the acknowledgement that survivalists are usually independent and want to be self-sufficient, both psychologically and physically. If you know of someone that meets the aforementioned criteria, talk to them about it. Getting past the stigma of counseling is the hardest part of it all.

The most important point
If there were to be one point in particular that was the most important and the most helpful in securing psychological security, it would be this: Get yourself right in whichever religious tradition you subscribe to. In the end, the ultimate goal of survival is just that- to survive and not to die. However, as I mentioned above, we all must die, and we all must ultimately face death alone. Whether it comes in a disaster or in our sleep when we are old and ready, it comes. Much of the fear associated with the unknown future comes from the fear of passing away, so much of the stress can be relieved by learning how to not fear death. Whether in Christianity by acknowledging that one goes to see Christ or in Atheism by acknowledging that one lived a full life and did what they could to further the wealth of the human condition, that is the ultimate defense against psychological stress during TEOTWAWKI; To know that ultimately one has done all they could for their fellow man and [to please] God.

Preparation (pre-crisis) - Plan ahead
Psychological imagery is one of the best ways to prepare for an event. However, it can be also just as traumatic as the event itself in some instances. Keep this in mind as you play through scenarios in your mind. For instance, it is one matter to acknowledge that loved ones may pass away during a worst-case scenario. Do not dwell on this fact, however. Acknowledge it as a possibility and if necessary, focus on what you must to prevent it or to cope with it after the fact. Learn from your loved ones and make sure that you are spending quality time with them now. That will help to assuage the pain if the worst does happen, later on. This applies not only to survivalism, but in day-to-day life as well. Spend what time you have available now, wisely.

Run through your action plans and have them down pat. Just as a peace officer or martial artist uses muscle memory in a fight or crisis situation, so too will you use your plan of preparation when crisis strikes. Know what your action items are and have them prioritized. Make a list if you are unsure you can remember everything. This can assist in keeping yourself calm and collected when everything else is falling apart around you. Just as it is important for you to assign one person to one job after a major accident (for example, you need to go call 911. Another person needs to perform chest compressions, et cetera). You need one task: follow your list of action items one by one.

Also, make sure that you are steeling yourself for major fatigue and emotional turmoil. This can be accomplished by setting milestones for success. For example, one could set goals to gather the family, round up supplies, get out of town, make it to the safe area, unpack all necessary supplies, set up a security perimeter, and hold a family meeting. After each is accomplished, check it off your mental (or physical) list. This gives a sense of progress and accomplishment so as to provide a sense of direction and progress. Otherwise, one may feel that nothing is getting done and a sensation of becoming overwhelmed may set in.

As for the emotional fatigue, plan to have a few games packed with your survival gear along with some personal effects. This will tie you into a sense of normalcy and provide respite from an otherwise terrible situation. By occupying your mind with something other than the situation at hand, you give your mind time to rejuvenate and process information. By the time crisis occurs, you shouldn’t have to think of “what do I do now?” This is why planning is so important. When disaster strikes, follow your plan and achieve your pre-determined goals. Have contingency plans already thought out. This will help from overloading you with excessive planning after you have entered a crisis situation.

Lastly, surplus your preparations by 10% or more (excluding the surplus you intend for personal use). The 10% surplus is for charity, which will be discussed next.

During the crisis - Bottle your emotions up if necessary. Survive.
Crisis, depending on how severe, may push you past your breaking point. I often wonder if I could pass by a child standing on the side of the road alone and crying during a crisis situation. Would I take them with me? Leave them with some supplies? Look the other way? This type of situation is more than plausible, and one which I have found difficulty in preparing for. This enters more into the realm of speculation in American psychology, as studies are lacking on the best course of action. Minimizing incongruent feelings during a crisis is key (i.e., I want to live, but I want to help others too.), though it would be unwise to expend all of your resources. This is where your 10% surplus will play a major role. Charitably give out supplies to those in dire need as you see fit, though judicious disbursements will be a necessity. Know what your criteria will be, such as giving to those who appear unable to provide for themselves or within savable limits (not critically wounded). Though it is likely there will be much pain and death in a major disaster, providing for others and potentially saving lives will give you a sense of accomplishment and a morale boost that you have managed to do some good in spite of bad circumstances.

As a word of caution, there may be need to distribute your charity anonymously. As we see in many disaster stricken countries, any time aid is distributed, word spreads quickly and crowds become angry when they feel as though they have been shorted. Giving charitably may be done best in the dark of night, through a local church, or by proxy.

If violence erupts and self defense is necessary, make sure that you only engage in legitimate self defense. Consider whether you will engage in self defense by proxy (protecting others that cannot protect themselves). One man cannot defeat an army, so you must show some discernment when choosing your battles. We see this all the time in Third World countries where [untrained or lightly-trained] militias rule. If it comes down to it, the natural instinct is to protect you and yours. I am a firm believer that we have these instincts for a reason, and that we should follow them when we have no other frame of reference or guidance to work from. You must set your mind to an idea and stick to it under great stress. Unless you have military combat experience, taking a life may be the hardest thing you do. Under this stress some men have broken down in the most vicious battles (specifically in the two World Wars). Advancements have been made in combat preparations by shooting at silhouette targets and now through virtual reality games, which may be something to consider if you have firearms in your preparations. Remember what you are fighting to protect and let that be your guiding force.

In all circumstances, if it comes down to your survival or someone else’s (assuming you are feeling altruistic at that point in time), you can focus on one goal. (For example, to make it to a certain waypoint, survive to the next day, etc…) and push everything else from your mind. Ignoring the rest of your environment will allow you to escape indecision long enough to get you secure, at which time you can deal with the emotional fallout.

Also, consider these suggestions for the duration of the crisis event (especially when protracted):

Create chore lists on rotating schedules so that people do not become burnt out doing the same thing over and over again.

Play games. Have fun. It is important to have social interaction during this time. Play games like “I Spy” or make up riddles. Keep the mind occupied so that it does not wander into depression or anxiety.

Sleep. This is a very important component. If running a security detail during a time of crisis, make sure that the person appointed to security gets relieved and has a few days off to relax.

Make social connections. If possible, make social connections with like-minded individuals and groups (which you may have done in the preparation stage). Social support systems are necessary in disaster situations. However, stay guarded against situations that may jeopardize your security.

Engage in spiritual activities. Pray. Make peace with yourself and God.

Post Crisis- Let it out.
In this stage, professional help may not be available. You may have suffered great trauma or still be undergoing insufferable hardship yet need to cope with your emotional turmoil. Unfortunately there is no magic fix to dealing with guilt and grief. We have emotions for a reason and need to allow ourselves time to go through the grieving process after tragedy. Allow for yourself to feel the emotions and to be sad. However, counter irrational beliefs as soon as they pop into your mind. We all would do things differently had we known then what we know now, but that is the nature of our human existence. We do the best we can with what we know at the time. No one can ask for more than that.
Do not allow yourself to play the [past tense] “what-if” game.

It would be silly to believe that you will ever fully recover from a terrible tragedy, so do not expect too much progress too soon. Do not rush the process.

Do not dwell on what you could have done, but focus on your successes and the fact that you have made it as far as you have. Stay upbeat about the future and the difference you will be able to make.

Do the best you can to relive the traumatic images over and over. Allow yourself to visualize them as a life-sized picture in your mind, but then shrink them down until the images are very small. Then visualize them being filed away in your mind. This is a Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) technique for reducing the emotional magnitude of the memory.

Create a tribute to those who you’ve lost so that you can remember them and celebrate their lives. Take solace in your faith that they are in a better place. Do not allow the question of why they are gone, but instead ask how they lived. Use their memory to create in you a better self.

If suicidal thoughts enter your mind, remind yourself how you have survived thus far and the irony that you would take your own life after preparing to live for so long.

Talk to friends and family about your emotions. Let yourself express how you feel. By not doing so, you risk making yourself emotionally unstable. If you experience anger, sadness, violent outbursts, sleeplessness, nightmares or other similar symptoms, make sure that you keep talking to others and keep confronting irrational beliefs and feelings of worthlessness or guilt.

It will never be the same as it was before, but you can grow from any tragedy. Keep the faith and finish the race.

The preceding article is based on several psychological studies and adapted to specific [societal collapse] scenarios relating to the absence of all professional mental health assistance. It draws from multiple psychological theories and practices with several techniques mentioned. This text is not meant in any way to substitute for, replace, or amend proper psychological evaluation or treatment. All individuals who believe they may need psychological treatment are strongly encouraged to seek assistance from appropriately licensed mental health professionals. This advice is not provided for any reason other than informational and entertainment purposes and is not intended for personal implementation except in the absolute absence of any other form of mental health assistance.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


As a recent "convert" to Rawlesian Survivalist Philosophy, I very much identify with the author of "TEOTWAWKI: Getting Folks to Recognize the Possibility." I did, however, take issue with his conclusion regarding
his treatment of family members in a Schumeresque world.

Having recently presented my "list of lists" to my wife, she made the comment to me that my quantities were off. As a future pastor (I am currently serving in the Navy and preparing to enter seminary) she made the point that if the SHTF we would undoubtedly be taking in strays from my congregation who did not heed the warning signs. I thought this was an excellent point, and I think that all preppers should take this in consideration and consider expanding things like stored food quantities to allow for family members and friends who may show up at your door.

One of the biggest things I have respected about your philosophy is that it has a perspective firmly centered on Christ, and the truth of His Word to us. I believe that in a case WTSHTF, we will have an immense opportunity to see the way that God may bless us and bless others by association. But more importantly, I believe that we have to cling to right principles of doctrine. Though the author of this recent article makes a very fair case for turning aside even lazy family members, I believe we must adhere to the words of 1 Timothy 5:8: "If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an
unbeliever." James 1:27 and Matthew 25:34-40 are other good verses to help us call to mind that Christian preppers are preparing for the Kingdom as well, and part of that means putting our faith in Him and following His instructions to us. I believe that if we were to find ourselves in a situation where we feel we would be endangering our stockpile (and our immediate family) by taking in strays, we must remember to approach such a situation prayerfully and even make the hard decision to trust beyond our own understanding, where God may be providing in ways we have yet to see unfold. Regardless of circumstances, I believe we cannot fail where we exercise faith and follow the Lord's lead.

In closing, thank you for all your work, and especially for the highly excellent read that “Patriots” is. I look forward to reading your further work in the series.

Very Respectfully, - Michael W.

Dear J.W.R.:
I thought that I would share a quick note of how I overcame a similar situation of warning those that I love. I have been a long time preparedness minded person, and it has become a passion in my later years. I have five brothers and sisters, and my wife has the same. The family knows of our preparedness, and all think that I will have enough for everyone when the SHTF. With that in mind, I have tried my hardest to get them involved. The best thing that I have found is to apply to their strengths. I tried the just warning them path and met with resistance. After a lot of prayer and pondering, it came to my mind that if I used the strengths they each had, they would become excited and want to help. For example. I have a sister-in-law who has thought about food storage, but has never been motivated enough to do it, and certainly did not do anything past that. So in getting my medical supplies in order and to obtain things that are not common to Wal-Mart, I sat her down and told her what I was doing and what I wanted it for. I explained how critical the medical supplies are for a situation that I feel is right around the corner. With her being a home care nurse she took to it like a duck to water. We created a spreadsheet for what we have, what we need, what cost are involved, and what training we need. I have some supplies, and she has some. She thinks it is awesome. If she comes to the table with her food, and the best medical supply kit ever, she is more than welcome in my group. We have done the same with those who have auto skills on getting our travel vehicles ready. We have an engineer who took to ham radio, mother-in-law that took to the garden. I still have those who think that I am crazy and laugh, but I have been able to focus on the strengths of others and have got some great help. The best part is, we are getting experts is each field. This allows me more time to focus on other factors that I have been put in charge of and not have the stress and the worry of having to carry all of the weight. Keep up the great work and God bless. Thanks, - S.C.L

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

I think we can all agree that a deep larder is good insurance for bad times. There is some variation on how we approach this topic, but we probably all have a lot in common. I would like to present my approach to food storage to give your readers (perhaps) a new perspective. Some of them may have inadequate plans for feeding their families.

First, I have to admit that I am probably not as well prepared as a lot of readers and that my preparations could easily be improved if I were less lazy or worried more. I don't put very much work into survival preparation. I don't own very much equipment or a whole warehouse of guns and ammunition. I don't worry too much about which gun to use with what ammunition or what holster looks best with my outfit. I really don't worry about which brand of SUV might make a good G.O.O.D. vehicle. I finished my main preparations long ago and I now simply live my life as I wish, tweaking my preps here and there as the whim takes me.

I was able to gain a lot of peace of mind by rationally looking at the threats I face and prioritizing my needs. Preparation is easy if you plan carefully with a clear view of the likely threats. I assessed the risks, set some achievable goals, and executed the plan. Now I spend a lot of time fishing or messing around doing what I want.

Important Caveat: Skills definitely come first! You should never skimp on skills in favor of gadgets. Your best survival kit is your own noggin and what you put inside it. I am not advocating sitting idle. You should frantically be learning new skills all the time and honing your old ones. Use your time and money to learn valuable skills. The rest is just stuff.

I take a fairly flippant attitude about survival gear in general. With the right skills, you need surprisingly little equipment to keep breathing. I have firearms, of course and some ammunition, a few basic necessities, like a good water filter, a good grain grinder, camping gear, backup power, reliable vehicles and spares for everything. But all of this costs less than you would probably believe and I think I have my bases pretty well covered on equipment.

But I do take food security very seriously. Perhaps more seriously than some of you. I have traveled to several third-world countries and famine zones in the course of my military career and have seen hunger up close. I have eaten the same gruel given out by UNICEF and other NGOs in their feeding programs and watched powerless as children died from lack of a few dollars worth of basic foods. I have also seen that abundance of food doesn't do much to alleviate hunger if the finance and transport systems don't work. I have seen women with young babies standing along a highway, literally among corn stalks of ripe corn, trying to flag down a truck and prostitute themselves so they could afford to buy some of it. Yes, I take food security very seriously.

Food security is the first and foremost problem the human race has always faced. It's the specter that never sleeps for long. Thomas Malthus was right. Populations tend to increase as long as there is plenty of food, overpopulate in good years, and then starve when the food supply becomes scarce. You can actually correlate death rates in medieval England directly to grain prices. It's been that way throughout history and it still is today. We are just enjoying incredible surpluses and record-low food prices right now (for the last hundred years or so) because of technology and new lands coming under development. Predictably, the population has swelled logarithmically to take advantage of that abundant food. Starvation has become almost unthinkable in the western world. Unfortunately, those good times will end if our society ends. We will be back where we were a thousand years ago, anxiously watching the harvest to see if our children will live
through the coming year.

Food is the one thing you can't improvise. Any interruption in your food supply will kill you and your family, so you need to store a lot. How much is enough? Simply put, I don't think you are likely to be able to store too much. A five year supply is not excessive because there are always going to be people less fortunate than you who need it desperately. Food is wealth. Have you ever worried about having too much wealth?

I take food security seriously enough to make it my top priority. I have a tiered approach to storage that works well for me and I think it has advantages that other methods don't. I have long term storage, medium term storage and short term storage. And, I eat what I store.

Short and medium term storage items I keep in my home. Long term storage items, like wheat, beans, rice and white sugar are stored elsewhere in hidden permanent caches. My short and medium term goods are largely to see me through short and medium severity events, like a regional disaster or slow-slide economic decline. I don't intent to raid my long term storage until I am ready to replace it (in about 25 years, if I live that long) or in the event of an extreme emergency. My long term supplies are insurance, pure and simple, in case there is a major interruption to my family's food supply. I built my caches well and don't spend much time worrying about them. I don't rotate the food in them regularly or need to check on them often. But they will be a life-saver when (and if) I ever need them.

Most of the supplies I keep in my home are more perishable. They have to be rotated regularly. This is easy because we live on these supplies. I don't store anything we don't regularly eat. I choose not to grow a garden since I have some old injuries that make it painful for me, (also I am terribly lazy), so I have to buy all my fresh stuff at retail prices. If you can grow a garden and keep some livestock, like chickens, I highly recommend you do this. That would enable you to be much better prepared than I am. As a non-gardener, I shop every week to get fruit, veggies, potatoes, milk, eggs and cheese. I take that weekly opportunity to top off all of my rotating supplies. Anything we use up, I generally replace within a week or two.

In addition, to the perishables, I probably have about 3 month's supply of most of our semi-perishable staples like canned veggies, meat, pastas and sauces. All of these things, along with most medicines and vitamins, have a shelf life measured in months (or a few years in some cases). Wet-canned foods have to be rotated. You can save a lot of money and (surprisingly) trouble by home canning. The price of home canned foods are lower, even if you have to pay full price, plus it allows you to buy things in bulk when the prices are low.

In November 09, I started canning meat instead of freezing it and now I tend to buy about a "canner load" (20lbs) every couple of weeks and can it for later use instead of freezing it like I used to do. (My stocks of canned meats has been going up ever since). This has already proved to be a wise decision. Our freezer recently got unplugged and we only discovered it because of the smell of a few rotting steaks and the few pounds of fish I keep there. I glanced at my stacks of canned beef, chicken, pork and turkey and smiled. I figure my pressure canner paid for itself that day.

I also maintain about 350 pounds of wheat, 100 pounds of white flour, 150 pounds of dried beans, 100 pounds of white sugar, 150 pounds of white rice, 5 gallons of canola oil, 5-7 gallons of dried milk powder, about 30 pounds of dried eggs, 20 pounds of raisins, 25 pounds of salt, and about 25 pounds of dried corn. (I also maintain a fairly large stock of sprouting seeds, garden seeds and vitamins in our spare refrigerator). All told, I figure my wife and I could eat pretty well for many months in an emergency without dipping into long term storage. All of this stuff is rotated and eaten regularly.

Let me say that again. We live mostly on wheat (in many forms), rice, and beans. (we eat a lot of potatoes, carrots, onions, cabbage and turnips too, but I will cover that later). The other things we buy at the store are mostly adjuncts. While they would be sorely missed, losing fresh eggs, milk and cheese wouldn't cramp our lifestyle much. We cook with dried milk, cheese and eggs already and only use the fresh variants for fried eggs, sandwiches and drinking milk. We prefer the fresh, but use an awful lot of dried food in our day to day lives, just for the convenience.

I marvel at people who store foods they don't eat and really don't like. I met a man once who had a "whole year's supply" of expensive dried foods in his basement for several years. In all this time, he had never once opened a can and tried it. Once I talked him into trying his larder, he was sorely disappointed and lost all enthusiasm for storing food. (I have to admit that I didn't like it much either.)

This is a serious issue because I have doubts that most folks could easily transition to a "basic food" diet in an emergency. The caloric density of basic foods is about half as much as the diets most Americans currently eat. If you are used to living on fast food and plan to transition to a whole wheat and bean diet once the emergency happens, you are deluding yourself. You have to eat a lot of wheat to equal a double cheeseburger and frankly, If you eat mostly prepared or fast foods, (as most US citizens do) You have a finely tuned digestive tract that can't handle bulk foods and lots of fiber.

If you introduce these foods gradually into your normal diet, you will grow to enjoy them. I highly recommend that every survivalist attempt to live off of his stored foods. See if you can learn to like them. The benefits of doing so are tremendous. First, my grocery bill is tiny. Most of the foods we all store are the cheapest food you can buy. Second, a largely vegetarian lifestyle is not bad for you. You will feel better if you get most of your calories from grains and beans and eat more veggies and fruit. You will never buy another antacid or laxative and will have more energy. You might even lose some weight.

I am not advocating giving up meat products, lord no! I am a confirmed omnivore and eat more than my share of meat. I am only advising you to cut back on them. Too much meat is terrible for you and probably the most expensive food you buy. It might also be much too expensive after a crisis. Beef in particular is horribly expensive to produce. In most of the world, meat is too expensive to eat more than a few times a month. If you cut down on meats and other fatty foods now, your digestive system will already be adjusted to living on bulkier grains and other carbohydrates. You also won't get indigestion or gas from eating beans. Cut down now and maybe you will miss these high calorie foods less if they become scarce or expensive. I enjoy meat, and eat some almost daily, but I don't crave it any more.

FAMEAL: Famine Chow is a good way to introduce storage foods into your diet. This is a slang word for WSB or CSB (Wheat-Soy-Blend or Corn-Soy-Blend) used by NGOs in their feeding programs. Most Americans have never heard of (much less tried) this stuff. This is the same gruel fed to starving people in Africa and elsewhere. The only word that describes it is "foody". It's delicious. You can eat it as a thin paste or thicken it up and make dumplings or bread out of it. You can add it to soups and casseroles or even make cookies out of it. Best of all, it's healthy and cheap and made of storage foods. The NGOs buy it pre-made in big dog-food bags so they can just add water. The pre-made mix is extrusion cooked so it's easier to work with under primitive conditions. You are not going to find this stuff at your grocery store but here is how you can make your own:

50% (by volume) Corn meal or wheat meal. (I prefer meal to flour, but both work)
30% (by volume) Bean meal. Any kind..even soy. I use lentils because the are easy to grind.
10% (by volume) Oil. Any cooking oil works.
10% (by volume) Sugar or honey or syrup if you prefer.
Add salt to taste. You can also add vitamins by grinding a tablet with the mix.
(With multi-vitamin supplement, this is a fairly well balanced diet).

To cook it (it will be a powder) mix it slowly (it clumps) with boiling water (three cups of water per cup of meal). Turn off the heat and cover it and allow it to cook for 10 minutes. If you add the powder to the water and then try to heat it, it burns to the bottom of the pot, but a microwave oven works great for cooking the wet mixture. Or, use the powder just like flour for baking. It makes an awesome bean bread. It also makes a wonderful cake mix if you add more sugar and other flavorings. You can vary the amounts of everything, including water to suit your own tastes. Try it. You may find that you really like it. It's fairly tasty, filling and satisfying. My kids ate an awful lot of fameal muffins while they were growing up. They freeze well and make a good quick breakfast food if you are in a hurry.

Fresh Vegetables.
Potatoes, carrots, squash, corn, green beans, Broccoli, cabbages, greens, tomatoes, onions and turnips. We eat a lot of these crops, but I don't currently grow a garden. They are all difficult for me to store because they require a cellar or refrigeration, so I buy them as needed. Fortunately, they are cheap and abundant now and will remain so unless there is a major economic crash or other terrible disaster. When this happens, I intend to grow my own. I maintain a rotating stock of heirloom garden seeds for this. Potatoes require a little more work since you must start from root-stock and not seeds, so I will have to try to grow them from store-bought roots when I need to. If I am unable to grow any of these crops when I need to, I will have to do without. Until I can get a garden going, I will be forced to substitute a lot of sprouts for other fresh veggies, but I don't expect any insurmountable problems.

A word of caution: Growing a garden is not easy. It requires a lot of physical labor and practical knowledge. I have a solid set of gardening skills and years of experience, so I feel ok about just storing seeds. I have grown several gardens using the same techniques I will have available without modern society. If you have never done any gardening in your area, especially using only hand tools, you really should. Your learning curve will be steeper than you probably think. Learning is cheap now, but won't be later. Make your mistakes now, not when you need the food. You will have to grow a large garden to feed your family. Gardening is a critical skill! and so is food preservation.

Just as important, you need to learn which varieties of non-hybrid plants grow well in your area and the only real way to learn this is to grow a garden. Even a small one can teach you volumes. Your soil also needs building, so every season, your productivity will increase. You might find you enjoy it. Once you get good at it, you might be safe just to stock up on seeds, fertilizers and tools like I do, but build the skills first.

Long term storage foods:
Your long term storage is your capital for the future. We are going to need time to get our permanent food production capacity going again. We may need several years. I expect farmers in the USA to have to re-learn a lot of their skills once the machines don't work anymore. Plowing with a horse team (even if you have horses available) requires tack and harness and tools that don't really exist anymore. My father's generation in rural Tennessee were among the last folks who grew most of their own food using a horse team (Amish communities and anomalies like them excepted). Since then, the specialized tools needed have been lost to age, antique shops (and cracker barrel furnishings). Before we can go back to a simpler pattern of farming without modern machinery and chemicals, we are going to need to re-invent the tools and breed and train the livestock. This is going to take time. Your storage food is all you have to give you that time.

At the risk of sounding like a nut, I believe you can't have too much food. As long as it doesn't go to waste, the more you have the better off you will be if society collapses. If I were able, I would store a warehouse of grain and keep my whole community alive, but this is impossible for me. If everyone in the USA stored two years of food, we might be able to save many of them after society collapses. Unfortunately, even preppers rarely store two years of food. Most of us have a year or even less in storage. I am not confident that we will have adequate food production to feed everyone left alive two years after a collapse. I think three years is more realistic. Not only will that give us time to increase production, but it will give more people time to die. Starvation will be ever-present until we can grow enough food for everyone left alive and that could take a long time.

Storing food long term is not easy, but right now, it can be very inexpensive. You can store over a ton of wheat for the price of a new Glock Model 17, four spare magazines and holster. Cut down on your gun collection a little and you can store a lot more food. I store almost exclusively wheat, beans, white sugar, salt and rice. I have stopped using plastic buckets for my long term storage. They are just not sturdy enough to last several decades and they are not rodent proof. I use two-quart mason jars with a spoonful of diatomaceous earth, sealed with an oxygen absorber and the lids dipped in paraffin. This is a little more expensive, and the jars are breakable, but they are water and rodent proof and I figure the dry food will last basically forever. Jars are about a dollar each, but worth it for me because I store the bulk of my long term foods underground, where there may be moisture or rodents. Enameled cans are cheaper, shock-proof and probably a better choice for most purposes. If you have a secure environment, plastic pails with mylar liners are a good choice.

I have stored quite a lot of basic foods for a single family and done my best to get others to build up their reserves. But the sad truth is, all of my supplies would still last less than a year for my whole extended family. My meager supply wouldn't feed a whole town more than a few days. You can't feed the world and can't stop the coming die-off with your storage food. But you might be able to save your family and perhaps help a handful of people. If you are reading SurvivalBlog, then you are at least thinking about the problem and that puts you way ahead of the general population. I encourage you to go overboard. Store many times more than you need. Because you may want it. - J.I.R.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Most people find themselves looking at TEOTWAWKI as some sort of extended outdoorsy jaunt. Some people think of it as hard times. Me, I think it could be both, and then again it could be near mass extinction. But to make any type of sensible decision as to disaster preparation, you have to determine what is truly important. So let me simplify things for those of you all wadded up in bugout vehicles and plans for where to go and what ammo and guns are best to "protect yourself".

First, if you are dead, then you will no longer care. Game over, "DNF" and end of the line. So item one is your life. If you have family, then there is more reason to stay alive, as they will likely need you. Simple first question: do you want to get in a firefight over your home with someone? Frankly, I can live without my home, so easy decision. [JWR Adds: That might be the case in the cities and the suburbs, where a house is just a glorified box. But for many of us that have already relocated to the boonies, our homes represent our self-sufficient livelihood, since we've painstakingly built up stored firewood, gardens, orchards, vineyards, and flocks. In some situations giving that up would be akin to giving up your clothes in a blizzard.] What about my vehicle? Ditto - can live and survive without it. Pride? Pecking order? All ego-baloney that can get you in bad situations and get you killed. Avoiding confrontation is the key to not getting injured or shot. There is always someone with a bigger gun or a sharper knife or younger and faster than you.

The single best thing you can have as a survival tool is knowledge. Skills come from knowledge and can be taught and learned. But your best tool is your noggin and what you have packed away inside it. Read - test - trial - learn - practice - experiment. Use your brain to make yourself capable of surviving.

Guns? Honestly, you will be able to trade a copy of ‘How to reload cartridges without a reloading press’ for a gun if serious SHTF. Likewise, you can probably think of other things you know how to do that are essentials which are easily worth a gun or just a meal or a stay in someone’s camp. Can you make a mold from river clay and cast bullets? Can you fix a generator? Do you know how to get casing head drip from an oil well Christmas tree and use it for fuel? Do you even know if there are oil wells or gas wells near you? Do you know how to make pine tar? How can you make a simple pump to pull water from a well without electricity? Can you cure and store meat without refrigeration? The historical knowledge lists is long, but go back to the 1800s and do some research. If TSHTF, electricity is likely the first casualty, whether it is from catastrophe or switched off by runaway government whackos. Hurricane Ike was a nice practice run for us here in Texas, where many of us were without juice for over a week during the summer.

If TSHTF, the first thing to collapse will be corporations, as they are all about one thing - money. And money isn't worth anything when survival is at stake. During Hurricane Ike, people skipped work to leave town or rig up for the storm. If it is something much worse, then work will be "out of the window" for most corporate critters. We are much more worried about our families and our "stuff".

Realize that if you know where to look and how your little neck of the woods is set up, you can find resources to survive well rather than trying to tote all you need on your back. Take a drive and look around at what will be there when nobody gives a d**n about going in to work. Excess gear makes you a slow moving and appealing target for anti-social urban whackadoos with a 9mm and a couple of magazines. People only rob from those that have something they covet, so keep your goodies minimal, versatile and simple.

Think like a sailor - minimize material resources you consider absolute essentials and get what you need between your ears where you can live off whatever is at hand. Simplify - simplify - and then simplify again. I hate to get all twisted up in trying to outline all the possibilities - there are far too many. Know that whatever it is will likely be in some form or other we were not expecting in all our planning. Lower your expectations as much as you can - imagine it very uncomfortable, because if it comes to a choice between living or retaining some comfort, I am all about living.

Remember - Murphy's Law rules when TSHTF. The best capital for barter is knowledge - it weighs nothing, sells high and is viable currency when you have customers who need it. Skills run a very close second, but which ones are most valuable depend on what happens. Growing veggies will not matter if we nuke each other or California slides into the Pacific or Yellowstone erupts. Besides - if you can't grow beans you are likely doomed anyway, unless you are a doctor or nurse with practical field knowledge. But again, this is knowledge - and it will trade anywhere it is needed.

That's about as detailed as I think I need to dig into this. If you cannot wrap your mind around what I am saying, then you are unaware of the world you are living in and you honestly have not been reading your history enough. Read - learn - use your imagination. Know your own history and learn things that are practical, valuable and important to survival alone and in a group.

Lone wolves have lots of trouble surviving - that's why they naturally form into packs. The reason we are top species on this ball of dirt is our brains. That is what may make it possible for us humans to survive cataclysm where dinosaurs could not: think!

[JWR Adds: In my estimation, a large quantity of gear and consumables will be an asset, rather than a hindrance. As long as it is kept hidden and left unmentioned except to your most trusted friends, a deep larder can be a tremendous asset. It will carry your family through hard times, and also give you the opportunity to be covertly charitable. I also believe that it is naive to expect to be able to trade a book for a gun,--or even a huge pile of books for a gun. In a societal collapse, guns will be a precious commodity. It would take massive depopulation before they'd ever become "cheap."

Monday, April 12, 2010

In response to "Suburban Survival, by The Suburban 10" posted on April 10th: I expect that the author will receive a lot of feedback on what he considers 'Security'. Based on his erroneous assumptions on the role and proper use of a firearm in a suburban TEOTWAWKI situation, I can conclude that he is among the anti-Second Amendment crowd. Living in New York under the Bloomberg/Schumer cloud has obviously affected him.

That being said, I shouldn't have been so surprised when he wrote:

"8. I have friends who are police officers and have never fired their weapon in the line of duty. Do you really want to shoot someone? I train my family for a chaotic attack. We have code words and all have set actions when the code word is mentioned. No matter how crazy things get remember that everything is negotiable. Have a planned system for dealing with a threat other then sending bullets all over the neighborhood. If you can offer an item or two to the desperate individual (who may truly need help) then do so. If they really look like trouble or if they are armed then at least have pepper spray ($11.99 per can here in New York). If you are going to shoot someone, then expect to be shot at as well."

a) Police officers in the line of duty are not being attacked for their food (or other goods) by hungry, desperate people, but you (Suburban 10) will be.
b) "Do you really want to shoot someone?" Well, if they are attacking my family or looting our means of survival in a desperate situation, that is a resounding yes.
c) Code words and "set actions" Huh? Will they function when Mr. Murphy, of Murphy's Law fame comes a-calling? Not likely. And be very careful with 'set actions' because when your plan starts to unravel, what then?
c) Everything is negotiable?! Are you kidding me? (Okay, deep breaths...) Many of those you should expect to face will have already shot you - and your family - before your first word is uttered.
d) Plenty (if not most of us) who read this blog have trained to do a whole lot better than to 'send bullets all over the neighborhood'. Besides, that would waste ammo.
e) If you can offer an item or two to the desperate individual and do so, you should expect to be attacked for the rest. Maybe not immediately but they will return - that's why charity through a Third Party is the way to go. And what if you cannot offer anything to these 'desperate individuals'? Do you think they will shrug their shoulders and walk away?
f) If they are armed, and you are planning to use pepper spray? Your plan is going to get your family raped, killed and eaten.
g) "If you are going to shoot someone, then expect to be shot at as well." -- I can understand the "Live by the sword, die by the sword" sentiment but I have news for you Suburban 10, playing nice with the desperate, hungry zombies is not going to keep them from shooting at you. You should be expecting to be shot at regardless.

"Protection - The Lord gave us our eyes, ears and intuition." -- Yes He did. But he also gave you the right, (no scratch that...) the obligation to defend yourself and your family by any means necessary. Our Second Amendment recognizes and affirms that God-given right. You owe your family a lot more than pepper spray and positive thinking.

Good luck Suburban 10, you're going to need it.

In response to Suburban 10 his ideas are good, except weapons for self defense (I've also trained in Aikido with a 3 foot wooden staff. I would imagine it would work great for dogs if you had that issue and it is better then nothing, but not by much) and at 8 feet with a shotgun his weapon is out of reach and his life and all his possessions will be someone else's in a matter of seconds. I would say that if you came at me with a stick and I had a shot gun it wouldn't be much of a fight.

He really needs to rethink that people will be dealt with by talking about compromise when they are cold, hungry and what-ever might happen happens. I am happy he shared his views, and only a psycho wants to shoot someone else or be shot- it's nothing anyone wants to do. but it would seem that criminal elements know a show of force and weakness being shown will end up being an easy mark for someone or a group of armed people intent on taking something for nothing.

I also taught New York City (NYC) youths at a Job Corps, and know most people are generally good, but the gang elements are everywhere and underestimating them is a major mistake for urban survival. (The good news is without city lights most of these guys are afraid of the woods at night and won't stray far from the main roads if things get bad.) No one should ever tell me I can't defend myself when my life is in danger- nothing is off limits in that case, and the only people who will tell you 'you should not use a gun for self defense' is someone political that probably has armed guards to protect themselves. I value and note the anti-gun opinion. It is valiant but naive. If you have ever had more then one attacker assault you, then you will totally understand where I am coming from. Personally it's not even from a place of fear, it's more about being realistic and having a chance standing against someone physically bigger and stronger or someone more advanced in martial arts. People can only wake up to the reality of what it means to be beaten and or be defenseless in a life or death situation.

On the same note taking to a friend, his brother who is an ex-convict for armed robbery discussed how in his mind he didn't need to prepare for anything. He stated that he would adapt as his neighbors had a nice 4WD that would be his when he took it from them, other people had food that they would part with when he would give them the choice of food or life (and even got the idea that after taking the 4WD he would rob the nearest gun shop by backing in to it and stealing anything and everything he could carry.) thinking that criminals aren't going to be armed after the world changes is not only delusional it is a dangerous underestimation of the worst in human elements at large. Do I think that he'd actually rob people and stores for survival in an TEOTWAWKI situation? I don't know but I can't discount how his mind works and his talk about it when we discuss preparing for the worst.

Suburban 10: Please get an inexpensive shotgun and learn about safety and how to use it--that is if you are legally allowed to have your Second Amendment in the suburbia of New York-- the worst of the worst out there are not going to stop and talk about things like 'sharing' with you when they think you have something they want. They will kill you and anyone that gets in their way to get what ever they feel entitled to. This was created by the culture the Federal government is still making today with programs of entitlements for anyone that doesn't want to work.

BTW, the reason the police haven't pulled their firearm out in the line of duty is because they have one [in plain view] on their body while dealing with bad people every day. (And most smart criminals don't want to be shot ever by someone that is armed- they will find easy pray every chance they get.) You never hear about unarmed police doing the job, even in England where they were not armed they carry guns for their protection now! Criminals don't want to risk getting hurt or killed when they can steal from a defenseless old lady or man next store. Don't make yourself an easy target for the thugs out there by not thinking that some form of arms shouldn't be in the house. I also know that if you have kids you might have concerns over their safety, that is a matter of parenting properly and controlling your arms and ammo, and controlling your children. Another friend of mine had in the past more than 20 guns and his 8 year old daughter has gone with him to the range shooting (safely) her Cricket .22. She listens to her mom and dad and they all understand gun safety--such as keeping ammo away from the guns and items secure so she's not able to make any mistakes. He loves his daughter and wants more then anything for her to be a survivor, and self sufficient in a world of people ingrained to be dependent on others. (Safes, locks and secure areas are only part of the safety- teaching your kids about gun safety and giving them knowledge means ensuring their survival on a lot of levels.) Some of my friends that defected from NYC left great paying jobs to escape the pressures of having their kids deal with drugs, gangs and crime.

I know a lot of NYC people who have defected from socialist controlled NYC for more freedom out in the eastern Pennsylvania area. Sadly some of them have brought their NYC anti-gun bias thinking and bad logic with them to an area where the gun culture is in full swing. Most people in this area know that if someone robs a homeowner they risk being shot and crime for the most part is way lower then in the cities here in the woods. - Fitzy in Pennsylvania

The teacher who wrote this letter seems to be serious enough about survival preparation, but he seems to eschew firearms or any weapon more effective than a walking stick or pepper spray. I believe he is overestimating the decency of mankind and his control over chaotic situations. There are some people you simply cannot negotiate with. They will take what you offer and then torture your family to death for the fun of it. The veil of civilization is thin and humans have a dark side. If law enforcement disappears and the fear of being punished disappears with it, a small percentage of people will behave very badly. The first group of looters he encounters are likely to have him for lunch. He sounds like exactly the kind of prey the predators will be looking for.

His preparations sound pretty good for a regional problem or any temporary service interruption. They should also prove handy in a depression or decline where the grid stays (mostly) up and law enforcement are on the job, but without a more comprehensive defensive plan, he is depending on law enforcement to keep the big bad wolf away. If he has done a risk assessment and really believes that there will never be a total meltdown, his preps are good enough.

But, just in case things turn ugly, I would encourage him to at least get hold of a shotgun and load it with bird shot. His dog will warn him that a gang of looters has invaded his property, but then what? Call the police? If no police are coming or the phones don't work, then he will be out of options. If looters want what's behind door number one (his safe room), they will break the door down and take it. Pepper spray is not an effective defense. Any non-lethal defense [used on better-armed opponents] will likely provoke an escalation of violence rather than end it. Negotiating with hungry people is much safer if there is the threat of force to back it up. Trying to survive TEOTWAWKI in suburban New York will be a real challenge anyway. I would hate to try it unarmed.

Given his circumstances, it sounds like he has done well. Taking it to the next level necessary to survive a total meltdown will be much more expensive. Relocation is probably the only viable prep he can make for the worst case scenario. If civilization totally breaks down and a significant portion of the population are doomed to starve, his current situation is likely to be untenable. I believe living in the shadow of any major city could turn out to be a death sentence. As a teacher, his job moves with him much easier than most professions. Since I believe in the possibility of TEOTWAWKI, If I were caught in his circumstances, I would consider moving to a small town in Idaho or somewhere similar. - JIR


Mr. Rawles-
I admire that the writer has personal convictions, but not everything is negotiable. The safety and welfare of my family is one on those [non-negotiable] things. No, I don't have weapons because I want to shoot someone. I would like to believe that the weapons are a deterrent and might convince a bad guy to look elsewhere. Unfortunately the bad guy will look to a target that is not defended.

I know ownership of firearms is restricted in some locales, but I don't think pepper spray will dissuade an armed person intent on having their way. It is kind of like the old joke about bringing a knife to a gunfight.

I dare say that a preparedness plan that does not include a means for security and defense is nothing more than a stockpile waiting for a new owner that does have a gun. That would-be new owner probably doesn't have much in the way of negotiation skills. - Gordon in Georgia


There's probably been a rash of letters regarding the rather hopeful advice of "The Suburban 10", but I'll add my two cents worth...

For one, dispensing charity from your front door is surely an invitation to a worst case scenario, especially if you are relying on pepper spray (at best) to defend your children. Talk about "bringing a knife to a gunfight"!

Secondly, while i have previously advocated small dogs for a number of reasons, they are ill advised in this situation. After a week of barking, people will wonder: "Where is that dog getting its food?"

This letter seems to assume that things will get bad, but never "bad bad". It's a serious gamble, no matter how many "code words" you have.

If you plan to survive in the suburbs with no guns you really have to strip your house bare (like it's been picked through) and live in your panic room. Then, when a real intruder arrives they might assume there is nothing left of value, but you might want to keep a rabbit's foot, a lucky penny and keep you fingers crossed while you're at it. Kind Regards, - Bodes


Suburban 10:
I can appreciate the plan that you outlined here. You are among the 10% that are doing something. You have a great approach. However, I say this with the greatest respect, Learn about firearms. As you will recall, when Jesus was in the garden before they took him. Peter attacked the Roman guard and cut off his ear. Jesus healed him. He didn't tell Peter to disarm. And Jesus knew Peter was armed. Why do you think this event played out like that.? Because Evil needs to be resisted. With Prayer yes, but with action too. Jesus drove the money changers out of the temple. He didn't pray them out. I respectfully suggest you and your family learn about firearms. They are the sword of our times. Doesn't mean you have to use them. If you have one and know how to use it, you have a choice. If you don't have one or don't know how to use one, you will have no choice. Just my opinion, but the world is a better place with you and your family in it. - Brad S.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I often get letters and e-mails, chastising me for being an anti-racist. I call these "nasty-grams." I get several of them each week. Some folks, it seems, are deeply offended that I look upon everyone as equals. The truth is that people should be judged as individuals. (That is one of my core Precepts.) Anyone that makes blanket statements about other races is ignorant that there are both good and bad individuals in all groups. There is no inherent superiority in any skin tone or facial feature, any more than there is in any particular hair color. I have accepted The Great Commission with sincerity. It says; "Go forth into all nations" and it means exactly that: all nations. God's elect come from every nation on earth. Skin color is a non-issue. It is also noteworthy that Christianity started out as a religion of Semitic people, and by God's grace, it spread all over the world. It is not a "white man's religion", as some racists would contend.

I'm often asked, "Aren't you proud to be a white man?" No, I'm not particularly proud to be white, any more than I'm particularly proud to have a Pronounced External Occipital Protuberance (aka "Anatolian Bump") on the back of my head. That is just a product of genetics. So what? Big deal. But neither do I feel guilty or embarrassed to be white, as some liberals seem to be. Do genetic traits make any difference in my standing with God? Certainly not. Granted, many of the scientific advances of the modern age came from some very creative deceased white guys. But again, will any of the fruits of Western Civilization mean anything when I meet my maker? No. Only one thing will matter: Whether or not I've accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior. That is a distinction that I can and will share with Aborigines, Ainus, and Hottentots. I'm proud to be Christian, that just happens to be a white man.

I'm also chastised for being a supporter of Israel, and a defender of their right of that nation to exist. You should see some of my hate mail. I've been called a "Jew Lover", and a "Co-conspirator with the Mud People", and so forth. Sorry, folks but you will not convince me to change my views. The fact of the matter is that the Abrahamic Covenant hasn't been repealed. It is an eternal covenant. (Read Jeremiah 31:35-37.) It is also ground truth that Christians have been ingrafted into the same Covenant. (See: Romans 11:1-36.) So for a Christian to be anti-semitic is nonsensical. That would be turning our backs on the progenitors of our faith. Now it is true that the majority of Jews have been blinded to Christ's truth. (See: Romans 11:25) But in the days of the Tribulation, many millions of Jews will come to saving faith. They must survive as a nation, and live to see that happen. Israel must and will survive, as a nation. This was all fore-ordained, as shown in the scriptures.

The other nasty-grams that I receive the most often are about charity. Some people have said that I'm "hopelessly naive" to think that I can dispense charity in the midst of a societal collapse. Charity is not optional, it is Biblically mandated. I feel this very strongly, for several reasons. First: it is there in The Book, over and over again. There is no denying it. God said it. I believe it. That settles it. Secondly, I came to recognize that God's gift of salvation bestowed upon me, through election, and the profound realization that His gift was unmerited. I didn't deserve salvation any more than some of my neighbors deserve my charity WTSHTF. But God freely gave that gift to me, so I'm going to do my utmost to freely bestow charity on everyone that I can. Lastly, everything that I've earned and saved, I consider providential gifts from God. I intend to share it with those that are less fortunate and those that currently lack the foresight to stock up for potential bad times. And for those that say that dispensing charity will be "a security nightmare", there are indeed ways to dispense charity anonymously. With these methods you can protect your privacy and the safety of your family. Plan on sharing charitably. Stock up for it. Don't neglect it. It is our duty!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Jim, et al,

Your reader was correct about what your garbage, mail, kids, etc. say about you as a preparer for when TSHTF. But keeping everything too close to the vest has negative consequences, too. So it's very important to remain open and friendly. Not only is this the right thing to do morally, but it also offers a layer of "social protection" if needed. This is especially vital if you have no choice but to stay where you are in a compromised area. Some tips, if this is a struggle for you:

First, don't be a recluse. Everybody knows that guy, and not necessarily in a good way. Yes, it can be tough to integrate into communities that we may see as ignorant or troubled, but if you are known to be generally pleasant that will go a long way. Tip your hat or give a casual wave (whatever fits your regional culture) whenever you see someone you have even a casual acquaintance with even if you say nothing. You do not have to give up your ideals or values to become part of a community. Join something that doesn't constantly test your opinions, or get to know others through activities that meet infrequently and don't require much disclosure on your part.

Second, remember that most people don't care if you talk, they care if you listen. The most loved, most respected -- and most protected -- person is the one who always had a few minutes to hear about the latest injury, illness, family news or local gossip. So practice becoming a better listener.

Third, do something important in your community. That's not to say it has to be high profile, but is should be service or compassion-oriented. Go ahead and join the gun club, but also consider the Kiwanis, and make sure you're the hardest worker at the pancake breakfast and that you readily help the old ladies carry their trays to the table. If you are a church-goer, skip the usher job or landscaping, and help with the food pantry or the homeless shelter instead.

Fourth, as Mr. Rawles says so often, practice charity now. Purposefully plan this spring to grow extra produce to give away, and make sure the neighbors next door get at least one of your jumbo chickens after butchering, eggs from your hens, etc. Offer to help with yard or household projects (such as putting up a shed or car repair) when it comes up naturally in conversation, or you see them working outdoors. Although that shows some of your abilities to self-sustain, it also makes you the expert when others need help, instead of some prepper who hides in the house.

In general, work hard and be nice. And that goes for the family, too. Other adults will disregard children's claims if they see the parent as a sane and helpful person, rather than a "hide in them thar' hills" type. - Gretchen in Northern Illinois

Friday, January 22, 2010

I am not sure bread is a food that is best prepared after a TEOTWAWKI situation. I consider it a luxury item. In a survival situation it all boils down to decisions. I am not saying charity should not happen but we need to get the biggest bang for our supplies. Bannock, cornbread, biscuits and tortillas take less effort and energy to produce and travel better than bread. We also need to consider OPSEC, since baking bread has to have a bigger signature than the baking of other breads. - Curtis

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I can't agree with you more on the subject of charity. Watching people starve is not in the cards for me if I can help it. In a TEOTWAWKI situation, you won't be able to help very much, but for a lesser catastrophe, most of your readers could really help a lot of people by working with local authorities or church groups to feed people until help can arrive. Water is an even more urgent need, but I would like to describe my own preparations for setting up a field bakery and soup kitchen. Maybe I can help inspire others to do the same.

Unfortunately, most modern Americans don't have the slightest clue what to do with a bucket of wheat. They don't have the tools, skills or other ingredients to make it into anything but boiled wheat berries. Even that might be beyond a group of refugees on foot. Handing them unprocessed foods like grain and beans is not going to be much good.

Instead, you can set up a bakery and soup kitchen. Of course, you will need help. A local church can supply manpower and probably manage most of the grunt-work once you get them organized. You will probably need to supply all the equipment except for tables and chairs. You will also need to supply the recipe and know-how and possibly some of the basic ingredients. Wheat, yeast, milk powder, oil, and salt. Also, don't forget the wood for fuel.

Here is a very interesting link that describes a WWI army field bakery.

That is sort of what I am talking about. Using the listed equipment, a six man section could supposedly produce 2,250 pounds of bread per day. The recipes they use are not that great, but you get the idea. Each run takes about 2 hours to bake (and you have two more runs rising at the same time). You don't have to get this ambitious. You can scale this down to whatever level you are able to handle. Even if you can only bake a couple of dozen loaves a day, you could really help a lot of people waiting for FEMA to show up and save them.

An outdoor wood-fired oven with enough capacity to feed a lot of people is a good thing to own. Unfortunately, I couldn't find anything for sale commercially that fit the bill. Using the old army model as a rough pattern, I designed and built my own.

My Bread Oven

First, I really need to admit that my oven is hideously ugly. The level of workmanship that went into it was terrible. Most of your readers can probably do better. For tools I used a hand drill, pop riveter, pliers, tin snips and a jigsaw with metal cutting blades.

My complete oven stands close to 6 feet tall counting the legs and maybe 2 feet wide and thick. It's a large rectangle with two oven doors on opposite sides and it stands about 16 inches above the ground on metal tubing legs. It's heated using a large hobo-stove (made from a gas cylinder) that sits underneath it. It can bake six large loaves of delicious bread at a time, and the hobo-stove uses about 10 pounds of hard wood per hour at baking temperatures.

The whole oven weighs about 80 pounds and can by carried by one man. A lot of the weight comes from the layer of tile I use to distribute heat (see below) and can be removed for transport. If you remove the legs as well, you can fit this oven into the back seat of a large sedan.

My design is really simple. It's basically two sheet metal boxes attached inside a larger sheet metal box. The inner boxes form the bread ovens (two of them). They both have doors cut through the outer box to the outside and hinged doors, also made of sheet metal. The bottom is open and a separate brazier or hobo stove is burned underneath. The hot air and smoke rises up through the open bottom, circulates around both inner boxes and exits through a hole at the top. Simple. If you make it tight enough, the smoke never touches the bread, so you can burn almost anything for fuel. (Mine leaks a tiny bit of smoke, so I have to stick with burning hard wood or untreated lumber).

I have a wire shelf just below the bottom oven that I cover with 4 inches of ceramic tiles to hold heat and insulate the bottom oven. This makes the oven easier to use and keeps the temperature in both ovens closer to the same. It works without the tiles, but it's harder to regulate the heat from the hobo stove. The object is to put some mass between the fire and the bottom oven. I use tile because I have it, but a pan of sand would work too.

The whole thing is assembled using pop-rivets. I used two largish rectangular trash bins for the outer oven casing. This can be almost any fireproof container as long as it is open at the bottom, large enough to contain the oven boxes with about 2-4 inches air space on 3 sides. A single metal box would have been better, but I found two stainless steel trash bins and simply riveted them together.

I made the bread ovens (the inner boxes) out of about 14 large cookie sheets. (Any sheet metal will do the trick. The heavier the better.) If I were doing it over, I would use pre-made boxes of some kind for the inner ovens. Building sheet metal boxes is harder than I thought it would be. If you can spot-weld, this chore is easier, but I had to use rivets, so my boxes leak a little smoke.

The inner boxes are riveted to the outer box, 4 inches above the bottom ceramic shelf, the top one about 6 inches above the bottom one. They are staggered so that the heat has to flow over both of them. The doors are on opposite sides of the oven to help with heat distribution. This gives you two smaller ovens, the top one about 50 degrees cooler than the bottom one. This works fine and gives you a lot of versatility, but it was a lot of trouble to make. If I were doing it over, I might make one large oven box. Try not to let your bread pans sit directly on the bottom, or your bread will burn. I used some little metal wire racks to keep mine about an inch above the bottom of the oven.

My oven legs are metal tubing scavenged from thrown away furniture, but I could have more easily used angle iron. They should be sturdy and hold the oven just above the hobo stove. This lets you tend the fire easily or remove it entirely. The stronger your shell and legs are, the better. More weight will help even out the heat, so heavier is better. Also, if your stove and legs are sturdy enough, you can set pots on top of the stove to heat water.

If your outer shell is large enough, you might consider building the fire-box into the oven body, like a real stove. I chose the separate hobo-stove for versatility, ease of cleanup and transportability. I made my hobo stove out of a disposable helium cylinder from a party balloon kit. Any metal cylinder with an open top will work fine. A bucket would probably work just as well. Cut one side of the container so you can add fuel from the side and several large air holes. Insulate the bottom with gravel or sand and you are finished. (A wire handle and a grate on top of the stove are nice touches, but not needed for this project.) Hobo stoves burn wood very efficiently because they form a strong draft from the bottom, so a long tube is more efficient than a short one and you need plenty of air holes. Regulate temperature by adding fuel, not by cutting off air flow. These stoves work best running hot and fast, so it's better to burn smaller amounts
of fuel fast and add more as needed. If you are doing it right, you will have very little smoke.

For fuel, I burn seasoned scrub oak sawed into 6 inch lengths and split about an inch or two wide. I have also used chopped up pine lumber and brush and dead limbs out of my yard. All of them seem to work about the same. To use this oven, simply light the hobo stove and let the oven heat up (about 10 minutes). Pop your loaves in the ovens and keep the fire burning at low to medium. (My hobo-stove is maybe 10 inches wide and can put out a lot of heat. It will overheat this oven if I get too happy throwing on wood. I think I could have gotten by using a coffee can for a hobo stove and making the stove legs shorter.)

Old School Field Baking

I am not going to insult anyone's intelligence by explaining how to bake bread, but I have some tips for doing it outdoors on a larger scale, that might be useful.

Be organized so you can quickly pass off the simple chore of baking to others. Once you get things running, there is no need for a highly-skilled survivor-type to stand there and baby-sit it. You are more valuable than that. Keep everything simple. When you set up your bakery operation, write your recipe and instructions in magic marker on whatever table you are using. That way anyone can take over and keep the bread coming while you do other useful work.

You need a good water supply. If you are carrying water from far away, you are wrong. It's much easier to carry finished bread than water. You will need lots of clean water to mix in the dough, but even more water for washing pans and bowls and utensils. You need several big water containers and a larger container for washing. (Army immersion heaters would probably work really well for washing up, but I don't have one, so I cheat and wash up inside at my kitchen sink right now. I have a large bushel size wash tub, but I have never used it for this.) Set up your washing station nearby so you can use it between batches. Bring lots of latex gloves [and non-latex for those that are allergic] and make all your helpers use them. Nuff said.

You will also need a hand-washing station wherever you are planning to feed people. Don't forget soap and paper towels. Food borne illness is a big killer after a disaster. You may save more lives with your washing point than with your bread. I recommend having disposable cups for soup and no other implements. Make them drink the soup. Washing up bowls and spoons is very labor intensive and not as sanitary as plastic cups. (You will need several hundred a day plus about 4 rolls of paper towels. Liquid soap is better than bar soap for hand washing.

You need some working space. Set up at least one large picnic table for counter space. Two is better. That will allow you to use one for cleanup and the other for dough prep. Spread a table-cloth or sheet of plastic. Keep a small pail of soapy water and a sponge nearby to wipe up flour and your area will stay clean. Lay out a cookie sheet on the table to lay utensils on so they never touch anything dirty. The ingredients should never touch anything except the utensils, mixing bowls and the bread pans. (After the bread comes out, you will need something to wrap it with after it cools a little, but odds are, the bread won't last very long!) The utensils should always sit on the cookie sheet and should be thoroughly washed between batches. Keeping everything clean outdoors is hard, but organization can really help. So can paper towels if you have them.

Mix your dough in a large metal container and don't try to knead it by the loaf. (I make six loaves at a time, which is still small enough to stir by hand). Don't knead the dough with your hands. Stir it instead with a sturdy spoon or spatula. A 16 inch length of 1x2 pine board works really well for this. Just keep it clean. For containers, stock pots work great. (You will need about six of them. It's hard to have too many.) Mix all your ingredients, stir it for about 5-10 minutes, put a lid on the pot and put it someplace warm for about an hour. (The top of your stove will be WAY too hot, but you can probably put it near the fire at the base. Another warm place is inside a car sitting in the sun). At the end on an hour, mix up another batch, punch down the first batch and transfer it into baking pans and lay these in a clean, warm place to rise again. (Clean as you go.)

Rising dough needs a clean warm place. Clean, warm place? That's the biggest problem you may face. If it's cold out, you can't use a car for a solar oven to warm your dough. Another good solution is to use a cooler. If you line the bottom with ceramic tile or gravel, you can heat up a rock or piece of metal and lay it inside the cooler to heat the air inside. I use 3 chunks of rebar and rotate them in the fire to keep the whole cooler between 80 and 100 degrees. If it's too cold for any of these methods, you are probably better off using baking soda instead of yeast for leavening. It's almost as good when you are hungry, and much easier to deal with in cold weather.

At the end of the second hour, pop your pans in the hot ovens, make another batch and fill some more pans. After this point, you will be producing one batch of bread every hour or so. My oven bakes bread in 45 minutes using my pans. Yours will be different, so you have to experiment. Remember, if you use my stove design, the top stove is cooler than the bottom stove. Let it cook a few minutes longer.

My stove body is very sturdy and the top has a single 6 inch hole for a vent. The whole top gets hot (probably 350 to 400 degrees at least. This allows me to put a stock pot and a couple of smaller pots directly on top of the stove to heat water. It will even boil small pots of water if you put them over the vent (You have to make sure you don't block the air flow). A big stock pot gets hot enough for soup. If you put a big pot of water up top, it will heat up to about 150 degrees in an hour. That allows you to add instant soup mix and serve soup with your bread for very little additional trouble and no extra fuel.

Normal bread pans can be used if you build your oven to the right dimensions. I was stupid and didn't do that, so I had to make my own pans to efficiently use the oven space available.

Every run of my oven requires about 15 pounds of flour, 2 pounds of dry milk, 4 cups of sugar, 8 cups of oil and a generous handful of salt. Figure 10 runs a day minimum at 150 pounds of flour. (60 big loaves a day is a lot of food). You will have to try your own system out once or twice using your pans and recipes to see how much it's going to cost you in supplies.

Your group can probably get flour or grain (popcorn, rice, wheat, barley or even millet) from somewhere locally to help you out. Even birdseed with un-hulled sunflower and rape seeds is usable if you grind it very coarsely at first and use a colander to get rid of the big hulls. (You can also float them away). Mix and match different flours in an emergency. You are not cooking for a 5 star restaurant and "It's all good." (Birdseed mix is not very good for bread, so mix it with wheat flour and cut down the oil you add by half.) Your life will be better if you have a flour sifter. A sifter or a course colander can also get rid of trash from dirty feed wheat. Otherwise, your finished flour will have hulls and such in it.

Flour is much easier to work with than buckets of wheat! You will need some way to grind it. I strongly recommend getting a good grain mill like the Country Living Mill and motorizing it. Even a car inverter (a big one) can run an electric grain mill. You are going to have to provide over 15 pounds of flour every hour! That's a lot different from grinding 2 cups of flour for some muffins. Grinding wheat by hand is soul-destroying work, so do anything you can to avoid having to do it the hard way!

If you are facing serious hunger and you need to add more solid food to your kitchen, rice is the natural choice. It cooks fast, stores well and is pretty filling. Simple white rice is very boring and may not be eaten by some Americans, even in a crisis. Even adding a few beans can make it more palatable. Rice and beans are probably acceptable to most Americans, but beware, beans take a long time to cook and lots of fuel. You won't be able to use a insulated cooker unless you have a lot of pots and patience. Waiting for the beans to come off might cause a riot.

Remember, any solid foods you serve are going to require clean utensils and containers.

If you store white flour, odds are, you will need to rotate a lot of it when a disaster strikes. Use it first. The extra nutrition provided by whole wheat is not that important for a healthy population. If they were well fed yesterday, they are in no danger of getting rickets or pellagra. They just need calories. You might even be able to claim it on your income taxes.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The recent earthquake in the island nation of Haiti illustrates the fragility of all societies. While Haiti is unusual in its lack of infrastructure and its high dependence on foreign aid--more than half of its annual government budget comes from foreign aid--it is still similar in many ways to other nations: From the 1960s to the turn of the 21st century, as in many other nations, Haiti became an urbanized nation. Before the 1960s a substantial portion of Haitian society still lived on rural semi-self sufficient farmsteads. But as urbanization and specialization went on, fewer and fewer people lived off the land and more and more citizens became dependent on foreign aid and a scant number of industrial jobs. This trend has been repeated around the globe, making nearly all societies increasingly vulnerable to disasters, man-made or natural. The resiliency of traditional agrarian societies has sadly become a thing of the past. Here in America, 2% of the population now feeds the other 98%. This is now something that First, Second, and Third World nations have in common. America is more like Haiti than we'd like to think. Human nature is the same in every culture and nation: fundamentally sinful.

The Thin Veneer

With a few exceptions, most notably in Oceania, traditional Christian values have slipped away in much of the western world. When times get tough the citizenry of most nations loses all compunctions about using violence to expropriate the property of others. As I've written before, modern societies have just a thin veneer of civilization that covers something quite odorous beneath. Here in modern western societies, folks like to think of themselves as highly civilized, but when the Schumer hits the fan, there's no difference between people in the First World and the Third World.

As prepared individuals, we have the opportunity to set ourselves apart with a higher standard of behavior than those who resort to their baser instincts in time of crisis. It's important that there are some of us that have both the means and the willingness to help restore order and free commerce in the event of societal disruption.

The recent events in Haiti should be a reminder that in times of crisis things can easily fall apart. What happened in Haiti was dramatic, and a naturally occurring event, but because of the vulnerabilities of all modern societies, there could just as well be a reversion to savagery in a situation such as an economic collapse. We need to have our Beans, Bullets, and Band-aids squared away, so we can focus on more important things in a disaster than just finding food and water. Not only do we need to just prepare for surviving the next day, but also to be useful in rebuilding infrastructures and free commerce. This requires preparing with logistics as well as training and practicing to be ready to step into the breach.

The Charity Imperative

First World nations have become focused on large organizations, both governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), dispensing charity. The collective psyche is geared toward watching suffering "someplace far away", and dialing an 800 number to make a contribution via credit card. While I truly appreciate people's generosity, it is something quite far removed from preparedness to dispense charity locally.

In the event of a disaster closer to home, credit cards won't do the job. It takes tangible goods in hand to solve crises in your own backyard. So, it's important that we stock up, both for ourselves, and to dispense copious charity to relatives, friends, co-workers, and neighbors. In the event of a nation-wide disaster here in America, there will be no relief from abroad. We must reconstitute internally, starting at the local level. Here is where your skills, your tools, your gear, your garden seed, and your grub will be crucial.

When it comes to knowledge you'll need to be prepared to disseminate crucial, yet simple technologies to your neighbors. These could include how to build a inertial water pump, how to build a simple 12VDC fuel transfer pump, and how to build simple solar projects, such as solar stills, cold frames and green houses, solar ovens, and solar dehydrators. And don't forget, that in the event of a crisis, your local photocopy center is unlikely to be in operation. So, it is important to prepare multiple hard copies of key pieces of information now, to have on hand to distribute when times get tough. There is a wealth of knowledge available on traditional skill and technologies in the SurvivalBlog archives and elsewhere on the Internet, from organizations such as Steve's Pages, Volunteers in Technical Assistance (VITA), The Hesperian Institute, The Peace Corps, OISM, Doctors for Disaster Preparedness (DDP), and Backwoods Home Magazine. Take advantage of these resources, and make those photocopies so that you will be able to share that knowledge with others!

Teaching for the Moment

Elementary school teachers here in the United States use the phrase "teach for the moment," to describe turning current events into teaching opportunities. I recommend that any conversations amongst your neighbors, coworkers, or church brethren be used as opportunities to spread the philosophy of family preparedness. Water cooler chit-chat should not just be "ain't it awfuling" sessions. You should instead use such conversations to encourage others to actively prepare for similar situations. And if anyone says, "Oh, but it couldn't happen here," then just remind them about the aftermath Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Not only has it happened here before, but it is likely to recur often within our lifetimes.

The Haitian earthquake of 2010 is a stark reminder of the fragility of all societies. It shows us that we need to be well-prepared and vigilant. And for those of us that are not Secret Squirrels, we should also be quietly and persistently leading public opinion, locally.

Friday, January 1, 2010

I am offering a challenge for your readers. I will match dollar for dollar all donations made by your readers to Anchor of Hope up to a total of $20,000. If they will respond, we can raise $40,000 for Anchor of Hope Charities. So that you know that I am serious about this, I am sending my donation of $20,000 to them today. - An Anonymous Donor

JWR Replies: Thank you, Sir, very much for your tremendous generosity! The Anchor of Hope orphanage and school is a very worthy charity with hardly any overhead. I am hopeful that more SurvivalBlog readers will also make contributions! To get the ball rolling on your challenge offer, I just made another substantial donation.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Your blog readers continue to be generous and devoted to efforts in Zambia through Anchor of Hope Charities. Your wife’s memorial fund continues to bring much prosperity to the children. [As of mid-December,] $12,692.43 has now been raised. There are several of your readers now making repeat donations. One generous check came recently for $1,000! This is amazing to me.

These donations continue to keep us busy! By us I mean two of us at Anchor of Hope Charities - and Ronnie and Kennedy Mvulo, the Zambian couple who run the orphanage. We are busy negotiating with local vendors, purchasing supplies, and coordinating the building efforts. We are also making plans for our next trip in May. Our hope is to have a medical team available to offer services to those in the surrounding communities. I would venture to say that 1,000 local people will end up camping out, waiting to see our US doctors and dentists. It should be an amazing experience for both Zambians and Americans.

It’s funny, Jim. Because of all the work that’s being done in the area, people are starting to take notice. They too want to be a part of the work. We are starting to see local donations of work and some supplies.

I cannot express to you what an impact we are making. But I’m truly grateful. My best to you and our readers. - Judy Kendall, Director, Anchor of Hope Charities

JWR Replies: I am most profoundly gratified to see such an outpouring of charity to such a worthy cause. I urge anyone that has not yet donated to go ahead and do so. For readers in the US: If you make a donation before December 31st, it will be deductible for the current tax year.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

I can’t help but notice there being a correlation between preparedness and Christianity. Most people I know who are getting involved, and most of the stuff I read on line is written by Christians. The one thing I haven’t read too much about though is what it will look like to share our faith after a collapse. In the grand scheme of eternity being able to grow in your relationship with Jesus and help others do the same is the most important part of being prepared. 

A friend of mine used to own and operate a Christian bookstore. His family bought it in the summer of 2001 and did okay. They were able to make ends meet and they were satisfied knowing they were helping people get closer to God. For the rest of that year following the 9/11 attacks my friend said he was pulling in nearly $10,000 a day. That was more than they made a month during that summer. He told me that people think more about God when tragedy strikes and we are reminded why we need Him. 

Everything goes in cycles. If and when the next Crash/Collapse/Outbreak happens it will not be anything that the historical timeline hasn’t seen before. Honestly I’d say we’re overdue. One thing that you will find that comes along with almost every huge upheaval is a revival of the things of God. When the world goes to chaos people want to talk about God. They might start by railing against Him, but it doesn’t stay that way for long.
            When reading your Bible I challenge you to find a passage that even alludes to the idea that when all Hell breaks loose we are to hide and let the damned be damned and the saved be saved. Read through the prophets (especially Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Habakkuk) and you will see what God’s chosen are called to do when the SHTF. Just because things get really bad doesn’t mean God is giving up on us. Don’t start thinking that He has unless he tells you to build an ark and two of every kind of animal show up at your retreat.
            When the SHTF we who are Christians we are called to be ever more vigilant. Paul charges Timothy to: “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2). I firmly believe this charge is to all of us who call ourselves believers. We are not exempt from sharing out faith just because things get really difficult.
            You are right to assume that I have never shared my faith after a serious collapse. I have been blessed to live in America and do my ministering here. The closest thing I have is ministering after 9/11. What I have more of is experience in sharing my faith with the desolate, homeless, and forgotten and when the SHTF those people will be the majority.
            From that experience I offer these points on Sharing your Faith after TEOTWAWKI:

  1. Take Care of Your Family- I promised my God, family, and self that I would not sacrifice my family on the altar of ministry. In 1 Timothy 3:4+5 Paul says of leaders in the church: “He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?).” It will be very difficult after TEOTWAWKI to minister to others if your life (spiritually and physically) is not in order. Our first line of ministry is to our families. We must make sure that in the days after a crash that our family is well fed, healthy, and spiritually sound. While working with teens, most coming from broken homes, I have found one of the most Christian things I can say is, “No, I can’t go hang out with you I have to spend time with my family.” This shows them a better way. Imagine how much we can show by our strong family unit after TEOTWAWKI!
  1. Take Care of Physical Needs of Others- Jesus gave us many beautiful examples of how to minister to both body and spirit. Jesus healed many physically; He fed multitudes, and even made money appear in the mouth of a fish. Jesus never ignored the physical needs of those He was talking to and He never passed up an opportunity to share His faith afterwards. As we prepare, if possible, store up enough provisions for at least another person. Have more than enough ammo, food, junk silver, and supplies to give out freely. This may not be possible right away but as you grow your own food and store it make sure a reasonable portion goes into your “Charity Stash.” This will give you ample opportunity to show others what Christ has done in your life. It is very hard to for a hungry person to hear the Gospel over the sound of their own stomach growling.
  1. Take Care of Spiritual Needs of Others- In the aftermath of a serious crash people will be extremely desperate and searching for answers. In times of trouble people start to turn back to God. There are examples of it in the Bible and through out history. People will be in a very open state when they are destitute. In the package you give the people who come to your door be sure to include a copy of the New Testament. A complete version of the Bible would be best, but New Testaments are considerably cheaper and easier to store and hand out. You can pick up Bibles cheaply off Amazon, or and library book sales. They may not have a lot of the study guides and fancy stuff but it has the Word. This doesn’t mean that everybody you help will fall to their knees and accept Christ on the spot but remember we are called to proclaim the Lord not convert people. Even if somebody leaves your retreat with a bag of rice, some ammo, and a Bible and they don’t seem to care you can’t know what God has in store for them.
  1. Be part of Community- One of the first things God told Adam in the Garden was: It is not good for man to be alone.  (Genesis 2:18). God knows we grow in community. After things start to settle down after the crash it would be good to be part of a community of people both Christians and Non-Christians. Hopefully at your retreat you will be surrounded by people of similar faith and will be able to have daily Bible studies and worship sessions, but after things settle it would be good to meet with others outside the retreat. This may include people from another retreat or refugees squatting in vacant houses and buildings. Starting a church wouldn’t be very hard at all and any one with a love for Jesus and good Bible knowledge could take over as head pastor.

In reading the Bible it is impossible to deny that God will at times crash our world in order to get our attention. Habakkuk prayed for God to bring the Israelites back to Himself and God’s answer was enemy invasion and seventy years of captivity.  It is our duty out of God’s love to be prepared to bring others to Christ as long as we draw breath.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Knowing your Christian beliefs are similar to mine -- Calvinist, reformed -- I thought you'd want to know that the article you linked to is from a cult organization. It follows doctrines generally referred to as "Armstrongism" -- denying the Trinity and salvation by grace alone, and more false prophecies than can be counted.

Here's a write up from a cult watch group describing the doctrines:
Armstrongism: The doctrines and religious movement originating with Herbert W. Armstrong (1892-1986), who founded the Worldwide Church of God (WCG). Armstrong rejected such essential doctrines of evangelical Christianity as the Trinity, the full deity of Jesus Christ , and the personality of the Holy Spirit. Armstrong taught British Israelism and believed that worthy humans could eventually “become God as God is God.” Teaches salvation by works predicated on Sabbatarianism , tithing (20-30%), and keeping the Old Testament feast days and dietary laws. Under the leadership of Armstrong’s successors, Joseph W. Tkach and his son Joe Tkach, the WCG has undergone a radical doctrinal transformation. Scores of splinter groups, such as the Global Church of God and the United Church of God , continue to teach various forms of Armstrongism.

Though the article may have some merit re: survivalism, [linking to] it also could also lead some into this cult and away from Christ. With this in mind, you may wish to remove it from your site. With respect, - Chris B.


He starts by tipping his hat to survivalist foresight, but it degenerates into "Forget all that survivalist stuff, put your faith in God and God alone."

I'm in agreement with that in part, but God also told us to take care of ourselves and others.

"God actually wants us to recognize and overcome our tendency to trust ourselves. He is measuring the coming destruction of America and other nations because of our sin, our faithlessness, our self-reliance, our ignorance of Him and our belittling of His power. And if you understand the Bible’s prophecies about the severity of that destruction, you realize that no private bunker will be safe for long. No one is going to escape the coming tribulation—descending on the nation because of God’s wrath—through survivalist moxie.

Those who plan to weather the coming storms through their own foresight and ingenuity are underestimating the savageness of the time ahead. More importantly, they are misplacing their faith."

He wrapped with...

"Above all, God seeks repentance. And to those who turn to Him with supple hearts, He offers individual protection—escape—from the worst of the coming storms (e.g. Luke 21:36). That is the only sure place to invest our faith."

Okay, I'm in agreement with that too, but only after I've done all I can.

I can't imagine that God would have given me the mind I have and sent me down the paths I've gone down to just roll over and go cockroach waiting for the redemption when it comes time.

That would be a really cruel joke. I know bad things happen, I'm pretty sure it's humans at work. The duality of our souls. I don't think God is mean for the sake of it. Probably more disappointed than anything. - Jim B

Hi James -
I am sure you are aware of the recent post on the Trumpet web site detailing their particular view on preparedness. I am not a member of their denomination, nor do I agree with their viewpoint that the Bible precludes preparation and storage of food for more than a few weeks. Did not Joseph store seven years’ worth of wheat in preparation for lean times? It seems to this preparedness neophyte that the Lord has provided us with the precious gift of life and loved ones, and that for us to knowingly waste these gifts would be an affront to Him and his gifts. When the final tribulation comes and we are all called before Him, will it matter that I left behind six months of freeze dried food that will go to waste? More important is how I lived His gift, and how I shared the storage with those whom He has placed in my life. Perhaps I am missing something. Thanks for your great service, - Hunkajunk

JWR Replies: Yes, I 've seen that article. The author (Joel Hilliker) misinterprets Matthew 6:19-2 ("Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth"), in trying to apply it to food storage. Storing grain for your family's sustenance in hard times does not constitute a "treasure". In the modern context, I think that "treasure" is far more applicable to 48-inch plasma HDTVs. But it is certainly not applicable to the large quantities of wheat and rice that I have in my basement. The extra quantity (beyond my own family's needs) is there for us to distribute in charity--not something to gloat about, or run my fingers through, cackling, just to admire.

In his conclusion, Joel Hilliker also quotes a 1966 article written by Herbert W. Armstrong, as if it were authoritative. Obviously, Armstrong's writings would only be credible if he had made accurate prophecies. But in fact he had a horrible track record as a prophet, and he was fortunate that the Old Testament laws on false prophets (Deuteronomy 13:1-5) have not been enforced in modern times, or he wouldn't have lived to write that piece in 1966.

I've noticed that people tend to throw around terms like "hoarding" very loosely. Let's get something straight: Purchasing storage food before a crisis does not constitute hoarding. That is because it doesn't take food from anyone's mouth. But if someone tried to amass their supplies after the onset of a crisis, then that would be hoarding. Simple logic dictates that every citizen that is well stocked represents one less individual that will rush to the supermarket to clean out the shelves, when disaster strikes. Hence, instead of being part of the problem, preppers are part of the solution. As I've often stated in radio and television interviews, I don't consider my family's three years worth of storage food a three year supply for one family. Rather, it is a one year supply for three families. Charity is essential, and Biblically mandated for heads of households.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

In September, 2008, Hurricane Ike--a Category 4 hurricane--pounded the Gulf Coast of the southern US. Some coastal communities like Crystal Beach no longer really exist. Inland, life was severely disrupted. For those of us on the South Coast hurricanes are a frequent reality. We were quite well prepared, but used the disruptions and dislocations as a test and opportunity to tune up our preparations.

1. Be ready to help others and to accept help We didn't need much during Ike, but the power went out before a neighbor finished boarding up his house. My 1 KW inverter, hooked up to his idling truck provide the juice for a Skilsaw and a few lights; allowing him to finish. Usually it is skills and not "stuff" that helps others and yourself. Besides strengthening a neighborly friendship, the number of damaged houses was probably reduced by one.

2. Keep your stuff squared away.. I repaired a few generators during and after Ike. I observed that every one suffering from lack of use; i.e. gasoline that resembled turpentine in the carburetor. People were at a complete loss to understand this. My daugher-in-law owned one of the generators that I repaired. She ignored my admonition to change the dirty oil ASAP and then once every 50 hours. Early in the next week it [ran out of oil and] threw a rod. She was in the dark for another week. Just a $2.99 quart of oil would have saved discomfort, ruined food, etc.
My portable genset, loaned to my daughter, was ready to go;  fresh oil, filters, valves set, exercised, load tested. It started on the first try. I came to check it and change it's oil as soon as it was safe to travel. The first thing that I did was turn it so the exhaust faced away from the house! She had placed it so that the starter rope was in a convenient spot. At least she had, like I had asked, chained and locked it to a foundation pier.

After every hurricane Darwin gets a few through accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. Don't join them. If you have a generator, get a carbon monoxide detector in case the wind changes and wafts exhaust in your windows.

Our own [permanently-installed] genset uses natural gas (a tri-fuel generator) which in the majority of cases is superior and much cheaper to operate. Over the 11 days that we didn't have power it consumed $100 worth of natural gas. I estimate that an equivalent amount of gasoline would have cost more than $300. I stopped it every 75 hours for oil and filter. If your genset doesn't have an hour meter, then add one. There are some inexpensive self contained hour meters made for lawn equipment that work very well and require no hard wiring. It's really the only practical way to keep track of operating time, without which, intelligent maintenance is impossible.

I noticed that many generators, some still in the box, on Craigslist following Hurricane Ike at bargain basement prices. I recommended to a friend he latch onto one of these and purchase a dual-fuel gasoline/natural gas carburetor] kit. Ants can profit from short-sighted grasshoppers.

It goes without saying have all your vehicles filled up and serviced so they can be depended upon with out much attention. Pay particular attention to cooling systems, oil changes, tire pressures, belts and battery terminals.

Develop a pre-event SOP: When we hear of a hurricane in the Gulf, we pick up loose items like branches that can be thrown by high winds and cause damage (aviators call this rubbish FOD), trim trees, check prescriptions, recharge everything rechargeable, treat the swimming pool with "shock" chlorine, get all the laundry and dishes done, get all the trash out for pickup, take “before” pictures, etc., etc., etc.

3. Have backups for your backups. The portable generator above was our backup to the natural gas-fueled genset. Then an inverter and ups. After that is a 100 Watt solar array I've been tinkering with to provide power for security lighting,etc.

My daughter spent up to two hours a day foraging gas, mostly waiting in lines. She found out that the problem with gasoline-fuel generators is gasoline! It's expensive, in short supply (when it is needed most), and it takes gas to go and get gas! Needless to say I rounded up the parts and the portable is now a dual fuel machine. Had it been able to use natural gas then she could have stayed home and been one less person waiting in line. And the machine still retains the capability to burn gasoline!

Since gasoline became hard to come by (it was impossible to get for a week after Rita) but diesel fuel was plentiful we did any necessary traveling in my old diesel Mercedes (which is EMP proof, BTW).

One important word on generators: Treat yours like it is the last one you'll ever get. Try and get a good one, I prefer either a Honda or Briggs Vangard engine. My Vangard portable is approx 10 years old and absolutely dependable. The difference is methodical maintenance. Keep the manuals, and read 'em ! Keep the oil changed, keep a fresh spark plug, keep spare [oil, air, and fuel] filters. Most importantly run it under load once a month. Unless it's new, pull off the cowling and clean all the dirt and dust from fins on the cylinder jug. Closely examine the starter rope, the fuel lines, et cetera. Replace 'em if they ain't perfect.

If you get a permanently installed generator carefully consider installing a manual transfer switch and other upgrades. With the exception of automatic "exercising" fully automatic generators these add a layer of complication and cost.

Don't store gasoline in the machine other than enough for one periodic test run. Develop a ritual on test runs: such as every other payday, or the last Saturday in the month, to reduce it to a ritual. I run mine monthly whilst cutting the back yard lawn. (The mower makes more noise.)

For storage between test runs: On portable gensets [with the ignition off, slowly ] pull the cord until you can feel that the engine is at the top of the compression stroke. This is where the engine feels like you are pulling it through a "detent". It puts the piston at the top of the bore and closes both valves. This protects the cylinder from moisture. If you store gasoline then use stabilizer, after six months burn it in your car and replace it. Few experiences are worse that trying to clean out a carburetor by a dim flashlight whilst being consumed alive by salt marsh mosquitoes. Trust me on this. BTW, I've had better results storing "winter" blended gas, since t has more light fractions and starts easier year round.

If you use gas cans; stick with metal, preferably safety cans. Plastics are slightly permeable and it will go bad much faster in a plastic can. On that note, [in humid climates] don’t keep spare spark plugs with the machine. This is because in outdoor storage the insulators can absorb moisture [and the metal parts can corrode]. Keep them inside or in a sealed can with some silica gel. An old one-quart paint can is ideal.

If you have a dual-fuel machine, then break the engine in on gasoline and make sure it operates properly on both fuels under load. Keep the necessary connectors for gas operation on the machine so that you don't have to go searching for that 3/8ths-inch pipe nipple with a flashlight.

Use high quality oils, and have enough. Don't forget to also store plenty of 2-stroke [fuel mixing] oil and chain oil if you intend to use a chainsaw. Maybe store some extra for your neighbors that are less prudent. I use Rotella brand synthetic oil and Wix brand filters, and have had good results with them.

Make sure you have enough oil, filters and plugs for at least two weeks (336 hours), or longer. Don't forget about your equipment after the crisis is over: There are valves to set, oil and plugs to change, etc. Even if you own two generators and have enough flashlights, automatic emergency lights, et cetera, things can, and may likely go wrong. Small children usually do not take kindly to being plunged into total darkness. Unless it is TEOTWAWKI, keep the candles in the cupboard, especially if there are small children about.

4. Double your plans for helping other people. Several relatives from coastal areas evacuated to our house (approximately 50 miles inland). I keep a 55 gallon drum of stabilized gasoline to fill up their cars to get them home. This was a lesson learned after the Rita evacuation cluster. How much food you will go through will surprise you. It finally dawned upon us that we almost always eat dinner (lunch to you Northerners) and sometimes breakfast away from home. So what we consumed whilst hunkered down seemed out of proportion.

We also sent some food home with people to hold them over. I was able to "lend" a retired neighbor enough generated power to keep his freezer, television, and fan going. He was genuinely happy. This also meant that he was one less person in line for ice, food, and so forth.

5. Keep a dial up phone line around, after 24 hours the cell phone tower generators started running out of propane, the cable modem (and the cable) went down with the power. Remember how to make that dial-up modem work.

If you're not a Ham radio operator, then find out where the local hams conduct their emergency nets, and listen on your shortwave radio (HF) or scanner (2-meter and 440 band) and you'll know a lot more that the local television news truck can find out.

If you have cable television, then keep a traditional antenna handy. If you live near a major market the local AM news station, then it is probably a good bet. Have a good UPS, plug the computer and the desk lamp into it. If you have a cordless phone, plug it into the UPS too. The UPS will take the "bumps" out of the generator's power; your computer will thank you. Make sure you test the UPS periodically by plugging in a 100 Watt lamp and pulling the plug on the UPS. I find I need to replace that UPS battery about every 2-to-3 years.

6. Plan for the guests. Have plenty of soap, have a small flashlight (preferably with rechargeable batteries) for each guest. Have things other than television to keep youngsters occupied. Try and get plenty of rest. You'll probably be plenty busy after you can poke your head out again. In this vein don't forget dishwashing supplies, laundry supplies, baby supplies, etc. If it's a predictable event such as a hurricane, have all the dishes and laundry done. before it hits.

A television in a room by itself will keep the racket contained from those who want to read, play games or just sleep. If you have the space, then a “quiet room” where  people can just rest, read, be alone, have some privacy or get a fussy to baby to sleep cuts down on contagious stress.

7. Make sure you are medically prepared. Have a rather complete first aid kit that includes a backboard and splinting materials. There will be plenty of cuts,scrapes, bruises, sunburns and sore muscles in the aftermath. Have Band-Aids, 4x4s, neosporin, peroxide etc. Have plenty of acid reducer and immodium on hand (stress and unfamiliar cooking), have at least two weeks of prescription drugs on hand [and preferably much more for any chronic health issues]. Have a good assortment of Tylenol, cold and sinus preparations, BenGay [muscle ointment], good  multivitamins, etc.

8.Be extra, extra, extra careful. You getting sick or more likely injured can really mess things up for everyone you have prepared for. Not to mention that the local fire/ambulance is probably already overtaxed. Be extremely careful handling fire and fuels. A lot of us are not entirely fluent in using chainsaws, small engines, fixing roofs, trimming trees and moving debris.[JWR Adds: safety equipment including heavy gloves, kevlar chainsaw safety chaps, and a combination safety helmet with face shield and muffs are absolute "musts"!] Don't get in a hurry unless there is a threat to life. Be hyper cautious, be very aware of your surroundings and things that can go wrong. Don’t toil alone. Make sure you have a clear path to beat a hasty retreat if things go wrong. Wear those gloves, safety glasses, boots and maybe a hard hat.

Don't overtax yourself. Getting a fallen the tree off of the roof today avails you little if it triggers a heart attack or heat stroke. Ask God's assistance and start over tomorrow.

Keep fire extinguishers near the gas generator, in the kitchen, and near the camp stove.

Avoid using candles at all costs, and absolutely prohibit smoking indoors for the duration. Have more than enough battery smoke detectors around.

9. Be ready to make temporary repairs.. The missing shingles, damaged windows, etc. Have some plywood, a few 2x4s, some Visqueen polyethylene sheeting, batting boards, duct tape, a tarp, some nails, and so forth around. If you happen to have a good cordless drill, then you'll find sheet rock and deck screws are very superior to nails. If you're squared away then you already have this stuff , but a neighbor might be in need, so buy extra.

Debris creates flat tires for quite some time after many events. Have a tire plug kit and a 12 VDC compressor in each vehicle. Repairs to structures, especially roof repairs guarantee nails in tires. Be ready for them..

Have everything rechargeable recharged. Make sure you have some traditional non-power tools, I have a handsaw that I've had for decades, a good bow saw, ax, maul, sledge and an old eggbeater style hand drill still get regular use.

10. If I had my choice of just one utility it would be running water. Fortunately where we reside is served by a well run rural utility district which has prepared well for hurricanes. Failing this, in addition to stored water I have a portable gas utility pump (Robin brand) that can pressurize our water system from our pool and has sufficient capacity for a fire line. The pool got a good jolt of shock a day before the storm hit.

11.Keep some cash money handy. For a few days [with no utility power] there were no functional ATMs, and no way to use credit or debit cards.

12. Keep a low profile. About a week after Ike a passerby indignantly asked "How'd you get your lights turned on?" This showed his ignorance on several levels. He seemed to think someone just had to flip a switch downtown and "shazam!" his lights are on. I couldn't make him understand there has to be an unbroken physical link between a power plant and consumer, this seemed to aggravate his obvious helplessness. Telling him that we had been making our own juice seemed to irritate him. I wonder who he voted for? People with this mindset (that the world owes them something) could be a genuine liability in a real catastrophe. (BTW on a news show during a piece about energy, I actually heard a lady refer to natural gas as “just another dirty fossil fuel”) and not be challenged on the facts. Little minds scare me. I think that the hyper-liberals would love to use the heavy hand of government to force the ants take care of the grasshoppers.  Keep a low profile. The best advice I ever heard on the subject (I believe it was Howard J. Ruff ) was to "keep your principles public and your actions private".

13. Keep a notebook, keep a record of what happened, but especially keep a record of preps you overlooked or screwed up, or stuff you ran out of, or skills that need to be added or honed. That's where most of the preceding information came from! Also keep tabs on what's scarce after an event. Gas was scarce, but diesel plentiful after Rita. In contrast, after Ike there was plenty of fuel, but few operating stations due to lack of power. (There was a "mandatory evacuation" during Rita which turned out to be a fatal traffic jam for a few poor souls which quickly emptied the filling station tanks.) Out our way the local Wal-Mart made a heroic effort and opened up on locally-generated power, two days after Ike. The sheriff’s department was there to “maintain order”. (Let’s just say that they actually wear brown shirts here.). This event was a lifetime opportunity to study the varied behaviors of people under stress.

There were plenty of canned goods and auto supplies. But fresh fruits and veggies were a little thin, no meat due to lack of refrigeration for a few days, batteries, Coleman fuel, trash bags, paper plates, disposable diapers, formula, and nails evaporated. The pharmacy was closed.

Even with the numerous mistakes we made, we were able to stay safe, secure and comfortable and help others while "victims" were standing or idling their car engines in lines. It was an opportunity to try things out under more or less controlled conditions. WTSHTF there will not be controlled conditions!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Before her recent death, my wife Linda ("The Memsahib") asked that any memorial donations be made to her favorite charity, Anchor of Hope Charities, the main sponsor of the Anchor Institute, a Christian school and orphanage in rural Zambia. It is a very deserving charity, with hardly any overhead expenses. You can make a tax-deductible donation via PayPal, credit card, or by check. See the via PayPal/credit card page, or the mailing address for checks at the Anchor of Hope Charities Donation Page. Thanks for supporting this worthy charity! May God Bless You.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Nearly every week, I get at least one frantic e-mail from a new SurvivalBlog reader, stating that they feel woefully under-prepared. The gist of these e-mails is: "I'm behind the power curve! How can I possibly get prepared in time?"

Fear not! Just by reading SurvivalBlog and taking some small, gradual steps at preparedness, you are miles ahead of your sheeple neighbors. And even with just modest preparedness measures, you have already substantially increased your chances of surviving most scenarios.

As I see it, here are your advantages:

Most people are clueless. They have a naive Pollyanna outlook. But SurvivalBlog readers see the Big Picture, and plan accordingly. Because you are constantly aware of current events, you won't be one of the Generally Dumb Public (GDP) masses that invariably gets petrified in a crisis. Instead of just sitting there glued to a Crackberry, you will be taking concrete, meaningful action. While others spin in circles like beheaded poultry, you'll be busy helping to get things back to normal.

Skills and Knowledge
Unlike the folks that absorbed in the mindless American Idol television culture, you've spent your available time in taking hands-on training, and reading up on practical and tactical skills. You've also assembled a home library of useful references.

Most of you have teamed up with like-minded relatives, friends, church congregants, and neighbors. Meanwhile, your average suburbanite doesn't even know the names of all of the neighbors on his block, much less know their skill sets.

You've bought the best tools you could afford, for all foreseeable eventualities. Whether it is your Hi-Lift jack or your Glock, you've done your homework and acquired the most appropriate and durable gear. Meanwhile, your neighbors have frittered away their funds on jet-skis, Beanie Babies, Hummel figurines, and big screen plasma HDTVs.

You've developed both "stay put" and "Get Out of Dodge" plans, plus a few alternates. You keep your bugout bag and even your passport handy.

Unlike the sheeple--who aren't prepared for even a three day power failure--you have your beans, bullets, and Band-Aids stocked away, in depth. While your sheeple neighbors are flocking to the grocery store, where they will most likely find only empty shelves, you'll be sitting pretty. And while they are pondering their two gallon gas can for their lawn mower--their only stored fuel--you have laid in enough to not only be ready for a crisis, but you cane even pick and choose your time to re-stock, when their are dips in fuel prices.

A minority of highly motivated SurvivalBlog readers have taken my advice and relocated to safer regions. I hope that more of you do the same!

You already have your commo and band scanning gear up and running. While most folks will be completely ignorant when the power grids and phone systems go down, you'll be coordinating with your Group, and keeping track of where the malo hombres are moving, and where they might be heading next.

Capacity for Charity
There is room in the hearts of most SurvivalBlog readers to dispense copious charity. We consider it our duty. And more than just the willingness to dispense charity, most of us just as importantly also have the capacity--namely, the requisite materiel. If you can't spare it, then you can't share it. As I often tell journalists in phone interviews: I don't look at my food storage as a three year supply for one family. Rather, it is a one year supply for three families.

The Bottom Line
To wax a bit metapohrical, SurvivalBlog readers are what the actuarial accountants would call "low rate qualifiers"--meaning that because we have minimized our risks and maximized our potential life spans we'd qualify for the lowest possible insurance rates. There are no absolute guarantees, but your chance of achieving room temperature at an early age is far, far below that of the average man. Pat yourself on the back, and then redouble your efforts to get squared way.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The hard economic times that I--and many others--warned you about are now here. We are clearly now in the opening stages of a full-scale depression that will last a decade or longer.

This news article (sent to me by SurvivalBlog reader Eric C.) .about an unemployed couple in Indiana is a microcosm of what we will be witnessing for the next decade. Take a few minutes to read it.

Our pampered society is in for a rude wakening. Now, at the risk of sounding unkind and judgmental, the term "white trash" comes to mind. Note that this man in Indiana had no savings, plenty of debt, and obviously no food reserves. Also note that despite his "austere" budget on unemployment insurance, he wastes hundreds of dollars per month as he smokes cigarettes, drinks soda pop, drinks beer (in large quantity), gambles, and pays for commercial car washes. His wife still carries a Blackberry with an airtime contract. Why are they buying disposable diapers, when they could be washing cloth diapers? The article also mentions that the husband has gained 40 pounds in the year since he was laid off. Did he consider planting a vegetable garden? Or washing his own car? (Both would have saved money and provided exercise.) This couple needs a serious lesson in budget priorities. They say that they are worried about their children's school grades, yet they still have a television and XBox games. It is time for a garage sale, to sell those time-wasting gadgets. Then regularly-scheduled trips to the local library, to get their children literate!

This gent is in his thirties, yet he has ruined his health with drinking, smoking, and over-eating. He and his wife seem to view military service as a last resort for their high school senior son. Well, I have a news flash for them: Both the son and the father should have enlisted! In 2006, the US military raised its maximum age of enlistment to 42. (BTW, as the economy continues to worsen, I expect the military to raise their standards considerably and eventually begin turning away large numbers of candidates, just as they did in the 1930s.)

It is also noteworthy that this man is on anti-depressants. He is not alone. Consider this article that was sent to me by Karen H.: Antidepressant Use Doubles in US, Study finds. That is alarming just by itself, but just consider what will happen if and when the Schumer Hits the Fan, and all those patients run out of their medications. (And their booze, and their cigarettes, and their marijuana, and their MTV, and their Crackberry instant messages, and their chocolate, and their American Idol, and their Dunkin' Donuts, and their porn, and their meth, and their soap operas, and their "Energy" drinks.) This could get very ugly, very quickly, once so many millions of suddenly very cranky, very desperate people start roaming the streets. My suggestion is: Don't be near then, in any significant numbers. Move to hinterboonies.

In summary: I had no idea that wallowing in self-pity was such exhausting, time-consuming work. At least they have a comfortable couch and recliner. This old quote mentioned by a SurvivalBlog reader sums up their situation: "The Lord does not bless the farmer who leans on his hoe."

Here is my advice for SurvivalBlog readers on how to survive the currently unfolding Depression:

  • Work cheerfully and diligently. It is slackers that find themselves unemployed first.
  • Get debt free and stay debt free. Take on no new indebtedness, and pay down the debts you already have.
  • Learn to distinguish essentials from non-essentials.
  • Write a budget, and stick to it. Whittle it, as necessary, to avoid debt.
  • Sell off your useless Beanie babies and assorted knickknacks.
  • Increase your savings
  • Build up your food storage
  • Diversify your investments. Don't put all your money in one bank.
  • Check your bank or S&L's safety rating at Check your stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, and insurers, while you are at it.)
  • Hedge your investments with some tangibles
  • Sell off any vacation or rental properties that don't have retreat potential
  • If you move, then it should be to a place near a secure job, and preferably to a piece of farm or ranch land that provides some self-sufficiency.
  • Develop a second stream of income.
  • Release yourself from your addictions. Pray fervently, and if need be, seek help.
  • Plant a garden.
  • Stay in shape.
  • Be willing to accept work that is lower paying or less appealing
  • Be charitable.
  • Most importantly: Get right with God. (Believe, repent of your sin, confess Jesus as your savior, and be baptized.) It is time to pray hard, folks! I believe in predestination. If you are reading this, and feel convicted to make change in your life, then you are fulfilling what God has had planned for you since "before the foundations of the Earth."

Forgive me for ranting, but that article about the unemployed family in Indiana got me a bit riled up.

One suggestion, in closing: If you get laid-off, do not move to a relative's basement in Michigan. Instead, move to where you can find work, even if it hard, "rolled up sleeves" work.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I frequently stress the importance of well-balanced preparedness in my writings. All too often, I've seen people that go to extremes, to the point that these extremes actually detract from the ability to survive a disaster situation. These range from the "all the gear that I'll need to survive is in my backpack" mentality to the "a truckload of this or that" fixation. But genuine preparedness lies in comprehensive planning, strict budgeting, and moderation. Blowing your entire preparedness budget on just one category of gear is detrimental to your overall preparedness.

Another common mistake that I see among my consulting clients is an over-emphasis on either very old technologies or on the "latest and greatest" technologies. In the real world, preparedness necessitates having a bit of both. At the Rawles Ranch we have both 19th century technology (like hand-powered tools) and a few of the latest technologies like passive IR intrusion detection (Dakota Alerts), photovoltaics, and electronic night vision. My approach is to pick and choose the most appropriate technologies that I can maintain by myself, but to always have backups in the form of less exotic or earlier, albeit less-efficient technologies. For example, my main shortwave receiver is a Sony ICF-SW7600GR. But in the event of EMP, I also a have a pair of very inexpensive Kaito shortwaves and a trusty old Zenith Trans-Oceanic radio that uses vacuum tubes. Like my other spare electronics, these are all stored in a grounded galvanized steel can when not in use.

Here is my approach to preparedness gear, in a nutshell

  • Redundancy, squared. I jokingly call my basement Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR)
  • Buy durable gear. Think of it as investing for your children and grandchildren. And keep in mind that there'll be no more "quick trips to the hardware store" after TSHTF.
  • Vigilantly watch Craigslist, Freecycle, classified ads, and eBay for gear at bargain prices.
  • Strive for balanced preparedness that "covers all bases"--all scenarios.
  • Flexibility and Adaptability (Examples: shop to match a 12 VDC standard for most small electronics, truly multi-purpose equipment, multi-ball hitches, NATO slave cable connectors for 24 VDC vehicles, Anderson Power Pole connectors for small electronics--again, 12 VDC)
  • Retain the ability to revert to older, more labor-intensive technology.
  • Fuel flexibility (For example: Flex fuel vehicles (FFVs), Tri-fuel generators, and biodiesel compatible vehicles)
  • Purchase high-quality used (but not abused) gear, preferably when bargains can be found
  • If in doubt, then buy mil-spec.
  • If in doubt, then buy the larger size and the heavier thickness.
  • If in doubt, then buy two. (Our motto: "Two is one and one is none.")
  • Buy systematically, and only as your budget allows. (Avoid debt!)
  • Invest your sweat equity. Not only will you save money, but you also will learn more valuable skills.
  • Train with what you have, and learn from the experts. Tools without training are almost useless.
  • Learn to maintain and repair your gear. (Always buy spare parts and full service manuals!)
  • Buy guns in common calibers
  • Buy with long service life in mind (such as low self-discharge NiMH rechargeable batteries.)
  • Store extra for charity and barter
  • Grow your own and buy the tooling to make your own--don't just store things.
  • Rust is the enemy, and lubrication and spot painting are your allies.
  • Avoid being an "early adopter" of new technology--or you'll pay more and get lower reliability.
  • Select all of your gear with your local climate conditions in mind.
  • Recognize that there are no "style" points in survival. Don't worry about appearances--concentrate on practicality and durability.
  • As my old friend "Doug Carlton" is fond of saying: "Just cut to size, file to fit,, and paint to match."
  • Don't skimp on tools. Buy quality tools (such as Snap-on and Craftsman brands), but buy them used, to save money.
  • Skills beat gadgets and practicality beats style.
  • Use group standardization for weapons and electronics. Strive for commonality of magazines, accessories and spare parts
  • Gear up to raise livestock. It is an investment that breeds.
  • Build your fences bull strong and sheep tight.
  • Tools without the appropriate safety gear (like safety goggles, helmets, and chainsaw chaps) are just accidents waiting for a place to happen.
  • Whenever you have the option, buy things in flat, earth tone colors
  • Plan ahead for things breaking or wearing out.
  • Always have a Plan B and a Plan C

If you are serious about preparedness, then I recommend that you take a similar approach.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Last Sunday night my family drove home to the sight of a pillar of smoke that looked like it was coming directly from where my house should be. It turned out to be the next door neighbor’s home. The blessing is that no one was home, so no one got hurt. The downside is that no one was home so everything owned was lost. I mean everything – clothes, food, water pump, furniture, bedding, cash on hand, tools, toys, games, appliances, equipment, books – everything.

The Red Cross put the family in a hotel for a few days. But after that they came home with a rented shipping container that they are sleeping in. Did I mention they lost everything? The local churches have provided clothes, the neighbors are providing meals. The local funeral home director of all people is donating an old trailer as temporary housing. They will eventually rebuild. But in the short term it is a post-SHTF situation that we can all learn lessons from. Here are the top three:

#1 for me is a profound sense of gratitude and appreciation for everything I own that might have been lost had it been my home. We shouldn’t take our blessings for granted. The end of the world as we know it could happen on a personal level at any time.

#2 This is the opportunity to share supplies meant for starting over in a post-SHTF world. You learn by doing. No matter how much I thought I was ready, I failed to think through the details. For instance one of the things I gave them was boxed mac and cheese with a kettle to boil it in. They had no stove to cook it on, or milk or butter that the directions call for. My bad. I just didn’t think it through.

#3 Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. I can not get over the idea that if my home had burned while we were away – they only possessions that we would have left would be what was stored away from home. If you don’t have a couple of caches. Get them in place ASAP.

Prayers for those in need are never wasted – thanks in advance for them, - Mr. Yankee

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

In a recent phone conversation with one of my consulting clients, I was asked why I placed such a large emphasis on living in the country, at a relatively self-sufficient retreat. I've already discussed at length the security advantages of isolation from major population centers in the blog, but I realized that I've never fully articulated the importance of self-sufficiency, at a fundamental level.

In a societal collapse, where you are in "You're on Your Own" (YOYO) mode, it will be very important to be a net producer of water, food, and energy. This will mean the difference between being someone that is comfortable and well fed, and someone that is shivering, hungry, and thirsty, in the dark.

If you were to create computer models of a typical suburban home as compared to a small farm, they would probably present two very different pictures:

A typical suburban home is an energy pit. It generates hardly energy other than a bit of garden waste that could be used as compost, or fuel. A farm house on acreage, in contrast, can often be a net producer, especially if the farm includes a wood lot. (Standing timber that is suitable for use as firewood.) Properties with near-surface geothermal heat, coal seams, or natural gas wells are scarce, but not unheard of. I've helped several of my clients find such properties. For some further food for thought, see this article by Lester Brown over at The Oil Drum web site: The Oil Intensity of Food

A typical suburban home is a food pit. Just picture how many bags of groceries you tote home each week, month, and year. Compare than with the net volume of food produced by a small farm, or the meat produced by ranch. (For the latter, a ranch that is large enough to produce its own hay and grain is ideal.)

A typical suburban home is also a water pit, dependent on utility-piped water. But with a spring, or with well water and a photovoltaic or wind-powered pump, you can be a water exporter--charitably providing surplus water to your neighbors.

There are are of course some work-arounds for these limitations, such as installing photovoltaic power systems and rainwater catchments cisterns. But it is nearly impossible for a family to be a net producer of water, food, and energy, when living on just a small city lot.

Consider the inherent limitations of life on a "postage stamp" lot:

Limited acreage means that your house will always be a net importer of home heating fuel. Unless you live on acreage where you have a wood lot for firewood, you'll end up on the wrong side of the production-consumption equation. Photovoltaics are practical for lighting and running some appliances, but the big energy loads like space heating, hot water, and kitchen range cooking exceed what PV panels can produce, unless you are a millionaire. Yes, there are substitute energy sources, but most of those--such as propane-but those-are also "imported." Hmm... Perhaps it is worth the extra time and effort to find a retreat property that has a natural gas well, a coal seam or that is in a geothermal zone. At least buy a property with a wood lot, so you can heat your home and water with firewood.

Limited acreage and a location inside limits usually means restrictions on raising livestock. You might find a property that has been exempted or "grandfathered", but without the room required to grow animal feed crops, you will still be a net importer. (You will be forced to buy hay and grain, rather than grow it yourself.)

In many jurisdictions, it is illegal to have a private water well in a neighborhood that is served by a public water utility. This usually has more to do with maintaining a monopoly, rather than any genuine worries about a public health issue. There are of course exceptions, such as older houses with wells, that pre-dated the advent of a water utility. In many jurisdictions, the owners of these wells benefit from grandfather clauses. If buying such a property, make sure that the grandfather clause exemption is transferable. (Otherwise, you will have to cap the water well.)

One of the great ironies of urbanized life in modern-day America is that there has been a great inversion. In 1909, it was dirt poor farmers that lived on acreage, while wealthy people lived on city lots. But now, in 2009, owning acreage is something that most people only dream of, for retirement. In the more populous coastal states, the price per acre of land that is within commuting distance of high-paying jobs has been driven up to astronomical prices.

Have you ever stopped to think why there are large Victorian-style houses falling into disrepair in some Inner City ghettos? This is because at one time, those neighborhoods are where rich people lived. They were nice, safe neighborhoods, and were conveniently close to work, shopping, and schools. But times (and neighborhoods) change. These days, most of the wealthy have long-since moved to suburbs or to the country.

If you decide that you must stay in the suburbs, then I recommend that you at least relocate to a stout masonry house that is on the largest lot that you can afford. When you search through real estate listings, some key phrases to watch for are "creek", "grandfathered", "mature fruit trees" (or "orchard"), "secluded", and "well water." Another key word to watch for is "adjoins". It is advantageous to own a property that adjoins park land.

As I've often written, I recommend moving to a house on acreage in the country--that is if you can afford it, and your work and family situations allow it. But I'll close with one admonition: Don't bite off more than you can chew. There is no point on living on acreage if you have a large mortgage, and no working capital remaining to build up the infrastructure for genuine self-sufficiency. In fact, that would be "the worst of both worlds", since you would have higher commuting costs, a bigger mortgage, and perhaps even a bigger annual tax bill. Owning non-productive land may be worse than owning no land at all.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Mr. Rawles,
At the risk of turning on my local competition to the positive aspects of the free section of Craig's List, I thought I would mention a few of the things I've picked up in the past couple of weeks. These include:

A new round oak dining table and four oak chairs
Three boxes of canning jars with lids
A commercial fishing net (40' x 60'), to be used for keeping birds and other critters out of the garden
36 Concrete cinder blocks (approximate value $130)
Remington electric chain saw (yes, it works!)
30+ wooden pallets (can be used for the usual "pallet" stuff, or for use as firewood/kindling)
Commercial nursery went out of business; so I got more than 1,000 plastic seed starting pots in 3 or 4 sizes (filled my pick-up to the brim).
5 Commercial toilets (out of a church - they were remodeling; two for my current residence, and two for our retreat, plus one spare, for parts)
4 Large two-drawer cabinets
A 25 foot fifth-wheel insulated trailer for moving gear and supplies up to "der bunker", and subsequent use for weather tight storage. (Try to get insulated containers versus single wall, as there is almost no "sweating" inside)
The list goes on. . . .

As this current economic crisis gets worse, more and more folks are going to be displaced, and not having the money to move their possessions they either just abandon them, or place free ads on Craig's list or elsewhere.
In addition, Craig's List is a good source for many other items at very reasonable prices.

Keep your eyes open. On the more valuable items you have to be quick, sometimes responding within minutes. On many items we realize as survival oriented, most folks don't have a clue, so you might have more time.

One thought I had on the pallets for firewood/kindling is that while they are readily available now, in the future they may be less easily found. Now they can be cut into smaller pieces with a skill saw and/or electric chain saw, stored in fifty-gallon plastic trash cans for next winter, or whenever you might need them. Once TEOTWAWKI happens, going outside to hunt firewood may not be such a good idea.
So, if you have Craig's List in your area, keep checking the free section every now and then. There is no telling what you might find. - Chet

JWR Replies: I'm also a big believer in Craig's List. One important note: In the long run, Craig's List only works if folks "return the favor." Be charitable whenever you have things in profusion--even when it is just zucchini squash.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Many readers of Survival Blog are either in the process of moving to a lightly populated area or actively planning to bugout to such an area when the balloon goes up. Twenty years ago I moved from the edge of a large city to a fairly remote property, and have been quietly setting up the doomstead and perfecting skills ever since. In the process, I became part of the fabric of country life here and have learned some valuable lessons which may benefit the rookie country dweller.

Most full-time country residents are descendents of frontiersmen who ventured into the wilderness with little more than a rifle, axe, team of horses, and a large supply of guts. Country people hold many of the same attributes as their forebears; competence, toughness, perseverance, and a willingness to help their neighbors, be it for common defense or a barn raising. Many of these traits are at odds with modern city life supported by a specialized full-time job. Your transition to country life will be smoother if you consider the following:

Country People are Closet Doomers:
They can do lots of useful things such as shoe a horse, grow corn, weld, back a trailer, milk a goat, make tamales, catch a wild cow, troubleshoot an electrical problem, can a tomato, and shoot lights out. And that's just the women.

People here are armed every day as a matter of course. Most have been shooting all of their lives, so the level of firearms proficiency is way above average. I see lots of casual ARs and scoped bolt actions, so if my neighbors and acquaintances are any barometer, potential rampaging MZBs are in for some exceedingly tough sledding.
On a related note, there are a few bad apples in the country, but most tend to migrate to the anonymity of the cities. The outlaws who remain are generally well known to both law enforcement and the population at large, and are easy enough to avoid once you plug into the local grapevine.

Be Scrupulously Honest:
Country people don't care that much what you think or how you wear your hair as long as they can trust you. Lie or stiff a merchant one time and in 45 minutes everyone in the county will know it, guaranteed.

On the flip side, if you've been given too much change or an error is made in your favor with a bank deposit or charge purchase at a merchant, politely point out the mistake and insist on paying the correct amount. While such a gesture will usually be met with stunned disbelief in a large city, in the country it will be acknowledged with a nod and sincere appreciation. And never doubt for an instant that the country grapevine will work in your favor as the word spreads.

When I first moved here, I was able to open an account with any business in town simply by asking if I could charge a purchase. No references, no questions, no credit check, just an address so they could send a statement at the end of the month. Such an accommodating policy would most certainly not have been the case had I been late in paying those first bills.

Money is Overrated:
Country people never forget a kindness; they also rarely forget a transgression against good manners or honesty. The most valuable commerce in the country is not conducted in dollars but in trading, gifts, being owed a favor, and goodwill.

Become Part of the Community:
Self-sufficiency is a worthy goal, but in truth perhaps the most useful survival skill is contributing to a community which has a stake in your well being. To my mind, being able to call upon neighbors for specialized assistance or trade is just as important as beans, bullets, and Band-Aids.

Schools and churches are the glue which binds a country community. If you have children in local schools or choose to attend church, tapping into country networks will be greatly accelerated.
Also, small communities run largely on volunteers, so consider volunteering at the library, as a fireman, at sports fund raisers, community cleanup, or meals on wheels. JWR Adds: If you homeschool your kids, be sure to join the local homeschooling "co-op" group. You will be sure to meet the preparedness-minded folks in your community.

The Country is a Time Warp:
Time passes slower here, as it's based more on the seasons than on a clock.
Fight the city urge to hurry everywhere. Tasks are completed when time, required supplies, and any needed help are available, and not on an arbitrary schedule. Parts are generally not readily available as they are in a city, you might have to order a particular part and wait days or weeks for it to arrive, and perhaps have to improvise in the meantime.
The two main time-related lessons you’ll learn is that weather can throw a kink into any plan, and maintaining household water supply trumps almost every other concern. You’ll soon adopt a mañana attitude about most other projects, as there is always plenty more to be done while waiting for specific parts or supplies.
Slow down enough to take time to talk about the weather, trade recipes, talk gardening, help a neighbor with a project, and to watch a sunset.

Seek Out Those with Useful Skills Now:
Country life requires a generalist rather than a specialist, so trading your particular skills – whether carpentry, electrical expertise, or knowing what’s wrong with a row of beans - with neighbors in exchange for their skills just makes sense. In fact, there is even a term here, “neighboring”, which refers to a group effort of working each landowner’s livestock in turn without hiring outside help.
I have also become acquainted with various people who have huge gardens or dairy goats or sheep or hogs or teams of horses and mules or a small band saw mill for making lumber. Such people often don’t advertise and they may be hard to find, but the search is potentially of huge benefit to the astute survivalist.

As an example, there is a man here who has an old steam-powered grain mill. Another has a tiny combine for harvesting wheat and oats in the scattered small plots where it is grown in this area. Up until now, I haven’t used their unique services, but still make it a point to give these men a quart of honey from our hives every summer.
You will choose to help many of these people in time of trouble, just as they will choose to help you, but in the meantime always exercise OPSEC about your underlying motivations and preps. Country people have a wide independent streak so your desire to be more self-sufficient will never seem out of place.

Country People are Provincial:
But largely by choice, which doesn't mean they are stupid or uninformed. The vast majority are Internet savvy and many are exceptionally well-traveled and well-read. More than a few have made the decision to leave a lucrative city existence in exchange for country life. The level of overall awareness is high, so you'll hear more commonsense over a cup of coffee than you'll ever hear from Washington.
A few recent quotes I’ve heard regarding our current economic meltdown:
“I was going to sell all of my calves last fall but held back four in case my freezers start to look empty.”
“We’re breaking some new garden ground this spring, going to plant a lot more potatoes than we usually do.”
"I bought two more cases of .223 ammo, just in case the rabbits go on the warpath.” Listen and learn.

Never Underestimate the Amount of Work Involved:
Few farms or ranches here are entirely self-supporting, with one or both spouses usually working a “regular” job. The pay scale is considerably lower than in a city, so often people work two or even three jobs in order to live well. This is in addition to farming and working livestock on their own places. People work hard, and that’s in relatively good times.

If this economy continues to unravel, more subsistence-level farming and ranching may well become the norm, and that’s when the work really begins. Growing and processing most or all of your own food requires a tremendous amount of labor and expertise, with constant effort from everyone involved. Have no illusions about some idyllic country life of sitting on the porch all day, chewing on a grass stem while contemplating the vista. The trick for making subsistence agriculture work is for everyone to always be doing something constructive, whether it’s hoeing weeds in the garden, building a chicken coop, shelling beans, cleaning a firearm, playing with a toddler, or rereading one of your how-to books.

With that said, no family or survival group can possibly be competent at all of the skills required. This is when being on good terms with neighbors becomes essential; give them half of a fresh beef now for the cheese they can provide later on; the pickles you made are a fair trade for his baskets of peaches; your stash of supplies may well allow you to trade for a rooster and five hens (along with some expert advice on getting started); if you can provide the diesel, your neighbor might plow your garden plot after your tractor has thrown a rod. - Bois d'Arc

Sunday, February 22, 2009

I was raised in a missionary family, on nine different mission fields around the world. At the age of nineteen, I went out to serve the Lord on my own in the former Soviet Union. I had no formal Theological training, but was accepted by the missionary societies of my denomination because of my experience under my father and my willingness to go to dangerous areas.

I married, and my wife and I have now six children. A few years ago, due to some changes in my theology, I fell out of favor with my denomination and had to return home to the USA. I was faced with a situation of suddenly having to feed and care for a large family with: 1. no formal education/training/skills of any kind and 2. very little understanding of the southern American culture that I found myself living in. I was forced to take very low-paying jobs and survive on a low-income.

With our savings we were able to buy a small rural house and 7.5 acres in the southeast. We were able to pay cash, I wanted it to be ours with no strings attached, regardless of what the future held. I figured that at the very least we would have a roof and some plantable land. I bought in the area my parents lived in to help care for them as they progressed in years.
Our income is very limited. I work at just above minimum wage. I work a full-time job and another part-time job. I am thankful that the Lord provides.

As I studied current events I became concerned about the possibility of a world-wide economic and/or societal collapse of some kind, or a societal break-down here in the USA resulting from any number of possible reasons. I had witnessed the chaos of the nineties in the former Soviet Union, had watched doctors and physicists sweep streets and live off of potatoes and bread for months on end, and I was concerned about my responsibility to feed my family should a similar collapse happen here.

What can you do when you have very limited means? Actually there is much you can do. It amounts to setting goals and getting your family on board with you. The first thing I did was (after my wife and I had many long talks and she began to see things in a similar way), I gathered the family around and explained everything to them. I explained about our limited means, exactly how much money was coming in, how much went to utilities, fuel, etc. I explained what I believed the dangers were. I explained what we needed to do as a family. Let me interject here that after being born and growing up on a third-world mission field, they were far from spoiled children! They were accustomed to living in tight quarters, washing in cold water, eating cheap, and basically just "roughing it."

My first priority was for two weeks worth of provisions. We began to buy a few extra cans of food when we went shopping. I set a goal of 20 dollars per week for prepping. Some weeks ten dollars of canned goods and/or dried foods like rice, beans or noodles, and ten dollars in ammo or medical supplies. Some weeks just food, some weeks just extra gasoline. We bought gas cans at thrift stores and garage sales for a dollar apiece, Large scented candles (better than nothing) at closeout sales and garage sales for 30 and 50 cents, and just about anything we could scrounge that might come in handy if the lights went out. It did not take us long to build up enough supplies to last two weeks in an emergency. We had enough gasoline to drive to work for two weeks (if needed), enough food for our family plus a little extra, and candles, radios, batteries and other odds and ends to get by.

I had also along the way added to my ammunition stocks for my Winchester .30-30, and my bolt-action .22 LR.
After we reached the point where we felt we had enough for a two-week catastrophe, we began to focus on the six-month time frame. This opened up many entirely new possibilities. since the food required for this amount of time was such a major expense, we had to make sure that it would last for several years. This raised the issue of long-term storage in buckets, mylar bags and oxygen-absorbers. We had to save for months to buy an order of oxygen-absorbers and mylar bags on e-bay! We found low-cost buckets and began to fill them with rice, feed corn, corn meal, noodles, beans etc. Anything that was inexpensive. We taught the children to like corn-meal mush and grits since they might get quite a bit of it one day!

Gradually we worked our way up to 30 buckets. At this point I made a strategic decision. I decided that we needed to invest our extra funds in gardening. Not entirely stopping the food storage, but reducing it in favor of procuring means and experience in growing and canning our own food. We began to buy canning jars and lids to put away in the attic for the future. My father gave us a tiller with a blown engine which we were able to get fixed, and we began to garden. The first garden was not very well thought-out. Some things grew, some did not. But we learned. We learned first-hand what pollination means and about soil fertility. We learned about bugs and blight. We gained valuable experience.

We also invested in chickens, and watched some of them die, some of them be eaten by neighbor's dogs, some get eaten by our dogs, and the hardy survivors begin to lay eggs. We watched them eat their own eggs and learned to give them calcium. We let half of them free range and half range in portable pens that we built which have an open floor that we could move each day to fresh grass. We learned how to make them roost and lay where they were supposed to.

We bought some rabbits and learned a lot, real fast! We experimented with many types of portable cages for rabbits which would allow us to move them from one grassy spot to another without giving them time to dig a burrow. Sometimes we would wake up and find rabbit carcases torn to shreds, because a neighborhood cat had gotten to them. My kids handled most of this, and they learned things the hard way.

If you haven't figured it out yet, We were totally green. I spent my life traveling and overseeing the translation of Christian literature into foreign languages. My wife is a musician. We had zero experience at any of this, and no one around that we knew to advise us. We had to learn everything from scratch. We bought a goat and promptly saw it attacked and killed by a stray dog. That hurt, financially as well as emotionally. After sending the dog to join the goat "on the other side", I bought another goat. and then another. These have survived. We have learned to care for them.

Gradually I am seeing my children grow confident in their relationship to the animals under their care. Gradually we are learning the needs of these animals and how to make them produce for us. If we had had some kind of hands-on training, it would have saved the lives of a lot of animals, but we didn't. I am happy to announce a much higher survival rate for animals that we bring home now.

I felt like I needed a greater firearms capability (what man doesn't?). I thought long and hard. At first I bought a Mosin-Nagant since they were so cheap ($75) and the ammo was dirt-cheap as well. I then began to consider what type of semi-automatic I could afford. I looked at the prices of ammo which was very critical since I would have to train my entire family to shoot. At the time the best deal for us appeared to be the SKS rifle. It was cheap (a good quality Yugo[slavian SKS] was less than $200), dependable, semi-auto and the ammo was very cheap at the time. I later added a cheap 12 gauge pump, and last but not least, a 17 round Bersa Thunder 9mm. After purchasing these guns I began to pick up ammo for them when I could find it on sale. I have gradually gotten up to about 500 rounds for each of them.

I then turned my attention to our home and it's defense. While we live in the country, we are close to our neighbors 100 yards +/-, about five miles from a small town, about 15 miles from a large town, and about 90 miles from Atlanta (upwind fortunately). My greatest concern is our proximity to the road. The house is only about 65 feet from the dirt road in front of our house. A looter or burglar/rapist could be at the door or windows before the dog barked. In response to this my next expenditure is to be fence posts, fencing, and barbed wire, along with a row of thorny bushes in front of the wire next to the road.

Our house is a soft target, offering no ballistic protection. My remedy/forlorn hope is to have plenty of sand and gravel on hand, and to start checking the thrift stores for pillow cases to buy and store. perhaps we would have time to bag up sand bags and at least harden up certain corners or rooms of the house. We also have several large piles of sandstone (we live on top of a mountain) which could be placed strategically and then perhaps sand bags on top of that. We could also cut logs and add that to the mix.

Our water supply is a [grid-powered] electric well. This is one of my biggest worries. We have made it a priority to buy a generator at least strong enough to run the well and freezers for an hour or two a day. I know that this is only a temporary solution but is about all we can handle right now. I am very thankful for the non-fiction writing contribution about the siphon pumps for wells such as mine, that offered up new possibilities which I have not had time to address yet. We also have a neighbor 1/4 mile away which has an artesian spring on his property, though it has extremely high iron content. I have purchased two 330 gallon plastic livestock watering tanks and several drums which I can fill at the first sign of trouble. I can also load them on my little trailer and pull them down to the neighbor's to fill up from his well. I just need to check on the ramifications of the high iron content.

I am also trying to fill up as many containers as possible with gasoline. I add Sta-Bil and plan to use/rotate it yearly (as long as the price stays low). I would like to keep at least 250 to 500 gallons on hand at all times. I buy old gas cans at yard sales and just found a source for cheap 55 gallon drums with sealed lids ($3). I may start using them instead.

Our immediate plans are to build more pens and raise more chickens and goats, maybe a pig or two. We also look forward to planting a much bigger garden this spring and maybe use some of our hard-won experience of last year. We also want to involve the kids in martial arts classes if we can afford it, as well as herb-collecting hikes from the local community college field school (which are free and fun). We want to spend more time with them in the woods and in the garden so that they feel comfortable there and begin to think about survival from their own perspective. We also are beginning to exploit the library for free resources for them to study on various topics.

The future of this country looks grim. As Christians we have "read the back of the Book" and we know Who wins. Our responsibility is to be good stewards of the talents we have, perform our duties as husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, and ultimately, to trust Him for that which is beyond our vision and power.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

This is a response to a previous article written by the esteemed Dr. Richard of the Virginia Prepper's Network. Dr. Richard and I agree completely on a great many issues but disagree on the issue of the Survival Retreat vs. Neighborhood Survival. Here are my thoughts on the issue:

Dr. Richard makes some good points with respect to the desirability of an informed and prepared neighborhood, but in the end it all depends on your particular neighborhood and neighbors. Because I saw the collapse coming in 2005 I sold my home in Northern Virginia at what the Washington Post called the absolute peak of the market and put the proceeds into physical gold and silver when gold was trading around ~$400 an ounce and silver at ~$7. BTW, the guy who bought my home tried to sell it less than a year later for significantly less and could find no buyers. My goal was to move to low cost Austin, Texas where I could be near my dad’s ranch which I could then get prepped to survive the coming economic collapse. Unfortunately my wife thought I had gone completely insane which along with other disagreements on the health of our children (She believes in vaccination, sugar, aspartame, fluoride and AMA monopoly medicine and I don’t) led to a divorce. Now I rent a single family home to be near my ex-wife and kids where I can spirit them to safety when the SHTF. While I have never been to Dr. Richard’s neighborhood the detailed description (cul de sac, all single family homes on relatively large lots, high income/ high IQ neighbors in a development of less than 400 homes in a somewhat rural area) sounds infinitely more survivable than mine.

My situation is much different. My neighborhood is a mix of single family homes and townhouses with a much greater density than Dr. Richard describes. The neighborhood is lower income / lower IQ as well. There is an apartment complex about a mile away and I once found a cocaine baggie in the parking lot while jogging through it one day. Unfortunately because I am so busy I haven’t met as many of my neighbors as I would like and the ones that I have met are essentially completely clueless to the realities of the world. My neighbor with the most raw intellectual horsepower is a software architect in IP security but he still hasn’t figured out that fire can’t melt structural steel and giggled when I tried to explain the realities of 9-11. He is morbidly obese, addicted to sugar and nicotine, and completely unarmed. Not exactly the guy you want to have your back fending off looters and brigands. My second smartest neighbor is an engineer for an IP hosting company. I spent 30 minutes one day taking him through the physics of WTC 7 and how 47 story modern steel framed skyscrapers don’t collapse completely and symmetrically into their own footprints at freefall speed defying the laws of physics. I thought I saw a glimmer of understanding but I never heard back from him. I am assuming he went back to the TeeVee set. When I jog through the neighborhood at night the street is lit up with the glow of flat screen mental prisons.

Anyone that has ever unplugged someone from the matrix understands how difficult and time consuming it can be to educate and free a single mind. I have a good friend who is an entrepreneur/small business owner and has held VP level positions at international networking companies. I have been working on him for years and even after his son had a febrile seizure 24 hours after getting vaccinated he is mad at me for trying to warn him and continues to see the same doctor that potentially crippled his son. My ex-wife has P.hD and I can’t get her to stop giving our kids fluoridated water even though the practice is opposed by 14 Nobel Laureates, 2,100+ health professionals, and the EPA’s own scientists through their union. If I can’t convince my own ex-wife to quit giving her kids water “medicated” with a chemical used as rat and roach poison which has been linked to lower IQ in 23 peer reviewed studies from around the globe then how I am going to educate and convince dozens/hundreds of acquaintances and strangers on the realities of the world.

So, since neighborhood survival is not an option for me then creating a survival retreat with a self-selected group of individuals is my #1 strategy for survival in an economic collapse. Compare some of the qualities and skill sets of our group and those we are speaking with vs. the TeeVee bums in my neighborhood.
• A general contractor who is a firefighter / EMT in his community with skills in general carpentry (framing, form, and trim), basic electrical, plumbing, HVAC, masonry, roofing, and siding. Skilled in basic small engine repair, hand tools, and appliances. He is taking classes in sustainable agriculture and automotive repair.
• A retired naval Commander (helicopter pilot) with special operation experience that has been working on his retreat for years.
• A world class software and information security architect.
• A C-level executive and former military intelligence officer.

All are completely aware, completely awake, completely armed, with good to excellent preps and are already in high gear improving their skills and doing what it takes to get ready for the coming collapse.
Now add the advantages that a remote survival retreat offers over attempting to survive in an area populated with completely clueless starving TeeVee bums.
• Security – Hidden from looters and brigands who would be more than willing to kill for your stored food and supplies.
• Rural Location – Self-sufficient agriculturally with farmers, dairymen, and cattle ranchers. Plentiful wild game and plentiful wild edible plants.
• Self-selected compatriots – Honest, trustworthy companions that are completely prepped for the collapse and have a diverse blend of excellent skills to weather the storm.
• Designed for a collapse – Wood stove, solar power, well water, fruit trees already planted, etc.

So while I wish Dr. Richard the best of luck I am headed to Galt’s Gulch with other members of the intelligentsia. It doesn’t mean that I am not willing and/or trying to help my neighbors, in fact I am having a large number of them over next week to try to explain the realities of the coming collapse but at the end of the day I must protect my family and myself and a self-selected group of intelligent people awake to the realities of the world secure in a remote retreat represents the best odds of survival.

Even if you are going to bug out here are some tips to help the folks who must prepare for themselves:
Educate, Educate, Educate - Give DVDs, send links to web sites like this, Virginia Prepper's Network, SurvivalBlog,,, and When you pass along DVDs specify that the recipient must pass it along to someone else and specify that the next recipient must pass it along as well.
Share your Bounty and Improve Your Own Chances - I am sharing some of my storable food with a neighbor with the caveat that we would share when the SHTF. If I successfully bug out then they keep all the food for themselves. If I am trapped in the neighborhood then I have improved my chances for survival with diverse food stores.
Arm Them With Knowledge - Take your neighbor to the Appleseed Project and turn a rifle owner into a Rifleman.
Plant an oversize or community garden - Share the costs of sod, seeds, and the rental of a tiller.
Store Extra Preps for Friends and Charity - I have stored extra food for charity and even stored items like diapers and wipes for a low income couple who live in my neighborhood. I have cached food, money, and silver for the employees of my business as well in a location they can access in an emergency.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Earlier this month, I posted Etienne's guest post Seeking/Starting a Survival Retreat in Virginia / Maryland / Pennsylvania / West Virginia. Today, I had lunch with Etienne de la Boetie and another prepper here in Loudoun County [, Virginia]. We had a long discussion about survival retreats vs neighborhood survival. Etienne is a big fan of the survival retreat concept. He previously had a retreat where he did not own the land but where he was able to store a travel trailer recreational vehicle in which he pre-positioned various preps and supplies. Unfortunately, his friend moved and sold the property. There are four major flaws in the survival retreat separate from your home concept:

  1. There are significant liabilities and social problems with communal retreats where one does not own the property - you are vulnerable to the actions of the others, particularly the property owner.
  2. Property left at unattended retreats is vulnerable to theft and vandalism. This is going to be a growing problem as the economic depression gets worse, especially if we have economic collapse.
  3. Getting to the retreat would be problematic in the event that it is actually needed - particularly in martial law scenarios where the military and law enforcement block traffic at key intersections or in cases where there are fuel shortages.
  4. Relatively undeveloped retreats with a trailer and undeveloped land may not be sufficiently developed for long-term survival and offer insufficient space for storage of the various preps and other items you need. Many of these items would likely be at your day-to-day residence and you cannot assume that you can transport everything at the last minute.

My view is that survival retreats only work if you live there full-time. Furthermore, although remote locations are further removed from the masses, they are also further removed from jobs, markets, customers, hospitals, and many other useful infrastructure and will be harder pressed to gather a sufficiently large group to cover all of the tasks needed in a true long-term survival scenario. Even the best special forces operator cannot defend his property 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Unfortunately, we are rapidly running out of time and it is probably already too late to relocate - especially if relocating means trying to sell your existing home in this real estate environment -- in my neighborhood we haven't had a sale in over eight months and anyone who bought in the last four years and did the traditional 20% down payment fixed 30 year mortgage now has negative equity.

I am a big proponent of the concept that your family, friends, neighbors, and church are your survival group. Yes, I understand that many are unprepared and clueless about both the threats and what they need to do to prepare for them. However, your home is your survival retreat. Strengthen it to the extent you can, but your odds improve exponentially if you can organize your neighborhood and help everyone survive against the threat(s) you are facing in your survival situation. You and those in the group who are better prepared or who have the right skills are the cadre needed to get organized and do what is needed. The rest of the neighborhood are your foot soldiers and do'ers. My philosophy is to lead and organize but that charity starts with those who are willing to help themselves and help the group in the survival situation. In a survival situation, your first challenges are to assess the hazards/priorities/immediate needs, organize the group, secure the neighborhood, and scrounge/barter/trade for needed resources.

Be a leader. There are many things you can do to help develop your neighborhood group of family, friends, neighbors, and fellow church members and increase the odds of the neighborhood surviving:

  • Get to know them.
  • Have potluck dinners.
  • Help them wake up and prepare.
  • Start a garden club to help start victory gardens.
  • Start a community watch program for your neighborhood.
  • Give them a copy of Chris Martenson's Crash Course on the economy DVD. I bought a case of 30 and gave them as 2008 Christmas gifts.
  • Give copies of Holly Deyo's book Dare to Prepare as gifts. I bought a case of 8 and gave them as 2008 Christmas gifts to family and several neighbors who got it and were starting to prep.
  • Store extra preps for charity and be prepared to give when it is needed for survival.
  • Learn about their skills, backgrounds, and interests - on my street we have a former Navy Corpsman/LEO/M16 Instructor/master scrounger/contractor/award winning barbeque chef who "gets it" and is starting to prepare, two nurses, a master gardener, an agricultural engineer / head of the 800-home neighborhood HOA, a Mormon family that does food storage, and six members of the neighborhood garden club run by our master gardener.
  • Buy tools that would be useful that could be shared like tillers.
  • Buy extra seed such as a seven year supply of Survival Seeds and be prepared to provide seeds for neighbors
  • Build a survival library of books and skills that you can use to train them when they need survival skills.
  • Buy several extra surplus rifles such as the Russian Mosin-Nagant or SKS rifles and stock extra ammunition to equip your "community watch" patrols.
  • Invite them to go to a shooting range with you.
  • Be prepared to give honest evaluations of whether individuals should relocate once a survival situation begins to relative's homes or even public shelters if that is the best option for them.

You will be pleasantly surprised how many of your family, friends, neighbors, and fellow church members that are starting to wake up and realize the reality and danger of our current position. This number is increasing every week. Don't simply assume that they are all clueless sheep - many simply need some education and a leader to show them the way.

Friday, February 6, 2009


By way of profession, I am a CPA (M.S. in Taxation), economic survivalist by persuasion. One thing you may want to caution readers about is the Internal Revenue Services' position on bartering income. Always, always, always talk to a competent tax advisor regarding your particular situation. Under the current administration, self-sufficiency activities such as bartering with others for services or goods may be considered a reportable and taxable activity on the part of both parties.

Just a "heads up" to all, we all want to stay within the letter of the law. Thanks for the listen - C.



Craigslist can be frustrating, for example, you see a super deal, you call early, have the cash and can buy now, but the seller says, "well, some guy called at 6 a.m. and is coming to buy it this Sunday. Sorry." Out of politeness, you didn't want to call at 6 am, but because you didn't, you lost the ability to buy the item because the seller is a "first call-first serve" seller, and not a "first cash-first serve" seller.

On the other hand, it is irritating when you set an appointment, spend $20 on diesel to drive to the seller's home, and arrive to find someone else loading the item in his truck. Maybe sellers ought to put a Terms-of-Service in their ads! (I personally am a First-Cash seller, but cancel later appointments immediately upon sale). - Willow, in Texas



[Because of their posting rules], one must be very circumspect in listing or putting a "Want to Buy" (WTB) ad on if it concerns guns, ammunition, or reloading.
They will delete your posting in a "New York Minute". - D.O.

JWR Replies: I've seen the same thing happen, many times. Do not mention firearms in the title line of any Craigslist post, even if you live in an ultra-conservative state like Wyoming. Some hoplophobic do-gooder will indeed zap your post almost immediately. I've heard that it is best to "bury " mention of your willingness to swap "sporting goods" in posts on other topics. For those that specifically want to trade a firearm or ammunition, I recommend advertising on a regional gun board, such as the Northwest Firearms Board. , or in one of the many local newspapers or advertising giveaway papers (such as the "Nickel" and "Penny Saver" type papers) that offer free or low-cost classified ads.


Mr. Rawles:

Even though Craigslist does not allows firearms and ammunition advertisements, it is still beneficial sure to check the Sporting Goods section. In my my local Craigslist there are "47 speed bicycles, AK brand", and similar items regularly for sale. - J.M.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

I definitely look forward to reading your blog every morning as I begin my day here in Baghdad. I wanted to share some perspective on what I see on a daily basis as an American GI patrolling the streets of Baghdad on the topic of begging. I think your readers might eventually come face to face with this type of behavior and it might not be pleasant for them if not dealt with correctly. When my team stops at a project site or we conduct patrols throughout the various neighborhoods of Baghdad, we are besieged by Iraqi children asking us for items such as candy, pencils, pens, and soccer balls. There are two ways these scenarios usually play out. One, if soldiers hand out any items, the floodgates open and more children appear as word spreads that items are being given away. A mob typically surrounds the soldier and/or vehicle. Even if those children get that which they ask for, they do not leave. Rather, they continue to ask for more. Fights typically break out amongst the throng of children as they fight over what is given out. When we ask our interpreters why the children are not happy with what they've been given, we are told that because they are poor (but no longer starving, mind you, since the USA put an end to the UN Food For Oil scandal and Saddam's reign of terror) and the Americans are perceived as being rich. Another way this is dealt with is the children are told "Mako Shay" which in Arabic means "I Have Nothing". If said soldier stands firm and refuses to give in to the pleas of the beggars, they usually dissipate and go on to other soldiers to beg from or go on to playing with their friends. The key here is to stand firm and tell them that you have nothing to give them. I see strong parallels between this daily occurrence here in Iraq and that which could occur should the [American] populace flees their homes in search of food and shelter.

Just some food for thought, should the SHTF. Regards, - The Survivalist

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Whilst pondering the various possibilities for the future, it is easy to get caught up in the minutiae of radio frequencies, milligram dosages, microns of filtration, calibers, and calories per ounce. (You'' read plenty of those details in SurvivalBlog. But in doing so we can easily lose sight of bigger, far more important issues such as charity, civility, community, and hope.

Most of you reading this are the heads of households that are far better prepared than your neighbors. Your deep larder, expansive fuel storage, advanced skills, and wide range of useful tools will put you in a distinctly advantageous position in the event of a catastrophe. I implore you to be charitable, even to those that stubbornly ignored your warnings and shirked their responsibility to provide for their families. My philosophy, oft-repeated, is to give until it hurts.

Going hand-in-hand with charity is civility. Hard times call for increased caution, but unless you are facing a bad element, there is no need to be mean or offensive. When dealing with neighbors, do your best to keep up he standards or normal pre-Crunch civil interaction. Be courteous, be helpful, be generous, and in all ways pitch in to be a good neighbor. Just be very circumspect about your preparations. Always keep the "need to know" rule in mind, and drill it into the heads of your family members. Unless a neighbor truly needs to know, then you should not mention--or allow to be seen--the nature nor the extent of your preparations. Just make it clear that you have "a little extra" of this or that, to help out neighbors that are in genuine need.

In contrast, when dealing with strangers, it is best to be far more firm but non-threatening. Just leave them with the subtle impression that you are not one to be trifled with.The sight of pistol on your hip or a rifle close at hand speaks volumes. If you want to help refugees that are transiting your area, then please show the foresight do so anonymously through an intermediary, such as your local church. By donating some of your storage food to your church, you'll be able to look firm and resilient to refugees, yet still have good news for them. You can honestly say: "Some people in the community have been leaving food and warm clothing at the church 1/2 mile down the road. It is at 123 Main Street. They will be able to help you. God bless you." Note that this was carefully phrased in a neutral way, not indicating that you were the donor. Parenthetically, this level of OPSEC means that you will need to carefully brief your church pastors and elders and get their solemn promise not reveal who provided the food.

I've written at length about the need for a genuine sense community to achieve the best chance of survival in hard times, so I won't repeat all that here. In essence, lone wolves will not be the most likely survivors. Build a true community, and you will have friends that you can count on (and vice versa), when the Schumer hits the fan.

As a Christian, I use word "hope" in far different way than non-Christians do. In the Christian context, hope means absolute assurance of eternal life for the elect, bought and paid for by Christ's sacrificial death on the cross. With the sure knowledge of my salvation, I am willing to risk more in this life, to do what is right--that is, what I believe will please God, and glorify God. The perils in this mortal life are brief, but the promise of heaven is everlasting. That is my hope.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Dear Sir,
Thank you so much for your insightful and educational blog. I highly respect your opinion and I am e-mailing you today to ask for your advice.
My husband and I are both conservative Christians who are totally committed to being prepared. Our problem is that we have encountered other conservative Christians who believe that manna will literally fall from Heaven if famine comes upon the land. I was personally told by my former pastor that I was "stupid" for storing food and owning guns. He also told me that by being prepared I was demonstrating a "lack of faith in God". He told me that God would provide for me in the form of manna falling from Heaven if disaster ever struck. This story, unfortunately, is extremely common within the conservative Christian church. My husband and I have come across people like this over and over again. Other than telling these people that manna falling from Heaven was a one time event, quoting Scripture like Proverbs14:8, and reminding them that even Noah prepared for disaster by building the ark - how do my husband and I deal with people like this from a Christian perspective? Prayer seems to be the only answer. Can you recommend any other solutions in addition to prayer? Thank you for your time and attention. In Christ, - Heather M.

JWR Replies: I often get e-mails from SurvivalBlog readers, asking about how I can justify active preparedness in light of my Christian faith. Some cite the "Lilies of the Field" passage in Matthew 6:25-34:
"Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, [shall he] not much more [clothe] you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day [is] the evil thereof."

In my view, people are misinterpreting these verses. These are verses about worry, not about work or preparedness. Never does the Bible teach that we should laze about and not provide for our families. Earning our daily bread is the Godly way to live. We are taught not to be lazy or dependent on others. Yes, we are to trust in God's providence, but nowhere do the scriptures absolve us of the responsibility to work or to save up for lean times. Consider these four verses from the book of Proverbs:

He that tilleth his land shall be satisfied with bread: but he that followeth vain [persons is] void of understanding.. Proverbs 12:11, KJV

In all labour there is profit: but the talk of the lips [tendeth] only to penury.(Poverty.) Proverbs 14:23, KJV

The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour. Proverbs 21:25, KJV

The thoughts of the diligent [tend] only to plenteousness; but of every one [that is] hasty only to want. Proverbs 21:5, KJV

Food Storage

The Bible encourages storing food. Look at Gen. 41:47-49 (KJV): "And in the seven plenteous years the earth brought forth by handfuls.Gen 41:48 And he gathered up all the food of the seven years, which were in the land of Egypt, and laid up the food in the cities: the food of the field, which [was] round about every city, laid he up in the same.And Joseph gathered corn as the sand of the sea, very much, until he left numbering; for [it was] without number." And then see Gen. 41:53-57: "And the seven years of plenteousness, that was in the land of Egypt, were ended.And the seven years of dearth began to come, according as Joseph had said: and the dearth was in all lands; but in all the land of Egypt there was bread. And when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread: and Pharaoh said unto all the Egyptians, Go unto Joseph; what he saith to you, do.And the famine was over all the face of the earth: And Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold unto the Egyptians; and the famine waxed sore in the land of Egypt.And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy [corn]; because that the famine was [so] sore in all lands."

The preceding is a good example that illustrates the need for food storage. As I write this in 2008, a growing portion of the world is already experiencing famine. You should recognize that famine could just a well come to stalk America, Europe, the British Isles, and Australia. (The regions with the largest SurvivalBlog readership.) It is prudent and Biblically supported to stock up during good times in anticipation of lean times.

Prov. 6:6-15 (KJV): "Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? When wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man. A naughty person, a wicked man, walketh with a forward mouth. He winketh with his eyes, he speaketh with his feet, he teacheth with his fingers; Forwardness is in his heart, he deviseth mischief continually; he soweth discord. Therefore shall his calamity come suddenly; suddenly shall he be broken without remedy."

The lessons from scripture are clear: Don't be lazy and lax. Store up in good times for future lean times. Consider this: "[There is] treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up." - Prov. 21:20 (KJV)

And ponder this Old Testament passage: Psalm 34:9-10 (KJV): "O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for [there is] no want to them that fear him.Psa 34:10 (KJV) "The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good [thing]." And then look at this New Testament passage:, from 1 Timothy 5:8 (KJV): "But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel."

One of the many names of God is Jehovah Jireh, which means God Who Provides. As a Christian, I believe that God will provide for his covenant people. I believe that one of the many gifts that the God has provided is a conviction, by the Holy Spirit, to be well prepared. I realize that we are only on Earth for about 80 trips around the sun, and that is just the twinkling of an eye versus eternity. Where we end up after this brief life is far, far more important in the grand scheme of things. We will spend eternity either in heaven or in hell. But how we spend our +/-80 year life on Earth is up to us. (And the most important thing that we do in the is life is make ourselves right with God, though his Grace, to accepting eternal life in heaven. But stepping back to this temporal world: The Bible makes it very clear that we are to be good stewards of the blessings that God provides us. I therefore feel strongly convicted to not just share the gospel of Christ, but also to physically prepare for my own family, and store extra to dispense as charity. The bottom line: I can't continue to share the gospel if I starve to the point of achieving room temperature!

Self Defense
Other readers question how I can justify owning guns for self-defense. Some Mennonites, for example, eschew all means self defense and decry even the willingness to defend oneself or one's loved ones. That, in my opinion is taking "turning the other cheek" (Luke 6:29) to an extreme that is not scripturally founded.

Exodus 22:2 provides Biblical justification for killing someone if he intends to forcibly rob or kill another man: " If a thief be found breaking up, and be smitten that he die, [there shall] no blood [be shed] for him." Exodus 22:2 (KJV)

And Jesus teaches that it is wise to be armed, in Luke 22:35-36 (KJV): "And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing.
Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take [it], and likewise [his] scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one."

In an article titled: What Does The Bible Say About Gun Control? Larry Pratt keenly observed the difference between self-defense and vengeance:

Resisting an attack is not to be confused with taking vengeance which is the exclusive domain of God (Rom. 12:19). This has been delegated to the civil magistrate, who, as we read in Romans 13:4, ". . . is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil."

Private vengeance means one would stalk down a criminal after one’s life is no longer in danger as opposed to defending oneself during an attack. It is this very point that has been confused by Christian pacifists who would take the passage in the Sermon on the Mount about turning the other cheek (which prohibits private vengeance) into a command to falter before the wicked.

Let us consider also that the Sixth Commandment tells us: "Thou shall not murder." In the chapters following, God gave to Moses many of the situations which require a death penalty. God clearly has not told us never to kill. He has told us not to murder, which means we are not to take an innocent life. Consider also that the civil magistrate is to be a terror to those who practice evil. This passage does not in any way imply that the role of law enforcement is to prevent crimes or to protect individuals from criminals. The magistrate is a minister to serve as "an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil" (Rom. 13:4).

Jesus taught both to turn the other cheek and to be well-armed to defend oneself. The important factor is having the wisdom to know when to employ either approach depending on the circumstances. I pray, for wisdom, discernment, and discretion, daily. I don't seek out trouble, and in fact I have moved my family to a remote, lightly populated region in good part to avoid trouble. But if unavoidable trouble comes my way, I want to have the option of resisting force with force. And I only have that option if I am armed and trained.

Some critics of armed preparedness cite Matthew 26:52-54 (KJV), which descries how Jesus responded when Peter cut off the ear of a high priest's servant, using a sword: "Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?"

In context, Jesus is telling Peter that it would be suicidal to fight in that particular situation, since they were quite outnumbered. And of course Jesus knew it was in God's plan for him to be arrested, tried, crucified, and resurrected. Jesus told Peter to put his sword in its place –which was back in his belt. Jesus was telling Peter in effect that "there is a time to fight, and this, my friend, isn't it." He didn't command him to "throw that sword away", or "surrender it", or to "stop carrying it". After all, according to Luke, Jesus had just recently ordered the disciples to arm themselves. The reason for the arms was obviously to protect their own lives when traveling--not to protect His own life, which He intended to sacrifice, to pay for our sins, once and for all.

The Old testament teaches both to be armed, and to be trained. We read in Psalm 144:1:

Blessed [be] the LORD my strength,
which teacheth my hands to war,
[and] my fingers to fight:

Yes, as Christians our battles are mainly spiritual, but we must also be prepared to defend our lives, and the lives of our loved ones, against evildoers.


Charity--both in time of plenty and in times of disaster--is a Christian responsibility with its roots in the Old Testament tradition of Tzedaka. This responsibility--particularly for the support of widows and orphans--was repeated in the New Testament, such as in Acts 11:27-30: "And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch. And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar. Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea: Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul."

The Biblical approach to survivalism is to avoid trouble, but to be ready for it nonetheless. And when trouble does come, have extra stores on hand, so that you can dispense copious charity. Give until it hurts!

In closing, I'll leave you with a key verse: "A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished." - Proverbs 22:3 (KJV)

Note: I've updated my original response to include all cites from the KJV translation.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Mr. Rawles;
With the current state of the country more and more people have been stepping up their preparedness. The question I get asked most is what to do with the people who say they will be over when everything falls apart.
I know you have addressed this in the past, but it is something people need to think through with the current state we are in. With my preparedness consulting I have had story after story from preparing people of family, friends and people who know they are preparing, but do not prepare themselves saying they will be there when everything falls apart.

I have used your novel "Patriots" as a guide for how to prepare for any scenarios and it mentions giving charity to those who show up and sending the unwanted on their way and keeping those who belong or can contribute to the group. For the transients or refugees this is a very good solution to the problem, but when it comes to family and people who know you are preparing it calls for a different solution or group of solutions. I hope you can give some advice to everyone facing this problem. We can go into OPSEC when it comes to not telling folks what they are doing, but there have been mistakes made and it is hard to hide from non-preparing family and for them to understand not to talk about it or you are trying to network with people to get a group together and the information spreads.

Some of the stories I have heard are:

There have been several version of this first one, but it is basically the same falling out in a group and the unwanted plan a unwelcome return.
"We had a member of our group and he turned out to be a slob, was not preparing and thought that a case of ammo and a rifle was all you needed and they would take whatever else was needed from the weak. They politely told him that he was not welcome and would not sharing in the preparations. This person is now contacting the group, saying if it hits the fan that they "will be over".
The group believes they will have to defend themselves from this former member who will bring his spouse and children with him."

"We have been preparing for several years and have been trying to get family members, both close and distant involved in a group.When things go bad they [declare that they] are all coming over.
We do not have the room for the extra people in our home. We do not have enough food for the extra people. We do not have other supplies they will need to live here. They do not have the mindset to endure a long term situation nor will they contribute to the survival of the group.We already have a small group of like-minded people we have networked with and are either leaving supplies here or will be bringing their supplies when they come and we have enough for only them."

With our networking efforts we have talked to many people and have picked up some good people to be in a group. With the economy going down the tubes we are having past contacts talking to us and they plan on showing up if it hits the fan."

"We have had someone gossip about our preparations and now we have people saying they will be over and we do not even know these people.
How may people know we are preparing and how many are going to show up and what are they going to do to us if we turn them away or will they just take our supplies?"

Respectfully, - Ron from Ohio

JWR Replies: Based on what I read in e-mails, nearly all SurvivalBlog readers--save a few that are utter recluses that have few (or no) family ties--all go through the same thing. This most commonly happens at holiday gatherings, when "Cousin Bob" first teases you for having "that mountain of storage food in your basement", but then slyly adds "...but I know where I'll go when things fall apart." This is the same Cousin Bob that has frittered away his earnings on plasma big screen HDTVs, Jet Skis, and BluRay DVDs. My advice is to be blunt and forthright. Tell Cousin Bob that he's had the same period warning that you have had, and that he's had comparable resources available to prepare. Depending on your predisposition, you might say: "You've been warned. You must make adequate preparations for your own family. Period." Hopefully that will spur your relatives into action.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


I have been checking a few other sites this morning that I frequent, and while at the Viking Preparedness Forum, I was checking the food and water storage board and came across these canned food shelves. It is a good set of shelves, making the best use of space, and allowing them automatic stock rotation.

We live in a house with a monolithic slab foundation, and the footprint, does not give us a great deal of room to work with, but I think that we can do something similar ourselves.
I liked the way that they were set against the wall, and took up very little space. I also liked the fact that they had extra space above for expanding the shelves a bit more.

Just thought that it was an all around good idea, and one that some of your readers might be able to make good use of also.

BTW, I also found these related web pages. Hope that they help.

How to Make a Self-Rotating Food Storage for Canned Goods

Food Storage Shelves, Food Storage Racks & Food storage shelving Accessories

FIFO Storage Can Rack - Canned Food Rack - Improvements Catalog

As always, may God bless you and yours in everything you do. - Dim Tim


Dear Mr. Rawles:
I read your blog frequently and enjoy the information you publish. It helps keep me informed and challenged.

However, lately I've been wondering about some of the provisions of Martial Law and Executive Orders that have been signed by past presidents.

In the event of a declaration of Martial Law, can the Federal Government go-door-to-door and confiscate food that citizens have stored for their own use? It is my understanding that farms, equipment and food can be confiscated so that it can then be controlled/distributed to the people who do not have any food.

There are anti-hoarding laws on the books in some states, but I don't know all the details. FEMA guidelines advise people to have a short-term supply of food on hand for emergencies. But in the event of martial law, how much food is one family allowed to store? If a family has made the effort to store a year or more of food, will they be allowed to keep it or will it be confiscated?

Bottom line: Why bother purchasing dehydrated or freeze-dried food for long-term storage if it will end up being confiscated by the Government to give to someone else? Is it futile to do so or should one be prudent and go forward with plans for long-term food storage? - Joan X.

JWR Replies: There is indeed a slim but nonetheless real threat of storage food confiscation in the U.S. It is one of the many reasons why I emphasize OPSEC in my blog. If you are concerned about the prospect of martial law, then I recommend that you buy the majority of your storage food with cash, without generating a paper trail. You should go pick it up in person. OBTW, there are food storage vendors that advertise in my blog that are located in several regions around the country (within reasonable driving distance for perhaps 80% of he SurvivalBlog readership in the US), and many of these are "Mom and Pop" operations that will make cash sales. With these small vendors, you don't even need to mention your name.

While keeping circumspect is important, don't become so preoccupied with secrecy that you cease being charitable. The two goals need not be mutually exclusive. You can maintain OPSEC if you dispense charity through your local church . FerFAL (formerly SurvivalBlog's volunteer correspondent in Argentina) had some interesting comments in a recent blog post at his personal blog "Surviving in Argentina". He posited that dispensing charity face to face with desperate poor people can be both risky and troubling. While I don't agree with all that FerFAL wrote, I can see the wisdom of keeping a low profile to avoid being "marked" by freeloaders. My advice: Give, and give generously (both now and in turbulent times), but be prepared give at arm's length. I recommend that you make arrangements in advance with your church elders to act as intermediaries for post-WTSHTF charity. Be sure to get their promise to maintain your anonymity. My personal philosophy is to give until it hurts.

Good Morning,
I have been reading for a couple years and I'm a 10 Cent Challenge subscriber. I have just purchased a quantity of five gallon food grade buckets and wonder if there would be any benefit to storing in vacuum sealable one gallon size bags, as opposed to the five gal metal lined bag using the dry ice and O2 absorber method? Thanks for your ministry. I have learned so very much. Also I just the purchased the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course taking advantage of the pre-election discount, thanks. Sincerely, - John V

JWR Replies: There is indeed some utility in vacuum packing, as you described. It is, however, much more labor intensive. With most bulk foods the shelf life that you would gain with vacuum packing (versus CO2 packing) is not that great. It can also be a mess, especially with flour and other powders. In essence, the marginally longer storage longevity does does not justify the extra time or material required. The only notable exception is for foods that have a high oil or butterfat content, such as brown rice. It would also be worth doing with powdered milk, if it were not such a mess. In that case, my advice is to store only nonfat powdered milk, to reduce the risk of rancidity. (Since it is the butterfat content of regular powdered milk that contributes the most to rancidity.)

I describe a simple "do-it-yourself" CO2 packing method in the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course. With this method, a family can pack several hundred pounds of wheat, rice, or beans in just one evening.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I’ve been a reader of your site for only about a year and consider myself a beginner-level survivalist. I’ve got the mindset and start of some basic short-term survival gear and knowledge, but haven’t been able to convince the wife to go all out yet. A few months ago, you had posted an article about keeping your level of preparedness secret from neighbors and I wasn’t sure why until recently. I live in Middle Tennessee, and although we are hundreds of miles away from Hurricane Ike, we experienced a short run on gas and spike in prices. Probably close to a quarter of the gas stations in the city simply ran out. From past experience, I had already purchased a 50-gallon drum with manual pump (which I had filled in July), and I had three 5-gallon jugs that I used to fill up the day before [the hurricane's] landfall. I could easily make that last for a month even without changing my driving habits as long as there is electricity and I don’t have to generate. Plenty of time for capacity to return to normal.

Not only did I get some evil looks while filling up at the pump [in July], but I was also scrutinized at work by a few people that I had told about my “cache.” Most seemed to think I was the reason for the shortage (or a part of it.) And while I agree that a hype can fuel a shortage, a shortage is still a shortage. My personal preparedness plays such a miniscule role in the big picture. But the comments are enough to have made me learn my lesson. If 65 gallons of gas is enough for people to question my intentions, then what would they say if they discovered a much larger level or preparedness and the problem was much worse? Suddenly I’m not the guy trying to survive -- I’m the stingy hoarder who won’t share with people in need and in some way contributed to the shortage. Thanks for all you do. - Wes B.

JWR Replies: In my opinion, the modern American citizenry has been badly misinformed by the mass media about what constitutes "hoarding." By filling your gas drum and cans several months ago, you did not contribute to a shortage of fuel in the present day. In normal times, chains of supply are continuously replenished. By buying and storing supplies well in advance, you actually helped to alleviate the current short-term supply disruption. By having a pre-existing stockpile, you represent one less motorist queuing up at the gas station. The same logic applies to any other shortage. It is only people that attempt to buy a disproportionately large supply during a crisis that could legitimately be called "hoarders." But people in your category--that bought far in advance--are not part of the problem. In fact, by having extra on hand, you can dispense charity, which makes you part of the solution.

Maintaining a low profile is just common sense. The "need to know" rule-- that was constantly drummed into me when I was in the intelligence community--is time-proven. There are great advantages in being circumspect.

I enjoy giving charitably. But there is no reason why it has to be done with a high profile in the midst of a natural disaster or other crisis. By anonymously leaving parcels on doorsteps or by using an intermediary--such as your local church--you are far less likely to attract unwanted attention from either government officials or members of your community with a twisted sense of ethics.

The other reason for being secretive about charity is Biblical: In Matthew 6:3 (King James Version) we are taught: "But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth." Essentially, this means that when giving charitably, we should do it without any fanfare, lest it be a source of pride. Give generously, but do so very quietly.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I’ve struggled with the paradigm of preparing versus having faith in God to provide for our needs and protection. There are many Biblical references/analogies regarding both. Would you be willing to share your thoughts? Sincerely, - Short-ckt

JWR Replies: For some relevant Bible passages, please see the latest additions to my Prayer page. In particular, see the sections under these headings:

Clarification on Christianity and Physical Preparedness
Food Storage
Self Defense

May God Bless You and Yours!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

As always I love your site (that's why I'm a 10 Cent Challenge subscriber), I am so sorry to hear of your wife's accident and hope and pray she returns to her normal routine quickly.

Taking your inspiration (and some info from others) my wife and I have expanded upon a concept called "365 meals". My original idea (after reading your info on "Dispensing charity from a safe distance" was to use our impulse sealer to make "quick meals" of some rice, bullion cubes and TVP to distribute in the event that we needed to dispense charitable food stuffs to others. It was also a great way to allow us to have home-made "MREs" that could be easily made by our children.

My good wife then said "Yuck, we can do better than that" and found/made several recipes that only require adding water and heat. We used our sizable stores of dehydrated vegetables, legumes and seasonings and TVP. We were originally going to make 365 (one for every day), but after testing, (and discovering that a little went a long way) we calculated that we only needed half as many. These meals are delicious, satisfying, and nutritionally balanced.

The great solace of this endeavor is that we now know for a certainty that we have at least one meal per day for our family, for an entire year. This is not our only supply of food, but an important part of it. We have made a four part, video presentation of a lecture we gave on the subject, at a recent Emergency Preparation seminar that I teach once a month. These can be seen on YouTube.
Thank you for all that you do. - Kory

Monday, July 21, 2008

I am putting together food stores, and collecting food grade buckets for bulk storage (local store lets them go for 60 cents each), but I had a question come across as I was planning this out.
Based on my own sense of charity, as well as your comments, I thought about a self-contained package that could be handed out, some rice, wheat, dried veggies and more, all sealed with a gamma lid using your dry ice method. Not only would this be good to avoid having multiple bulk cans open at once, but also as I said if people in need come asking, you can hand of 3-to-5 days food in one package.

Then I started thinking about comfort foods, pretzels, chips, candy bars and the like, and I wondered if you can actually put all of these different food products in the same can, separated into baggies, and if so, can you keep some foods like pretzels/chips or candy in their original packaging or repackage them in baggies? - Geoff in North Dakota

JWR Replies:

Using separate clear plastic baggies--or better yet mylar bags--within a sealed container is a practicable solution.

Distributing whole wheat is only marginally workable, since most folks are used to baking with wheat flour. But this raises two issues: If distributing flour, does the recipient have access to a working baking oven or Dutch Oven? In most disaster situations, that would be a rarity. And, if distributing while wheat, does the recipient have a access to a wheat grinder. Of course you could instruct them to make wheat berries (soaked wheat to eat as hot or cold cereal). But then they must have water available and at least 10 hours to soak the wheat. Because of the much shorter shelf life of flour (versus whole wheat), you might consider packaging the wheat in the form of freshly-ground flour, only on an "as-needed" basis, after the onset of an emergency.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Mr Rawles,
I found your web site a few months ago and have been pouring through it ever since. This past week, I finished reading the SurvivalBlog archives through the end of 2007. Just six months of archives left :) I also just finished reading your excellent novel, "Patriots"

As a fundamentalist Christian who was homeschooled, I truly appreciate your willingness to unabashedly share your faith and your conservative family values through your web site and writings.

I am also a West Point graduate who became an Armor officer in 2000, so I really enjoy and relate to your anecdotes and descriptions (and military jargon & acronyms) of your personal Military Intelligence experience, as well as the fictional experiences of "Doug Carlton". Your descriptions of M1A1 tanks, Fort Knox, Advanced Camp (Camp Buckner for me), et cetera. are all spot on. Your description of tankers, down to the details about being chronically horrible on security, was exactly correct. I well remember getting a CS [tear gas] canister thrown into our perimeter at [National Training Center] NTC by the [Observer Controller] OC because we were all asleep. We received a briefing on the vulnerabilities of Abrams tanks at the Armor Captain's Career Course and, in light of that, I found your discussion of the matter in "Patriots" very interesting. As a note of interest, since the Iraq War, the training in the Armor CCC seems to place renewed importance on urban warfare and especially on combined operations with Infantry. In fact, I believe Armor and Infantry CCCs have combined now to form a single "Maneuver Captain's Career Course".

After my platoon leader time, I worked in the Fort Knox Garrison S3 shop as a planner for two years at Fort Knox's Emergency Operations Center, working on their contingency operations plans for everything from earthquakes to terrorists attacks. I took advantage of my time there in taking a lot of FEMA online courses, getting my amateur radio license, and taking a lot of civilian and military training in [Search and Rescue] SAR. That being the case, I absolutely loved the Fort Knox aspects of the plot in "Patriots" and wish to heck that I had your book during my time there to pass around to the other guys. My time there was also the point in my life when I realized that a lot can go wrong in this world and I'd better have a plan to prepare for it.

Wanting some change, I later became a Civil Affairs officer with deployments to Iraq and West Africa. Civil Affairs just became it's own branch in 2006 as the Army recognizes that "civilians on the battlefield" play an enormous role in low intensity conflicts like Iraq. The civilian dimension, both as potential OPFOR and BLUFOR, is being studied and analyzed in depth in today's Army, as it should be. However, it is terrifying to contemplate a "Patriots" type of scenario where that scrutiny, analysis, and subsequent operations would be turned towards our own populace. Double ditto for all things related to the new branch of Psychological Operations

After reading survivalblog, I've been re-examining my military experiences, especially my time in Iraq and West Africa from the survivalist viewpoint. I don't want to make this e-mail into a book, so I'll only mention a few things for now: In many of the Medical Civic Action Programs (MEDCAP) that we conducted in Africa, one of the hugely popular items was adaptive eyewear. Essentially, they are adjustable glasses where the user can modify the power of each lens to his or her needs. It works through fluid-filled lenses. You can checkout their web site at . I'm not affiliated with them, by the way, but I have handed out a lot of these things. They look like the Army BCGs, so they aren't pretty but they are effective. I went to a village last year where they told me their number one medical need was eye care. Actually, it appeared as though a large percent of the elderly people had cataracts which we couldn't fix obviously, but the adjustable glasses were a hot item for many others. I thought about it when I read some of the previous posts about eye care and about barter items. How many people would have lost or broken their glasses after a few years of TEOTWAWKI? Or their prescription changes? Glasses might be a popular barter item, but who wants to stock every prescription imaginable? These glasses can be adjusted from +6 to -6 Diopters.

The only catch is... I think this company mostly sells their glasses in bulk to NGO-type organizations for use in third world countries, so I have no idea if they are available to the normal person here in these united States. However, now that you know they're out there, you might keep a watch out for something like it. This is an example of something that is probably not currently marketable in a developed country because of lack of need. However, that could quickly change if TSHTF. I think I heard that the glasses were about $10 or $12 each, but they were trying to bring the costs down. Also, I'm no eye doctor, but I surmised that one of the reasons for the surprisingly high number of cataract and eye problems in these places is that they go through their whole life living outdoors without sunglasses or eye protection. Granted, we were in or near the Sahara Desert, where conditions are unusually harsh, but the lesson I took away is that sunglasses and eye protection are essential, especially if spending a lot of time in harsh-sun environments or anywhere there isn't an eye doctor.

On another note of interest, probably the number one ailment by far we saw were bowel problems, probably related to unsanitary conditions and unpurified water. There were also always a sizable number of people who had dental problems who were hugely grateful when our dentist pulled their problem teeth. As you've mentioned before, having a dental kit and knowing how to pull teeth doesn't sound too exciting now but if the time came when you needed it, you sure would be thankful that you could. Our dentist made it look so easy, pulling people's teeth while they sat on an Army cot or the back of a pickup, that I asked him to pull my wisdom teeth. He wouldn't do it, though, saying that there's a big difference in pulling out a malnourished person's tooth and pulling out a McDonald's fed American's teeth. Plus, he didn't want the liability in case of complications. My wisdom teeth weren't a problem for me, but I went ahead and got them pulled when I got back from the deployment. I figured it was better to get that out of the way now rather than wait until TEOTWAWKI when I'd be sitting on the back of a pickup while some goon is putting a pair of pliers in my mouth.

One huge "mistake" that we made was our method of handing out some giveaways during our MEDCAPs. Be careful of your how you hand out charity! We gave out bolts of cloth (the cloth had pro-American prints on them) to the women of one village and within a few hours, we had near-riot conditions. Several people were injured and nearly suffocated and/or trampled, the local police grew, shall we say, heavy-handed, and we shut down all operations. Your advice of giving out charity from a distance and using an intermediary like the church is exactly correct. Another lesson is that bolts of cloth are another really popular item for people who have to make their own clothes.

Thank you for all you do. My 10 Cent Challenge contribution will be forthcoming. God bless you and your family. Respectfully, - The Kansan

Thursday, June 5, 2008

I often stress that a key to survival is not what you have, but rather what you know. (See my Precepts of Rawlesian Survivalist Philosophy web page.) In part, I wrote:

Skills Beat Gadgets and Practicality Beats Style. The modern world is full of pundits, poseurs, and Mall Ninjas. Preparedness is not just about accumulating a pile of stuff. You need practical skills, and those only come with study, training, and practice. Any armchair survivalist can buy a set of stylish camouflage fatigues and an M4gery Carbine encrusted with umpteen accessories. Style points should not be mistaken for genuine skills and practicality.

To expand on those precepts, consider the following:

Balanced logistics are important for everyone, but absolutely crucial for someone that is on a tight budget. If you have a three year food supply, then a quantity miscalculation for one particular food item will likely be just an inconvenience. But if you only have a three month supply, then a miscalculation can be a serious hazard. Be logical, systematic, and dispassionate in your preparations. You need to develop some detailed lists, starting with a "List of Lists." Be realistic and scale your retreat logistics purchasing program to your budget. Avoid gong in to debt to "get prepared." A friend of mine who was a Physician's Assistant went way overboard in 1998 and 1999, stocking up for Y2K. The massive credit card debt that he racked up eventually contributed to a prolonged mental depression.

Choose your retreat location wisely. If you can't afford 40 acres, then be sure to pick the right 5 or 10 acres. Finding a property that adjoins public land, and/or property with like-minded neighbors, can make a huge difference. The smaller your land-buying budget, the longer your search should be, to get the most for your money. In today's plunging real estate market, don't overlook the possibility of finding a foreclosed ("bank owned") farm or ranch at a "below market" price. Watch the foreclosure listings in your intended retreat region closely. Two foreclosure monitoring services that I recommend are and

Buy used instead of new. It goes without saying that your purchasing dollars will go farther if you concentrate on quality used tools, guns, and vehicles. Remember that preparedness is not a beauty contest. There are no "Style" points awarded. So owning gear with some dings and scratches is not an issue. Just be sure to inspect used items very carefully. In the case of buying a used vehicle, it is worthwhile to run a check on the vehicle's history through a service like CARFAX. This will reveal if the vehicle might have been repaired after a major collision. Also, hire a qualified mechanic to do some checks before you buy a used rig. That will be money well-spent!

Clip coupons, watch and wait for seasonal sales, shop at thrift stores, go to garage sales and flea markets, attend weekend farm and estate auctions, and learn to watch Craig's List and Freecycle like a hawk. The only thing better that finding inexpensive used items is having thing given to you. This is a common occurrence with Freecycle. For example, it is not unusual to have someone give you several dozen Mason-type canning jars. Just be sure to return the favor, in the spirit of Freecycle.

Strike a balance between quality and quantity. I'm a big believer in the old adage: "Better is the enemy of good enough." Why buy a $320 Chris Reeve folding knife when a used $30 CRKT or Cold Steel brand pocketknife bought on eBay will provide 95% of the functionality of a custom knife? Buying at 1/10th the price means that you will have money available for other important logistics and training.

Take advantage of free or low-cost training. The WRSA, for example, offers shooting and medical training at near their cost. I've discussed other such training opportunities at length previously in SurvivalBlog. In my Precepts page, I noted:

Tools Without Training Are Almost Useless. Owning a gun doesn't make someone a "shooter" any more than owning a surfboard makes someone a surfer. With proper training and practice, you will be miles ahead of the average citizen. Get advanced medical training. Get the best firearms training that you can afford. Learn about amateur radio from your local affiliated ARRL club. Practice raising a vegetable garden each summer. Some skills are only perfected over a period of years.

Learn to distinguish between essentials and non-essentials. Do you really need cable television? Eating out? snacks from the vending machine? ? Use the cash generated to buy the really important things, like storage food.

When you don't have cash, then apply sweat equity. Do you need pasture fence or garden fence at your retreat property? Don't hire someone and "have it done" Do it yourself. Not only will you save money, but you will also learn valuable skills. You might even lose some of that flab around your midsection, in the process. Also consider that people are often willing to barter their excess tangibles in trade for your skills and time. Do you have an elderly neighbor with a big gun collection? Then offer to paint his house in trade for a couple of guns or a few of those heavy ammo cans that he won't live long enough to shoot? In my Precepts page, I wrote:

Invest Your Sweat Equity. Even if some of you have a millionaire's budget, you need to learn how to do things for yourself, and be willing to get your hands dirty. In a societal collapse, the division of labor will be reduced tremendously. Odds are that the only "skilled craftsmen" available to build a shed, mend a fence, shuck corn, repair an engine, or pitch manure will be you.and your family. A byproduct of sweat equity is muscle tone and proper body weight. Hiring someone to deliver three cords of firewood is a far cry from felling, cutting, hauling, splitting, and stacking it yourself.

People often assume that because my blog and novel are widely read that I am wealthy. I actually have a very modest income. The only reason that our retreat is so well stocked is that I have been systematically stocking up for 30 years. I am not a "yuppie survivalist" as at least one fellow blogger claims. I gave up my Big City salaried job years ago, to concentrate on living self-sufficiently. Part of this was a conscious decision to raise our children in a more wholesome environment. The major drawback is that the Rawles Ranch is in such a remote area that we don't get into town very often.

The Memsahib Adds. The good thing about living so remotely is there are no shopping opportunities. Even if I had the urge to indulge in some retail therapy, I'd have to drive more than two hours to do it. The next best things you can do is cancel your magazine subscriptions. If you analyze the contents of most magazines you will realize that they are designed to make you dissatisfied with your clothes, your home decor, garden, electronics, autos because they aren't the latest, greatest, and most fashionable. I also highly recommend selling or Freecycling your television, for the very same reason. A couple of exceptions to our magazine rule are Backwoods Home, and Home Power, since they are both light on advertising and heavy on practical skills.

In closing, do the best you can with what you have. Be truly frugal. I grew up in a family that still remembered both our pioneer history and the more recent lessons of the Great Depression. One of our family mottos is: "Use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without." I thank my mother for passing that wisdom along to my generation, and I am doing the same, with my children.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Mr. Rawles:

[Your frequent quotes from conservatives such as Thomas Sowell and Austrian School economists] blithely ignore the reality of corporatism, authoritarianism, predation, and entrenched elites. We've had our grand experiment in deregulation and the magic of the market, and it's now perfectly clear where it got us. Why don't you look up a good quote on the definition of an idealogue [sic] -- someone who won't let go of pretty delusions even when the real world proves the idealogy [sic] wrong. This is where the right wing is today. They want yet more of what has driven this country onto the rocks.

If you're interested in applying thought, rather than [vulgar word deleted] right wing slogans, to our current economic problems, I'd recommend that you spend a little time on Nouriel Roubini's web site in the spotlight area "Do We Need to Promote Localization to Save Globalization." Inequality and the weakening of the safety net is hobbling, not freeing, the American economy. - David D.

JWR Replies: The context of the words "inequality" and "safety net" and the overall tone of your letter are indicative that you favor socialism. I am opposed to socialism, fascism, communism, and any any other other "-ism" that uses force to deny anyone else of their, life, liberty, or property. One of my dreaded "-isms" is socialism. (And, FWIW, I am opposed to it just a strongly as I am communism and fascism.) Red flags went up when I saw you use the terms "Inequality" and "safety net". Those are are both popular buzzwords of socialism. You asked me to look at a web site. So it is only "fair" and "equitable" that you do likewise: See this animation that nicely sums up my libertarian philosophy.

Ponder what socialism does: In essence, in redistributes wealth, by force. Even if that force has a friendly American face, under the color of law, with a neat and orderly system of taxation, it is nonetheless still force. The bottom line is that under the socialist model, without my consent, some of my earnings are forcibly extracted from me and eventually put into the hands of another citizen that did not earn them. If I refuse to pay my taxes, then I will pay huge fines and/or go to prison. Period.

Whenever you see a Federal courthouse, just imagine that there a dungeon beneath it. (Of course, in reality, the "dungeon" is a sprawling prison, way off in some rural county.) The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the "free" world. One contributing factor for the high incarceration rate is our system of taxation.

All of the foregoing is not to say that I don't believe in charity. Quite to the contrary, I'm part of the small Christian minority in this country that still gives a full tithe (one tenth of my gross earnings) to my church, as well as additional donations to other charities. I do so gladly, as a "cheerful giver." (And it is noteworthy that I'm not alone. Conservatives are statistically far more generous givers than liberals.) To sum up my point: To extract taxes by force to fund a wretchedly inefficient socialist wealth redistribution plan is the worst sort if tyranny. It is slavery with almost invisible shackles.

Monday, May 5, 2008

I occasionally get e-mails from SurvivalBlog readers, asking about how I can justify active preparedness in light of my Christian faith. Some cite the "Lilies of the Field" passage in Matthew 6:25-34:
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

In my view, people are misinterpreting these verses. These are verses about worry, not about work or preparedness. Never does the Bible teach that we should laze about and not provide for our families. Earning our daily bread is the Godly way to live. We are taught not to be lazy or dependent on others. Yes, we are to trust in God's providence, but nowhere do the scriptures absolve us of the responsibility to work or to save up for lean times. Consider these four verses from the book of Proverbs:

He who works his land will have abundant food, but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment. Proverbs 12:11, NIV

All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty. Proverbs 14:23, NIV

The sluggard's craving will be the death of him, because his hands refuse to work. Proverbs 21:25, NIV

The plans of the diligent surely lead to plenty, but those of everyone who is hasty surely to poverty. Proverbs 21:5, NKJV


Food Storage

The Bible encourages storing food. Look at Gen. 41:47-49: "And in the seven plenteous years the earth brought forth by handfuls. And he gathered up all the food of the seven years, which were in the land of Egypt, and laid up the food in the cities: the food of the field, which was round about every city, laid he up in the same. And Joseph gathered corn as the sand of the sea, very much, until he left numbering; for it was without number." And then see Gen. 41:53-57: "And the seven years of plenteousness, that was in the land of Egypt, were ended. And the sevens years of dearth [drought] was in all lands; but in all the land of Egypt there was bread. And when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread: and Pharaoh said unto all the Egyptians, Go unto Joseph; what he saith to you, do.
And the famine was over all the face of the earth: and Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold unto the Egyptians; and the famine waxed sore in the land of Egypt. And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn; because that the famine was so sore in all lands.

The preceding is a good example that illustrates the need for food storage. As I write this in 2008, a growing portion of the world is already experiencing famine. You should recognize that famine could just a well come to stalk America, Europe, the British Isles, and Australia. (The areas with the largest SurvivalBlog readership.) It is prudent and Biblically supported to stock up during good times in anticipation of lean times.

Prov. 6:6-15: "Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? When wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep:
So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man. A naughty person, a wicked man, walketh with a forward mouth. He winketh with his eyes, he speaketh with his feet, he teacheth with his fingers; Forwardness is in his heart, he deviseth mischief continually; he soweth discord. Therefore shall his calamity come suddenly; suddenly shall he be broken without remedy."

The lessons from scripture are clear: Don't be lazy and lax. Store up in good times for future lean times. Ponder this Old Testament passage: Psalm 34:9-10: "O fear the Lord, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him. The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing." And then look at this New Testament passage:, from 1 Timothy 5:8: "But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."

One of the many names of God is Jehovah Jireh, which means God Who Provides. As I Christian, I believe that God will provide for his covenant people. I believe that one of the many gifts that the God has provided is a conviction, by the Holy Spirit, to be well prepared. I realize that we are only on Earth for about 80 trips around the sun, and that is just the twinkling of an eye versus eternity. Where we end up after this brief life is far, far more important in the grand scheme of things. We will spend eternity either in heaven or in hell. But how we spend our +/-80 year life on Earth is up to us. (And the most important thing that we do in the is life is make ourselves right with God, though his Grace, to accepting eternal life in heaven. But stepping back to this temporal world: The Bible makes it very clear that we are to be good stewards of the blessings that God provides us. I therefore feel strongly convicted to not just share the gospel of Christ, but also to physically prepare for my own family, and store extra to dispense as charity. The bottom line: I can't continue to share the gospel if I starve to the point of achieving room temperature!

Self Defense
Other readers question how I can justify owning guns for self-defense. Some Mennonites, for example, eschew all means self defense and decry even the willingness to defend oneself or one's loved ones. That, in my opinion is taking "turning the other cheek" (Luke 6:29) to an extreme that is not sculpturally founded.

Exodus 22:2 provides Biblical justification for killing someone if he intends to forcibly rob or kill another man: "If a thief is caught breaking in and is struck so that he dies, the defender is not guilty of bloodshed." (Exodus 22:2 NIV)

And Jesus teaches that it is wise to be armed, in Luke 22:35-36: "Then Jesus asked them, 'When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?' 'Nothing,' they answered. He said to them, 'But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one."

In an article titled: What Does The Bible Say About Gun Control? Larry Pratt keenly observed the difference between self-defense and vengeance:

Resisting an attack is not to be confused with taking vengeance which is the exclusive domain of God (Rom. 12:19). This has been delegated to the civil magistrate, who, as we read in Romans 13:4, ". . . is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil."

Private vengeance means one would stalk down a criminal after one’s life is no longer in danger as opposed to defending oneself during an attack. It is this very point that has been confused by Christian pacifists who would take the passage in the Sermon on the Mount about turning the other cheek (which prohibits private vengeance) into a command to falter before the wicked.

Let us consider also that the Sixth Commandment tells us: "Thou shall not murder." In the chapters following, God gave to Moses many of the situations which require a death penalty. God clearly has not told us never to kill. He has told us not to murder, which means we are not to take an innocent life. Consider also that the civil magistrate is to be a terror to those who practice evil. This passage does not in any way imply that the role of law enforcement is to prevent crimes or to protect individuals from criminals. The magistrate is a minister to serve as "an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil" (Rom. 13:4).

Jesus taught both to turn the other cheek and to be well-armed to defend oneself. The important factor is having the wisdom to know when to employ either approach depending on the circumstances. I pray, for wisdom, discernment, and discretion, daily. I don't seek out trouble, and in fact I have moved my family to a remote, lightly populated region in good part to avoid trouble. But if unavoidable trouble comes my way, I want to have the option of resisting force with force. And I only have that option if I am armed and trained.

Some critics of armed preparedness cite Matthew 26:52-54, which descries how Jesus responded when Peter cut off the ear of a s high priest's servant, using a sword: "Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?"

In context, Jesus is telling Peter that it would be suicidal to fight in that particular situation, since they were quite outnumbered. And of course Jesus knew it was in God's plan for him to be arrested, tried, crucified, and resurrected. Jesus told Peter to put his sword in its place –which was back in his belt. Jesus was telling Peter in effect that "there is a time to fight, and this, my friend, isn't it." He didn't command him to "throw that sword away", or "surrender it", or to "stop carrying it". After all, according to Luke, Jesus had just recently ordered the disciples to arm themselves. The reason for the arms was obviously to protect their own lives when traveling--not to protect His own life, which He intended to sacrifice, to pay for our sins, once and for all.

The Old testament teaches both to be armed, and to be trained. We read in Psalm 144:1:

Blessed be the Lord my rock
Who trains my hands for war
And my fingers for battle.

Yes, as Christians our battles are mainly spiritual, but we must also be prepared to defend our lives, and the lives of our loved ones, against evildoers.


Charity--both in time of plenty and in times of disaster--is a Christian responsibility with its roots in the Old Testament tradition of Tzedaka. This responsibility--particularly for the support of widows and orphans--was repeated in the New Testament, such as in Acts 11:27-29: "And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch. And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth [drought] throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar. Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judea."

The Biblical approach to survivalism is to avoid trouble, but to be ready for it nonetheless. And when trouble does come, have extra stores on hand, so that you can dispense copious charity. Give until it hurts!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The mass media is currently in a frenzy about spot shortages of rice, flour, and cooking oil at COSTCO stores. I've fielded seven radio interviews in the last couple of days. The only good news is that we set an all-time record yesterday, with 22,217 unique site visits to SurvivalBlog in one day! The rationing situation is getting worse. Several SurvivalBlog readers sent me this: Wal-Mart's Sam's Club limits rice purchases. Meanwhile, we read in The Washington Times: Americans hoard food as industry seeks regulations.

Josh Gerstein, the reporter that interviewed me for the recent New York Sun piece, just got his two minutes of fame on FOX News: Food Shortage Coming? No Rice For You (It used to be called "five minutes of fame", but apparently time is being rationed, too.)

Things can get a lot worse, and they probably will, since the recent shortages and jumps in food prices are global, and were driven by increased fuel costs, the looming Ug99 wheat rust menace, and a pitiful wheat harvest in Australia. (Australia has had drought in three of the last six years, and this year they reported their smallest wheat harvest in 12 years.) A tremendous amount of US wheat and rice has been exported to east Asia in the past six months, leaving short supplies here. It was inevitable that this would eventually show up at the consumer level. Part of the current problem at the COSTCOs and Sam's Clubs is that commercial bakeries and restaurants have resorted to buying more rice and flour at the Big Box stores. It is not clear whether this is because of shortages at their normal suppliers, or because the COSTCOs weren't keeping up with price increases (making them cheaper than buying wholesale), some stockpiling in anticipation of future price increases, or a combination of these factors. What is clear is that American consumers have finally caught on, and are now likely to stock up. Yesterday, even the stodgy The Wall Street Journal jumped on the preparedness bandwagon, when they printed this editorial: Load Up the Pantry. I predict that if there is media attention that is any more vocal than this, it could induce a buying panic like the Johnny Carson toilet paper incident.

An underlying factor that is being under-reported by the mainstream media is that the modern-day Just in Time (JIT) inventory control is a part of the current problem. As I wrote in SurvivalBlog back in February of 2007, by enthusiastically adopting the Japanese kanban system, America retailers have left themselves quite vulnerable to both wholesale shortages and consumer demand spikes. Inventories are intentionally kept lean, for efficiency. This is great for cutting costs in normal times, but it is dangerously fragile whenever a disruption occurs. With JIT, every purchase is logged at the checkout counter terminal, and once a predetermined shelf threshold is reached, an automatic restocking order gets forwarded through the system. Typically, these re-supply shipments take around 24 hours. But a big spike in sales can totally overwhelm the system, leaving empty shelves.

I'm glad that most SurvivalBlog readers stocked up well in advance. By doing so, you are now part of the solution in a food crisis, rather than part of the problem. Because you stocked up many months ago, each one of you represents one less buyer rushing to the store at the 11th hour. And, by having extra on hand, you can dispense charity to your less prudent neighbors.

If the current rice shortage gets any worse, you need to be prepared to dispense charity. I assume that the average SurvivalBlog reader has about 200 pounds of rice on hand. I recommend that you identify friends, neighbors, co-workers and church brethren that are gluten intolerant. For most of us, a shortage of rice, by itself, is not much of an issue. We can simply shift to eating more wheat. But this is not an option for folks that are gluten intolerant (also known as celiac disease, or celiac sprue.) If any of your acquaintances are in this category and they report that they are running out of rice, then quietly offer to give them some. For the sake of OPSEC, just let them know that you have "a little extra" that you can share. Never hand out any of your rice stockpile in more than five pound increments, or you might start some unfriendly rumors.

Hopefully, this will be a short term phenomenon. I anticipate that the Bush administration will soon sharply curtail exports of rice and wheat. Once the current shortage is alleviated, we should both thank God for his Providence, and take this as a reminder to stock up even more, to be prepared for future shortages. Remember our motto:" Two is one, and one is none."/p>

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

In the past week I've had three newcomers to write and ask me to summarize my world view. One of them asked: "I could spend days looking through [the] archives of your [many months of] blog posts. But there are hundreds of them. Can you tell me where you stand, in just a page? What distinguishes the "Rawlesian" philosophy from other [schools of] survivalist thought?"

I'll likely add a few items to this list as time goes on, but here is a general summary of my precepts:

Modern Society is Increasingly Complex, Interdependent, and Fragile. With each passing year, technology progresses and chains of interdependency lengthen. In the past 30 years, chains of retail supply have grown longer and longer. The food on your supermarket shelf does not come from local farmers. It often comes from hundreds or even thousands of miles away. This has created an alarming vulnerability to disruption. Simultaneously, global population is still increasing in a near geometrical progression. At some point that must end, most likely with a sudden and sharp drop in population. The lynchpin is the grid. Without functioning power grids, modern industrial societies will collapse within weeks.

Civilization is Just a Thin Veneer. In the absence of law an order, men quickly revert to savagery. As was illustrated by the rioting and looting that accompanied disasters in the past three decades, the transition from tranquility to absolute barbarism can occur overnight. People expect tomorrow to be just like today, and they act accordingly. But then comes a unpredictable disaster that catches the vast majority unprepared. The average American family has four days worth of food on hand. When that food is gone, we'll soon see the thin veneer stripped away.

People Run in Herds and Packs, but Both Follow Natural Lines of Drift. Most people are sheep ("sheeple"). A few are wolves that prey on others. But just a few of us are more like sheepdogs--we think independently, and instead of predation, we are geared toward protecting and helping others. People naturally follow natural lines of drift--the path of least resistance. When the Schumer hits the fan, 99% of urbanites will try to leave the cities on freeways. The highways and freeways will soon resemble parking lots. This means that you need to be prepared to both get out of town ahead of the rush and to use lightly-traveled back roads. Plan, study and practice.

Lightly Populated Areas are Safer than High Density Areas. With a few exceptions, less population means fewer problems. WTSHTF, there will be a mass exodus from the cities. Think of it as an army that is spreading out across a battlefield: The wider that they are spread, the less effective that they are. The inverse square law hasn't been repealed.

Show Restraint, But Always Have Recourse to Lethal Force. My father often told me, "It is better to have a gun and not need it, than need a gun, and not have it." I urge readers to use less than lethal means when safe and practicable, but at times there is not a satisfactory substitute for well-aimed lead going down range at high velocity.

There is Strength in Numbers. Rugged individualism is all well and good, but it takes ore than one man to defend a retreat. Effective retreat defense necessitates having at least two families to provide 24/7 perimeter security. But of course every individual added means having another mouth to feed. Absent having an unlimited budget and an infinite larder, this necessitates striking a balance when deciding the size of a retreat group.

There are Moral Absolutes. The foundational morality of the civilized world is best summarized in the Ten Commandments. Moral relativism and secular humanism are slippery slopes. The terminal moraine at the base of these slopes is a rubble pile consisting of either despotism and pillage, or anarchy and the depths of depravity. I believe that it takes both faith and friends to survive perilous times. For more background on that, see my Prayer page.

Racism Ignores Reason. People should be judged as individuals. Anyone that make blanket statements about other races is ignorant that there are both good and bad individuals in all groups. I have accepted The Great Commission with sincerity."Go forth into all nations" means exactly that: all nations. OBTW, I feel grateful that SurvivalBlog is now read in more than 100 countries. I have been given a bully pulpit, and I intend to use it for good and edifying purposes.

Skills Beat Gadgets and Practicality Beats Style. The modern world is full of pundits, poseurs, and Mall Ninjas. Preparedness is not just about accumulating a pile of stuff. You need practical skills, and those only come with study, training, and practice. Any armchair survivalist can buy a set of stylish camouflage fatigues and an M4gery Carbine encrusted with umpteen accessories. Style points should not be mistaken for genuine skills and practicality.

Plentiful Water and Good Soil are Crucial. Modern mechanized farming, electrically pumped irrigation, chemical fertilizers, and pesticides can make deserts bloom. But when the grid goes down, deserts and marginal farmland will revert to their natural states. In my estimation, the most viable places to survive in the midst of a long term societal collapse will be those with reliable summer rains and rich topsoil.

Tangibles Trump Conceptuals. Modern fiat currencies are generally accepted, but have essentially no backing. Because they are largely a byproduct of interest bearing debt, modern currencies are destined to inflation. In the long run, inflation dooms fiat currencies to collapse. The majority of your assets should be invested in productive farm land and other tangibles such as useful hand tools. Only after you have your key logistics squared away, anything extra should be invested in silver and gold.

Governments Tend to Expand their Power to the Point that They Do Harm. In SurvivalBlog, I often warn of the insidious tyranny of the Nanny State. If the state where you live becomes oppressive, then don't hesitate to relocate. Vote with your feet!

There is Value in Redundancy. A common saying of my readers is: "Two is one, and one is none." You must be prepared to provide for your family in a protracted period of societal disruption. That means storing up all of the essential "beans, bullets, and Band-Aids" in quantity. If commerce is disrupted by a disaster, at least in the short term you will only have your own logistics to fall back on. The more that you have stored, the more that you will have available for barter and charity.

A Deep Larder is Essential. Food storage is one of the key preparations that I recommend. Even if you have a fantastic self-sufficient garden and pasture ground, you must always have food storage that you can fall back on in the event that your crops fail due to drought, disease, or infestation.

Tools Without Training Are Almost Useless. Owning a gun doesn't make someone a "shooter" any more than owning a surfboard makes someone a surfer. With proper training and practice, you will be miles ahead of the average citizen. Get advanced medical training. Get the best firearms training that you can afford. Learn about amateur radio from your local affiliated ARRL club. Practice raising a vegetable garden each summer. Some skills are only perfected over a period of years.

Old Technologies are Appropriate Technologies. In the event of a societal collapse, 19th Century (or earlier) technologies such as a the blacksmith's forge, the treadle sewing machine, and the horse-drawn plow will be far easier to re-construct than modern technologies.

Charity is a Moral Imperative. As a Christian, I feel morally obligated to assist others that are less fortunate. Following the Old Testament laws of Tzedakah (charity and tithing), I believe that my responsibility begins with my immediate family and expands in successive rings to supporting my immediate neighborhood and church, to my community, and beyond, as resources allow. In short, my philosophy is to "give until it hurts" in times of disaster.

Buy Life Assurance, not Life Insurance. Self-sufficiency and self-reliance are many-faceted. You need to systematically provide for Water, Food, Shelter, Fuel, First Aid, Commo, and, if need be, the tools to enforce Rule 308.

Live at Your Retreat Year-Round. If your financial and family circumstances allow it, I strongly recommend that you relocate to a safe area and live there year-round. This has several advantages, most notably that will prevent burglary of your retreat logistics and allow you to regularly tend to gardens, orchards, and livestock. It will also remove the stress of timing a "Get Out of Dodge" trip at the11th hour. If circumstances dictate that you can't live at your retreat year round, then at least have a caretaker and stock the vast majority of your logistics in advance, since you may only have one trip there before roads are impassable.

Exploit Force Multipliers. Night vision gear, intrusion detection sensors, and radio communications equipment are key force multipliers. Because these use high technology they cannot be depended upon in a long term collapse, but in the short term, they can provide a big advantage. Some low technologies like barbed wire and defensive road cables also provide advantages and can last for several decades.

Invest Your Sweat Equity. Even if some of you have a millionaire's budget, you need to learn how to do things for yourself, and be willing to get your hands dirty. In a societal collapse, the division of labor will be reduced tremendously. Odds are that the only "skilled craftsmen" available to build a shed, mend a fence, shuck corn, repair an engine, or pitch manure will be you.and your family. A byproduct of sweat equity is muscle tone and proper body weight. Hiring someone to deliver three cords of firewood is a far cry from felling, cutting, hauling, splitting, and stacking it yourself.

Choose Your Friends Wisely. Associate yourself with skilled doers, not "talkers." Seek out people that share your outlook and morality. Living in close confines with other families is sure to cause friction but that will be minimized if you share a common religion and norms of behavior.You can't learn every skill yourself. Assemble a team that includes members with medical knowledge, tactical skills, electronics experience, and traditional practical skills.

There is No Substitute for Mass. Mass stops bullets. Mass stops gamma radiation. Mass stops (or at least slows down ) bad guys from entering a home and depriving its residents of life and property. Sandbags are cheap, so buy plenty of them. When planning your retreat house, think: medieval castle. (See the SurvivalBlog Archives for the many articles and letters on Retreat Architecture.)

Always Have a Plan B and a Plan C. Regardless of your pet scenario and your personal grand plan of survival, you need to be flexible and adaptable. Situations and circumstances change. Always keep a G.O.O.D. kit handy, even if you are fortunate enough to live at your retreat year-round.

Be Frugal. I grew up in a family that still remembered both our pioneer history and the more recent lessons of the Great Depression. One of our family mottos is: "Use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without."

Some Things are Worth Fighting For. I encourage my readers to avoid trouble, most importantly via relocation to safe areas where trouble is unlikely to come to visit. But there may come an unavoidable day that you have to make a stand to defend your own family or your neighbors. Further, if you value your liberty, then be prepared to fight for it, both for yourself and for the sake of your progeny.

Friday, March 14, 2008

In the next few paragraphs I'll be tackling four issues that for many years, I've labelled "The Four Gs." One of my contemporaries, Richard "Doc" Sweeny, even made the concept into and acronym: GGGG, for "God, Gold, Guns, and Groceries."

I consider faith in God the cornerstone of my family's preparedness. Faith in God's sovereign control of the future gives my family hope and peace in these troubled times. If there is no hope, then why prepare? Our hope is in Christ Jesus.

There are continuing reports of shortages around the country of wheat flour, corn meal, rice, and cooking oil at some of the "big box:" stores such as COSTCO and Sam's Club. This phenomenon is not uniform. Some readers tell me that it is "business at usual" at their local stores, while others report "one bag per customer" rationing signs have been posted, and a few report empty shelves. With galloping wholesale prices and shortages at the wholesale level, I expect these spot shortages to continue.

I've had a half dozen anxious e-mails from readers in the past week, complaining that their storage food orders have been delayed, that they can't get a firm answer on delivery dates from the vendors, or that the vendors won't even return their calls or e-mails. In nearly all of these instances, the companies in question are not SurvivalBlog advertisers. I've heard from several vendors that the big packing and canning outfits like Mountain House and Alpen Aire are essentially sold out of stock on hand, and that their order backlogs are at least 30 days, and growing. The problem is that in "normal" times, these companies serve a "niche" clientele. They just aren't scaled to handle the order volume when more than 1% or 2% of the population places orders. I witnessed a similar situation back in 1999, just before the Y2K rollover. Some good news that I can mention is that several of our advertisers such as Ready Made Resources actually still have some storage food on hand. It is actually on the shelf ("in captivity") and ready to ship. For any of their items that are back ordered, just be patient. You may have to wait four to six weeks. The other good news I can offer is that our advertisers all have good reputations. (If they didn't, then they would not be allowed to advertise on SurvivalBlog.) The most reputable food storage vendors will not bill your credit card until the day that your order is actually shipped. Beware of small "fly by night" vendors that don't keep any inventory on hand and that will bill your credit card weeks ahead of when they know they can ship. If you buy from a vendor that is not a SurvivalBlog advertiser, my advice is simple: pick your order up in person only from stock on hand, and pay cash on the spot. If you are taking delivery personally, then there is no need to leave a paper trail. Buying with a credit card is advised, in instances where immediate delivery is not promised. In that case, your credit card's "charge back" buyer protection policy could protect you if you are defrauded. Keep in mind, however, that a charge back complaint often must be made within 30 days of the time of purchase.

The next presidential election is huge question mark: Will the Democrats take the White House? And if they do, will another so-called "assault weapons" and "high capacity" magazine ban be legislated in the US? (Something similar to the 1994-to-2004 Federal ban.) At present, these possibilities are difficult to predict. But even if the "worst case" (namely, another ban with no sunset clause) doesn't come to pass, I still consider battle rifles, full capacity magazines, and ammunition to be good investments and excellent barter items. If nothing else, like other nonperishable tangibles, they are good hedges on the falling dollar. Stock up, but do so quietly. If it is legal to do so in your jurisdiction, make all your gun purchases from private parties with no paper trail. Keep your eye on the local newspaper classified ads, as well as ads from sellers in your own state on (on-line auctions) or (fixed price sales--usually more expensive) Search only for sellers from your own state. That way, you won't run afoul of the Federal law that prohibits the transfer of a modern (post-1898) gun across state lines, except through a FFL dealer. It might also be worth your time to drive long distances to some of the larger gun shows in your own state. Once there, you should of course buy guns only from private parties.

The upcoming Heller v. US supreme court decision should be interesting. I suspect that instead of striking down all Federal gun laws--which they rightfully should--the supreme court justices will pen a decision that is tightly worded and hence will only apply to just that one gun ban in the District of Columbia.

OBTW, for any of you that think that my advocacy of gun ownership and training is somehow un-Christian, all that I can do is direct you to Christ's words in Luke 22:36.

I'm addressing gold last, for a reason. You've undoubtedly seen the recent headlines like this one: Gold at $1,000 on Weak Dollar, High Oil. Keep in mind that $1,000 is a psychological barrier. This might trigger some profit taking that could push the spot price of gold down as far as $920 per ounce. Take advantage of such dips. However, don't get caught up in precious metals buying fever. Your key responsibility is to provide for your family, not to be a speculator. Don't even think about investing any of your money in precious metals until after you have all of your crucial "beans, bullets, and Band-Aids" preparations well in hand. If you don't have an honest one year food supply, then stop wasting your time hitting reload at the Kitco web site! (You probably won't get the web page to load with any regularity anyway. The recent spike in gold and silver prices have generated so much web traffic that it has nearly crashed Kitco's server. You might have better luck at the Swiss America web site.)

Remember: You can't eat gold! There may come a day when you need to barter for day-to-day essentials. In such times, barter goods like common caliber ammunition or one-gallon cans of kerosene will be more sought-after than gold. Recognize precious metals for what they are: storehouses of wealth and hedges on the dollar. Think of them as a "time machine". They can be trusted to preserve your wealth from one side of an economic collapse to the other.But do not expect them to keep your family fed in the midst of a socioeconomic collapse.

An afterthought: Perhaps I should add a fifth "G"", for Ground. I have long been a proponent of buying productive farm land. The nationwide market for real estate is clearly in a tailspin, and probably won't bottom for several more years. But I firmly believe that the price declines will not be nearly as significant for good farm ground. Just be sure to be a wise buyer. Study local markets thoroughly (including soil surveys), and don't feel rushed into making a purchase. In today's market, time is on your side. I now recommend keeping a close eye on foreclosures, using services like or


Friday, February 22, 2008

In the Second World War, the United States had nearly two full years to ramp up military training and production before decisively confronting the Axis powers. In the late 1970s, looking at the recent experience of the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, the Pentagon's strategic planners came to the realization that the next major war that the US military would wage would not be like the Second World War. There would not be the luxury of time to train and equip. They realized that we would have to fight with only what we had available on Day One. They dubbed this the "Come as you are war" concept.

In my opinion, the same "come as you are" mindset should be applied to family preparedness. We must recognize that in these days of rapid news dissemination, it may take as little as 10 hours before supermarket shelves are cleaned out. It make take just a few hours for queues that are literally blocks-long to form at gas stations--or at bank branches in the event of bank runs. Worse yet, it may take just a few hours before the highways and freeways leading out of urban and suburban areas are clogged with traffic--the dreaded "Golden Horde" that I often write about. Do not make the false assumption that you will have the chance to make "one last trip" to the big box store, or even the chance to fill your Bug Out Vehicle's fuel tank. This will be the "come as you are" collapse.

The concept also applies to your personal training. If you haven't learned how to do things before the balloon goes, up, then don't expect to get anything but marginal to mediocre on-the-job training after the fact. In essence, you have the opportunity to take top quality training from the best trainers now, but you won't once the Schumer hits the fan. Take the time to get top-notch training! Train with the best--with organizations like Medical Corps, WEMSI, Front Sight, the RWVA/Appleseed Project, the WRSA, and the ARRL. Someday, you'll be very glad that you did.

The come as you are concept definitely applies to specialized manufactured equipment.You are dreaming if you think that you will have the chance to to purchase any items such as these, in a post-collapse world: razor wire, body armor, night vision equipment, advanced first aid gear, tritium scopes, dosimeters and radiac meters, biological decontamination equipment, Dakota Alert or military surplus PEWS intrusion detection sets, photovoltaics, NBC masks, and semi-auto battle rifles. Think about it: There are very few if these items (per capita) presently in circulation. But the demand for them during a societal collapse would be tremendous. How could you compete in such a scant market? Anyone that conceivably has "spares" will probably want to keep them for a member of their own family or group. So even in the unlikely event that someone was even willing to sell such scarce items, they would surely ask a king's ransom in barter for them. I'm talking about quarter sections of land, entire strings of well-broken horses, or pounds of gold. Offers of anything less would surely be scoffed at.

Don't overlook the "you" part of the "as you are" premise. Are you physically fit? Are you up to date on your dental work? Do you have two pairs of sturdy eyeglasses with your current prescription? Do you have at least a six month supply of vitamins and medications? Is your body weight reasonable? If you answer to any of these is no, then get busy!

Even if you have a modest budget, you will have an advantage over the average suburbanite. Your knowledge and training alone--what is between your ears--will ensure that. And even with just a small budget for food storage, you will be miles ahead of your neighbors. Odds are that they will have less than two week's worth of food on hand. As I often say, you will need extra supplies on hand to help out relatives, friends, and neighbors that were ill-prepared. I consider charity my Christian duty!

I have repeatedly and strongly emphasized the importance of living at your intended retreat year-round. But I realize that because of personal finances, family obligations, and the constraints of making a living at an hourly or salaried job, that this is not realistic--except for a few of us, mainly retirees. If you are stuck in the Big City and plan to Get Out of Dodge (G.O.O.D.) at the eleventh hour, then by all means pre-position the vast majority of your gear and supplies at your retreat. You will most likely only have one, I repeat, one G.O.O.D. trip. If there is a major crisis there will probably be no chance to "go back for a second load." So WTSHTF will truly be a "come as you are" affair.

With all of this in mind, re-think your preparedness priorities. Stock your retreat well. If there isn't someone living there year-round, then hide what is there from burglars. (See the numerous SurvivalBlog posts on caching and constructing hidden compartments and rooms.) Maintain balance in your preparations. In a situation where you are truly hunkered-down at your retreat in the midst of a societal collapse, there might not be any opportunity to barter for any items that you overlooked. (At least not for several months. ) What you have is what you got. You will have to make-do. So be sure to develop your "lists of lists" meticulously. If you have the funds available, construct a combination storm shelter/fallout shelter/walk-in vault. It would be virtually impossible to build something that elaborate in the aftermath of a societal collapse.

A closing thought that relates to your retreat logistics: The original colonial Army Rangers, organized by Major Robert Rogers during the French and Indian Wars of the 1750s had a succinct list of operating rules. The version of the "Rules of Ranging" recounted in the novel "Northwest Passage" by Kenneth Roberts started with a strong proviso: "Don't forget nothing." That is sage advice.

Friday, February 8, 2008

My missus and I have been into "prepping" for about 15 years. Our house has a basement and it is practically wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling with shelves--with just narrow aisles in between. The shelves are chockablock with storage food (all labeled and organized "FIFO"-style), medical supplies, assorted "field" type gear, tools, barter/charity stuff, ammo cans, propane cylinders (that fit our camp stove and camping lantern), reels of field phone wire, paper products, and so forth. Following the example of Mr. Whiskey (from your "Profiles") we have recently built up 27 sets of designated "charity duffles", each packed in a cheap Made-in-Taiwan nylon duffle bag. Each of these contains a Dutch Army surplus wool blanket, a Chinese knockoff of a Leatherman tool, a pair of gloves, a pile ("watch") cap, a half dozen pairs of socks, a thrift store man's jacket, room for four days worth of food (which we would pack from our FIFO inventory, as needed), a collapsing plastic water container (the type that Campmor sells), a waterproof match container, a tube tent, and a hand line fishing kit. ("Teach a man to fish...")

When we moved back to California in 1998, we picked our house specially because it was built in the 1940s. It is the oldest and sturdiest house on the block. (The neighborhood built up around the house, when the property was subdivided in the 1960s.) It has a basement and its own water well, which is now "off the books"--since the house is now on "city" [metered] water, but the well is still functional with a 24 VDC submersible well pump. I have four flush roof-mounted Kyocera PV panels (cannot be seen from the street) and six deep cycle batteries. The cables are run series-parallel to provide both 12 VDC and 24 VDC outputs.

Even though we live in a standard suburban neighborhood, none of out neighbors are any the wiser about our preps. At the core, I consider my preparations my own business. When the time comes to hand out the charity duffles, we will do so through an intermediary, like our church. (We are Methodists.)

After seeing what happened to that guy in Norco last year, I am glad that I keep a low profile. The specific measures that we have taken to keep a low profile are:

1.) We take no UPS deliveries at our house. Nearly all of our mail-ordered goods are sent to our private mail box at the local UPS Store (it was formerly a "MailBoxes, Etc.") From there, we take the boxes home in our minivan.We are always sure to unload the van from inside my garage, with the garage door shut. All of the empty boxes have the "to" and "from" address labels cut out with a box cutter knife. I discard the flattened boxes in the cardboard recycling dumpster behind the office where I work. (I'm a sales engineer for a medium-size company.)

2.) We don't subscribe to any shooting or hunting magazines. We get all of the gun information we need online. To "stay in the fight" politically, I do make regular anonymous contributions to the GOA, JPFO and CRPA [The California Rifle and Pistol Association, a firearms rights organization], via Post Office Money Orders. (BTW, I do the same for the SurvivalBlog [10 Cent] Challenge. Shame on any of you that read this blog regularly but don't pony up the 10 pennies a day!)

3.) We access all web pages via Anonymizer, with no exceptions.

4.) Most of of our preps purchases are either made F2F, with cash, or with Post Office Money Orders if ordering by mail. This eliminates the "trail of paper" from writing checks or using a credit card. We buy a lot from Nitro-Pak, Ready Made Resources, Major Surplus, and Lehman's.

5.) All of our guns, ammunition, gun gadgets, targets, and cleaning supplies are bought "private party", mainly at SoCal [(Southern California)] gun shows. Also, needless to mention, these are greenback transactions only! In California, we can still at least buy rifles and shotguns that are more than 50 years old without having to buy through a [licensed] dealer. We have two [M1] Garand rifles, and a FN.49, also [chambered] in .30-06. I'm still looking for one or two more of those, but they are scarce, and even harder to find private party. We also have three [Winchester] Model 12 pump[-action] 12 gauge shotguns, two of which have had their barrels shortened to 18.5 inches. Handgun buys in California all require paperwork, but by Divine Providence I bought several Glocks and [Colt Model] 1911s when I was living in Arizona for a couple years, back in the late '90s. [JWR Adds: That loophole was recently closed for Californians. Anyone moving into the state must now register their handguns. Drat! But at least there was a grandfather clause.] There is isn't much to do out in the desert except shoot, so I bought a lot of guns when we were there.

6.) We signed up for an identity theft and credit report checking protection plan three years ago. I noticed that SurvivalBlog just started running an ad from Comprehensive Risk Solutions. Their service has more bells and whistles and a lower subscription cost that our current provider, so we will switch [to them] when our current subscription lapses. [JWR Adds: I highly recommend this service. It is cheap insurance to prevent what would otherwise be a very costly incident.]

7.) We use a TracFone whenever calling a mail order vendor. (No calling history paper trail.)

8. ) We don't mention our preps to anyone outside of our family. We have coached our kids from an early age to keep their lips zipped.

9.) Whenever we have anybody visit our home, the basement door stays closed and locked. (It is a keyed deadbolt lock.) The basement has no windows. Most of our friends and relatives don't realize that we even have a basement. (Basements are actually rare in California tract neighborhoods.) To anybody that visits, the basement door just looks like a locked closet.

10.) We don't leave anything "suspicious" out where it can be seen in our house and garage.

These precautions might seem kinda "over the top", but put yourself in my shoes. In the People's Republic of California it pays to be a bit of a Secret Squirrel. I does cost me about $300 per year to get my mail and packages at the UPS Store, but I consider that a small price to pay for my privacy. I plan to retire to the mountains of central Nevada in nine years, but for now, I am making do in my present circumstances. - F.L. in Southern California

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Start your retreat stocking effort by first composing a List of Lists, then draft prioritized lists for each subject, on separate sheets of paper. (Or in a spreadsheet if you are a techno-nerd like me. Just be sure to print out a hard copy for use when the power grid goes down!) It is important to tailor your lists to suit your particular geography, climate, and population density as well as your peculiar needs and likes/dislikes. Someone setting up a retreat in a coastal area is likely to have a far different list than someone living in the Rockies.

As I often mention in my lectures and radio interviews, a great way to create truly commonsense preparedness lists is to take a three-day weekend TEOTWAWKI Weekend Experiment” with your family. When you come home from work on Friday evening, turn off your main circuit breaker, turn off your gas main (or propane tank), and shut your main water valve (or turn off your well pump.) Spend that weekend in primitive conditions. Practice using only your storage food, preparing it on a wood stove (or camping stove.)

A “TEOTWAWKI Weekend Experiment” will surprise you. Things that you take for granted will suddenly become labor intensive. False assumptions will be shattered. Your family will grow closer and more confident. Most importantly, some of the most thorough lists that you will ever make will be those written by candlelight.

Your List of Lists should include: (Sorry that this post is in outline form, but it would take a full length book to discus all of the following in great detail)

Water List
Food Storage List
Food Preparation List
Personal List
First Aid /Minor Surgery List
Nuke Defense List
Biological Warfare Defense List
Gardening List
Hygiene List/Sanitation List
Hunting/Fishing/Trapping List
Power/Lighting/Batteries List
Fuels List
Firefighting List
Tactical Living List
Communications/Monitoring List
Tools List
Sundries List
Survival Bookshelf List
Barter and Charity List

JWR’s Specific Recommendations For Developing Your Lists:

Water List
House downspout conversion sheet metal work and barrels. (BTW, this is another good reason to upgrade your retreat to a fireproof metal roof.)
Drawing water from open sources. Buy extra containers. Don’t buy big barrels, since five gallon food grade buckets are the largest size that most people can handle without back strain.
For transporting water if and when gas is too precious to waste, buy a couple of heavy duty two wheel garden carts--convert the wheels to foam filled "no flats" tires. (BTW, you will find lots of other uses for those carts around your retreat, such as hauling hay, firewood, manure, fertilizer, et cetera.)
Treating water. Buy plain Clorox hypochlorite bleach. A little goes a long way. Buy some extra half-gallon bottles for barter and charity. If you can afford it, buy a “Big Berky” British Berkefeld ceramic water filter. (Available from Ready Made Resources and several other Internet vendors. Even if you have pure spring water at your retreat, you never know where you may end up, and a good filter could be a lifesaver.)

Food Storage List
See my post tomorrow which will be devoted to food storage. Also see the recent letter from David in Israel on this subject.

Food Preparation List

Having more people under your roof will necessitate having an oversize skillet and a huge stew pot. BTW, you will want to buy several huge kettles, because odds are you will have to heat water on your wood stove for bathing, dish washing, and clothes washing. You will also need even more kettles, barrels, and 5 or 6 gallon PVC buckets--for water hauling, rendering, soap making, and dying. They will also make great barter or charity items. (To quote my mentor Dr. Gary North: “Nails: buy a barrel of them. Barrels: Buy a barrel of them!”)
Don’t overlook skinning knives, gut-buckets, gambrels, and meat saws.

Personal List
(Make a separate personal list for each family member and individual expected to arrive at your retreat.)
Spare glasses.
Prescription and nonprescription medications.
Birth control.
Keep dentistry up to date.
Any elective surgery that you've been postponing
Work off that gut.
Stay in shape.
Back strength and health—particularly important, given the heavy manual tasks required for self-sufficiency.
Educate yourself on survival topics, and practice them. For example, even if you don’t presently live at your retreat, you should plant a vegetable garden every year. It is better to learn through experience and make mistakes now, when the loss of crop is an annoyance rather than a crucial event.
“Comfort” items to help get through high stress times. (Books, games, CDs, chocolates, etc.)

First Aid /Minor Surgery List
When tailoring this list, consider your neighborhood going for many months without power, extensive use of open flames, and sentries standing picket shifts exposed in the elements. Then consider axes, chainsaws and tractors being wielded by newbies, and a greater likelihood of gunshot wounds. With all of this, add the possibility of no access to doctors or high tech medical diagnostic equipment. Put a strong emphasis on burn treatment first aid supplies. Don’t overlook do-it-yourself dentistry! (Oil of cloves, temporary filling kit, extraction tools, et cetera.) Buy a full minor surgery outfit (inexpensive Pakistani stainless steel instruments), even if you don’t know how to use them all yet. You may have to learn, or you will have the opportunity to put them in the hands of someone experienced who needs them.) This is going to be a big list!

Chem/Nuke Defense List
Dosimeter and rate meter, and charger, radiac meter (hand held Geiger counter), rolls of sheet plastic (for isolating airflow to air filter inlets and for covering window frames in the event that windows are broken due to blast effects), duct tape, HEPA filters (ands spares) for your shelter. Potassium iodate (KI) tablets to prevent thyroid damage.(See my recent post on that subject.) Outdoor shower rig for just outside your shelter entrance.

Biological Warfare Defense List
Hand Sanitizer
Sneeze masks
Colloidal silver generator and spare supplies (distilled water and .999 fine silver rod.)
Natural antibiotics (Echinacea, Tea Tree oil, …)

Gardening List
One important item for your gardening list is the construction of a very tall deer-proof and rabbit-proof fence. Under current circumstances, a raid by deer on your garden is probably just an inconvenience. After the balloon goes up, it could mean the difference between eating well, and starvation.
Top Soil/Amendments/Fertilizers.
Tools+ spares for barter/charity
Long-term storage non hybrid (open pollinated) seed. (Non-hybrid “heirloom” seed assortments tailors to different climate zones are available from The Ark Institute
Herbs: Get started with medicinal herbs such as aloe vera (for burns), echinacea (purple cone flower), valerian, et cetera.

Hygiene/Sanitation List
Sacks of powdered lime for the outhouse. Buy plenty!
TP in quantity (Stores well if kept dry and away from vermin and it is lightweight, but it is very bulky. This is a good item to store in the attic. See my novel about stocking up on used phone books for use as TP.
Soap in quantity (hand soap, dish soap, laundry soap, cleansers, etc.)
Bottled lye for soap making.
Ladies’ supplies.
Toothpaste (or powder).
Fluoride rinse. (Unless you have health objections to the use of fluoride.)
Livestock List:
Hoof rasp, hoof nippers, hoof pick, horse brushes, hand sheep shears, styptic, carding combs, goat milking stand, teat dip, udder wash, Bag Balm, elastrator and bands, SWOT fly repellent, nail clippers (various sizes), Copper-tox, leads, leashes, collars, halters, hay hooks, hay fork, manure shovel, feed buckets, bulk grain and C-O-B sweet feed (store in galvanized trash cans with tight fitting lids to keep the mice out), various tack and saddles, tack repair tools, et cetera. If your region has selenium deficient soil (ask your local Agricultural extension office) then be sure to get selenium-fortified salt blocks rather than plain white salt blocks--at least for those that you are going to set aside strictly for your livestock.

Hunting/Fishing/Trapping List
“Buckshot” Bruce Hemming has produced an excellent series of videos on trapping and making improvised traps. (He also sells traps and scents at very reasonable prices.)
Night vision gear, spares, maintenance, and battery charging
Salt. Post-TEOTWAWKI, don’t “go hunting.” That would be a waste of effort. Have the game come to you. Buy 20 or more salt blocks. They will also make very valuable barter items.
Sell your fly fishing gear (all but perhaps a few flies) and buy practical spin casting equipment.
Extra tackle may be useful for barter, but probably only in a very long term Crunch.
Buy some frog gigs if you have bullfrogs in your area. Buy some crawfish traps if you have crawfish in your area.
Learn how to rig trot lines and make fish traps for non-labor intensive fishing WTSHTF.

Power/Lighting/Batteries List
One proviso: In the event of a “grid down” situation, if you are the only family in the area with power, it could turn your house into a “come loot me” beacon at night. At the same time, your house lighting will ruin the night vision of your LP/OP pickets. Make plans and buy materials in advance for making blackout screens or fully opaque curtains for your windows.
When possible, buy nickel metal hydride batteries. (Unlike the older nickel cadmium technology, these have no adverse charge level “memory” effect.)
If your home has propane appliances, get a “tri-fuel” generator--with a carburetor that is selectable between gasoline, propane, and natural gas. If you heat your home with home heating oil, then get a diesel-burning generator. (And plan on getting at least one diesel burning pickup and/or tractor). In a pinch, you can run your diesel generator and diesel vehicles on home heating oil.
Kerosene lamps; plenty of extra wicks, mantles, and chimneys. (These will also make great barter items.)
Greater detail on do-it-yourself power will be included in my forthcoming blog posts.

Fuels List
Buy the biggest propane, home heating oil, gas, or diesel tanks that your local ordinances permit and that you can afford. Always keep them at least two-thirds full. For privacy concerns, ballistic impact concerns, and fire concerns, underground tanks are best if you local water table allows it. In any case, do not buy an aboveground fuel tank that would visible from any public road or navigable waterway. Buy plenty of extra fuel for barter. Don’t overlook buying plenty of kerosene. (For barter, you will want some in one or two gallon cans.) Stock up on firewood or coal. (See my previous blog posts.) Get the best quality chainsaw you can afford. I prefer Stihls and Husqavarnas. If you can afford it, buy two of the same model. Buy extra chains, critical spare parts, and plenty of two-cycle oil. (Two-cycle oil will be great for barter!) Get a pair of Kevlar chainsaw safety chaps. They are expensive but they might save yourself a trip to the emergency room. Always wear gloves, goggles, and ear-muffs. Wear a logger’s helmet when felling. Have someone who is well experienced teach you how to re-sharpen chains. BTW, don’t cut up your wood into rounds near any rocks or you will destroy a chain in a hurry.

Firefighting List
Now that you have all of those flammables on hand (see the previous list) and the prospect of looters shooting tracer ammo or throwing Molotov cocktails at your house, think in terms of fire fighting from start to finish without the aid of a fire department. Even without looters to consider, you should be ready for uncontrolled brush or residential fires, as well as the greater fire risk associated with greenhorns who have just arrived at your retreat working with wood stoves and kerosene lamps!
Upgrade your retreat with a fireproof metal roof.
2” water line from your gravity-fed storage tank (to provide large water volume for firefighting)
Fire fighting rig with an adjustable stream/mist head.
Smoke and CO detectors.

Tactical Living List
Adjust your wardrobe buying toward sturdy earth-tone clothing. (Frequent your local thrift store and buy extras for retreat newcomers, charity, and barter.)
Dyes. Stock up on some boxes of green and brown cloth dye. Buy some extra for barter. With dye, you can turn most light colored clothes into semi-tactical clothing on short notice.
Two-inch wide burlap strip material in green and brown. This burlap is available in large spools from Gun Parts Corp. Even if you don’t have time now, stock up so that you can make camouflage ghillie suits post-TEOTWAWKI.
Save those wine corks! (Burned cork makes quick and cheap face camouflage.)
Cold weather and foul weather gear—buy plenty, since you will be doing more outdoor chores, hunting, and standing guard duty.
Don’t overlook ponchos and gaiters.
Mosquito repellent.
Synthetic double-bag (modular) sleeping bags for each person at the retreat, plus a couple of spares. The Wiggy’s brand Flexible Temperature Range Sleep System (FTRSS) made by Wiggy's of Grand Junction, Colorado is highly recommended.
Night vision gear + IR floodlights for your retreat house
Subdued flashlights and penlights.
Noise, light, and litter discipline. (More on this in future posts--or perhaps a reader would like to send a brief article on this subject)
Security-General: Locks, intrusion detection/alarm systems, exterior obstacles (fences, gates, 5/8” diameter (or larger) locking road cables, rosebush plantings, “decorative” ponds (moats), ballistic protection (personal and residential), anti-vehicular ditches/berms, anti-vehicular concrete “planter boxes”, razor wire, etc.)
Starlight electronic light amplification scopes are critical tools for retreat security.
A Starlight scope (or goggles, or a monocular) literally amplifies low ambient light by up to 100,000 times, turning nighttime darkness into daylight--albeit a green and fuzzy view. Starlight light amplification technology was first developed during the Vietnam War. Late issue Third Generation (also called or “Third Gen” or “Gen 3”) starlight scopes can cost up to $3,500 each. Rebuilt first gen (early 1970s technology scopes can often be had for as little as $500. Russian-made monoculars (with lousy optics) can be had for under $100. One Russian model that uses a piezoelectric generator instead of batteries is the best of this low-cost breed. These are best used as backups (in case your expensive American made scopes fail. They should not be purchased for use as your primary night vision devices unless you are on a very restrictive budget. (They are better than nothing.) Buy the best starlight scopes, goggles, and monoculars you can afford. They may be life-savers! If you can afford to buy only one, make it a weapon sight such as an AN/PVS-4, with a Gen 2 (or better) tube. Make sure to specify that that the tube is new or “low hours”, has a high “line pair” count, and minimal scintillation. It is important to buy your Starlight gear from a reputable dealer. The market is crowded with rip-off artists and scammers. One dealer that I trust, is Al Glanze (spoken “Glan-zee”) who runs STANO Components, Inc. in Silver City, Nevada. Note: In a subsequent blog posts I will discuss the relationship and implications to IR illuminators and tritium sights.
Range cards and sector sketches.
If you live in the boonies, piece together nine of the USGS 15-minute maps, with your retreat property on the center map. Mount that map on an oversize map board. Draw in the property lines and owner names of all of your surrounding neighbor’s parcels (in pencil) in at least a five mile radius. (Get boundary line and current owner name info from your County Recorder’s office.) Study and memorize both the terrain and the neighbors’ names. Make a phone number/e-mail list that corresponds to all of the names marked on the map, plus city and county office contact numbers for quick reference and tack it up right next to the map board. Cover the whole map sheet with a sheet of heavy-duty acetate, so you can mark it up just like a military commander’s map board. (This may sound a bit “over the top”, but remember, you are planning for the worst case. It will also help you get to know your neighbors: When you are introduced by name to one of them when in town, you will be able to say, “Oh, don’t you live about two miles up the road between the Jones place and the Smith’s ranch?” They will be impressed, and you will seem like an instant “old timer.”

Security-Firearms List
Guns, ammunition, web gear, eye and ear protection, cleaning equipment, carrying cases, scopes, magazines, spare parts, gunsmithing tools, targets and target frames, et cetera. Each rifle and pistol should have at least six top quality (original military contract or original manufacturer) full capacity spare magazines. Note: Considerable detail on firearms and optics selection, training, use, and logistic support are covered in the SurvivalBlog archives and FAQs.

Communications/Monitoring List
When selecting radios buy only models that will run on 12 volt DC power or rechargeable nickel metal hydride battery packs (that can be recharged from your retreat’s 12 VDC power system without having to use an inverter.)
As a secondary purchasing goal, buy spare radios of each type if you can afford them. Keep your spares in sealed metal boxes to protect them from EMP.
If you live in a far inland region, I recommend buying two or more 12 VDC marine band radios. These frequencies will probably not be monitored in your region, leaving you an essentially private band to use. (But never assume that any two-way radio communications are secure!)
Note: More detail on survival communications gear selection, training, use, security/cryptography measures, antennas, EMP protection, and logistical support will be covered in forthcoming blog posts.

Tools List
Gardening tools.
Auto mechanics tools.
Bolt cutters--the indispensable “universal key.”
Woodworking tools.
Gunsmithing tools.
Emphasis on hand powered tools.
Hand or treadle powered grinding wheel.
Don’t forget to buy plenty of extra work gloves (in earth tone colors).
Sundries List:
Systematically list the things that you use on a regular basis, or that you might need if the local hardware store were to ever disappear: wire of various gauges, duct tape, reinforced strapping tape, chain, nails, nuts and bolts, weather stripping, abrasives, twine, white glue, cyanoacrylate glue, et cetera.

Book/Reference List

You should probably have nearly every book on my Bookshelf page. For some, you will want to have two or three copies, such as Carla Emery’s "Encyclopedia of Country Living". This is because these books are so valuable and indispensable that you won’t want to risk lending out your only copy.

Barter and Charity List
For your barter list, acquire primarily items that are durable, non-perishable, and either in small packages or that are easily divisible. Concentrate on the items that other people are likely to overlook or have in short supply. Some of my favorites are ammunition. [The late] Jeff Cooper referred to it as “ballistic wampum.” WTSHTF, ammo will be worth nearly its weight in silver. Store all of your ammo in military surplus ammo cans (with seals that are still soft) and it will store for decades. Stick to common calibers, get plenty of .22 LR (most high velocity hollow points) plus at least ten boxes of the local favorite deer hunting cartridge, even if you don’t own a rifle chambered for this cartridge. (Ask your local sporting goods shop about their top selling chamberings). Also buy at least ten boxes of the local police department’s standard pistol cartridge, again even if you don’t own a pistol chambered for this cartridge.
Ladies supplies.
Salt (Buy lots of cattle blocks and 1 pound canisters of iodized table salt.)
(Stores indefinitely if kept dry.)
Two cycle engine oil (for chain saw gas mixing. Gas may still be available after a collapse, but two-cycle oil will probably be like liquid gold!)
Gas stabilizer.
Diesel antibacterial additive.
50-pound sacks of lime (for outhouses).
1 oz. bottles of military rifle bore cleaner and Break Free (or similar) lubricant.
Waterproof dufflebags in earth tone colors (whitewater rafting "dry bags").
Thermal socks.
Semi-waterproof matches (from military rations.)
Military web gear (lots of folks will suddenly need pistol belts, holsters, magazine pouches, et cetera.)
Pre-1965 silver dimes.
1-gallon cans of kerosene.
Rolls of olive drab parachute cord.
Rolls of olive-drab duct tape.
Spools of monofilament fishing line.
Rolls of 10 mil "Visqueen", sheet plastic (for replacing windows, isolating airspaces for nuke scenarios, etc.)
I also respect the opinion of one gentleman with whom I've corresponded, who recommended the following:
Strike anywhere matches. (Dip the heads in paraffin to make them waterproof.)
Playing cards.
Cooking spices. (Do a web search for reasonably priced bulk spices.)
Rope & string.
Sewing supplies.
Candle wax and wicking.
Lastly, any supplies necessary for operating a home-based business. Some that you might consider are: leather crafting, small appliance repair, gun repair, locksmithing, et cetera. Every family should have at least one home-based business (preferably two!) that they can depend on in the event of an economic collapse.
Stock up on additional items to dispense to refugees as charity.
Note: See the Barter Faire chapter in my novel "Patriots" for lengthy lists of potential barter items.

Mr. Rawles,
My wife and I are are in our 50s, (never had kids) and we live in a four bedroom house on 80 acres (mostly leased out [for farming]), eight miles outside a town of 20,000 population, in south-central Iowa. Two of our cousins and one nephew--all military vet[eran]s--that live in town are planning to come out [and live with us], if and when times get nasty. We have now have (or will soon have) all our basic preparations in hand, including a three year food supply for five people, which we got mostly through Safecastle and Ready Made Resources, plus some extra meats from Freeze Dry Guy, and some canned butter from Best Prices Storable Foods. We also took your advice and upgraded to a propane [chest] freezer. (That took a lot of searching, believe me!) It now holds almost a a side of beefalo, and almost 15 gallons of frozen olive oil. (Thanks for mentioning [fats and] oils--that was something that we had totally overlooked!).

My wife and I plan to book the four day handgun course and the four day rifle course back-to-back at Front Sight, with some sightseeing in Vegas, on the weekend in between [the two courses]. We are going in April--before the really scorching weather starts in southern Nevada. (We've been warned about the summers there!) Per your suggestion posts, we [standardized] with Glock 21-SF .45s and FN-FAL clones. With five of each--not to mention the rest of my [gun] collection, which was ah-hem substantial before I ever started reading your blog--we should be able to hold off a small army. We have well water, but have a very reliable windmill that pumps [water up] to a 850 gallon tank with its overflow piped to a 2,700 above-ground concrete cistern for irrigating our garden. Water is not an issue.We also have oversize propane and home heating [oil] tanks. (Large enough that they've each prompted comments from visitors. I've just told them that I like to buy in bulk whenever fuel prices dip.)

Now that we have all the basics covered, we are ready to acquire some stocks for barter, assuming one of your "Grid Down" collapses. We have plenty of [storage] space, since our house has a full unfinished basement. FYI, it has never had any dampness or flooding problems.What do you suggest as the most important barter [item] to stock up on? We also want to have extra items for charity. We plan to do that through our church, so that our family name never gets mentioned. - Karl in Iowa

JWR Replies: It sounds like you are "Away squared"!

For anyone living in an inland area, I consider salt the highest priority barter and charity item. Buy a lot of salt, in several forms. As space allows, buy 20 to 30 of the 50-pound plain white salt blocks from your local feed store. These are great for barter--both for folks with livestock and for people that want to attract wild game. Buy a couple of 25 pound sacks of iodized salt for your own use. Also buy 100 to 200 of the standard cardboard one pound canisters of iodized salt for small scale barter transactions.

The second highest priority for barter and charity is fuel. If you have an outbuilding that can provide safe and secure storage, then buy at least a 20 one-gallon gallon cans of Coleman stove/lantern fuel, 30 to 50 standard propane cylinders (the size used for torches and camp stoves) and 40 to 60 one-gallon cans of kerosene. You might also lay in a few extra welding cylinders (Oxygen and acetylene.)

Also store some bulk fuel. If you can afford it, also install a 300 to 800 gallon underground gasoline tank and a 600 to 2,500 gallon underground diesel tank. (And of course make sure that you have at least one diesel vehicle.) You should carefully camouflage the filler necks and hand pumps for those tanks, as I've previously described in the blog. (In the "Search" box in the right had bar, enter the word "wine".) If you ever use any of your gas or diesel for barter, do not reveal how much you have stored, or the fact that you have underground ranks. All that your customers should be allowed to see is a few 5 gallon cans. Also, depending on the local circumstances, you might also consider getting a pair of used 80 gallon aboveground tanks (typical farm and ranch tanks on metal stands) clearly stenciled "Unleaded" and "Diesel" to leave behind your barn unlocked and nearly empty, as a decoy for burglars.

The third highest priority for barter and charity is common caliber ammunition. I have discussed this at length before in SurvivalBlog. (In the "Search" box in the right hand bar, enter the word "wampum".)

Beyond, those three categories of high priority barterables, if you still have extra cash and storage space available, see my book SurvivalBlog: The Best of the Blog - Volume 1 and/or the SurvivalBlog archives for dozens of other barter items that have been suggested by blog readers.

OBTW, one of my consulting clients recently suggested buying several extra pieces of inexpensive night vision gear, such as first generation Russian monoculars. These would be in demand from any folks fearing nighttime attacks from looters. Since light amplification night vision gear is still relatively uncommon it would surely be a desirable item for barter. If you are looking for night vision gear, please contact our advertisers such as JRH Enterprises and Ready Made Resources, first.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The once Almighty US Dollar got its comeuppance this week at the annual Davos, Switzerland conclave. After too many years of maxing out her credit card at Macy's, the weak sister of the currency world was strongly chided by her siblings. The Federal Reserve's unprecedented one-day 75 basis point cut in interest rates was seen as exactly what it was: a desperation measure. Jean-Claude Trichet, the head of the European Central Bank (ECB) said that there is little chance of a European interest rate cut, to match the Fed's rate cut Soon after, Steve Forbes went so far as to call the US Dollar policy 'Zimbabwe Economics'. Not surprisingly, the US Dollar Index is still bouncing along the gutter of the high street at around 75.90 (it now takes more than $1.46 to buy a Euro), and the spot price of gold spiked to over $921 per ounce in London and New York trading before settling to around $910.

What does the castigation of the US Dollar at Davos mean to the average American? In the short term, very little. But in the long term, look for a much weaker dollar in foreign exchange. This means that imported goods are going to get a lot more expensive. If you have been forestalling buying any big ticket imported items, buy them soon. That $250 British Berkefeld water that you've wanted may cost $400 or more, next year. (That is, if you really need something for preparedness, and you can pay cash.) Obviously recession is right around the corner. That means lower stock prices, big layoffs, a cascade of economic troubles overseas, declining house prices, more mortgage foreclosures, big bailout programs, and so on.

In my estimation, sometime in the next two years the economic and currencies pendulums will reach a collective turning point. Foreigners will simply stop buying US Treasuries--at least at the currently-offered rates of return In order to finance the Federal debt, the Treasury department will have to offer higher rates of return. Then they will be inextricably stuck. Higher interest rates will tank the economy. But then it may get worse: Like the Banana Republic treasury that it has truly become, the US Treasury will get into the spiral of offering higher and higher rates of return to lure overseas investors. Interest rates will start to accelerate, as they did in the late 1970s. Smelling blood in the water (pardon the mixed metaphor) the foreign investors will play the cycle for all that it is worth, pushing Treasury rates up past 20% annual interest.

What does the Federal Reserve's recent big interest rate cut tell us? It is now apparent that Ben Bernanke and his deck chair rearranging committee are subservient to Wall Street. Rather than accepting the natural outcome of a normal market cycle , they are furiously trying to pump liquidity in hopes of propping up stock prices. They cannot afford to let mutual funds and pension funds collapse. (Nor does the Republican party want to lose their soon-to-be-retiring Baby Boomer political base, in the process.) In the process the Fed is destroying the value of the dollar and making the inevitable economic dislocation of the forestalled recession even worse.

SurvivalBlog readers are hereby advised to batten down the hatches. Be ready to lose your job. (See my previous advice about starting a home-based business that you can fall back on, if need be.) Be ready to relocate on short notice. Be ready for a recession that will go on for so long and get so bad that it will be called The Second Great Depression. Be ready for substantially higher crime rates. Be ready for mass inflation. (As I've stated before, given his predisposition, Ben Bernanke will try to inflate his way out of this mess. He will monetize the debt.) Be ready for drastic measures by the government, including "soak the rich" tax schemes--that will actually target the middle class. Be ready to help out your idiot brother (the one with the matching pair of Jet Skis and the 72" plasma television), who will appear on your doorstep, pleading that he can't pay his mortgage or his credit card bills. Be ready to feed your family out of your own garden and food storage. Be ready for your employer to get suddenly bought out by a European conglomerate. Be ready for $6 per gallon gasoline and milk prices. Be ready for any stock-heavy 401(k) and pension funds to be "wiped out" overnight. Be ready, folks!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

I appreciate the SurvivalBlog site and loved your novel "Patriots". Keep up the good work!

Let’s assume TSHTF in a long term way. Let’s further assume you have made reasonable preparations for food, both stored food, and open pollinated seeds for future gardens. How do you store all this future food?

Freezing will be iffy since the electricity may become unreliable. It only takes a few days to ruin a freezer full of meat and veggies.

Drying can be effective for some, but not all foods. It’s a very time consuming to prepare the food, and it has to be stored cool and dry, which is not always easy. This will affect flavor and texture a lot. Cooking with dried foods is also different.

Pickling works for some foods, and depends on acidity and/or salt to preserve the food. Limited shelf life if not heat sterilized. Definitely affects flavor/texture. Not everything tastes good pickled.

Canning with glass jars is very satisfactory, with good to excellent shelf life. Color, texture and flavor are often excellent for years. Recent studies suggest that
the nutritive value may be pretty good for a decade or longer, though flavor, texture, color and nutritional value does decline slowly. Shelf life varies a lot depending on the food too.

Now for the real problem with canning. Where are you going to get disposable canning lids and jars and canning equipment after TSHTF? The lids are only good for one use, though the glass jars may last for a hundred years.

The shelf life on the disposable lids is pretty good, and the jars last forever if you don’t break them. I’d bet real money that canning lids become excellent barter goods. [JWR Adds: I recommend that you stock up whenever you find lids on sale, purchasing above and beyond the supply that you anticipate needing for your own use--for barter, and for charity.]

If possible, buy a pressure canner that does not need or use a rubber gasket, but rather, uses precision machined metal surfaces to make the seal. Anything with a rubber gasket will probably be out of commission in ten years or less. A spare parts kit would also be a good idea. Here’s a nice one, though they are not cheap.

Another jar sealing alternative is using paraffin wax. It’s not nearly as reliable, but it is reusable to a point and may be more available after TSHTF.

The most up-to-date directions/instructions/recipes for canning
is a product of our tax money (one of the rare good results of our tax money). This is a great book, it costs less than twenty bucks and that includes shipping to the continental U.S. If you do a bad job at canning, botulism has a pretty high mortality rate, meaning that it can kill you the first time. Do it right or don’t do it at all.

[The canning jar and lid maker] Ball also produces a nice little booklet for less money, but it’s not as extensive.

I’m sure there are other options out there, but I wanted to point out the urgent need for procuring canning lids and jars now. Finest Regards, - Troy H.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

We have what may be stupid question, however, we do not know how to grind wheat. We would like to ask how to prepare wheat for cooking and use.We have searched your great site but I did not find the answer on this. We would like to take advantage of this inexpensive food. Thanks so much . Your work is appreciated. - EG


Mr Rawles,
My family and I are doing our best to prepare for the tough times ahead. Something's brewing, I'm sure we all can feel it. One thing we'd love to keep a store of is cracked corn. The versatility, caloric and nutritional value, etc., makes dry corn a great prospect for our stores. We get it in 50 pound sacks from our local feed store for only about $6.50, where 50 pounds of wheat now costs us $50 ($15 of which is shipping). Please advise me how best to keep cracked corn. I know it won't keep long in the paper sacks. I've looked into five gallon buckets with seals in the lids, and we have a vacuum sealer. I would also like to know how dry corn holds up with climate change. Here we experience temperatures between about 5 degrees F and 120 degrees F throughout the year. Can corn be sealed and stored outside with these temperatures? For how long at best? We're striving for five plus years if at all possible, most likely not having electricity. As time is short, please try to get back to me as soon as possible or link me to where you may have already answered these questions. Thank you very much in advance for any help at all which you're able to offer. God bless you! - Mitch

JWR Replies:
For someone planning ahead for "grid down" circumstances, I recommend getting a hand crank-powered grain mill. To make flour that is fine enough for bread baking, you need to run wheat through a mill twice. The best mills use stone burrs. Some of the less expansive mills use metal burrs. But these are just fine for making corn meal. The meal burr mills such as the "Corona" are less expensive but more labor intensive. With these you might have to grind wheat three times to make fine flour. Here at the ranch we use a Country Living grain mill. They are very efficient, and their crank wheels have a V-belt notch, which makes motorizing or pedal-power converting them quite easy. OBTW, I heard that this model will have a 15% price increase from the manufacturer on February 1, 2008, so if you want one, get your order in soon.

Metal burr grinders are available from Nitro-Pak, Lehman's, and several other vendors. Stone burr grinders are available from Ready Made Resources, Lehman's, and many other vendors.

OBTW, in addition to buying yourself a mill for grinding flour, don't overlook the easiest preparation method of all: soaked wheat berries. By simply soaking whole wheat for 24 to 36 hours, it plumps and softens. When then heated, wheat berries make a nutritious breakfast cereal.

Corn stores best in whole kernels. Once it is cracked, the inner germ is exposed. This decreases its storage life and nutritive value by 80%. Running whole corn through a grain mill at a coarse setting to make cracked corn is quick and easy. A finer setting will yield corn meal.

Unless you have large scale grain bins, one of the most efficient means of storing wheat and corn for small-scale animal feed or human consumption is to buy new galvanized trash cans with tight-fitting lids. If they will be on a damp floor, put the cans up on 2x4 blocks to prevent rust. When galvanized trash barrels go on sale, buy a bunch. Another good storage method is 5 or 6 gallon food grade plastic buckets with gasketed lids. These stack well, but be advised that they are not as vermin-proof as galvanized steel bins or barrels. Determined rats have been known to gnaw their way through plastic food buckets. So if you choose this method, be sure to set traps, and check the buckets once every few weeks for signs of damage. As previously mentioned in SurvivalBlog, do not use utility-type plastic paint buckets. Even if bought brand new these can taint food, because they are often molded using non-food-grade (toxic) mold release agents.

Grain storage is a crucial aspect of family preparedness. Grain will soon no longer be cheap or plentiful, so stock up! Readers JP and Commander Zero suggested this Financial Post (Canada) article: Forget oil, the new global crisis is food And meanwhile, we read: Japan to Increase Emergency Stockpiles of Grains, Wheat has jumped to $10 per bushel, but I anticipate that it will go much higher in the next year. Stock up, in quantity. Buy plenty for your family and your livestock. A total of 200 pounds of wheat and 50 pounds of corn per family member are good figures for planning purposes for a family without livestock. I also recommend buying plenty of extra for barter and charity. You'll soon be glad that you did

Speaking of charity, if you store extra wheat and/or corn for charity, remember that your charity recipients will need a way to process that grain. So be sure to be on the lookout for a few inexpensive used grain mills. You can often find used Corona brand mills (or similar) on eBay or on Craig's List

Saturday, December 22, 2007

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [LDS or comminly called "The Mormons"]. I am also the Emergency Preparedness Coordinator for my ward. As you know the leaders of the church constantly speak of preparedness. In April 2007 a talk was offered by Keith B McMullin in the Saturday evening session of conference titled "Lay Up in Store". This talk proclaimed again all the benefits of preparation.

While not every Latter-day Saint is fully prepared, a percentage somewhere in the mid-teens have done at least a 72-Hour Kit (Bug-out Bag). The Church's preparation web site was simplified as most were overwhelmed when trying to prioritize to prepare. The focus is now on a Three Month Supply of normal items

In support of this, the Church now offers [at cost] a Family Home Storage Starter Kit. Like everything we as the dominant two legged creatures on this orb learn..Food Storage and Preparedness is "line upon line and precept upon precept."

The following is quoted from the Provident Living web site:

"The family home storage starter kit may be used to teach family home storage principles and help individuals get started with longer-term food storage. The kit includes materials that teach the importance of a three-month food supply, water storage, and savings and 6 cans of longer-term food supply items.
The kit contains:
* All is Safely Gathered In: Family Home Storage pamphlet
* All is Safely Gathered In: Family Finances pamphlet
* All is Safely Gathered In: Basic Recipes pamphlet
* Financial reserve and drinking water teaching aids
* Two #10 cans of hard red winter wheat
* Two #10 cans of white rice
* One #10 can of pinto beans
* One #10 can of rolled oats
Available for shipping to United States addresses only.
Available from Church home storage centers in the Spring of 2008 with a savings in shipping and handling."

[end quote]
This kit is available for anyone--not exclusively for church members. Cheers, - Tim C.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Mr. Rawles:
Every once in a while, at topic comes up that I feel somewhat qualified to comment on. I'll offer some miscellaneous comments on Dave T's letter and your thoughts on medicine WTSHTF, as posted on SurvivalBlog. This is not meant to be exhaustive, and of course may not apply to your particular situation. Since I can't see you, its hard for me to diagnose you or give you specific advice. Disclaimers all 'round.

Chronic renal failure: It may be worth learning to do peritoneal dialysis if you may have to help someone deal with this condition in a grid-down situation. It is not as effective as hemodialysis, but it is much simpler. The risk of infection would be significant, especially in less than optimal hygienic conditions. It might, however, be a useful technique, especially as a 'bridge' for use until hemodialysis can
(hopefully) be arranged. Dialysate is introduced into the abdominal cavity and later removed (or exchanged continuously). Another thing to consider is renal transplant, if that's reasonable for the patient, but that has its own perils.

Diabetes: The key here, as many will realize, is the type of diabetes. Diabetes Mellitus ("DM") Type 2 is the most common. WTSHTF, it may be self-treating, as it can often be eliminated by weight loss. DM Type 1 is treated with insulin. Living on the edge of starvation is a brutal but somewhat effective treatment, if insulin can't be had. Islet cell transplants (often in the context of a kidney transplant) can lead to years of no insulin requirement (they make insulin), but you have to be on (often expensive, toxic, and obscure) immunosuppressants. Might be better to stock up on insulin. Be careful with Lantus (long acting glargine insulin). Potency decreases by about half , six weeks after the bottle is opened. Are you dedicated enough to learn how to *make* insulin, and confident enough to use insulin you made yourself? I did biochemistry for a while, and I'm not confident I could do so. Diabetes insipidus is fairly rare, and not what most people think of when 'diabetes' is mentioned.

Lung disease: By far, most lung disease is self inflicted. Don't smoke. Some, obviously, is not. Move lower, where there is 'more air in the air', is sound advice. If you have asthma, learn what your triggers are, and avoid them (this goes for many 'episodic' chronic illnesses). Stimulants such as caffeine can often help at least a little with an acute asthma attack. CFC-propellent inhalers are nearly gone, and the newer versions (such as Proventil-HFC) are often in short supply; plan ahead.
If someone requires oxygen, again, moving to a lower elevation may make sense. Small oxygen concentrators are a common home health item; they require electrical power but do not require a supply of oxygen from the medical supply company. Most welding oxygen is generated on exactly the same equipment as medical oxygen, but is not certified for medical use. Diving gas?

Coronary artery disease: Do you need bypass surgery? Can you arrange to get a 'cadillac' surgery with both a right and left internal mammary artery graft instead of just a left, and a bunch of venous grafts?

Other miscellaneous chronic medical conditions: these run the gamut. If your doctor put you on Toprol-XL and Diovan because your blood pressure was running 150/90 all the time, and you are sedentary and overweight, you can probably bring the blood pressure down by losing weight and exercising. It may not come down to normal, and you may still have an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, but your life expectancy won't be reduced by much compared to the reduction that would accompany socioeconomic collapse. If you need to choose between blood pressure medicine and insulin for your type-1 diabetic son (who can otherwise pull his weight and then some), I'd probably go for a little extra insulin.
You might also try to change from these top-shelf meds to generic metoprolol (which has to be taken more often, but costs a lot less) and lisinopril (which might or might not make you cough, and costs a lot less). If your doctor has you on five different drugs for blood pressure and you still run 150/90, even though you're 10 pounds under actuarial ideal weight, well, you may need those medications to keep from dying from a stroke in the short term.

Alternative medicine: I have to expose my bias here. I have been practicing medicine for 10 years, and my wife worked for a 'nutriceutical' company while I was in graduate and medical school, keeping tabs on clinical studies on alternative treatments. 'Alternative' is often code for 'expensive placebo'. This is a many billion dollar a year business. Most alternative treatments, if they worked, would have been studied and would be accepted for use as medical treatments. There are no (governmental, whether good or bad) controls on what actually goes into these 'treatments'; if, for instance, a particular flower was effective, the companies could put in the stems and the leaves, and leave the flower out. Also, 'natural' does not mean 'safe and effective'. Curare is natural (and the basis for all the paralytics that are used in surgery and anesthesia). Foxglove is natural (and deadly, and the basis for the anti-arrhythmic medicines digoxin and digitoxin). Uranium (including U-235) is natural. There are water wells in north-central New Mexico that would almost qualify as uranium mines (but rarely does anyone test for it). The usual response to this is 'well, it works for me'. The fallacy here is, of course, mistaking correlation for causality. You would have gotten better anyway (or with another placebo).

Veterinary medicines: Most come from the same factories as the human equivalent. I am told by my veterinary friends that meds intended for horses may be higher purity than those intended for dogs and cats. One of our geldings, Jack, had a pretty bad, dirty laceration on his hip. Our vet sold us equine trimethoprim/sulfamethoxizole (bactrim or septra are brand names in the human medical world) -- the pills were marked exactly the same as the ones I prescribe. We put 15 of them into a syringe with some water and injected the paste into Jack's mouth, twice a day. That's a 7.5 day course for an adult human in one dose for a horse.

Expiration dates: I have heard of (not personally read) military studies that suggested most (dry) medicines would lose less than half their potency after 10 years storage in the cool and dry. I can't confirm this myself, but it has the ring of truth to it.

Dentistry: This is a black art to me, as it is to many medical doctors. There is a product called Cavit-G that dentists have recommended to me as temporary 'patch' material... I don't know how long you can stretch out its use. Oil of cloves (does that count as alternative?) is a fairly effective oral topical anesthetic for short-term use.

Eye surgery: my PRK is settling even further. I started at -5.5 and -6.0 diopters; I am now at 0 and -0.5 diopters, which works well for me. I do get some "haloing" around lights at night, and I think my contrast discrimination is slightly reduced. Now I wear glasses primarily to protect my eyes, rather than correct them. Everything is a trade off, but if my glasses get crushed, I will not be nearly as crippled as I would have prior to surgery.

Appendicitis: It is not uncommon for folks planning travel ["over-winter"] in Antarctica to undergo elective laparoscopic appendectomy. If you develop appendicitis in the back country in Colorado, you apologize to your traveling companions (for inconveniencing them). If you develop appendicitis in Antarctica, your friends may well be apologizing to you (because you're going to die). Post-SHTF, things start to look like Antarctica. Are you going to have your aching gallbladder removed? Ask your surgeon to take out your appendix at the same time. If not, maybe ask a different surgeon.

Antibiotics: Most readers will be attracted to the idea of having at least a small stockpile of antibiotics. These can indeed be lifesavers, however they are over prescribed in the extreme. Common reasons for giving antibiotics are 'bronchitis' (almost always viral, and thus unaffected by antibacterials), 'pneumonia' without any abnormal physical findings or even an abnormal chest x-ray (usually this is the same thing, a viral upper respiratory infection), 'strep throat' which may be viral pharyngitis masquerading as a bacterial infection. Some bacterial infections don't really need to be treated with antibiotics: a lot of folks come to the ER with a 'spider bite', without ever having noticed any spider. These are often abscesses caused by Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus [MRSA], which can be cured by incision and drainage, but will be unaffected by most of the commonly prescribed antibiotics. Even urinary infections will often clear (in females) with large volumes of fluid and acidification of the urine (i.e, cranberry juice). Expert advice both on when to use an antibiotic and which one to use can be helpful! It ain't rocket surgery, but it ain't always intuitively obvious either. (I am fond of saying that, as a doctor, I don't give orders, I just sell advice).

Another thing a lot of folks don't consider is actually talking to your doctor about your concerns. The knee-jerk liberal AMA does not represent the attitudes of all physicians. The American Academy of Pediatrics' position that guns and children should not coexist on the same planet does not represent the opinion of all physicians. You can open the discussion with your doctor with questions like 'what if there was a hurricane Katrina here' (insert the natural disaster most likely to occur in your geographic area); what would I do about my medications/conditions? If your doc looks at you and blinks, then suggests a good [psycho]therapist, maybe you should find a new doctor. If he starts telling you about cheaper alternatives so you can afford a year's supply without the insurance company's help, or talks to you about sizing your solar panels and backup diesel genset to run your medical equipment, you may have found someone worth knowing outside the doctor-patient relationship.
Apologies for the length of this letter, but perhaps there are some useful tidbits in there. - Simple Country Doctor


Dear James,
In response to the medical supplies listed on your blog, I would also add that it would be a good idea to stock up on the following:
1. Over the Counter Meds: imodium (for diarrhea), laxatives (for constipation), gatorade/pedialyte for dehydration, Tylenol, ibuprofen (and children's tylenol/ibuprofen), cough and cold medicines,
benadryl, vaseline.

2. Prescription Meds: pain medication such as T3's, percocet, or hydrocodone, anti-virals such as Tamiflu or Relenza (note that there has been some recent controversy about these drugs recently with reports of psychiatric conditions and suicide amongst Japanese children on Tamiflu), Sambucol (a herbal remedy for the flu), nitroglycerin (for angina/heart disease), blood pressure meds, and very importantly, antibiotics. For skin and soft tissue infections (impetigo, diabetic ulcers, human or animal bites, etc) amoxicillin-clavulanate, 500 mg po ["by mouth"] tid ["three times a day"] for 10 days, for post nail puncture of the foot,
ciprofloxacin 750 mg po bid for 2 weeks, for most upper respiratory tract infections I would use amoxicillin 500 mg po tid for 10 days. Erythromycin is also a good antibiotic to have on hand for community acquired pneumonia (500 mg po qid ["four times a day"] for 10 days). For gastroenteritis and traveller's diarrhea I would use ciprofloxacin 500 mg po bid ["twice a day"] for 5 days. Urinary tract infections can also be treated with ciprofloxacin. Make sure to speak with your physician about any of these as this does not represent medical advice.

3. Palliative Care medication: in the event of a long term grid down situation there will be many people dying and in distress, not only from trauma but also from end stage cancer, heart disease, etc. Three of the worst symptoms to be faced with when dying are pain, nausea, and shortness of breath. Having morphine on hand can be very valuable as this can help with pain and shortness of breath. Other good narcotics include dilaudid and fentanyl. For nausea it is a good idea to have phenargen or compazine as well as zofran or kytril. These medications can be very expensive, so again, plan accordingly and prioritize. Find yourself a good family doctor that is willing to work with you.

4.Anaphylactic reactions: whether from bee stings or other sources, you must be prepared to deal with an anaphylactic reaction. Having an Epi-pen on hand can save someone's life. Also, have lots of benadryl and if possible some prednisone. (Benadryl is over the counter).

5. Burns - You will want to store up on sterile NaCl as well as silvadene and lots of gauze. If you need to sedate someone to perform any kind of debridement, versed and ativan are useful as well as morphine for pain.
Hope this helps. - KLK

With regard to your suggestion that the Big Island of Hawaii might be a good place for people needing kidney dialysis, let me add a little local knowledge. The Big Island has a good percentage of alternative energy sources (wind farms, geothermal, hydropower and small scale solar) which would allow our local power company (HELCO) to direct power to a home or facility pre-designated as being for "emergency use", so in that respect, you're right.

However, the diesel powered generators that still make up the bulk of power provided have very little on-island storage (fuel trucks make the run from the port of Hilo to Kona virtually every day) and there are no projected plans to increase storage capacity in any significant way. Earthquake damages to bridges or tsunami damage to the port could literally limit or shut most of the power off for an extended length of time. As serious as that problem is, a much greater negative is the status of medical facilities on the Big Island. The hospitals are quite small and so inadequate for major medical emergencies that patients with serious injuries or conditions are routinely flown to Oahu (300 miles away) via air ambulance. It is often said (by local doctors) that the hospitals on-island are limited to an equivalent of "third-world" care, which is something that has to be seriously stressed with regards to chronic care.

This is not to say that it would be the wrong choice for everyone. In the case of CPAP machines (for sleep apnea), it could be a very good possibility, but when it comes to machines that require extensive supply replacements and constant thorough cleaning (such as dialysis machines), one might be better off looking elsewhere. The availability of emergency electricity is only one factor of the equation and when the necessity of ongoing sophisticated medical treatment (which is normally required for chronic care) is added in, the Big Island loses some of its luster as a survival retreat possibility. - Hawaiian K.


I found it interesting that your comments about Hawaiian Electric essentially concede, without explicitly saying so, that in some situations, the chronically ill are doomed to die without medical care provided by the Establishment. This is, of course, true (unless you have unfathomable financial resources at your disposal to proactively re-create a private, parallel medical infrastructure).

Without insulin, diabetics will eventually die; without dialysis, so will kidney patients; without oxygen, so will those who need assisted breathing. These are just facts. Let me suggest that for those who are in the unfortunate situation of having to care for a loved one with a chronic condition, contingency planning needs to be broken into short- and long-term time horizons.

In the short term, all of your points are well taken re: stockpiling supplies. The plan here is to hold out on your own for as long as you can, and hope that things eventually go back to normal (e.g., Hurricane Katrina). I would add that many insurers will fill a 90-day supply of medicines, provided that you’re willing to use a mail-in service, and generic substitutes are available. If finances are tight, look into this route—it will give you an additional 60 days of stockpile for the same co-pay.

One thing you sort of skipped over was medical knowledge. All the supplies in the world won’t do you a lick of good if you don’t know how to use them. So take the time when things are good to amass a reasonable medical library. Like I mentioned in a previous letter, I own a copy of "Medicine for the Outdoors" for acute care issues, and obviously as a new parent, I own pediatric references too. But it would probably be a good idea to add books like the PDR to have information about drug interactions; a slightly out-of-date edition might be available on ebay. I’m sure real doctors out there could make recommendations.

In terms of longer-term planning, it’s going to come back to relying on the Establishment for drugs, life-saving chronic therapies, etc. My view is that if things go to hell, they may or may not go to hell all at once and everywhere. Cities will get worse before the countryside; collapse may be local before it is national. So use this time, when the internet still works, to do research. For example, how much could it hurt for a dialysis patient to have a list of every public and private dialysis center within 200 miles? The hope would be that if your locale turned ugly, an operating medical establishment could be found somewhere nearby.

The rest of your post dealt with preventative care: elective surgeries, dental care, physical fitness. I’m in wild agreement with everything you said (but now we’re far afield from the original question about chronic care, notice). I’d add that I’m a post-Lasik patient myself, and recommend it highly. I can understand budgetary constraints, but these days Lasik is no longer nearly as expensive as it used to be. Depending on the amount of correction you need, the surgery can be obtained for the cost two handguns, or one good rifle, and is probably worth more to you in a SHTF situation than another firearm in the arsenal, or an extra 1,000 rounds of .308 Winchester.

Keep up the great thinking and writing. - DCs


JWR Replies: I'd be reluctant to consider Oahu, since its population density is so high that it could not be self-sufficient in the event of an economic collapse and the likelihood of rioting and looting seems much, much higher than on the Big Island. There are at least three dialysis centers extant on the Big Island (One on the Kona coast, one in Hilo--both operated by Liberty Medical--as well as another in Hilo at the Hilo Medical Center. OBTW, I've also read that a large, new dialysis center was just recently opened on Maui.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Hello Jim,
I am a 10 Cent Challenge subscriber and have looked at your site daily -- great job!

I have a medical background and would advise readers to consider what gear they will need if a friend, relative or team member becomes ill, hurt, disabled etc. The basic first aid supplies will not provide the level of comfort et cetera needed. We are talking basic nursing care, not "first aid". Take care, stay safe and God Bless! - Dave T.

JWR Replies:
Thanks for bringing that subject up again. Aside for fairly some brief mentions (such as photovoltaically-powered CPAP machines for sleep apnea patients, and refrigeration of insulin) we haven't given this the emphasis that it deserves.

Acute Care
Preparing to care for injuries or acute illnesses, is well within the reach of most middle class families. You should of course build up a large supply of bandages, antibiotics, and so forth. Also plan ahead for such mundane items as drinking straws, hot water bottles, bed pans, and diaper wipes. I also recommend looking for an older-style used, adjustable hand-crank hospital bed. Just watch Craig's List regularly, and chances are that you will eventually find one at a bargain price.

Chronic Care
It may be difficult for us to confront issue of care for the chronically ill, because it can seem so overwhelming. But for the vast majority of us that do not subscribe to the "park granny on an ice floe" (senilicide and invalidicide) mentality, these issues demand our attention, our concerted planning, and considerable financial commitment. Since there are such a wide range of chronic illnesses and disabilities, it is impossible to address them all, but I will mention a few:

Lets start with the most difficult to mitigate: Chronic kidney disease requiring dialysis. In a "grid-down" situation, dialysis patients will be out of luck once the hospital backup generators run out of fuel. To see a loved one slowly have their blood turn toxic and die would be absolutely heartbreaking. My suggested solution may seem odd, but think this through: Move to the Big Island of Hawaii, or to a natural gas producing region, or to near a refinery in an oil-producing state.

In Hawaii, each island has its own independent power generation infrastructure. For many years, the Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) utility has used diesel fired generators (using crude oil that is shipped in and then fractioned at refineries), but they may soon switch over to natural gas, using imported liquefied natural gas (LNG). There are any number of different circumstances, including an EMP attack, wherein the continental US power grids will go down, but the lights will stay on in Hawaii. My only unanswered question is: how much a of crude oil supply is kept on hand? And if and when HECO switches over to LNG, will the number of months of reserve fuel increase or decrease?

As for natural gas-producing regions (such as parts of Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, New Mexico, and several other states), such a move would first require considerable research. You would have to find a community adjacent to natural gas fields with a kidney dialysis center that that has a natural gas-fired backup generator and that is in an area with sufficient wellhead pressure to pressurize local lines. (You can expect to be making a lot of phone calls, finding such a rarity!) As I've mentioned previously in SurvivalBlog, in the late 1990s, my mentor Dr. Gary North bought a property in Arkansas that had its own natural gas well, and two-natural gas-fired generators. To borrow the modern parlance, talk about a "sweet" set -up!

Another option might be to find a dialysis center with a diesel-powered backup generator that is within 25 miles of a refinery that is also in oil country. (Providing a local source of crude oil for resupply.) As biodiesel plants start to come on line in the next few years, this should widen your range of choices. But keep in mind that you will want to find a biodiesel plant that is independent of grid power. The key word to watch for in your web searches is co-generation. A plant that has co-generation capability is likely one that could operate without the need of the power grid.

Next down the list is diabetes. As previously mentioned in SurvivalBlog, relatively small and inexpensive (under $3,000) packaged photovoltaic power systems with inverters (such as those sold by Ready Made Resources) can be used to operate a compact refrigerator (such as the Engel compact refrigerator/freezers sold by Safecastle). A system of this size could also be used to run a CPAP machine or other AC-powered medical equipment with similar amperage demands.

Another category of chronic illness to consider is the care of post-surgical "-ostomy" patients--folk s that have had a colostomy, iliostomy, urostomy, and so forth. These often require keeping on hand a large supply of medical appliances, bags, catheters, and so forth. Thankfully, most of these items have fairly long shelf lives and are not too expensive to stock up on--at least compared to some of those "$5 per pill" blood thinner medications.

Yet another category of chronic disease to consider is bronchial and lung ailments. There are some ailments that can be relieved (at least to an extent) by relocating. Getting to a more suitable elevation, moving to avoiding pollen or fungi, and so forth can make a considerable difference. If this is your situation, then I suggest that you go ahead and make the move soon if you have the opportunity. Chronic asthma is quite common, and of course an acute asthma attack can be life threatening. Ironically, buying a wood stove--one of the key preparedness measures that I recommend to my clients--is not good for someone that has an asthmatic in their family. If that is your case, then consider moving to the southwest, where passive solar heating is an option, or moving to an area where you can use geothermal heating. I mention a few such locales, such as Klamath Falls, Oregon, in my book "Rawles on Retreats and Relocation".

For the many folks that now depend on medical oxygen cylinders, it is wise to at least stock up on extra cylinders. One alternative suitable for long term scenarios is to buy a medical oxygen concentrator. High volume units are fairly expensive, but owning your own would be an incredible resource for charity or barter as well as for your own family's use. Large (high volume) units can sometime be found through used medical equipment dealers such as East Tennessee Sterilizer Service. Smaller, factory new oxygen concentrators are available in the US from Liberty Medical, and in England from Pure O2, Ltd.

A much more common situation is caring for someone that requires regular medication that does not require refrigeration. The high cost of some medicines make storing a two year supply difficult. And the policies of most insurance companies--often refusing to pay for more than a month's worth of medication in advance--only exacerbates the problem. In these cases, I suggest 1.) Re-prioritizing your budget to provide the funds needed to stock up, and 2.) If possible, looking at alternative treatments, including herbs that you can grow in your own garden or greenhouse.

If you decide yo go the route of stocking up your meds to build a multi-year stockpile--all the way to their expiration dates--this will require not only lots of cash but also very conscientious "first in, first out" rotation of your supplies. I have seen a deep, open-backed cabinet used for this method. After you have bought your "all the way to the expiry date supply", you simply continue to order your monthly supply and put each newly-arrived pill bottle in the back of the cabinet and use the bottle that is closest to the front.

Alternative treatment, such as using herbs or acupuncture, is a touchy subject. Again, it is something that will take considerable research and qualified consultation, and in effect making yourself your own guinea pig. If you decide to use this approach, I recommend that you make any transition gradually, with plenty of qualified supervision. If it takes a lot of extra visits to to your doctor for tests, then so be it. Just do your best to make the transition, before everything hits the fan. Living in Schumeresque times will undoubtedly be extremely stressful, and the additional stress of changing medications might very well be "one stress too many."

I have seen some folks in preparedness circles on the Internet recommend stockpiling low-cost veterinary medications, but I could only advise using such medications in absolute extremis. (When your only other option is certain death.)

As for using meds beyond their "official" expiration dates, this requires some careful study. Some medications have listed expiries that are overly conservative. (I suspect that any of these expiration terms are driven by the advice of corporate staff malpractice attorneys rather than by the advice of the formulating chemists.) A few drugs, however, are downright dangerous to use past their expiration dates. Consult your local pharmacists with questions about any particular drug. (I lack a "R.Ph." or "PharmD." after my name, so please don't ask me. I am not qualified to give such advice!) Parenthetically, in my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse", I mentioned a WHO-approved titration test that is useful for some antibiotics. This method was developed for use in Third World countries where out-of date medications seem to end up with amazing regularity.

Speaking of the Third World, there are some valuable lessons that can be learned from studying the way that chronically-ill are treated in poor countries. (I'm not taking about neglect. Rather, I'm talking about creative ways to care for people when there isn't the money or there aren't "the proper facilities.") Do some Internet research on the chronic illness that is of concern to you with search phrases that include "In Cuba", "In Africa", "in Thailand", and so forth.

Elective Surgery and Dental Work
If you have an existing problem that could be cured with elective surgery or dental work, then I strongly recommend that you go ahead and do so, if you have the means. If your condition worsens after medical or dental facilities become unavailable, it could turn a simple inconvenience into something life threatening. I've heard of several wealthy preppers that have had their nearsightedness cured by Lasik or PRK, just for the sake of being better prepared for a foreseen new era that will not have the benefit of ophthalmologists and a handy shopping mall "eyeglasses in about an hour" shop. Living free of eyeglasses or contact lenses also makes wearing night vision goggles and NBC protective masks much easier, and makes defensive shooting--particularly at long range--more accurate. Lasik is an expense that I cannot personally justify on my tight budget, but if you can afford it, then do so. (BTW, I even had one consulting client go so far as to have his healthy appendix removed, just to avoid the prospect of appendicitis. That qualifies as "going to extremes"! I would not recommend this, since new research suggests that the appendix does serve to maintain good digestive bacteria populations.)

Fitness and Body Weight
One thing that every well-prepared individual should do is to stay in shape. Good muscle tone prevents back injuries and other muscle strains, and leaves you ready for the rigors of an independent, self-sufficient lifestyle. (There surely will plenty of 19th Century muscle work involved, post-TEOTWAWKI!) Keeping a healthy diet and maintaining an appropriate body weight (or getting back down to a proper weight!) is also very important. Again, it will leave you ready for physical challenges and it falls into the prepper's "one less stress to worry about" mindset. And, notably, watching your weight will also make you less likely to become diabetic. The only thing more tragic than having a chronic illness is unintentionally making yourself chronically ill!

One important side note: Many injuries and illnesses cause difficulty chewing and digesting solid foods, because of the patient's weakness, dental problems, or jaw/palate/throat trauma. It is important to have a hand-cranked food grinder available so that you can accommodate the needs of these patients. Old-fashioned grinders (the type that clamp on the edge of a kitchen table) can often be found used, for just a few dollars at yard sales. If you want to buy a new one, they are available from both Ready Made Resources and

In Closing
The bottom line is that caring for someone with a chronic illness in a protracted emergency or in the midst of a societal collapse is something that will take plenty of research, planning, and unfortunately, expense. As previously noted, it might even require relocating.

Perhaps some SurvivalBlog readers with (or with loved ones with) chronic health conditions or disabilities would care to chime in. I'd also appreciate hearing from those in a health care professions.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

I'm a life-long Western Washington resident - except for five years in Kansas & two in Berlin while in the U.S. Army. I'm the great-grandchild of Washington pioneers. I love this state - the ocean, mountains and fertile valleys - but what it has become -- not so much.
This past weekend, (November 30 - December 1, 2007), the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state was hit by an arctic front from the Gulf of Alaska, dropping 3-6" of snow in our area. The weather folks told us not to worry, that it wouldn't last long, because we had a "Pineapple Express" blowing in from Hawaii. (If this were the other Left Coast, they'd call it a tropical depression -- but up here in the Great North Wet, we don't rate such notoriety, so they just call it a "Pineapple Express.") The West coast of Washington (and parts of the North coast) experienced sustained hurricane force winds, with gusts as high as 130 mph in places. An aircraft landing at Boeing Field in Seattle recorded gusts of 140 knots at 4,000 feet on his approach.

I took one look at weather conditions this morning, and decided that it was a good day to hunker down and take care of me and mine. I called into work about two hours later. (Days when they expect bad weather, I get up extra early.). They said "Yeah, yeah, all the roads between here and there are closed . . . Have a great day!" They were right. The embankment above U.S. 101 slid out and across both the southbound and the northbound lanes. To make the picture complete, S.R. 8 was closed by slides, as well, so going the back roads to get to 8 to go around the slide on 101 was out of the question. My supervisor was more optimistic than me, and spent about ninety minutes in traffic snarls before getting turned around to go home.
So, anyway, for those of you who might be thinking that there are parts of the West side of Washington state that might make a good retreat, here's the shakeout:
- U.S. 101 & S.R. 8 both closed by mudslides in multiple locations leaving only one route on or off the Olympic Peninsula: S.R. 3 via S.R. 16 from Tacoma, crossing the Tacoma Narrows bridge. (It wound up being choked down to one lane late in the day, due to flooding and mudslides.) All alternate secondary and county roads blocked by mudslides, flooding, fallen trees or washed-out bridges.
- At the end of the day, every river in Western Washington is above flood stage. The Skokomish River (always the first to flood, and the last back in its banks) is in a record flood from this event. (Mix heavy lowland snow with over 9" of rain and unseasonably warm temperatures, and you get big water!) This means that you have flooding in every county in Western Washington.
- My county (Mason County ) lost its main feed from the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), putting the majority of the county in the dark for about eight hours. We had to wait for a BPA engineer to replace the blown breaker. I'm sure it's much too complex for our county PUD engineers! (Funny! I live next door to one, and across the street from another, and both seem pretty competent to me.)
- Three small towns in Lewis County evacuated due to flooding.
- 20 miles of I-5 closed South of Chehalis (Lewis County) due to flooding.
- Hood Canal floating bridge closed due to high winds
- All North-South rail corridors blocked by slides or flooding
- Tahuya & Skokomish river valleys isolated due to mudslides and flooding
- Fire district had three separate relief centers set up. The problem was, none of the people who needed them could get to them, and rescue crews couldn't get to the stranded people to rescue them. Entry into the isolated areas required a lot of chainsaw and bulldozer work.
- One beach community was evacuated by Coast Guard helicopter due to isolation by mudslides
- One death in Mason county, two in Grays Harbor. (Mudslide, falling tree, medical equipment made non-functional by power outage.)
- As of this writing, there are still about 1,000 people who are stranded and un-reachable by emergency services -- including a woman in labor. (And this is just in my mostly rural county!)
- Very few grocery stores in Western Washington have backup generators, which means that if the power is off for more than a few hours, all refrigerated foods, dairy, and fresh meat must be disposed of -- and, of course, is unavailable to feed hungry people.

Personal Actions:
- Had a breakfast of French toast so we got some warm food into us -- just in case.
- Went out and stowed anything liable to blow away, including our Christmas tree and barbecue.
- Touched base with family and close friends
- Talked to my wife's sister and brother-in-law on their return from their jobs in the Great Cesspool. (Known to the more urbane as Seattle.) They had to brave the Tacoma Narrows Bridge (Always an adventure in high winds! [JWR Adds: This bridge's predecessors was the one that was made famous by the movie of its wild wind oscillation and collapse], drive to Bremerton, then back-track down S.R. 3 to get to their house and rental house that were both flooding. They reported that there were frequent encounters with water flowing over the road surface on S.R. 3.
- Talked one nephew out if taking the same route that my sister and brother-in-law came in, tried to talk another out of taking the back roads back to his house. He made it okay, but power is out and the creek is threatening. (God bless the man who designed 4-wheel drive!)
- Loaned an extra 100' extension cord to brother-in-law sister so she could get power from their genset to their house.
- The BPA breaker blew about 10 o'clock, so we munched cold rations and read by sunlight until it was time to dig out flashlights and candles.
- Listened to local news on our hand-crank radio.
- Kept in touch with my brother-in-law's siblings via hard-wire phone (No cellular service at all, which is not all that unusual here in "cell hell," and - of course - cordless phones don't work when there's no power.)
- Gave ten gallons of water to my brother-in-law's sister when she came back into town. (They're on a well and chose to power the freezers and refrigerator instead of the well. they should consider getting a second [or larger] genset.)
- Lifted our Pepsis toward our next door neighbor's house after the lights came back on an hour earlier than the last prediction.
- Checked the fridge and freezers to find everything as cold as if the power never hiccupped at all.
- Made dinner.
- Sat down at the PC to check for road closures for the morning and to compose this AAR.
This is yet another "100 year event." Funny, those "100 year events" seem to be coming up every couple years nowadays. Global warming? Over-development? (Much formerly absorbent ground is now capped by spec houses, strip malls, big box stores and the asphalt that accompanies them.) Natural weather cycles? I don't know. Could be a combination of all three.

Okay, that's the feed-back on one event. Here are my other observations on Western Washington as a potential retreat locale:

Land: Due to the real estate bubble, this stuff is pretty precious. Good luck finding good land below $10,000 per acre. Expect to pay more. Finding land of any size is getting pretty difficult as well, as anything that's twice the size of the minimum growth density (5-to-20 acres) gets sub-divided for spec houses or snapped up by conservation Non-Governmental Organization (NGOs). (Look for that to change somewhat now that the bubble has sprung a leak.) Expect unrealistic expectations from the sellers. The past 30 years have been spent in pursuit of the mythical California buyer (or green NGO) who can afford to drop multiple millions on the "right" place. Reality may set in on that front too -- eventually. If you can find good land at a decent price, buy it! It won't last long. Be careful about water -- especially out here on the Olympic Peninsula. Either buy it with developed water (a working well), or make the sale contingent on both being able to develop a good water supply and being able to get a septic permit. (Yes! You can do this. Anything in writing is legal in a land transfer in Washington state -- which means you need to read and understand all that fine print. Beware of [restrictive] covenants!)

Several things you need to bear in mind when looking for land:
- 44% of Washington's land is in Federal hands.
- This includes the vast majority of the Olympic Peninsula - there's a narrow band around the coast that's in private hands - except for the dozen tribal reservations and the National Park.

- Big timber means something out here. Most of the large non-NGO private tracts belong to one of the big three timber companies: Simpson, Weyerhauser or Louisiana Pacific.

- NGO. Learn what it means. There are a lot of them out here. One stated goal is to acquire all the private land on the Olympic Peninsula and SW Washington and "rehabilitate it." (That means get rid of the unwashed.) Which brings us to . . .

Regulatory Environment:Welcome to the Nanny state! Forget about throwing up a cordwood castle with "a little house out back." Those days are long gone this side of the hump (and from what I've seen on my too infrequent trips over the hump, fading fast on the dry side [of Washington], too). Forget about being able to put in a gravity flow septic system. This is the land of the engineered system! Almost always above ground, usually including one or more [electrically-powered] pumping systems. If you buy developed land that includes an existing gravity-flow septic system, the baby that puppy! You do not want it to fail! Because, if it does, you will be putting in a very expensive engineered system to replace it.

System capacity is calculated by the number of bedrooms in your residence, so having a wink wink "den" is not unusual around here. Get creative! You can have sewing rooms, libraries, media rooms (Children are the ultimate media, after all -- they are you writ on eternity . . . or at least the next generation.), or whatever non-sleeping purpose room you can think of -- just do not exceed the number of bedrooms that your system is designed to carry. If you decided to "second-purpose" some of those non-bedrooms, it would be wise to find out about - and make friends with - the local septic pumping guy who can keep his mouth shut! (Hint: If he's one of the County Planner's brothers-in-law, he probably ain't the guy you're looking for!)

Think that's the worst? Not hardly! Ever heard of "Critical Habitat Zones" or "Aquifer Recharge Areas?" This is new-speak for "We're taking your land, and you get to pay for it!" It's a toss-up for which is worse, because basically what it means is that the land-owner gets to pay for returning the land to some mythical "pre-aboriginal state," Whatever in God's creation that is supposed to be -- and however some pencil-neck with a PhD is going to verify it! Because - unless I miss my mark - the only ones who are going to know what this land looked like before the aboriginal peoples got here would be the bears and God! I don't think too many PhDs hereabouts confer with either. Oh, yeah . . . Once you're finished paying for restoring your land to it's long-previous pristine condition, you - nor none of your kith nor kin - may ever set foot on it again. Did I mention you do get to keep the inestimable privilege of paying taxes on said land that you were compelled to improve in a way that you might - or might not - agree with -- and may never use again? It boggles this country boy's mind, let me tell you!
I could go on and on . . . But at the risk of stretching your incredulity even further -- Let's jump to Politics!

Political Environment:
All policy is set by the Seattle set. If you think otherwise, you're delusional and should seek proper assistance. Yes, we have some real conservatives hereabouts, but not enough to matter. It doesn't help that most of the "loyal opposition" are more interested in sticking it to each other (in one sense or the other) than fighting the foes across the aisle. This state is the gold-bound proof to the theory that at least 85% of evangelical Christians refuse to register to vote or go to the polls. There are a lot of very nice Christian folk hereabouts - but either they don't vote, or there's a complete disconnect between their faith and their politics. So now that we've settled that little question, let's look at the characteristics of a typical denizen of the Great Cesspool:
o Frequently seen at the statue of V.I. Lenin in Ballard
o Is a deep ecologist
o Supports radical feminism
o Believes that animals, trees and flowers are more valuable than children
o Is staunchly "pro-choice"
o Hung out/ sat-in upon / got lucky at "Red Square" whilst attending "The U"
o Has dabbled in Wicca, Earth Mother Worship, an Eastern religion, or is "spiritually sensitive"
o Probably a union Democrat, or the spawn thereof
o Drives - or covets - a high-end Japanese or European luxury/sport sedan, SUV, or hybrid vehicle
o Thinks most Christians need re-education, or at least intense sensitivity training
o Believes that the owning property is for the privileged -- not the un-washed. (Guess which camp he/she/it falls in?)
o Rabidly anti-gun
o Radically Politically Correct (PC)
o Is certain that patriotism is a curable condition
o Voted for Kucinich and will vote for Obama
o Is convinced that Starbucks is a cultural center
o Thinks the U.N. is humanity's only hope

Public Education:

Perennially over-funded and under-performing. Case-in-point: The top-rated public school district in the state has a 44% drop-out rate for boys. Girls do much better: 36%. Most districts turn out the barely-literate as their average students. What can one expect from a system that comes up with concepts like "compulsory volunteerism" Oh yeah, your kids can get extra credit for participating in an anti-war rally or an Act-Up event. My advice to anyone moving here that has children - or expects to have children - avoid the Washington public school system like the plague! Fortunately, we still have a pretty much hands-off homeschool environment here and some very good parochial schools. Raise 'em up right, teach them critical thinking skills, and there just might be some hope for this socialist's paradise!

Bookmark your favorite conservative radio shows' web sites! Because you are not going to hear them on the airwaves around here. To give you an idea which way the wet side media leans: A cat getting shot with a BB gun will be reported with more gravity and sympathy than the beating death of a child or the gang rape of a young woman. 'Nuff said?

- We got tons of it! As long as it's oh-so properly PC.

- Can we say "methamphetamine?" Keep an eye on your back 40. It may sprout a meth lab. (So might the neighbor's rental property.)
- High rates of burglary and car theft
- Robberies and home invasions up
- I.D. theft on the rise

- The Economic Bubble os due to burst. We've always had a boom and bust economy here, and it's been riding high for too long.

- Earthquake
o We're overdue for "The Big One." This is especially true for the Cascadia Subduction Zone and the Seattle fault complex.
· Either of these could spawn dramatic Tsunamis. Avoid locating in low-lying costal areas or areas prone to slippage. You really want to learn about the Cascadia Subduction Zone and plan accordingly. An event on this system will be a regional event -- from Alaska to mid-California. Outlying areas will be on their own - probably for at least a month - due to bridge collapses and land slides. Also, aid will go first to where it does the most good for the highest number. I'm thinking that means the Puget Sound Metroplex, Portland, the Oregon I-5 corridor and San Francisco.
· We're talking a magnitude 9+ event with a duration of 10-15 minutes at the slip point, which translates to a 6-8 magnitude event of the same duration in the heavy population centers, possibly followed by a Tsunami measured in the hundreds of feet.
· Historically, there's been an event on this system every 300 years or so. The last one was in the mid-1700s. You do the math.

o Volcanoes
- All the major Cascade and Olympic mountain range peaks are volcanoes. Most are active.

- The Golden Horde
o The Puget Sound Metroplex currently holds 3.5 million people. It is expected to grow to ~ 5.2 million by 2025
- Most have supplies for no more than three days - if any at all
- Most are used to an upper-middle class existence with all the urban/suburban amenities.
- Most are familiar with the Cascade and Olympic regions.
- Despite the anti-gun environment they foster and support, many will be armed.
- Many have off-road capable vehicles (The up-side is that 95% of those have never actually taken their vehicles off-road.)
- Many have boats
- Many have quads or dirt bikes
- Many have RVs
- You won't need to worry about them during a Cascadia event or a Nuclear strike, because they won't be able to get to you in the former case -- and most will be vaporized in the latter.
· All other scenarios: Plan for and expect The Golden Horde.
- One more happy thought: Here on the Olympic Peninsula we see just as many Oregon plates on the weekend as we do from Washington, so expect some of the Portland Horde if you settle on the Peninsula or in southwestern Washington.
- And yet another: Many rural Washington counties contain prisons . . . What's going to happen when the lights go out and/or the guards don't get paid?

- Terrorism
o Due to the high population and strategic location of the Puget Sound Metroplex it is a high-value/high-visibility target.
- Nuclear First-strike Target List
o Primary
- Ft. Lewis & McChord AFB (Tacoma/S Pierce County)
- Bremerton Naval Ship Yard
- Bangor Submarine Warfare Center and Base
- Whidbey NAS
- Everrett Naval Station (Everett/Marysville)
- Fairchild AFB (Spokane)
- Hanford Nuclear Energy Complex

o Secondary
- Seattle
· Boeing
· Other heavy manufacturing & high tech
· Port
· Ship yards
· Transportation & communication center
- Tacoma
· Port
· Shipyards
· Other heavy manufacturing & high tech
· Transportation & communication center
- Everett
· Boeing
· Other heavy manufacturing & high tech
· Port
- Bellingham
· Port
- Portland, Oregon
· Port
· Transportation & communication center
- East Side Corridor
· High-tech & biotechnology
· Communications center
· Transportation corridor
- Cherry Point (Bellingham, Whatcom County)
· Petroleum Refinery complex
- Padilla Bay (Anacortes, Skagit County)
· Petroleum Refinery complex

o Tertiary
- Kelso/Longview
· Port
· Rail hub
- Aberdeen/Hoquiam
· Port
- Olympia
· Seat of Government
· Minor port
- Anacortes
· Minor port
- Moses Lake
· Long runway (Fighter & Bomber capable)
- SEA-TAC (Both the City & Airport)
· Long runway (Fighter & Bomber capable)
- Tri-cities (Richland, Pasco, Kennewick)
· Brain drain Battelle, etc. (Hanford staff/researchers)
If the nukes ever fly, the Western half of this state is going to look like we had missile silos all over the place. Why? Transportation, military, high-tech & communications.

- Pandemic
o Both SEA-TAC {seattle -Tacoma airport] and to a lesser extent, PDX (Portland International) are international hubs -- and of course, Vancouver BC's airport is their Canadian counterpart. Flights originate for the Pacific Rim countries, Europe, Mexico and Central and South America.
o Washington sits in the mainstream of the Pacific Flyway for migratory fowl.
o Washington is a major poultry producer


So, are you wondering why I haven't run screaming for the hills of Idaho yet? Like I said in my intro: I love this state. It has its problems -- probably more than its fair share, for that matter. But, it is beautiful. One acre of good Western Washington bottom land will support a cow and her calf well -- two will support a horse at a high level of feed. It will also grow just about anything, and you are blessed with a long growing season. Rain can be a bit problematic at harvest times -- but my ancestors managed to muddle through somehow. There are a lot of nice folk, too . . . Just wish they'd let me tell 'em how to vote -- and then actually do it!
Of course, I could just be living in the state of De Nile. - Countrytek

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Hard times usually result in an overwhelming number of people who:
1. Do not have a job of any kind, and
2. Have no steady income from any source, and
3. Are usually either homeless or are living with close relatives.

During hard times these individuals need almost everything, including food, shelter, clothing, and basic medical care. During really hard times the large and growing number of homeless individuals greatly exceeds the carrying capacity of the local community in terms of voluntary charitable donations. There are just not enough homeless shelters and free food/soup kitchens that provide one meal per day to accommodate everyone. To survive during hard times these homeless individuals must choose between becoming thieves or beggars or both.
Therefore, during hard times the crime rate increases significantly. Since God was expelled from our school systems and our work places many decades ago, there are now a large number of people who have little or no respect for any type of authority, or for the rights of anyone other than themselves. These individuals do not evaluate their actions on any moral or ethical principles other than whether or not their action results in an improvement in their own personal welfare.

As our current hard times tragedy continues to unfold, any family that still has a home that contains a wage earner will quickly learn that if they are going to continue to survive they must not make themselves an obvious or easy target for thieves or a target for a continuous stream of beggars.

Each individual family will need to make their own decision on whether or not they can afford to be charitable. Some families are already in such serious financial difficulty that they are barely able to meet their own basic survival needs and charity is simply not an option. Other families may be a little better off and they may be able to afford a little charity every now and then. The difficulty is that homeless families do not need help every now and then; they need it continuously.

If a person or family makes the decision to dispense charity directly from their home or apartment, then they may experience the following problems:
1. Having anyone and everyone knocking on your door at any time of the day or night.
2. Receiving verbal abuse, or something worse, when you honestly have no charity to give away at the current time.
3. Experiencing the occasional angry face-to-face confrontation with an individual or family that is not grateful for what you do offer to give to them, and they accuse you of being able to give more and they demand that you do so or suffer the consequences.

For these reasons, among others, a prudent family will need to determine how they can be charitable without putting the safety of their own family at risk.

Fortunately, there is a simple solution to this charity question. After determining what they can actually afford to give away, each family can make donations of money, food, clothing, and/or medicine to a local food bank, homeless shelter, orphanage, or local church with the stipulation that the gift be used to help the needy families in the local area.

The donation may be made to one of these organizations that is located close to the donating family, or to one that is a reasonable distance away if anonymity is considered a prudent course of action. The advantage of donating to a nearby establishment is that the donating family can direct any beggars to its location. The family would not have to mention whether or not they personally donated anything of value to the charitable organization; they could simply say they heard that food was available there.

During hard times the beggar (hobo) information network works extremely well and everyone knows which homes always say “no” and which ones sometimes say “yes” and which ones always “give directions to the nearest charitable organization.” A family can put a simple note and a directions map on their front door (or gate) to help reduce the number of beggars who actually knock on their door. The note could be written in English and Spanish. Without opening the door, the family could ask who is knocking and what their business is, and then give directions through the closed door. Remember that an innocent looking beggar could also be a very skilled thief and/or killer. Always keep your doors closed and bolted during hard times and ask and answer questions through the door. Do not open your door even to those who pretend to have or who actually do have hearing deficiencies. The note on your front door should be adequate to answer any question the hard of hearing may have.

During serious hard times the local churches and their leaders will be confronted with an increasing and overwhelming number of requests for help. Many churches will respond by setting up committees to oversee the collection, storing, and distribution of food, clothing, and other supplies to needy families. Some churches already perform this function in their communities on an ongoing basis. The advantage of making your charitable donations to a church or other charitable organization is that they can more equally distribute the available charity to everyone who is in need. And when the charity is all gone, those who received it will know that more will not be available until some future time, whether it is a free hot meal the following day, or a few more free groceries one week or one month from now.
A nearby local church or other charitable organization is a superior method for equitably distributing charity to everyone who is need. The reasons are as follows:
1. They will receive charitable donations from anyone regardless of whether or not the individual is a member of the organization or church.
2. They are usually located within a reasonable distance of the families who are donating the charity.
3. They are usually within walking distance or bicycle distance of the needy families.
4. They distribute charity to local residents and individuals passing through the community and therefore they help to relieve local suffering and reduce the local crime rate.
5. They minimize the chance of one family receiving more charitable assistance than another family.
6. The local charitable organization usually knows if any work is available locally and they will pass that information on to the welfare recipients. This helps those in charge of dispensing charity to identify the families who have members who could work but chose not to. Families who accept work assignments and faithfully discharge those work duties will also usually be told where they can rent a meager but simple room to live in.
7. The recipients of the charity quickly learn where the charity is being given and it helps to minimize their investment of time and energy in receiving assistance.
8. It provides everyone in the local area with an immediate and helpful answer to anyone who is in need of assistance. No one ever has to say, “No, I can’t help you.” Instead everyone can provide directions to the nearest charitable organization.
9. Beggars will quickly learn that it is fruitless to beg door-to-door in a local area because anyone who has anything to give has already donated it to the local charitable organization.
10. When the total amount of available charity in an area is not adequate to sustain all the families in that area that need charity assistance, then some of those families will realize it is time to move on to another area where the overall conditions might be more favorable.

In closing may I suggest you read the book written by Pitirim A. Sorokin called “Man and Society in Calamity.” It contains historical information about how starving individuals have actually behaved during previous hard times. A condensed summary of his book can be read at my web site: Man and Society in Calamity - Summary.
Respectfully, - Grandpappy

JWR Adds: It is noteworthy that there are many stories dating back to the Great Depression about the methods that hobos used to "mark" the property of families and businesses that were willing to give charity to strangers. The recent upsurge in "warchalking" of free wireless access locations is reminiscent of this practice.

I do recommend being charitable, but like Grandpappy, for your own safety, I recommend that you be charitable at arm's length. Working through a church as an intermediary is a time-proven method.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

I read the letter posted about showing caution when dispensing charity. I like the "give 'til it hurts" philosophy from "Patriots" a lot. I have had some training on handling displaced refugees/evacuees/displaced persons which I hope could benefit some readers. I would strongly suggest dividing charity into two distinct areas; charity to neighbors (fixed location) and charity to refugees (mobile). The main purpose of giving aid to refugees is to enable them to keep moving along. Give them water and (if you can spare it) food that they can prepare later when they stop for the night and anything they are desperate for if you can spare it, give them advice about routes and potential destinations. Do not cook for them or allow them to cook and under no conditions let them camp or sleep over, unless you want to adopt them. There is no better way to make a group stick around better then feeding them and letting them sleep! Give them what you can and keep headed down the road! To give credit where credit is due I though dealing with this situation was handled well in "Patriots".

When dispensing charity to neighbors in a long term TEOTWAWKI situation I would suggest sticking to teach a man to fish type items like fish hooks/nets, game snares, seeds, etc. Unless you are able and willing to feed the neighbor for a prolonged period of time (i.e. through winter until they can plant and harvest crops with the heirloom seeds you give them) I would not start. Telling a neighbor that you can't continue feeding his family seems like the beginning of a real nasty problem to me.

Thanks for the great work keeping this blog going. Seeing what interesting new stuff gets posted is a highlight of my day and unlike most entertainment is could someday help me out.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Some years ago, we enjoyed a power outage when we were living near Tacoma, Washington. It occurred on Thanksgiving day, so everybody's turkeys were slowly cooling in their ovens. Our next door neighbor, knowing we were into preparedness, called over (land line phones were okay) asking to borrow our Coleman stove so they could heat up water for coffee. I sent one of my girls over with the stove. After about 15 minutes, the neighbors called again asking for help in lighting the stove. It was an old stove and I was embarrassed that it might have given up the ghost. When I got there, however, I found them in their family room (housewife, pre-teen daughter and Mom and Dad) all huddled around the stove. Several burnt matches were in and around the stove box. To my surprise, the gas tank was still in[side] the stove body. I realized that had they managed to turn the red knob on, they could well have started a dangerous fire.
Mind you, the housewife was a school teacher and her Dad a physician, so they were not uneducated people.
My point: handing these folks, educated as they were, a surplus bucket of wheat or beans would be worse than useless--you lose the food, but they don't get fed. Even if you gave them flour, honey, salt, oil, water and yeast, they still would not know what to do with it.

In a disaster scenario, they probably wouldn't even have a can opener to deal with any canned goods you might hand them.
You'd better either: (1) prepare for woebegone beggars who will need/expect your continuing generosity/expertise, or; (2) plan to order needy folks to get on their way.
Worst case scenario: they circle the block and show up back on your doorstep, hungry children in the forefront. Now it's one thing to threaten, perhaps even to have to kill a thief, but what will you do with the obviously desperate (no food/water for 24 hours) neighbors?
Thinking about all this made me realize that perhaps one charitable solution is a 6-pack or two of energy bars, plus a few liters of water as you send them on their way.
But doggone it, then they're likely to pass the word to others who are needy and you are back to numbers (1) or (2) above.
Sure looks like urbanites and suburbanites who want to and/or have made some survival preparations need to also prepare a place away from home so they can G.O.O.D. and not have to face these unhappy choices.
On a different note: Some years ago, I read an article in a Farm magazine reporting that most large-acreage farmers didn't have their own gardens. The article was praising the virtue of having a garden and quoted a few farmer's wives waxing poetic about their little plots. I couldn't believe it--farmers being encouraged to do a little self-help farming!
So, you may escape to your retreat only to find neighbors stopping by for a handout even there. Better start preaching self-reliance a little more vigorously, maybe an article in the local rag, free handouts on the local store bulletin board regarding 72-hour kit contents, etc. Maybe throw in a little scare about the economy and inflation. Good luck with that. - Bob B.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Dear James and SurvivalBlog Family:
Thank you for this tremendously vital preparedness forum. It has been the direct impetus for me to seriously prepare to survive various natural disasters that could assail the New England area, but more importantly, to be prepared for the inevitable TEOTWAWKI situation, which I expect, we will face within a decade, as soon as the oft-predicted Winter Solstice of 2012--Which still leaves us plenty of time to prepare, if we only make that crucial decision to begin (or to enhance) our preparations and remain steadfast in our intentions to survive whatever may come our way.
For the newer SurvivalBlog readers, and those just becoming interested in survival and preparedness activities, I say, do not be overwhelmed by the enormity of that which you feel you need to do to be get yourself reasonably “prepared” or anywhere near as prepared as others that have been preparing for a long time. Make the decision to prepare for survival and methodically acquire the basic food, water and equipment you will need to handle any emergency situation, short or long-term.

I am a charter 10 Cent Challenge SurvivalBlog subscriber and I enclose two $5 rolls of silver dimes to cover years two and three of my subscriptions (2007 and 2008). In addition, I have enclosed a boxed silver round medallion that commemorates the 1975 Bicentennial of the Battles of Lexington and Concord . Paul Revere is featured on the medal’s obverse with the words “American Revolution Bicentennial” and “The Shot Heard Round the World”. Please accept this coin as a token of my appreciation for all you have done for me and your other readers, in the name of survival and preparedness—for your tireless, Christian efforts as a true American Patriot--an honorific you have so justly earned. Keep up the good work and may God bless you and your family!
I have been an avid reader of SurvivalBlog for over a year and a half and have learned a tremendous amount of valuable insight from [Mr. Rawles] and the many outstanding contributors to SurvivalBlog. Not a week goes by that I do not receive valuable preparedness advice and tips to add to my store of knowledge.
I am proud to say that I have made a deep, personal commitment to change my life’s focus from a wasteful, spendthrift mode, bent on acquiring so many useless things and squandering cash on drinks, gambling and other frivolous entertainment, to a conservative mode, investing the bulk of my discretionary income in durable goods, firearms, ammo, long-term bulk food, silver and gold coins, a generator, and the like.

At the beginning of 2007, I resolved to eliminate all discretionary purchases that were patently unnecessary. Socks and underwear are okay, no CDs or movie rentals. Less fast food and daily coffee’s, and no impulse eBay buys, etc… Rather, I have been earmarking (budgeting) a substantial portion of my discretionary income for stocking my “pantry” and procuring key survival supplies and equipment. Having recently finalized my child support and alimony commitments (ensuring that my ex-wife could keep the house), I have had been fortunate to have a significantly larger amount of money to “invest” the past six months and now going forward.

Each month, I buy at least $200 worth of silver or gold coins (mostly silver). I have amassed nearly $750 in face value junk silver coins (although I do not consider them “junk” by any means) and nearly 5 ounces of [fractional] gold coins (mostly American Eagles, Maples Leafs and Krugerrands).
Each pay period I add another $100 in reserve food stores and other basic survival gear. I have a half dozen cases of #10 Mountain House cans and will continuously add to that store a few cases a month with a goal of two dozen cases by the end of 2008.

I am pleased to have finally exercised my 2nd Amendment constitutional right to purchase and own firearms. I had never been a gun owner before 2006 as my father was never a sportsman and would not (still does not) allow guns in his house. Since I do not hunt, there was never a need for a gun or guns. That 20th century mindset has changed and I now know just how crucial firearms are in this present age of uncertainly and fear. I keep the knowledge of my guns to myself (and to my two adult sons) and am now fully comfortable to own several guns and will be buying more on a regular basis.
I have respect for my firearms and keep them safely stored (but strategically loaded). If fact, I keep a loaded .40 caliber Glock in my laptop computer bag in a secure, zippered pocket. No laptop, just files and the Glock. My bag is always with me, either in my car, office or at home ensuring that I will always be close to a weapon in the event of an emergency. While I have no concealed carry permit (and am leery to obtain one), I think I will continue to look askance at my state’s laws that prohibit one from having a loaded handgun in their immediate possession without a concealed carry permit. I’ll just risk the consequences. I’d rather be safe than sorry.
I have been averaging a firearm purchase every two months or so to include two (2) Glock 23 .40 pistols, four (4) .22 pistols, six shotguns (a Remington 870) for home defense and five Mossberg 500s for home defense/target/game, and two new Ruger .22 rifles (since I must have accumulated some 20,000 rounds of that ammo so far). I will continue to buy shotguns on a regular basis so that I am able to arm as many able bodied sons, daughters and other family members as possible (with two guns each).

Here are a few of my SurvivalBlog“Pearls”:

1. Stock up on: beans, bullets, and band-aids!
2. Live by the Golden Rule, Treat others as you would like to be treated…
3. Buy two or more of everything!
4. Pray for peace and thanksgiving
5. Buy silver (pre-1965 [US 90%]) and gold coins; an excellent way to preserve wealth for the recovery period); Take physical possession of all precious metals
6. Stock that pantry! You can never have enough food! Check those expirations dates! Rotate your stock! Donate almost expired food items to the local food pantry.
7. Buy guns, ammo and multiple magazines for every firearm! You can never have too many guns, ammo, or magazines. Try to standardize weapons and ammo.
8. Pack several bug out bags (one for each person)
9. Buy “survival” presents for your family and friends (flashlights, batteries, first-aid kits, camping equipment, sporting goods (guns) bugout bags, etc…)
10. Buy a (bio) diesel pickup truck and a small SUV for a G.O.O.D. vehicle (and consider a used U-Haul (or the like) too; also buy a bicycle for everyone)
11. Exercise, get fit, go for long walks (also food for the soul)
12. As the Boy Scouts say, “Do a Good Turn Daily” and it goes without saying, “BE PREPARED”.
13. Life is unforgivingly short! Live for each moment; get the most out of life,
14. Don’t hold grudges. Forgive everybody and give thanks to God!
15. Oh yeah, please give blood!

I plan on buying several more firearms and the next several purchases will be a mix of shotguns and a series of 9mm weapons: four 9mm pistols (Glocks) and two (or three) KelTec 2000 folding rifles (super-sweet) that use the 33 round Glock magazines (which are available for a bargain at $25.99 each at Natchez Shooters Supply). I figure a dozen 33-round mags will be a good start to outfit this part of my arsenal. Those high capacity mags work in the Glock 9mm pistols too.

[Since originally writing this letter in July, I’ve bought one KelTec 2000, one Glock 19 (9mm) and one 20 gauge shotgun]

Finally, I will look to acquire two AK-47s and two then two long-range rifles. I figure this part of my plan should take another two years to accomplish, one gun per month or two.
I consider my cache of firearms as an extremely valuable store of wealth in the face of the inevitable economic collapse. These guns and ammo will be worth as much as I paid for them, or likely even more in the future. Guns and ammo are like money in the bank (except better) and will make tremendous items for barter in a post TEOTWAWKI society.
I have stocked several "But Out” bags (for my two sons, dad and I), thousands of rounds of ammunition ($100/per month at WalMart) and many other suggested items. I have been chipping away at my extensive list and ply eBay and yard sales for many of the items that I deem essential. At present, I am prepared to withstand a month or so without power, and am primed to protect my investments, but I am not so confident about surviving a really long-term societal collapse as predicted by so many learned prognosticators. My next level of preparedness will be to survive fully three months off grid, with an eye towards a more complete ability to survive any SHTF circumstance by 2012.

I live (rent-free) with my elderly dad and am committed to staying with him in a quite pleasant coastal New England town. I work for the state in a good-paying civil service position. I have no monetary resources to relocate to a tsunami resistant, easily defensible retreat in the mid west (or abroad) and am committed to my dad who was born in this community, owns his home outright, and has absolutely no inclination of moving. Further, I run into an elderly parental mindset when I suggest basic survival activities such as drilling a simple well or installing a wood stove (forget about voice mail or a dishwasher).
I have gotten away with my ostensible preparations for a hurricane (high New England possibility) but when I expound on the potential collapse of the US economy (due to any of several likely scenarios), dad disregards my exhortations. Since I am the “baby” of the family (even though I’m 50) and am the only family within 400 miles, he accepts my advice as if I were a teenager. Therein lies the actual predicament for me.

Retreat Considerations
I need to prepare for a short, medium, and long-term siege in my existing locale. I expect that most SurvivalBlog readers find themselves in a similar, structurally restricted situation. All of my family, and my fiancé’s family reside along the East coast from New Hampshire down to South Carolina . As a result, I hope to secure a farmland retreat that will be strategically located such that immediate family members could get to the retreat by bicycle or on foot in a worst case scenario. I’ve been thinking about northern New Hampshire or the northwestern quadrant of Pennsylvania .
A topic that I have yet to see discussed in SurvivalBlog is the bugout in the Atlantic region of the country. I understand that there is nowhere along the East Coast that one can escape the fallout from a nuclear detonation in the New England or middle Atlantic region but there will many people stuck along the Atlantic coast in the event of some type of cataclysmic event. I would greatly appreciate hearing from other readers about places in rural New York/New England or anywhere along the Atlantic coast that would be suitable in the occurrence of TEOTWAWKI.

I know that the world is headed for a day of reckoning and that the United States is teetering on collapse due to decades of financial and administrative malfeasance. As a student of history and social sciences, I have always been an ardent patriot but as of late, I have come to the tragic understanding why most people in the rest of the world distrust us, and in many instances, hate us. The current administration’s brainless deficit (and mostly pork-barrel) spending, the spiraling national debt, our sole world super-power mindset, insatiable consumer demand and burgeoning trade deficit will surely land this once great nation in the scrap heap of history’s supercilious, bankrupt empires. I’ll be ready, however. Thanks, JWR and loyal SurvivalBlog contributors!

At least our forefathers were insightful when they insisted that our (appropriately silver and gold-backed) monetary instruments be inscribed with the dictum, “In God We Trust”. My one suggestion would be to go back to silver and gold coins and add the alliterative phrase “…Glocks and Gold” after the word “God” to aptly symbolize our current plight.
As it was in the story of the tortoise and the hare, slow and steady wins the (preparedness) race.May peace be with you all. - David J. (in a blue New England state)

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Hello Mr. Rawles,
Perhaps you and the readers could help me sort through an issue I’ve been wrestling with for some time. From what I’ve read in the archives it appears that some of your readers are struggling with it also.
For almost two decades I have been preparing for the SHTF scenario I believe is inevitable, given our country’s course. I have read about the need for Christian charity during the difficult time that will come and as a Christian I agree. Many suggest that you should store extra food and necessities and dispense them during difficult times. Good idea, but I haven’t found much agreement on precisely how to accomplish this – the mechanics of doing so, if you will. This may be because the issue seems to raise questions that have no simple answers. For example:

Say you set aside 10% of your supplies as “give away” stock. How do you deal with the former recipients of your charity when the crisis persists and that 10% has been given away? You know it was all you planned to give away, but will they know (or care)? How will you control the remainder of the supplies they are now aware of?

I live around many people I call “fivers.” (These are the people with $500,000 homes…who drive a $50,000 pickup truck…that pulls their $5,000 ATVs…on weekends they’re spending $500 to attend a pro football game…but they can’t seem to afford $50 for a water purifier…or $5 for emergency candles.) Do I dispense charity to these fools? Should I? While they’ve been living the good life, I’ve been living frugally so I can afford to purchase my preparedness items. Something about a Grasshopper and an Ant comes to mind about now…

If the crisis is truly short-lived (it ends before your shared supplies run out), what have the recipients learned? That someone else will be there to bail them out the next time this happens? That if there’s a problem they can always come to my place for supplies? Isn’t that reinforcing the entitlement mentality that’s already far too prevalent in this country?
You touched on the issue of dispensing charity in "Patriots" when the characters encountered passersby who showed up, were helped, and conveniently exited the scene, never to return. That won’t be the case when those people live down the street.

In the “City Survival” chapter in Ragnar Benson’s Living Off The Land In The City And The Country he contends (and I concur) that most people simply do not have the luxury of leaving an urban or semi-urban environment and moving to a rural retreat. For the city survivor, he suggests, “It is far better to be discreet. Don’t broadcast the fact that you are caching for survival. Keep your stores and caching places to yourself. Then, after the collapse if someone comes around, it will be a random scavenger that can be more easily dissuaded.” Another author simply stated, “In a survival situation you can’t afford charity” and went on to say that unwise (read “unprepared”) people who have nothing of value to offer you should be terminated (read: “killed”). Yikes!!!
I believe the answer lies somewhere between “doing nothing” and “doing them in,” so to speak. This 10 Cent Challenge supporter would appreciate input from you all on this issue.
Thanks, and God bless. - John in Colorado.

JWR Replies: I agree that urbanites that choose to stay put will not have much opportunity to be very charitable WTSHTF. There would be precious few practicable ways--other than perhaps anonymously leaving things on the doorsteps of widows--to be charitable without the risk of getting cleaned out by opportunistic riff-raff. But for those of us that live in the country and even for those in the suburbs, there will be plenty of opportunities to share.

But first let's address this issue at the most basic level: As a Christian, I believe that charity is not optional. It is Biblically mandated. I feel this very strongly, for several reasons. First: it is there in The Book, over and over again. There is no denying it. God said it. I believe it. That settles it. Secondly, I came to recognize God's gift of salvation bestowed upon me, through election, and I learned that His gift was unmerited. I didn't deserve salvation any more than some of my neighbors deserve my charity when things get Schumeresque. But God freely gave that gift to me, so I'm going to do my utmost to freely bestow charity on everyone that I can. Lastly, everything that I've earned and saved, I consider providential gifts from God. So I intend to share some of it with those that are less fortunate and even those that currently lack the foresight to stock up for potential bad times. It's not my stuff. It's God's stuff. I'm just the steward of a part of it.

Charity with no strings attached is a powerful witness for God's love and for the gospel of Christ. You don't need to be an eloquent speaker. Just tell them: "Its the Christian thing to do." That speaks volumes. And, BTW, it won't hurt to hand out a few gospel tracts and Bibles along with the grub.

I strongly encourage charitable giving both the present day and post-TEOTWAWKI. It is important to keep far more storage food on hand than you expect to consume. If all that you have is the bare minimum to supply your own family or retreat group, you won't be in any position to dispense charity.

In particular, I recommend that you stock up on extra wheat, rice, beans, and sprouting seeds. If purchased in food grade 5 gallon buckets they are currently still relatively inexpensive. Just an extra two or three hundred pounds of grains and legumes could save dozens of lives. God's providence is a gift. Share it. I'm sure that there will be a lot of such people wandering about when the balloon goes up. Consider yourself an ambassador for Christ, and act accordingly. Do it for God's glory rather than your own.

If the situation warrants it, give at arm's length. I describe one way to do this in my novel "Patriots". It may sound almost absurd, but you may need to dispense charity by passing it over concertina wire or even while holding the beneficiaries at gunpoint at a safe distance. If times are bad enough, they'll understand your caution.

How much of your preparedness stockpile should you set aside for charity? Generally I'd recommend at least a tenth. That is in line with the tradition of tithing, which has its roots in the Old Testament law of Tzedaka.The Bible says that you provide for your immediate family first, then your extended family, and then your local community, and so on.

What if it is a localized natural disaster and you know that the situation is likely to get back to normal with in a few months? Then you can probably afford to be more charitable than just giving a tenth. In essence, you can look at your three year food supply as a one year supply for three families, or as a six month supply for six families.

Monday, August 6, 2007

As usual, I found this article [from London, Ontario, about national differences in charitable giving] while browsing something unrelated. I read through it, thought you and possibly the blog readers might benefit from it. I offer a small text extract, to whet your whistle:

"Brooks also found a strong and specific correlation between political ideology and charity. In both the United States and Europe, conservatives who believe in limited government are far more likely to make charitable contributions than are liberals who think government has a responsibility to reduce income inequality.
Note the irony: Liberals who support the governmental redistribution of income are apt to deride conservatives as selfish, yet these liberals are far less likely than conservatives to donate their own time and money to help the poor and needy. Of course, there are subsets within both groups: For example, religious liberals are a lot more generous than secular conservatives.
Many of the liberals who give little or nothing to charity try to justify their selfishness by saying government is more effective than private charity at redistributing income.
Brooks argues that the combination of relatively small government and high rates of charitable givings has contributed to the extraordinary economic prosperity and relatively high living standards for all income classes in the United States."

Regards, - Ben L.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

For many people preparing to survive has become an obsession; a pursuit placed above all else in their lives. Others feel as if survival prep should be more of a priority if they could only afford to do more. Still others feel as if they may have already gone overboard in their preparations. Preparing for survival after TEOTWAWKI can make you feel overwhelmed, under-supplied, overspent, under-funded, over-your-head, or under-the-gun (no pun intended).
There are those who have the ability to purchase a retreat, stock it with supplies and equipment for a year or more, and have enough to share with those in need at will. They expect to support parents, siblings and spouses, nieces and nephews, grandkids, and several families of friends, and have already stocked their retreat with all the food, water, and supplies for all of them to start completely over. Most of us, however, fall far short of that ability, and hope that we can simply prepare for ourselves and our immediate family.
Please understand, I am not criticizing those who are able to prepare in this way. That’s what this country is all about – the chance to make and keep your fortunes. As Christians we don’t believe in luck, but we do believe in hard work and good fortune. We can only hope that most, many, or all of these fortunate people have the Christian outlook of sharing with those in need.
Whether you are a preparedness guru (PG) or a “newbie” (NP – for New Preparer), getting prepared to survive after any disaster, or even a total collapse, seems like a daunting task. PGs know just how expensive and time consuming preparing can be, and many NP’s have become discouraged as they begin to realize what they are facing. It is for that reason that mental preparedness (MP) is so important.
Mental Preparedness involves many aspects and the first and foremost of these is an individual’s Spiritual preparation. Are you a Christian? Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? Are you ready to die if that’s what God’s will for you is? Christianity – that is, evangelical Christianity (Christians who believe that Jesus died for their sins, was buried, and rose again as a living Savior sitting at the right hand of God) offers living hope for our future. We worship a living Savior, one Who has gone before us to prepare a place for us in heaven.
If you have not already done so, accept Jesus into your life as Lord and Savior. It’s so easy to do. Any good Christian can help you or go to and click on the small green link at the top of the page “I want to know Jesus.” Until you make Christ real in your life the rest of the preparations are just going through the motions.
Once you are Spiritually prepared, the next step is prayer. Ask God to guide you in your preparation, to give you insight into the survival mindset, to lead you to the resources you need to get your mind ready for the preparation task, and to guide and help you in the decisions that must be made to prepare yourself and your family for survival. Ask Him how you can become a better Christian and person through this process – He will show you if you are open to receiving the answers. Finally, ask the Lord help you communicate the urgency and necessity to others to prepare to survive.
Is there Biblical mandate for survival? For preparation? Yes, God has given us instructions in His Word for survival and preparation. Following is a list of Scriptures for you to look up for yourself rather than quoting them here for brevity, but please take the time to look up each one and understand what God is trying to tell us, tell you, about being prepared and surviving.
Proverbs 6:6–11 – tells us that we are responsible to do the work of preparation while we are able.
2 Thessalonians 3:10 – basically says that if you don’t work, you don’t eat. Of course that does not include the sick or the aged; those should be taken care of by family or Christian charity. It plainly teaches that indolence or laziness should not be rewarded. In other words, if we could have prepared for the crisis but we didn't, we can’t expect anyone else to take care of us. It is a principle that applies in every-day-life or in crisis situations.
1 John 3:17 – 18 – exhorts us to help others in need. Yet, you can not help someone who is in need if you haven’t prepared for or can't help yourself. If we are to obey this verse then some sort of preparation is not only called for, but required.
Some great thoughts from another (unknown) Christian author:
“ With regard to fleeing from life-threatening situations - what one brother sarcastically refers to as ‘hidey hole’ theology - Both Peter and Paul escaped from life-threatening situations. Peter fled from Jerusalem after his miraculous deliverance from prison by the angel. Paul was let down over the walls of Damascus when a plot against his life was uncovered. Both of these were escapes from the physical persecution that arose against them because of their testimony and preaching of the Gospel. Are we supposed to believe that God is only interested in preserving His people if they are in danger as a result of their following Jesus? That if the shortsightedness or greed of the world, places Christians in danger, that somehow that is not sufficient reason to escape in order to continue to serve, worship and love God and those around us? I can't speak for others, but I know my purpose in preparing for eventualities. It is not merely to save my hide; it's not worth that much anyway; but to do what Christians have done throughout the centuries, namely to maintain a living witness to the redemptive love of God in Christ, and to continue nurturing the Church which God has called me.
Some Christians believe that it is wrong to leave your urban or suburban home to find a rural setting where survival would be more likely. Again, this is called, ‘hidey hole’ theology. Yet, after the stoning of Stephen much of the Church in Jerusalem dispersed precisely to preserve their lives, to continue to care for each other and spread the Gospel in the new surroundings. God called Stephen to martyrdom, but not the whole Church. The Church in Rome met in the catacombs. Some lived in the catacombs. Was that ‘hidey-hole’ theology? When Jesus began his ministry He read from Isaiah in the synagogue, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me....This day the Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’ They wanted to kill Him, but He ‘passed through them.’ He escaped. Was that ‘hidey-hole’ theology?
In 1 Kings 17:8 - 16, Elijah instructed the widow of Zarephath to give him her last cup of flour and last bit of oil. He told her don't be afraid, God will provide. God caused there to be a daily miracle provision of flour and oil for her survival. But another widow and her son in 2 Kings 4: 1 - 7, were instructed by Elisha to gather many containers, for God was about to provide for her needs. There was an immediate miracle of multiplication of the oil, part of which she was told to pay off her debts with, but the remainder she was to store. Thus, there was preparation, provision, and then storage in order for this woman and her son to survive. Sure, the provision was miraculous; but her use of God's provision was quite normal and mundane. Nor did Elisha criticize her for storing her oil for her family’s future needs. [This author adds: it could be that your provisions may be provided in an equally miraculous fashion.]
Am I stupid, sinful and unbiblical because I want to see that my family survives? Am I supposed to believe that God doesn't want me to do anything about the survival of those whom I love, whom He has given to me? Have I no responsibility? Do I just stand with my eyes scrunched closed and say, ‘OK God, you take care of me and mine?’ Survival is not the ultimate value or goal for me or my family. It never was or will be. ‘Glorifying God and enjoying Him forever’ is. If God wants me and mine dead, so be it, and may He be praised forever. But I don't see that glorifying God and staying alive are mutually exclusive, especially when He seems to be graciously giving us advanced warning precisely so that we may continue to survive, so that we may serve Him and others.
And you, O mortal, do not be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns surround you and you live among scorpions; do not be afraid of their words, and do not be dismayed at their looks. Ezekiel 2:6
The clever see danger and hide; but the simple go on, and suffer for it. - Proverbs 22:3.
A closing thought (on Spiritual Preparedness): "When Noah built the ark, it wasn't raining.”
Get your life right with God and prepare for tomorrow.

Many other aspects of survival require mental preparation as well. Too many people believe that because they witnessed some depravity that man had wrought on an individual, or on others, that they are now prepared to go through the hard times a severe crisis or even TEOTWAWKI can bring. Witnessing a tragic car accident, a shooting or murder, a knife fight in a bar, a shootout with the police, or even trying to help a rape victim can not begin to prepare you for the mental anguish of long-term crises. For the few who have had to kill in self-defense or seen the starvation and disease in some Third World country first hand as a missionary, these only begin to understand. If you served in combat – Iraq, Afghanistan, Korea, Vietnam, or WWII – and you had to kill or be killed, you had to care for a wounded and dying fellow soldier, or you had to survive as a prisoner of war, you understand some of what will be faced in an end of the world situation. Many of you may have loved ones or know someone who suffered with or still suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and can understand the mental stressors the individual endures. Unless you have been through it too you can’t really comprehend all that this individual, these individuals, is/are going through.
So how do we prepare ourselves for what is to come? Everything starts with planning! And, it all hinges on organization. If you’re a NP, start a list of preparations that need to be made. Do research on the Internet to find lists of the things you will need to do and what you will need to have on hand. Don’t be overwhelmed by the lists of supplies – all of these things can be obtained one item at a time. Remember, if you start today you’re still ahead of the majority of people. Continue to remind yourself that whatever you do today to prepare, won’t be a need tomorrow.
Prepare your mind through the research you do. Read everything you can get your hands on about preparedness and survival, but read with a “grain of salt” so that you can discern good advice from bad. Read books and articles that are recommended by friends or reliable sources. Even other people who are preparedness minded can get and give bad advice – proceed with caution, but proceed.
One reliable and trusted Internet resource is, written and maintained by Jim Rawles. He is also the author of one of the best survival preparedness books on the market called Patriots – Surviving the Coming Collapse. While the book is a novel, there are many, many good references and teachings throughout. He has numerous other resources of his own and others on the web site.
To continue mental preparations for survival the NP must understand that they are basically on their own. Of course, they may have a supportive spouse, other family members, or a friend or two who understands survival prep, but beyond that you won’t find individuals who are willing to open up their homes or retreats and say, “come see how I’ve done it.” Because of the secretive nature of our preparations for ourselves and our families, and because we want to protect those preps from those that would steal them or want to show up at our front gate when TSHTF, we just don’t let others know what we’ve got. Thus, we are on our own. It is a very difficult position to be in when a best friend refuses to recognize the importance and urgency or preparation. PGs understand this and have developed techniques and questions to discern how a person feels about preparedness and survival without really asking. Only time, practice, and mental preparedness can help in this area.
Preparing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that outline what every family member will do in a crisis will ease your mental state as your preps continue. SOPs are nothing more than written directions to cover every contingency for every person. Make sure you have instructions written for all members who will be with you in a disaster situation. Different situations call for different SOPs – try to cover all the bases for at least 72 hours. This is not something you will accomplish overnight or even in the first few weeks. As you study and prepare you will continue to rewrite and edit your SOPs. Some may take years to finish while others may never be done.
Once your lists are in order you should begin putting together a BoB (Bug-out-Bag). This is a bag – a backpack, a duffel bag, a pillow case (although I think you will discover that a pillow case just isn’t big enough) with everything in it you’ll need to survive for three days to one week (or more). Every family member should have his/her own BoB, even children (as long as they are big enough to carry it). Weight for each BoB is obviously determined by each individual’s size and ability. When you know everyone has the things they need to survive for several days, your mind is much more at ease.
The BoBs are like everything else involved with prep and survival – they will evolve through shrinking and growing for months before you are satisfied with all the preps for them. Only you can determine what is best for you to carry in the end, but there are literally 100’s of list suggestions for BoBs on the Internet. Again, be prepared to sift through and decide what is best for you.
By prioritizing your purchases you can buy a little at a time – in fact, you can buy one item at a time if that is all your budget (or your wife [I’ll address this issue further down] will allow). For instance, water must be a top priority for everyone in preparing for disaster. You can go for days without food but only hours (in comparison) without water. If you have a free-flowing spring in your yard then you are obviously covered, but for most of us water is something we must prepare for. Do we try to store enough bottled water for our family? Do we depend on our neighbors? (I think we know the answer to that one – remember, we depend on no one but ourselves) Storing bottled water is impractical for long-term preparedness. Water is needed at the rate of at least one gallon per person per day. In hot or humid conditions or if you are working outside strenuously, you will need more – maybe even twice that amount. So, a water filter, with extra filters, is an obvious priority. You may have to save for a couple of weeks or more to buy one, but since it is an important item it will clearly be worth it.
Food is a relatively easy category to begin to fill out your supply of. If you will make a list of items that you and your family regularly eat (in dry or canned items) and then begin to buy one or two extra items each time you go to the grocery store, you will find that your food supply will grow quickly. Don’t forget things like toilet paper, tissues, baby items, feminine products, and the like; if you will buy these two at a time when you need them – one goes on the shelf to be used and the other goes in the prep closet or tub. These type products will also add to your stash quickly. P. S. You can never have enough toilet paper if TSHTF (no pun intended).
Continue to move down your Priority List is similar fashion and you will suddenly find yourself short of space to store things and your mental attitude eased by the fact that you are becoming prepared much quicker than you ever thought possible. Remember, organization is the key. Once you begin to buy items for prep or survival you must be organized. Lists are required, and keeping up with them is paramount for making sure you get what is necessary. It is very easy to buy things twice (or even more) if you are trying to keep up with your purchases by memory, or to think you bought something and miss the chance to buy it. Use lists!
Lists and organization are important to your MP in other ways as well. If you have your mind cluttered with mental lists, past or future purchases, and trying to keep up with all of your preps, family, work, etc., your going to be stressed beyond belief. Good MP calls for good organization.
I mentioned above that I would address the problem of a spouse who is a non-believer in preparedness or survival. When you want to talk about prep or survival all they do is change the subject or patronize you quickly and then dismiss it as unnecessary. They don’t want to waste money on it.
Many spouses believe there’s plenty of time to get what’s needed if an emergency comes up later. Some will say that God will provide for us, so we don’t have to do that. And, the excuses and objections goes on . . .
My own wife is one of those, or was one of those types. I went ahead with some small purchases a few years ago and she would question them, but I never hid my purchases from her, lied to her about them, or dismissed her inquisitions. I simply explained that I had bought the item so we would be prepared in case of an emergency and what it was for. I would try to talk to her about it each time SHE brought something up, but she always changed the subject or said we’d talk about it another time. I never forced the issue. Whenever she would hear a news story about some crisis situation (hurricane, tornado, lost hiker, violent robbery or home invasion) I would take the opportunity to point out the lack of preparation on the part of the individuals involved or what they needed instead of what they had, and I would say, “You know, I think I’ll get one of those (whatever was mentioned that someone else needed) for us next time I get a chance so we won’t be caught unprepared.” She would usually agree we needed it, and the next day (or even that very day) I would buy whatever it was and add it to my supplies. She never questioned those purchases and eventually became (a little) more interested in our preps. I’m now trying to get her interested in a piece of retreat property by explaining the exact things I’m looking for (wooded acreage with room for house, barn & garden, a spring or free-flowing creek, isolated, defensible, etc.) and why. It has caused a few arguments (of course, the making up is fun), and she still won’t read "Patriots" or any of the other books I’ve bought on the subject, but our (my) prep supplies are steadily growing and she’s beginning to understand slowly. I’m still open to new suggestions in this area if anyone has any, but I know this has worked for me so far.
Mental preparedness for survival is very important if you are to ever feel like you’re well on the way to being prepared. I’m one of those who believes that you can never be 100 percent prepared, but you can be well prepared. You can get to a point of calling yourself prepared and feeling good about your preps as long as you continue to monitor expiration dates, rotate fuel supplies, grow and can your own crops, and have all the things needed for starting over after TEOTWAWKI. A survival mindset is the first step. Making lists, prioritizing those lists for purchase or acquisition, and organizing the lists and acquisitions will help to keep you mentally prepared for survival.

Friday, April 6, 2007

At the risk for sounding preachy, I'd like to re-emphasize the importance of storing extra logistics so that you can be charitable when disaster strikes. Charity is Biblically supported, and makes common sense. (I strongly advise it, regardless of your religious beliefs.) When the Schumer Hits the Fan (SHTF), you will want neighbors that you can count on, not people that you fear or distrust. By dispensing copious charity to your neighbors that did not have the same foresight that you did, you will solidify them as strong allies instead of envious potential enemies. In describing communities, psychologists and sociologists often talk in terms of the "we/they paradigm". Typically, this is used in a negative connotation, such as when they describe racism. (And rightfully so--I loathe racism.) But I can see something positive in building an appropriate "we/they" distinction during a societal collapse--the distinction between your local community and predatory outsiders. Just ask anyone that has ever lived "inside the wire" at a Forward Operating Base (FOB) in Iraq. Those soldiers will tell you that they felt a strong cohesive bond, and were absolutely determined to repel anyone that attempted to attack their FOB. Their steadfast resolve can be summed up with the words: "They are not getting through the wire. Period." Dispensing charity helps build a cohesive "we" and draws into sharp contrast the "they." (In my view of the near future, the "they" will likely be roving bands of criminal looters. Imagine a situation like in the movie The Road Warrior, and you are inside the perimeter at the refinery. Can you see the appropriate "we/they"?)

By logical extension, you can dispense significant charity only if you have it to give. Clearly, you must stock up above and beyond your own family's needs. So, for example, if you calculate that you need 300 pounds of wheat for your family, don't buy just 300 pounds. Instead, buy 600, 900, or even 1,200 pounds. That might sound expensive, but presently you can buy 50 pound sacks of hard red winter wheat for around $7 to $8 each. About 45 pounds of wheat will fit in a plastic 6 gallon food grade bucket that costs just over $2. Or even if you pay more to buy wheat that already packaged for long term storage in buckets (from a vendor like Walton Feed), a 45 pound bucket of wheat still costs just $17.15. Beans and rice are similarly priced. Consider that extra food as a key to building a "sense of community." Even for even those of you that are non-religious, dispensing charity will be part of your "we/they paradigm" insurance. If purchased in bulk quantities, it is also cheap insurance. Don't neglect buying your family that insurance! OBTW, speaking of wheat, the threat of the wheat "super-blight" is looming. This makes it urgent for families to stock up.

Where is the Biblical support for charity? It can be seen throughout the Old and New Testaments. Remember the Bible's guidance about leaving unharvested rows of crops, to benefit "gleaners"? For example, see Leviticus 23:22: "And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I am the LORD your God." (KJV)

The Old Testament law regarding charity can be found in Deuteronomy Chapter 15, verses 7-11 (KJV):

15:7 If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother:
15:8 But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth.
15:9 Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, The seventh year [of Jubilee], the year of release, is at hand; and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him nought; and he cry unto the LORD against thee, and it be sin unto thee.
15:10 Thou shalt surely give him, and thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him: because that for this thing the LORD thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto.
15:11 For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.

From these verses it is it clear that we will always have poor people in our community ("the poor shall never cease out of the land"), and it abundantly clear that it is our duty to help them ("Thou shalt surely give...") End of preachy mode. My apologies if this offended those of you that aren't Christians or Jews. But again, even folks that are strident atheists should see the wisdom of having extra food storage to provide for charity. It is in your own best interest.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Seeing the discussion regarding the gentleman who loaned a flashlight and leaf blower to his ungrateful neighbors, I'd thought I'd share my method of loaning out items. First off, never loan out primary tools. I have three sets [that I've designated - mine [primary], for friends, and a lower quality set for loaning. If you've never borrowed from me before and I don't know your "borrowing character", then you get the cheap set of greasy, grimy tools or the flashlight with weak batteries. If you return them in the state that you borrowed them, you get to borrow them again sometime. If the tools come back cleaned and oiled and new batteries in the flashlight, your "borrowing character" had been elevated to trusted borrower and you may soon be ready for the set of tools reserved for friends. (Hint: When you borrow tools, always bring them back in a better state than when you took them.) If you do not return them, you will be reminded over and over of this fact and hopefully you will shamefully remember to return them. If you don't ever gain some character or have no shame, then stay outta my yard!
Also, people forget a couple of simple words: please and thank you. I don't have to loan you my tools. If you ask nicely, I may just think a bit more nicely of you. These words don't cost anything to use yet they reap huge benefits if used sincerely. - Matt B.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Mr. Rawles:
Your "The Next Pandemic" article and he responses to it that you posted really got me thinking. If it all hits the fan, how can I possibly hand out charity to refugees without them just taking it all, by force? Once a bunch of people are in your house, or even in your front yard, they have the advantage. I really want to be generous and charitable, since it is my duty as a Christian. (I have more than 2 tons of wheat, rice. and other stuff stored, for example.) But I don't want to get cleaned out and then have nothing for my own family. How do I solve this dilemma? Should I hide half of my storage food somewhere in a "cache"? Should I just leave what I earmark for charity in big white plastic buckets marked "Take just one" by the side of the road a couple of miles from my house? Thanks, Brother! - L.T.Y. in not-so-rural Minnesota


Dear Jim,
I found Bob in Georgia's letter re: The Next Pandemic both educational and unsettling. It confirms, in many ways, fears I harbor about a post-SHTF environment, and leaves a number of unanswered questions in my mind.
I have read and often thought your admonition to dispense charity, but in the event can't honestly say what I would do. I believe we who "have" are compelled morally and Biblically to voluntarily share with those less fortunate than we, who "have not." I do not, however, believe any government, anywhere has any right to force us to share through coercion and state-mandated giveaways, which is wealth distribution and communism.
That said, what should I do if/when TSHTF? I wish I knew the answer. I am close to some neighbors and would feel no compunctions about sharing with them and helping them to the greatest extent possible. I wouldn't think twice. Others remain largely unknown to me and are question marks. Still others have impaired moral compasses (or none to speak of,) whom I would avoid sharing with altogether, as I am convinced it would only invite a violent attack (repeat visits by our local P.D. to their homes give me that feeling). My family's safety trumps charity in my way of thinking.
Bob in Georgia's letter speaks volumes for the declining moral fiber of our lost society and its values (or the lack thereof), and should serve as a strong reminder to the Patriot to exercise great caution not only in sharing, but in even discussing your preps. Keep up the good work, Jim. Yours in Jesus Christ our Lord, - Scott in California

JWR Replies: In my novel "Patriots" I describe a couple of methods for dispensing charity "at arm's length." One of them is through a local church. The other would be reserved for absolute worst case situation, where you would literally keep refugees off at a distance, at gun point, while you dole out food as charity. That might not sound very Christian, but it might come down to that, in a situation where law and order has completely broken down.

Friday, January 19, 2007

At the dawn of the 21st century, we are living in an amazing time of prosperity. Our health care is excellent, our grocery store shelves burgeon with a huge assortment of fresh foods, and our telecommunications systems are lightning fast. We have relatively cheap transportation, and our cities are linked by an elaborate and fairly well-maintained system of roads, rails, canals, seaports, and airports. For the first time in human history, the majority of the world's population will soon live in cities rather than in the countryside. But the downside to all this abundance is over-complexity, over-specialization, and lengthy supply chains. In the First World, less than 2% of the population is engaged in agriculture or fishing. Ponder that for a moment: Just 2% are feeding the other 98%. The food on our tables often comes from hundreds if not thousands of miles away. Our heating and lighting is provided by power sources typically hundreds of miles away. For many people even their tap water travels hundreds of miles. Our factories produce sophisticated cars and electronics that have subcomponents that are sourced on three continents. It is as if we are all cogs in an enormous invisible machine, each playing our part to make sure that the average Americans comes home from work each day to find: his refrigerator well-stocked with food, his lights reliably come on, his telephone works, his tap gushes pure water, his toilet flushes, his paycheck is automatically deposited to his bank, his garbage is collected, his house is a comfortable 70 degrees, his TV entertainment up and running 24/7, and his DSL connection. We've built our fellow Americans a very big machine that up until now has worked remarkably well, with just a few glitches. But that may not always be the case. As Napoleon found the hard way, long chains of supply and communication are fragile and vulnerable. Someday the big machine may grind to a halt. Let me describe one set of circumstances that could cause that to happen:

Imagine an influenza pandemic, spread by causal contact, that is so virulent that it kills more than half of the people that are infected. And imagine the advance of the disease so rapid that it makes its way around the globe in less than a week. (Isn't modern jet air travel grand?) Consider that we have global news media that is so rabid for "hot" news that they can't resist showing pictures of men in respirators, rubber gloves, and Tyvek coveralls wheeling gurneys out of houses, laden with body bags. They report countless stories like: "Suzie Smith brought the flu bug home from school. Everyone in her family died." and, "Mr. Jones brought the flu home from work. Everyone in his family died." Over and over. Repeated so many times that the majority of citizens decides "I'm not going to go to work tomorrow, or the day after, or in fact until after 'things get better.'" But by not going to work, some important cogs will be missing from the Big Machine. Orders won't get processed at the Wal-Mart distribution center. The 18 Wheel trucks won't make deliveries to groceries stores. Gas stations will run out of fuel. Policemen and firemen won't show up at work. Telephone technicians will call in sick. Power lines will get knocked down in wind storms, and there will be nobody to repair them. Crops will rot in the fields because there will be nobody to pick them, or transport them, or magically bake them into Pop-Tarts, or stock them on your supermarket shelf. The Big Machine will be broken.

Does this sound scary? Sure it does, and it should. The implications are huge. But it gets worse: The average suburbanite only has about a week's worth of food in their pantry. What will they do when it is gone, and there is no reasonably immediate prospect of re-supply? Supermarket shelves will be stripped bare. Faced with the alternative of staying home and starving or going out to meet Mr. Influenza, millions of growling stomachs will force Joe American to go and "forage." The first likely targets will be restaurants, stores, and food distribution warehouses. Not a few "foragers" will soon transition to full scale looting, taking the little that their neighbors have left. Next, they'll move on to farms that are in close proximity to cities. A few looters will form gangs that will be highly mobile and well-armed, ranging deeper and deeper into farmlands, running their vehicles on siphoned or stolen-at-gunpoint gasoline. Eventually their luck will run out and they will all die of the flu, or of instantaneous lead poisoning. But before the looters are all dead they will do a tremendous amount of damage. Be ready to confront them. Your life, and the lives of your loved ones will count on it. You'll need to be able to put a lot of lead down range--at least enough to convince Mr. Looter that he needs to go find some other farm or ranch to loot.

In recent months, the press has shifted its attention, ignoring the continuing threat of Asian Avian Flu mutating into a strain that can be easily transmitted between humans. If and when that mutation occurs--and the epidemiologists tell us that it is more a question of "when" rather than "if"--then things could turn very, very ugly all over the globe. Be prepared. To start getting ready, you should first read the background article on pandemic preparation that I wrote last year, titled "Protecting Your Family From an Influenza Pandemic." Next, think through all of the implications of disruption of key portions of our modern technological infrastructure. Plan accordingly. You need to be able to provide water, food, heating, and lighting for your family. Ditto for law enforcement, since odds are that a pandemic will be YOYO ("You're on your own!") time. Get your beans, bullets, and band-aids squared away, pronto. Most importantly, be prepared to hunker down in "self quarantine" for three or four months, with no outside contact. That will take a lot of logistics, as well as plenty of cash on hand to pay your bills in the absence of a continuing income stream.

One closing thought: There are only about 15 large food storage dealers in the country, and even fewer firms that sell non-hybrid ("heirloom") gardening seed. How long do you think that their inventories will last, once there is news that there is an easily transmissible human-to-human flu strain of flu, anywhere on the planet? Prices are currently low and inventories are plentiful. It is better to be a year too early than a day too late. Please consider patronizing one of more of our advertisers. We have half a dozen of them that sell long term storage food and heirloom garden seed. They deserve your business.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Well, I just got back online. I had to go up to the roof and thaw the wireless [Internet] antenna with a heat gun. It seems the ice grounds out the antenna. It was an easy fix with my heat gun for heat shrink tubing. More precipitation is on the way but colder. It will probably just be snow. We never lost power but were ready anyway. I have friends with no power and they have been without power for days and no idea when it will be back on. The further out you live, the less chance of getting back on line. Power is also out at the feed mill so feed stores are short on feed and they say that they no idea when more will com. We bought extra and can always supplement with more hay or alfalfa. We could butcher the pigs early or sell some cattle if needed but all of our preparation this Fall is paying off. Think ahead! Wall-Mart is out of propane cylinders and no extra tanks around. We have plenty of tanks and are set to fill from the bulk tank here as needed. You always need an alternative means to do everything. Redundancy is the word for survival. I have some friends with no heat. They report 46 degrees in the house. Standard fireplaces put out very little heat. [JWR Adds: Yes, in fact they have been documented to put more heat up the chimney than into a room!] We have electric heat, woodstove, and propane heat. Redundancy means you will always be warm. We lost some branches and the storm knocked down my 160 Meter loop antenna but it works almost as well on the ground. (Thanks to the design and the antenna tuners we can just re-tune and are up and running.) Repair should take about 2 to 3 hours since the antenna is set to go up and down at each pole for maintenance. Hint: the design was well thought out and therefore easy to fix. Think ahead. Of course we have 4 or 5 ways to receive and transmit, plus the mobile radio. Again, redundancy. Our [photovoltaic] solar panels were covered with ice but still function, and we have more in the barn to use that are thawed. We continue to look for weak spots and all I came up with is the need for more batteries and more power. We have tow or three ways to do everything so if one system is down we just go to the next. Sure makes you feel good that instead of driving new vehicles we [instead] have heat, power, water, and food and backups for each. No worries about heat is a big relief. One of my friends has a generator, but no heat. Although he knows the items he needs to provide heat, there is nothing available. It is all sold out. Guess that is why I take those old propane heaters and put them in storage. Backup for the backup. We are looking forward to the snow--better than ice. We have wood to pick up today at the lumber mil. (We get the slabs from the mill, load on the trailer banded together and take them home. We cut it [for fuel] as we need it. More in the woods [hereon my property] but I will leave it for more backup. Keep preparing. Do one thing each day and it will all add up. Anyone got a good milk cow? We need a new one, since even livestock gets worn out and old. God Bless, - Alphie Omega

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

How many times in the course of a conversation at a meeting, party, event, or whatever, has the subject of emergency preparedness come up, and you make a comment about the having done something (anything) about it in some way, and someone says "the next time [something bad] happens, I'm coming over to your place!" How do you reply? You can't invite everybody in need, you don't want to invite parasites, you don't want to piss off friends and co-workers, and you may not be able to tell if they are joking or serious.
However viscerally satisfying a "I got mine, you socialists are yer on yer own, and I'll shoot you parasites on sight in an emergency" may be in the short run, I think it is generally counter-productive on a number of levels.
I've struggled with how to reply to this comment over the years (at least since the early 1990s), because there are so many variables in each situation (how recently there has been an "event," how close of friends you are with the person making the comment, what sort of mix there is present of good friends-acquaintances-strangers, the tone of how it was said, how much you
know about the background of each one, what the relative wealth and social standing of all parties present are, location, etc.), and many times there are far to many unknowns to give a really good, tailored answer, that will get more people to become preparedness oriented and independent-minded (which is what we really want, right?).
But after reading a very long thread on the topic recently, talking it over with my other half, and in light of this specific comment being directed at me several times in the last month (I am in the Puget Sound area, so the windstorm hit where I'm at pretty good - lots of trees and branches down around here, and I had fun making lots of chain-saw-dust), I think I may have come up with a pretty good "all purpose opening response." Look directly at them, and then quietly and matter-of-factly say: "A long time ago, I made the conscious choice to not be dependant on other people, and I was willing to forgo some of the luxuries of life in order to accumulate the stuff and the skills to prepare me to take care of myself and my immediate family for any likely emergency that may occur in the region where I live. I would be happy to help you figure out how you can do the same thing most efficiently."
There are four very important things about this phrasing: you are saying some things very clearly, some things are obviously implied, a lot is left completely unsaid, and you are not being in any way threatening, arrogant, condescending, judgmental, or patronizing. You are offering them help on how to help themselves now, and you are not saying you will shoot them on sight in the future (you are helpful and non-threatening), and you are not saying you will give them a handout and implying that there are limits to what you are able to do (but don't expect free-bee's). You have stated a basic
philosophy with a fairly limited and hard-to-argue-against scope, you have not given away to much information about what or how much you have, you are alluding to a simple method for others to do the same; you are opening a conversation that puts the ball in their court on how to respond, at which time you'll have a much better idea about what to say, or not say, from there. You are serious but neutral; if you can get them to seriously consider and pursue emergency preparedness, you have expanded your "mutual-defense circle," if they don't and the need arises, you can turn them away with a much clearer conscious. You haven't given them any more reasons to hate you, target you, fear you, or depend on you (which is a good defensive move). All you need to do is ask some pointed questions, like "this area gets snowstorms regularly, why not have chains for your car and just keep them in the trunk all winter?" or "$45 a month for cable TV? That'd put up a lot of extra food in a year." Make observations like "yes, a generator is nice, but not everyone needs one, not everyone can afford a good one, and not everyone has a place for one; you just have to be ready to work without power," or "supplies aren't everything; what if the disaster you are preparing for causes your well-supplied house to burn down and it takes everything with it? Attitude and skills are just as important."
If they say "what sort of luxuries did you give up?" some possible follow-ups might be: "I don't have a new, big screen TV, I have an old 19-inch beast; but I do have a generator."
"I don't have a Rolex or a Hummer, but I am debt-free except for my house mortgage."
The first one might not be the best example to use if they were bragging about their spiffy new 55" HD 1080p wonder-vision unit [HDTV], just after freezing their butts off in an ice storm, but you get the idea. Get across the idea that it is all about making appropriate choices now, using as neutral a tone and wording as possible. Don't say "of course only an idiot would
drive a Lexus when he doesn't have a month's supply of food in snow-storm country" when talking to someone you know has a Lexus parked out front and no food in the fridge. If you have no idea what sort of 'stuff" they have, focus on skills, e.g., "I don't spend money on yoga classes, I take self-defense and home-repair classes." Keep it neutral, informative in a general way, and neither promise anything or sound judgmental for the opening few minutes (even if this requires biting your tongue, hard, for a bit), until they have done a fair bit of talking and you have a much better feel for the lay of the land, whereupon you can teach, share, run, or whatever as needed.
Think through a couple of paths that the conversation could take, and how you would respond in a way that would appeal most to the sort of person who would go down that path. A socialist who is used to depending on the state might say "are you saying you wouldn't feed me if I showed up on your door-step after a major earthquake if you had any extra food?" Saying "of course not" will just piss them off and may make you a target, with them calling you a "greedy hoarder." Saying "I would have a hard time justifying taking food out of my children's mouth tomorrow to feed a casual acquaintance today, especially if we did not know when services were going to be restored and supplies replaced" puts a whole different appearance on it.
Information is your friend; don't start by telling them what you have, what you have planned, how stupid they are for not being equally well prepared, etc. Find out a bit about their mind-set, skill-set, resources, and then go from there in the best direction. Best of luck with your next "conversion" into the mindset of independence and preparedness!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The following are some things has prompted me to do since I began reading it:
I've had no debt for 20 years, but my meager holdings are now about 1/3 precious metals. Is lead considered a precious metal? :-)
My freezer is full of elk, whitetail deer, and caribou. I added to my long-term foods during your Safecastle special, but I'm now reviewing the viability of my existing stocks. Like the realtor's mantra of "location, location, location", a survivalist's creed should be "Rotate, rotate, rotate. "
A 10 KW Generac generator is ready to be wired to my primary residence.
My primary heat source is now a shelled corn burner
My wife and I just finished a first aid course refresher and bought a couple of family-sized first aid kits from the American Red Cross.
I upgraded my firearms battery to include a third .308 Winchester rifle--a DPMS Panther LR-308 [AR-10.] An accurate load for the Sierra 168-grain HPBT has been found and loading on the Dillon press commences soon.
During this year's whitetail deer hunt, our group adhered to the hunting laws but still kept in contact with our MURS Radios.
And thanks to your blog, I'm practicing preparedness more. I've never learned how to take a deer apart other than simple de-boning. So with instructions at the ready, the wife and I will skin this year's buck and carve the meat into steaks, roasts, stew meat and burger. But with a full freezer, I'll be practicing charity by giving it to my friend Mike, a less fortunate carnivore.
Now it's time to renew the 10 Cent Challenge subscription. There is much more to do and learn. Merry Christmas to you and yours, - Redmist

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Dear Mr Rawles,
As Thanksgiving and Christmas approach, churches and charities are conducting food drives. Besides being a chance for us to act in a charitable manner to the less fortunate, it is also a terrific opportunity to cycle out some of our food stockpiles. Over the past couple of weeks, I've been donating excess wet-pack canned good (with 2007 expiration dates), and replacing them with new, 2008/2009 expiring items. From my way of looking at things, it is a win-win for the recipients and us -- the donors; the hungry are fed, and the shelf life of our food reserves are extended. Best Regards, - Jim K.

JWR Replies: I have always placed a strong emphasis on Christian charity. Rotating your food storage is a great opportunity to dispense charity. If the food goes to a charity organization rather than an individual family, be sure to thoroughly vet the organization. Many charities have huge staffs and overhead costs, resulting an less than half of cash ending up in the hands of the needy. Such organizations should be shunned. Also, some food bank organizations are distrustful of donated long term storage canned foods and have been known to discard or destroy them, even if they have clearly marked expiry dates. Ask a few key questions before making a donation! If in doubt, then donate it elsewhere.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Dear Jim:
The recent letter on barter goods caused me to sit down and organize my thoughts on the matter. Running a successful retail/wholesale operation, I can see some caveats and analysis that needs further exploration.
What's WRONG with Barter Goods
As has been well emphasized before - forget about barter goods until you are squared away for your own logistics. Beyond that, remember that barter goods are much inferior to money or cash in a functioning economy, with a good division of labor. If you need to sell them to raise cash, it will take some effort, and you can easily lose money - especially if you need to sell them fast. Barter goods tie up your cash, take up valuable storage space, and must be carefully stored so rust / staleness, etc., etc. don't degrade the value of your inventory. Obsolescence is a major factor to consider for any technology item. And how do you know exactly what will be valuable in the future?
So why go to the trouble of storing any barter goods at all?
Barter goods, if well preserved and in demand, will preserve your purchasing power from inflation - and it is very hard for the taxman to collect on barter transactions! But of course gold and silver would do just as well, probably better, in a hyperinflation, and are much easier to store, easier to sell, more liquid, etc., etc.
So barter goods are for a real TEOTWAWKI when the economy is not functioning - a catastrophic breakdown in the division of labor. Think about a rapid and uncontrolled decline from a Western industrialized economy, to a primitive Third World economy - but without the low-tech skills the Third World folks survive with.
Your money (even real gold money) can't buy much because there simply isn't a functioning market to spend the gold or paper money. The shortages and/or civil disorder is so bad that immediate survival is the overriding issue, and the viability of money to get goods is in question. If it isn't this bad, gold and silver is the way to go. If it ever gets this bad there will be a horrific loss of life as it is the efficiencies of the division of labor that keeps our interdependent and sophisticated economy wealthy and our population fed.
In this horrific situation, tangibles for barter rule because, "you can't eat gold". For example let's imagine Farmer John who won't sell you one of his pig's for those gold coins you have. Even if there is a local market accepting gold and silver, he doesn't want to take a dangerous trip to town and leave his property unprotected. Transportation, communications and security are all in horrendous shape.
But Farmer John will consider trading the pig for tangible stuff that solves a critical problem for him. Stuff he has trouble getting, lets hypothesize: fuel for the tractor, or bullets for his gun (or a gun for his grown kids that are now back on the farm and under-equipped). How awfully bad it has to get before barter goods trump gold and silver is a prime factor to consider in evaluating what will be valuable - the desperate situation dictates that hard core survival items will be in highest demand, consumables, especially. If you don't think it will get this bad, just store gold and junk silver. Best bet is some of both.
War and/or hyperinflation are the most common circumstances, historically, where things get this desperate, with the fiat money collapse destroying the division of labor. Unless we were "bombed back to the Stone Age" sooner or later a functioning economy would evolve again with real gold and silver money reestablished. But that would take time - after the worst of the population die-off had occurred, and some stability re-attained. In the interim, barter goods will give you purchasing power to buy consumables you run out of, stuff that breaks or wears out, items you didn't think ahead to store - or unforeseen needs, e.g., medical, new baby, new people at the farm, etc., etc.
Be be advised that when storing barter goods you are entering the realm of running a business. You had better be able to predict what will be valued by your local market when you need to barter - supply and demand. Otherwise you will be wasting money, time and storage space.
What problems will people need to solve? What will be in high demand and/or short supply?
1. We don't know for sure, so be careful. It bears repeating - don't worry about barter till you have your own supplies well stocked.
Don't commit more than a small percentage of your assets to barter goods. Concentrate on stuff you can probably use yourself, or would like an extra spare of. Predicting the future is a tough game - put the odds in your favor so that even if TEOTWAWKI doesn't happen on schedule you have stuff you can use, sooner or later, or at least hold it's value for resale. You can predict your own demand better than anyone else's, so fill that first.2. Consumables Rule - If they haven't gone bad. Obviously consumables are depleted much faster than durable goods wear out, so supply will be tighter. Durable goods are likely to be in much better supply. The ugly truth is that barter only comes into it's own in a really desperate situation with a significant decline in the population. So there would likely to be a lot of durable goods left behind by the deceased - and you don't want to compete with that supply.
So my first choice for barter items would always be consumables that you consider essential as your core logistics that you store anyway. Just store more than what you need for food, ammo, fuel, batteries, etc., etc. But this has a strict limit, as you must be very careful on the storage life, and your rotation, so you don't end up sitting on a wasting asset.
That said, the guy who has stored gas or diesel, treated for long term storage, will be sitting very pretty after all the untreated fuel has gone bad (unless TEOTWAWKI is an EMP strike and not many vehicles are running.)3. Back to basics. When things are desperate, the first rung of Maslow's hierarchy of needs will prevail - the basic physical needs: shelter, warmth, water, food, defense, medical needs, etc., etc. Comforts and luxuries are not as sure a bet. If the situation is good enough to worry about luxuries your gold and silver will probably do just fine - no need for barter goods. Addictive substances such as cigarettes and alcohol are comforts that might be an exception to this rule (not that I would want to supply those items, however lucrative).4. Items that are less needed or uncommon in peaceful times, but sorely needed in TEOTWAWKI times will be good candidates because, even if they are not consumable, demand will outstrip supply. Best bets would be durable items where long term storage is not so much of an issue, e.g., work gloves, water filtration, defensive firearms and accessories, perimeter security, Body Armor, etc., etc.5. Stick to items that are good for a wide range of scenarios. Nuk-Alerts, radiation meters, etc., etc. wouldn't be "as good as gold" in a nuclear scenario - they'd be "better than platinum"! But they would have relatively low demand in other scenarios. Essential for yourself, but not a good barter bet. Stick to general use items.6. KISS. Don't got too complicated. High tech will degrade rapidly - stick with what is simple and easy to keep working.7. Keep it local - look at what your neighbors will need in your neighborhood, your climate, your situation. You won't want to travel far to trade, even if you can. For example propane conversion kits for gas generators would be a superb item out in the country with a lot of propane tanks about. But what if the only customers nearby only have a model that you don't have the right kit for? Travel would not be worth the risk. On the other hand, non-hybrid garden seeds that are optimal for your climate, and hardier than standard factory crops would be ideal.
8. Keep most items reasonably small and easily divisible. .22 Long Rifle ammo will be the "nickels and dimes" of post-TEOTWAWKI barter. Be able to "make change", or you might have to settle for a bad deal.9. Lower your risk by buying low. If it's an super deal it's hard to go wrong - but you must know the ins and outs of what you are buying, and the market pricing. Stick with what you know.
Some ideas: garage sales, auctions, eBay and (Craigslist is the free, online local classifieds.) [JWR Adds: I also like Craigslist, but I also highly recommend If you watch the daily local freecycle ads closely, you can pick up lots of useful, barterable items, free for the taking. Often someone is moving and they list their excess household goods on freecycle. Check it out, you'll find lots of great stuff free. Since both "available:" and "wants" are listed, you will also see some opportunities to dispense charity to folks that are presently needy.]
Garage sales are generally the lowest cost supply - but hit or miss on useful items. If you're in or near a large city, crisis is the way to go, after garage sales. They are hoplophobes who won't accept ads for any kind of weapon, but their free, online classifieds is fast replacing the newspaper classifieds section in our metro area. It let's you deal consumer to consumer, cutting out the middleman.
By the way, Craigslist is also a great place to turn your unused items into cash. The eBay auctions are good for specialized items without a big local market, for weapons, but craigslist for everything else. A digital camera photo, a good description, and you are in business, cheap. You can actually buy furniture, cheap at garage sales, and resell on craigslist and make money - if you know your product.
Some of my favorite barter items:
Ammo: Common calibers that you can always use yourself. Consumable, easily divisible, in high demand, long storage life. And if TEOTWAWKI doesn't\ happen on schedule, you can have fun "rotating your storage" ;-) A lot of folks have guns, but not very many have enough of the right ammo, so think self defense first, then hunting and practice rounds. (A lot of folks will be smart enough to figure out that a gun and 100 rounds of practice, is better defense than a gun and 200 unfired rounds.) Cheap food that stores well long term, e.g., wheat properly packaged. I like cans over mylar for durability, but you won't want to trade a gallon can that looks like you have a bunch of stored food. Repackage into plastic before trading ."Tactical Kits" For the folks that don't have suitable defensive firearms a complete kit of an easy to operate rifle, spare mags, ammo, web belt, mag pouches, sidearm, holster, and even Body Armor, could have a value greater than the sum of the parts. The bonus here is that you can have spares for your weapons, and also be stocked to equip your Neighborhood Watch on Steroids, refugees that you take in, or long lost relatives that show up after The Crunch. Batteries and Solar Powered Chargers - obviously a great consumable, and solar powered chargers will be better than gold when there is no electricity. Check storage life for batteries and the number of recharges possible very carefully on batteries. From what I have read NiMH battery technology is the way to go - any battery experts out there? Work gloves become consumables when used constantly.If other folks can suggest items that fit the criteria, please, let's hear them! The above list is just a start. Regards, - OSOM "Out of Sight, Out of Mind"

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Since the mid-1960s, after reading Pat Frank’s novel Alas Babylon, I have been interested in preparing myself for TEOTWAWKI. And, as a child of the 1950s growing up in central Florida, I was taught early to be ready in case of nuclear war, so Frank’s book was not that far-fetched to me.
My family was poor by any standard you could compare it to in those days. There was no chance of us ever affording a “bomb shelter” but preparations were made as best we could. We stocked up on canned food and water, we had a central hallway with a fuel oil heater and a bathroom immediately off of it, and we put together a first aid kit and some other emergency supplies in a feeble effort to be ready. Since we were not in a blast zone, we felt like we had a chance for survival.
As a teen I began to use Alas Babylon as a teaching tool just as I am using "Patriots" today. I studied each scenario in that book to glean whatever tidbit of knowledge about surviving that I could. By the time I was ready to move out on my own I had amassed quite a stock of not only what I needed to survive, but a large supply of barter goods as well. I had first aid supplies, water purification tabs, a nice collection of knives, guns, and ammunition, and a number of items that Frank’s novel pointed out would be in short supply post disaster. Things like coffee, salt, and batteries were all part of my emergency supplies.
When I turned 18 I joined the Army and volunteered for Special Forces just so I could be even better prepared. I survived Special Forces training, Jump School, Ranger School, Officer’s Candidate School, and Vietnam. I found out that the Army is very good at losing things and sometimes the soldiers would find them (and most were willing to trade for what they found). Needless to say, my survival supplies increased greatly while I was in the Army. Not only could I trade for many items, but my income was greater then than I had ever known and I could buy many things I had been doing without before when it came to my survival stockpile.
Even with my steady income there just wasn’t enough to sink a great deal of money into survival – after all, I only made $98.00 per month when I went into the army in the late 1960s. As soon as I got out of the military I got married, the babies soon followed, and there was always too much month at the end of the money. Things haven’t changed much except that the kid’s are grown, but they have given me some of the greatest grandkids any man could ever want (and some that give me a lot of gray hairs).
So here I sit, later in life, with the same desire to be prepared, but with a lot less energy than I used to have and a whole bunch of antiquated equipment. The K-rations and C-rations are all still edible (albeit a little “tinny” tasting) [JWR Adds: Ancient military rations may still be palatable, but their nutritive value is nil. Since they are now collectible (i'm not kidding!), you are far better off selling them on e-Bay to re-enactors, and then spending the proceeds on recent date of pack MREs or comparable civilian retort packaged foods] , the jungle rucksacks were never any good to start with (and they hurt even more now), the entrenching tools are still in great shape but haven’t gotten any lighter with age, and the ponchos are all cracked and dried but the poncho liners are still the best around.
Of course my income has slipped back into the poverty level once again so major investments are out of the question. And I’m married to a wonderful wife who understands nothing about survival (and doesn’t want to). She just keeps thinking all the equipment and supplies I collect are just stupid junk ((I bet she won’t be saying that later).
All that said to set up a situation pointing to the fact that I’m nowhere near prepared for the day TSHTF and don’t have the resources to get prepared quickly. So, what to do? Can you relate? Have you priced dehydrated food supplies? Guns and ammo? Even just first aid supplies can put a hurtin’ on your budget! Well, here’s what I’ve done and it’ll work for you, too.

Do Your Prior Planning

If you haven’t made a list of supplies – and this should be a total list of supplies, not just the ones you still need – get one made, copy one from the Internet or use one from FEMA or the Red Cross. Break it into manageable sections or categories. I use “kits” for my lists. There’s a “Water Kit” that lists all things pertaining to water; canteens, holders, cups, filters, spares, etc. There’s a Food Kit, Shelter Kit, Commo Kit, Light Kit, Knife Kit, Gun Kit, and the always needed Miscellaneous Kit. My Kits lists go on for over 20 pages, but when I have all of that equipment together and ready to go then I’ll know I’m almost prepared. Make you a list and make it complete.
Now do an inventory of all of the things you already have. You may be surprised at the number of things you can check off your list. If you are a hunter, no doubt you already have one or more hunting knives, you should have boots, and field clothing, you may have a small pack you use in the field and canteens or water bottles. You probably carry rope, maybe a compass, and you might carry a pack saw, hatchet, or machete to clear your fields of fire. And, you already have some items to add to your gun kit.
Are you a camper, backpacker, canoeist, boater, fisherman or outdoors type person? Then you’ve already got some preparedness equipment – mark it off the list. As you mark it off the list, put today’s date on it. That will at least give you a reference for how old something might be so you’ll know when you may need to replace it.
Obviously, you’re not going to put a date on every item. For instance, I wouldn’t put a date on my military compass w/tritium markings, but I would put a date on my inventory sheet just as a reference. Dating items becomes important when you have to rotate stock (canned foods) or replace outdated items (medications). These items not only need to have the date on the item, but each one should be dated on your inventory sheets, as well.

Looking for What You Need

Once you’ve done your inventory and compared it to your list, you can make your list of items still needed. Now’s when the fun starts – it’s time to start looking for the items you still need. I have spent countless hours on the Internet looking for distributors, comparing prices, doing Google searches, writing to chat groups looking for items or advice, and, yes, actually ordering many of the items I need. I know, JWR recommends we not order online using our credit cards because it puts us in somebody’s database, but by the time I got that advice it was way too late for me. I figure I’m already in so many databases they’ll be too confused to worry about me anyway. Besides, when you see the way I order (following) I’m not sure it’s going to trigger any red flags.
Please understand, the only times in my life I made any significant amounts of money were spent saving for the future times when I knew I wasn’t going to be making that much money. I’ve worked in the building trades most of my life and after working steady for several months came the inevitable lay-off at the end of the job. Then I’d spend several weeks, if not months, looking for another job (all the while using up the savings I put away while I was working). I gained a lot of valuable experience but never had the money to invest in survival preparedness.
Now, I’m steadily employed making just over minimum wage (I’m no longer physically able to work a 40 hour construction job), so I’m still not able to make the major purchases required to become fully prepared. Does that mean I won’t do anything about getting prepared? Not on your life!!! I make small purchases whenever I can (usually every couple of weeks) and if I need something more expensive, I save up for a month or so. I decided what was most important and started getting those things first and then moved on to others.

Set Priorities

With water as # 1 priority in a survival situation I decided to make it my # 1 priority in becoming prepared. I already had two military canteens from my previous prep but knew that there were none for my wife.
So I set out trying to find the best deal on military canteens (w/cups and covers) on the Internet. Turns out that I found the best deal on eBay and ordered 4 more (so I’d have a couple of extras). I’ve got less than $2.00 each, including shipping, in the sets (canteen, cup, & cover). Now that I can afford!!! Then I found a guy on eBay selling water in small pouches and offering FREE shipping. So I spent $10.00 and got 12 small pouches for my auto & office kits. A month later the same guy had a better deal for $20.00 (still with free shipping) so I ordered some more of the pouches. Now I have enough to put in all of my kits as needed.
A water filter is an expensive item to me. I researched the smaller filters and decided that since water is a necessity I wanted the best and would not buy some cheap imitation just to have a filter. I had to stop all of my smaller (survival) purchases for 2 months to buy a filter (and a spare cartridge) but now I have added that to my inventory. I then bought some water purification tabs to complete my water kits in all of my emergency kits. Obviously that’s not the only items in my water kits but this gives you some idea of how I went about completing my purchases.
My First Aid Kit was next, although I did make a few purchases toward getting what was necessary for my Food Kit, too. A friend gave me some MRE’s (military) for me to try. I thought these would be just what I needed for emergency rations, but I quickly learned that they are too heavy for a Bug out Bag (BoB) and not tasty enough (unless it’s a dire emergency) for long-term storage. I ordered a few (3-4) individual freeze-dried meals to see if we could tolerate those and we actually liked them. They are lighter and much better tasting than the MRE’s, but they do take a little longer to prepare. I also bought a few food bars and added them to our BoB’s in case we need something in a hurry. I’ll continue to add more food bars and freeze-dried meals as my budget allows, but I am trying now to finish up my first aid kits.
I first made my decisions on which kits I wanted to put together, i.e., BoB, Long Term, Truck Kit, Car Kit, Office Kit, etc. Then I had to determine what I wanted in each First Aid Kit. Again, it was the Internet searches that gave me my list and the research for the individual items I wanted. It was obvious from the start that the larger quantity of any item I could buy, the cheaper the price per item would be. After making my “still needed” list (as above) I started shopping for the needed items. First I did the Internet search, and then began to shop around locally. I found that the big box stores (Walmart, Costco, CVS Pharmacy, Walgreens, etc.) had the best prices, but not all of the items I wanted. I began buying a few boxes of bandages and tape, then some antiseptics, tape, etc., until almost all items were purchased over about six weeks. I’m still looking for a couple of things in specific sizes, but with patience and perseverance, I’ll find them.

Saving For the More Expensive Items
One of the hardest things to do is control your spending when you are trying to save for a major purchase. When you always need things to add to your survival stores, it’s difficult not to buy when you know you have enough money for something. Self-discipline is required when you’re saving for something else – just as in life when the family needs a new car, or washing machine, or a water heater. The same holds true for survival supplies. I’m attempting to set aside money for a retreat purchase, yet I know there are still dozens of items I still need for completing my survival supply lists. You must decide what is most important and how you will go about making these decisions. Other major purchases may include battle rifles, pistols, shotguns, or stores of ammunition. Fortunately, ammo is one of those things you can buy a little at a time (just be sure to set your priorities as to which caliber to by first).
Food stocks are another costly expenditure. To get the best price food should be bought by the case or larger lots. My suggestion is to buy extra of the canned and dry goods you eat on a regular basis (be sure to date them) and rotate your stock as you use them. In this way you will have extra food building up in your pantry while you are saving for several cases of freeze-dried meals. In the mean time, buy some individual freeze-dried meals and food bars to stock your BoB and emergency kits. Some of the dry goods (rice, flour, instant potatoes, and even dry milk) are not that costly and could be bought by adding one large size container of each of these each time you go to the store. Soon you’ll have a fairly good sized supply of food.

In Conclusion

Get prepared – that is, make your lists, do your inventories, and know ahead of time what you need. Stay alert for sales and opportunities to purchase at reduced prices. And buy what you can when you can, save for the things you need, and no matter what you’re still missing when TSHTF you’ll be far better off than if you did nothing.
Don’t depend on Uncle Sam – he cannot and will not do it all. Don’t depend on friends and family – they all have their own to take care of. Stock up for yourself and be ready to share with those less fortunate and in need.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Mr. Rawles,
I recently read your post about your attending a coin show in California. What are your recommendations for getting started in collecting a few gold coins in case the monetary system collapses (I don't have the foggiest idea how to begin)? How much should I purchase, what types, and in what quantities? I assume that having a couple extra cases of shotgun shells and a few boxes of .22 [rimfire] rounds will also go a long way in a barter environment (not to mention a water filter or two.) Any advice or direction that you can share would be greatly appreciated! - Sean

JWR Replies: As mentioned in my novel "Patriots", I think that common caliber ammunition is preferable to precious metals for barter. In the U.S., I recommend stocking up on extra .308, .223, 9mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP, 12 gauge (2-3/4" only), and .22 Long Rifle rimfire. You might also lay in a smaller supply of the two or three most popular big game hunting calibers in your region. (They do vary quite a bit. Ask at your local sporting goods store which are the most popular. Where I live, it is.30-06. But in other parts of the country it might be .30-30 or .243 Winchester. I've read that in Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, the venerable .303 British cartridge is still quite popular )

If you decide that you want to supplement your supply of "ballistic wampum" barterables, then I recommend buying silver rather than gold coins.Gold is just too compact a store of wealth for most barter transactions. If and when you want to buy (via barter) a gallon of kerosene, a box of ammunition, or a can of beans, then gold is inappropriate. How would someone make "change" for a transaction that is priced at 1/100th of the value of a one ounce American Eagle or one ounce Krugerrand gold coin? With a cold chisel? But pre-1965 (90% silver) dimes should work just fine. These are nice small, readily recognizable silver coins for barter. Parenthetically, as I have mentioned in the SurvivalBlog Investing sub-page, I recommend that you get your key logistics ("beans, bullets, and band-aids") squared away before you consider investing anything extra in precious metals--either for barter or as a long term inflation hedge.

Saturday, September 2, 2006

Dear Mr. Rawles,
The anniversaries of Katrina and Rita offer us an useful opportunity to reflect upon the lessons of profound adversity. As a Texan and a native of Houston, the disaster and its aftermath have reminded me of three important truths. First, we were all cautioned that the time to leave is well before the mass of people thinks that leaving is reasonable. Second, if you do plan to stick around, plan to be on your own for longer than you expected in conditions more harsh than you anticipated. Third, any mass-casualty disaster is going to let loose a plague-like horde of the worthless, the dangerous, and the desperate.
The first two lessons are obvious to most people who frequent this blog, but the third point merits some serious discussion. In each and all of our major cities, there lurks a small (but lethally dangerous) element of congenitally predatory scum that the combination of the criminal justice system and differential property value usually manages to mostly confine to a small geographic area. In each and all of our major cities, there also lurks a class attuned to permanent dependence on government subsidy, which normally lacks the initiative to pose any serious threat to anyone. Katrina displaced both of these classes from the rotten slums of New Orleans and placed both of them as a threat to the good people of other cities, especially Houston.
When the dangerous class of New Orleans arrived on busses in Houston, it immediately sought new victims and new territory. Crime increased dramatically in Houston, and I understand anecdotally that the standing inventory of most FFL dealers shrank radically as law abiding citizens suddenly began to feel threatened. The filth of New Orleans awoke in Houston, shorn from the institutions (e.g. regular parole officer visits) that had constrained their previous felonious conduct. You may think that New Orleans is the Mos Eisley of America, but every major city has such a class of dangerous people, the control of whom is the primary job of every major city's police force. Just as every river flowing through a large city has a layer of settled toxin in the deep sediments, which only endangers the world at large if the bottom is churned catastrophically, the depopulation of any major city due to a disaster must necessarily loose upon the world a class of people that we would all do well to fear.
The lesson of Katrina is simple: If you realize that refugees are headed to your neighborhood from some disaster, then take care to your own security; the people churned up by any evacuative catastrophe will likely include men of perennially dangerous intent.
While the dangerous are an obvious and instant threat in a time of upheaval, the worthless and the desperate of New Orleans may be about to illustrate that tragedy can convert normally harmless people into predators. Among the refugees received in Texas, there was a large population of people conditioned to perform no function in life other than the receipt of charity. New Orleans had accommodated them poorly, but she had accommodated them in a manner adequate to squelch any motivation to initiative (whether noble or nefarious). When these people arrived in Texas, many were shocked by the generosity of our people.
The people of Houston, both through charity and federal assistance, placed in decent housing huge numbers of the poor of New Orleans. It was widely rumored that the surplus apartments rented for these people by Mayor White were frequently a step up from their previous quarters.
Now, however, charity has worn thin. It is widely quoted that over half of the refugees are without work, in spite of the fact that the economy of Houston provides jobs in such great numbers that the city draws thousands of immigrants from all the world. The common sense of the people of Houston seems to have turned to the admonition that a man shall have bread by the sweat of his brow. This thinning of charity is happening at the same time that FEMA has decided to get out of the business of housing permanent welfare cases. To put it bluntly, we are about to witness a new wave of homeless New Orleanians that had been previously contained in the excess apartment capacity of Houston. I fear that we are about to see a second wave of Katrina-violence, as the worthless and the desperate begin to see their situation as dire. Unaccustomed to working, a substantial number of the permanently dependent may join the class of the dangerous from a sense of desperation.
The lesson in this is also simple: disasters that uproot the normal order that has supported people for all of their lives will turn the some otherwise harmless persons into predators of necessity; watch your back.
I am sorry to have sent something so grim, but there is a cautionary tale in the experience of the Texan people, which much of America may have missed because it is so far geographically removed: Just as flood drives snakes into trees and houses, disaster lets loose both the worst sort of people and the worst capacities in people. Best Regards, - K.A.D.



Monday, April 17, 2006

 I offer the following discussion (and answers, I hope) for Christians.
Proposition/assumptions: Good financial planning and even seeming ‘common sense’ dictates that we plan our income and expenditures wisely so as to have the ability to withstand a crisis.  This plan makes sense on an intuitive level, and also can be argued quite easily that as a Christian we have a duty to provide for the life and livelihood of our dependents; and that this provision includes saving money and goods for the event of hard times.  Or does it?
Our Christian duty is also unquestionably to be charitable and to avoid the sin of covetousness/greed.  First, some definitions:

Covet (verb: to covet): to wish, long, or crave for something, especially the property of another person
Greed: excessive desire to acquire or possess more (especially more material wealth) than one needs or deserves (syn. Avarice: a more religious term, one of the Seven Deadly Sins)
Charity: (one of the Three Theological Virtues), meaning loving kindness towards others; it is held to be the ultimate perfection of the human spirit, because it is said to both glorify and reflect the nature of God. In its most extreme form charity can be self-sacrificial. Charity is one conventional English translation of the Greek term agapeAgape to the early Christians meant that inner bond of blessed union which united the individual with divinity, and mankind with their fellowmen. Till our eyes are fully opened, "there abideth faith, hope, and charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity" (1 Cor 13).  Charity is commonly understood to mean ‘giving to the needy’.
Reflections:  Is there gray area?  Where is it?  Is saving the necessary substantial sum for a child’s college education acceptable?  Is having six months living expenses in the bank acceptable?  Is a year’s worth of food storage acceptable?  Can I save for economic downturns without knowing with certainty that they will come?  Can I save for them knowing for certain that they WILL come, but not for certain that it will result in my inability to provide for my family?
What amount of saving is acceptable?  Where does it become ‘hoarding’?  Is the sin of greed more one of quantity, or one of attitude?
If any amount of saving is acceptable, how much?  Is it acceptable to save excluding  charity until the acceptable amount is reached?  Or are we obliged to give to charity while saving toward that amount?
It is generally accepted that Christians must lend without charging interest; but in what circumstances?  All without exception?  Toward family members?  To other Christians?  Can we earn interest on investments?  Is an interest-earning savings account acceptable? 
Can we earn interest in excess of the rate of inflation without sin?
Can we sell our home for a profit if we do not need a larger home to accommodate our own immediate needs? 
And some rhetorical questions, not meant to insult; but to add more facets for discussion: Does God always provide for his faithful?  Historically, have Christians been safe from starvation through economic hard times?   Is not saving and preparing for disaster a simple reality of living in the temporal world The Almighty has placed us into?  Is saving a function of ‘giving to Caesar’, which is considered acceptable as long as we also give to God? - C.P., MD

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

I read your added notes to the discredited letter from the returning Marine's father and I can add one more detail. The Iraqis did have 155mm artillery in inventory and we found several South African 155 rounds in country. The South Africans had a very well developed arms industry and they made some of the best artillery and rounds available. They have some advanced 155 rounds that have a greater lethality due to the pre-formed fragments included in their design and some of these have been used/recovered in Iraq.

One of the strengths of the Army National Guard (ARNG) and U.S. Army Reserve (USAR) over active duty is that we bring a greater skill set with us when we deploy, both civilian skills and more MOS schools under our belt. I have several to include more than one Intelligence MOS. [JWR adds:  I concur wholeheartedly! The USAR and ARNG soldiers tend to be several years older--sometimes decades older--than their active duty counterparts. Those extra years almost always equate to greater depth and breadth of knowledge/experience/common sense. Many of the military intelligence soldiers that I commanded in the USAR spoke multiple languages and had earned Master's degrees. The enlisted ranks in the active duty M.I. units just didn't compare. BTW, I should mention that this was a humbling experience, as a young M.I. officer with just a Bachelor's degree.]

If you have any direct contact with soldiers in country please recommend to them that they have their intel people take a look at the NGIC (National Ground Intelligence Center) website regularly. Any soldier with access to the SIPRNET [U.S. military data network for handling classified traffic] can find it and it allowed us to stay weeks ahead of emerging Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTP)s. It was not uncommon to find things through NGIC weeks before higher command got the info to us through regular channels. I also found it useful to look at areas (on the NGIC site) that were outside Iraq but were dealing with Islamic fundamentalists. - Anonymous

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

I have been meaning to write for a few days and thank you for posting Fernando's observations from Argentina. I view the slow slide into economic collapse as the greatest threat and the one I am currently preparing for.

What prompts me to write now is the post (12 Nov '05) about experience in Iraq. Having recently returned from Iraq I thought I would add some of my observations that run a bit different.

The AR pattern weapons definitely require greater maintenance but preventive maintenance will prevent problems. Five minutes a day is all it takes. The greatest handicap is the lack of penetration with the 5.56mm, for home owners it is a plus for soldiers a definite disadvantage.

M249 [SAW] is overly complex and some of the problems relate to all the add on crap like short barrels and collapsible stocks. Some soldiers try to use it as a 19 pound SMG and that is not the right application.

Our M9s [U.S. Military issue version of the Beretta M92 9mm handgun] were not functioning well and I think it relates to bad magazines. We had few in my unit and I never did any shooting with them so I have little to add.

M240 [MMG], M2 [HMG], and M14 [MBR] all are above reproach, they all work exactly as soldiers should expect, this nation owes a great thanks to John Browning and Mr. Garand, they have kept the lowly grunt a step ahead of the rest for some time now.

I have no direct experience with the M24 [U.S. Army issue sniper rifle] or M40 [U.S.M.C. issue sniper rifle] but I have always had good service out of the Remington 700. As a side note some of Carlos Hathcock's contemporaries exceeded his number of kills, I believe two other marines had more confirmed kills and the title (in Vietnam) would go to the Army, Adelbert Waldron had 109 confirmed kills.

The MK-19 [crew-served automatic 40 mm grenade launcher] is a great weapon for the open battlefield but it has some definite limitations in the city, arming range can place friendly forces in danger and the potential for collateral damage restricts it use some.

Our new body armor is the real savior in this conflict, that and our advances in medical science. The IBA [Interceptor Body Armor] saved my hide in an unlikely way but that is another story for another day. The base armor is about six pounds (dependant on size) ant the plates are another six pounds each--one front and one back.

Thermal [sights], night vision ["Starlight" scopes] and FLIR [aircraft cameras] allow us a tremendous advantage over the enemy. Even though they have heard about our night vision gear they seem to not understand or believe it I guess. We saw the enemy move around in the dark obviously believing that if they couldn't see us we couldn't see them. A side benefit is that it's monochromatic, grainy image creates a bit of psychological distance between us and the enemy. It is easier for a soldier to shoot at that green, slightly fuzzy figure. It is easier to convince yourself that what you are punching a hole in is not a real person, that it is some complex video game.

Many of the RPG rounds fired at us failed to detonate, maybe over 20% in some months. Fine system and I wish we would adopt something similar but it seems to suffer from poor quality control in it's ammunition. Thankfully the Arabs have never developed a tradition of marksmanship. If they had the shooting skills of the Chechens we would have had some serious problems over there. So far I have not seen much that impresses me when it comes to their fighting prowess.

The indirect fire threat is, I believe, a bit overstated. We were subject to indirect fire attacks daily, sometimes several times a day. I never saw any evidence of the enemy adjusting fire and in fact I think they usually stopped dropping rounds down the tube before the first round hit. They have reason to be afraid or our counter battery radar. Rarely were friendly forces allowed to return fire (with artillery) but we always had our aviation up waiting for something like that to run down (the AC-130 is a wonder to behold), same with patrols running around. After I took a look at the data I stopped worrying about rounds landing on the FOB. Our base was several kilometers in each direction and they only seemed able to land them inside the perimeter about 60% of the time. If the first wasn't a threat to you the next three wouldn't cause any problems either (unless the baseplate shifted as rounds were fired). After while I stopped reacting to IDF that was not danger close with the first impact. This did cause me some trouble, some folks up the chain did not appreciate my lack of action when rounds came in.

IEDs were the big threat but thankfully they are still in the early stages of learning how to use the stuff. Not to say they aren't having considerable success, they are, but they don't (yet) have the sophistication that many around the world have shown. Several times they tried without success to build fuel flame expedients (FFEs) or shaped charges or explosive formed projectiles (EFPs). Once or twice they did it right but more often than not they failed. After a few failed attempts they would stop trying and go back to the basic blast type devices. Since they have a large quantity of prepared explosive devices (mines, arty rounds, gravity bombs, rocket and missile warheads) and bulk explosives they have little incentive to learn how to build better devices. With hard targets they just build them bigger. Initiating the charge is often done by cell phone and I suspect this makes it hard for the enemy to time things right, many times IEDs would detonate too soon or too late to do much damage.

Thankfully the only group in country who can fight are the Kurds and they are on our side. The Iraqi National Guard and the Iraqi Police are getting better but the turnover is high, many leave after one or two paydays and their leadership is sometimes lacking. Progress is being made but it is slow going.

I left Iraq in March so some of my experiences may be a bit dated, but that was what I saw. - Jake


And here is another, from a gent that is currently in Iraq:

Mr. Rawles--
I received the same e-mail from my old TmSgt and sent him back a few of my own observations from over here. To clarify I've been here as a private contractor for the last two years and used quite a few of the weapons in question. Mainly because I've worked mainly in Army controlled areas I wasn't too sure how far off I was though in regards to Marine Corps armament.

I also though that the items about the SAW (M249) sounded recycled. Having carried one in the early 1990s while in the military I had come to realize their reworked improvements. I had sent him pictures from a year ago with me working in a sandstorm with one.

I don't think I know of anyone using a pistol at all let alone commonly though I'm sure that it has happened in some instances, and the biggest problem with them is the weak magazine springs. Magazines for 92Fs built during the last 10 years for the military suffered from the lack of quality competition during the Clinton gun ban period. Even a partially loaded magazine would fail to feed after just a few days left in that state.

The 1911 is more of a status symbol over here. Not issued but captured and definitely not worn by a common soldier unless he wants to face UCMJ action. It seems that some SOF and higher up officer types do sport them though. Finding ammunition for them is hard enough that practicing to any real worth is next to impossible.

Most troops doing active patrolling and not staying inside the wire all the time have M4s. Active use of the M16 is more from the early stages of the invasion. This however is more of an Army observation of mine and caused me to hesitate when applying it to the Marine Corps. Despite this the M4s and M16s performed equally well (it has the same action anyway) and the only clear advantage of the M4 was its size.

The 5.56 round in the hands of the insurgents is more of a bugaboo to me than 7.62x39. With various ammo we consistently penetrate steel plating that stops the 7.62 cold. While the 7.62x54 penetrates as well as .308 both require specialized platforms that typical insurgents don't carry. If I had to be shot I would prefer it to come from an AK.
[JWR adds:  I've heard first hand that there were opiates and other drugs found when the Iraqi insurgents were cleaned out of Fallujah.]

As far as reported opiate use, its hard to imagine people that refuse nicotine, coffee, shaving, and who fast for a month every year, indulging in narcotics. Insurgents are of a more zealous bent than even your standard Iraqi. This blurb sounded almost recycled from Vietnam.

M14s can be found in M21 configuration with designated marksmen or snipers but I have seen no bulk re-issue, even with SOF.

The M240 is mounted over here but mainly because there aren't a lot of foot patrols. In light infantry units it replaced the M60 several years ago, but again I wasn't sure about the Marine Corps.

Baghdad insurgents are mostly Sunni, Shia leaders like Al Sadr and Al Sistani have put a tight rein on their respective militias, the Mahdi army and the Badr brigade. According to locals that I talked to, many insurgents lived in Fallujah (Sunni territory) and traveled to Baghdad's Sunni areas to stage attacks on both Shia and Coalition forces. With the realization that they could actually come to power, the Shias are hoarding their forces for our eventual withdrawal and not getting them chewed up by the Coalition as they did in April of '04. Still, fighting between Shias and Sunnis, while under-reported is fierce. An example, for a while Sunnis had been targeting Shia mullahs, then fourteen Sunni mullahs were kidnapped and found dead. Their discovery was reported in the news but what wasn't added was that they had been killed via a power drill to the head. Shortly after this the Sunni leadership called for a general agreement not to target religious leadership. This was relayed to me by an Iraqi gentleman who I was working with in the Karada district of Baghdad this summer.

Checking the page I see that you've already made some corrections, think I'll throw my two cents in anyway.

Take care and be safe.  - Chuck.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Unless you can actually verify the identity of the author of the "Firearms, Gear, and Tactics in Iraq" e-mail, then it is bogus. I've seen it running around the net in several incarnations with different authors attributed to it for some time now. Some reasons to believe it's bogus without any authentication: The part about the M249 being a POS comes from an early AAR about the invasion. Some USMC units had weapons that were VERY well-used and I know a Marine that went in with his M249 held together with zip ties. The Army, with newer weapons, report no failures. The USMC has replaced the worn out POSs that should have been condemned years ago. The M249 in Marine service now works great. Go figure how a new gun will work better than one that's deadlined. Since this gripe in the e-mail is almost a copy-paste from the original Marine AAR that I've read (from the USMC itself and not 18th hand in a chain e-mail) it raises a stink right off the bat on this e-mail.

The son is supposed to be in the USMC. The USMC doesn't use the M24 sniper system. They use the M40A3. The M24 is based on a long action so it can
take the .300 WM, but the Army (which is the only service using the M24) isn't using any in that caliber.

The new body armor isn't six pounds. It's more like 15--or20 if you add all the c**p. I've also noticed that your version has several differences than the couple that I've seen. Caliber and enemy weapons are referred to exactly the same, but with different calibers and even different weapons. That alone brings it's validity into question. If it's a real e-mail from a Marine,why has it been altered from version to version? Especially when these alterations were made to correct glaring faults in previous versions. There's an almost endless supply of reasons to call "Bulls**t!" on this e-mail. Like most good lies, it has many truths in there to make it more believable. You can explain some of the inconsistencies with reality as the "straw view"
that a rifleman may have, or possibly seeing Army units with M14s and M24s. But when you see parts that have been obviously lifted from other sources, and seen the same basic e-mail for a couple times, with things changed, it becomes an internet urban myth. It may make for good reading if you simply WANT to believe truths/lies that support an opinion that someone might hold, but if you're looking for truth it's not in this e-mail. It's like any useful observation. Once people start changing things to make it more dramatic, correct glaring flaws that
have been brought up with it in the past, or somehow show support for a particular position they have it's worthless. Not to bust your chops, but information is useless if it's coming from a
worthless source. Even if some of that information is good, there's no way to trust it. - Doug Carlton

JWR Replies:  Your points are well taken.  I should have vetted the letter before posting it. I'll leave your letter up for a couple of days as a teaching tool, along with the original post, so that readers will have a point of reference for your comments.  Then I'll zap them so that the original letter doesn't get taken out of context and re-posted by someone else. OBTW, I would greatly appreciate a first hand honest-to-goodness "I seen it with my own two eyes" weapons/tactics AAR from someone who is either  currently in-theater, or who has recently returned. 

Sunday, November 13, 2005

We received this letter, ostensibly from a former Marine Corps First Sergeant, supposedly his second-hand assessment of weapons and enemy tactics in Iraq. This letter has subsequently been largely discredited, so I'm only leaving it up for a couple of days as a teaching tool. I've added a few notes. Special thanks to to another First Sergeant (1SG White) and to "Doug Carlton" for helping me with those notes.

Hello to all my fellow gunners, military buffs, veterans and interested guys. A couple of weekends ago I got to spend time with my son Jordan, who was on his first leave since returning from Iraq. He is well (a little thin), and already bored. He will be returning to Iraq for a second tour in early '06 and has already re-enlisted early for 4 more years. He loves
the Marine Corps and is actually looking forward to returning to Iraq. Jordan spent 7 months at "Camp Blue Diamond" in Ramadi (a.k.a.: Fort Apache. He saw and did a lot and the following is what he told me about weapons, equipment, tactics and other miscellaneous info which may be of interest to you. Nothing herein is by any means classified. No politics here,
just a Marine with his own opinions:

U.S. Weapons and Equipment
1) The M16 rifle: Thumbs down. Chronic jamming problems with the talcum powder-like sand over there. The sand is everywhere. Jordan says you feel filthy just two minutes after coming out of the shower. The M4 carbine version is more popular because it's lighter and shorter, but it also has jamming problems. They like the ability to mount the various optical sights and weapons lights on the Picattiny rails, but the weapon itself is not great in a desert environment. They all hate the 5.56mm (.223) round. Poor penetration on the cinder block structures common over there and even torso hits cannot be reliably counted on to put the enemy down. Fun fact: Random autopsies on dead insurgents shows a high level of opiate use.

2) The M249 SAW (Squad Automatic Weapon) .223 caiber.belt/magazine fed light machine gun. Big thumbs down. Universally considered a piece of s**t.
Chronic jamming problems, most of which require partial disassembly. (That's great fun in the middle of a firefight.)

3) The M9 Beretta 9mm: Mixed bag. Good gun, performs well in desert environment; but they all hate the 9mm cartridge. The use of handguns for self-defense is actually fairly common. Same old story on the 9mm: Bad guys hit multiple times and still in the fight.

4) Mossberg 12ga. Military shotgun: Works well, used frequently for clearing houses to good effect.

5) The M240 Machine Gun: 7.62 NATO (.308) cal. belt fed machine gun, developed to replace the old M-60. Thumbs up. Accurate, reliable, and the 7.62 round puts 'em down.
Originally developed as a vehicle mounted weapon, more and more are being dismounted and taken into the field by infantry. The 7.62 round chews up the structure over there. [JWR adds:  According to what I've read, they are not being dismounted in any large numbers--rather, it is the version made at the factory with the bipod, buttstock, and carrying handle that have been added to unit TO&Es.]

6) The M2 .50 cal heavy machine gun: Thumbs way, way up. "Ma Deuce" is still worth her considerable weight in gold. The ultimate fight stopper, puts them in the dirt every time. The most coveted weapon in-theater.

7) The .45 pistol: Thumbs up. Still the best pistol round out there. Everybody authorized to carry a sidearm is trying to get their hands on one. With few exceptions, can reliably be expected to put 'em down with a torso hit. The special ops guys (who are doing most of the pistol work) use the HK military model and supposedly love it. The old
government model [M1911] .45s are being re-issued en masse. [JWR adds:  According to what I've read, the venerable M1911 .45 ACP are only issued in small numbers.  I wish that they were issued en-masse.]

8) The M14: Thumbs up. They are being re-issued in bulk, mostly in a modified version to Special Ops guys. Modifications include lightweight Kevlar stocks and low power red dot or ACOG sights. Very reliable in the sandy environment, and they love the 7.62 NATO round.

9) The Barrett .50 caliber [.50 BMG] sniper rifle: Thumbs way up. Spectacular range and accuracy and hits like a freight train. Used frequently to take out vehicle suicide bombers (we actually stop a lot of them) and barricaded enemy. Definitely here to stay. [JWR adds:  According to what I've read, they are primarily used by EOD teams for blowing up suspected land mines and IEDs, rather than against moving vehicles. The latter is the job usually handled by the M2 .50 BMG.]

10) The M24 sniper rifle: Thumbs up. Mostly in .308 but some in .300 Win Mag. Heavily modified Remington 700s. Great performance. Snipers have been used heavily to great effect. Rumor has it that a Marine sniper on his third tour in Anbar province has actually exceeded Carlos Hathcock's record for confirmed kills with OVER 100. [JWR adds:  The Army uses the M24.  The marines use the M40. I believe that he may be mistaken about either being issued in 300 Win Mag.  Perhaps somebody with "boots on the ground" in OIF can correct me if I'm wrong about this.]

11) The new body armor: Thumbs up. Relatively light at approximately six pounds and can reliably be expected to soak up small shrapnel and even will stop an AK-47 round. The bad news: Hot as s**t to wear, almost unbearable in the summer heat (which averages over 120 degrees). Also, the enemy now goes for head shots whenever possible. All the bullshit
about the "old" body armor making our guys vulnerable to the IEDs was a non-starter. The IED explosions are enormous and body armor doesn't make any difference at all in most cases. [JWR adds: The weight of a full Interceptor armor system is more like 20 pounds.)

12) Night Vision and Infrared Equipment: Thumbs way up. Spectacular performance. Our guys see in the dark and own the night, period. Very little enemy action after evening prayers. More and more enemy being whacked at night during movement by our hunter-killer teams. We've all seen the videos.

13) Lights: Thumbs up. Most of the weapon mounted and personal lights are Surefires, and the troops love 'em. Invaluable for night urban operations. Jordan carried a $34 Surefire G2 on a neck lanyard and loved it.

I cant help but notice that most of the good fighting weapons and ordnance are 50 or more years old!!! With all our technology, it's the WWII and Vietnam era weapons that everybody wants!!! The infantry fighting is frequent, up close and brutal. No quarter is given or shown.

Bad Guy Weapons and Equipment:
1) Mostly AK-47s. The entire country is an arsenal. Works better in the desert than the M16 and the 7.62 x 39mm Russian round kills reliably. PKM belt fed light machine guns are also common and effective. Luckily, the enemy mostly shoots like s**t. Undisciplined "spray and pray" type fire. However, they are seeing more and more precision weapons, especially sniper rifles. (Iran, again) Fun fact: Captured enemy have apparently marveled at the marksmanship of our guys and how hard they fight. They are apparently told in Jihad school that the Americans rely solely on technology, and can be easily beaten in close quarters combat for their lack of toughness. Let's just say they know better now.

2) The RPG: Probably the infantry weapon most feared by our guys. Simple, reliable and as common as dog leavings. The enemy responded to our up-armored Humvees by aiming at the windshields, often at point blank range. Still killing a lot of our guys.

3) The IED: The biggest killer of all. Can be anything from old Soviet anti-armor mines to jury rigged artillery shells. A lot found in Jordan's area were in abandoned cars. The enemy would take two or three 155mm artillery shells and wire them together. [Note from JWR: I think that he meant to write 130mm or 152mm (Russian). The 155mm is a U.S. artillery round, and the Iraqi insurgents wouldn't have access to those.] Most were detonated by cell phone, and the explosions are enormous. You're not safe in any vehicle, even an M1 tank. Driving is by far the most dangerous thing our guys do over there. Lately, they are much more sophisticated "shaped charges" (Iranian) specifically designed to penetrate armor. Fact: Most of the ready made IEDs are supplied by Iran, who is also providing terrorists (Hezbollah types) to train the insurgents in their use and tactics. That's why the attacks have been so deadly lately. Their concealment methods are ingenious, the latest being shape charges in Styrofoam containers spray painted to look like the cinder blocks that litter all
Iraqi roads. We find about 40% before they detonate, and the bomb disposal guys are unsung heroes of this war.

4) Mortars and rockets: Very prevalent. The Soviet era 122mm rockets (with an 18 km range) are becoming more prevalent. One of Jordan's NCOs lost a leg to one. These weapons cause a lot of damage "inside the wire". Jordan's base was hit almost daily his entire time there by mortar and rocket fire, often at night to disrupt sleep patterns and to cause fatigue (It did). More of a psychological weapon than anything else. The enemy mortar teams would jump out of vehicles, fire a few rounds, and then haul a** in a matter of seconds.

5) Bad guy technology: Simple yet effective. Most communication is by cell and satellite phones, and also by email on laptops. They use handheld GPS units for navigation and "Google earth" for overhead views of our positions. Their weapons are good, if not fancy, and prevalent. Their explosives and bomb technology is TOP OF THE LINE. Night vision is rare. They are very careless with their equipment and the captured GPS units and laptops are treasure troves of intel when captured.

Who are the bad guys?: Most of the carnage is caused by the Zarqawi Al Qaeda group. They operate mostly in Anbar province (Fallujah and Ramadi). These are mostly "foreigners", non-Iraqi Sunni Arab Jihadists from all over the\ Muslim world (and Europe). Most enter Iraq through Syria (with, of course, the knowledge and complicity of the Syrian government), and then travel down the "rat line" which is the trail of towns along the Euphrates River that we've been hitting hard for the last few months. Some are virtually untrained young Jihadists that often end up as suicide bombers or in "sacrifice squads". Most, however, are hard core terrorists from all the usual suspects (Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas etc.) These are the guys running around murdering civilians en masse and cutting heads off. The Chechens (many of whom are Caucasian), are supposedly the most ruthless and the best fighters. (they have been
fighting the Russians for years). In the Baghdad area and south, most of the insurgents are Iranian inspired (and led) Iraqi Shiites. The Iranian Shia have been very adept at infiltrating the Iraqi local governments, the police forces, and the Army. The have had a massive spy and agitator network there since the Iran-Iraq war in the early 80's. Most of the Saddam loyalists were killed, captured or gave up long ago.

Bad Guy Tactics:
When they are engaged on an infantry level they get their asses kicked every time. Brave, but stupid. Suicidal Banzai-type charges were very common earlier in the war and still occur. They will literally sacrifice 8-10 man teams in suicide squads by sending them screaming and firing AKs and RPGs directly at our bases just to probe the defenses. They get mowed down like grass every time. (See the M2 and M240, above). Jordan's base was hit like this often. When engaged, they have a tendency to flee to the same building, probably for what they think
will be a glorious last stand. Instead, we call in air and that's the end of that more often than not. These hole-ups are referred to as Alpha Whiskey Romeo's (Allah's Waiting Room). We have the laser guided ground-air thing down to a science. The fast movers, mostly Marine F-18s, are taking an ever increasing toll on the enemy. When caught out in the open, the helicopter gunships and AC-130 Spectre gunships cut them to ribbons with cannon and rocket fire, especially at night. Interestingly, artillery is hardly used at all. Fun fact: The enemy death toll is supposedly between 45-50 thousand. That is why we're seeing less and less infantry attacks and more IED, suicide bomber activity. The new strategy is simple: attrition.

The insurgent tactic most frustrating is their use of civilian non-combatants as cover. They know we do all we can to avoid civilian casualties and therefore schools, hospitals and especially Mosques are locations where they meet, stage for attacks, cache weapons and ammo and flee to when engaged. They have absolutely no regard whatsoever for civilian casualties. They will terrorize locals and murder without hesitation anyone believed to be sympathetic to the Americans or the new Iraqi government. Kidnapping of family members (especially children) is
common to influence people they are trying to influence but cannot reach, such as local government. officials, clerics, tribal leaders, etc.). The first thing our guys are told is "don't get captured." They know that if captured they will be tortured and beheaded on the Internet. Zarqawi openly offers bounties for anyone who brings him a live American serviceman. This motivates the criminal element who otherwise don't give a s**t about the war. A lot of the beheading victims were actually kidnapped by common criminals and sold to Zarqawi. As such, for our guys, every fight is to the death. Surrender is not an option. The Iraqi's are a mixed bag. Some fight well, others aren't worth a s**t. Most do okay with American support. Finding leaders is hard, but they are getting better. It is widely viewed that Zarqawi's use of suicide bombers, en masse, against the civilian population was a serious tactical mistake. Many Iraqi's were galvanized and the caliber of recruits in the Army and the police forces went up, along with their motivation. It also led to an exponential increase in good intel because the Iraqi's are sick of the insurgent attacks against civilians.

The Kurds are solidly pro-American and fearless fighters. According to Jordan, morale among our guys is very high. They not only believe they are winning, but that they are winning decisively. They are stunned and dismayed by what they see in the American press, whom they almost universally view as against them. The embedded reporters are despised and distrusted. They are inflicting casualties at a rate of 20-1 and then see s**t like "Are we losing in Iraq" on TV and the print media. For the most part, they are satisfied with their equipment, food and leadership. Bottom line though, and they all say this, there are not enough guys there to drive the final stake through the heart of the insurgency, primarily because there aren't enough troops in-theater to shut down the borders with Iran and Syria. The Iranians and the Syrians just can't stand the thought of Iraq being an American ally (with, of course, permanent US bases there).

JWR Replies:  The foregoing letter has been largely discredited.  DO NOT repost it!

Friday, November 11, 2005

Note from JWR: The following Armistice Day piece comes to us from USMC Captain Gary Bourland, who is one of my regular contacts. He is stationed near Fallujah, Iraq. OBTW, if you don't already send letters and cards through the's web page contact list, I highly recommend it. Just one word of warning: It is habit forming.

Blog Readers:
Although many of you already display your strong support for the military, this year, stop for just a couple minutes and really think what Veterans day is about. Think about the families that were affected and the lives it changed. Somewhere there is a quite veteran that probably goes unrecognized most of the time but inside themselves on Veterans Day, “they” will know that the day is special.

When I was a Platoon Commander and had about 45 Marines under my command we occasionally had a few that had disciplinary problems. That year I got a little creative and instead of prosecuting them under the Uniform Code Of Military Justice (UCMJ) the military legal system, I decided to offer them another option that wouldn’t reflect on their records. I directed them along with myself to meet me at 0600 in their USMC Service Alpha uniform (Green coat & green pants like worn by Jack Nicholson in the movie “A Few Good Men”) in front of the barracks. Not going into details, they took the offer. We drove a quiet hot hour to a Veteran’s Hospital. Clenching Marine bumper stickers and posters and American flags. We had no agenda. We looked each other over and began our mission, No time limit, no schedule, about surprising someone. The nurses immediately took us to see some rough and tuff warriors and told us you must see General Richardson. As you entered his conservative room there was a tired warrior with oxygen in his nose, family picture of his grandkids on his nightstand and the Stars & Stripes on the wall, orientated correctly. The nurse said “General, the Marines are here”. He said “You guys here to get me outta here?” I said "Yep I got your shoes let's GO!" He couldn’t move from his bed but he enjoyed the offer. Along with him and several other gentlemen the Marines sat and mainly listened as warriors from Normandy on through the wars told their story but surprisingly were so interested in the young Marine's story and reinforced how proud they were of the young men sitting with them in their impeccable uniforms. I could barely sit there and watch as these gentlemen hooked to all kinds of contraptions had a glow in their face and tried to sit up in their beds to shake young warriors hands. I felt pretty dang humble. One gentleman in a wheel chair dressed in his Sundays best asked one of the Marines, “where does a rusty old Marine find one of those Eagle Globe and Anchor tie clasps”? (These are worn with this type of uniform by Marines). The Marine looked down at his own tie clasp and said you mean like this one, as he clasped it on the gentleman’s tie. The guy just through his arms around the Marine and gave him a big bear hug. Money can’t buy you feelings like that.
All of the Marines left the hospital a little different that day. It was a quiet ride back to the base and no one really said anything but everyone was thinking the same thing. We were all very proud to be associated with the gentlemen we just visited with and very appreciative that “they” did what they did for their country. The other 364 days of the year will probably be the same as any other day as the nurse stated “these guys don’t get many visitors”, but that Veterans Day was different for all of us.
If you don’t participate or witness any parades or anything this year for Veterans Day, take a look and the Stars & Stripes in your neighborhood and remember that blood has been shed for our flag time and time again and when the Nation calls on its service members we will answer, so help us God.  Semper Fidelis, - Capt. Gary Bourland

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Here is another suggested barter/charity item list.  Keep them coming!

Mr. Rawles:
My barter "box" contains the following:
Travel size toothpaste
Travel size soap and shampoo (hotel size)
Matches and lighters
Band aids
Razors (disposable kind)
Dish soap
Sewing supplies (needles, thread, buttons)
- K. in FL

Monday, November 7, 2005

My paternal grandfather, Ernest Everett Rawles (1897-1985), was a largely self-educated man. Coming from a pioneer family (his father and grandfather came out west by covered wagon in 1857), he had a profoundly practical outlook on life. Ernest grew up on a 6,000 acre sheep ranch near Boonville, in Mendocino County, California. There, he lived life at its basics: The change of the seasons, hunting and trapping, hard work in foul weather, lambing, shearing, and the constant state of war with the predators that annually killed dozens and sometimes hundreds of lambs. It was hard life, but it had its satisfactions. The following are some brief quotes drawn from his oral history:

"I liked growing up on the ranch. We ran livestock on the land, and cut quite a bit of timber. We had horses, cattle, pigs, and Merino sheep. Lots of sheep. Two or three thousand at a time were run by the various members of the family. [To protect the sheep] we had to contend with the coyotes, mountain lions, and bear."

"People had their jealousies, just like they do today, but for strangers passing through, people were a lot more hospitable. Visitors would often drop by unannounced and uninvited. People would come in from the coast, sometimes they'd come into the house when no one was at home [expecting our return later in the day]. Of course my dad was a politician [so he knew a lot of people.] I can remember we'd come home after a trip in the buggy, and there'd be a barn full of horses, and the chores done, and dinner on the table. That was just the way they did things in those days. They generally brought their provisions with them. If they didn't, then on the way back they'd bring provisions. People were more cooperative [back then.]"

"Boonville was a very isolated community until about the 1920s. One young fellah wanted some adventure, so he got on a tan oak bark wagon, and went over to Largo, which is on the Northwestern Pacific Railroad. He went down as far as Cloverdale. Then he got on a train, and went back up to Ukiah. From there, he hitched a ride back home. That's a triangle of about 30 by 30 [miles.] When he got home, he said, 'By gosh if the world is as big the other way as the way I went, she's a whopper.' That's about as some of the people got in those days. They hardly got on the other side of the hill."

"You've got to understand that we had a big ranch but we only got money once or twice a year out of it. The money wasn't very free. All the money you got was in gold coin. I remember I was nearly fifteen or sixteen years old before I saw much paper money. It was all gold and silver. They didn't have any greenbacks that I remember. My dad would take the wool and mutton to sell, and he'd come back with some tobacco sacks full of twenty-dollar gold pieces. He used to drive three or four-hundred head of sheep down to Cloverdale. They only brought about $2 a head. A big four horse load of wool taken over to Ukiah would pay for the groceries and clothes for the next winter. That was the big trip of the year, when I was a boy. That was when the money came in. That was the way that we used to get paid for things. Gold and silver coins. As kids, they used to let us play with the gold coins now and again. That was quite a celebration."

"We used to go work in the hop fields. We got paid one cent a pound for picking hops. You'd work your tail off to strip a hundred pounds. If you worked long, long hours--get out there at daylight, and head home at dark, you'd pick about 125 pounds. Finally, they paid us a cent and quarter. [$0.0125 per pound.]"

"We used to say that if you saved just ten percent of what you earned, you'd never go to the poor house. That's one of the first lessons I learned, and I've tried to do something along that line since. And I've never gone to the poor house."

Saturday, November 5, 2005

I can't remember if you covered this scenario in your Patriots book so here's a thought. In a SHTF or a TEOTWAWKI and we are giving away Charity to a small refugee group with OPSEC being done. The refugees move on in their quest for a better place and run into a "foraging group" of folks. A"foraging group" will most likely want to know where the little band of refugees got some of their new stuff. Any ammo that was given in charity more than likely will be liberated from the refugees along with pretty much everything else they have of value. In an effort to save their own skins the refugees will more than likely tell the foragers where they got this stuff from. They will probably all be killed anyway. That's my point of this email. We have just created a very potential future threat to our retreat and it's inhabitants.

If you have to give out charity [during a "worst case" situation with widespread lawlessness] I would suggest no charity be given anywhere near your retreat. Have a predetermined spot away from the retreat. Then, with the appropriate warnings as you gave in your book, send them on their way. Waiting till they are out of sight before moving back to the retreat. It sure seems like a big effort.

Handing out charity in front of your property is simpler but really bad OPSEC. That's a NO-NO in my thinking. Another idea is to not hand out charity at all to passing refugees. This will be difficult to do. You might not even see any if your retreat is off the natural drift lines of refugees. If you do see refugees and they haven't seen you then just let them pass and be gone. Charity with your neighbors should be easier since they should be part of your retreats OPSEC anyway. If not, it's a good way to bring them into the fold. Mutual support will make it more secure for everyone in question. - Larry in Kansas

Wednesday, November 2, 2005

Here is the second increment of responses to our barter/charity items poll.  Please keep them coming, and I will post subsequent increments in the days to come.  Many thanks!

Teresa suggests:
Having recently survived in central Louisiana (the place where all the Katrina and Rita people evacuated too) I have paid attention to what items disappeared from store shelves first. This is a list from my area...
Baby formula
Baby Food
Gas Cans
Ammo and guns --the Wal-Marts in the area refused to sell any guns or ammo once the levees broke. This freaked everyone out so the hunting stores and pawn shops ran out and were out for a while)
canned food--esp chili and soups
propane camping stoves
little propane bottles
sleeping bags
OBTW, we are still experiencing shortages of ammo, large bags of rice, beans etc.


"TFA303" suggests:
Baby Formula. It stores for 2-to-3 years, and if the mother of a newborn is sick or dies in childbirth (probably much more common in TEOTWAWKI environment) could be a life saver for the baby. Soy-base formula would be best, as any baby can take soy, but not all babies can take milk-based formula. I would probably consider this a charity item rather than a barter item.

"Lone Gunman in Texas" suggests:
wristwatches - Swiss automatic or manual winding (NO quartz/battery powered) - How important will it be for having a good concept of time??? Can you/your group coordinate various functions and actions without synchronized time coordinates among the group?
Clocks - windup only - electric and quartz could be useless - Good small Swiss windup 8 day clocks are cheap(don't waste $$ on the Asian JUNK) - how about an alarm? What physical stress will any of us be under, which may dictate limited sleep periods, and an alarm would be needed to get someone back on duty!
MREs would have value for barter and for charity
Small water filters , such as Katadyn and Berkey
Sport bottles, for individual carry in a backpack
Salt - in all forms and types - not only for seasoning, but for meat preservation--salt blocks for livestock and wild game lure, large bags of rock salt, stock salt, etc
Multi-function belt & pocket tools, such as Leatherman etc - small handy and invaluable (again, don't WASTE $$ on cheap Asian copies!)
Eye glasses and reading glasses - even the magnifier type from the dollar stores (and can be bought online auctions in bulk & mix of magnification). Also sunglasses.
Plexiglas for window replacement etc
Heavy plastic film - cheap and in rolls
Sun block and moisturizers and makeup!
Does everyone have a "disguise kit"? a wig, a fake beard, etc - how valuable might it be to have the ability to disguise yourself for certain occasions and activities?
Tarps - all kinds and sizes
Band aids and bandaging materials and gauze
Scissors & Razors - all types/kinds/sizes & (men may neglect shaving but ladies will INSIST on an ability to do feminine shaving!)
Sewing repair kits - a variety of needles and thread
Coffee and