Home Schooling Category

Thursday, January 30, 2014

HJL Adds: S.C., age 17, wrote this as a homeschool project.


So you hear an ice storm is coming and you're not prepared, what do you do? This article will show you the ten essentials you need to survive. Back in 2009, Kentucky was hit by a massive ice storm that dumped 2 inches of ice on everything. Consequently we were without power for 8 long days. During the week many people had to leave their homes, because they had no heat, no water, and no food. At the time of the ice storm I was only 13 and really didn't know a whole lot about prepping for natural disasters. It was amazing how much damage an ice storm could do to people's homes, power poles, and roads. It was a huge mess! Now, four years later, I've taken prepping to a whole new level. I've put together bug-out bags, learned survival skills, built survival kits, and loads more. Now that I'm 17, I want to share my experience with others in hopes to educate them about the dangers of ice storms.

Most likely after a storm hits an area, roads will be impassible, water supplies will be gone, walking outside will be very dangerous, and power will be down. Depending on where you live, it may take weeks for power to be restored. What you do to prepare will either mean staying in your own home or suffering the bitter cold until you can leave and go somewhere else-- a family member's, friend's, or even a shelter, if need be. In this section I'm going to tell you the ten essentials that you need to prepare for an ice storm. The items listed below are what helped me and my family survive the ice storm (except for the generator), and may not be everything you might need. FEMA recommends that you have 3 days worth of food and water in your home. Let's face it, in real life how often do you know a natural disaster that's gone in three days? There have been many instances when FEMA or the National Guard can't even respond for three days. Never trust that the government will save you or even cares when a natural disaster strikes. Take it upon yourself to be ready and prepared. Make sure you tailor your preps to best suit you and your personal needs. If you have young children, elderly, babies, diabetics, or someone who requires some other special need, they will have their own specific requirements that will need to be cared for and addressed in your prepping. Here's a list to get you started:

1. A Wood-Burning Stove. The most important preparation we had was a wood-burning stove. When the power goes out there is no way to run a heater, unless you have a generator. Unfortunately we did not have the luxury of having a generator. When we first moved to Kentucky all of the elders in the community told us we should consider purchasing a woodstove. After a year or so we purchased one, and it was the best prepping item we ever acquired. We were able to keep our house warm, boil water for tea or coffee, cook our meals, and so on. Yes, woodstoves can be dangerous if used in the wrong way, but used correctly it can really make a difference when it's below freezing outside.

2. Firewood for the Wood-Burning Stove. Having the correct kind of firewood is key to keeping your house warm. You want a hard wood that is well seasoned or cured. It puts off plenty of BTU's (British thermal units) and burns for a long time. I would recommend having at least a cord (a stack of wood 4X4X8 or 128 cubic feet) of firewood ready to go. The best burning firewoods are Ash (will burn when freshly cut), oak, and hickory. The woods to avoid are pine, juniper or cedar, and poplars. These will burn quick and hot and use up your wood supply much faster than hard woods. This type of firewood is best suited for kindling to start fires and to get them going.

3. Plenty of drinkable water stored up. For us, we were hooked up to the city water system and had plenty of running water for the duration of the storm. However, there were plenty of people who didn't have city water and lost their water supply when the power went down. There wells were dependent upon electricity to pump. So store up at least 5-7 days worth of water. More is better. It's not like you can't drink the water you didn't use after the storm is over. An ice storm is just one reason to stockpile water. You need to be preparing for anything that could taint your drinkable water. Sometimes, even a water treatment plants will accidently put too much of a chemical into the water. It's always good to have some sort of water filtration device or a way to sanitize water when it's of questionable quality. The last thing you want is to get sick from contaminated water and not be able to do anything. You can only live around three days without water so keep that in mind when stocking up on water. Two very basic ways to sanitize water are boiling it or using a very small amount of chlorine in it.

4. Propane gas to heat your water. Our water from the city was hooked up to a propane water heater. Even with the power out we were able to wash our hands in hot water and take hot showers, which was much nicer than taking cold showers. Without propane-heated water we would have to boil water and use that to take showers, which takes a long while. I understand this may not be an option for some people. If you have city water or water coming from a well, consider hooking it up to a propane heater. Another reason for needing hot water is to care for livestock; our family had buckets of hot water that we could carry out to the animals to thaw their water troughs.

5. Cast iron cookware. Having cast iron cookware enables you to cook your meals on the woodstove. Unfortunately, having no electricity meant we had no microwave. During the eight days we were without electricity, we used the woodstove to cook every meal, from eggs to chicken. The reason cast iron cookware is important is because it can withstand more heat than traditional cookware. Another great plus to having cast iron cookware is that after the storm you can use it on camping trips to cook meals over hot fires.

6. Food Storage. This matter is very important. Without food you're not going to get very far. During the summer before the ice storm we planted a large garden and canned just about everything out of it. That winter we were pretty well stocked up. For those who don't have the ability to plant a garden, canned or dried foods from the supermarket will work just as well. You need to have around 5-7 days worth of canned and dried food. When buying food, buy items you're going to enjoy eating, not just staple foods such as pork and beans. Our family made sure the food items we purchased were easy to heat up on a wood stove in a skillet or pot of water.

7. LED Lamps and Oil Lamps. Nowadays they make low draw LED lamps that can last for days and put off considerable light. These are great way to safely produce light without the risk of fire. LED lights can range anywhere from $5 up to a $100. If you prefer something for lighting that is not battery dependant, then an oil lamp is what you want. I know that using oil lamps sounds a bit old fashioned, but they've been used for hundreds of years. You can find very basic oil lamps at Wal-Mart for around $10. Oil lamps are very simple to operate and hardly ever need any work done to them, except an occasional cleaning or a new wick. There are, however, a few risks involved with oil lamps. If you have small children, keep the lamp out of their reach. Also, put the lamp in a safe location away from flammable items to prevent the risk of fire. Before refueling the lamp, make sure that it has cooled down enough that you won't get burned.

8. Small personal flashlights and batteries. Flashlights are far smaller and more mobile then oil lamps when trying to work outside or moving around in your house. You can easily carry a flashlight anywhere with you on your person. When buying a flashlight, don't look for the most expensive ones; just look for ones that feel well made and that use batteries that don't weigh a ton, which is the case with size D Batteries. You can usually find low draw LED versions that take small batteries like AA and AAA. When it comes to flashlights, there are so many out there ranging in price from a few dollars to hundreds of dollars. You're not looking for the brightest one possible but just something you can use to do work, read, or help you see to get to the bathroom.

9. Board games and books. When the power is out and there's no TV, no way to charge your electronics, and no video games what will you do? Board games are a great way to help you pass the time, hang out with your family, and relax a little during this stressful time. You can also read books to pass the time or learn valuable skills, which might help you prepare even better for the next ice storm. When I say books I don't mean electronic versions; I'm talking real hard copies. It's always good to have a book, like the Bible, to give a little relaxation when trying to weather the storm.

10. A small generator. I would recommend a small generator because, as I stated earlier, we did not have one. During the eight days without power, our fridge and freezer lost a lot of its coldness. We had to put our meat and perishables in a cooler outside in the cold. Although this worked for us, if the power would have been out any longer we would of lost a lot of food. A small generator would have been a lot easier. Losing a whole fridge and freezer worth of food means losing a lot of money and wasting food you could have been eating. For people with wells, a small generator will be great to power the well and give you a constant source of water for drinking, showering, and cooking. One major drawback to generators is buying enough fuel to last several days; in previous years it has become somewhat expensive.

I hope this article has taught you that being prepared means being ready for more than an ice storm. Whether it's a hurricane, a blizzard, the grid going down, or a flood, you'll be ready for whatever comes your way. The point I'm trying to stress is being prepared so you can help yourself and others. When you have preps ready to go, it will give you peace of mind knowing you neither have to worry whether the supermarkets have food on their shelves nor risk leaving the safety of your home.

Friday, November 15, 2013

As a home-educated graduate and home school parent who happens to be a prepper, I have given a great deal of thought to homeschooling after a collapse as my children are not grown. There are those who are already home schoolers and those who have not and will not consider homeschooling unless there is a SHTF scenario. This article is written for the latter : those who would like to set aside educational materials for their children and their progeny in the care of a true SHTF scenario.

While it would certainly be possible to buy a few workbooks at Costco and consider it done, I recommend that you sit down and discuss your thoughts on education as a family. If you have a son or daughter who aspires to be a medical doctor or who is a history buff you will need to take your families ideals and natural gifts into consideration. Deciding whether you are interested in faith based or secular materials would then be the next place to start. Consider the many different methods of home education and choose a few to research whether or not they are well suited to your personality and educational philosophy. There are classical, Charlotte Mason, Unit Study, Self Directed and even Unschooling methods to name just a few. If you are interested in faith based materials look for publishers which line up with your religious beliefs such as Abeka.com and Setonhome.org would be a good start for Catholics while Chinuch.org carries materials of interest to Jewish families. Pearsonhomeschool.com is a popular secular publisher as is Homeschool.calvertschool.org. Relatively new to the home school communities are virtual academies and discs from SOS (Switched on Schoolhouse) from Alpha Omega Publishers. This is not by any means a complete list. Christianbook.com and Rainbowresource.com sell materials from most of the aforementioned publishers and much more. CathyDuffyReviews.com and Homeschoolreviews.com are excellent in depth review sites.

While you are discovering your ideas and ideals on education invest in good books and reference books for your family. A good hardbound dictionary is a must and an older set of encyclopedias from Craigslist or a local thrift store would be a great beginning. While I prefer workbooks for daily ease of use, Saxon math materials such as Saxon 54 are reusable for multiple students which will save space and money in your preps. Rod and Staff publishers have excellent materials such as their second to grade ten English materials which are hard bound and non perishable. McGuffy Readers while used by earlier generations such as our great grandparents are still being used in many home schools today as are their math and grammar counterparts. All seven McGuffy readers which would be usable from grades K-8+ cost around $120. An eight volume set of Ray's Arithmetic would cost around $100 while Harvey's Grammar books can be purchased with keys for around $50. Some of these items are for sale on both eBay and Amazon. These would at the very least make excellent reference materials and while not flashy would enable you to give your children a solid old fashioned education for a good price.

While it is possible that you may never have to use your homeschooling preps, in a true collapse or flu pandemic situation having the capability of continuing your children's education may greatly comfort your children and provide emotional stability. Allowing their learning to stop altogether would be unfair to your children and sitting down for an hour or more each day to better their minds will not hurt. I recommend putting by good books such as many found at Sonlight.com to read, games, art materials and puzzles to occupy your children's minds. Most of these items can be picked up at local thrift or book stores. When there is no cable television or xBox to entertain  children we need to fill that void not only with hard work such as would be required in a survival situation, but grant our children the opportunity to expand their minds and not just their muscles. Paper, pencils, rulers, chalkboards and chalk, scissors, glue, crayons and colored pencils can all be purchased very inexpensively from August to September from your local Wal-Mart or Dollar store and is the best time to stock up. Part of our home school preps includes a power source, printer and CDs from RobinsonCurriculum.com.

You won't regret attending a home school conference as is held in every State at least once a year. Being able to review curricula online or in person will help you to make a final decision as will carefully reading reviews. Best yet would be actually using the materials you set aside for extra tutoring/study or during summer break to discern if you have a perfect fit.

Special care should be given to our children who especially need stability and constancy during stressful times. Just a little foresight in this often overlooked area could make a huge improvement in the quality of life and education of our future.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

To correct a letter regarding software (Microsoft Windows):

I do consider myself an expert in this area for several reasons. Partly because I do it for a living, but past jobs have required off grid computing for various security reasons.

1. All current and and past versions of Windows can be activated without a network (Internet) connection.  This is generally accomplished via an automated call to Microsoft through the use of the keypad and voice prompts. I've done this on ALL versions of Windows. Some companies and government rules require that certain computers are always off the grid and Microsoft is aware of this. As a result, they continue to make this available.  To accomplish this, try installing Windows from a disk or USB and then try to activate it without an Internet connection. It should give the option of using phone.  It is easy to do, and does require any personal info. 

2. Additionally; most software that normally uses the Internet for activation will also allow phone or email activation.  When using email, you would of course use a separate computer. 

3.  Many OEM (original equipment manufacturer) operating system restore disks will automatically activate upon installation as long as they are installed on an approved machine. For example, most Dell operating system disks will re-install and be pre activated when installed on compatible Dell PC's. 

4.  I believe the reason the first author suggested using Windows XP, was because he/she believes it was written before the invention of mass spying by corporate and government interests. This is probably correct, but not provable. Most commercial software written today is ,effectively encrypted in a way that prevents unauthorized persons from analyzing it for bugs, or other intentional/ unintentional flaws.  This is good for keeping your work safe for copycats, but is not ideal when looking for "bugs". 

5.  Without getting into too many hypotheticals, I believe that no matter what software or version you choose (Apple, Microsoft, Linux, DOS, etc) there is a level of security risk that comes from using code (programs) written by someone else.  Even the most highly secured system is not immune from attack. What you can be reasonably sure about however is that a computer without an outside network connection is orders of magnitude safer from attack than a networked system. The most common and unsafe connections include WIFI, Ethernet cable, (including VPN) Bluetooth, dial up, or sneaker net (look it up).

6.  As a side note, I recently read that the German government recommended against using Windows 8 due to known back doors.  http://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/view/34119/german-federal-government-warns-on-the-security-dangers-of-windows-8/

Stay informed and aware as technology changes overnight.   - A. Techie 

Good Afternoon,
There is a fantastic free piece of software for managing a digital library called Calibre.  The especially nice thing about it is that the portable version can be run directly from a CD or thumb drive without installing.  With this application you can categorize and search your books instead of having to dig through hundreds or thousands of different different files or folders. 

I have an external hard drive and a laptop in my EMP stash with over 5,000 digital books stored. (Just In Case.) - Elizabeth G.

Ralph in Hawaii later noted: A new 1.2 Release( on September 6, 2013) of the software is available at Calibre-ebook.com.   The new Windows  32bit, 64bit and Portable, OS X and Linux versions are there as well as Video Demo, Help and other links.

Friday, July 26, 2013

It’s common for Preppers to run into a misallocation of resources.  Some things are flashy (Read: Guns) and will attract a lot of attention. People will spend hours and hours researching their newest gun purchase but never take the time to conduct a test loading of their bug out gear into their vehicle.  People will spend hours comparing the XTP vs Golden Saber vs Hydra-Shok for their carry gun, but never work on drawing their weapon from their carry holster, manipulation drills, or shooting basics.  How much money is spent on QuickClot and trauma dressings by a person who doesn’t have any first aid skills, much less dental floss, Imodium AD and hand sanitizer? Instantaneous lead poisoning will kill, but so will bad hygiene and diarrhea. Gunshots are sexy. Dental floss to help prevent tooth decay is not.
JWR has often recommended making a dispassionate purchasing plan and sticking to it for this reason.  A recent example given was a PTR91 versus an M1A, and looking at the overall cost of magazines, etc.  A reason people often find fitness success with a personal trainer is because of this same principle. They remove themselves from the decision making process, and have someone else make a “purchasing plan” of exercises for them.  When someone is telling you what exercises to do, it’s hard to ignore them and continue to do only bicep curls and frequent trips to the drinking fountain.
I realize daily life gets in the way of prepping for a lot of people, rather than it being a lifestyle. Unless you are living at your retreat full time, I understand that it’s hard to get further in your preparations while taking care of a 9-5, bills, kids, practice, school, or life in general. Sure, you pick up a #10 can here or box of ammo there, but that’s it. Ask yourself- are you more prepared now than you were a year ago? When you thought of the answer to that question, did you think of things you bought in the past year or things you learned in the past year? How much of your prepping  time is spent on new skills vs. pining over a new purchase?  If it’s not as much as you would like it to be, I have a solution for you, one that is almost a pure “software” upgrade that will pay dividends forever. Even if you are living on your retreat full time, I think you can also benefit from this article. So consider this an opportunity for some prepping personal training.  It’s about applying a purchasing plan approach to learning new skills.
When it comes down to it, software beats hardware any day of the week.  What you know, and what you can do with that knowledge is infinitely more advantageous than all the neatest gadgets in the world.  Simo Häyhä and an open-sighted Mosin Nagant are a perfect example of what a skilled person can do with the most basic equipment. It is the skill of the user that determines the end result. Hardware can be lost, broken, stolen or run out. Software lasts forever, and can actually be multiplied if you can share it with others.  Too many people plan on doing skills they have never tried, with gear they have never used, in conditions they have never been in, under levels of stress they have never dealt with, and expecting good results. This is a recipe for disaster.
My retreat group decided to address this issue. We came up with a list of skills,projects or activities that we felt were important to try, learn, do and master. We had an absolute blast spending the last year doing them. Everyone agreed it was great family bonding time as well. What we found is that with someone else providing the focus, instruction and activities, and you merely following them, you will be encouraged to do things outside of your comfort zone, and, most importantly,  actually do them.  These things can be done mostly at home (or can be adapted for home), for little or no cost.  The projects are designed to be done as a family, but can be done individually as well. If you have kids, this is a great way to give them life skills.  (Every day, your children are learning. If you are not teaching them, someone else is!) Extended families can take part, and lots of these would be a great way to introduce someone to prepping. If you are a prepping grandparent, invite your grandkids over each week.  A lot of the skills are not “prepper” specific, so if one spouse is gung ho and the other is reluctant, they can also act as a conversation starter and good chance to work together. A lot of prepper spouse vs non-prepper spouse arguments tend to center around money spent on preps. If you put forth an effort to improve free skills, it will go a long way towards harmony in the home. You can even do most of the skills without anyone knowing it was for prepping. The list is by no means inclusive, and will not make you a master at anything. Each skill is one that will come in handy both pre and post-SHTF. Everyone has a special skill set niche, but this will hopefully expose you to new things, and encourage you to delve deeper into them on your own or continue them at your own pace.
There are 52 weeks in a year. We came up with 52 skills. You may follow them in order, or to make it extra fun, number each card in a deck, 1-52. Sunday night, pull a card from the deck. Sometime during the next week, Monday thru Sunday, complete the corresponding assigned exercise from the list below. My family did it as almost a game, coming up with a scenario based background for each task that the kids really enjoyed thinking up. One commented that it was like playing Swiss Family Robinson or living Survivorman. I tried to include different skill levels when I could in the same genre. If it is a skill you have already honestly mastered, redo one you have not mastered or wish to try again, or better yet, help teach the skill to someone else.  If Mama does all the cooking, have her help teach others during those skill weeks. Some weeks you will teach, some weeks you will learn. All weeks you will improve.  As stated above, most are free or very low cost.
One pact that we made also as a group going in….In general, if you don’t already, try to live your life this year as if the Crunch already happened.  Grow as much of your own food as you can. Try fixing things yourself, with what you have on hand. Instead of running to the store for something you forgot, do without or come up with another workable option. Go to your group medic before your doctor, if for nothing else than to keep your medic’s skills sharp and to check his or her diagnosis. If your group is geographically nearby, rely on each other for problem solving. Become a support network. Perform all of your own vehicle repairs this year. Do all of your own home repairs. One of your friends used to work in construction or is a mechanic, trust me. Ask around. Work out a trade. You can find a youtube video that shows a walk through of almost any repair, replacement or medical procedure you can think of. They are available now, but will not be when the grid goes down. Learn the skills now, while you can.  I didn’t include specific instructions for most of these skills on purpose…..I want you to research them yourself. If you find something online that you use for instructions, print them out! Work on your resource library one skill as a time. 
One last thing that my family did….Try to put $5 into an envelope each week. If all you can spare is $1 each week, then by all means do that. As you go through the skills, you may find that there are gaps in your preps. It was nice to have a small amount of money set aside preemptively to pick up what was needed. If you go through the year and don’t spend it, you have $260 to buy silver on a dip day or convert to nickels!
Most importantly, enjoy yourself. Have fun. Here we go:
1)      Take care of your health issues NOW! Make a Doctor and/or Dentist Appointment.  The appointment does not have to actually be during this week, but you at least need to schedule it this week. Get that cavity filled. Get a physical. Ask about prophylactic antibiotics for your upcoming vacation to Mexico. If you are on medication, see what you need to accomplish to get off of it. If you regularly see your Doctor or Dentist, check out a health book from the library and read it. Most carry books about natural remedies or other topics that can be useful. (see what herbs you can grow that would be helpful)

2)      We all talk about the grid going down. How will you cook when it goes? Come up with an off grid cooking method.  Try making a volcano stove, rocket stove, wood gas stove, alcohol stove or a solar cooker. If you plan on using a fire ring, do you have cast iron or other way to cook on it? Do you have a pot stand? Do you store enough Charcoal? If you already have an off grid method or a wood fired stove, develop a second method. A very efficient solar oven can be constructed from a reflective sun visor from the dollar store (search the web for plans). Solar cooking does not produce smoke like traditional fires do and while you may have associated food smells, you won’t have the giveaway sign of a fire. This method is ideal for apartment dwellers with access to a sunny balcony. If you have stored charcoal for a BBQ as your method, can you cook with wood as well? This is also a good time to construct fire starters out of dryer lint or cotton balls and Vaseline. Store in empty prescription bottles or altoid containers.

3)      Actually cook a meal with your off grid method.  Go as simple or elaborate as you feel comfortable doing.  If all you can muster is roasting hot dogs, then do it. (At worst, you have a family cookout over a campfire.) For a better exercise, try using your food storage (you are rotating it and eating it on a regular basis, correct?) or baking something.  Baking something in a solar oven is very challenging and rewarding project. (This is great for science project time for kids too.) If you already use a wood stove to cook with, use an alternative method (redundant redundancy!)

4)      With no grid or reduced refrigeration, food storage becomes difficult. Everyone plans on hunting or butchering livestock, and jerking the meat. So go ahead and do it. Smoke or Jerk meat this week. For an added twist, you can imagine the power went out and you have to jerk some rapidly thawing item on hand in your freezer, or you can just buy a cut of meat specifically for it. Already make jerky? Try making jerky sticks from ground meat, or try pemmican.  Try to find recipes that call for ingredients you have on hand. If you don’t already store and rotate those ingredients, it’s a good chance to start. Extra points if you make the jerky from a home built smoker. Already have a home built smoker or dehydrator? Make one from scratch using foraged material.

5)      Go hunting or trapping .  Every state has something that can be hunted year round, whether it is jackrabbits, coyotes, etc. Hunting builds countless skills, and is great bonding time for families.  Part of everyone’s SHTF plan is hunting….but when did you last go? If you weren’t drawn for Elk last year, did you still go for squirrel?  Skills atrophy with disuse….keep yours fresh! If you hunt or trap regularly take a newbie and pass along some skills to the next generation.

6)      If your hunt was successful, tan the fur. Look at plans online to build a fur stretcher. Process it using ingredients you have on hand if possible . It is very simple to end up with a great fur. It is also very simple to destroy one.  Learn now, when your child’s warmth through winter does not depend on it.  I have friends that run a few traps, and are able make a few thousand extra dollars each year selling fur. If you do not have a fur to tan from your hunt, research the process and get the ingredients to tan one when you are successful.  If you already do this try and make an item of clothing from your fur or leather.
7)      Go fishing this week. Take your kids. If you don’t have kids, take a niece or nephew. Try to use natural bait if you can find it. Dig your own worms or catch your own crickets, or minnows. An easy way to find natural bait it to turn over large rocks in the water and swipe a butterfly net under them. Have fun.
8)      Go shooting. If all you can do is dry fire, then by all means do that. Try something new if you can. Try trap or skeet if you haven’t before. Shoot an IDPA or high power match. Shoot at unknown ranges(distances) if you have an area where you can. Sign up for an Appleseed class. When you shoot, try to go with a training mindset. Pick a specific skill to improve on for each outing.
9)      Sew something this week.  Mend or patch a ripped pair of jeans. Make a pillow if you are new to sewing. If you already sew, try quilting, or teach someone.  Try both machine and hand sewing.  Got all those mastered? Try knitting.
10)   Barter for something this week. Search on Craigslist or Backpage, or your local classifieds. “WTT” means “WILLING TO TRADE” (you can often search for WTT and things should pop up). The only rule is no cash, only bartering or trading.  The downside to Backpage or craigslist is that the hankering is done by email, so an even better place to barter is at a farmers market, where you can practice the skill face to face.  It doesn’t have to be a survivalist item. The goal is the bartering, not the item. 

11)   Volunteer this week. Choices are up to you. Church, Scouts, kid’s school, soup kitchen, etc. Give back to your community.  You will also be exposed to a group of the population you normally don’t interact with, for better or worse.

12)   Go through your clothes and food storage, and donate any items that you will not eat before expiration or that don’t fit. Try to repurpose the clothing if you can, camo makes good storage pouches etc.. donate it If you cannot. Some thrift stores offer discount coupons for the store when you donate items.

13)   First aid training. Learn CPR and basic first aid at a minimum. Most communities offer free classes. You don’t have to take the class this week, but you do need to sign up for it. Already know CPR? Work on suturing, or starting IVs, or taking vital signs. Go over signs of and treatment for shock, burns, gunshot wounds, dehydration, infection etc. Look at thrift shops or the Goodwill for medical books. Many have EMT, Nurse or Paramedic textbooks, as well as PDRs, often for a dollar or two. The books do no good unless you read them! Have your medical coordinator teach a class.

14)   Each family/retreat member brings a different skill set to the table. Cross train and teach a skill to one another. It will increase your knowledge of the topic, as well as make you a better learner. It does not matter the topic or skill, again, the teaching process is the goal. Your kids may surprise you with their knowledge as well. In all reality, you may have a surgeon with your group, who gets struck by lightning on Crunch+1 . Unless you have cross trained, you will be behind the 8 ball.

15)   Everyone should already have a Bug out bag. How many days’ worth of food do you pack in your bag? If its three days, for the next three days, eat only that food from your bag.  You will quickly find out if you packed too little, too much, if those Datrex bars or MREs make you constipated or give you diarrhea. If your plan is one jar of peanut butter, see how well that goes.  You will also see the effects of your local environment on your items. Either way, it’s probably time to rotate the food in there anyway. You may end up adding spices or flavorings like tabasco or seasoned salt.  Don’t cheat. I promise you that you will pack different items when you are done with this week!
16)   Everyone stores wheat, with the idea that you will bake bread. How many of you have baked a loaf of bread? Bake one this week. I recommend the Lahey method (search for it). His recipe is literally no knead, and makes wonderful bread that has very little hands on time, and uses a tiny amount of yeast. You can prep it in 10 minutes before bed for baking the next day.  Already bake bread? Grind your own flour for your bread. Already do that? Use a sourdough starter, or try baking bread off grid.  
17)   Test your off grid power. See how long the solar charger takes to charge your batteries or a jump pack. See how long the jump pack lasts charging tool batteries. If you don’t have anything, then come up with some method of off grid power.  An option is a jump pack with a DC plug and AC outlet coupled with a solar panel with a DC output, or simply  a solar panel and battery charger. Put it in your purchasing plan.  Already have solar? Consider a surplus hand crank generator, or one of the pocket ones. Try using the power source for alternative heating or cooling.
18)   Go for a hike, or walk in your area. You can work on map reading, orienteering, etc. You can teach about the military crest. Look for lines of drift. Notice ambush spots. Try to identify plant and animal life. Treat it as a patrol hike if you are at that stage.  The goal is not the Appalachian Trail. The goal is to walk in the outdoors, and pay attention to your surroundings. If you do this on a regular basis, throw a BOB on and use it as physical training opportunity.
19)   Go for a hike at night. This is different from just walking around in the dark. Many parks offer full moon hikes if you want a guided experience.  Pay attention to shadows and hiding areas. Walk quietly. Avoid using a flashlight and improve your night vision. Orient with compass instead of landmarks.
20)   Make a cache outdoors. It doesn’t have to be anything special, or crazy. Even if it is a PVC tube with only a roll of silver dimes, choose a location, landmark, construct the container, and bury it.  If you are afraid to bury anything of value, try tissue paper which is a great test to see how waterproof you can make it. If you already have made one, try to construct a hasty one from supplies on hand.
21)   Make a hidden cache inside your house.. Even if you don’t hide anything in it yet, construct it.
22)   Improve your relationship with your neighbors.  Some of you may laugh at this, but a lot of people wave at their neighbors, but don’t even know their names. If this is you, introduce yourself. If you are already on good terms, bring them a loaf of your recently baked bread or invite them to dinner.  You and your neighbor are geographical allies. Start to kindle a relationship, very simple conversations will let you know if they are "like-minded" people.  
23)   Butcher something, from start to finish, and use all of it up.  For those of you with livestock, this is a no-brainer. If you don’t have livestock, it gets more interesting, but still doable. If your hunting or fishing was successful, start here. If it was not, buy a live chicken. Use an air rifle or slingshot and some bird seed if you have that option. Buy a live lobster if all else fails. The goal is to go through the act of processing an animal, and to make three meals out of it. With a chicken, you could eat the meat as a main course one night, toss some with some pasta or rice the next, and make a broth out of the bones for soup.   If you use a rabbit, squirrel, etc, process the fur as well. There was a great article on SB a few months back about having a Zero-Waste kitchen. Try it.
24)   Make a family budget. See where you can trim any fat, and make an effort.  See what things you can do at home. (Haircuts, coffee, etc) as well as reducing energy expenses (heating oil, electricity, gasoline) Start a list of prepping needs, and start on a purchase list including order, and stick with it!
25)   Make candy with your food storage. Think salt water taffy, peanut brittle, hard candy, stained glass candy, all the old fashioned treats.  It’s a lot easier than you think. Sugar and corn syrup can make amazing things. Try to flavor them with natural flavorings, like clove oil or cinnamon oil, or other things from your food storage if you can. In addition to keeping morale up post SHTF, candy could help on picket duty or be great for barter.
26)   Run a communications test.  Test out the actual range on your radios/CBs. If you don’t have comms yet, do some research, select some, and put them in your purchasing plan. Try your primary and secondary stations. Make sure your channel of choice is not used by a nearby RV park or deer camp, etc.   Monitor your chosen stations on different days, at different times, in different weather, and see who else is on there. Decide on message drop locations, rally points, and other communication methods you have a code or use the “identical book code” method, test it out. Iron wrinkles out now, not later.
27)   Read the Constitution and The Declaration of Independence.  Understand where your rights come from. Compare them to some “modern” constitutions of other nations. Then, write your congress critter. The topic choice is up to you, but I’m sure you won’t have to look far to find a passionate topic.  Only a small percent of constituents write, so you are able to have a exponential impact.
28)   Improve your internet security. Use a VPN or Tor browser, which is open source and free. In light of the NSA news, this is something everyone should already be doing.  If you already do this, make digital scans of all important documents and put them on a thumb drive(s). Truecrypt is a great encryption software that is also open sourced. Cache one and/or store one with a trusted friend. Consider an Ironkey USB for the task.
29)   Forage a meal locally. In addition to hunting, people assume they will be able to forage post SHTF, in a calorically deprived state while avoiding lead poisoning.  Try it during good times, with a field guide, and a full stomach. A good resource is a study of the native plants etc..that the Native Americans use and how they prepare them. This has to be done with care, and make sure that any items to be eaten are correctly identified! (I assume no responsibility for your errors.)  Live in an apartment in the city? Find a nearby Oak tree and make acorn flour.
30)   Build something out of wood using off grid power. If you have cordless tools that you can power with solar, feel free to use them. If you have a hydro powered mill, use it. If you only have hand tools, use them. Bench, planter box, raised bed, tree house, rocking horse…. Choice is up to you. But practice your large scale building skills. Try drawing up blue prints and plan your cuts to not waste materials.

31)   Build a child’s toy out of wood using off grid tools. While last week focused on macro wood skills, this week focuses on micro skills. Sanding, fitting, finishing, carving. Toy cars, dolls, ball in cup, maybe even a Dala Horse. Alternatively, try making a wooden spoon or bowl.
32)   Take your kids out of school for a day, and home school them if you don’t already. It’s worth taking a day off from work. If your schedules will not allow it, spend Saturday morning doing it.  If your kids are already home-schooled, go on a field trip somewhere fun.  Most parents have no idea what their children are learning, or what they have not learned. Take an active role in your child’s education.

33)   Go to a thrift shop. If you regularly make thrift shop and garage sale rounds, try to find a new one. If not, locate a few in your area and go. Foodsavers, tools, cast iron, preparedness books, medical books, sturdy clothing, meat grinders, CB radios, canning supplies etc are all readily available on a fairly regular basis at pennies on the dollar. You will save money, help a charity, and reduce waste.
34)   Can something, ideally something homegrown. If your garden didn’t produce or you don’t garden (Start!), go to your local farmers market or produce discount store, and buy in bulk. Jams, jellies, and pickles are an easy and forgiving start. If you regularly can vegetables, can meat. If you do that on a regular basis, come up with and design a barterable canned good, whether it is tomato sauce, barbeque sauce, salsa, or something more imaginative.
35)   Run a test load of your G.O.O.D. gear and make the drive.  Give yourself 30 minutes to load and go,and use the gas already in your car. If you have done this recently, go with your B or C route.  If your drive is cross country, try the test load and follow your route on google earth.  Rotate your stored gasoline from your gas can into your vehicles and refill them (don’t forget Sta-Bil or Pri-G!) If you are already at your retreat, you should still have a G.O.O.D. plan.

36)   Conduct a threat assessment of your home.  Literally, try to break into your own house.  Even better, swap with a friend and assess each other’s house so you get a fresh set of eyes.  Come up with an assault plan if you were going to rob/burglarize your house. Start from a distance outside, and finish clearing the inside of the house.

37)   Fix any deficiencies found during last week’s threat assessment. At a minimum, adjust and aim lighting, upgrade hinge and lock screws, put locks or dowels on windows, etc. Trim bushes that were blocking fields of fire. Plant roses under windows. Put locks on gates and your fuse box, etc. Consider anti-vehicle defenses, door and window reinforcement and use of furniture and materials in your home to build defendable or safe positions.
38)   People often assume 1 gallon of water per person per day. Using only containers of water, see how much water you actually use in a day. Cooking, cleaning, washing, and drinking. When you finish, adjust your stores if you need to. 

39)   Run JWR’s 48 hour experiment. Shut off power to your house for 48 hours. See where your deficiencies are, and make lists. Update your purchasing plan.
40)   Like the 48 hour experiment, go seven days without purchasing anything. This should be a breeze. If it is not, adjust your stores and purchasing plan.
41)   Use your water filter. Locate questionable water, and filter it. Try different methods. Compare ease, taste, with a pre filter vs without, etc.  Try boiling, a filter, tablets, UV. Try evaporation, either with a two bottle mini distillation method, solar oven or plastic wrap and see how much water you can process through collection, filtration, boiling, sterilization per day.
42)   Start working on your fitness. (Preface it with a Dr’s visit, and all the usual liability provisos.) Even if it is only walking, it is a start. On one of your thrift shop visits, pick up an exercise DVD. Something as cheesy as a Tae Bo video will help immensely if done on a regular basis.
43)   Make a range card for your house from all directions. From the assessment you did earlier, identify possible paths of approach and cover that attackers may use as well as landmarks that are readily identifiable. Measure distances inside your home as well. Shoot at these distances on your next range trip. How does your shotgun pattern at inside the house ranges? What is your battle rifle sight offset at 5 yards? What are your holdover points for your long gun at your landmarks? Shoot your sidearm at longer ranges as well, make a map and range card of the areas around your house.
44)   Everyone has planned  to sprout after the crunch. So sprout some greens this week. While you are at it, make a meal out of wheat berries, hopefully in your solar oven. Try different recipes as wheat berries may get old real fast after the crunch.
45)   Put on your Bug out bag, MBR, sidearm, and web gear. Work on weapon manipulations, clearance drills, shooting positions with all of your gear on. Can you access your magazines on your chest rig while prone? How fast can you dump your backpack and drop prone? Try working some moving to cover and firing while moving drills with all your gear on.
46)   Clean and oil your guns, including disassembling magazines. Where eye protection!  Rotate your carry magazines.  Work on loading from stripper clips for any weapons that utilize these, as well as performing tactical reloads for magazine fed devices. If you carry a shotgun, practice loading that. Once you are comfortable, try it at a jog, or while sprinting from cover to cover. (if you already do this develop a list of common parts that break from each weapon and add it to your purchase plan)
47)   Look at other news sources this week. If you usually watch the news, read a newspaper. Watch a new television station. Visit a new web site. It is important to not have blinders on when looking for trigger events, as well as to not limit yourself to like-minded sources. If you are a Drudge Report or Zero Hedge person and can stand it, go to MSNBC or one of the kool-aid drinking financial pages. Learn the opposing arguments.  Go electronically invisible this week as well. Pay cash for everything you buy if you don’t already. Do not carry a cell phone with you, but if you must, take the battery out. Don’t use your shopping discount card (your area code plus 867-5309 works pretty much universally.) Use your VPN or Tor browser for any Internet needs. Realize the trail you are leaving everywhere.
48)   Make a Zeer pot. Already made a zeer pot? Make a Fresnel lens cooker (Be careful with it!) You can build huge ones from old projection televisions from your local thrift store. Try another evaporative cooling method, even if its spinning something in a wet tube sock.
49)   Make hard cider, wine, or beer.  If you are opposed to alcohol, please consider the fuel/disinfectant and barter properties that it could make if distilled, and remember you are learning the skill, not condoning consumption. If you are still opposed, make cheese. Or try making homemade root beer and bottling it.  Save bottles during the year for this project.
50)   One shot challenge. This is a family favorite. Set different targets (we use  8x11 sheets of paper) at unknown ranges.  Without any warm up shots or adjustment to zero, place one shot on each target with your MBR. Once you can do this on a regular basis, try it with a different weapon, sidearm, etc. Extend the ranges for any guns you plan on serving LP/OP duty.
51)   Introduce some stress into your life. Expose yourself to a high stress situation.  Compete in something. Challenge yourself. Consider volunteering with a local hospital, fire, EMS or police department, or go on a ride along with one at the least. The more accustomed you can be to thinking on your feet and dealing with stress now, the easier it will be later.
52)  Plan for 52 additional skills next year! See what needs work, what skills you have, and continue progressing! You can use this list every year and expand on each idea, create an alternative or pass along skills to other members.
Think of this challenge as a return on investment. The more well rounded we all become the better. Even the best stocked well defended retreat can burn down, flood or be hit by a tornado. The more skills you have the more valuable you become to another group or community. I truly do hope you will take this challenge. One year from now, you do not want to be wishing you had done X and Y. Expand your skill set. I fear that our time is approaching, and the clock is ticking. Take advantage of the forgiving times to prepare yourself.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

I saw the link in the March 23rd  "Odds & Sods" to 297 free online reference books at Armageddon Online and began to drool with excitement powered by anticipation and saved the link to my desktop. Two days later, while sitting at my desk finishing off a small tube of Albuteral in my nebulizer, I finally followed up on that wonderful impulse to get something good for me for free. I soon found that "free" was actually $5, a small fee supported quite well by an apologetic explanation of the onslaught of used bandwidth when offered for free. We all owe Matt Anderson big thanks for his efforts to help others.

I was still excited ( $5 was cheap ) and paying my way was smartest prepper thing I had in the past twenty years of getting ready.

So then I slowly read down the two-column list of categories and their content titles and I was excited all over again.  I now have an "Armageddon Online" icon on my computer desktop. There are 29 different, and especially useful in these tense times, well chosen categories. I found a great many topics that I readily saw I needed more information on, or that I was a newbie guy on a particular topic. This was an enlightenment moment for me, I have doing family and community and church preparedness for twenty years. I have selected just a notable few items from the 297 for a brief overview in the hopes of putting you in the same awareness posture I had found myself, excited to be gaining better information for my family and  friends.

In no particular order, I looked at:

1. ARC - Are you ready - EARTHQUAKES - doing a plan for your home and then practice drop, cover, and hold on, twice a year. And there are 25+ more points, mostly well thought out one-liners.

2. ARC- Are you ready - WILDFIRES - Create a 30-50 foot safe area around your home  - 14 points of completion 7 points of home safety - 8 points of protecting your home - 13 POINTS OF CREATING YOUR FAMILY DISASTER PLAN !   PRACTICE   PRACTICE    PRACTICE and then teach someone else to do and to teach!

• Water supply • Latrines • Areas for washing up, washing clothes, ablutions • Drains • Kitchen (smoke, smell and fire risk) • Food storage • Rubbish disposal • Fuel dump and fire precautions • Areas for eating, working, sleeping and relaxing • Medical area tent/hut   (on the edge of the camp for privacy and safety).

ALL OF THESE ARE VERY IMPORTANT AND WORTH THE $5 ALONE! In this topic I found the "don’ts" to be extremely important and nearly identical to the US Army training from the early Viet Nam era. Even as a base camp commo  wienie  who stayed in the CONUS, I learned a lot about everyday successful field craft, about and health and hygiene..

You may well never have a second chance to stay healthy. You will not need to learn how to dig a grave twice.

4. FACT SHEET -FEMA TORNADOES - when you see or hear your very own tornado, it really is too late to start planning a response  / preparation plan. You will no longer be an observer, you are now the designated target / victim / named debrief topic of the afterwards report. Go to WWW.FEMA.GOV  and download the necessary publications concerning your concerns. This may be both your life saver and the only thing from the government you actually asked for. This powerful but still simple two page free item from FEMA   has great tidbits of life saving information: tornado facts, where and when, how to prepare, develop a communication plan, prepare your disaster supply kit, watches and warnings, danger signs, after the tornado, safety rules during. So how do I know this is important?

We lived in the so-called "TORNADO ALLEY - OHIO" for 45 years prior to moving to western range wildfire country.  I have personally watched funnel clouds pass overhead twice in my life. Yes, it really does sound just like an onrushing freight train!

5. DUTCH OVENS -   THIS IS A SUPERIOR SHORT ESSAY!! I am embarrassed to realize how little I know, about these wonders of outdoor culinary arts. And I will never again sneer at our resident ward Boy Scout leaders who make it look so easy. Eight pages packed with very well written useable directions, diagrams, and photographs with tags and pointers. The cleaning instructions are great and the buying information alone is worth much more than the $5 for the whole 29 7 documents.

6. PREPARING FOR DISASTER FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITY AND OTHER SPECIAL NEEDS. This is an important topic that will effect nearly "everyone" in the very likely event of a serious disaster. The Red Cross booklet is 19 pages and is very well done. It is not preachy and is written in "common sense" daily language. It is an easy read and it is free.

 DISCLAIMER. I am 100% disabled veteran with COPD and diabetes. Our family's disability experience is lengthy and personal.  My darling wife ( 47 years ) and I  are full guardians for her mentally disabled only brother. He has been our responsibility since 1968. He came home from the Korean War with a serious brain disability and has never recovered. After many years in hospitals and group homes, he has lived with us from 1992 until just recently when he needed to move to a very good local area rest home.  We do know about emergencies and the disabled. Our disabled brothers and sisters are everywhere, usually living quiet lives doing as much as they can for themselves and often doing much for others. Just stand at the entrances to our major shopping areas for a few hours and count the folks having difficulties just moving from the car to the store. It will be enlightening. If your family, your group, has no members  or relatives who are disabled, relax, we will find you in our hour of need. Here are just a few of the many web sites to obtain timely info on preparedness for our disabled and special needs brothers and sisters. Why should we care about these folks?



These are a few web sites suggested in Matt Anderson's materials in the disabled preparedness area.

www.access-board.gov The Access Board
www.aoa.dhhs.gov DHHS Administration on Aging
www.ncd.gov National Council on Disability
www.nod.org/emergency National Organization on Disability
www.prepare.org Prepare.org
www.aapd.com American Association for People with Disabilities
www.afb.org American Foundation for the Blind
www.nad.org National Association of the Deaf
www.lacity.org/DOD Los Angeles City Department on Disability
www.easter-seals.org Easter Seals

For more in-depth information, get a copy of "Disaster Preparedness for People with Disabilities" (A5091) from the American Red Cross.


7. F.E.M.A. RR-28 / Reprinted July 1989



Think about bartering fully charged 12 volt car batteries for a discharged battery plus a few pre-1965 dimes or a quarter!

Actually the report / plans are 90 pages long , I put the full report on a flash drive and went to a quick print and had it ( all of it - every word )  printed into a booklet ( 8.5 x 11 ),  and i have a second set of pages for my backup.
i did this for $11, at my favorite copier place. The final page lists 5 company names and contact info so as to buy plans for other wood gas generators.

8. How to listen to World Radio or "Gee, I sure wish we knew what's gonna happen next" or these darn cheap CBs just never work when there is a hill or something is going wrong" or "Quick, run to town and git the doctor, granny was chopping wood and cut off her finger."

 There are ham operators in just about every area, every town and neighborhood. Use your favorite search engine  and close by zip codes to find your local " ARRL " American Radio Relay League". Use the phone to set up a meet with a member. Ask about the "no code" Technician license. its easy and inexpensive.  Look the test up on the web. there are many free study web sites to help you. You will also want to learn as much as you can about matching antennas to bands and especially learn about not going nuts spending too much money. We put most of our limited funds into a very good world band receiver and dipole antenna system and a mid-quality small transceiver. they both need a 12 volt power system. For my tastes and my experience, design simplicity  and low cost is best most of the time for nearly everyone.

9. A FOOT POWERED PEDAL OPERATED GRAIN MILL _31 pages -  Peddle Operated Grain Mi#8D40E8

This is so darn simple I am surprised i didn't know about the design in the past. The only problem i see is talking some one out of their used bike that still has working parts . The web page denotes a reprint by permission and i do not have that permission. However a single copy can be made for personal non commercial use, or for education, without permission. This is a great item to know about in advance of actually needing it. Go for it.

10. The final commentary  ... and you thought I was going do do all 297.....

FIRST AID MANAGEMENT OF MINOR INJURIES - 157 PAGES - and they are all very well done, an easy read. I'll start with the summary from the last page....

Minor accidents and injuries do occur on expeditions, but with knowledge and a reasonable medical kit most should be treatable in the field and should not impair the enjoyment of the expedition. The expedition medical officer has a responsibility to consider when an accident or injury requires more expert help and to arrange for the patients evacuation to a place of safety and competent care. So what do we learn from the summery?

 A. We need a medical officer / an MD / a DO / an RN / an EMT /a  herbalist / a nursing student, or heaven forbid, a skilled veterinarian doing his / her "good samaritan and not to be sued" team member / person of serious interest to the needy in our group / family.

B. We need a really good medical kit for the probable medical problems concerning injuries and accidents.

 I just googled for the following: " EMT JUMP KIT CONTENTS LIST?"  and Ii found this neat web site from Emory University. http://www.emory.edu/EEMS/JumpBag.html

 The site has the lists needed, and pictures, for slow guys like me. We are now  ( this week and next )  working on inventorying the past few years of medical stuff we have acquired and will use this list to determine what to keep and what to get. After we look at the budget again, and again!!

From the viewpoint of age 72, 4 years in the military,  and recent CERT leadership training, there is a serious rule to be considered in every, no exceptions, every medical emergency situation.

You Must Take Care Of Yourself First    Stop!!  Look !! Think!!

Confirm your observations and plan with a partner if possible, or do it again if alone. Look ahead for secure footing. Look at the equipment you will take with you before you start. Know how you will return to safety before you move to the injured person. practice your tri-age in advance. Read the tri-age card in your wallet or purse.

Above all else, know your limits and know your tools.

Finally, before I start an important project, or activity, or begin a class, or attend a lecture, I pray for Heavenly help to learn and to understand, and especially that I might  be thankful for these opportunities.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Preparedness is well within the top ten subject matters of interest today.  Most everyone is thinking about it and many of us are well under way toward some level of advanced planning.  Groups of like minded families are common but it would be a mistake to fail at making preparedness attractive to our children.

Our pioneer ancestors invented creative games to teach their children skills of survival in an unfriendly world.  Games were simple and fit for most occasions.  If they were weathered in at a cabin, there was a game where one child was the subject and the others would take turns trying to make the subject crack a smile or laugh.  While the children thought it was just a game, it taught them to control their emotions.  Should a raiding party attack their home, it could save their life to remain emotionless and silent.  That skill could prove valuable today if you needed to escape detection by blending into a crowd or lay motionless in brush.  When it comes to extracting information, skilled interrogation derives as much from emotional response as it does verbal.
There are many other skills that we could teach our children by having them play interesting games.  Games need to fit the age and ability of our children but you would be surprised at how quickly they learn advanced skills.

My daughter was one of the youngest females to qualify for the Washington State Explorer Search & Rescue (ESAR) program.  At fourteen years old, she completed her equipment, classroom, and first-aid training and accomplished a final exercise that included a three day map & compass orienteering course.  She carried a fifty pound pack of standardized equipment, food, and water.  Objectives were to use map & compass and orienteering skills to locate designated cans on a stake that was painted bright orange.  The locations were marked on their maps but getting to those points was dependent on their skill.  As the teams found each target they were to remove the lid and mark the notepad inside with their name and time of day.  The course was designed to place the two person teams at expected locations for each night.  Senior ESAR members watched from a distance and checked up on them with a nightly camp visit.  On the first night, leaders had lost track of my daughter and her teammate.  A full scale search started and they began checking the targets for signature.  These two girls had located and signed in at more targets than had previously been expected for one day and the leaders found them on top of a hill that was reserved for the middle of day two.  They were in great spirits and enjoyed a truly “hill top” experience under the stars.  My daughter and her teammate were not only the youngest two qualifying females in Washington ESAR history but they completed the three day course a half day ahead of the second team in.  One of the challenges of the event is not told the recruits.  Day two put them on what is called “Magnet Mountain.”  Because of local iron deposits, magnetic north cannot be located with a typical compass.  They would be required to adapt and read their maps according to terrain.  ESAR has learned to teach through exercise which makes the entire learning experience a fantastic game.  It works.

A variation of the orienteering game can make it progressive.  Each team has a different set of targets to locate with each target providing a necessary part or clue to completing a task.  An example might be to start with a recorded tape or CD at the first target; followed by a tape or CD player at the second target; followed by earphones at the third; and finally the batteries.  The recorded message would guide them to the final prize that all teams are looking to win.  The prize for our youth is both something fitting to their effort and a fun filled event.  The prize for us as parents will be watching our youth learn valuable skills while having a ball doing it.

We can create many great games for our children.  Among groups of like minded families where many youth are represented, the potential is awesome.  We can make afternoon, day, or weekend events that will teach and sharpen skills.  As parents, we will learn as much and have as much fun planning these events as our kids have doing them.  “Hide & Seek” could be modified to emulate our military Escape & Evasion training.  They don’t have to “play Army” and the game can be called “Rabbit & Fox.”   They learn escape & evasion if they are the rabbit and they learn tracking if they are the fox.

My children have done things like this on a grand scale with their friends.  Weeks of preparation went into an elaborate all night game of “Capture the Flag.”  This involved a kickoff barbeque, camouflage clothing, and full face paint.  It ended with a pancake breakfast.  I have family pictures of my son and daughters as proud of how they looked that night as if they were going to the prom.  They were serious tacticians and they still share stories of those nights with dozens of their friends on their cousin’s farm. The excitement kept them up all night and after breakfast the next morning; they were already planning the next event.

At a well disciplined shooting range, we could teach our children how to safely handle firearms.  If there isn’t an Appleseed group near you, I’m sure they would help you with both ideas and perhaps a pathway to forming your own group.

Other practical events on a smaller scale could be a timed event at digging a Dakota Hole, starting a fire without matches, and bringing one cup of water to a boil in a standard soup can.  My youngest daughter invited several of her friends over for Smores around a fire pit.  It was sad that so many of her friends didn’t know how to start a campfire even with the use of matches and newspaper.  After several poor attempts they were all interested to learn how to do it right.  Imagine that?  Teens interested in learning a skill from one of their dads. 
Our children want to be a productive part of the group and what better way for them to demonstrate their worth than to be in charge of starting the campfire or a host of other suitable skills?
I am part of a group of families that meet each month and share training on various skills.  We describe it as 4H for adults.  At one event we explored how to make a bow & arrow from PVC pipe and a fiberglass rod used for temporary horse fencing.  It was amazingly good and the bow’s delivered forty-five pounds of thrust.  That would be perfect for teaching our teens an important skill and what would be more appropriate than hosting a “Robin Hood” shooting event with those home-made bows and arrows?

The movie “Hunger Games” cast the heroine as a young provider for her family and could be used to encourage our youth to participate.  She was an accomplished archery hunter but more importantly, she provided her family with food because of her skills.  In a grid down world, our children will need to become proficient at many things.  A problem is that many daily tasks necessary in a ‘grid down world’ are manually intense and tend to eliminate younger bodies.   When looking for a “Well Bucket” to manually draw water from a four inch well casing, I was amazed to find most were sized at several gallons and would be very heavy to draw.  Seeing a need to include our children in as many tasks as possible, I designed a light weight “Bullet Bucket” that holds only about one gallon per draw.  This is light enough that a young teen could draw water for a family and not be excluded from serving an important role.

Practicing skills can be a group event.  Our group was formed after reading an article in SurvivalBlog forum regarding Colloquium (CQ) Groups.  We have grown into our third year and have affiliated groups in three other cities.  Once each year we hold a CQ Field Day.  We camp out at a city park or privately owned field that is visible and accessible to the town.  This year we will be in a three acre field owned by our church and right in the middle of town.  Along with practicing our skills and having a great time of fellowship among ourselves, we will be hosting the local 4H group, Boy Scouts, and the city Youth in Action group.  We will be demonstrating outdoor cookery, amateur radio field operations, fire making, making your own laundry detergent and other skills of interest.  There are several merit badges available to the Boy Scouts and we have men qualified to approve those badge requirements.  This will be our second such Field Day and it is capturing some very good attention from our city.  Our group is not promoted as a “Prepper Group” and that is with purpose.  Since we are promoting skills that can help a family save money and that make us better prepared for storms and associated outages, we are cast in a very different light than with the mockery that is painted on “Preppers” as a result of sensational media attention.   Since the skills we teach and practice can and do serve both hurricane preparedness and TEOTWAWKI, we prefer to remain hidden in plain sight.  Even at our meetings, nothing is ever shared about how much any of us has stored.  We are all about skills and the subject of personal inventories never comes up.

The importance of training our young people will make a profound difference to the future of our nation.  As they learn skills of survival, they learn principles of living.  Including them in such an important part of family preparedness teaches them responsibility and recognizes their significance as a contributing member of the group.  Children are often marginalized by our system of education and teens especially may lack the confidence to stand shoulder to shoulder with adults in preparedness training.  It is easy for them to feel overwhelmed and left behind as their parents become serious about making preparations.  We can unintentionally push our children aside because we want to demonstrate and practice abilities newly learned.  Reaching them and encouraging them to join in is a worthy effort at the very least.  An important note is that all of us like to play games and that is the key to teaching skills and including our youth in sharing the future.   When we teach skills by the media of games, we discover a love of learning.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Boston Tea Party was a terrorist act—or so it is characterized in the 6th grade curriculum widely used in my beloved state of Texas.  The Pledge of Allegiance—in Arabic?   The national anthem—well, some schools have banned it for being “too offensive…”   At least the flag is still there—oh, wait, that’s the Mexican flag…Speaking of flags, let’s design a flag—for a new Socialist country.  Why is patriotism under attack in America’s public school system?   

Better yet, why are kids under attack in America’s public school system?  Hugs are banned as a form of sexual harassment, yet condoms and STD screenings are offered at middle schools and high schools.  Sex acts go unnoticed in the classroom, worse yet predators posing as teachers go unnoticed in the classroom.  School shootings, kids bullied to death, mandatory GPS trackers on school kids, children medicated at younger and younger ages on psychotropic drugs, unfit union teachers who can’t be fired, teachers who refuse to take tests because they don’t measure anything, school officials changing student standardized test answers, and the latest trend—kids being suspended, some even arrested, for brandishing Lego guns, toy guns, bubble guns, drawings of guns, screen saver guns, imaginary guns—really!?  These are just a few of the headlines making news lately, and if that’s not enough to make you want to homeschool, I don’t know what is.  So as a homeschooling mom to a 9 year old who dang sure knows a terrorist from a patriot, I thought I would share my 2 cents on the subject and dispel some myths:

It has become the norm for American children to attend public school, as their parents did, and as their grandparents did.  But it wasn’t always so.  Before there were government schools, there were homeschools and homeschool co-ops held in little one-roomed schoolhouses funded and controlled not by the government, but by the parents.  And those primitive, humble homeschools produced many of our most cherished American icons and heroes, such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Abe Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Alexander Hamilton, Patrick Henry, Stonewall Jackson, George Washington Carver, Eli Whitney, Clara Barton, Davy Crockett, Sam Houston, Thomas Paine, Frank Lloyd Wright, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Alexander Graham Bell, the Wright Brothers, Robert E. Lee, Douglas MacArthur, George Patton, and  Mark Twain. 

But then in the late 19th century, the idea of forced mass education was introduced, and families were told to sacrifice personal liberty for the “good” of the children—sounds like similar arguments being made in favor of gun control today.  In “Why Schools Don’t Educate,” John Taylor Gatto, award winning public school teacher and critic of compulsory education, describes the creation of government schools in America:  “Our form of compulsory schooling is an invention of the state of Massachusetts around 1850.  It was resisted—sometimes with guns—by an estimated eighty percent of the Massachusetts population, the last outpost in Barnstable on Cape Cod not surrendering its children until 1880’s when the area was seized by militia and children marched to school under guard.”   From that point forward, literacy rates dropped in the state, and have not since recovered. 

So began a new era in American history. And I wonder, how would our Founding Fathers and iconic American heroes have fared in today’s government school system.  How would the world have fared?  Would Abe Lincoln be told to put away those silly books—they aren’t on this year’s required reading list?  Would the Wright brothers be told to stop fiddling with that machine so they could finish their standardized testing?  Would George Patton or Robert E. Lee be told to quit playing hero, as it violates the school’s policy on imaginary fighting? 

So many of the people who shaped the world were home-educated, and I wonder to what extent their success was shaped by freedom to explore their curiosities and talents and passions.
But such freedom is no longer the norm, even here in “the land of the free.”   Now, we have been conditioned to forfeit our freedom and our individual choice, and to hand over more and more of our parental responsibility to the government school system.   We have been conditioned to believe we are not capable of educating our own kids, and that our kids are not capable of thinking for themselves.  Today, the government education authority, strangers to our children, decide when our children go to school, what they learn, when they learn it, the time allotted to learn it, how they can prove they have learned it, what school they will attend, in which classroom they will sit, which teachers and subjects they will be assigned, when to eat, sometimes what to eat and whether they can even speak during lunch, when they can use the bathroom, what they can wear, and in many cases what to think and believe.  After all, between a 7-hour school day, extra-curricular activities and homework, school kids spend more time with their teachers than their parents.  School has become the pseudo-parent—sometimes out of necessity, but many times out of convenience—a one-stop shop for raising our children—for education, transportation, day care, meals, health care, sex education, mental health services and counseling, exercise, extra-curricular activities and even socialization. 

But more and more families are pushing back, seeking alternate forms of education for their kids.  According to the US Department of Education, there are now well over 2 million homeschooled kids nationwide, an increase of over 35% in just 4 years.   But it is amazing how little the average person knows about homeschooling.  Let’s examine the myths…   

Myth:  “Isn’t it illegal to homeschool?”  No…I’m not a criminal!  Actually homeschooling is legal in all 50 states in some form—but beware that each state has its own education laws and regulations.  The good news is that almost half of our United States are very homeschool-friendly.   Those with virtually no regulation include AK, TX, CT, NJ, ID, OK, MO, IL, IN, and MI. The states that only require notification to the school district of the intent to homeschool include CA, AZ, NV, NM, UT, MT, WY, NB, KS, WS, KY, MS, AL, DE, as well as Washington, D.C.  The remaining states have some hoops to jump through with various regulations ranging from home visits to standardized testing to time tracking to curriculum approval. For a complete listing of state homeschooling laws visit www.hslda.org/laws/summary_of_laws.  Vote with your feet!

For those parents that are concerned about drawing suspicion from nosy neighbors or authorities that confuse homeschooling with truancy, some good advice can be found at www.hsc.org/how-can-homeschoolers-avoid-truancy-officers-or-cps.html.    Even here in homeschool-friendly Texas, I tend to keep a low profile during school hours.  I avoid taking my son on non-school related errands until after 3 PM just to avoid comments such as “you don’t look sick—why aren’t you in school?”  It has also been my experience that families that homeschool from the beginning don’t face as much harassment from the school district as families who withdraw their child, and thus the school’s source of funding.

For peace of mind, consider joining the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (www.hslda.org).  For $115 per year, members receive legal advice, court representation, advocacy, conflict resolution, as well as perks such as member discounts, homeschooling advice, and a magazine.

Myth:  “Homeschooled kids do not get enough socialization.”  Since when is it the government’s job to provide my kid with friends?  And since when does going to public school guarantee popularity?  We have all known kids that that are lonely, shy, or friendless despite being in a classroom full of other kids day after day, year after year. 

There is actually very little socialization occurring at today’s government schools, unless by socialization you mean “indoctrination” or “institutionalization.”  Recess is becoming a thing of the past, and even lunch period has become a no talking zone in my local school district, with “silent lunch” in effect.  The fact is that today’s schools have very little resemblance to the schooldays you may reminisce about. 

But homeschooling is whatever you make it to be.  The social opportunities are out there through co-ops, churches, extra-curricular activities, you just have to be motivated enough to get your child involved.   How do you find other homeschooled kids?  When you are out and about during the day and see other school-aged kids, chances are they are homeschooled—introduce yourself and don’t be afraid to ask questions.  Search Google or Yahoo Groups for homeschool groups in your area, and if you don’t find one, start one.  Ask your local library or teacher supply store if they know of other homeschooling families.  Book sales and churches are another good place to start.  As you become involved in extra-curricular activities like scouting or sports, ask around—there are probably other homeschooled kids there, too.  Soon enough your calendar will be full of play dates and field trips and park days.  Good thing  our school day is half the length of the public school day and we don’t have homework—now we actually have much more time to socialize with friends and family—a perfect segue into the next myth... 

Myth:  “I do not have time to homeschool.”   The public school day may last 7 hours, but since when was the government efficient?  “We’re not trying to do ‘school at home.”  We are trying to do home school.  These are two entirely different propositions.  We’re not trying to replicate the time, style or content of the classroom.  Rather we are trying to cultivate a lifestyle of learning.”—Steve and Jane Lambert
Homeschooling doesn’t have to take all day.  Here’s why:

  • My family homeschools year round.  We do not take off for 3 months during summer, or for 2 weeks in winter or a week in spring, or for Columbus Day or early release days or snow days or teacher in-service days.  Therefore we can afford to spend fewer hours per day, spread out over more days per year, and we do not have to make up for learning lost over long holidays.  When the weather is nice and most kids are busy in school, we can take off and spend more time outdoors and on field trips, without the crowds and Texas heat.
  • We have a one-to-one student to teacher ratio, with no distractions. 
  • We do not have to budget time during our school day for busy work, lunch, recess, safety drills, roll call, morning announcements, standardized testing or test prep, bathroom breaks, changing classes, lining up, wasted substitute teacher days, bus routes or special assemblies.  There is no red tape in the way of our homeschooling (at least in Texas).  As a result, we have no homework.
  • We do not impose artificial timelines or time limits.  We have a list of lessons to complete each day, and it takes as long as it takes.  Some tasks we breeze through, in which case my son isn’t punished with busy work as he might be at school.  Others tasks may take a little longer, and that’s OK--I have the freedom to flex something off the list when need be.  My son has learned that if he lollygags, that means less free time, so he has an incentive to stay focused.   The beauty of homeschooling is that we can focus on knowledge rather than grades or unnecessary work.  When he gets it, he gets it. 

With that being said, I spend about 4 hours per day homeschooling my son, as well as a few hours each weekend preparing for the coming week.  We spend about 2 hours in the morning with lessons in civics, math and geography.  After a lunch break, we spend another 2 hours or so on reading, writing, spelling, grammar and history.  Science happens all the time.   In addition to those hours, we have been active with a homeschool group which offers weekly social activities, and my son is always enrolled in at least one extra curricular activity, such as swimming lessons, day camps, zoo classes or Tae Kwon Do.  When I’m not feeling well my son is allowed to use educational software on the computer, but I prefer old-fashioned pencil and paper work.  

Myth:  “I am not a teacher, therefore I am not qualified to homeschool my kids.”    “There is no school equal to a decent home and no teacher equal to a virtuous parent.” –Mahatma Gandhi

Legally speaking most parents are qualified to homeschool.  According to the Home School Legal Defense Association, “forty-one states do not require homeschool parents to meet any specific teacher qualifications.  The other nine states require only a high school diploma or GED and include GA, NC, ND, NM, OH, PA, SC, TN and WV.”  For more information visit www.hslda.org/laws/summary_of_laws

For skeptics who believe that parents aren’t qualified teachers—if graduating from the government school system renders people incapable of teaching their own children, what does that say about the system?  I graduated from high school with honors, went on to earn my Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree, yet, until recently, I couldn’t name all the presidents or states, I couldn’t have told you anything about the War of 1812 other than it had something to do with the year 1812…My tests scores did not reflect my mastery of each subject or lack thereof, but rather my mastery of taking tests!  A decent short term memory was enough to get me a seat in the National Honor Society.  So the bottom line is even though I don’t have a degree in public education, I’m pretty sure I couldn’t do any worse.  

As a homeschooling parent I know what my son has learned, I know his strengths and struggles--I have been there each step of the way.  In contrast, a friend of mine doesn’t know whether her child has learned the states or where he is on a map because she leaves it to the school to teach him those things.  It’s as if it is none of her business.    Educating my son is my #1 business, and through research I have learned that there is no “one size fits all” method of education.  Children have different learning styles, different strengths and weakness, and there is only so much a classroom environment can do to accommodate a room full of individuals.  But homeschooling can be adapted to the individual child, and  who knows that child better than his or her own parents?  Parents are always their children’s first teachers, and homeschooling is just an extension of that.  Homeschooling allows us as parents to provide consistency, rather than changing teachers from year to year or class to class.  And for those subjects that we struggle to teach or that our kids struggle to learn, we can always do a little homework or ask for help.   

  • Partner with other homeschoolers:  One of the best resources that we have is other parents in the homeschool community, whether locally or on-line.  There are endless opportunities for on-line discussion groups and forums.   When I find myself struggling with something, Google usually finds an answer, or at least something different I could try.  Joining a local homeschool group or co-op is invaluable for support and advice and even pooling resources and skills for joint classes or private tutoring led by parents in their areas of expertise.      
  • Partner with community resources:  There are endless learning opportunities right in your own backyard for PE (martial arts classes, gymnastics classes, tennis lessons, swim lessons, YMCA or city league sports clubs , public pools, walking trails, parks), fine arts (art competitions, art festivals, art museums, lessons at Michael's/Hobby Lobby, community theatre, acting camps, piano lessons, community band, church/community choir, orchestra performances, dance performances/lessons, photography workshops), scouting, science (zoos, wildlife refuges, nature preserves, state park presentations, 4H, museums, planetariums, farm and factory tours, TV weather station tours), history (re-enactment events, museums, renaissance fairs, heritage festivals, historical building tours, living history events), social studies (cultural celebrations, parades, museums and events), civics (voting, welcome home soldier events, public rallies, patriotic events, museums, memorials, tours of post office, fire station, etc, volunteering), language arts (book clubs, read alouds at libraries and book stores, literacy councils, spelling bees, writing competitions),  geography (geo-bees, geocaching), not to mention summer camps and workshops in every subject under the sun.  So, you see, it is quite easy to take the “home” right out of homeschooling.
  • There are countless internet and software resources available for learning everything from foreign language to flight simulators.

Myth:  “We can’t afford to live on one income.”  Or, more eloquently stated, “We didn’t have the luxury for her not to work.”–President Barrack Obama…OK, first of all, not all homeschooling families have a full-time, stay-at-home parent/teacher.  Some families have one parent that works part time or from home.  Other families have two parents that work opposite shifts so that someone is always home with the children. Second of all, being a stay-at-home mom is not a luxury—it is a sacrifice.  We chose to sacrifice my career, half of our family income, and most of our luxuries so that I could stay home with my son, so that I could provide him with a home education and avoid government schools, and so that we could move to a country “retreat” full time and raise a few homestead animals.  It’s not that we can afford to do this, it is that we can not afford not to.   There is a huge difference.

The bottom line is that while it is true that you can’t maintain a two income lifestyle on one income, there are ways you can make one income work.  What would you be willing to give up?    

We have gotten our monthly budget down to $2100 per month for our family of 3.  Notice what is not in our budget: 

  • No government assistance—although we would probably qualify, we are not on food stamps or any other government subsidy.  
  • No dream house—after years of searching, we found a 750 square foot, 3-room cabin on 9 acres of land in farm country about 15 minutes from a small town.  We got rid of at least half of our belongings and kept only our most cherished possessions.  We heat only with a wood burning stove and cool with window units—there is no central heat or air.  Our mortgage of $430 is cheaper than the monthly rent of $495 at a travel trailer campground a few miles down the road! 
  • No car payments—we own two older model 4 wheel drive vehicles.  The cost of maintaining them is much cheaper than purchasing a newer car, plus the insurance is cheaper.  Again, no bells and whistles.
  • No toys—no boats, RVs, motorcycles, 4 wheelers…
  • No jewelry.
  • No credit cards—we have learned to live within our means and pay cash for what we need.  Otherwise we do without or save up.
  • No manicures, pedicures, massages, waxes, facials.  My beauty routine involves a $13 haircut maybe 4 times a year.  My husband and son cut their hair at home. 
  • Very low clothing allowance--most of our clothing comes from Goodwill (yes—you can get good looking clothes there for $1-4 per piece!  Military gear is also a steal and much cheaper than at Army/Navy stores, ranging from $1 for hats to $5 for BDU, especially at Halloween).  Occasionally we will buy clothes on deep clearance sales, usually off season.  I don’t go window shopping.  I don’t go to the mall or department stores. 
  • No trash service--we burn our own trash in a pit in the ground.
  • No travel budget—we can’t afford to travel, which is just as well, because we can’t afford to pay for a pet sitter!  It’s one thing to ask a neighbor to feed your dogs or cats.  It’s another thing altogether to ask your neighbor to milk your goat!  Something to think about!!
  • No expensive hobbies or entertainment—we do not have internet at home—we have not found a good rural internet option that we can afford.  Instead we use the limited internet access on our cell phones, and take the laptop into a town once a week for free wi-fi at fast food restaurants (on a laptop that does not contain our personal info).  We do not have I-pads or I-pods or any of those gadgets.  We do not go to the movies—instead we rent movies for $1.30 at the red box.  My husband doesn’t golf or go to sporting events or go on hunting trips with his buddies.  I don’t do girls’ night out, or facebook, blog, twitter, scrapbook, or read trashy novels or magazines or watch soap operas.  We do watch TV (cheapest package available, no DVR, no high-definition), read books, play board games and card games, and spend time outdoors.  We eat out maybe once or twice a month, and we take advantage of Kids Eat Free nights in our area.     
  • Veterinary care—we have learned to provide most vet care for our animals, including giving injections, assisting in birth and newborn care, administering antibiotics, using a drench gun to provide fluids or liquid medications.  We do visit a mobile vet clinic which offers rabies shots for $10 each—most vets in the area charge an office visit fee of at least $30 just to get you in the door... 
  • No expensive home security system—a fence and locked gate, 3 large dogs, 2 x 4s held against the door with barn door bar holders, and guns are our home security system…
  • No expensive gifts—we have officially withdrawn from the holiday rat race.  We do buy gifts for our son, but not for extended family members.   We do offer gifts of homemade goat milk soaps and fresh farm foods, but so far those gifts haven’t been appreciated…
  • I guess extreme couponing would be an option for some, but my local grocery store has put a stop to that.  There is not a bulk warehouse in my neck of the woods either.

How’s that for luxury, folks?  I think Michelle just might have me beat.  But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Myth:  “Public school is free--we can’t afford to homeschool.”  According to the Census Bureau, on average it costs American taxpayers over $10,000 to send one child to public school for one year.  What a rip off!  Homeschooling families pay those public education taxes even though their children do not attend public school.  They must then purchase their own homeschool materials and supplies out of pocket, which are not tax deductible.  Luckily, unless you run your homeschool like a bloated bureaucracy, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune.  Here’s the nitty gritty:

  • School Discards:  It is amazing what our tax-funded government schools throw away.  Every so often schools review and update their materials and discard old inventory and even brand new sample materials and library books, either by throwing them away or donating them.  I once received a whole car load of brand new or slightly used textbook sets including workbooks and teacher guides spanning multiple grade levels and multiple subjects—all for free, including expensive brands such as Saxon math.   Contact your local district to determine a contact person and schedule for curriculum dumping—they will often be glad to give the books to a good home.     Also, when a new school is built to the take the place of an existing school, or when a school is scheduled for major remodeling, or when a school’s technology is updated, or at the end of the school year/beginning of summer break, you can bet they will be cleaning house.  This is a good time to keep an eye on dumpsters.  We have pulled art prints, textbooks, workbooks, even TVs and overhead projectors from the dumpster.  A find well worth the embarrassment of dumpster diving!  Get permission if needed in your area.
  • Garage Sale Leftovers:   Garage sales are great, homeschool/teacher garage/retirement sales are even better, and free garage sale leftovers are the best!  Local newspapers sometimes offer searchable classified listings on-line to help you narrow your search to keywords “teacher” or “school” or “homeschool.”  I have made it a habit to purchase a few things, introduce myself, and then ask for any leftovers that they might want to get rid of after the sale.  If they are planning to donate or toss, they may as well give it away to a family that will gratefully use it.  I’ve received two car loads of free books and supplies that way.  Best of all, most of the maps, posters, charts, etc. are already laminated, which can be very costly.
  • Bulk Trash—some of the towns in our area host a free bulk-item pick up once or twice a year.  This is a great time to do some treasure hunting!  We have picked up desks, bookshelves, encyclopedias and other school supplies, as well as household items such as metal bunk beds, toys, toy boxes, etc.
  • Swap Meets:  Organize a swap meet with other local homeschooling families to trade books, games or other materials that your children have outgrown or that you do not want.   This is also a good way to trade any multiples that you may have received in classroom sets obtained from schools or teachers.   Many homeschooling families do not write in textbooks or workbooks so they can be passed down to younger siblings, and then eventually resold or swapped. 
  • Free On-Line Resources:  The internet can be an invaluable resource for lesson plans, worksheets, printables, arts and crafts, videos, discussion groups, live web-cams, etc.   
    • Don’t forget on-line resources such as CraigsList and Freecycle for give-aways.  I received a huge ocean collection of coral, shells, starfish, seahorses, even a stuffed shark from a woman who just needed to make room in her house.  The collection is actually better than that offered at our local children’s science museum! 
    • Homeschool Tracker (www.homeschooltracker.com) offers a free record keeping download that allows you to schedule assignments, record grades and field trips, generate report cards and attendance records, track time spent, log books read and resources used, etc. 
    • Search for free classroom or homeschool materials, promotions and give-aways.  I have been sent free posters, DVDs, etc.  Most giveaways marketed for schools are also available for homeschoolers.  Office Max once offered free laminating to teachers, which they extended to homeschoolers.
  • The world is our classroom.  Mother Nature is a wonderful resource for free learning materials, and what better way to learn than to collect and examine specimens first hand rather than looking at illustrations in books.  Turtle shells, feathers, nests, bones, skulls, leaves, plants, insects, etc. line our shelves.  Of course, observation and appreciation of nature do not have to take up space on a shelf.   Homesteading offers many opportunities to witness science first hand, from sky and weather observation to life-cycles, birth and reproduction, to anatomy lessons at chicken cleaning time.    
  • Catalog of Ideas:  My local teacher supply store, which is very expensive, offers free catalogues.  A quick search through the over-priced products has given me ideas for things I could make rather than purchase.   
  • Free field trips--Many museums offer a free day each month during a low-traffic time (free on the first Wednesday of each month, for example).  Call around or check web sites for public free days.  Our local symphony offers free admission to the last rehearsal performance before opening day and encourages families with squirmy kids to attend then, so the paying audience won’t be disrupted.  Our local art museum offers free family days on one Saturday each month, with children’s art activities as well as free museum admission and tours.  Many places offer free open house dates from time to time—take advantage.

Low Cost Resources

  • Low cost field trips—
    • Most museums, zoos, etc offer discounted group rates, so coordinate with other homeschool families to take advantage of discounts.
    • Many museums, zoos, and even some amusement parks in larger cities now offer annual or semi-annual homeschool days with special exhibits, shows and pricing.
    • School shows—some symphonies, ballets, theatres, renaissance fairs, etc offer school performance shows which are closed to the public and deeply discounted.  Usually homeschooling families are welcomed.  We have attended the symphony and ballet for as little as $3 per person.   School shows usually occur at the same time each year, so plan ahead to get tickets before they sell out.
    • Family Memberships—many museums and zoos offer family memberships that are well worth the price if you plan to visit often.
  • Thrift stores, library sales, garage sales and fundraiser book sales, although not free, have been a great resource for very low cost books, games, supplies, and videos.   I typically pay 25 cents to 50 cents each for paperback readers or educational magazines such as national geographic magazines, and $1-2 each for hardback books, textbooks, computer software, DVDs/videos, workbooks, and other resources such as flashcards or educational games. 
  • As a last resort, shop retail sales.  Stock up on school supplies only after the back-to-school rush is over and supplies go on clearance.  The Dollar Tree chain store offers a teacher supply section that includes charts, posters, timelines, maps, reward stickers, bulletin board decorations, etc., as well as school supplies for, obviously, $1 each! 

Plan ahead.  Do not wait until the last minute.  I have been stockpiling school books and supplies since my son was an infant, and it is amazing how quickly they have come in handy. 

Myth:  “Homeschoolers are white, right-wing, religious extremists.”  Heck they’re probably a bunch of preppers, too!  The demographics of the homeschooling population is ever changing, as are the reasons for homeschooling, which do include religion and politics, but also concerns over school safety and security, overcrowding, bullying, privacy, poor school performance, and just your basic freedom of choice.  Across the country, you can find homeschool groups geared toward children with special needs, only children, secular families, teens, Native American families wishing to preserve their culture, Muslim families—and yes, even Christians and preppers!  Concern about the government school system is universal.

Myth:  Homeschooling is a cover for parents that are too lazy to take their kids to school.  There may be a few bad apples in the barrel, but homeschools must be doing something right.   Homeschooled kids continue to outperform their public school peers.  And according to a report by US News, “students coming from a homeschool graduated college at a higher rate than their peers and earned higher grade point averages along the way.”  Homeschooled children have also fared well in academic competitions.  According to the Homeschool Legal Defense Association, “although homeschoolers make up approximately 2% of the US school-age population, they made up 12 % of the 251 National Spelling Bee finalists, and 5% of the 55 National Geography Bee finalists.  Three of the past seven spelling bee winners have been homeschooled.  Last year’s homeschooled winner of the geography bee was 10 years old, the youngest in that event’s history.” 


So if it is cheaper, more efficient and more effective to homeschool our kids, what is the purpose of government schools?   A chilling quote from John Gatto:  “Divide children by subject, by age-grading, by constant rankings on tests, and by many other more subtle means and it was unlikely that the ignorant mass of mankind, separated in childhood, would ever reintegrate into a dangerous whole…Mandatory education serves children only incidentally; its real purpose is to turn them into servants.  If David Farragut could take command of a captured British warship as a preteen, if Thomas Edison could publish a broadsheet at the age of twelve, if Ben Franklin could apprentice himself to a printer at the same age, there’s no telling what your own kids could do.  After a long life, and thirty years in the public school trenches, I’ve concluded that genius is as common as dirt.  We suppress our genius only because we haven’t yet figured out how to manage a population of educated men and women.  The solution, I think, is simple and glorious.  Let them manage themselves.”

Saturday, February 23, 2013

I'm sure many will point out that a list of educational sources should include those who thought the proposed US system would turn into a tyranny:

The Anti-Federalist Papers

More about the Anti-Federalist Papers, at Constitition.org.

It may be seen as a different issue, but the debate between Hamiltonians and the anti-Hamiltonians is also most worthy of study. This leads into the whole question of what was called the American (or National) System of Political Economy, which has been used at times for great development in the US, Germany, and now China. On the other hand, the way it was used in the US probably contributed to creating an environment for the Civil War.

Regards, - Paul L.


I wanted to thank you for the great article by Steven G. on important foundational documents of our country. I wanted to bring to your attention that there is a great app available for Android smartphones called "United States Constitution" written by Ken Hunt (I know that similar apps exist in the Apple App Store but I can't speak for their content or usability). In addition to the Constitution it contains the Declaration of Independence, Gettysburg Address, the Virginia Plan, The Great Compromise and many others. It is very well organized and written, is searchable and best of all is free. I have referenced it many times and often just sit down to read it and remind myself how grateful we should be to the individuals who created these marvelous documents and to renew my energy to keep myself focused on the important issues facing our country. It's very eerie how The Declaration of Independence currently reads like it could have been written just yesterday if you only change a few words.
Regards, - L.D.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Often, when two modern patriots are having a discussion, they agree with the failure of the public education system to teach basic American history, or to expose students to the foundations of our modern Republican form of government. The speakers quickly move on since they are often unable to specifically identify that which has been lost. Similarly, you often hear talk radio or television personalities spend an enormous amount of time suggesting courses of study or books, only concluding that the answer to the conundrum is the latest product that they happen to have for sale on their web site or by calling an eight hundred number. What is missing is an actual guide to understanding American Constitutional history.

As I raise my son, I am often having to explain the context of various readings he is assigned in class. How can a student understand Martin Luther King during Black History Month without understanding the United States Declaration of Independence or the Holy Bible? This remedial instruction began my thinking on what primary materials do we, as American patriots, expect every well informed citizen to know. Since the “prepper” or “survivalist” is known for keeping checklists and additionally for home schooling their children, what better way to outline a course of study for every patriot to learn and share with their student.

In that vein, I am submitting for your approval the following checklist of source documents of the American Republic. I am not selling any of the recommended books, and most of the material presented here can be readily accessed online and are therefore free. I have included linkages to the original source documents when possible. I have tried to choose the most readable copies I could find, however there are usually multiple sources for the texts available online. For example, some of the best sources for historical documents are Yale University’s web site. and the National Archives. English translations of Ancient Greek works can be found for free at a Tufts University web site.  Many books can be downloaded for free or a minimal .99 at Amazon.com for the Kindle. Note that you do not need a Kindle to read these books, as you can use the Amazon “cloud reader” to read the texts on your computer. Wikipedia.org also has tremendous linking resources, usually at the bottom of the page, that should not be overlooked.

Since the framework of America is founded in the English tradition, I have attempted to identify the foundational documents for America going back to those sources. These reading suggestions follow three distinct categories: first the patriotic student should begin by gaining a broad overview of the period of study. Traditional history classes use the term “survey class.” The survey is important to provide meaning and context to the other materials presented. The recommended survey materials can be supplemented by multiple secondary sources such as encyclopedias and web research. I have also recommended certain books as survey sources. I have tried to recommend readable books, and avoid overly political books (especially seeking to avoid the left wing bias that dominates the school curriculum today).

What do we stand for and what do we believe in? If this question cannot be answered, then we are disarmed in our resistance to harmful ideas. Unfortunately, the left has accomplished its agenda driven politicization of our school system, with propaganda crowding out the great ideas of America’s foundation. This outline can also be used as a guide for a concerned parent to confront intrusions and deletions in their schools’ curriculum. A parent can experience the richness of our history with their student by simply spending time together moving methodically through these guidelines.

Note that this outline is part of a larger outline I have been working on covering essential highlights of American history and the Western tradition. While my area of study is modern American Military history as well as law, I have attempted to fill in gaps in my own knowledge by targeting books that have had an impact on Western Civilization. The parts of the larger outline are: I. Foundations of Western Civilization; II. Understanding the Foundations of the American Republic; III. Early Federal Period; IV. The American Civil War; V. The Modern Era. The larger list is derived from a “Great Books” type curriculum, with much of the fiction downplayed. Only those fictional works that have impact on the course of history are included. My recommendations also steer away from thoughts and ideas that are antithetical to the American tradition. The recommendations are divided into several parts, using survey and biographical books combined with essential source materials of American and Western Civilization. When foreign sources are recommended, they are for the purpose of understanding the competing systems that have confronted the United States. For example, “Mein Kampf” (Nazi fascism) and the “Communist Manifesto” (communism) have had a disproportionate impact on the history of the United States.

II.             Understanding the Foundations of the American Republic
A.            The Holy Bible. Most readers should be familiar with the Bible, as were the Founding Fathers.
B.            Magna Carta 1297. Though short, the original text is dense and difficult reading. However, it is an interesting exercise to read through this early document that was in fact a contract between the sovereign and the free people. Sir Edward Coke argued logically for limitations on absolute monarchical power based on the Magna Carta.
C.            Survey readings about the English Civil War. This is a very dense period of English history, but it is critical to understand this part of history since it is the well spring of experience which the Founding Fathers shared. Especially recommended:
                        1.             Catherine Drinker Bowen “The Lion and the Throne” 1958. A complex but very well written account of the life of Sir Edward Coke. Winner of the National Book Award for Nonfiction. Available used at abebooks.com for a reasonable price.
                        2.             Michael Barone “Our First Revolution” 2007. The story of the Glorious Revolution (the term often applied to the ending of the English Civil War) and its relevance to the founding of the United States. Often available used at abebooks.com for a reasonable price.
D.            Sir Edward Coke “The Petition of Right” 1628.
E.            Thomas Hobbes “Leviathan” 1651. Available on Kindle for .99. Also available for free at an OSU web site. Written during the English Civil War, Hobbes considers the nature of government, developing what is known as social contract theory.
F.            John Locke “Two Treatises of Government” 1689. John Locke’s writings were probably the most influential source in the thinking of the Founding Fathers. Thus, a deep understanding of his work is essential to understanding the philosophical underpinnings of the American Republic. Available for free here.
G.            John Locke “An Essay Concerning Humane Understanding” 1690. Available for free here.
H.            The English Bill of Rights 1689. Strongly influenced the United States Bill of Rights. Available for free at a Yale web site.
I.            Survey materials on the American Revolutionary War. There are lots of resources available for the student of the American revolutionary period, but here are some references of note.
                        1.            John Fiske “The War of Independence, a book for young people” 1889 and “The American Revolution” 1891 both are available for free as a Kindle download.
                        2.            Gordon S. Wood “The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787,” “The Radicalism of the American Revolution,” and “The American Revolution: A History (Modern Library Chronicles)” More modern writings on the revolutionary period.
                        2.            The PBS video set “Liberty! The American Revolution” is very good, but retails for about $28. The set is worth owning.
                        3.            Stuart Murray “DK Eyewitness Books: American Revolution” For kids, the Eyewitness books are very good, with lots of “meat” and illustrations. Available used for a reasonable price.
J.            Biographical materials on George Washington. Washington turned down the chance to be king and steered the country into the great experiment in Republican government. He is the essential man in American history. Again, there are innumerable biographies of the George Washington, but the following are available for free online.
                        1.            William Roscoe Thayer, “George Washington” 1922. This book is available for free on the Kindle.
                        2.            John Marshall “The Life of George Washington” in five volumes. This set is written by Washington’s contemporary and Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, John Marshall. A very readable copy is available for .99 on Kindle and free here.
K.            The Continental Association, 1774. The earliest American foundational document, wherein the American colonies bind together to form a cohesive response to increased English malfeasance.
L.            Thomas Paine “Common Sense” 1776. Available for free here. This supremely influential political pamphlet was widely read by the founding generation.
M.            Adam Smith “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations” 1776. Available for free here. The Scottish economist’s penultimate work describing free markets and capitalism.
N.            George Mason “The Virginia Declaration of Rights” 1776. This document influenced the later Declaration of Independence and United States Bill of Rights. Available for free here.
O.            Thomas Jefferson The Declaration of Independence 1776.
P.            The Articles of Confederation. 1777. The organizing document for the original American colonies that established the framework for the colonies to fight the American Revolutionary War. The weaknesses apparent in the Articles were later addressed in the United States Constitution.
Q.            The Federalist Papers 1787-1788. A series of letters written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay advocating the adoption of the United States Constitution and elaborating on the ideas enshrined therein.
R.            The United States Constitution 1789. Primarily the work of James Madison, this document sets out the framework of the United States government.  Also see this searchable view with commentary by the Heritage Foundation.
S.            The United States Bill of Rights 1789. George Mason demanded the inclusion of a Bill of Rights, and refused to support the Constitution without it. The compromise was a quick adoption of the first ten amendments to the United State Constitution, in what is known as the Bill of Rights.    Also see this searchable view with commentary by the Heritage Foundation.

Saturday, February 16, 2013


I have some advice for your readers on legal research. While it is not as robust as Lexis or Westlaw, Google Scholar is easier to use and should be more than adequate for people to find and read the cases they are looking for.  In addition to being able to directly access cases by the citations you provided, users may also search databases containing primary authority for both federal and state court opinions in the same manner they would do an internet search on Google or Bing. Another nice feature of internet research, as opposed to using a law library, is that you can access unpublished cases. While unpublished cases are not binding authority, they are often a good indicator of how that particular jurisdiction currently feels about a given issue.- Attorney D.B.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

In my recent (and now notorious) Burn Barrel essay on civil disobedience, I made reference to a legal summary in the 2d edition of American Jurisprudence. But at the time I didn't have access to the important case citation footnotes. SurvivalBlog reader and legal scholar S.G. very kindly sent me an extract with full case cite footnotes, from American Jurisprudence 2d. This was from Volume 16 (Conflict of Laws to Constitutional Law 1-359). This came from the latest edition, so it cites cases as recent at 2009. Here it is:

§ 195 Generally

The general rule is that an unconstitutional statute, whether federal or state, though having the form and name of law, is in reality no law(1) but is wholly void(2) and ineffective for any purpose.(3) Since unconstitutionality dates from the time of its enactment and not merely from the date of the decision so branding it,(4) an unconstitutional law, in legal contemplation, is as inoperative as if it had never been passed(5) and never existed;(6) that is, it is void ab initio.(7) Such a statute leaves the question that it purports to settle just as it would be had the statute not been enacted.(8)
Since an unconstitutional law is void, it follows that generally the statute imposes no duties,(9) confers no rights,(10) creates no office(11) or liabilities,(12) bestows no power or authority on anyone,(13) affords no protection,(14) is incapable of creating any rights or obligations,(15) does not allow for the granting of any relief,(16) and justifies no acts performed under it.(17)
Once a statute is determined to be unconstitutional, no private citizen or division of the state may take any further action pursuant to its provisions.(18) A contract that rests on an unconstitutional statute creates no obligation to be impaired by subsequent legislation.(19) No one is bound to obey an unconstitutional law,(20) and no courts are bound to enforce it.(21) A law contrary to the United States Constitution may not be enforced.(22) Once a statute has been declared unconstitutional, courts thereafter have no jurisdiction over alleged violations.(23) Persons convicted and fined under a statute subsequently held unconstitutional may recover the fines paid.(24)


1 Commissioners of Roads and Revenues of Fulton County v. Davis, 213 Ga. 792, 102 S.E.2d 180 (1958); State v. Village of Garden City, 74 Idaho 513, 265 P.2d 328 (1953); McGuire v. C & L Restaurant Inc., 346 N.W.2d 605 (Minn. 1984); People v. Corley, 91 Misc. 2d 255, 397 N.Y.S.2d 875 (City Crim. Ct. 1977).

2 Lewis v. Uselton, 224 Ga. App. 428, 480 S.E.2d 856 (1997); State ex rel. Stenberg v. Murphy, 247 Neb. 358, 527 N.W.2d 185 (1995); State v. Clark, 367 N.W.2d 168 (N.D. 1985); St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co. v. Getty Oil Co., 1989 OK 139, 782 P.2d 915 (Okla. 1989); Weegar v. Bakeberg, 527 N.W.2d 676 (S.D. 1995); Almond v. Day, 197 Va. 419, 89 S.E.2d 851 (1955).

3State v. One Oldsmobile Two-Door Sedan, Model 1946, 227 Minn. 280, 35 N.W.2d 525 (1948); Grieb v. Department of Liquor Control of State, 153 Ohio St. 77, 41 Ohio Op. 148, 90 N.E.2d 691 (1950); Hunter v. School Dist. of Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau, 97 Wis. 2d 435, 293 N.W.2d 515 (1980).

4 Shirley v. Getty Oil Co., 367 So. 2d 1388 (Ala. 1979); Oliver v. State, 619 So. 2d 384 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1st Dist. 1993); Lewis v. Uselton, 224 Ga. App. 428, 480 S.E.2d 856 (1997); Trout v. State, 231 S.W.3d 140 (Mo. 2007); State ex rel. Stenberg v. Murphy, 247 Neb. 358, 527 N.W.2d 185 (1995); Texas Dept. of Family and Protective Services v. Dickensheets, 274 S.W.3d 150 (Tex. App. Houston 1st Dist. 2008).

5 Huffman v. Dawkins, 273 Ark. 520, 622 S.W.2d 159 (1981); Commissioners of Roads and Revenues of Fulton County v. Davis, 213 Ga. 792, 102 S.E.2d 180 (1958); Briggs v. Campbell, Wyant & Cannon Foundry Co., Division Textron Am. Inc., 2 Mich. App. 204, 139 N.W.2d 336 (1966), judgment aff'd, 379 Mich. 160, 150 N.W.2d 752 (1967); McGuire v. C & L Restaurant Inc., 346 N.W.2d 605 (Minn. 1984); State ex rel. Stenberg v. Murphy, 247 Neb. 358, 527 N.W.2d 185 (1995); State v. Clark, 367 N.W.2d 168 (N.D. 1985); St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co. v. Getty Oil Co., 1989 OK 139, 782 P.2d 915 (Okla. 1989); Glen-Gery Corp. v. Zoning Hearing Bd. of Dover Tp., 589 Pa. 135, 907 A.2d 1033 (2006); Franks v. State, 772 S.W.2d 428 (Tenn. 1989); School Districts' Alliance for Adequate Funding of Special Educ. v. State, 149 Wash. App. 241, 202 P.3d 990, 242 Ed. Law Rep. 383 (Div. 2 2009); City of Fairmont v. Pitrolo Pontiac-Cadillac Co., 172 W. Va. 505, 308 S.E.2d 527 (1983).

6 Thomas v. North Carolina Dept. of Human Resources, 124 N.C. App. 698, 478 S.E.2d 816 (1996), aff'd, 346 N.C. 268, 485 S.E.2d 295 (1997); Weegar v. Bakeberg, 527 N.W.2d 676 (S.D. 1995).

7 People v. Manuel, 94 Ill. 2d 242, 68 Ill. Dec. 506, 446 N.E.2d 240 (1983); Lovgren v. Peoples Elec. Co., Inc., 380 N.W.2d 791 (Minn. 1986); Nevada Power Co. v. Metropolitan Development Co., 104 Nev. 684, 765 P.2d 1162 (1988); Town of Islip v. Paliotti, 196 A.D.2d 648, 601 N.Y.S.2d 926 (2d Dep't 1993); American Mfrs. Mut. Ins. Co. v. Ingram, 301 N.C. 138, 271 S.E.2d 46 (1980).

8 Commissioners of Roads and Revenues of Fulton County v. Davis, 213 Ga. 792, 102 S.E.2d 180 (1958).

9 Flournoy v. First Nat. Bank of Shreveport, 197 La. 1067, 3 So. 2d 244 (1941); State ex rel. Stenberg v. Murphy, 247 Neb. 358, 527 N.W.2d 185 (1995); Franks v. State, 772 S.W.2d 428 (Tenn. 1989).

10 People v. Harvey, 379 Ill. App. 3d 518, 318 Ill. Dec. 756, 884 N.E.2d 724 (1st Dist. 2008); State ex rel. Stenberg v. Murphy, 247 Neb. 358, 527 N.W.2d 185 (1995); Nevada Power Co. v. Metropolitan Development Co., 104 Nev. 684, 765 P.2d 1162 (1988); Ethics Com'n of State of Okl. v. Cullison, 1993 OK 37, 850 P.2d 1069 (Okla. 1993); General Motors Corp. v. Oklahoma County Bd. of Equalization, 1983 OK 59, 678 P.2d 233 (Okla. 1983); Franks v. State, 772 S.W.2d 428 (Tenn. 1989); Geeslin v. State Farm Lloyds, 255 S.W.3d 786 (Tex. App. Austin 2008).
As to the effect of and rights under a judgment based upon an unconstitutional law, see Am. Jur. 2d, Judgments § 17.
As to the res judicata effect of a judgment based upon an unconstitutional law, see Am. Jur. 2d, Judgments § 752.

11 Flournoy v. First Nat. Bank of Shreveport, 197 La. 1067, 3 So. 2d 244 (1941); Franks v. State, 772 S.W.2d 428 (Tenn. 1989).

12 Liddell v. Heavner, 2008 OK 6, 180 P.3d 1191 (Okla. 2008).

13 Flournoy v. First Nat. Bank of Shreveport, 197 La. 1067, 3 So. 2d 244 (1941).

14 Nevada Power Co. v. Metropolitan Development Co., 104 Nev. 684, 765 P.2d 1162 (1988); Ethics Com'n of State of Okl. v. Cullison, 1993 OK 37, 850 P.2d 1069 (Okla. 1993); Franks v. State, 772 S.W.2d 428 (Tenn. 1989).
As to the limitations to which this rule is subject, see § 196.

15 State ex rel. Stenberg v. Murphy, 247 Neb. 358, 527 N.W.2d 185 (1995).

16 Helvey v. Dawson County Bd. of Equalization, 242 Neb. 379, 495 N.W.2d 261 (1993) (a court may not grant any relief based upon a statute which is nonexistent or a statute which has become nonexistent by reason of a judicial declaration of unconstitutionality).

17 Millet v. Rizzo, 2 So. 2d 244 (La. Ct. App. 1st Cir. 1941); Board of Managers of James Walker Memorial Hospital of Wilmington v. City of Wilmington, 237 N.C. 179, 74 S.E.2d 749 (1953); State ex rel. Tharel v. Board of Com'rs of Creek County, 1940 OK 468, 188 Okla. 184, 107 P.2d 542 (1940).
As to the effect of a declaration of unconstitutionality on acts performed under it, generally, see § 196.

18 Thomas v. North Carolina Dept. of Human Resources, 124 N.C. App. 698, 478 S.E.2d 816 (1996), aff'd, 346 N.C. 268, 485 S.E.2d 295 (1997).

19 Jones v. Columbian Carbon Co., 132 W. Va. 219, 51 S.E.2d 790 (1948).

20 Flournoy v. First Nat. Bank of Shreveport, 197 La. 1067, 3 So. 2d 244 (1941); Amyot v. Caron, 88 N.H. 394, 190 A. 134 (1937).

21 Chicago, I. & L.R. Co. v. Hackett, 228 U.S. 559, 33 S. Ct. 581, 57 L. Ed. 966 (1913); Payne v. Griffin, 51 F. Supp. 588 (M.D. Ga. 1943); Flournoy v. First Nat. Bank of Shreveport, 197 La. 1067, 3 So. 2d 244 (1941).

22 Painter v. Shalala, 97 F.3d 1351 (10th Cir. 1996); Bartlett v. Bowen, 816 F.2d 695 (D.C. Cir. 1987), opinion reinstated on reconsideration, 824 F.2d 1240 (D.C. Cir. 1987).

23 U.S. v. Baucum, 80 F.3d 539 (D.C. Cir. 1996).

24 Neely v. U.S., 546 F.2d 1059, 41 A.L.R. Fed. 331 (3d Cir. 1976).

In Closing: For readers with an interest in legal research, I must mention this proviso: Summary references such as American Jurisprudence (Am Jur) and Corpus Juris Secundum (CJS) are secondary sources that are overviews of the body of law and as such are merely jumping off places for further research. From these, you have to then dig into the citations to truly find authority. This takes either access to a law library (yes, there are law libraries that are open to the public), or a LEXIS/NEXIS account, which is expensive.

Read the book Legal Research (by Elias) first, or you will be just flailing around, wasting valuable time.

Good luck with your research, and I pray that all your visits to court be with you in control of the situation, sitting before a fully informed jury, and with all the requisite authoritative facts at your fingertips.

Special thanks once again to SurvivalBlog reader S.G. for sending me those cites, pro bono publico.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

I am a 14-year veteran of one of the "top 10 by size" police departments in the US. My whole career has been within this department so my perception of this issue is only that of a large urban city department.

I want to comment on your article "Plan B: Key Phrases to Memorize for Citizens' Reservation of Rights." In my earlier days I can unfortunately admit I probably may have been one of these officers that would try to find something to turn a civil violation traffic stop into a felony arrest. I will add though that I have never violated anyone's civil rights during my career. But I can see myself trying to find my way into someone's car that I believed was in violation of a greater crime than just the petty violation I stopped them for.

I have never attempted or detained any motorists for the length of time described in this article. I have seen officers do it and usually found ways to help the motorist out by redirecting my fellow officer, or some similar tactic.

I would like to add though that officers who conduct themselves in this manner are outside the norm. I will also add they almost  cannot be stopped once they get it set in their minds they are going to "find something".

Your comments on how to act around officers will work well with the majority of officers. But there will be a few who I can see that will not be deterred. I would say to those using this defense to also be prepared to have the officer become upset. Why some of them do I have no idea but they will.

If at all possible try to video or audio record the stop. Most smart phones have video recorders now. Using this might keep the officer on the right side of things if he sees you are recording him. This is more overt though and may be tough to do in all occasions. It is pretty easy to turn on an audio recording app though and stick your phone on the dashboard during the whole stop. Just make sure that such recording is not a crime in your state.

Another thing to think about in these situations is the officer may ask you to step out of the car. This will change the scenario up a bit. Not that I agree with it but per case law officers can order drivers and occupants out of the vehicle with nothing more than reasonable suspicion or "officer safety".

Don't feel afraid to file a complaint against them. We serve you! Many of us peace officers have forgotten this. I no longer write traffic citations to generate income. Dangerous driving and similar are the exceptions. 

I get a lot of strange looks from people when I thank them for carrying their CCW and open carried weapons and supporting the Constitution. But it is necessary!

I hope many more of my fellow peace officers will change and realize how badly they treat Citizens. I am glad I woke up and changed. - Jeff J.

Dear James:
Regarding what to do in response to being pulled over by the state or local Gestapo, err, I mean the police who then attempt a fishing expedition may I suggest a dash cam like the police have.  After watching Breakfast in Collinsville and Lodging in Collinsville in which the officer claimed the motorist violated the law by drifting over the white lane markers while the motorist stated it was the officer who had drifted over the lane markers while following the motorist I decided to take a page from Chairman Mao and get a personal dash camera.

My quest brought me to DHGate.com which is a clearinghouse of sorts for Chinese retailer/wholesalers to sell their products to the world market.  They withhold payment from the vendor until they receive the return post card showing the merchandise has been received.  I received my dash cam two weeks ago but the purchase still has not been posted to my credit card account. (Ebay is another option.)
After a little searching (use the phrase “Car DVR” in the search box) I jumped and purchased this dash cam that records not only the front view but with the remote camera records the rear view as well.  (I did jump too fast and overspent as I’ll explain.) 

After waiting two weeks the package arrived on a Saturday afternoon.  After a quick trip to the big box electronic store for a micro SD memory card I had a fully functional personal dash camera.  Now I feel the tables will be turned if I happen to be unfortunate enough to be seen as a possible milk cow by a law enforcement agency.
Consider the following exchange, after pulling over for the police:

Officer:  “The reason I pulled you over is because you crossed over the lane dividers several times while I happened to be behind you.”
Me:  “I crossed over the lane dividers???  Can I see your dash cam video officer so I can see for myself?
Officer:  “No, the dash cam only turns on when I activate my police lights.”
Me:  “Well officer, today’s your lucky day.  See that (pointing to my dash camera).  That is my dash cam.  It automatically starts recording three seconds after I start my car and has been recording since I left home this morning.  And see that wire, it leads to the rear camera that records motorists behind me.  Now if you give me a moment I’ll be happy to pull up the files and play them for you.  You will see that while I maintained my lane as you followed me it was you who crossed over the lane lines multiple times.  May I ask, are you under the influence of alcohol or some other drug, legal or illegal, that would cause you to drive so careless and reckless manner?”

That should end the conservation. 
Some notes on personal dash cams:
1.)  All units plug into you vehicle’s power outlet, powering up and down with the vehicle.  Some like mine comes with an extra power cord that can be wired directly into the vehicle's fuse box. 

2.)  Most need the user to buy a micro SD card (TF card).  The bigger the memory the more of your driving is recorded.  Be sure to buy the proper “class” of card.  Most require at least a “class 6” card or better.  If the wrong class of memory card is used expect skips and jumps on the recorded video files as the result.  I have a 16 GB class 10 card.  I figure it will record 4 plus hours of continuous driving.

3.)  With mine files are saved in either 1, 2, or 5 minutes blocks of time.  The user can select the file size.  When the memory card is full the oldest files are overwritten first.  Other units record can record up to 15 minute files. 

4.)  Depending on the unit video quality can be set by the user (1080, 720, 640 x 480, etc.).  I suggest using the lowest video quality setting since it allows for more recording time.

5.)  The video files can be replayed on the camera’s video screen or transferred to a computer and played through the computer’s video player.  

6.)  There are units that have 3-axis G-force sensors that will automatically save crash event files and protect the files from being overwritten (usually 10 seconds before and 20 seconds after the crash). And there are units that allow the user to hit a button to do the same thing (Such as when you are not involved in a crash but would like to save and protect an incident.)

7.)  There are units that have GPS receivers recording the GPS location as well as the video file (example).  These units come with their own computer program that merges all the data into one viewing program using internet available maps (Google Maps).

8.)  Most units record the vehicle’s interior sound.  So no more talking to yourself as you drive! 

9.)  Most units have an internal battery and can be powered up independent of the vehicle’s power.  I would suggest if possible after being pulled over and giving the officer your driver’s license, etc. unplug the unit and power up the dash cam using the internal battery so if the officer tells you to shut off the car the camera will continue to record. 

10.)  Units can be purchased for under twenty-five dollars to hundreds of dollars (example). But for under $60 dash cams can be purchased with front and rear view cameras and a GPS receiver.  (This will be my next purchase.)

11.)  My dash cam came with instructions written in Chinese-English and the printing was so small that I had to photo-copy the instructions several times enlarging the print-out each time so I could read it - and I have 20/20 vision.  But because of the language barriers I just tinkered with my dash cam figuring it out on my own. 

Finally, poke around first before diving into the dash cam pool as there are units that have a single camera, dual cameras, dual cameras with one being a remote camera, single units with GPS, dual cameras with GPS that are either internal or external (GPS can be unplugged but the cameras still operate), etc., all for under $100.

Thanks for the Blog, - Johnny Dash Cam

Sunday, February 3, 2013

This is the time for all of us to learn something abut “Building a community”. We have done our best to be prepared to survive and to continue to enjoy an acceptable good life, and provide for the present and for the future. Time surely appears to be getting very short. Now is the very best time we will ever have to ready ourselves to rebuild our community and provide the services and protection that we will need.

We sincerely believe that our post-SHTF life must be more than simple survivalism, more that just having enough basic food to survive at a lower calorie count, more than simple security from the Golden Horde. Life must continue to be about improving one’s self. Life must be about enlarging God’s kingdom here on earth. Life must be about creating strong love for families. Life must continue to be about helping those who truly cannot help themselves.

We have envisioned being able to help our very small town of about 500 population, to be a tight knit community of survival oriented family units working together to provide for our selves and others as may be needed.  Our small town consists of about 125 homes with a terrific grouping of skill sets plus a 153-year history of working together on common interest projects. The nearest larger town is about six miles in one direction with another even smaller town about fourteen miles further up the road. A large segment of our town already strives to set aside a 1-2 years supply of basic food, fuel, and medicine.

Yes, about 60% of our little country town is Mormon and about half of them actually go to church with us. That is not the important thing. What really counts is that the folks around here are personally experienced in droughts, flash floods, forest fires, landslides, economic downturns, and just plain bad luck on occasion. In actuality we have experienced all of these disasters in just the immediate past 12 years. All of them!  And FEMA  and the Red Cross didn’t show up until the third day after the flood!

As for my family, we are actually two retired couples,, ages 72-72-61-62, plus four  small dogs  and two large cats, residing in a spacious shared home. . We have agreed that we are going to stay here when the SHTF.  We are long-term (20 years) close friends and have learned to trust one another. We have compatible skills and experiences. Yes! two women can share a kitchen and stay friends. Actually sisters in every sense of the word.

Our location is in rural southwest Utah and is centered on a very wide valley mouth (about 4 miles), and next to and above a usable small river. There is an all year creek feeding the river right in the center of town. There is plenty of drinkable irrigation water. We have a two lane state road passing through and only two other roads coming into town. We can be very security oriented immediately! We have a goodly number of retired military and police individuals who are ready and committed to help as needed.

Many of our folks have large gardens and grow wholesome food. There are very large pastures in the immediate area currently used to graze horses and cattle. Many of the ladies here in town raise chickens and are bartering eggs already.

We, as a community, already know mostly who will need medical help, as well as who can probably help to “pull the wagons “when needed.

As for our combined four retirees family, we are fortunate to share a very large well situated home with ample auxiliary power, good water, and a large septic system. A twelve panel solar array (2.3 KW) and a thirty-foot wind turbine  (1.6KW) will provide plenty of power as needed during the “hard times”. A Taller pole would be much preferred. We can heat the entire house with wood easily.

Our alt electricity system is a grid tied 48-volt system with 16 gel deep cycle 6-volt batteries. The batteries are situated in the garage and we are safe from battery fumes because of their gel configuration.

The turbine is good  for our situation and our location. It is a FALCON MACH 5 from Missouri Wind and Solar.  Good people to work with!  They carry all of the miscellaneous parts needed to make the power system perform to our specs.

Our electric power situation is not the only one in town. Two other families also have solar power arrays. However, we do have the only wind turbine. We will be able to provide recharging for the many kindles, notepads, laptops and battery powered small appliances we all seem to need so badly.

Our home is now plumbed to filter the local irrigation water to the kitchen for drinking and cooking. In addition to watering the garden, we can use that water for showers and to flush the toilets. We have a roof mounted solar water heating panel. The small twelve-volt glycol fluid pump at the water heater tank in the garage is powered by a roof top tiny ten-watt solar panel.

I have spent nearly twenty years building an excellent library of specific topic books and videos so that what ever breaks down, disappears, wears out, or proves to be inadequate to our needs, will be rebuilt, repaired, replaced, or expanded. We will do whatever it takes to make it work! We have the specific knowledge needed to do the job. And we can teach others as well.

We have recently made a small investment in Kindles and an exterior hard drive for data storage. Nearly every day one of us downloads and/or copies data from another source into the kindle. Amazon.com has a huge list of EBooks available for free and a great many for just 99c.

Additionally there are 40,000 free eBook’s available from Project Gutenberg. No fee or registration is required. It is fabulous.

Another good site for free EBooks may well be your favorite university. Here is a search result from Google looking for “free university EBooks”.

A great place to find very good quality new and used books and videos is Half Price Books stores. We paid $9.99 for a box of CDs covering 1890 to 1995 National Geographic magazines. Every word, every photograph, every map. 

Our personal main physical library has roughly five types of books. We work on expanding these regularly.  Where do we find books and videos?

Everywhere! Yard sales, consignments, public libraries, Craigslist, etc.

Our favorite topics are mainly these:

History - American

Medical  - “how to do it “

 Drugs -  Essential oils, homeopathic health care

 Food  - storage and usage

 Farming - anything we can find about non-electric farming
 Military – Army-USMC infantry low to mid level skills and leadership

Biographies - great men and women who built this nation


These information jewels are of tremendous value now,  and even more when we start to rebuild our lives after the onset of chaos resulting from the loss of power, or the loss of financial systems, or the loss of regular food deliveries to our stores.

How will we use these data banks? Simply put, they are our DIY “how to” tools. We will build up a community known locally for good individual and town security, good medical care, good solutions to problems, great barter items, education for the children, gunsmiths, charged 12 volt batteries, protected trading fairs, barber and beauty shops, and nothing for free.

We will start with the community we already live in and know well. We will work with people we know and have learned to trust !

I am a 72-year-old diabetic with COPD and I need a regular supply of meds and a supply of oxygen 24/7.  We were able to get a used Oxygen Concentrator from the local company that provides my bi-weekly liquid oxygen restock. A patient had passed away and that person’s concentrator was then considered unusable. The delivery tech cut off the power cable and gave the used concentrator to me.  They wrote it off as destroyed.

I replaced the power cable and put the unit in the garage stores room as my backup. Further, I was able to obtain a supply of reserve air filters for the unit and extra tubing parts in order to be prepared when the O2 deliveries stop.

COPD is now the #4 killer in the nation. These oxygen usage situations are everywhere and are very serious.  Many persons with various serious medical situations keep that knowledge to themselves.  Finding them is important. Helping them to help themselves and others is critical.

A simple web search for “ Used Oxygen Concentrator” will produce more information that anyone may want or need. Three things are important.  #1. Free to low cost shipping costs, #2. 30 plus days of warranty, and #3. a 5 liter per minute flow. Do not buy under 5 liter flow.  Here is a link from the web search I did for these facts. There are many others available. http://www.dotmed.com/ The companies selling new ones all have good used stock as well. These same factors apply to obtaining other diagnostic and treatment equipment.

You can do a web search for companies selling new units and just make a list of their names and phone numbers. Do about 10 of them. I suggest that you make a list of questions with ample space between them to write the answers. Make enough copies so as to have a page for every company you are going to call. Now work the phone and make good notes about the answers to your questions. Always note the name of the person you are talking to. This is always a good research method for just about any important inquiries you might have.

As a diabetic I am concerned about safeguarding my insulin and keeping it cool. There was an article published in this blog site on 12-19-12 about a non-electric “zeer pot”. It is simple and it works. Look it up for yourself.

 In our town we have at least 4 elderly widows who now live alone. Surly there are others. When the SHTF we will try very hard to enable them to move in with a “compatible” family who has room for them. Every family needs a grandma, especially one who brings food, blankets, books, smiles, and experience with her. This will reduce the levels of community needs for winter firewood, summer cooling, childcare, etc. And we will all be happier!

Why do we believe this type of community care is important? Experience and history both teach us that if we do not care for those who “can not take care” of themselves, then no one will be cared for. We will succeed, or fail, together. If we do not take care of each other, no one will be taken care of.

Another element that we should keep in mind is, how should a community deal with strangers wanting help coming to one’s door, especially if they have children? We all know that we must make difficult decisions well in advance before the situation occurs. So be smart! Make these types of decisions before you are stressed.  Should you have to turn someone away, I suggest that you provide to them a small amount of food. One simple meal of beans and rice in amounts as needed. Send them on their way With a stern warning to not return.

A simple solution to future problems is to decide how you will respond to a situation in advance. And then perhaps agree in advance that the only new folks who will be accepted into your community are the family members of current residents. But first, I would require the current residents to commit to sheltering and feeding their newly arrived family member.

The newbies will need to be “thoroughly interrogated” as individuals, one at a time, and questioned separately as to skills and education and especially their background. Then the resident family will need to be questioned to assure that all of the family’s answers are the same. Do not be reluctant to say no!

Perhaps these suggestions are not exactly what you need. Talk about and make the decisions the decisions in advance. Be very careful whom you invite into your town, your secrets, your homes, and your hearts. Your worst enemy will be someone who will turn on you out of envy!

What about non-family exceptions? Keep in mind that your community will surely need some specific skills. Perhaps you need a plumber or a carpenter or a nurse or a teacher. Ask questions about skills and experience. Just what are the skills you will need almost immediately?  Most likely it will be Military and Police. These two are fully separate responsibilities. They should work together, each within the parameters of their specific tasks. 

Who is in charge? Perhaps an administrator, or mayor, or chairman. The actual title of the community leader really is not important. It just needs to be one that everyone understands who is the boss.

Your community leader will most likely perform best if he/she has two associates who work with him/her as counselors and surrogates with specific areas of authority and responsibility. One should be responsible for everything concerning medical and health. The other should be responsible for everything concerning food and supplies. Both will most likely have other areas of responsibility.  Before management decisions are final they would need to be very sure that they are both ready to support the leader.

Your military commander should be, if possible a combat veteran, responsible for every thing concerning security outside of your local area boundaries. Your police commander should be an experienced lead officer, and be responsible for the community security inside your boundaries. Both should report directly to the leader. Neither should be a counselor. You will have enough to worry about without a mutiny.

These tasks are going to be much the same in every sized group and in every type of location. Yes! There will be differences, just be flexible and understand that not everyone will immediately agree with you. Be patient and teach through honest dialogue and skilled questioning. The best leader is usually the best listener.

Now back to our basics, books and videos. We do not want to reinvent the wheel. This wonderful web site has a terrific suggested book list of lists readily available to you. Use it first!  SurvivalBlog.com blog.

Below we have a list for you of some of the books on our shelves. Some of the choices we have made for ourselves may well be nothing like what you feel that you need. No matter! You’re in charge. Smile anyway! Just do a list and get to work before the SHTF.

Our single expensive knowledge tool to date is the “Appropriate Technology Library” on four CD’s. The cost about six years ago was huge, $400. The four CDs contain 1,050 books. That’s about 49 cents per book! They cover everything anyone would ever need to know to start or to restart civilization, or just to build or repair a community infrastructure. The pricing has increased a little and the material is now available on two DVDs. Their web site is


Here we go. Already on our book shelves as I write this, from among the suggested titles on the Rawles gigantic list of lists: -

When there is no doctor * When there is no dentist
The encyclopedia of country living * Nuclear War Survival Skills
Ball Blue Book of Preserving * Boston’s Gun Bible  * Tappan on Survival
Physicians desk Reference * The Merck Manual * LDS Preparedness Manual
Alas Babylon * Lucifer’s Hammer * One second After * Earth Abides
Molon Labe * The Postman ( book & video) * Out of the Ashes (1 thru 12)
Unintended Consequences (see warning) * Tunnel in the sky * Footfall
Atlas Shrugged * Jim Rawles Books ( All of them)*
Plus twenty-one more from the Jim's lists.

I am only including a selection of our other books that we have actually read, and there are many more just waiting to be picked up and gently used. As a rule, strictly reference books are stored in place, to be used as needed by someone to successfully complete a task or to teach a topic. Our total count in the library is in excess of six hundred plus the 1,050 on the CDs.

Farming 1918 Edition / Four Volumes Set - Sears & Roebuck
Farm Knowledge – Illustrated – pre-electricity -2,000 pages
American Survival Guide – 120 issues ( 10 years )

Medical  / drugs Essential Oils by Bowles / Barron’s
The PDR Family Guide by Three Rivers Press
Acupressure’s Potent Points by Michael R. Gach
AMA Family Medical Guide by Random House
The Green Pharmacy by James A. Duke
Everyday Health Tips by Prevention Magazine
The Botanical Atlas by Daniel McAlpine
Prescription for Nutritional Healing by P. A. Balch
Armageddon Medicine by C. J. Koelker, MD

History Rights of Man by Thomas Paine
Original Intent  book  *  Wall Builders DVDs by David Barton
Patriots of the American Revolution by Richard Dorson

Military Expertise: Company Commander by Charles McDonald
Company Command   by John G. Meyer
Army Officers Guide by L.P. Crocker
On War by Clausewitz
Command in War by Van Creveld
West Point by Bruce Galloway
Citizen Soldier by Robert Bradley
Total Resistance by H. Von Dach

Biography Roosevelt F.D.R.  & Teddy
Franklin  *  Churchill  *  Washington
Adams     *  Jefferson   *  Monroe

Food My wife has more than 40 books on everything imaginable
Concerning buying, storing, preserving, canning all types of Food. And that’s not counting her cookbooks & videos.

One more thing, no one should rely on the Internet for information because when the power fails, the Internet will die! It will be too late to get the information you will need.

It is our sincere hope that our readers will give serious thought concerning the timing and extent of your preparations in the areas of helping others and building a good life after we have survived the major disaster we are all facing. We are sure that Almighty God does answer our prayers for direction and decisions. Please refer to James 1:5 for this assurance.

We are passionate in teaching others the concept of making difficult decisions well in advance.

Remember Winston Churchill’s advice to the graduation collage class during the worst moments of WW2   “ Never Give Up."

Monday, November 5, 2012

I'd like to tell the readers about an amazingly affordable electronics workbench tool that turns you laptop into an oscilloscope, and a lot more: Analog Discovery. This one card can
replace $10,000 worth of other gear. The student version is just $99. See a quick summary of the specifications.

I think that this is the Pico scope taken to the next level. This puts AM radio, FM radio, radar, sonar, ultrasound, spread-spectrum radio for secure communications, encryption tools for running secure comms over otherwise insecure channels, high-bandwidth servocontrol of machinery and countless other modern technologies in hands of the garage inventors, small businesses and university research groups. At my company we've been using much more expensive versions of this technology for a while.

The Digilent Analog Discovery design kit, developed in conjunction with Analog Devices Inc., is the first in a new line of all-in-one analog design kits that will enable engineering students to quickly and easily experiment with advanced technologies and build and test real-world, functional analog design circuits anytime, anywhere - right on their PCs. For the price of a textbook, students can purchase a low-cost analog hardware development platform and components, with access to downloadable teaching materials, reference designs and lab projects to design and implement analog circuits as a supplement to their core engineering curriculum.

The specs:

Dual 14-bit 105 MSPS ADC
Dual 14-bit 125 MSPS DAC
16 digital I/Os at 100 MSPS
Programmable power supply

It is designed to be an oscilloscope/AWG/logic analyser/digital pattern generator, so the usual caveats (5 MHz analogue input bandwidth) apply for such a device, but the screenshots
of the software look quite nice and Mac OS X and Linux versions are promised.

Like many here, I'm not too interested in this class of oscilloscope, but assuming it's hackable it could be the basis for a cheap software defined radio transceiver. It doesn't look like a schematic diagram is available, but Digilent often provides them. We'll have to wait and see after it's released.

Here is a write-up in EE Times: Disruption in the engineering classroom

And, one in EDN: The joys of tinkering, by Robert J. Bowman, Professor of Electrical Engineering, Rochester Institute of Technology.

Regards, - Chris M.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Speaking of offline Wikipedia tools, there are a number of offline readers available for your laptop computer. I have found these:

None of these are great, but they are all free. - Regards, - Patrick W.

JWR Replies: Thanks for sending those links. The 3.5 Gigabytes required to store LeftistAgendaPedia Wikipedia complete with graphics is a good reason to remember to buy a laptop with a larger hard disk drive, the next time that you need to replace yours.

Friday, August 3, 2012

As a newbie prepper I have gone through the emotional progression of realizing my lack of preparedness.  It started with the feeling that something bad was going to happen now!  This quickly subsided, followed by the overwhelming feeling that I must act now.   This impulse quickly digressed to the obvious and most important step in my preparedness action plan, honest self-evaluation.  With the growing database of information on preparedness, I felt overwhelmed with my apparent lack of knowledge when it came to surviving.  I had less than a week’s worth of food in my home, no guns, and a vehicle that ran on prayers.  I could not believe I was so unprepared and had so few skills (or so I thought.)  Being a somewhat of a pessimist, I had to change my way of thinking, if I was going to implement a successful preparedness plan.  Being confident in the skills you have, and being confident in your ability to gain skills and knowledge is paramount in proper homesteading/preparedness. 

Growing up in rural Arkansas I had what I consider a farm-boy education.  I was also fortunate enough to have a few lakes and rivers within 20 miles of my home.  Like many young men that grow up outside of the city, I gained the confidence to shoot shotguns, hunting rifles, pistols, and could fish with the best of them.  I also learned basic animal tracking skills, how to recognize deer trails, squirrel nests, when the fish were more likely to bite, and various other commonplace occurrences that are found in North American outdoors.  My parents were middle-class, 50hr/wk, hard-working folks.  To earn extra income they would buy houses in need of full renovations, move our family into them, and make them new while adding a few more dollars to their checking account upon the sale.  They were house “flippers” before it became a television show.  I was entering Jr. High school when this “flipping” lifestyle began (mid-1990s), and was entrenched in the world of carpentry and home renovation.  My father was not the patient type, yet insisted on teaching me every skill necessary to improve our current dwelling.  I learned to tile floors, replace countertops, build cabinets, frame small structures, and use all the basic tools for the jobs in the process.  From a hammer to a table saw to a sewer snake, I had to learn.  This lifestyle continued until I left for college in 2003.  Throughout college I regained my love for the outdoors with camping and weeklong backpacking trips on the Buffalo River Trail.  I learned to pack light, clean my drinking water, cook food on a campfire, and how to entertain myself and friends miles from televisions, or radios.  I never put much thought into what those times were doing for me.  I simply viewed it as a great time camping with friends. 
I left institutional education to work for a company that provided cold food storage and transportation for the frozen food industry.  I was a shop foreman with 4 mechanics and metal fabricator working with me.  For the next three years I learned to completely rebuild diesel motors, gained a complete understanding of the principles of refrigeration, and all skills necessary to repair it (soldering, torch basics.)  We repaired semi-trailers with minor structural damage as well.  I learned to use air sheers, riveters, various welders, as well as working with a broad range of materials.  The culmination of all of these skills broadened my understanding of the requirements to do many repairs and fabrications as well (time involved, tools, manpower, supplies.)  I got married during my time working at the shop, and I made the decision to go back to school in order to pursue a new career.

I began school full time and worked at a pharmacy full time as well.  I was instantly certified in CPR, formally trained in the understanding of drugs, their uses, and dangers.  I worked hand in hand with healthcare professionals, gaining the knowledge of drug therapy, and disease management.  This was extremely beneficial, due to my lack of understanding I was forced to look up and learn numerous biological principles as well as conversion math for liquids powders, creams as so on.  The pharmacy job slowly progressed into a full time position in corporate headquarters for the large retail company.  This has provided the opportunity for me to work hand in hand with data security technicians.  This has further broadened my basic knowledge of computers function and security as well as communication skills and team management. 

At present I look to attack this task of preparedness.  In order to be successful you must have the right mindset.  Check!  You must evaluate your current physical inventory. Check! And you must evaluate your skills that pertain to survival.  Sometimes this task alone is the toughest to wade through.  You can buy items on a list, you can count your beans, but it takes mental fortitude to tell yourself you can do something and go the next step to admit you could use some practice and learn to be better at a few things.  The time to decide if you have a particular skill and learn it is now, not during TEOTWAWKI.  Below I will provide an example of the process to evaluate your hard skills and create a list to work on your weak ones, as to not be overwhelmed by not knowing where to start or “learning it all.”  With the information provided in earlier text I will reference the hard skills that I am confident I can use, and those that require a re-visit in the near future.  I prepared a simple chart that ranks my proficiency of each skill.  This simple rating system could apply to many aspects of preparing, but for now I use it to keep my skills sharp.  It is ranked as follows;
 1=no knowledge of skill
 2=have seen skill used in person, but never attempted skill firsthand
3=attempted skill first hand at least once
 4= familiar with skill and use it once a year
 5=use skill monthly/proficient
This list is not in order of necessity.  All items on the list are necessity when surviving TEOTWAWKI.  The rank will help you determine your skill needs.  The key to building your skills is not to make one more important than the other, but to maintain proficiency in, or firsthand knowledge of all.  This list is not meant to be definitive.  It is a personal evaluation of what you believe will benefit you in your particular situation.  You can sort it however you like (alphabetically or by importance.)  The list below is a snippet of pages of skills I have, plan to perfect, or acquire as I move through this life.




Loading, handling, cleaning personal weapons


Hunting Local Game/Fishing


Preparing game for immediate cooking


Preparing game for long term storage


Sourcing water locally


Growing seasonal garden spring/summer/fall


Preparing your garden harvest for long term storage


Starting a fire with few or no tools


Constructing emergency shelter




Make Lye Soap


Changing flat tire


Another important aspect is evaluating the skills of your immediate household.  For me it’s my wife and children.  My wife is a great homesteader in the kitchen.  She cans fresh veggies, meats, etc.  My youngest child has an eye for garden pests and animal health.  There are many skills that your family can help supplement.  Do not assume you need to max out 5’s in all of your categories.  Take into account your collective abilities and do not let this list become a negative reminder of what you are not doing.  Maintaining that positive mindset is the key to getting better.  And we all want to get better!  Similar to practicing your emergency exit plan, incorporate your family when you choose to practice your skills.  This will ease your mind as well as theirs and help you keep focused on the important prep work. 

The list could go on as long as you wish, and is meant to do so.  I, like many preppers, am becoming more aware of the benefits of organization in all aspects of my life.  The list you create will only preserve your current intentions of becoming self-sufficient, and allow you to see the progress you are making.  This in turn should help negate some of those feelings of not knowing what steps to take first, as well as giving you direction.  The difference between those that do and those that want to do is simply that.  Doing! As I stated early in my post, it can be overwhelming for most people to know where to begin.  By using a ranking system for your skills and keeping a solid inventory of them, it will build your confidence to move forward and take those necessary steps to survive!   I update my list a few times a year as I see fit.  I talk with my wife and children about skills that they would like to acquire or have been practicing.  Please do not forget that just because you are not an expert does not mean that someone else isn’t.  Seek professionals with the skill sets you wish acquire and learn what they have to offer.  Even a simple conversation could teach a trick or two about starting a fire with no matches, or keeping the slide on your weapon better lubricated while exposed to dirt and moisture.  Remember, if you knew it all you wouldn’t be reading this.  Happy prepping.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

One of my favorite places to find information on just about everything I may need at TEOTWAWKI is at my local museum.  As a genealogist and museum professional I also have an inside track and know that 90% of all hard copy information about individuals or local communities is not now and probably will never be on the internet.  I am one of four part-time employees at our local county museum and am responsible for all nine computers, printers, our server and web site. 

Technology is a tool that may not always work when I need it and I recognize it as such. As one whose first personal computer (PC) was an IBM 8080 (64k ram, floppies and 10mb hard drive), I have been using PCs since the early 1980s.  Digital information overload and ten different ways of doing the same thing have become the norm.  Today we access social media, blogs, traditional web sites, index sites, images, books, videos and how-to’s, expect every site to work on a smart phone.  Our children teach us technology and we have made Google a verb.  Instant information is expected and for awhile I worried that 4GB of ram may be too little.  My 100GB PC hard drives and 8GB flash drives are much too small for those who think in terms of terabytes. 

My personal addiction to instant information access was recognized and nipped firmly in the bud two years ago.  My smart phone died one cold January morning.  It took eight days and money I didn’t have at the time to purchase a new phone, recover phone numbers, addresses, calendar information and documents.  Some of it was lost in cyberspace forever. 

Since that digital meltdown, I have since made it a habit to be sure everything is backed up.  I sync my phone information often with my PC, and use Evernote and Dropbox and other cloud services.  Even though I use them everyday at work, I have never depended on electronics quite the same way again.  Many days when I am not working, I find it easier to not use them at all.  I also realized I much more prefer the feel of paper and a pen beneath my fingers than a keyboard when I take notes or write about something important.  My thinking is much clearer and I don’t get as distracted. I print out important documents or information on acid free paper and handwrite my daily journal and calendar once again.  

If I were to lose the internet, my computers or smart phone, for an extended period of time, I could still find information I need because I know how to retrieve non-digital information quickly at my local museum.  If you haven’t been to your local museum since elementary school, it is time you went back.  There is no better place to get to know details about your neighborhood, neighbors and community, see historic tools or learn and practice traditional skills.  If you have never been to your local museum, find out where they are, what their hours and policies are and what they have in their collections.

A key thing to know about finding and accessing information from your local museum is figuring out where the nearest one is.  They are usually in a county seat and many of them are called historical societies, with your county’s name preceding historical society in the phone book.  If your historical society is not located in your county seat, the county recorder or chamber of commerce may be able to help you find them.  Your state historical society should also have a list of them on their web site or through their local history outreach coordinator. 

Once you find out where your museum is physically located, you will need to check their hours and days they are open and plan a visit.  Most historical societies that operate museums and historic sites have extremely limited budgets and part-time staff.  Our rural county, of less than 15,000 people, is west of the Mississippi and we enjoy all four seasons.  Our museum is unusual in that we are open year round.  We have historic buildings off-site that like many small museums we only operate seasonally.  Also, unless we have a special event or exhibit opening, we are not open on weekends or in the evenings.  We are open 9-5 Monday to Friday , but several museums in our state are only open from 10-3, 9-3 or noon-5 for two or three days a week.  Some are closed on Mondays or Tuesdays, some are open on Saturday, it depends on their budget, staffing and availability of volunteers.

We have a web site I update at least once a month.  Many societies may not have web sites at all or cannot afford to update them and as stated before, at least 90% of the information in most archives or collections is not on-line.  We are an exception in that many of our key records and inventory records have been digitized, but there are restrictions on the on-line access to our digital collections and most information is only available on-site. Anyone who looks at our web site will see our hours, address and key information about research but will not see entire exhibits, three dimensional views of artifacts or know everything that is in our archive or collection.

You will also need to know if the museum charges for their research time, admission to the exhibit area or other fees.  Most societies also have memberships and a member only newsletter they will mail or email to you when you pay your dues.  It will have their events, special news and information about various research topics and area stories or biographies they have recently worked on. 

Don’t count on the Periodical Source Index (PERSI) to have indexed their newsletter or to have a digital catalog of their collection.  PERSI is on our mailing list, and we have digitized and indexed our newsletters in house, as well as created catalogs and databases but we are not the norm.  To read past issues you will need to either purchase a photo copy, digital file or visit the museum’s archive.  

I strongly encourage you to take the time to visit and spend at least one or two hours the first time you visit in person.  Get a feel for the place and how they operate.
Visit the exhibit galleries and read all the labels, look closely at the photographs and artifacts and ask for a tour of the facility. 

When I give a tour, it usually takes me about six minutes and I quickly walk visitors through the building, upstairs and down, and tell our visitors key facts about the historic building, our county history and that we have over 45,000 photographs, hundreds of journals and scrapbooks, business records and tools, local maps, over 15,000 artifacts (from 1825 to 2011) and point towards various shelves that contain thousands of old fiction and non-fiction books, periodicals and various manuscript collections. 

I always show off our newspaper index card files, and tell them that if they were born, married or die in our county; chances are their name has or will wind up in our card and digital indexes.  I show off the research room and newspaper collection and finally move onto the artifact storage area and let them know our access policies.  Men love our historic tools, military and toy collections.  Women seem to gravitate towards our household, toy and textile collections. 

Before they leave I give each person or family a membership brochure and a newsletter, and if they live in the area, (I always ask where they are from), tell them about our volunteer program and invite them to come back soon.   These six minutes can in no way encompass the collection of individual, county, village and township records and artifacts that our museum is the repository for. 

To find out if our museum has information a certain topic, you will need to ask.  I know our collection and what research resources are available for self guided study.  I know how to check our printed catalogs and databases, and so do several of our volunteers but many will not.   That said, I many times have to contact our long-time members or volunteers on certain topics.  I was not born in my county and have only lived in the state for the past eighteen years.  If I do not know the answer I will try to find it, but many times it isn’t instantly available.  We are not Google and even if we were, remember it probably isn’t available on-line.  Our society also has the policy of charging for my time.  If you want me to help you research a family or topic, it can get pricey if you are not clear on exactly what you are looking for. 

If you have time and really want to know what your resources your local museum has, volunteer your time for various events or to help research.  Our volunteers help us research topics or genealogies in our archive and work with artifacts in our collection room or at our historic sites.   Volunteers greet our guests, give tours and do data entry, indexing or host our programs or historic sites in historic garb, write using inkwells and make ice cream or churn butter with real cream. 

One of my favorite wintertime activities at our museum is when I dress up in my 1862 costume and read to visitors from our oldest local history book.  It took me two weeks and 8 yards of wool to create the costume, and 12 yards of cotton batiste for the petticoats and chemise.  It is very warm and except for the corset it is quite comfortable.  Before I created that costume, I never thought of only having two outfits in my life or having to carry everything I wore in a trunk.  I also had never fully realized the importance of knowing how to make a good French seam with tiny stitches, or that hooks and buttons can be handmade instead of purchased.  In this process, I also learned that our museum had two different types of treadle sewing machines and that both of them were in working order. 

We also utilize volunteers with our ongoing programs for homeschool, 4H, scouting and other children of various ages and show them how to play games, use tools or learn skills that were popular before electricity came to our area after rural electrification in the 1930s. Ropemaking and churning butter seem to be two of the most popular work related activities and the wooden articulated toys are always a hit.  Our volunteers also enjoy hosting at our off-site country school events.  One of our key strengths is that we take extra time to figure out what projects our volunteers want to help with.  We ask a lot of questions about what you want to accomplish and learn about while you work. 

Finally, before you travel home, check out the museum gift shop and buy a locally written history book or two about your region or favorite topic.   With very small budgets, book sales and donations are the life’s blood of many museums.

Once you realize how much information on life in your area, traditional crafts and tools is available at your local museum, you will find it much easier to unplug. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

p align="left">Judgment, reasoning, decision-making, logic, figuring it out... Call it what you will, the first level of preparation should be your mind. To roughly quote Einstein “the thinking that created the problem is not going to solve the problem”. Computer folks call it “garbage in, garbage out”.

There are numerous “rosy paths” that can cause a person to make a poor judgment call. Considering each of these in turn will, I hope, increase your awareness of them in your own decision making, and make you less susceptible to those who would use them to change your actions against your better judgment, or to sway your opinion. While reading the remainder of the article work out how often your judgment is based on faulty reasoning and clouded by emotion. Additionally, ponder the words you use, as those words, whether spoken or unspoken have great power.

Incorrect Cause:
Mistaking correlation for causation. An example of this is” knowing” you missed that big buck standing right in the open because you forgot to wear those lucky socks. You laugh, however we all have been guilty of assigning an incorrect cause to an event.

I’m Right Since You Can’t Prove Me Wrong:
This person uses your inability to show that his conclusion is not valid as proof that he is right. A good example of this is “Why in the world would you store a year’s worth of food! Heck, we don’t have hurricanes, the stores around here always have food, and what are my taxes supporting FEMA for anyway!” In this situation I suggest sadly shaking your head, turning, and walking away.

Broad Generalization:
Pretty much all of us fall prey to this one. It assumes that what is valid some of the time is therefore valid all of the time. Racial prejudice and bigotry fall into this category of course. An acquaintance of mine believes that everyone of certain ethnic backgrounds are lazy. Making assumptions about a person simply because they vote democrat or republican is another example of a broad generalization. Not all democrats are against guns.  Of course if a democrat confides that he or she owns a battle rifle I might give them a second chance!

Rushed Generalization
: When you base a conclusion or inference on too small a sample or even a one-time event, you have made a decision which is unfounded. Consider your friend at work who is going to get a pit bull. His decision is completely based on the next door neighbor who has “the sweetest, cutest pit bull who just loves to play with the kids”.  You, of course, would do far more research before deciding what breed was best for you.

Invalid Analogy:
Here a person assumes that since two events or circumstances are alike in some known way that they are also alike in unknown ways. An instance of this would be that because your neighbor is an excellent wing shot (shooting flying game birds) that he will be an excellent sniper. Both have a lot to do with firearms of course, but being a skilled wing shooter does not automatically mean he will have the talents and skills of a military sniper.

Polarizing Argument:
  This tactic is a favorite of special interest groups. It is used to create drama and emotion. It is an attempt to force you to pick a side. If you are not with us, then you are against us. Example: “Huh, well if you are against increased funding and authority for the Department of Homeland Security that must mean you do not care about terrorist attacks!”

False Dilemma:
This is similar to using a polarizing argument. It infers that there are only two outcomes, and both are bad. For instance, thinking that the only two options available are to either build up a savings account and have the IRS tax the interest and watch it erode via inflation, or you can invest in beans and bullets, in which case you will have no retirement nest egg could be a false dilemma. One of the dangers of false dilemmas is their “no win” aspect which can cause you to take no action to improve your preparation situation.

Killing the Messenger:
A favorite through the ages of those who don’t have a valid counter argument based on evidence, also known as an ad hominem. Here the person attempts to invalidate the argument or information by attacking the source rather than the substance. “Heck, did you hear what Fred is saying about climate change and needing to stock up on food because of food shortages? Didn’t he get fired last month?”  How about “I don’t listen to a word that guy says, he voted for that city tax hike last year!”

Look Who Is Talking:
Or, two wrongs make a right. So an older, wiser prepper dad is advising his son against taking out a big loan and buying that fancy sports car. Dad thinks his son should stay debt-free and buy a reliable used car with good gas mileage for cash. The son keeps his thoughts to himself, which are along the lines of why shouldn’t he buy that fancy sports car since that is what dad did when he was his age.

Hitting A Moving Target:
This is when a person uses different meanings for a key word or term throughout an argument. An example here is “No one should doubt that God can work miracles, since we have seen countless miracles like synthetic DNA and heart transplants.” The speaker is using the term “miracle” in different contexts, technological and spiritual. A miracle of technology is human made, whereas a true miracle is, well. . . . a miracle.

Appeal to Authority:
This is one I love to hate, as it is used so often. In this case the credibility of a  position is enhanced  by the support of widely known or admired, but not qualified figures. Nuclear physicists, doctors, astronauts and celebrities are often used in this capacity. The main stream media is often guilty of relying on “appeal to authority” instead of truly investigating the matter, and is extremely poor journalism. Your friend Bob is going to max out his credit cards to buy Facebook stock because the doctor who operated on him last year said it was a “no brainer”. Yeah, right, maybe Bob should have gotten a second opinion.

Begging the Question:
 A tactic which bases its conclusion on a statement that is assumed to be true. An example might be “The actions of Wall Street Investment Bankers must be for the best since the actions in question are legal”. My reply to that is just because an action is legal does not make it honest or ethical.

Don’t Rock The Boat:
This claims that tradition, or the status quo should not be challenged. Corporate and social cultures are good examples. “This is the way we do things around here, so don’t question it or you will be viewed as a trouble-maker” or “In our subdivision we don’t think planting a garden is a good idea”. All of us who have dared to walk the path espoused on SurvivalBlog have had to deal with this.

Circular Argument:
Here a person uses the conclusion as the premise for the argument, or repeats a statement in different terms. My wife and I have a lot of fun with this one. I’ll say “how come you always disagree with me?” She replies “No I don’t”. Then I come back with “See what I mean?”  How about the person living in suburbia who insists they are well prepped since they have they purchased a month of food at Costco last year and has it stored in the basement? They stick to that month of food as evidence of being well prepared no matter how hard you try to point out the vulnerabilities of the overall situation. Did you hear about the guy who “always wins” the long range shooting competition? Yeah, he didn’t think it was fair that he got eliminated in the first round since he always wins the competition. Round and round it goes. . . .

Mob Rule:
This is an appeal to the majority opinion, which, after all, must be valid since “everyone” thinks so. Those of us who value our liberty need to be aware of how this is used to manufacture consent. Using safety issues like terrorists, school shootings and other events to create fear in the minds of the majority in order to further an undermining of the second amendment are all too real examples.  “We need security cameras, metal detectors and facial recognition software installed on every street corner to catch anyone who is acting strangely because they might be a terrorist” would fall into this category.

Straw Man:
The person on the other side of the debate restates your opinion in an exaggerated form in order to make it sound ridiculous. This is a bit like putting words in your mouth. Unless you are aware of this tactic and knowledgeable about your topic, this is a very effective strategy. It puts you on the defensive and makes your position appear weak. Suppose you are debating gun control with some poor misguided soul. You support reducing firearms ownership regulations. In response to your position your opponent states “Well, if society goes along with your proposal we will soon have assault rifles in every school locker and gun fire in the hallways!”

Domino Effect:
This suggests that taking a certain action will be the first step along the path to a negative consequence or dire outcome. This type of argument assumes a chain of events will occur once the “first domino falls”. Here I will use an example that will strike a nerve for most of the SurvivalBlog readership: Allowing firearms registration will inevitably lead to the confiscation of our firearms. See what I mean? Instituting a national firearms registry would be stepping onto a slippery slope, and gun confiscation could be the outcome, but it is not a certainty.

Taking it to Extremes:
This is similar to the Straw Man tactic. It can be a sign that your opponent is getting angry, frustrated, or simply unable to refute your position with logic and evidence. Consider the couple who cannot agree on prepping. The wife is a serious prepper who feels that dedicating a significant portion of their monthly budget to preps is a wise course of action. The husband resists the idea since it would mean cutting back on golfing most weekends with his buddies. Finally in frustration he says “well why don’t we just take out a second mortgage and spend the kids college money to buy all that stuff!”

Hypothesis as Fact:
Attempting to put forth a statement about what might have happened in the past, or may happen in the future, if only circumstances were different. Like last Saturday when you were in the garage lovingly taking that 27th AR-15 out of the box when your spouse walked in. Now normally your spouse could only be described as a wellspring of love, understanding and support. However, for reasons unknown, last Saturday was a “new normal” for your spouse. Whether it was the red face, the vein bulging ominously in her forehead or her hands clenching and unclenching that gave her emotional state away is now somewhat hazy. What you do recall is the speed with which you sought, purely for her benefit, to bring her blood pressure down to a safe level. “Honey” you said “This here new AR was totally necessary, you see the Euro is going to implode, like tomorrow, next year for sure, and then all your family and cousins will be coming here to stay with us. . . . and that means I’m gonna have to give’em all something to protect themselves with. You want them to be protected don’t you honey? And you and me are gonna need some guns just for us now aren’t we?

Red Herring:
A common diversionary tactic to hide a weakness in an argument. It is used to confuse the issue and throw you “off the scent”. Say your wife discovers that second bulk ammo order that brings your store of 5.56 to a nice even 100,000 rounds (I know, I know, when it comes to ammo to much is never enough). She confronts you with the credit card statement and “that look” that starts to peel the skin off your face. You are desperate to gain advantage in the confrontation so you pull a “red herring” out of the matrimonial tool kit. “You know I did it for you and the kids honey” you stutter, “...besides nothing I do ever makes you happy. Heck, last weekend I painted the bedroom just like you wanted and now you don’t even like the color”.

Utilizing a statement that is inconsistent or you might say “doesn’t pass the sniff test”. For example, you are making the rounds at the gun show. At one dealer’s table the salesman is pushing pretty hard to sell you an AK clone with all the bells and whistles. In a low voice the salesman states that the gun is the best deal at the show, and besides, you should buy from him because “them other guys will say anything to get a sale”.

As you start to more quickly recognize when you employ these faulty methods of reasoning, or when they are being used against you the better your judgment will become. It was eye-opening to me to realize that most of us spend a majority of our time either using these tactics or being subjected to them. Very few people indeed are “straight talkers” who don’t resort to the methods outlined in the foregoing.

Now I would like to spend a few moments distinguishing between evidence, truth and belief by way of a thought experiment. I assume that as you read this you are sitting in a chair. How many of you believe in the chair? Well, that is kind of ridiculous since it exists, right? Okay, now, how many of you believe in gravity? I bet more than a few of you raised your hands. Those who are undecided and did not raise your hands are invited to go to an open window with your wife’s favorite flower vase, now extend your arm out the window and release the vase. Gravity is one of those things that you cannot see directly, but we have plenty of evidence that it exists. Therefore, like the chair, it isn’t a matter of belief, since no matter how hard you shut your eyes and believe that gravity doesn’t exist, it in fact does. You cannot  have a belief in something that exists. That gravity exists on Earth is a fact, just like it is a fact that the chair you are sitting on exists. No matter how hard you think or how strongly you believe to the contrary nothing changes that fact. You can ignore the evidence of the chair having mass and taking up space, but that will not save you busting your shins on it if you attempt to walk through it like it doesn’t exist.

Most people confuse their beliefs with truth. Beliefs are concepts and ideas that are not supported by evidence such as measurements of mass, volume, temperature etc... We all have beliefs of course, and beliefs can be very powerful. In fact, most people will continue in their beliefs despite overwhelming evidence against them. There are psychological studies that show 80% of people will ignore evidence that is contrary to their views and beliefs. To do so in times such as the ones we now face carries a high degree of risk. One possible example of this are people who cannot conceive of the U.S. Dollar inflating until it is practically worthless. There is plenty of evidence to support the idea, but many people simply will not consider it.

Working on distinguishing between what is true as shown by evidence, and what you feel is true based on your opinions and beliefs is a very powerful step towards developing better judgment. A very wise person once said to me that "an opinion should be the result of a thorough consideration of the evidence, not in place of it." It is my hope that these words resonate with you and support your efforts in securing a bright future for you and your loved ones.

JWR Adds: To properly equip your children (or yourself, if logic was a subject overlooked in your education), I recommend the short books The Fallacy Detective: Thirty-Eight Lessons on How to Recognize Bad Reasoning and The Thinking Toolbox: Thirty-five Lessons That Will Build Your Reasoning Skills. Further,from a Christian perspective, to distinguish between scriptural truth and the lies of the secular humanist world, I recommend the lecture series The Truth Project, available on DVD.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

My daughter was recently in an Earth Science class where a discussion took place.   The other students didn’t know that the dandelion with the yellow flower and the dandelion with the white seeds were one and the same.  And this is from students who have taken numerous public school science classes and will soon be out in the adult world.  As I told this to a close friend, she made the observation that this will be the level and skills of people we will be dealing with should TEOTWAWKI happen.  My heart hurts that children aren’t taught to think and how to ask appropriate questions.  Some never develop a thirst for knowledge.  They are simply unprepared to live an independent and self-sufficient lifestyle.

As a 12-year homeschooling mom, I have some thoughts and ideas to share with others concerning children and the area of preparedness.   I realize that many readers of Survival Blog may have already raised their family and would instinctively pass by this article.  But are any of you grandparents, aunts, uncles, or neighbors of younger children?   I recently spent the day with a curious youngster who asked many questions of “how” and “why” I was doing things throughout the day.  It occurred to me what an opportunity it was to engage a young mind and body into the everyday life of a prepper. 
Children can be very intelligent.  My husband’s mother loved to tell the story of when they hired a handyman to do some wiring in their home.  My husband, who was 3 or 4 and didn’t talk much, quietly said “It won’t work.”  Sure enough, when his dad got home the wiring wasn’t done correctly and the lights didn’t come on.  They were wowed at the thought that their young son could see this.
In parenting, my first thought is that a child must be involved in what the mom, dad, or perhaps another adult is doing.  Do your very best to not put the child aside to play while you “get some things done.”  At first, having the child assist you will certainly slow you down, but after a while the child can be a real asset as he learns to think and process ideas.

About a month ago I visited a friend to discuss vacuum sealing mason jars and brought various supplies to demonstrate.  The three young children in the family were fascinated by the discussion and function of vacuum sealing.  The 7-year-old boy suggested an experiment to try and it worked!  But what would he have learned or been able to contribute if he were merely told to go play?
In my own prepping journey, I have researched sun ovens.  I do intend to purchase a professionally manufactured one, but right now I am experimenting with a solar funnel cooker made from a car windshield sun shade.   I can only get the temperature inside the cooking pot to 225 degrees, but it will definitely cook food on sunny days even if the weather is chilly.
My curious young neighbor asked plenty of questions when I set the cooker up on the patio.  I was conducting an experiment to increase the temperature by putting a mirror in the funnel.  (Surprisingly, my efforts failed as I got higher temperatures without the mirror).  But it was “fuel” for me and my young friend to discuss. 

Here is a link to show you how to build your own for under ten dollars.  And it shows a father and his daughter working together to make the video and demonstrate the oven.  Awesome!   
What fun to involve a child and cook things like “baked” potatoes, brownies, or simply heat up already cooked food (for quick and impressive results).  You both learn important skills that could actually be used in emergency/disaster situations.  As your skills grow, you can research more recipes to try and build on the knowledge you have gained.
This past year I saw some videos on the StoveTec Rocket Stove.  For my birthday I asked for and received one.  It is an amazing stove that I will get many years of use from.  It will be invaluable in the event of emergency, but it’s also fun and practical to use now.  After we ordered our stove, I stumbled across a video that showed someone who made a rocket stove with a few pieces of concrete.  It’s called a Redneck Rocket Stove.  Here’s a link to show how it works and how to make it.

Although I love my StoveTec stove, I must say the “Redneck” one is cheap, EASY to set up, and with adult supervision, a child could operate and cook on it.  As you can see in the video, this is an efficient little stove fueled by sticks easily gathered in the yard.  I plan to teach some classes in disaster preparedness in our community and will demonstrate this little stove, as I think every family should know how to make and set up one of these stoves in their back yard.

In reality, an open camp fire and little ones cause me to be more than a little jumpy and nervous.   From what I have read, children in 3rd world countries have fallen into open cooking fires and
have been horribly burned.  But this technology makes a contained fire that, with supervision, is much safer.  With adult help, a child from age 7 on up could be taught fire building skills and outdoor cookery.  So whether you want to roast some hot dogs and marshmallows on a starry summer night, cook a side dish to accompany meat grilled on the BBQ, or want to cook up a fantastic chili or stew, the rocket stove provides the means to hone those outdoor cooking skills for yourself and your child.

A word of caution.  You know your child.  Only you can decide when they are responsible enough to do this without supervision.  I do urge you to err on the side of caution when it comes to fire safety.  When finished, make sure the fire and coals are completely out.  You wouldn’t want your carelessness to be the reason of a fire disaster.
In continuing on our preparedness journey, my husband saw a need to “get out of town” and about 8 years ago we were able to move to the country.  This by itself was invaluable as we saw and heard our first mockingbird, realized that the sunrise and sunset pattern changes with the seasons, that the moon rises almost an hour later each night, that the constellations are in different places according to time and season, and many other amazing things.  We looked and learned and discussed and learned some more.  Can you REALLY eat dandelion greens and make jelly from the flowers?  Can plantain really take the itch out of mosquito bites and poison ivy as well as take the swelling out of bee stings?  Could an old fashioned remedy of plantain and soaking in Epsom salt reverse the horrible flesh damage caused by a brown recluse spider bite?  Even when the doctor said it was the worst case he had seen and my brother would have to endure surgery to remove a large amount of damaged flesh?  Yes, we learned all this and more by simply stopping to ask questions, look and observe, and gather information when we didn’t know the answers.

Something we did in our family is to choose good books to read aloud from the time the children were little on up to the teen years.  These books have made impressions that will be with us a lifetime.  It was a time investment on my part, but I believe the returns from the information gained was well worth the effort.  Everyone loves a good story.  When you can actually learn while being entertained, so much the better.
We started with the Little House on the Prairie series.  This pleased my daughter, but my 6-year-old son said he was not going to listen to a story about girls!  I read aloud anyway and he inched his way closer as he became interested in the story.  Needless to say, we finished that series and it is a happy memory we share. 

Stories of hardship and perseverance are always good ones to read.  It was probably my fascination with pioneer life that put me on the preparedness path I am on today.
Another set of books that we especially enjoyed was the Little Britches series by Ralph Moody.  The first  book, Father and I Were Ranchers and the third book, The Home Ranch, are most enlightening.  Like the Little House books, these are also true stories. They will especially appeal to boys 10 and up, but contains information both genders can learn from.  The young boy, Ralph, tells how his family moved out west, endured hard times, and then the father dies.  Ralph becomes the man of the family and goes to work to provide for his mother and siblings.  It is an amazing example of working hard and overcoming adversity.  It is also a loving tribute to a father who knew how to think, how to solve problems, and who in turn taught his son to do the same.

The book Lost on a Mountain in Maine by Donn Fendler is a fascinating true tale of a young boy who is lost in the wilderness and almost doesn’t make it out alive.  This story is invaluable to open up discussion of what and what not to do when lost in the wilderness.

A favorite story we read aloud, Freckles , is a work of fiction by Gene Stratton Porter. “Freckles” was orphaned in the early 1900’s.  His hand had been severed from his arm and he was simply left on the steps of a building when he was a baby.  Upon turning 18, he is released from an orphanage in a large city, and must now live and provide for himself.  He ends up at a logging camp and is given an opportunity to prove himself on a job, in spite of his handicap.  The grueling days, overcoming fear of the wilderness in which he finds himself, and battling thieves has you rooting for Freckles.  It is a real page turner.  A book is great, in my opinion, when it can engage children through adult level.  My daughter recently recommended it to a guy friend to read and he loved it.   My sister borrowed our book to take on a trip with her husband.  She read it aloud while he drove.  After the first chapter her husband said his “emotions had emotions.”  They, too, were drawn into the story and learned many things about natural science as well.

Another book we enjoyed was Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham.   It tells of a young boy whose dreams of an education are dashed when his father puts him in an apprenticeship which he legally can’t break.  He works hard and then self-educates as he finishes his obligation.  His main text book was a King James Bible.  He then goes on to change nautical history.  Although I was hesitant about reading this book in the first few chapters with my teens (due to it at first being geared to a younger audience and talked about “luck” which I do not believe in), I was glad we continued on.  It transitions to when the boy gets older and decides he wants to learn and be educated more than anything.  This is based on a true story that clearly shows the need for self-education and how to do it. 
Whether we choose to homeschool or not, parents are their children’s teachers.  And as we prepare for the worst and hope for the best, we need to ask “How will children be educated in an TEOTWAWKI situation”?  Families may have no choice but to homeschool.  How do you prepare for that?

Locate good materials (even through garage sales and thrift stores) and keep them for the future. Do not only buy math books and dry text books (they DO have their place), but choose good quality books such as I have mentioned and whet their appetites for lifelong learning. 

In a lot of preparedness articles I have read, the authors caution you to know how to use your supplies.  The time to learn is not after disaster strikes.  How true this is.  So make the best of the time you have now.  Whether you have a 3-year-old, a teen, or are just a concerned friend of a family with children, start investing in the lives of young people now.  Teach them skills.  Even if you are just beginning to learn yourself, involve the kids in what you are doing.  Ask them questions and wait for the answers.  Help them think through problems.  Help them come up with solutions. Help them help themselves.  Their lives (as well as yours) may depend upon it.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Preparedness is a lifestyle and a state-of-mind. You never know what disaster or emergency will befall you, it could be something you cannot possibly prepare for, for me and my family the times we have had to use our bug-out-bags were not related to national emergencies, but to family and local emergencies. I’m not saying not to prepare, I’m saying to prepare in ways you may not have ever thought to do, and these tips I have learned over the years could help someone else. These are not so much extrinsic items for survival, but intrinsic necessities.

When you have children, how you structure your family unit and your parenting skills can either keep you all alive or be the reason none of your family survives. So if you are a parent, I have a series of questions for you to ask yourself. How would you and your family answer these questions?

Do you have a picky or finicky eater? I’m not talking about allergies, I’m talking about pickiness. My youngest grandson has a good friend who won’t eat fruit, cheese, pizza, cake or ice cream or anything normally served at a kid’s birthday party. Not because he is allergic, just because he is finicky. While he is best friends with my grandson, there is no asking him over or inviting him to parties, because he is finicky to the point of being rude. He is the product of over indulgent and even neglectful parenting skills. These parents are not preparing him for the future in an unpredictable world. A child who is a finicky eater becomes a dead child in emergency situations. If you don’t want to see your children starve to death, teach them to eat anything that is put in front of them by loving, caring parents. Don’t allow them to become so very selfish as to be picky and finicky all the time. Now I am not talking about real allergies. Allergies are real medical conditions to be dealt with through planning, food storage and professional medical care. I have a real food allergy to shell fish and sea foods. If I eat French fries cooked in the same oil with shrimp, it can put me in the hospital. I carry an epi-pen, and have one packed in our emergency bug-out bag. My whole family knows and helps me deal with my food allergies. However; an allergy is different from pickiness, like not eating strawberries because you don’t like the seeds or birthday cake because it might make you fat or pizza because it is the wrong type. Teach your children that within reason, they need to eat what is put before them and be thankful for it, some day it might just save their life.

How many times to you have to tell your children to do something? Do you ask two, three or four times? The average these days is asking about four times. What if you only had time to tell your children once?  Hearing and listening are two different sides to this issue. How many hours a day do your children or grandchildren have earplugs on? What if they could not hear you, or did not listen to you when you called for them in an emergency situation? Do you realize in a disaster situation, it could cost your child his/her life if they failed to listen or respond at a critical time? My own son hated it because I required that he respond to me the first time I spoke to him. I was not being mean in teaching him that mom would not tell him twice. I was trying to teach him an important element to being ‘ready’. This generation has iPhones, iPods and headsets on all the time. I believe it is critical to teach children to be obedient from an early age. Little children don’t need strict lessons, they only need gentle guidance, and then they grow up right. If you wait till a child is older to teach them, good luck, the learning curve is over. Don’t let this lesson come as a surprise; prepare them now by teaching them to be obedient the first time. Just today as I finish this article, there is a G2 magnetic storm and an S2 solar radiation storm. My daughter called me on her cell phone a few moments ago, it cut in and out so badly I could not hear her, I suspect due to these atmospheric storms, but I did listen to what I did hear, so I got the message. If the time ever came when there were no cell phones, iphones, ipads, ipods working, our children and grandchildren would be lost. So I encourage parents, especially parents of teenagers, to have your children put their electronic devices down for a few moments each day and teach them obedience and to respond to your first asking, not the third or fourth.  It just may save their lives some day.

When you ask your children for details about a party or event or school project, do you ever get the response, “I don’t know”. Teach yourself and your children to be observant of details. If your children are younger, this can be a good game to play in the car to prepare them, with questions like ‘what color was the last car that passed us’ or ‘what color dress did the lady have on at the filling station’. My children loved this game when they were real young. Teaching them to be observant can help them reestablish contact if they ever become separated from you. Being observant to details is not inborn in all of us, just in the technical-minded. But, I am convinced that we can all learn to be observant to details. Any police officer who has ever worked a crime with ten witnesses and no details will tell you how important it is to teach people (children) to be observant of details. I witnessed two men stuffing a lady in the trunk years ago in what was a kidnapping crime. As I gave the police officers my statement, one made the comment that I was “no help” because I did not have details. I had become emotional as I witnessed the event and in my emotions, I failed to pick up any details that would help the police find the assailants. All these years later I still carry the burden of that event in my heart, and if that lady did not survive, it was my fault for not thinking clear enough to gather details that would help find her alive. Teach your children to be observant of details all around them.

Did you ever stand in line at the grocery store and realize how very loud the world has become? Background music and noise, people talking on their cell phones (some as loud as they seem to be able), beeping from the scanner, creaking from a bad wheel on the shopping cart, rattling of paper and plastic, etc, etc.  Silence seems to be a thing of the past. Many religious societies use silence as a structuring agent, they say that when you stop using one sense, it somehow seems to heighten all the others. No one teaches the value of silence anymore. Teach your children the importance of silence. In the early 1960s, I watched a documentary about a man who had survived the Holocaust and I regret that I do not remember his name. He owed his survival to silence. He had been hidden in the floorboards of his neighbors’ home and had to stay in a coffin sized area, in silence 23 hours a day. He said sometimes he was in there 24/7. His documentary struck me so intensely; I remembered it all my life. Because of that documentary, and much to the dismay of my children, I taught my children to be silent and to sit still, one hour at a time. I was a chatterer, so are my children and grandchildren, so this has not been easy, and quite possibly the hardest lesson they had to learn. It is a lesson parents today need to teach their children, even one hour at a time, ‘silence is golden’. Others might remember another more current television show that relates to silence was a M*A*S*H* episode where a bus load of people needed to be quiet to avoid the enemy, and a Korean lady held her hand across the mouth of her crying child until the child died. It was a show with a tremendous message for any parent in a life-death situation. I would pray that never happened to anyone, and realize it was about a baby whom cannot be taught, but older children can be taught. Teach your children the importance of silence, complete silence, no shuffling, no wiggling or tapping during silent time.  

Does it ever seem you and your children’s lives are spinning out of control? Balancing your inside life to the outside life can be complex. Parents and children today have so very many distractions, schools activities, getting the grades, extracurricular activities, church activities, friends, Scouts, etc. It seems like everyone everywhere is running around like chicken with their heads cut off, especially if you have school age children. Take an evening and list your family priorities, include prepping for the future. Make another list of every activity and organization everyone in your family is associated with, and what benefit they derive from it. The world is changing fast, if you don’t do this as a family once a year or at least once every couple of years, you are going to find out your probably out of touch with your family goals and priorities. Perhaps five years ago prepping wasn’t on your family list of priorities, now it is, have you made changes? Have the courage to stop the things that aren’t working for you and your children, whatever it is. Clubs, organizations, activities that worked in the past, but not now might have to be cut in order for your family to realign themselves to new ones. One person cuts here, someone else cuts there and it will work for everyone. A family that has not readjusted and reassessed their family goals every two years, is behind and not current.
QUESTION #6. Can your family keep calm? Learning to keep calm in the face of crisis is a difficult emotional challenge, but is a skill that must be developed if you plan to get your children and yourself out of disaster alive. If parents are anxious or upset, the children will be twice as upset. Myself, I turn to the Bible, you turn to whatever gives you peace and comfort. Most religions teach hope, so if you are a religious person, turn to that hope. In a national emergency a Christian or Jew may turn to Psalm 46: 1-3  ”God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea. Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.” Pick what is important to you and your family and prepare them ahead of time for any upcoming crisis. For six generations now, our family has stood on Psalm 91, by the dying wish of my great grandmother who pinned a note on her children as she lay dying, committing them to the care of angels. Giving your family faith and hope in normal times, gives them calm courage in desperate times. Pray ahead, don’t wait and let your prayers get ‘behind’ and you will be surprised at the calmness your children will display. Be honest with older children about crisis situations, they have a way of knowing anyway. 

Have you sat down with your children lately and ask them, who they are? Do your children know? Their answer might surprise you. Some say the only way to know who we are is to do an extensive genealogy. True, that will give you and your children insights into yourself, but it will not tell them their personal values. That is something kids (and adults) need to learn for themselves. I firmly believe the high school and college kids that get into trouble with drinking and drugs do so because they are trying to figure out just who they are. If they are taught family values as younger children their image of themselves will grow strong with their age. A self-identify gives a child security and courage. Hopefully, if bad times do come, your child will know themselves well enough to handle difficult situations, and have confidence to make snap decisions. Hesitation can kill, a person who knows themselves has the confidence needed to respond appropriately and quickly in any situation. You can’t hand a child self-image on a platter. It has been learned early and formed all through a lifetime. Ask your child what their values are, what their friends values are and who they identify themselves to be. Ask yourself too.

Answers to these seven questions teach your children acceptance, obedience, observance, mastery of self and emotions, prioritization, courage and faith.  If you can answer most of these questions with a ‘yes-done’ you are in good shape for any future emergency or disaster. If not, I strongly recommend you consider implementing some of this immediately. Any of these preparations can be made fun for children. They may not necessarily need these skills as a child, but they will retain them for life if you teach them while they are young. Preparations need not all be physical, the physical can disappear. Parental responsibility is not just caring for the children’s physical needs; it is caring for their mental, emotional and spiritual needs too. I encourage you to do some unseen preps soon.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The importance of keeping a curriculum in your plans

In a TEOTWAWKI community, the lifestyle would be more or less the traditional one known to all communities in all times, cultures, and epochs: survival maintenance. Work never ends because, in a traditional community, work is life. Gardening techniques, clothing styles, earthenware, cuisine, tools, art, tapestries, house construction, and all the rest are not ‘pretty things’ at all but artifacts that emerge from survival. They are pretty things when we see them as a Goth’s furry booties in a museum or an Algonquin head wrap in a roadside souvenir shop. Likewise, education is practical, a lesson with a purpose and not as a diversion, and the learning that does not further community welfare is a dangerous one. All effort either contributes to the community welfare or works against it. Learning programs are no different.

Even if cataclysmic events pass after a short time - say, five to ten years only - and we are able to re-enter the society we left with its food stores and water treatment facilities, that is a gap of time that needs to be filled diligently and productively. Children should emerge in a better frame of mind and worldview than if they had been left in the pre-cataclysmic modern public school system. Would your TEOTWAWKI school program do that? This is what the prepper-survivalist strives for: coming out of difficulty stronger, wiser, and looking upon challenges, however fearsome, with the same look that Aristotle described on a ‘great man’: one who looks upon life the way an athlete looks upon a race.

The vital points of learning are in stories. Here are suggestions for designing an approach without electricity for any digital materials, cassettes, or videos. From the descriptions of TEOTWAWKI life that I have seen, it is difficult to imagine that your energy sources would be wisely spent on dvd or cd players, even for educational purposes. It’s likely going to be purposely selected tales and sing-alongs by campfire and candlelight from day one. A family or community must decide for themselves what is moral, good, bad, etc, in terms of reading material and because of the personal nature of that, I do not prescribe materials by name.

Reading the opening chapter of James Wesley, Rawles’ How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It, it is difficult to imagine that there will be much time for school learning concerns, at least in the beginning. In a real TEOTWAWKI scenario (is there any other kind?), most preppers and their children would find it difficult to focus on bookish pursuits. But eventually, if and when things settle down and preparations have paid off well enough that a small community can emerge and stabilize, life will have to go on and part of that maintenance is in the schooling of the young. It is what gives the idea that there is a future to work towards at all, for it would be equally difficult psychologically to go on with things if you and your family/community had the attitude that there would be no future.

Right thinking requires selecting right examples

If we accept that learning must be geared towards practical survival, and if we accept that stories can transmit good examples and ideals necessary to survival (fortitude, perseverance, self-restraint, charity, respect towards authority, etc), then we may infer that the selection of stories is crucial to preparing children to survive, which in turn helps us to survive.

The one in charge of learning (in the home or for a small community school) will have to act as censor in the selection of stories for telling or reading. Let’s not forget that the word comes from the Latin ‘cencere’, which meant to give an opinion or assessment, to appraise. From the late-medieval period on it was used in ecclesiastical terms as ‘censor’ to mean a corrector or editor in the sense that what was printed was accurate and the stamp of approval was the word ‘imprimatur’ - (fit) to be printed. The TEOTWAWKI teacher will have to know what is ‘fit reading’. One of the disasters of modern education is the idea that children can be the creators of their own learning. Shall we allow them to create their own means of survival? We have been taught by mainline media to fear the word censor, but consider how often we as parents do this in practice: we censor what children eat, we censor the time they may be home or in bed by, we censor the language they may use towards their siblings, and so on. If we are willing to admit that a child’s outlook, temperament, and inclination are shaped in great measure by what is seen in the films and in print, then it follows that these things need censoring.

You have a limited amount of time to prepare the mindset of kids, to prepare by the age of ten or twelve in what Aristotle called ‘khreston ethos’ or a fitting outlook, what C.S. Lewis called ‘just sentiments’ - the frame of mind that is conducive to working when cold and wet, learning for tomorrow ‘just because it’s what we do’, accepting correction with humility, acquiring a fledgling sense of decorum, duty, and the like. Learning is not complete by this age but the basis upon which more advanced learning can take place is laid here. The mind at this age is the concrete slab foundation of the house and it had better be strong. If this is true generally in the comfy environment that we have at the moment, how much more true will it be in a perilous environment where the survival of everyone is contingent upon what notions are put into our children’s imaginations?

Stories - the foundation of community

Stories, as education, were never for diversion. Today, myths are considered to be fanciful stories for entertainment from a naïve past, but in fact they served as educational lessons to their original societies. ‘Little Red Riding-Hood’ was a tale to warn small children not to venture into the woods because in early-medieval times, that’s where roving Celtic bandits lived - and kidnapped children that drifted too far afield. This is how a little Romano-Briton boy ended up an Irish shepherd for fifteen years; he later became known as Saint Patrick. The genealogies of many traditions are thought of as being overly-attentive to family trees but in a traditional community, genealogies are historical time-lines. With the Internet, parents have great access to all manner of stories new and old to collect, print, and even use now without any TEOTWAWKI. Parables, proverbs, fables, and legends (including adventure tales) transmit lessons about survival-conduct, wise decision making, and right perspective. Right-perspective is not about your ideological preference or your favorite -ism; it’s about survival within your retreat.

The material of a prepper’s home school or community school might be in pictures or words but it’s what the stories are about that counts. Many societies of more primitive peoples without a written language are known for their generosity and peaceful way of life, and don’t forget that at the time of Nazi Germany, Germans were the most literate nation in the world. Even at the most practical level, such as the Bushmen of Africa, there is an ‘oral literature’ without which they would have difficulty making sense of the world around them and their place in it. Consider collecting a list of stories (tales, books, etc) classified under value-headings, ex: about family life, community life, work ethic, and personal responsibility. The goal is moral living generally, for all the camping supplies and solar panels and chlorine tablets and jerked beef and heirloom seeds come to nothing if strife, dissent, and selfishness reign in your retreat compound. Daily stories help in some measure (depending on how well they are integrated with other tasks in the day) to keep order. It would be difficult to teach children to participate in a tight community structure while feeding them some random assortment of disconnected stories that go against communal living. When it comes to tight community living, where every person young, old, and in between is a vital cog in the daily operation of things, moral stories are as important as clean water and defense. If you see nothing in common between the traditional stories of the Tlingit in Alaska, the Sanskrit parables of the ancient Indo-European Aryans, the myths of the ancient Greeks, and the tales of medieval Slavs, then know that it is their survival as communities.

Written word, spoken word

Wars and disruptions in The Grid can be temporary. However, if a TEOTWAWKI scenario happens, it would likely endure for many years because the very nature of TEOTWAWKI is big, not small. After fifteen years of travel, living and working on four continents, it is my impression that the Amish in the United States have the most balanced or holistic system of education: letters and stories that enforce the social ethos. There is a similar community in Europe (and some other countries, including the US) called Bruderhof with many parallels in approach but they are not as numerous. A number of small eco-communities (often downplayed as ‘communes’ by the western technocratic media) have grown in Russia and in Germany, but because of their nature and principles, they are not on the internet. They all value stories and art as part of the mechanism of community health. Should there be second and third-generation TEOTWAWKI communities, and should they lose most writing skills, they would still stand stronger than others as long as they carry with them the necessary Moral ABCs to survive.

Don’t let reading dominate. Use voice. In your curriculum, include many oral response/ performance activities that follow stories. Having kids read aloud helps with communication skills generally, can remove some speech impediments, assists memory, and also encourages self-confidence. Have them identify connections with previous stories. Ask how they are related and how they are different. You might also combine a spoken story with art/drawing activities. Traditionally, music is also combined with stories, especially for younger kids. Music in many societies is the means to teaching correct grammar because children internalize rhythm more easily than rules. The use of songs has long been known to work well in foreign language acquisition. Rhyme in music and poems is also a natural feature of language learning because it is an analytical activity. Incidentally, many traditional (non- or semi-literate) communities that I have seen in my travels have rich musical traditions without instruments. Voice and melody are the important elements.

For those who would develop writing in the curriculum, there is no great rocket science to making comprehension/response activities into learning pedagogies. Anything read or listened to has the basic pattern:
-Elicit the moral/lesson of it
-Connect or integrate it with previous stories or real-life experiences (physical, emotional, ethical, creative, etc.)
This process doesn’t change much in terms of essentials all the way up to college work, only in depth and complexity. For example, the standard parts of an analytical college essay are:
-Summary of the main ideas (What the facts are, what the deal is)
-Interpretation (What they mean, how to look at it)
-Proposal (What we should do next, new ideas)
And at the higher level of formal research projects, it becomes:
-Review of the literature
-Research methods and analysis of the data
-Results and applications
Create a similar template for any story at any age level.

Children and especially adolescents should be encouraged to contribute materials for the library such as writing original short stories and reflections, writing down their experiences, noting humorous episodes from their days, and - importantly - reading each other’s stories or telling them dramatically. Humor will be a vital component in TEOTWAWKI society. Kids should be encouraged to draw scenes of hope and joy wherever their imaginations can find it. Book-making (for what they write and draw) is another basic and rewarding skill that can be worked into the whole process. Ink-making, carving out a quill, paper making can also be part of the curriculum because these things might in fact be needed.

Select your library now. Even if you don’t have children, some in your community might. Your library collection should not be too big. If each family in a community had a small library, it would make for a sufficient sharing system all put together. The library should also be portable. Having a community does not guarantee that its members will have the luxury of remaining in one place settled down. You might need to go nomadic. This lifestyle should also be somewhere in your selected stories so children can relate to it should the need arise. There are plenty of stories from nomadic cultures that help young and old alike to comprehend the life of traveling.

Traditional societies that have survived so long in natural TEOTWAWKI conditions - in Australia, Central Asia, South America, North America, Siberia, and many others right up to our day all share one thing in common with regard to the young: educating youth through stories that impart the values and character necessary to not only survival but constructive outlook and moral self-worth. It will be good for preppers to study something about existing communal groups that integrate traditional stories with living,. For example: kibbutz settlements, Amish communities, Eskimo reservations, monasteries, and other indigenous cultures around the world, both settled and nomadic, to glean information.  In such communities, things are not done frivolously. What works is kept, what doesn’t work is discarded.

This is the course of literature. What we list as ‘pretty things’ are just artifacts of survival taken out of their survival context. Real literature is that which promotes survival. It can become pretty afterwards for future generations to look back on when they are in the position of enjoying the accomplishments that their forebearers (re)built.

We homeschool our three children and all of them have never been to a public or private school.
I would like to add to the homeschool article.  It is possible to educate younger children for minimal amounts of money, but when they get older there are things to keep in mind.  Colleges have entrance requirements.  They require high school students to have completed certain classes such as advanced math and science subjects. Two foreign language classes are also required. My oldest is planning to start dual enrollment next school year.  She just had to take the SAT at a cost of $50.  She may need to retake it depending on her scores - for applying for scholarships.  Also there is drivers education which is available now for homeschoolers at a cost of $60-to-$100, if I remember correctly.

Part of the beauty of dual enrollments is gaining both high school and college credits for the same class.  We are hoping one of those will be chemistry, saving us a lot of money in lab costs.  We did buy a used microscope this past year for her advanced biology course.  And there was also the dissection kit at around $40.
We do purchase used books.  This last year a friend let me borrow some of her books for one of my kids.  In two years when her younger child need them, I will let her borrow some of mine.
College costs are very scary these days.  Please pray for us as we have three kids, one of those seriously desires to go to veterinary school.  I know God can make a way.  He can make a way for you, too, if you desire to homeschool. Thanks, - Sisterpastor


CPT Rawles - 
I am pleased to see good advice being given about homeschooling.  I wanted to make a point to the community that I often make in person.  I am a public school teacher in one of the "best" jurisdictions in the country in terms of test scores and minority success.  Yet despite that, we are still what any reasonably educated person would consider a disaster of sloth and ignorance.

I strongly encourage all the readers of SurvivalBlog to find alternatives for their kids besides public schools.  As hard working as most of the teachers are, the place is an irretrievable cesspool of low morals, the celebration of ignorance and complacency, and generally soul-sucking.  To supplement my income (and my sanity) I "guest lecture" for a number of homeschool networks when I am not at the public school.  Without exception, the homeschooled students are more alert, inquisitive, literate, logical, and capable.  I wish this wasn't the case because I put so much effort into my public school kids but the damage has been done by the time they get to me in high school - like a malnourished child who will be stunted for life despite great nutrition as an adult.  My child will never set foot in an American public school and I routinely urge parents of my students to do the same (drawing the ire of my administration and co-workers for some reason).  

Public education being "free" is not an excuse to put your kids in there.  As I tell the more bright public school students when they complain about the pace or their classmates "Public school is free and you get what you pay for." - Jeff T.


Kathryn T.'s entry, Homeschool for Less Than $30 a Year, was quite good. I would only add that, when purchasing used curriculum or books, a "sniff test" is highly advised. Simply open the book and take a sniff; you will easily detect any musty smells or odd odors. I failed to do this one year and ended up buying textbooks owned by a smoker. They reeked every time they were opened, and we didn't study that subject that particular year until I was able to replace it. No money saved there.
Save yourself (and your lesson plans) the trouble. Sniff before you buy! - Home's Cool Mom

Friday, March 23, 2012

It’s that time again.  Spring, you say?  No, it’s curriculum sale time!  Every spring, homeschooling support groups used book sales and homeschool conventions sprout like tulips.  March, April, and May are the season for planning and obtaining next year’s curricula.

If you have considered homeschooling as an educational alternative for your children or would like to stockpile educational materials for potential hard times ahead (whether or not you homeschool currently), now is the time to be looking.  Homeschooling does not need to be expensive to be effective.  In fact, it is possible to home educate well for under $30 per year, per child.

First, it is important to understand the basics of homeschooling and homeschooling philosophies.  To familiarize yourself with how to approach home education, you can get books from the library, such as The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise or Homeschooling Year by Year by Rebecca Rupp, Ph.D.

You may also want to consider attending a homeschooling convention, which often yields the best value for your time and money.  The most popular ones are listed on the Great Homeschool Conventions web site.  One of the largest is the Cincinnati (Ohio) Homeschool Convention which is April 19th – 21st this year.  It is centrally located and draws hundreds of vendors, speakers, and participants.

However, you can also attend smaller ones near your home.  Ask at the public library or Google “homeschool conventions” and your state.  Homeschool conventions typically cost $10 - $60 in admission, but you can attend for free if you volunteer.  Contact the organizers well in advance.  Volunteers are usually asked to check in participants or do other relatively simple tasks for several hours in exchange for free admission to the conference.  You can also apply for a scholarship from the convention hosts.  Some organizers will extend free admission and give curricula vouchers to low-income participants.  An unemployed friend received $100 in curricula vouchers at a convention last weekend because she applied for assistance.

Once you familiarize yourself with homeschooling and the various educational approaches (eclectic, classical, Charlotte Mason, etc.), you will want to begin accumulating curricula.  If money is tight or you are stockpiling for potential future use, focus on the 3Rs—reading, writing, and arithmetic.  Start with math, as that is usually the easiest subject to purchase.
There are tons of math programs available, but one of the most common, complete, and serviceable is Saxon Math.  You can pick up a used Saxon Math textbook for as little as 99 cents on eBay.  The book does not need to be a recent edition, as mathematics does not change that often, but should be in decent condition with little to no writing inside.  If you are not adept at math yourself, you will also need to purchase an answer key, which will cost about $5 used.  Saxon Math has an unusual numbering system.  For instance, Saxon 6/5 means that it is for an “advanced fifth grader or an average sixth grader.”  It has been my observation that you should go with the second number.  The first 30 lessons are typically review from the previous year, and learning is incremental, so it should not be too hard for even an average fifth grader.  Thus, Saxon 6/5 is for fifth graders.
For older students, you may want to consider books from the Key To series (Key To Decimals, Key to Fractions, Key to Algebra, Key to Geometry, etc.).  These books are excellent, inexpensive ($3 each), and self-teaching.

Next, contemplate writing.  I recommend buying some lined notebooks ($1 each or less during the back to school sales) and a box of pencils ($2).  Use the notebooks to have your child write journals, stories, letters, and essay assignments.  Guide them through proper punctuation, capitalization, and grammar, as well as good writing practices (e.g., outlining and the five-paragraph essay).  If you need help with these skills, pick up a used copy of Writer’s Inc. or a similar edition from this company ($5).  The materials from Andrew Pudewa's Excellence in Writing are wonderful, but much more costly.  If your children are elementary-school aged, you may want a copy of the appropriate grade level of Handwriting without Tears (about $5) as well.

For additional grammar help, consider Easy Grammar or Daily Grams.  These are expensive new (about $25), but can be picked up cheaply or free (if some pages are missing) at homeschool used book sales.  Even if the book has many pages ripped out, they are still useful because Daily Grams gives 180 days worth of grammar lessons.  Each day the lesson covers capitalization, punctuation, parts of speech, spelling, sentence combining, and other skills.  Many families begin a book and use only the first 15 or 20 days because they get too busy or use other resources, leaving the remaining pages blank.  Don’t overlook these, as you can find them inexpensively.  I find there is little difference between a fifth grade Daily Grams book and an eighth grade book.  The concepts are the same, just repeated in different ways.

For spelling, you can print out grade-appropriate spelling lists for free from the Internet (plan ahead for a grid-down situation).   Or, you can purchase a spelling program.  Spelling Power is an all-inclusive spelling program that has spelling lists and games for K-12  grades in one book.  It is relatively expensive, even used ($20-50), but you would not need to buy any other spelling programs which makes it good for stockpiling.  If spelling is difficult for your child, I recommend All About Spelling and Phonetic Zoo, but these programs are also more costly.  SpellingCity.com is great for reviewing spelling words for free if you still have Internet access.

To teach an elementary child to read, consider using Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons by Siegfried Englemann (about $10 used), Bob Books by Bobby Lynn Maslen (about $7 used), and Pathway Readers ($2 used).  If the public library is available, select some age-appropriate books and have your student begin reading aloud to you every day.  Our favorites included the Frog and Toad books and others by Arnold Lobel.  Another favorite resource for learning to read and write is Explode the Code.  These simple black-and-white line drawn workbooks cost about $5 new, but can often be found cheaply at homeschool used book sales.

In my ten years of home educating, I have taught two children to read.  While it may seem as though teaching the younger grades is easier than teaching the older ones, the opposite is actually true.  Once a child can read, he can teach himself.  Reading is the foundation for every academic skill.  Being able to read well is crucial.  It is important children have reading material that is skill appropriate and interesting to them.  Be patient.  With daily instruction, it will take between two and seven years for a child to learn to read fluently (120 words per minute).
With any remaining funds, stockpile a home library of age-appropriate picture and chapter books.  This is wise, even if you currently have a wonderful public library nearby.  To find good books, look for reading lists, such as the one available from Sonlight Curriculum or Ambleside Online.  Books that have received a Newberry Award or Honor are usually good bets.  Then, troll through public library used book sales with a list.  Used books there typically cost 50 cents to $2 each.  I also recommend joining PaperbackSwap.com where you can trade your old books for credits to “purchase” new ones.
Another curriculum to consider, either for reading suggestions or for outright purchase, is The Robinson Curriculum.  While it costs almost $200 (and does not include math books), it covers 12 years worth of educational materials on CD-ROM, making it less than $16 per year.

Include on your reading lists history books, such as A History of US by Joy Hakim, and science books, such as Abeka, Apologia, Usborne, or the Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out-Science series for younger kids.  You may want to obtain books about economics and government, too, such as Whatever Happened to Penny Candy? and Whatever Happened to Justice? by Richard Maybury. 
If you have high schoolers or will soon, you might want to purchase literature anthologies, such as The Norton Anthology of American Literature, to gain the maximum coverage for your dollar.  If your children read an entire anthology and discussed and wrote about the contents, they would have a more thorough literature education than 80 percent of the United States.  I just got an anthology on PaperbackSwap for $3.79. (I purchased a book credit.)

Home education can be much richer with the addition of art, music, foreign language, and other extras, but the most important subjects to cover are the 3Rs, and those can be addressed for $30 per year, per child.  A child who has received a solid foundation in the 3Rs can learn any other subject if necessary.  When you are planning ahead, these are the most logical materials to stockpile.  Whether you homeschool now or think you may choose to or be forced to in the future, it is prudent to stockpile books—atlases, encyclopedia sets, novels, nonfiction books, classics, plays, dictionaries, thesauruses, textbooks, workbooks, blank notebooks, and other tomes.  You never know when you may need to educate or entertain your children for a week, a month, or more with the resources in your home.  It’s best to be prepared.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

My wife and I are preppers primarily for our children.  Though we have lived rich, full lives, they are not yet even adolescents.  If what we are prepping for happens, it will be this generation that will rebuild this nation to greatness.  We want them to be equipped intellectually and spiritually.  We want them to understand the influences of the Greeks, Romans and British that helped our Founding Fathers craft the greatest nation this planet has known.  I refuse to entrust America to those that do not understand these truths or those that are not up to the task.

When asked what school our kids attend, I used to say that “We homeschool our children.”  Now I more accurately say, “my wife homeschools our children and I wholeheartedly support it.”  By the time my workday is done, the kids are done.  No homework – that’s one of the great blessings of homeschooling.  They become proficient in subjects and then they move on (unless they are reviewing, of course).

But we are not simply lazy by not wanting to help our kids with homework in the evenings.  We had our oldest in a great Christian private school for 2 years.  Then we moved her home because we believed (and believe it even more fervently now) that homeschooling was simply the best educational opportunity for our children. 

For the first two years at home, my wife used the “K-12” curriculum.  It was good.  The following year went from good to the best.  That year, a friend introduced us to the Classical Education model.  The Classical Education model has been used for most of human history and yet, I hadn’t even been aware of it.  Modern education is outcome based.  I am a product of outcome based education (I figure that will excuse any grammar errors that are contained herein).  

The advantages of a classical education are many.  More than anything, it teaches and equips students for a lifetime of learning.  Our kids are part of Classical Conversations, a nationwide homeschool community started by Leigh Bortins in 1996.  The students meet once per week as a group for 24 weeks throughout the school year.  Classical Conversations provides a curriculum and a forum for accountability and interaction with other students that are experiencing the same rich educational opportunity.   The mission statement of Classical Conversations is for students "to know God and to make Him known."

Modern Education vs. Classical Education
Modern education places the student in the center of a wheel with each subject forming the spokes of a wheel feeding information (segregated into separate unrelated subjects) to the child.  Most private Christian schools add a spoke of the wheel called Religion or Theology.  The other subjects in that Christian school might incorporate a couple of Bible verses here or there but the curriculum is not integrated with our Creator.  A classical education places God at the center of the wheel with all the subjects pointing to Him and from Him.  All the subjects are also integrated with each other (i.e., pointing to each other).  How can created beings study history, science or math and not focus on the Creator of this universe, these people and His place throughout history and the events of mankind?

Here is some additional insights from the Classical Conversations web site.

Classical Conversations combines classical learning and a Biblical world view.
Classical Conversations’ programs model the three stages of classical learning—grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric. Using age appropriate methods, children are taught the tools for studying any subject. Grammar stage is for ages 2-12. Grammar is imparting knowledge through memorizing of facts, facts and more facts: history, science, English grammar, poems, geography, Latin, math, books of the Bible, anything that parents know and wish to impart to their children. The tools of memorization are repeating the information and or action, over and over through reading it out loud to your child over and over, asking your child to repeat it, singing the information, drawing maps, and games like Jeopardy. The Dialectic Stage, ages 12-15 is taking all of the knowledge (facts) a child has learned plus new information and processing it in their minds to gain understanding. The Rhetoric Stage, ages 15-19, have gained a mastery of information and understanding. They take the information and demonstrate it to others through various methods.

The Classical model emphasizes mastery of facts during the early years. This gives students a foundation on which to build later learning and a solid framework where ideas can be categorized and compared as students mature. (For more information on the classical education model, read Dorothy Sayers’ 1948 essay The Lost Tools of Learning.)

Classical Conversations is set up in a three cycle format, and every three years the information repeats. So if a family joins when their child is in Kindergarten, the child will get the same base information twice through their sixth grade year. Parents are free to take the base information presented in Classical and expand on it in anyway they feel so led. Every Classical Conversation's community in the country does the same cycle each year. This year is Cycle 3.

Cycle 3 consists of:

History: American History, Presidents, Preamble and the Bill of Rights

History timeline (cards are available through Veritas Press. (Classical Conversations is creating their own History timeline cards which should be on the market, very soon),

Geography: American Geography ,

Science: Human body and Chemistry,

Math facts.

Latin: John 1:1-7.

Grammar: Verbs/irregular verbs, sentence parts, clauses, Sentence structures and patterns.


Cycle 1 (next year) consists of:

History: Ancient, Medieval and early modern

History timeline

Middle East, Asia, Africa and South America

Science: Biology, Geology, weather.


Latin: Noun Cases through 5th declension

Prepositions, Linking verbs


Cycle 2 consists of:

History: Medieval history through Free elections in South Africa, European

History timeline

Geography: South America and Caribbean

Science: Ecology and physics.

Math facts

Latin: Verb conjugations

Grammar: pronouns, eight parts of speech, adverbs, four kinds of sentences

As I said, my wife is doing all the work here.  I’m largely an observer (with the never-ending desire to get more involved) and I must say I’m truly blown away by the amount of information our four kids are learning and what a rich experience this is for them.  Oh how I wish I had this opportunity when I was young.  My wife is also learning amazing new things as she shares this journey with them.   I am unspeakably proud of my wife and our children.  

The Classical Conversations program is nearly doubling in size every year and I am not surprised.  It is a fantastic model.  It is very challenging and my wife and I are looking forward to our oldest (12) to enter the Challenge Program (7-12 grade).  We recently attended a parents meeting for this next phase and I left there so excited for our kids!  They will learn Latin, debate skills, try a mock murder case in 8th grade, utilize the Socratic method to solve problems in groups and critique their peers in a safe and encouraging environment.  Seventh graders will be able to draw the world map (freehand) and label every country and major geographic features (over 400 items!)  By 11th and 12th grade the students lead most of the discussions throughout their daily session.  My mind wonders what college or employer wouldn’t desperately want these students after this rigorous training. 

The Most Coveted T-shirt in 5th Grade
Classical Conversations has an annual “contest” in the Foundations program (K-6 grade) where students test for “Memory Master”.  For successful completion, the winners get a T-shirt.  I believe it is fitting that the “prize” is something that will either fall apart, sit in the back of the drawer or be outgrown in a couple years since the true “prize” is mastery of the task at hand which will serve them for a lifetime.  They will learn firsthand the amazing capacity of their brains and have the confidence to face great challenges in the years to come.

Memory Master is reciting from memory, before the school director.  It amounts to over 1,000 pieces of unique information, with all the work learned during the course of one year.  The bulk of the information changes every year while some items are constant, such as the timeline of human history (containing over 160 events) and math facts.  Examples of the material that needs to be committed to memory :

Science: What is an element?  “An element is a basic chemical substance defined by its atomic number and atomic mass.”  (this is considered 1 of the 1,000 pieces of information referenced above)
History: Tell me about Pearl Harbor.  “On December 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, causing the U.S. to join the Allies in World War II.”
Geography: Trails.  “Cumberland Road, Santa Fe Trail, Mormon Trail, Gila Trail, Old Spanish Trail, California Trail, Oregon Trail”
Grammar: Independent Clause.  “An independent clause expresses a complete thought like a sentence.”
Math: The Commutative Law.  “The Commutative Law for addition: a+b = b+a.  The Commutative Law for multiplication: a x b = b x a.”
Latin: Latin Nouns.  “vita /life; lux/light; homo/hominum nomen/name” (they are learning John 1:1-7 in Latin and English this year)

The material must be recited in four different levels of testing with the final round allowing for no mistakes.  The last year when our three older kids were testing for Memory Master was quite an anxious time since I knew how hard they had each worked on the material – and then it all comes down to a performance test (which I believe is great preparation for future tests in life, in school and by employers, etc.).

A final reason to consider homeschooling is the multiple advantages offered for preppers.

For Preppers, homeschooling offers the following advantages:

  1. Provide your kids with an unapologetic Christian world view that allows for a foundational understanding of the greatness of America (the America of our Founding Fathers) in addition to the critical influences of ancient Greek, Roman and later European cultures
  2. Homeschool wherever you live which offers the opportunity to move to your retreat location now  – or the opportunity to spend part of the year in more than one location.  I like to joke that our kids go to one of the most exclusive private schools in the country (not a joke, I guess.  I wouldn’t want them anywhere else).
  3. The cost/value of a homeschool education beats any private school education
  4. You can shape the curriculum to include or exclude whatever you want (subject to any restrictions that your state may impose) such as gardening, cooking, homesteading skills, etc. while you may choose to exclude environmentalism and multiculturalism.
  5. A guaranty of consistent, loving instructors that know your children better than any other teacher on earth could know them.
  6. Most children are directing their own schedule and instruction in 6th or 7th grade – which frees up the parent to focus on the critical years for younger students (reading and math fundamentals – so they can be independent in 6th grade) or frees up large blocks of the day when the youngest child achieves largely independent coursework.
  7. Homeschooling is highly adaptable for children with special needs.  In the words of one of the Classical Conversations Challenge Instructors (8th grade), every child is a gift from God and not a societal castaway destined to sit in a corner of a classroom with a “special” teacher.

And I’m sure I’m missing some others that your great readers might want to add.

I can’t recommend a Classical homeschooling education enough and it has been one of the greatest blessings for our family.   I expect it will have a generational impact on this country and an eternal impact for God’s Kingdom.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Many people remember the book Walden as the story of a hermit living in a hut who survived on twigs and berries in the Concord, Massachusetts woods. Its author, Henry David Thoreau, was no hermit, but a survivalist and philosopher who personified the best of American values of self-reliance, simplicity, love of the land, individualism and defense of personal liberty against governmental overreaching.
He lived simply on Walden Pond from 1845-1847 without a GPS, iPod, iPhone, laptop or wi-fi.. Long before we developed a dependence on electronic devices, Thoreau defined some first principles for personal autonomy and survival. We find them in Walden, his gift of essential life strategies that we ought to re-learn before stuffing our G.O.O.D. bags and thinking that we have prepared ourselves to meet the Black Swans ahead. He would warn us today that we must not bet our lives on electronic survival devices because others control them and can jam them by the flick of a switch.

Thoreau's EDC bag

This article lifts up seven of Thoreau's survival principles that we can rely upon; that each of us can own at no cost, and which no government or terrorist can destruct. Think of these principles as the fabric of an indestructible carry bag large enough to stuff with all our plans and tools for personal survival.
Many surprises await us in the 2000s. This we know, but none of us knows the timing. Thus, we create short-term and long-term survival strategies. Thoreau's principles are an overarching everyday strategy, holding that a life worth living depends upon remaining free and independent, living as autonomous men and women alert and able to confront, ignore, or go around obstacles in our way. The best survival strategy is to be always ready, but live well always.

The individual versus the world

"Simplify, simplify," Thoreau repeated, and be certain that you have the essentials for life--food, shelter, fuel and clothing--under your control. Thoreau's sojourn in Walden woods lasted two years, two months and two days in the cabin he built himself. It was no coincidence that his move-in date was the fourth of July. Thoreau explained, "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."

Writing four hours a day on the shore of Walden Pond, he pondered how an individual could maintain his autonomy against a mighty government, powerful business interests and a growing trend to materialism. Just as in 1845, our politicians continue to grab power by making thousands of promises. What they deliver is trillion dollar debts and more promises. It is said that each of us now owns $2 million of government debt. (Have you budgeted for that?) In a cozy relationship with politicians, business spends billions coaxing us to buy things we do not need, that rarely perform as advertised and that often drag us under a pile of debt. Thoreau saw a way for an individual to get around these growing influences, and he spelled it out in Walden.

What's essential; what's not

To emphasize his points, he often wrote in extremes. For example, Thoreau defined anything non-essential to life as a "luxury." While he succumbed to a few luxuries himself, Thoreau spent within his means by deciding his own balance of essentials and luxuries and then earned just enough to sustain it. He called this living "deliberately", and it was the centerpiece of his life strategy. If he lived deliberately, he would not get into debt and therefore, not become enslaved by work to pay it off. Debt is more than dollars and cents because it represents the amount of life we must trade in work to pay it off. Time is money, and Thoreau became rich by acquiring it.

Thoreau enjoyed the work he did, but tried to work as little as possible. He believed that society had it all wrong about the role of work in life and said so in his Harvard graduation speech. People sat up in their seats as he declared that they had things backwards and that they should work just one day a week and have the other six to do what was important to them. This was no utopian dream. It is how he actually lived. Incidentally, I verified this with the Institute at Walden Woods.

Personal responsibility to do what's right
Thoreau believed that each of us has an intuitive sense of morality, what is right and wrong. He held that we have a personal responsibility to uphold higher moral laws when they come into conflict with manufactured laws. Consequently, he had a personal theory of "nullification" of government law when it conflicted with moral law. He maintained that no government has any "pure right over my person or property but what I concede to it.” Thus he was philosophically consistent that as a good neighbor, he would train with the Concord militia because he chose to. However, he chose not to pay a tax to a government waging an unjust war in Mexico, and that cost him a night in jail.

Thoreau's arrest inspired his world-famous essay Civil Disobedience where he proclaimed, "I heartily accept the motto, — 'That government is best which governs least'; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically." Many people mistakenly limit Thoreau's thinking to passive resistance. He railed against the government's hanging of John Brown who raided the arsenal at Harper's Ferry to arm slaves. Violence is not the preferred way to protest government policies, but as a last resort, Thoreau agreed with President Thomas Jefferson who wrote, "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

Today few of us could replicate Thoreau's life in a 10 x 15 foot cabin a mile from his closest neighbor. What we can do whether we live in New York City, Los Angeles, or in between is to think of Walden as a state of mind.

Walden's principles and maxims are as relevant in 2012 as in 1853. In fact, times were remarkably similar to our world today. Global competition was common. Better quality German pencils nearly drove the Thoreau family pencil business under. The Panic of 1837 was as severe as our financial downturn today. A real estate bubble burst due to sub-prime lending, and real estate prices plummeted. Families lost jobs, spending power, and risked their savings as half the banks in America folded within weeks. The federal government, whose policies touched off the contagion, was growing in power and would continue piling on public debt. Even then, the U.S. government depended upon foreign countries to finance its operations.

As the nation entered the industrial revolution, Walden was Thoreau’s challenge to a society forgetting cultural values and practices of the first Americans such as self- reliance, thrift, and the importance of the family. Fortunately, those practices are coming back into style, as survivalists worldwide look to authentic sources such as Survival Blog to re-learn skills our consumer culture has forgotten. These tried and true skills together with the seven critical Thoreau principles taken from my book Walden Today combine to make us better prepared every day.

Thoreau’s Choices to Live Deliberately:

1. Be true to yourself.
In 1837, Thoreau was one of the first to identify societal pressure as the underlying motivation that drove people to consume more than they could pay for. As we know, Thoreau resisted pressure to conform; his brain thrummed to the beat of what he called a "different drummer.” He wrote, “No way of thinking or doing, however ancient, can be trusted without proof.” He urged us to think for ourselves-- to believe nothing told us by church bureaucracy, government or acquaintances without first checking it out and deciding for ourselves. Nor had he any confidence in advice from his elders: “Age is no better, hardly so well, qualified for an instructor as youth, for it has not profited so much as it has lost. One may almost doubt if the wisest man has learned anything of absolute value by living.”
In life, we alone have the job of choosing what to believe, and how to act upon what we determine. Any lifestyle or work, no matter how humble or unconventional is a success--as long as it works for you. Thoreau adds, “The life which men praise and regard as successful is but one kind...Why should we exaggerate any one kind at the expense of others?” In other words, Thoreau exhorts us to question society’s
norms because the herd may understand an issue exactly backwards, often due to the influence of media. There are no do-overs in life, so do not waste time living up to someone else's expectations.

2. Network to grow and thrive.

Thoreau had friends with diverse interests, and he networked well among them. His friends included some of America's best thinkers including Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Bronson and Louisa May Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Walt Whitman. Thoreau tested his ideas and stood his own ground against these thoughtful minds.

Thoreau’s relationship with Emerson brought him paid work as a tutor, handyman, lecturer, schoolteacher, and more. His friends sent him referrals in his surveying business because of his reputation for honesty and competence--attributes which never go out of demand. His love of nature connected him with famous Harvard botanist Louis Agassiz for whom he collected botanical specimens never before catalogued.
Networking is also the source of our family's small business success. Former business associates provide almost all our new opportunities, while our church family remains a key source of Christian fellowship and education for our children.

3. Life is short, so enjoy it by living simply to stay free.
To live simply, Thoreau acquired the things that are “necessary to life.” He avoided most “luxuries,” those things that he perceived as constricting his freedom because of debt required to acquire them or the effort required to maintain them. He worried that collecting "stuff" would make him "a tool of his tools." He thought it foolish to keep up with the proverbial Joneses. Doing so would distract him from his more
important activities and goals. In the bargain he remained autonomous by exchanging as little life as possible for possessions.

4. Become self-reliant: do it yourself.
The Thoreau family’s main source of income was the manufacture of lead pencils. Their product quality slipped over time and by the 1840s there were four pencil manufacturers within a few miles of the Thoreau factory. In a crowded market, and with an inferior product, the outlook for Thoreau pencils was grim. Young Henry came to the family’s rescue. Harvard never taught him chemistry, engineering, operations management or marketing—expertise that would be necessary for the Thoreaus to regain their market position. He learned all these disciplines on his own, and thought outside the box to create the country's highest quality pencils. His innovations included a line of pencils new to the world numbered 1, 2, 3 and 4 for hardness—including the iconic #2 pencil we use today.
With so many resources available, we can learn to become a do-it-yourselfer at almost anything. Just painting your own home, for example, is a great way to save money, gain self-reliance, and involve the whole family in a satisfying accomplishment no matter their age or intellectual disadvantage. Even young children or the elderly can carry cool water to refresh family painters just as the first Americans did. A do-it-yourself attitude is not so common anymore in America. However, with the millions of weekly hits on practical skills articles and videos on the Web, and the rising cost of tradesmen, self-reliance is definitely coming back.

5. Adapt to changes in life by continually learning and trying new ideas.

Thoreau's ideal was to remain autonomous and earn just enough to support himself.
Surveying and pencil making were his primary income sources; however he was flexible and humble enough to earn his living even by menial work. He wrote to a fellow graduate, “I am a Schoolmaster— a Private Tutor, a Surveyor--a Gardener, a Farmer—a Painter, I mean a House Painter, a Carpenter, a Mason, a Day-Laborer, a Pencil-Maker, a Glass-paper Maker, a Writer, and sometimes a Poetaster [an unskilled poet].” He was also a consultant, lecturer and book author.

When he moved into his Walden home, Thoreau hoped to earn income by farming the field behind his house. He learned quickly that the time required to tend acres of beans consumed too much of his free time. He changed his gardening plan for the next year to grow food only for himself. Ever pragmatic, Thoreau looked to earn more and work less as a self-taught surveyor. In the bargain, surveying gave him two full seasons and many interim weeks off for leisure. His advice to us is to learn continuously all our lives and stay alert to new income opportunities to guard our independence.

6. Take advantage of the conveniences and opportunities of the age.

The train and telegraph were technologies that fascinated Thoreau. I think he would have loved our Internet to bring him the cultural riches of the world. I am equally sure he would never have wasted hours surfing the net, texting, or checking his email every five minutes. He chose to be poor in terms of money, but poor is a relative term. What is scraping by to one person, can be a life of plenty to another. Thoreau found countless
opportunities for cultural enrichment, personal growth, and entertainment available at no cost to him. He explored the Merrimac River by canoe, attended lectures at the Lyceum, participated in Emerson’s discussion groups, climbed Mt. Katahdin and walked for hours in the woods each day enjoying the beauty of nature and being outdoors.

America still has vast tracts of public lands for our use, and the electronic age provides us with innumerable opportunities—also at little or no cost—for education, culture, entertainment and earning a living. Each of us has access the same information as a college professor. We can watch sporting events free and see better than those in $500 seats in the stadium. We can savor the world's most breathtaking scenery and treasures from our homes and hear beautiful music in Surround Sound. In Thoreau's day, the average person never heard a symphony orchestra. To do so would have been a considerable expense to travel for days to hear one of the few symphonies in America. We can learn practical skills and economic analysis from expert bloggers around the world and be as informed as any reporter on the planet can. Today there is no reason for anyone, regardless of income, to be bored if they use the virtually free conveniences of our age for entertainment and learning once reserved for only the wealthy.

7. Work Deliberately.

Thoreau lived and worked "deliberately." He emphasized, “I make my own time. I make my own terms.” This is the key to freedom and independence. Controlling his time and terms, he would never lock himself in to a job that enslaved him with long hours, stress, and fear of losing the job. As a delightful side benefit, he would never have to bite his tongue when speaking to management, work for jerks or go to work every day if he could do the week’s work in a single day. When you work for yourself, you will never hear the words, "you're fired."

In 2012 with employment uncertainty in almost every field, many people hedge their bets by starting their own business on the side as they work their primary job. A well- employed client of ours bought a franchise business for his wife, and she is growing it to guarantee that the family will have income and independence no matter what happens to their primary source of income. Gaston Glock was a factory manager when he started a side business in his garage. In addition to planning for income redundancy, we advise friends to have savings stashed away to live for six months to a year. This is not easy to do. However, we have found that there are many things to cut back on if your primary goal is to remain free and independent.

Living "deliberately" belongs in every EDC bag.

Thoreau made his EDC bag from the principles of deliberate living. They guide my family today as in 1994 when we began to adopt them. Each of us must rely on his own effort to survive and truly live. The central decision--or non-decision is to "live deliberately" or not to. If you are reading this blog, you likely have made your decision already.

JWR Adds: Wayne M. Thomas is the Editor of Walden Today

Monday, January 23, 2012

From all appearances we are a typical family in our white trash, low rent neighborhood in the suburbs. Normal for our family of 9 has been living the last twenty-odd years on much more love than money. Scraping by, scrounging, bartering, repairing and repurposing things constantly in order to keep the home fires burning, gas in the tank, peanut butter and jelly on the table. Good times were relishing the pure gold of fat laughing babies, silly kids, and slow paced days when everyone was reasonably content at the same time.
What even our blatant survivalist solar panel/gun collecting/FedEx-bringing-cases-of- MREs- neighbor doesn’t even know is…

Ten years ago we found a parcel of raw land for sale in Central Oregon, in a heavily forested area of lodge pole pine trees, and purchased it at 100 dollars a month on a 10 year land sale contract. Near, but not on, a major highway that could be accessed by six routes from our hometown. Untamed, untouched, unimproved, 200 long miles away, worth every kid whimper and dog sick hour to get us there to pure freedom. The off-grid land is totally secluded, with a nearby canal that supplies sand and recreation, and at the business end, sports an artesian well with fresh drinking water. A place where seven kids and any size dog could run and play and scream and bark as loud as they wanted, without fear of the neighbors complaining or threatening our loud but harmless tribe of six daughters and one very active son.

Over the next few summers our little campground gained a driveway (Each tree pulled out with the truck and a chain or cut down and the roots painstakingly dug up with a discount-store shovel. We gathered huge pumice rocks and mortared them together into an outdoor oven. Handmade log benches ring the fire pit, and a distant forest neighbor sold us a tiny (18 ft.)  Travel trailer for $250. Garage sales and off-price surplus stores made it possible to outfit our camp on a free-school-lunch-eligible salary.
 Though summer was the busy season for his boat repair job, my husband joined us on the weekends and used a small chainsaw to cut a supply of 12 and 14 ft. poles that kept the kids and I busy making tipis and a very interesting outdoor kitchen shelter. This all happened mostly before I discovered the internet, so I patterned things after what I had seen on Gilligan’s Island and read about in The Mother Earth News back in the 1970s. It was a labor of love and a comedy of errors, but all ours.

Sadly, my husband passed away five years ago and with him the security of having a mechanic and someone to teach the kids more about hunting, fishing and driving. Lessons that began when they were small have prompted a competition between us to gather information and test our survival skills in real life scenarios on many occasions. The world has become a place where even a self-absorbed teenage girl can see the future need for a safe sustainable place away from the city. During our trips to the property, we have become familiar with the lay of the land, exploring all the forest service and BLM roads and trails with in a 20 mile radius. We know the locations of the nearest hiking/ATV/snowmobile trails, truck stops, restrooms, outhouses, creeks, lakes, wells, wetlands, ranches,  orchards, trailers, campgrounds, cabins, farms, hunting blinds, country stores, boat landings, public dumpsites, quarries, sawmills, railroad sidings, caves, ghost towns, mining camps and resorts. Escape routes and secure hiding places are entered in our handheld GPS. A mental list is forming of places we may be able to barter our winter salad greens and summer vegetable crops.

Driving into the mountains on our spring and summer vacations has not always been easy. One year an early snowstorm delayed us a week before I could dig the car out enough to get us back to school and work. The master cylinder in our old truck went out one trip while I was driving with 4 of the kids over the Cascade mountain pass, leaving me with no brakes in the middle of nowhere, (no cell phone signal). I coasted to the nearest town, not taking a breath, and thankfully we lived to tell the tale. Reliable, safe transport will always be our biggest hurdle if we need to get to our location in a hurry. We are also all aware of the route from the nearest Amtrak station within a day’s walk of the property. Aside from car repair issues, we have overcome many of the obstacles to living off the grid.
We have discovered that the batteries in our cheap solar garden lights can power our FRS radios and GPS. A bouquet of solar lights in a vase makes a perfect off-grid reading lamp. Our 1,000 watt Honda generator is used only for recharging 18 volt tool batteries and while that is happening, we can enjoy a DVD, crank up some tunes or play on the computer. For emergency backup we have a small inverter I can use with the car battery.
To amuse ourselves without wattage, along with reading, we use the bounty of branches and small trees to carve walking sticks, make log benches, small chairs and plant stands, and log furniture for dolls. We have discovered volcanic pumice rocks carve easily into self-watering planters, ashtrays and candle lanterns. These are used as gifts and/or for Saturday market sales whenever we have a good selection.
For heat we have a tiny wood stove in one of the tipis. We have always been able to keep warm even when night temps have been below freezing. The tipi frame is covered with chicken wire and stucco (ferro cement). Everyone sleeps with a down comforter. Washable duvet covers make everything easier to keep clean. These were purchased for a few dollars each at a Goodwill Outlet store, where clothing and most merchandise is sold by weight.
We have mastered the art of baking awesome biscuits, cupcakes and muffins at high altitude with a solar oven made of Mylar emergency blankets and an old storm window. Yeast bread gets baked (occasionally, as it’s a day-long task) in the outdoor stone oven, after a fire has been built in it. The sun tea jar is always brewing with a tea ball full of home grown Stevia leaves for sweetening. We can covertly cook baked beans and soups in a fire pit underground, and hot rocks cook foil wrapped chicken in our backpack while we work or explore. We also have a couple of propane backpack stoves and the adapter fitting to enable us to re-fill the small green canisters from a larger 20 pound cylinder.

For hygiene, we decided (after trying several options) five-gallon bucket toilets with cheap snap on seats are easier to maintain than the expensive flushable chemical camping toilets; as long as you have a supply of peat moss, saw dust, pine needles, sand or soil to bury waste in the bucket. For washing up, two milk jugs of warm water make a quick easy shower, one for washing, one for rinsing. We leave a line of filled jugs to warm on the sunny side of the gravel floor shower hut, or simmer a few minutes in the big pot while the dish washing water is warming. A fancier shower can be enjoyed with an air pump type garden sprayer tank. We have one handy for guests.   Obviously, you will want to use one that has not ever had any chemicals, fertilizer or pesticides in it.
During the school year in suburbia I teach indoor gardening classes, the kids attend school and in our spare time we do our research. We experiment with new Survival Log recipes (a high calorie/protein packed candy/cereal dough we invented made with storage foods that have a hundred delicious variations. (See my master recipe below). We plan new experiments and projects, plant seedlings, dehydrate foods and pack useful items that will be taken on our next trip. I read SurvivalBlog faithfully now and take notes from all the wonderful knowledge shared. We watch Survivor Man type man shows and laugh until we cry as they dramatize the obvious and almost die of hypothermia each day. If we are lucky we pick up a few useful hints that will be tried until true. We wrestle with our conscience whether or not to buy real rabbit fur hats and mittens, because someday our summer at the campground could last into the snowy days of winter. We decided the rabbits would be honored to save us from hypothermia.
 We have practiced and studied and experimented and now have the campground well supplied with caches of food, a well hidden root cellar/panic room, durable clothing, weapons, survival tools and gardening, medical and veterinary supplies.  Instead of being scared of an uncertain future we are continuing to prepare.

For now, my daughters (now high school and college girls) wear camouflage just for fashion. Not many people outside our family know that each and every one of them can make their own snowshoes, siphon gas, transform volcanic rock into a hydroponic garden, repair a bike, bake bread, shoot a wild turkey, sprout a salad, make a duct tape hammock, milk a goat, service a generator, purify water three different ways, catch fish with a bed sheet, navigate by the sun, disable an intruder, and start a fire 14 ways without a match.
Their Dad would have been so proud…

Addenda: Survival Logs Recipe
1 cup peanut, almond, cashew or other “nut butter”
1/2 to 3/4 cup honey, corn syrup, maple syrup, or homemade sugar syrup
2-3 cups crushed corn flakes, granola, crispy rice cereal, cookie, dry bread, pretzel, cracker or cake crumbs
Optional flavorings—dried milk powder, chopped dried fruits, sunflower seeds, chocolate chips, gumdrops, m&ms, candy sprinkles, chopped nuts, coconut

1 .In a saucepan, heat syrup to boiling, remove from heat.
2. Add nut butter, stir until melted and blend well.
3. Stir in enough cereal or crumbs to form a stiff dry dough
4. Knead in optional flavorings; form into candy bar size logs.
5. Roll in additional crumbs, coconut or sprinkles as desired. Wrap individually in wax paper or foil for travel or hiking food. Makes 10 logs.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I am a father of three and have one on the way. My oldest is now almost 20 years old. One thing I have learned over the years as a father is not to underestimate children and young adults.

I am pretty blunt and a straightforward guy, if anyone gets anything from what I share it is this….if you love your children then do not shelter them, prepare them!
Let’s tackle the big one first, children and gun’s. When my oldest was around four years of age he had a rare opportunity for someone so young, he got to see first-hand what guns do. We were elk hunting and a friend of the family had the good fortune to take a bull elk very close to the cabin. We had just sent our friend on his way after breakfast and not even four minutes out the door we heard the shot. We came right away to see if help was needed and arrived at the downed bull just as our friend did. We got to watch as this magnificent animal drew its last few breaths of life.  At this point in his life my son had seen guns being fired and he had also seen the animals we harvested and had even seen us butcher them, but at this moment you could see the understanding click behind this child’s eyes, even at age four he got the connection between guns and what they could do. I knew right there and then I would never have issues with him being safe with guns.

Eight years later a couple of friends and I were asked to take a large group of “Gun Virgins” to a rock quarry and  give them an introduction to guns and let them try to do some shooting. It was interesting to see the reaction to some in the group when I arrived at the quarry with my twelve year old son. I learned something that day and so did they. See even though these people had an interest in shooting guns they had still been brainwashed by pop culture and lack of education from their own parents about guns. They were taught that guns were evil and wanting to shoot them was practically a sin that they as adults had a right to partake in even though it is basically wrong, like pornography, alcohol, or adultery. Not all them thought this way but it was disturbing learn that some did. To them shooting a gun was something they would like to experience but never would involve a “child” because a child automatically did not know as much as an adult and could not possibly know all the evils of guns as they did as an adult. I was beside myself at the thought and was reminded of the experience of the Elk and I decided right then and there who was going to conduct the review of basics in gun safety for the group of 20 plus people before they got to shoot! My two friends that knew my son and myself thought that this was a great idea, but there was much grumbling from the group of the idea of being taught by a twelve year old. I pointed out that I trusted my son more than any adult I knew on this earth, because I knew what he was taught and what he wasn’t first hand. There is no room for pride in gun safety, even if the president of the NRA himself was there that day and he did something wrong I would call him on it and so would my son (of course we would do so respectfully). By the time my son was done and they were given the okay to shoot they were starting to understand also. To my son guns were not evil and wanting to shoot them was just plain fun, nothing to feel guilty about. He also demonstrated that he knew they could be dangerous and that he was taught how to properly handle them and he was teaching them.

I could go on about how guns are not evil but that would digress my own point which is that they are not unlike any other tool, they have a use and a function, and the biggest factor in safety of any tool is knowledge of how the tool works and should be properly used. Your kids probably know more than you do about how to use your computer or DVD player, and most likely no one showed them how to use these things. They can figure out how to load and use a gun on their own, you can’t rely on keeping children safe from the dangers of guns by keeping them away from guns, they need to learn and you need to be involved in that learning so you know what they know. Heaven forbid that my life or the life of my wife would someday depend on our children knowing how to properly use a gun, but if that they day ever comes we are as prepared as we can be.
I met an elderly man one day that told me that in Physical Education when he was a young school boy they could sign up for a segment to learn things like knife safety. As a father the thought made me smile as I had just learned from my youngest son that it was mandatory that he learn dancing in PE, could you imagine if I went to the school board and asked them to replace dancing with knife safety! The same thought also saddened me, to think that our society has gotten to the point that knife safety would never ever be considered for topic related to our schools again. Let the children learn how to put a condom on but heaven forbid they learn how to properly handle the most basic of tools in human history. Look on any emergency preparedness list and you will most likely find a knife near the top of the list. It is the most basics of tools and yes it can be dangerous if handled improperly so why not start learning to use one when you are young. Earlier I stated that knowledge is safety but so is experience. I have been carrying a pocket knife for as long as I can remember. My knife gets used almost every day, and yes even the most experienced knife user may cut themselves every once in a while, but the fact that I have never seriously cut myself as an adult I attribute to the fact that as a child I was taught to properly handle a knife and was allowed to carry and use one every day.

During the summer months my children usually carry their knives. But during the school year since they cannot carry even a little gentlemen’s blade in their pocket during school without fear of being expelled they end up forgetting it even on the weekends when not in school. This gets explained to me often by my children as I always ask where their knife is when they ask to borrow mine. This bothers me because being prepared means more than knowing how to use your tools but having them available when you need them. This is one of the reasons I keep asking “where is your knife?” even though I know and understand the answer, so maybe they will remember to keep it with them when not at school.  As a side note my fourteen year old daughter seems to remember more often than the boys to carry her knife, I think this is because she likes to shock people when there is a rope or something to be cut and she is the one that produces the right tool for the job!

I believe that our society is doing a disservice to our up and coming generations, by teaching them that they do not have to think for themselves and that if they just follow simple rules like do not touch knives and do not touch guns they will be magically be safe. We are also creating an environment where parents are afraid to teach their children certain things. I was sitting at the table with my father and my four year old grand niece, my father had a package that he needed to be cut open, and he handed it to me and asked me to open it. When I took out my knife to do so, my grand niece looked like she was going to have a heart attack. She looks at my father and states “your kid has a knife” as she pointed at me accusingly. You never have seen the old man so confused. It was really cute the way she referred to her Great Uncle as “your kid” but really disturbing that she was already brainwashed into believing that knives are evil weapons. She is a smart four year old, so I asked her what else was I supposed to use to open the package. I got two rounds of the answer “knives are naughty and bad” before she gave it some thought. She finally got the message that they are not naughty and they are not bad but can be dangerous and therefore she is not to touch one until her parents are ready to teach her how to properly use it. Both her parents are hard working ranchers and use knives every day. The answer of “knives are naughty and bad” came from her less than one year experience at pre-school.  I thought about this the other day at my work when a similar situation came up when a Design Engineer asked me if I had something to open up a blister package with. I pulled out my pocket knife and handed it to him. Should have seen the look on his face it scared him to death. Now here is a grown man who you know has had to have used knives in the kitchen before but was scared to death of the one I pulled from my pocket. All because he probably was never taught how to properly use one and was probably brainwashed as a child that “knives are naughty and bad”.

I am not advocating that it is blindly okay to go give your children knives or let them shoot guns. Just like I do not think there is something magical about the age eighteen or twenty-one that all of a sudden enables a person to know how to handle guns or knives I also do not think there is a certain age to start children. You are their parents if you work with them (and that is the key, to work with them) you will find out how much responsibility they can handle and understanding they can absorb.  I think you will learn if you challenge them they will surprise you, my four year old grand niece understood the why knives are dangerous when I explained it to her but not all four year olds would. But she is safer now because someone took the time to explain it to her. She will grow up better able to handle a knife than that Design Engineer. One of the things I have learned as a father is that all children are different. My oldest son started shooting when he was five, my youngest when he was eleven. It wasn’t that one was more mature than the other at five it was that he was mature in different ways. Kids respond to being given responsibility, the key is to challenge them but only put on them what they can handle. I have only written of Guns and Knives so far but I testify that letting my children learn responsibility in areas that society has deemed adult only has had many positive side effects. In many ways my children are better suited than many adults I know to tackle what life throws at them, and it is not just father’s pride that makes me say that. I have had many experiences where my children were willing and able to tackle learning new things that seem to intimidate many adults.

When the world comes crashing down, I would rather rely on my own children than most adults that I know.  And they are still very happy and well adjusted children none the less! This is because I love them and therefore have prepared them by teaching them all that I know.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

I still remember the conversation.  I was a freshman in high school, but I had the idea of  taking auto mechanics during summer school.  Dad told me that he would always pay for me to take a class because in the end, knowledge can never be taken away from you.  I didn’t take the class. I can’t remember why.  But his statement and philosophy has stayed with me forever.  Although it sounds cheesy, I consider myself a lifelong learner.  So, when I entered the world of prepping, I combined my love of learning with what I know of technology and learned a lot fast.

Information is growing at exponential rates ( see - http://www.emc.com/leadership/digital-universe/expanding-digital-universe.htm).  Lucky for us, that the exponential growth of digital media, includes information that is greatly valuable to preppers.  It used to be that you would have to take a class, buy a book or find someone with knowledge of a skill to learn and grow yourself in the arena of the “lost arts.”  But that is not the case anymore.  Turn on your laptop, get an internet connection and you are well on your way to learning the knowledge behind valuable skills to get you through any crisis that might be headed your way.

Blogs & Readers

There are so many great blogs out in the blogosphere.  And because so many good blogs are linked to each other, in no time, you can have a serious amount of prepping, survival, bushcraft, and homesteading blogs bookmarked in your browser. 

So, the unknowing prepper will start to visit each of these blogs on a regular basis to check for new content and information that will help in the quest to self-sufficiency.  However, traveling from blog to blog on a regular basis will get tiring and old, especially if you don’t find any new articles. The tendency after a while might be to start skipping out on checking your favorite blogs.  But then, you might miss out on some great information.  This is where blog readers come in.

A blog reader or RSS reader, captures the RSS feed from a blog.  The reader then displays every blog or RSS feed in one convenient place.  Blogs that have been updated or shown to be updated show all in one place and allows you to quickly browse through the new topics and select the articles that are truly of interest to you.

There are many readers out there.  But my favorite right now is Google Reader.  It is easy to use and you can get your feeds anywhere you have an internet connection, including your mobile phone.  Check out this link to see a quick video that explains Google Reader - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSPZ2Uu_X3Y .  And, you can visit this link for a short how-to-video on how to use Google Reader - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ltttw5yORv8  NOTE: Google Reader has just been updated.  The video describes the old Google Reader.  However, the new Google Reader functions the same.

If you don’t like Google products, there is a free piece of software that I used before Google.  It is a stand-alone reader that downloads to your desktop.  It is a little dated and doesn’t have all the bells and whistles, but it will keep your anonymity.  The program is called Bottom Feeder. There are also others.  A quick search will point you in the right direction.

I created two videos on blogs for a teacher staff development a while back that might be beneficial on searching for and understanding blogs as well.  Part 1 - http://www.screencast.com/users/tsepulveda/folders/Jing/media/ed7d0e6d-6c1d-4daf-9e6b-d9007e76df8d 

Part 2 - http://www.screencast.com/users/tsepulveda/folders/Jing/media/ee4313ff-3966-4eb8-8538-5ce2ebbc3922


I have to admit, there are times I feel like a prepping noob.  But for me, this next technology is a no-brainer!  YouTube is a great place to get informed on specific skills for prepping.  For instance, I didn’t grow up hunting and fishing with my dad, so I don’t even know the first place to start when it comes to skinning an animal or gutting a fish.  But I can see it on Youtube!  I can see it over and over and even ask the author or uploader of the video a question.  The great thing is that many of the people who upload videos to Youtube have the heart of a teacher and choose to do so to help others along.

One video that was very helpful to me was how to use a mylar bag for food storage.  Now, I know that this skill is basic common knowledge for most, but I had never done it.  I easily found articles and even pictures on how to do it, but it wasn’t the same as seeing someone do it right in front of my eyes.  I felt comfortable that I wouldn’t make huge mistakes when my bags finally came in….And I didn’t.

Once you find a great prepping video, take some time to click on the uploader’s name and checkout their “channel.”  They might have a ton of other videos that will help you in your prepping.  For an example, check out Southern Prepper's channel.


Some of you might be wondering, “why in the world is Twitter included here!”  Most of you would be right to think this.  I don’t necessarily care to read 140 characters worth of someone telling me their every move.  “I’m at the store #groceries.”  “I’m in the #dairy section.”  “I’m checking out #plastic bags.”  That’s not what Twitter is about.

Twitter is about sharing articles, blogs and other information that you might not have otherwise seen.  For example, let’s say that I’m following @prepperwebsite.  The Prepper Website posts a link to an article on a new blog that I have never heard of before.  The article is great and I realize that the other posts on this blog are very valuable too.  I might add that blog to my Google Reader.

Other information that might be shared might be news that is not being run by the mainstream media.  It is a way of communication that has reshaped how people communicate. 

Another thing you might want to do is to follow a trend or a search word.  Many people who use Twitter include hashtags to their tweets.  A hashtag is a way to set-off a certain term or idea on Twitter.  So if I post something about prepping, I might include the hash tag #prepper in my tweet. 

Go try it!  Go to www.twitter.com and type in #preppertalk in the search box. Try #preparedness, #foodstorage and #survival too!  Try anything that you are interested in.  For something to show up in Google’s search engine takes a few days.  However, the search results in Twitter are real time and you can find new information quickly. 

A word of warning - When you use Twitter in this way, it can be addictive.  You can find yourself searching, linking and reading so much information that you lose track of what you were there for.

Check out this video I did on using Twitter for Lifelong Learning.


Lastly, I will touch on podcasts.  Podcasts are audio posts.  When someone creates a podcast, they upload it for anyone on the internet to listen to.  Most of the time, you can go directly to someone’s web site and listen to the podcast.  However, that means that you have to be at your computer, or at least close to it.  But just like there are blog readers, there are podcast catchers. 

Podcast catchers work exactly the same way as blog readers do.  You have to find the RSS feed and put it in your podcast catcher.  After you do that, the podcast is downloaded directly to your hard drive where you can put it on your Ipod or mp3 player.  Now if you have an Ipod and Itunes, this is a pretty easy setup.  You just have to search for podcasts in your desired field of interest. The podcast will be “placed” or “sync’d” with your Ipod when you connect it.  If you have an mp3 player, it is a matter of going to the download folder and transferring it to your mp3 player, usually a drag and drop feature as most mp3 players are recognized as another portable drive on your computer.

To see an example video of a podcast catcher in action, click here - http://www.screencast.com/t/YWVhODNl .

To download “Juice,” the podcast catcher, go here: http://juicereceiver.sourceforge.net/

To search for podcasts, you can visit - http://www.podcastalley.com/index.php .

Recently, I have left my mp3 player behind for podcasts and just use my smart phone.  I recently upgrade to an android phone and downloaded the App “Beyond Pod.”  I search for my favorite survival podcasts and listen to them on the way to work through my car stereo system.  It is so convenient.

In Closing

To maximize your prepping efforts, you need to be informed.  Information is powerful.  Information is necessary.  And today, information is abundant.  You just need to know where to look. 

One last word, there is a difference between book knowledge and knowledge that is based on experience.  After you find the information that you are searching for, you have to put it into practice.  For instance, all the knowledge of gardening or skinning a rabbit doesn’t mean anything until you get your hands dirty…believe me, I know!

One last last word, a natural outflow of my learning has been my new web site.  I started http://www.prepperwebsite.com two months ago and the response has been great.  I read every article, listen to every podcast and watch every video I link.  I also monitor every web site I link through Google Reader.  The site is a great place to get a varied amount of prepping information in one place.

Mr. Rawles,
Thank you for your blog site. Sorry to add to the "snowball" burden but when building a library make sure the paper used is not acid-based or in a few years it will all turn to dust. Use alkaline paper or "Archival" paper only. This will make the information available for many generations. See the Wikipedia article discussing the matter.

Numerous companies sell their alkaline and archival paper on-line and it is available in larger office stores. Also a chemical test pen is available that will test whether a given sheet of paper is acid or alkaline is available.

I have no connection with any manufacturer or seller of these items. Given the invasion of chinese counterfeit products it might be prudent to use this pen to check papers that purport to be alkaline/archival, just to be sure.

Also. If the papers are to be stored in plastic protectors make sure the plastic is polypropylene. Some plastics emit chemicals that break down paper fibers quickly, leaving nothing but fragments after a few years. The basic rule is if you can smell it, it will destroy the paper. Polypropylene is odorless and harmless to paper. Also many office supply stores sell archival-quality protectors labeled as such.

And Mr. Rawles. The prepper movement is maturing. Instead of people attempting to gather all this information individually and on their own you should start a prepper version of Wikipedia or something similar and make it available for download. It is always the details that kill, and it would be a shame for so many otherwise survivable individuals to fail simply because they are missing a small bit of information that could have been available. - GMAN

Saturday, November 19, 2011

My wife and I have just recently started prepping (about a year now) and were amazed to find out how little we knew, in regards to living a self sustaining lifestyle/homesteading.  We had recently moved from our big house in the suburbs where farm animals weren’t allowed, to a secluded 5 acre parcel just outside of a small rural town. We, in this troubled time are in the midst of trying to build a cabin (cash as we go) while preparing for The End Of The World As We Know It (TEOTWAWKI).  We started storing food while learning to garden with our newly purchased heirloom seeds.  My wife and I built a chicken coop which now houses 13 hens that are laying about ten eggs a day.  We have found our selves searching the internet constantly for information and soon a thought had occurred to me, if we lose the nternet, we are ruined!  I suddenly realized that information storage was just as important as food storage.  We have all this wheat, sugar, salt, beans etc..  But we don’t know how to turn it into edible foods!  Thus I began saving web pages on almost everything that had to do with cooking and gardening,  etc.. but the more I searched the more I realized I needed to know.  I bought a Storey’s Guide to Raising Pigs, then found myself wondering how I would store so much meat without a freezer?  That led me to another purchase of a book on how to build a smokehouse and cure your own meats. 

All of this has turned into a “snowball effect” on information gathering, as soon as I learn something new, I realize the need to learn something else.  At first I began to save the web pages on my computer (file save as, for most browsers) knowing that I had a back up generator and even if the internet was down I could access them.  I created file folders on my computer such as cooking, gardening, chickens, pigs, automotive, etc... and began to fill them with any pertinent articles that I came across on the internet. Then my sister emailed me an article about solar flares and EMPs.  Argghh!  Now, we are going to really be ruined, how are we going to protect our vital information?  The next day my wife returned home from shopping and handed me two 3-ring binders with the plastic sheet protecters. I know how much printer ink cost these days, but if the founders of the library of Alexandria had an Epson840 do you think they would have quibbled about ink prices?    Who knows what the repercussions were for the loss of all that information.  In a TEOTWAWKI situation we need to protect our vital information.  Thus, I began the long process of printing all my articles and putting them into the little sheet protectors.  My wife and I made a book on gardening and one on cooking.  

This giant information snowball then had a strange side effect, it collided with our survival supplies list and actually began to dictate it.  The recipes we had downloaded called for ingredients that weren't in our food storage.  The growing season at our altitude wasn’t long enough to accommodate some of our heirloom seeds therefore we had to research how to extend our growing season (we plan on building cold frames next year).  We had no idea on how to pump water out of our well in a grid down situation.  Until we came across a SurvivalBlog.com writing contest round five Winning article “How to Build an Inertial Well Slow Pump for Grid Down Emergencies” by TruthFirst.  You can bet that those articles will be added to our ever expanding survival book.  It is not enough however to just store articles without reading them.  You don't want to wait until the SHTF to read an article only to find that the article requires an ingredient, part or component that you don’t have.  We have found it is best to start to try and live as self sustainable as we can now.  That way we can learn from our mistakes without the serious consequences those same mistakes would have in TEOTWAWKI situation.

I would like to share with you how our information storage got started in order to give you an example of what you might store.  Keep in mind that everyone’s survival plan is different, therefore everyone’s information storage needs will be as well.  You might have different food tastes; specialized diet requirements; geographical location; or particular medical conditions which you will need to plan for.  Our survival plan and information storage focuses on self-sustaining living since we all ready have our own property away from the city.  First, we started by identifying some of the basic needs necessary for survival.  Let’s name a few such as air, water, shelter, food, and security.  Now, lets take food as an example and break it down further into some sub-categories:

1. Food

A. Growing your own food
                        2)Heirloom Seeds vs hybrids
                        3)Climate Zones
                                                1.Pressure Canner
                                                2.Water Bath Canner
                                                3.Jars, Rings and Lids
                                                5.Canning Salt
                                                6.Canning Books/Recipes
                                                7.Heat Sources
                                    b)Root Cellar

B. Raising Your Own Meat

                                    a)Various articles saved on how to raise chickens
                                    b)Various articles saved on how to butcher chickens
                                    c)How to store chicken
                                                1.Freezer - added Foodsaver to survival supplies
                                                2.Added recipe for canned chicken to cookbook

I don’t want to bore you anymore with a dull outline as that could go on forever,  as you can see learning one thing can cause the need to learn something else.  I also don’t want you to think that we sit around outlining all night either.  We just start doing new things, like growing potatoes, which lead to us putting articles in our gardening book such as how to grow potatoes, how to harvest potatoes, then one day we were sitting there with like 300lbs of potatoes which led us to adding an article to our gardening book about how to store potatoes which added burlap sacks to our survival list. We downloaded some information about how to make a root cellar. We also canned  20 quarts of potatoes, so we added a recipe for processing potatoes to our cookbook. My wife then added a delicious potato soup recipe.  Another example is since we planted too late this year we had to research how to extend our growing season.  Thisin turn added an article to our gardening book on how to build cold frames, which led to the discovery of these really cool hinges with nitrogen filled cylinders that open and close the vent automatically (www.solarventworks.com).  We then found another article about how to get your green tomatoes to ripen and added it to our gardening book.   

            In closing, I would just like to say that there is no cookie cutter program for survival and that buying a bunch of random survival supplies only gives you a false sense of security.  Knowledge is the key to survival!  Start a gardening book and a cookbook. Try living off your food stores and see how many recipes you actually need, then print them off and add them to your book.   You will be amazed at how many ingredients you are missing, then add those to your food stores.  Learning how to survive takes years, it is not something that happens overnight. Don’t wait till the SHTF it will be too late! Try learning self-sustaining skills today.  Take that knowledge and store it in some three-ring binders, even if you think you will remember it.  The three-ring binders make a great reference, not only for yourself, but if something were to happen to you, your spouse, children, and group will have a wealth of knowledge to draw from.  Currently, my wife and I only have the Cookbook and Gardening Book.  However, lately I have been thinking about all the other knowledge we could need in a survival situation.  Here are a few ideas for our next books:

  1. A Maintenance Book filled with repair manuals for my vehicles, generator,chainsaws, tractors Etc... That could lead to a spare parts list like air filters, spark plugs, bar oil Etc...
  2. An alternate power book with information on how to wire solar panels and micro hydro that could lead to a basic supplies list like inverter, panels, wire and batteries.  Even if you cant afford the supplies at least you would have the knowledge necessary    to hook up a system.  In an absolute TEOTWAWKI situation it’s quite possible that you could  scavenge batteries from abandoned cars for your battery bank.

The list goes on and on, create your own knowledge books and share your ideas on the SurvivalBlog.com forum.  Maybe collectively we can store enough knowledge to keep us from reverting back to the Stone Age.  Remember information gathering has a snowball effect. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

We all read and see in the media where the world is going. Many debate the "How" of the "end": Economic collapse, solar flare, pole shift, "Planet X" and so on. I believe we should ignore the "How" and focus on what we as the human race will do "when this happens", whatever "it" is? Let's take a minute and think: Certain disasters will necessitate certain supplies, specific preparations, and or survival techniques. If you are like me you've dedicated yourself into the world of "The End" then you have most likely done your due diligence and prepared to one extent or another. Some with a fallout shelter under ground, to those with a closet full of food and bug out bag.

My whole vision of "The End" was, burned into my psyche by Francis Ford Coppola in his film Apocalypse Now.  The napalm burning up the jungle with the somber words of Jim Morrison's, "The End' pouring over the horror of that image. Yet, in all of our fear and relentless preparation I came to have an epiphany. What are we doing for the future, for the next generations to come? The following is a brief  list of what I've come to believe is the true meaning of "Survival" and "Preparation".

The Epiphany - Phase One
I am a spiritual person. I wouldn't say I belong to any organized religion, because I find that when Men and power, over large groups of people where money may be included,… abuse tends to follow close behind. Now, I'm not saying all churches or pastors, priests or Imams are evil and corrupt. But I find that I personally don't need a place to worship. God and Jesus and I have a close relationship. I'm not insane when I say we speak all the time. However, I do communicate with God daily. Perhaps being from a Lutheran background is why i worship this way. However you worship, and even if you don't this will apply to all Preppers.

My vision came when I was collecting information on how to refine "Bio-diesel" from used fryer oil, some fuel anti freeze and lye. The whole process seemed so simple. I couldn't believe you could run a regular diesel vehicle like this. I couldn't believe you can make so much in 12 hours with household ingredients. I wondered: who else could benefit from this information?  I felt like part of surviving was making sure that other like-minded people, survive as well. I started to question the whole process?  What if someone else out there, with only some soup and a tent in the back of their truck, when "it" happens is out of fuel? What if I had shared, what I had just learned, and they had that small bit of information. Maybe that man is able to save his family by getting out of town and avoiding the riots at the pumps just because of one small act of sharing information with someone else. Someone else who doesn't know that making bio-diesel at home is even possible? Naturally I did what many of us are doing. I read blogs for preppers. While online with some of you the epiphany turning into a calling. I know this may sound corny, but it's true.  I feel now that the simple act of sharing information to trying to survive isn't enough.

Phase Two (The Realization)

I started collecting information: survival information, escape and evasion in urban areas, local edible plants, how to make a generator out of a car alternator and a lawnmower, etc. Solar power and hydro power, natural insulation, how to trap animals and caching, food and ammo. All became my hobbies. I'm sure many of you can relate to my hobby. I began taking tactical shooting, rock climbing, repelling and emergency medicine courses and classes. But as halloween approached every channel had a zombie movie scheduled. I am a long time science fiction fan--I love that stuff. But I started thinking about some of the classic disaster and dystopian sci-fi films like Logan's Run, Escape from New York, and Night of the Living Dead. I also considered the more recent ones like The Road (which was originally a great novel by Cormac McCarthy), or I Am Legend.

This is where it all started to come together. This isn't just about us, and our immediate survival. We as a race will survive. We have survived extinctions before, with no technology at all. So I believe we will again.

What about after our generation? What about the children who don't know what  a television ever was or a computer? What about their children… they will know even less. I truly believe that it will be similar to the life of the people in The Book of Eli. Those younger people had no knowledge of writing or reading. Technology was almost like magic. So after our gardens grow, and our solar panels break down, and brushes in every generator wear out, then what? Where will we have left our future? They will be lost. Unable to repair or manufacture anything. This is when the truth of my new calling was realized: Survival isn't about water filters, and gas masks. Of course we need all of these items to get thru the initial event or events. But what our legacy must be to leave the information for future generations to rebuild as quickly and easily as possible.

Phase Three (implementation and execution)

Now that I'm out on a limb, and most of you treading his probably think I'm a kook. Just think for a minute: I know I use many pop-culture references and movies to explain my calling. But I am an extensive reader. and I believe that movies and books are a direct reflection of the fears and desires of the people who make and watch them. There is truth in them. As educated survivors die, of whatever reasons if they don't pass on their knowledge, to future generations it will all be lost to time.
This is how the "End" can Become a "Beginning".  We have made many mistakes as a people. We have also done many things right. My calling is to collect as much information about the most important and influential, inventions, theories, systems, philosophy, mathematics, linguistics, religions, etc. Once I've collected information I copy it onto flash drives, disks, paper and post on blogs. I try to get all of that important information in one place, so the next generation can have a better chance of having it to learn from.

I'll give you all an example: I collected 20 GB of information on everything from mining and smelting iron and steel, to how to build a printing press. Now some future person who hopefully was taught how to read could reproduce words and ideas for others. He could make and build a printing press. That took 3,000 years for us to learn. The idea of losing that forever, is my biggest fear. I have collected info on how to make glass, filament and light bulb. Or how to make a battery, and how to farm wind and sun. How to build a chicken coop, et cetera. If you are follow my train of thought then you understand why this is important for all Preppers.


My wife and I don't have children. But if we survive THE event that cuts the population by 80% then we will have a responsibility to the future. Beyond procreation. If we live to be old in our survival community, we would be teachers. We will all have to become teachers. You may not understand Calculus yourself. But part of your supplies should be stored information on multiplication tables through Trigonometry.  For the engineers and doctors that survive they will have the most responsibility to teach what they know to the next generations, But with volumes of reference materials, of all the sciences and arts in every community, the future doesn't seem so bleak. Infrastructure exists. It will not last forever. We as a people have a obligation to all of those brilliant, hard working people who invented, designed and built the world that we live in today. We owe it to their children and your children to share and store as much knowledge as we possibly can. So in the future, some bright young boy or girl might find your, Flash drive, or disk, or notebook and it inspires them to rebuild the national power grid, or fix the generators at Hoover Dam. Or it may be as small as feeding two families instead of one through a harsh winter with canning techniques?

This is how "The End can be a Beginning" The beginning of the new American Republic. The way it was designed by the founding fathers to be. By the way the first piece of literature in my collection for the New Beginning was the King James Bible, The second was the Constitution of the United States of American and the third was the Declaration of Independence. Those are the three most important survival tools in your bug out kit.

Friday, November 11, 2011

I cannot thank you enough for all you do. Thanks to your "List of Lists" and articles I am well on my way.... above the 80% so to speak. 

As everyone is, I am limited by finances. So while I pursue the items I need I also wanted to pursue skills. That is the most important anyway. So I was searching the site for a list of practical skills. Skills many times can be practiced without money or with existing gear. 

Is there a list of skills on the site? And if not, then what articles would you say to start with? 

Thanks again for everything. - Ben J.

JWR Replies: In general, I recommend that you take a look at the SurvivalBlog articles and letters that I've indexed in the "Traditional Skills" category.
Also see these SurvivalBlog pieces in the archives:

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

S. John's article on higher education generated some great responses, many of which urged careful attention to choosing an area of study that would be of practical use if/when TSHTF, engineering, medicine or nursing rather than law, English, sociology or political science.  I couldn't agree more that practical skills will be needed.   In spite of the general disrepute in which lawyers are held, however, I'd like to suggest that law is and will always be a practical skill.

If I claimed that 90% (or even 95%) of all knowledge in the field of medicine has been acquired in the last 200 years, I doubt anyone would find that surprising.  In a true collapse scenario, how much of that knowledge will still be practical?   Much of it depends on supplies, equipment and medications that will simply not be available, at least in the short run, but maybe forever.  However, what does remain practical will be much more accurate and useful than what was known 200 years ago.   Many of the basic principles of today's medicine were unknown back then.   In fact, in case of illness or injury, you'd probably be safer today in the hands of a reasonably well-read layperson with a well-stocked medicine cabinet than in the care of a doctor and hospital from the 1810s.

On the other hand, if a time-traveling lawyer from Abe Lincoln's era were dropped into the middle of a modern courtroom, after recovering from the shock of the modern technology of law and the presence of women, he would find most of the basic principles familiar.  After all, commercial and property transactions and dispute resolution have been going on for thousands of years, and the law has been distilling its wisdom on how to deal with such transactions all along.   The modern emphasis in media law on crime, civil rights, governmental regulation, and personal injury masks the reality that most law most people see and touch in daily life is commercial law.   It is just so thoroughly integrated in our daily lives that we don't notice it. 

A good engineer may be able to build a bridge that will stand up to the traffic on it, but either a warrior's skills or a lawyer's skills will be needed to make sure the bridge is built on land whose owner won't just tear it down again.   Throughout human history, that's what lawyers have done - found ways and developed systems that substitute contracts for wars, so that human ingenuity can be harnessed through commerce and its fruits can be made more secure.  That's not to say warriors can be dispensed with.  There will always be those who breach contracts, break laws and try to get their way through force or fraud.  Warriors will be needed on the front lines to stop them, capture them and compel them to submit to the law.

A good lawyer has a base of knowledge on how to identify and solve problems that has been distilled over more than two thousand years of human trial and error.   Ironically, preppers are among the people most like lawyers in their thought processes:   Both think beyond the expectation that tomorrow will be just like today, that the sailing will always be smooth; they think about all the things that could go wrong and then try to plan and prepare for them.

Everyone who does attend college would be well advised to take a basic course in legal principles, especially one with a focus on commercial principles.   Whether or not TSHTF, knowing what is involved in making contracts and learning how to read and think about them is a "survival skill" for life.

Having said that, I'm not sure modern legal education is as focused as it used to be on transmitting and refining that base of knowledge.   The mailings I get from my old law school suggest the focus has changed to one of training do-gooders, challenging "privilege" and implementing "social justice."  - Anonymous Attorney

Saturday, July 16, 2011


The article "A Prepper Goes to College" by S. John aptly points out a problem in which is completely avoidable.  It is heartbreaking to know that so many people are setting themselves up for a life of lost opportunities by being saddled with educational debt.   This problem is the subject of the book Debt-Free U: How I Paid for an Outstanding College Education Without Loans, Scholarships, or Mooching off My Parents by Zac Bissonnette.  "Debt-Free U" points out the huge disparity in the cost/value relationships of the many college education options.  It provides strategies (solutions) for getting a good quality college education and "the most bang for your buck."  It is a well written contemporary investigation into the myths and realities of higher-level education.   We have three college-bound high schoolers.  Our entire family has read this book and enjoyed it, including grandparents.  "Debt-Free U" has changed our expectations for college and convinced us to avoid educational debt at all costs.  I consider it a must-read book for any parent or student considering college.  (Coincidentally, I found out about this book while listening to Dave Ramsey, who is cited in the article by S. John.)

All the best, - John in Florida


I completely concur with John's piece on the college scam.    

My spouse and I lived in a two-room apartment for seven years to pay off our loans. It was painful, but we did it. I would never borrow that kind of money again. The worst part of the bank scam (besides the no bankruptcy)?

When a student is awarded a loan, the bank takes a 10% "Origination Fee," right off the top.   So, if the loan is $5,000, the check to the student is $4,500. What a scam.  What other loan or investment pays off 10% at the beginning of the loan?   Mind you, the student has to pay back the $500 (with interest). And then of course, there is the schools parts in this.   College financial aid ("aid" what a joke) offices point students to particular kinds of loans, frequently the ones that give a kick-back to the college.

And then the colleges apply all sorts of late fees, interest (it was 21% on unpaid balances at my college in 1994), etc. I'm hoping my son becomes an electrician. - Mary Beth


I appreciate S. John's article. He is quite correct in much of his evaluation. However, I believe the crux of his financial problem was not the higher education decisions, but his failure for he and his wife to wait on their marriage until they were debt free.  A decision to marry must include the freedom to marry and anyone in debt is not free.

As a former High School Guidance counselor, I encouraged my students to seek post-high school education with specific goals in mind...e.g. how that education will enable the student to be employed in a career. I encouraged maximum use of CLEP and community colleges. I encouraged them to live at home, attend college year-round and to take the maximum credits permissible each semester (the schools say 12 semester hours is a "full time" load. If you follow that for eight semesters (four years) and you have 96 semester hours (about a year short of the 122-124 semester hours required for graduation). I encouraged Technical Colleges and high schools to learn a trade to pay for their educations (being a part-time welder at $26/hour beats working at McDonald's for minimum wage...while going to college for mech engineering).

Unfortunately, we live in a "credentialed" world...and the beginning credential is a bachelor's degree. The unemployment rate for bachelor degree holders is in the neighborhood of 5% (the under employment rate is quite another matter!). Positions once held by High School grads (retail sales, etc) are now requiring a college education. So, if you must have the education, then get it as quickly and cheaply as possible.

BTW, I am a graduate of Hillsdale College (BS Math) paid for by work and scholarships as well as the Air Force Institute Of Technology (MS Systems Mgt) courtesy of the USAF and St Bonaventure University (MSEd Counseling Psychology) via the GI Bill. I left all schools debt free. My Hillsdale experience was invaluable in setting my life's course. I echo S. John's endorsement. Blessings, - John G.


James Wesley:
I felt the need to add some insight to the article regarding higher education.

I believe the author meant to use the total balance of all student loans instead of total cost of education.  If you play your cards correctly then you will be able to walk out with a degree and much less student loan debt than what your actual educational costs are.  In my case my education cost nearly $250,000 but I walked out with only $60k in student loan debt.

I hope my personal example may be used to help others.

I attended a state university for two years (getting a straight 4.0 GPA) and had to borrow nearly $20,000 in those two years to attend the local state school.  I CLEPed out of three courses from taking AP tests and from things I have taught myself.  In the beginning of my second year I applied to transfer to Washington University in St. Louis, (which happens to be one among the top universities in the nation)

I was accepted into the school and immediately took it upon myself to discover which courses I could CLEP out of.  I spent that next summer in constant self-study.

Prior to arriving at WashU, I applied for school-based financial aid and was able to receive many need based grants and scholarships (nearly $24,000 out of $40,000 in tuition and living costs).  After arriving, I CLEPed out of a few classes at WashU.  So far, I was able to save myself nearly a year of tuition.  The first year I did my best to obtain a straight 4.0 GPA at WashU as well.

Towards the end of my first year I went into the financial aid department  (when they were not nearly as busy as other times.)  I mentioned the fact that the school loans were going to be quite burdensome and that I was doing very well at the school and would like to continue attending but that the loans may become a problem down the road.  The financial aid officer / manager said well we'll take a look and see what we can do.  At the time I was receiving about $24,000 in need based scholarships and I had to borrow nearly $16,000 that first year.  He said "well we can convert this $8,000 school loan into a scholarship and then you'll get free tuition but you'll still have to provide for your own living expenses."  Having that short 10 minute talk has saved me $24,000 plus all of the interest.

After a few years at WashU, I was able to graduate with a BS in Physics and a MS in Computer Science (from the Engineering school).  I had many choices of internships during the summers and most companies were fighting over people from the university.  I took all of the opportunities I could to have an internship over the summers.  They are really worth their weight in gold and even to this day, when I have decided to switch jobs, they still are inquired about.  (But I should caution you, if you do not take the opportunity to have internships then you may not be able to easily find jobs.  I knew of many classmates who had B/C averages and no internship experience and by the time graduation came around they were still looking for jobs.)

When interest rates dropped really low I consolidated all of my loans into one big loan at 2.875% and most lenders will drop 1% off of your interest rate if you make 3 years of timely payments.  I'm now paying 1.875% and it is much lower than inflation (meaning it is essentually now "free" money.)

So to sum it up: Go to a local school first, use that to transfer into a much better school with a much better name.  If you notice it, WashU ended up being cheaper per year than the local state school. Talk to the financial aid department after you show that you are capable of succeeding.  It was such an easy thing to do, that I, at the time, didn't know if it would work or be worthwhile.  But I have been taught growing up that, if you ask, the worst that can happen is that they will say no, but if you don't ask then you will never know.  Mind you, I selected WashU because their endowment per student ratio is very high so I knew there was a good chance of obtaining better financial aid. Consolidate your loans into a lower fixed interest rate.  If the interest rate is higher than inflation or salary increases then pay it down fast, otherwise make the minimum payments. In case you are wondering, my tuition costs the last year were around $45,000, my student loan cost that year was around $10,000.  I was able to get a job immediately out of school starting at $74,000 and I had six offers to choose from.

I'm not sure if this had anything to do with it or not, but I believe it did, you should read the book How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.

Thank you and I hope my story will give others ideas on how to better afford their education, kudos to the original author, KJP


Mr Rawles,
I agree with a lot of the post  "A Prepper Goes To College" but there is one paragraph that is wrong: Here it is:

"As an example of this, you must realize that many colleges were created only to get free Federal money, which students have to pay back. “Trade colleges” like DeVry, University of Phoenix, and all sorts of art schools are only there to take students’ money which is “free” to them through student loans. If a school advertises on television then it probably offers junk diplomas."

This is simply not true. DeVry University has been in existence since 1931 and I know that in the field of  electronics technologies that DeVry has a sterling reputation and its graduates were generally known to be well qualified in that field. I know this because that is my profession and has been for over 40 years now.  I graduated from a competing school and am not affiliated with DeVry in any way, so I speak out of respect for DeVry having worked along side many of their graduates. Respectfully yours, T.W.T.

To S. John regarding higher education:
I've been a college professor for more than 20 years - and in higher education generally for twice that -- and I agree -- you have a point in saying higher education is a scam, but...

The system is the problem - not the education itself.  Clearly, a university degree isn't for everyone, but there are some things you can do -- as a Christian and a prepper -- to help:

1) Decide ahead of time if you need a university degree.  For some professions -- including professions that all preppers would probably agree we need -- bursing, medicine, engineering, teaching -- a university degree is useful -- and often required. If you don't need a degree don't do it -- remember the "dirty jobs" -- road work, ditches, sewage -- will always be needing people and you can do them without degrees. Better often to work at Home Depot and use your income (and employee discount) on preps.

2) If you go major in something useful -- sciences, nursing, engineering, computers.  You can always pick up electives -- languages are a good choice. Stay away from majors like gender studies, English, political science, sociology. Remember that your classes in those subjects will be likely biased towards left ideology.

3) Start in a community college.  Most of the first two years is the same everywhere and you save buckets of money.  The big four year schools won't tell you that.  Also think about taking classes on the side at your community/technical college.  Everyone should know how to weld and do electrical work.

4) Pick your school.  The small private school can do just as well as the big name school.  You can also find good Christian universities and colleges if that's your thing. Pick your location.  There are fine schools in many "safe" states e.g. Idaho -- why not spend four years in that area than on some eastern urban campus.  You can find a region (and possibly a school) which is more likely to be "prepper friendly" -- and if you are planning to marry.  Well, what better place to look for a like-minded guy or gal?  There are not too many Montana rancher's daughters enrolled at Florida State, I expect.

5) Stay away from student loans.  Quite right.  If you have all ready "drunk the Kool-aid" remember that you can get student loan forgiveness in a variety of public service professions -- nursing, teaching, librarianship -- make 120 payments and the government will forgive your loans.  Remember that the price on a school is always the "sticker price"-- I see students routinely get deals through grants and scholarships and, gee, working! There's a concept.  Don't buy the "You need to finish in four years"  Take six years, work, and avoid the loans.   Consider, dare I say it, military service and have the government pay for your college -- and you develop some useful skills.  What's better -- two years in camouflage or 10 years of paying loans in civilian clothes?  Stay away from the hucksters offering credit cards! That is the worst thing you can do! You are 18 -- if you don't have cash to pay for something then you can't afford it. And what do you need anyway? A ski vacation in Aspen?

6) Do the work! Students fail because they don't treat it like what it is -- a job.  That's why we have majors in basket weaving -- to accommodate the sheeple. The college librarian can be your best friend -- find the library and live there. Also, take care of your health -- eat, sleep, exercise. Get the habits now you will need when the SHTF.

7) Along with that avoid the sheeple students -- the parties, the distractions. Find a good church in the community and attend.  There are often campus ministry groups but they tend to be somewhat liberal. And if you are living somewhere away from home and the SHTF you want local contacts - not the campus ministry that is closed because it's summer and the sheeple students are on vacation.

8) Do not make an issue of your prepping.  Campuses are hotbeds of liberalism. You say "prepper" or "survival" and you will have the campus police looking under your bed for guns.  The resident assistants in dorms are not your friends -- in some cases I am aware of they were required to submit reports on students regarding their mental state, habits, etc.  in the name of "risk management". Live off campus if you can.  I have nothing to say about the issues of BOBs, guns, et cetera on campus except the lower profile you keep the better.  In a real emergency campus authorities are clueless -- for pandemic planning we were given, as faculty, a "Business Continuation Plan" that suggested that we would be sending everyone home and they (and we) would be doing everything we normally did -- just over the Internet via online instruction.  Right -- let's see how that works the day after an EMP burst, but I digress.

9) Find like minded people.  I was surprised to find a student shooting group from my campus, notably liberal, having a table at the local gun show.  I had no idea they existed. There are guys (and gals) with your viewpoint -- they will just be harder to find. And love your parents -- but leave them at home.  Helicopter parents of students, who hover over their child's every move and call every day -- are a curse.  You are 18, you are a grownup, act like it, -- call mom on Sunday and get on with your life the rest of the week. Be accountable for yourself, moral, and responsible and you won't have problems -- like large debt, arrests, or a pregnant girlfriend -- that you will need help with.

Your points about higher education are justified.  The system is a scam.  The knowledge that is in universities and colleges isn't.  There is alot of value in western civilization and our culture and history.  Universities and colleges are good repositories of that heritage.  Always the best? No.  There's lots of waste and corruption and idiots trying to find better "business models" and promote questionable ideology.  And frankly some scam artists who have figured they can make six-figure salaries managing all this Federal money that flows into higher education. But there are also lots of good people, religious people, preppers, who are genuinely trying to do good for people.  Find those people and pay attention to them. - A Prepper Professor


S. John shared some very insightful views and suggestions to better navigate higher education and ways to find gainful employment.  I would like to share some other approaches and strategies which have worked for me and others, but were not mentioned by S. John.  Higher education is by definition, education past the high school level.  This would include trade, vocational, college, and university programs.  For preppers, not all information, knowledge, or skill can be found in one source.  With anything we prep, redundancy provides greater stability.    

Military Training, Education, & Benefits.  
As a U.S. Army Airborne Infantry veteran, I can attest to the value of training, education, and experience our armed forces provide.  While only 1% of our country serves in our armed forces, it is obvious the commitment to military service is not for everyone.  Some may not be qualified, while others have personal beliefs which prevent them, and others often have skewed views or a lack of self confidence.  I will discuss the Army's programs as I am more familiar with them.  If you seek more info contact a recruiter and research to see if it can work for you.   All branches start with basic training and include training in combat skills, marksmanship, physical fitness, survival, field craft skills, and basic first aid.  The length of training varies from 8 to 13 weeks depending on branch.  The next step is military specialty (specific job) training.  There are numerous combat related functions, such as infantry and special operations, but there are even more combat support and service support jobs with a wide range of technical vocations.  Everything from communications, medical, transportation, engineering, intelligence, law enforcement, mechanical, to legal and everything else in between.  The US Army alone boasts over 200+ specialized job fields.   In addition to this training, some branches have basic training and military specialty schools accredited for college credits.  Those that don't still provide the option of having training evaluated for credit as well.  While you serve on active duty or with the reserves you are eligible for tuition assistance to cover up to 100% of tuition, books, and fees.  If you serve with National Guard or Air National Guard units, depending on each state, most cover 100% of in state tuition at the state university rates.  After you complete your service, the Army College Fund and GI Bill can pay between $44,000 for education after a two year enlistment or up to $81,000 for education after a six year enlistment.  Also, if you have already attended college and acquired a large amount of loans, if eligible, the Army can pay off those loans up to $65,000 in return for service.  If you have an advanced degree, such as law, nursing, or medical there are additional special programs.   After your service you not only have an established experience in a trade, you have applicable vocational training, and the financial ability to further pursue additional higher education.  This provides one the ability to get paid to learn skills others pay money to acquire.  In addition to those skills and opportunity, you also have other VA benefits such as home loan grantee and hiring preference for civil service jobs.    

Other ways to reduce tuition costs...   When I landed on top of a heavy drop (parachute platform with equipment and vehicles strapped to it), after jumping out of a C-17 and screwing up my shoulder, I was told to ride a desk or take a medical discharge.  This was disturbing to me, as I had planned for a career and after seven years, the thought of a desk job in the army did not appeal to me.  I took the discharge, moved back home and decided to pursue a career in law enforcement.  I needed to work, as did my wife, to support our kids and make a living.  I got an easy gig managing security - hired on the spot - just after inquiring about the job and discussing my prior experience in the military.   As I began researching law enforcement in my area and related education through local community colleges and universities, I discovered something few people know of or take advantage of.  I learned that most colleges and universities provide tuition waivers for employees.  These are not like a work related only tuition reimbursement program, but an actual waiving of cost.  Some are like the one I work for, which provides tuition waivers for the employee and spouse (100%) and for dependent children (75%).  In my state, all public colleges and universities, also operate their own public safety or police departments.  This was fantastic for me and my family as I was looking to pursue both a career and education and was able to do it at the same time and the same place.  The university I work at provides these benefits for every staff member employed, from landscapers to janitors, maintenance, IT, to various services, and secretaries.   Using a tuition waiver, in conjunction with GI Bill or Pell Grants, produces the ability to not only attend college, but to actually get paid for it.  The tuition is calculated, then waived, with the remaining funds disbursed to the employee/student for other costs associated with college.  Things such as text books, room and board, transportation, childcare, computers, and internet service.  I have earned an associates degree in administration of justice, an associates degree in law enforcement, and I am finishing a  bachelors degree in emergency management.  My wife has earned an Associates degree in organizational management and is finishing a Bachelors degree in operations management.    All with no student loans or out of pocket expenses.  As a family of seven with us both parents working full time, this wouldn't be possible without the research and time we were willing to invest to make it work for us.  To say it is easy to juggle five kids while both working and going to school full time would be a lie.  Finishing our education is the last step before we join the American Redoubt and move to establish our family retreat.  However, education is only one part of our plan, and it is combined with additional experience, knowledge, and skills.    

Redundancy is required in all things, to create greater stability, not just prepping.  Before you prep, you need to plan and mitigate first.  I second S. John's warnings and advice to ensure you research well and chose your financial obligations wisely.  I would also add to plan your education to match careers available in or near your retreat or if not practical, to match them to benefit you post collapse.  Being able to combine both career and post collapse efforts through education would be optimal and require additional research.    I realize how blessed I am and know this may not work for everyone.  I am confident in the course of action I took and recommend it to my own sons and daughter.  I wanted to share my experiences and hope it works for someone else too.  Good luck! - C.W.  


Dear JWR,    
After reading "A Prepper Goes to College", I felt that I needed to make a qualified rebuttal to this article. Going to college can be a very important means of getting out of the minimum wage grind and building the sort of income needed to prepare adequately for bad economic times. First and foremost, if you go to college, you need to pick a degree in something that will have practical use in a world that has to focus on self-reliance or at least a significantly reduced reliance on the government. I know, for many people, it is their dream to study the arts, music or law. But when you find yourself in a survival situation, the people who are going to have skills of real value will be those who learned how to build or fix things. For the most part, that means people with degrees like mechanical engineering or similar areas of specialization. As someone who learned about fixing cars from my father who was a mechanic for Cummins, I can easily see how an engineering degree can have very practical value for a prepper. I also saw my step-daughter have to incur tremendous amounts of debt in her quest for her PhD in Psychology. She was exceptionally hard working though and is now is an associate professor at the age of 30, specializing in the treatment of autistic children. She literally worked her way through college as a therapist. But even this is the exception, rather than the rule. It will still take her years to finish paying off her debt. Someone with a degree in the liberal arts will find that achieving her success to be almost impossible.     

The article also brings up the very valid points of how the cost of college degrees have skyrocketed and how school loans can be a very heavy burden for years after graduation. It is very important then that when you select a school, that the real cost has to be considered very highly. Students often learn that they pay an unnecessary premium for the privilege of attending a 'big-name' school. Find the least expensive college or state university that carries the degree program that you seek first. Secondly, try to find as many grants and scholarships that do not need to be paid back before exploring loans that do. There are a lot of opportunities for college money that does not have to be paid back, but it takes time and effort. Another option that should also be considered is military service, either with your state's National Guard or with one of the service ROTC programs. They can often pay for most if not all of a student's tuition plus supply a student with a couple of hundred dollars a month of drill pay as well. This option also gives the student to learn other skills like fieldcraft and basic rifle marksmanship training that can prove to be very helpful in a survival situation. If you can, pick an officer specialty that can teach you skills that can translate into the civilian marketplace like Military Police or even Military Intelligence. (The latter teaches a lot of skills that can translate into other fields not to mention that a security clearance that can open a lot of doors.)     

If you do decide to pursue higher education, be serious about it. Don't do to school expecting to have a great time at parties and breezing your way to a degree. Getting a useful college degree is hard work, especially when you are working in more of the more technical areas. If you don't have a decent GPA, your job opportunities can be few and far between especially when competing with other students with 3.5+ GPAs. But it will be worth it in the long run. I found this out the hard way myself.     

I'm sure that the author's wife is very intelligent and likely performed very well in law school. But how much real use will there be for lawyers when the economy shuts down and we have to learn to make do with what we have? I can easily see how an engineer can be helpful by building or adapting machines to produce power or to make the tools that their community can value however.     

Higher education is important, but choose carefully and work hard. The skills that you learn need to be able to sustain you and your family in the future. - Tek

Sunday, July 3, 2011

It is my observation that many children are not being raised ready to live a real life. I can speak as a full time teacher for ten years and as a stay-at-home mother for the past 17 years. Here are my suggestions for how to improve your children’s education so they will be ready to think and succeed. Please do not think that our children are perfect and always wonderful. They are not! However, they are respectful, tidy and courteous to everyone. We have been told numerous times how “lucky” we are to have such delightful children. No, we are not “lucky” at all – just diligent Christian parents.

First, when your children are young decide how you and your spouse are going to raise your children. No guessing or assuming what you each want. Discuss the details face-to-face. Be pragmatic and discuss even the difficult topics, and then compromise. It is very important for your children to know that both parents are one.  I believe this should be done before marriage, but few of us do.

I cannot speak to divorce, but I can tell of the shattered lives of the children of divorce.
This essay is about examples of ways to train children so they will be equipped for success in their lives. It is not for the lazy, fainthearted or mean. No, being a parent is about diligence, patience, perseverance and mercy. It’s also about going against the perceived culture and adhering to Godly principles in a world that has forgotten them. It is about persecution and endurance. The bible tells us in Deuteronomy to first study and learn the Word of God, and then to teach our children. We are to teach them as we go about daily life, and we are to use examples from their lives to cement the lessons. However, if you beat a child with the Word, they may very well rebel. So proceed with care, kindness, mercy, patience and unwavering persistence.

I often say to our children, “What kind of parent would I be if I did not prepare you for …” In using this phrase, I train our children to be better future parents. I also provide them with another example of how seriously their parents take their God given responsibility to be parents. Raising our children is not an afterthought – it is one of our primary cares, and ranks above earning money or any extracurricular activity or hobby.

Having laid the philosophical groundwork, here are examples of ways to help your children learn skills for a successful life. I know many parents already do many of these tried-and-true activities, but it is always good to keep an eye out for more ideas. We have done our child rearing in a small college city in the East near where we were raised ourselves. As a result of our deep desire for our children to be raised around family and my husband’s job, we have lived center city in a Civil War era built house that we have reduced to a single family house from four apartments. This summer we are moving out West to one of the American Redoubt states. We will not be able to afford to take much of what we own, but we are able to take all of our skills.

1.        My children have spent years trying to sneak up on me. I am very difficult to sneak up on, and they have succeeded only a handful of times over the course of a decade. This activity improves their observation and stealthiness as well as keeping me on my toes.
2.        We not only require all our children to take the hunter safety course and have a working knowledge of every gun in the house, but we also have outfitted every member of the family with paintball equipment.  They have an intimate knowledge of the 26 acres of our family camp.
3.        Give your children tasks to do periodically that are just challenging enough that they need to think to accomplish them. And, send them to do these tasks in pairs or as a group. Than do your best to resist the urge to help out. A bit of direction (“look in the garage”) is so much better than (“Why don’t you use the wagon to move that heavy object?”).  At first, if you are starting a bit late, it will be very frustrating. However, after a while the children will begin to look at tasks that are challenging in a different way. They will seek the help of their siblings and you will find them, as I did the other day, outside managing a way to move a garbage can filled with dirt that was too heavy for the group to move. Stacking wood is a perfect young child activity as they need to use their critical thinking skills to do it properly. Of course, the children should know what a properly stacked woodpile looks like first.
4.        Every year I take the children and cousins/friends on a week-long camping trip without my husband. I expect that the children and I will be on our own should a disaster happen as my husband will be in demand.  The state campground is located on a lake with a steep hiking trail. The children have grown accustomed to making fires, cooking over fires with food from storage, tenting in the rain (one year it rained every single day), kayaking, learning bear and animal food storage skills, hiking and even working with the camp activities director to make emergency shelters in the forest.  And all this in the name of fun without any complaining.  While we are there, I am also pointing out native edible plants and their names.  Just think of the knowledge and skills they have acquired from when they were young. Of course, now, we also spend much time back country camping as well.
5.        Our children do not have the opportunity to butcher as we do not raise our own animals, however we do purchase a pig each year and have it butchered. In addition, we are usually gifted one deer a year from my brother. Often times it is not professionally butchered and we receive the venison in quarters.  As a result of this, our children are proficient at preparing meat for freezing. We make large quantities of jerky, so they have become pretty good at keeping a knife sharp and are skilled with the butcher’s knife. They also can use the meat grinder.  As their cooking skills have improved, so too has their butchering become more defined as they now know which cuts we prefer as a family. It is the only way they get their jerky as I have become “too busy” to make it. (I was told once by an elderly woman that when children learn a skill, they now own that job.)
6.        Rendering lard however was a bit more difficult to teach. I had to walk out of the kitchen and leave our thirteen year old daughter with the bag of lard to cut and render. Unexpectedly, she was rather vocally unhappy with the tears just running down her cheeks, but obediently went about the task. The next day I overheard her telling her friend how successful she had been in rending the lard – even though it was disgusting.  Next time she is confronted with a task that seems disgusting, she knows it can be accomplished.
7.        We taught our children to refurbish a house. This task has been one of the more difficult things to do for us. They started by painting in out-of-the –way places and progressed to entire rooms. We let them paint with their friends; in fact we let them paint their friends. They painted their playhouse built in the back of one of our garages, painted a cottage house and garden mural on the side garage wall and they learned to stencil in the process.  My husband has been very diligent in teaching the children how to do all that he knows – which is a great deal. Currently, they are re-roofing the four car garage. And, as a bonus, they are using his climbing gear and learning to tie the proper knots and the proper safety procedures.  They will be better prepared for our move to the mountains this summer.
8.        We insisted on piano lessons for each child from age 4 through 14. They have had the opportunity to take other lessons as they showed interest (such as guitar, drums, trumpet, sax, clarinet), but only if their piano was practiced diligently. Continual lessons and practice was done to learn diligence, reading of music, music appreciation and as an opportunity to help others. Twice a year we visit one of the local nursing homes to play music and hand out homemade cookies. The children are now inviting their friends to participate. This has become a wonderful public speaking and playing experience for the children, and the residents are so happy to see us come.
9.        We are active and strive to ensure that our children learn the skills required to be proficient at many activities. My husband and friend refinished a trailer-able sail boat that we have been sailing for 14 years with our children. They have learned to sail, the importance of learning to swim and tread water, how to remain calm in the midst of a storm, how to tie nautical knots, live in a small space (we stay on it at least one week a year), work with small engines and the importance of maintenance. We are out in all types of weather and go for extended periods of time without showering. They have learned how to sponge bath and make do.
10.    From the time our children were toddlers we have practiced the skill of sitting very still, closing our eyes and picking out sounds. We move past the obvious ones the deep small sounds. I mix this up by choosing different times and places. We also have a game where we use different colored counting bears in a circle and have one person remove one when the group is not looking. Everyone tries to remember which one was removed. This may seem simple, but it is not. The game can be made more difficult as the children grow by mixing up the remaining bears and such. We will also bike and walk different routes (especially our routes out of town) to see what is different and was missed when driving by. In the same manner, we practice the art of keeping one’s back to the wall, watching what is going on around us (it is a game we play – “what color hair did the waitress have?”), and knowing where the exits are.
11.    My husband enjoys skiing and has been a part-time ski instructor since I have known him. For 21 years we have spent most every winter weekend traveling 3+ hours to a large ski center where he instructs. Except for the years when the children were too small to ski (they started at 4 years old), we have gone as a family. We have had the experience of doing with what we had, and remembering to bring what we needed. We have never been able to afford a family ski house, but have shared space with others. Living with others has given our family opportunities to learn to be considerate, to put others first, to share and cooperate and to adhere to rules that are different. We are a very close family, and I do believe that this time together has been fundamental in building the family bonds. We ski in all weather – snow, sleet, rain, and very cold temperatures. All of us have learned how to dress for extreme weather.
12.    I chose chores based on each child’s weaknesses. I use chores as an opportunity to strengthen their weak areas. One of our children has shown a tendency toward a “weak stomach,” so this child always empties the compost and trash. Another one has shown difficulty with machines and a lack of attention to detail. This child often mows and trims the lawn (we have had many conversations about the value of a broom after mowing and emptying the mower bag – but this is the nature of training) and attends to the winter walkway. Now she is proficient at caring for the mower and gets indignant if asked about the oil and gas levels.
13.    Living considerately with one another has taken some forethought and effort. It does help that we have the skiing and sailing opportunities, but they were not enough. We also purposed to eat dinner as a family every day regardless of our busy schedules. Each family member stops what they are doing and comes to the table to eat. We have an agreement that we do not reprimand our children, allow complaining, and allow for unpleasant topics or unmannered behavior at our dinner table. In addition to an opportunity to learn common civil behavior and manners, it is also a time to improve their conversation abilities and storytelling skills. We chuckle at the number of their friends who manage to be at our house for dinner. These dinners are amazing, and give me hope for the next generation.
14.    Pets are a great for children in so many ways. Parents just have to be diligent in training their children to attend and work with the pets. Watch for signs of aggression of children toward their pets as it can be an early sign of too much stress.
15.    I insist that each child have a plant in their room. I start with easy care plants and progress to ones that require more attention. In the first place, I believe we should live with living things and learn to care for them. Also, plants help with the oxygen levels in closed spaces – especially in winter. And, having a plant around can be good company. Plants give hope as they grow day by day.  Having affection for one’s own plant will make our children better gardeners. Gardeners need to be patient, observant and have affection for their plants. It is called a “green thumb,” but it can be cultivated.
16.    Our children have cell phones now, but have to turn them in at 10:00 every night. It took our oldest child two years to agree with us about how she was going to behave before she finally got a cell phone. She is also the child who has been driving with her permit for a year-and-a-half. I always suggest that she drive when she was mad, upset, sad, and tired; and when the weather here in the east is at its very worst. She has had quite a struggle learning to control her emotions, so we have used the cell phone and driver’s license as learning opportunities. Of course my response to the questions is always, “What kind of parent would I be if I did not allow you to take as much time as you need to be a good driver?”
17.    This same daughter also decided to try out lying. Well, as God has always done with those He loves, she was caught. My husband and I decided to make it very difficult for our daughter after she was caught lying. We questioned just about everything. It finally came to a point one day when she said she didn’t see anything wrong with lying because everyone does it. My response was, “I don’t.” And, that was the end of the discussion and the lying. Now we started discussing the company one keeps and the importance of spending time with moral and faith filled people. Just remember that we parents must first set the example for our children to follow. Don’t lie and don’t take advantage of others, and that example with help in parenting.
18.    We also have never allowed an off-the-cuff “sorry.” Each opportunity for asking forgiveness includes admitting the problem and recognizing how it hurt the other person.
19.    Christmas this year saw each child receive their own tool box and some tools. In past years, they have received backpacks, ski equipment, good luggage, a hunting bow, musical instruments and such. We do not give irrelevant gifts. Each gift has a purpose and is usually much anticipated. It is good to have to wait for things. At times our children would look longingly toward the gifts of their friends, but now they see that their gifts are long lasting and useful. A good pair of boots far outweighs another Xbox game.
20.    We also encourage making cards and gifts. Last Mother’s Day, I received a cucumber and squash vertical stand-alone trellis that my husband and children made and transported to the garden.  I am much loved! We make many goodies at Christmas and the children take them to all the neighbors (even the ones that are not so nice and have caused us much misery). It is time consuming, but is building the skill of being a good neighbor.

Finally, here is a small list of other things we add into the lives of our children:

  • They work in their grandparent’s restaurant when they are needed to bus tables and wash dishes even though it is an hour and a half away. We insisted that they begin with the dirtiest jobs first.
  • We practice our evacuation procedures often. It was successful when we had a serious house fire and everyone (and their pets) was at the meeting place and accounted for.
  • Attending church is expected regardless of where we are. We also expect everyone staying with us to attend as well. We have been to some awesome churches over the years.
  • I highly suggest hosting an exchange student for a couple months if possible. It is a wonderful experience and a great idea of teenagers to share their rooms, possessions and time with another teenager.
  • We expect our children to prepare entire meals for the family. There have been some interesting dining experiences at our house.
  • I always get the most I can out of a fine layer cake! It is not held as a reward that is given only if such and such is completed with offenders not given any, but is used to facilitate the timeliness of completing tasks. We often sit around the table with such a cake and glasses of milk after long and dirty jobs have been completed for the day by the entire family. It is sort of a nice finish to the day.
  • We can, garden, and prepare food as a family.
  • Each child learns to make their beds and keep their rooms tidy. From that day on, it is expected. I have found that teenagers try to revert to Neanderthal behavior and argue possession of the room. We have none of that in our house. There is many a friend who has sat downstairs waiting for one of my children to put their room in order. Chaos is a state of mind that spills into living spaces and needs to be attended to very quickly.
  • Bedrooms are not play places and no one of the opposite sex is allowed in ever. This rule needs to be broken only once and the offender to be highly embarrassed for it to not occur again.
  • We value work in our family and expect cheerful countenance as it is being done. This is one of our greatest struggles in countering the perceived culture around us. I often test my children’s friends by enlisting their help and seeing how they respond.
  • I like to give entire jobs to children – keeping all the floors clean, cleaning out both cars, washing all the windows. That way they are able to really excel at a task and their work can be checked quickly.
  • Computer log-ins and e-mail accounts are password protected and all passwords are given to us. It is the responsibility of the child to let us know when a password needs to be changed. The passwords are areas given to strengthen each child’s area of need (i.e. Honesty100%), and we do check them periodically. Computers are located in common areas and are closely regulated. Did I mention that we do not import television? That was the best decision we ever made for keeping our home a sanctuary!

In conclusion, our family has experienced a serious house fire that kept us out of our home for 51 weeks, some serious medical issues, and persecution for our beliefs and lifestyle. Through all of this, we have grown stronger as a couple and as a family. I attribute this to the above ways we raise our children, and the kindness we show their peers. Too many of today’s children are so needy for love, attention, acceptance and boundaries. Yes, we do strive to raise our children to be the leaders of the next generation. We also look for ways to strengthen their peers and give them examples to follow. One of my greatest titles is that of “cookie mom.” Homemade cookies are worth their weight in gold!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I am a regular reader of Survivalblog.com, and recently saw your recommendation of the book The Simplicity Primer by Patrice Lewis. I purchased the book on Amazon on it Book Bomb day as you suggested, and the book arrived today. When I purchased the book, I thought this would be a great educational tool for my family, so tonight I started what will be a one-year ritual with my wife and two children. Immediately after dinner, I read the first tip out loud to my family. Tonight’s tip is on "Attitude". We talked about the advice, and each of us gave examples of where we have a good attitude and where we have an attitude we can improve. For myself, I told my kids that I feel it is my duty to talk to them and teach them things, but all too often I come home from work tired and spend time with myself rather than doing this, and allow them to go to their computer or television. I told them that what I am doing to correct this behavior is to spend the next year doing what we did tonight, along with some other things I have in mind. We then shared with each other something about the other’s attitude we thought was really great and how we felt it contributed to the family. At the end of the discussion, I summarized the importance of the tip and asked the kids if they liked doing this. Both of them said they enjoyed it and I think they are looking forward to it tomorrow.

It was nice spending this short time talking about an important topic with my wife and kids, I am looking forward to it too. I call this The Simplicity Challenge. Each evening after dinner, one member of the family reads a tip from the book and then the family discusses the tip for ten minutes. I think it promises to be a great new ritual added to our routine and will teach us all a lot, while bringing us closer together.

Warm Regards, - Ron in Florida

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I was just made aware that on June 2nd, the U.S. National Academies (e.g., National Academy of Science, National Academy of Engineering) made their publications available for free on-line.  http://www.nap.edu/  

Documents can either be reviewed on screen, downloaded as a PDF (need to register with site to download files) or hard copies can be ordered (although at substantial cost).
Publications cover a broad range of topics from Agriculture, to Engineering and Technology, to Conflict and Security Issues. Although much of the material may be of little direct value to a prepper, there may be some value among the esoteric collection, such as:  

There appears to also be a lot that would just be interesting reading.

Best Regards, - Sean in Sacramento, California

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Consider this possible scenario: Let’s imagine for a moment that nuclear fallout or a tornado is approaching your home. If you said to your child, “Stop what you are doing- go to the basement right now!” - would he obey without question or hesitation? Would he even pay attention to your voice if he were deeply involved in a video game or a text message? Would he whine “WHYYYYY? Do I HAAAAVE to? It’s not faaaair. Bubba got to play longer than meeeeee!” Would your daughter pout, glare at you, and sulk if she had planned to go to a party instead of to the basement? Would your toddler know how to “hush and be still” on command, or would he strain against your arms and accelerate into a loud temper fit? What decisions do I need to make right now, if I really believe that some time in the perceivable future, events may occur which will require my family to function as a tightly-knit team, whether we decide to stay put and dig in or in the event we need to make a mobile evacuation.  The groundwork we lay today may mean life or death tomorrow.

I share these concerns from a position of experience. I am the father of nine children, three grown and raised, six still at home.  We have put these following principles to the test while traveling in hazardous conditions, preaching in ghettos and foreign (dangerous!) countries, and being in natural disaster zones. Our family has spoken at home-schooling and preparedness conferences about developing a lifestyle that fits the times in which we live. This is not a time to be numbed by addiction to amusement, stuffed with junk food in our bodies and brains, or to be slackers in our child training. Public school will not teach these principles to your children. You must or they will not survive.

With this in mind, let’s take a reality check.  The first priority is to establish authority. This may step on some toes but home was never designed by the Creator to be a democracy, but a benevolent theocratic dictatorship. God rules, then Dad in cooperation with Mom, period.  Children must see and know that Dad and Mom are under God’s authority.  Under God, children must obey their parents. If this chain of command does not exist in your house, fix it. Buck up men; you are not in position to win a popularity contest but to lead your family to overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil. This is not always fun or “happy”. It requires a stiff backbone, the ability to say “No!” and mean it. These principles apply to Moms too.  Good Moms are not “sappy” pushovers. As a popular movie stated- walk tall and (when necessary) carry a big stick. Children from wimpy parents become narcissistic whiners, unfit for counting on in hard times. This is not to say that respectful (again I emphasize respectful!) appeals cannot  usually be brought to the table for consideration and negotiation- after all, I did state this is a “benevolent dictatorship”- but ultimately the authority must be firmly established in the home.  Passive or active rebellion, complaining, or whining are deadly enemies. Right heart attitudes are your ultimate survival tool. Read one chapter each night from the Bible book of Proverbs for some great attitude adjustment and family survival training.

After establishing authority, you can focus on intensive Spiritual Preparedness. This is achieved by attending to three training areas:

  • Scripture Memory- We live in a day of great deception and an appalling lack of common sense. People run around the country chasing the latest faker proclaiming a revival or “rapture”, while Bibles sit on shelves gathering dust or are watered down by publishers for political correctness. And profit. Consider another scenario: There is no “rapture” before the stuff hits the fan and the world becomes increasingly chaotic. Natural disasters and wars increase. Churches are either targeted for attack or are succeeding because of compromise. Your children are separated from you, like Daniel and the three Israelite children, Moses, or Joseph. This nightmare has happened to children throughout history and is reality currently throughout the world. How will your children stand for truth without you? By grounding them firmly on the Word of God today, while there is time. How do you do this? The same way you eat an elephant- one bite at a time.  Use the KJV for its poetic vocabulary and look up the words you don’t understand. Mental gymnastics are good for you. Keep small pocket-sized whole Bibles on hand for easy transport- keep in mind ¾ of the Bible is before the Gospel of Matthew and these Hebrew Scriptures are not disposable, according to the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:17-21. Choose “thought chunks” or chapters rather than isolated verses that can be manipulated by deceivers. Use a rhythm or a tune, then add one phrase per day, repeat what was learned on previous days. Start with Exodus 20 - the Ten Commandments verbatim (it will thoroughly mess up your theology - it did ours!) After accomplishing this, go on to Psalm 91 and 23 (protection), Matthew 5, 6, and 7 (the Sermon on the Mount), Matthew 24 (current events), Genesis 1 (the true Origins of the Species) - the possibilities are endless. We are about 3 chapters into the book of 1st John and will be finishing the book by summer’s end. Why is this such a big preparedness priority?
  • We must hold fast to the faith as it was once delivered to the first-century culturally Hebrew saints and be prepared to be Kingdom witnesses, Kingdom ambassadors, and if He wills, Kingdom martyrs.
  • We must return to “ancient paths”- Apostolic foundational doctrine versus fragmented self-help, “touchy-feely” modern heresy rampant in the modern church.
  • We must preach with actions louder than our mouths. Put up or shut up.
  • Our children need to discern between the few true sheep - friends who have right actions, and the many wolves in sheep’s clothing - enemies who say one thing and do another. They will smile in your face and plan your destruction. Peer-dependent wimps are tomorrow’s traitors.

These statements are not in agreement with the majority “false unity” movement who makes statements about “laying aside doctrinal differences” to promote a one-world homogenous religion that offends no-one and promotes a New Age Gospel. The truth causes division. There is still only One Way, Truth, and Life. Follow Him and live eternally.  His followers love and obey His commandments. His Precious Blood is the only payment for our sin. Because of His loving sacrifice, we owe Him our full obedient worship. Period.

  • Character Training- In our home we have a few forbidden phrases:  “I’m bored….”, “Its’ not fair…”, and responding to a command with a whining “Why?” or “Why not?” top the list. Another parental pet peeve is comparative statements like, “Sister got two wobbly widgets and I only got one”. A parent of nine would go crazy (and broke!) keeping everything equal and to be honest, we have watched parents who try. They inevitably raise whining, self-centered, covetous hellions. This does not set the stage for great teamwork, now or in the future.  These families do not make great neighbors, let alone brethren in fellowship.

One solution we have found for building right heart attitudes is community service.  There are always elders who need snow-shoveling, widows who need weeding, and new mothers who could use a spare hand. By being community servants, you build community solidarity and favor- necessary preparedness tools in hard times.

Where do we start, you ask? In the Bible book of II Timothy chapter 3 it says “Know this: in the last times perilous times shall come. People shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce breakers, false-accusers, lacking self-control, violent, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof…ever-learning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth…”  Does this sound like front-page news?

Start by expecting your children to be capable of living the opposite of this. Expect them to be unselfish, appreciative of what is theirs’, humble, obedient, respectful, pure, kind to their brothers and sisters. Expect them to keep their word and have integrity, to refrain from slander,
to be willing to defend the weak but accept persecution for His sake, to have righteous friends. Expect them to be loyal to their faith, their family, and their country. Expect them to be truth-seekers.  Set the bar high, live it in front of them, and expect them to follow your example, more than your words. If you don’t like the way your children act, look closely at the way you act around them. (Ouch-painful, but true for us all!) Reward the good, discipline the evil. Simple.

  • History and Heroes of the Faith- Our children need to know their origins. They are not animals. They are also not the latest, greatest thing that ever happened. They are part of a long chain of people who have been faithful. The history of our country is sadly neglected in the public education system. It is up to families to introduce their own children to the foundations of freedom and liberty secured by the sacrifice of patriots and martyrs throughout history. The writings of Charles Carleton Coffin have been indispensable in exposing the hand of God in the battle for liberty. Read aloud The Story of Liberty and his other well-written sequels. Read the stories of remnant movements, missionaries, and martyrs throughout history. The DVD series The Seventh Day is eye-opening and fascinating.  Our family is particularly interested in the history of World War II, the birth of modern Israel, and the connection of blessing or cursing upon nations who stand with or against her. For some excellent historical fiction about this era and the issues, read the Zion Chronicles and Zion Covenant series by Brock and Bodie Thoene. Our country is not exempt from the Scriptural pattern of blessing or cursing and our current foreign policy is a good reason to focus on preparedness.

As foundations are laid in spiritual preparedness, the next priority is …
Practical Preparedness:

  • Plan- This is the subject of many preparedness conference speeches and dozens of books, but little emphasis is placed on the family. Can you believe we have been invited to speak about preparedness at home-school conferences which are not family-friendly?! What an oxymoron! Okay, here goes another scenario: What if your wife was shopping, your older children were taking some little ones to visit a relative and a national alarm was sounded. Is there a designated meeting place? Would everyone know where to go? How to get there? How to communicate effectively? What to do if they can’t communicate?

One method we have found indispensable in a large family is “the buddy system”. Since early childhood each child has been assigned to another child who is about five years younger as a delegated authority. They take care of daily responsibilities pertaining to this child. In the morning they see that their buddy is properly groomed, served breakfast, and supervised throughout the day. If we go to a restaurant or to visit another family, they get their buddy’s plate, cut the meat, watch their manners, wash hands before and after, and hold their hand when leaving or crossing the street.  On an everyday basis, this sense of order presents an excellent testimony to our community; we like to rock the perspective that children need to be disorderly, loud, and self-centered.  Not true! Once again, community favor is an important survival tool! In the event of an emergency, each “big child” needs to know where their buddy is and get them to safety. Backpacks with emergency supplies are prepared to provide for each “big child” and “little buddy” team. It would be our hope to be together throughout any emergency, but in the event this plan fails, each big buddy is a competent delegated authority who would protect and defend his/her buddy. Because the relationship was formed over years of service and set in place by the parents, the correction and leadership of the “big child” has been deeply respected. This is enforced by Mom and Dad.

These backpacks contain, among other things: A 2-person dome tent, a large but lightweight sleeping bag (sharing “buddy” heat is simple with toddlers), a water filter, clothing and diapering gear if necessary, vitamins and snacks, meds and first aid equipment, whistles, signal mirrors, fire-starting gear, a multi-tool, small Bible and child-friendly survival manual, mini-coloring books and colored pencils with sharpener for distraction, fishing line and hooks, snare wire, rope, mess kit, etc. By the way, all this is done in a way that is very non-threatening and pro-active. We do not live fearfully and we do not promote this with our children.

  • Drills - Practice makes perfect. Everyone has been in a building when a fire alarm goes off. Everyone is expected to assist the disabled or helpless, leave in an orderly manner, form up at a previously designated location, wait for a headcount and an announcement of “All clear”. How about home-evacuation drills? Each “big child” takes their buddy and backpack, and then meets at the designated area where Dad and Mom take a headcount. This is a great time to practice (with adult supervision and safety harnesses) ladder evacuations if children sleep on a second or third floor. If you have a “safe house” location, practice hiking there on-foot during various seasons and place “caches” at strategic locations. Make it an adventure with prizes for timing and skill. Debrief and learn from mistakes. Some drill suggestions are:
  • No grid electricity week - All “from scratch” food made on alternative cookers, “bucket brigade” laundry (Teams of a big child and buddy washing clothes using one wash bucket, one rinse bucket and a clean plunger as an agitator, hang on line to dry), use LED lanterns for light with solar re-chargers (These are a great improvement over smelly fire-hazard lanterns).
  • Outdoor Living Week - We typically do this with others in the Fall in association with the Biblical Feast of Booths (Sukkot)- the original ancient annual preparedness conference-but it would be great to do once each season to work out the “bugs” and mistakes. This is a great time to practice “fort-building”.
  • First aid drills and scenarios - Kids love to be the “victim”.
  • Hunting season - a big event in our house. We use everything, including the antlers!
  • Paintball - This would be fun on your own property and a great socially acceptable reason to build “foxholes” and other strategic places…
  • Rendezvous and/or Appleseed shoot participation - Learn history, mountain man skills, and safe weapon handling.
  • Other Outdoor Activities - Go on bike trips, canoeing, cross-country skiing, pack-animal outfitting, white water rafting; develop skills in alternative transportation. Practice crossing shallow water with walking poles in summer for “heat relief”. Take long “wagon walks” with little ones- buy a wagon with all terrain tires equipped to carry over 1,000 lbs. These would be indispensable for families! And if you have babies, get an ergonomically designed backpack made for hiking with small children, including the accessory rain-cover and insulated snug sack. Get panniers for the family dog and put it to work.
  • Skills - I may be preaching to the choir here, but if this helps one family it is worth repeating. We have to get back to basics! Instead of being a “preparedness junkie”, wouldn’t it be smarter to just retain the everyday skills and lifestyle common our grandparents just a few generations ago? Developing a sustainable homesteading lifestyle - even by growing container gardens in the city - is better than thinking you will suddenly become “Rambo” in a crisis. Stop living a “fast food” lifestyle, no matter where you live. Start somewhere.  Start preparing meals from scratch, baking bread, learn what is edible and medicinal in the wild spaces around you, unplug the cable television, video games, etc. Purchase real, durable child-sized tools, sturdy boots, leather child-sized work gloves and let them work with you rather than always playing. Look for the gifts in your children and equip them to operate in them.  We have a daughter who hunts, tans the hides, butchers and cooks the venison, and dances ballet. We have a son who hunts mushrooms and catches his daily limit of fish, and is an expert cook on a barbecue or an outdoor wood-fire. He is also an amazing evangelist. Every child has special gifts. Look for the talents in each one, as these are important survival resources.

In summary, teach by example. The thing I have learned (sometimes the hard way) is that children are watching everything we do, say, react to, and then they will imitate our actions-good or bad. They overhear our conversations with others. They hear what we say when we hit our thumb with the hammer. They see whether we treasure our wife as the Messiah adores His Bride or if we treat her like a doormat or a workhorse. They don’t need to see us absorbed in fearful preparations, worried about what we will do if someone comes to “take our stuff”. They need to see us living a life of faith and prudence, using discernment in our speech and actions, loyalty and generosity in our friendships, and courage in adversity. Children and unbelieving neighbors are watching us and following our example. They are looking for answers. Our priority must be our responsibilities as Kingdom ambassadors in a time of great darkness. We need to shine a clear light. If hardship becomes more intense in future days, we will be thankful to have used our time wisely in giving our children the best chance to flourish in spite of adversity. If things improve, (unlikely, but always possible) our children will have learned to enjoy adventure, function with optimal life-skills, and they will be a worthy contribution to the leadership of our future communities, congregations, and our nation. We can store a warehouse full of beans, an armory of ammo, and a vault of precious metals but eventually it will all burn. The only thing we can hope to take into eternity with us is our children.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Dear James,
I read your blog weekly.  Very good stuff. 

Regarding the recent article Surviving TEOTWAWKI with Infants and Toddlers, by M.A., I just wanted to add couple things, being a mom of five. 

Having things like Tiefu (for headaches, pains, sinuses), acidophilus (for stomach woes, can be used with infants and will put an end to diarrhea) Otic solutions for inner ear pain (there is no way to sooth a baby in ear pain without this stuff), Vertifree for children and adults with symptoms of vertigo caused by allergies and such.  Castor Oil for muscle pains.  Having the same bracelet can also work instead of tattoos.  One can also stock up on a small box of age appropriate toys.  

I think another good thing is develop a quiet spirit/mind/body.  Don’t expect your kids to wig out and they won't.  Start training your babies to be quiet.  This is not done by force, but by being a quiet person yourself.  With toddlers play games like hide and seek and reward for being a good and quiet hider.   Lots of rewarding: hugging, reading, playing things they like to play are much better than punishments.  Even a harsh look can bring a child's morale down, so always keep encouraging.   Involve little ones in everything so they know they are a part of the “team” and then reward.   Peace, - Deirdre

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The lessons of my essay are simply this: talk with your kids, include them in your preps, and listen to them.

My foray into prepping began in 2008, courtesy of my then 10-year-old son. My astute older child noticed how stressed mom and dad were with the rising costs, lowered wages, and cut hours that we were experiencing thanks to the newly developed recession. My son asked if he could put in a garden, a novel idea for my core family unit. He felt the need to help contribute to the family in some way.

I must inject a little background into my story… My brother has been preparing since 2006 so the concept was not foreign to my family. We live rurally and hunting has always been a part of our lives. But despite my attempts at persuasion I could not convince my husband to jump onto the prepping train. Little did I know it would take our kids to convince him.

The first year of gardening was not a success in the typical sense. Our garden bounty needed to be greatly supplemented by local produce auctions. But it did open the door for more preparations.

I’m getting off track here. The story is about my children: I have two sons, currently 13 and 11. They have always been a part of our strategic planning meetings. We feel our children need to know as much as we do about what we have purchased, need to purchase, and would like to purchase. Your kids are going to know that something is going on, it is better to include them than to keep them in the dark. Trust me; if they do not fully understand your situation, they are going to discuss it at school or with their friends. You cannot expect them to notice that you are bringing in pallets of supplies, but not to ask questions about it. Children are curious by nature and that curiosity has led my kids to becoming well educated about some survival topics. Your children also need to know how to use every piece of equipment as well as you do. You owe it to them, as their parents, to ensure that they have all the necessary skills to survive if you are somehow injured or unavailable. Making your kids key elements in your preps not only makes them more desirable, if the need were to arise that you band with another group, but it also makes your group as a whole, superior.

My eldest is still interested in gardening and we have expanded our garden for the third straight year this spring. He is also an avid reader. Along with numerous other genres of books, he is currently reading all the apocalyptic books that he can get his hands on. I read the same adolescent novels that he enjoys. This opens the lines of communication and leads to interesting conversations. Conversations ranging from: Are the teenagers in real-life as ignorant as the teenagers in the books? (He says they are--that is scary if true) How he would handle the situation of surviving on his own? Is he ready to protect himself and his family? Can he live without all the electronic babysitters? (I.e. video games and iPods)

My younger son is the gun enthusiast. He can list more weapon makes and models than my husband, which is saying something. He is more athletic then my older son, but he is also more indolent and stubborn.

Both of our children are required to help in the garden, target practice, and help canning food preservation. They carry in the groceries and help me rotate the shelves. We have raised our children to be contributing members of the family unit. That is not something that can be taught overnight. Nor will it be a lesson easily learned when the times get even more desperate. Because of their hard work, responsibility, and maturity they are rewarded in several forms. They are often the hosts of sleep-overs. Besides the fast that I love having the extra 2-8 kids over, I consider it a form of prepping education. Do you know how much and how often 10 teenage boys will eat? I do. I have needed to increase my food stores because of that reason alone. I also can witness the interaction between the kids. I know which kids have no problem running out in the dark to chase off a stray cat that is threatening our kittens. I know which kids are willing to help in the garden and mash applesauce. I know which one of my sons’ friends treat me with respect. This is all important for when the time comes and my home may become a safe haven for parentless children. I know, it sounds frightening and alarming, but I have come to love some of these kids and would take them in as my own.  

I bring up the point about the extra kids for several reasons. First, I consider the sleep-overs to be an essential par t of our prepping training. I need to know that that I can trust my kids with our secrets around other kids. I like to see how the girls and boys react with a good ole’fashioned game of ghost in the graveyard. I also like to make note of the kids that pitch in with the chores and who can be counted on to follow instructions. Secondly, I use the guise of hosting sleep-overs to hide several of my preps in plain sight. Do you know how many kids will come over without proper winter gear? All of them. So it of no surprise that I have numerous pairs of boots, jackets, hats, and gloves stored in my closet. Lastly, tactically their games of hide-and-go-seek outside in the dark along with Nerf gun wars in the house are great practice. Now, I know that most of you are going to scoff at the suggestions that such childish endeavors have any real practical application. But I know exactly which one of the kids are willing to lie silently in a patch of raspberries for an hour hiding from the rest of the seekers. I also know which kids go running screaming into the night at the first hint of movement. My children have learned every hiding place outside and inside. They also know every line of fire that is feasible. That sounds practical to me.  

Due to my career in health care, I am well stocked in the band-aids area of beans, bullets, and band-aids. My children have practiced drawing blood and starting IVs on a dummy arm. I need to know that they know how to apply an Israel bandage to me if I am not able to care for myself. As an 11 and 13 year old they are more than capable of performing basic to moderate first aid if the need arises, but only if you have taught them. Recently, my younger son took a spill while I was at work. My eldest child calmly called me and asked for advice. He monitored his younger brother for an hour (until my husband got home and took over) for signs of a concussion or a more serious condition. He checked the reactivity of his pupils and his memory skills. This was the exact advice I received from the emergency room physician when I asked him if I should bring my child in for evaluation. Educational opportunities come every day and around every turn. It is our duty as parents to help our children recognize these occasions and step back and allow them to learn. Talking to your kids is not as productive as talking with your kids.

Another such learning opportunity came about just as our first thunderstorm of the season also came about. I was just walking out of work when my son called to inform me that our power was out. By the time that I arrived home five minutes later, he had learned that a transformer was struck by lightning and that we would be without power for several hours. I took the opportunity to open the door for conversation and teach my kids a lesson; little did I know they were going to teach me one. As we were discussing the different scenarios of a storm situation, we also went over our other tornado and fire procedures. That is when I thought I could throw them a curve ball. I asked them, what if not only the power was out but also the phones? (a common occurrence around our place) No problem, they have their cell phones. Well, what if the cell phones were out also? The first things my sons’ ascertained was that I was referring to an EMP blast. Wow, they are good. Yes, my eldest had been reading One Second After and my youngest watches way too much History and Military channels. They went on to explain that one of them would “stand guard” at the best look out window in the house (but not too close to the window so no one from the outside can see them), while the other locks all the doors and pulls all the blinds and secures the property. Pretty good plan for never having discussed it with them. So now, because I’m mom I’ve got to keep throwing curve balls at them. “What if they knew I was not at work that day but off on a prepping/shopping run an hour away? Dad is 25 miles away for his work too.” No problem. They would continue to switch off look out duty, napping when they could until someone made it home. “But what if we don’t make it home?” They would consume the perishables in the refrigerator first, eating them cold or reheating them over the Sterno cans that we have stored.

Great, so they wouldn’t starve. “But what about if someone came up our driveway?” Besides wanting to hide inside the house they told me they know how to access the weapons and better yet they know how not to use them unless they are fired upon first. Okay, so I was pretty dang proud of them. We went on to discuss other problems, an injury, the pets, picking up the stairway so they didn’t break their necks in the dark. Now, for the real kicker. What if they weren’t home when this happened? Hmmm, Yes! I stumped them for a moment. They immediately said they would leave school and head for home. “But how would I know that they were even allowed to leave school?” They hadn’t thought of that. They developed a route for making it from school to my work (less than ½ mile away) and we would walk home together (a mile). They would try to convince another sibling pair that lives close to us to travel together with them. “But, what if they do not allow the grade school children to be dismissed?” My eldest is in the middle/high school located right next door to the grade school. We discussed how the eldest would go and try to convince the younger son’s teacher to allow him to released into his care. If the elder son was not successful he was not to leave the grade school without his brother. If they do not meet me at the hospital in a timely manner, I would travel the route (backwards) and pick them both up. By this time my husband was home and he was upset that I would not immediately leave work to gather our children. That sounds great in theory but our emergency procedures do not allow for staff to leave the building. I realized that an EMP is not quite the same as a tornado warning but how many of the staff members are going to realize what is happening immediately? It would be more suspicious if I took off running, screaming the sky is falling, immediately.

The conversation turned to other scenarios and crisis types. They talked about filling the bathtubs for additional water and how they can get into our locked house. They made their point though. They are better prepared than most of the adults I know. That is a reassuring notion for a mother to carry with her. Times will be difficult enough; I will be worrying about my children every minute. But can you imagine how much harder it would be for my husband and I to function if our children were not well prepped? I’m sure some of you are saying that you don’t want to unduly frighten your children. I agree. During our discussions my youngest son expressed some fears about being able to carry out his duties and “pulling his weight.” It is better to openly address these fears now before they become a reality, rather than to shelf them for a rainy day. No, I do not want my kids to live their lives in fear nor do I want them to grow up too fast. I explained to my sons how we in the medical profession practice and practice every emergent situation hoping that we never have to experience them. I would have been perfectly happy never performing CPR on an infant during the course of my career, but when that time came I am glad that I practiced that skill. It is just like training for a sport, if you don’t practice you cannot succeed. The same is true for prepping.

Another skill my sons are extremely proficient at is shooting our weapons. I realize that almost everyone on here would have multiple reasons against me touting the benefits of a .22 [rimfire] pistol. Some of them I would agree with, some I would not. Our .22 pistol has allowed our sons to become extremely good marksmen. I don’t know about you, but I cannot afford to go out and shoot up a box of .45 or .357 cartridges. The pistols are small and light, easily manageable for their smaller hands and bodies. They are not scared of the recoil. Those are all important features for learning the skills of handling a firearm. The same can be said for the .22 rifle. If I can teach my children inexpensively, safely and confidently how to handle both a pistol and rifle and that is an indispensable skill. Master the .22 and you can master anything. My eldest son proved that lesson this past year by shooting his first deer at over 120 yards, walking, with an open-sight .30-30. That is pretty impressive.

The simple, lowly .22 pistols and rifles have taught our kids how to handle a gun safely and how to hit their target accurately. Tell me another weapon that offers that without that same result without costing a fortune. Given the option of a .22 pistol or no gun at all, that is a silly question. And yes, a .22 pistol can kill all manner of beasts; just ask most local farmers that use a .22 to put down cattle. It works, but only if you can hit your target. My coworker was laughing at my choice in firearm when I purchased my Walther P22 (an excellent gun, BTW) saying that it was a waste of money and has no stopping power. My reply was simply this, “I can afford to target practice daily and fire thousands of rounds through it. Better to hit my target with all of my 10 rounds, then to have a larger caliber pistol that I cannot afford to target practice with but once a year and miss with every shot.” Pistol shooting is a skill and an art that cannot be learned in an afternoon with a couple of magazines worth of ammo.

Of all the skills my sons have learned through these difficult times, the most important is the value of being fiscally responsible. My kids rarely ask for toys, treats, or presents. They would rather have a used book or better yet an afternoon all together as a family playing board games. They know the value of a dollar (less every day) and they respect what it means not to spend the money when you don’t have it. Often when I ask them what they would like to do for a special occasion or afternoon together, they tell me they would like to play a board game or bake bread together.

What is going to happen to all of those kids that cannot live without their parents spending a fortune on them? You know what kids I mean, the ones that get a $60 video game for cleaning up their own room. Really? It is their mess they should not be awarded for that, they shouldn’t have to be asked. And yes, it is really that bad. Or the girls that I had the privilege of witnessing this past weekend, strutting around a band competition wearing a mini-skirted tube dress and heels and then throwing themselves to the floor and kicking and screaming when their results were not posted fast enough. I am not making this up, I wouldn’t have believed it myself if I hadn’t witnessed it with my own eyes. (And for the record they were 13 years old.) My kids are not perfect; I will never claim they are. But I know that in whatever situation we are faced with, be it tomorrow, next month, or in a year, or never, that my kids will be responsible and mature. I know I will be able to count on my kids to be able to survive TEOTWAWKI, high school, or the real world with confidence and dignity. Please talk with your kids, start right now because a family that preps together survives together.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

My wife and I are both in our late 30s and have just started living a life of preparedness.  Unfortunately, we started this journey just after building a new house on 15 acres in Northeastern Minnesota.  We wish we had a few years back to build over with a different frame of mind, but we count our blessings and enjoy our rural location.  We live on my single income (about $70,000) and have four beautiful children, ages 4 through 9.

While having four children makes life a little more interesting financially, by being frugal, we have still been able to prepare with our limited disposable income.  In the past three years we have:

  • Installed a wood stove to heat the house
  • Installed a hand pump on the well along side the electric pump
  • Put away over 65 buckets of food in Mylar bags and 5-gallon buckets.
  • Built a small inventory of ammo for hunting and defense
  • Bought numerous back-up items like: medical supplies, ordered a Big Berkey, a pressure canner, a grain mill, and put together a large pantry that would feed us for about a year.
  • Purchased the building materials to build an underground root cellar with a small cabin (16’ x 10’) over the top of it.

How did we do all this?  We quit eating out as a family once every week or two.  Now, if we go out for a burger or pizza, it is once a month or once every two months.  We cancelled our cell phone coverage and bought a TracFone.  We stripped down our land line to the bare necessity, and then we shut off our television service.  In addition, we changed investment strategies to give us more money for practical goods.  We bargain shop and buy online a lot through eBay and other such sites (like Lulu.com to get Mr. Rawles’ the SurvivalBlog Archive CD-ROM).

Preparedness with Kids
Having supplies is great, but a true plan must have the full family accounted for.  If it were just my wife and I, it would be much easier to prepare, not only financially, but logistically.  With kids involved, there is much more to think about.  The first step in preparedness with kids is in really getting to know them.  This may sound like a dumb statement, but it is vitally important to know each of you kids’ strengths and weaknesses.  I will come back to this in numerous parts of this entry.

A Firm Foundation
It is our firm belief that a plan made without a grounded faith in the Lord will only be as strong as the individual making the preparations. We believe preparing for all possible scenarios goes beyond that.  Our children have a short devotional time each morning during breakfast where they learn biblical truths through Children’s Bible stories.  We are preparing to not just survive, but to have the ability to help others.

What…No Television?
Last year we decided to shut off the television.  We really only watched football on Sunday afternoons in the fall, but in our opinion, every commercial our kids were viewing was the worldly culture trying to get a foothold on our kids.  We shut off the television and this one single act has paid more dividends than you could possibly imagine.  If the power goes out (which it has) our kids are not glooming over their loss of electronic gadgets, but instead we light a candle and get out a board game, a deck of cards, or we each grab a good book.  It is business as usual for us in that regard.

Investing in Education and Book Reading
We believe strongly in education and want to give our kids the best chances to succeed in school (maybe college one day?).  We recently pulled out all four of our kids’ college funds from the bank that were started by my wife and I and largely funded by their grandparents.  We took that money and invested all of it into gold and silver.  It is our kids’ money of course, but it does give the family a sense of financial security.  We also love to read at the house with our kids and have slowly started to incorporate more and more wilderness adventure stories.  Some of our favorites our:

Gardening and Cooking
Our small garden of a few raised beds has grown into many raised beds, a raspberry patch, blueberries, a couple of apple trees, a pumpkin patch, rows of sweet corn, and an array of garden veggies and herbs.  Our kids take part in picking berries, pulling the carrots, and even pollinating the pumpkins.  In addition, my wife has each kid plan a meal once a month.  They can choose the menu items and then they must help cook the meal.  This is where getting to know our kids comes in handy.  Knowing what our children like to eat helps my wife and me when we are deciding what to stock up on.  In addition to using our traditional kitchen, we cook on a propane stove, over our outdoor fire-pit, using a charcoal grill, and on our wood stove.  We now also make our own bread.  We include our kids in this process as one can pour the wheat berries into the hopper and then we will let the oldest try his hand at cranking out some flour.  It is usually too tough for him at this point, but our children being able to do everything isn’t the point.  Including them in the process is what we are striving to do.

When we installed our wood stove, we were looking to minimize the use of the electric boiler that our in-floor heat runs on.  We instantly fell in love with our stove, but wood heat isn’t easy….in fact, it is a lot of work.  When it is time to go out and fill our ½ cord wood bin outside the basement door, we include all of the kids, even our four year old daughter.  We trek out and carry in wood from about 40 yards away.  It is not back-breaking, but in a small path surrounded by four feet of snow, it can be quite laborious.  Each of the kids carries what they can physically handle, with our four year-old carrying mostly kindling-sized pieces.  I also have each kid watch me making the fires and controlling the damper of the woodstove.  While I don’t let the young ones work the damper, etc. while the stove is hot, I do give each one a shot at starting their own fire.  I believe each of the three boys could start a fire on their own if they had to.

Emergency Ready 
We live in a two story home with the second story sitting on top of a walk-out basement.  We want our kids to be ready for anything, so each spring we have a fire drill.  Two brothers share bunk beds in one room while because of their young age, our oldest boy shares a bedroom with his younger sister.  In our fire drill, both sets of kids must hit the floor and crawl to the window.  Then, the oldest boy in each room, opens the window, pops off the outside screens and helps his younger sibling out the window.  Then they exit the house and meet in our garden shed.  They must do this entire drill in one minute or less.  At first, the kids could not make the time that we had set.  With practice, however, they could do it in one full minute.  Once in a while we will throw in small obstacles to make them “think on their feet” so that they are conscious of what they are doing.  This summer, phase two of the drill will be going over to Grandpa and Grandma’s house (they have the neighboring 15 acres) through the woods on their own with a time requirement.   We also will have future drills that will have us meeting at a small cabin that we are building on a secluded part of our property this year.  Our kids enjoy these drills and really feel good about themselves when they can make the time that we have set for them.  

Smart in the Woods
We have never wanted our kids to fear playing in the woods and exploring all that nature has for them to see.  However, with more and more signs of aggressive and even mangy wolves in our area, and even the rare sighting of a mountain lion, we have had to be smart in this regard.  We are not paranoid, but we don’t need to be the first family in this area to lose their kid to an animal.  The kids can go anywhere they want on our property under the following conditions:

  • They are with a sibling, friend, or adult
  • Wear blaze orange of some kind
  • They carry one of our Motorola handhelds with them, and have the household handheld on and assigned to either myself or my wife.
  • They know where all the deer stands/shelters are on the property and how to get into each of them. (they must pass a test I give them)

Birthday and Christmas Gifts have Changed
Kids love presents and despite what we have tried, they are still in that naïve stage where while they understand the meaning of Christmas, they still look under the tree to find gifts with their names on it.  In a coordinated effort with their grandparents, we have tried to minimize electronic gifts and get them items of “substance.”  For example, our eight year old wanted binoculars like his dad.  This past Christmas, his grandparents got him camouflaged Bushnell binoculars. (They are better than mine!).  They also got our youngest boy the BB Gun he wanted.  When all of our children got new camouflaged pajamas from Santa, they wouldn’t take them off on the weekends!  Gifts now have more of a practical goal in mind.  Yes, they still have normal toys, but our kids are buying into a way of life that is centered around outdoor living.

Hunting and Fishing
While my boys all like hunting, my middle son loves it.  He will sit in the deer stand with me for hours without making a sound or movement. When one of his birthday gifts was a blaze orange vest and hat combo, he was in heaven.  I let all of the boys take turns sitting in the deer stand with me.  When my dad or I get a deer, we bring the boys so that they can see the deer and watch us gut it.  My oldest (Mr. sensitive) watches from about 25 feet away, while my middle son gets right into it and asks more questions than one could possibly answer.  In addition to hunting, my dad has a small 16 foot boat that we take out fishing.  I take two boys at a time and they rotate so they all get to go the same amount of times over the course of the summer.  While we all have busy summers, we decided to “schedule in” two fishing nights each week for the duration of the summer.  This forces us to go and gives our kids great experiences. 

We have much to learn about preparedness, and our family learns more and more each day.  My preparedness plan has my kids joining my wife and I in this adventure.  From canning raspberry jam and green beans to learning how to start a fire to learning how to set the hook for their first fish, we just want our kids to learn more skills that will lead to a life of self-sufficiency.  The more we do now, the better prepared they will be in the future.  If  TEOTWAWKI happens sooner than we want, we hope our simple household preparedness steps will help us serve the Lord in a time period where people will need it the most.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mr. Rawles,
There were several letters recently concerning homeschooling.  I homeschool my four children ages 3-12.  I wanted to mention two web sites that offer free downloadable products on either a weekly or daily basis.

CurrClick.com offers a free product every Monday.  You simply download the curricula from their site. The majority of offerings would be most appropriate for the elementary crowd.  We did a wonderful semester long study of rocks and geology a few years ago from material I downloaded from Currclick.

HomeschoolFreebieOfTheDay.com offers a free product every wee day (Monday- Friday).  They offer a wide range of homeschooling helps including support materials, audio books, classic literature, and curricula.  I check these sites on a regular basis and save what is useful to me on a USB memory stick.  If I did not have access to new curricula for whatever reason I would have  lots and lots of educational material for the children.  The best part is - it's free! Best Wishes, - S.T.H.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Mr. Rawles,
This is in response to Paula S.'s recent letter requesting information on classic books for homeschooling. I just returned from a homeschool convention in Memphis where I was introduced to Memoria Press. They have curricula for parents interesting in providing their children with a classical education. I have looked at the early elementary sets--they include books for the kids to read aloud and other books to be read aloud to the children. You do not have to buy their material to see the list of books that they use--the lists are posted on their web site under each curriculum description.

Sonlight is another homeschool curriculum that relies heavily on "living books" for the student's education. You can find all of the books that they use listed on their web site. They offer a free catalog which is filled with useful information.

For history, there is a series called Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer which has four volumes and is designed to be read initially in Grades 1-4 and then repeated in middle school and high school with the addition of classic books in the middle and upper grades. Story of the World is appealing because it teaches history in chronological order from ancient times to present day. You can find these books on Amazon or at the publisher's web site.

I hope you find some of this useful. - Leigh C.


Captain Rawles:
A couple quick recommendations for books:

I highly recommend "The Story of the World" by Susan Wise Bauer for kids of all ages. We've been using this to teach our kids for years. Fascinating for adults and young kids alike. There are audio books, activity books, etc... very comprehensive and easy to comprehend but the stories are not just about America, though it does cover modern times including the United States. Even my youngest will spout out knowledge about world history that most adults don't know. The books do get some criticism for a lack of distinction between legend and fact. In my opinion, this is something easily dealt with by a simple discussion with the kids about the material. Teaching logic and critical thinking won't hurt either.

A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn is also very thorough, although not for younger readers.

Thanks for all your hard work, - Matt B.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Dear James,    
Could you post a list of Books and Educational Material we should own or obtain to teach ourselves and our children and grandchildren on our real American History and real World History. I'd like to have and educational series from Kindergarten on up, to have on hand to give our next generation, for a well-rounded education.  Thank you, Paula S.

JWR Replies: The folks that produce The Robinson Curriculum recommend a long list of "classic" books.  Many of these are available free online (in PDF or Kindle reader format). There are many novels as well as nonfiction books including biographies and histories.

Start prowling used book stores and thrift stores. Also faithfully attend your library's annual book sale, to pick up inexpensive hard copies of history books, civics books, and classic literature. To avoid exposure to leftist bias, try to find an Encyclopedia Britannica set that was published before 1965.

I don't own a Kindle reader, but I did install the free "Kindle for Mac" reader software on my laptop, initially just to test our new SurvivalBlog.com Archives 2005-2010. (My #2 Son produced it in Kindle format, in advance of the CD-ROM version that is now in beta test.)

Parenthetically, I must mention that I am now hooked on Kindle e-books. I've downloaded more than 120 free e-books so far, by authors like Frederick Bastiat, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Lewis Carroll, Buffalo Bill Cody, Joseph Conrad, James Fennimore Cooper, Daniel Defoe, John Foxe, Edward Gibbon, H. Rider Haggard, O. Henry, Rudyard Kipling, John Marshall, Herman Melville, Edgar Allan Poe, Theodore Roosevelt, Robert Louis Stevenson, Jonathan Swift, Zachary Taylor, Mark Twain, Jules Verne, General Ben Viljoen, H.G. Wells, and others. There are hundreds of classics available in Kindle format free of charge at the Amazon web site. And Project Gutenberg had thousands more. Take advantage of these free resources. OBTW, I am making backup copies of all of these e-books onto our Faraday-boxed backup laptop. (Our "laptop in a can.") But nothing is more reliable than an "EMP-proof" hard copy book.

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.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

As a newcomer to the “prepper” lifestyle, I’ve been devouring the wonderful information I can find on SurvivalBlog.   These articles have prompted some deep and serious thinking from both me and my wife.  But one day, as I was reading about food handling and storage and how to survive after the crunch, I began to consider what it would be like to spend many long months locked up in a safe-house somewhere with two young children.  I remembered the Diary of Anne Frank, and how much they suffered from boredom while locked up in the attic of their safe house…and I suddenly realized that we may have overlooked a very important part of post-collapse survival: entertainment and pass-times.   Yes, I know there will be a lot of work to be done that will keep survivors very busy during most of the day.  But think back to the early settlers; after a very long day mending fences, caring for livestock, or plowing fields, the family retired to their homes and engaged in down-home entertainment.  And periodically, neighbors came by and they enjoyed some wholesome fun.    One amusing thought occurred to me as I thought this through:  In a post-TEOTWAWKI world, much of what I do today for “entertainment” would no longer be for fun, but for survival:  hunting, fishing, gardening, camping.  So obviously, those topics are not included.  I guess we have that to look forward to!  In a post-TEOTWAWKI world, husbands won’t have to beg for permission to go fishing or hunting!   This led me to do some research into the kinds of entertainment that would work off-grid.  Forget your X-box, forget NetFlix.  We’ve now entered a realm of entertainment that, in some parts of the  country, has been forgotten.   Board games and other indoor games can be both educational and simply entertaining.  They can be enjoyed silently, or as part of a raucous party.  They are cheap, can be found used in consignment shops for pennies, and really help pass the time on rainy or snowy days.  My personal favorite is Chess, as it can be enjoyed as a beginner or, if you want to improve, literally offers a lifetime of learning and improvement, and has been proven to be one of the finest games for actually improving thought and intelligence.  Even if you don’t play chess today, get books such as Guide to Teaching Chess, Chess for Children, Chess Tactics for Children, Chess Workbook, on chess openings.  This one game alone will give you years of learning and enjoyment with one simple game.  Also, it would be helpful to get a few extra pieces just in case they get lost or broken.  Suggested games include:  

1.      Chess 
2.      Checkers
3.      Backgammon
4.      Monopoly
5.      Sorry
6.      Uno
7.      Charades
8.      Pool (billiards)
9.      Ping Pong
10.   Darts
11.   Cards (don’t forget the chips)
12.   Any others you enjoy  

I personally am not a fan of puzzles (I guess Chess is my puzzle), but just about everyone else I know enjoys puzzles of some sort. 

Here are a few puzzles to look for:
1.       Easy child-friendly puzzles
2.       Hard multi-thousand piece jigsaw puzzles
3.       Cross word puzzle books
4.       Sudoku books and games
5.       Rubik’s Cube
6.       Any others you enjoy  

My family watches very little television and instead engages in various arts & crafts activities.  There are many kinds of art that could be enjoyed, but I’ve left out sculpting and other similar ones because storing clay for long periods of time is difficult, it’s bulky and expensive, and ultimately you’ll burn through that kind of material quickly. 

Here are just a few art supplies:
1.       Wood crafting/whittling tools
2.       Knitting supplies
3.       Sewing supplies
4.       Quilting supplies
5.       Paints
6.       Art Paper
7.       Crayons, coloring pencils
8.       Origami Paper  (With instruction book)


Educational supplies:
1.       Old fashioned bound-copy Encyclopedias
2.       Dictionaries/Thesaurus
3.       Writing materials
4.       Manual type-writer and extra ribbons, ink
5.       Math flash cards (addition, subtraction, division, multiplication)
6.       Math exercise books
7.       Geometry and Algebra text books
8.       History books
9.       Geography books
10.   Anatomy & Medical books
11.   Farm/animal husbandry books  


One of the most important things I realized I’d not heard or read mention of, is Music.  I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I had to live the rest of my life in a post-TEOTWAWKI world without any music.  Since I already play many instruments, I plan to have a stash of them at my retreat, and books to teach the young’ns how to play and pass on the skills.  The instruments I list below would give you enough to literally have a small band.  Believe it or not, places like Musiciansfriend.com often have many of these instruments for less than $100.  I bought a fantastic Mandolin for about $100.  I’ve seen fiddles by the same makers for around that.  The point being, you don’t have to spend $800 or more per instrument.  Also, search on Craigslist, you’ll find steals there.  I got my daughter a $600 flute for $80.  (Note I don’t put a Piano in there because they are just too darn cumbersome, but if you have the space at your retreat, that’s the best instrument to learn music on…but they require tuning):

1.       Fiddle
2.       Guitar
3.       Banjo
4.       Mandolin
5.       Harmonica
6.       Melodica
7.       Accordion
8.       Flute, penny whistle, or recorder
9.       Acoustic bass or hollow-body bass
10.   Hand drums (bongos, Irish “Bodhran”, congas, tambourine, maracas, etc)
11.   Introductory books for each instrument teaching note-reading, scales, and basic theory
12.   More advanced music for reading
13.   Tuning forks (assuming an off the grid lifestyle, this solution requires no batteries)  

Let’s not forget all those fun, traditional outside games and of course, the supplies necessary to enjoy them for years without being able to run down to a market and buy items:

1.       Flag Football
2.       Baseball/softball
3.       Basketball (anyone going to have a court at their retreat?)
4.       Volleyball
5.       Badminton
6.       Dodge ball
7.       Soccer
8.       Kick ball
9.       Archery (obviously fun for kids and great training for survival)  

Before I conclude, there is one more area that I should cover.  One thing I learned years ago as a camp counselor was that there will be rainy, cold and miserable days when the children might be bored with their usual games, or those games have broken or worn out, and it will be important to give them something to do.  Make sure you have a great book on games that do not require supplies.  I highly recommend this book: 175 Best Camp Games   On Wikipedia, I also found another list of traditional games people used to play and you might want to compile a list like this one for those rainy days.  

JWR Adds: Here at the Rawles Ranch, we have stocked up on enough home-schooling books for a full-blown total isolation Blast From the Past-style education to college level for all of our children. We have found that library book sales are the best place to find reference books, encyclopedias, and all the classics, sometimes for incredibly low prices.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

I know that I would be preaching to the choir telling SurvivalBlog readers to have a well-stocked survival library but I just can’t help my self.  I’ve read most of the archives and I must admit I was unable to find exactly what I was thinking about in terms of building and maintaining a survival library.  Everyone that is even a casual reader of this blog knows that knowledge is far superior to having a lot of neat toys and gizmos. The truth is, knowledge is king when it comes to survival, and knowledge can only be obtained in basically three ways: trial and error (experience), other people (apprenticeship) and from books (study). 

When it comes to the area of survival, experience is the worst way of learning something because life is usually on the line.  The next best way of learning about survival is to know someone that is an expert, as of yet I don’t know any experts personally.  So that leaves finding information that has been written down and learning from it.  Books have been historically recognized as one of the most influential tools in teaching people and because of this they have also been recognized as one of the most dangerous.  Throughout history evil dictators, evil organizations and cults have taken great pains to prevent people from reading “dangerous” books.  Books contain ideas and ideas are dangerous.  The survival library that I am suggesting will focus on three different but equally important areas; Skills, entertainment and ideology.  I’m going to look at each one of these areas separately.

Skills—this is the first place a survivalist should have invested in concerning survival skills.  Books that cover things like survival in the wild were the first on my shelf because it’s interesting (and the show ‘man vs. wild’ might have had something to do with it).  When I started I bought every book on the subject.  I now consider myself an expert on starting a fire with two sticks (and a lighter), building a expedient shelter and finding north using my watch (which I don’t own).  I noticed though that after a while I was very heavy in survival situation books which I never used because the only out doors I saw was from my front door to the car.  I then discovered the exciting world of prepping.  I have started to buy books on all sorts of skills that could be used in TEOTWAWKI, things like gardening and animal husbandry were educational and will be very valuable one day.  There are many areas that are more than just survival but they are going to be useful for the rebuilding of society.  Just to make it easier I’ll make a list other things that I have started to or will be added to my library.

  • Soap making
  • Shoe making
  • Candle making
  • Wood gas conversions for vehicles
  • Manual machine design and construction
  • Paper making
  • Retreat construction
  • Weapons smithing
  • Blacksmithing
  • Cheese making
  • Beer and wine making
  • Canning and drying food
  • Making antibiotics (I own it and I don’t understand it…but someone will)

You get the idea that to rebuild society we will need skills to do this.  It’s sad that we have lost the ability to do certain things that were once done.  For instance did you know that in the middle ages they could make stained glass windows with such pretty colors, and they can’t be duplicated today?  The ability has been lost.  Of course who cares about some stupid pretty glass but what if some of the skills that we have today are forever lost?  We could be heralded as a truly wise man if we had the forethought to preserve these skills in writing for future generations!   

The next area of importance is the area of entertainment.  While we give this a cursory head nod, it is not really an important issue, if we look at what is written in SurvivalBlog.  Just stop and think about how entertainment oriented our society has become then this area will take on new meaning and importance.  Our highest paid people in America tend to be actors, sports stars and cartoon characters, which should show what importance this area has on American life.  While a book is not the same as a movie it is very close.  The movie is by far and above less valuable than a good book.  You’ve heard that the book was better than the movie?  That’s because the movie represents something less.  The theater that we have in our mind is better than any special effects or actors skill.  Some of the greatest books ever written were mainly written for entertainment purposes.  I personally have a printed copy of The SurvivalBlog Bookshelf list with extra books mentioned in the blog and I am feverishly working on buying all of them, the list is over 12 pages long double column.  Entertainment will be something that people will need even if they don’t realize it.  The ability to leave our current situation, and take a mental odyssey to never-never-land, Narnia or the Land of Oz is so very important!  Especially in a situation where normal sucks, such a TEOTWAWKI or our favorite sports team looses, whichever. 

The final and most important aspect of a good library is that it offers ideology.  What I’m saying is that history is full of examples of books that have influenced all of society.  For example look at the changes the Bible has brought about; Vikings used to raid, rape and pillage until some of the women they brought back home taught them the truths found in the Bible, and their whole society changed.  They no longer went on raiding parties but started churches.  If you ever have the chance to read about the Sabine women it’s very interesting. 

A less positive example is Adolf Hitler's book Mein Kampf (My Struggle).  This book inspired an entire nation to rally around this young idealist and then to try and expand (growing room) eastward all the while killing six million Jews.  Ideas are the most important thing that can be preserved, more than food, guns and gear combined.  Ideas are what build every great society and also what has destroyed every great society.  America is a prime example of a people that had an idea and used to form a more perfect union.  Of course new ideas have come in and destroyed the once industrious nation into a nation of beggars.  Socialism is nothing more than an idea that when implemented ends in starvation. 

What we have here is an opportunity to shape the society after the end of the world into a society that will be strong based on ideals that have been proven to work.  Ideas like the Christian work ethic (Robinson Crusoe, The Swiss Family Robinson, Little House on the Prairie), charity (A Tale of Two Cities, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ ), Sacrifice (The Chronicles of Narnia, Captains Courageous).  The list goes on and on.  The fact is that most of the great influential novels of our history were written from a Christian point of view.  Of course we don’t know that because we don’t read the books anymore.  There are many people that think that the book ‘Ben Hur’ is about a chariot race and this shows that ignorance of the American people but it’s also our greatest opportunity.  We can influence how people think and subsequently how they will act.  It’s too great of an opportunity to pass up.  So go out and find the books that have influenced western civilization and buy them, one day they will be useful for the information, entertainment and most importantly of all, the mind changing ideas they contain.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

What’s a great program that’s been around for 100 years and teaches self-reliance, outdoor skills and citizenship? The Boy Scouts of America of course!

I joined the Cub Scouts in the 2nd grade. In 5th grade I graduated to the Boy Scouts. I was no longer a “cubby”. I had joined the big boys. I then spent the next 7 years in the Scouting program before achieving the rank of Eagle Scout and turning 18 years old.

A little history into the Scouting program…

Founded in England in 1907 by Robert Baden-Powell, Scouting sprang from Baden-Powell’s time in the Boer Wars in Africa. Upon returning to England, Baden-Powell wrote several scouting guides for boys and took a collection of boys on a weeklong trip to Brownsea Island. In 1909 Chicago publisher W. D. Boyce was visiting London when he became lost in the fog. According to legend a local Boy Scout led Boyce to his destination. Upon arriving Boyce tried to pay the young man for his service. The boy answered that he was a Scout and that his service did not require payment for he was doing a good deed. W. D. Boyce returned to America and established the Boy Scouts of America. From these roots scouting has taken off around the world. The United States leads the world 9,500,000 registered scouts.

What are the ranks and how do they work?

Because I am long in the tooth (being 20 years old) I will only cover the Boy Scout ranks (not in depth) and not Cub Scout ranks (needless to say the methodology is similar).

First you start with the ‘Scout’ rank. You must recite, from memory, the Scout Oath, Law, Slogan and Motto along with several other rudimentary Scouting skills.

Next is the ‘Tenderfoot’ rank. Now we began to get into physical fitness, outdoor skills, first aid and citizenship. The Scout may also hold a leadership position possibly within the troop, but more likely within the patrol.

After that is the ‘Second Class’ rank. These requirements are more advanced than Tenderfoot and add to the Scout’s knowledge. They include knots, more first aid and hiking.

‘First Class’ rank. This is the first major milestone in a Scout’s career. The First Class rank requires a Scout to demonstrate leadership in the troop and cooking/nutrition come into play also. My former scoutmaster told me that this rank marks the beginning of turning a boy into a man. More leadership will be required of the Scout in the future and now the said Scout gets to help younger Scouts advance.

The ‘Star Scout’. The Star Scout now must focus his efforts on completing merit badges in order to advance. (NOTE: It has been my experience that this is the hardest rank to achieve as boys are now entering high school and find that Scouting isn’t “cool” anymore).

The ‘Life Scout’ rank. Now the Scout will have leadership duties in the Troop as well as the patrol. He must do community service as well as more merit badges.

Eagle Scout. The Scout has achieved the highest rank of Scouting. Only ~3% of boys who start the Scouting program achieve this rank. The Scout has planned and executed a service project that benefits his community. He has also earned at least 21 merit badges. He has set himself above his peers in dedication, perseverance, and citizenship. 

So what will my kid learn in Scouting?

The list of skills that are taught (and hopefully learned) is numerous.
Outdoor skills: Learn to identify plants and animals. Orienteering skills both at night and over distances. Lashing and structure making, that is making useful camp items out of rope and poles. Cooking skills! He will learn how to buy food on a budget, cook it on a gas stove or campfire, and how to clean up. He will learn hiking and swimming skills plus many more skills that are useful to a prepper! Without going into all the merit badges (there are 128), each one advances a Scout’s knowledge in each area. He can learn to shoot .22’s, archery skills, backpacking, horsemanship and citizenship to name a few! The Scout has quite the plethora of options. He will also develop a love for his community, country and God along the way to Eagle Scout.

Sounds great! How can I find a troop/pack in my area?

The easiest way is a simple Google search. Search for Boy Scout council (your city). From there click the ‘join’ tab! Boy Scout troops and Cub Scout packs meet in locations such as churches, schools, Moose/Elk Lodges and other places. Troops usually meet once a week and have camping trips once a month (yes, even in the winter). An example would be my former troop. We met once a week, on Mondays, in a Moose Lodge for an hour and a half. We would start by posting the colors and reciting the Scout Oath and Law. From there we would either plan for the coming camp out or work on advancement/merit badges.

So you’ve found a local troop. Okay now go with your son and visit them during a meeting. You can either do it unannounced or arranged, your choice. Have your son join in on the activities if the Scoutmaster allows it. Observe how the boys interact with each other. Are they acting like boys? These behaviors are fine, but observe how they take instructions. Do they stop when they are supposed to? Do they listen and follow directions? Do they respect their leaders? Next, ask about going on a camp out with the troop. This will allow your son to interact better with the troop and allow you to get to know the adults better. If, by the end of the weekend, you and your son feel comfortable about joining then do it!

But wait! The Lord blessed me with daughters!

Not fear, the Girl Scouts of America are here! Founded in 1912 the Girl Scouts have been following the Scouting method for 98 years. I can’t say to much more due to lack of experience with the Girl Scouts but a simple Google search will yield lots of results.

Tips, thoughts, myths and more…

  • Not all troops are created equal. Some are big (80+ boys), some are small (15+). Find which one bests suits you.
  • Some troops are more boy-led whereas others rely more on the adults. Again the preference is yours.
  • Boy Scouting is a religious organization. ‘Reverent’ is the final point in the scout oath. Some troops are more “churchy” than others. I will say that the only way to be denied as an Eagle Scout is to declare, publicly, that you do not believe in a higher power. (But your higher power can be anything from Jehovah God, to Allah, to Mother Nature or Buddha. ) 
  • While Boy Scout regulations don’t specifically deny the wearing of fatigues, my troop has banned them. They promote a “militia” type feel. Boy Scouting is not militarily affiliated. We are not a militia. In the context of Scouting, camouflage clothes are also unsafe in the woods. You do not want camouflaged 13 year olds running around in the woods. Trust me, the last thing you need is kids who decide to be funny and hide from you.
  • At some point your son will decide that Scouting isn’t cool. You will have to decide how hard to push him back to it or decide to sever the ties to the troop. Keep in mind that sports will also promote problems if not managed well.    
  • Myth #1. Boy Scouting is for white middle-rich kids. Wrong. Boy Scouting is for all colors and classes. There should never be a monetary reason to not join! There are scholarship opportunities to pay for many things and troops always have second hand camping supplies.
  • Myth #2. Scouting is dying. Not even close to accurate! The Boy Scouts of America is celebrating its 100 anniversary this year. Also, the LDS Church is pouring vast amounts of resources into it. Scouting will be around for a long time to come!
  • Myth #3. All you do in Scouting is help old ladies across the street. False. Well okay we do help them cross the street but we also retire American Flags, help with civic activities, and do service projects. For me personally, I look forward every year to going to Willamette National Cemetery and planting American Flags on the graves of our fallen soldiers.

Some famous people who are Eagle Scouts or who were apart of Boy Scouting include: Norman Rockwell, painter. Neil Armstrong, astronaut. Clive Cussler, writer. Edgar Cunningham, earliest known African-American Eagle Scout. Gerald Ford, President. Robert McNamara, Sec. of Defense. John “Jack” Murtha, decorated Vietnam War veteran and Congressman. Steven Spielberg, director. Chuck Smith, President and CEO of AT&T. Ken Whisenhunt, Super Bowl winning coach. Jay Zeamer, Jr., Medal of Honor recipient. And there are many more!

The Boy Scouts have given me many useful skills and wonderful memories. I can start fires from scratch, traverse forests with nothing but a compass and map, and have learned to wear a uniform with pride. I have learned how to put on a skit, how to sing camp songs, and how to cook a beautiful meatloaf in a Dutch oven. The memories and friends I have made will be with me throughout my life. The most important thing I have taken from the Boy Scouts is this: Be Prepared. It’s the motto for good reason. And it’s something we need to take to heart in these tumultuous times. Godspeed.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Christian homeschooling wife and mother of three, I find that the subject of children isn’t often addressed by survivalists.  Perhaps it goes without saying that we will teach our children the skills they would need to survive in any given situation, but I know how easy it can be to overlook this vital task in the busyness of raising a family. At the other end of the spectrum, I do not want to raise children who are crippled by fear of the world they live in, nor do I want irresponsible sissies dependent on electronic entertainment and happy meals to make it through the day.

As a solution I have interwoven survival skills with daily life.  American history has come to life with a hands-on approach to the “old fashioned” way of doing things.  From dipping beeswax candles and learning how to build a fire with a flint and striker at a local rendezvous festival to a full year study of botany (think gardening) for science, our homeschool education has taken on a no nonsense approach to learning valuable life skills. 

How about hobbies? My son is an active cub scout learning camping, hiking, woodworking, team building and leadership skills as well as, perhaps most importantly, service to others (as Biblically mandated, not in the lemur-like mindless way the government seems to prefer).  He can be trusted at age eight with a BB gun under very limited supervision because he is responsible and educated in gun safety.  He is a great fisherman thanks to my Hubby.  My oldest daughter, an aspiring chef at age ten, can out-cook many adult women.  I suppose that would have been a less impressive feat a generation or two ago when more women used their kitchens as more than granite and stainless steel showpieces.  However, my little gem is up to her elbows in bread dough or at worst watching Food Network and reading cookbooks while the other little girls are playing video games or talking on cell phones and Facebook.  Not only are the kids practicing important life skills from a young age, they are stirring up cookies and planting herbs with our youngest daughter, age two.

For Christmas gifts this year both of the older kids will find Swiss Army knives under the tree.  My oldest will be delighted to find a vintage campfire cookbook, and my son a wrist rocket with a supply of paint balls to target practice with.  The baby wants only one thing: a kitten.  I need one to keep the mice at bay anyhow.

Whatever the future may look like, I want my kids to enjoy a time of innocence as children.  They are learning the skills they may someday need without worrying about what that day looks like. So, while we are raising chickens and rabbits, learning how to chop kindling with a hatchet, making soap from lye and the herbs we grew in science class, and organizing the food storage into our own little “store”, the world can keep their Happy Meals and X-boxes.  My kids aren’t missing a thing. The neighbors’ children who are always in our yard building “log cabins” out of the firewood and collecting eggs with my kids attest to that fact. They are having a blast!

The children of today are our hope for tomorrow.  What difference does it make how many supplies we’ve socked away or how much knowledge we have acquired if all of the skills die with us?   I urge you to teach your kids, your neighbor’s kids, your grandkids… any kid who will listen or has an interest.  We have to do something to combat the modern culture of entitlement and helplessness.  Battle the apathy and laziness one child at a time.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

One little-known technique which can be used to survive tough times, even TEOTWAWKI, is not necessarily an all-important or crucial one; but the optional activity might nevertheless prove to be invaluable to both ourselves and others.   It is also a great distraction from our problems of the day, helps combat boredom, and can serve as a stress management tool.   The technique?  Journaling!  

Journaling is simply the act of writing personal thoughts in a diary.  Although seemingly simplistic, keeping a personal journal is often encouraged by spiritual mentors, health care professionals, and even some employers (truck drivers keep logs of their time on the road).  Online blogging is little more than a diary in electronic form.   Much of our history as we know it today is based on the recorded words of common men.  From the Bible to the Federalist Papers, private and public written words can have a powerful and long-lasting impact. 

One need not be a skilled writer to maintain a journal, for some of our most interesting records of history are found in personal letters.  For example, soldiers throughout history wrote home to their wives and we have learned much through their personal accounts of specific battles, people, and events of their time period.  Undoubtedly, writing (and receiving) letters helped the soldiers maintain hope and relieve stress during discouraging times. Keeping emotions bottled-up for prolonged periods of time can lead to physical problems such as depression and high blood pressure, as well as lead to angry outbursts of irrational behavior which can put survival goals at risk.  Journaling can provide a means of releasing negative emotions which is good for overall psychological and physical health.  During tough times people will need to utilize every available option to cope with their difficult circumstances and journaling can be a part of that coping mechanism.    Recording the peaks and valleys in our lives can also help identify patterns in life which can then be anticipated in future days.  Documenting past failures and successes can help us to remember and learn from our past experiences.   

Knowing we have faced and survived specific difficulties in the past, as recorded in our journal, we can be inspired and empowered to survive them again in the future.    Our personal writings can also serve as an instruction manual for others.  In looking at my own family history, one of my late ancestors often made dandelion soup during a time of hardship.  However, she never documented the recipe so her version of the dish has been lost forever.  In a different time and place, such knowledge could have meant the difference between life and death for another person.   

Journaling also can keep us alive forever, even if only in the memory of another person.  Few would have remembered little girls by the name of Laura Ingalls Wilder or Anne Frank had it not been for their personal writings.  Their names are still remembered by millions as a result of their stories being published.  Oftentimes readers can learn a thing or two from such personal writings which can be applied to our lives today, if not only enable the reader to appreciate the hardships endured by others.    A journal can help provide perspective.  Oftentimes we cannot readily sort through or solve an issue while we are in the midst of it, but better understanding of our situation can come upon later reflection.  In this way, a journal can help us develop of deeper understanding of ourselves and the problems we face.    

Many U.S. Presidents and leaders of foreign countries have written diaries and maintained journals, but their perspectives on life are not typical of the common man.  A diary written by Chairman Mao, for example, would provide a very different view of the Cultural Revolution than a diary written by the average Chinese person who also lived during that time.  Through our own pens we can inform future generations, even if only our children and grand-children, about what we did as well as how and why we did those things.  As a family heirloom of sorts, our journals can be something to be cherished for generations.   

My own family history includes a woman who kept a daily diary for fifty years.  She came to America by ship after selling her home in Germany, but she used all the proceeds of that home sale to purchase a shawl for warmth.  Her journal entries are packed full of similar interesting details which will keep her memory alive forever.  Yet, another family member left home to purchase a loaf of bread for his wife and didn’t return for three years.  Had he kept a journal I might now know what he was thinking, where he went, what he did, and why.  Few appreciate mysteries which can never be solved.  

For a number of reasons journaling can offer many positive benefits and results.  However, as a word of caution, a journal can also be used as evidence against the author in some legal situations.  Be cautious and wise when putting personal thoughts on paper.  Although not a perfect solution, an author could choose to begin a journal by stating it is entirely a work of fiction (even though it is not).  This could help create an aura of reasonable doubt for enemies while keeping the truth within family circles.   

The supplies needed for journaling are a simple as a good supply of ball-point ink pens and notebook paper.  Three-ring and spiral-bound notebooks are acceptable, but a professionally-bound and more durable “blank book” can also be purchased at most book stores today.   

Manual typewriters can be used, but they require maintenance and ribbons of ink.  Electronic blogs can be maintained as well, but archiving them amidst ever-changing technology could pose a bit of a problem.  For example, my father recorded himself using audio tapes while in the jungles of Vietnam and sent them to my mother.  I still have those audiotapes, but the equipment needed to play them hasn’t been commercially available for decades.  Thus, a good piece of family history is essentially lost forever.  All things considered, using simple ink and paper is perhaps the best way to go when keeping a journal.   

A few suggestions to include in your writings are:    What caused us to begin thinking about preparing for tough times?  What event caused you to put your thoughts into action?  How did you prepare?  What were your difficulties and successes in making preparations?  What were your expectations for the future?    What event made it clear it was time to begin using your emergency preparations?  What was life like for you before and after that life-changing event?  Be sure to include before-and-after mentions concerning laws in force, customs, traditions, habits, routines, etc.     What were other people in society doing on a daily basis to survive and cope during the crisis?  Did they also prepare in advance for tough times?  In what ways do we interact with, or avoid contact with, other people?    Future readers will want to know about our most joyous and exciting occasions as well as the most depressing and boring ones.  Give them all the details about how a holiday was celebrated, for example, including clothes worn, decorations used, foods eaten, gifts exchanged, songs sung, etc.   Also include personal struggles and how you resolved them.  These kinds of topics are the common and essential elements which have made the writings of Laura Ingalls Wilder and Anne Frank so popular.   

Be specific!  Future readers may be very interested in modern-day prices of various goods or the fuel economy of our motor vehicles.  They may be shocked to learn we paid so little (or so much) for gasoline and water.  Also list your total income and monthly expenses or what items were traded with others. We don’t know what the future holds, but they may find it fascinating we wore time pieces on our wrists or powered electrical appliances through a wire plugged into a wall outlet.  There may come a time when SPAM, a popular canned meat product, is no longer available; so describe how it is packaged as well as its appearance and taste.   

Be descriptive, for future generations may not have access to some of the items we commonly use today.  Just as hoop skirts, bonnets, pocket watches, and cuff links have gone out of style; something as common as a pencil or waterproof match could be a strange concept to future generations.  Likewise, future generations may have access to inventions we have not yet even imagined.  Just as affordable wireless cell phones didn’t exist thirty years ago, the devices which are so common today may not exist thirty years from now.  Windows-based computers didn’t become widely popular until 1995, but who can know if the Microsoft company will still be around in 2025?  Common GPS devices were not-so-common only five years ago, but they could be obsolete only five years from now.     

How did we do the things we did, such as repairing shoes or cooking a certain dish?  How did we make bullets for our modern firearms long after bullets could no longer be found on store shelves?  How did we make gunpowder or wine?  How did we manage to enjoy a hot shower every day despite not having electricity or running water in our homes?  Each of these topics could become mysteries unless you provide answers in your journal.  When it comes to details, the reader should be given enough to exactly duplicate your actions to achieve similar results.     Be personal, for our writing will one day be the only means of speaking to our descendents.  What do we want them to learn from us?  What values do we hope they will inherit from us?  Speak to them, for they just might heed our words.  

In conclusion, while making preparations which include food stocks, tools, and the like; include a good supply of ink pens and paper.  Both are things which would be incredibly difficult to make on your own during a time of crisis.  They are most affordable when acquired from retailers during “Back to School” sales.  Not only can journaling be as entertaining as playing cards, but it can serve multiple useful purposes now and in the future.

Friday, August 20, 2010

I still have my Canadian citizenship even though I have been married to an American for 15 years and have two “halfer” children, all of whom I drag up north every summer to visit family. As a Canadian I spent most of my life expecting the Government to take care of my essentials (and non-essentials) if I were ever in need or want. After an accident on Government land I had all my outrageous medical needs completely covered. (One aside for those in favor of socialized medicine – real medical emergencies can be expensive and therefore a burden on the system so if you are too young, too old or too damaged to contribute to that system via work and taxes then it is encouraged to medicate you “comfortably” to death. But remember, it is for the best of the larger system and if you complain too hard, well you’re just not nice and therefore anti-Canadian. Canadians are nothing if not nice and will usually accept the verdict with a quiet smile and a “So sorry”. If one doesn’t want to go down quietly, one goes down to the States to pay for “extra” treatment and life. This is how I ended up in the States and met my husband.)

Like many brides I was completely unprepared for marriage and a different country made it even more challenging. It is not really true that Canadian’s are just unarmed Americans with health care. There are other cultural differences as well. As an exchange student I had been exposed to the Rodney King riots in 1992 and thought, “Oh my gosh, these Americans are violent crazies. Who would ever want to actually live here?” Yes, we have riots in Canada as well but they are generally down played and the participants are rarely armed.

The first 10 years I spent in true American fashion, accruing useless stuff, huge debts and kids. Moving to California five years ago was a real wake up call. Apparently we didn’t have enough stuff, debt, elective surgery or medication for me to be fully acclimatized to this culture. I even had a raging Vicodin addiction as a result of medicating problems away after my accident 15 years before. Living in California just made it so much more affordable and fun. I didn’t realize there was a legal limit to how much Vicodin you could take.

Leaving the Disneyland state 18 months later we had large amounts of useless stuff, huge debt, and a grocery list of medications for everything from depression and pain to the hiccups. That’s when my liver started failing, apparently we had to make some changes. Around this time my husband heard about Dave Ramsey – the "cash only, debt free" guy. So I went out and bought all his books (on credit of course!) It was a long road but we were eventually getting on the same page and started getting rid of our debt. I mention this because we could never have started towards self sufficiency and being preppers and planners with the massive debt behind us. Ramsey enabled us to head towards becoming debt free so we could accumulate practical, real stuff with no creditors coming after us. This was a totally new concept for me. We have tweaked his “Emergency Fund” ideas though in order to include beans, bullets and Band-Aids. Our idea of the Emergency Fund has definitely changed over the last few years.

After we started having problems with my liver my Nutritionist said, “We’ve got to get you off of all this stuff. Besides, when the crash comes, you probably won’t be able to get any of it anyway.” I was stunned. I looked at my hubby thinking who is this crazy, gun toting, the end of the world is coming freak. It turns out; happily, he was all of the above. (We use "freak" as a term of endearment in our family and have enjoyed being labeled as such by those who just don’t get it.) So, for the sake of my body and sanity, I slowly started detoxing off of all the crud my body thought it needed but couldn’t process. This was a tough time on our family, especially since we had started home schooling while living in the People's Republic of Kalifornia (PRK). It is not always possible to get off all medications but limiting it to only truly necessary meds is a huge benefit when prepping your personal pharmacy. Fortunately, I was able to get off of all my meds after about eight months.

We had decided to home school our children while in California and continued after leaving. We have found that the public school system there goes against every Canadian moral fiber I had left in my body. I am now so relieved we have separated from the system. Without even realizing it, we were becoming Preppers through our process of pulling our kids out of the Public school grid and getting rid of our debt.

Then I had an experience that really woke me up to the need for being prepared for emergencies. Last summer, I had an experience at a Townhall meeting that really woke me up to the necessity of preparing to face the Golden Horde during an emergency. We had taken the children to this meeting as a homeschool field trip to expose our children to the Political process. [The people in this meeting displayed an entitlement mindset, leading me to believe that they would simply take what they needed, in extremis.] I decided I needed a gun to protect my family [from people with this mindset.] I had never felt so personally threatened (including the time I was mugged in a parking lot as a student.) As a Canadian I had only seen meetings like this as constructive, socialized, polite meetings of minds. Needless to say, I was the one educated. My Momma Bear instincts took over and my aversion to guns was overridden with the intense desire to protect my family from the violence and ignorance and “group think” of the liberal zombies. (I have come a long way from being one of them.) I had always thought only cops, robbers and military needed guns for heaven’s sake. Fortunately it not actually became violent but it was close several times as tempers flared. In the end I let my husband buy a gun – and keep it in the house, after an educational safety class for the kids and me.

Since them I have discovered that guns are like jewelry and popcorn, one is never enough. Subscribing to Concealed Carry magazine has made me not just more comfortable with guns, but more educated on the benefits to all of us in society when law abiding citizens can carry concealed. Taking a class at a local shooting range has also made me more confident. My instructor said I was a formidable shot after I repeatedly blew the head off of the paper target. My husband put the target on the fridge and reminded the kids not to mess with Mom. My parents know we have “a” gun, but with the Canadian mentality of don’t ask don’t tell, they have no ideal about our mini arsenal and stockpile of ammo we are developing.

I am not sure when I realized that the government taking care of you meant the government could “take care of you”. Maybe it was somewhere in the home school curriculum about America’s foundation or reading about The Weimar Republic experience. I started to realize that socialism is actually dangerous and that freedom isn't free. Furthermore, independence (except from God) is a crucial ideal. Rawles has given us the workings to find both freedom and independence. As our free country drifts towards socialism, his books and blog have inspired me to adopt a more pioneer spirit. Perhaps I was born with this spirit, but it had been socially conditioned out of me in Canada. Now with the imminent crisis looming closer each day, I no longer expect (or desire) the government to bail us out. I don’t want them to, because I would feel indebted to them, and I am just now beginning to enjoy debt-free living! I don’t want the government controlling how I educate and raise my children. We're focusing on raising them to become wise adults and not just "raising children". Much of our society encourages us to merely raise children, rather than instill an adult level of awareness and self-sufficiency. Young adults must learn to take responsibility for themselves and their actions. Children depend on parents and if they do not mature they will become dependent on the government as adults. This makes it easier for the government to control them. In public education they can teach them whatever they want, including redefining “truth”, “freedom”, and “independence”. Do you remember George Orwell's novel 1984 and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451? These books seem almost prophetic as we see the rewriting of much of our history, just as the Ministry of Truth did in 1984. Make sure you include books like these and "Patriots"as part of your reading list as you prepare. They have all gradually changed my socialist perspective to a survivalist point of view. Remember to pray for those not so far along the preparedness path and share these books with them. Friends sharing these with me have greatly contributed to my " awakening”.

One aspect of just being a woman is that's on my “whiteboard” mind (as opposed to my husband’s “filing cabinet” mind) I view the past present and future all at the same time. I struggle with maintaining a healthy value of the past, which includes scrap booking and history, getting necessities done for the present (groceries and new shoes for growing children) and planning for the future, whether it is a likely crash or college for the children. So I make lists of lists to keep myself and the family focused on priorities. The envelope system we got from Dave Ramsey works great for us, especially since we added envelopes for “Defense” and “Household”. This helps to build into our preparing things like guns and ammo, classes and shooting range memberships. We have also used this to save towards making alterations to our house such as adding shelves and buckets and starting a “Victory” garden. Even my monthly lists are split. Half of the grocery bill goes towards what we eat and need now and the other half goes towards our “secret lab” where we store supplies for the future. This helps to keep it fun for the whole family as we prepare together and we don’t feel like we can’t do anything now because of something looming in the ominous future. We also can’t be so caught up in Ballet and Boy Scouts that we are not prepared for the crisis to come. Even the kid’s electives have an eye on the future, making sure they have skills and are in good shape for the future while enjoying living now. After all, skills and character will be as important as education and supplies when it comes to a career or an emergency. So I now have no excuse to say we don’t have the time or money to prepare. I do it all along with my daily stuff, a little at a time.

We are still catching up, slowly but surely. At some point, post TEOTWAWKI, we might be able to network with some of you because of the paradigm shift I have experienced. We focus more on our family relationships and getting valuable skills then on getting stuff so we can be of benefit to our group when TSHTF. I hope this article can encourage you to not give up on those not quite as far down this road and give you some ideas to encourage friends to get on “The Program” as we call it.

Hello Mr. Rawles!
First off, I wanted to thank you so much for all the information you provide! It has changed my life!

The second thing I wanted to mention was about using your libraries as a resource. I just completed courses to become a library director. In these courses we were strongly encouraged to "weed" out all books and materials that had older publication dates than 2000. We were told not to worry about not having any of the "classics" on hand because patrons could always use the inter-library loan system to borrow them from somewhere else.
Recently, I have had quite a few patrons requesting different books such as "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "The Screwtape Letters" and other classics and I was unable to fulfill their request because libraries either do not have them or are unwilling to loan them out anymore.

This situation is very troubling to me as obviously books are important to me! And the relevance and importance of literature from all ages is a key to understanding where we came from and where we are going.
Hopefully, your readers have not come across such difficulties in their locations but I felt it should be mentioned.

Again than you for all you do and God bless you and your family! - A.S.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

This may sound like a children’s book that the tells the story a young native American girl, but don't be fooled. TEOTWAWKI is very scary for mature adults, but is terrifying to children. When we TEOTWAWKI discuss related issues at our house, my wife and I always make sure that we have a private conversation between just the two of us. After we have sorted things out we will discuss it with our children in an appropriate tone and with as little alarmism as possible.

Last week one of our conversations started out with my wife asking "What will the kids do for entertainment?" I quickly answered that they would have many, many things to do, thinking back to my boyhood when we camped every weekend, played in the woods, and did all of the things that boys do to entertain themselves in the outdoors. My wife quickly pointed out that we have girls, and that they are not accustomed to entertaining themselves in those ways, and that they would feel a void in areas like computer use, internet access, movies, television, music, etc.

I know my girls would adapt quickly, and that they would be able to find enjoyment in many of the same things we did outdoors as children, but my wife had a point too. For me, the very reason I have survival plans is for my children. I want them not only to survive in safety and comfort, but I want them to thrive and grow into mature, level-headed adults. I wondered what sort of resentment might build-up in them if they were to constantly walk around asking "Remember the old days when we could do this or that?" In thinking about the day-to-day tasks of survival, I had never thought to consider how time would be spent when not working. After some careful consideration, I have come up with what I call my "Plan for Living", which is a supplemental plan to our survival plans. This plan is for the whole family, and I think it will enrich our lives, should we ever have to put our plan into action.

I am a technical person by nature and vocation, so my solution to many problems is a technical response to a given set of requirements. In the case of our Plan for Living, I came up with a solution that may sour some survivalists, but it works for us. In current times my family spends a great deal of time using electronic media: Internet, e-books, television, music players, computer games, etc. I am certain that my family is like countless other American families in this regard, and my children have never known a time when this was not the case. In the event of TEOTWAWKI these things could well be gone. My Plan for Living seeks to implement a plan to ensure that at least some of these things are available to my family post-TEOTWAWKI.

I have started putting together a digital collection of media such as movies, television shows, books, and music which is stored on external hard drives. Our survival retreat has self-sustaining power, and includes several laptop computers. Any member of my family should be able to access this media with little effort, and will no doubt quickly become expert at locating desired titles. In the event that no internet, television, or radio is available, we will have stocked our entertainment shelves as well as those for our normal TEOTWAWKI supplies.

Now don't discount my efforts as quickly as you might, regarding them as frivolous. In addition to titles for pure entertainment and the education of the children, I have also assembled a very large collection of instructional videos and e-books. Some of the titles may not be as obvious as you might think, for instance, how many of us know how to pull a tooth or how to construct a water wheel, or any other of a thousand topics that might come up? One of the goals of disaster planning is to plan as best you can for the things you can think of, and then plan even better for the things you can't think of. This is my approach to building the instructional portion of our library. I don't want to ever pull anyone’s teeth, but I would rather have some idea of how to do it properly if I do. Here are a few things that I consider to be important topics:

All things medical. Diagnosis and treatment of illness, disease, pregnancy, child birth, medicine, etc. Our retreat is remote and wooded, so I want to know about things like treating snake bites, spider bites, bee stings, poisonous plants, setting broken bones, etc. This includes natural treatments as well as drug references.

Small engine repair: Generators, tillers, mowers, et cetera. All of these will need service at some point.

Solar panel maintenance and repair.


Hunting, fishing, and trapping.

Plant identification. If provisions run out and gardens are not mature, knowing which plants are edible may be of key importance.


There are so many topics that you might need to study and practice, (self-reliance is pivotal in our plan), that you should strive to accumulate as much information as possible. For the things that are crucial you should also try and locate printed materials or print and bind them yourself, then store them in a safe, dry location. If the batteries are dead and the info you need to fix the solar panel is on the computer it won’t do you much good will it? There is so much info out there it's truly amazing. I found collections where authors interviewed very old folks that knew how to do things the old-fashioned ways, and with the most basic of tools. There are so many how-to fix this or that e-books out there that I can't decide which ones to get!

Hopefully if our plan ever has to be put into action I can use our library to watch re-runs of MASH and The Sopranos, rather than boning-up on the proper way to yank a bad molar!

Some places to start looking for e-books include:




Saturday, April 24, 2010

Today there seems to be any number of reasons for the average American to turn the corner towards preparedness and being self-reliant.  Back in 1993, I would have been able to give you just as many reasons based on my observations through the 1980s.  Not surprisingly there are twice as many reasons for the average man to not start around that corner.  The reasons I have heard the most include the cost factor and objections to living so primitively.  Simply put: today's average American is too poor and soft to endure hardships like camping, physical labor, and no TV.  These were the same objections we had to overcome and did.

My wife and I woke up one day in 1993 and realized that our children (ages 2-10-10-12) were being raised by godless leftists in the government schools and on television.  We muddled through the rest of the school year and tossed out the television.  Instead, Renee quit her job to homeschool all of our boys. This was decided over several weeks and Renee had some doubts as to her ability, but in the end she made the commitment and I committed to supporting her as best I could. We chose to use the A Beka books for most of the curriculum. Having made this decision, it was about a year later that we realized the taxes we were paying went to very few services we used.   This started me down the path of finding a rural home with lower taxes and more opportunity to raise animals and a garden. We had envisioned a log home on a mountainside sloping to a meadow with a river running through. Right about then I lost my job.  It had been our plan to make these changes with the money I had from my income in the building industry but losing the job certainly put a damper on the plans.

Not wanting to continue with the old ways, we pushed forward. As it happened, I lost my job in the spring of 1993. That summer we sold almost everything we owned at the local flea market. Sometimes we were just exchanging things. A lawnmower for a grain mill, a bedroom set for a rifle, but for the most part we saved as much as we could. Selling the house didn't bring any real money to the table and what we did have was soon spent on a used school bus ($1,500) that was going to carry us all west to our promised land.  I rigged a tow bar behind our bus for our Jeep and one day in the fall with four boys, two dogs, and less than $3,000 we headed west.

I could write a chapter on our adventure/nightmare traveling but I’ll save that for another time. With less than $500 left, we ended up in northern Arizona in early January 1994. We had picked up a GP Medium tent with an arctic liner and set it up for the first time during a snow storm at a campsite in the national forest. Seeing a concrete picnic table at one site, it was my thought that we should place the tent over the table so we could have the comfort of the table inside. Seemed like a good idea to me. After directing the boys at holding the tent posts for about an hour we finally had the tent set up. My notion of enjoying the table was soon lost when Renee pointed out that the cold concrete table and benches just sucked the heat right out of us as we sat.  Live and learn.

We learned fast and within a few months, my boys and I could set up a GP Medium with liner and two woodstoves quicker than a company of soldiers. Staying in the national forest (with a 14-day maximum stay) saved us what little money we had left. It also helped that we had more privacy in the forest. It turned out that we always seemed to have a crowd gather around when we set up camp. The GP Medium tent is 16’ x 32’ in size and I guess seeing a man and four boys set it up was worth watching. After the work was done and the stoves were burning we’d often have someone knocking at the door post. Sometimes it was another survivalist living in the forest looking for a home cooked meal and sometimes it was just the curious having never seen a tent that big. 

One day while in the forest at a camp we had just set up. I told Renee that I was headed into the woods to do my business. I found a spot over a small hill and a stand of boulders from the site. It was private enough and there was a nice view of a small canyon just another 20 feet away. I was in the position with my paper and trowel in the ready, just enjoying the beauty of the canyon and forest. As I was there I got the strange feeling I was being watched. It really bothered me to the point I had to start scanning the surrounding area to see who was there.  As I looked across the canyon I saw a large timber wolf standing still and staring right at me.  I quickly jumped up and pulled up my jeans, turning just in time to see the wolf jump off the edge of the canyon and head towards me. Leaving my paper and trowel behind as I leapt over the stand of boulders, I saw the wolf crest my side of the canyon and knew it would be on me in an instant. Not turning back again I ran into our camp yelling, “Wolf! Wolf! Get my gun!”  Renee was at the tent door with my GP100 as I reached her. I grabbed the gun and turned expecting to see the wolf, but there was nothing. Once Renee and the boys stopped laughing at my adventure I vowed not to leave camp again without my sidearm.  Later, a ranger came by our camp to log our stay. I asked him about the wolf and was told he was a regular to that part of the forest and wouldn’t hurt anyone. Right.

Renee was the first to find work and I took up keeping the camp, cooking meals, schooling the boys, and seeking a place to start our home. 
It didn't take long to find affordable land in Arizona. The boys and I hiked for many miles on an old ranch land until we found a 50-acre place in the middle of an old 60,000 acre ranch. It was a bit larger than a ¼ mile square and had several good house sites. Further, it was "for sale by owner" and I was able to negotiate a "delayed settlement", "owner financing", and the "right to occupy".
This allowed us to set up camp on the property and save enough money to make the down payment in four months. Not having to deal with breaking camp every two weeks was a great feeling. The boys got extra freedom to wander and I could put in more permanent fixtures at our camp. We soon sold the bus and bought an old pickup truck along with a trailer for hauling water to our property.
Renee continued working while I kept up with the boys and started planning our house. Once we settled on the property, I started cutting the best looking junipers for the post foundation of our cabin.  I had found a solid outcrop of rock just below a cow path along one of the hillsides near the center of the land.  I dug down only a few inches to expose the rock that would support the cabin. Not having to dig any farther down than that, I placed the chainsaw cut juniper tree posts right down on the rock and started the house. Almost every weekend the boys and I spent searching for materials for the ranch cabin.
For the most part we used what we could off the land in timber and stone and paid cash for the rest. We were lucky to have found a saw mill close by. It was an old mill and the owner knew what he was doing. He sold us all the rough-cut ponderosa pine we could haul at a time.  

Once under roof we began our search for a woodstove. This was one of my biggest concerns. Renee had given me specific details on what was acceptable after many burned fingers and smoking pot holders. The stoves we had been using in the tent were the standard GI issue stoves. When they burned they burned hot, sometimes cherry red.  They were also not an airtight stove that would keep a fire all night unattended. And while they were relatively affordable, the stove we now needed was always expensive.  One day while in the big city 75 miles away from our ranch, I noticed a metal recycling scrap yard. High on a pile of iron was the stove I had been looking for! It was a Timberland Double Door with a large flat top surface suitable for cooking on! This was God looking out for Renee (or me). I was ready to drop a large sum of money on this right there. To my surprise, they only wanted the going rate of scrap iron per pound (less the weight of the fire bricks) for the perfect stove.  We later added a kitchen addition to the cabin with a standing pilot propane oven but the Timberland stayed on as the primary heat source for the home.

While building we used the water trailer as our water storage as well. Once the cabin was finished Renee hinted that she wanted running water in the kitchen sink. Being off grid with no well I had to come up with a workable solution.  We bought a 2,500 gallon water tank at a ranch supply store. Placing this tank on the hill where the bottom was above the height of the kitchen faucet I ran 2” pipe off the tank to the outside wall of the kitchen.  This gave us excellent water pressure to the faucet entirely gravity flow. Hot water for showers and dishes was heated by both the woodstove and the kitchen propane stove. Later, we added a propane instant water heater to the system.

Showers were accomplished in a shower house we built off the cabin. A wood decked walkway off the rear led to a small building with deck floors and a hook at the ceiling. At first we had a canvas military water bag with a large daisy shower head. The heated water was carried out and poured into the bag. We could take as long a shower as two gallons of hot water would allow. 

Being "off-grid" meant that, aside from the chainsaw, the boys and I were using only hand tools to build our home.  We could not afford solar power or generators until much later and for the most part we lived as early Americans did. We worked during the day, slept at night, used oil lamps when needed, heated with a woodstove, and had an outhouse for you know what. The only real luxuries we enjoyed those first years were a propane grill and our portable radio.  For nighttime entertainment as a family we listened to the AM radio shows. The boys enjoyed listening to KFI out of Los Angeles and their Radio Classics like The Shadow and The Jack Benny Show. During the day we hunted, killed rattlesnakes, and searched for arrowheads.

At one point Renee quit working and took up running the ranch while I worked locally where ever I could. Renee started a small garden that kept us in tomatoes and peppers to cook up with the average 18 eggs a day that our 24 chickens gave us. Her 30 goats supplied enough milk for everyone and all the cheese we could eat.

As the money came in we added on and upgraded and eventually got to solar panels and a generator. We even had one of the first satellite uplinks for Internet connection from our off-grid ranch.
It should be said that our sons are all men now. Two of them still live out west after going to local universities and the oldest is now out of the US Army, having gone to West Point. Our choices were not always the right choice but they were ours to own. I am proud of the job my wife did homeschooling our sons and while three of them do not actively live a survivalist’s life, they all know how to.

We are still survivalists. We sold our ranch and moved back east several years ago after staying out west for about 14 years. It became clear to us that water is everything for survival and the west has too many water issues. The ranch sold quickly to a California family looking to get out of their situation and into a better life. The lessons we learned have made us stronger and more ready to take on what's coming. The funds from the sale of our ranch bought us a 100-acre mountain farm sloping to a meadow with a river running through. Renee and our youngest son helped finish a modest cabin with solar power, and as soon as I can I'll be building that log home we had envisioned.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Even if you do not plan to have children at your retreat, they will eventually find you. Kids are survivors and they always find a way to make it – it is the human condition. My wife and I lived in East Africa and we have seen street kids endure things that no child should ever experience. Despite the horrendous circumstances, they move ahead and children in this country will also move forward. We are all planning for the worst, and for some of you, the worst would be lots of children hanging around your retreat. If you are not used to being around children, then you should start making it a point to be with them. Volunteer at your church nursery or work at the YMCA. If you have not been around kids lately, they are much louder and more energetic than you remember. A few brief tastes of their company now could make the transition to life with children easier later.

| This article will discuss the following aspects of children and TEOTWAWKI: our attitude towards children, building strong family relationships, retreat safety, work, education, and health.

Attitude. Regardless of our current feelings toward children, if in the midst of TEOTWAWKI, we still fail to see children as the hope of tomorrow, then we are just as evil and blind as those who are destroying our country today. In preparing for TEOTWAWKI, we all feel a little stressed and overwhelmed at times. Imagine how kids are going to feel. Their inheritance is anarchy and chaos. When TEOTWAWKI does happen, I think the first thing we should do with children is tell them that this is not their fault. It would also be a good idea to ask them to forgive us and the past generations for making some really bad choices. The buck must stop somewhere, and there will be no point in passing the blame onto our kids. Then, we need to invest our energy and resources in a younger generation that will exhibit a spirit of honor, respect, and bravery which this nation has not seen since its creation. We can be the parents and grandparents of the next founding fathers.

| The Bible says that children are a blessing. We must lose our modern distortions that make our kids a liability. As we move back into an 18th century lifestyle, we must also understand that children are a valuable asset in the day to day. For a contemporary model, look at an Amish or Mennonite community. Kids will help in the daily routines and take care of us when we are old and gray. When given the chance, children can also bring keen insight and intuition into a situation. Kids bring huge amounts of joy, laughter and comic relief to the mundane.

Strong Relationships.
Know your kids and allow your kids to know you. (This also applies to you knowing your spouse.) Yes, this does take time and effort. For families accustomed to working, studying, and playing independently of each other, being thrown together 24/7 will be stressful. The more you know and understand other family members, the easier communication and life will be in general. A good starting point to guide you is to know your child’s love language and to know his/her personality type. There is a ton of information about the five love languages: touch, words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, and gifts. Everyone speaks at least one of these love languages. Oftentimes, the people we “feel” loved by are the ones that speak our language, and the ones we do not relate well with are the ones who speak a different language. For example, a friend of ours did not feel a lot of love from her dad while growing up. He was a Vietnam vet and he worked two jobs to provide for his family. After studying the love languages, she realized her love languages are touch and words of affirmation and her dad speaks the love language of acts of service and gifts. Now she realizes that her dad was trying to show her love her entire life by working to provide everything for the family. However, she did not perceive his efforts as love because she spoke love in physical touch and words of affirmation. They were showing love to each other but the different languages did not translate well. She was thankful that her dad provided, but she really needed her dad to give her hugs and affirm her with positive words.

| I use this example because you could be speaking your language of love, but your child is not hearing it. Learn your kid’s language early on and speak it frequently even if it is a “foreign” language to you. It may be awkward at first, but I promise that it will get easier with time. Check out Gary Chapman’s books on the five love languages.            

There are numerous models for personality types. You can research online. Personality will make a huge impact on the dynamics of your team so you might want to include a simple personality test in your supplies. It is often helpful for people to realize that other teammates simply deal with circumstances differently. They are not trying to be difficult. (It just comes natural.) Children are going to be a part of the team. Building good team dynamics is possible even in very stressful situations.

Besides all the security of the retreat, give special attention to the safety of your children. When the SHTF, people will lose their sense of power and the feeling of control. People will be looking for a way to feel power and control in their life. Children will be an easy target for physical and sexual abuse – especially from people in your own retreat. Yes, I am saying that family, friends, neighbors, as well as strangers could be your child’s predators. Statistically, children are already more likely to be victims of abuse by friends and family than strangers. Putting families and friends together in a small space during stressful times will only increase the likelihood. Also, I believe that taking hostages for ransom will become a common event – just look at Somalia. When people figure out that you are the owner of a well stocked retreat, your kids could become an easy target. Regardless the situation, the following are some steps that might make things safer for your children.
Safety in the Retreat. As previously mentioned, most abuse to children is inflicted by people know to the children, therefore, safety within the retreat is a big deal. You must give your kids and their living space special attention when thinking about your retreat. Start today by making it a habit to know where your children are right now– especially your younger children. Never leave them alone at the retreat. I am going to investigate a tracking device that might be hidden on my child’s person. This might be helpful if we do get lost in the hordes. (If anyone knows anything about this, I would love to know more.)

| In regards to the retreat, I recommend an open floor plan for several reasons. First, an open plan allows you to keep tabs on everyone’s location and activities in your house. Second, an open floor plan allows for a clear line of sight if any unwanted guests come through your front door. Put a mud room on the outside and you have an even greater defense. Third, an open floor plan allows your kids more room to run and play. A small room to a child is big. A big room to a child is humongous. The more elbow room the better for everyone, especially kids. Fourth, (we have learned this by having foster kids) an open plan allows your family’s rooms to be physically separate from everyone else. Everyone else can either live on other side of the house, (or your family upstairs and everyone else down). No one feels “put out” because the large open space is very inviting and hospitable. Also, design your rooms so that the only door access to your children’s room is through your room. Alarm your kid’s door and windows – some on your door and window would be good too – these alarms are separate from the overall retreat’s alarms. If you have a different floor plan or you get stuck somewhere, sleep the entire family together in one room.

Safety in Obedience. Children must learn to obey upon command – 1st time. This is the best way to keep them safe and secure when it all goes down. If your child does not obey now, how will they respond when you give commands in a life and death situation? You cannot afford to have kids who will not obey you. However, strive to be a leader; not a dictator to your children. Also, understand that a child making mistakes is not the same as a child disobeying. Making a mistake is not wrong. Disobeying is. Know the difference and make sure your child knows the difference. Moreover, consistently enforcing obedience will allow your kids to feel safer. Even when things are falling apart, your kids will find comfort in knowing that dad and mom are still in control of the household. Shepherding a Child’s Heart is a great book to guide you on this path.

. We must train our children. Oftentimes, we mistakenly have a fast food mindset when it comes to training because that is the paradigm that we have often been “trained”. On some jobs I received maybe one example of how to do something, and then I was left alone to figure everything else out. Real training takes time because we must walk with them and they must walk with us. It becomes not just about getting a job done but about building a relationship. One of the major reasons we must develop quality training habits is because our supplies and parts will be extremely limited. We will not be able to break things and simply go to the store and buy new parts. We can take better care of our equipment by properly training everyone on the retreat including the children. Everything we are learning, we must pass on to our kids. All the things that technology has stolen from us that we had to relearn (preserving food, making buckskin, etc.), we must teach that to our kids. We all agree with that, but we have to implement it into our lives. Watch one. Do one. Teach one. As our child is watching us do something, we need to talk them through the why’s of doing it. We must show them how to do it the way we want it to be done. We must watch them for a time as they do it, and they must be competent enough to train someone else to do the same skill. This will be an essential lifestyle change when TEOTWAWKI.

It is essential that our kids do not have this spirit of entitlement that is so rampant in our culture. Three easy ways to “vaccinate” our kids against the disease of entitlement is eliminating television, giving generously, and doing daily chores. For those of us in suburbs or towns, your kids might not have a goat to milk, but there are plenty of small jobs to be done. Wash the dishes or dust the light switches -something. They must be a part of the daily grind. My almost two and almost four year olds wash dishes, fold clothes, pick up, and help cook. Of course, they do these jobs like a two year old and a four year old, but we are not aiming for the cover of Good Housekeeping. Kids need to know they have a part, and they are needed. If you invest heavily in children before age five, then they will easy pay dividends for the rest of the time they are under your roof.

Americans spend a ridiculous amount of money on toys that break or are quickly outgrown. Buy your kids useful tools that they can play with and learn a skill at the same time. Our boys got a tool set one Christmas with a real hammer, measuring tape, etc. My wife and I got them some scraps of wood and a box of nails – they hammered on those things daily for months. Of course, it might have taken him several minutes, but by the time my son was 22 months old, he could drive any nail, no matter the size, straight.

After you give them some useful tools, allow them to work on a real project with you. This past fall, I let my boys work on a chicken tractor. It took twice as long as it would have with me alone. They did a lot of the work, and they were proud of their efforts. I was too. This was not only good for them, but it was good for me. It made me slow down and enjoy the journey. When TSHTF, there will be no cards to punch and no schedule to keep. If we do not start now, we will be stressed by the slow pace of retreat life. A great way to grow accustomed to the slow pace is to let your kids help.

You have taken inventory of your possessions, but do not forget to inventory your children’s tools and “toys”. Keep your bikes and your kid’s bike in good shape in case you have to bug-out on foot. Their snow sleds may be useful. Even your child’s tree house could serve as a nice guard tower. Our current retreat has enough traffic from family and friends that a fortified watchtower would raise too many questions. So, I am thinking about strategically adding a tree house for the boys that will also accommodate sand bags and insulation for a future guard tower.

. I believe a huge emphasis on future education will need to be on social studies – government, history, and true economics. Without the re-creation of a stable government, all the inventors, scientists, mathematicians will have no other choice than to be subsistence farmers for the feudal lord. The only way to get out of the dark ages is to have another renaissance. There is coming a generation that will have to put a government back together again. Our current U.S. Constitution is politically brilliant but it leaves out the one thing that caused the American Revolution. “Taxation without representation” was about economics. Sadly, the checks and balances of our Constitution did not extend into our economics, and it is very evident that our economy has indeed been hi-jacked. Therefore, our kids will have to be educated on what makes money and politics work. Develop your library. Teach them about Blackstone's commentary on English law and political philosophy (including fascism and socialism). The Bible says a lot about law and economics – debt, currency based on precious metals, seven-year economic cycles, and stewardship. Again, someone is going to grow up and be in charge. It might as well be our kids.

The best way I know to research home schooling material is to attend your state’s home school convention. My wife and I like the Sonlight curriculum but each family is unique. My wife and I decided not to purchase all the curriculum for every school year (K-12) in case TEOTWAWKI happens before our boys graduate. It is a lot of money and a lot of storage. Since we currently do not live on our retreat, that curriculum might not make the cut if we suddenly bug out. Instead, we have been talking a lot about what truly constitutes a good education. First, we feel that if our children do not know the LORD, then we have failed as parents. This means that our children need to learn how to pray and how to hear the LORD’s voice. I recommend checking out Mark Virkler and his teaching on hearing God’s voice. (For me, this is the greatest tool my family has when it comes to preparing for TEOTWAWKI.

Besides knowing the LORD,  there will need to be a  practical application of learning that many Amish and Mennonite communities now use. Forget the curriculum mapping. Frame education around life. Honestly, allowing your child to help with calculating the logistics of preparation for TEOTWAWKI will cover math and science up to high school. It would be great if you had room for instruments and art material. I do think that high school students will need some textbooks. I would prefer lower level college textbooks. Just buy an older edition for pennies online. My essential high school textbook list would include the following: world history, United States history, United States literature anthology, English literature anthology, geometry, algebra, pre-calculus, calculus, biology, chemistry, physics, a broad art anthology, and possibly a foreign language of whatever country is invading us at the time.

Facing TEOTWAWKI, children must be educated about the life cycle. Birth and death are complicated matters for any child, and most children in our society are exposed to the life cycle through television or video games. Kids and adults will have many questions about this topic when the SHTF. Already having a paradigm for life and death will make things slightly easier on everyone around you. A farm is a great place to learn. If you are not on a farm, connect with a farmer and take your kids along to see a birthing or a death of something, anything. We involved our kids (age appropriate and what my wife could handle) as much as possible with our last home birth. At the bare minimum, expose them to funerals and funeral homes.

Along with the life cycle, kids need to understand that good and evil do exist and that good does prevail. I believe that story telling is probably the best way to convey this message. The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord of the Rings, and the Bible are great sources. Almost every night, I tell my kids stories before they go to bed. They request accounts about “good guys” and “bad guys”. I usually tell them stories from the Bible – unedited. We do our children a huge disfavor when we only give them the edited Sunday school versions. My boys love the story of David and Goliath (although my two year old insists there is a shotgun somewhere in the telling of that story) and how David chops off Goliath’s head in the end. Which led me to a realization one night as I told them a story: after the adults screw things up and cower in the corner, God will use a kid (a Joseph, a David, a Daniel, an Esther) to make things right and save an entire people. Ultimately, I tell my boys that Jesus is coming back and his garments will be stained red from the blood of killing the wicked (Isaiah 63) and that Jesus will establish his Kingdom to rule and reign. Happy bedtime stories at our house. But I want my kids to know there is a greater Hope that leads us through the sometimes difficult journey.

Health. I am certainly not a doctor, but I am going to outline our general philosophy on children’s health. You are free to take it or leave it. First, I strongly recommend praying for those who are sick. Besides complete healing miracles, there is research showing that prayer does bring healing quicker. I am not going to suggest that I know why some are healed and some are not. I do know that I am commanded to pray.

I am amazed at how many people, including children, are on prescription drugs. Our friends adopted a girl who was on eleven prescription drugs that cost $800 a month. For the past 12 months, they have worked with the doctor and have her down to four prescriptions. They are on schedule to eliminate those drugs within the next few months. Work with your doctor to scale back and eliminate everything if possible. One alternative to prescription drugs is to study naturopathy and homeopathy. Many pharmaceutical drugs are synthetic imitations of chemicals that exist in plants. There are many resources out there, and I am not qualified to expound upon them. However, my wife is currently studying naturopathy, and we have been using homeopathic solutions with good results. We are open to any type of medical care that works: chiropractors, fasting, Genesis/Levitical diets, muscle response therapy, iridology, etc.

With children, it is important to diagnose quickly. Baby 411 and Toddler 411 are geared toward the modern medical philosophy, but they have saved us numerous trips to the pediatrician. Children will recover from many illnesses when given enough recovery time. Knowing which symptoms are “wait and see” and which ones need immediate attention by a physician can bring a lot of peace of mind. We are currently researching more alternative children’s health resources. If you know of any, please post it.

Our kids were getting sick almost every other week. As soon as they recovered from one cold, they would get another. A chiropractor friend told us the best way to keep kids healthy is to keep them on a routine with plenty of scheduled sleep, vitamins, and probiotics. We started by cutting out some activities that occurred in the evening because we were getting to bed late. We read how many hours our kids were suppose to sleep and set-up a sleep schedule for them to follow.  Also, it became important for our kids to always be dressed appropriately to conserve their body’s energy. It was amazing how much healthier our kids were. Our plan on the retreat is to keep our kids on a schedule and to practice quarantine-like practices for those who are ill.

Children are our future. Our attitudes toward them, relationships with them, and physical, emotional, and spiritual concerns for them all deserve consideration and careful planning.

Monday, January 11, 2010

I'm coming up to speed by working my way through your blog archives (which are amazing, BTW), and have come to realize that while I know how to shoot, my skills are marginal. I've concluded that I'm what the firearms trainers call "consciously incompetent." My wife and I plan to go do the Appleseed training, and then once that is under my belt, I plan to go to Front Sight. (I've read that you can buy "gray" Front Sight "first-timer" course certificates for cheap, on eBay.) After that, my wife and I can train our kids.

Here is my question: At what age should I start to teach my kids how to shoot? As background, they are mature for their age (they go to a parochial school and they both have good dexterity. They excel at Wii and foosball.) Our son is just 11, and our daughter is 13. Is that too young? Thanks, - Rob and Linda

JWR Replies: In my experience, children as young as eight years old can be taught to shoot safely and accurately. By the time they each reached 12 years of age, my kids had put thousands of rounds through a Chipmunk single-shot .22 rifle. Chipmunks are dimensioned specifically for young shooters. Our Chipmunk is an early production one, circa 1990. They are now made by Rogue Rifle Company. My kids have now mostly transitioned to a Ruger 10/22 with a shortened stock. (I bought a spare birch stock at a gun show for just this purpose, for less than $10.) Shortening it took just five minutes with a crosscut saw, some sand paper, and a coat of linseed oil on the butt--and it was good to go.

To illustrate what a a pre-teenager can accomplish, watch this YouTube video of an 11 year-old girl named McKenzie shooting an autopistol in an intermediate class originally intended for adults. And here is the same young lady showing her expertise at field stripping and re-assembling an AR carbine. Do not underestimate what your children can learn and accomplish!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

I’ve been reading SurvivalBlog for almost a year.  I am thankful for the advice that I receive each day.  I have had a “be prepared” attitude for about 30 years, although the past two years have thrown several speed bumps and roadblocks my way.  Two years ago my son and his family were in a life threatening accident.  I spent almost every penny I had saved toward retirement to help my daughter-in-law recover.  This year I fought for and won custody of three of my grandchildren from my daughter.  So now, instead of planning for TEOTWAWKI for just myself, a 50 something divorced woman, I now am the proud “parent” of three elementary aged children.  Even with these changes to my situation, I am still actively preparing.  I wanted to share what I am doing with your readers, so that those who are still in the thinking stages rather than the action stage can see that it’s not too hard to begin. 

Years ago I decided to create a written plan.  I started with my basic premises.  First, I assume that I will live where I’m at forever.  I live 10 miles from a city of 100,000 and 15 miles from a city of 500,000.  While it’s really close to a lot of people, it’s not in the direction that the masses of people would head toward.  I have five acres with a good house, a good well, a great climate for growing food and lots of storage.  With that in mind I need to set up the house and yard to fully sustain me and now the three grandkids.  I also need to make some changes along the property boundary to make it less welcoming.

Second, I assume that when I retire from my government job that my pension income will exist.  That doesn’t mean that it won’t be reduced, I expect the government to steal some of my pension.  (Most people just think that we are given money but I put in 20% of my income into this pension fund) I also expect to receive some social security benefits and plan to start collecting my money as soon as I hit the minimum age.  Barring any additional family disasters, I also plan on having cash on hand.  I am working hard to cut my expenses to almost nothing.  That way I can retire sooner and live prepared rather than being in a state of getting prepared. 

Third, I assume that the weather patterns may fluctuate as they have throughout time, but I will not buy into any of the global warming and cooling as something that we can truly prevent.  If the environmentalists wanted us to change our habits and become more energy efficient, I wish they would have just come out with that statement.  Or, they should say that we can alter our microclimate (planting trees lowers the temperature around our homes, paving roads and parking lots raises the temperature in the city, lakes add to the humidity) rather than trying to scare people into believing that we are destroying the world. 

Fourth, I will practice, as I know that when you practice, the act becomes second nature. Times of trouble is not when you should be learning new things.    

Fifth, I do not panic.  Part of this is because I practice.  Part is because I do not allow myself to be influenced by the news story crisis of the day.  I behave very level headed and am rational.  I know that my attitude and my actions will influence those around me to be either calm or crazy.  I vote for calm.

Sixth, I trust God.  I know that God expects me to take care of myself…or at least to prepare myself to take care of myself.  I can not say I don’t need to be educated, or prepared, or dedicated because God will provide.  I am expected to work hard.  God will take care of me if I try to take care of myself.

The first thing I did in my quest for independence was to determine what I really needed.  The stuff.  I also figured I probably have 30 more years to live, although I hope I’m blessed with much more.  Now I have three more people in the house.  How would I figure how much I need?  I decided to keep track of what I did and what I used.  I started by going through my entire house, room by room, and making an inventory of everything. 

Let’s start with household items.  There are items that can last forever: dishes, glasses, pots, pans, furniture.  There are items that are used up daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly.  Well, how much do you need for the next 30 years?  I started keeping track of what I was using.  Keeping track of exactly how much food purchased, how much toilet paper, paper towels, soap, shampoo, etc. was used in a year gave me a very good idea of what I would need for 10 or 20 or even 30 years.  Then I just started buying extra.  It was simple.  Every time I went to Costco I’d buy an extra laundry detergent, bleach, dish soap, 409, Simple Green, vinegar, etc.  I probably have a 10 year supply on hand without any pain at all. 

I don’t have a basement but I do have a huge garage.  It holds my truck, tractor, freezer, tools, and what seems like miles of floor to ceiling shelves.  It looks like a mini Wal-Mart.  Now that I have the grandchildren, I have devoted space for bins of clothing.  The bins include the basics in every size: jeans, t-shirts (long and short sleeve), sweatshirts, jackets, socks, underwear, hats, gloves, and shoes.  I also sew and have fabric, thread, and am well stocked with sewing supplies. I keep it very organized.  I witness my friends buying things that they know they have somewhere in their homes but they are so disorganized they have no clue what they have or where to find it. 

I’m not going to discuss weapons to any real extent.  This topic is definitely best left to someone who knows what they are talking about.  I really get into this topic on this blog so as to learn more.  I do have a .22 pistol, a .22 rifle, and a 12 gauge shotgun.  The last thing I shot was a rooster who was roaming my yard and continuously tried attacking me.  I know I should have more protection and I also need to involve the children in gun use.  Maybe this summer we will all go to gun camp and then set up a practice target in the back yard. 

Change your diet! Stop eating instant boxed stuff.  If nothing else, you will save lots of money.  Learn to cook.  Learn to bake.  You can buy a pound of yeast at Costco or Sam’s for the same price as three small packages of yeast at the grocery store.  I love the 5 minute bread recipe.  6 cups flour, 3 cups warm water, 1 ½ tablespoon yeast, 1 ½ tablespoon chunky salt (kosher, sea, etc.).  Mix it together with a spoon. Let it rise an hour.  Put some flour onto the counter and pour the dough onto the flour.  (At this point I like to add Italian seasoning to half the dough) Shape into individual rolls or two round loaves.  Bake 350 for 15 minutes.  Noodles are another one of our favorites.  Flour, egg yolk, water, salt. Mix and roll out.  Cut into whatever shape you want.  We use the pizza cutter and make crazy shapes.  Boil for about 10 minutes. 

My garden is my hobby but also something that I’ve set up to feed myself, the grandkids, and my animals.  Since moving to my property 12 years ago I’ve planted fruit trees and plants with most of my spare money.  I have oranges, grapefruit, lemons, limes, kumquats, apples, avocados, cherries, peaches, nectarines, pears, plums, apricots, kiwi, figs, olives, loquats, mulberry, blackberries, raspberries, almonds, asparagus, and probably some others that I’ve forgotten.  I’ve been canning for 30 years now.  If I can’t can it or freeze it we eat fruit and vegetables in season or we don’t eat them.  The only fruit or vegetables I buy are bananas, pineapple, and mushrooms.  I have lots of gardening tools, at least one for each of us so we can all work together: shovels, rakes, hoes, hoses, irrigation parts.  I also have seeds on hand.  It is crazy to spend the money on the latest fad of “non-hybrid seeds in a container for only $150.” Sure, it will grow you a garden, but is it what you like to eat?  Will those varieties do well in your area?  Go to your local nursery and pick up seeds of vegetables you eat.  Have a garden like mine.  Each year I let some of the beets go to seed in the beet section of my garden, I smash a pumpkin on the ground in the pumpkin section, I let broccoli go to seed, etc.  I don’t have to replant the entire garden each year.  The stuff just comes back.  I do replant the corn, eggplant, and peppers.  I do save seed each year to make sure I have a several year supply of all my vegetable seeds.

We have sheep and goats for meat and chickens for eggs.  Although they are easy to raise, I don’t raise rabbits or hogs due to religious dietary restrictions.  I don’t have enough property for a steer because I don’t want to have to rely on buying hay.  I don’t milk the goats because I don’t have time.  I do buy beef and chicken from the store but know that at any time those purchases can stop and we can provide all our meat needs. 

I have a 500 gallon propane tank that never has less than 250 gallons in it .  The propane is used for cooking, heating the house, and the hot water.  We don’t use much for heating the house.  I try to keep the heater turned off during the week.  Since I am at work and the kids are at school, I don’t need to waste propane heating an empty house.  On the weekends I use the woodstove.  Worst case scenario, I would use wood to cook with, heat the house with my wood stove, and at some near future point, set up a solar hot water system. 

We are on a well so we aren’t relying on city water.  My next project (with money from my tax return) will be to set up a solar power system to charge batteries for running the well.  We don’t usually have much wind so I don’t think a wind generator would work.  I’d also like to set up solar for a backup for my appliances.  I don’t need a huge solar system since we use minimal amount of electricity.  We really do conserve on electricity.  My electric bill is only about $40 a month for the refrigerator, freezer, washer, dishwasher, microwave, television, computers, and the kids leaving all the lights on.

Fortunately, we don’t get sick often.  I keep a good stock of vitamins and OTC medicines.  I haven’t been able to convince our doctor to write a prescription for extra medications but I have been able to stock up on some. I do have a large stock of supplies for injuries.  I have a rescue bag in each vehicle plus a large supply at home.  I do want to remind people that even minor injuries can use up lots of supplies.  You need lots of gauze, gauze, and more gauze.  And, gloves, gloves, and more gloves.  Rescue workers will change their latex gloves every 5-15 minutes.  Read the articles already posted about medical supplies.  Go through your cabinets and see what you use.  Buy lots of them. 

We have a great library at home.  Classic books, new books, survival books, cook books, just about all topics for all reading levels.  I also have school books: math, science, grammar, and history for each grade level.  We also have games, puzzles, and cards.  Lots of indoor activities for the kids to do.

We have tons of office supplies: paper, pencils, erasers, pens, paint, crayons and markers, tape, staples, and glue.  Whatever amount you think you need, double it, or triple it!  Take advantage of the end of summer back to school sales. 

Exercise and being active is important.  This past summer I made an obstacle course for the grandkids (and me).  We have tires to run through, a sprinting area, cones to zigzag around, ropes to climb up trees, nets to crawl under, and a cross country running track.  I also set up a tetherball pole, a basketball hoop, badminton and volleyball net, croquette, whiffle ball, and a soccer goal.  We also go hiking and bike riding.  They think it’s just for fun.  I know that being in good condition helps keep the mind in good condition.

Three months ago I purchased a 23 foot used travel trailer.  It has a stove, refrigerator, full bathroom and a tank that holds 40 gallons of propane.  This winter we took it on a trip to Colorado and Oklahoma and didn’t turn on the heater, just for fun.  Our sleeping bags (from MajorSurplus.com) kept us warm although I’m sure the grandkids would have liked it warmer than 30 when they got up in the morning! The trailer held all the clothes and food we needed for our two week trip.  It was great practice. I have more to do.  I plan on planting some non-inviting plants in the front along the road and along the sides and back of the property as well: probably cactus, blackberries, some itchy thistle, or even poison oak!  I really need to get backup power.  I also would like a holding tank for several thousand gallons of water.  I’d like to hire someone to dig a pond.  Our water table is 12 feet so the pond would have to be deep in order to hit the water table.  I need weapons for protection, not just for shooting roosters and possums.  It all takes time and money, but this is an example of what I have done with not too much money, just some common sense and dedication.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Dear Jim,
A solar calculator is a good tool to have, but old style slide rules never require any batteries, do all major math functions, and provide a visual aid for teaching logarithmic functions. It's worth having, and learning to use, a couple of those, too. - Michael Z. Williamson - SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large

Monday, December 7, 2009

Many people preparing for the inevitable SHTF situation overlook the simple day to day needs of the children. It is easy to forget, especially being pre-occupied with food, water, ammunition and the like. I remember when I was in the army in the late 1980s, we were on a project in Honduras. We would make frequent health and welfare flights into the mountain villages to provide medical assistance and rendering aide were possible. One thing that amazed me was the educational system in the third world. Basically, if the child did not have a pencil and note book, they could not attend school to learn. I remember contacting my dad back in the states, having him buy a couple of thousand pencils and note books and send them to me in country. I became a pretty popular guy with the natives after that. Now as I look around at all my preparations for keeping my family alive, I realize what I have neglected. My wife and I have two extremely beautiful and smart children, ages 2 and 4, not that I am biased. When thinking of their needs, I need to also consider the progressive development in a post-SHTF society. Because we will after all have to be the teacher not only the protector. Here is the list I have come up with, and it is by no means complete.

1. Crayons- lots of them

2. Coloring books

3. K-12 text books

4. Books- children’s-teen-and adult, science, history, science fiction, a good mix, considering the library will be your living space and you will be replacing the television

5. Pencils- lots of them

6. Lots of note pads and books

7. A couple of solar calculators

8. Pens (and see items 8 and 9 below, for when ballpoint pens are gone)

9. Bottles of India Ink

10. Quill pens (for the ink)

11. Chalk board and chalk

12. A couple of educational science kits

13. And depending on how long you think things might last, learn to make paper, ink etc.

All the above is relatively inexpensive, but a mandatory investment as far as I am concerned. Hope this helps someone in their preparations. Sincerely, - Craig B. in South Korea

Thursday, October 8, 2009

As a child, I was orphaned by age 10. I went from living in wealthy lifestyle with maids and yard handyman, with ponies and pet monkeys in Miami, Florida, to living in rural mid-West with my Grandparents. This was truly a culture shock. It has been with prepping that I have truly appreciated the time spent with my Grandparents. From them learned about gardening, canning, freezing, sewing, and mind expanding experiences from visiting relatives on the farm (acres and acres of corn, and livestock!)

I remember Grandma’s bootstrapping on everything. She’d lived through the depression and WWII with its rationing. She saved everything useful. She explained to me that sewing needles were hard to come by, and butter had been rationed. In today’s perspective, it reminds me to stock up on those little things, like needles. Butter making is a skill and relatively easy to do if you have the animals to do it, but without them, I stocked up on powdered butter, just in case! Old clothes were always saved, and were sometimes remade into new ones (hand-me-downs) for another. I even remember an old rag rug made from scraps of old materials braided and then sewn together in an oval shape. Nothing went to waste.

My other Grandmother told me of her experiences during the Depression. They didn’t have electricity to ‘do without’ because they didn’t have electricity back then! They managed and just didn’t seem to be aware of how hard they had it; just because that was the way it was then. However, she did mention that there were problems in the area with hobos and less fortunates stealing and killing livestock. Grandpa had been more fortunate and not had as much trouble with them due to his reputation for being fair. He paid anyone dropping by, ‘a meal for a day’s work’, such as splitting wood, or other farm chore. The word got around that one could get a meal for work and some would come, help, and eat. Grandpa’s farm wasn’t bothered by losses like some of the neighbors.

Today, when reflecting on my childhood and the things I learned, and in contrast looking at today’s young people, gave me pause. Our group of prepper families consists of older parents with young adult children who are continuing their lives as usual. We had viewed it as giving them a chance to enjoy life and have some good memories before the hard times. It occurred to me today, that for our kids, it is comparable to the Roaring Twenties just before the Great Depression.

But, isn’t the prepping for the continuation of our offspring? I realized today that they are not gaining as much of the skill sets for survival, like I had gained from my Grandparents, by working at their side pulling weeds out of the garden, picking green beans, snapping green beans, shucking corn, blanching and freezing corn, canning green beans, cooking (from scratch!), sewing, automotive repairs, and on and on… Or rather, the extensive lessons gained from this year’s prepping.

This summer’s garden has been unusual for us. We have had a large garden for nearly 15 years, but this year’s garden was planted as a training garden. It was laid out on paper first, companion planting in mind. We innovated and experimented with several new crops, including hops. We planted some both in the garden and in containers for comparison. There are berries, tomatoes, peppers, grapes, lemon bushes, pole-green beans, tire-stack potatoes, yams, and landscaped with herbs and cucumbers and pumpkins. Before planting the garden, we assembled a PVC water distribution line with on/off valves for each row and for the garden as a whole. After rototilling the compost into the garden and covering it with black plastic for two weeks to kill weed seeds, we made furrows and laid out the soaker hoses on the rows, and connected to the water distribution line (PVC) at one end of the garden. The seeds were planted according to the preplanned paper charted layout; each soaker hose was planted on both sides of the hose, essentially doubling the garden’s capacity. (We did have to fertilize a month ago because of the doubling of the crops.) Marigold seeds were planted around the outside perimeter of the garden, unfortunately not on a soaker hose, which required manual watering. This turned out to be a blessing because it provided a bi-daily requirement to water and an opportunity to review progress and address weeds and needs of the garden. It has blossomed like a jungle forest in Hawaii despite being in the middle of a drought and 100 degree summer weather! I have maintained my first ever garden journal and noted all progress and failures. Our hops are now over 9 feet tall, and covered with hops. Our potato tire stacks looked like they worked well, but we discovered potatoes only liked the first tire which held dirt; the tires above were filled with tree mulch and grew no potatoes. This was a good lesson before TEOTWAWKI. The green beans have produced 49 quarts to date and are ready for their 4th picking and are still blooming! The bell peppers are nearly the size of a baseball. These were grown from seeds we saved from Costco’s bell peppers eaten earlier in the year! We have a patch along the side of the garden which holds the perennials which don’t get rototilled. There grows the asparagus, which gave us spears for two months early in the year and then goes to frond, tall and wispy, to support the root structure. We also grew new asparagus from seed saved from last year! We have tomatoes planted next to the asparagus. They repel each other’s pests! In between are basil and parsley and garlic. We have had no problems with pests this year! Yeah!

We learned not to plant winter crops in spring, but rather in July. We learned that spinach and lettuce like shade, and that spinach bolts (goes to seed) when the days are too long. Our pole beans have grown up 6 foot rabbit/deer fencing staked down along the soaker hoses. Pole beans are vining plants and have grown into arches making getting down the rows difficult. Next year we will alternate pole bean rows with spinach or lettuce I think. Our cowpeas/black-eyed peas are doing fine and require no work! They will also make a great cover crop for the winter and to rototill into the garden. They add nitrogen to the soil!

The entire garden survived a devastating hail storm which tattered much of the garden, and bruised some of the produce, but most survived and recovered. I discovered that thinning can be done with scissors to remove the extra plants without disturbing the roots of the "keeper" plants.

The garden has always been canned, but this year, we have discovered that much of it can be put up through dehydration. The Excalibur dehydrators web site has excellent videos of how to dehydrate food for TEOTWAWKI, which saves space and weight! We are still canning meats. We also smoked our first freshly caught river salmon and vacu-sealing it before freezing it, to keep it around for awhile. (Of course, that is after we ate lots of fresh salmon.)

The discoveries this summer have been wonderful, but the kids have not been around for much of it. They have been too busy enjoying their own lives in our urban community. They have grown gardens before, but they missed out on much of what we learned this year, by not being around. It is hard to tear them away from their friends, girlfriends, jobs, college, parties, movies, and of course electronic games.

I have learned, like the song says, “You’ve got to be Cruel to be Kind”. To do the right thing for our kids will take ‘Hard Love’, like my Grandparents did with me; chores and responsibilities/school homework came first, before play, and before friends! I hated that rule, but it made a better me as a result of it. Wish me luck. - FBP

Monday, September 7, 2009

First, as promised earlier I wanted to follow up and describe the kit I take with me on my trips. As I have mentioned in the past my job takes me overseas all the time, so for the past decade I have spent 80-90% of my time in third and second world countries. As a result the type of kit I take with me becomes important – it has to be packable and lightweight (especially now that the airlines are limiting you to 50 lbs. per bag versus the old 75 lbs. per bag). I have built up a kit that fits inside a one quart water bottle that goes in my suitcase whenever I travel. In the kit I have:

1. A folding knife (not a one hand opening one … just a plain old Buck style knife). When asked (four or five times in a decade now) I explain that this is for cutting my food.

2. A pocket knife (Swiss Army knife) [JWR Adds: Per FAA regulations, edged weapons may only be carried in checked baggage--not in carry-on bags,.]

3. A fork and spoon (titanium)

4. A small (AAA battery size) LED flashlight

5. Several packets of sugar free hydration mix

6. Water purification tablets and a water purification straw

7. A compass (Marble's Brand Pin On)

8. A waterproof container with matches in them (while technically not allowed I have packed them for years with no problems)

9. A length of 550 cord

10. A map of the region that has been waterproofed after various routes out of the area have been marked on it.

11. A waterproofed copy of my passport front page, driver’s license, and birth certificate, and contact number.

12. A couple of Krugerrands

I also have in the suitcase:

1. A small SW receiver (Grundig)

2. A first aid kit

3. A medical kit with various antibiotics, cold medicines, etc. in it.

4. A sewing kit (scissors come in handy and the thread and safety pins can be used for fishing)

I also use a backpack to carry my laptop and business stuff in. I have in the past pulled the hard-drive from the laptop and left it sitting there when I have had to evacuate. The survival kit goes into the backpack in this case. Just because the backpack is a 5.11 RUSH24, it has not raised any eyebrows by customs officials. In addition to this I have always carried a packable raincoat or poncho and a cold weather jacket in my suitcase along with a good pair of hiking boots and a couple of pairs of wool hiking socks.

Notice that other than the items in the water bottle, they are all items that one would use on a long business trip anyway.

I make it a habit to never pack and carry anything with me that I would not be willing to dump if the need arose.

I am sure this list will cause all sorts of heartache and discussion but I have used this kit or something very similar since I was a teenager (my father was posted all over the world) and unless we are talking about a complete breakdown of order it has enough in it that I can make it out of an area if need be.

Second, we are using this weekend as a chance to go enjoy the great outdoors and practice our load out at the same time. As mentioned in the past we plan on using a camping trailer to get out of our area if we are forced to. So this weekend (as we have in the past) we are practicing our load out and go skills. The kids look at it as a game, and now while the world is not as bad as it could be, we can survive if we forget something basic – and have time to add it to the trailer.

Third, when it comes to a bug-out many of us are tied to our computers and would want to take them with us. While I plan on taking one laptop with me if we ever have to leave our house (plus the K-12 educational CDs that we have for it) along with vital records, there is another way to keep your records with you. I have started to use products from a couple of different sites for many reasons – portability and security are chief among them. Portableapps.com allows you to load a basic set of applications onto a USB [memory] stick and use it in “stealth” mode on any computer with a USB port. This allows you to keep your records and a basic set of applications with you at all times (things like money management software and email are critical). I also frequent pendrivelinux.com and have a USB stick set up with a virtual linux image that allows me to do the same basic things as with the windows portable applications. I would urge you to set up several USB sticks like this so that you can get by with a single laptop/PC per family versus multiple ones. I also have the same sort of setup (using the windows briefcase function) for my critical business documents – while pulling the hard-drive does work this is a much cleaner solution.

In this way if I need to walk out of an area, a small USB memory stick is a whole lot easier to carry than a laptop. Plus with the large number of companies that are placing tracking software on your laptops these days, being able to keep certain things private has a great deal of appeal. - Hugh D.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Children play a part in many of our lives. Protecting them becomes an important issue in daily life as well as in an end of the world as you know it moment. However, what happens when adults can’t be there to protect them? What happens when they may need to protect us?
Our government and even many schools across the country, as well as parents and other adults, often do not see the potential in children. I am not talking about the educated potential one might find in the youth of a suburban school, but the potential to rise to the occasion when it is necessary to help themselves or their families.
The key to survival is knowledge. What you do with that knowledge and how you apply it at the right moment determines if you survive or not. Why can’t our children have the same knowledge?
We have many threats facing our world. Swine Flu or even other pandemics have been brought to the fore front this year. The WHO. is telling the world to expect an explosion of H1N1 cases. What happens if you and your spouse get Swine Flu? Who will take care of your children? Your sick neighbors? Your aging grandparents whom live three states away? Give your children the knowledge to take care of themselves and their families.
The following are some ideas on how to engage your children in survival learning (please gauge these ideas on the maturity levels of your own children):

  • Cooking ~ Sit down and plan out a list of easy foods to cook with the least amount of required steps. Make sure you include some easy recipes for items in your food storage pantry. Most children can begin to learn to cook around age 8, provided you explain the dangers in the kitchen and teach them how to properly use the range, oven, sharp knives, etc. Many libraries and booksellers, as well as the internet, offer cooking books or recipes geared towards children. Cook through the recipes with your child, but try to be as hands off as possible, while teaching them proper techniques.
  • Chores ~ Again, start out slowly, but instill an understanding in your children they can and are able to do most any chores in the home. By age 5, most children can at least do the simplest of chores like folding laundry, dusting, and putting away silverware. Give your children a responsibility and work along side them at first. Add laundry and yard work for older children. Again, teaching the safety protocols for certain items. When it comes to cleaning with chemicals, use alternatives made from natural ingredients. Label bottles and provide instructions. However, even children should not use certain chemicals and you should exercise caution.
  • Pets ~ Children always want pets. Make them responsible for those pets. Teach them how to bathe and groom Fido. Show them how to properly and safely remove ticks. Have your child learn the commands to control your dog as well. Let your child clean out the gerbil cage or feed the fish. All these things teach children how to be more responsible.
  • Protection ~ Enroll your child into a Mixed Martial Arts program or a boxing class with the understanding this is not for beating up little brother but to protect his/her self from others whom might want to harm him/her. For older children, teach gun safety. Show them your weapons, take them to the firing range, and let them understand what it feels like to shoot your P22 or your 12 gauge. Let them practice at shooting targets as well as clays. Take them hunting if you can. And if you have a bow set-up teach them how to shoot arrows as well. By properly teaching gun safety, archery, and self defense your child would be well prepared to defend themselves or to hunt for food.
  • Bartering ~ As odd as it may sound, take your child to garage sales or flea markets. Any age can do this. Make them use their good manners when approaching the seller to barter or haggle over prices. Teach them about good deals and help them to find things that may be useful at a later time.
  • First Aid ~ Children as young as five years old can put a band aid on a wound. Get a first aid manual and teach your children the proper way to care for cuts, scrapes, and other wounds. Let them know what alcohol and peroxide are used for as well as other medical topicals. Show them the difference between when to use a large butterfly bandage or gauze and tape. Teach them the proper way to take someone’s temperature. Explain when professionals should be called in to help or if you are in a situation where there are no professionals available what should be done. If you have a child that gets woozy at the sight of blood help them to get over their fear as best as possible or make sure that particular child has a different responsibility.

While many of the aforementioned tasks may sound obvious for all parents or care-givers, it always helps to remember your children can accomplish many tasks as long as they are given the chance to try. There are a variety of adult survival activities that you can tailor towards your children. Teach your child about your own family op-sec and basic safety when it comes to dealing with strangers. Above all, always remember to stress safety when teaching your children.

Give them a chance to hone their skills by taking them camping. Allow them to start the campfire (with parental guidance), cook the camp dinner, pitch the tent, etc. Get “lost” in the woods and have them bring you back to camp using a compass and map. Then later, have them look for a cache using your GPS. Teach them about the animal tracks your family sees and what animal crossing look like. In the evening, teach them the major constellations and how they can use those for direction as well.

I personally recommend the book The Boy's Book of Outdoor Survival by Chris McNab. Although it is titled "for boys" and has pictures of boys in the book, I think it is highly appropriate for girls as well. Every child should know how to take care of themselves in survival situations.

If you can help your children and give them the knowledge to help themselves and others, even at a young age, you will enable them to be more responsible for themselves for the rest of their lives. As a parent, you are responsible for teaching your children.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Discerning believers have sensed a decisive change coming for several years. If history truly repeats itself, we are heading into a season of judgment and serious difficulty which may last beyond our current generation. Whether judgment and difficulties are reflected in the current economic crisis, ongoing terrorist attacks, unrighteous leaders or a host of other combined circumstances, many believe we are on the threshold of very perilous times (II Timothy 3).

Our family ministry has done significant travel throughout the country over the past ten years, and we never fail to be in awe of the Great Shepherd’s faithfulness toward His people, regardless of denominational labels or minor doctrinal differences. As His people return to ancient paths, seeking truth rather than traditions of men, He speaks faithfully to His sheep, warning them of coming danger and teaching them to prepare. The same Almighty One who warned Joseph precisely how much grain to store, gave Noah dimensions for the ark, and walked through the fires of persecution with the three Hebrew children loves us passionately, instructs us clearly, and warns us faithfully of impending danger. As He is our perfect example of a prudent, loving Father, aren’t we also responsible to equip our own children for the days ahead?

This responsibility is not one that can be swept under the rug or ignored in ostrich-like fashion. Either our children will have strong spiritual foundations, proficient life skills, and Rock solid character, or they will perish in the days ahead. This is not a popular message. It is not being declared by most pulpits or keynote speakers. But ignoring the urgency will not lessen the need. It only wastes valuable time.

Many years ago, we revaluated the priorities in the education of our nine children. Our emphasis stopped being compliance with national test standards. We actually relocated to a state with few requirements and this allowed us to proceed with great liberty. If you find yourself jumping through extensive hoops of state oversight now, just wait a short while. I guarantee it will not improve in the future. Relocation is not the worst thing that can happen to your family. Ask the Father where He wants you to be. If He says stay, be content; if He says go, trust Him to make a way.
Upon relocation, we left behind our small scale experiments in urban homesteading and began a quest for rural self-sufficiency and a faith based on the simple truths of Scripture. This is an ongoing journey for us, with more to learn each day. Our adventures have helped us transition from two clueless young married city novices to a family team that includes nine children who are proficient in raising crops, building log homes, handling livestock, outdoorsmanship, ministry, and discerning truth from error. Over the years we refined our priorities into a form of education which will see our children, and hopefully many others, through whatever comes in their future.

Our primary priority in education is Spiritual Preparedness. This is foundational as we are told to “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things (our daily needs) will be added unto us.” The very first thing we do on a school day is to read and study Scripture. We are currently working through the writings of the Old Covenant prophets. We read a few chapters each day together, in addition to the personal reading and prayer we encourage each person to do in the morning and evening. One thing that has revolutionized our lives and doctrine has been the memorization of large passages and entire chapters of Scripture, rather than “memory verses”. The Word warns us of great apostasy and deception increasing in the last days; therefore we find it imperative to teach children not to isolate verses from their surrounding context. Verses are far too easily twisted and misapplied by dishonorable or biblically ignorant leaders and teachers. Even Peter warned of the tendency in his day to twist the words of Paul to justify lawlessness (II Peter 2, 3:14-17). Even the littlest child can be taught to memorize by adding a line per day, using rhythms, body motions, anything that makes it fresh for your children. And by all means, use real Bibles with children! The verbal rhythms and vocabulary of a KJV are not as hard for children to master as you might think. As they become older, continue memorization and add word studies from the Hebrew and Greek. Help them study and understand the Hebrew culture which places Scripture in its context. The important thing is that His Word must be hidden in their hearts to discern truth from error, right from wrong, and life from death. Our children must possess spiritual weapons which are sharp and well practiced to avoid the abundance of deception and confusion they will no doubt meet in the future.

The next priority under Spiritual Preparedness would be thorough instruction in the doctrine followed by the apostles and the earliest believer in our Savior (Acts 2:42). It has become increasingly clear to us that the roots of our faith are not in Rome, Geneva, Tulsa, Azusa Street, Lancaster County, or Brownsville. The roots of the faith go back to Jerusalem, and the Hebrew foundations of the earliest believers, prior to the hybridization which occurred after Constantine. We want our children to value and esteem truth above traditions of men or sensational experiences (even “signs and wonders”) which may directly conflict with Scripture; one of the warnings we have is that in the “last days” doctrines of demons will be rampant and even the elect will be vulnerable to deception. If our children are to be firmly grounded in truth, we must stop clinging to the words of man as if they were Scripture. Calvin was a man, Luther was a man, Menno Simons was a man, and Wesley was a man.

It is healthy for children to be familiar with the stories of heroes of the faith and movements in church history. It is sad that we have applied so much attention to the lives of the “Founding Fathers”, while neglecting to familiarize our children with Tyndale, Jan Hus, the Waldensians and others who surround us as “the great cloud of witnesses”. Preparedness for suffering for the sake of the Gospel comes from seeing our Father’s faithfulness and abundant grace toward those who have suffered before us. World history and geography come together when viewed through biographies of great men and women of the faith. However, while great men of the faith can challenge us and encourage us by their example, our doctrine must be firmly founded on the whole Word of YHWH, Genesis through Revelation, nothing added, nothing taken away.

Our second priority area in preparing our children for perilous times is mental/character preparedness. This can only be a building block laid securely on the solid foundation of spiritual preparedness. Developing attitudes conducive to sacrifice, rather than “survival of the fittest” is in direct opposition to the tendency of the flesh. A child who will not yield his favorite toy to his little sister will not share half of his last piece of bread when he is truly hungry and she cries for his mercy. These are not small issues of childishness to be ignored. Our children must be confronted with the ugly selfishness of their flesh, be led to full repentance, and taught to respond automatically with actions consistent with Kingdom living. In perilous times the ungodly and the superficially religious lose all courtesy and true believers become a candle in the darkness. Our children must understand that our provision is not dependent on selfishness, but the One who gave manna in the wilderness.

In addition to building relationship with the Almighty who provides manna, multiplies loaves and fishes, and turns water into wine, our children must cultivate an attitude of sober-mindedness, control of the tongue, and the ability to work cheerfully. Joking, impulsive speech, gossip, laziness, and quick over-familiarity are fleshly tendencies which may prove to be hazardous in the coming days if not kept in check. Healthy humor is part of the nature of our Creator, but He has no tolerance for mischief and foolishness and neither should we.

With the great increase in physical labor our children will likely face shortly, it is to our benefit and theirs’ to spend a significant portion of six work days in physically productive labor. However, without the ability to work cheerfully, maintaining a steady attitude of joy and peace even under great pressure, your home will become a breeding ground for resentment, rebellion, and outright resistance. Children can either be positively included in our work, or driven to exhaustion by manual drudgery. It’s all a matter of attitude, ours’ first, then theirs’. If we see ongoing financial hardship or disruption of services due to a change in the availability of fuel, our children will be needed to work alongside of us, rather than spending a great deal of time on recreational reading, running around to events, and other more self-oriented activities.

They will need to make fun out of real life accomplishments, rather than escaping to fiction on the screen or between pages. This is a good habit to instill now. Our children should be exposed to great and worthy books, given sparing time to appreciate the privilege of reading, and expected to serve others during the most productive hours of the day. By reading excellent literature, well written biographies, and doctrinal works the development of communication skills (writing, speech, etc.) will be a simple transition, rather than an artificial exercise in sentence diagramming. These communications skills will be of multiplied importance in the lives and futures of our children, as they will certainly be called upon to defend the faith as it was once delivered to the saints.

Children should be given thought provoking, open ended discussion questions, and then be challenged to defend their position from Scripture. They should not learn to simply parrot what we or any denomination teaches with out question. Their writing should become less like story-telling and more doctrinally apologetic, to prepare them to live in an increasingly antagonistic, openly pagan society. Surprisingly, most children of this generation have an inner sense that they will need these skills and disciplines; instead of becoming bored or overwhelmed, they rise beautifully to the challenge and shine as lights among their peers.

Our third and final emphasis in proactive preparedness education is upon life skills vs. storage of massive quantities of “stuff”. We certainly encourage all families to seek the Scriptures and His Voice of council in this matter. We have determined that skills are far more important than material storage, which can be lost to theft, impoundment (likely in a martial law scenario), or spoilage. One of the loud lessons we exhibit by massive storage is that problems are solved by throwing cash at them. It can be a false security, when not kept in practical balance. We can avoid the hard work of life changes and character improvement, by insulating ourselves from any imagined future discomfort. We are not against storage for a short term solution, but life skills such as finding food and water in wild places, making fishing equipment, gardening, or constructing shelters will be of far greater long term benefit and they cannot be taken away once learned.

Experience nature until it is a comfort zone. For special occasions, consider the gift of tools rather than toys. Equip the individual gift and interest of each child; take these interests seriously. Allow them to become very proficient until their skill is marketable, even in a barter economy. They may experience seasons in life where buying is not possible, but trading is.

This generation is the most likely to experience extreme hardship in our lifetime and has the fewest skills to successfully cope, thanks to our full acceptance of modernization and rejection of the simple agricultural and primitive life skills that served each generation prior to WWII. We have much catching up to do; our children need to be able to do simple things like start an outdoor fire and cook on it, navigate accurately on foot in wild places, and avoid evil people or deadly diseases. They have no time for paper plate puppet projects or baseball unit studies.

For the health care needs of your family, help your children become proficient in first aid procedures, natural and herbal remedies, and sound nutrition. Even if there are no major disastrous events in the lifetime of your children (which looks increasingly unlikely), the corruption of the current medical system is widespread and ominous. We have seen a “Christian” (denominational) hospital conduct workshops to teach medical professionals to “read auras, channel healing energies, and use shamanism” without the permission of their patients as part of treatment. This is occurring all around the world. Even the immunization issue is in most cases a controversial violation of Scriptural principles of separating the clean and unclean; there is no precedent in Scripture for purposeful contamination of our blood. It is time for our children to seek healing of their bodies by the Great Physician and learn how to practically use resources He has clearly given for comfort, disinfection, and promotion of health.
After learning “front-line” top priority emergency skills, secondary skills should become proficient. As in recent examples brought on by fuel price escalations, transportation and shipping are not issues to take lightly in a crisis. A failure in food supply transport can mean serious discomfort and even total chaos. With the increase of imported foods from countries with low environmental standards, antibiotic and hormone contamination of meat, and the rise in genetically modified “Frankenfoods”, it is prudent to decrease dependency upon the grocery store. Activities such as non-hybrid gardening, seed saving, hunting, livestock care, butchering should include children as they have been included throughout the history of mankind. These highly educational activities are far more practical than textbook science. Ten years ago, our then ten year old naturalist son learned anatomy by dissecting (butchering) a mammal specimen (deer). He checked out butchering and anatomy books from the library; following the “dissection’ of his second deer he was able to correctly identify most organs, muscles, bones, and types of joints. All the while, we laughed and talked of pioneer history, and the faithfulness of the Creator’s provision.

We have a limited and rare opportunity to focus on practical, significant, and intensely indispensable education for the sake of our children and our families’ survival. By fearlessly teaching these lessons to our children, we equip them to grasp their future as overcomers and Kingdom citizens. Nothing frightens a child more than uncertainty. By giving them tools to stand with us, we alleviate fear and give them hope for tomorrow. It’s high time we stop home schooling, with all its bells and whistles and game playing, and turn our focus toward home discipleship. This model is what we are commanded to accomplish in Deuteronomy 6, and will prepare our children to occupy until He comes. Our children’s physical and eternal lives depend on it. - Jim B.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Yesterday, in Part1, I discussed the "safe" and counter-cyclical occupations for the unfolding economic depression. Today, I'd like to talk about one specific approach: self-employment with a home-based business.

I posted most the following back in late 2005, but there are some important points that are worth repeating:

The majority of SurvivalBlog readers that I talk with tell me that they live in cities or suburbs, but they would like to live full time at a retreat in a rural area. Their complaint is almost always the same: "...but I'm not self-employed. I can't afford to live in the country because I can't find work there, and the nature of my work doesn't allow telecommuting." They feel stuck.

Over the years I've seen lots of people "pull the plug" and move to the boonies with the hope that they'll find local work once they get there. That usually doesn't work. Folks soon find that the most rural jobs typically pay little more than minimum wage and they are often informally reserved for folks that were born and raised in the area. (Newcomers from the big city certainly don't have hiring priority!)

My suggestion is to start a second income stream, with a home-based business. Once you have that business started, then start another one. There are numerous advantages to this approach, namely:

You can get out of debt

You can generally build the businesses up gradually, so that you don't need to quit your current occupation immediately

By working at home you will have the time to home school your children and they will learn about how to operate a business.

You can live at your retreat full time. This will contribute to your self-sufficiency, since you will be there to tend to your garden, fruit/nut trees, and livestock.

If one of your home-based businesses fails, then you can fall back on the other.

Ideally, for someone that is preparedness-minded, a home-based business should be something that is virtually recession proof, or possibly even depression proof. Ask yourself: What are you good at? What knowledge or skills do you have that you can utilize. Next, consider which businesses will flourish during bad times. Some good examples might include:

Mail order/Internet sales/eBay Auctioning of preparedness-related products.



Medical Transcription


Repair/refurbishment businesses

Freelance writing

Blogging (with paid advertising) If you have knowledge about a niche industry and there is currently no authoritative blog on the subject, then start your own!

Mail order/Internet sales of entertainment items. (When times get bad, people still set aside a sizable percentage of their income for "escape" from their troubles. For example, video rental shops have done remarkably well during recessions.)

Burglar Alarm Installation

Other home-based businesses that seem to do well only in good economic times include:

Recruiting/Temporary Placement

Fine arts, crafts, and jewelry. Creating and marketing your own designs--not "assembly" for some scammer. (See below.)

Mail order/Internet sales/eBay Auctions of luxury items, collectibles, or other "discretionary spending" items

Personalized stationary and greeting cards (Freelance artwork)


Web Design


Beware the scammers! The fine folks at www.scambusters.org have compiled a "Top 10" list of common work-at-home and home based business scams to beware of:

10. Craft Assembly
This scam encourages you to assemble toys, dolls, or other craft projects at home with the promise of high per-piece rates. All you have to do is pay a fee up-front for the starter kit... which includes instructions and parts. Sounds good? Well, once you finish assembling your first batch of crafts, you'll be told by the company that they "don't meet our specifications."
In fact, even if you were a robot and did it perfectly, it would be impossible for you to meet their specifications. The scammer company is making money selling the starter kits -- not selling the assembled product. So, you're left with a set of assembled crafts... and no one to sell them to.

9. Medical Billing
In this scam, you pay $300-$900 for everything (supposedly) you need to start your own medical billing service at home. You're promised state-of-the-art medical billing software, as well as a list of potential clients in your area.
What you're not told is that most medical clinics process their own bills, or outsource the processing to firms, not individuals. Your software may not meet their specifications, and often the lists of "potential clients" are outdated or just plain wrong.
As usual, trying to get a refund from the medical billing company is like trying to get blood from a stone.

8. Email Processing
This is a twist on the classic "envelope stuffing scam" (see #1 below). For a low price ($50?) you can become a "highly-paid" email processor working "from the comfort of your own home."
Now... what do you suppose an email processor does? If you have visions of forwarding or editing emails, forget it. What you get for your money are instructions on spamming the same ad you responded to in newsgroups and Web forums!
Think about it -- they offer to pay you $25 per e-mail processed -- would any legitimate company pay that?

7. "A List of Companies Looking for Homeworkers!"
In this one, you pay a small fee for a list of companies looking for homeworkers just like you.
The only problem is that the list is usually a generic list of companies, companies that don't take homeworkers, or companies that may have accepted homeworkers long, long ago. Don't expect to get your money back with this one.

6. "Just Call This 1-900 Number For More Information..."
No need to spend too much time (or money) on this one. 1-900 numbers cost money to call, and that's how the scammers make their profit. Save your money -- don't call a 1-900 number for more information about a supposed work-at-home job.

5. Typing At Home
If you use the Internet a lot, then odds are that you're probably a good typist. How better to capitalize on it than making money by typing at home? Here's how it works: After sending the fee to the scammer for "more information," you receive a disk and printed information that tells you to place home typist ads and sell copies of the disk to the suckers who reply to you. Like #8, this scam tries to turn you into a scammer!

4. "Turn Your Computer Into a Money-Making Machine!"
Well, this one's at least half-true. To be completely true, it should read: "Turn your computer into a money-making machine... for spammers!"
This is much the same spam as #5, above. Once you pay your money, you'll be sent instructions on how to place ads and pull in suckers to "turn their computers into money-making machines."

3. Multi-Level Marketing (MLM)
If you've heard of network marketing (like Amway), then you know that there are legitimate MLM businesses based on agents selling products or services. One big problem with MLMs, though, is when the pyramid and the ladder-climbing become more important than selling the actual product or service. If the MLM business opportunity is all about finding new recruits rather than selling products or services, beware: The Federal Trade Commission may consider it to be a pyramid scheme... and not only can you lose all your money, but you can be charged with fraud, too!
We saw an interesting MLM scam recently: one MLM company advertised the product they were selling as FREE. The fine print, however, states that it is "free in the sense that you could be earning commissions and bonuses in excess of the cost of your monthly purchase of" the product. Does that sound like free to you?

2. Chain Letters/Emails ("Make Money Fast")
If you've been on the Internet for any length of time, you've probably received or at least seen these chain emails. They promise that all you have to do is send the email along plus some money by mail to the top names on the list, then add your name to the bottom... and one day you'll be a millionaire. Actually, the only thing you might be one day is prosecuted for fraud. This is a classic pyramid scheme, and most times the names in the chain emails are manipulated to make sure only the people at the top of the list (the true scammers) make any money. This scam should be called "Lose Money Fast" -- and it's illegal.

1. Envelope Stuffing
This is the classic work-at-home scam. It's been around since the U.S. Depression of the 1920s and 1930s, and it's moved onto the Internet like a cockroach you just can't eliminate. There are several variations, but here's a sample: Much like #5 and #4 above, you are promised to be paid $1-2 for every envelope you stuff. All you have to do is send money and you're guaranteed "up to 1,000 envelopes a week that you can stuff... with postage and address already affixed!" When you send your money, you get a short manual with flyer templates you're supposed to put up around town, advertising yet another harebrained work-from-home scheme. And the pre-addressed, pre-paid envelopes? Well, when people see those flyers, all they have to do is send you $2.00 in a pre-addressed, pre-paid envelope. Then you stuff that envelope with another flyer and send it to them. Ingenious perhaps... but certainly illegal and unethical.

From all that I've heard, most franchises and multi-level marketing schemes are not profitable unless you pick a great product or service, and you already have a strong background in sales. Beware of any franchise where you wouldn't have a protected territory. My general advice is this: You will probably be better off starting your own business, making, retailing, or consulting about something where you can leverage your existing knowledge and/or experience.


In closing, I'd like to reemphasize that home security and locksmithing are likely to provide steady and profitable employment for the next few years, since hard economic times are likely to trigger a substantial crime wave. After all, someone has to keep watch on the tens of thousands of foreclosed, vacant houses. (If not watched, then crack cocaine addicts, Chicago syndicate politicians, or other undesirables might move in!)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Mr. Rawles;

Given that even the smallest of windmills driving an automobile alternator can keep a 12 volt DC battery charged, and from that you can run a myriad of small devices, what is your opinion of Amazon's Kindle [mobile book reading screen] for keeping all the documents you might need, like the entire archives of SurvivalBlog? Amazon is now offering "Version 2" [of Kindle] , which seems easier to load with personal documents. Is it worth it as a backup library, or is it too fragile? - Sandy W.

JWR Replies: Buying a shiny new Kindle for that purpose is like "putting all your eggs in one basket". I would much rather put all my archived preparedness reference documents on multiple copies on CD-ROMs and then buy two or three used laptop computers with cosmetic defects. (The ongoing corporate layoffs in the US will surely mean that the market will soon be flooded with high quality used laptops for under $200 each, and I wouldn't be surprised to see some offered for under $100 each.) Store those laptops in 40mm ammo cans to help protect then from EMP. Redundancy is the key. One of my mottos is: "Two is one, and one is none."

Here at the Rawles Ranch we recently obtained a Brunton Solarport 4.4 (4.4 Watt) compact photovoltaic (PV) panel for testing. These produce .29 amps (at 15 volts) in full sunlight, which is enough to charge flashlight batteries or a cellular phone, but not enough to power a laptop. (But up to three Brunton PowerPorts can be "daisy chained" together (in parallel) to provide additional current.) I consider the Brunton PowerPort a "micro" mobile solar power solution. A more practical "mini" at-home or RV power solution is to buy a 10 watt PV panel (such as those sold by Northern Tool & Equipment or comparable panel such as the and a portable automobile "jump pack" gel cell battery, (available at any local auto parts store, or from a variety of Internet vendors). By placing the PV panel inside a southern-facing window (indoors or inside a vehicle, to protect it from the elements) you can trickle charge a jump pack and easily get one hour of laptop use per day.

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 4, 2009

I have read your list of recommended retreat areas and agree for the most part. My wife and child and I are leaving Texas in March and heading north. Idaho and Alaska are the only places we are considering because they are the only two western states that have 100% parental autonomy on homeschooling.

As for Alaska not being recommended, I would have to disagree somewhat. Yes, it is not for everybody. Some people don't like cold and that's fine by me. However, the issues of supplies and resource shipment I think may become moot. When TSHTF the shipment of goods will be disrupted everywhere, and in the lower 48 there will be more people fighting for what is left. For those of us looking to get off the Made-in-China Wal-Mart matrix, these are changes we are preparing for and will welcome.

In Alaska there will be an advantage not found anywhere else. First, it's cold climate and geographic separation from the lower 48 will keep it very well protected against the roving bands of thugs and immigrants already overpopulating the lower 48. People simply won't be able to get there, and borders will likely close to all such traffic. Second, Alaska has a long and well-ingrained tradition of self-sufficiency and the character of the people there will be more immune to the shock of having to get back to basics. Additionally it is the most likely candidate to be the first state to secede. The crime rate statistics are misleading as well, due to the low population and the fact many "crimes" are not crimes at all, or they represent alcohol-related petty crimes, eskimo tribal feuds, bar brawls, etc. All in all, I believe the spirit of Alaska will prevail and people will get along better than the lower 48 on many levels, regardless of whether or not there is a Wal-Mart. On another note, [Governor] Sarah Palin has also proposed the creation of a new natural gas line just for the state residents. - Brad in Texas

Friday, January 30, 2009

I've only recently become a SurvivalBlog reader, but I thought I'd share some info about a book I've had sitting on my shelf for quite some time. I'd never really put any thought into its usefulness until lately.
It's called The American Boy's Handybook. I first caught sight of it several years ago, way back in Elementary School, when I was just a little cuss, not the full sized cuss I've grown up to be.
Like the title says, the book itself is geared toward the younger generation, ages 8 - 18+. But there is a wealth of information that even the oldest of us kids can make use of.
Originally published in 1890, the book is packed, cover to cover, with projects and activities that require no electricity, no high tech spare parts, and perhaps most important, no advanced tools. Nowhere, in the entire book, will you find a single request for a band saw, circular saw, arc welder, hammer drill, or power tool of any sort. I would say that 75% of all the projects inside can be built with a hand saw, hatchet, hammer, and some simple elbow grease.
All four seasons are covered, with different projects (both FUN and FUNctional) appropriate for each. Without my copy to reference (it's currently on loan) I can't give a complete rundown of all its contents. Some subjects include, but are far from limited to:
- Spear Fishing
- Small Boat Construction
- Dead Drop Traps
- Build a Kite from scratch
- Make and Use a Bow and Arrow
- Basic Taxidermy
From hunting and trapping, to games and toys to keep the younger members of your family occupied, this book has something for everyone. Kids too little to be out checking the snares with Mom or Dad? Why not have them put together a Shadow Puppet Show for after dinner entertaining? Fresh snow on the ground? Teach them how to build their very own Snow Fortress. Bullets in short supply? (I hope not, but you never know.) Fashion a spear thrower or bola for taking down small game. Always wanted your own fishing boat, but couldn't justify (or afford) the expense of a special purpose boat? Build your own flat bottom watercraft.
These are just a few of the things I can remember off hand. IMHO, this is one of those books that should be on everyone's shelf. Even if The Schumer doesn't Hit The Fan, you can still keep the kids off the couch, learning to do for themselves, like people used to, before we all got our McLobotomies.
Thanks for All You Do, - C.M., Maine

Sunday, January 11, 2009

As the author [noted, prospective students should consider their career plans before devoting time and money to a specific school or program, virtual or not. For example: I'm employed by a global Fortune 10 company and there is a list of colleges and universities whose degrees are not sufficient as hiring criteria regardless of accreditation. It is a good bet other large companies have similar policies. Ditto for graduate degree programs. Depending on the school, bachelor degrees from online schools or virtual universities may not be accepted for matriculation. If the student plans to pursue a graduate
degree they should make sure their intended grad school will accept their undergrad degree.

I'm not knocking virtual schools, my Bachelor's degree was obtained 100% online as will my graduate degrees.

Obviously if the student is just getting a Bachelor's degree for the sake of getting a degree, plans to work for smaller companies, or be a serial entrepreneur, which school issues the degree does not matter. However, everything comes with a price, and you get what you pay for. Choosing the wrong virtual university could mean having to go back and get a second Bachelor's degree before getting that job you covet or continuing on with your education. - John T. in Michigan


Mr. Rawles,
My son came up with another method for keeping college costs down that I don't recall having seen before: he talks instructors into letting him skip courses.
He was homeschooled, so had no official record of what he'd learned. When he started college through the Running Start program (open to homeschoolers, as well as regular high school students, and another great way to save money!) at age 15, he met with his future calculus professor and talked him into letting him skip the first quarter of that subject. Later on, based on his grades in more advanced courses that required the one he skipped, he was given credit for it--at no charge!

He has since talked other teachers into waiving courses that were officially required for classes in specialized subjects he wanted to learn, picking up any knowledge he truly needed from the prerequisites as he needed it for the courses he wanted to take. He didn't get credit for any of the other classes he didn't actually take, but did save the money and time he would have been spent taking them. That's important both because of the time and money needed to take the unwanted courses and because it can be difficult to fit classes into your schedule that are only offered every year or two.

This tactic is also helpful if you don't do your full degree at the same school. Your choices are limited if, as a newly-transferred junior, you want to take classes that require a course that students at your new school usually take as freshmen. It can be hard to mesh in to a new school's program, but there are obviously ways around it, and you can save money doing so! - Nancy L.


Hi Jim,
I've been reading your blog for a while but this is my first time writing in. Excelsior College is great for people who need a flexible way to get a degree. I actually got my undergrad nursing degree through them. This option is only available to those with prior healthcare experience, which I had. I was formerly a home birth midwife with a certification through the North American Registry of Midwives. They accepted this credential to enter their program, and gave a number of credits for earning this credential. They accepted all my transfer credits from previous work, and I wound up only needing to take the 7 nursing exams, plus a microbiology exam. Now I had a prior degree in another field, but their flexibility for people of many different backgrounds is well-known. I moved across the country halfway through my degree, and since it was not a residential program I didn't have to change schools. This has been a godsend for people in the armed forces, who move all over the place. I liked them so much, I'm going back to Excelsior for my Master's in Nursing. The Masters programs are different. Rather than being exam-based, you take classes online with a group of other students. Anyway, my experiences with this school have all been positive. I'm not an employee of the school, or connected in any other way than being a student with them. Oh, a final bonus of this school is that you can generally spread out your degree earning over many years, making it very doable to work full time while earning a degree with them.


Mr. Rawles,
I recently read your "Patriots" novel and loved it, and have been reading and learning from your SurvivalBlog daily since then. I've been following the topic of alternative and low cost routes to obtaining a college degree and wanted to contribute another option that your readers might be interested in.

Harvard University's Extension School offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs in a variety of fields in a non-traditional format. The benefits of this school include:
- Non-traditional admissions policy: This is my favorite aspect of their programs. Classes are open-enrollment, meaning anyone can register for most courses without undergoing any kind of application process. Admission to degree-granting programs is based on your performance in several classes rather than your performance on standardized tests or in prior schooling. There are no SATs, GREs, or other tests required for admission (except an English proficiency test if you're not a native English speaker). And there are no transcripts required. You simply take 3 courses at the school, including a writing course, and if you pass them all with a B- or better and GPA of 2.5, you will be accepted upon applying to the degree program. The classes are very challenging, so rather than trying to weed out unqualified applicants based on previous transcripts and tests, you get a trial by fire, proving in the actual courses that you're up to the task.
- Low cost: Most undergraduate courses there cost less than $1000, so a full 32 course undergraduate degree costs considerably less than one year of school in many traditional 4 year colleges.
- Flexible scheduling: Courses are offered on both weekdays and weeknights, so it's easy to schedule school around work.
- Flexible location: Many courses are available online, and for the undergrad degree, only 16 credits (4 courses) are required to be taken on campus. So if spending several years in the People's Republic of Cambridge or elsewhere in the congested Northeast doesn't fit your survival plans, you can knock out the on-campus requirement in a single summer.
- Excellent education: Courses are taught by a combination of full-fledged Harvard professors and part-time instructors who are professionals that have real world experience in the subjects that they teach
- Diverse student body: Classes are filled with students from all socioeconomic backgrounds, most of whom are working part or full time jobs while in school.
- A degree from Harvard: Very nice to have on your resume, no matter what you think of "elite" ivy league education and faculty. :-)

My wife and I both worked at Harvard for a few years so we could take classes at the school for free. I took classes both at the Extension School and in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (where traditional undergrads and grads take classes) and can confirm that the Extension School classes are as challenging and of as high quality as the "regular" classes. My wife managed to get a masters degree in English from the Extension School while working full time, and has found the education invaluable, and her degree essential in helping her get job interviews and ultimately in landing her first job as a middle and high school English teacher.

We no longer work at Harvard and have no financial interest in the success of its programs, but we both spread the word about this little known "back-door" to a Harvard education because we believe it's such a great value and opportunity for anyone who wants to further their education in the fields of study that they offer.
Regards, - Luke V.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

For many, the cost of a college education can be prohibitive; however the necessity of having a degree can be crucial when a job seeker is looking for work. Oftentimes, a college degree is used as a discriminator in the hiring process. Those with years of experience and talent may not even be considered for a position simply because they haven’t “filled in the blocks” required by a human resources department. Even if the degree is in an unrelated field, it is usually enough to get a person through the initial hurdles of the interview process.
However, even the costs of a local community college may be prohibitive to those who have to work and support a family – cost both in money and time. This was the situation I was faced with just a few years ago; however there is a solution.

In my hunt for a better and cheaper way to obtain that necessary sheepskin, I discovered the Bain 4 Weeks web site (I have no personal affiliation or compensation) which described the efforts of one woman who obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in just four weeks. While initially skeptical (think: diploma mill), I examined her method. Utilizing the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) and other college-level examinations, she was able to complete her four-year degree in just four weeks.

While I didn’t have an entire month available to dedicate to testing out of college credit, I did use the same principals to accelerate my degree completion while working full time, taking care of a family, and spending my evenings at home rather than in a classroom. In fact, I can proudly say that I was able to complete the entire degree with never having to set foot in a classroom. This method enabled me to adjust my education schedule to my life schedule. At some points taking a test a week for a couple of months was no problem; at other times, I was reduced to taking one test a month.
Perhaps a quick explanation of the CLEP program is in order. These exams are recognized by most accredited universities. These tests allow an individual to receive college credit (typically three to six credits) for specific subjects and cost $70 per exam. The first-year exams are six credits each for the five subjects (English, Math, Social Science and History, Humanities, Science) and will provide the typical test taker with 30 semester-hour credits. This means that the first year of college would cost $350. Imagine an entire year of school for less than the price of one class at a community college.

There are both paper and computer-based versions of the test available. They can be scheduled at many local colleges (paper versions) or at places like Sylvan Learning Centers (computer based). The advantage to the computer versions of the test is that the results are immediately known to the student after completion. Also, an enterprising student can take more than one exam in a single day at these centers. (However, I was never able to complete more than two in a day – I was mentally drained after the second test.)
There are plenty of study guides available online and at your local library – practice, practice, practice.

So, how would this work? Let us take the example of someone who has finished high school, is working part time and staying at home. He could schedule one test every two weeks and spend the interim weeks studying for the next exam. After 10 weeks, this student would have finished his first year of school. Keeping this same pace (most of the remaining exams are three credits each), the student could complete the remainder of his degree in 45 weeks. All total, he would have spent slightly more than a year working on a four-year degree. His cost would be approximately $2,450 for all 120 credits. So for about the cost of just one semester at a community college, this person would have completed all the degree requirements necessary for graduation.

Another scenario would be a single mother working to support her family. She doesn’t have a lot of money and can’t dedicate two to three nights a week to attend classes. Instead she decides to start taking CLEP exams. She studies a little each night after the kids go to bed. To get time off for testing, she saves up a little extra time from her lunch break throughout the month to spend a couple of hours at the test site (or takes a Saturday test). What happens if something comes up and she isn’t able to study enough to take another test that month? Nothing happens at all. Unlike taking night classes where she cannot afford to miss classes; earning credit with these exams allows her to adjust her test-taking schedule to fit in with what works for her life. If she averages one test a month, then in 10 months, she would have finished one year of school. In essence, she is able to go to school full time while working and raising a family without the financial or time burden traditional education would have created.

Granted, the folks who create the CLEP tests do not award degrees; so a person would have to transfer the credits to a school that does. In my case, I used Excelsior College. If a person completed all degree requirements and then transferred the credits to Excelsior, the enrollment cost would be $765 and the graduation fee would be $440 for a total of $1,260. So the grand total would be $3,710 for the entire degree. Most schools accept some CLEP exams (usually up to 60 credits) but require the remainder of classes be taken through their university. Excelsior (and there are a few others) have no residency requirements and will accept all credits taken through CLEP or other accredited colleges. Make sure to check around. Excelsior is a good school, but there are others that are also equally suitable.

A second advantage to this method of getting that “sheepskin” is that for those who home school or those who have a GED, getting accepted into a college can be challenging if not impossible. Most schools do not ask for or require high school transcripts or SAT/ACT scores for transfer students. What constitutes a transfer student? Most of the time schools consider a transfer student as someone who is going to transfer 30 to 45 semester hours of credit. In other words, if you have an enterprising student who was homeschooled but the one college she wanted to go to will not recognize her diploma, she can take her first year of CLEP tests and then be considered a transfer student with no restrictions.

As a side note, I shared this method with a gentleman at work whose son was a sophomore in high school. His son began taking CLEP tests over the summers and during the Christmas breaks. By the time he finished high school this young man had already earned an Associate’s Degree.

Is there a downside to this method? It would depend on what the person pursuing a degree really wants. If he or she is trying to get a specific degree, say in microbiology, then this method probably would not work because of the lab requirements. However, many of the techniques/concepts can be used to reduce overall costs and speed up the length of time it takes to get a degree. Hopefully, this information will be valuable to those who feel frustrated in their efforts to complete a college degree.

Lastly, if I had to do it all over again, I would have joined the Air National Guard or Air Force Reserve and learned a skill that would prove useful in a TEOTWAWKI situation. This would also provide me with a part-time job, free CLEP and DANTES tests and money for school if I chose to attend a specific college.

Please note that I am not endorsing any of the cited organizations. I simply want people to understand that there are alternative ways to get what you need. Being a survivalist means being adaptable and “thinking outside the box”. - V/R, USAF

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Dear Jim:
Why go to college at all? Speaking as a college graduate, unless you are getting a technical degree, you would probably learn more apprenticing in a real business that interests you, and studying on your own and taking courses part time. When you need to apply knowledge right away, motivation is high, and the lesson really sticks. Bonus - you avoid 4 years of immersion in (and contributing to) a politically correct cesspool - often intellectually dishonest to boot.

For some professions you do need a degree for technical knowledge. But most of the time a degree is just a screening device or "ticket punch" to show that you can study hard and persevere. Gary North has a whole section on his web site on how to beat the college racket, and get your ticket punched with a degree for under $25,000, and no debt.
The way things are going a highly skilled trade where you can work for yourself might be the best bet (electrician, plumber, auto mechanic, computer repair, etc., etc.). Someone who can just work like a professional in the "blue collar" trades will have such an advantage over most of the competition they will do well.
Regards, - OSOM


Mr. Rawles,
I wholeheartedly agree with both of the readers whose letters referenced learning a trade before attending college. My own experience, I grew up in a military family, when I graduated High School I wasn't sure the military for me just yet and had the foresight to understand I probably wasn't mature enough to handle college at that point in my life. I was also fortunate that in addition to a tradition of military service my family also had years of experience in the trades, one Grandfather became a boilermaker after the Navy, the other a carpenter after his stint in the Army, my Father retired after 22 years in the Air force and learned the trade of sheet metal work and HVAC repair, all of them proudly non-union. With their guidance I did some research and discovered the excellent merit shop (Non-union) apprenticeship programs offered by the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). The tuition is reasonable, (roughly $200 per semester when I started in 1997) and most member companies are so thrilled to have a young worker take his career seriously that they will sponsor the cost, provided good grades are maintained.

I chose the carpentry apprenticeship program, and shortly after graduation on my 18th birthday embarked on a eye-opening and enlightening experience. One of the first things that shocked me was that at a modest sized company for our large upper midwest town, (150 field employees) there was only one other apprentice my age. We had a handful of laborers who were college dropouts, but none of them were interested in tradecraft training, preferring to remain unskilled laborers and wondering why they always got the grunt work. The fact that there wasn't a larger group of young Americans clamoring to learn a useful trade to provide for themselves and their families was astounding to me!
After two exciting years (and two bitterly cold winters) of building everything from power plants, to hospitals, to runways I decided to return to college. At first I was planning on studying Civil Engineering, which is a fine profession but entails an inordinate amount of desk work after graduation. Again, with some guidance I stumbled upon Construction Engineering (At other universities known by the names of Construction Management, or Construction Technology).

At the University I was shocked by two things

1) College is a business! They will try to keep you in as long as they can to keep raking in the student fees, etc. My first academic "advisor" even told me that finishing a bachelors degree in four years was a pipe dream, and most students took five years these day! I promptly switched advisors. Students, don't let anyone convince you it can't be done in four years or less. I was far from a stellar student in high school, just barely cracked into the top 50% of my graduating class and I completed my Bachelor's degree in four years, while working 30+ hours a week at part-time jobs. This may take a little extra "hard work" but again, nothing worth having comes easy and if you're already a preparedness minded individual than this shouldn't be too much of a stretch for you!

2) A surprising majority of engineering students never worked a trade, and never held a trade related internship in college! This flabbergasted me to say the least, how could someone who's never put hands on a piece of lumber or steel expect to lead workers in a project? Needless to say, come graduation time those students who continued to work at best buy weren't in the highest demand by employers. Conveniently enough, my trade training had an added benefit: Rather than having to work a "typical" part-time job in retail, I always found construction companies that were willing to work around my college schedule, and pay significantly above the minimum wage my friends were earning. Which offered the added benefit of leaving the nights, and most weekends free for studying or socializing.

After finishing school, I attended the Navy's Officer Candidate School and became a Surface Officer for 5 years. Again, my trade experience gave me a valuable leg up over my peers. I finished school with no debts, having continued to work the entire four years but was again surprised to learn that some of my friends who had been [contracted cadets] in ROTC had massive debts. The ROTC is quite willing to take C students, but don't expect to get a full ride! I knew of many officers that finished college twenty, thirty, even forty-thousand dollars in debt!

Now working as a Project Manager for a large General Contractor I am still surprised by the lack of interest shown by today's students for the trades. To me, the work is exciting, doesn't involve a desk, and pays extremely well. Believe me, we would love to take as many motivated young Americans as we can get our hands on! Unfortunately, many of them have been sold on the dream that college is for everyone, it's not, and that isn't a bad thing. I can't say enough good things about learning a useful trade or skill, It's a job that can never be outsourced, but unfortunately it is being "in-sourced" by immigrants who are willing to work hard, harder than most Americans these days.

Mr. Rawles, thank you for your wonderful blog. Very Respectfully, - A Former C Student


Having recently discovered the site, I am now a daily follower. I find the advice practical and in keeping with my pragmatic approach to life. The technical detail is impressive, and the topics wide ranging. There is always something surprising each day I scroll down the page. I am an architect in New York City, and find the architectural topics of great interest. The site's take on architecture is refreshing and seldom discussed or debated elsewhere. I will plow through the archives and find out what sort of treasures lurk within.
There have been a number of recent letters discussing the issue of college education. There is a common tone to these letters that suggests that learning a trade is important, perhaps of greater importance than getting one of those pricey college degrees. I agree that having useful skills, particularly hand skills, is important. As for myself, I am a woodworker and carpenter, making and designing furniture, restoring my house in addition to my architectural "office job."
Here's my take- college degrees are critical in addition to "pragmatic" skills. I'm not going to suggest which degree to get, since certain degrees are "more valuable" in certain parts of the USA and world than others. Architects are useful in New York City but useless in Nebraska, for example. Two points I want to stress:

1- My degree "got me noticed" by all my employers. It "got me a foot in the door" as ridiculous as it sounds. That degree, that piece of paper, really got me ahead of the mobs on the streets. It's a sad arrangement, expensive but necessary. Think of that piece of paper as some prized battle rifle as you soldier through life- it's a tool like anything else.
2- My degree "expanded my mind" beyond the day-to-day, hand-to-mouth nature of existence. Religion "expanded my mind" as well, but the concepts and thinking that college introduces rounded me out even more. When we are all holed up behind steel doors clutching those riot guns, the mind needs to find release, in addition to prayer and meditation. Art, philosophy, psychology, medicine, etc. can help.

Keep up the good work! - Freakoscope

JWR Replies: The emphasis on learning a trade in many of the recent letters overlooks one key issue: At present, someone with a baccalaureate degree on average will earn $1,000,000 more in their lifetime that someone with just a high school diploma. So if you plan to work in the corporate world, then I recommend getting at least a Bachelor's degree. Just make sure that the degree is in something useful, where there is a reasonable expectation that there will be jobs waiting. (Not "bird calling and basket weaving"--as my father dubbed the useless degrees.) Perhaps the best way to do this is to work in a skilled trade or with an IT certification, to work your way through college on a five to eight year plan. Graduating debt free at age 26 or 27 with lots of practical experience will actually make you a much more desirable job applicant than someone that graduates at age 22 or 23 with nothing other than the degree on their resume. Take as many lower division credits as possible from a community college or on-line. All that employers will consider is the degree itself, and the name of the institution that eventually grants the degree. So take your first two years "on the cheap", and then transfer to a more prestigious school.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

College is alarmingly pricey. As a child of the 1970s, I grew up understanding that you either got a useful degree or paid your own way.

I contend that the most useful education currently is learning a trade. Welding, auto repair or electrician's certification will pay the bills through the rough times as people choose to repair instead of purchase. As times get better, some of those trade school credits may transfer to a college and you are on your way. What is that architecture degree, but about a year of drafting plus three tortuous years of art...the discovery of use of light and space...with a dash of engineering. One of the coolest people I know, was a blacksmith who got his doctorate in physical chemistry. You never know where your trade may take you.

Art comes in many mediums that must be learned such as welding for those grand sculptures that grace the lawns of universities and corporations. Get the "practicals" under your belt first, while you make a few bucks or barter for your dinner.

Don't forget that the library is free. You should know your reference librarian as she hold the key to all knowledge or can borrow it from another library for you. Read. Read everything you can get your hands on.

As you head off to college: Find out all the required courses for your degree. Does your college allow "testing out" of any subjects? The last I checked it cost about $75 average to test completely out of 3 or 4 credit courses. Testing out may not be an option for "required for major" courses.

If you are still in high school, go for every advanced placement (AP) for college credit course you dare.
So as you plod away learning your trade that is only vaguely related to you dream degree, remember: we do what we have to do so that eventually we can do what we want to do.
Now, who is gonna come fabricate some new tines for my tiller? - The Accidental Survivalist


For more than 20 years I have volunteered my time with unemployed US scientists, engineers, and computer professionals. Based upon my experiences, I suggest that young people 1) attempt to have a trade under their belt before they get a four year college degree; 2) preferably pick a college major that will allow one to work for oneself and not as a mere employee; 3) consider mixing two majors such as getting a teaching certificate and forensic accounting as this might give one two options for a career. If the student is not committed to college or unsure what to major in, consider attending a community college first as it is less expensive. Learning something either in college or via the trade pre-college that is hands-on work such as plumbing, construction, roofing, carpentry, welding, aquaculture (fish farming) , farm management, get commercial driver's license, learn to drive farm equipment, learn to repair things -- electronics, washers/dryers, etc. Some high schools have working relationships with community colleges where a high school student can take college courses while still in high school thus saving lots of money while living at home. Some schools will allow students to attend high school part time and learn a trade at the local community college at the same time. Many high tech professionals in the USA have been told by college career counselors after the student graduated with his degree in chemistry, physics, engineering, or computer science that he should consider that degree as nothing more than a 'hobby'. Kind of a fun mental exercise but it was foolish of the student to expect to have dreamed of a career in that field. What you are looking for is a skill (or skills) that allow you to be self-employed. If the young person is in college, they should focus on skills that will make them more marketable -- oral communication skills, writing, bookkeeping (useful for one's own business), marketing, solid basic math and computer skills. Having a degree in the medical profession may or may not make one employable -- I have read of dentists and physicians who were unemployed during the Great Depression. It is possible that cosmetic surgeons might be in high demand if there are wars as the victims (military/civilian) may need reconstructive surgery. Health care professions are still probably a good bet but it doesn't guarantee a career or stable income. Case in point: I have a friend whose brother-in-law in California is an allergist and is now closing his practice because he can't making a living in this specialty. He is dropping down to become a Physician's Assistant (PA) and will work for his wife who is also a physician. He, however, cannot afford to maintain the cost of his license as an allergist with fewer people willing to see an allergist in an economic recession.

Princeton University economist, Alan Blinder (do an Internet search to read his international presentations) has stated that young Americans should not waste their time and money (paraphrasing) on a four year college degree. Instead, American youth should be learning trades that cannot be off-shored. (Unfortunately, he doesn't raise concerns about the importation of cheap labor.)

One should strive to have a college education that is debt free. No one knows what the future holds and graduating with an educational debt for a degree that may or may not provide a job (no longer a career) is a tremendous burden for a young person to enter the adult world with. When looking for a summer job or working during college -- try to pass on the burger flipping jobs and look for work in something where one can enhance a skill such a learning how to pump out septic systems, car parts shop, working on a dairy farm, landscaping, etc. I do think that having a college degree is valuable to one's personal understanding of the world but it is not necessarily essential these days to earn a living. I would urge young people, if possible, to complete a four year degree but not having one is not a sign of failure.

Finally, I also urge parents to help their children to learn basic life skills -- how to manage the home budget, cooking skills, gardening, car repairs; as well as learning to be happy and enjoy life. Learn to sing, dance, play some musical instrument, juggle, something to bring happiness to oneself and to others. This might sound like it is off topic, but when one is unemployed if you have these inner resources to pull upon it can literally be life saving.- Cynthia W. (An informed American on jobs and education)

Monday, December 29, 2008

longer this [economic death spiral] goes on, the more it looks like this is going to be at least a decade before normality returns. So, if you've got a teenage kid you're probably thinking, what kind of career (assuming we don't totally melt down at a societal level) path he or she should take...

I was talking to someone the other day and he told me his kid was studying art. "Oh, I asked, is he any good?" He replied "No, not really." This family man is spending good money, money that could be put into preparations into a liberal arts education? Idiot.

Even if his son were Michelangelo reincarnated, who is going to pay for artwork in a depression. It's not like he is going to get a stipend from the Medici family and work on family portraits of the rich and famous.

I'd like to ask the collective survival mind as represented by SurvivalBlog readers, what careers do you think are worth paying money to learn how to do for the next generation? - SF in Hawaii

JWR Replies: Off the top of my head, I think that any of the medical professions would be good choices, especially those related to geriatrics, since we live in an aging society The only notable exception would be cosmetic surgery.

BTW, the Memsahib's parents grew up during the Great Depression and consequently they told the Memsahib and her sister that they would be willing to pay for their college education only if they wanted to be "teachers, nurses, or dental assistants"--because there would always be some demand for them. No fru-fru art degrees for their daughters!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Home schooling teaches kids an important virtue, intellectual self-reliance. Home schooling, well done, permits a child to “learn to learn” as well as learn to learn … by himself. A home schooled child, for example, does not learn in peer groups, a common practice in schools today. Rather, by himself, the home school child reads a text, sorts through conflicting facts and information, and makes judgments that ring true to his experience and understanding. A home schooled child struggles intellectually without turning to peers, teachers or authority figures. In short, he thinks for himself.

Critics of home schooling often claim that home schooled children are less socially adept than kids in same-age classrooms. This may be true. But social suspiciousness and reticence to engage in typical kid behavior, verbiage and antics should be seen as a strength, not a weakness. For when home schooled kids don’t think like the herd, they’re intellectually self-reliant.

As an Ivy-educated professor as well as a mother of three home-schooled kids, I’d like to share some observations and offer some practical advice to home schooling parents who want their children to attend good colleges and universities.
Primary school goals and methods are different than that of older children so I’ll discuss home schooling younger children first.
Primary school kids have one overwhelming goal – to read. Once he’s reading, you need to introduce your child to increasingly interesting (and difficult) books. This is a natural trajectory. Your child will want to read more interesting books because the simple ones are boring. During these young years, roughly to age thirteen, here is some unvarnished advice on reading:

1. Make home schooling fit into your schedule and life -- do not make home schooling your life. Teaching your child to read is not difficult and can be done whenever convenient for you. When you take a break from your daily grind, pull your child in your lap and read together while sipping tea. Home schooling can be seamlessly sewn into the fabric of daily life. Make it so.
2. There are oodles of books on teaching reading. Ignore them. In them, you’ll discover a pedagogical war between supporters of phonics and those of “look-say.” Do both! As you read with your child, sound out the words and point out other words that act the same. That’s phonics. Remember, though, that about sixty percent of words in English do not follow spelling and sounding rules. Memorizing, then, must happen. As your child reads, he will become familiar with new, odd words and eventually remember them.
3. Put books on end tables, next to beds, in shelves and, of course, in the bathroom. Make books visible, like art. Books should be seen, not heard, that is, you shouldn’t talk about reading, but do it.

The other major goal for a primary child is math. Unfortunately, teaching math isn’t as intuitive as reading. Flash cards are a good way to start. After the facts are learned, buy or make sheets of problems and get a timer. By eight to ten years of age, a child should be able to do 100 math problems in five, three and finally two minutes. Some advice:

1. Math will not fit into your schedule as easily as reading. You’ll have to make time for it.
2. The grand pedagogical debate in math, which parallels that of reading, is whether math should be taught as facts or as theory. The trend, today, is to teach your child how to think about math, and only afterward, to actually do math. Teachers and curricula spoon-feed the thinking behind the problems. In contrast, in the past, the goal of math was solving problems. The child was expected to figure out the patterns and connections in these problems by herself. In my opinion, the old ways of teaching math are better. As your child learns how to do math, she will see the wonderful way math works. That “aha moment” should be discovered, not taught. Please don’t take away that glorious moment when the logic of math becomes clear. Math trains the mind to be orderly and systematic. So let your child think. Don’t think for her. This fosters intellectual self-reliance.
3. Regarding curriculum: I’ve used Saxon in the past, and eventually ditched it. Curriculum does, though, offer a structure if needed. Again, be flexible. There are times in your life when you’ll need structure and other times when your child zooms along without it. Go with the flow.
4. Here’s a simple ordering of the math your younger child needs to learn:
Counting to twenty, then one hundred
Counting backward from twenty
Addition facts to 12
Subtraction facts to 12
Adding two, then many digit numbers
Subtracting two, then many digit numbers
Multiplication facts to 12
Division facts
Multiplication of many digit numbers
Long division.
Fundamental idea of fractions
Adding and subtracting fractions
Multiplying and dividing fractions
Fractions as decimals
Adding and subtracting decimals
Multiplying and dividing decimals
Fractions to decimals to percentages
Negative numbers
Adding and subtracting negative numbers
Multiplying and dividing negative numbers
Negative decimals, fractions and percentages

5. When your child understands the above, he is ready for algebra and will need a more structured environment. I recommend this textbook: Algebra 1 by Ron Larson, Laurie Boswell, Timothy Kanold and Lee Stiff; written in 2004 and published by McDougal Littell. The Geometry and Algebra 2 books in this series are also good.

With teens, home schooling becomes more challenging … and fun.
As a professor, I’ve seen many public and private schooled students woefully unable to think, write and study. Though your home schooled child will be far better prepared than most students, don’t expect college admissions staffers to understand intellectual self-reliance. Admissions staffers need a bit of hand-holding and appeasing. This is your responsibility, not your child’s. You are responsible for getting your child into college: your child is responsible for learning.
So, starting from around age fourteen, you’ve need to think ahead. These are crucial years. You must assume that admissions staffers will judge home educated kids harshly. Thus, you’ll need to be wise and clever to combat their bias and bigotry.
Now that he’s a teen, your child should have one goal – getting into college. Though it is your responsibility to get him into college, it is still his goal. He needs to understand that the days of leisurely learning, sadly, are over.
During the early teen years, you’ll have many, heart-to-heart talks with your teen about her goals, interests and expectations. Even teens unsure of what they want to do with their life understand that, at some point, they’ll need to make a choice. At least, come up with a short list. With her, imagine life as a teacher, business owner, homemaker, farmer, lawyer … whatever. Realistically discuss what it takes to achieve that life.
Take a four-pronged approach to getting into college: taking community college classes; scoring high on an ACT or SAT; finding compelling references; writing great essays. Here’s some advice:

1. Don’t even bother to come up with a transcript or grades. Admissions won’t believe your grades anyway, so why bother? In lieu of grades, I suggest keeping a list of books read including completed textbooks.
2. As soon as your children are ready, enroll them in a community college distance learning class, around age 15 or 16. These are graded classes, taken for credit. But before your daughter takes college classes, you must sit her down and read her the riot act. Tell her that from now on, there is neither mercy nor second chances. Tell her that every grade goes on a permanent transcript that will follow her for the rest of her academic career. Tell her that learning has to be purposeful and grade oriented. In short, tell her she needs to strive for “A’s.” Holding her to this standard doesn’t make you a slave driver but a truth-teller – so feel guiltless. The reason you enroll your child in a distance learning class is so you can help. This is a huge step for your child. Be there.
3. The sad truth is that learning, suddenly, is not the goal. Grades are the goal. He needs good grades. Part of preparing your child for self-sufficiency is showing him the bar that he needs to get over. At this point, the bar is a high GPA. Your son, then, needs to find his own way to reach that bar. This is a worthy lesson in itself for life has hurdles that must be overcome even when he finds them distasteful or unimportant. To put it bluntly, there are times when he’s got to suck up to reach his goals.
4. College testing, even if not required, will be important as a marker of accomplishment and potential. Take this seriously. I do not think expensive classes are worth the cost because relatively cheap software is almost as effective. Note: It is easier to raise a math score than a verbal score. The verbal score is more of a proxy of intelligence as well as a marker of an avid reader, which is why it is so important to instill a passion for reading in young children.
5. References are tricky. You have to find referees who the admissions staff will respect. This isn’t about you and your values but rather about the college and its expectations. If your daughter wants to be an engineer, for example, a reference from an engineering professor or successful engineer (on letterhead) will go a long way. Unless your child is going to a Christian college, avoid references from pastors and youth leaders. If your child volunteered, try to get a reference from the leader of that organization. Remember, assume that admissions staffers are secular and biased against home schooling, and choose your references accordingly. Another helpful reference could come from the community college that your child attends. Working as a Teacher's Assistant (TA) or lab assistant is good both as experience and as a source for references. Try to get academic references.
6. Essays, the final step, can make or break an application. I’ve heard that admissions staffers are finding more and more ghost-written essays. Thus, to make your child’s essay believable, he’s got to include personal, anecdotal information. Here is where a savvy applicant can sneak in information about home schooling. Home schooling obviously sets an applicant apart from the crowd. If made to sound exciting, then the admissions counselor will think your kid is eccentric and interesting. My kids emphasized their travel (which was a big part of their home schooling experience) and the bizarre places and things in their past. It worked. They disguised their faith in the application, choosing to emphasize other aspects of their upbringing that the admissions counselor would be expected to appreciate. In short, give them what they want to hear and set your child apart from the herd.

As parents, we’re raising the best kids in the nation. Our kids are self-reliant and grounded in positive, moral values. For some, Christian faith undergirds morality – it does for me. But as Christians or seculars, it is incredibly important that the best kids are trained to survive and succeed. The two-to-three percent of the nation’s kids who are home schooled will lead tomorrow’s nation, and perhaps save it. Thus, getting those paper credentials from name-brand colleges and universities is a small step toward returning our country from a culture of dependence and weakness to that of individualism and self-reliance.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

There has been a great push in this country by child rearing experts and the medical profession that children must be "socialized". It has been a pivotal buzzword for educators and parents alike. It is a main reason for the negative swell toward homeschooling. Yet, it is my contention that what we need to foster, from birth, is natural instinct. Natural instinct is what we understand as the survival instinct. It is an innate instinct of distrust. It is the instinct that alerts us as we start down a dark alleyway on our way home from work. It is the instinct that forces us to take a step back from a new person that we meet that sets off alarm bells in our brain. It is this instinct that must be fostered in our children and future generations.

From the moment our children are born, they are whisked away from the mother in the arms of another. As parents, we hand our babies off to Aunt Betty and Uncle Ernie, the day care worker, people we meet, and those we don't even know, the girls at the office, and those child care workers at church and the gym. It is expected. Those that don't hand their children over are scolded, scorned or scoffed at. Negative comments about the welfare of the baby are passed around behind the back of the cautious parent.

All of this passing around from person to person and situation to situation kills the child's very first survival instinct- distrust. A baby who is bonded closely with his primary caregiver will not take kindly to being passed from person to person. They will scream until they are returned to that person whom they trust above all else. A child who has been passed around and has never bonded closely with one primary caregiver will not display any sense of distrust with strangers or strange situations at all.

This initial distrust can be observed in the animal kingdom. From cow calves to elephant calves, the animal that is left with its primary caregiver, usually its mother, will not allow human contact. It will not stand to be touched or petted. It will scurry behind the knees of its mother and peer out at the unfamiliar person.

On the farm, we observe this all the time. Our beef cows calve in the field and are raised by their mothers. Our dairy cows, on the other hand, are separated at birth and raised on a bottle. They bond with the people who feed them. What about the beef calves? Any cowboy can tell you how tough it is to separate the momma's and babies. On the other hand, the dairy calves will follow even the farm dog around with no sense of danger or distrust.

How does one begin to foster a sense of distrust in children? Can it be learned in fifth grade when the local policeman comes and tells the school kids not to talk to strangers? Studies have shown over and over again that children will go to strangers, leave with them and trust them. Is this the result of our "socialized" society? How does this translate to these people as adults? Are these people more apt to find themselves in difficult situations, unable to distinguish a potential threat to themselves and their loved ones?

Allowing a baby to bond closely with one or two people is critical in fostering the survival instinct. It is natural. In fact, it is the most natural thing in the world. How does one start? Start by breastfeeding. Feeding time is bonding time. In a survival situation, powdered baby formula might not be available. Breastfeeding not only encourages a close bond, but it is also very convenient. A family on the move may forget a bottle, but I can guarantee that they won't forget Mom.

Wear your baby. During the daylight hours, wear your baby. Native cultures have always used various slings or wraps to keep their baby close while working. Only in modern times have we developed all sorts of contraptions to keep baby happy and away from us so that we can go on about our lives as usual. A sling or Maya wrap allows you to keep your baby content all day and close for feedings. In a survival situation, it keeps the baby quiet, warm and content.

Wearing your baby also offers the benefit of not having to share your baby with strangers. A baby in a stroller invites a host of onlookers and well wishers, exposing your baby to a host of strangers and their germs. A baby in a sling is almost always content and is but another step in the bonding process.

Sleep with your baby. Many people will surely sneer at this one, but sleep, like feeding, is a time of trust and deep bonding. Learning to sleep is important for an infant. Putting your child in another room, closing the door so you can't hear them screaming is certainly not natural. The cry of a child is supposed to drive us to action, it is part of our survival instinct. Sleeping with your baby is natural, all species of animals sleep with their offspring. In any survival situation, it may be necessary to share close quarters with your family members, it should be the norm, not the exception.

As baby's become toddlers, don't push them into the unfamiliar. I see this all the time at family gatherings, a parent forcing a child to sit on Grandpa's knee. Respect your toddler's sense of distrust; someday his life may depend on it. We must stop pushing our children to be "social". If a young child refuses to go to someone or resists a situation, clearly, there is no reason to force it on him. That child will never learn to trust his instincts, because we, as parents, don't trust his instincts'. Let the child lead. We are always bothered by our children's reluctance to accept new situations and people not because we want what is best for that child, but because we are afraid of what other people will think about us and our style of parenting.

By not respecting the reluctance of our children toward people or situations, we teach them to ignore their own internal warning signs. Only humans are unique in this, any other species would certainly perish.

Toddlers will always test and push their limits, but a toddler who trusts his caregiver and has bonded closely will be alert to that person's subtle nuances and body signals. In an unfamiliar situation, a toddler will stay close to the one he has bonded with. Often, without words, that person can convey a sense of unease or distrust of an individual or situation thereby keeping the toddler safe from possible danger without being so obvious. The child who has not shared this close bond, will often wander off, oblivious to dangers until an adult chastises him for his misdeed.

Indeed, it has been my experience that the caregiver with whom the toddler has bonded becomes the nucleus around which the toddler experiences the world. Initially, the toddler will always stay close, venturing off only in safe, familiar surroundings, staying close, often within touching distance, in unfamiliar territory or around new people. The toddler will engage in an activity, always keeping the caregiver within eyeshot, traveling back and forth between the activity and the caregiver. Thus the toddler learns to trust the world under the watchful eye of his primary caregiver, the one that he trusts above all else.

It is critical at this stage that the caregiver does not take advantage of the trust that has been built up to this point. If the toddler is not aware of some danger, a sharp, warning tone of voice will stop the toddler in mid action. All parents' possess this "emergency" tone. Unfortunately, this sharp, warning tone of voice is also often used in non-emergency situations, i.e. "Stop kicking your feet at the dinner table!" All effectiveness is soon lost and the toddler will learn to ignore the "emergency" tone of voice. Abusing the power of the "emergency" tone also erodes trust. The sky can only fall so many times.
In conclusion, if we truly wish to give our children an advantage in life, we should begin at birth. Our comfortable lifestyles have made us complacent. Civility towards others at all costs has caused us to abandon and ignore our own instinct of distrust. In the great name of socialization, we continue to place our youngest and most defenseless citizens in possible peril by ignoring their protests. If we, as a species, are to survive in the uncertain future, we must take our cue from the natural world and once again learn to foster the survival instinct in our babies and young children.

The Memsahib Adds: Andrea makes makes excellent points in her article. In our extended family we have noticed the same phenomenon that Andrea describes. In our extended family, the children who were bottle fed and put in day care are continually is hazardous situations because they have no caution. They wander away from the family at the zoo, at restaurants, and at parks. Furthermore they are easily led astray by their peers because they are not bonded to their parents.

Parents who choose a "close parenting" style will need to steel themselves against the pressure they will receive from relatives and neighbor that will chide them for not properly "socializing" their kids. Well meaning church members will repeatedly urge you to leave your children in the church nursery. Friends will chide you to leave your children with a sitter for the sake of your marriage. Ignore them! We used hear this from our family. But, we have seen the result: our kids are confident, competent, and safe. They can be trusted when using an axe or a gun. They are not shy, and in fact are quite good public speakers, (Although we purposely sought out public speaking training for our children, initially in a 4H club.) My advice is to raise your children solidly, dispense fair and impartial discipline, and minimize their exposure to television. You won't be sorry.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Dear Editor:

We are fed up with the public schools. At the end of the current school year, we plan to pull our children out of public school and homeschool them. What curriculum do you recommend? Thanks, - W.J.


The Memsahib Replies: It is difficult to recommend just one brand or type of curriculum. There are many different learning styles as well different teaching styles. We really like using materials that have a Christian perspective such as . We use the Alpha Omega course books as our core curriculum. But, I also enjoy pulling in other resources to reinforce concepts, or for enrichment. We suggest that you join your local homeschooling group as soon as possible. Often homeschooling groups have used curriculum sales in May. You will have the chance to talk with the other parents and see first hand some of the materials that are out there. We can't overemphasize the importance of getting plugged-in with other homeschoolers in your area as soon as possible. These groups will be an important resource for learning all the local opportunities for co-op classes, field trips, and social activities. They'll also know the local school district and state requirements for homeschooling. They can be a real source of encouragement for new homeschoolers. (OBTW, for those of you who are using like us, please consider purchasing the curriculum using the link in our scrolling ad bar to support SurvivalBlog. Thanks!)

Saturday, March 29, 2008

My husband and I are like minded, (he realized way before I did), and he and I didn’t meet until I was in my mid-thirties. I was considered weird, called a tomboy and later, a gear head. Don’t get me wrong, I cook, sew, knit and crochet. I had many interests though and wanted to learn.

What I have seen lately and in some people we met that are like minded, is the lack of initiative on the part of some spouses. I have seen some women and men that will ridicule their spouses or will just roll their eyes and feign interest. I have seen some that their spouses have prepared and bought supplies but their other half has no clue even how to do the basics. If you are truly vested in being prepared, your spouse and children need to brush up on the basics also. This should give you some good ideas on how to learn where you are lacking.

Do you have a grain mill? Mortar and pestle? Does he/she know the basics? Can all of you bake and cook from scratch? Are your children picky or will they eat everything you put in front of them? Can they sew? Do they know the basics on edible plants? Can they hunt or fish? Can your children do what is needed? Can you do the repairs needed to your home/vehicle?

Our daughter is 16 and she is learning about cars, she can fish with the best of them and she is a good shot. Our youngest is three years old and he will be learning as we go. Both will be able to cook (one does now), sew, set traps, care for farm animals, strip and clean weapons, basic survival, fix the family relic (car) and hopefully get through anything that is thrown at them.

The first step is to start early – my husband is Creole and we eat a lot most people don’t. Turtle soup, crawfish, head cheese and some even eat tripe. My son will eat everything he is offered, he was eating crawfish when he only had 2 teeth. So our routine was this; we fix it and tell you later what it is. It works well with older kids; younger kids will eat what mom and dad eat. It is a well known fact that most really young or really old will not eat a “different” diet, unless they have been doing so all along.

When your child starts showing interest in guns, at about 6-7 years old, take them hunting. Show them what guns do. My father did that I have always had respect for what they can do. Children love doing what mom and dad do so they will take to hunting with pride. We start ours fishing at 2-3 years old for small fish and getting them used to being around the water supervised. They know how to check nets and bait hooks by the time they’re 5, that’s when we teach them how to clean the fish (mom or dad using the sharp knife).

With cars teach them as soon as they’re out of a booster seat. I have seen too many men and women who can’t even check the oil in their own cars. Your children should be a help in most situations not a hindrance, even if it’s just handing you the tools you need. Our three year old will do most simple tasks he is shown and he does them willingly, he is so happy to be a help.

If you are in the military they have a lot of classes on the base that can help with some of this. Most bases have a repair shop and you can utilize their mechanics and tools to learn about repairing your car. They offer other things so check into at the base [or post] repair/craft shop.

Work out your plans to include the jobs you expect your children to do. When things get bad, if we’re on the move our 16 year old is to keep her little brother while we move and defend if necessary. When stationary she can shoot, load and take care of first aid. She will be able to pull her own weight and then some. Our littlest one will follow suit as he grows.

Use barter to attain the skills you don’t have, watch family, use the Internet and community college. Take a vacation to Pennsylvania or Tennessee. You can learn a lot in an Amish community, I learned how to make butter and I am going back so I can learn to shear. Some teach and charge others will share what they know for free. You can also buy produce and goods from the Amish. Davy Crockett days are in August and you can watch the craftsman work and it is for the whole family. All vendors must have a "period" looking tent up and must dress in period clothing. The on site cooking is also period.

Volunteer to gain skills; veterinarian office and humane society is a good place to learn about wound care, antibiotic use and dosage, just go watch, then you will learn, most places will not turn down a volunteer. Zoos are a great place to learn about husbandry, housing and more than basic wound care, as smaller zoos take care of injuries themselves (after a vet is consulted), most of what you learn at these places about wound care can be used on humans. Colleges have book sales where you can get books on farming and some older trades/crafts very cheap (books are 1-5 dollars). Local small gun and knife shows are also a bountiful source of information [and logistics], from hard to find books to hard to find ammo.

Buy reference books! We recently went to a "Friends of the Library" book sale and spent just $12. We now have the McGraw-Hill's 20 volume set on technology ($5), doctor's desk references ("fill the box for $2"), a whole box. These included: beginner, intermediate and advanced practical chemistry, triage handbook, a nurse's reference guide, medical encyclopedias, and a diagnosis reference. We also got the EIR special report "Global Showdown Escalates", Practical Handyman from Greystone Press ($3). In many towns, you can join the Friends of the Library for $5 to $10 dollars annually, or just hit the book sales once per year. Our $12 investment filled the back seat of our car!

Even if you don’t live where your retreat is take the time to “visit” the area. Go to the local library, stop at the local shops and grab the touristy maps. In Amish communities the maps tell you about the local farms and what produce and goods they sell. They have fliers that have information on classes offered locally. The department of education has listings for adult education classes on things like welding. Introduce yourself to the locals, visit the farmers and the farmers market. Attend the church while you are there, it is the quickest way into the fold and into being welcomed by the locals. Whether you live there permanent or you will someday, you will want to be on friendly terms right away then when it all goes down.

In Tennessee when we were there, we saw newcomers (less than one year there) helping and being helped by the Amish. Neighbors coming together when they’re needed, no questions asked other than when do you need me. They all pull together and work well.

If your family isn’t ready, or is almost ready, taking these steps or some of these steps will help you get there. If you’re not “together” as a family in your preparedness then you need to find a way to be. Get the spouse interested in this even during an outing or vacation. Find a way to get your children involved. Preparing isn’t just for one person in the family, it’s for everyone. - T.D.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Hi Mr. Rawles,
I hope you're having a great day! I was tumbling around the Internet and stumbled upon a site on do-it-yourself bookbinding.

It's got a great deal of information on binding your own books simply and easily using two bolts, two wing nuts, some wood scraps, a wet cotton ball and some Gorilla Glue. I tried it and found that this is a great way to EMP-proof my PDF collection of [public domain] WTSHTF books. Have a great evening. Best, - Ian

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Dear Memsahib and Jim,
I am a daily SurvivalBlog reader and contributor, along with my husband. I am very interested in learning more how Memsahib and other retreat women manage to do all that they do. How does a day or week in your life go? How do you can, bake, cook, shear, spin, weave, knit, sew, teach, et cetera and get it all done?
We are moving to our retreat soon. I have baked, cooked, knit, learned to spin and weave, and have canned in the past, but not all at once. I forgot to mention clean, wash, take care of a garden, etc. etc.
We need a blog [post] about how to accomplish everything and remain sane. Not to mention home school and run a family, continue church life, etc.
For those of us who have been working and raising a family in a large town and are moving to a retreat life, we need some how to's!!!
The order of things is of the most importance or we will never accomplish all our tasks!!!

Memsahib, does your work every stop? Do you feel like you have no personal time?

I also work as a registered nurse and will try to continue with my specialty in teaching young mothers how to breast feed and care for their newborns.
Thank you for your input from all of us women who will try to "do it all" on our retreat sites. Thanks again, - Kathie

The Memsahib Replies: Thank you so much for your huge vote of confidence. How nice to think there is a woman out there who thinks that I do it all! :-) First let me say first, no I don't do it all. And secondly I don't worry about doing it all either.

I'm writing this reply specifically to married women with children. The most important thing is to keep your priorities right: I believe the correct order is: God, your husband, your children, and then everything else after that. Also remember it is not up to you to insure the survival of your family. God is in control of everything. And after God is your husband. I hope this will lift some if the burden that you are feeling. Don't shoulder the burden of the family's survival yourself. That is not your role. I think that is usurping your husband's role of provider and protector of the family.Your job is to be a helpmeet to your husband.

Okay, that said, I have acquired a lot of skills that could be put to use in TEOTWAWKI, but I do not try to do them all now. I think to attempt that would put me in an early grave like my pioneer great grandmothers! I think this is time for learning preparation skills, but if you tried to actually do them all there is no way you would have time to learn any new skills. For example I have a lot of food preservation skills. But at this present time most of our larder is full of mostly purchased foodstuffs. For the satisfaction of it, I have fed my family entire meals from food I personally raised including the milk that came fresh from our cow. It feels great to know I can do it. But I don't try to do it on a day to day basis.

There are some things that we do that allow for extra time in my schedule. We don't own a television. I think I get a lot more done for the lack of watching television. Also, I do not have a full time job outside the home. Not having to commute saves a lot of time. Another thing I attribute to getting more done is the fact that we are out in the middle of nowhere, so I don't shop. There is no place to shop. Every two months or so we stock up to top off our supplies. I also know the capacity of our larder well. I'm very strict with my family about sticking to the list! This saves time and money when we are out shopping. Also we only shop for clothes twice a year when we visit family in the big city. My sister knows all the great thrift stores. And, she knows which department stores have the best sale prices on shoes socks and underwear. If we didn't have growing children we probably could go several years without buying clothes! By the way. I do know how to sew clothes. And I know how to knit sweaters, hats, socks, mittens, and such. But I don't make my family's clothes because I don't particularly enjoy sewing. (For now, I go to the thrift store. I often can buy down jackets, Merino wool sweaters and nearly new blue jeans for $3 each, and shirts, slacks, blouses, skirts, dresses for less than than that.)

Another thing is that our family does which frees up quite a bit of time for me is cleaning up after themselves. Our children for example clear their places after meals, take their dishes to the sink and putt the scraps in the chicken bucket, and rinse their plates and glasses, and put them in the dishwasher. When there are clothes to be folded at our house all the children fold and put away their own clothes. Our children also have an individual chore based on their age, such as setting and clearing the table, unloading the dishwasher, keeping the wood box filled, and feeding their pets. And you may have realized by now I make use of all the modern appliances which make household chores quicker. In the past, we've lived without running water and without electricity. I know I can survive without them, and I may have to in the future. But I sure enjoy the luxury of having them now!

The "survival skills' that I do practice daily are the ones that I personally really enjoy. I practice them as recreation and relaxation. For me personally that is raising small livestock. I really enjoy going out to the barn and feeding my critters. I especially enjoy my sheep because I also enjoy the fiber arts. I also really enjoy gardening. So my hobbies dovetail nicely with my husbands desire to be well prepared. So what hobbies and interests do you have? Which ones could you cultivate as prepping? Just because I don't care for sewing doesn't mean that it wouldn't be a great dovetail for you.

You might say another one of my hobbies is acquiring "life skills". Some people have a personality that is suited for focusing on one skill and developing that skill to a master level. My personality is more suited to trying everything. I try to make the most of each situation in which we've lived to learn what I can. My motto is: when God gives you zucchini take the opportunity to experiment baking, drying, frying zucchinis! The older women of the communities we've lived in have been wonderful teachers. They have taught me how to can pickles, make grape juice, milk goats, make soap, knit socks as well as sharing the abundance of their gardens and orchards. But I in no way feel compelled to now makes all the food we eat from scratch, knit all our clothes, make all our soap, and neither should you!
I would be remiss if I did not say that I think it is very important to use this time of liberty of ideas and travel to attend Bible studies. Yes, you can and should read and study the Bible at home. But, I find that the commitment to do a study with other believers disciplines me to stay in the Word even when life gets hectic. And our pastor has many valuable insights into the Scriptures. If you have the ability to attend a good Bible study, then do it! You may not always have that opportunity because of poor health, high gas prices, lack of transportation, or lack of religious freedom. Reading the stories of prisoners of war, I am struck by how their knowledge of God's word helped them endure. As the Bible says, "make the most of time, because the days are evil".

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Recent comments in SurvivalBlog provided excellent advice on using the public library. You can gain lots of knowledge with no expense, then purchase only those books you want to keep on hand for personal reference. Also, many colleges and universities loan to local residents, so you can use them too, even if you aren't a student.

If your local libraries participate, a great resource is Worldcat. It lets you search for books from home, then go check them out, or get them through interlibrary loan.

What will happen to the Internet when the SHTF? There's no guarantee it will survive. Even if the World Wide Web endures in some form, most of the individual computers connected to it will not. Hopefully by then you will have already downloaded all the free info that's going to help you cope with the new world.

You may want to download a copy of information on this web site or any other web site with useful content. It would be a shame to face some disaster when all the resources of the internet are no longer at your fingertips.

 In preparation for a worst case scenario, it's a good idea to begin now to collect the knowledge that will come in handy later. You can download whole books, save them to jump drives, and keep an entire library in a very small space. All kinds of free manuals, guides, tech tips, and schematics are available on the internet; for everything from firearms to furnaces to computers to appliances.

All of the downloads listed here are in the public domain or allowable for copying. Stay away from sites that may involve copyright infringement. If you use a file-sharing site such as Limewire, Kazaa, or any site that uses bit torrents, you are not only downloading, but also uploading. Your participation involves automatically uploading to other users. If the file is illegal, you are distributing illegal material, not just downloading it. Stay away from these and stick with the legitimate sites listed below.

Keep in mind that some of this information you download might be illegal to use at the present time. You can't practice dentistry on your neighbor just because you have the book. Nevertheless, you have the right to possess this very vital information. After TEOTWAWKI, all bets are off. The information you collect today might save your life or the life of somebody you love.

Many downloads are in Portable Document Format (PDF) form, so to read them you must have a suitable program such as Adobe Reader, which is the free version of Adobe Acrobat. There are alternatives to Adobe that can read PDF files, if you prefer. Some of these files are very large. If your internet connection is slow, it's better to right click and download rather than try to read a huge file online.

Some documents you may want to print out. Others you can just leave on disc. Just be sure to store your drives safely. Not included in this list are the many web sites that are very good resources in themselves. Rather, these are the files you can download for offline viewing at a later time. Download them while you still can!

Project Gutenberg was mentioned as a good place to go for eBooks.

The Smithsonian Institution is another great resource. They have digitized many older books, maps, and documents in their collection.

Wikisource has a nice collection of free eBooks.

One way to search for books no longer in copyright is to use Google Book Search. Check "full view." If it comes up in the search, it can be downloaded as a PDF file.

A good alternative to Google is the Internet Archive which includes books, images, audio, and more. The Internet Archive also hosts the Wayback Machine, which archives copies of an incredible 85 billion pages from the internet of years past.

Over 100,000 free eBooks can be accessed through Digital Book Index

2020ok is a directory of free online books and free eBooks

The British Columbia Digital Library has an impressive Collection, including dictionaries, encyclopedias, and most importantly, the Holy Bible. It also has a Guide to other digital libraries.

Scribd is an online document library of free research articles, eBooks, and other content.

A great resource for home schoolers is the Internet's largest directory of free audio & video learning resources maintained by LearnOutLoud.com.

Check out the postings of Home Schooling On-line Resources on the The Mental Militia Forums, as well as the "Must Have" Books/reference material topic.

More than 3,200 pages related to the U. S. Constitution can be downloaded from The Founders' Constitution

Firearms For any firearm you own or plan to own, you should have a drawing of its Exploded View, which will help identify parts and how they fit together. One of the most comprehensive collections of Exploded Views is the paper edition of the Numrich Arms Catalog, which in itself is a gold mine of information and very inexpensive for a volume of over 1200 pages.

But if you only need certain Exploded Views, there are many places on the internet where you can download them for free:

Gunuts is a good place to start with hundreds of drawings. Another source is The Okie Gunsmith Shop, which is apparently no longer operating, but you can still download drawings and parts lists from its web site.Big Bear Gun Works has another good list. For pre-WWII firearms, check out Gunsworld. For examples of specific firearms manufacturers, see Remington, Browning, and SKB Shotguns

The book, The Defensive Use Of Firearms by Shane C. Henry is available as a download from rec.guns. An enormous amount of additional gun information is available on the rec.guns web site.

There are several good sources for Military Publications: GlobalSecurity.org has a huge collection of Military manuals.

Try Integrated Publishing for access to millions of pages of engineering manuals and documents.

The U.S. Army Materiel Command maintains the LOGSA web site for access to thousands of Army technical manuals.

The U.S. Air Force maintains the Air Force e-Publishing web site.

As mentioned recently, The Small Wars Journal has a Reference Library of downloadable military documents.

The Brooke Clarke web site has a good guide to accessing military field manuals

Surviving War and Nuclear Attack For a basic guide, download How To Survive A Chemical Or Biological Attack.

Nuclear War Survival Skills, along with some other very interesting books, can be found on the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine web site. This book includes plans for the Kearny Fallout Radiation Meter (KFM). If you have not bought a radiation meter, you should at least download the book for future reference. You can also get the Free Plans from The Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Nuclear War Survival Skills is also available on the KI4U web site as an online book, but not as a download.

The Equipped To Survive web site has some free ebooks, as well as books for sale: Survival, Evasion, and Recovery and U.S. Army Survival Manual FM 21-76.

The Volunteer Center of Marin County, California has prepared A Guide to Organizing Neighborhoods for Preparedness, Response and Recovery which you can copy from their web site. 

Medical Resources The Disease Net has a library of downloadable manuals on survival, weapons, emergency medicine, and less serious subjects.

Virtual Naval Hospital is a digital library of naval, military, and humanitarian medicine

The very important field manual, First Aid For Soldiers FM 21-11 can be downloaded here.

One of the best medical handbooks available is the U.S. Army Special Forces Medical Handbook ST31-91B. It can be downloaded free (as well as additional essential guides) from Delta Gear, Inc.

A newer version of the Medical Handbook, plus more great material can be downloaded from NH-TEMS (New Hampshire Tactical Emergency medical support).

The American Red Cross has some of their disaster guides online for download. For most of their material, you have to go to the local office. Some of it can be copied from the Earth Changes Media Survival Tips page. 

The Red Cross Book, First Aid in Armed Conflicts and Other Situations of Violence

The UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency book, The Ship Captain's Medical Guide

Hesperian makes available free downloads of its books for medical treatment in primitive conditions. Two highly respected guides it publishes are Where There Is No Doctor and Where There Is No Dentist.

Here is a direct link to the must-have book Survival and Austere Medicine: An introduction. Australian Survivalist Online has several additional Files for downloading.

The Department of Agriculture has a treasure trove of information for free download. This agency maintains The National Agricultural Library, a collection of free information on Agriculture, Food and Nutrition, and other related subjects.

Another USDA web site is the Cooperative Extension Service. Click on the map to navigate to various Extension offices around the country. Don't limit your search to just your own state. Many of them have invaluable information on animals, crops, construction, food preparation and much more for free download.

The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) offers downloads about preventing plant and animal diseases, among other topics.

The USDA Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) offers Fact Sheets about food handling and preparation, and emergency preparedness.

Other Important Reference Resources The classic outdoor guides, The 10 Bushcraft Books by Richard Graves are available on the Chris Molloy web site. Free manuals for electronic equipment can be downloaded from eServiceInfo.com. Another source is UsersManualGuide.com. For Ham Radio and Test Equipment Manuals, the KO4BB web site has Free Downloads, as well as LINKS to many other web sites with free downloads. A few examples of repair information for outdoor equipment are Penn Reel Schematics, and Mercury outboard parts.

Paid Services In the unlikely event that you can't find free information on the Net to fix that generator or whatever you need to repair, there are web sites that charge for information. As a last resort, you can check Sam's PHOTOFACT service manuals, or RepairManual.com. Hopefully, that won't be necessary.

The foregoing just begins to scratch the surface. Some of these free downloads are also available as books or CDs from eBay, Amazon or from some of the survivalist web sites. That is fine. Sometimes it is easier to just pay the money and buy the book. But nobody can afford it all, and downloading gives you access to millions of pages - much more knowledge than you could acquire through any other method.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Let's say that you and your family having been taking the advice provided here by Mr. Rawles and are squared away for the Crunch—you've got your bullets, beans, and band-aids, all piled high in a structurally reinforced home out in the middle of nowhere. You've got just about every survivalist book ever printed, plus the tools and skills you'll need to provide for yourself and your family. You also, of course, have the basic life skills that you'll need to simply stay alive—things like shooting, tracking, cooking, and first aid.

Have you thought, however, about the education of your children? Public schools, private schools, and universities will likely close their doors. And even if any remain open, the education they provide would be of questionable value when society is falling apart. Clearly, the most important things for children to know will be the things that survivalist parents have been teaching them for a long time—skills like shooting, cooking, sewing, and first aid—and none of those are taught sufficiently well in the typical school.

But will children really need to learn anything else during the Crunch? After all, what is the value of "book learning" when you're far from civilization, simply trying to survive? Does it really matter who wrote A Tale of Two Cities? Of what importance is learning to tell the difference between it's and its or good and well? And who cares about calculating the length of the hypotenuse of a right triangle?

Actually, all of that is important. The three R's (reading, [w]riting, and [a]rithmetic) will always be of value, no matter how bad things get, as will a variety of other subjects. Why? Because in all except the most horrific SHTF scenarios, people move out of their bunkers after several years and again begin to interact with their neighbors, first just to barter, and later to gather socially. Society eventually rebuilds, and as it does so, leaders are needed to fill the gap—people who are able to communicate effectively and think critically about the problems they face. How are such leaders raised? In part, through their education.
We've already established that traditional educational services will almost certainly be non-operational once the Schumer hits the fan, so survivalists must look elsewhere for a solution. Essentially, that solution is some form of homeschooling, because when society isn't functioning, your children will have no one to learn from other than you.

Are you ready for that? Some of you already homeschool your kids—that's great. But regardless of whether you already do or not, you may not be prepared for the day when there are no more easily obtainable textbooks, no more homeschool co-ops, no more video lectures, and no more sources of basic school supplies. Could you, with only the resources that you have now, teach your kids the important things that they need to know for the next three, four, or five years? How about the next ten?

Before going any further, let's clear up some common misconceptions. First, you don't need to be a professional teacher to be a successful homeschooling parent. College degrees in education might make you more capable of teaching a class of thirty students, but you certainly don't need a degree to teach one or two kids at a time. Second, you don't need specialized curriculum or fancy textbooks. Textbooks are a relatively new invention and can be useful in some cases, but they certainly aren't essential if you have a good attitude and the right tools.

So what do you need? Well, you need some general supplies, a few basic tools, and most importantly, books—lots of books.

The essential tools and supplies are for the most part obvious—pencils and paper are a good start, and you can stock up for pennies during back-to-school sales at major retailers. Don't settle for junk, however—you'll be kicking yourself for buying those cheap mechanical pencils when they're all breaking after a month or two of use. The best strategy is to simply buy a mechanical pencil sharpener if you don't already own one, and plenty of boxes of old fashioned yellow pencils, with separate rubber erasers still in their original plastic wrapping. Don't forget the tools you'll need to teach math, either—items like protractors and well-made compasses are essential. Something else you may not have thought of is a slide rule, since calculator screens and batteries are prone to failure. Slide rules last for decades if properly cared for, and have the added benefit of forcing their users to engage their brains. Of course, since you're going to be teaching your kids how to use these tools, make sure you know how to use them yourself.
Next up is books. This is the most important part of your homeschool preparation, simply because the right books are packed with valuable information that's accessible to anyone who is able to read—both the teacher and the student. Furthermore, it's possible to get most books for only a little bit of money—used book stores and library book sales are excellent ways to build a large library on a small budget.
The key reference works that everyone ought to own include a Bible, an exhaustive concordance, and a modern unabridged English dictionary. A complete encyclopedia would also be a valuable resource, and versions printed a few decades ago can be obtained at little cost. Your Bible and concordance should be of the same version, and the version should be both readable and accurate for serious study. Some prefer more literal versions like the New American Standard or the English Standard Version, while others like the grandeur of the King James Version or the readability of the New International Version. Get a version you like and will read, and get the concordance to go with it.

To teach your child to read, depending on age, you'll need a variety of interesting and educational books. Teach phonics and short-sentence reading, and then move on to picture books like the Frog and Toad series (Arnold Lobel) and stories by Dr. Seuss. Eventually, you'll be able to make the move to some of the older Newbery Prize winners, like A Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine L'Engle), Carry On, Mr. Bowditch (Jean Lee Latham) Amos Fortune, and Free Man (Elizabeth Yates). Other excellent children's books include The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett), the Little House series (Laura Ingalls Wilder), The Chronicles of Narnia (C. S. Lewis), The Princess and the Goblin (George MacDonald), anything by E. B. White, My Side of the Mountain (Jean Craighead George), The Sign of the Beaver (Elizabeth George Speare), Anne of Green Gables (L. M. Montgomery) and the Redwall series (Brian Jacques). Pre-teens and teenagers ought to be able to start digesting heavier works—begin with John Bunyan, Mark Twain, and J. R. R. Tolkien, and then move on to Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Herman Melville, Ernest Hemingway, and other great authors. Poetry is also excellent reading material—start with the classics by poets like Rudyard Kipling, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Robert Service. You can also read any of these works aloud to younger kids, thereby giving them early exposure to the masters of the written word.

A strong writer is necessarily an accomplished reader, so by providing literature to your children, you are also encouraging the development of their writing skills. Writing can be improved by a lot of practice and by studying examples in literature, but resources like The Elements of Style by Stunk and White (get the 3rd edition—the 4th edition was made more politically correct by a shameless ghost writer) make it much easier. Do not underestimate the importance of the skill of writing—it forms the basis of all effective communication.

Mathematics can be taught without textbooks as well, but depending on your own familiarity with the subject, it may be difficult. Today it's not uncommon to find people who can't make change in their head or balance a checkbook, so if that describes you, make an effort to develop your math skills. You ought to be able to explain concepts like arithmetic (including long division and three digit multiplication), percentages, units of measurement, distance and graphs, and simple logic. A working knowledge of geometry, trigonometry, logarithms, probability, statistics, and calculus would be even better, but some find this difficult to attain. At this level, many will find it necessary to use textbooks, but there's usually no need to have a separate textbook for each grade: entry-level college math textbooks cover a wide variety of topics and older versions are extremely inexpensive when purchased at book sales or online. Get one that has the answers in the back of the book, or one that comes with a solution manual.
As the new society develops, there will be a need for people who understand how government works and who understand the basis of government by the people. Works like Two Treatises of Government (John Locke), The Federalist (Hamilton, Madison, and Jay), and Democracy in America (Alexis de Tocqueville) provide a better understanding of government than any civics textbook ever could, and supplementing these works with opposing viewpoints like those found in The Communist Manifesto (Engels and Marx) can generate healthy discussion.

History can be taught in a variety of ways, but one of the easiest is through biographies. Learning about the lives of people like Alexander the Great, Marcus Aurelius, Augustine, Martin Luther, Leonardo da Vinci, Shakespeare, George Washington, Simón Bolívar, Napoleon, Robert E. Lee, George Washington Carver, Theodore Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Adolf Hitler, Martin Luther King, Jr., and others can provide a basic understanding of world history. Historical fiction like that written by G. A. Henty can also be a valuable resource, because it simultaneously engages young readers and teaches history.
You may decide to teach a foreign language, or perhaps a "dead" language such as Latin, Ancient Greek, or New Testament Greek. A dictionary, grammar, and Bible in the language are all you absolutely need, but for foreign languages, a few fiction (especially juvenile fiction) books can make it more fun. It's also extremely helpful to have access to someone who already knows and speaks the language well, so make sure you know the language capabilities of the people in your retreat group.

Science is best taught through experiments, and it's often possible to incorporate science lessons into everyday life. Turn your latest kill into a biology lesson by analyzing all the organs and talking about what each does. Physics is critical for understanding bullet drop, and many chemistry experiments can be performed with supplies found in the survivalist kitchen. The theory behind these sciences can be easily discovered in a low-cost college textbook purchased at a book sale, but beware of physics texts that are calculus-based unless you're prepared to teach that as well.

Despite its reputation among the more practical-minded, art encourages creativity and appreciation for Creation. The easiest way to teach art during the crunch will likely be drawing, because all you need are pencils, paper, and a view of the great outdoors. Drawing also has practical value, because a precise drawing can communicate some information more effectively than the written word. Other forms of art, such as painting and music, require more supplies and equipment, making them more expensive and harder to continue once re-supply is impossible.

There are other subjects that you may wish to teach, such as geography, astronomy, or economics. My advice is the same for these topics—find excellent practical books on each, and let them guide how you teach. Some kids enjoy learning directly from books, but others will prefer a more hands-on approach. Use some creativity to provide the learning experience that best matches your child's style, and remember that all the information you need is hidden in the pages of the books in your library.

In addition to purchasing all these books and supplies, you should to get the experience of teaching your kids now, before you need to do it. Just like it's foolish to build an arsenal of firearms but skip weapons training, it isn't easy to suddenly turn into a good teacher for your kids. Taking the time now to homeschool will help you get ready for when it's necessary, and besides, both you and your kids will likely benefit from the additional time together. If you can't homeschool full-time due to time or financial constraints, do you best to practice teaching in your spare time, by reading to your kids and doing fun experiments in the basement. Do whatever you can, both in terms of skill development and resource acquisition, because you owe it to your children to start preparing for the day when other options are no longer available and their education rests entirely in your hands.

JWR Adds: Even SurvivalBlog readers that currently send their children to private school should plan ahead for circumstances that might necessitate home schooling. This could be because of self-quarantine during a pandemic, a natural disaster that disrupts transportation and public school schedules, TEOTWAWKI, or even just the loss of income because of a layoff. Regardless, you should plan ahead, and start stocking up on home schooling curriculum!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The recent school shooting at Virginia Tech demonstrates a huge underlying societal problem that many of us are either ignoring or are ignorant of. Because society has spent much of the last several decades trying to stamp violence out of schools and out of our children, we end up with kids who are made-to-order victims that will line up to be shot execution style rather than fight back.
The answer to school violence is not to arm the campus police, have campus SWAT teams, or class rooms that can double as fortresses, it is to teach our children to protect themselves aggressively and confidently with whatever weapon may be at hand. Clearly the schools are not doing this, so responsible parents need to be sure they are.
While it may be politically incorrect to say so, how many of us have wondered why the 30 college kids in a classroom didn't mob the gunman, tackle him, hit him with a chair, or otherwise fight back? Why was the only defender a concentration camp survivor old enough to be the students' grandparent? I believe that the answer to those two questions is the same: Because in two generations our feel good society has gutted the right to self defense in our public schools and created a generation of victims. That's right – they have brainwashed our children into pliable victims who will not defend themselves.

Creating Willing Victims
In our school district, kids in middle school and occasionally in lower school are handcuffed and arrested when a fight breaks out. Because of "zero tolerance" towards fighting, even kids who defend themselves when attacked are arrested and suspended, regardless of who was "in the right" or what witnesses say. The concept that students have a right to self defense does not exist in these schools and the lesson taught is "do not fight back." Is it any wonder that kids who are indoctrinated in this system have no idea how to defend themselves or that it is even permissible to try, even when faced with a gunman killing their fellow students?
This politically correct emphasis on non-violence is really a drive to non-confrontation that teaches kids to be victims at an early age. Violence not only still exists in our schools, it is worse than ever because the system does not allow kids to counter force with force. This means that kids cannot fight back when they are harassed on the school bus, spit on in the lunch room, assaulted in the hallway, or beaten in the locker room. Teachers routinely do not intervene in bullying or one-way assaults. This bullying behavior is allowed until the target decides to fight back, at which point school rules treat both the attacker and defender the same way. I am afraid that these days, the only place bullies and their victims really meet after school to settle their differences is on television or in the movies.

Stamping Out the Competitive Spirit
In addition to creating willing victims who are powerless to defend themselves, public schools are stamping out the competitive spirit out of our children. This is terribly unfortunate, because competitiveness and the desire to win are two of the things that have helped make America great.
In public schools, competitiveness is looked down upon because it might hurt a less competitive student's self esteem if they don't do as well as someone else. For the sake of self esteem, standing out must be discouraged and everyone must be equal – equally bad, that is. (Didn't we fight the Cold War to keep this communist mentality from spreading? And now it is being enforced in our schools.)
Public schools are routinely taking those kids who are smarter or otherwise above average and forcing them to work at the level of the slowest kid in the class. For example, in my daughter's public elementary school class, smart children were teamed with slower kids on team projects to bring up the slower kids' grades up.
This approach is an example of backwards thinking. Instead of allowing kids to succeed or fail on their own merits, the system promotes mediocrity. Worse, the smart kids are bored by the slow progress and frustrated at having to do the teacher's job of instructing the other kids. They also learn early that by appearing smart, they have to do everyone else's work, and so some decide to hide their intelligence. The slower kids learn that society will promote them even when they don't do the work (so called social promotion – don’t get me started), so there is little incentive for them to try harder or to improve their performance.
We used to encourage success and honor our high achievers; now the public schools teach your kids that standing out and excelling is wrong because when you stand out, someone with a lower average may get their feelings hurt. So much for pride in a job well done.
This effort to improve children by falsely boosting their self esteem is wishful thinking. Kids know where they stand regardless of what the teacher says, and it sends the wrong message when teachers and school officials honor everyone, regardless of their performance. We need to go back to rewarding the high performers and addressing the problem with a child who isn't finding success, even if it means we have to hurt their self esteem by holding them back a grade.

Sports, the Last Bastion of Competition
About the only place in public schools that competition still exists is on the sports field. In fact, the coach is about the only teacher who can still yell at kids without a parent calling up and complaining.
But how long will this last? If football were not such an institution and economic boon for high schools and colleges, I have no doubt "well meaning" school administrators would have banned it by now. Already, there are fewer hours of PE class in most schools than ever before. Adults are even interfering with pick up games at recess by saying that kids can’t pick their own teams because someone might have their feelings hurt by being selected last. I'm sure everyone reading this has heard of a school district where dodge ball has been banned because it is too violent or dangerous. When did we start to coddle our children so much that getting hit with a big red rubber ball became something we must protect them from?
In most organized contact sports, you can still hit the other player. As a coach of a girls soccer for six seasons, let me tell you that it is difficult to get a young girl to be aggressive on the soccer field. Even by age 7, they are so indoctrinated in non-violence that they back up or will run away from a charging player instead of advancing or holding their ground to steal the ball or disrupt a fast break. The short-term result is that the one or two aggressive kids dominate play, largely because they are unchallenged. The long-term result is that later in life the girl will become a woman who shies away from confrontation and is afraid to stand up for herself. Another ready victim.
Yet even organized sports are changing. At young ages, the parents and coaches are told not to keep score, because losing may cause a child to lose self esteem. As if a kid old enough to swing a bat can't keep score! Such behavior on the part of adults who are supposed to be experts in childhood development is laughable. Let's face it, in life you will win some, and you will lose some, so the sooner you learn to be a good sport when you lose, the better off you will be. Pretending that "everyone wins" also eliminates the life lessons that come from losing, such as picking yourself up and trying again.
Sports are tough, but so is life. Get used to it young and you will survive better when you are older. I was knocked unconscious playing "touch" football in sixth grade. In high school, I broke my leg in a soccer game. (The coach told me to walk it off, and I tried to.) My younger sister almost lost her front teeth in a softball game in junior high. (Her braces actually kept them from getting knocked out – it was the only time she was happy to have braces.) Were we disillusioned or too dispirited to return to the game? Of course not. We both overcame these temporary setbacks and continued playing sports. It's the old getting back up on the horse that threw you idea, which is an important lesson for success later in life. How will our kids learn perseverance and to overcome obstacles if we clear all the obstacles out of their way? No wonder the Virginia Tech victims did not fight back – they had been taught to wait for someone else to come and solve their problem for them.It's Not Your Father's School Anymore
When my father went to school during World War II, he and his friends would often bring their .22 rifles or single shot shotguns to school so they could shoot rabbits and other small game on the way home. When I went to school in the 1970s, I remember bringing cap guns to school on Halloween, and I carried a pocket knife every day after I turned 10. Today, dressing like a cowboy for Halloween or bringing a pocket knife to school can get you expelled, and don't even think of bring a .22. Not only will the child be expelled, authorities will likely charge the parent with a crime, confiscate any weapons in the house, and restrict their right to own a gun again in the future. My, how times have changed.
So are schools any safer today than they were 30 or 60 years ago? Of course not. Just as gun control does not reduce violent in the real world, it does not reduce it in schools. In fact, there is evidence that concealed carry permits for teaches and administrators is far more likely to forestall a bloody school massacres than laws and metal detectors.
I don't have to tell you that we live in a violent world where things are not fair – perhaps the one lesson that public schools do consistently teach our youth. Unfortunately, public schools do not teach kids how to counter violence, how to walk with their head held high, and how to avoid or deal with trouble before it escalates. Instead, it teaches them to be fearful, to slink around with their heads hung, and to call an administrator, police officer or other member of the nanny state when something goes wrong. This curriculum has not only rendered students powerless and created a generation of easy victims; it has lead to the type of slaughter we saw earlier this year at Virginia Tech.
Further, I postulate that the zero tolerance policies that force good kids to be victims rather than fight back cause frustration and suppressed anger in otherwise normal kids. It is this anger and frustration that causes the oppressed kids to one day reach the bursting point and bring a gun to school, seeking to end their torment. We will never know how many kids fantasize – without taking action – about bringing a gun to school and killing their abusers. But we do know that school shootings driven by revenge on bullies and tormentors, such as Columbine, show no sign of abating.
How many adults would allow ourselves to be subjected to verbal, psychological and physical abuse by our peers for six or eight years? Yet kids from fifth grade up routinely deal with this kind of abuse at the hands of their fellow students. Should we really expect high school kids, with their raging hormones and adolescent angst, to survive years of this daily abuse without cracking? Maybe this is why the use of antidepressants is so high among teenagers today.
Unfortunately, the policies of feel-good, self-esteem raising, zero-tolerance school administrations have created a generation of ready-made victims and a revenge-based school shooting culture that never existed before.

Reversing the Brainwashing
So what can you do to fight this conditioning and brainwashing? My advice is as follows:
First, enroll your boy or girl, in extracurricular sports as young as possible, preferably by age six. Sports like football, soccer, basketball, lacrosse, field hockey, roller hockey and ice hockey are in my opinion better than sports like golf, tennis and baseball because there is contact and aggressive play is both encouraged and rewarded. In their lives, your kids will have to face violence, and learning to face it in the controlled environment of the playing field is the first step in successfully facing it in an uncontrolled environment. Contact sports do not teach violence and aggression, but they provide an outlet for the aggression that the schools otherwise bottle up. Sports also teach kids how to channel aggression and anger into positive activities.
If finances are an issue, choose soccer over a sport that requires lots of pads such as football or hockey. You can outfit a youth soccer player for less than $50.
Second, when time and finances allow, enroll your kids in other extra curricular activities where they will meet and mingle with kids from other schools, towns and cultures. As they get older, they will need to have a network of friends outside of the people they go to school with. This provides an escape; when everyone at their school knows they did something stupid, the kids from the next town over will probably have no idea. These extra curricular activities can be programs that teach valuable and vanishing skills, such as Scouts, junior shooting competitions, and 4H.
Third, do things with your kids. Spend time with them so they can observe your behavior in difficult situations and learn by your example. Have dinner with your children regularly and ask them what they learned at school. If you disagree with what they were taught, provide your contrasting opinion in a reasonable, even handed way. Remember, any time spent with them is better than no time. Use examples from your life to and tell stories with morals. Even a drive to the store and back gives you time to talk and is better than time spent watching television or playing video games.
Fourth, try to find other responsible adults for them to spend time with; relatives who think like you do are a good choice. The more one-on-one time they have with a right-thinking adult, the better, as that influence will slowly infiltrate, overcoming the brainwashing and protecting them from it in the future. I say this from experience, having raised two politically conservative children who understand the second amendment, regardless of what the school tries to teach them
Fifth, encourage your children to stand up for themselves and tell your child that you won't punish them if they fight back and defend themselves. There is a fine line to walk here, as they must understand that 1) the school will still punish them, but that you will back them and they will not get in additional trouble at home. And 2) they can't go around looking for or starting fights. The other person has to throw the first punch or two, so to speak. In my personal experience, a good martial arts school can help give kids the confidence and discipline to walk this line as well as the skills to enforce it.
At the same time you give them permission to fight back, teach them that the best fight is the one that they avoid. Teach them to not to make enemies – there's no profit in it and potentially much pain as they will have to see the other kid every day for the rest of the school year. Teach them to think and reason, and not react emotionally. Cooler heads do prevail. But teach them that when a fight cannot be avoided, they need to do whatever it takes to win it clearly and decisively in a way that discourages re-engagement at a future time.
Sixth, talk about what to do in a school shooting scenario. Don't avoid the topic or turn off the television – address it, just as you would another survival situation such as an earthquake or tornado. Discuss when to run, when to hide, when to fight back. Discuss what, if anything, the school told them to do and whether it makes sense. Teach them to be aware of exits and where to sit in the room. Teach them to look for hiding places and that a table is unlikely to stop a bullet. They also need to know that that action beats reaction. Demonstrate how it is harder to hit a moving target than a stationary one. At the same time, reassure them that while it is very unlikely they will have a school shooting at their school, it is better to plan ahead of time than to panic.
Finally, if you can afford to do so, get them out of the public schools and into a good private school. Preferably a small one with class sizes under 20, where kids will have opportunities to learn at their own pace. Home schooling is another excellent alternative, and is usually very safe, but unfortunately is often not an option for single parent households or households in which both parents work.
Because private schools are expensive and generally do not refund your tuition if your kid is expelled, parents have a much greater vested interest in keeping their kids in line and well behaved. This makes a world of difference, as does having independent administrators who do not need to please an elected official.

The Private School Experience
We chose private school, and after the mortgage, it is our largest single expense. It also requires that we drop off and pick up our child each day, which required some scheduling changes as well as some additional dollars for gasoline. We evaluated several schools before picking what we felt was the best one for our daughter.
Yes, private schooling required a sacrifice, but in our experience, it is well worth it. Not only does our daughter get far more individual attention from teachers that she did in public school, she is encouraged to work ahead in the book. Rather than be held back by the lowest common denominator, kids in her school compete to see who can finish the most vocabulary words, math sheets, and reading assignments in the given time. She is no longer bored in class, and competition encourages her to push herself harder than the teacher could. She is much happier and well ahead of where she would have been had she stayed in private school.
Several of the sports teams are co-educational, so the girls learn to play with the boys – they have to be aggressive if they want to play. Kids pick their own teams at recess and make their own rules, often with much healthy argument and dissent, yet the teachers usually do not interfere, letting the kids work out their differences. Yes, the kids get bumps, bruises, and abrasions, but they wear these playground injuries with nonchalance, just like we did 30 years ago.
Most refreshing is the attitude of the administrators. I met with an administrator at my daughter's school to express my concern that she was going to punch an especially annoying boy if he kept up his inappropriate behavior on the basketball court. The administrator said "Yes, we are aware of his behavior and are taking steps to address it. We have discussed at our staff meeting that your daughter or another child may sock him, and a good number of us think that it would be well deserved." Imagine that -- a school official acknowledging that a student had a licking coming and that the school would not punish a girl for defending herself against his boorish and inappropriate behavior.
In the end, no one punched him because the school and his parents got the problem under control. But it was a refreshing attitude, and one that could never exist in our politically correct, zero tolerance, public school child warehousing system.
Whether you go the private school route, are able to home school or have no option other than public schooling remember that if you take an active role in your child's life, your influence and teachings will exceed those of the most liberal school system. So take the time and teach your child well.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Some of these stretched the 100 word limit. (I skipped posting one that rambled on far beyond the limit.) The poll's premise in a nutshell: "If someday you went to the gates of a survival community post-TEOTWAWKI and pleaded the case for why you should be let past the barricades and armed guards to become a valuable working member of the group, would you get voted in? Taken objectively, would you vote yourself in?"


I am a shoe maker (not just a repairman) can repair saddles tan leather have done ranch work mechanics weld gardening skills set a broken bone stitch up a bad wound can bake bread etc, shooting skills need work only 5.5 MOA on AQT. Can milk a cow make butter some basic carpentry skills can use a wood lave make one if needed to know how to set up wind / water power to a shop or mill make some one laugh when things are bad can teach can also learn.know how to adapt over come make things work specialization is for insects.
Some limits to work: mild back problems cannot do a lot of over head work.
1 CETME rifle with 12 mags, ALICE pack, compressed MREs, 1 folding shovel camo nylon rope water filtering canteen extra canteen freeze dried canned soup 1 empty
small can rubbing alcohol cotton balls (cheap cook stove) 1 cooking kit 1 med kit 1 multi tool 1 roll toilet paper 1 wash cloth 2 tooth brushes tooth paste 1 belt with bayonet for CETME one pocket knife canteen & pouch cleaning kit for rifle and butt pack 2 mag pouches fishing line and hooks matches 4 Bic lighters 1 Iver Johnson 5 shot .38 S&W revolver 36 rounds of ammo, Flecktarn camo pants and shirt vest 1 light weight sleeping bag wool socks and a spare pair sturdy boots, Carthart coat tan 1 pocket size bible etc,,


Many years' experience in:
Primitive Skills:
*edible and medicinal native plants
*cordage and rope making
*hide tanning
*bow and arrow making
*bow hunting
Contemporary Skills:
*organic gardener
*orchard (fruit and olive)
*firearms use
Mid-50's, good shape for age, 6'4", 225#. Wife, mid 50's, 5'10", 150# (who shares many of the above skills, plus expert at canning/freezing, quilting, tatting, making clothes and moccasins).
Both have a sense of humor and aren't afraid to work.
In packs, besides personal gear:
*heirloom seeds
*one .308 MBR, one .223, with magazines and ammo
*two .45 Governments


Age 25, weight 160, excellent health, single. Engineer, engine mechanic, builder, jack of all trades. Trained and competitive marksman. Skilled teacher. Tolerant, thick skinned, sense of humor. Introvert, not loner. Schooled in college, educated in real life. History buff and cook.
Competent with photovoltaics, backhoes, generators, concrete, gardens, propane systems, AC and DC electricity, firearms, computers, welding.
Most importantly: not a prima donna, armchair commando, or busybody.
Equipment includes rifle, pistol, small amount of ammo, soft body armor and binoculars.


Age: Near 60. Can still see well enough, without glasses, to shoot back.

Old, tired, wore out. Been around the third world several times. (South America, South Seas, East Asia) Can't lift a third my own weight. Don't eat much. Know how to do just about anything.

Will arrive with 30 Lbs water, 30 Lbs freeze dried food, Ruger Mini 14, S&W 659, 100 rds for each, a few old books. and 50+ years usable knowledge. That about 100 pounds? (Worst case here. Actually, I would attempt to bring my entire robotics shop. Attempt, I said! )

Skills: Artificer. If you can picture it, I can make it. Make a windmill from a starter motor. Make my own tools as I need 'em. Bend railroad rail with no more than an axe and 6 young men for the bull work. Machinist, electrician, carpenter, stone layer, robotics engineer .


Age 25. Ex-military.
Trained extensively in: Perimeter reconnaissance,
Instructor of: full-spectrum warfare, defensive fighting positions, combat operations.
Expert marksmen: M16A2, M4A1 (GUU-5/P), M9. Expert in FN-FAL, M1A/M14, AKM, M16/AR-15 Family, 1911-A1, M9, CZ-75. Proficient with many other firearms.
20/15 vision. Reloading/Gunsmith hobbyist.
Physically/Mentally Fit.

Equipped: FAL Carbine (18"bbl). Custom 1911A1. PASGT Kevlar Helmet/Vest. Boots/Socks. Woodland BDUs.
Custom LBE: Seven 30rd FAL Mags(210rds). Eight 8rd 1911-1 Mags( 64rds). Two 1-quart Canteens (Full). Multi-tool.
Medium ALICE pack: Five 20rd FAL mags (empty), Two SA Battlepacks (280rds). Two Boxes .45ACP (100rds). First-Aid Kit. Extra BDUs (1 set). Cans of Soup (5). Mess Kit. Local Map/Compass.


Phd/MBA expert (37) on alternative energy and appropriate technology. Tool maker and builder/manufacturer/processor of useful post-TEOTWAWKI machines, trade goods, and alcohol (own BATF-licensed alcohol fuel still). Russian MBA wife (35) survived fall of Soviet Union and 1998 crisis. 4 yo and 10 mo daughters. Home machine shop, tools, anvil, forge, ethanol still, large printed alternative energy / appropriate technology / engineering / survival library, and inventory of preparation items greatly exceed the 100 lb per person limit but would be worthy of a group salvage/recovery mission. G.O.O.D. bags contain standard items recommended by Rawles, et al. Additional personally carried gear would include M1A w/ Leupold scope, AR-15 with trijicon night sites, Glock 21 (45ACP) with Trijicon night sites, Berkey water filter, laptop with large collection (>500 books) of appropriate energy and appropriate technology books on CD, Robinson curriculum on CDs for home schooling kids, ten 15"x15" fresnel lenses capable of starting fires in 30 seconds, disassembled 2" diameter alcohol still column with supply of vapor locks and 1 lb of ethanol yeast, and a few of my more portable tools (blacksmith hammer, hardy, & gloves; measurement tools; multimeter; temperature measure).


48 y/o 6ft 180lb male – good health
- Can walk 20 mi/day in full gear
- “Rifleman” with .308 MBR
- Doctor (emergency medicine and minor surgery)
- Gunsmith and reloader
- Cook

Backpack (40 lbs)
Sleeping bag/tarp
(2) BDUs & wool socks
Rain gear
Soap/camp towel/toothbrush
Food bars for 1 week
Water filter/bottle
Cookset/Trioxane tabs
Small survival kit (Fishhooks, matches, snares, etc)
AR-7 and 200 rounds

Web gear (35 lbs)
First aid/trauma kit
G23 + 2 mags (51 rounds)
8 mags .308 (150 rounds)

Barter/buy-in: (25 lbs)
Minor surgical set
Local anesthetic/syringes
2000 doses various oral antibiotics and pain meds!


I feel I would be a great asset to your community. I am a seventh degree black belt in American freestyle combatives and I could easily teach your people the skills to handle themselves in this perilous time. I also have an extensive background in firearms handling,gunsmithing and reloading. My real expertise thought is as a meat butcher. I can literally take a beef ( or any wild or domestic animal) from the field to the table. I bring with me a full set of cutlery tools, including saws,steels and several knives. I also carry a AR-15 w/8-20 round, loaded mags. A Glock 19 w/mags, and a Rem 870 tactically modified. I have a full set of ultralight camping gear including, freeze dried food,tent, sleeping bag,etc. My loyalties are to God, Country, and my brothers at arms.


repaired furniture
a little basic farm work(irrigation, pick rock)
assembled some field sprayers
inventory control/purchasing
some hunting
a lot of fishing
a lot of target shooting
cashier(a lot)
lube and oil cars
built 40 wood tables for an assembly line
sorted recycled paper
stock shelves
gas station attendant
a little gardening(corn,peas,onions)
unarmed watch
yard work(mowing, weeding)
sandwich/donut driver
some bow and arrow
some encrima [Philippine stick fighting martial art]
some cooking
printers helper
some CPR


Male, 38, 160 pounds. Reasonable shape.
Suturing, minor surgery, advanced airway management, cautery, fractures, casting, NBC treatment, tooth extraction and making dental fillings. 2 home births. Pistol. Morse code.

Sutures, antibiotics, casting supplies, complete surgery tools and dental extraction set.
.45, scoped M21 sniper rifle plus ammo. Field scope, rangefinder. Level 4 bulletproof vest, helmet, FRS radios.
Water filter, water, food, tent, sleeping pads and bags, heirloom seeds.

Two boys, 7 and 9 and wife. All with level 3a vests. Kids with .22 rifles and ammo. Wife with 9mm, AR-15 and ammo. Knows some gardening. Kids learning morse code.


Have excellent interpersonal/negotiation skills
Have made a sufficient study of military history/combat tactics/military strategy
Maintain a vegetable garden/fruit trees
Have studied/used survival techniques in N.A. and C.A.
Have knowledge of indigenous edible plants/animals in N.A. and C.A.
Have skill-at-arms on US/ComBloc small arms
Am expert in usage of map and compass
Have field grade(ditch) medical skills
Maintain personal combatives skills
Can forage and improvise like nobody’s business
Have seen the elephant

Weaknesses –
No livestock husbandry experience
Not a carpenter
Middle aged
Average driving skills

Probable TEOTWAWKI employment:
Retreat security
Weapons maintenance and training
Strategic Planning and Implementation

Monday, April 16, 2007

Dear Jim:
As my confidence in the dollar depreciates and my desire for skills increases, I'm wanting to convert FRNs into hands-on knowledge. What weeknight or weekend workshops would you recommend? Are there any places where you can learn Army Ranger skills without joining the military? Animal husbandry, and so on? - Spencer

JWR Replies: There is a tremendous wealth of free or low-cost classes available--enough to keep you busy every weekend of the year if you are willing to drive a distance. If you have time and just a bit of money, you can get some very well-rounded training in skills that are quite applicable to post-TEOTWAWKI living. In my experience, the most cost-effective training opportunities in the U.S. include:

American Red Cross First Aid and CPR classes

Local Community College, Park District, and Adult Education classes. They offer classes on metal shop, auto shop, wood shop, leather crafting, ceramics, baking, gardening, welding, and so forth.

RWVA Appleseed Shoots. These are held all over the nation. They offer great training for very little money. The West Side Sportsman's Club, located on the west side of Evansville, Indiana is hosting the national RWVA shoot on June 30 / July 1st. The Red Brush Gun Range, located on the east side of Evansville is having another Appleseed, and they're also having an Appleseed Boot Camp. The boot camp starts on Monday October 22 thru Friday Oct. 26th. Then the Appleseed Shoot is on Saturday Oct. 27 and Sunday Oct. 28. The deal is if you want to attend both the Boot Camp and the Appleseed match, you do so for $200. Yes, for just $200 you can have seven days of top notch marksmanship training.

U.S. Army ROTC classes, the ROTC Ranger program (administered by individual university ROTC Departments), and ROTC Leader's Training Course, aka Basic Camp). The first two years of the ROTC program--including Leader's Training Course--are available to any full-time enrolled undergraduate college student (including "cross-enrolled" junior college students) with no contractual obligation. Participation in the ROTC Ranger program by anyone other than enrolled ROTC cadets is usually up to the discretion of the instructor or the PMS. When I was in a ROTC Ranger program back in the early 1980s, we had two Marine Corps PLC students and an Administration of Justice (police science) major in our Ranger program, as supernumeraries. So even if you don't sign up for ROTC classes, you might be able to be involved in a Ranger program. Of particular note: If you sign up for the four week ROTC Leader's Training Course at Fort Knox, Kentucky, you will actually get paid to attend, plus get a couple of free pairs of combat boots. To be eligible to participate in ROTC, you must be under 31 years of age on Dec 31 st of the year that you expect to graduate. (Or possibly 34 years old, with waivers.) The best chance to get a slot at the ROTC Leader's Training Course is during your sophomore year of college, but when I was there I met a graduate student that had wangled a slot. (He eventually got a direct commission, by virtue of his ROTC "contact hours")

LDS (Mormon) cannery classes/canning sessions. Many "wards" have their own canneries, which are generally open to non-Mormons. (OBTW, the LDS food storage calculator web page is a very useful planning tool.)

FEMA / CERT Classes (Classroom and Internet courses, some with team commitment)

ARRL amateur radio classes.

Species-Specific or Breed-Specific Livestock and Pet Clubs

NRA and State Rifle and Pistol Association training and shooting events

Fiber Guilds (spinning and weaving) and local knitting clubs

Mountain Man/Rendezvous Clubs (Blackpowder shooting, flint knapping, soap making, rope making, etc.)

University/County Agricultural Extension and Cattleman's Club classes on livestock, gardening, weed control, canning, et cetera

Medical Corps small group classes. I heard that they have scheduled just one hands-on Combat/Field Medicine Course thusfar for 2007. It will be at the OSU Extension Campus, in Belle Valley Ohio, April 20-21-22. That class is full, but check their web site for additional course dates. They offer great training--including advanced life saving topics that the American Red Cross doesn't teach--at very reasonable cost.

Volunteer Fire department (VFD) classes (usually with some commitment)

Candle and Soap Making Clubs/Conventions

Boy Scouts and 4H. Informal, un-enrolled ("strap hanger") training is available for adults--just take your kids to the meetings and don't leave.

I would also consider these less important (but still worthwhile) training opportunities, as time permits:

Sheriff's posse and Search and Rescue (SAR) programs

Police department "Ride Along" and Police Reserve programs

Civil Air Patrol (CAP) courses.

Civic/Ethnic Club cooking classes

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Perhaps the most difficult demographic group to prepare for is children. Their needs are constantly changing as they age, grow, and learn. The sheer number of variables involved can be mind boggling, but with enough planning and foresight all their needs can be met. We have eight children under the age of 12 still at home (with three grown and gone), so this is something we have given much thought to.
If you are of child bearing age and still have your God given equipment, you must prepare for infants. Even if you have stocked birth control, it is not foolproof and a child can result. If you can not have children, you should still prep the bare minimum because if society falls apart there is a good chance that children in need will be looking for homes. We live in a perverse generation, and while we often think of the animals that will be abandoned and roving, in reality there will also be needy children. Whether their parents left them through choice or died, children will need cared for, and all Christians should be willing to take on that responsibility as much as they are able. It is better to have prepped ahead, then to try to make do after.

Infants and Toddlers
Prepping for an infant is not difficult and does not have to be expensive – all of their needs can fit in one large Rubbermaid type tote. You truly do not need the majority of things most baby magazines tell you to get. If you do not plan on having children, just the barest of basics should suffice. If children are in your plan, then you should prep more. If you never need the preps – someone will and they will be valuable trade material.
The first thing needed is a good book! Emergency childbirth is good, but there are more comprehensive ones out there if you want more information. We have home birthed several of our children without a midwife. Hopefully your normal preps call for 4x4 gauze pads, betadine, and other medical supplies. Cord clamps are nice, but clean cotton cording works too. A nasal syringe should be included. Most home birth books and web sites give a list of supplies – use common sense so you don’t oversupply.
At a bare minimum you should stock 3 dozen cloth diapers (less may be needed depending on laundry facilities). These can be obtained cheaply or even for free. Try looking at thrift stores, requesting them on FreeCycle, or even making your own if you sew (directions can be found online). I purchased 6 dozen Chinese pre-folds eight years ago. They are now on their fifth child and still going strong. To go along with the diapers, you will need 3-5 diaper covers in each size. Fleece and fabric are all the rage – but they are bulky, expensive, and I think they wick moisture resulting in more leaks. I have used nylon pants for years. They are very inexpensive new – I pay $3 for 2 pair. With proper care (rinsing or wash and line dry) they last forever. Avoid the plastic Gerber type pants at all costs. While cheap, the plastic degrades and they split. Diaper pins are inexpensive. I prefer to order the old fashioned metal ones as they last longer, can be sharpened when they get dull, and can be used for many things besides diapers (what man wants his overall strap held on with a yellow ducky?). I am still using the same metal pins that I bought for baby #1. For inexpensive new diapering items, check babybestbuy.com.
Feeding an infant should not require any special preps, since in a perfect world Mom will nurse the infant until it is ready to eat table foods. We have never fed a child infant juice, baby cereal, or the awful looking jarred baby food. Since we do not live in a perfect world, we should take a few minutes and dollars to ensure that baby can be fed if something happens to mom. I suggest the baby bottles that take the disposable bags. The bags are cheap and eliminate the need to carefully wash or sterilize bottles. In a pinch, the bags can be washed and reused. We have stocked 5 bottles, an extra 20 nipples, and 500 bags. Infant formula is very expensive and has a short shelf life. While not ideal, infants can be fed goat or cows’ milk (you can pasteurize it on the wood or Coleman stove if worried about the health of the animal). If a dairy animal is not an option, you can stock canned milk and corn syrup and make your own formula. A simple web search will give you several different recipes for what the old timers fed their babies. If even that is not an option, you can successfully raise a child without milk – although I certainly do not recommend it. My husband was highly allergic to all dairy (they even tried mare’s milk). They would boil beef, grind it, strain it, and feed it to him in a bottle, then supplement with calcium drops. Please remember that these methods are only to be used when the alternative is death. Once a child can eat table food, it will eat what you do. Our two year old loves enchiladas and chili. Our 8 month old eats anything we feed her. Children learn to be picky – they are not born that way.
Clothing an infant is the simplest of all and does not require any large cash outlay or space. For infant clothing, pick up some cotton baby gowns with elastic at the bottom and socks. A child can wear those for the first 3 or 4 months. I recommend a good quality baby sling (I use the Maya wrap) or a 4 yard length of heavy duty cotton that can be tied into sling formation for carrying baby. Wearing your baby will keep it warm and safe. Babies do not require swings, playpens, and jungle gyms. They require warmth, food, and lots of love.
You will want clothing for when the child starts moving about on its own – about 6 months or so. When choosing the clothing to stock, try to choose things that are adjustable, can easily be cuffed, and do not have parts to wear out. Baby crotch snaps are notorious for giving out. Avoid “cute and ruffly” and go for “easy to launder and adjust.” Stains are going to come out of natural fibers much easier than polyester and petroleum based fibers, and also darker colors rather than light. Girls can wear overalls, but boys can’t wear dresses. I have also found that it is better to pay more for high quality (even used) than it is to purchase the cheapest clothing. We have OshKosh clothing that is now being worn by an 8th child and still looks new. After using a wringer washer for a year, we also have discovered that the cheaper quality clothing does not stand up to less than ideal washing conditions. If you will be using a wringer, you might keep in mind that they eat buttons and zippers. Perhaps your greatest asset in this area will be the ability to sew – a hem can be put in or let out in moments and can make a pair of pants or a dress last a year rather than two months. You might stock a snap setter and assortment of snaps (less than $30 for all) and also an assortment of buttons for those needed repairs.
Another item you will need is blankets. I love to quilt, and so I usually use quilts and/or crocheted afghans. These have an added benefit of being able to be sewn together into bigger quilts and afghans as the child gets bigger. Two crib sized quilts becomes one twin sized bunk bed quilt, four sewn together becomes a full sized or small queen sized. Again, the ability to sew will serve you in good standing as you can turn old clothing into new blankets.
Children's Clothing
When choosing clothing, please consider fiber content and your heat source. We heat with wood and only choose clothing that is 100% cotton. Most commercially made sleepwear is made from polyester blends, as per government guidelines. The reason for this is that cotton burns. Polyester has a lower burn threshold, but melts into your skin – which is why airline travelers are encouraged to wear natural fibers. Our oldest daughter has the habit of backing up to the wood stove to warm up in the mornings and her polyester nightgown melted. Since then, we use only cotton.
I shop the local thrift stores when they have $1 a bag days. We also get offered hand me downs quite often and we never turn them down. I have to do a bit of digging, but I have managed to stock clothing from children through adults, including shoes, hats, gloves and winter coats. I only purchase high quality brands that are in good condition. All shoes, boots and hats get sprayed with Lysol. All clothing gets sorted into totes by size and stored in a shed. When a child grows into the next size, we go through the shed before going shopping. In these good times, my daughters and I wear only dresses but I stock only pants for practicality. There have been times when a local house burned down, or a homeless family came through, and I was able to re-clothe them from my shed. I avoid all “stylish” clothing and choose timeless items – jeans, sweatshirts, flannels, etc. I keep a list in my wallet so I do not end up with 20 size 10 winter coats and no size 14. I also limit my “stash” to one tote per size of clothing, and 2 coats per size. When saving clothing that our own children have outgrown we follow the same guidelines – only those in good condition get stored. I do not store summer clothes, per se. We do not wear shorts or tank tops due to modesty. We go barefoot at home on our farm. Summer clothes would just take up space that could be used for winter clothing – which is a necessity. Warm winter clothing is a need, and as such will be good for barter and gifting when it is no longer available new.
Miscellaneous Physical Needs
In addition to clothing and food, we stock a year to 18 months worth of children’s multivitamins and medicines. We keep a close eye on the expiration date and donate them to a children’s home 2 months before they expire if we have not rotated through them (2 months so that they have time to use them). We have a relative living near the border that travels to Mexico once a year for us to stock up on children’s antibiotics, cold medicines that we can no longer buy in the US without being treated like a criminal, etc. Again, these are shipped to an orphanage in Mexico when they near their expiration date. We also keep diarrhea medications and laxatives on hand that are formulated for children. All of these items can be rather expensive, but I would rather spend the money and not need it than need it and not have it. I also stock a quantity of children’s electrolyte powder that can be added to water.
Our children are not allowed to be picky eaters. Because they have been taught to eat everything, we do not worry about stocking special food for them. We grow a large garden and our children have been taught to love fresh foods – people are amazed when my children tell them that Brussels sprouts are their favorite vegetable, or that asparagus is a close second. We try to eat what we store and store what we eat, so our children do not turn their noses up at beans, rice, lentils, and the like. I do stock more fruits and vegetables than I would for just adults, because I think growing children need a more balanced diet.
Once a child's physical needs have been met, it is time to think of their educational needs. Not only would it be good to school your children in times of societal breakdown for the sake of intelligence, but it will keep the children occupied and give them a sense of normalcy.
We have always home schooled, so we have a certain curriculum that we like. Last year we felt our other preps were sufficiently in place and it was time to look towards schooling. We sold an asset and used the money (just under $3000) to purchase the school books for every child from now until 12th grade. It seems silly to have the high school books for our 8 month old, but we do! Our chosen curriculum is mostly non-consumable and is one of the more affordable ones available. You might need to spend much more than that if you use a consumable curriculum. One good thing is that it will not go to waste – we would be buying it anyway, just not all at once.
If you do not already homeschool, or can not manage to spend that chunk of money, you can still provide for their educational needs. Our local school district has one weekend a year where they give away all of their old text books and supplies. We have gotten two complete sets of World Book Encyclopedias on those days. Call your school district office and see if they do the same thing. You could get the books you need, plus teachers editions for free.
I have seen old school books at yard sales and book sales. You could ask on FreeCycle, watch eBay, or check out the local homeschool convention for used book sales. In a situation where the schools have been closed, any book will be better than no books.
Even if you just supply non-fiction books and biographies, your children can be learning while reading a set number of pages or hours per day.
In addition to books, you will need supplies. Each year our local big box store puts crayons on sale 25¢ per box and paper 10¢ per package. Other school items go on sale at the same time. I have 4 totes filled with school supplies. When a local school closed we were able to purchase a chalk board and a hand crank pencil sharpener. This small slice of normalcy will be important to our children if life as they know it has ended.
Toys and Entertainment
Many of today’s children will have no idea what to do with themselves if they find their Gameboys, iPods, and MySpace no longer function. Hopefully, those who are of the prepping mindset have directed their children towards interests that won’t disappear. When choosing play items for our children, we try to choose things that provide lasting benefit hidden behind the fun.
When purchasing toys, we avoid batteries and try to choose ones that have lasting play value. We have extensive collections of Legos, Lincoln Logs, KNex, and the like. We also try to stick with toys that can be enjoyed by more than one child at a time. Our children have always been each others closest “play buddies” so they will not have a hard time transitioning to close quarters.
We generally do not have baby toys. Unwritten parental rules include the fact that babies will want what their older siblings or parents have. They are quite happy playing with wooden spoons, measuring cups, crochet hooks, boxes, and other objects they think they are not supposed to have.
Instead of handing our son a video game with karate killers, we hand him a throwing knife and spend time with him. Instead of an iPod, he got a compound bow and some arrows and a special time with Dad each week. Instead of his own television for his room, he got a chemistry set. Instead of Disney world, we go hunting, fishing or camping. Instead of Harry Potter, we read Backyard Ballistics and made a catapult.
Our daughters have high quality baby dolls instead of Barbie and enjoy sewing clothes for them out of mom’s scraps. They have their own aprons, measuring cups and rolling pins and get to actually cook and make a mess (then help clean it up!) instead of painting their fingernails. (Our oldest daughter is just 10.) They get latch hook rug kits, paint by number kits, and other craft items rather than karaoke machines.
Everything we purchase or give our children is making a choice. It will give them fleeting enjoyment, or enjoyment and knowledge. All of these things can be considered prepping because you are prepping your children – without their knowledge. You are equipping them to handle the changes that life may bring, and if life doesn’t change they are none the worse for wear.
In addition to prepping my children by the things we enjoy and do, I have chosen to store things for their enjoyment also. Yard sales and thrift stores are great places to find craft kits that people bought and never used. Large puzzles are great family activities and can be bought cheaply. I have some games that are new to us stored away for a little variety. Other items in my “entertainment” preps are decks of cards, books and supplies for learning to knit, rubber stamps and water based inks (so they can be recharged with water), a book about making homemade kites from widely available objects, etc. I also have a tote full of gifts for birthdays, Christmas, or special occasions. High quality pocket knives, wind up watches, sewing scissors, nesting dolls, etc. Things that will make a holiday seem normal and special, but that have lasting value and take up little space. One thing I have noticed in most doomer movies and books is that after a few weeks, the hard work is done and boredom and monotony set in. I want to make that transition easier.
In general, I apply the same philosophy when prepping for my children as I do for general preppin: Store what you use and use what you store. I store nothing that will go to waste, even if I have more of it than just my children can use. Cloth diapers can be dust rags, bandages, or traded. The gifts and school books will get used either way. Children are our greatest resource, and we need to be prepared not just to keep them alive, but to let them flourish.


Saturday, August 26, 2006

Hello Rawles Family,
We have been viewing your site for a few months after reading "Patriots" (loved it!) and have a suggested resource for other families.

We are long term veteran homeschooling family, self sufficiency oriented, husband former military (Viet Nam), ordained ministers who choose to develop house church networks in view of the likely future. We currently reside in upper northwest Montana after being in other regions gaining broad experience.

We wrote a preparedness homeschooling curriculum based on Swiss Family Robinson and a sequel based on Robinson Crusoe. The first year builds academics around family teamwork and the second teaches independent decision making and leadership. It is designed for all ages toddler through adult to learn together. Please view our web site at: www.prepareandpray.com for more info. We have spoken at many state homeschool conventions, been published in many homeschool magazines and have an excellent online review posted at www.TheHomeschoolMagazine.com

In all our awareness of current world events it is vital that our children be trained NOW while there is still time. Science can be learned by gardening, raising small livestock, using levers and pulleys doing real work, and outdoorsmanship; history can be learned by studying heroes of the faith and seasons of difficulty and triumph; health is learned with first aid and nutrition, plagues, and purity.We waste no time, money, or energy but encourage families to strongly focus for a year or two giving children skills that will last a lifetime and likely save their lives in the future. This is done vicariously through good children's literature to avoid any impartation of fear. We train families to become overcomers, not victims.

In His Service, - Jim and Robin Brashear, Overcomers Books and Supplies

Monday, January 9, 2006

An important item to remember to purchase in advance if you have children is extra home schooling supplies. You may remember trigonometry, but could you teach it to your children without any materials? If you self-quarantine your family because of a flu pandemic it will be nearly impossible to acquire books or other supplies. Post-TEOTWAWKI, after your generation is gone, advanced math and science will be rare and valuable skills.

Saturday, January 7, 2006

As reported at NewsMax.com, the Bush Administration had just issued a Guide to Pandemic Preparedness. See:  http://www.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2006/1/5/215956.shtml
It is interesting that they mentioned both self-quarantine and home schooling. What radicals!  They musta been reading SurvivalBlog or sumthen'...

OBTW, why do I get the feeling that if John Kerry had been elected that the message on this topic wouldn't be quite the same?

Friday, January 6, 2006

Here is another terrific home business idea which "sells itself," requires only a minimal investment, has a high profit margin, and can be done in one's spare time. Install front door peep-holes. A number of years back I was visiting in a large townhouse complex where my wife used to live, and a gentleman rang the doorbell. Upon opening the door, I met the man holding a peephole in his hand. He almost didn't need to say a word. It literally needed no sales pitch, it "sold itself." He had the tools etc to do it on the spot. Buy high quality peep-holes in bulk for a few bucks each. You just need a good portable rechargeable drill and a few other simple attachments and tools to deal with different types of doors. Ring doorbells on the weekends, in developments where you can see that peep-holes are not standard issue. Offer to install a quality peep-hole right on the spot, at the customer's exact preferred height, for $20 FRN. One thing: I'd recommend installing a few for free on the doors of family and friends for practice. Different door materials obviously need different drilling methods. Basically, you use a standard hole saw which fits around a 1/4" drill bit. After making a pilot hole all the way through, you need to drill half way in from both sides with the hole saw, to avoid chipping or splitting.

You are doing people a service, and they will be happy to hand over $20 FRN for an installed peep-hole. You also gain the satisfaction of helping people to better secure their "castle" from possible attack or subterfuge. Going door to door, a personable peep-hole installer can sell ten or more units on a Saturday afternoon and make about $15 FRN per 15 minute transaction. And that ain't bad money. - Matt Bracken

JWR Adds: Regular SurvivalBlog readers will recognize Matt Bracken's name. He is the author of an excellent novel of the near future titled Enemies Foreign and Domestic as well as the forthcoming sequel, Domestic Enemies. (See: http://www.enemiesforeignanddomestic.com/)

These days, most people don't have basic carpentry skills or even know how to operate a drill motor without botching the job. The essence of making money with a trade or skill is leveraging your expertise. Take the time to get very good at doing a few things and you will never starve.

There are several types of commercially-made peepholes available. One brand that is made in Russia is slightly larger than most and has a very wide viewing angle. That would make a great selling point.

Sunday, January 1, 2006

I thought the point was to have a home-based business that could survive in the boonies…?
I don’t see much need for a locksmith, gunsmith, or alarm installer in the boonies where most structures are on huge acres of land with fences and who knows how many dogs on the property, let alone a cantankerous old coot with a heavily worn double-barrel shotgun… <grin>
Even repairs are pushing it when neighbors may be a mile or more away… that is a SMALL customer base.
How many guns near you in the boonies that need custom gunsmithing? Another small customer base. Only the BEST gunsmiths get guns shipped to them for work…, then shipped out when finished.
The truly promising home-based businesses are either MAIL / UPS / FEDEX based, such as mail order and Internet sales, or home based businesses over the internet, such as accounting, med. Transcription (now mostly foreign cheap labor), etc…
Just some thoughts and possible target realignment. - Robert

Here's some to home based businesses to consider:
Professional Genealogist. See http://www.apgen.org/ . If it sounds interesting, do research on your own family to see if it's your kind of thing. Start by going to http://www.familysearch.org/ , click on "Order/Download Products", click on "Software Downloads--free", download the first Personal Ancestral File (PAF) in the listing. PAF is as robust as any program that you'd pay money for--plus all genealogists know it well. You can offer your services to search in your local area. If you like being a detective you can have a lot of fun/make a bit of money.

JWR Adds: The Memsahib and I have used PAF for organizing our genealogical research since about 1988. However, we recently switched to Reunion for our Apple Macintosh computers. We find that Reunion is easier to use, has more features, and most importantly it produces "clean" GEDCOM format files for export for use with other genealogy programs and word processing programs. (With the Mac version of PAF we had numerous file corruption problems with GEDCOM export files. But we've heard that the PC versions of PAF are less glitchy.)
Indexer. You receive manuscripts electronically and use special software to set up indexed words, concepts. If you are a careful reader (and especially if you smirk when you find a typo!) this may be for you. http://www.asindexing.org/site/indfaq.shtml. Hey, index "Patriots" so we can find all those cool ideas without having to read the thing nine times!

Scopist. A scopist takes a court reporter's dictation and transcribe it via special software into appropriate format for attorneys. Very interesting work--I suggest doing civil work rather than criminal because it can get pretty gruesome. Find scopists on the internet. Don't spend bucks on a "school." Instead, find a scopist who needs help (they like to go on vacations, too!) and volunteer to work for free to get trained. You'll need a transcription machine to transfer info into the computer. Check your favorite attorney to find who the local scopists are and what the typical rates are for your area.
Grow and dry wild flowers. Search the web to see what's hot, what's not. One of my daughters worked for a man with a piddly 1⁄2 acre lot who sold his stuff by mail throughout the country. Can you grow Baby Breath? I remember teenagers in my Church going to Eastern Washington to pick Baby's Breath (your wife will know what this is) for florists. Here in Hawaii, you can buy a lei made from about 25 tennis-ball size orchids for $3!! Too bad they can't be shipped stateside. But here's a clever graduation tradition--use Saran Wrap and twist in bite-size candy to make a candy lei (for graduation from 6th grade?). Advertise in the PTA.
Grow Lavender--it's a big deal for growers in Washington State; if your climate can support it, give it a look.
I know a guy who has a multi-acre rose-growing operation--he sells rose plants at Farmer's markets, and he must be making money because he's there every weekend.
Which reminds me--check out the possibility of growing plants used in spices--do you know what you pay per pound for spices--Yikes!
Look into Square Foot Gardening, http://www.squarefootgardening.com/ , especially to become a supplier of garden-fresh produce for up-scale (or wanna-be upscale) restaurants. His book/DVD has good stuff and he tells you exactly how to pitch the produce to local places. And a plus--you get to learn all about intensive gardening.
Can you set yourself up to treat discarded food oil to make it useable in diesel engines and then supply the locals? It's going to be more and more popular--but you'll need a willing bunch of sources--maybe those same upscale restaurants?!
Bake whole wheat specialty breads for local outlets (organic food stores, chic restaurants). Hey, that reminds me--timbales. You'll have to hunt to find the ones that are saucer-sized. When I was a kid, the little concession stands had them hung all lined up on a horizontal stick--you plunked down your money (in those days a dime) and DaMan took one off, sifted powder sugar on it and away you went. Looks like a lot, but it's mostly air. Easy to do; try it at home first, of course--start with the little timbale forms.
Okay, some of these aren't quite home-based, but think outside the box. Maybe for a relatively small investment you can involve your kinds in a free-enterprise business effort. Like a little concession trailer outside the high school ball game where you'll sell "shave-ice" (not sno-cones!!!--and NOT "shaveD ice!!!"). Then move it around town to all the public events. Get license, pay the fees, taxes--it makes America great!
Did you see the Hostess wedding cake? http://www.cybersalt.org/cleanlaugh/images/05/weddingtwinkie.htm . Sure, it's silly, but if you'd like to get into cake decorating, you can get noticed by offering one of these babies for laughs. Of course, you'd better learn how to do serious decorating.
Have you got a nice rural setting? People pay big bucks for wedding receptions in "different" (but not dirty) sites. Also, Public schools have money for taking kids on field trips--can you organize a ride on a hay wagon pulled by your tractor? Develop a maze. How about a couple of those dorky wood characters with a hole for a face, so people can get their picture taken as Ma/Pa Kettle--do it digitally and sell them a photo hot off your photo printer.
This reminds me; many people do very well by visiting schools and putting on assemblies--do you have/know/do something that can entertain/involve students? I've seen some very mediocre paid-for assemblies in my teaching days, so think about it.
Do you live in an interesting area? Do the locals know about places the casual visitors never see? Write up a must-see list and sell it on the Internet.
Does your hometown (or nearby town) have curbs in residential areas? Make a cardboard mask so you can block out an area of curb in front of a house and spray a black background; then use stencils to spray the house address on the blackened curb--firemen and cops love this idea--at $2 per sign, you can make quite a few bucks on a Saturday. Get the license! Pay the fees! Don't harass the homeowner--get permission first.
Well, come to think of it, don't just think outside the box--use the box itself! - B.B. In Hawaii

Mr. Rawles,
One comment on your recommendations for cottage industry jobs. I highly encourage people to learn as much about gunsmithing as possible, but it is very difficult to make a living at this trade. I worked five years part time for a self employed gunsmith who could not have made ends meet if he had not had another skill (made dentures for dentists) and a wife who worked. Our business always suffered when the economy dipped. Having a gun fixed is not a priority in non-SHTF times. And being a small time gunsmith means that you can’t afford to invest in expensive machinery, so most work is very labor intensive. Keeping a stock of parts for most common repairs is costly. There are probably more different kinds of guns than cars. Of course most of these problems can be circumvented with some time, work, and creativity, but only the sharpest and most experienced gunsmiths make a good living.
Another minor problem is that lots of people who come into your shop like guns and want to talk to you about them. You need to be courteous and encouraging about gun ownership, but this time spent talking pays zero per hour.
And of course to legally work on other people’s guns, you have to apply for and pay fees to get an FFL. That means that an ATF agent can come by and examine your records and inventory. Gunsmiths and FFL holders who work out of their homes are rapidly disappearing because of the general bias by the ATF against anyone who does not (or even who does) have a storefront with regular hours.
Gunsmithing is a great skill, and a wonderful hobby, but it’s not a very good way to make money I’m afraid. I hope others have had a more positive experience. - C.G. in NC

JWR Replies: I recommend gunsmithing only if you can develop a specialty and eventually a reputation for expertise in the specialty that will attract mail order business from clients all over the country.

Friday, December 30, 2005

The majority of SurvivalBlog readers that I talk with tell me that they live in cities or suburbs, but they would like to live full time at a retreat in a rural area. Their complaint is almost always the same: "...but I'm not self-employed. I can't afford to live in the country because I can't find work there, and the nature of my work doesn't allow telecommuting." They feel stuck.

Over the years I've seen lots of people "pull the plug" and move to the boonies with the hope that they'll find local work once they get there. That usually doesn't work. Folks find that the most rural jobs typically pay little more than minimum wage and they are often informally reserved for folks that were born and raised in the area. (Newcomers from the big city certainly don't have hiring priority!)

My suggestion is to start a second income stream, with a home based business. Once you have that business started, then start another one. There are numerous advantages to this approach, namely:

You can get out of debt

You can generally build the businesses up gradually, so that you don't need to quit your current occupation immediately

By working at home you will have the time to home school your children and they will learn about how to operate a business.

You can live at your retreat full time. This will contribute to your self-sufficiency, since you will be there to tend to your garden, fruit/nut trees, and livestock.

If one of your home-based businesses fails, then you can fall back on the other.

Ideally, for someone that is preparedness-minded, a home-based business should be something that is virtually recession proof, or possibly even depression proof. Ask yourself: What are you good at? What knowledge or skills do you have that you can utilize. Next, consider which businesses will flourish during bad times. Some good examples might include:

Mail order/Internet sales/eBay Auctioning of preparedness-related products.



Medical Transcription


Repair/refurbishment businesses

Freelance writing

Blogging (with paid advertising) If you have knowledge about a niche industry and there is currently no blog on the subject, then start your own!

Mail order/Internet sales of entertainment items. (When times get bad, people still set aside a sizable percentage of their income for "escape" from their troubles.For example, video rental shops have done remarkably well during recessions.)

Burglar Alarm Installation

Other home-based businesses that seem to do well only in good economic times include:

Recruiting/Temporary Placement

Fine arts, crafts, and jewelry. Creating and marketing your own designs--not "assembly" for some scammer. (See below.)

Mail order/Internet sales/eBay Auctions of luxury items, collectibles, or other "discretionary spending" items

Personalized stationary and greeting cards (Freelance artwork)


Web Design

Beware the scammers! The fine folks at www.scambusters.org have compiled a "Top 10" list of common work-at-home and home based business scams to beware of:

10. Craft Assembly
This scam encourages you to assemble toys, dolls, or other craft projects at home with the promise of high per-piece rates. All you have to do is pay a fee up-front for the starter kit... which includes instructions and parts. Sounds good? Well, once you finish assembling your first batch of crafts, you'll be told by the company that they "don't meet our specifications."
In fact, even if you were a robot and did it perfectly, it would be impossible for you to meet their specifications. The scammer company is making money selling the starter kits -- not selling the assembled product. So, you're left with a set of assembled crafts... and no one to sell them to.

9. Medical Billing
In this scam, you pay $300-$900 for everything (supposedly) you need to start your own medical billing service at home. You're promised state-of-the-art medical billing software, as well as a list of potential clients in your area.
What you're not told is that most medical clinics process their own bills, or outsource the processing to firms, not individuals. Your software may not meet their specifications, and often the lists of "potential clients" are outdated or just plain wrong.
As usual, trying to get a refund from the medical billing company is like trying to get blood from a stone.

8. Email Processing
This is a twist on the classic "envelope stuffing scam" (see #1 below). For a low price ($50?) you can become a "highly-paid" email processor working "from the comfort of your own home."
Now... what do you suppose an email processor does? If you have visions of forwarding or editing emails, forget it. What you get for your money are instructions on spamming the same ad you responded to in newsgroups and Web forums!
Think about it -- they offer to pay you $25 per email processed -- would any legitimate company pay that?

7. "A List of Companies Looking for Homeworkers!"
In this one, you pay a small fee for a list of companies looking for homeworkers just like you.
The only problem is that the list is usually a generic list of companies, companies that don't take homeworkers, or companies that may have accepted homeworkers long, long ago. Don't expect to get your money back with this one.

6. "Just Call This 1-900 Number For More Information..."
No need to spend too much time (or money) on this one. 1-900 numbers cost money to call, and that's how the scammers make their profit. Save your money -- don't call a 1-900 number for more information about a supposed work-at-home job.

5. Typing At Home
If you use the Internet a lot, then odds are that you're probably a good typist. How better to capitalize on it than making money by typing at home? Here's how it works: After sending the fee to the scammer for "more information," you receive a disk and printed information that tells you to place home typist ads and sell copies of the disk to the suckers who reply to you. Like #8, this scam tries to turn you into a scammer!

4. "Turn Your Computer Into a Money-Making Machine!"
Well, this one's at least half-true. To be completely true, it should read: "Turn your computer into a money-making machine... for spammers!"
This is much the same spam as #5, above. Once you pay your money, you'll be sent instructions on how to place ads and pull in suckers to "turn their computers into money-making machines."

3. Multi-Level Marketing (MLM)
If you've heard of network marketing (like Amway), then you know that there are legitimate MLM businesses based on agents selling products or services. One big problem with MLMs, though, is when the pyramid and the ladder-climbing become more important than selling the actual product or service. If the MLM business opportunity is all about finding new recruits rather than selling products or services, beware: The Federal Trade Commission may consider it to be a pyramid scheme... and not only can you lose all your money, but you can be charged with fraud, too!
We saw an interesting MLM scam recently: one MLM company advertised the product they were selling as FREE. The fine print, however, states that it is "free in the sense that you could be earning commissions and bonuses in excess of the cost of your monthly purchase of" the product. Does that sound like free to you?

2. Chain Letters/Emails ("Make Money Fast")
If you've been on the Internet for any length of time, you've probably received or at least seen these chain emails. They promise that all you have to do is send the email along plus some money by mail to the top names on the list, then add your name to the bottom... and one day you'll be a millionaire. Actually, the only thing you might be one day is prosecuted for fraud. This is a classic pyramid scheme, and most times the names in the chain emails are manipulated to make sure only the people at the top of the list (the true scammers) make any money. This scam should be called "Lose Money Fast" -- and it's illegal.

1. Envelope Stuffing
This is THE classic work-at-home scam. It's been around since the U.S. Depression of the 1920s and 1930s, and it's moved onto the Internet like a cockroach you just can't eliminate. There are several variations, but here's a sample: Much like #5 and #4 above, you are promised to be paid $1-2 for every envelope you stuff. All you have to do is send money and you're guaranteed "up to 1,000 envelopes a week that you can stuff... with postage and address already affixed!" When you send your money, you get a short manual with flyer templates you're supposed to put up around town, advertising yet another harebrained work-from-home scheme. And the pre-addressed, pre-paid envelopes? Well, when people see those flyers, all they have to do is send you $2.00 in a pre-addressed, pre-paid envelope. Then you stuff that envelope with another flyer and send it to them. Ingenious perhaps... but certainly illegal and unethical.


From all that I've heard, most franchises and multi-level marketing schemes are not profitable unless you pick a great product or service, and you already have a strong background in sales. Beware of any franchise where you wouldn't have a protected territory. My general advice is this: You will probably be better off starting your own business, making, retailing, or consulting about something where you can leverage your existing knowledge and/or experience.

Monday, November 21, 2005

I found this short quiz floating through the ether of the Internet:

The world's easiest quiz:
1.) How long did the Hundred Year War last?
2.) Which country makes Panama hats?
3.) From which animal do we get catgut?
4.) In which month do Russians celebrate the October Revolution?
5.) What is a camel's hair brush made of?
6.) The Canary Islands in the Pacific are named after what animal?
7.) What was King George VI's first name?
8.) What color is a purple finch?
9.) Where are Chinese Gooseberries from?
10.) How long did the Thirty Years War last?

1.) 116 years, from 1337 to 1453 2.) Ecuador 3.) From sheep and horses 4.) November. The Russian calendar was 13 days behind ours. 5.) Squirrel fir 6.) The Latin name was Insularia Canaria - Island of the Dogs 7.) Albert - When he came to the throne in 1936 he respected the wish of Queen Victoria that no future king should ever be called Albert. 8.) Distinctively crimson 9.) New Zealand 10.) Thirty years, of course! From 1618 to 1648.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Hi Jim,
Your comments on building a house straddling a state line brought me back to my Navy days in Pensacola, Florida. It may be difficult to build across a state line but not impossible. There is a bar that straddles the state line between Florida and Alabama called - of course - The Floribama. As I recall it, there was a different last call time on opposite sides of the bar as the two states had different alcohol serving times. In any case, if it can be done with a commercial establishment (particularly a bar!) it can be done with a house. I also seem to recall an article in National Geographic a few years back where they featured a bar/restaurant that straddled the border between Canada and the US. I even recall a picture of a pool table with the border line drawn across it. Somehow I doubt its still in business but I do recall seeing the images. In any case, it has been done. - "Some Call me Tim"

Wednesday, November 9, 2005

I'd like to expand on a topic that I mentioned briefly in a SurvivalBlog post on August 25, 2005:  "The State Line Game." Many folks have discovered how to play the state line jumping game: Living near a state line to take advantage of a lower tax or other advantage in one or more adjoining states. For example, you can live in the Idaho panhandle (very low property tax, car registration, and car insurance), work in eastern Washington (no income tax), make your day-to-day purchases in Idaho (5% sales tax) and your major purchases (trucks, wood stoves, generators, gun vaults, appliances, et cetera) in Montana or Oregon--both of which have no sales tax.  Many SurvivalBlog readers have found themselves at the stage of life where they are considering strategic relocation.  If you look at the tax burdens in various states (See: http://money.cnn.com/pf/features/lists/taxesbystate2005/index.html), then you can take the opportunity afforded by relocation to "vote with your feet."

Let's continue this line of reasoning a bit further. In many instances, state lines are defined by rivers or the summits of mountain ranges, but in others, the line is more or less arbitrarily set on level ground.  The latter opens up a fascinating possibility: Owning contiguous parcels on both sides of a state line. Imagine living in a small house in a state with no (or low) personal income tax but high property taxes and expensive car registration. You could also own an adjoining much larger parcel land and other assets (garage, vehicles, barn, shop, livestock, a second home) on the other side of the state line, literally a stone's throw away. Or how about a mobile home that you could move slightly, if and when regulations becomes too onerous at the opposing end of your property. 

Now on to something that at first blush might seem absurd, so I'll label this as an intellectual exercise: It might be possible to build a house that physically straddles a state line. That is sure to get the tax assessors scratching their heads! Consider the possibilities of a house with with a large main "wing" in a low property tax state, and another smaller wing--perhaps connected by a covered walkway or greenhouse--in a state where you can take advantage of the differing income taxes, sales taxes, or other regulations. (The latter could include gun laws, home schooling laws, cost of car registration/insurance, cost of hunting tags, et cetera.) If you operate a home based business, the presence or absence of a sales tax could make a big difference. Your state of "residence" would be based on the wing where your bedroom and home office is located. You might want your children to legally be residents of the adjoining state, because of home schooling law disparities or to avoid the high cost of "out of  state" college tuition. Another disparity is in hunting regulations and the length of hunting seasons:  If deer season ends earlier on one end of your property than the other, then you could simply reposition your livestock salt blocks. Here is an even more absurd abstraction: A state line that bisects your dining room table:  "Please pass--I mean--Interstate Commerce the mashed potatoes." The practicalities of getting permits to build a bi-state house might be insurmountable, but it remains an captivating prospect. Think though the many of possibilities--even of just living near a state line,. Consider the following factors:

States that have no state income tax: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming. Two others, New Hampshire and Tennessee, tax only dividend and interest income. (For detail on state income tax rates, see: http://www.taxadmin.org/fta/rate/ind_inc.html .)

States with no state level general sales tax: Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon. For details, see:  http://www.retirementliving.com/RLtaxes.html

States with very low county and local property (real estate) taxes: These vary widely, depending on the city and county. For details, see:  http://www.retirementliving.com/RLtaxes.html

States with differing firearms laws.  See the book Boston's Gun Bible for details.  If you don't already own a copy of this "must read" book, then contact. Fred's M14 Stocks. As of this writing, Fred is currently offering a great three book package deal: one copy of my novel Patriots +one copy of Matthew Bracken's novel Enemies Foreign and Domestic + one copy of Boston's Gun Bible, all for $50. OBTW, please mention SurvivalBlog, regardless of where you buy your books.

As I previously posted, one possibility is to live and work in southern Washington (no income tax and fairly low property taxes), but shop in Oregon, where there is a high property tax but no sales tax. Unfortunately the two states are divided by the Columbia River.  Perhaps you could buy land east of the point where the river turns north and the border reverts to an arbitrary line. But there aren't many opportunities to take advantage of the sales tax difference at that end of the state! Another possibility is to buy a ranch straddling the Montana/Wyoming state line, since Montana has no sales tax and Wyoming has no income tax. And both have great gun laws. (Not the best of climates there, however!)

See: http://www.taxadmin.org/fta/rate/ind_inc.html for detailed information on the tax rates in various states.

A reminder that the foregoing discussions skirt around a more core issue: the scale of government in each state. Some states have big, pretentious, intrusive governments that love to get involved in every aspect of your life. My advice is to avoid living in any of these Nanny States. As time goes on, they are only going to get worse.

The bottom line: If you live in a state with severe taxes or gun laws, then vote with your feet!   I'd appreciate your comments on the foregoing. Perhaps you have considered a novel way to take advantage of tax disparities. Just drop me an e-mail. OBTW, I plan to also post this to The Claire Files.  This should inspire all of the Libertarians there into a spirited string of discussion. They seem to particularly enjoy this sort of food for thought and grounds for further research. (FFTAGFFR.)


Letter from Dr. November Re: Aviation Fuel as an Alternative Fuel (SAs: Alternate Fuels, Aviation Fuels, 100 Octane Gasoline)

On the avgas issue, you might remind your readers that avgas has a LOT of lead in it (more than high-test leaded car gas ever did). 100 octane Low-lead avgas still has twice as much lead as leaded car gas did. If you use leaded gas in a car with a catalytic converter (like most cars these days) you will ruin the converter in less time than it takes you to empty the gas tank. One of two alternatives will happen, the converter will become completely plugged and your car won't run at all because of the back pressure, or you'll get terrible performance. And, if you have mandatory smog inspections in your state, look at a repair bill starting at around $750 to replace the converter. (They aren't cheap, even used). Also, the waste fuel drums at airports (at least the ones I go to) also have waste oil in them, and usually water. Be careful! - Dr. November

Monday, October 24, 2005

Let us review the basics of child rearing. Children are a gift from God and we are to bring them up in the fear and admonition of the Lord. All preparedness means nothing if we have prepared our children for the eternal fires of hell. God, in His eternal wisdom and grace, providentially provided His son Jesus to restore us to a loving relationship with the Almighty. God provides covenantal blessings for those who obey Him and curses for those who don’t. With that being said it is imperative that all our worldly preparation be first and foremost spiritual because we are to store up that which is eternal and lasts forever rather than the temporary. Furthermore, the Bible is very clear as to our responsibility to provide for our own family which thus leads us into this discussion. I have thoroughly enjoyed Mr. Rawles's book Patriots and find it to be the most comprehensive book of its kind. I was blind to the fact I was not prepared for any small emergency that may occur. It shocked me into action. Whether it is an evening storm outage or the full blown worse case scenario I wasn’t ready. The following article is an attempt at providing an addendum to Patriots for those families with small children. We home school our five children ages 3 to 11 and found preparing for emergencies take on a whole new meaning when plans must take into account those who can’t account for themselves. The Patriots story fits a certain demographic and my family doesn’t fit that profile. So here are my thoughts and ideas on preparing a family with primary age children.

The Beginning
I truly believe that having the right mindset or belief system about preparedness is essential. We are not hoarding out of panic or fear but making a concerted effort to provide the necessities of daily living for an extended period of time. Discretion is necessary because two things occur during preparation. The first is possibly being socially ostracized by being labeled a survival whacko by neighbors. These people are harmless until a survival situation occurs and then they become problem number two-potential security risks. I believe all preparedness should be disguised in some way. For instance, all guns and equipment can be acquired for our camping and shooting hobbies or purchasing food in bulk can be “taking advantage of a good sale." Whatever you do just be creative in disguising all your actions especially with family or friends. Likewise, our mindset should be long-term focused because being prepared is a process, not an event. Preparedness begins with education of the entire family and not just the spouse who is driving the agenda. A family should cultivate an environment of learning that permeates the entire daily lives of its members. The more you educate yourself prior to purchases the farther your dollar will go with wise decisions and quality buying habits.

My education started with reading Patriots for the first time. I would recommend everyone do the same because it gives you a realistic idea of the effort required to get prepared. Once you make the decision to start you should take a realistic inventory of your skill set and knowledge. Be honest about how well you would do in a mild disruption, large-scale emergency and full-tilt TEOTWAWKI. Start your reading list with the idea that you will prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Start first with Beans, Bullets and Band-aids and in that order.
Beans refer to getting educated on how to grow, store and prepare food in a survival situation. This may at first seem a large burden on the parents but children of all ages can have a keen role in this area. Children love gardening and are good at planting and weeding. In fact, by the time I was 12 years old I was responsible for half of our garden which included beans, broccoli, strawberries, raspberries, onions, carrots and potatoes. Children are especially adept at picking crops without ruining their backs or getting stuck by thorns in the blackberry bush. Beware of “2 in the mouth and 1 in the bucket” blight of these two-legged creatures. It can be as costly as infiltration of a four-legged pest into your garden.
Turn off the TV! Or better yet, get rid of it altogether. The outdoors should be a constant classroom as you walk, talk, weed, plow and play. By being outside you have ample opportunity to teach across a broad spectrum of topics and curriculum. For example I have attempted to link activities with teachable topics for preparedness.

  • Gardening & Preserving = Planning/Agri-management, Geology, Hydrology, Botany, Construction, Irrigation, Anatomy (when muscles ache), Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Culinary Science, History and Horticulture, Oceanography/Atmospheric Science
  • Hunting & Hiking = Geography, Topography, Geophysics (magnetic fields), Zoology, Botany, Anatomy, Ballistics, Military Science, Culinary Science, Physical Education,
    Oceanography/Atmospheric Science, Geology, and Astronomy
  • Touch Football Game = Military Science, Physical Education, Anatomy, History

I think you get the idea. Even something as simple and mundane as football has value to prepare for a survival situation. The key is to be creative and make it fun for the kids. I play a game with my kids as we hike. We haven’t made the move to the country so we drive over to a natural area on the edge of suburban Spokane. Our game is called “Patrol” We hike in silence and in 5 yard intervals. Each kid takes a turn at Point leading the way up to a pre-determined destination and the others rotate bringing up the rear.
The really fun part is when I whisper “Danger Close!” or “Tango” we race to find concealment and the last one to get concealed well is tagged. When its time for a break we look for a rest spot that is concealed and yet provides good line of sight for security. I don’t want to traumatize them so the “bad guys” are the looters they saw on TV during Hurricane Katrina coverage. Even kids know a bad guy when they see one. Children love to learn and play games and if you can do both at once, Amen! Each teachable moment is a short lecture about life and the world we live in. You will train your children to improvise, adapt, and overcome life’s challenges. Educate yourself in all aspects of the preparedness mindset but don’t exclude the little ones. They are just as eager to learn as you and may actually retain more factoids than our aged brains.

Getting Out of Dodge
G.O.O.D. provides several unique hurdles when preparing for children. Instead of breaking up the topic into Beans, Bullets and Band-Aids I will discuss as an all encompassing endeavor. Depending on the age of your children preparedness has to take into account the child’s physiology from the start. Teenagers don’t have inherent problems as do tending to small pre-adolescent age groups. A teenager, for the most part, has stopped growing or is growing into adult sizes that make acquiring survival gear a bit easier.
Primary age children grow out of their clothes extremely fast and if a TEOTWAWKI scenario occurs you must store sizes to grow into. I guarantee during TEOTWAWKI Wal-Mart won’t be holding a clearance sale or Schumer Day sale on gear (Actually if anyone would be open for business it probably would be Wally World). I believe one can prepare in several ways for growing children and seasonal changes in weather. Once again a little education can go a long way.
Preparation should encompass a layered approach starting with a 1) G.O.O.D. Bag, 2) Rapid Deployment Bin and 3) Long-term Inventory. G.O.O.D. bag is a backpack loaded with all essentials that are pre-packed and ready to go at a moment’s notice. Mr. Rawles description in Patriot’s is a great place to start. The idea with children is to size down the weight since kids can’t carry at par and most likely won’t be carrying ammo and other weighty items. Also make sure the clothing is sized up one size. Kids can fit into something a bit larger but squeezing into something a size too small is misery. Once you bring the weight down look to exchange adult items for kid friendly items for comfort and entertainment. Add a couple of books and a deck of cards or a travel size game instead of ammo or firearms. Also have a spare set of clothing one size bigger to grow into.

Rapid Deployment Bins
The Rapid Deployment Bin is a supply prepared for rapid deployment where you will travel by vehicle and not on foot. For instance, if you had ample warning and were leaving home for a retreat location this would easily be picked up and hauled with other necessary items. We use square plastic bins with locking lids that conveniently stack and are transportable. One bin per kid and you can easily prepare several years of clothing for all weather extremes. Add two pairs of boots and two pair of snow boots and one child can be squared away for at least two years. Coveralls are a great way to fit one child for several growth spurts. Coveralls can fit even when their too big and can be grown into over time. One pair of light[weight] and one insulated can be stored easily to provide year-round protection. You may have realized the problem of keeping all eggs in one basket. If I were to loose one bin that child would be in a world of hurt. I am currently looking for some plastic half-barrels to store two clothing units per kid and hold two for each member of our household.

Long-Term Inventory
Long-term inventory at a retreat location would be similar to Rapid Inventory arrayed in comparison to the Patriots example of lockers. The supply of clothing and other necessities would be more in depth and take into consideration long-term growth in height and weight of children. It would also be wise to add some patches and Shoo-Goo into your sewing kit to add calendar life to BDUs and boots. Knees on pants and soles on boots can wear out faster than other articles. Repairing means some items can be handed down to smaller kids when outgrown by its owner. Once kids grow out of a size and you run out of kids to hand them down they will make great charity or barter items.

Purchasing and Storage
We have two methods for obtaining and storing clothing that saves time, money and storage space. My wife is warrior shopper which means she finds all the deals and never pays full price. We found a new pair of Sorrel winter boots in a youth size for only $3.00 at a local thrift store. The most intriguing part is that it was August when she bought them. Remember: Preparing is a process not an event. Start with a list of sizes and actual gear you need to outfit the family. Camo gear can be hard to come by but light brown and earth tones aren’t. Buy the earth tones and browns which can easily be dyed to some level of camouflage during bad times.

Thrift stores and garage sales are the only way to go. We also plan to buy a sewing machine and learn a few basics on manufacturing our own clothing. You can now buy polar fleece camouflage material in several patterns which can save a bundle compared to store bought outer gear. Be diligent with the yard sales because in our area the local Russian immigrant population hits the sales right as they open between 7 and 9 AM. We have found that they can take all the good stuff before you even get a chance.
A big recommendation for G.O.O.D. bag, Rapid Deployment Bins and Long-term retreat storage is the use of a vacuum sealer. You can seal a whole set of clothing in one pouch. It saves on G.O.O.D. bag space and bin space also. For an example, in a large bag I can fit 1 pair of BDUs, 3 t-shirts, 3 underwear, 5 socks and one set polypropylene and that is vacuum sealed into a space the size of a laptop computer. Planning ahead and have several sets all prepared and sealed allows for additional storage space. Label each bag with a marker for age and size information to make inventory easy and you are set to store for use, charity or barter. The sealer works great for dried food items also so this is a great purchase for beginning to get squared away. Shop online for the best deals or even check local “nickel” want ads.

I have a few quick thoughts on a cache that may be easier on the pocket book. If you are looking to cache some items you don’t have to wait until you have a big pile but you can cache in increments. Five gallon food grade buckets can be used as personal or individual caches. Restaurants throw these “buckets” away on a regular basis. Contact a local burger joint and ask them if you can have their pickle buckets when finished. Soak overnight in a little bleach water to remove the vinegar smell. Use a small plastic garbage bag to line the interior before placing items inside. If the restaurant destroys or cuts the lid you can purchase replacements at paint stores or nearest warehouse lumber store.
Placement of the buckets in the ground can be done individually as you prepare them. I recommend sealing the lid with duct tape and placing the bucket into black garbage bags before putting into the ground. Use the heavy duty contractor’s grade garbage bags; they cost a little more but are super heavy duty and will take 30+ years to decompose in the soil. Place your bucket into one bag and then inside a second bag for double layer protection. I prefer a long trench for my cache to make recovery as simple as possible. Once I find the first bucket I know where exactly the others are in a linear formation. You can save time and energy later by lining the trench and back-filling around the buckets with pea gravel up to 3 inches over the top. The last 12 inches should be normal top-soil or fill. There are several reasons to use pea gravel. First, it allows better water drainage over time so there is little chance of moisture compromising your cache. Second, rocks can be pushed into and break open the plastic containers that’s why irrigation, telecom and other utility pipe is installed with sand first and then backfilled with dirt. Third, pea gravel helps recovery of cache if done when conditions aren’t ideal. If you have to recover in the dark the pea gravel will contrast to top soil by sight and sound when digging. It also makes removal of buckets easier since they will just slide out and won’t have to be dug from compacted soil. It can also help if you have to dig with primitive tools or your hands.

Defense/Combat Training
I am a graduate of Front Sight Firearms Training School. I cannot stress enough the overall value of spending time at that facility. They took me from dangerous novice to Distinguished Graduate status in four days. I was ignorant of just how dangerous I was to myself and others. I had gone through a basic hunter’s Ed class at age 12. I have hunted many years in the woods of northeastern Washington chasing deer and in the blinds of the Pend Oreille River freezing my tail off for the occasional duck and goose. Being around guns all your life actually makes you complacent and more dangerous than a novice. Just because you’ve been around guns your whole life doesn’t mean you are safe. Once you have professional grade training you will be astonished at just how much you didn’t know. So before you go off and try to teach combat skills make sure you have time-tested education in this area. Even with my level of skill I am slowly introducing responsible gun handling to my kids. When we are out in the woods they can take toy guns or BB guns and they are to practice muzzle control. At home during dry practice we practice snapping in and breathing for sight/target control and trigger control. These elements come together when we take the Chipmunk .22 out to the range. The kids are already proficient with open sights at 25 yards.
Bottom line is you will always fall back to your highest level of training during a combat/life saving situation. If you can’t do the right thing without thinking about it you are likely a danger to yourself and others if the threat level goes black. Don’t wait to find out the hard way by causing injury or death negligently. Get the training-it’s worth it!

I hope I have provided some helpful hints and ideas. If you have a better thought or suggested improvement please share them in a follow up letter. I know I have come a long way but I am just getting started in this process of becoming prepared. It is comforting to know that God’s providence rules over all things. Preparedness must be in submission to His law or it is hoarding, which is sin. If you don’t know the difference go seek guidance from your pastor or church elder. There are blessings for those who keep His commandments and curses for those who don’t. We are not guaranteed an easy life or a life free from persecution or strife but His path will not lead you astray. God Bless and get started. - B.H. in Spokane

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The old saying is that if you think education is expensive, try ignorance. Being a proponent of a self-reliant lifestyle like most readers of SurvivalBlog, I find it is sometimes costly to get the training we need to make ourselves better informed. Being basically frugal (read: cheap) I've searched out some ways to get the knowledge I wanted without a large outlay of money.
My first stop in my hunt for knowledge was at the Human Resources office at my place of employment. I discovered that there were several American Red Cross (ARC) first aid and CPR classes offered. The really great thing was that my job classification was one that allowed me to attend class on company time and get trained. Not only free, but paid to learn lifesaving skills useful in almost every survival situation. Now that is not bad deal at all.
I followed up the first aid/CPR class with a call to the local chapter of the Red Cross. For no fee I could sign up for such classes as Introduction to Disaster Services. This class is needed as a prerequisite for most ARC classes in the disaster area. This class is designed to educate the student with an overview of the roll of the ARC in such events as hurricanes to floods that displace whole communities to house fires that displace a single family. Also free of charge are classes like Mass Care, Shelter Operations Workshop, Damage Assessment and Emergency Assistance to Families. Even if the student never volunteers to work with the ARC he can become quite knowledgeable about the operations of their community’s services during a disaster.
For the readers of SurvivalBlog there are other ARC classes that can be of use and the cost is minimal. For $15 there is a class on Preventing Disease Transmission. Other low cost classes (under $30) are: First Aid for Daycare Worker/Infant/child First Aid-Review, Child Abuse Recognition & Prevention, and good old Basic First Aid. The American Red Cross also has other classes that teach among others, Lifesaving and CPR for the Professional Rescuer but the cost on these classes can run well over $125.

Next on the list of free training comes from the federal government. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as a lot of courses that you can study at home, or on line. Courses such as Emergency Preparedness, USA, which help the student evaluate what types of emergencies they are most likely to experience. It helps the student prepare for the disasters that they determine are most likely to happen in their area. Warm clothes and heat sources for the possibility of snowstorms or blizzards in the northern states, or plywood stutters for the coast about to be hit with a hurricane are some of the ideas that are pointed out for students. It is common sense ideas packed in a study manual.
Other courses available are on such subjects as Hazardous Materials, Animals in Disaster, Retrofitting Flood-prone Structures, or Emergency Program Manager. For a list of the home study guides you can write:
Federal Emergency Management Agency
EMI-Independent Study Program
16825 South Seton Avenue
Emmitsburg, Maryland 21727-8998
On the web at: http://www.fema.gov/tab_education.shtm
After the courses are completed FEMA will send the student a nice certificate suitable for framing. In some cases the completed courses are also good for college credit.
My place of employment also sent me to the local branch of the National Safety Council, those Green Cross folks. I attended a seminar on Fire Safety and Confined Space Entry. I also earned a forklift driver’s license through this organization. Since my employer is a member of the council the classes were free of charge and done on work time. The Safety Council offers many classes on industrial safety; many of the classes are useful in any survival situation. Face it, just adding a job skill like driving a forklift helps your personnel survivability in the event of a lay off or plant closing.

My sons showed me another inexpensive way to get some very useful knowledge. They had joined Boy Scouts of America and while they were working on merit badges I flipped through the pamphlet and was surprised at the easy to read booklet and amount of knowledge that it held. Boy Scout merit badge books, there are around a 120, cover subjects from Astronomy to Woodworking. Many of the subjects covered are of use to the person studying to be more self-reliant. Backpacking, Camping, First Aid, Orienteering, Weather, and Wilderness Survival are some of the titles that anyone needing information on can get some quick easy to study knowledge. There are other titles that may also be of use, such as Crime Prevention, Plumbing, Home Repairs, Emergency Preparedness, Rifle and Shotgun Shooting.
I found that my parents were having some land disputes and we needed to talk to a surveyor. I spent the $2 for the Surveying Merit Badge booklet and read it over before we meet with the surveyors. I was able to understand enough of the “trade lingo” to ask the right questions. I discovered that since I understood their language that they were more willing to work with my family than the other folks involved. I couldn’t run a couple of rods of chain and find a corner stake, but I did manage to get the problem resolved to our satisfaction. To develop outdoors skills, working with a local scout troop might be a good idea also. By working with scouts learning to travel in the wilderness, cook outdoors over a fire, build shelters, handy useful knot tying, and working with map and compass can all become basic skills. Boy Scouts also offer leadership training that teaches how to teach the scouts. It is excellent learning, and the cost is usually under $20 for a weekend of hands on training. For information on ordering Boy Scout books and information look in the local phone book or write:
Boy Scouts of America
Supply Division
PO Box 65989
Charlotte, North Carolina 28265-0989
On the web at: www.scouting.org

A friend of mine told me about a class he took at the Criminal Justice Training and Education Center (CJCC.) He worked for the County as a Deputy Dog Warden and was able to take free classes at the CJCC. Since I worked for the county also he wondered if I could take some classes with him. I checked with HR again and yes indeed I could take some classes, for free and on company time, as long as they related to my job. Since not many jobs call for survival skills as part of their skills required, and my maintenance job did not resemble criminal justice training it looked like a dead end. It did work out that I was able to take some classes if I was willing to use vacation days to go. I signed up for classes on Gang Identification and Youth, Drugs and the Community’s Response. Knowing how to spot a gang sign or members and knowing which gang they belong to is much like the old time frontier scouts that could tell which tribe an indian belonged to and could deal better with them. On today’s streets knowledge is a survival skill.
My quest for additional information led me to investigate the local unit of our State Defense Force. I had read an article in the April, 1991 issue of American Survival Guide about State Defense Forces and looked into the one in my area. I joined the local Military Police Battalion and received some excellent training. I was only required to train one 8 hour period a month, generally one Sunday a month and in return I completed Basic Entry Level Training (BELT) class and moved on to other training as well. Attending some full weekend classes I completed the United States Army Reserve Military Police Course. Basic military and police skills are very useful in many survival situations and also add a great deal of self-confidence. Other classes that the Reserves have that I found very useful were Cold Weather and Survival Course, Hazardous Materials Technician Course, and Small Arms Range/Safety Officer Training.In addition to the courses that are offered the monthly drills give an opportunity to use the skills learned in the classroom out in the field for practical application. Land navigation, self-defense, and first aid/buddy aid are routinely re-enforced making those survival skills a strong part of your abilities.
The opportunity for anyone to learn many useful survival skills in out there. The cost for learning these lessons can be very minimal and the skills priceless. The workplace, local Red Cross, local scout troop, or State Defense Force could all add to the storehouse of knowledge, and the cost is very low. In the time of need a cool, well-informed head may be the best survival tool to have.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005