Profile Category

Friday, March 14, 2014

This is our fourth year of prepping, and we are planning to make a full-time move to our retreat location by spring. We believe the Lord is compelling us to move now, and we are working diligently to get there as soon as possible. By the way, if you have been paying attention, the world looks really bad. This weekend was a significant eye-opener, as we cleaned and inventoried our pantry for the move. I would like to share the experience. However, before we do so, you need to have a bit of our background for a full understanding, so please have a little patience.

In early 2010, we purchased an old farm for recreational purposes. It would be hard to find a couple with more predisposition to be preppers than my wife and I. Both of us have a healthy concern for the government; we home school our children; we tend to cook for ourselves when we can; we enjoy the outdoors (hunting, fishing and gardening); and I could go on about how it was a very natural fit. However, both of us did not really have a clue, until I stumbled upon JWR's book Patriots, which opened our eyes and encouraged several positive life changes. I will also add that it is a major plus to have both of us– my wife and I– engaged in this endeavor. We may not always agree, but we continually support and remind each other of our goals and have been making steady progress. Even with all this positive momentum, it is a difficult but rewarding journey.

In late 2010 when we started our food pantry, we took what I would call a “hodge-podge” approach. We read different articles and made lists of what we used and did not use but was recommended by the various publications. There is a tremendous amount of information, and this was a new endeavor for us. So our list would take the following into consideration: rotation of meals; caloric intake/nutritional value; pleasure value (is it something we enjoy i.e. pancakes vs. oatmeal); and last but not least, cost. Before we bought, we went to an Amish bulk store and Costco to look and compare prices versus what was available on the Internet. We have children, and when we started this endeavor we were a fairly typical suburban family. We tended to lean toward home cooked whole food meals. (My wife and I argued this point a bit as "home cooked meals" has come to mean something very different now.) We also favored organic, but we did not turn completely away from fast food and processed boxed meals. We had a small garden to grow vegetables and a small raspberry patch. Still, we also would eat out at restaurants, buy bleached flour, and buy convenience meals, such as frozen pizzas, boxed pasta, and canned sauce. Considering this background, we urgently started on our pantry as priority number one. We just discovered prepping and felt that we were completely unprepared.

We have been diligent about rotating our stock and using what we have, but we have also made some serious errors. As indicated, we are relocating to our retreat full-time, and this weekend we did a complete assessment of our pantry. It was very disappointing. We actually had to throw away food, which I feel is a great sin, and I hope I can prevent some of you from making the same painful mistakes.

The most profound realization that we had is that whatever you are planning for today, especially if you are just starting out, your habits will change. This is probably more so with food, as it is one of our primary concerns. In general, food has become extraordinarily distorted by society and corporations. To give you an idea of how much change occurs, I will share examples from my own family.

In 2010, we assumed we were doing well if we baked a loaf of homemade bread or other baked items. Typically, cookies were baked regularly (maybe once a month), and breads and cakes baked a bit less (once a quarter); all were a treat or dessert. Homemade bread in 2010 consisted of store bought flour (typically bleached) and white sugar. Fast forward to 2014. We now make 70 to 80 percent of our own bread, buns, tortillas, and so forth. Some of it is easy, but others are a true art form. Probably about 50% of the flour we use is our own home-ground from wheat berries or other grains. We continually try to improve, and, if we buy flour, it is stone-ground, whole wheat flour that is as close to wheat berries as possible. All of our grinding has been manual to date. We have been working to substitute honey for sugar, where possible, since honey is readily available. Our reasoning behind this is two-fold– to be better prepared so we do not feel a shock if things change and our belief that it is a much healthier lifestyle. While we have had very little grains go to waste, our understanding of wheat berries had gone from "what the heck are these?" to a household staple. Still, most of my extended family and friends give me a blank look when the term "wheat berries" enters a conversation. In 2010, when we purchased wheat berries, we did so because it was “on the list”, and we had a general understanding that they could be rendered to flour or mush. Now we use them regularly. In hindsight, more wheat berries (easy to move and long-term storage value) would have been a better bet, along with similar grains. However, in 2010, I would never have come to this conclusion.

In 2010, our children were smaller, and fruit is an important part of the diet. Although fresh fruit is what we all prefer, it would not be readily available in the winter in a TEOTWAWKI situation since we live in the Midwest. We purchased canned fruit and fruit in plastic cups with a peel off lid. The children would eat these now and again as a treat, and so we stocked up. As indicated, we purchased a small farm. It has maybe ten apple trees, a good row of grapes, and wild blackberry bushes. This year we canned (a skill we learned over the last three years) enough applesauce to last a year and grape jelly for a good portion of the year. We also purchased peach preserves from a neighborhood co-op. Annually we are putting out more trees and learning as we go. Our children (and nephews) prefer the home-canned fruit to store bought canned fruit. It is good for eating directly, baking, and gifts. We also purchased blueberries from a local farm and froze them into smaller packages. We now have two freezers in addition to the typical one you have in your kitchen. The freezer is filled with frozen green beans (after being quickly blanched), tomato sauce (instead of canned), venison, and pork (which we bought directly from a farmer). Aside from what we grow, we visit local farmers and farmer markets to supplement and set away, so we can understand and learn how much we need. This weekend, I found two packages of expired fruit cups. These are clear plastic, and while some canned items can go past their expiration date, the fruit that was once colorful and eye-appealing was just varying shades of brown. This we had to discard. We also had a good chunk of canned fruit that we had purchased in our initial splurge. These had expiration dates from late 2013 to over the next six to eighteen months. We took those that had expired and we made definite plans to use them, first checking each carefully when opened. Those with future dates are going to food pantries, which I will discuss further.

In 2010, we had at most a month worth of food on hand, and we were suddenly enlightened. We were always thrifty and tried to buy in bulk. With a limited budget, we made purchases from a fear and affordability perspective (i.e. tactical), rather than a strategic perspective. For example, our local store had a sale on canned soup. We purchased four flats of various types– chicken noodle, tomato, cream of mushroom, and cream of chicken. We did the same with chicken stock, buying six cases. You can always use chicken stock. As the dates are expiring or expired, we found that we used up most of the chicken noodle and tomato, but have almost all of the cream soups still sitting in our pantry. We have a lot of chicken stock left. Why? We based our purchases on actual meals, but our meals changed. In 2010, we would use a cream soup as a base with rice and meat to make a cheap and easy meal. Now we cook from scratch using real cream. We have always turned our chicken bones into stock and broth, we just did not take it into consideration when we purchased the other broth, and now we have quite a bit remaining.

We also purchased food in bulk. As members of the local Costco and with a family of four, there are cost-saving opportunities to buy in bulk. Peanut butter, packaged with two jars in a unit, at a discount price is very beneficial, but we also bought impulse emergency items, like a large five-gallon container of soy oil. Oil does not have a long shelf life, and while we used oil, we never made the effort to break this five-gallon container into more accessible containers because it was deemed "for an emergency." This weekend we found that it was over two years past its expiration and will have to be discarded.

So, what are the lessons learned:

  1. Invest in the long term, strategic storage not tactical. Anything that you purchase for long-term use with a good shelf life can always be consumed as needed. Short-term items will expire, so only stock up on what you plan on actually using. If you are not sure about buying something, save your money. Spend it when you are confident.
  2. Have a strong rotational system. This is very simple, but it is key and is necessary for both your long-term strategic reserves and your day-to-day items. Without a good rotation system, you will definitely have waste.
  3. Keep a two-tiered pantry system. Keep long-term (strategic) items separate from short term (tactical) items, and you will be less likely to misplace items or overbuy on regular day-to-day goods. With the prepper mindset, we have a tendency to think “more is better”. It is not. Quality and long-term durability is ideal for setting up a solid prepper pantry. I believe that keeping the longer term strategic items aside simplifies the situation. Of course, we have wheat berries and rice in our short-term, but we refill the stock from the long-term storage. My view is that the long-term strategic stores require us to be more thoughtful and considerate. How much do you want on hand should there be problems? A year, three years, or five years? Whatever is in the short-term pantry is an additional buffer. The short-term tactical stores are a common pantry that we refresh routinely. Both need to be minded, but they have differing purposes.
  4. Keep a side area for items that are recently purchased and need to be rotated in. Designate this area, so it is not used. People can be lazy, and there is not always time to rotate stores. Having a designated area prevents you from accidentally taking something and using it when it needed to go to the back of the storage rotation.
  5. Buy items that are multipurpose versus single purpose. Take wheat berries for example. They can be eaten by being cooked soft, used as a base for a dish, or ground into flour. Flour equals bread, pasta, pastries, and more. Why store flour and pasta? Wheat berries and a grinder are much more flexible.
  6. Consider new skills and life changes, such as gardening, canning, hunting, fishing, and so forth. This is a more difficult endeavor, as we often over- or under-estimate our capabilities and potential for change. My 2010 self would be very surprised at all the new skills and abilities that our family accomplished in such a short period. It is also important to realize that as you seek these skills, they change your mind set. We prefer home baked, home ground bread versus store bought. It has a very different taste, and as a result our eating habits have changed. It is also more rewarding, and you think about your food instead of simply ingesting. In 2014 we plan on expanding our garden and getting our first animals (chickens most likely). We will be educated on canning other produce, thus changing our pantry once again. Also, we had purchased several number 10 cans of freeze-dried eggs, as it was a concern. The concern will be minimized with our own egg production. Still, I am unsure how the expanded garden and chickens will ultimately impact our eating habits and needs in a year or so. Last but not least, gardening can vary dramatically year-to-year. Last year, the drought really impacted every harvest, and we had less canned items. This year the harvest was much better. These are good life lessons should we need to depend upon this food.
  7. Eat what you buy. As part of our panicked buying, we purchased some MREs (Meals Ready to Eat). When we go camping or exploring, we will plan these for a meal one night. Some of them are good, and the children enjoy the novelty. On a rare occasion, they become our quick meal instead of fast food. While it doesn't fully fit our philosophy of what we are working toward with food, it is like an insurance policy that you hope you never need to use. So, we still buy some occasionally, and we are now more educated consumers.
  8. Buy what you eat. It may sound the same, but it is very different. My kids like broccoli, green beans, and corn. These are our go-to vegetables. We are always adding a bag of frozen vegetables in our cart when we shop, and it is easy to lose track of how much your family consumes. If we are cooking dinner and we ask them what they would like for vegetables, this is what they ask for. The green beans we froze have disappeared by Christmas. So next year we will grow and buy more, as room permits. Frozen peas, spinach, and brussel sprouts are eaten when it is specifically planned or when there is nothing else. While we want our children and ourselves to have a variety, it is perfectly acceptable to have multiiple times more broccoli or green beans than peas. The only exception is when we find that something grows better in our garden than others, but gardening is not buying.
  9. Make an annual inventory at a minimum. Inventories can be varied by long-term strategic storage and short-term tactical storage. The long-term inventory should only vary mildly as you utilize and replace. The short-term will alter every time you go to the grocery store. Again, with a prepper mindset, it is easy to purchase something on sale or on a whim or get extra of something you use regularly. I know I bought several cans of Spam, thinking that if we did not have meat it would be nice for variety and keep us alive. An annual inventory does two things. It allows you to understand what you have, and it prevents you from making more tactical purchases. It also allows you to see what you have used and what needs to be used before the expiration date. If you have not historically used an item, figure out how to, or give it away to someone who will. I am going to suggest to my wife that we do it around the Thanksgiving holiday period, as there are food pantries always in need at that time. It also reminds me of how thankful that I am to have a deep larder.
  10. Buy in bulk. It is more cost-effective. If possible, when replacing your long-term storage, try to buy additional at that time. The long-term storage rotation is in five-gallon buckets and other large storage objects. It is easier to do the rotation all at once.
  11. Check expiration dates when you buy an item. This was something we were really good at initially, and it has paid off. While we may have waited a bit too long to use them, it does help extend the life of the food that you buy.
  12. Storage practices are important. Rodents and insects are drawn to stored food, no matter where you live. We have cats and traps, and we still find the occasional mouse. Food that was left in cardboard boxes or plastic bags and left for any amount of time was compromised. We like to store items, like a bag of sugar or flour, in larger plastic totes with locking lids. This provided adequate protection as far as we could tell. Vacuum sealers are also wonderful inventions and have helped greatly with our storage abilities. Ultimately, I would prefer a metal container with the vacuumed packed good inside it.
  13. A second note on storage practices. One of our decisions was to keep items of like-kind in boxes for easier storage, but as we were not at our retreat location, we needed the ability for easy removal in an emergency (should there be time to take extra food). While this helped in storage, it made the rotation a bit more difficult. Keeping items in plain sight does help usage and rotation and allows you to quickly see what you have and what you do not. If you still plan on keeping items stored in boxes, use large labels or even labels off the item itself to help mentally remind you.
  14. We have also had some philosophical changes. We are much more aware of our food and simply distrust the corporations and governments that tell us everything is healthy and fine. While I would say we were always mindful, we have become increasing alarmed at the penetration of GMO's, products made in China, seafood from the Pacific near Japan or Gulf of Mexico, foods grown with chemicals (non-organics), anything provided by Monsanto; and highly processed foods. Most of you may not realize that Subway (a place I think of as somewhat healthy) just removed a plastic stabilizer from their bread recipe. Items we purchased in 2010 with no concern are not as appealing to us now, and we realize we will not eat these items unless there are no other choices.
  15. Focus. We have learned to focus on our long-term goals but also keep it immediate. This means we are looking to ensure we have enough for our immediate family. While it is nice to consider others, there is no doubt if this is really needed, they will show at the door. It is impractical to plan for this scenario. Instead of planning for friends and family members who have ignored your warnings and show up with their hat in hand, plan additional years for your family. Plan for you. Early on we got caught up in “what if so and so arrives”? What about this other person? The best advice I can give is if they are important to you, tell them to be prepared. Otherwise, you may purchase items not intended for you and your family.
  16. Balance pantry purchases with food tools. Items that should be considered are home grain grinders (powered or manual), canning equipment, storage equipment, et cetera. Again, there are tons of information on the Internet, but if you plan to hunt game, investigate getting a sausage press (average cost of $150) versus having a butcher do it for you. It is more work, but once you find a recipe you like, the sausage is much tastier. Plus, you know exactly what meat and ingredients are contained within. Being economical, I have bought a lot of items second hand at garage and estate sales. Some of it is better than modern day; other times, as we learn and get better, we purchase something that fits our needs more appropriately. Appropriate equipment allows you to get greater variety out of basic foods.

    As an aside, since the weekend we went through our pantry, our Kitchen Aid mixer died. The comparable mixer model to my grandmother's, which lasted forever, is the professional Kitchen Aid, which runs approximately $700. This is a clear example of inflation. The average models are good for cakes but not for bread, especially hand-ground flour, which is a bit tougher. We are looking at Bosch, Swedish DLX, or possibly a second hand floor model industrial Hobart. Our needs change as we do more ourselves, but in the meantime, my family is getting an additional workout kneading dough.

  17. While JWR does not like recommendations that you have not done, this one is not a life and death matter. I think it would be a good idea to keep a food log and track what we really eat, including what is wasted or discarded. However, with everything we have going on this is ultimately too time-consuming for us right now. However, if things settle down, tracking exactly what we eat would help us improve our pantry. Still, planning a strategic pantry requires you to consider years ahead. Neither of my children are teenagers yet, so I fully anticipate them to eat more and differently as they age. However, certain basics should be able to be identified. The longer a food log would be kept, the greater the understanding of eating habits and needs.

At the end of the day, we threw away about $100 dollars worth of food. We have $150 in food that we will not eat before expiration, which we have donated to charity. There is another $100 dollars that we are searching for a home; it is expired but still good. Many food pantries do not accepted canned goods that have expired and with good reason. While canned food should last past their expiration, the canning process is not the same as it once was. When we open the expired food, some of it has gone bad, and so we are very careful not to make ourselves ill at the expense of saving a few dollars. While I am comfortable with giving these canned goods away, I want a charity that understands that some of the dates have expired and not create extra work for them. At this point though, while I have read of charities on the Internet that accepted expired canned goods, I have not found one nearby.

This is really only a minor setback. If we were not planning to move, it could have become worse. Additionally, it aggravates me as I could have several more 5-gallon buckets of wheat berries or a decent ammo reloading station instead. Experience is a great teacher, which is why I am sharing with all of you.

One additional alternative that we cannot take advantage of is utilizing the expired food to supplement as animal feed. If we had pigs or chickens, we could supplement their food, with restrictions of course. While I prefer to give it to those who are needy, this is a potential use for those who have the opportunity. It prevents completely wasting it, if there are no nearby charities. If we were at our retreat, a good majority that had gone bad would have been composted.

Of the food that we are giving to charity, we are very careful about OPSEC. I do not want to arrive at a food bank with a trunk load of canned goods of varying types, from various stores, all about to expire in the next six months. To me that would announce that this is someone who takes great efforts to manage their pantry, which implies that it is well-stocked. To minimize our presence, we have broken the items down into local grocery store shopping bags (which are less obvious and more common than boxes). Our plan is to take a bag or two to our church pantry every weekend, not all at once. If we need to get rid of it quicker, due to our move, I would take them to different pantries since most churches do have a food pantry. If I had issues with a large bucket of wheat berries that I needed to give away, I would most likely drive a bit away to donate to ensure nobody recognizes me and make it difficult to identify my home location. A donation of wheat berries would be a key identifier as someone who has a deep pantry. As food scarcity increases, make plans on how to be charitable without being obvious.

The thought of having to experiment with canned food to determine if it is safe is unappealing. It makes me think of Mad Max eating dog food. There are many articles about how long food can last in cans, and I am not going to go into detail, since it is readily available on the Internet. However, the expiration dates are designed to protect the company, not you. After these dates, the company who produced the item is basically telling you to eat at your own risk in order to protect them from lawsuits, which have occurred. Otherwise, there would be no dates. Food poisoning is common, and every time we eat food with an expired date, we make a judgment call. This would be much harder in a TEOTWAWKI situation, when you have to make a choice to starve or possibly poison yourself, without any medical treatment available.

To close, I want to leave you with some last thoughts. To sum up the experience, the biggest mistake we made is trying to buy security. We are financially stable and spent our money in an attempt to secure our family and build a deep larder, dependent on the current food processing system. Everybody eats. A loaf of bread is a common staple. Prepping is more than just having extra flour on hand to make bread. Prepping is a lifestyle choice; it's a philosophy of understanding how and practicing to take a wheat seed and cultivate a field, winnow, and mill into flour, and bake a loaf of bread, and share alike with family, friends, and strangers, and have enough left over to do it again next year. There is a great amount of satisfaction when the food on your table is wrought from your own hands. The food is tastier and healthier, and there is a whole lot less waste. Once you can accomplish this feat, you no longer worry what your children will eat. You no longer make panicked or spur of the moment purchases to stock your pantry. Your choices become simpler,and when you do buy food at the grocery store, you consider first what it would take to make it yourself and how, exactly, did it get here. Our family is not quite there yet, but we are getting closer. After looking back over the last four years, I am hopeful to see what we discover in the next four. Good luck and good prepping.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Mr. and Mrs. India

Ages: 34 & 33

SOs: Three children 6 and under

Profession: U.S. Military Serviceman


He: Grew up in Florida, raised in a self-reliant family, attend and commissioned from a military educational institution, married his sweetheart, completed pilot training, and is currently stationed at his sixth military installation.

She: Grew up in Idaho, raised by a self reliant and second amendment loving family, moved off to school, took work as a nanny, worked as an accountant, is currently a loving mother and supportive military spouse. For the most part she lives the self reliant lifestyle with things like grinding wheat and making bread while he spends money on the latest and greatest gadgets. Present Home: 4 bedroom/2 car garage, government house on a northern tier military installation. I would get paid a housing allowance if I lived off the installation and there could be lots of self reliant benefits to doing this, but at this station we choose to live on the installation. This is a choice we have to make during every move and consider many things such as housing availability, local market conditions, commuter costs, school zoning, and the areas grade based on the book "Rawles on Retreats and Relocation".

Income: $60,000 year not including benefits.
Additional Income: An occasional eBay sale, the Mrs. teaches piano, and extra cash from my frequent temporary duty (TDY) tours - I normally return from a TDY with more than half of the per diem by being frugal with food and not over indulging in entertainment. And when I say entertainment I mean not spending too much at the new-to-me gun stores, junk yards, used book stores, pawn shops, and Army/Navy stores.

Investments: We sold most of our IRAs early in 2008 to pay off debt. I now consider survival prep my top investment- food, ammo, extra magazines, extra receivers, books, and junk silver. We are currently saving to start a Swiss America gold account, and eventually purchase $1,000 face vale junk silver bags for each family member.

Vehicles: Primary - 80 series Toyota Land Cruiser. Grocery Getter - Honda minivan. We also have a Gen 1 Suzuki King Quad (slow but capable and carbureted), bicycles and bicycle trailer. Ideally I would own a complete spare primary vehicle but the frequent moves and lack of space make this difficult. For now I perform a lot of preventative maintenance to keep the vehicles in top condition and try to stock critical spares.

Firearms: Custom Remington 700 .308, four FALs with configuration ranging from Izzy HB to 18” carbine, M1A worked over by Smith Enterprises, S&W M4gery, DMPS M4gery, Mossberg 590, Winchester SX2 tactical, three Ruger 10/22s, Beeman HW77 .177 pellet rifle, Ruger SP101, Springfield Armory 1911, Glock 22, Browning Hi-Power, Ruger Mk 22/45, Scout rifle built on .308 Ishapore Enfield action, FR8, Savage 24C. The frequent moves are going to force me to shrink and further standardize my armory. I also made the mistake of buying a normal gun safe and moving it has been a huge and heavy pain. I plan on selling it and replacing it with one of the Zanotti Armor [6-piece modular] gun safes that you recommend. I would also like to add a crossbow to the collection for the silent gathering of meat if the Schumer hits the fan.

Ammo: Over 50,000 rounds with the bulk of that in .22 LR. One of my top priorities at this station is to finally unpack all my reloading supplies and purchase whatever is required to complete my setup so I can have an operational reloading bench. I am also on the lookout for a .177 pellet mold for my Beeman. I know accuracy would be way down but I think I could have an unlimited supply of pellets when old tire weights and discard car batteries are considered.

Fuel: 25 gallons in 5 gallon Scepter [current US mil-spec] gas cans, roughly 30 gallons of propane in various tank sizes. This is about as large of a supply as I can store, rotate, and do a permanent change of station (PCS) with. I have printed plans for a portable 12 volt DC fuel pump and will have parts when this year’s snow melts off the local junk yards.

Water: On the grid but we have a two week emergency supply (90 gallons stored in 15 gallon water barrels) and a Big Berkey water filter with buckets for carrying water from a local source to filter if needed.

Property tax: $0/year (one positive aspect of living in military housing)

Gardens: Allowed on military installations with restrictions. In the past I had been skeptical about planting a garden because the yard had to be returned to sod when changing stations. From a financial sense, rolling out sod when we leave would probably be more expensive than the money we would save in crop production. However, after considering several posts by fellow SurvivalBlog readers, I now think the expenditure will be a wise investment in learning the ends and outs of gardening. Keep in mind that on some military installations they have set aside large lots near housing that are opened for families to plant gardens - this would be the best of both worlds. We have a collection of hand tools to do the gardening but are limited on spares due to space and household good weight limitations.

Livestock: Not allowed on installation but I have seen people get away with having a hutch or two for the ‘pet’ rabbits.

Dogs: Allowed in military housing but I do not have one at this time. The spouse/kids/neighbors have to be supportive of a dog to make it work in the military. When the kids get older and can help out when I’m TDY, it will be an addition to our family.

Security: We live in the ultimate gated community provided by full time military police/security forces. When off the installation, personal security provided by sidearm and concealed carry permit. House has normal doors and locks but the family is usually in a low state of awareness due to the gated community feel. Five sets of various adult sized Kevlar vests and helmets. A 2nd gen night vision scope that is waiting for a rifle mount. My top priority in this area is to get the stars to align (namely: fly out grandma to watch the kids and find some reasonable transportation/lodging) so that I can use my long stored certificate and purchase an additional course so my wife and I can attend Front Sight together.

Food storage: Close to a year of staples (grains, beans, rice, powdered milk, honey, and salt), At least three month’s worth of canned/perishable goods that is constantly rotated, and 2+ weeks of MREs. I also have a collection of traps that Buckshot recommends and feel confident I could add meat to the table at any large military installation. When notified of a PCS, my wife starts using the canned and perishable goods almost exclusively so we can minimize our household goods weight. The household weight limit is something we always struggle with. We have averaged 1/3 more than the allowed weight on our last three moves but we have come up with a solution that has worked for us. We do a partial Do IT Yourself move (DITY move) where the military pays a contractor to move part of our goods and they pay us to move the rest of the goods (up to the maximum allowable weight based on rank and dependents). When the contract movers show up we have them load all the large and bulky items such as furniture, bicycle trailer, and empty water barrels. This usually amounts to about 2/3 of our belongings based on size but only 1/3 based on weight. We then pack the rest of the goods in a rented moving truck ourselves. The stuff like food storage, books, and the safe easily fit in the rental truck and adds up to about 2/3 of our total weight. Although we only get paid for about half of what we move we still make more than enough to cover all our expenses and avoid having to pay a carrier to move the excess weight.

Communication: HF base station is a Yaesu FT-840 with every factory option. I also have a Realistic Pro 2006 scanner, a Yaesu FT-8900 for the Land Cruiser, and a couple Yaesu handhelds. Exterior antennas are not allowed in military housing so I have to get by with low profile dipoles and a good antenna tuner. Right now I am encouraging my wife to get her Technician license. Besides wanting a VHF radio for the base station, I also need a battery backup system that can serve as our emergency electrical power supply. I want to be able to feed the battery bank with a small generator as well as a fairly large but portable solar panel(s).

Survival Library: Extensive with all the SurvivalBlog Bookshelf recommendations as well as most of the books recommended by readers.

Hobbies: Family adventures, church activities, vehicle maintenance/upgrades, Scouting, "$200 stamp collecting" (AWC and AAC firearms sound suppressors), increasing food storage.

Next project: At our current location I need to develop an emergency home heating plan. I wish we could add a wood stove but will probably have to settle with a kerosene space heater. I am also developing my exit strategy from the military – hopefully more to follow in the form of another writing contest submission.
I have deviated from the normal profile format and added a couple paragraphs to sum up the pros and cons of living the survival lifestyle while serving in the military.

Pros of active duty military: The opportunity to serve with many like minded selfless patriots, job security, benefits such as medical and commissary, requirement to stay physically fit, installation amenities such as gym and auto hobby shop, and a good retirement if I can make it to 20 years. I’ll be honest, the retirement plan will probably keep me in. I’ll be 44 when eligible to retire and I like the idea of being able to move to our desired retreat location, take a low paying job if nothing else is available and count on the immediate retirement income to make up the difference.

Cons: Not being able to live at and develop our desired retreat location, frequent/extended TDYs keeping me away from my immediate family, being stationed away from extended family, frequent moves, and the possibility of living in a state not up to the Constitutional standards of firearm and suppressor ownership.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Background - I am a 40-year old male, my Missus is a year younger and we have three children. The children are active in school, church and 4H. The eldest is a known "good worker" in the neighborhood and during summer vacation is in high demand for haying, etc. Middle child is interested in chickens and sewing. The youngest is an all round good helper and loves to go to the woods.
I have always been interested in farming and in non-electric tools and equipment. My off-farm job keeps me busy 50 hours per week. Missus does not work outside of the home.
I can build or fix most anything. I got those skills from my father although he is better and faster at it that I am. I have never had a high income so we "use it up, wear it out, make do or do without".

Present home - We own a 40-acre farm in Maritime Canada, 19 miles from the nearest town. We live half a mile off a paved road and the house cannot be seen from the pavement. The nearest store is 17 miles away and we are not on a road to anywhere. The likelihood of people crowding through here escaping the city, which is 110 miles away, is nil.

The house is a 130-year-old storey and half. We have a large barn, wood shed, workshop and a couple of smaller outbuildings. There are about 8 acres of woodlot, 10 acres of hayfield, a couple acres of blueberries and the rest is (now) fenced for pasture. There was no fencing on the place when we moved in and I put up woven wire as we can afford it. We have a small flock of sheep, a few laying hens and a rooster. If we had to, we could live on lamb, eggs and the odd cockerel. We also have a beef cow, a calf, an ancient draft horse and in the summer we raise meat birds and the odd pig. I am working toward improving our pasture and hayfields so that we lessen our dependence on purchased grain and hay. Raising Highland cattle, Tamworth pigs and Royal Palm turkeys may be in our future.
Property tax - $400 per year.

Debt – After my "war on debt" 14 months ago we are down to a small mortgage and that’s it. We did have six credit cards with a total balance of $3,000 and were always behind with the power and telephone bills. We were paying out $100 per month just in interest. The cards were paid off and four were cancelled, the power was brought up-to-date and is now on a 12-month budget plan. With no debt and no interest to pay, life is soooo much better.

Investments – Through payroll deduction, I have put a bit aside in Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs) for the last 17 years. Two months ago we had $80,000 in RRSPs but since the [equities] crash(es), we are down to $50,000. I have always felt that the farm is my retirement security so I am not too worried.
Right now any income from the farm is rolled back into the farm in the form of hay, seed, fencing, etc.

Shop - The workshop houses all of my tools (hand and power) as well as a blacksmith forge with a hand-cranking blower and a hand operated drill press. I heat the building with a wood stove. I like my circular saw, reciprocating saw and electric drill but I can easily fall back on my handsaws and brace & bit. Supplies that I need to stock up on include files, hacksaw blades, welding rods and coal for the forge.

Water – We have a gravity feed water system for the house so there is water regardless of the power grid situation. There is a year-round river at the base of our property and several intermittent brooks. There is also an unused well by the house and a well for the barn. We use an electric jet pump and tank for the barn but I have purchased a hand cistern pump for on top of this well. Lastly there is a small spring fed well where the old milk house used to be about 70 years ago.

Heat - We have always had an oil furnace, oil-fired water heater and oil tank and an airtight wood stove. When oil reached it’s high last summer I decided to make a change. I replaced the oil-fired water heater with an electric one and bought eight cords of hardwood. I also installed a mini-split heat pump in the end of the house farthest from the wood stove. So far this winter we have not used the oil furnace at all.
We had removed a wood-fired kitchen range a few years ago due to insurance and the space it took up but I am strongly leaning on re-installing it. I may even install a range boiler so we can have hot water.

Firearms – I have a British Lee-Enfield .303 and about 20 rounds and a .22 with about 200 rounds. I need to stock up on .303 [British rifle] ammo, a gun cleaning kit and I should get a sling and scope. I may also get a shotgun and some bird shot.

Security – Just the dog, motion lights and the fact that the house is on an open knoll away from the road. We have good neighbors and we all watch out for the other’s property. The main drawback is distance – each neighbor (north, east and south) is a little over half a mile away. Near the paved road we have had thefts of anything laid down in sight of the road – ladders, fence post maul, gas-powered water pump for a garden, and even chickens. Houses that are left empty have had break-ins and some have been burned down.

Fruit/garden – Perennial trees and plants interest me as a source of food that will be dependable no matter what our economic or health situation. We have several apple trees and rose bushes on the property. We are bringing back the blueberry field and the rhubarb plants. I have planted strawberries, raspberries and chives.
The children and I plant a fairly large vegetable garden every year. This year, after the cow and the sheep were done with it, there wasn’t much left for us. This spring we fence the garden.
This fall, for the first time ever, I purchased next year’s garden seed. This way, no matter what happens, we won’t have to worry about finding seed in the spring.
To extend our growing season, we plan on build a greenhouse onto the south side of one of the sheds in the not-too-distant future.

Food storage – We have three freezers full of chicken, turkey, beef and pork. Our generator is to protect the contents of these freezers. I have a lot of salt on hand so if we had a prolonged grid down situation I could salt down the beef and pork. We have also started stocking up on Mason jars and lids, and bottling accessories. The remains of our garden produce go into our cellar.
After my first week of reading SurvivalBlog last summer, I went to the local grocery wholesaler and bought 200 lbs of dried goods. I made the mistake of telling the guys at work so now instead of being the nut with farm; I am the survivalist nut with the farm. I now keep all preps to myself.

I have laid in a stock of flour, yeast, sugar, salt, rolled oats, white pea-beans, baking powder, baking soda, molasses, peanut butter, honey, raisins, nuts, canned goods, canola and olive oil, spices, pepper, pasta & sauce, rice, dried onion, powdered milk, cream of wheat, pancake mix, hot chocolate, tea, coffee, juice powder, and hard candy. We manage to put an item or two in our deep larder every week. I have been keeping my eye out for a grain mill as we can easily put in 1⁄4 - 1⁄2 acre of wheat.

Health – We keep our prescriptions filled or re-filled. My oldest child and I have just completed a first-aid course.
We’ve begun to stock up on: toothpaste, tooth brushes, dish soap, bar soap, Dettol disinfectant, Buckley’s Mixture cold medicine (tastes awful but it works), Raleigh’s Medicated Ointment, multi vitamins, vitamin C, aspirin, female items, Band-Aids & tape, toilet paper, peroxide, deodorant, lip balm, nail trimmers, and razors. I have just purchased a large first-aid kit for the house and a small one for the car. I will eventually add a minor surgery kit, which would be handy if just used for veterinary emergencies.

Vet – I have a large plastic toolbox for our growing supply of veterinary items. I keep a supply of needles, syringes, worm treatment, penicillin, castration bands, iodine, foot treatment, etc. I don’t shear my own sheep but this year I picked up Oster electric shears on eBay for a great price. I did try out the shears on our longhaired dog. He healed up nicely and didn’t hold a grudge.

Fishing – I have a large supply of hand line gear, a small supply of trout rods, and a small gill net and net knitting needles. We have a small fiberglass dory with two sets of oars.

Vehicles – We have a late 1990s mid-size car and a mid-2000s mini-van. Both are in good shape.

Communication – Other than the usual telephone, we have two walkie-talkies and a hand crank radio [receiver]. We live out beyond cellular service. I plan to get a short wave radio. Several hours into a power outage, our phone goes dead due to small fuel capacity for the Phone Company’s generator down the road. I would like to have some way to communicate with my parents (three hours away) and my siblings (one and three hours away) but we would all have to have Ham radios and I know that won’t happen.
TEOTWAWKI – farming - I have been assembling a collection of a few small tractors and 3-point hitch equipment. My main concern is that when gas becomes scarce and too expensive to purchase I will have no way to harvest hay for winter fodder. I have a small horse-drawn mower that I plan to restore. That way if worse comes to worst, I could at least mow hay and put it in the barn loose. In such a time, horses would be at a premium but I know how to hew an ox head-yoke so a horned steer or two and we’re back in business.

Long term goals – "harden" the house with better doors, dig a trout pond, build a greenhouse, increase firewood and hay stores, increase gasoline storage for the generator and chain saw, install a small safe, and buy more ammunition.

In conclusion, in a TEOTWAWKI grid up situation we will not have to change our lifestyle at all. In a prolonged grid down situation, we’ll be eating a lot of salt beef and beans in the winter and fresh veggies and chicken in the summer. - "Mr. Enfield" in the Maritimes

Monday, December 1, 2008

A rental three bedroom roomy apartment in suburbs. One hour from capital city of 30,000 on a relatively large Caribbean island, with nearer smaller towns. Ten minute drive to large mall, and 'Big Box' mart.

Ages: 44 and 28

SOs: Two children, 12 year old and 2 year old.

ANNUAL INCOME:varies from $9,000 to $13,000.

PROFESSION: Photographer/Entrepreneur and Seamstress/Homemaker

INVESTMENTS: Various modest financial tools including stocks, CDs, savings, mutual funds, annuity, and Silver Eagles.

VEHICLES: Nissan station wagon (2000), 18-speed mountain bike

FIREARMS BATTERY: No firearms, due to excessively restrictive, outdated, draconian, colonial laws. Also, most government policy makers are hoplophobes. Unless one is wealthy, then the chances of affording the necessary bribe to senior officials for a firearms license is slim to remote.

MAIN BATTERY: No firearms. 2 air guns: RWS magnum .177 smoothbore air rifle. (1,000 fps). Webley Tempest .177 smoothbore air pistol. (450 fps).

STORED AMMO: 2,700 pellets, plus 1,000-2000 always on hand for weekly practice with elder son, wife and fellow shooters.







2 FRS radios, with charger, 2x NiMH batteries, capable of AAA x 4 alkaline. Cell phones. AM/FM radio. 8 AAA, 8 AA rechargeable batteries.

WATER STORAGE: 6 days for family of 4 (84 litres) inside home. Bleach and buckets with lids. Two 400 gallon tanks in yard, but this must be shared with two other families. Building has roof guttering that can be easily harvested during an emergency. Nearby rivers and streams can provide even more.

FOOD STORAGE: 6 weeks+ for a family of four. Wife thinks we comfortably have more than 2 months food and that I'm being overly conservative in my estimate. These include over 90 cans, honey, salt, sugar, Ramen, flour, pasta, powdered milk, baking powder, yeast, beans, rice, cooking oil etc. We have also included comfort foods such as cookies, peanut butter, potato chips, wholesome cereals (muesli, oats, granola, etc.). There are other foods that I have not included, but all the foods that we have stored are foods we eat regularly (thanks to SurvivalBlog).

Poultry, fish, TP, disposable diapers are bought in bulk. Some of the poultry and fish are stored in the next door neighbor's freezer. They are a retired couple with no kids.

A few thousand open pollinated seeds: corn, eggplant, pigeon peas, sorrel, pumpkin.

MEDICAL: This is one of our weakest areas, but we've still managed to accumulate a few items. Oral rehydration salts, bandages, gauze, medical tape, syringes, surgical gloves, baby wipes, painkillers, anti-pyretics, anti-fungals, anti-inflammatories, anti-diarrheals, antihistamines, isopropyl alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, sulfa tablets, Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflamatory Drugs (NSAIDs), baby fever medication and a few more.

OTHER PREPS: A family Bug Out Bag with items that will sustain us for three days or more. Our preps are bucketed, boxed, bagged or in otherwise mobile-ready condition for quick transport if necessary. A detailed family emergency plan is on the fridge door, with a copy in the BOB.

Even though beginners, we've also included toilet paper (2 months), feminine napkins (3 months), maps, matches, lighters, tools, batteries, changes of clothing, toothpaste, toothbrushes, soaps, pens, notepads, games that require no batteries (chess, checkers, dominoes etc), lots of batteries, chargers, cash, WD-40, oils, reading glasses, knives, children's books, cleavers, candles, Thermos flask, utility gloves, dust masks and a few other items.

All important documents have been copied (2 copies each) with a copy kept in the BOB. Soft copies are also kept on a flash drive, as well as on CDs. Our preps, even though modest and woefully lacking, have taken us almost three years to stockpile--the same time I have been a SurvivalBlog reader.

HOBBIES: Shooting, gardening, reading, out-door activities with the kids, hunting, photography, sewing.

Both of us were born and raised Christians in the Caribbean. Don't wear our religion on our sleeves. Live in an area that is fairly 'family-friendly' with many parks, schools, playgrounds and other green spaces in every direction. Our children are happy and healthy.

We are currently looking for land to buy within 20-40 miles of our present location. Building our dream home/retreat will be the next big project of our lives.

Our country is experiencing an economic boom with 13 continuous years of growth, due to abundant hydrocarbons. Headline inflation is over 13% and growing. Food inflation is 25-40%.

Thrift and proper planning allows us to prep, while others who earn much more than we do can't seem to make their monthly pay cheques last more than three weeks. We eat out only once (or in a good month—twice) per month, while adding two or three cans to our stockpile per grocery visit. We scour the sales, visit thrift stores, and attend garage sales.

We are trying to prepare for the upcoming inevitable changes and seek to be self-reliant. The country has had a military uprising in 1970, and an attempted coup in 1990 that left many dead; several buildings in the capital city burnt to the ground and widespread looting, curfews, criminal activity, even by law enforcement and military personnel. Due to predatory, arcane, colonial laws against individual rights to own and bear arms we own no firearms yet.

He was an active member of a local rifle club for years, learning and shooting pistols (.22, .38 and 9mm) on the 25m range twice a week.
Wife and son, 12, now learning to shoot the pistol. They like it. The air rifle heavy for them. If she applies for her own, then we'd buy a smaller air rifle that is comfortable for both wife and son.

Why did you choose your location?
Area close to an airport, golf course, mall, hills, rivers, many farms, schools, rapid public transportation system. Good roads, farmers market, many green spaces, several middle class communities, great for small, medium businesses. Good hunting on state lands close by. Three industrial estates. National disaster planning authority's head office is in the area. They don't provide any tangible pre-disaster help though; just information leaflets. Their methods are reactive, bureaucratic and slow. They don't partner meaningfully with the public.

What are the drawbacks to the region?
Violent crime can be a serious factor, as throughout most of the island. Close-by hills prone to forest fires during dry season. Nearest fire station has only one tender and is approximately 10 minutes away. Recently, minor flooding has been an issue.

Who will be joining you at your retreat if the balloon goes up?
No one. We'll have to be self sufficient. But next door neighbors, a retired couple will be mutually useful. He has a ton load of tools, practical skills & know how. She an avid kitchen gardener, wine maker, cook.
We also have a written plan-–should home get too sticky--with evacuation to relatives with 3 good rural retreats, in 3 different directions. Due to our modest preps, we won't be a burden to them initially. But should the situation persist into months, then we'd have to get creative.

How long do you expect that it will be before order is restored?
Three to six weeks. Or longer.

What is your worst case scenario?
Category five hurricane followed by flood, then crime surge, which may include bold, violent, daytime home invasions by gangs. Aviation accident, with clogged highways and main roads. No electricity, water. Groceries, pharmacies closed, and thence looting. Police confiscating legit gun owners' weapons (which is their counterintuitive policy during certain types of emergencies), while leaving criminals armed. Foreign forces arrive to 'help' (steal, rape, kill, plunder).

What personal circumstances have shaped your preparations, and how?
Observing the events of attempted coup in my country. Also, seeing and reading of the horrors experienced by those unprepared folks in Louisiana during Katrina, and the government's (non)action that made a bad situation hellish.

I never want my family to stand in line for food, water, shelter, medical care or rescue. Nor to be at the mercy of others, like waiting for NGOs, government agencies to help us.

One can observe other events around the globe that create refugees in their own communities. Such as Myanmar cyclone that killed over 60,000 and it's aftermath. Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica are perennially ravaged by hurricanes. [As of this writing in late 2008.]

What shortcomings does your retreat have that you would like to improve if you had the opportunity?
Houses are too close. Not enough land between. Difficult to defend against three or more armed, determined intruders.

What are your long term goals?
Live a wholesome, productive Christian life that best prepares us to cope with any problems that will arise. Allow our children to learn through observing us consistently making the right choices, supported by the right actions in every situation encountered. Learn and practice regularly, new useful survival skills. Ensure our children survive and thrive in this unpredictable world.
Buy land and house on one of the picturesque mountains in the area.
Get several battle rifles, pistols, shotguns and several thousand rounds of ammo. Train with them regularly.
Enough land (5 acres +) to grow food, raise livestock (chickens, ducks, goats, dogs, cats, rabbits, fish), build shooting range and build dream home with additional buildings for a small shared community of like minded moral, ethical families and individuals.

Most of our friends are woefully unprepared (we were there only three years ago) and discreet enquiries confirm this. We hope through gentle reason, logic and moral suasion to help some take their first steps in family preparedness. No one was present to help us when we began almost three years ago, and most of what we learned came from SurvivalBlog. For this, we are eternally grateful to you and your contributors.

JWR Recommendations:
As your budget allows, buy a small solar charger for your AA and AAA NiMH batteries. In the short term--while you are waiting for the slow-moving wheels of bureaucracy to turn,--you should acquire high-power, large bore air rifles (such as the Quackenbush .308) for each teen and adult family member.Also buy a couple of real (not flimsy "decorator") sharpened swords (such as Cold Steel Warrior series Katanas or Wakazashis), and couple of 26.5mm flare pistols for "boating emergencies", with a large assortment of flares. Get plenty of parachute flares for illumination and either "meteor" or "cluster" type flares for dissuading any would-be "Pirates of the Caribbean."

When you build you new home, pick out a parcel of land with advantageous (defendable) terrain, and plan for security measures throughout the design process. Ditto for energy and water self-sufficiency. Some key design points to consider: Masonry construction, minimally-sized extra-thick plexiglas windows (with bars), all entries accessed via very stout steel doors (with two extra hinges, set in steel frames that are securely bolted deep into the masonry with numerous large diameter bolts). All these features could easily be explained as "hurricane-proof" architecture.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Dear Mr. Rawles,

I read Mr. Romeo's retreat plans, and I would like to add a couple of things to his preparations list. The one glaring omission I see in his list is a lack of HF communications gear. VHF radios are line of sight communications, which is great if you're planning on staying within range of the coast. If he plans on heading out to deeper waters though, HF gear becomes a lifeline to Pacific maritime nets, weather information, and other useful resources. Even if he doesn't plan on transmitting, an HF receiver would allow him to listen to shortwave broadcasts. Radio Australia and Radio New Zealand broadcast to the Pacific almost around the clock, as well as other world services. I would think he could even tune into a lot of American medium wave AM stations at night as these radio waves carry well over water.

I think his case might be one of the few where an upgrade to a .50 caliber [BMG] rifle might be warranted as well. If the coasts of East Africa are any guide, the high seas could be an extremely dangerous place to be after a major disruption. The 50 caliber would make his a vessel that most pirates wouldn't want to bother with.

Just my $.02 worth, adjusted for inflation. Keep up the great work! - Tim in Baltimore


Thanks for all you do: I read your recent advice to a mariner to buy several parachute flares if they are within his budget. At ~$70 USD per flare that's a bit steep when compared to buying a east-bloc (mine's Polish,) 26.5mm flare gun as seen here for $30. These flare guns are not considered deadly weapons by the BATFE, so there is no restriction on their shipment by mail.
Furthermore, a box of 10 Czech army surplus white parachute flares will run $40. [Although they don't reach the same altitude and are not as bright as the ones that JWR suggested,] this would allow anyone to have 10 flares for the price of one. Multiple colors are also available. For full disclosure, I have no connection to the "Ammo to Go" company other than being a regular customer of theirs who is quite happy with the service and their prices, and I recommend them to friends. BTW, I recently got 20 rounds of AP ammo for my 8x57mm Mauser--something that is nearly impossible to find elsewhere!) Keep on rocking in the free world! - Eminence Frontman

JWR Adds: I also own a 26.5mm flare pistol, and recommend them. Mine is a Bundeswehr surplus P2A1, manufactured by Heckler und Koch (HK). I should also mention that there are chamber adapters made by several companies that allow US-standard 12 gauge nautical flares to be fired in 26.5mm flare pistols. One manufacturer of these adapters that I recommend is Tactical Innovations. And, BTW, the same company makes excellent milled aluminum 25-round magazines for Ruger 10/22 rimfire rifles. My family has extensively tested one of these magazines here at the Rawles Ranch and found that they are very reliable and trouble-free. It might be wise to order a few of these magazines before the upcoming election. Any new ban on full capacity magazines will sure cause prices to triple overnight.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Retreat: Live-aboard 30-Foot Sailboat

Age: One male 34 years old

Background: Grew up in small town next to Vandenberg Air Force Base, watching missiles being launched and sometimes blown up ["flight terminated"] over the ocean. I always knew that seeing one missile being launched meant "test" and that two or more mean "imminent death". Grew up with most "toys" being bought at army surplus stores. My brother and I were the only kids who when we played "war" dressed in full army gear, complete with combat boots, helmet with outer cloth cover stuffed with branches, belt with two canteens, belt back pack, shovel, ammo cases, full camo clothes...the list goes on and on.

I moved to a southern California harbor 40 miles from Santa Cruz Island about two years ago to be closer to work (and distance myself from the nuke magnet--Vandenberg AFB). I have been getting everything on the boat ship shape for last two years. I have also been buying survival gear suited for an ocean retreat WTSHTF.

Annual Income: Was $46,000 a year until I got laid off three months ago.

Investments: So far 30 grams Pamp Suisse bullion, survival gear, food stores

Present Home: 30 foot Catalina Sloop sailboat that was but in the 1970s. I have upgraded the rear stern rails to ones with incorporated rear seats, repaired both sails, replaced the lifelines, replaced all essential lighting with solar powered LED lighting and have kerosene backup lighting in every berth. I also have solar powered exterior lighting.

For entertainment I have an XPower solar power pack that will charge my Creative Zen and portable DVD player starting from dead batteries with a one day charge on the power pack. That gives me 3-4 hours of DVDs and 11-12 hours of MP3 music a day, every day [for pennies in the lifetime cost of the system]. I have spare new batteries for all three units in the boat. Since I live aboard I am tax exempt and only pay $45 USD every two years for craft registration. I also have to pay $20 USD once a year to have harbor patrol give me a live aboard safety inspection. Insurance is $400 a year.

Vehicles: I have a 2005 Tank Urban Sporty 150cc scooter made out of chineseum and a 1999 Honda civic LEV (low emissions vehicle), they cost about $120 USD a year for registration and about $600 a year to insure with the minimum required by law. The scooter gets about 60-to 80 mpg and the Civic gets 30-38 mpg but I mostly ride the scooter.

Firearms: Winchester 12 gauge semi auto with 300+ rounds of birdshot (also have bandoleer that holds 50 rounds). Compound bow and arrows. Flare gun and 10 flares. About 60 yards cheap floating rope. (This is a defensive weapon) to foul the props of any would be attacking boats Just cut it into 10 foot strips and throw into water. I also have a machete, an axe, a Blackie Collins design Gerber clip lock serrated knife as well as about 30 other (various) knives.

Gardens/Orchards/Food source: What's the biggest highway in the world that is full of food? The ocean, it is also the biggest moat in the world.

Property Tax: None.

Communications: VHF radio handheld and onboard units for emergency use, cell phone for domestic calls.

Food Storage: 50 pounds of rice, large supply of canned ham, large supply of canned food, I have also stored a lot of extra salt and cooking oil onboard for bartering purposes. I have room to store 20 gallons water built into the boat and have room for about 50 more gallons in storage.

Fuel Storage: 20 gallon tank built into the boat, five gallon tank in the dinghy and 5-1 gallon tanks under the cockpit seats.

Survival gear: Propane barbeque with extra canisters of LP, PUR Survivor 06-LL Desalinator Watermaker, 400 count 65 mg potassium iodide tablets sealed in factory bottles, solar lighting inside and out, solar fan that I made that works day and night.

Two fishing poles and assorted fishing tackle, Sailrite lsz-1 sail and canvas sewing machine with heavy duty stainless steel hand crank for use offshore. And of course the assorted tools needed to keep the boat working.

Worst Case Scenario: Economic collapse, nuclear war, Waterworld, tsunami, civil unrest, corrupt government declaring martial law, you name it. I am just a power cord and four dock lines from New Zealand via Hawaii or Baja California to Mexico. The thin veneer that holds "civilized" society from becoming something like the Rodney King riots is not as thick as you might think. Like a castle with a large moat, like an island or an oil rig is how I plan to bug out. Since owning the sailboat I have traveled over 400 miles in five trips to the islands and in that time I've used perhaps one gallon of gas.
Blow ships are the cat's meow when it comes to efficiency. Top sailing speed (so far) 9.4 knots under full main and 120% jib.

JWR's Recommends: Increase your food storage! Buy as much as can possibly fit in the space available. You should also increase your solar charging capacity so that you can keep your deep cycle batteries (for VHF radio, navigation, and cell phone charging, et cetera) topped off, even without running your auxiliary engine.

For defense, first buy 50 rifled slugs and at least 100 buckshot 12 gauge shells (000 is the best pellet size for shipboard defense.) You should then add a scoped stainless steel .308 or .30-06 bolt action rifle for "stand-off" self defense against pirates. (A stainless steel Browning A-Bolt with a half dozen spare magazines would be ideal. Second choice would be a Winchester Model 70 Classic Stainless.) Buy at least 500 rounds of .30 caliber ammunition--a mix of AP, ball (FMJ), and soft nose. BTW, it is too bad that you can't buy tracer ammo in California. If you lay down accurate fire with AP ammo at 450 yards, pirates will go find someone else to pick on! I also recommend that you add an intrusion detection system to your deck, to alert you if anyone attempts to board your sailboat when you are berthed or anchored at night. Also, if your budget allows, buy at least six large white parachute flares, so that you can engage targets with your rifle at night. And if you can afford it, also get a headset-type night vision monocular, such as an AN/PVS-7B. Get firearms and medical training as soon as you can afford them. (Low-cost training is available from the American Red Cross, the Appleseed Program, and the WRSA.)

Buy a spare membrane and any other key spare parts for your desalinator. I recommend that you get as much blue water sailing experience as possible Since you've been laid off, it could be a great opportunity. You might try networking to find a trans-pac yacht crew/security position. (Check Craig's List and for openings.)

Friday, October 24, 2008

70+ acre Chilean Retreat, plus a 1,500 acre cattle grazing permit.

Ages: 43 and 41, and one child age 3

Background: Family is from upstate New York, dairy farmers. I grew up in NC, history major who went into the Army as an aviator. Spent time living, travelling, and working in over 50 countries. Separated from the army as a Major and went into investments. Retired to Chile in the 2000s.

Why Chile? - Chile is the best kept secret in the world. A strong democratic country with five major political parties, Chile is very stable. Chile has lived thru the tough times when a communist leaning government threw the country into chaos, and a military government took control to restore things. Chile has seen what social disorder can do to a country, and that memory influences the country today. The country runs a budget surplus (Chile is the world's largest producer of copper), has privatized social security accounts for each citizen, uses its resources very conservatively, and has the lowest level of poverty in Central and South America. Chile uses its budget surplus to fund its social programs, and also has a large slush fund to weather any economic storms. The privatized social security has made everyone a capitalist, even the socialists, so irresponsible spending is not tolerated by the populace.

The climate of Chile varies, because the country is 4,500 kilometers long, but only about 220 kilometers wide. The best description is Chile's climate is "Baja to Alaska", a mirror image of the western US. I live in the lakes district, which is the bread basket of Chile- a rolling hills farm area with many lakes/ rivers, large farms, and few people. Lots of rain in the winter and sun in the summer. Similar to Oregon or Washington. Chile only has 15 million people. Chile’s main roads are toll roads- the country bases its systems on a user tax. Why should an individual with no car/transport be taxed for interstates? In Chile, the tolls support the roads, the taxes are low. Local roads are not toll roads, just the interstates. It's a nice system.

Annual Income: $10,000-$20,000. One can live well on $1,000 a month.

Investments: Gold and silver, outside the US.

Present Home: A 1,100 sq. ft. cabin. 2 bedroom, 1 bath. I took down a 60-year old cabin board by board to reuse as much of the old wood as possible. Rebuilt large post beam construction, very good insulation, wood stove heat, natural gas cooking and hot water. Also have a large barn that includes three horse stalls, hayloft, workshop/tack room and storage area. There is a woodshed/ laundry room outside. Water is gravity-fed year-round from a reservoir above my cabin. Underground pipes, so we have good water pressure. Electricity is buried cable- no power lines are visible. The place is wired for a diesel generator.

Vehicles: 2001 Toyota Hilux 4x4, gas. Vehicle taxes are about $75 a year, includes mandatory insurance. Vehicles require an road worthy inspection each year- $26. Gas in Chile is expensive - Chile has no native oil or natural gas. Fuel must be imported from Argentina, so gas is about $5 a gallon. Oil is also expensive- about $26 for the cheapest oil change. Chile’s one weakness is lack of fossil fuels.

Firearms: Mossberg 12 gauge, Winchester .44-40 lever-action made in 1898. Chile has good gun laws. Each individual can register 2 or 3. You need to pass a licensing course and register the weapons with the local army unit, but most people don’t. Chile’s laws are much like the US used to be. If you kill someone in self defense- no problem, no hassle. On your property, no problem. Example: We had a good employee that it turns out the police had been looking for. He had returned to his house one night and found some folks trying to burn down his father’s barn. He tried to stop them and got stabbed. Well, later that month he tracked down the attacker and shot him dead. The Police said it was warranted, a form of self defense since the attacker was a bad seed, they just wanted our employee to finish signing the paperwork/statement, then they let him walk! Common sense in a civil system.

Gardens/Orchards: 30 producing cherry trees. Two apple, three plum, two pear, one walnut. There is a very large avellano tree orchard. Multiple new fruit trees planted. 1/2 acre garden growing onions, lettuce, carrots, beets, corn, beans, cabbage, potatoes, pumpkin, goose-berry, red current, raspberries, and strawberries. Oh, and trying grapes this year- hope to get some wine down the road. Will build a greenhouse this summer to continue winter production.

Property tax: None. My property is too small. I love this country!

Pets/Livestock: One Dogo Argentino (great hunting dog), 2 horses. 40 head of cattle. Will raise hogs and bees for honey this summer.

Communications: Cell phone for emergency use, satellite direct TV, high speed internet.

Food Storage: Hard plastic waterproof containers. Do not have a long term supply built up yet. We usually have a few months on hand of apples, nuts when we harvest. Rice. One reason I moved here was because you could be self supporting, and we are in an agricultural area where we trade fence posts (I have a lot of wood) for hay, and expect to do the same with foodstuffs if needed. We will have chickens, and the property has plentiful wild boar and hares for hunting, along with partridge and dove, and there are nice trout in the river 1 km away.

Fuel Storage: 55 gallon drums, 20 liter containers for chain oil and mixing oil for the chainsaws.

Worst Case Scenario: The global depression takes away my English Premier League soccer matches on Direct TV! No, Chile should be good no matter what happens. Most folks still work hard with physical skills, are not spoiled, and don’t feel entitled. I am blessed that my wife was the daughter of a border policeman, her survival skills are much better than mine, and our livelihood is based on firewood, not electricity, so we can do pretty well. We only go to town once a week, could easily cut that down to once a month or never if need be. We fill up gas once every two months, so our rural and very healthy lifestyle is prepared for anything. And I can always ride my horses to town or around the lake to trade with my neighbors.

Another benefit for the country of Chile is that the weather comes from the South Pacific- the closet country to us that direction is New Zealand. Chile is not on any prominent wind streams that could bring nuclear or biological fallout. Chile has no real threats or enemies and the country has the best trained military in Central or South America (Not a large military, but Chile still has a mandatory draft and trains 200,000 citizens each year for a 12 or 18 month service. Chile’s military heritage is Prussian and since everyone serves at some point, the populace is well disciplined compared to most nations). Chile is bordered on the north by the driest desert in the world, on the east by the Andes, the Antarctic on the south and the pacific ocean on the west, so Chile is very well defended against entry from disease/plague/etc. Come to Chile! Life is good!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Present home : Farm in Northern Costa Rica
Ages : 54 & 57
Two sons 30 & 32, who are living in North Carolina.
Income $50,000 USD/year secure (many diverse overseas investments) and a tourism business currently at $120,000 or so per year ( I own a botanical garden) .
Additional income from fruit groves and tilapia ponds $15,000/year.

Profession : Gunsmith, nursery grower, waterscaper, fish farmer .

Vehicles : Two 1970s Toyota Land Cruiser BJ40's with 2.4 diesel engines, kept in top-notch condition and a 2 cycle Ez-Go golf cart set up [with tires and suspension] for all terrain.

Firearms : 2 Mossberg Maverick 8 shot 12 gauge shotguns (best pump gun ever made, never saw many broken in my 30 years of repair work ), Stainless Ruger 10/22, Stainless .223 bolt action in a custom bullpup stock, 2 Security Six 357 4-inch Rugers.
Ammo. 2,500 of each caliber and have reloading equipment-supplies.

Fuel : 235 gallons of diesel and 55 gallons of premium (stabilized)

Water : Gravity fed springs and 18,000 gallons of storage tanks, year round river, roof water capture system, 25 foot deep well

Improvements : 4,800 square foot main house, all high efficiency lighting and appliances.
Full wood and metal working shop.
Canning room, meat grinders, corn grinders, shrink wrappers, dehydrator etc.
One bedroom cabin with full kitchen near the main gate.
Rancho (like a tiki hut) seats 30 with a huge concrete smoker / barbeque and baking oven.
Another cabin with views down to the river and pasture below.
These structures are located so armed men can take out anyone entering the farm with ease. Big Iron gate out front surrounded by Bougainvillea (thorny flowering shrub-vines.)

Property tax: $90/year (Sorry guys, you're paying for imperialism)
Gardens: extensive. One of the largest collections of exotic fruit and vegetables anywhere.
Livestock. 1,000 lbs of Tilapia and 500 lbs of Pacu at any given time. Five Goats. (2 milk goats, 3 goats for slaughter), 15 chickens at all times and 4 egg laying hens. 6 rabbits (so far..LOL)
Cattle are not sustainable. Too big to store the meat and use way too much water and acreage per head. I have one good trail horse.
There's plenty of wild game and fish here but no need in harvesting.We all have livestock and many folks have ponds
Dogs: 2 American bull dogs that will shred anything I tell them to.

Security : Various cameras and motion detectors throughout the property with an early warning to me before the sirens alert. Its a full perimeter system with indicators so I can know precisely where the target(s) are.It has full battery back up
Food storage: Maybe one year for us and the critters but not really necessary here.

Communication : Cell phones, full intercoms throughout the farm.

Hobbies : Taking care of my exotic plant collection and building everything I need.

Next project. We have good, strong year round wind here, so I am working with the boys from Southwest on setting up a Skystream 3.7 [grid-tied wind generator]. Once that is done I'm doing an underground walk in freezer.

Background : Grew up in semi-literate southwestern Virginia, escaped 25 years ago to semi-literate rural Miami. I got tired of the political lies and (designed) ignorance of the average American voter and bailed to a truly free country that has no Nazis running it or nuclear weapons pointed at it. This is the most mellow, real place I have ever experienced. It's like Fiji without being so remote. I first came here in 1986 for an orchid show and I knew this was my escape spot.18 years later I sold everything I had, put my money in real currencies, and took off! A one way trip. Pura Vida! (pure life)

Side note : When living in any Latin American country the rules are [essentially] the same as up there [in the US]. Even Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala are no problem provided you find the right spot and immerse yourself into the culture.
Stay far, far away from large towns and beaches. Get in the mountains in a small farming community. Where I live there is very little poverty since everyone has a chunk of land and most are craftsman and farmers. There are many Costa Rican and South American medical professionals here and many are retired but own farmacias and even make house calls! My neighbor is a cardiovascular surgeon with a huge macadamia farm.

Another plus down here is there is no need for heat or air conditioning, and nearly all of the water systems are gravity fed. No need for electric!
Fish, chicken, rabbits ( small meals) and fruits and veggies. No refrigerator required.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

It was June, 1998. Y2K was a salient topic of conversation. It got my attention. When the electricity went off and there would be no water to drink, and no fuel to move food to the JIT grocery stores, I could see things getting very ugly. I had been willing to fight for this nation as a member of the US Army. Now it was time to fight for my household. I bought a Springfield Armory M1A. I bought a safe to store it in. I bought another M1A (for the spousal unit of course!) I bought ammo. Lots of it. I bought gear. I bought food. I became awakened to the idea of being self-reliant.
That was 10 years ago. Y2K didn’t cause a global melt down. (Although I have a friend in the service that sat in a command bunker holding his breath at Y2K – the government didn’t know what was going to occur.) I have not had to live through or endure Hurricane Katrina. No participation in the 9/11 attacks. In fact, I can’t claim a campaign ribbon for any disasters. Am I upset or sorry that I have changed my life to follow a path of self-reliance? Most definitely, absolutely not!

Let me share with you the good and the bad of what I have done in the last ten years. So often, people new to self-reliance are like ants at the foot of a mountain staring up with their head touching their back wondering how in the world they will ever be able to replace modern society and be able to take care of themselves WTSHTF. Well, truth be told, you can’t do it overnight unless you’re Warren Buffet. I am walking, talking living proof, however, that you can make significant progress. Let me show you!

In order to show you that you do indeed have cause for hope, let me share a few of my screw-ups. How about the initial purchases I made while in a state of “marked concern” when I became “self aware” with regard to self – reliance. The money I invested in self-reliance was my spousal unit’s “down payment on a house”. Do you think this view of “my nest” versus “the world may end” led to some intense “discussions”? You bet your last dog flea it did. For much of the intervening 10 years I have been the one prepping while my wife harbored a severe grudge against the entire topic because I spent our money for the house down payment on crazy self-reliance materials. A grade of “F” to me for consensus building. She is just beginning to come around in the last two years. Poster child example of a bucket of wet sand. (If two guys fight, they belt each other like two crazed wolverines. Eventually they realize they were stupid for fighting, shake hands, forgive and are back to being friends. Kinda like a cow urinating on a big flat rock – big splash and splatters, but it dries up pretty quickly. Get in an argument with a gal and it is like pouring water into a bucket of sand – the surface may dry after a bit, but it stays wet down in that bucket for a long time.)

I very religiously squirreled away Gillette Atra razors because that is what I used each day. The handle that you click onto the blade cartridge gave up the ghost after many years of faithful service. The stores don’t sell them anymore! Now I have three dozen packs of five cartridges with no way to use them to shave! Fortunately, I did find a second/spare handle in my stores and will be able to use them up. Did I re-learn some valuable lessons? You bet!

Two is one, and one is none.
You need to see what you have (inventories!)
Store what you Eat/use – I did great on the cartridges, but forgot spare handles!

In the run-up to Y2K I bought a dozen 6 volt golf cart batteries to be able to set-up some kind of power system in the house. Great intent. No photovoltaic panels No wiring until last year. They have been “stored” sitting on pallets in a friends storage building for 9 years because I have not been able to get to the replacement power system yet. I could have used that money for a higher priority item.
The spousal unit and I built our home last year. We did many things very right. Some learning experiences occurred, however. Maybe chief amongst them is my underestimation of the massiveness of the size of this endeavor! I joke with friends about not being free from the To Do list to be able to get into trouble for at least five years! Fix the septic pond berms. Sort out the “scrap” lumber. Put a deck on the back of the house so the [building] code Nazis will give us the permanent occupancy permit. Fix the leaking pressure tank in the basement. Fix the DR mower. Mow. Clear 30 trees dropped to get the septic pond clearance (not done with that one yet). Cut and split and stack firewood. The list goes on. Don’t get me wrong – I would not trade my homestead back for city living for anything. Was I able to foresee the "second & third order effects” of the change to a country homestead? Nope. Not even having read Backwoods Home magazine for 8 years. Thank God I listened to my in-laws and did not try to finish the upstairs interior construction while living downstairs!

Prior to Y2K I tried very hard to create a group. It failed in many ways. Had Y2K caused the feared problems, we would have been road kill. Okay, we would have been the third or fourth critter on the highway run over by life, but we were nowhere near ready to deal with WTSHTF/TEOTWAWKI. The Yuppie Queen and her husband went right back to spoiling their princess/daughter, buying Jaguars, clothes, and hair implants. You know - living the typical American city life. The other couple moved out onto 20 acres in a very rural county and raise goats and chickens. I am on 20+ acres and moving in a self-reliant direction. Two out of three ain’t bad!

I endured the gauntlet of multiple careers trying to find a fit for who I am. Thankfully, my spousal unit was trained well by her farmer parents. We never carried any debt other than the mortgage. One thing we did do smart was under-buy on our home with a condo (sixplex) in town. No car payments. No credit card payments. We kept 3-6 months of expenses in savings. One business venture was as a franchisee for Idiotstate. Massive mistake. Four years with no income for me and a net loss of $60,000 overall. What preps could you get done with an extra $60,000? I am certainly not happy I put one in the “L” column. I am not proud of failing. I am proud of jumping into the fight and giving it my 110%. As they used to tell me in the military, “What an opportunity for character building!” Learning lesson for me was that I should never have stopped Soldiering. I simply have green blood. I have returned to the Army by working as a tactical/leadership contractor at a nearby Fort and getting reappointed into the National Guard. Will a deployment take me away from directly protecting The Lovely Spousal Unit (TLSU)? Yes. Does staying employed doing what God designed me to do mean we’ll have a steady income? Likely. Does a pension check from age 65 on make us better able to care for ourselves? You betcha. The world may not disintegrate in 30 days. It may actually remain fairly normal. One has to prepare for that contingency as well.

By now you have to be thinking “What a knothead! This guy couldn’t find his fourth point of contact if you put one hand on a cheek!” Well, not so fast there Skippy! I have a thing or two that should go in the “W” column. I should give you a massive dose of hope! Let me describe to you in a quick overview where I have come to in my 10 year quest to become more self-reliant. First, about our home…

Your home is your castle, right? Well mine actually kinda is. It sets on a chunk of land that is 20+ acres. The terrain is rolling and 95% wooded. It butts up against a cemetery to the north, a 900+ acre conservation area to the south, a river to the west, and a section line to the east. The home is an Insulated Concrete Form (ICF) structure. The walls are 1” of concrete fake rock veneer, 2.5” of foam, 8” of reinforced concrete, 2.5” of foam, 5/8” of sheetrock. It is “round”, being made up of 12 wall sections each 8 feet in width. Two stories with a basement. About 1,800 square feet of living space. (2,700 with the basement, however, that area is not finished yet.) Geothermal heating/cooling and a soapstone wood stove. Metal roof. No carpeting – oak floors and tile. The wellhead is inside the home so I don’t have to worry about winter breakdowns or freeze-ups, nor losing access WTSHTF. We are running at top speed towards the 20% equity checkpoint in order to get rid of the bankster-invented Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) extortion racket. (We have a credit rating of 804, so the “risk” the bank incurs by carrying our note is a freaking joke!). It suits our lifestyle very, very well. Our intent was to have a very low maintenance home. Having lived here one year in two more weeks, it looks like we have a very big check mark in the “W” column. More details on the design/floor plan in a future article!

Weapons & Training
We have an M1A set-up for combat, and one set up for long-range precision work. The Glock 21 [.45 ACP] is the base pistol for the household, with one for each of us and a G30 [compact Glock .45 ACP] as back-up. The Lovely Spousal Unit (TLSU) doesn’t carry a rifle or carbine, just the pistol. (More on that later.) Training for both of us includes Defensive Handgun 1 and Team Tactics with Clint and Heidi Smith at Thunder Ranch. I have also had General Purpose, Urban, and Precision Rifle with Clint. I completed a special symposium at Gunsite (pistol, rifle, shotgun, carbine). I am an NRA Certified pistol, rifle, and home defense instructor. I have several other weapon platforms as a “Dan Fong” kind of guy. The two rifles with accoutrements, and the four pistols with same were certainly not cheap. Nor was the training. I do, however, know how to properly employ them now.

Food & Supplies

The spousal unit & I could stretch the on-hand food to cover two years. Canned freeze dried is 45% of it, bulk buckets is 45%, and “normal use” food is the last 10%. We have built a rolling rack set of shelves for the 3rd part to ease rotation of the canned goods with each grocery store trip. No, I haven’t found the secret spy decoder ring sequence on how to rotate the bulk and freeze-dried stuff with our normal, both of us work, lifestyle. The sticking point for this area I see is that WTSHTF, Mom & Dad in-law, Sister-in-law, Brother-in-law with wife and two princesses (one with hubby), and my Mom & her husband will show up on our doorstep. That makes for an even dozen mouths to fee

Now for a bit more detail. First topic up, IAW my military training, is Security. The base of everything here is God. I have chosen to bend my knee to Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I can amass all the weapons, ammo, food and “stuff” you can imagine, but He is the one ultimately in charge. I am charged to be a prudent steward of His possessions - my family, property, vehicles, food, weapons, ammo, etc.. I am definitely striving to be the ant storing things for the winter. If you ain’t right in this area, it will really matter in eternity.

Part of your security is weapons. There are sheeple, wolves, and sheepdogs. I am definitely in the 3rd category. In today’s world your “teeth” are your firearms. I plan from a Boston T. Party paradigm of having a battle rifle. Hence, the M1A. Were I starting over today, I would likely go with a FAL, but now "I will dance with the one that brung me". Or maybe just accept the brilliance of the M1 Garand at $620 delivered to your doorstep from the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP). I do have two of these. Hard to argue with .30-06 ball. I renovate Mausers as my hobby and so have a .35 WAI scout rifle. A second one in the more common 7.62x51 chambering is in work now. I laos have a Mossberg 835 [riotgun], two Ruger 10/22s (one blued, one stainless), Ruger MKII stainless .22 LR pistol, S&W 625 pistol in .45 ACP/.45 Auto Rim, a few Enfields, and a couple of Mosin-Nagants round out the field.

Let me detail for you the path to get to the Glocks. I think it may save you some of your money. I received a Colt Gold Cup [M1911] .45 ACP pistol from my Dad as a graduation gift from the Hudson Home For Boys [aka USMA West Point]. Great intent. A weapon as a gift – how can you ever be wrong in doing this?! However, a terrible choice as a combat weapon. The Gold Cup is a target pistol. Tight tolerances. Feeds only hardball, and that can be tenuous proposition. I carried it on the East-West German border leading patrols. The rear sight broke twice. The front sight shot off once and tore off twice. It was a jammomatic. I hated it. Sold it to a guy that wanted to target shoot.

Took that money and bought a stainless Ruger P90DC. Sack of hammers tough. always goes bang when you pull the trigger. Inexpensive as far as handguns go. After some marked de-horning, you could even make it run in a fight without shredding you at the same time. One marked problem. Two [different weight] trigger pulls [for first round double action versus subsequent round single action.]. This started to teach me to throw the muzzle down as I pulled the trigger in double action. This nasty habit caused a problem when you were firing the 2nd through X rounds, as now it operates as a single action. TLSU had a heck of a time with it at Thunder Ranch. Clint loaned her his G21. No more trigger problems.

Still bowing at the altar of the 1911, I bought a Kimber Compact to carry instead of the Ruger. (I still have the Ruger – it is still “the gun that my Dad gave me” and no one buys the P90 used for anywhere near it’s initial cost, so I can’t sell it without taking a significant bath on it.) The Kimber was going well. Then I got a little too aggressive at slamming magazines home in the shortened grip and jammed it. Then the recoil rod unscrewed itself during an IPSC run and seized the gun while messing up the trigger. Off to Kimber. Free warranty work and 48 hours without my self-defense pistol. Now I have no confidence in the pistol. I Loc-Tite’d the recoil rod and staked it so it wouldn’t come undone again. Then I sold it.

Glocks cost roughly one-half of what a Kimber does. Crummy factory sights, but all my pistols wear tritium anyway. No ambidextrous safety required. My short fingers are mated to big palms, so I can handle the grip. TLSU has been trained on the Glock Model 21 (G21). It ain’t an issue of psychological derangement like many guys get about their 1911/Glock/H&K/Springfield, but it is a comfortable and working relationship between Glock & I. I have a G21 and a G30 for both of us. They always go bang accurately and they have never rusted. I am not pleased with Gaston [Glock]’s refusal to take responsibility for any mistakes they make in manufacturing. No problems with the G21 however. A pistol is what you use to fight your way back to your rifle, which you shouldn’t have laid down in the first place.
M1As hit my safe because it is what I knew from the service. They also fire a full power cartridge, 7.62x51. It makes cover into concealment. I don’t have the other 10 guys in an infantry squad fighting with me so I can maneuver under their covering fire. I have to hit the bad guy with a powerful blow once and move on to the next wolf/bad guy. Mouse guns firing rabbit rounds don’t scratch that itch for me. To each his own. My two are old enough to have USGI parts and good quality control. Here are the mods I made to my “combat” M1A. Maybe they will help you:

Krylon paint job to disrupt the "big black stick" look
M60 [padded] sling
Front sight filed down so that zero is achieved with the rear sight bottomed out
Handguard ventilated
National Match trigger group, barrel, and sights (came as a “Loaded” package from Springfield)
Rear aperture drilled out to make it a ghost ring
Skate board tape on slick metal butt plate
For the “Surgical” M1A (it shoots1/2 minute when I do my part):
National Match loaded package
Trigger assembly additionally tuned at factory
Unitized gas system
Factory bedded
Stainless barrel
Swan rings and QD bases
Leupold M3 3.5-10x40 scope
Handmade leather cheekrest

Other weapons - I have two M1 Garands. Both were bought from the CMP. One is stored offsite with a "Bug-In Bag" (BIB). One is a Danish return, less wood, that I re-stocked. TLSU has claimed this one as hers. Ammo from the CMP is cheaper than any other cartridge out there, save the communist surplus stuff. An M1917 Enfield (also from CMP) is in the safe, along with a 2A, a #3, and a #4. A VZ24 is stored offsite. The first Mauser I renovated is sitting there as an additional .30-06 with a Trijicon 3-9x40 tritium-lit scope. A Remington 700 with Leupold VX-II scope is in the safe, but likely to be sold soon. A Mosin-Nagant (M44 or M38) ride in each vehicle.

I formerly had [Ruger] Mini-30s. I could never find any 20 or 30 round magazines that would function reliably. I sold them and got SKS carbines. When I quit holding out for TLSU to become a Warrior and carry one, I sold them off to fund other toys. I am pondering the purchase of an AK folder because it is a sack of hammers tough and can be transported discretely. I don’t know if I have ever come out on the positive side when selling a gun. Now I have to re-buy an AR-15 to have one for training purposes. The SKSs could be useful for arming the family showing up on your doorstep. Hindsight being 20/20, I would caution against selling any gun you buy. (The 700 mentioned above is a 2nd precision weapon and I have no AK to train with. Still deciding.)

Ammo is required to feed these weapons. I have over 10,000 rounds of 7.62x51. I have over 10,000 rounds of .22 LR. No, I don’t think these amounts are enough. Now that the costs of ammo have risen to heart stopping levels, I really don’t feel like I bought enough in the past! I need to plus up the quantities/smatterings of other cartridges that I have like .30-30 Winchester, .270 Winchester, .40 S&W.

The location of my home is the best I could get balancing competing requirements. It is as far from the city as we can get and still stomach the drive to work. It is between two major line of drift corridors – 12 miles to the major one, 8 miles to the secondary one. It is bordered by neighbors on only one side. The folks in the cemetery don’t say much. The critters in the wildlife area are more vocal - the ducks, turkeys, geese, hoot owls, loons, coyotes sound off regularly. We don’t mind. About 95% of the property is wooded. A few hickory, lots of oak. walnut, (unfortunately) locust trees are all there. The local river comes out of it’s banks about every other year and blocks our driveway for several days, but never comes near the house. The German Shorthair is long in the tooth for security, but she is there. A new pup is in the pipeline.

I would feel a great deal more secure if the homestead was picked up and dropped into Idaho or Alaska. It is about as good as we can do, though, staying near a major city so we can have decent paying jobs. There are some improvements we can make though. I just bought a weather alert radio from Cabela’s today. Tough to hear tornado sirens when you live miles away and have 1 foot thick walls! We need a driveway monitor/alarm. Again, the superior insulation of the walls means we hear nothing outside. I can see the utility of sandbags if things got really ugly. Some more land line communication assets would be useful. I think an AR-15 for training people would be useful, as would an AK. Overall, I think we have done pretty well in the security arena.

Our Home
We started the 10 years in a condo. It was part of a six-plex set on a small pond. I hate Homeowner’s Associations and their covenants! We could afford the mortgage on one of our two paychecks. Good thing! I didn’t get a paycheck for four years. We scraped by. Two years after re-entering the job market we built our house. We worked on the plans for five years. Beware! Finding a property piece and building a non-shoebox home on it is not for the feint of heart! You effectively are funding the construction of a mini town. You build and maintain mini roads (your driveway). You must build and maintain a mini sewage plant (Your septic system/pond). You must build and maintain a mini water plant. (Your well.) You must perform mowing and tree removal for the mini parks of your town (Your “yard”/acreage). I will write a separate article detailing our construction woes.

Let me highlight some of the self-reliant features of the house for you. We did not want to spend a constant stream of Federal Reserve Notes [FRNs]on maintenance. We used insulated concrete form (ICF) construction for the structural strength and the energy efficiency. The metal roof should outlast us. The geothermal and the R-50 walls of the ICF are paying us back the initial investment in construction costs. We opted for no carpeting due to the track in mud nature of the property, having a dog, and me having allergies. Wood and tile floors don’t hold dirt like carpets do. Less fire hazard as well. We used commercial steel doors for the exterior and security-need spots. They have ASSA [high security] locks. They have peepholes.

The basement has a 10’ square root cellar for the storage of canned produce from the garden. It also has a safe room/shelter. 12” of concrete overhead. The well head is enclosed in it. Land line telephone and power service into it via buried lines. Food stored in it. DC wiring in place to the attic for when we get to the photovoltaic [PV] system. We also ran DC wires to each room in the house for the use of LED lighting off of a battery system. The soapstone wood stove augments the electrically driven geothermal. (In spite of several damaging thunderstorms this past year, we have not lost power so far – great job juice Coop!)

The stairwell was kicked out onto the W/NW of the house. This shields the house from the hottest part of the day’s sunlight, and the coldest winter winds. We made the stairwell an extra foot wide. What a huge nice difference that foot makes to walking up and down each day, not to mention moving stuff up or down them! The mud porch/entry was set up for coming in with muddy boots, or for snow covered coats. We should have made it 1’ wider, as it can be a little tight. The bench is great for donning/doffing boots. The tile is easy to clean the muddy paw prints, human or canine, off of.
Windows were one of the few areas that caused some fireworks. TLSU wanted a green house in order to take advantage of the great view of the property. I wanted firing ports to defend against mutant zombie hordes. I am still hugely uncomfortable with the nakedness the windows leave us with. Yes the view is great, but what about when we experience incoming rounds, or more mundanely, when someone comes out to the property while we are away from the house all day at work and they help themselves to our stuff? Some relief is in sight, however. We are pricing Shattergard vinyl film for the ground floor windows.

Things That are Still Need on the Home
The great thing about the R-50 ICF walls is that they are R-50 and pretty tough. The bad thing is that they are R-50 and pretty tough. We can’t hear anything without a door or window being open. Hence the just purchased weather alert radio for us from Cabela’s this week. It is kind of eerie waking up at 0200 hours and having no idea if the thunderstorm is just a thunderstorm or if it is a tornado. The television is useless when the rain is so heavy that the dish won’t get a signal. With regard to 2-legged varmints, a driveway MURS Alert system is on the purchase list as we have had multiple invited guests show up, beat on the front door, and have to walk around to the living room windows to get our attention so they can be let inside. Okay for invited guests – certainly too close for uninvited varmints!

The entry hallway was one of TLSU’s “must haves” in the house layout. It has worked out well in terms of traffic flow and such. The security door at the foot of the stairs is a tough choke point to deal with at 0500 in the dark. No light installed there means nothing is visible through the peephole. I will have to install a camera and/or light so I don’t open it to let the dog out in the morning and get rushed by 2-legged varmints.

So far, the only commo needs are between myself and TLSU. When the sister-in-law, brother-in-law, parents-in-law and my Mom show up and we start pulling security, we will need to be able to talk more. I have an old set of TA-312 [field telephone]s and wire for the primary LP/OP, but obviously will need more in this area. Just not a sexy/fun area to spend FRNs on for a combat arms kinda guy, but I am working on the self-discipline needed.

We did look ahead and sink the FRNs into running 12V wires in the home for future installation of PV panels and batteries. Obviously things like the Shattergard film, more food, more Band-aids, etc., are of a higher priority though. We are working our tails off to reach the 20% equity mark to get rid of the PMI extortion as well. I still have an ASSA lock to install on the shelter door, and one to put into the basement door. Other projected door enhancements include armor plates for the front, outside basement, shelter, and outside storage doors. There just never seems to be enough $ to go around, does there?

The other major source of fireworks during the home design/build was on-demand water heaters. Having taken a 30 minute hot shower with one in Germany for 5 marks while on an FTX, I well understand what a brilliant piece of technology they are. TLSU, having never been outside of CONUS cannot give up on the electric water heater. She still doesn’t believe that the electricity will ever go out for more than an hour or two. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to draw hot water at the kitchen sink, and take a hot shower from a propane fired on-demand heater? She doesn’t get it yet. Obviously not something to break up a marriage over. We really did very well on the whole house building thing. The opposite of what everyone warned us about. I am pretty proud of that performance!

We started a garden this spring. So far, it is an endeavor run by TLSU. Spinach, onions, carrots, lettuce, potatoes, beets, and some herbs. I have not been able to convince her to expand the size. She wants to learn in steps and I am the whacko that orders 100 seedlings at a time from the conservation department, which then overwhelms us in the planting department. For example, the first iteration of this tree-planting endeavor, we got them the Thursday before Easter weekend. Friday night and all day Saturday we planted our buns off. TLSU was indeed a great Trooper about it, planting right along with me. Sunday was spent at church and pigging out at family’s homes for Easter. Monday I had shoulder surgery to grind off bone spurs and remove cartilage chips. Too much, too fast. But at 7 FRNs per 12 seedlings, how can you argue? I have to admit though, that after two years of the 100 seedlings, I am ready to give it a rest. This year we settled for seven apple saplings. Initial inspection of the cherry, pecan, oak, walnut and persimmon seedlings around the house reveals about an 80% survival rate. Only another 10 years and we will be getting food from them!

The initial freeze dried and bulk storage food needs to be rotated. Anyone figured out how to do this kind of at home cooking when the two of you work? The canned/”normal” food is now being rotated with each grocery store trip. We have canning jars for this year’s veggies and the root cellar has a robust collection of shelves to store them on. How much is enough? I don’t know. Four geographically separate and secure stashes of three year’s worth of food for all of the family? Who knows!?

I have Boo-boo kits just about everywhere now. You know, the band-aid and antibiotic salve with ibuprofen kit that handles 90% of life’s issues in this area. Now comes the high-dollar investment stuff. The combat blow-out packs for gunshot wounds or serious car wrecks. I did go along on a buying trip to a medical warehouse and got some catheters, sutures, gauze pads, etc.. I did get in on the last great iodine buy before our loving big brother government banned the sale of iodine to us mere citizens. (It is a stewable ingredient to make drugs, you know – “we must deprive/punish all to protect you from a few. Oh, well, you don’t need to be able to sterilize water anyway – we’ll take care of you on that too….”)

TLSU and I eat very healthy food – locally raised beef with no antibiotics or growth hormones. No growth hormone dairy products from a local dairy. Spinach from the garden. There are sugar detectors on the doors. Also, no chips allowed. We get to the dentist regularly. We both do Physical Training (PT) . She jogs 3 miles, 3-4 times per week. I run over lunch at work about 4 miles, 4-5 times per week and lift weights twice per week.

“Needed Still” list includes: Blow out kits, more bandages, more hospital type stuff, more medicines, syrup of ipecac, more antibiotics, more feminine stuff (think of a vaginal yeast infection with no drug store open), drinking alcohol, poison Ivy soap and remedies, athlete’s foot cream, more baby wipes, more hand sanitizer, all forms of baby stuff, get the bone spur ground smooth in my other shoulder and the cartilage chips taken out, get rid of the cat (allergies).

We still have the same vehicles we had in 2001. A 1998 Toyota Corolla bought with 30,000 miles, and a 1999 Ford Explorer bought with 45,000 miles. Both were paid in full when bought. Both avoided the 25% loss of value when driving a new car off the lot. The Corolla gets 37 MPG. I hate it. Every bit of plastic on it has broken – the car door locking mechanisms, the trunk lock, the ventilation system fan. It gets 37 MPG. I can’t find anything to touch that. The Ford is too big to get decent mileage, and too small to really be a useful truck. It is paid for and has AWD/4WD. It always starts. Both vehicles have BIBs and gas masks in them. Both have trunk guns. Both have roadside gear to help ourselves out of a jam. We are saving for the replacement of them both. We are going to be saving for quite a while. We need more cash in the BIBs and Bug Out Bags (BOBs)

All of the preps in this section were done via Cabela points. I bought gas and paid for business expenses - everything I could pay for with a credit card was paid for with the Cabela’s credit card. You get points at some sickening rate of $.01/FRN spent, $.02/FRN in the store. However, when you buy $6-8,000/month of stuff between personal and business stuff, it adds up! The gear for the BOBs & BIBs, weapons gear and parts – a significant percentage – 85%+ - came from Cabela [credit card bonus] points. When I got birthday or Christmas monetary gifts I spent them on self-reliance items. We did this never incurring any interest penalties because we zero the balance out each month. Our BOBs are set-up to sustain us for 10 days. They are packed in Cabela’s wet bags for load out in five minutes. Originally I sought to wear a tactical vest and ruck. After two unsuccessful winter BOB campouts where I could barely waddle one mile with both of them on at the same time, I dropped the vest. TLSU’s back is in tough shape due to scoliosis, so she is not humping any mammoth rucks with the extra three mortar rounds and can of 7.62 linked. We also decided that the G21 was what she could carry and dropped the SKS and chest pouches of 10 round stripper clips. Her ruck is a Camelback Commander. That is as big of a ruck as she can hope to carry without killing her back. We are not leaving home to go on a combat patrol in Hit or Fallujah. We are fleeing some kind danger and have every intention of avoiding additional entanglements, to include government hospitality suites in stadiums.

The Lovely Spousal Unit (TLSU)
I started self-reliance the wrong way. No consensus development. I saw a danger and acted. I am a male/sheepdog/warrior type. I am not sure that I could have ever persuaded her to participate in any meaningful manner before Y2K. She has only recently begun to do so after eight years of seeing me provide for and protect her. I was, however, stubborn/strong enough to do what I thought was the right thing and to heck with what was popular. Most “males” check their gender specific anatomical gear at the wedding alter and continue on in sheeple status. I get that females are the nurturers. I get that they work from an emotional starting point, not logical. Not wanting the tornado to destroy the house or the hurricane to wreck your and the adjoining three counties is, at best, the French method of addressing life. TLSU is finally helping me to rotate food via the grocery store purchases. She no longer rolls her eyes or sighs disgustedly when I spend my Cabela points to buy gear. Once I explained to her that I was planning to shelter and feed her parents and siblings and that our one year of food wasn’t going to feed all of them for very long, she started to get on board. She even likes spending the points off of her Cabela’s card now. She is running 3-4 times per week and gets some PT from work outside in the garden. She has come a long way. As best as I can tell, she will not ever be a warrior. We have come a substantial distance from sleeping on the couch each time a self-reliance topic hits the table of discussion though. A definite and growing check mark in the “W” column!

Skills that I have acquired:

Rifles – renovating Mausers and training at Thunder Ranch helps your ability to use these tools immensely.
Soldering – fixing plumbing leaks myself vs. paying a plumber $200 to show up and start billing me for work
Building – I invested 13 full work weeks of time during the building of our home helping the contractor. Some of it was the nubby work of cleaning up the scrap and sawdust. Some of it was banging in joist hangers. I laid all the tile and 95% of the wood flooring in the house.
Fix-it – the DR Brush mower has long passed it’s warranty period and while performing quite admirably, does need attention every now and then. The 1974 F100 demands attention regularly. Each of these repair work challenges teaches me a little more about mechanical items and taking care of things myself.
Sewing – Yes, my dear Grandmother taught me to sew buttons, and my Mom taught me to survival sew/repair things. A 1960 gear driven Singer sews nylon gear though!; )
Skills still needed:
More First Aid – it appears that a first responder or wilderness 1st aid course may be in the cards for this year.
More Hand to Hand – my goals and objectives list has had this goal on it for several years. Good news – I got started on knocking it off the list. Bad news, it revealed an “old man” shortcoming in my shoulder. Good news, I am getting the shoulder fixed (hopefully) during “normal” times versus after Schumerization. I just may get ambushed and not have my trusty M1A in hand. Having unarmed defense skills means never having to be a steak dinner/victim.
More riflesmithing – each birthday or Christmas gift of money has been partially apportioned to the purchase of gunsmithing tooling. I need more practice with the tools I have. I still need more tooling. I recently secured Parkerizing gear, but have not gotten the metal stands for the tanks built. Still, progress is progress and I can already do more to maintain weapons than 95% of the population.
Knife making – I just cringe at the idea of spending $300 for top quality knives. CRKT is my friend. Even better is learning to assemble the scales and blank myself. Eventually, knowing how to forge blanks myself would be useful.
Mill lumber – with 95% of my property wooded, I have the material to be self-reliant with regard to my lumber needs. I need a way to saw the tree into lumber though. First, the mill, then the skill to use it. Then I have the gear to diversify my income and help others.

Have I always done the smartest thing? Absolutely not! Much to the crazed satisfaction of a former operator buddy, I have cycled through the “best/high dollar” gear approach to the “sack of hammers USGI/AK” school of self-reliance. Don’t get me wrong – I ain’t surrendering my Kifaru rucks anytime soon! However, there were a great number of FRNs spent on those self-reliance tuition payments! Have I learned a lot? Absolutely, yes! Am I better able to maintain my independence and protect and provide for my family? Absolutely, yes! Could you do better than I did? Good chance. Have you done as much as I have in the last 10 years? Only your freedom, loved ones, and the quality of your life post-TEOTWAWKI depend on the answer to that one.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Present home: Recently moved to new residence in luxury community in South Texas because of a job loss in the Northwest. we sold our our 40 acre retreat because prices were top of the market and it could help in Texas to have no mortgage and to continue preparations. Many acquisitions will occur within the next year including another retreat property (prices are about same as when we bought our first retreat and inventory up in the Northwest.)

Ages: 46 and 51

SOs: One adult child that lives out of state

Annual income: $61,000+.

Profession: Technology (him) and Homemaker (her).

Investments: Law Enforcement Degree for child (once graduated soon and in a job should come in handy), A mix of local real estate, conventional securities in retirement accounts, stocks/options, valuable collections and junk silver including coins in 1000's face value.(currently turning the collections into cash)

Vehicles: Honda CRV 4WD. (I just sold my gas powered full size pickup in preparation for a full size 4WD diesel and a smaller alternate fuel vehicle)

Firearms Battery: Smith and Wesson 586 .357,Winchester 30-30 nickel plated, Winchester Model 1300 - 12 gauge Parkerized 30 inch barrel and 21" rifled slug barrel, Rem 11-87 -12 gauge 30" and short also parkerized, Remington Model 870 20 gauge, old smooth bore side by side scatter gun, pre-war Winchester Model 62 (.22 Short and 22 LR), Mossberg Bolt action 12 ga. adjustable choke,1896 .30-40 Krag (sporterized), various BB and Pellet Guns as well as hunting slingshots and worth noting for the small game and birds that can be actually hunted using cheap ammo also current plus is living in Texas and working with fervent gun owners so I am stocking up as I sell off of valuable collection turning it into cash. (I am thinking of trading some of the antiques in at a gun show for a real rifle with spare parts and some hand guns as most were inherited from father but keeping, the .357 because it was my wife's gun and she shoots it, the .30-30 because it's plated [for humid weather resistance] and ammo is cheap. I'm also familiar with it having shot it as a kid, maybe the .22 if I can't get enough value because I have tons of ammo in both short and LR and all the Parkerized 12 gauges, the bolt action shotgun because of the adjustable choke and I'm having a larger magazine made by a gunsmith friend and the 20 gauge )

Stored ammunition: Roughly 15,000 rounds packaged with silica gel and about 10,000 in powder, bullets, shot and casings. Most in 12 Gauge, .22, .22 LR and 38 Special, and .357 Magnum . This will significantly increase after completing the move and the decision of caliber and reloading supplies. (I've got all the 12 and 20 gauge equipment.)

Fuel Storage: Regular utilities now but will be solar and underground storage tank with asphalt coating. (We had a 1,000 gallon diesel tank that we left for the new owners)

Improvements: TBD

Annual Property Tax: TBD but significantly more than in the northwest (definitely a con here)

Livestock: Will get back into raising rabbits, chickens and goat(s). (All our breeding stock and equip has been housed with friends in exchange for the contingency that if the SHTF and our retreat isn't ready we can stay with them.)

Communications Gear: Off-brand AM/FM hand crank receiver SW, AM /FM and other public bands, six FRS walkie-talkies with solar re-chargers, CB and base station with modified ham frequencies. We have numerous old laptops, wireless routers and devices and web cams for private solar based network/perimeter security. I already have the skills to implement this.)

Food storage: 1-1/2 years for two adults and equipment supplies for putting up and charity for many more. More to come later when we have more cool dry space. (The humidity is too high here)

Hobbies: Shooting, re-loading (both), gunsmithing/re-loading (him), sewing, herbal and nutritional cooking (her), reading, learning canning and dehydration (both), solar and computer technology (him), Internet surfing and storing information (both).

Background: Mr. and Mrs. Foxtrot originally lived in California, but moved to the northwest to avoid high income taxes, high property taxes, excessive property prices, excessive government regulation on gun ownership, and an undesirable political / moral climate. We are relatively new to the preparedness life. (For the last five years.)

JWR: Why did you choose your location?
Mr. and Mrs. Foxtrot: Conservative/Constitutionalist libertarian politics, Christian community, Lots of contacts, Great outdoors.

JWR: What are the drawbacks to the region?
Mr. and Mrs. Foxtrot: A little close to the Golden Horde

JWR: Who will be joining you at your retreat if the balloon goes up?
Mr. and Mrs. Foxtrot: Two or possibly three adult family members maybe more depending on a neighboring state's situation

JWR: How long do you expect that it will be before order is restored?
Mr. and Mrs. Foxtrot: No idea but hopefully ready for the long term (we tried a little self test one winter)

JWR: What is your worst case scenario?
Mr. and Mrs. Foxtrot: Needing to defend the retreat from adjoining state (Golden Horde).

JWR: What personal circumstances have shaped your preparations, and how?
Mr. Foxtrot: Seems like even though I grew up in the "Nanny State", I've been preparing my whole life for this (my resume looks like five different people), and even though I was living in Tech City I always felt like I was destined to be a homesteader. My wife shared the same belief system when we met and we've been trying to establish our retreat ever since. It was so painful to leave our old retreat, but at the same time it showed us that we were willing to do whatever it takes to survive and once we get it back it will take an awful lot to give it up again, if at all.

JWR: What shortcomings does your retreat have that you would like to improve if you had the opportunity?
Mr. and Mrs. Foxtrot: Not purchased yet hopefully done before TSHTF and Band-aids although we have a lot of kits we need to learn how to use them appropriately

JWR: What are your long term goals?
Mr. and Mrs. Foxtrot: Be prepared, be good and charitable Christians, accept that it is inevitable that we die and not up to us, but how we choose to live, is!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Present Home: 63 year old brick veneer over weather board farmhouse (1,300 square feet) built by my father. 25 acres, consisting of 3.5 acres of pine, 9 acres of old growth hardwoods, 1.5 acres of apple, pear, pecan, grape, muscudine, and scuppernong orchard/grove/vineyard. Additional 900 square foot house, 100 year barn (30'x30' with loft and sheds), outdoor privy, detached 24'x24' garage building, 140 square foot storage building, dog house/lot, hog house lot (not used at present). Approximately three acres in farmstead buildings, drives, and gardens. Balance of land in open arable land presently used by neighbor as native grass hay field. All but the very front of house is inside a fence. Yard and road frontage is behind a five foot chain link or five foot wood picket fence. Remainder of property line is behind an old five-strand barbed wire fence (needs upgrading). Property is in northwest portion of South Carolina. Family has lived in area for over 500 years (Cherokee portion), most of the remainder for more than 200 years. Family on two sides and long term (over 80 years) family friends on two sides. House fronts on a small farm to market road but backs to a heavily traveled Interstate. Attend a small Baptist Church that ancestors helped to found 204 years ago (veterans of Revolutionary War). Property has two hand dug wells near headwaters of creek. Presently use public water, but both wells are usable by hand drawing with a windless. Water is free of contaminants per test. Presently plant garden from heirloom seeds and co-operate with neighbors and family in trade.

Ages: Mr Uniform: 47 His widowed mother: 82

Annual Income: Gross $86,000, Net $43,000

Occupations: Government employee. Mother is a retired widowed homemaker and cancer survivor.

Hobbies/Avocation: Hunt, Fish, Camp, volunteer fireman (Board Member and Arson Investigator), Volunteer Advanced State Constable (Police Officer), trained medical First Responder.
Investments: Gold and silver coin including ‘junk’ silver, copper coin, Thrift Board (similar to 401k). Some open note debt due to family sicknesses and deaths.

Vehicles: 1968 Chevy pickup, two Cadillacs (one built in 1980s, the other in the late1990s), 1998 Ford F150 4WD Pickup, 1957 Ford Tractor (34 h.p. gas) with crop implements and some mule implements. Keep all vehicles fueled and serviced.

Fuel Storage: 500 gallons propane for cooking and furnace. 15 gallons of K-1 kerosene for lamps, lanterns, and back-up heat. 25 gallons of 4 cycle gas. 2.5 gallons of 2 cycle gas. Two wood heaters in storage in barn. Plan: to cut and rack wood in a shed to be built. Plan on buying wood cook stove in future and put in storage. All wood heat was removed from house in 1985 due to Father’s health. Also to put in at least 1000 gallon gas tank and fuel oil tank. Also, a kerosene tank in 500 to 1000 gallon range. Probably in a ventilated shed instead of underground due to water table in the defensible zone.

Livestock: One collie at moment, used for guard/watch dog. Hope to add small livestock within a year (one species at a time). Beef cattle on one neighbor’s place. Dairy within 3 miles (high school class mate). Hogs on two neighbors farms within two miles and chickens close.

Communications: Land line with DSL hook up. Cell phones. Two privately owned walkie-talkies programmed for direct communication with local law enforcement, fire, and EMS. One pair of FRS radios. One small programmable scanner, one CB transceiver, one shortwave receiver. Want to add field phone capability.
Food and supply storage: 9 months to a year on most everything from food to toothpaste. We employ the method of :"use one and buy three."

Mail service: Rural route delivery for some things, P.O. Box in neighboring village for others, while package delivery generally goes to one of the offices that I work out of.

Shortcomings: Too close to interstate highway though county is almost an island with lakes, control points could be manned at all of the bridges entering county and control much of the flow of traffic. Patrol the Interstate Highway corridor to keep unauthorized exit from the Interstate. Also, patrol the lake shore for unwanted landings. 100 miles from Atlanta, 50 miles from Greenville, 150 miles from Charlotte. All too close. Not enough food and supplies, I think 3 years should be on hand and rotated. Not enough ammo. Inadequate fuel supply, and no alternative source of electricity yet. Nuclear plant nearby.

Taxes: Moderate and rising due to refugees from northeast moving into lake developments and demanding more county services. Many of these will be first to go down in a long term grid down situation

Armory: Fire rated safe with S&G. Adequate with a mixture of heavy battle and hunting rifles, medium battle and hunting rifles, and light battle and hunting rifles, and .22 rimfire. Same with shotguns, and pistols. Somewhat of the Mel Tappan philosophy. Good supply of spare magazines. Have had very good tactical and firearms training from law enforcement, SAR, IDPA, and SASS. Two ballistic vests and several non ballistic tactical vests. Next door neighbor similarly armed and prepared. Sister (40+ acres) and cousins (1 to 10 acres each) (within 3 miles) are more armed for personal protection and hunting than tactical. I go armed from rising to bed. Also carry a minimum kit in vehicle: one .40 cal with rig, one carbine, ammo, water, clothes, meds, MREs. I travel an average of 800 miles per week on job. I average 13 hour days, 5 days per week, plus 12 hours per week law enforcement volunteer, three hours per week average for VFD. This is to help me get home. Need some NVGs. Have motion sensors. Placing more. Have more fencing in storage.

Other People Joining Us: Cousins from metro Atlanta area, former naval IT electronics person and shipboard security team leader. Maybe one cousin from Hart County, Georgia who lives alone and in late 60s. He grows the grain and has a saw mill. He is former army signal corps telephone. I have married sister, married niece, and several married cousins within area. If ones property becomes compromised, we will double up.

Affiliations: Active in Church (Bible Study Teacher, Church Clerk, and Deacon). Past Master in local [Masonic] Lodge.

Education: BS in Ag Ed, Masters in Agricultural Education, many semester hours over Masters in Administration and Supervision, 50 quarter hours in Criminal Justice. Former high school ag teacher and animal science professor in a Jr. College.

Area: Local fire district (all volunteer) is 25 square miles with a permanent population of about 2,500. Two private church schools, five churches, one truck stop, four country stores and locally owned building supply store, Medical Clinic with two Doctors, Pharmacist, and Nurses. Local fire department forms the basis of local Civil Defense. 24 out of 26 members are armed. Two Unarmed: One is a local Doctor and Army veteran (Bosnian Call-Up) and the other is a CPA. Adjoining fire districts are similar. I am covered under Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs).

Safety Act for firearms carrying. Most of the fire department have South Carolina and New Hampshire carry permits with [reciprocity] coverage in several states. Civil Defense plans are in place to secure the interstate in an emergency. Overall, community, including elderly widows, is well armed, just not tactical. Has at least 14 present and former LEOs within five miles, one is the County Sheriff who belongs to same Lodge and is active in an adjoining Baptist Church. Both local sheriffs’ offices are upgrading their tactical capabilities with a full auto .223 in each patrol car. I am working with the new chief at the largest town in my county trying to convince him to upgrade to individually assigned patrol cars, preferable take home, and patrol rifles.

JWR's Comments/Recommendations: Given your proximity to the interstate freeway, you should definitely plan on having at least three families to man your retreat. With any less than that, you won't have the manpower to maintain 24/7 security for an extended period of time. Stock up on plenty of ammo, defensive (concertina) wire, and night vision gear, for a "worst case" situation.

In a follow-up e-mail, Mr. Uniform added this commentary:

I would like to comment on preparedness as a mindset and as a way of life instead of just acquisition of things. I pondered this over the weekend as I ate various meals. At breakfast, I ate grits and eggs and sausage. The grits were from corn I grew and ground on a cousin's mill. He received a toll for the grinding. I traded extra grits and cornmeal (which he also ground) for the eggs and sausage. At noon, we sat down to dinner and enjoyed fresh ham and several vegetables. All the vegetables were grown either in my garden or my sister's garden. The ham came from a feral shoat that became a nuisance in the garden. Supper was similar. For dessert, we had fresh fig preserves. The figs came from a fig bush/tree that my grandfather had planted. He died in 1946 at age 83. We grow a lot of what we eat and eat what we grow. It is not just about saving money, it is more about living healthy and being self sufficient. Being able to open the store room or pantry and see a year's worth of provisions is comforting during troubling times. As well, it is nice to know that one has the means and capability to protect and defend ones family, friends, and home. But simply a year's capability is not enough for severe times.

In the past, my family went through roughly ten years of what is now called the French and Indian War, about seven years of the Revolutionary War, four years of the War of Northern Aggression then accompanied by 12 years of armed occupation by Union troops. It took another 100 years to somewhat recover economically. I believe that we need to prepare for a long term situation such as that. Also, plan on having property tax money saved back for multiple years in as many different currencies (paper, gold, silver) as possible. The Depression lasted for about 13 years. Now to address how do individuals practice living the lifestyle when not at a retreat. If you can grow flowers, you can grow vegetables. This will give [you] practice. In some cases, you can rent small tracts of garden space from landowners near the city's edge. I know of one case where a city family made a trade with an elderly widow lady in my community. They work a three acre garden and three acre mixed orchard/vineyard. For rent, they share the produce with the lady and keep her yard cut. A good symbiotic relationship.

Take classes in Emergency Medicine, Fire Suppression, and the Martial Arms (Rifle, Pistol, and Shotgun in target and tactical). Maybe even volunteer as a fireman, EMT, or [Sheriff's] deputy. Learn to do many things: weld, wire, carpentry, masonry, etc. Learn to be the needed member of the community. Live in the community as much as possible, create a sense of belonging. Create a healthy lifestyle. Get rid of addictions, get health problems under control, build a network of friends and acquiesces. Most importantly, get right Spiritually. In troubling times, there is an inexhaustible supply of help from the Heavenly Father through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Become part of a local church congregation. Be the one to be ready to help the elderly, widows, and orphans in your church. Just some thoughts, - Mr. Uniform

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

Thursday, March 8, 2007

AGE: 28
SOs: Wife 30, 4 year old son
Currently living in the southern Buenos Aires suburbs in a 2 story masonry house with independent reinforced concrete structure.
The houses share walls to the left and right, all around the block, completely enclosing the back yards which are divided by walls or fences covered with libustrina plants. You lose some privacy (noises, loud parties) but you ensure a rather safe garden and back yard for the children to play in since the streets haven’t been safe for a while now, and no responsible adult lets his children play on the street these days.
BACKGROUND: My parents are both accountants, and emigrated to Spain after the 2001 crisis. Both my grandparents emigrated to Argentina from Spain, escaping civil war. Its is ironic that their children and grandchildren escape the country that once sheltered them, back to the country they ran away from but now, 50 years later, is one of the most powerful and prosperous countries in Europe.
There’s a lesson there. Countries fall and rise, always have and one has to admit the possibility of leaving it looking for greener pastures.
Due to my father’s work we moved a bit when I was a kid. First to USA (Boston), then back to Buenos Aires, then to Cordoba (an Argentina inner province) and then back to Buenos Aires again. Now, due to the consequences of the crisis, we are going to move as soon as I finish my studies, either to Spain or to the USA.

ANNUAL INCOME: About $20.000 USD, give or take. I manage some family investments and a small accountant office my parents left behind when they moved to Spain. I also teach Architecture Representation at the same University I attend to, but even though its been three years now since I started teaching, I don’t get paid for it. (ad honorem )
INVESTMENTS: None ( other than those owned by the family business that mostly consist of real estate) no money in bank accounts either. We only deposit money in our debit accounts just to take advantage of some discount, we deposit the money right before we use it, most of the time within the same week. We never leave money sitting in a bank account. After what happened, most people, including us, don’t trust banks with our money any more. It has become common for people to store cash in bank’s safety boxes, but even those are getting emptied due to some cases in which the private safes have been opened by government officials. (Against the constitutional right to privacy, and private property, of course.)
We have credit cards but we don’t use those either, we only keep them for emergencies.
We have a safe where we keep about 2,000 Pesos ($600 USD) and $1,000 USD just in case of an emergency, or someone getting kidnapped and needing ransom money fast ( express kidnapping).
PRESENT HOME: It’s a two story, mortar house. Double walls, 12 inch thick, and poured concrete flowerpots on the 2nd floor which provide nice bullet protection in the master bedroom.
3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, 2 car garage, and a nice size backyard with a small swimming pool. The house has a 1000 liter reservoir water tank, central heating, air conditioning, and both city water and an electric pump well for the swimming pool.
Metal bars and grating on windows and backyard door, add a lot to the security of the house.
There’s also a 7 foot metal fence, topped with foot long spikes, right where the front garden meets the sidewalk. Breaking into this house is not easy, no one can do such a thing if we are inside the house, since it would take a lot of time and noise to do so.
We have cable, gas, electricity, and pay for private security ( kiosks with guards on each corner). Even though we have all services most of you know about, they are a bit different form what you may experience in First World countries.
Tap water is polluted, so we basically pay for contaminated water. We have a water filter and drink filtered water exclusively. We bought a 200 USD filter, with smaller filtering cups that get replaced every 2 or 3 months. I keep a year’s worth of cups, and the filter itself is good for another 2 years.(active carbon-ceramic-silver)
Power goes down occasionally, and during summer we have “dirty power” low voltage power, lights go dim, and most appliances don’t work properly. That’s why we keep lots of flashlights handy, along with regular batteries and rechargeable ones.

VEHICLES: The streets are in awful conditions, and the constant roadblocks by “piqueteros” are rough on cars. Some kind of small 4x4 is obviously preferable to a sedan car.
Cars are very expensive, about $20.000 to $50,000 USD. A used Suzuki Swift, one with 100,000 km, goes for $11,000 USD.
I have a Daewoo Lanos, and though I wished I had something better its relatively fast and small which is also good for running around the city, and getting out of tight spots. Spare parts are expensive and hard to get.
My car is set up with GNC, meaning it runs both on gas an natural compressed gas, big yellow tank in the trunk. I can switch to either one just by pushing a button, and I run for 100km with only $2.50 USD worth of compressed gas. It also allows me to keep the gas tank full at all times, using only GNC, and having the gas tank full for emergencies.
GNC is used by almost 60% of the cars in Argentina, more than any other country in the world, so there’s enough infrastructure (GNC stations, mechanics, parts) for our society to run on it.
It’s also interesting to note the burst of GNC after the 2001, after people found out that they couldn’t afford gasoline for their cars. Maybe other countries that suffer an economical collapse or fuel shortage will end up doing likewise.
FIREARMS BATTERY: I have several firearms and my collection is constantly changing. I went into a lot of effort to get the collector license that allows me to purchase box magazine fed, semi-auto centerfire rifles. The average citizen that gets a gun permit can only acquire handguns, shotguns and manual repeating arms, with the exception of 22 LR semi autos.
The great majority of shooters in this country don’t have this license ( has to be approved by the Senate, took over a year for it to get approved), few knew about it back when you could get one, so I know I’m terrible lucky when it comes to firearms, having more firepower than most Argentines could ever procure.
My main handgun is a Glock 31 in 357 sig. Ammo is expensive and hard to get, but it’s worth it in my opinion.
I have several other handguns, as back ups and chambered for more popular rounds, such as a Norinco 1911 45 ACP, a Llama 4 inch 357 magnum revolver, A Bersa Thunder 9mm, two 9mm Hi Powers.
For long arms I have: As a main rifle I have a FM [FN clone] FAL Para carbine, and a FMK3 9mm SMG. A Mossberg 500 with a 14 inch barrel and mounted 80 lumen light.
Ammo is extremely expensive. I have about 500 rounds of 308 and 7.62[mm NATO], over 1000 rounds of 9mm, most of it +P JHP and a few hundred 12 ga shells, most of it 00 buckshot.
9mm is my “core” battery round, that would feed my 9mm handguns and SMG.
I keep a few boxes for each other caliber.
I have been in a few “complicated” spots so far, and being armed and alert has made the difference for me in more than one occasion. In those occasions the mere presence of my gun has been enough to stop the threat, without the need of ever shooting anyone.
It doesn’t make any sense to plan on shooting hundreds of rounds and not getting any fire in return, so I also have a concealed body level II body armor vest which has provided a lot of piece of mind on several occasions. Specially when going into “tough” places or meeting with people I’m not so sure about. It’s one of my most precious possessions.
GARDENS: No gardens for me, just a lemon tree that provides lots of lemons and a laurel plant to spice up pasta. I could have a small orchard in my backyard if I wanted.

PETS AND LIVESTOCK: No livestock, just a Jack Russell. Good pet but not as good as a watch dog, though I must admit that for the last couple of days he’s been more vigilant and watchful. He’s just a one year old so maybe it was a maturity problem. I’d like to have a larger dog though, but since I’m planning to move soon it could be a problem.
COMMUNICATIONS: Cable modem internet, phone, and a couple of cell phones.
FOOD STORAGE: About 5 or 6 months worth of food. Most of it flavored rice, rice with dehydrated vegetables, canned meats, canned tuna, canned vegetables, soups, dry pasta, powdered milk, non lactose powdered milk for my son, smashed potatoes flakes, tomato sauce, tea, coffee, honey, sugar, salt and 30 5 liter bottles of water.
MEDICAL: Lots of medicines, several kinds of antibiotic, meds for my son, for treating gastritis, tape, dressings, band aids, disinfectants, ibuprofen, just to name a few. I also keep a nice supply of hand soap, disinfectant soap and cleaning products to insure hygiene inside the house. 3rd world countries are full of diseases due to the general poverty, so its important to prevent as much as possible.

HOBBIES: Shooting, collecting guns, reading, working out and watching a movie every now and then. Having a good time with my wife and playing with my son.
FUEL STORAGE: 30 liters in plastic cans, enough to get to the airport or out of the city, though I’m not planning on leaving my house during civil unrest, I’d rather “hold the fort” until I can leave.
WORST CASE SCENARIO (“WHEN THE BALLOON GOES UP”): Another December 2001 would be pretty bad, meaning anarchy, serious social unrest, looting and mobs invading privately owned homes. It happened before, I saw the mob just around the corner form my place so that’s something to worry about.
I’m also worried about our government being friends with Chavez, Evo Morales and Fidel, this county will end up like those socialist/communist if it continues to go in that direction.
MY SURVIVAL PLAN: We have already made up our minds about leaving. As far as I’m concerned, this country will only go down hill in the next few years, and the censorship and lies about things being better is downright scary. I’m sure this country will one day rise above the rest of Latin America, but not now. Many years will have to go by, and a lot of blood an bullets will be wasted before that day comes. I don’t want to take part of any of it.
So we have two make sure we are safe for the next couple of years, until we leave. This means being extra cautious and vigilant , bordering the paranoid line, to keep us all safe.
CONCLUSION: Prepare as well as you possibly can without turning it into a compulsive thing. I prepare to survive and live a rich life, not the other way around. I don’t live just to worry about the sky falling. The sky has already fallen for me and we’re still here. Things are bad, pretty bad if you want to torment yourself and research further into the corruption and violence in this country. We are still alive and we have each other. Millions of people have accepted this as their reality and decided to go on with their lives and try not to worry too much, many go as far as lying to themselves, denying the reality that surrounds them. We want to go on with our lives, but we don’t want to worry our brains out, nor will we go through life as blindfolded sheep that can’t see what’s in front of them. We simply accept the fact that this country has changed, and is now too dangerous, too corrupt, insecure and too primitive for the standard of life we look forward to, and we take the necessary measures, meaning we move out of it and start a life somewhere else.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Home/property: Located in eastern Wisconsin. 160 acres of mixed pine and oak forest. 32,000 trees planted in the last two years. Entered in tree management program. House 2,800 square feet. Principally heated by a soapstone stove with propane hot water backup. Built in 1981. Outbuilding shed/library/reloading room. A 40x30 pole barn. Shed has cast iron "cooking/heating" stove, wood fired…propane backup. 1,000 gallon propane tank. Inverter in place for addition of 6,500 watt diesel generator to be installed spring '07. 200 gallons gasoline stabilized and in place. 70 gallons kerosene. 500 gallon diesel tank to be in place at addition of generator. Several solar panels in inventory and more to follow. Plan to get off grid by '09 if there is time. Have 15 springs and an artesian flow into 18 acres of wetland with a five acre pond adjacent to home. Pond built as trout rearing facility by DNR in 1941. Trout/walleye/perch/crappies abound in crystal clear cool water. Site not nearly defensible as wished but 2-3 miles of barbed wire in inventory with staking to be erected when time comes. Dozens of caltrops on hand for roadway interdiction Security system in place with video system to follow. Another large pole building will be built in '07-'08 for further storage of vehicles/tools.

Age: He, 59 and She 55. Children grown and gone but back to farm regularly.

Income. In excess of $400,000 annually.
Professions: She is an M.D. with 22 years on the job. He is an Instructor in Administration of Justice at a local community college. He is a Viet Nam vet and witnessed the Tet offensive firsthand. Saw Saigon a city in chaos, a society in collapse. He graduate with B.S./M.S. in education. Graduate of Oregon Institute of Technology (Gunsmithing) 1976. Practiced full time/part time 25 years in the trade.
Investments. The land and the trees, stocks and bonds, and "investment grade" weapons.
Property will be paid off in March of '07. Plan is to invest in off grid power upgrades
Vehicles. She, a Mercedes. He a Ford 4WD pickup. There are two BMW motorcycles, one a 2002 1100RT, The other is a perfect condition 1985 80ST. The ST should need no protection from any EMP threat. Many small engine gas powered garden implements of the DR type. She has an Vespa scooter. Bicycles were bought last month. 11-06.
Weaponry. He is a state certified instructor with pistols, rifles, shotguns and submachine guns. He also teaches vehicles contacts and emergency vehicle operation and chemical munitions. They have incorporated a small business corporation to obtain registered Class 2 and Class 3 weapons. There are currently: 1 Ingram M10 in .45ACP with [suppressor] can. 1 Swedish "K" 9mm SMG, 1 Sterling Mk4 9mm SMG, 1 Thompson .45ACP SMG, 1 FN-FL heavy barrel select fire .308, 1 SAW M16 with can, 1 M-1A with glass, 1 FN Belgian .308 with glass, 1 Bushmaster .308 with Nightforce glass. 3 SKS, 1 AK-47 semi, 2 M-1 Carbines (U.S.G.I.) 1 Marlin Camp Carbine 9mm and 1 in .45 suppressed. 3 Remington Senderos one .223/1-.308/1-.300 W.M. All with Nightforce glass. One Barrett .50 BMG single shot with Nightforce glass. The Bushmaster will be suppressed in 01-07. There are many, many more "sporting arms." 11 other suppressed items. Many handguns. Currently there is a FN 5.7x28 with can and four 30 round mags and four 20 round. There is a FN M90 5.7x28 rifle. A FN .223/M2000 is in the pipeline. The 5.7x28 weapons are astonishing in their performance and penetration. There are 6 fighting shotguns of various manufacture, all 12 gauge. We all shoot a lot.
Ammunition. Thousands and thousands. A full compliment of reloading capability.
Fuel: Gasoline. Kerosene, previously mentioned. We have six cases Coleman fuel. Many cylinders of bottled gas for stoves and 200 pounds of charcoal. (diversify, diversify)
Future improvements were previously mentioned. They all depend on what is affordable and when and how the poop hits the prop.
Crops/garden: 2,700 square foot garden. To be planted this next season (Spring of '07) with non-hybrids only. We can 300-400 jars annually the rest gets the deep freeze. We murder big and small game regularly and plan to try drying/jerky experiments with game in '07. There are 20 fruit trees planted with 20-30 more to follow in '07. We put up 20-30 pints/quarts of berries from the woods this year.
Property tax was typical of Wisconsin. Two years ago it was in excess of $6,800. Cut to about half by entering the tree management program.
Animals. One old Bouvier a new one to follow in '07. A Labrodoodle for hunting. Two cats. No animal husbandry however we are looking at rabbits and chickens. Perhaps a Rhodesian Ridgeback in '08 for a set of teeth for the farm.
Communications. Two receivers capable of AM/FM Ham. Four handhelds and one base Marine Band. We are well inland from the Mississippi and expect no interference. CB base and portables. 6 FRS walkie-talkies. Will obtain 2-to-4 field telephones when found for sale. Already have two miles of commo wire for same on hand.
Food. 1 year freeze-dried for 2 adults. At least 1 year of same in wet pack. 12 cases MREs, with more to follow. Much bulk stored wheat/rice/beans. 300 gallons of water in plastic. Capability to filter and clean 50,000 gallons from pond.
Hobbies. We read quite a bit with over 1,500 books in the library. He has been into preparedness for 30 years. She for 5. We can/garden/shoot/bird watch/tend the forest/study foraging ( a noted forager with a new book out lives within 6 miles…we will take his courses next spring). Reloading/hunting/woodcutting (Four cords on hand and ongoing).
Background. She a native South Dakotan. Now an M.D. A Christian. Enjoys hunting. A voracious reader of all things. He a former police officer (14) years who found teaching Law Enforcement was infinitely better than the frustration of being a practitioner. He, an atheist with respect for all peaceful faiths/beliefs. He teaches a course on terrorism for a local community college.
Concerns: There is a growing population of predators (animal) in the area. There have been five credible sightings of cougar in the district. We have a compliment of bears. Our county has been a dumping ground for "problem" bears from other parts of the state. Thanks a lot! Six wolves have been sighted this deer season on the property. Coyotes abound. I have no problem with a "healthy" predator population. It is a sign of a healthy environment. I worry for livestock/chickens/rabbits and the dogs. Feral pigs are a growing problem south of us. No doubt to be here any time. They are destructive.
Further preparations must be started for the improvement of the defenses.
There will be an influx of at least eight adults and one child if the poop hits the prop. More prep for those. Several "by in" to preparedness. Most (the spouses) do not.
There is a lot on our plate as with anyone in the process of preparing. We would like to meet with others of our ilk. How to do this is a conundrum. We have obtained a large amount of trapping supplies. Two close friends are trappers with years of experience. We will learn.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

I've done a lot of experimenting on this and offer my take:

Rule Number One: The U.S. Government is monitoring domestic internet traffic. Anybody visiting Survivalblog is already suspect by the government because of it's very subject matter. Assume that you are being monitored. Let's not be naive here please.

Anonymizer is obviously monitored by the Government because it maintains logs of in/out IP Addresses.

Tor...the Onion Router is the best way to go if you have DSL or Cable high-speed internet connection because there is no central logging. I use it.

CCleaner [Cache Cleaner] at is the very best way to keep your computer free of what snoops want. It is FREE, tiny, fast, easy, and I click on it after every internet surf. It instantly removes all tracking cookies. It also instantly removes all those useless internet temp files that clog/slow your computer. Download it FREE right now. -Book



You mentioned that your readers might be interested in a brief write up of privacy on the Internet and how to keep yourself off of the radar. I'll try to oblige.
First some background: My company and I do Information Security for small businesses, so we and I have experience in keeping private things private in the real world. What I'm doing is basically putting into text the Security Speech that I give any client who I consult for (and will sit still long enough to hear it). I'll stay away from technical terms and specific products/'solutions' until the very end where I'll describe a few different levels of 'security' in real-world examples. Specific privacy stuff is further towards the end.
Rule Number One: There Is No Such Thing As A Secure Computer (or Anything Else)
Perfect security is impossible. Computer security researchers are fond of saying that the only secure computer is one that's unplugged from the network, turned off, sealed in a vault and protected by well-paid guards, and they're only partially joking. (Yes this is what passes for humor in the computer security profession.) No matter what steps you take to keep your stuff secure, someone, somewhere can break into it and steal them; given sufficient time and money all computers are vulnerable. The only thing you can do to an attacker is slow him or her down. All of modern security is devoted to slowing attackers down. This has two effects: it makes you less appealing to casual attackers and it frustrates determined attackers.
In WWII the Germans used an encryption device called "enigma" to send secret messages to their troops. They thought it was unbreakable. The allies broke it. The moral of the story is that what we think is 'secure' today will be as tough as tissue paper in fifty years.
Rule Number Two: Security Is Not A Product.
What I mean by this is twofold: one, anyone who sells you a "secure" widget is lying. Widgets, computers, servers and networks are not secure or insecure by their nature; they are merely tools. Any tool can be used for good or ill, just think of the climate concerning guns. This is a continuation of the first rule; not only is there no such thing as a secure computer, any steps that have been taken to create a more secure computer can be blown away by the mentality of the user. This rule probably should read Security Is A State Of Mind, but this way I can combine two rules into one. In a nutshell, every system is only as secure as the users of that system are willing to make it.
The canonical example of this is a hospital. Hospitals have insane oversight in terms of confidentiality of patient information and they can get in real trouble for letting the Wrong People see certain files. So the natural step is to make each level of access have a separate password and each user must login to separate authentication levels, blah blah blah. Its a 'very secure system.' End result? Nurses get tired of remembering so many passwords and write them down on sticky notes on the monitor. Security that is too hard to use will be defeated.
Rule Number Three: Your Computer Is A Castle.
Traditional security is a good analogy to computer security. Things that people would never do in the real world they don't think twice about doing online. When you open an attachment you're not expecting, its like licking your neighbor's doorknob. When you blindly click 'OK' on every pop up window, its like walking around in a bad neighborhood with a roll of hundred dollar bills poking out of your pocket. Remember the Trojan Horse? Trusting everyone online will get you in trouble, just like in real life.
Likewise, when you evaluate a system for security the first place you look is the place where security is the weakest. If you double-encrypt everything and lock your computer in a safe but your password is 'secret', you're not really secure. Always look at the big picture and don't lose the forest for the trees. Likewise, if you have an uber-secure locked-down machine but its in an office where the cleaning staff have physical access, you're not secure.
Rule Number Four: Security is Boring
This is the hardest thing to get right. The best way to be secure online is to do the little things all the time. Boring things like keeping your security updates up-to-date and getting an anti-virus. Being paranoid about your email and choosing the right software go a huge way towards keeping your stuff safe. Have a legal copy of all your software, especially your anti-virus. Pay for it. If you don't want to pay for it, AVG anti virus is free and damn good. More detail later.
That's it for the theory, there will be a quiz on Thursday. Now the practice. There are a few things that you can do to keep yourself secure and protect what little privacy you still have.
The first thing to know is that email is not secure. Think of email as sending a postcard, there's nothing to stop anyone who touches it from reading it. Email is hard but not impossible to anonymize, but there are few remaining anonymizers left. Any old Hotmail or other free account will work for certain values of 'anonymous' but they probably will not stand up to a legal search warrant unless you are very careful. Gmail is not a good provider for anonymous email because of the invite system. Unless you can get an invite anonymously anyone tracing it can simply look up who invited you and compel them to spill the beans.
Another thing is that any site you visit on the web can get a huge amount of information on you that your browser just sends out on its own. Things like your IP address which can be traced to a rough location and if the government gets involved can probably be traced down to whoever pays the bills. This can be mitigated by using anonymizing proxies, Tor and privoxy. More detail further on
Yet another key facet is that anything that is on your computer is something that you are trusting fully. If you follow good protocol, you are trusting Microsoft with all of your data, and you are trusting whoever makes your anti-virus or firewall with all your data. There is precedent for law enforcement using the anti-virus update to compromise the computer of a group that was holed up in their cabin to prevent them from emailing out. In case I wasn't clear, this has happened and will happen again.
Now for some details and the all-important links:
In terms of an operating system, Windows is the default and there's no budging most people from it. With good practices and by keeping up to date you can keep windows tolerably secure. I would trust it for mildly embarrassing data but not critical data. Please upgrade to at least Windows 2000. Windows XP with Service Pack 2 is best. I know its expensive, but Windows 95, 98, and ME are outdated and not secure.
Since no one has access to the code that makes Windows tick, there is no way to determine for sure that there is not an easy back door that could be leveraged against you. I cannot recommend keeping mission critical data on a Windows machine. If you have a bit more freedom about what you run, I heartily recommend getting a Macintosh. The new Apple OS X is built upon a very secure BSD base and it strikes an excellent balance between usability and security. Any version of Linux or BSD can be made secure, but if you're running those you probably know how to secure it.
Web browsers: There really is only one. Firefox is the best that has come along yet. It can be setup for decent everyday browsing and keep a good rein on your cookies and history. In the firefox settings, you can exercise very fine control over what sites are allowed to set cookies on your machine and when to expire them. Please do not use Internet Explorer on ANY OS. It is not secure in any way. A good addition is Privoxy and/or Tor. A must-have extension for Firefox is Adblock Plus and "Filterset.G"

Email client: I recommend either Mozilla Thunderbird, but basically anything but Outlook (Express) is acceptable. Outlook is massively insecure, Please do not use it.
Anti Virus: They're all equally mediocre. I use AVG which is free for personal use. Pick one and keep it updated.
Firewall: Again, the windows firewall cannot be trusted. I recommend Kerio Personal Firewall, and I use it myself. Tiny Personal Firewall is good too. Zone Alarm is less powerful and Black Ice is worthless.
Proxies: Privoxy is a nice semi-anonymizing proxy that runs on your local machine. It can't hide your IP but it will strip out a lot of identifiable information. Its pretty easy to set up too.
Tor is a very clever onion routing network that passes your traffic through a few levels of other machines so that theoretically not only does the site you're visiting not know who you are, nobody could trace your connection back to you. An added benefit is that Tor servers are encrypted so your traffic is harder to snoop on as well as being more anonymous. The disadvantage is that this is SLOW.
Encryption: BestCrypt can create secure images that can be viewed on Windows and Linux.
Below I'm going to outline three levels of security and what they should be reasonably protected against.
The first is an easy to use everyday machine. You will be protected from most common automated and non-directed attacks but a determined attacker will still be able to penetrate as will a governmental entity. If there is demand I can work up a similar profile for a Mac.
Microsoft Windows 2000 or XP.
AVG anti virus or similar.
Kerio Personal Firewall of similar.
Firefox, Adblock Plus and Filterset.G set to only allow same-domain cookies.
The second is more anonymous but it sacrifices speed. You will use this if you want to do something that you wouldn't want broadcasted.
The same as above except Firefox is set to expire cookies on close, and keep no disk cache or history. Privoxy is also connected to Tor for anonymization.
For email, Thunderbird and Enigmail can be setup to encrypt your email to a very strong degree, as long as the recipient has a similar setup. New Enigmail versions are very user-friendly in this regard.
Also, it is possible to have two different "profiles" of firefox on one machine, one that simply browses normally with sane cookie rules, and another that passes through Tor/Privoxy and keeps no history or cache and clears cookies on exit. This is simple to do and a good mix of usability and the ability to be more anonymous if desired.
One note: Remember that today's "uncrackable" will be a joke in fifty years. Also, encrypted traffic will probably raise a certain level of awareness among those doing the spying. Legally this poses no problems but if you're doing something you wouldn't like discovered sending encrypted e-mails to it is probably a bad idea.
A Proviso: The above two systems rely on closed code and trusting updates. They would be very vulnerable to any form of governmental intrusion and nothing can be done to mitigate this. IF YOU ARE GOING TO DO SOMETHING ILLEGAL, DON'T USE ANYTHING CLOSED-SOURCE TO DO IT WITH. If you do intend to do something illegal, or even if you're just paranoid like me, a good idea would be to have a second machine. This is similar to what the NSA does internally: Classified machines cannot talk to Top Secret machines, and none of them can talk to Unclassified machines.
A good Classified or Top Secret machine might look like this. This machine should be reasonably secure against anything but a direct, physical attack.
BSD or Linux OS, properly configured (details are outside the scope of this article. I will be happy to provide further information upon request).
A solid, encrypted file system or BestCrypt for any user data.
Not connected to the network. Use a USB flash keychain/thumb drive for getting data off of it.
Again, none of this is any good at all if your master password is your birthday.
I hope someone finds this useful and I'm happy to answer any more detailed questions either via SurvivalBlog or directly. - Paedrig Hawkwing ( the "-at-" to an @ symbol)

JWR Adds:  Our web statistics show that 19% of our readers now use the Firefox browser, up substantially from the 16% when we started SurvivalBlog back in August of Aught Five. My advice:  DUMP that back-door ridden, data mining Microsoft Internet Explorer. Firefox is free!

Hi Jim,
Another option for anonymous web browsing is to install Tor, an "onion routing" package that sends your data through 'layers' of different servers before reaching your desired destination. After I first installed Tor, I visited Google and was surprised to see it looked a little different -- Google detected that I was coming from Austria (since the last server 'layer' was located there) and presented me with "Google Österreich"! Tor is free and easy to setup. The EFF has instructions for Windows ( and OSX ( ). Regards, - MP

All Content on This Web Site Copyright 2005-2014 All Rights Reserved - James Wesley, Rawles -

About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the Profile category.

Privacy & Encryption is the previous category.

Quote of the Day is the next category.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Monthly Archives

Visitor Map



counter customisable
Unique visits since July 2005. More than 320,000 unique visits per week.