Retreat Locales Category


Wednesday, April 16, 2014


JWR,

I would like to start by saying how much I truly appreciate what you have brought to the Preparedness community. Your insights through your blog, books, and on-air advice have been a godsend! Here is my dilemma: My wife has recently come to the realization that a strategic relocation is required, despite gentle encouragement from me for a few years. The problem is that she's convinced the location should be The Dominican Republic!

My wife, through a friend, met a group who live in the Dominican Republic full time that help expats from the USA explore the DR (as they call it) for a retirement/retreat locale for free. I, for one, am not impressed in the least with the idea of settling in a Third World country for retirement, and definitely not for a retreat location. The system of government, financial dependence on other countries through foreign aid and the IMF, high population density (500+ per sq mi), unfavorable gun laws, and lack of farming volume are just a few of the negatives for me. I have travelled professionally to many countries all over the world, in the military and privately as a tourist. My personal experiences abroad have shaped my opinion that the DR would be a really poor choice of retreat location.

Operating in many developing countries like DR I have learned they have so many of the same problems. I would be interested in your perspective on the idea of island retreats, specifically South American ones. Other countries she has considered include, Belize, Costa Rica, and Guatemala. In my option they all share undesirable characteristics compared to largely rural states here in the U.S. As an explanatory note, her reluctance to stay in the U.S. is fueled by the Constitutional violations and ideological war being fought against us here.

I am a firm believer in the ideas and values this country was founded on, and if a crunch did occur I want to be one of the people “righting our ship”. I think that if/when things go bad (crunch or other global calamity), that the rural U.S. would be the best place to be. I would greatly appreciate hearing your thoughts on this. Best Regards, - T.C.

JRW Responds: By coincidence, last Friday morning I did an Internet podcast interview with barry Solomon of DRescapes.com. In that interview, I stressed that high population density island nations are very poor choices for retreat locales. The DR is high population density (500 people per square mile!), and adjoining Haiti has an even higher population density (900 people per square mile!) plus a higher crime rate. (And there is nothing to keep out an invasion of looters, across the border.) In the event of an economic collapse, life expectancies will plummet, especially for "expendable new guy" gringos. I also stressed that offshore retreats can only work if you speak the local predominant language with near native fluency and have either some very close family or business ties into the local community.

Belize just barely makes my list for candidate offshore retreat locales. (See my novel Survivors for some details on that region.)

Yes, have a "Plan B" (and a current passport!), but The American Redoubt will be much safer, in my estimation.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Montana school considers arming teachers

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Sheriff expands 'Man Up Crusade' to rodeos throughout the West

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Girl's bad dreams help save family from carbon monoxide

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Dashcam from traffic stop of driver from legalized marijuana state. - RBS

Note: This video is over 1.5 hours long. The driver is claiming he was profiled based upon his licence plate.

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4.9-magnitude earthquake rattles central Idaho - H.L.

HJL Notes: See also today's Odds 'n Sods column for an interesting video from the NY Times on earthquake readiness.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014


Wyoming Candidate for Governor Runs on Nullification Platform - B.B.

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More Idahoans carrying concealed thanks to enhanced permit - The primary advantage is that this permit is recognized by more states for those that travel. - RBS

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He is an advocate of less government and less taxes. So he is being targeted for recall… Kuna school trustee target of recall petition - B.L.

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Cassia County sheriff offers free concealed carry course


Wednesday, April 2, 2014


Sirs:

Although the "retreat location" criteria has a sound basis and the stated criteria are good, just like buying a ticket on the maiden voyage of the Titanic, there is a serious overlooked flaw in the plan, which is the nearness to locals that are potential missile targets, such as Whiteman AFB in Missouri and Malmstrom AFB in Montana. One should not evacuate/relocate to an otherwise good area then find yourself downwind of a potential NUDET. As a former SAC pilot during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, I well know that things can get out of hand rather quickly, if amateurs and egg heads are running (or ruining) our government. I pray that we are blessed by the Lord again to keep our nation safe; but then again, our leaders have kicked Him out of our schools, our government, our military, and our priorities. Preps always begin on Sunday with prayers. - GCA

HJL Replies: Which is why I highly recommend JWR's book “Rawles on Retreats and Relocation”. Even if you use different criteria than JWR, you can still use the ideas and principles to your advantage.


Tuesday, April 1, 2014


After 75% of the accidents in the last two years have been wildlife related, a Wildlife detection system installed on dangerous stretch of Hwy 95

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Can you spell “Selective Enforcement”? Montana ammo casing processor raid recalls warnings of anti-gun agenda at OSHA

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A New Kid on the Block in Oregon. Eastern Oregon Tactical LLC

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Idaho mental health records added to FBI gun check - RBS

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Idaho rancher says he shot colt-killing wolf . The rancher killed the wolf, after it returned to attack his two border collies.


Saturday, March 29, 2014


My family and I first became serious about prepping around 2006. It wasn't one event that pushed us into it but the incremental deterioration of our society, including natural disasters, terrorism, weather, erosion of the Constitution, developing police state, corrupt politics, elimination of liberty. It seems every topic is something to shake our head at. We began to plan, and we began to research. As everyone reading this blog knows, prepping is a life-long quest. Rather than start with the immediate needs, we thought it prudent to plan our long-term goals up front. First, we contemplated how we wanted to raise our children. Then we thought of where to raise our children, put down roots, and start living the life that we've not only dreamed of but felt was a necessity to ensure our survival. Quickly, we realized that last question wasn't one that could be solved overnight. We came up with a system to rank, in order, every consideration we deemed important. Using a tally system of each area, we were able to narrow our search down considerably. So, it may not be a perfect system, but it works for us and hopefully it'll help out some other family that has struggled with the same decision. Keep in mind, I'm not an expert on any of the listed topics. What I know is from independent research, and my conclusions may be way off from yours.

Our first step was listing a group of states that we would be open to living in the rest of our lives. We chose six states that we know a bit about, either from living there, vacationing there, family ties to the area, or researching further based on other recommendations. The book *****Strategic Relocation, by Joel Skousen, was a big help with this, among other things. Our states that we wanted to focus on (in no order) were Idaho, Montana, Missouri, Wyoming, Washington, and Michigan. Of course, every state has at least some potential, but there were many states that I wouldn't even begin to consider, for example New Jersey, New York, and California.

With our six candidates listed on the "x" axis at the top of our Excel file, we moved on to listing more specific items. These were rank ordered in three weighted groups on the "y" axis on the left side of our Excel file. Each group, from top to bottom, contained six, five, and six specific items respectively. The top group was named "Extremely Important". The state winning a category within that group received ten points. For example: If one particular state was rated number one in every category within this group, that top score would be 60 points. Second place would receive nine points in that category, and so on. In group two or "Very Important", the state winning a category within this group received eight points. In group three or "Other Considerations", the state winning a category within this group received six points. Once all items were graded (based on personal needs and research), the total score would give us our ideal location. (It is yet to be seen if it's a valid strategy, since we haven't made the move yet!)

Group One: "Extremely Important Considerations” (listed randomly)

  1. Population- Basically, the less people overall, the better (as we see it). We especially didn't want to live an urban or suburban lifestyle. With large populations come problems, especially in dire times. Winner- Wyoming; Last place- Michigan
  2. Availability of Work- We're not self-employed (yet), so we need to work in our current field or closely-related field. It doesn't do us much good to move to an otherwise ideal location when we have no way of making money. Winner- Missouri; Last place- Wyoming
  3. Like-minded Folks- It's generally accepted that the farther away from urban centers you are, the more people are self-sufficient. Religion plays a role along with politics. A healthy dose of veterans in the area is welcoming. Mainly though, living around people that are patriots, love the simple life, and are good, caring people--that's the kind of people we like to live around. Living in Nancy Pelosi's jurisdiction would probably be a definite no-go for us. Call me crazy. Winner- Idaho; Last place- Michigan
  4. Cost of Land- This made our top group because if we can't afford exactly what we need on our budget, we can't very well live there. By continuously comparing similar pieces of property in different locations in each of these states, gradually we were able to see the norms for property pricing. It was interesting to see that in some areas it's almost the same price to get a piece of land as it is to get a similar piece of land with a home on it. Obviously the value is in the land in these areas. Winner- Missouri; Last place- Montana
  5. Gun Laws- Firearms were a huge part of my life growing up. It was crucial to my development as a young man. Marine blood runs through these veins, and knowledge and use of firearms was a rite of passage. The Second Amendment is kind of a big deal in my family. With less restrictive gun laws in place, crime is lower. Plus, I want to be able to defend myself, my family, and my neighbors when called upon– not wait on the police. Winner- Wyoming; Last place- Michigan
  6. Defensibility- How much protection does the natural environment provide? Is it in tanker country, or do you need to fast rope from a helo to get to it? Many different parts of each state were considered. Ideally, we'd like to be on a level area, for farming, which is surrounded by forest with mountains surrounding that. However, I'm not Bill Gates, so I may have to settle for less than what I consider ideal. Winner- Idaho; Last place- Michigan

In this “Extremely Important Considerations” group, the overall winner was Idaho; Michigan came in last place.

Group Two: "Very Important Considerations” (listed randomly)

  1. Growing Season- We plan on, like many preppers, growing most of our food. While a long growing season tends to be more southern and short seasons to the north, generally, we're looking for a good middle ground. I'd rather not shell out, in dollars or sweat, to put up greenhouses if they aren't needed. Consideration was also given to likely diseases and infestations in specific zones. Also considered were microclimates in areas of the state we were likely to live. The winner didn't necessarily have the longest growing season, but a combination of qualities we were looking for. Winner- Washington; Last place- Wyoming
  2. Climate- How much precipitation does a state receive? This number could be skewed, based on different climates in different parts of the state. For example there is considerable difference between Seattle and Spokane, so we adjusted based on where in the state we were likely to live. We also looked at the average amount of snow fall. Our thinking led us to consider average snow fall in regards to pasturing livestock, roof snow-load requirements, accessibility in the winter, and a general gauge of how hard a winter is. We chose the state on our list with the least amount of snow fall but still enough. Also considered were types and likelihood of natural disasters. Winner- Missouri; Last place- Michigan
  3. Major Cities Within 200 Miles- As we would prefer to be farther rather than closer to major metro areas, this made the "very important" group. Following a massive implosion of society, many people will want to leave the cities. I for one would like to avoid people who have little to lose, a family to feed at all costs, or people who would see this event as an opportunity to quench their more sinister desires. Figuring that all vehicles combined average around 20mpg and the average fuel tank is around 15 gallons, we concluded that an average total travel distance of 300 miles was possible with a full tank of fuel. Now, we figured that at any one time, the average fuel tank is about half full, giving them an average of 150 miles until their vehicle is empty. We threw on an extra 50 miles for slop. That's not exactly scientific, but we think it's sufficient for our requirements. Our goal is to stay outside of 200 miles of these cities. The top score went to the state with the lowest number of major cities within 200 miles. Winner- Montana; Last place- Michigan
  4. Income Tax- Plainly and simply said, we'd really like to keep the money we make. So, looking for a state with no or low income taxes is beneficial to us. Since we're a military family, a state that won't tax my meager (and shrinking) pension is a big plus. There are a few states that have an income tax but DON'T tax military pensions--good for them. Now, that's not to say we don't consider the states' overall tax burden. (They all get their money somehow.) Winner- Both Washington and Wyoming (tied); Last place- Idaho
  5. Overall Soil Quality- Soil quality is important since we'll be growing much of our own produce. We were not looking for a solid slab of granite to plow nor were we looking for a nutrient-deprived and chemically-saturated ground. Obviously, some parts of states are better than others, but we took that into consideration. Winner- Idaho; Last place- Wyoming

In this “Very Important Considerations” group, the overall winner was Washington; Wyoming came in last place.

Group Three: "Other Considerations" (listed randomly)

  1. Property Taxes- After income taxes, to my family this is the next most important type of tax. Assuming we choose a state with no income tax, we'd also like to find which one has the lowest property taxes. This was the hardest to research, since there are many variables. We had to break it down by county many times to get a real feel. It still amazes me that folks have to pay a tax on something they already own free and clear. Winner- Wyoming; Last place- Michigan (by a fairly wide margin)
  2. Access to Water Sources- Precipitation greatly influences this, but we also went into average well depths, abundance of surface water, and quality of water. A nice mountain artesian well would be wonderful. Some areas may have good access to water, but the ground which it is in is heavily contaminated with pesticides and other chemicals. Winner- Michigan; Last place- Wyoming
  3. Encroachment- I saw what happened to a small farming community in the southwest when the housing boom took off. In a matter of just ten years, corn fields had transformed into subdivisions and Walmart stores. That stuck in my mind; you can believe that. Either you get WAY out in the boonies, or you heavily research local planning to see if/where/when any further development may occur. I don't plan to be on the outskirts of a developed area at all, but I'll still pay attention no matter where we look. I'd hate to buy a good place then have Tesla build its battery plant in my backyard. Winner- Wyoming; Last place- Montana (Californiacation is prevalent primarily west of the Rockies)
  4. Sales Tax- When it comes to taxes, less is better. Again, I like to keep the money I earn. The only state in my group that doesn't have a sales tax is Montana. However, if taxes are "extremely important" to you, perhaps you can work in Washington (where there is no income tax), live in Idaho (with low property tax), and make large purchases in Oregon or Montana (where both have no sales tax). Winner- Montana; Last place- Washington
  5. Cost of Living- Keeping expenses low keeps more purchasing power in my pocket. Some places are more costly than others, based on distance from suppliers or high demand and low supply of a particular product or service. Winner- Wyoming; Last place- Idaho (NOTE: All candidate states were well below the national average.)
  6. Demographics- This can potentially be a touchy subject with people. There's always someone that wants to throw "racism" at you, but facts are facts. All of the research that I've seen tells me that areas with high populations of minorities tend to have higher crime rates. While this isn't the case in all situations and locations, it is a trend. I've also seen it with my own eyes for many years. Also considered were religious and political affiliations. Winner- Wyoming; Last place- Michigan

OVERALL RANKINGS

  • 1st Place- Missouri (106 points)
  • 2nd Place- Wyoming (102 points)
  • 3rd Place- Idaho (101 points)
  • 4th Place- Washington (95 points)
  • 5th Place- Montana (92 points)
  • 6th Place- Michigan (76 points)

So it seems that Missouri is my overall winner. I'll now be focusing most of my attention on my top three states. Each of these states are, in some way, very important to me, and I really wouldn't mind living in any of them under the right situation. My rankings could easily change if I assigned a specific point scale for each and every item discussed, but that would mean organizing each subject by priority. That can be done, and I may end up doing that, but it is very difficult to determine which subject is more important than the other for some categories. I'm sure that each person that decides to run this test will have different results. I also think that doing it for yourself will give you a clearer picture on what areas to focus on as a primary residence or retreat location. Even if this exercise doesn't give you the wanted results, I can guarantee that you'll learn many things regarding retreat locales that you didn't know before. Hopefully, you'll be able to narrow down your search in minimal time and locate your ideal site. Thanks to JWR, HJL, and all the other contributors at SurvivalBlog!


Tuesday, March 25, 2014



Sunday, March 23, 2014


A lot of us, in the prepper community, are eager to get out of town, establish ourselves in the redoubt, and hunker down for the coming storm. Too often we put little thought in how the locals will receive us upon our arrival. Everyone knows that being integrated with your new neighborhood is important, but how you go about this integration can be the make or break point of your preps.

As an educational guide, I offer the following conversation that occurred between my cousin and I over chat recently. First, here's a little background on my cousin. He is a fourth-generation homesteader. He lives in what could almost be called the center of the redoubt. He lives on land our great grandfather homesteaded. Our grandfather cleared the fields that he raises cattle and hay in. He lives in a home built by his father out of lumber cut and created on the site from trees on the property. Every day he is living the homesteader lifestyle.

Being so close to this lifestyle and way of living, he tends to be isolated on the mountain. He also tends not to notice preppers as they blend in with the local people and culture. Seeing people raise goats and chickens is normal and not noteworthy overall, even if they are new to the area. When I have talked to him about whether he has noticed the influx of preppers to the redoubt, his reply was, "Who?" His everyday life is the prepper way, so preppers are not noteworthy.

What does come across as noteworthy then and makes a good lesson in local relations and OPSEC? I will let him tell you in his own words.

4thGen Homesteader: That “the world is coming to an end, and the government is out to get us” guy had a party today.

Gonzo: Which guy is that?

4thGen Homesteader: The one that is the next driveway down from mine.

Gonzo: Is that the guy who built a concrete bunker and put the trailer on top of it?

4thGen Homesteader: Nope. That's another crazy guy.

Gonzo: Then I don't think you have mentioned this guy.

4thGen Homesteader: If you go one more driveway south of my driveway, it's him.

Gonzo: Okay.

4thGen Homesteader: Anyway, he tried to throw a big party to get everyone to meet. What's funny is I think he scared most people off because his invite went on about when the country collapses we should all get to know each other and blah blah.

4thGen Homesteader: You know I don't know on that.

Gonzo: That's funny. How long ago did he call for this meeting?

4thGen Homesteader: He sent out the letters about a month ago.

4thGen Homesteader: I showed because I felt bad for the guy.

4thGen Homesteader: Nice enough people. Little odd though; they're vegetarian.

Gonzo: Did they just buy the place?

4thGen Homesteader: Just a about a year and a half ago.

Gonzo: Right. When I came out there two years ago, that place was for sale.

Gonzo: So you showed. Did anyone else?

4thGen Homesteader: XXXX and the XXXXs. I think everyone else that showed were already friends with them.

Gonzo: Well, that's actually not a bad turnout, and yea, that's the new thing amongst the prepper sites is to hold a sort of get-together.

Gonzo: For mutual assistance, et cetera.

Gonzo: Did the guys from the concrete bunker show?

Gonzo: Those are the ones to watch, I suspect. They are not preppers; they are survivalists and much better at being quiet.

4thGen Homesteader: I believe those folks are The XXXX, and I didn't see any one with that name.

4thGen Homesteader: I just find it funny because a lot of these folks come here and just do what I've done all my life, and then they squawk about it like a chicken that just laid an egg.

4thGen Homesteader: Anyway, it's not that big of a deal, but I thought you might want to know the latest stirrings in the area.

Gonzo: Well, I find it interesting.

Gonzo: As I have told you before, there is a market to teach what you know, because it is a dying skill. There are very few multi-generational homesteaders left.

4thGen Homesteader: This is true.

4thGen Homesteader: Where I have a hard time is that I have no idea the skills that people want to know about.

Gonzo: Yea. It's hard to peel out parts of your day as teaching opportunities.

4thGen Homesteader: Sometimes I think something is really cool, and people are like “meh”. Other times I do things that are an everyday thing, and people are all, “Wow, you have a chicken!”.

4thGen Homesteader: In fact that's a lot of what I did at that party today– answer questions about chickens.

Gonzo: We are talking people here who want to learn things like how to make a camp fire. Not only have they never built an outdoor fire, but no one in their family has in decades.

4thGen Homesteader: Well, I build a fire every day, in the winter.

Gonzo: How to heat your house with wood is another lost art. You don't use a store-bought stove, a blower, or any electricity at all, just a huge, welded Frankenstein furnace in the bottom of the house, and it filters heat up through the floor boards.

Gonzo: I found it interesting the other day when my dad was telling me about the different type of apples out there and their role in early survival.

4thGen Homesteader: Macintosh. Wolf river. Transparents, and a crab apple tree once in a while.

4thGen Homesteader: Those are the ones I know about.

Gonzo: That's also why there is so much rhubarb out there.

4thGen Homesteader: It's stupid easy to grow.

Gonzo: It came up real early in the spring and gave early homesteaders vital Vitamin C, according to dad. It's a bonus that it grows easy.

4thGen Homesteader: As I understand it, if you wander around the east side of the state, you'll find yellow rose bushes and right next to it rhubarb.

4thGen Homesteader: People would bring those plants with them and plant them out the front door when they settled there. Now, a 100 years later, the house is rotten away, but the plants are still there.

Gonzo: Dad said he thought there was a starter pack that was handed out to the original homesteaders that contained all these things for their planting zone.

4thGen Homesteader: That might be. I just know the yellow roses and rhubarb were both popular.

Gonzo: Yea, but it's illogical to think EVERYONE brought the same plants with them.

Gonzo: Dad said it was basically a survival package handed out so people would not starve. With that setup, they had Vitamin C all year long– Rhubarb early and rose hips later.

Gonzo: The apples come in at different times of the year also; that's why they planted four varieties in their orchards. I suspect there were more plants in that pack, but things like the onions and potatoes are all gone.

Gonzo: So, anyways, you went to the meeting. Learn anything good?

4thGen Homesteader: Nope. It wasn't organized at all, just people showing up and saying, “Hello.”

Gonzo: Yea, the mistake he made was including the government stuff in the invite. He should have made it about mutual assistance.

4thGen Homesteader: I agree.

Gonzo: He could have called it the "XXXX XXXX mutual assistance meet and greet" to come meet your neighbors and friends and establish bonds to last in case we have trying times in the future.

4thGen Homesteader: Now that would have worked much better. Jumping right to the end of days spiel kind of “weirded” some folks out. It weirded me out, and I was expecting that from him.

Gonzo: Yea. Its really hard to figure out what people will buy into.

4thGen Homesteader: I think his best bet would be to show up at the next pie social. Everyone would have been there.

Gonzo: It's stupid because one guy might totally believe in space aliens and joke with the guy who believes in ghosts invading and vice versa, but one of the predominate threads that runs through prepper literature is a bit of an ego that they are going to save people. So, they don't integrate properly, and then they come across like this guy did. That makes things worse, not better.

4thGen Homesteader: Good point, and you're right. It's a real “I'm going to save the world, so you should get to know me” kinda vibe.

Gonzo: I try to approach it more from the “something COULD happen so I want to prepare for 'something' with an order or probability”. The number one, for me, is a hurricane.

4thGen Homesteader: Around here a hurricane is probably not going to happen.

Gonzo: Yea. So, pitch the idea of a blizzard or forest fire. I would go with forest fire. That gets people talking about a real threat.

4thGen Homesteader: Yes. Forest fires are a pain. Blizzards are just annoying.

Gonzo: Plus, if they are prepped for a forest fire, or a blizzard, they are starting to be prepared for a lot of things with food on hand, water storage possibilities, et cetera.

Gonzo: I have always liked the idea of prepping for the "Zombie Apocalypse" because if you are ready for that, then you are ready for almost anything and the absurd “what if” nature of it gets you thinking about more possibilities you need to prepare for.

4thGen Homesteader: Who knows. Perhaps someday you will be invaded by zombie ninja pirate ghosts.

Gonzo: Could be, but until that happens I am also prepared for a hurricane, or a terrorist attack, that disables the local infrastructure. So what was the main theme? The government seizing your land?

4thGen Homesteader: Just the general “government collapse and comes to get us”.

Gonzo: See, that is the problem. It's gonna take a LONG time for the government to get around to you guys, if something like that was to happen. If you have laid the infrastructure for another group first, like a self-help group, then it's easier to convert that group to a government-resistance cell. It is very hard to start from that point. So, if you are going to get people interested, you have to start smaller or with a lowest common denominator threat that everyone can agree on.

4thGen Homesteader: I think you're right. I would also be nice if the self-appointed leader had more skills.

Gonzo: That's another good point. Too often the guy calling the meeting assumes that everyone should, of course, listen to him– the guy who moved in a year ago and is stupid enough to be a vegetarian in beef country.

4thGen Homesteader: …and was a vegan until a little bit ago.

Gonzo: Not knowing XXXX XXXX that well, I would think he might be a good choice. XXXX would not be terrible, or yourself.

Gonzo: It has to be someone who knows things. What did this guy do before he moved to the side of a mountain to save you all?

4thGen Homesteader: This guy was telling about how he became that way after going to a lecture on how much resources it takes to make a pound of meat versus a pound of lettuce. He decided to be vegetarian after that.

Gonzo: But that's not the case at all. For example. you have 40+ head of cattle. They graze your fields. If you were to get rid of that cattle would you suddenly plant those 80 acres into vegetables? Even though you were no longer growing hay?

4thGen Homesteader: No. I would not

Gonzo: Right. So that “energy” put into beef is NOT the same energy put into vegetables, and since that is the case, his argument is flawed.

4thGen Homesteader: Like you said, he's a vegetarian in beef country. That's kind of insulting, in a way.

Gonzo: You didn't say what he did before he moved out there, or how old he is.

4thGen Homesteader: He's quite old. I don't know how old but quite. He's been retired for some time.

4thGen Homesteader: What he did be for that, I don't know.

4thGen Homesteader: There were snacks.

Gonzo: Were they good snacks?

4thGen Homesteader: No.

4thGen Homesteader: There were corn chips and some homemade salsa, which was okay, and the cheese way okay, but they had some sort of salmon paste and humus– whatever humus is.

Gonzo: It's ground chickpeas.

4thGen Homesteader: What's a chickpea?

Gonzo: Dried chickpeas are really good, as a healthy substitute to chips.

4thGen Homesteader: I like chips.

Gonzo: Well, these are just as good and make an interesting change.

4thGen Homesteader: I don't trust anything that says pea.

Gonzo: Is it because you're a pea brain, and it's too much like cannibalism?

For some reason our conversation took a turn for the worse at this point and had nothing more useful to add.

The take away here is the fact that as you move to align your beliefs to your actions, it is silly to try and change the culture you have relocated to, especially when that culture is the whole reason you went there in the first place.

You are far better off integrating into the culture and picking up the local ways and means. Go to the local churches, and find a congregation to join and participate in. Look for local hiking and history clubs to join and meet like-minded people. The ideal is not to call people to you but instead to find the naturally-occurring lines of communication and follow them. In my travels in the redoubt, I have found that it is a land of non-stop social events and get-togethers.

I would stress following local customs, where you can. There is no need to compromise your beliefs, but there is also no need to put them in other people's faces. Telling people who raise cattle and chickens that you are a vegetarian is probably not going to win you any friends, as you can see. If you speak from a position of authority present your credentials to be checked.

Lastly, and this may be key, don't skimp on the snacks. People, like my cousin, are suckers for free food. Avoid exotic stuff; sushi is another word for bait in those parts. Establish a reason for people to drop by and visit and talk. You will be amazed by how far a bowl filled with potato chips might take you.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014


Crews to begin removing trees on I-5 to put in new traffic cameras - RBS

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The Idaho is now struggling with how far should police be allowed to go to get your DNA in legislation.

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Idaho bill effectively nullifies new federal gun control measures. - C.J. The bill has passed both the house and the senate at this point.

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Last week, we ran a link to an article about “How Wolves Change Rivers”. D.H. sent this in as a response: Rethinking predators: Legend of the wolf

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The Nampa Police Department is continuing to have to deal with the shooting of a dog. About 70 people packed the City Council chambers on Thursday to discuss the shooting. Many citizens are asking that the policeman be fired. - RBS


Tuesday, March 11, 2014


Now this is worth drooling over! - Colt M2012 Bolt Rifle - Cooper Arms of Montana

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H.L. spotted this evidence that attitudes are different west of the Cascades: An Oregon man riding a public bus was arrested and booked into the Multnomah County Jail Tuesday for allegedly mentioning firearms during a conversation. Man Arrested For Talking About Guns

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An interstate highway through the middle of the Redoubt! I-11 & Intermountain West Corridor Study

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Two links from opposite sides of the “wolf” story: How Wolves Change Rivers -and- Idaho Fish and Game pays $30,000 to kill 23 wolves.

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In a continuation of the eminent domain saga, a proposed bill in Idaho will make the state pay the court costs if the homeowner successfully defends their property.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014


A controversial bill allowing Guns on campus bill passes House committee in Boise Idaho. At the same time, A Boise State University professor makes a public statement: When May I Shoot a Student?. It's absurdity at its best. - RBS

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M.J. sent in this article about local folks having access to public roads: Judge rules against Forest Service travel plan

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Adding to the already contentious issue - THE WOLF EFFECT: Why Anti-Hunters are Dead Wrong about Wolves - K.F.

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This isn't a small crack either. It is apparently large enough to have caused visual movement in the roadbed above the dam. Washington Dam Has 65-Foot Crack - L.M.

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9th Circuit blasts Montana Buckaroo rifle plan - H.L.


Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Idaho has a Privileged Poacher on the Police Payroll in another case of “those who are exempt from the laws they supposedly uphold”.

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Sent in by RBS - Magic Valley officer shoots family dog. This is an issue that seems to be getting out of control nationwide. In some cases, homeowners are not managing their dogs appropriately, and in others officers are too quick to kill the animals, knowing that they will be protected by procedures. As budgetary constraints continue to force municipalities to tighten up, expect to see more of the same.

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The Wyoming House passed a bill to allow guns in schools. This is not the only such bill on the table. Currently, this bill is only about school employees. We'll see where this one goes. - F.B.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014


Cowboy Euphemisms- Krayton Kerns, DVM, Montana State Representative HD #58

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$225,000 payout to man mauled by police K-9 - RBS

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Ore. woman survives 18 hours with hand stuck under hood of truck

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Tom Kitchar So. Oregon Waldo Mining District : presentation to Idaho Legislature 2/7/14 on Suction Dredge mining video. - Mark

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Boise, Idahoe has their very own Cheerleader with Downs syndrome. A true inspiration to others.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014


Experts say Eastern Montana economy fueled by Bakken oil

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Megaload hunkers down in Choteau, waits out weather and snowy roads

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Here we go again: Firearms dealers have shortages for guns, ammo: supplies tight, prices escalating - B.R.

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Here is one for the Redoubt! Go WYOMING! Wyoming most conservative, D.C. most liberal in 2013 - F.B.

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County spends $38,000 on transmission line battle


Tuesday, February 4, 2014


T.H. sent in this link to Amend2, a company based in Idaho that makes 30-rnd magazines. They are $15 apiece and seem stronger that Magpul, according to T.H.

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Here is an clever product, made by a small business in Rexburg, Idaho: The Hot Logs

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Citizens take law into own hands after cash-strapped Ore. county guts sheriff's office

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Itt seems that Idaho could be next state to allow guns on campus - RBS

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RBS also sent in this video of a man who can skin, gut, and partially debone a deer in 1:48

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Plunder-Lusting Quislings Seek to Repeal Posse Comitatus


Tuesday, January 28, 2014


Photos: Boise woman's tiny house

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Two Gun bills have been posted on the Oregon Legislative website that may interest our readers there. SB 1551 which deals with an expansion of gun registration legislation, and HB 4068 which deals with people who have had convictions for small amounts of marijuana or who had those convictions before Oregon reduced the penalty to apply for CHLs.

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Sandpoint ranch raises Budweiser Clydesdales

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R.B.S. sent these three videos in. I especially like the all-terain wheel chair.

Paralyzed vet gets all-terrain chair complete with gun rack

Senators skeptical of Fish and Game wolf count numbers

Possible head start for kids hunting big game


Tuesday, January 21, 2014


Some useful data from Atlas Van Lines: 2013 Migration Patterns. The migration trend toward The American Redoubt looks like it is accelerating. The only contrary data point is the recent out-migration from Wyoming, but I suspect that much of that is attributable to the petroleum engineers, roughnecks, and assorted camp followers who are heading toward the ongoing Bakken oil boom in North Dakota and adjoining eastern Montana.

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Coeur d'Alene cops release shooting video. (You can see the video here.) JWR's Comments: This looks like another intentional "Suicide by Cop" initiated by someone who was mentally unbalanced. Considering how quickly someone could cover that distance, I'd say the officer showed good restraint. And speaking of good Idaho cops: FBI: Bonners Ferry man targeted ATMs throughout U.S.

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The flu hits the Redoubt: Kootenai Health says patients are close to capacity

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Senators, Crapo, Risch sponsor bill to expand concealed weapon rights. Some details can be found at Senator Crapo's web site. JWR's Comment: What we really need is nationwide Vermont-style (Permitless) concealed carry!

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WSU scientists order MRI for a grizzly suffering from seizures

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


American Redoubt Darknet (ARD) an Introduction

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B.B. sent: EPA Changes The Borders Of Wyoming; Governor Appeals Decision. Here is another article about the situation, from the Casper Star Tribune: EPA: Riverton part of the Wind River Indian Reservation

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Not just Mag-Pul... Another Colorado company votes with their feet: Maverick Ammunition Coming To Laramie

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Idaho Cabin survives massive wildfire, then its assessed value goes up - Everyone else's burned and their value went down...

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An interesting (albeit overly simplistic) infographic: The United States Of Shame - What Is Your State Worst At? It is noteworthy that they deride Idaho for: "Weakest Government Influence." Well, gee... In my book, that is a genuine attribute! And Wyoming is singled out for "Fatal Car Crashes." Yes, that is true, but daily work commute distances in The Equality State often exceed 50 miles, so it stands to reason that Wyoming residents are on the road at 75 MPH a lot more than many others. There aren't many fatal car crashes in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

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Idaho County Passes Resolution Calling On State to Nullify Federal Gun Control


Tuesday, January 7, 2014


I heard about a company in Rexburg, Idaho with a clever spin on working around magazine capacity restrictions: Maghack.com. (Note: Folks who live in self-defense oppressed states should consult their state and local before ordering.)

   o o o

Meanwhile, in Wyoming, the law of averages catches up with them: Woman shot at Lowe's after gun drops from holster. (Or at least, that was their story...)

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Idaho’s version of “reindeer” more elusive than ever

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New Year Likely To Bring More 'Megaload' Fights


Friday, January 3, 2014


James Wesley,
Here is a link to an interesting map showing what the US might look like if John Wesley Powell's ideas of settlement districts based on watersheds were applied to all state boundaries.

Powell recognized that water issues would be an ongoing problem for westward expansion and published his strategy in the 1879 paper, "A Report on the Arid Regions of the United States, with a More Detailed Account of the Lands of Utah".  He was greatly influenced by Mormon settlers' management of water resources. - C.J.


Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Spokane man falls from rooftop while taunting negotiators

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I just learned from reader Jason P. that a great small family business is up for sale: Bullpacs.com. Jason says: "They make a nearly indestructible pack frame the even works with a USGI ALICE pack. I have nothing but good things to say about their frames and their customer service. They are located in Lewiston, Idaho. I thought one of your readers might be interested in this for a home business."

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From North Idaho: Some politicians see fit to support our constitutional rights

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Richard Celata (already well-known for his 60% "no FFL" AR rifle receivers from KT Ordnance and his precision fly cutter milling tools) has launched a new business: Celata Aircraft, in Dillon, Montana. His new GP-4 lightweight kit planes offer exceptional fuel-sipping performance. Their recent e-mails advertised:

"Our GP-4 Kit is CNC machined parts for a perfect fit, every time.
Would you like a fast, 240 mph cross country aircraft?
Would you like one that will go 1,200 miles on one tank of fuel?
Would you like one with a 24,000' ceiling?
From Boston to Dillon Montana in 7 hours (2,058 miles) with one fuel stop (101 gallons @ $606)."

Celata Aircraft can be reached at: (406) 834-3611

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In eastern Oregon: Protesters get mega-loud

Saturday, December 28, 2013


In 2011 I retired from the military and my wife and I moved to our forever home in Northwest Nevada.  At the time we were not preppers, nor were we from here.  We just wanted to live on some acreage, away from big city problems, in a location in which we could indulge our love for the outdoors.  After the 2012 elections, our fears about the direction of our country grew rapidly and we stumbled upon the concept of prepping. 

As we begin our second calendar year of prepping I thought it would be helpful to execute a self-assessment of our readiness.  A fellow beginner with whom I shared it for feedback thought it was very helpful to him and suggested that I share it with other newbies.   I realize that survivalblog.com has a good number of technical experts who post here and many more who read it regularly.  I don’t claim to be one of those, but I do think that a) a formal self-assessment could benefit anyone, and b) seeing things though new eyes can provide new insights and ideas.  Here is a slightly abridged and sanitized version of my self-assessment.
 
SURVIVABILITY ASSESSMENT
This document is intended to encapsulate our ability to survive a natural or manmade disaster.  Putting it all in writing may illuminate some weaknesses we had not considered and will allow third parties to evaluate our preparedness.
 
THREAT ASSESSMENT
Most likely potential threats:
            Earthquake – Northwest Nevada is considered a high-risk earthquake area.  According to the USGS there is a 55% chance that a 6.5 or greater earthquake will hit our area within the next 50 years.  (No, we didn’t know that when we moved here!)  To put that into perspective, San Francisco has an 80% chance of that occurring while Boise has only a 2% chance.  Fortunately, as likely as this is, it should only be a regional and relatively short duration event.
            Wildfire – Another natural disaster common to our area is wildfire.  We’ve literally seen two since we’ve been here and felt/breathed the effects of the giant Rim fire for weeks last year.  These will continue to occur, we just have to hope they miss us.  The only practical way to prepare (I think) is to have a bug-out plan ready.
            Terrorist Attack – While I believe this is likely to occur again soon, it is unlikely to be large enough to be a true TEOTWAWKI event.  Still, if they hit the west coast or DC with something big, we will feel the effects here.  Worst case scenario is a long-term grid outage.
            Economic Collapse – There is no mathematical reality that will allow the continued creation of debt which can never be repaid.  If the Federal Reserve stops printing, it will not be able to lend the money required by the government.  If the government stops borrowing it will shortly be insolvent.  If it stops supporting the multitude of social programs there will be massive civil unrest.  If the Fed continues to print, hyperinflation looms.  Either way we are in for very tough economic times in this country; it’s just a matter of when.
            Global Pandemic – In 1918, a flu that started in Kansas eventually killed 50 million people worldwide, including 600,000 Americans.  Although we are better able to contain and fight infections today, we also have the potential to spread infections much more quickly.  If a similar pandemic occurred today the infection would only be half the threat.  Basic services would likely be very limited as well.
            Electromagnetic Pulse (from solar flare or terrorist attack) – the NOAA estimates a 6-12% chance of a solar flare large enough to knock out power in a widespread area in the next decade.
 
PREPPING PHILOSOPHY
To be clear on the philosophy of our preparation, we aren’t convinced that a SHTF scenario will occur in the next decade.  If we knew for certain that rampant hyperinflation will occur in 2015, or that a terrorist attack would bring down our electrical grid for an extended period, obviously prepping would be our top priority.  As it is, our goal is to be as prepared as practical for most potential disasters.  As such, issues like budget constraints, logistics, and not appearing completely nuts factor into our prepping decisions.  I do believe there is a very good chance that some type of major disaster will occur within the next 5-10 years.
Fortunately, our location has inherent advantages.  If the SHTF, the big cities will be hell.  Imagine how people will react if the shelves are bare or the power is out for even a few days.  (Think Hurricane Katrina on a national scale!)  Only in a long-term SHTF scenario will the desperation and violence eventually migrate to a rural area like ours.  Further, we are much more self-sufficient than we’ve ever been and hope to continue evolving in that direction.  Our well and septic tank give us advantages those on city water and sewage won’t have.  Our generator, garden, and laying hens provide additional buffers against the problems of the “system” failing.   However, these advantages only go so far and our goal is to extend our SHTF survivability as much as practically possible.  To that effort, I will review our specific preps, and possible next steps, for several facets of survival.
 
WATER
From a physiological standpoint, water is by far the most crucial prep.  People can live only a few days without it.  Unfortunately it is also one of the toughest for us due to our high desert location – we cannot rely on rain catchment.  Our water heater holds 100 gal and our well tank holds 120 gal at any given time so we a have a head start.  In a grid down scenario, our well pump will be run by our 6 kW generator.  At the first solid indication of SHTF-scenario, we plan to fill our 100-gal Water Bob as well as a few smaller containers.  We have multiple water filters.  However, our generator is powered by propane, not a renewable supply, so in a long term survival situation we will be limited by water, especially if we chose to water our horses. 
Options for improving this survival asset are:
1.       Installing a Hand Pump – these run about $650.  The drawback is that we’d have to work awfully hard to pump small amounts of water, then hand carry it 100 m uphill to our house.
2.       Purchase a well bucket – this has the same disadvantages as #1 but only costs $80. 
3.       Purchase a solar water pump – this would be ideal (and) would save us money long-term even if the S doesn’t HTF, but has a $2,500 minimum cost.
4.       Convert our existing 3.5 kW solar system to off-grid.  I’m not sure about how difficult this may be.  It would entail rewiring the system and acquiring a large storage battery bank.  We may also be able to rewire the system so that the main power flips from the power grid to the solar if the grid goes out.  Right now it flips from the grid to the propane generator.
 
ELECTRICITY
Similar to our water scenario, our main appliances are run by our generator in the absence of grid power.  Therefore we can easily last a few days without grid electricity.  However, in a scenario where power goes out for more than two weeks our generator could run dry.  Probably by then we will have cooked and/or eaten all our foods that need refrigeration.  Rewiring our grid-down switch from the generator to the solar system would provide enough power in most months to run basic appliances.
 
SHELTER
In all SHTF scenarios except fire, we plan to “bug in” to fully utilize our preps and geographical advantages.   If it gets so bad that we are forced to leave our rural home, we are screwed.  99.9% of people could not survive in the high desert for an extended period of time.  The climate is not bad but the lack of water would mean death.  In a true TEOTWAWKI scenario those water sources that exist will likely be controlled and defended by gangs or quasi-governments.  And no way am I walking voluntarily into a FEMA camp.
Regarding the earthquake threat, our house was built in 1996, after most of the codes for earthquake protection were adopted, so we should be okay.  However, we might consider putting safety film on windows and securing cabinets and large pieces of furniture.
Our seasonal climate should allow us to survive in our home for prolonged durations.  For the winter we have plenty of blankets and a portable propane space heater with 20 gal of propane (about 60 hours of heat).  It may be wise to increase our propane supply or find out how to refill small bottles from our main tank.
 
SECURITY
Our rural location should keep us out the line of fire from the desperate survivors leaving the cities.  We are 50 miles outside of the mid-size city of Reno (pop. 425K.)  We have an early warning and defense system of two large dogs that don’t like strangers and bark like mad whenever someone approaches our house.  We have one 12g shotgun with 400 rounds, one .22 rifle with 600 rounds, and one 9 mm handgun with 800 rounds.  Unfortunately we also have lots of glass windows and doors and our locks are not exactly heavy duty.  I feel like we could easily defend ourselves against a couple of random low-lifes but an organized squad of more than four attackers would definitely defeat us.

Options for upgrading our security:
1.       Upgrading the locks.  This is a no-brainer.  It’s relatively cheap to simply replace existing strike plates with longer plates and 3” screws.  I also plan to add door clubs or door braces to each of our doors.  I can do all that for around $100 and a few hours labor.
2.       Reinforcing the windows, at least those that could be easily accessed from outside.  3M makes an 8 mm security film for this purpose that is relatively cheap.  I could do all the easy to access windows and doors for about $180.
3.       Adding to our armory.  I’d like to have a bigger armory but budget is the issue.  I’m willing to spend a little money here but not sure whether the best investment is a long gun, a second handgun, or more rounds for what we already have.
4.       Training.  We need to shoot more frequently and incorporate more tactics into our training.  I shoot 3-4 times a year and my wife shoots 1-2 times per year.  I’m not sure what the best schedule might be, especially considering the high cost and limited availability of ammo, but I know it’s much more than what we do now.

[JWR Adds: Training at a good firearms school like Gunsite, Thunder Ranch or Front Sight is a must. I would much rather own just a few guns and have top-notch training than own a large home battery, with little or no training. The goal here is to someday hand your gun collection to your grandchildren personally, rather than having them inherit them from "Grandpa Fred, who you never met, who died in a gunfight back in 2016." Or worse yet, to have your guns fall into the hands of criminal low-lifes.]
 
FOOD
This is such a big topic on prepping web sites but I’m not as worried about food as I am water and security.  (Maybe I’m missing something?)  We keep a minimum of 20 lbs of whey protein stored at all times.  That is 140 50g servings, which when combined with eggs from our laying hens should be plenty of protein for an extended duration.  There are lots of quail and rabbits around our property as well.  We keep our pantry relatively full and we also have 8 #10 cans of freeze-dried food and about 70 lbs of quinoa stored.  I estimate we could feed four people for about 45 d, much longer if the event occurs near the summer or fall when our garden and apple tree are producing. 
We plan to expand our 120 sq ft garden to 150 sq ft and add a pear tree to our apple tree this spring.  We also plan to learn canning and be ready to do so for our fall harvest.
 
MONEY
As I mentioned above, economic difficulties are coming.  It could be a depression, if the Fed stops printing.  It could be hyperinflation if they don’t.  In July 2013, due to worries about this, I moved our retirement accounts from growth stock funds to conservative balanced funds.  Our non-retirement funds are still mostly in stocks and stock funds but I keep a close eye on them.   We have a few grand in I-bonds as a hedge against inflation.  I’ve also started to invest i n silver for an inflation hedge.

I have moved about 15% of our non-retirement portfolio into paper silver.  I’ve also begun slowly collecting physical silver and have about $1,000 worth at home in bullion and pre-1965 dimes and quarters.  (I like gold too but chose silver because it’s easier to buy in small quantities and has an historically low relative value to gold right now.  It will also be easier to use as currency if the SHTF.)  I plan to continue to accumulate physical silver.

We keep a few hundred bucks cash at home too, in case of a situation where cash is still accepted and plastic is not.

Outlook:  We’re torn on just how conservative to get.  We’ve considered taking it all out and “investing” it into hard assets, like PMs and preps.   But that seems like a bigger step than we are ready for yet.  We have a limited income these days and the thought of depleting our financial reserves is scary.

[JWR Adds: It is notable that you picked Nevada for your new home. Nevada has no personal income tax, and that is a significant advantage. Some other states have corresponding tax advantages, such as the absence of a state sales tax, or low property taxes, or inexpensive car registration.]
 
MEDICAL
If the SHTF medical care may not be available.  We have a very basic, aka deficient, first aid kit:  band-aids, alcohol, antibiotic ointment, NSAIDs.  We need to upgrade this but I’m not sure where to start.  We obviously need bandages that would stop or at least slow bleeding in case of major trauma.  I’m considering getting some Quick-Clot and/or a suture kit for that too.  We’ve also considered ordering antibiotics online from India or buying fish antibiotics to fight infection.  I’ve no idea how to lay in an extra 90 days of my wife’s prescription medications.
We have about 30 N-95 masks (that came in handy during the Rim fire.)  But we need to stock up on other hygiene items:  rubber gloves, soap, more alcohol and toilet paper.
I was repeatedly trained in Self-Aid and Buddy Care throughout my military career but rarely had to use it.  I haven’t had that course in 3 years now.  We might benefit from taking a local first aid course.
 
COMMUNICATION
A ham radio setup is ideal if the SHTF.  But that requires about $500 and several hours of training.  I’m hesitant to spend money on something we would not use if the Stuff does not Hit The Fan.  We do have a solar powered AM radio and two decent walkie-talkies that will reach the 7 miles into the closest small town.
 
COMMUNITY
Here’s an area where we really fall short.  Although we’ve lived here for two years, we barely know our neighbors.  (We do know that one nearby family is Mormon and prepares.)  Part of it is simply the physical distance between homes – much different than the suburban environment we’re used to.  Part of it is OPSEC; I don’t want to advertise our preps.  The last part is my natural introversion.  Thankfully, my wife is better at making friends than I am.  Maybe I’ll put her in charge of this one!

We have lots to do but I feel better knowing that we have a plan and that we are making progress.  It sure beats being a sheep.  I will re-assess our updated readiness in six months.
 
 JWR Adds: For anyone who plans to move to an arid region, I strongly recommend making a concerted search for a property with surface or near surface water. Even in Nevada, you can find properties with year-round springs. For instance I once evaluated a retreat in the mountains near Uniontown, Nevada. This secluded valley was blessed with both year-round springs and a year-round stream that was a snow-melt fed torrent in springtime and early summer, but just a trickle by autumn.

If you find a property with a reliable well, the photovoltaically-powered well pumps are an option. But the more shallow the well depth, the better. Both DC line loss and the tremendous weight of power cable and pipes in deep wells are detractors. Again: Center your search on properties with surface or near surface water.


Tuesday, December 24, 2013


The recent article The Benefits of a Homesteading Approach to Preparedness, by Chaya had much wisdom about moving before a crunch. There will not be time to prepare or get to know your surroundings if you wait.

I have dreamed about moving to the American Redoubt for the last 3-4 years, however there were several things that prohibited me. I had a house payment and small business in Rural Northern Pa, I had a great job and family ties. I did not want to leave my father and small hobby farm. In December of last year my mother received news that her job may be moving to a new location. I half heartily said we should move to the west. This planted a seed that would grow over the next few months. We talked about different states like Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. She had some contacts in Idaho and Montana that she used to work with and began looking for a job. I was still unsure until January when I was told by the company I worked for that they would be consolidating locations and moving some jobs, including mine, offshore. To top that off my father was up for reelection for his township supervisor position.  My sister had lost her full time Job and was working two part time jobs. We had to potential to lose our 3 biggest family incomes. In April my mother received an offer to come look at a job in Montana and interview in person.

Before she was scheduled to fly out we looked at several properties and contacted two separate realtors. One realtor, Mark Twite, who advertises on SurvivalBlog's spin-off SurvivalRealty.com and another who works for a large [multi-state] real estate company. When we arrived we knew what type of property we were looking for and Mark cogently knew our intentions. He showed us several interesting properties that all had potential. He walked the properties with us using a GPS unit to show us properties lines. He is an amazing realtor.

The second realtor, however, was a snake. On the first day we met with him he had a paper that he asked my parents to sign “to give him permission to show up properties”, they signed without fully reading every line (a mistake), After they signed I read it quick while they talked to the realtor, mixed in with some of the lingo was a clause that we had to exclusively deal with only him and no one else. If we bought property without him he could sue for some of his costs. At this point we should have left but we didn’t. He showed us several properties but none were exactly what we were looking for.

After we arrived back home we kept in contact with the realtor, He sent us several more places that were not even close to what we were looking for, Some were trailer/doublewides, other had less than 5 acres and some were next to the interstate, certainly not what a prepper would consider a home. A few weeks later we came across a listing on craigslist that looked like a place we could call home. We contacted our exclusive realtor and began the long negotiations.  In June my mother flew out and started her new job. As soon as her feet were on the ground she checked the property out. By this point we had already started packing and selling everything that wasn’t a must have. The realtor in the meanwhile had pressured the seller into a contract as well and we were in jeopardy of the property being lost due to the realtors’ greed in wanting over $30,000 from the seller to just play middleman. We were finally able to come to a deal with the seller after they threatened to contact Montana Realtors Association regarding our exclusive realtor. He shredded both of our contracts so we could work directly. After a few short weeks we made a deal to move into our current home.

In mid-May, I contacted James Rawles for ideas on jobs, and in one of his replies he directed me to his 2011 article on job finding. I was subsequently able to find a job with a major company and get a job offered over the phone to start in July. The rush was now on to sell, pack and move. We were fortunate in that the company my mother got a job at offered a move package that including moving two vehicles and our house.  We had 7 people moving all together plus 4 family dogs. We were instructed by the moving company to not pack anything in the houses as the movers would catalog the material and move it. We had content from three houses and several outbuildings. We decided that we would not be able to bring our small heard of beef cattle so we put them on the market first. This gave us several thousand moving cash. On top of that we had a small business making Maple Syrup so after the season we started advertising all our equipment since we would not be using it in Montana. This again provided us with some extra money for the move.

We went through all our material positions and started filling our garages with yard sale stuff. A lot of things I had were with a prepper mindset but were unrealistic to move (fuel tanks with 300 gallons of fuel, windmill, scrap metal etc) so they all got sold. We advertised a three-day moving sale on a few local sites and started selling. We sold some stuff at value but a lot was sold at bargain prices just to get rid of it. The final day we made piles and sold stuff by the pile. In the end we sold 90% of the things we needed too. We also cleaned during this time and ended up with 5 truckloads of garbage that was either not worth donating or had little value.  We also filled two 30 yard dumpsters with scrap metal[ to sell] (never get rid of anything mindset). We also soldthree3 of our cars leading up to the move. These were older, front wheel drive, minor rust "East Coast" cars, not valuable in Montana and not usable where our new house is.

In addition to the 53’ tractor trailer full of household stuff we rented the largest budget truck and used a 15% discount coupon included in a USPS Mover's pack. In total it was $2,700 for the truck and another $1,400 in fuel to drive from Pennsylvania to Montana. We built 40”x48”x4’ shipping crates out of oak and maple so we could fill them leading up to the move and just load them into the truck. We had 8 crates total and 3 pallets of shop equipment and tractor parts. We also hired a neighbor with a step deck trailer to move three tractors and several farm implements to Montana for us (friends loaded him up a week after we left, with a Bobcat). Our cost for the step deck was $5,300 about the price of one tractor (we used cattle money to pay for this).

The trip to Montana was an experience. In Erie, Pennsylvania we decided to see how close we were on weight limits as we had no way of telling how much was on the truck. At a commercial truck scale we found that our "26,000 pound max" truck weighed in at 34,440 pounds! Knowing the stuff on the truck was not stuff we wanted to leave at home, we pressed on. We only passed one open weigh station on the way and just drove by with heads low. Since my mother and sister had moved out in June there were five of us that made the trip, My wife and I plus our West Highland Terrier dog (Westie) in the Budget truck and my father, my son and my 82 year old uncle along with two more Westies and a Boxer mix in his GMC pulling a trailer with 1 tractor on it. We took I-90 straight across which was not the smartest move in the world, at one point we sat in Chicago in traffic for two hours. We made the trip in five days as planned simply because of the animals and people involved in the trip.

Since moving to Montana we have met a lot of great people. Our new neighbors (all 30 of them in our 6 mile long valley) had a fall get together so we could meet. We have become close friends with several neighbors and have found a great church in Missoula. We used our Maple equipment money to buy a Norwood Lumbermate Sawmill. Since the purchase we have started construction of a new barn that houses some of our equipment this winter, but will house chickens, goats and pigs come spring. Our property is at 4,800-5,000 elevation so we also have plans for a greenhouse using raised beds next spring. We have been able to trade some wood for things we need so the sawmill has been a great investment.  We have also all got 4 wheel drive vehicles to cope with the winter, I have a Older Ford Bronco and older Jeep Cherokee, and other family members have all wheel drive Subarus and SUVs. All have studded winter tires and we have had zero problems so far.

The house we ended up buying is totally offgrid on 40 acres backed up to Forest Land. It had eight 100 watt solar panels when we moved in and a 300 watt windmill. The windmill is a joke but since it’s here we let it spin. The panels are also nowhere big enough so we have added six more 250 watt panels giving us a total of 2,300 watts. Next summer we plan to bump it up over 5,000. We have 16 6 volt batters to make two 48 volt battery banks; we also have a generator when the sun cannot keep up with our loads (in the winter months).  The property has several springs and a small pasture; it is a dream location that we fully believe the Lord led us too. The way jobs have lined up, the church we found, even the move.  The only bad part about the move is leaving our friends behind. However the Lord has even taken care of this with several people from the church filling the void. The job opportunities in Montana are endless but the pay is less than other parts of the country. Anyone looking at moving to the Redoubt region should consider applying for work at DirecTV. They are always hiring here and start new classes every three weeks. The pay is base at $11/hour, health insurance, a free subscription to the service, and bonuses. It would be a great place start then step off into something better and get you into the Redoubt any time of year.

If I was having someone move my household items again there are a few things I would do different. Make sure that you have a safe area of the house that the movers will not pack. We were missing a laptop for several weeks while moving and unpacking. Also cell phone charges should be labeled and in the safe zone. The last two days we ended up eating at neighbors because all our dishes and glasses had been packed away. I am still missing a few small parts for my reloading press that I forgot to take off. I did move all my guns myself by placing them in silicon gun socks then wrapping them in heavy blankets and placing them in a 2’x2’ locker. I hope my move will inspire more to make the move and shed some light on your plans.



Strong Rules on Fracking in Wyoming Seen as Model

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In Idaho: Of Poker and Plunder: Commissarina Olson Strikes Again. [JWR Adds: I've addressed the Federal statute on Misprison of a Felony previously in SurvivalBlog. Any genuine jurisdiction over civilians in misprision cases is dubious, at best.]

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What Spokane wants from state lawmakers

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Idaho to sell furnishings from former governor's mansion

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Eastern Oregon megaload trip - This 900,000 pound load should have already be in Canada, but it is moving slowly, because of bad weather.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


Gary Marbut (one of the originators of the now famous "Made in Montana" guns law) has proposed novel legislation: The Constitutional Settlements Commission of the States

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R.B.S. sent: Lt. Gov: In rural Idaho, quite a lot of hostility.

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A larger American Redoubt? PPP Poll: Colorado Getting Redder . (A hat tip to to H.L. for the link.)

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He never even really had to apply or interview... Harsin agrees to five year $6.5 million contract with Boise State. (So.... Does the extra advertising and scholarship revenue of a "winning" team offset all of that compensation?)

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Spokane man accused of stealing a cabin. Thanks to R.B.S. for the link.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013


Radio Free Redoubt will be broadcasting live on Wednesday, December 11, 2013. They will be broadcasting a concert in Cocolalla, Idaho featuring patriot singer-songwriter Jordan Page, kicking off his Northwest Liberty Tour.

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Church plans fruit orchard in Boise's North End

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Tim in Missoula liked this site: Made in Montana Products Directory

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Who says Idaho has no culture? A company in Cascade, Idaho proves that there is an active culture! In fact they have cultures from all around the world. (Thanks to Terry H. for the link.)

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Beware of lengthy eviction process if on more than five acres in Idaho!

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Reader Harold C. spotted this interesting news: Billionaire brothers buying Montana ranches

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


R.B.S. sent: Idaho Romanians face removal for immigration fraud

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Update: Jefferson Republic: Two Approaches

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B.H. mentioned this press release headline: Pork Infused Ammunition Maker Now Accepts Bitcoin for payment. "Jihawg Ammo, famous (infamous) makers of a new pork infused radical anti-Jihadist Ammunition announces they are accepting Bitcoin for payment for their unique pork infused anti-Jihadist ammunition and other products." They are located in Dalton Gardens, Idaho.

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George Ziermann, a shoemaker from Pendleton, Oregon, has been trying to sell his business (George's Boots) for the past eight years.

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Montana Plaintiffs Appeal to U.S. Supreme Court Validating the Firearms Freedom Act. Hopefully this will overturn the wicked, overly-broad and statist Wickard v. Filburn decision that had been handed down at the height of World War II xenophobia and amidst adulation of FDR and his Big Government agenda.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Attention Montanans: I read about a great place to shoot: Central Montana Shooting Complex, near Lewistown.

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Counter-Insurgency Warfare in Boise?

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A Montana mountain man gives a judge a piece of his mind. I must mention that the judge looks like she came straight out of Central Casting in Hollywood. (I think she'd be perfect for one particular part.)

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Here is an interesting product that is designed and made in the Redoubt: Headache Hammock

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


I heard about another two prepper-friendly churches the Redoubt. One is Providence Bible Presbyterian Church, in Bonners Ferry, Idaho. The other is Mountain View Baptist Church in Pierce, Idaho. Contact:

Mountain View Baptist Church
P.O. Box 186
Pierce, Idaho 83546
Elder's Phone: (208) 435-4098

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Gary Marbut (of Montana) writes the Supreme Court about the "Made In Montana Guns" law.

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Perhaps the Redoubt is bigger than we thought... New Colorado? Rural voters approve secession idea. Meanwhile, partition plans are still in progress in the State of Jefferson counties. According to the National Constitution Center, a conservative organization based in Philadelphia, the state partition process "has been used successfully to create five states: Vermont (from New York, in 1791); Kentucky (from Virginia, in 1792); Tennessee (from North Carolina, in 1796); Maine (from Massachusetts, in 1820); and West Virginia (from Virginia, in 1863)."

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Police: Marijuana trafficking in Idaho triples in five years. (Thanks to R.B.S. for the link.) [JWR's Comment: This news should be evaluated with a sense of perspective. If the California cops found just 800 pounds of loco weed in one year, then they'd be declaring "Victory " in the War on Drugs.]

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Another very cogent essay has been posted over at Guerillamerica: Soups and Knives. (This one highlights the suitability of The American Redoubt.)


Monday, November 18, 2013


Dear JWR,
Regarding "My Experience in Expatriating to Panama", by Chuck Holton: I too lived in Panama from 2008 to 2012 and while I agree with almost everything the author says, there are some exceptions I’d like to discuss.  First covers the medical system.  I was in the local hospital four times from 2010 to 2012 and the doctors were never able to discover what my problem was.  Nothing earth shattering or unusual, I have cancer and not a rare type either.  I used a private hospital the first two times and after running up bills in excess of $15,000 and still no answer to what the problem was, I signed myself out.  My next two sessions under Panamanian medical care was at a state run hospital and although the cost was much less, the results were the same.  So I’d have to say that my experiences there with the local doctors was vastly different then the authors.  I had to return to the states to find out what my problem was/is and that took about three days at a small county hospital.  My experience taught me that the private doctors are only out for the money when a “gringo” is the patient and the state run hospitals are seriously lacking in training or abilities.
 
I’ll address next the gun laws in Panama.  The author is correct in what he says, up to a point.  Guns are available, at a very steep price compared to prices in the US.  And it takes almost forever to get said license from the government, after you have first purchased a firearm, but not received it, and supplied all the necessary documentation.  It took me almost a full year to get my license and in that time I was robbed of almost everything we owned of value by three young men.  The fact that I had been robbed didn’t do anything to speed my application either.  The author also didn’t go into the cost of purchasing a firearm and ammunition.  As I indicated, the costs are almost double for a pistol in Panama compared to what it costs here.  I purchased a Taurus .38 revolver that cost me almost $700 and ammo for it was going for about $30 a box or 50 full metal jacket (FMJ) ammunition.  You can’t legally buy any sort of more effective ammunition either, nor can you bring it with you when returning to Panama after a visit home.  On the flip side, firearms can be purchased from private parties without going through the time and hassle of doing it the legal way.  I was able to buy an old Colt police positive revolver from a neighbor after the robbery for about $100.  But when I tried to bring some frangible ammo back with me in 2010, it was confiscated at the airport and cost me almost $150 mordita ["the bite"] (aka bribe), to the local federal cops.  BTW, it took the police over an hour to get to my house after several calls were made reporting the incident.  The police couldn’t find my house.  In other words, response time in rural Panama is much worse then even Chicago or Detroit.
 
As for la mordita, that’s a way of life in Panama.  Most things can be gotten quicker if your willing to pay for it.  But not all.  About a year after my robbery I read in the local paper that 3 men had been arrested for a robbery similar to mine and their pictures in the article looked very similar to the men who robbed me.  I went to the police station and asked to look at the men in a line up to see if was them and to be able to add my experience to the current case against them.  I was told that my case was an “old one” and that I’d need to get a lawyer and petition a judge to “allow’ me to see the men and re-open my case.  In other words, I’d need some lawyer to “grease” the way for me to get some form of justice.  Mordita in another name.
 
All in all I agree with the author on most aspects of his article.  My experiences there were not all bad and I made some good, lasting friendships with the locals.  The climate is wonderful, the water is the best in the world, the foods are fantastic and the beaches are great.  But it isn’t for everyone.  It has some problems that need to be understood and addressed before you make a decision to move there.  One thing the author didn’t discuss was the taxes in Panama.  For me, a retired veteran owning my own home, there were no taxes.  However if you are working and own a business with local employees, the tax structure and employee benefits package can be tricky, especially if you have to fire an employee.  That can cost you big bucks.  Also the banking system in Panama has allowed the International Order to monitor and change it’s laws and procedures.  It is no longer the tax haven for expats it once was. - K.A.S.

JWR Replies: The situation for firearms ownership in Panama has actually worsened, since you left. There is currently a "freeze" on gun importation by gun shops in effect, and it is "hoped" that this freeze will end sometime in 2015. There is also a ban on centerfire semi-auto rifles as well as on any guns chambered for military cartridges. (The latter is the norm in countries that have been wary of potential coups and uprisings.)

It is unfortunate that one of the countries with the lowest crime rates in Central America has become less appealing, in recent years. The banking advantages are just about gone in Panama, and firearms ownership rights look doubtful. I am hopeful that some new free trade zones and zones and semi-autonomous districts might be developed in the next few years, but that remains to be seen.



Jim,
I have been a long time reader of your blog (several years) but have never posted. It is my recent experience with Todd Savage of Survival Retreat Consulting that has prompted me to write.

My wife and I have been married almost 27 years and have one child who is married to a like-minded young man. My journey to prepping started as a boy when I watched my parents garden, can, sew quilts, raise ducks and chickens and many other endeavors that were not considered prepping as such but just normal activities in the 1960s. We had a one acre homestead in a small Midwestern suburb complete with a “fraidy hole” for the inevitable tornadoes. My dad was a mechanic and carpenter and could build or fix just about anything. He took me camping, taught me how to fish (I wish I would have paid more attention) and tie knots (again with the attention deficit disorder). He drove a big 4WD truck and always carried survival gear with him, although I just considered it to be stuff he needed for his job. I attended one Cub Scout meeting but it didn’t appeal to me.

As I grew up, friends and I went on numerous camping trips all across our state. I don’t remember ever having a tent, just an old sleeping bag and a Coleman lantern and stove. We always had a great time sleeping under the stars.

As I grew older my dad seemed more eccentric about the gear he always had and as a normal teenager, I had no desire to copy him as I graduated high school and moved away to college. After college I lived the typical urban yuppie lifestyle and my accounting degree proved to be a good choice to help me make a living.

Fast forward to the late 80s. After several years of hard living, God sent me my soul mate. We quickly married and resumed the yuppie lifestyle. We had so much in common politically, spiritually and emotionally there was no doubt that our relationship was predestined by God. We cleaned up our acts, joined a local evangelical church and decided to raise a family. I don’t recall a time when prepping was on our list of things to do.

When our daughter was almost four, I was diagnosed with lymphoma. Twenty years later I am still in remission and give God all the glory. It was one of the highlights of our spiritual lives.

Like a lot of your readers, we first starting getting serious about prepping before Y2K. I can’t remember what all we bought but I remember feeling that we were probably better prepared than a lot of folks. Y2K came and went and most of our preps sat undisturbed in the garage.

Also in the late 90s we made our first visit to the American Redoubt (back before it was called that). We immediately fell in love with the area and the people and made it our goal to live there someday.

Things really started coming into focus after 9/11. I remember us watching it unfold on television and my wife saying “We’ve waited too long!” It was then that we started considering a host of “what ifs?”. We were self-employed and working together so even though our time was somewhat flexible our resources were limited. Having our daughter in Christian schools and looking down the road to college kept us limited on extra expenses. We did buy a generator after a storm knocked out the power to our home office which rendered us unable to work. By this time I was a CPA and did a lot of tax work. No manually prepared returns for me!

We soon had a chance to visit the Redoubt on business. My family joined me on a weekend and we had the chance to meet [name deleted for OPSEC] at her home (which was for sale at the time) and had some of her delicious carrot cake cooked in her wood stove. Dreamy! The time wasn’t right for us to buy her house but at least we were doing something to fulfill our dream.

Fast forward again to 2011. Our daughter was out of the house and we were empty nesters. We decide to vacation in the Redoubt and (unbeknownst to my dear wife) I was ready to look for our retreat. We drove around 600 miles (even looked in Canada) and fell in love with the place all over again. We looked at everything from ”Unabomber Cabins” to two story homes with acreage. Nothing seemed quite right for us. On our last night in town as we were returning to the cabin in which we were staying we got to within about a quarter of a mile of the cabin and we saw a house we had passed several times. My wife looked and said: “There is a 'For Sale' sign on it."  (A God thing.) We whipped down the road, looked around the vacant house, peeked in the windows and decided to call the realtor. It was almost dark on a Sunday evening so we didn’t expect much. But as we later discovered, most small town people are very willing to help “flatlanders” like us. Twenty minutes later she was there and we conducted a thirty minute tour. We were hooked.

We returned home, called the realtor, started negotiating and closed on the property in 45 days. We remember thinking, “What have we done?”.

First, a little about the property. I consider myself to be a poster boy for SurvivalBlog. Based on your advice, we have both a precious metals IRA and a real estate IRA (which we used to buy part of the property). We have plenty a lot of beans, bullets and Band-Aids, lots of coins and bars. Most importantly we are on the same page about prepping and definitely have prepper mindsets. I recently have become Red Cross certified. The house is on 2-½ acres, has a well and septic tank, plenty of trees, good garden areas and a natural wetland bird and deer habitat. The neighbors are great and everyone kind of keeps to themselves. We are very close to a large fresh water lake. We quickly installed a wood-burning stove, a manual pump for our well and a gas range. The house has a good sized basement/bunker for food and supplies storage and maintains a constant 65 degree temperature year round. There is a root cellar that needs some work but will be great for food storage. The house had been completely remodeled so there was no work to do on the house itself. We feel truly blessed. Two major things convinced us to eventually move to the Redoubt. One was your giving it a name and encouraging folks to move there. The other was when Chuck Baldwin made the move and wrote about his reasons on his web site. We felt sure we were doing the right thing.

My job kept us from moving there permanently so we visited a lot. I installed a web-based camera security system and hired a good Christian man to be our caretaker when we were away. Earlier this year we sold our suburban house in our home state and decided one of us should move to the retreat. Still bound my job constraints, we decided my wife and dog would move to the retreat full time. Much like the protagonist in the novel Patriots, it looks like my boss is going to let me telecommute starting in January so I will be able to join my wife at the retreat soon.

So what’s the problem? Our perfect homestead/retreat sits very close to a major US highway. Even though there are advantages (access to town about 20 miles away, snow plowing, etc.) there are distinct drawbacks (the “Golden Horde”, potential for hazardous spills, limited defensibility, etc.). What to do?

Enter Todd Savage and his associate. Based on your recommendation, I talked to Todd by phone and explained our dilemma. From the outset I could tell he was the type of guy I like doing business with. We quickly arranged a time for him to come visit our retreat. He and his associate arrived promptly and hit the ground running. He took lots of pictures and measurements; we walked the entire property and toured inside from top to bottom. The entire time they were making observations and recommendations and also asking lots of questions. After a few hours I paid him (worth every penny),shook hands and he drove away leaving me with a lot of things to think about.

Approximately a week later I received a fifty-plus page defense analysis. He graded my property on various aspects of our retreat (food production, water availability and defense capabilities). It was extremely thorough and comprehensive and made me appreciate his abilities even more. It also caused me to ask him a very important question:
 
“So, all things considered, would you keep the property or look for another? It seems to be a perfect 'homestead' but less than ideal place for when the Schumer hits the fan.”
 
His answer: “If you like your place, stay, if not look to relocate. If you wake up every morning happy then so be it, be happy! Professionally speaking, yes, you should look for another place.”
 
What candor! He knew my dilemma and responded in a very practical manner that I very much appreciated.

Now as we enjoy our homestead/retreat and ponder our next move, we are most thankful to God for directing us here. We also appreciate your blog more than I can say. Finally, I would not hesitate to recommend Todd. He will be the first one I call if/when we decide to take the next step.

- Tom H.
Somewhere in the American Redoubt


Sunday, November 17, 2013


Jim,
To be fair, when you referenced the history of changes to LDS doctrine over the years that appears on the anti-Mormon "ldsvideo.org" web site you should have included the LDS' perspective, which can be found here. - Kelly G.

James:
 I have been following your blog for a couple of weeks now. I first heard about SurvivalBlog from my father, who attended a preparedness workshop you spoke at in Lakeland, Florida a few weeks back. Your blog has been very informative, and I agree with you on many of the issues you discuss.
 
I am writing to respond to a letter from Jordan in Utah about that state’s lack of inclusion in the American Redoubt. I understand and somewhat agree with your opinion about Utah's overall climate being a deterrent to large-scale food production (or at least large enough to sustain the population), but would like to note that there are some large fertile regions in Utah where crop and livestock farming takes place (Cache, Utah, and Sanpete Valleys, as well as the Uinta Basin and Delta area). As a devout Latter-day Saint, I appreciated your response to that letter with your kind words about good people you know who are Mormons, as well as your reference to the church’s Doctrine and Covenants for those seeking information about LDS doctrine. However, I wanted to point out that you are overlooking the LDS church’s teachings and culture regarding the importance of individual preparedness and self-reliance, which I consider important to this discussion. Having been raised as a Mormon, I can wholeheartedly assert that these are dominant themes that Mormons hear about almost weekly as they attend their church meetings.
 
The church teaches its members that physical and spiritual self-reliance should be a primary goal in life (see providentliving.org, a church web site about self-reliance). This includes building and rotating an emergency food supply, maintaining a financial reserve for unexpected emergencies, and helping to care for poor and needy neighbors through the fast offering program (where members fast for 24 hours each month and donate the money they would have spent on food as “fast offerings”). Mormons are also taught that an individual’s family and church (in that order) should be the primary safety nets as attempts at self-reliance fail—government support should be a last resort. These teachings on preparedness are a logical progression of the doctrine that we are living in the Last Days before the Second Coming of the Savior, the tribulations of which have been prophesied in each of the church’s canonical works, which include the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.
 
In my view, the Mormon pioneers were the ultimate survivalists, and preparedness culture remains firmly entrenched within the LDS community, both in doctrine and in practice. This stems from the oppression—both from overreaching government and from hostile neighbors—that early Latter-day Saints experienced. Jordan’s mention of cliquish behavior and suspicion toward outsiders among some Mormons in Utah is an unfortunate relic of these experiences. When I attended college in Utah, I witnessed this behavior on occasion, but I believe it is a minority practice and one not seen as much among church members outside Utah. In general, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints promotes diversity and inclusion, and is very welcoming toward newcomers. I have experienced this firsthand as I have visited LDS congregations in several states both in the U.S. and in Mexico.
 
Another issue I wanted to address is Jordan’s mention of the “corporate teachings” of the church. This is an inaccurate view which arises from recently-mainstreamed progressive ideologies. The church lives within its means and does not spend money it does not have. It invests its money wisely and conservatively. In several cases, the church has purchased large land parcels with the goal of producing food to assist with self-reliance and disaster relief programs worldwide. The City Creek development project in downtown Salt Lake City (widely maligned by critics of the church as being evidence of LDS corporate culture) added hundreds of jobs to the local economy, improved the then-deteriorating urban atmosphere surrounding Temple Square (headquarters of the church and one of the most-visited tourist attractions in the country), and was completed without spending a cent of the church’s tithing funds. The church also maintains Welfare Square in Salt Lake City, which provides access to food, clothing, and employment counseling to needy people. There is no church membership requirement to access these resources. The bottom line is that the church is a self-reliant organization, and not the elitist, corporatist organization that its critics would have you believe. (For more information on the church’s financial model, please see church apostle David A. Bednar’s recent address, “The Windows of Heaven”)
 
I hope this clears up any misconceptions about the LDS church’s teachings regarding preparedness and self-reliance. I know these issues are somewhat tangential from the purpose of the original post, but these are some of the thoughts I had when I read that letter. Please let me know if I can answer any questions you might have about the LDS church. Once again, I’d like to congratulate you on your informative web site.
 
Best wishes,- David B. in Kansas

JWR Replies: I appreciate you feedback on that recent letter. I agree that the only way that someone can properly evaluate a church is to fully investigate its doctrine and practices. There is a wide range of opinion on the LDS Church, but as with any other controversial topic, it is only fully-informed opinions that should be heeded. Choose your church wisely.


Saturday, November 16, 2013


I saw your blog's recent article about expatriating to Panama, and thought I would throw in my own 2 cents worth regarding relocation to the Philippines.

There were a bunch of things that made me reach my breaking point and expatriate.  In the beginning when I purchased my home here on the tropical island, It was economic.

At first it was the crazy increases in home prices in the US.  I had the idea when I left the US in 2004 that I would work a couple years, come back to the desert southwest, and build a self sufficient home. Having spent many years living the American debt, paycheck, endless bills cycle, I had the strong desire to break it and get away from the endless treadmill.  I changed my mind when I saw property on a popular real estate broker site go from $10,000 for a bare piece of land without utilities go to $30,000 in two years.  In addition I had seen firsthand the economic explosion in Dubai, China and other places around Asia. 

At the time I was dating my future wife who is a Filipina.  She was open to moving anywhere I as going.  I studied Australia, Belize, Macau, and several other countries before deciding on the Philippines.  The Philippines has restrictions on foreign land ownership which meant that I was only able to purchase land with my wife's name on the title.  Nothing ensures marital harmony more than knowing that in the event of a split, property will not be divided like the US.  In addition there is no divorce law in the Philippines. Buyer beware when looking for a wife here. I married well with a wife who is a dentist and has a nursing degree. She is from a good family.

I worked my job in the Middle East for several years after that.  I had a mortgage at a 10% interest rate.  Long term mortgages are a Western concept, so we put a very large amount down and a very short loan.  Along the way I lost my Middle Eastern job and ended up back in the US for awhile until I got hired back to the Middle east.  It was a wake up call that nothing lasts forever when it comes to jobs or income.  The only thing I can be reasonably assured is that a paid for home is mine and cant be taken away nor can I lose it to some bank just because I lose a job for a year or 2. When it comes to being self sufficient the Philippines beats the US hands down.  I can afford to be poor here.

When I was in the US, I got a satellite radio subscription and started listening to Glenn Beck. Listening to him I was fully aware of the coming 2008 crash a long time before it happened.  I thought it would be worse that it was, so I planned for WROL.

It did not happen.  I was planned for full on collapse like the "Crunch" and not for what has transpired these last few years.

I got another job back in the Middle East, which I knew would not be forever.  So I planned accordingly.  Over two years, I kept thinking, researching, and planning, One thing that kept coming back to me was "Value and Values, Producing real things with real value". I paid off the mortgage, got rid of the new pickup truck, and bought all the tools needed to open up shop and work for myself.

Seeing as the Philippines is not really a place where a foreigner can just jump into a high paying job unless they are sent there by a call center company, or specialized trade; after moving there I had to create my own work based on my home location and situation.

We purchased our home in the Metro Manila area.  I had a eye for a gated community.  Close enough to the city to be able to do business, and far enough away to have a buffer from the pollution, squatters, and the like.  Being on the edge of a city of 13 million is probably breaking one of the Rawles retreat guidelines.  Although we do have ample garden space and open land around the neighborhood that could be tilled and planted in short order.  The neighborhood has a squad of live in guards toting 12 gauge shotguns patrolling the area along with high concrete block walls around the perimeter.  Water is thru a community well water service that has three water towers around the neighborhood in excess of 5,000 gallons each, along with backup commercial grade generators to run the wells for several weeks.  The last part was added in after the loss of electric in a typhoon a few years ago. We are sheltered from the worst of the typhoons by the mountain range to the east.  As such it is mostly the heavy rain we get.  The neighborhood drainage system is large enough to drive a semi truck thru and even when we got a couple feet rain over two days, it was less than a foot deep.

Firearms here for locals are harder to get than Texas and easier to get than Chicago.  Foreigners are not allowed to buy firearms, although high powered air rifles, bows, slingshots and the like are allowed.  It does not mean that one can not use the wife's guns to defend the home or go to the range. Foreigners can also rent various arms at the local indoor ranges.  The trend here has been for more firearms freedom.  Filipinos view shooting as a recreational sport akin to golf.  As such the politicians/chamber of commerce types go shooting vs the golf course.

As for food, we mostly use the local market with a backup garden plan.  I have a partially completed aquaponics system and there are a few other homes in the neighborhood with fully operational aquaponics systems.  My only excuse for not finishing my system is time and funds. 

The growing season here is year round.  Some things one my be used to like apples or peaches will not be grown here mainly due to it not being cold enough to set fruit.  Potatoes, Taro, Eggplant, onion, peppers, corn, cabbage and the usual garden items here grow year round.  The Philippines is very well set up climatically for super intensive farming practices.  Vertical gardening, and aquaponics are much easier to succeed with than in the north.  

The local supermarkets are well stocked with most of the same brands you are used to in the West.  Most of the differences are the packaging is more for the tropical climate.  Instant coffee comes in Mylar bags, Milk is in multi-layer retort cartons that do not need refrigeration, vegetable oil comes in plastic bags, and the like.  Meat from the US is available but mostly canned Spam and some of the lesser known US brands.  The prices for US spam is a bit more than the Chinese stuff (of questionable quality) and cheaper than the European DAK brand canned meats or the Argentinean canned meats. 

Fresh beef here is a rarity and expensive.  I joke with other Americans that the best beef here is at Burger King or Outback Steakhouse.  (yes we have that here) Locally pork is about US 2.50 per kilo and chicken the same.  Yard bird chickens have no social stigma here, and feed stores abound. 

As a foreigner one can not own their farm (without a Filipino family member on the title), however they can rent.  It is buyer beware.  People will rent out land they do not own, or try shenanigans like taking the rent, waiting until you built out something and then try to kick you out.  A lawyer or at least a paralegal is necessary to protect yourself. Foreigners can own condos however.

The biggest issue here has been earning a living.  John Robb's writings on diversifying ones income streams, and building a resilient home have been immensely useful.  You really have to create your own work here.

As such, I do a lot of networking here.  From the local inventor groups, engineer types, prepper groups, art groups, all introduce me into different networks that I do my business and earn a living.  Basically I make things here for a living.  I have a well equipped shop along with a now large list of people to call on to collaborate on projects that may require skills that I do not have.  I am kind of a project manager in that respect.  It is also about the whole 'tribe' concept.  

A tribe is certainly not something one builds in just a year or two.  However slowly I am getting to know people whom I know have my back if a SHTF "without rule of law" (WROL) situation happens, and at the same time if a slow decline happens here, I still have a income and resilience.  That was my lesson from 2008.  Prepare for both.

There are prepper groups here in the Philippines.  They are mostly people concerned about natural disaster, peak oil, invasion, and the gadget hobbyist types.  Libertarian/freedom minded views are not a extremist thing here. Filipinos follow the NRA goings-on quite intently, for example.

Regarding the Philippines it is a mixed choice for emigration.  If you do not have family here or a local support network, You can make up for it by having a large cash reserve.  If you really wanted to look at this place, come here for a year.  Do not make any financial commitments before then.  Get yourself a small Suzuki mini truck or van for $3,500, a cell phone with GPS and explore for awhile.  Rent a small cheap $300-400 dollar condo as your base. 

Should you move here, do not bring your car.  I repeat do NOT bring your car, no matter what you read online.  As a matter of fact bring your clothes, mementos, and nothing else.  You can easily replace what you need here at the same cost as the US without wasting money on shipping costs/customs fees.  

If you have a trade, and need specialized tools, ship the bare minimum only after you check local costs. 

The economy here is really booming now, and has a long way to go upwards.  The number of cranes on the skyline is as many or more than I saw in Dubai in 2005.  Downside is there are restrictions on land ownership and business ownership for foreigners.  Not saying it is impossible, the large population of Koreans, Chinese and Indians show that it is possible to achieve.  If one has ancestral ties to the Philippines i.e. white grandparent resided here before WW2, there are avenues to citizenship which make doing business easier.

One overlooked opportunity here is the free trade zones in the former US bases. Basically they are tax free, areas where foreigners can operate businesses with a very tiny regulatory burden.  One that makes Singapore's very liberal restrictions look dramatically Soviet by comparison.  The downside is the quality of labor available in these areas is not so high.  In those areas the good workers go abroad, or to Manila.  So one is left with challenges when it comes to finding high quality skilled people one is used to like in the West like welders or metal fabricators for example.

The Philippine legal system is based on US law.  It is US law as of July 4, 1946, and built on from there.  As such most contracts, titles and other forms are pretty much the same as the US.  One could even use US boilerplate legal forms here for many things. 

The transportation system in the Philippines is a mess.  There are a few good superhighways here.  On Luzon, it still is a adventure to get anywhere fast.  A 100 mile drive can take an entire day.  The secondary roads themselves are in good repair, but they are narrow and clogged with motorcycles, farm tractors and the like outside the cities and clogged with Jeepneys and trikes in the cities.  There is very little what one would consider safe driving or courteous driving by western standards.  People here drive the wrong way down the road whenever it strikes their fancy along with just plain carelessness.  It is not a Foreigner vs Local thing, they do it to each other as much as to anyone else. 
there is very very little drivers education here.

The Philippine electric system is fairly reliable but that depends on the area.  In my experience I saw many blackouts in 2004 and in 2013, I can only relate to a couple short blackouts this year, mostly due to moving power poles in my area for road widening.  Electricity is very expensive though--early double the rates of the US.  One soon learns to go without air conditioning, unless they enjoy a large bill.  Solar systems are increasingly available locally.  $300 USD will get you a 250 watt panel.  Solar cells are cheaper and it is more economical to build panels for yourself.  We have part of our home set up to go off grid in time of calamity with the flipping of a couple switches and two strong rooms in case of typhoon.

The local Internet service used to be quite bad in 2004.  Prepaid dial up was cheaper and more reliable than DSL. Now reliable 1mbs-6mbs service is common.  In the more upscale areas of metro Manila 100mbs fiber optic Internet is around $350 USD per month.

Regarding churches here.  They abound.  the Catholic Church has a huge influence on the local scene.  I have been at the DMV and seen mass being held in the middle of the drivers license waiting room,; altar, communion and all.  The LDS church has a large presence here, although they do not really practice the food storage aspect here.  No LDS canneries or Deseret Industries here.  Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Jehovah witnesses, Salvation Army, are all active. 

If you are a Lions Club member they are quite active here as well, along with other fraternal organizations. 

Sports locally have a lot of community involvement. Probably more so than the US.  Basketball is the national pastime along with boxing.  Football and Baseball not so much.  Music and Movies are mostly American.  Kenny Rogers is a musical idol here.  You can see mostly the same movies locally as the US at about 1/4 the cost.

Local costs for things are different than the US.  Some has to do with the exchange rate.  Automobiles are at least double the US cost.  A 1999 F150 or Silverado will set you back about $12,000 USD.  A new 175cc motorcycle will set you back a cool 800 dollars.  Gasoline is over $5USD per gallon once you do the conversion. 

As a American you are tax exempt up to around $90,000 USD if you earn the money overseas and are out of the country for at least 330 out of 365 days.  You are also exempt from Obamacare (for now)  If you have a big nest egg, there is FACTA to deal with.  This is beyond the scope of that aspect of the article and can be better explained at one of the many expat sites like Sovereign Man or International Man.  Consult your tax professional/lawyer.

Daily wages for a semi skilled welder or carpenter is $12, but a lawyer will run you much more than the US.  Dental fillings are around $15. Surgical removal of a ingrown toenail is maybe $2-400 dollars depending on the clinic.  In my profession, I can charge about $100 an hour, but engineering and CAD work is 15-20 dollars a hour. You will not find any certified mechanics outside of the dealership and finding a US standard mechanic with the right tools outside of the dealership is non-existent.

The Philippine government is not very strong on the national level.  The Mayors hold sway more than the provincial governors. The organizational structure here is similar to the US but not the same.  The smallest level is the homeowners association if you are in a subdivision.  The homeowners associations do not have the same powers that the American ones have with fines, and fees.  Next is the Barangy (pronounced ba-run-guy) captain.  He is like the local alderman or township guy.  Next up is the Mayor, and city council.  Above that is the Provincial governor, Congressman Senator and President.  The Philippines government has congress(US house of representatives like) Senate, and Supreme Court.  The Army holds control of some areas usually in the parts where the last remaining Communists are holed up and the Moslem rebel areas. 

There are communists here.  From what I have been told they are Maoist types but get most of their support from the US.  They are recruited thru the universities (kinda like the US in that one) They number a couple thousand and are mostly bandits.  The Filipinos have no taste for communism but they have been influenced by radical American community organizer types who travel here and rabble rouse. 

Crime here is mostly the petty variety.  Not much of the blatant holdup robberies here anymore like there were in the 1990s.  The merchants employ shotgun-toting guards everywhere.  McDonalds has a smiling uniformed guard with a shotgun to open the door for you.  Sneak thievery is common, but that depends on where you live and whom you associate with.  Personally, we have only had one sneak thief in the house back in 2005 who stole some $2 kitchen knives and abandoned them in a vacant house next door. He was caught.

Police bribery is relatively low compared to Mexico for example.  It is not Tijuana.  The few times I have been solicited a bribe for a non-existent traffic violation is one of the old guard Marcos era cops. Most of those old guys are being replaced by younger generations that are not so much into bribery.  Political corruption here is rampant.  After seeing the US events I think that the US now has more corruption, Filipinos just don't pretend its non-existence.

Meth addiction is common and Marijuana use happens.  I don't keep that sort of company, so I don't really see it in my daily life. I just don't do business with people who have obvious meth mouth teeth. The penalties for drugs are very very high.  Alcoholism is common among the lower classes.  Gin is the drink of choice.  Drinking and driving is not really something enforced here.  Illegal but not enforced unless you have a accident. 

Car insurance is mandatory although many do not carry it, and there are few penalties for not having it.  One should carry a high policy in case one runs over one of the ever present tipsy pedestrians walking the roads at night.  It will save you a lot of headache.

English is the most common language although it is a second language.  There are regional languages, but if you are from down south, you use English when coming to Manila or muddle your way thru Tagalog.  If you are from Luzon and go to Mindanao to do business, you use English.

Schooling for children you either send them to the private schools that teach almost entirely in English or here on Luzon the public schools that teach in Tagalog.  Children graduate when they are 16 years old.  It is not uncommon to see a 16 year old engineering student at the university.

The hardest part here is deciding where you will live.  As an American you would do well to stay out of the areas with large American populations.  Angeles and Olongapo city are full of miscreants who have pretty much destroyed any goodwill you would find elsewhere due to bad habits. There are very few Americans here under the age of 40.

In short, if you are looking for your tropical island escape hole, you have two things to consider with the Philippines.  On one hand the government is too weak to implement USA style repression, and it is susceptible to Chinese invasion. On the other, It has good economic prospects if you are the entrepreneur type and don't like snow.

It is not easy being a expat and doubly more so if you do not have a high paying job or pension.  There is no social safety net.  No food stamps, no one to help you if you are in the hospital with bills.  It is high wire trapeze without the safety net. As such you must be a prepper to survive life's inevitable setbacks.


Thursday, November 14, 2013


James,
All your points regarding Utah being unsuitable [for inclusion as an American Redoubt state] are well taken, I would add only a few items and clarify one statement;

The plain fact is the Mormon [LDS] church controls the political and economic conditions within the state and they have always wanted to expand that control to a national level. The majority follow (in my view) a completely wrong religious doctrine, in that they practice the corporate teachings of their church, which has very little to do with the Bible. I would also say when push comes to shove 99.9% of the elected officials will do exactly what the gray suits at the [LDS] temple in Salt Lake City tell them to do.

I, not being a native [to the state] nor a Mormon, have found there is what I call The Mormon Ceiling in employment here, meaning most upper level and higher paying jobs are very difficult to come by and seem reserved for those of a proper standing [within the LDS Church.] Especially in the public service jobs (local and state government) there is only so far up the ladder that a non-member can go. I have noted that in difficult times the employees let go are predominantly not members of the mormon church in both the private and public sectors. In fact are still some cities that actually require a temple recommend to even get an interview (all in the shadows of course).

To be perfectly blunt, given the class system ingrained in Utah society and even within their own religion, Utah is not a good choice for survival unless you become a cog in their system, but even then you will be treated as an outsider.

My observation is the people here are also pretty racist. It seems that it may be due to ignorance, lack of contact with other races and brainwashing from those very same powers that be. Sadly, they are blissfully unaware of it, denying it vehemently, even after it is proven to them.

The error I noted is (unless the law has changed in the last year since receiving a CCL permit) that Utah residents can open carry anywhere in the state as long as it takes two mechanical actions to fire the weapon. [Further, anyone carrying a gun] must leave a private business or home if asked and apparently schools, churches and public buildings are weapons free areas or free fire zones as some call them.

I have visited quite a few parts of the state and besides very small pockets of Utah that have [favorable] microclimates, most of the state is not viable in a total collapse, although this is probably true in most any [other western] state. Given what I have observed and living here for the last 20 or so years as a Lutheran, I can honestly say a move to the north west of here, would be a prudent choice for long term survival. Otherwise it is a decent place to live. I just wish we had continued north years ago. - Jordan

JWR Replies: Thanks for mentioning the clarification on open carry in Utah.

The folks at US Conceal and Carry posted these details on Utah's strange open carry law:

"Utah allows for open carry of unloaded firearms without a concealed firearm permit. “Unloaded” as it applies here, means that there is no round in the firing position, and the firearm is at least two “mechanical actions” from firing. As carrying the firearm with the chamber empty, but with a full magazine, meets this definition (the handler must chamber a round, and then pull the trigger), this is a common work around for Utah residents who do not wish to acquire a permit. Without the permit, the [unloaded] firearm must be clearly visible.

(Emphasis added.)

It is sad that open carry of fully loaded guns without a permit is not legal in Utah.  Unless you have a CCW permit, you cannot legally openly carry a loaded revolver or an autopistol with a cartridge in the chamber. The alternative, Condition 3 carry (that is, carry with an empty chamber--commonly called Israeli Carry), is slower and cumbersome, since it requires two hands to ready the gun for firing. If you have only one hand available (for instance when grappling, or when injured), then you may end up dead.

For anyone who lives in Utah without a CCW permit but who wishes to open carry, I recommend that you skip carrying revolvers altogether. (They are too slow to load, even with a speedloader.) Also skip carrying a Glock (or a non-thumb safety version of the S&W M&P autopistol), because without an external safety lever they probably wouldn't meet the "two mechanical actions" test of the Utah law. For open carry of other autopistols, be sure to practice a lot in drawing and slide rack chambering from Condition 3 ("Israeli") Carry.

As for Mormon politics and clannishness in Utah, I don't consider that a major issue or impediment for anyone who is considering relocation to Utah or to southern Idaho. I've observed that there are are lots of non-Mormon small towns throughout the United States where newcomers get the cold shoulder socially, and where there is a de facto hiring preference for locals. That is just basic social dynamics and the We/They Paradigm in action. To illustrate: I've been a landowner living year-round in The Unnamed Western State for eight years, and faithfully attending the same local church for all of that time. But I'm still considered a relative newcomer. Many of my neighbors have lived here for three or four generations. So I can't expect to be "instantly integrated." That is just the way it is.

As for LDS doctrine, I'd rather not open that bucket of worms in detail in this venue. That would go far beyond the scope of SurvivalBlog's raison d'être. Just suffice it to say that I have some irreconcilable doctrinal differences with the LDS Church. But that doesn't mean that I don't get along with Mormons, socially. I've met some fine individuals who are Mormons.

For anyone who is curious about LDS doctrine, I would recommend that you read both the LDS Doctrine and Covenants tome (available at almost any used book store and also available on-line) and a great evidential book by an outsider, titled Letters to a Mormon Elder. I find the history of changes to LDS doctrine over the years is fascinating, just in itself.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Our family moved out of the United States in January of 2013, and so JWR's novel “Expatriates” has been a particularly interesting read for us.  The kids are enjoying it, too. I want to share some of our experiences as expats which I believe will be helpful for your readers.

The water got too hot for us on November 6, 2012.  I’m a reporter for the Christian Broadcasting Network, and was in Detroit covering the election.  What I saw there was the last straw in a long series of insults and injuries.  
 
Detroit is the poster child for all that is wrong with this country.  Progressive policies have taxed and spent the city into oblivion.  Over a hundred thousand homes and businesses stand empty and crumbling.  Industry has been driven away by confiscatory tax rates, to be replaced by criminal gangs who pay no taxes on the drugs they sell to whomever is unfortunate enough to still be stuck there.  Almost 50% of the population is functionally illiterate, and the number of folks on public assistance is eclipsed only by the number of fatherless homes.

I travel to nearly twenty countries each year in my work as a war correspondent.  The only place I’ve been in the past twelve months that was worse than Detroit was Mogadishu.  To paraphrase the ineffable Mark Steyn--Detroit has become Dependistan.  I believe Detroit is simply a premonition of the future of America.

On election night, I watched the uneducated masses lining up to vote for more.  More welfare.  More government.  More dysfunction.  And I realized something.  I’ve been paying for all this.  That giant check I have to write every year to Uncle Sam is being spent on programs  which are actively destroying the country I love.  This is more than unacceptable.  It is profane.  

Mark 9:43 says “And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:”

Verses like that tell me I must be willing to take drastic action to put things right that have gone wrong.  This applies to many areas of my life, including where I live.  My wife and I had a long conversation after I got back to the hotel on election night, and we decided voting at the ballot box wasn’t enough.  It was time to vote with our feet.  For us, then, moving was less of a prepping/survival decision than a moral one.

The pacific northwest was one option.  But two problems arose with that scenario.  One was Obamacare.  There are few ways to avoid paying for this monstrosity inside the United States (Medi-share being a notable exception).  [JWR Adds: It is notable that the Affordable Care Act contains a special exemption provision for members of healthcare sharing ministries.]  I refuse to pay for abortions and Bradley Manning’s sex change.  The other thing keeping us from heading to the American Redoubt was this annual phenomenon known as “winter”.  Let’s just say when Momma isn’t happy, nobody is happy.

Fortunately, there was another option for us:  Panama.  I’d first visited during my stint in the Army, and have returned many times with my wife and family since then.  We know the country, the language, and the people well.  So from November 6 to January 1, we packed, rented our home in the US and bought plane tickets.

Panama is a first-world country of only three million people.  It is most known for the Panama canal, which is the largest contributor to the country’s GDP.  Most people have an idea that the rest of the country is mostly deep, dark jungle and home to drug lords and bugs the size of your hat.  While there are parts of Panama where this may be true (like the Darien), there are plenty of less-steamy and less-buggy places to be found.  Crime is typically only a problem if you are somehow connected to the drug trade or fail to take commonsense precautions in heavily populated areas.  Pretty much like the U.S. in that regard.

As much as my wife hates winter, I hate oppressive heat.  Fortunately, we were able to find a happy medium in the mountains of Panama.  The town we moved to is one of many oft-overlooked mountain villages found across the country.  Ours has about 5,000 people in a small valley 2700 feet above sea level.  The climate is like West Virginia in late spring--temps between 70 and 85 degrees year round.

Captain Rawles has done a great job pointing out the perils of expatriation:

• Maintaining contact with family in the U.S.  
• The challenges of being the “expendable new guy gringo.”
• The potential for restrictive gun laws.
• Difficulty maintaining a deep larder.
• Language and cultural differences.

These are all very valid issues and moving to a foreign country certainly isn’t for everyone.  I would add a few more items to that list:

• Where culture and paperwork intersect--like getting your car registered--can make you want to drive your car off the Bridge of the Americas.  Fortunately some of these hassles can be avoided by paying someone twenty bucks to take care of them for you.
• “American” foods and products are sometimes hard to find and can be more expensive, and changing one’s tastes to local fare takes effort.
• Different concepts of time can be frustrating--you’ll come to hate the word “Mañana.”
• Getting a job in Panama is problematic for a foreigner.  So you must either start your own business, work remotely, or develop passive income in order to pay your bills.
• The justice system works differently here, so on the off chance you are suspected of a crime, you might find yourself “guilty until proven innocent.”  Fortunately corruption is not as much of an issue here as it is in other Latin American countries. (like Los Angeles).
• Schooling options are somewhat limited in the countryside if you aren’t prepared to homeschool.

For us, the choice was less about what would be easiest for our family and more about what we felt called to do.  We felt it our duty to take drastic action to “starve the beast” of a corrupt government, though we don’t yet feel compelled to fully renounce our U.S. citizenship.

Drawbacks notwithstanding, Panama has many advantages as a get-out-of-dodge location.  Let me enumerate a few of them here:

• A year-round growing season--Panama is the land where your houseplants come from.  Only here, they are the size of houses.  I’ve sometimes said one could probably grow cars in Panama if they could be buried deep enough.  Rain in Panama is measured in feet, not inches, and the tap water is sweet and gravity-fed.  Our four-acre property has a constant supply of fruit and vegetables.  We have oranges, lemons, mangoes, bananas, plantain, avocados, beans, pineapple, and even sugar cane.  Canning is almost unheard of here because it only takes a few weeks to grow just about any vegetable you like.  Think about how much easier your preps would be if you never had to worry about winter or air conditioning!

• A socially homogenous populace--One of the biggest challenges America faces today is what some call “the great divorce.”  That is, there exist in the States two deeply-divided groups of people with mutually exclusive world views.  Panama does not have this problem.  Political correctness is a completely foreign concept.  Boys bringing their machetes to show-and-tell in third grade are not a reason to call out the SWAT team.

• High quality, low cost medical care--Expats are exempt from Obamacare for the time being, and we are easily able to self-insure here, seeing as how a full triple heart bypass costs around $13,000 as opposed to $150,000 or more in the U.S.  It’s easy to find well-trained, English speaking doctors and dentists here and you won’t have to pay off the lawyers to get in the door.

• A small, stable, democratic and business-friendly government--Panama’s economy is growing at a rate north of 10% per year, and its government is the most capitalistic of any in Latin America.  They have lowered business tax rates and the government is constitutionally limited to borrowing no more than 47% of GDP.  Contrast the US, with liabilities exceeding 500% of GDP.  Income earned outside of Panama (for those who can work remotely) is not taxable in Panama, and may qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit in the U.S., which allows some U.S. citizens to pay no tax on the first 95,000 of earned income.

• Low cost of living--The average day-labor wage here is $15 per day.  Many things contribute to this.  One is a culture that does not indulge frivolous lawsuits, which run up the prices of everything.  Another is more realistic expectations--people are content without a 72-inch-high-definition television and a car that cost more than my first house.  Most people do just fine without TV or a car.   This society is not built on a mountain of debt, and people typically pay cash for everything, including their homes, which usually get built a little bit at a time as money allows.  Imagine what your neighborhood would look like if nobody took on debt!

• Adequate gun rights--Panama’s gun laws are better than some states in the US and worse than others.  To own a gun one must take a blood test, drug test, eye exam, criminal history check and mental health exam.  Passing those, one is issued a gun permit which allows  you to purchase and own most kinds of firearms (no fully automatic weapons or suppressors) and to carry them concealed.  The “castle doctrine” here is very strong.  Actual gun ownership is low (due to the cost relative to average income) and that means if you get a gun you’ll likely be the only person in the neighborhood who owns one.

• A deeply religious and moral culture--This one was huge for us.  In Panama, prayer is still required in schools.  Abortion is illegal.  Gay “marriage” is all but unheard of.  Actually, our little pueblo feels, to me, like America did when I was a kid.  My children ride their bikes all over town.  Crime is extremely low outside the city.  Pornography is rare as few have internet access at home and it isn’t sold in stores.  By and large, Panamanians are a humble, peaceable people.  They like Americans.  While they are primarily Catholic and our family is Protestant, this has never caused problems.

• Self sufficiency as a way of life--The people in our little valley mostly live on what they grow or raise in their front yards.  Everyone has chickens or rabbits.  They grow loads of beans, yucca, plantains, and rice.  While Panama uses the U.S. dollar as it’s official currency, which in my opinion is a bad thing, these people already function in a barter economy and if the whole world fell apart tomorrow, they’d hardly notice.  Our remoteness in the mountains means we are outside of the “golden horde” lines of drift that may one day come from the cities and our neighbors will likely go on as they always have, raising their food and trading for what they need.  Electricity here is reliable, but less so than in the states.  It probably goes out every other week for a couple of hours.  In a way this is good, as most are quite accustomed to functioning without power.  Because of the mild climate here, you never need to cool or heat your home, which dramatically cuts down on power usage.  The average electric bill is around $10 a month.
 
• God lives here, too--We’ve worked hard to overcome the “expendable Gringo” syndrome by plunging into the culture with both feet.  Because we are Christians and are fluent in Spanish, we found family from day one at our local Christian church.  Getting to know its membership has been one of the most enjoyable and rewarding parts of living here.  We found there are lots of mutually beneficial ways for us to interact with these locals, from ferrying a bereaved wife to the cemetery in our car to learning from them how to grow fruits and raise rabbits.

These benefits are just a few of the reasons we chose to come here.  Many other Americans are following suit--our real estate agent tells us he is getting dozens of calls each month from Americans looking to relocate.  There are estimated to be four to six million U.S. Expatriates worldwide, and with the “death of distance” allowing people to work remotely over the Internet, thousands more are leaving every month.  Here in Panama there are about 50,000.  That number looks likely to double within a decade or less.

Much of what we’ve learned moving to Panama could be very helpful to anyone looking to move to a new location.  In a follow-up article to this one, I’ll lay out some of the strategies we employed to integrate into our new surroundings and quickly gain “ground intelligence” that will make us safer in the event of a “failure of civility.”

Though we felt compelled to “go Galt” for moral reasons, it’s sad to feel like I’m more free in Panama than the country of my birth, which I once fought and bled for.  But if by leaving for a time we can hasten the day when our government is forced to confront its immoral choices, then perhaps moving away was the most patriotic thing we could do.  If by sharing our experiences with you we can make it easier for some to make similar decisions, so much the better.  

A few people have criticized our decision as “cutting and running” on America.  For us, it isn’t about seeking comfort or safety.  It’s about doing everything in our power to stand for what’s right and withdraw our support from what’s wrong.  
 
May whatever hardships are to come be a catalyst for our nation to return to the God of our forefathers.



Kyle T. mentioned that he found on Craigslist: "...a complete business for someone to buy in Idaho if they are interested in blacksmithing.  The listing is entitled  "Blacksmith, wheelwright shop complete (Nampa, Idaho)"  Things like this don't come every day!"

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I recently heard some details from a reader about Obadiah's Woodstoves, in Troy, Montana. They have great prices, a huge selection, and top notch customer service. They sell nationwide.

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With friends like this, who needs enemies? New Jersey governor coming to North Idaho.

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Although it obviously comes from a strident leftist with an axe to grind, it is interesting to see the delineation of The American Redoubt’s western border so distinctly in the map accompanying this article: Up in Arms. (Thanks to J.M.A. for the link.)

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Some troubling news from Gongaza University, in Eastern Washington: A rock and a hard place: Students fend off intruder with legal gun; face potential expulsion for school violation.

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Atlanta (Idaho) residents worried they could be snowed in this winter. (Atlanta is a tiny town with just 32 residents.)


Monday, November 11, 2013


Dear Mr. R.:
Why don't you include Utah in your American Redoubt states? I'm asking because we're right next door [to the Redoubt region] and Utah seems so much like the Redoubt states in so many ways. Just curious. - L.W.J.

JWR Replies: Although Utah's crime rate, taxes, and insurance rates are low and family food storage is quite popular there, the state has several distinct drawbacks. They include:
  • Utah is is not an open carry state. A government-issued permit is required to carry a fully-loaded gun openly. I find that abhorrent.
  • Utah is a predominantly desert state. In the event of a grid-down situation, nearly all of the irrigated farmland in Utah will quickly revert to desert. Even with electrically-pumped irrigation water, the state would be hard-pressed to feed itself if it became economically isolated. (Most of their groceries are trucked in from California.)
  • Utah's annual precipitation is generally low, quite regionally isolated, very seasonal, and much of it comes in the form of snow. By comparison, most of the Redoubt has more evenly distributed precipitation, annually. (One exception is eastern Oregon, which is also fairly arid.)
  • Utah is a net energy importer. By comparison, the Redoubt states are all energy exporters. (In Utah, coal is used to generate about 90 percent of the state's electricity. In 2010, Utah imported 3.3 million short tons of coal to make up the shortfall for its power plants.) This is not an issue in Idaho, eastern Washington, eastern Oregon, and Montana, which are powered predominantly with hydroelectric power. Wyoming gets most of its power from coal and natural gas, but unlike Utah, Wyoming is a net exporter of coal, oil, and natural gas. Virtually all of Utah's coal is used for either electricity generation or by local copper and steel industries. The bottom line is that the state has insufficient coal production to meet its growing needs, and its production is gradually decreasing. But at least its natural gas supply appears to be improving.
  • Utah's population density is fairly high compared to the Redoubt counties, and rapidly growing. (It now has 34.3 people per square mile--a substantial jump from around 28 per square mile when I first formally evaluated the state, six years ago.) Most of the Redoubt counties range from 3 to 10 people per square mile, and most of those counties are seeing much more gradual growth than in Utah. (Take note that the Redoubt region does not include the more populous western halves of Oregon and Washington.)
  • Given the tight-knit family bonds of Mormon families, I predict that the population of the state would at least double in the event of any "slow slide" nationwide disaster. (It is safe to assume that their large extended families will immediately "flock back to the nest," as long as highways remain passable.)
  • Utah has fairly strict home schooling laws, with mandatory registration.
  • Utah has a growing criminal gang problem which is unheard of in most of the Redoubt counties. (Although there is some gang activity in southeastern Washington.)

So all in all, I don't believe that Utah has enough plusses to qualify it for inclusion in the Redoubt region list. But of course my qualifications for inclusion in the Redoubt are subjective. They are also skewed toward survivability in the absence of grid power. If the grid stays up, then parts of Utah would probably be quite viable.


Friday, November 8, 2013


Have you been thinking about leaving the crowded city and moving to a retreat? Perhaps you are weighing many factors, finances, age, leaving friends and family, and work.  But the most important factor you should weigh, is the answer to the question, “If the SHTF, can we survive here?”  If the answer is no, then take the leap and move!  We did! 

We sold our San Diego house and finally landed in Washington state, on the west side of the Cascades.  We aimed for the Redoubt, but due to work constraints we could not make that work for us.  So, last November, we closed escrow on our new 20 acre retreat in the country with rich soil, good rainfall, and a good well. It is in a farming community. 

After jumping in with both feet, I will tell you up front that if your plan is to escape to a retreat at the last minute, I strongly urge you to reconsider.  There is a big learning curve to retreat living, mistakes to make and plans to rethink.  If there is anything you take away from this article, I want it to be that message:  you need to get established first and practice your new skills. For example, this past first year I had to learn the growing season of the area, the problems with tomato blight, how to drive a tractor without killing myself, what works for purifying our water and more.  Because TEOTWAWKI has not happened yet, I have had time to sort out and buy seeds that will actually grow in my microclimate.  And when I drove my tractor under a big limb with the roll bar up, and the limb came crashing down on my neck, I was still able go to the doctor to make sure I didn’t crack my vertebrae.  Yes, I learn some things the hard way, and I am trying to learn what I can now before there is no medical care.  Mistakes made now are salvageable for the most part.  They are not so salvageable after TEOTWAWKI.  Move to your retreat soon if you decide this is for you.  Learn your sustainability skills and practice, practice, practice!

This first year, my life activities were dictated by the seasonal changes.  Almost everything I did depended on what season it was, planting, harvesting, canning, etc.  Even my indoor activities, sewing my quilts, organizing my pantry, etc, were driven by rainy days when I didn’t need to be outside.  Please keep in mind, I lived in a city all of my life.  And where I came from, it was, “Rain?  What’s that?”  I have never had to cut my own firewood, grow my own food sustainably, raise chickens or drive the aforementioned tractor ever before.  My association with seasons had to do with what kind of holiday decorations to put up. This is a big change for my husband and me.

November and December were very rainy months when we were moving in.  My husband travels quite a bit, so I spent several of those first days alone in the new house watching the rain outside and asking myself, “What have we done?”  It takes a sense of adventure and a lot of faith to take a leap like this, and you may ask yourself the same question, but take heart, it gets better.  I met one set of neighbors fairly quickly when they dropped by to say hi, and with their help I organized a housewarming for the other neighbors.  They also introduced me to a good Bible church nearby.  I got to know pretty quickly who were going to be the reliable friends, who was knowledgeable about growing a garden and canning and who knew the most about what was going on in our valley.  We also spent the winter learning what needed to be improved for our situation.  We lacked a wood burning stove, and once we installed it we learned how much firewood we used month to month in the cold months.  This first year we had to buy firewood.  The wood burning stove does a great job keeping the house warm and I think it is more comfortable than central heat.  I spent a lot of time unpacking and organizing these two months and finding out what needed to be replaced.  I had already created a modest stockpile of food, largely in part from the LDS Cannery in Reno when we were living there temporarily. (See my previous SurvivalBlog article: Visits to a LDS Cannery.)  I inventoried our supplies and went into town to stock up on many other items.  Some of those purchases included new cooking utensils, and cast iron items like a dutch oven and griddle that would fit on top of the wood burning stove.  I cooked on it a couple of times with the dutch oven just to know I could do it if needed. Referring to my own lists, I stocked up on OTC meds, toiletries, batteries, toilet paper, extra heirloom seeds and many other items. I also used this time to start buying canning jars and lids, including some of the reusable Tattler lids.  My philosophy in buying these so early was that I didn’t know when the supply line could end, and by harvest season I would still need them.  I bought more canning jars on sale later when canning season came around in July and August. Shopping was something I could do in the winter and it helped me learn my way around.

We also looked at our water situation. Our well produces drinkable water IF you close your eyes and imagine it isn’t really orange and turbid.  So we considered a plan to purify it and again after a couple of mistakes, we went with a peroxide treatment, coupled with water softening and reverse osmosis for drinking. We decided to store extra peroxide and salt for the future.  If we run out, the water is still safe to drink and can also be filtered with our Katadyn filter if it becomes too objectionable. I will discuss our well and electricity later in this article.

In January, I contacted a local nursery and had a long conversation with their expert on orchards.  I knew the bare root planting season was approaching.  Many nurseries place their orders for the next year’s trees around November so I wanted to find out what varieties they were going to carry and what was recommended.  I ordered 55 fruit trees of several varieties, paying particular attention to what trees best pollinate each other. I ordered semi-dwarfs in five varieties of apples, two varieties each of pear, Asian pear, cherries and plums. One other reason for ordering different varieties has to do with crop lost due to freeze.  If some trees bloom slightly later or earlier and a freeze hits, you may have some blossoms spared and still get fruit.  I neatly laid out the orchard to have roughly 15 feet between trees running southeast and southwest, with about 22 feet (hypotenuse) north and south.  One of my neighbors owned a tractor with a post hole digger and volunteered to start the tree holes for us.   Simultaneously, he dug post holes for the new fence. The nursery also had organic compost which they dumped into the back of my truck.  Twice I brought home a load of compost for planting and shoveled it out of the back of the truck into the orchard.  Because these weren’t muscles I was practiced in using, I developed a repetitive motion injury on one arm.  That was the last of my shovel use for a couple of months and was glad I had medical care still.  Come February and March, my husband planted the trees and we threw in a few extra varieties from the home improvement store.  The trees from the nursery did grow in very well!  Some of the trees actually produced this year to our surprise. But the home improvement store varieties had some mortality. If I was doing it again, I would buy only nursery trees. The nursery trees appeared to be older, sturdier and more suited to our area and were worth the few extra dollars.   We also took the opportunity to plant a few walnut trees strategically to lessen the view of the house when they grow up and to provide a good source of Omega 3. 

In March, we installed a six foot tall, 7-wire electric fence around the orchard.  We chose this fence configuration due to it’s success in controlling deer and elk in numerous studies.  We installed wood posts in the corners of the orchard, and between corner posts we used non conductive fence posts.  Of the seven electrified strands on the fence, five are 12.5 gauge high tensile wire, and two are white Gallagher Turbo Poly Wire strands.  The white Poly Wire placed higher on the fence improves fence visibility, which we hope will reduce the chance of an animal trying to run through it.  All strands are charged by a Parmak Magnum 12 solar fence energizer.  The battery keeps the fence charged day and night, even after weeks of clouds and rain. We were told by a local to mix molasses and peanut butter and put it on the fence to train the deer about the electricity.   Thus far, it has been 100 percent effective, and we have been able to keep out the two legged creatures as well, though I suspect in TEOTWAWKI this would not be much of a deterrent. 

April was the month for chickens, garden and a tractor.  Let’s start with the newly purchased tractor.  When it was delivered, we were taught how to operate it and I insisted on being the first to drive it!  With the instructor there, I took off with it around the yard with the brush hog going and had a little fun with it.  It was helpful to have him there to ask questions.  My husband got his turn and the rep left.  I pretty much took it as my job to use the tractor when something needed to be done as my husband isn’t always home.  For the most part, I did pretty well with it mowing around the house and in the orchard between the trees. Then there were two incidences that put a dent in my confidence.  The first incident was with the tree limb I already mentioned.  The latest incident involved me destroying the engine of the tractor.  I was removing fence posts with the bucket and mowing along side the road where the new electric fence is going for next years cattle.  I missed pulling one of the posts and not seeing it, I ran the tractor up on that post.  It went through the radiator and the oil filter.  Although I stopped the tractor after getting it off the fence post, the sudden loss of oil and coolant quickly overheated the engine and resulted in it needing a complete engine replacement.  I am lucky we bought tractor insurance, and TEOTWAWKI has not happened and I can recover from my mistake.  But I will say again, if you are planning to go to a retreat after SHTF, then you will not have the luxury of insurance or doctors being there for you while you learn from mistakes.  If you were already at your retreat, you could be learning these lessons now, not later.  My lessons learned about tractors:  (1) put the roll bar down to drive under trees, or cut the lower branches on trees, or do not mow under trees at all. (2) Back into tall weed areas with the brush hog, don’t drive over those tall weed areas engine first in case there’s something you can’t see (3) tractor tires have better traction going forward than backwards because of the [tread] design of the tires (4) wear a hard hat and hearing protection (5) don’t drive into a steep area sideways if you don’t want to roll your tractor (6) insurance can be a wonderful thing for your tractor! Yes, I will get on the tractor again, but with some added knowledge on tractor safety.  But, if you see me driving the tractor, you still might want to stand clear!

Late April, I also picked up my first chickens.  I had placed an order with a fellow who was a specialized breeder and was starting to think he wasn’t going to come through with the order.  So, I grabbed some different varieties at a co-op we had joined.  The co-ops here typically carry chicks until the end of April and I was afraid I would lose my opportunity to get chicks this year. Ok, you can laugh, I had the chicks inside in a box in a spare bedroom.  I didn’t have my coop set up yet and had to keep them warm, too.  The home improvement store sold me a shed which was constructed on our land, but I laid vinyl and my husband insulated it and finished it off inside.  He cut a small chicken sized door to the outside, where I had built the cage part of their coop with a screen door.  As my chickens got bigger, I was happy to get them out of the house.  I moved them into the coop and placed wood chips on the floor which I change out regularly.  Then I got a call from the breeder and now he had chickens for me.  It was too many chickens, but since I like to hold up my end of the bargain, I took them. Many of them were roosters, so I learned how to butcher a chicken as they got older.   If you are not too keen on butchering a lot of roosters, you may want to buy only the chickens you need from the co-op. Usually the co-op sells pullets (the females) but most likely you will get a rooster or two in the mix.  I will not go into methods of killing chickens, I’m still a little sensitive about that experience. But, for removing feathers without messing up the skin (after they are dead, of course), dunking them about four times in hot water at about 160 degrees F seemed to work best for me.  I butchered a total of eleven roosters and now have that skill in my repertoire.  What is left is what I consider a healthy number of chickens for my setup.  I have heard that you need about 4 square feet per chicken, which proved about right for me.  I do not free range my chickens because I want to protect them from predators and know where they are laying their eggs.  I’ve set aside extra food for them now that they are on a laying feed.  I have two roosters that get along well with each other in addition to my 13 hens.  One problem I nipped in the bud pretty quickly was some periodic aggression by both roosters towards me.  Each time, I grabbed the offending rooster and held him upside down by his legs for awhile to show him who’s boss.  Neither rooster attacks me anymore.

Let’s talk about the garden:  I count it a huge success to have just started a garden this year. Early April, I had started some seeds inside for transplanting into the garden.  Another neighbor came by with a tiller and cut an area 40 by 100 feet, where I had laid out tarps in advance to presumably kill the vegetation.  This was going to be the size of my garden.  We did a second tilling at the end of April. Early May, I started putting in my garden.  I planted a few rows a day and had most of the garden planted.

Then everything came to a screeching stop.

With all the recent talk about appendicitis on SurvivalBlog, my poor 56 year-old husband came down with it!  All the while, I kept thanking God for letting it happen when it wasn’t TEOTWAWKI and he wasn’t traveling. It was a very scary experience as his appendix had become gangrenous, and after surgery he was on IV antibiotics for several days.  I was terribly scared I would lose him. He is normally a very healthy, fit man.  He recovered more slowly than we anticipated, in part to his inability to sit still and rest. It was the first time I had faced the prospect of losing my husband and it still rattles me.  It also brought me to thinking about how absolutely difficult it would be to continue the work we were doing without him especially in TEOTWAWKI.

The days sitting in the hospital and then caring for him at home, the garden weeds got further ahead of me and some of my planted vegetables disappeared underneath them. The weeds looked just like the beets and spinach that was mixed in there. I didn’t fight the weeds too hard; victory was theirs.  But, I still decided to call my garden a success.  It was a big accomplishment to start a garden and have an area dug up for future gardens. I used heirloom seeds and was able to collect some seeds from the plants at the end of the season.  I did get food out of it, including green beans, cabbage, squash, corn and potatoes.  I had enough green beans for several canning sessions, and dug enough potatoes for my back to hurt.  The potatoes have gone into root storage as I have a chilly basement. I froze plenty of corn. It wasn’t the prettiest of gardens, but yes, I am calling it a success.

So in July, August and September, I did lots of canning.  Remember the big orchard we planted?  Well, we discovered we already had several mature fruit trees on the property! Surprise!  Apples, pears and plums came in and along with the garden vegetables, I was canning a lot.  I have a friend here who has canned for years, who was also gracious enough to give me lessons and recipes.  I found two canning books helpful, the Ball Blue Book of Preserving, and Canning for a New Generation. The latter has some wonderful recipes (spiced pears!) Yes, this is my first year canning, too. I made sauerkraut from my cabbage, adding caraway seed to it when I transferred it to canning jars.   Learning to can has probably been the most valuable part of the year for me.  Why?  Not only have I learned how to preserve my harvest for the winter months, but in practicing it I have learned what my husband and I actually like to eat and store more of the extra ingredients needed for those recipes.  For instance, the spiced pear recipe we like uses whole cloves and whole cinnamon sticks, so I have stored more of those.  If you are planning to can food in TEOTWAWKI, wouldn’t you like to know what really tastes good and works for you?  Some people have a very common genetic trait called “geographic tongue” that makes them extra sensitive to acidic foods like pickles canned in vinegar.  Is someone in your family sensitive to hot, spicy or acidic foods? Practicing your canning now will help you to sort out preferences and store the right ingredients.

In June, I purchased a Dakota Alert system that would monitor four areas and placed the monitors around the property at access points.  I know when someone is approaching the house, and sometimes know when the deer are going through an access point.  I do not get too concerned at every alert right now and familiarization with the alert may have desensitized me somewhat for when it goes off.  I know the time may come when I will need to seriously heed every alert I receive.

It’s now the first of November.  Hunting season is in swing in our locale and I am looking for that extra meat to put away.  As I am still learning the area and not up to speed on how to hunt this location, it is yet another thing I have to learn.  The deer that used to wander into our yard previously seem to know I am ready for them.  A successful hunt will mark the end of our self-reliance cycle for this year.  I was fortunate to have experience in hunting and butchering before the move.

So to continue about our water and power, this is not a complete project yet.  On a vacation to a jungle lodge a few years back, we noticed they ran their generator two hours a day to do their essential tasks.  Then the remainder of the time, the batteries supplied power to lights and a water pump.  We decided we would like to run a generator on one hour a day or less. During that time, we could run a washer, charge batteries and refill our home water tank.  We are on liquid propane for some appliances (stove top and oven, dryer), but a small electric current is needed as part of the operation as well.  So, we calculated the loads for our essential items, and bought a generator that will accommodate those loads while providing a charge to a battery bank.  Obviously, we think our water supply is the most critical.  We get our water from a well, which pumps it to a 300 gallon water storage tank in our basement.  From there it is pumped to our house fixtures by a 240 volt Gould pump.  Without AC power, we have no water.  We watched the National Geographic movie “Blackout” earlier this week, and it was ironic that we lost our power only minutes after the movie ended, but only for about an hour.  During that time, there was some remaining water pressure in the lines, but not enough to take a shower or flush a toilet.  So in addition to the generator, inverter and deep cycle batteries, we ordered an RV water pump (powered by a deep cycle battery) and are installing it in parallel with our main house water pump.  It is a fairly simple installation, but it required adding a one way valve on the output of the house water pump to prevent back flow.  This should give us water 24 hours a day. Based on a fuel flow chart for our generator, at roughly a gallon an hour for a full load, in 365 days we can go almost a year on our 364 gallon diesel tank, if it is full.  We try to run through the fuel to keep it fresh and keep some Pri-D in it to help preserve it. Once we have our set up complete, it will be tested with others in our group to see how this works and how we can trim back use of the generator.  If during that one hour a day, tasks are assigned to start the washer, cook a meal, take showers, operate a power tool, etc. then that’s not too bad.  Perhaps we can trim the electric chores to 45 minutes a day, or even 30 minutes a day with some good choreography.  I have timed the washer cycles and can wash a speed load in 28 minutes.  A wood drying rack in the same room as my wood stove does an excellent job of drying garments.  Who knows?  With some adjustments, and the addition of solar panels to help charge our inverter batteries, we may be able to go 2 or more days between operating the generator and stretch a tank of diesel for two years. Practice will tell us what works and what needs fixing. Once fuel runs out, we can still hand wash clothes, filter water, etc.  Some fuel will be retained for the tractor use and we are considering a second diesel tank. We will be working on a rainwater collection system later on and buying a hand pump for the well.

A note for the women:  I spent many years in a nontraditional job hearing how “a woman can’t do this”and “a woman can’t do that”.  If you hear it enough times it becomes easier to believe and as a result, we may not try to do certain tasks.  Yes, we may not be as strong as a man overall, but we know how to work smarter, not harder.  Think about this:  if your husband dies before or during TEOTWAWKI and it is up to you and only you, do you think it would have been beneficial to try some of those “man” things while he was still alive just to learn how to do it? I took this as my challenge this year to step up and try those things my husband would typically do.  I decided this year to use the chainsaws, use the log splitter, work with the tractor, run wire for the electric fence, and build the chicken cage and other things.  Trust me, I am married to a talented man who makes those chores look easy and he could do it all. But after his appendectomy, I kept thinking, ‘What if?”  I know I did the best I could this year and I challenge you to do the same especially if you have youngsters who depend on you should their Dad pass away.  In addition, this year I made a point of also practicing my shooting.  I focused more on my pistol, and practiced drawing, double taps and quick clip changes.  I had taken a few lessons from an NRA instructor the previous year but I was rusty. Gals, it is worth the money to pay for a good shooting instructor.  Some instructors will let you try their different guns out to for you to see what you like.  If you haven’t already, find that favorite gun you want to carry and get some lessons in using it. Go talk to the guys behind the gun counter and take some notes.  I went with a H&K .40 S&W, one of the more recent ones that had a grip that could be downsized for my hands, and a Black Hawk CQC holster made of carbon composite.  The holster doesn’t have the friction that a leather one does on draw, and this worked better for me.  Find a gun and holster that works for you, then practice.  Try a few “hips and head” shots while practicing, in case you encounter a target wearing a bulletproof vest.  While there are many good men out there who can protect a woman, they can’t always be there.  Take some of that responsibility on yourself.  A gun is a great equalizer!

You already know that it’s important to stay up on medical and dental care.   Get caught up on health issues before moving to a new retreat.  In some places it takes up to two months to get set up with new dentists and doctors, and if one doesn’t seem like a good fit, it takes more time to switch doctors.  I had to play catch up after I moved to get a delayed root canal done.  Right, no one wants to get one but it sure was a relief to have it out of the way.  I should have done it back in San Diego.  As just a side thought, if you still have your appendix and you are scheduled for another abdominal surgery, you might ask your doctor if they could go ahead and pull that appendix for you.  I was able to get my doctor to do this for me a few years back.  I think they wanted the practice for their residents and you might have a better chance getting this done at a training hospital!  Another decision I made a few years back was to have a cardiac ablation versus going on pills for an otherwise unmanageable arrhythmia.  What if I couldn’t get pills anymore?  Not fun, but glad I did it.  You have to decide for yourself.

Final advice:  If you have decided to move to a retreat, do it now.  It took a year of retreat living to get the seasonal flow of country life.  These are only the first lessons of self reliance.  My new neighbors have been a wonderful resource for me.  Should you find yourself equally blessed with good neighbors that are willing to teach you useful self reliance skills, open your ears and close your mouth. There is much to learn and practice, and you will be making edits along the way.  We are still editing and still have more to do.  Once TEOTWAWKI happens, there will be no “do over’s” in planning.

We took the leap and we like it!  We certainly pay less in taxes and in some states you can get a reduction in property taxes by operating your retreat as a farm.  Though our bodies hurt here and there, our hearts are happy in this beautiful valley.  Goodbye city life!  Green Acres we are there!


Tuesday, November 5, 2013


Fascinating Maps: Deserted America: The maps that show how 60 years of white flight and brain drain have sucked the population from the Midwest. It will be interesting to see migration patterns in the next 20 years. I predict that most of the Redoubt will continue to benefit from net in-migration.

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Reader Tom L. mentioned: Mayor Mike Bloomberg sends $1,000 campaign contribution to Moscow. (Idaho, that is.) Needless to say, Chaney, who is running for re-election, is one of the handful of members of Mayors Against Illegal Guns in the American Redoubt region. I'm tired of seeing pushy out-of-state money injected into local politics. These statist gun grabbers deserve to be un-elected.

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I noticed that Skinner Sights in St. Ignatius, Montana has added several new products to their line.

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A great new TTabs flying video in eastern Washington, showing some nice fall colors: Sullivan Lake Washington - An Autumn Run

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Wyoming now has its first bourbon whiskey distillery. (Note: I don't drink, but some folks would consider any state without such a distillery unprepared for partition.)

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CBS Sunday Morning covers the State of Jefferson partition movement: Rural America has no Voice


Monday, November 4, 2013


I was recently hired by a consulting client from Wilmington, Delaware. Like most of my other clients, we had our conversations by phone. He spent a lot of time quizzing me about various towns and microclimates in The American Redoubt. He was stunned when I mentioned that the county where I live has less than 20,000 residents, yet it is larger than the entire state of Delaware, which has around 917,000 residents.

To put the demographic differences in focus, the following are some comparisons. For privacy reasons, instead of my own county I'll use Idaho County, Idaho as a point of reference. (And BTW, I formerly owned a 160 acre ranch Idaho County, with an adjoining 160 acre grazing permit on BLM land.)

Delaware:

Land Area: 1,948 square miles

Population: 917,092 (estimate for 2012.)

Population Density: 460.8 people per square mile

Median income for a household: $58,415

Idaho County, Idaho:

Land Area: 8,502 square miles. (More than three times the size of Delaware, and almost equivalent to the size of New Jersey.)

Population: 16,308 (estimate for 2012.)

Population Density: 2 people per square mile

Median income for a household: $36,706


Note: There are 4,431,720 acres (6,924.5 square miles) of land administered by the US Forest Service within Idaho County. But that still leaves nearly "a Delaware's worth" of private land area in the county.

The crime statistics for Idaho County look far more like the law-abiding "Mayberry RFD" end of the spectrum than then they do the dangerous Wilmington end.

Bottom line: Your family can earn almost twice as much money, on average, in Delaware. But it costs more to live there. And you couldn't pay me to live there!


Tuesday, October 29, 2013


I heard that Moscow Hide and Fur (in Moscow, Idaho), is still buying raw furs. I started doing business with them back in the early 1990s--back when they only had just a few employees and only three chest freezers to hold incoming furs.

   o o o

Arming teachers idea sparks recall effort. Note that this is transpiring in Sandpoint, Idaho, which is a resort town with a high percentage of neolocal statist yuppies from the Left Coast. So we can consider this anomalous for what is otherwise quite conservative north Idaho.

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B.B. sent: Number of Montanans with concealed weapon permits doubles.

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The Charles Carroll Society web page highlighted the upcoming Lewis-Clark Preparedness Fair on November 9, 2013, in Lewiston, Idaho. Admission is free.

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Cops mistake Idaho family going to Bible study for car thieves

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A video shot somewhere between Missoula, and Ovando, Montana: Elk in Rut Chases Motorcycle.


Sunday, October 20, 2013


James,
Your mention of Zus Bielski's birthday and the film Defiance. (and the book upon which it is based) brought to mind an excellent 90-minute documentary by PBS, "Resistance: Untold Stories of Jewish Partisans," produced in 2001. It is available online at Vimeo.  (or from PBS Home Video on DVD)

It includes interviews with many partisans among them Aron Bielski, the youngest of the brothers (still living). After more than half a century since the holocaust, the myth still persists that all of the Jews just walked peacefully to their deaths at the hands of the Nazis.  Nothing could be further from the truth!  More than 20,000 Jews fought the Nazis as partisans. In this group memoir, eleven men and women, now in their 70s and 80s, recount their battle against the Nazis in Poland, Lithuania, and Belorussia from 1941 to 1945. They chronicle their battle for survival, the almost insolvable dilemmas facing Jewish partisans (provisions, weapons, and prejudice) and the emotional aftermath of war. This is among the best documentaries of their story that I have seen. - Dollardog


Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Here is a great news segment, by Chuck Holton from CBN: Redoubt: Northwest a Haven for Dismayed Americans. There are several brief interviews in this segment including one with Todd Savage of SurvivalRetreatConsulting.com.

   o o o

Boise Market TalkRadio host pushes petition to bring "Gun Jobs" to Idaho

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A family practice medical group is seeking two or three Board-Certified Family Practitioners, in Riverton, Wyoming, right near the center of the state. If interested, e-mail: kstockto@wyoming.com. This is a great opportunity for several like-minded doctors to relocate to the American Redoubt and work at a well-established and well-respected practice.

   o o o

I heard about yet another great company located in the Redoubt: Titan Straps. They are headquartered in Bozeman, Montana. They tell me that their first batch of straps were made about 30 miles away from Bozeman, but they eventually found a top-notch injection molder (with high quality and on-time delivery) in Salt Lake City, Utah. It is great to find another American-made product!

   o o o

Western U.S. best for business, Tax Foundation says. Wyoming tops the list, and the state of Washington and Montana were #6 and #7, respectively. (Thanks to R.C. for the link.)


Tuesday, October 8, 2013


I heard that Christian war correspondent Chuck Holton has produced a great news segment on The American Redoubt for The 700 Club television show on the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN). There are several brief interviews in this segment including one with Todd Savage of SurvivalRetreatConsulting.com. That segment should first air in the next two weeks, and will be repeated for several months.

   o o o

Reader Doug C. let me know about  Made Right Stoves, an innovative maker of woodstoves in Kalispell, Montana.

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John W. sent a link to a nice picture of the Palouse Hills of Idaho.

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New Montana Law Protects Privacy of Gun Owners from Snooping Healthcare Providers.

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Secession drive gathers steam in rural Colorado: 11 rural Colorado counties feeling slighted by urban Denver will vote on secession. It's a long shot, but an attention-getter.


Monday, October 7, 2013


I lived in Jamestown Colorado until three weeks ago, and was prepared for various disasters, mostly fire, and I always expected a road system to exist.  Wrong-o!

I have a more keen sense of the Lord's blessings, and they are amazing. The outpouring of support from the various communities that I'm in has been amazing.   I am walking in abundance, but not everybody is. My life has had a hard reboot - I was in some middle-aged doldrums - no more! I anonymized my name and corporate affiliation in the narrative, otherwise, it's unedited, and reflects my understanding of the events at different times, as things unfolded.

This is a narrative of surviving a flood in a small mountain town of 350 persons in Boulder County, Colorado.  After several days of unusual rains, the situation was described as a 500 year flood event.    On Sept 11 I was having barbeque with a friend, and it started raining.   No big deal.  On Sept 12, I could not get to work, because of road flooding, the power was out, and I was prepared with radio, walkie talkies, electricity and food.  I thought we'd down for a couple days, or maybe a week.  On Friday, Sept 13, it became clear that we were cut off from the larger world, and that something extraordinary was occurring.  I was well prepared for the wildfires that come here, but not a flood. I always thought that the road system would exist - and that was the biggest gap in my planning!

Here's a stream-of-consciousness description of events, unedited.

Roger's Jamestown Flood Narrative #1 - Evacuation Sept 18 2013

The Bad:

Last Friday, Sept 13, a Chinook helicopter evacuated my wife and I from Jamestown, Colorado with 3 cats, a backpack each.

Even if the main road is open after weeks or months, my house in town on a minor dirt road was across a bridge. Bridges belong to the  town, as does the water system. Rebuilding Jamestown may occur at the earliest a year, or not at all, depending on FEMA. Given the damage in Lyons, Longmont and Boulder ... well, Jamestown,  with  300 people doesn't take  priority. On  Tuesday, Sept  24, I am mounting an expedition with a couple 4WD vehicles to winterize  the houses, and get 2 cars worth of possessions. Getting things out must be done on foot, over a makeshift bridge and ford with backpacks - even a wheelbarrow or wagon isn't  possible, and I'm hiring some younger friends that meet the inflexible  Sheriff's requirement of having a Jamestown drivers license. I am concerned about squatters and looters, but  the area's secure for a week or so.

There is no vehicle access to the town. Jamestown may not be rebuilt - we've all heard of a ghost town.

Some great  learning opportunities! Did I mention that FEMA forms are full of  questions that you need legal papers to answer? Did I mention that Hospice Thrift Shop is the best  in Boulder? Did I mention that learning to live without my own car is a challenge? Did I mention that learning to use the bus system (which is quite good here) will be a hoot?

The  Good: Really, I'm blessed. My friend Norm picked us up from the Chinook [CH-47 military helicopter] at Boulder airport, and let us stay in his spare bedroom.

Rental with 3 cats is difficult, but it turns out my friend had a tenant not pay rent on Sept 1, and he just had evicted him and the guy left the place  smelling of cat piddle - perfect for someone with three cats! No need to paint, re-carpet, or even put an ad out for a new tenant, it was all done on a handshake.

My wife and I dropped in to my job to do the admin work of setting up a new house. It  is  so good  to have  a place with phone, printer and internet to perform change  of address, phone  service, and so forth.

Someone from my work  offered to loan a spare car!

The future - I may  have lost a house, but may still have  a primitive cabin! My old house above  Jamestown  survived, and because it has a well (with water  that  is rust-colored) and is on the main road may become habitable if they rebuild the road.   Currently, accessibility is via  seasonal mountain dirt roads and the commute to Boulder is 3.5 hours.

How great  is it to have housing, transportation and work's understanding of the situation?

It's  a disaster, but not a tragedy.


Roger's Jamestown Flood Narrative #2 - from response to recovery Sept 22 2013

The initial disaster response is complete.  Immediate physical needs of housing, furniture and transportation are met.   Martha & Marc S. loaned me a Prius, and it's a blast to drive!  Not having internet really hurts, but will be done Thurs, Sept 26.    I'm ahead of the curve in the physical world, but behind in the infosphere, and that's okay.   I can spend way too much time on a computer. Last  week, my wife had an urgent care incident involving  a tiny nick on a finger that turned to a big infection requiring antibiotic injection.   If we had stayed in Jamestown, we would have been in real trouble. Wash your hands!

Weather permitting, I'll muster a team on Tues Sept 24 to recover valuables. This is done with backpacks across a footbridge, and the distance is only 1/2  mile across  a new stream, and up a steep hill.   Our cars are not accessible, and still no word on a temporary bridge to retrieve them. At least our buildings are intact, but they are now buildings, not homes or rental houses. We'll also perform winterization of cars and buildings (drain traps must have anti-freeze, empty water heaters, washing machines, etc). Greg, Rick,  and Nate are loaning 4WD trucks, and I look forward to using trained engineers as pack animals ;-) I also have a couple young volunteer firefighter friends.  I rent a house to one of 'em, and every time he did a call, I told him to take $50 off the rent, to show my appreciation of his public service.   Of course, he's eager to help too.  Karma works.

FEMA help is a mixed blessing.   They provide a lot of help, but are pretty nosy. I paid my taxes for 40 years, and getting some back would be soooo nice. FEMA is a road show - they may leave here this week, so coordinating their inspectors with my Jamestown expedition is challenging.    It  may require 4 trips to Jamestown. My wife is affected financially, as she was a landlord, and now has only a meager state pension, (in lieu of Social Security), and now has rent expenses as well as loss of income. She will be navigating state  and local government assistance, as well as  FEMA. Funny how our plans can change  - I thought I'd be trimming the trees and doing some fire mitigation this month.   That's  one pain in the neck that I don't have! (Later we see this wasn't true ! )

For  my geek friends,   this has been a life-reboot, and I've just gotten past POST, and am in that place where you're waiting and waiting for the OS to come up and display the logon screen.

I  have the understanding of my company management team at this time - folks I know do not have the work flexibility that I've been blessed with.  The outpouring of generosity from employees is noteworthy -  I asked for a  bed, and had 3 on Friday by noon.  I have better cookware  and cutlery that I had in Jamestown.    Physical goods are abundant,  and buying them doesn't make much sense - money's  a lot harder to come by than stuff.

That's all for now!

"It's a disaster, not a tragedy"

 

Roger's Flood Narrative Three Wednesday Sept 25 A backpack expedition:

On Tues, Sept 26, my wife and I went on an expedition to retrieve our belongings from our homes in Jamestown.

Recap:  The house is standing and undamaged, but after the flood, there's no longer a road  to get  there. The old road that took 30 minutes  to get to Boulder is gone, and some dirt roads must be used, but they're damaged, and the route takes 1.5 hours, and is downright hazardous. In winter it will be impossible to get from Boulder to Jamestown some of the time, and dangerous at all times.

We were able  to get to with 1/4 mile of the house, then we had to cross a makeshift foot  bridge, climb a mud path on a hill with a rope to stabilize yourself, and  backpack everything we wanted out.    Besides getting our things, we wanted to make a start on winterizing the houses - all the water must  be blown out from the  P-trap pipes on dishwashers, washers, sinks, bathtubs and toilets and replaced with antifreeze in order to have a drain system in the springtime.

We enlisted the aid of Nate VanDuine (software engineer), Victor Smith (firefighter), David Lindquist (firefighter), Chris Ryan (firefighter) and Rick Sutherland (painter).   Using  software engineers as pack animals is always an iffy proposition, but after some training, Nate did great.   Also,  Greg Walter graciously loaned the use his 4WD pickup, as did Nate.

It was a beautiful day, and our mission was pretty successful - we got  clothing and computers, but didn't get things like books, cookware, or furniture, obviously! Friends at work and in general, and the thrift stores have all provided  wonderful support.   On Friday, I put out a call for a bed on an employer-sponsored board, and had three offers by noon! People are incredibly generous, and work is incredibly supportive at the local and national level.

Dealing with FEMA  is  my next challenge.   Gathering paperwork is tedious, as is waiting in line, but all in all, I'm impressed with the FEMA response, and with the compassionate and helpful attitude of the workers.   The delivery of services isn't perfect, but the people are pleasant, and that makes a world of difference.  They really must have learned a lot from previous disasters, because my experience is pretty good. One big thing they learned from Katrina is  to let people bring pets on the helicopters. my wife and I have our 3 cats, and that's huge.

In order to get aid for our non-accessible houses, we need to be physically present for FEMA inspectors in Jamestown, and the only scheduling mechanism is telephone at the last minute.

The rumor yesterday was that a temporary road will be up within about a week, so that  we can retrieve our cars in Jamestown.   Not having access to your  car and house is frustrating - so  near yet so far! It's unlikely that the road system will be rebuilt before 1.5 years (two summers), and may not  get rebuilt at all. The water system is a different - because the main access road is a county road, it might get rebuilt. However, the water  system is from 1930s WPA work, and was rickety - it's owned by the town of  350 persons. Now that the distribution system is damaged, and the main plant will go unattended,  it strikes me as unlikely that we'll get the tax base together  to rebuild it to modern standards. A  well isn't an option due to state regulation.  So have a house that's  inaccessible at present, may be uninhabitable for at least a 1.5 years, and possibly forever. As mentioned in the first  narrative I may have a house in a ghost town, but it will make a great weekend getaway - the night sky will be very dark, and perfect for my 13"  Dobsonian reflector!

"It's a disaster, not a tragedy".

Roger's Flood Narrative Four Sunday Sept 29

The finish line for the sprint and start of the marathon, and a word of advice to the prudent.

Sunday Sept 29 2013

It's been 2 weeks since I was evacuated via Chinook helicopter from the Colorado flood.  I can finally use the Biblical and Epic as adjectives without hyperbole. Since then, I've seen an outpouring of generosity from the communities I'm in that's been incredible.  I never thought I'd have so much goodwill to manage!

A few bad things I've seen after the event:

The drunks in my town started "borrowing" bottles from their neighbors who were not home. Societal breakdown happens quickly, and normally honest people become criminals of opportunity. I also experienced a theft after the flood, and that stings. You can't let down your guard, and have to be vigilant when fatigued, and at the same time gracious to others who were affected. These events bring out criminals of opportunity and they hurt those on the margins the most. I've seen of the homeless and marginal members of society hurt a lot. The scene of a mentally ill person at the FEMA site harassing the guards and evacuees haunts me still.  He was eventually arrested.   I can't imagine how the security folks, police and FEMA workers maintain their civility and humor. I've seen scammers trying to game the system and swindle refugees, which is shameful. I've tried Korean toothpaste from the Red Cross and wow - they sure make a different-tasting product.  However, Red Cross will get my donations in the future - for feeding us at FEMA sites, and the general immediate assistance they provide.

In terms of life experience, I was in a rut, and the good news is that I'm not in a rut any more!

The finish line for the sprint: A temporary road has been built, and I'll retrieve the cars today. My FEMA administrative will be finished tomorrow. The time for disaster, new housing for my family, a psychological reboot and return to a semblance of normalcy has been two weeks of running on adrenaline.

Today, Sunday Sept 29, I'm going up for my final FEMA inspection. The drive there is grueling - it takes a couple hours up rutted dirt roads with a lot of traffic and breakdowns, and it will be worse in winter. The FEMA guy and I missed each other on 2 previous occasions. There isn't land line or cell phone there, and a commute of two hours and missing someone makes me depressed.   On the other hand, when God made time, He made lots of it, so I try to enjoy the aspens turning, and there's plenty of chores to do in Jamestown. At 60 years of age, I get a few joint aches doing this much physical work under a deadline, but I'm thankful that I'm in good enough shape to do it at all. JWR's advice about physical and spiritual fitness is to be taken seriously. I did, and now I'm glad for it.

Writing four narratives helped immensely, so that I have some understanding of my new situation, and to get help from folks.

The start of the marathon: Our buildings are undamaged, but uninhabitable due to lack of access and water.  You just can't drill a well, legally, and putting in a cistern and having water trucked may have legal as well as logistical challenges. I have yet to winterize the houses, but I'm hiring that out to locals. I need to complete a fire mitigation project that I was in the middle of, and will now hire that out too.   Expensive. Ouch. The time for a new road to looks like summer 2014. In that time, I hope to rebuild my home, but I have to consider living in an unfamiliar community - which is not a fate worse than death, despite my initial feelings about it ;-)   My bucolic lifestyle had it's downsides, and the ability to get a pizza delivered has some charm. Defending the old homestead from fire, looters, and squatters will be a challenge. I don't know if I'm up to being a combination fire and police department. Winterizing the houses so the pipes don't burst, and maintaining the septic systems is necessary until a water system is restored, and the FEMA funds are uncertain.  If a water system is funded, the time frame is unclear, and there's no guarantee it will be concurrent with a road, but you never know.     I realize more keenly now that homes require constant maintenance and use to keep them habitable. And there's changing building code and occupancy requirements by local government.   The folks relocated by fires in Boulder county found that only a few percent were able to rebuild to code. Insurance does not cover inaccessibility due to flooding, and I've noticed that things have become more expensive than when I was a lad. My best case scenario is re-occupying the house by fall, 2014. That's what I'm hoping for.

This is going to be an interesting engineering and planning exercise, and I'm up for it !

Here's advice in one word.

Laminate.

I had a disaster plan in place with a friend in a neighboring community. We discussed it in advance, and the plan had a list of procedures to follow. The plan was for a fire, but it adapted to a flood.

Laminating a plan brings it to a level of formality that's executable, and if it rains cats and dogs, you can still read it!

The Lord's blessings and lamination are a powerful combination!

Roger's Postscript and Debrief Sunday Oct 6

Situational awareness was key to taking the right course of action. During the rains, after the 2nd bridge washed out, those of us on one of the "islands" that now define Jamestown got together at the 1-room schoolhouse. Most folks didn't understand what was happening, and thought that we'd be back up and running in a week or two, and that between the individual preppers and the government, we'd be up and running in a couple weeks. I had a talk with a friend that I regard as bright, and he simply said "I was in Katrina, and I can tell you that Jamestown is done for a year." That sentence made my situational awareness change, and I could take appropriate action. Most folks didn't get it until a week after they were off the helicopters. I was able to set up a new household based on that one sentence, and I'm now helping others, and participating in small-town government plans to rebuild. Whether we can raise the money is unknown, but there's enough infrastructure left for it to be worth a try.

Some of JWR's readers will take issue with me using FEMA.  Don't judge me.   They are there with money, helicopters and housing. They were effective and compassionate. I suspect that a small town in Colorado can get different treatment than the nightmare that was Katrina, just on the basis of scale.  One of the things that they learned from Katrina is to let people bring pets - many folks had an attitude of "I won't leave without my pet", and they were able to make that a non-issue. I will let JWR know in a year whether I would have used FEMA in the aftermath again.

Families with children were easy to evacuate, older folks were harder. The older folks would not have fared well had they stayed. One had a suspected heart attack, and there was no way to get help to him. Don't be too attached to your home in a genuine disaster.

About 20 people remain in Jamestown.    Some of these have a good chance of over-wintering, and they are all deep preppers whose homes were not in the flood plain.   They are all in the 55 year and up age group, for some reason.  These are the folks who own backhoes and excavators, and there are 6 of them. They will get the rebuilding contracts. Another four are more granola oriented, and they  have experience from Peace Corps living in Third World countries, and they've lived off-grid lives of simplicity for years. They will get the house maintenance (winterize and watch my house during diaspora) contracts. One of the cannabis grow ops was well set up, and that family will thrive, barring crop failure. The others are drunks and young hippies, who appear self-reliant, but just happened to luck out.  I expect a cull of these folks.

I'll check back in a year and let you know my experience with FEMA and more.


Thursday, October 3, 2013


Thoughts on Preparedness, by Mom in the Colorado Rockies

Most of us have it down to a science on what we are going to do every morning. Wake up, grumble at the alarm clock, stagger in for coffee, etc. You know what time you need to leave to get to work on time, and maybe squeeze in a drive thru run for coffee or a breakfast biscuit. Muddle through the work day and pray for it to hurry by so you can fight traffic and get home in time for dinner, baths for the kids and vegetate in front of the television till bedtime. Our existence as the average, everyday Joe is rather simple and mindless sheep leaving the barn to graze for the day and return to  the barn to sleep. But there are a lot of folks out there that are really beginning to 'wake up' to the fact that our everyday routines need to change.

Moving to the high Rockies has given me a different perspective on what survival means. Folks out here in these small mountain towns have a true understanding of what is needed just to get by every day. There are very few drive-thrus to grab a bite to eat, if any. In fact, a lot of the restaurants communicate with each other to see who is going to be open so they can close for the day. There are not a lot of big box stores nearby so you save the gas and pay a little extra at the local, way over-priced stores if you need to fix your commode or the crack in your hammer handle finally gives way. And snow is practically a season of its own up here. It seems there is snow, summer, then back to snow. No need in putting away your winter clothes or gear as summer can mean 50 degrees one day, 85 degrees the next, then snow in September. Oh! I forgot to list 'mud' season! That's when the snow melts and you have about a month of mud to sludge through to get anywhere!

So, a lesson learned. I know I must keep all weather conditions items in my vehicle year round. I have ice melting spray in my floorboard and liquid in my windshield reservoir tank. And yes, I have already needed it three times in mid-September for ice and/or snow. I keep food and water, map and compass, a candle lantern for light and warmth, a mac-daddy first aid kit, boots and wool blankets, hunting knife and a strong, lite weight flashlight in there too. This is by no means a full listing but you get the point.

Collecting, cutting, processing wood is year round. You never really stop because, like they say, cut the amount of wood you think you will need, then triple it. Never under-estimate your wood supply. You always need more than you think you do. And, trust me, digging around in a foot of snow for those cut logs you haven't split yet is no fun. Neither is splitting them when they are wet or frozen, as you will also be wet and frozen by the time you are done. And you still can't use them because they are wet and frozen!

Most folks have wells, not a lot of city water out here. So, do you have the ability to run your pump when the power is out? Is it a generator you need gas/oil for? Do you have enough in case you can't get to town in the near future? Do you have a standby water supply tucked away? Is it enough to cook with, bathe with, flush with, wash clothes with for an indefinite amount of time? Do you have access to more? Where is the nearest creek, river, lake and how do you get it home?

Four wheel drive is not mandatory up here... but it should be. Most of us have at least one per household. With the access to trails and mountain roads, they are a lot of fun to have. Not much you can't do in the summer if you have one. But in the winter, they are pretty darn handy to have. Yes, they plow the county roads and highways. And yes, you will see the plows out 24-7 through the winter. But what about the folks that commute over the passes for work? Businesses don't shut down because of snow, schools don't shut down because of snow, government doesn't shut down because of snow. Sooo, you still have to be able to get there.  What about the folks that work the graveyard shift or have to be in at 6 am? Yes, we need four wheel drive vehicles. And you will see quite a few with small plows on the front. Not everyone lives on a well maintained street in town. In fact, very few do. And these side roads are not priority for anyone other than those of us that drive them every day. And yes, most of them are still dirt roads.

So let's discuss gardening. We have about a 60 day grow season, if you're lucky. Factor in your potting time, keeping your seedlings warm till it is safe to put them outside. Tilling is not much of an option here as our particular soil is rocky. It costs a small fortune to pay anyone to come out here and drill a new well or put in fence posts because they will spend most of their time hand pulling rocks or breaking auger/drilling bits. So you need to bring in soil to either mix in or cover over. And at almost 10,000 ft above sea level, the sun can burn up your plants if you are not careful. So what do you do? Put up a greenhouse! Oh wait, there are some of us that live in high winds areas. You know the places you drive through that have the big snow/wind breaks by the roads? But that doesn't really slow down the 40 to 60 mph winds we can have blowing over the roads and fields. Trust me and learn from my failures, a greenhouse is a task of its own. Factor in the sun's path for the two months of growing season, the normal wind path, the 'other' wind path for when we get the south to north winds and storms, the questionable soil, etc. Gardening at its finest is still a lot of hard work. Don't forget to figure in the local climate too.

Now, considering all of the above, I will cover food supply. Being gardening is tough, you don't dare want to lose any food you can produce. Be prepared to either make sure you have a heat alternative for your greenhouse or a spot inside to bring your plants. We pot in containers so it is a feasible task to bring them in. Heavy lifting, but doable. So do you have an area in your house with great sun exposure and ventilation to complete their growth and yield? Or do you do what you would do in the cities... go to the market and buy. You can definitely buy whatever fruits and vegetables you could want in the markets here, and we have a lot of option for organic produce. But you will pay for it, literally and figuratively. These local stores can be pricey so do you pay the extra in gas to go to the nearest big town or suck it up and pay for the convenience? You do what most do, buy your day to day locally and make a plan for your trip to the city and hit every store you think you might need something from. Make a list, make several lists. You will need them so you don't forget anything.

With that being said, do you have at least a 30 to 60 day food supply stored? Beans, rice, flour, sugar, and let's not forget coffee! What about that generator we talked about earlier... will it run the fridge? Or do you need adequate cooler storage space to last for several days till you can eat what is in there? Do you have plenty of canned fruits and vegetables? What about meats? Are they all frozen or do you have some canned or dehydrated put away somewhere... Let's not forget the fact that in a short time span you could get extremely bored with peanut butter sandwiches. And what happens when the bread runs out? Oh, do you have a way to actually cook any of this food you have in the pantry if the power goes out indefinitely? Consider what your options are for safely cooking indoors in inclement weather for a family and then factor in a backup. Like they say, don't put all your eggs in one basket. Gaskets dry rot, tanks leak fuel, charcoal runs out for the outdoor grill eventually. And the high winds and snow can definitely hinder your charcoal grilling on the back deck, trust me. And, as we discussed before, do you have enough water to actually cook those rice and beans and dehydrated vegetables and backpacking meals included in your water storage calculations?

Now... this was not meant to discourage anyone from moving to the country or the high country areas. This was meant to make sure you consider what it means to live in some of these more remote areas. I have always tried to have a prepper mentality when it comes to ensuring the existence and safety of my family, but I can tell you that moving from my safety net on the edge of a big city to a small mountain town in the high Rockies has truly been a learning experience and one I wouldn't trade for anything. We live on a shoestring budget week to week and do not have the funds to put into the large purchases I know a lot of preppers have. So we do the best we can with what we have. Our neighborhood barters with each other for things each house may need but doesn't own. We trade off babysitting or canning or dehydrating or water storage containers, whatever can be done to make sure we all are taken care of. We watch each other’s houses, vehicles, pets while they're away. We help each other with cutting wood, mending fences, fixing holes in the roof or moving furniture around. You learn real quick who to trust and can count on should SHTF tomorrow. And, I have to say, that is a good feeling I did not have back in the 'city'.

So for those of you wanting to move to some small town in the middle of nowhere and set up shop, consider the above. Think about it, have a plan, then have a backup plan. It took me several months to find work out here when a job back home was fairly easy to get with a good resume. Research the area, see what type of businesses are there or nearby that you can feasibly commute to in bad weather. If you are going to have neighbors, try to meet them when you look at a house you are considering buying. Are they nuts or fairly like-minded people? Find out the gun laws for the area and state, how hard or expensive is it to get a permit to add a solid greenhouse or storage shed. How many and what size can you have without a permit? Is there somewhere to obtain firewood and water should you need emergency supplies? And, most of all, can you get out of your driveway and to a main road should you have a heavy snow or rainfall? If not, either plan ahead or reconsider your housing selection. These are not frivolous things, these are your survival pitfalls. Think ahead, discuss your options with your family, can you afford it if you can't immediately find work, what do you really need for your family to survive. All the ammo in the world does you no good with a gun that breaks a piece and you have no spare parts. All the food you could possibly eat is of little comfort when you have no way to cook it or water to cook it with. Electric or propane is awesome, but with no power, no way to pump water and losing the food in your fridge and freezer is not exactly what I want to do in the middle of winter with snow on the ground and a family to take care of and a job to get to.

The true lesson here is: think smart, work hard and have a backup plan for your back up plan!


Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Nine Maps That Show Where Americans Commit Crime. (And, once again, The American Redoubt shines.) Note that the darker shade shown for Oregon is deceiving--that represents the crime that mainly occurs in western Oregon--not in the lightly-populated Redoubt half of the state. A similar situations exits in Washington, although the crime in the Tri-Cities region is anomalously high for the eastern half of the state.

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Bob in Virginia sent this fascinating map link: Half Of The United States Lives In These Counties. Hmmmm... Notice the big hole in the map, with nary any blue? That is the American Redoubt and the adjoining northern Plains buffer states. (The one blue county represents Spokane, Washington, with about 300,000 people, which is almost nothing, compared to the teeming masses of the greater Boston metroplex, Dallas, or greater Los Angeles.) Also note that most of West Texas has similarly copious elbow room.

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I recently bought a rifle case from a company called Impact Case and Container, in Rathdrum, Idaho. They make awesome aluminum guns cases, transport chests, and dog crates. These could best be described as "Beyond Mil Spec."

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Not just for Montanans: There is a company in Missoula, Montana called Montana Rarities. For many years they have offered a Monthly Silver Purchase Plan. This a is a great way to Dollar Cost Average your precious metals purchases. They even have a PayPal "subscription" payment method. This is particularly advantageous for anyone who generally generates a positive PayPal balance, monthly. (For example, anyone who runs a home-based mailorder business, or any professionals who accept PayPal for their payments.) And, BTW, Dollar cost averaging is a proven winning strategy.

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North Idaho school district mulls training, arming teachers

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Day Hike Goes Bad: Body found at Craters of the Moon misidentified, search continues


Friday, September 27, 2013


The never-ending threat of the TEOTWAWKI looms in the depth of all of our minds.  My work experience lays primarily in public safety, government peroration to emergency response, tactical team assaults, gang mentality and survival, logistics and law enforcement radio communication.  My personal experience is very broad beginning with my first job at age 15, working continuously through college, being married for the past 16 years to my “high school sweetheart” and raising three young children.  I have been validated in court as an expert in several fields regarding gangs, firearms and narcotics.  I would like to share with you my thoughts and expertise relating to successfully bugging out of an urban area.

My family and I happen to live in the California Bay Area and like many of the SurvivalBlog.com readers, live in a heavily-populated urban area.  Don’t be fooled though, many of us urbanites are just like our rural area pepper counterparts; we just haven’t made the jump to move to the desirable off grid lifestyle, full time.  That being said, most urban based preppers are vested in the communities we live in, go to Church/Temple, donate time and resources to local charities, and are involved in our children’s school(s) as well as many extracurricular activities.  Most of us have bug out plans and a small network of family and friends to help us achieve the goal of getting our families out safely.  However, the looming challenge is knowing the right time to leave, weather to leave together or in groups, what mode of transportation will be available (vehicle, motorcycle, bicycle, small aircraft, boat), what we can bring based on how we can travel, safe routs of travel (neighborhoods, highways, bridges, chokepoints, time of day, waterways, air travel) and realistic time needed for travel to your safe location.

Deciphering the right time to leave the city or urban areas is something that you have to research in advance.  It’s not something one can effectively do after the mass evacuation crisis has started.  I recommend paying attention to the raw materials trade markets, indicators of local government preparations, public schools and local airports.  While these are not traditional sources of impending danger information what each one of them show are immediate shifts in normal behavior, change in the flow of resources and change in human behavior.

The raw materials markets show the flow of milled lumber mostly white fir to China, metals, mostly recycled metals overseas especially at a reduced rate, recycled oil products to Southern America and lastly vehicle buyback programs such as Cash for Clunkers, Kars for Kids and Habitat.org.  These programs receive significant government funding to get abandoned vehicles, boats, RVs and trailers off the streets of America.  When we see the price of white fir lumber drop, the price per shipping container of metal or aluminum drop, the price to recycle your used oil increase or having to pay to “donate” your vehicle a shift in normalcy is on the horizon.  While these indicators may not be immediate indicators you should maintain a watchful eye on one or all of them to make a predicative analysis of the fall of the USD.

Indicators of local government preparations include an increase of public disaster drills (outside the norm), more specialized emergency management equipment being stored extensively at and around public safety buildings rather than at city or county corporation yards and police and fire personal response times increasing to a higher than normal routine.  When you notice changes in staged emergency management equipment and supplies at the public safety building in your community you should anticipate a large event taking place.  If it’s a preplanned event such as a fair, a celebration or a parade generally there is no cause for alarm.  But if the changes you notice appear unplanned or in such duration that goes beyond normal parameters you should pay attention.  Again these signs alone may not be indicators you should bug out, but the totality of your research and observations will be the deciding factor.

Changes in behavior at the public schools relating to free lunch programs, after school program accessibility and an increase in teacher absences are signs that the transportation logistics are failing and the priorities of the school administrators are changing.  The focus will shift from keeping children at the school to surviving with what funds and resources the schools left. 

Changes of behavior at the airports will show similar concerns.  When air fuel costs go up, plane tickets go up.  When airport TSA restrictions go up, freedom and liberty go down based directly on actions of the TSA Director.  This should raise eyebrows and should be evaluated along with the other change of behavior signs in your communities.

When you decide to leave you will need to already have a preplanned route as well as a secondary route for redundancy.  Your primary route will generally be the shortest you can take by way of a vehicle on a paved road.  If you have access to a small aircraft you will likely be traveling by vehicle with your supplies to the airport.  The same goes for waterway travel.  You will generally need a vehicle to get to a harbor or a boat launch with your gear to leave the heavily populated urban areas.  The most significant dilemma for most urban area preppers is not leaving too early where you may face being fired for not reporting to work if things don’t go bad and not waiting too long where all the highways are packed bumper to bumper where you can’t get out.  The last thing any of us want to do is lose our job if we leave without notice and are released from our employer in a non-emergency scenario.

A solution may be to leave in groups at staggered start times.  Those who have a low risk of a significant impact for leaving early are those like home makers who would face no more than a child’s school absence, telecommuters who don’t have to report to an office, business owners who decide not to open their business for a day or two, retirees who don’t have commitments in their communities and obviously those who are on their regular days off from work.  Those who can leave early with little or no recourse should leave as soon as the indicators outlined above begin to show.  Those who have jobs where leaving would cause employer concern such as construction, infrastructure jobs, public safety, government offices or other employers who require prior notification for unplanned absences, will face a tough decision.  At some point you will have to make the call to leave knowing your unexcused absence will have a substantial affect on your future employment.  Sometimes it’s a gamble and sometimes it’s an educated decision on your part.  Those who have fled suspecting troubled times in the past have suffered the loss of a job or disciplinary action because of their unexcused absence.  They know all too well what can happen for their decision to leave.  All I can suggest is you study the signs and make the best decision for you and your loved ones.

Determining you mode of travel is simple, if you have the discretionary free time and if you leave early enough.  Unfortunately that is not the reality for most of the working class in the urban environment.  You need to plan for moderate to heavy vehicular traffic.  Pack extra provisions, fuel and comfort items you and loved ones need to make the extended trip palatable.  Secondly plan for extra security measures.  Having quick and easy access to a firearm is you first defense when faced with marauders so it’s essential that you have one close to you when traveling during these troubling times.  If you flee in a vehicle is would be easy to inconspicuously and legally carry firearms with you even in the most restrictive states like California and New York.  All states allow legal vehicle transportation of firearms.  Some states are more restrictive than others and require the firearm be in a locked case and with the ammunition stored away from the firearm in the vehicle, but most do not specifically define what a locked case is and don’t require the ammunition be locked or unloaded from a magazine.  That being said I have seen some very creative case locks which include “rope”, zip ties, bailing wire and twist ties.  While under normal circumstances I would recommend sticking with a traditional key or combination lock, I think in a bug out situation law enforcement officials will be less worried about the manner in which you chose to transport your firearm and more concerned with problems of keeping the peace.

Be wary of hasty road blocks and haphazard detours.  Most traditional law enforcement road blocks need to have proper signage and notification and will “look official.”  Your best option to avoid checkpoints all together.  When driving keep your must keep your eyes on the horizon and always be looking ahead.  Travel efficiently but not too fast where you may come upon a roadblock too fast and can’t get out of the queue line before your trapped and committed.  At the onset your most efficient way of travel will be on the Highways and Freeways.  During the later stages of the exodus you will have to divert to your secondary travel route and stick to back country roads.  Lastly as a general rule never park your vehicle(s) with less than half a tank of fuel.  To do otherwise is lazy and foolish.  I shouldn’t have to say anything more on that topic.

If another mode of travel is your plan such as a boat, small aircraft or motorcycle/quad then the options open up for you.  Small winged air travel being the safest you will not need to be as concerned with the roadways.  You will however need to be concerned about flight restrictions and filing of flight plans.  If you are traveling by boat you are sure to run into some resistance and chaos at the docks with others fleeing the later you leave.  You should expect to run into frantic citizens loading copious amounts of supplies onto their boats at the same time.  The boat docks at most marinas are not designed for mass exodus and lots of people piling provisions along the docks at the same time will cause confusion and delay.  For those scenarios, it’s imperative you store as much gear on your bug out boat prior to the event to avoid delays and confrontations on the ramps and docks.  Stay light and quick and you can weave yourself and family through the rushes at the docks very efficiently. 

If the motorcycle or quad is your planed way of travel be prepared to carry extra fuel along with all your other gear which will be seen by all.  While we would like to conceal our gear and fuel it’s nearly impossible on a motorcycle or quad.  I would suggest painting your jerry cans to at least appear like traditional saddle bags so at first glance it doesn’t look like a gas can.  Also I would recommend a siphon.  There small light and can make the world of difference between only making it part of the way and walking versus riding all the way to your destination.

Travel routes and times are critical.  Plan primary, secondary and alternate routes out.  Have a road map or atlas with you so you can recalculate your route if needed.  GPS is a great tool until Murphy’s Law kicks in and it doesn’t work for any number of reasons (government satellite shut down, EMP, CME, system over use overload, etc…).  Areas of concern are heavily populated areas, low income housing blocks, chokepoints, bridges, tunnels, and highway to highway intersections.  Determining routs around these potential ambush points is your key to your safe travel.  Leaving early enough to avoid these problem areas is ideal but may not be possible.  If you run into a choke point sometimes it’s best to pull over to a safe location and observe for a half hour or so.  Learn from others mistakes and adjust your route accordingly.  Stay alert and watch your surroundings.

Most likely the best time to leave is late at night.  Just as the early bird gets the worm, the early traveler gets less traffic.  Leave after midnight but before 5:00 am.  You should give yourself enough time to be out of the populated areas in into the country before 5:00 am so plan for delays and rest stops if needed.  While headlights can be seen for up to a mile away and ambushes can be organized on you approach, it’s still safer and more efficient to travel at night.  Night vision capabilities are premium when driving at night but most of us can’t afford such an expense.  Hope for the best but be prepared for the worst and always have contingency plans.  The government does for just about everything having to do with emergency response, so why shouldn’t you?

The last two options are the least desirable.  Bicycling or walking are obviously slow and open you up to all sorts of potential problems.  While you will benefit from moving quietly while creating a small silhouette of yourself, you will have no cover or concealment.  Additionally traveling by bicycle or by foot will extend your travel time immensely so plan for it.  Coordinate it ahead of time with your group so members know to expect you in weeks rather than days or hours.

Realistic travel times need to be planned for.  If your bug out location is a five hour drive during normal conditions, then plan for twice that during times of crisis.  Inevitably you will be faced with delays, detours, unplanned refueling stops when the opportunity arises and necessary renaissance stops.  Plan for stopping to top off your fuel tanks at every reasonable opportunity you have.  Fuel prices could be rising every few hours and credit cards systems could be corrupted or shut down without warning.  I would suggest using a charge card as much as you can while the systems are still active.  Save your cash until the credit systems stop working then transition to your cash.  If/when you reach your bug out location and the credit card systems are still functional, unload your gear and family and go back out to the closest fill station and top everything off.  Fuel will be worth it’s weigh in gold when the refineries shut down and/or the fuel trucks stop rolling.  If nothing more, fuel will be a good bartering item for the new America.

In conclusion, be prepared, make the sacrifices now so you can live comfortably in the future.  Having preparations stored provides most with a sense of accomplishment and security in your future.  As Americans we mustn’t forget the duty of charity and helping others out.  That being said, take care of yourself, your loved ones and your group.  After then, and only then as J. W. Rawles says, “Give until it hurts.”  With that, be safe, plan ahead and God Bless.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013


I heard about another prepper-friendly church in the American Redoubt: Marble Community Fellowship. They are located at 3383 Hwy 25 N., Northport, Washington, 99157. (Northport is in the remote, sparsely-populated north-east corner of Washington.) They are 100 miles north of Spokane, on the Columbia River and are seeking conservative, patriotic families to relocate. They presently have only an event web site: MarbleCountry.com, but a brochure PDF titled "A Time for Solutions" is available upon request. Contact: Barry Byrd.

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A coin dealer that I can recommend is: American Coin and Vault, in Spokane, Washington. They are located on the corner of Wall St. & Nebraska, just north of Wellesley Street and south of Francis Street. (Full address; 5525 N. Wall St., Spokane, Washington 99205) I started doing business with them back when they operated out of a converted residence, back in the early 1990s.

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Check out Montana Brand Tools. Made in Ronan, Montana.

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I heard from my old friend Terry that Armageddon Armory (2809 Garrity Boulevard in Nampa, Idaho) has heavily restocked following the recent gun and ammo shortages. They sell locally, or can ship guns to your local FFL. They now have in stock: Many models of AR-15s and M4geries including Colt, Armalite, S&W, SIG-Sauer, Windham, Daniel Defense, Ruger, Anderson, Mossberg, Stag Arms, Bushmaster, and DPMS. They also sell AR receivers, bolts, stocks, parts and a huge pile of magazines including Magpul, Surefire, and more. They also have several models of AR-10s made by Armalite, Bushmaster, and DPMS. Other guns on hand include Armalite, LAR and Barrett .50 BMGs, various AKs, PTR91s, Mini-14s, SKSes, M1 Carbines, M1A s, Mauser M48s, several Mosin Nagants, Swiss M1911 straight pull rifles, Cobrays ("MACs"), and huge host of hunting rifles, handguns, riotguns, and .22s of all sorts including Rascal and Cricket youth rifles. One of their specialties is Saiga shotguns in .410, 20 gauge, and 12 gauge, both standard and tactical conversions, plus drums and many parts in stock. Their ammo inventory has also rebounded and presently includes .30-06, .308, 8mm Lebel, .45 ACP, 9mm, .380, 9mm Makarov, .357 SIG, 10mm, .38, .357, .44, . 45LC, and tracer ammo for .223, .308, 7.62x54R. They have lots of .50 BMG ammo in stock (new and remanufactured) including Ball, Armor Piercing, Tracer, and APIT. (Note: they have no .22LR, .17 HMR, .22 Magnum, .30-30, .30 Carbine, .30 Tokarev, or .22-250 in stock at this time.) They also sell Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) by the entree, the single pouch, by the case of 12, or by the dozens of cases. Phone (208) 465-3577, for details.

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Murders are so uncommon in the American Redoubt that nearly every one of them gets detailed news coverage.

Friday, September 20, 2013


For 45 years I was all about the Great American Dream.  A 100 mile per day [round-trip] commute to a six figure pressure cooker job supported an upper middle class lifestyle.  All that changed in 2001 when I was squeezed out of that job during a company transition to second generation children.   Overnight, the new CEO and COO determined I was too traditional and old school for the vision they had for the company going forward even though I had served their father profitably for a decade.   In quick succession I lost the house, the cars and a wife of 20 years because I could no longer ‘support her in the manner to which she had become accustomed.’   Yes, said those very words in the divorce papers which were incidentally served on the date of our 20th anniversary.  Thank God and Greyhound she’s gone.

What followed was what my teenage daughter who opted to live with me dubbed the Baloney Years.   It was an apt description as I re-invented myself from a shiny shoe wearing cubicle slave to a self-employed man.  Things got progressively better as the years passed.  I never re-married or bought another big house during that time period.  I had an expanding Internet business which was very lucrative and required just a few hours per day on my part.  I diversified my holdings with rental property and a car shop where I bought fixer uppers and flipped them.  I was carrying a substantial amount of commercial debt but little to no personal debt.  The cars, motorhome and personal items were paid for and I had no credit card debt. In 2008, the recession wrecked my business plan.  The rental properties were vacant and were sold for no profit or returned to the bank.  The Internet business fell off 80% in the space of two months and the car fixer upper business became unprofitable as well.  At 53 years old I was left with a motorhome, an SUV, some tools, firearms and an empty nest as my daughter had joined the military.  Luckily, this go round, I had a little money saved up and a small income each month from what was left of the Internet business.  It gave me time to assess the situation and choose my next plan of action.

Folks who live year around in recreational vehicles are called fulltimers in RV parlance.   Most, but not all, have given up their traditional sticks and bricks home.   Fulltimers are not to be confused with snowbirds that flee in their motorhomes, fifth wheels and travel trailers southward each fall to escape the cold weather.  However, some fulltimers are snowbirds who use their RV as a means to seek out the best climate year round.  Traditionally fulltimers have been retired folks who chose to travel and enjoy their twilight years.  After 2008 this traditional definition began to change.  I still meet many retired fulltimers who travel from RV park to RV park getting by on retirement income.  More and more these days I see younger folks who are still working but have chosen a recreational vehicle as their home.   Some of these working RVers had a defined plan and chose the lifestyle as a way to escape the 9 to 5 suburban hustle.  Others did it as a last resort.   Many lost houses and jobs and took the last few remaining dollars they had and purchased an RV.  It is better than being homeless and living in a refrigerator box under the overpass.
 
I truly enjoy living in my recreational vehicle.   It is compact and mostly self-contained.  With the addition of a generator, a battery bank and solar panels I can sleep in my own bed just about anywhere I chose.  I love the freedom, I love the lifestyle with no defined boundaries, I love that I pay no property taxes and don’t have to mow the lawn.  I follow the work from place to place. Sometimes I stay a few days; sometimes a few months. I am a 21st century nomad.

Nomads are as old as history itself.  Genghis Khan and his Mongol horde, Bedouins of the Saharan Desert and Romani Gypsies are nomads.   When the Spanish Conquistadors came to North America they brought horses.  The American Plains Indians acquired some of those horses and their entire lifestyle changed with the mobility the horses afforded.   Much like the Plains Indians, my lifestyle has completely changed with the mobility afforded by an RV but it did not happen overnight.   Since I was the victim of two harsh economic calamities this third chapter in my life was initiated only after long consideration and considerable research.  

The Third Chapter

You don’t have to be a smart man to realize we live in unsettled times.   I have read Thomas More, John Locke, The Federalist Papers and Thomas Jefferson.   I read the current offerings of Mark R. Levin, James Howard Kunstler, Mac Slavo and Captain Rawles. At a point in my research I realized the ‘American Dream’ had been little more than carefully prepared and artfully packaged slavery.    Brainwashed by the American School System from kindergarten onward, we were told that if you work hard and obey the rules that you will be a success.  Success meant debt for most of us.  Bigger houses in nicer neighborhoods, new cars every few years, swimming pools, country club memberships --- that was success as we Baby Boomers were taught.   Behind the scenes, in the offices of powerful people, we were counted among the good minions.  Our task was to fill the coffers of Big Business and Big Government and we did an admirable job. People in debt have to go to work every day to service their debt.   30 year mortgages and cars that cost $50 grand just about insure that you will be in debt until the day that you die.   Our economy is based on ever expanding spending and if we don’t spend more money each successive year the economy falters.   Well, I worked hard and obeyed the rules and had the rug brutally jerked out from under me – twice.  I resolved I would never again be a wage slave.   After all, nobody came to my rescue and bailed me out!

Near the top of every preparedness list I see is a requirement for a bug out location.  Some acreage in a rural location with everything available that you will need when the SHTF seems to be de rigueur.    I commend the folks that appear to have attained the optimal bug out homestead and I wish I was one of them.  I just don’t see it happening for most of the rank and file people like me.  

  • Buying property usually means assuming more debt.  Most of the people I know do not have the financial ability to lay out considerable quantities of cash to purchase a property outright.   Even during the Great Depression, banks foreclosed and the repo man came to get your vehicles.
  • I grew up on a rural farm.  You just don’t go to Tractor Supply, the John Deere House and the local library and become a farmer or a rancher.  It takes years to acquire the equipment and the knowledge to use it.

One of my paying jobs during this Third Chapter was working for an excavation company that specialized in rural retreats for rich folks.   These city fellas had worked most of their lives with the dream of retiring   to a country estate where they could ‘get back to the land’.   I saw the pattern repeat itself many times over during my tenure with this company.   A 50 something executive from the city buys a few hundred acres of unimproved land. We roll in with bulldozers and backhoes and excavators and clear the brush, build roads, dig fishing lakes and clear a spot for their ranch house.   The executive buys a Ford King Ranch truck, a John Deere tractor, a Polaris UTV and a chain saw.  Seems like reality sets in about the second year.  The executive realizes he does not have the skill set required to pull this off and he also does not have the time left to learn it all.  He also is forced to acknowledge the hard reality of physical limitations that advancing age brings you.   I know it was frustrating for the executive.  It was heartbreaking to watch it unfold time after time.

I watched the television show Doomsday Preppers with interest.   Each and every one of those folks was convinced they knew the future and each were preparing for a specific calamity.  EMP, economic collapse, nuclear war and earthquakes --each and every one of them had it pegged unequivocally.  I just wish I was that prescient.    This Third Chapter of my life embraces the Nomadic lifestyle and my best efforts to prepare for an uncertain future.  I honestly believe we will see rising inflation and reduced services from the public sector.   Do the math and its’ a pretty simple conclusion.  Our elected officials are going to do nothing to stem the rising tide of debt and at some point the bills are going to come due.  You can only kick the can down the road so far. Things we take for granted like police services, fire protection, mail, utilities and road maintenance are likely to be less evident the farther you get from major Metro areas in my future scenario.   I have no intention of ever being in close proximity to a major Metro area ever again so my plans address a lifestyle that does not include these elements available at current levels.   I cannot depend on Social Security income in five years when I become eligible which is another consideration.

The RV
is not a really, really small apartment—not even close.  It took me over a year to understand all the systems and to become reasonably proficient at repairing or replacing systems that failed.   The same elements that make an RV livable in an off the grid environment make it complicated.  RVs have dual power systems which are 12 volt DC and 120 volt AC.   They also utilize propane for heating, cooking and refrigeration.  Some appliances like the hot water heater and refrigerator may have both electricity and propane as dual power sources.   A converter/charger applies the power to the on board 12 volt batteries and the 120 volt accessories.  My wife and I recently upgraded from our 20 year old diesel coach to a large travel trailer that is towable behind one of the SUVs.   Maintaining an increasingly problematic older RV and another power train simply did not make sense.  The 2010 model we bought (for cash) was immediately upgraded with the following components:

  • Addition of second 12 volt deep cycle battery
  • 200 watt solar panel, controller and charger to charge the batteries
  • 4,000 watt inverter
  • Progressive Industries Energy Management System (EMS) to monitor and protect  onboard appliances from erratic power sources
  • Double canister water filter with ultra violet light sterilization for drinking water
  • Honda EU3000i portable generator
  • Additional 120 volt AC small refrigerator to supplement the RV fridge
  • Wilson SOHO wireless cell signal amplifier  boosts a weak Internet air card signal AND our cell phone signal in rural areas
  • Flojet macerator pump which allows me to pump raw sewage  via a ¾” garden hose up to 200’ to a septic cleanout, residential toilet, porta-john or external  portable septic tank

These additions to the existing travel trailer components have allowed us to be independent of the grid if we choose to do so.  The cool thing is we still have all the comforts of home including Internet and HD satellite television.

Our Environment and Prepping
go hand in hand. There are myriad ways to make a dollar while living in an RV.   Some RVers work for an Amazon Distribution Center during the Christmas rush.  Amazon pays them well and provides free spots to park the RV.  Other folks go to the Dakotas and harvest sugar beets.  Some follow the State Fair circuit or NASCAR.  Others work virtually over the Internet.   The opportunities are endless.

For the last three years my wife and I have been Level II Security Guards in the North and South Texas oil fields.  We have been on site at construction sites, pipeline construction, electrical transmission line construction and active drilling sites.  The work has been 100% off grid.  The company we work for supplies water, septic system and a large diesel generator.   We have no lot rent to pay or utility bills and it is a great environment to polish our prepping skills.  Why?  We are self-sufficient in many respects.  We are off grid, we have a limited water supply that must be rationed and treated to be potable. We are miles from the closest grocery store and infrequent trips to town are carefully planned for maximum benefit.  We are in a fringe area for communications and rely on additional equipment to provide communication access to the outside world.  Police presence here is rare and we rely on our own resources to settle disputes and minor altercations.   We live in a harsh, remote environment for weeks on end and both my wife and I have adopted a survivalist mindset to get by day to day.   The difference in the way we deal with everyday life is especially noticeable when we retreat back into normal civilization for some time off with friends and family. 

Water
is a major consideration in any survival plan.  Our water, as delivered, originates at a potable source but the handling between origin and destination is questionable and I do not trust it.   Our water source is a 300 gallon translucent plastic tote.  I have installed a three-canister water filter system on the outside of the tote with a bypass valve on the third canister and a 12 volt pump.  I check every water delivery with a dissolved solids meter.  If the meter reads high, I place a 5 micron sediment filter into the first canister and a 1 micron sediment filter in the second canister.  I bypass the third canister for this operation.  I place the outlet hose into the top of the tank and recirculate the water through the canister filters for several hours until the dissolved solids meter shows an acceptable reading.   The outside tote is treated with chlorine on a routine basis to prevent algae growth and I monitor the chlorine levels with a pool test kit.  I wish we had a black potable water tank as we had at previous locations.  Algae growth in a black tank is negligible.

I pump the water from the tote into our on board 50 gallon water tank with the 12 volt pump.  This water is reasonably pure because I filter it through the three-filter outside system as it is pumped aboard.   In this operation, the first canister contains a 1 micron sediment filter, the second canister contains a granular carbon resin 1 micron filter and the third filter is a 1 micron carbon block filter.  I only use NSF certified filters and keep a one year supply of spare filters on hand.  I also have several spare 12 volt pumps that I picked up used on eBay.  The water from the onboard tank is used for washing, showers and flushing the toilet.   Potable water for cooking, drinking and coffee making is delivered via a separate spigot at the kitchen sink.   This spigot is connected to a 2 canister system under the sink.  The first canister has a 0.5 micron spun polyester sediment filter and the second canister contains a 1 micron carbon block filter and the ultra violet light.   The company that manufactured this system supplies the same system to our US Military for use overseas.

Electricity
in some form is necessary for our survival especially during the heat of a South Texas summer.  Air conditioning is not a luxury; it is a necessity if you are living inside a tin can.  Our prime source of electricity is a 4 cylinder diesel generator with an output of 20 kW.  It provides ample electricity for our needs.   Secondary electrical backup is our small Honda EU3000i gasoline generator.  It is quiet and extremely fuel efficient.  At 3 kW it will power every appliance on the travel trailer including one air conditioner unit.  Some judicious power management is called for with this power source.  For example, it will not power the AC and the coffee pot simultaneously.    Our third power source is the 12 volt battery bank, solar panels and inverter.   RVs use 12 volt power for lighting, water pumps, water heater, furnace and refrigerator circuit boards.  The inverter will run the microwave, coffee pot, television and DISH receiver and the various laptop and cell phone chargers.  The inverter will not run the air conditioning unit because it quickly depletes the battery bank.

Food Preparation
may not sound like a big concern for most but it is for us.  The RV has a microwave, propane cook top and propane oven that my wife uses to full advantage.  However, when the summer heat is 100+ for days on end,  using the cook top or oven heats up the inside of the RV for hours afterward.  We enjoy cooking outside during the summer months.  We have a small propane grill, a propane smoker that will also serve as an outside oven and a Volcano stove that is tri-fuel.  It has a removable propane burner and it will also burn charcoal briquettes or wood.  We have a small selection of Lodge cast iron cookware for use outside and we are gradually learning to use them as time goes by.
Even with two refrigerators, we do not have the refrigeration capacity you would find in a residential refrigerator.  My wife manages the refrigerated space admirably with her infrequent stocking trips to the grocery store.  A large cooler is a standard item in her SUV because of the length of the trip.  She will fill it at the store and then ice it down thoroughly.   What doesn’t fit in the two refrigerators is left in the ice filled cooler as long as possible.  Through practice, she has learned how many items she can purchase with no resulting spoilage.

I wish we could have a normal garden.  In years past both of us raised a garden on a regular basis.  Being mobile as we are a garden is out of the question currently.  We have laid in a good supply of seeds and we are bucket gardening.  2.5 and 5 gallon buckets are transportable and work well as garden containers.  I am glad we started this project because our gardening skills are much rustier than I thought after a decade or more of inactivity.   Our current project is a winter salsa garden which consists of tomatoes, peppers, onions and cilantro.  One of the blessings of South Texas is you can garden for almost eleven months out of the year.

Storage space
is a huge limiting factor in an RV.  RV manufacturers utilize every square inch available in most cases but it is never enough.   My large SUV only has the front row of seats available.  The second and third row have been folded down or removed to make room for cargo and storage. An air compressor, tool boxes and footlockers full of maintenance items fill the SUV, and it is still not enough space .  As you have read my description above you can tell we are dependent for the most part on fossil fuel.  Diesel, gasoline and propane figure prominently in our plan.  We purchased a small enclosed trailer that we use as our ‘nurse trailer’ and my wife pulls it behind her SUV when we move.  It stores several items that are rarely used and our supply of fuel.   I like propane because it is very portable and has an unlimited shelf life.  At one point in the past we had a 6.6 kW propane generator that has since been replaced.  I found it to be very noisy and fuel hungry.  Filling a propane tank will never be as easy as filling up a 5 gallon can of diesel or gas.  I DO like the propane for heating and cooking as it is very efficient when applied in that manner.  When it comes to diesel and gasoline storage I had a hard time deciding exactly how to store it.  I considered 50 gallon fuel drums or auxiliary fuel tanks which would be stored in the nurse trailer.  Ultimately, I decided the price of the tanks or barrels and the need for an additional 12 volt pump and nozzle to transfer the fuel was unwarranted, pricey and cumbersome.   A 55 gallon of fuel weighs around 400 lbs!  We decided instead to use 5 gallon NATO surplus jerry cans.  They store in an economical fashion, they are tough and they do not leak.  Current reserves of fuel are five 30lb propane tanks, two 40lb propane tanks, 50 gallons of diesel and 75 gallons of gasoline.   The diesel and gasoline are treated with PRI preservatives.  Both SUVs are also kept full of fuel at all times.

The nurse trailer is also the home for 20 gallons of potable water in 5 gallon Reliance Aquatainers and a 65 gallon water tank that is only filled in emergencies.
I store a spare set of 12 volt vehicle and trailer batteries in the nurse trailer.  They are maintained with a Battery Tender trickle charger that also has temperature compensation.   The 2 SUVs are used infrequently and sometimes 3 weeks will pass without them being driven.   They are kept on a Battery Tender as well.

I have an aversion to being broken down on the side of the road.  Neither of our SUVs are new; both of them are on the other side of 150k miles.  They are maintained meticulously as far as service, maintenance, tires and brakes.  For the main SUV I also have spare radiator hoses, serpentine belt, alternator and starter motor.   All of these items are easily replaceable in the field.

Stockpiling
supplies in a recreational vehicle is near impossible due to space limitations.  We try to keep a ready reserve [of staple foods] onboard which loosely equals about a one month supply.  While I see or future economy going through a severe long term decline I do not think we will see a true SHTF situation.  Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst.   We do have a bug out location in North Texas which is a still active family farm.  I have attempted to tailor our strategic reserve supplies to include this scenario.   We move around South Texas quite a bit so storing supplies in an offsite location would be hit or miss at best.  With my luck, I would rent a storage room close by and then the next week we would take an assignment 300 miles away.  Texas is a big place you know!

My wife is required to go to a doctor for a checkup every two months and for years she has used the same doctor north of San Antonio.   Two years ago, we rented a small climate controlled storage in that small town.  We collect a variety of supplies in the two months prior to her appointment and she deposits them in the climate controlled storage.   In two years we have accumulated quite an inventory of food and other items.

I entered our marriage 3+ years ago with a dry storage unit in South Dallas.  Since it is not climate controlled, we are limited on what can be stored at that location.  Currently it holds tools, tires, a small cargo trailer and a 7.5kw diesel generator.  We also store a small supply of potable water and food there.  It is an all day trip to go up there and back. The North Texas bug out  location is over 400 miles from our present location.  As the storage units fill, we leapfrog the excess to the bug out location.

Our plan is to draw on the supplies in each storage unit should the need arise.  If we come down to a true SHTF scenario and anarchy across the land is on the horizon, both storage units are on our direct route to the North Texas location.   Even if we had to get out of Dodge in one of the SUVs with nothing more than the SUV  contained and the clothes on our backs we could easily resupply and continue our trip north with a stop at either or both storage units.

Fortress RV
we ain’t.   Most likely you could shoot through one of our walls with a pellet gun.  I would like nothing better than to have 500 acres of impenetrable castle somewhere up in the hinterlands of the Texas Hill Country.  Maybe if I win the Powerball [lottery] and have another ten years to build the castle complex... Like most everyone else my wife and I have a set of circumstances called our life that we have to work with.  Our situation is far from optimal but we have to work within the framework we have to get by and prepare for the tough times ahead.

JWR's Comments: Nomadism is a fairly tenable during a "grid-up" depression, where law enforcement would still functional. But in a grid-down world, frequent travel will simply be an invitation encountering ambush after ambush, and your life expectancy will plummet. Don't plan on taking those sorts of risks. My advice for The Crunch: Have a planned destination, get there pronto, and hunker down!


Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Cheryl N. sent: A Map Of America's Future: Where Growth Will Be Over The Next Decade. Not surprisingly, the "Inland West" (which includes much of The American Redoubt will benefit from conservative transplants from other states. It is all about personal freedom and opportunity. Here is a quote: "From 2003 to 2013, [the Inland West] enjoyed the most rapid population growth in the nation: 21%. It is expected to continue to outgrow the rest of the country over the next decade, as the area boasts the highest percentage of young people under 20 in the U.S."

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The folks at Barr Specialty Tools (in McCall, Idaho,) have expanded their line of excellent hand-forged knives and other tools.

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The annual Battle of the Palouse grudge match between the University of Idaho "Vandals" and neighboring Washington State University "Cougars" is scheduled for September 21st. Who will make The Loser's Walk, this year? ("The walk was disbanded after 1969, but you’ll find a few traditionalists taking the walk after the Idaho-WSU football game.")

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Wyoming Population Growth No. 4 in Nation. JWR's Observations: North Dakota is booming because of the exploitation of the Bakken oil fields. Washington DC is booming because of the exploitation of taxpayer wallets. Texas and Wyoming are booming because they are safe havens from the exploitation of taxpayer wallets by the governments of other states.


Sunday, September 15, 2013


Ragnar Benson wrote the book “The Survival Retreat: A Total Plan For Retreat Defense” many years ago, but one of the things he discussed has stayed with me for a long time.  Reading this blog influenced me to read it again recently.  A great many of the things in the book don’t apply to my situation, but his discussion of the insights into the conditions during a disruption of normal society influenced my decision to “bunker in place.”  His descriptions of the situations of refugees especially affected me.  Refugees are basically at the mercy of whichever authority is controlling the area they are moving through, or temporarily residing in, at the time.  More than anything, what I have taken from this section of his book, and I have paraphrased here is, die if you must but never become a refugee.  In the broad sense a refugee is anyone who is not residing in a permanent, sustainable, and defendable location; and has no intention of moving from it in the foreseeable future.  The qualities of your location may be dependent on your means at the time, but they are necessary.  By this definition, if you have to commute to and from work through an area that could become dangerous during any societal disruption, during the time you are moving through this area you are a refugee.  You have limited resources, you have to move through territory that may have unknown dangers from obstructions, you have no fixed defenses, and you may have a limited time to reach your destination.  This is especially true if you are truly “bugging out”, moving you, your family, or your group from an area which is not any of the above requirements for a retreat.    Most probably even though you are a “prepper” and have made many preparations for eventualities you do not live permanently at your retreat location.  Even if you do, most of you have to work somewhere else, and very few of you stay within a few miles away from you retreat every minute of every day.  You take vacations, shopping trips, visits to the relatives, etc.  I don’t think any disruption will be sudden enough that you won’t have 2 or 3 days to get to your retreat, but that doesn’t mean something like a war or major volcanic eruption in Yellowstone can’t happen. Even so, some difficulties will be manifest during a slow slide to oblivion.  Unless you are part of a military armored column with close air support and adequate recon capabilities you are a refugee.  You are vulnerable.  To maximize your chances of reaching your destination safely you have to think and act like a refugee, a smart refugee.

When you are moving you are extremely vulnerable.  Anyone who has hunted knows that the best time to find game such as deer and elk is when they are moving and you can “lieth in wait” as the Bible says.  When they are bedded you have to move to find them, and that gives them the advantage.  Every moment you are on the move or stopped in some questionable camp you are vulnerable to the predators that will be waiting or moving in search of prey, and it won’t take much movement to attract their attention.  In a true “fan” situation, and even in a temporary local disruption if it happens to be your local, every thing beyond your line of sight including intervening obstructions such as gulleys must be considered “Bandit Country.”  If you live in a city this includes down to the corner and around the block.  Any place that could hide a hunter or a group of hunters is suspect.  Your status as a refugee may be extremely temporary, but it can take no time at all to put you in grave peril.  As a refugee you want to be as inconspicuous as possible.  Any attention you attract is probably not good, and in a total meltdown can be deadly.  You need to avoid all contact with anyone outside your trusted group.  This includes the neighbor you’ve known casually for many years.  Trust no one outside your group, and have no one in your group you don’t trust. Everyone must know and act according to plans and instructions.  Bugging out is no place for a debating society.  Since it may not be possible to avoid all contact you want to blend in as much as possible.  Don’t look too rich or too poor.  Most of the people you meet will not be prepared for this and will look rundown, ragged, and discouraged.  If you look too rich by being prepared they will try to latch onto you either to make you responsible for them by association or to steal what they need.  The same goes for looking too weak or too powerful.  The larger the group the more attention it will draw; and the harder it is to stay out of the spotlight as it were.  The individual or single family with a child will be very attractive to just about anyone.  As to the logistics of bugging out there are a number of things which must be considered to maximize your chance of reaching your retreat successfully.  These are based on your having to move after a fan situation, but can be applied any time you are away from your retreat.

If you live east of the Mississippi river your retreat should be on the east side also unless you live somewhere in Minnesota near the headwaters.  It’s a big river and there are a limited number of bridges over it and they are well known to every local.  They make great choke points for movement.  The same goes for any of the major mountain ranges, or other major geographical features which funnel movement through limited avenues.

If you are less than 50 miles away from your permanent retreat, why haven’t you moved there already?  Move now and commute.  Buy a cheap car that gets good gas mileage and never let it get below three quarters full.  Keep good tires on it and keep it in good condition.  It may be a pain to commute, but it is much easier for one person in a small car to negotiate hostile territory than 2 or 3 loaded vehicles to do so.

If you live more than 100 miles from your retreat you should allow for at least one night on the road somewhere.  The reasons for this assumption will be itemized and explained below.  They are based on worst case scenario premises and a realistic assessment of conditions during a total fan situation.

Speed.  

  1. If you are out of fuel you are going nowhere and thence a truly desperate refugee, so saving fuel is a high priority. Drive the optimal speed for fuel economy. (Research this for your particular vehicle.)
  2. Every thing past the end of your block is bandit country even if you were on the same route this morning.  Yesterday was a lifetime ago.  It is a brand new unknown country and you have to treat it that way to survive.  Every blind turn, sharp curve, overpass, underpass, bridge, tunnel, hill, or even stretch of road with dense vegetation close to the edge must be investigated prior to driving through.  Ditty-bopping along at 60 mph and topping an overpass to see a sawtooth log barricade across the road or a massive pileup at the bottom could be very embarrassing.  Might even be deadly.
  3. Any vehicle will be much quieter at 25 or 30 than at 55 or 60.  I live in quiet country away from any major paved road and the whine and roar of a car or truck on a paved road can be heard for quite a few miles.  Remember, you’re a refugee and you don’t want the attention of the hunters.  Also, remember the other really desperate refugees that will also be on the move, going nowhere.  While not that dangerous in themselves, the larger the group the greater the consumption of limited resources and the harder it is to stay out of the spotlight.  Dissension in the ranks can be increased tremendously.
  4. If you have to travel on unpaved roads the dust trail of a vehicle at speed can be quite impressive and highly visible if the weather conditions are right.  If not, say unplowed snow, traveling at speed is dangerous in itself.

Travel time.

  1. You will only be able to travel during daylight hours.  The reasons should be obvious.  If they aren’t you have no business attempting this sort of a bug out.  If you have to travel during the winter you may have only 6 to 8 hours of daylight to travel in.  The following requirements will reduce this to only 4 or so hours of actual time.
  2. Since you will have to spend at least 1 day on the road depending on the distance you have to travel you have to find a safe camp to spend the night in.  Even if you have a number of possible sites picked out which have all the requirements, water-seclusion-defendability-space-accessibility, others may have the same locales in mind.  Desperate refugees hue to the even a blind monkey can occasionally find a banana philosophy.  Local hunters may also know of these locations as good places for harvesting whatever.  You will have to start looking for and find a suitable place long before dark because your camp will have to be set up, members fed, children bedded, defenses and sentries set, and light and noise security established long before full dark, which can be as early as 4:30 in the winter.
  3. In a real TOTWAWKI it will have to be a cold camp.  Cooking food smells can travel for miles and smoke and light from a fire even further.  Even the heat from a furnace in a trailer can be detected, and the noise of a fan can be quite loud if it is the only noise for miles around.
  4. Light and noise security must be maintained until full daylight which is usually 8:30 or 9:00 in the winter depending on the weather.  Patrols must be sent out to determine the operational situation since last patrol the night before.  Only then can the camp be allowed to stir, members fed, and camp packed up for the days travel.  Set up and tear down must be done with the utmost quiet to prevent attracting the oft mentioned attention.

There are many other requirements which could be listed here, where to have the noon meal, how to keep small children quiet, what to do with human waste to prevent propagation of the smells, which roads should be the primary route, when to leave, who and how many to trust, and on and on.  These itemized here should be sufficient to convince anyone intending to travel any distance to a permanent retreat to be “getting real” about “bugging out” before they actually have to.  As for me, I am bunkering in place for as long as I can, and have discussed with my closest neighbor, not too close, how we can support each other.  I may have to die in place also, but I have decided I won’t become a refugee.  My children are all grown, though I don’t think it would change my thinking if I did have small children, or if my grandchildren were living with me.  If you are a Christian death is not the end.  That, and a quick death can be a blessing compared to what some small children have been subjected to.

One other item, and it is off on a tangent towards equipment, but is part of the mindset.  Remember, you are a refugee; if you can hide, hide by all means.  Never initiate contact with anyone you don’t have to.  Especially combat contact.  You will probably be carrying a precious cargo of non-combatants.  If the hunters, or others, are 50 yards away and they haven’t seen you, keep quiet and stay in hiding.  Don’t under any circumstances initiate contact unless you know they have discovered your location and appear to have evil intentions.  You have set up your camp to be as advantageous to you as possible.  You want them as close as possible before initiating an engagement so you can neutralize the threat as quickly as possible with the least amount of damage to your personnel and equipment.  Remember, they have to move to get to you and that makes them vulnerable.  Therefore, the battle rifle in 7.62x51 caliber which can hit a target at 800 yards won’t be of any real advantage.  The 5.56 caliber weapon can be just as effective at 200 yard or less, especially with the XM855 ammo.  You can only carry so much stuff in or on any vehicle and you can carry more rounds of the smaller caliber.  Any engagement will be very short in duration, absolutely terrifying, unbelievably violent, gut-wrenchingly horrifying to your group’s psyche, deadly in effect, and quickly final one way or another.  Number of deadly projectiles downrange per second will be very important and the smaller caliber is easier to fire with combat accuracy by the inexperienced.  Right now you can’t afford to take any casualties since you don’t have a MASH unit traveling with you and you can’t depend on the locals or they wouldn’t be hunting you.  Once you get to your retreat being able to reach out and touch someone or something, like an elk, at long range will be much more important.  I have both for the reasons stated above; and other large bore calibers also. Just because I can I suppose.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Mr. Rawles,
I am leaving Alaska and actively looking for a new home in the American Redoubt. The State of Idaho is (was?) at the top of my list but several recent articles in SurvivalBlog have cause for concern. (The recent item about he Boise gun show cancellation, for example.)
 
I understand that 'nothing is perfect' but can you reassure your readers that Idaho is not being infiltrated by the loony leftists?
 
Thank You and best regards, - Tom in Alaska

JWR Replies: The news item about Boise was posted because it was unusual, and definitely not the norm for Idaho, which is generally very pro-gun. In my estimation Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming still represent the very best states to work in and to live. While eastern Oregon and eastern Washington are at mercy of their respective state legislatures west of the Cascades, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming are consistently conservative, safe, and common-sense places to to live. Look at the whole gamut of issues and determining factors: taxes, gun laws, business climate, zoning, strong social fabric, right to work laws, demographics, crime rates, natural disaster risks, population density, self-sufficiency, insurance costs, pollution, home schooling laws, nuclear weapon targets, nuclear power plants, traffic, and on and on...


Tuesday, September 10, 2013


My friend Terry H. mentioned that all of the scheduled Boise guns shows have been cancelled, because of an arbitrary new policy mandated by the Ada County Board of Supervisors. They are requiring the local club (Eedahow Long Rifles--that organizes the show) to buy a $5 million liability insurance policy for the shows. That would mean a $40,000 per year insurance premium on a show that generates a net revenue of only $16,000 per year!

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Kay G. sent: Idaho wants to manage federal lands, but funding a question. In related news: Wyoming wants other states to join fight for federal land

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Here is a fairly new AR maker, in Lewiston, Idaho: Seekins Precision. (Their machined billet lowers are excellent.)

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The 3rd Annual Spokane Sustainable Preparedness Expo taking place at the Spokane County Fairgrounds on September. 22, 2013.

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TOPS Knives (in Idaho Falls, Idaho) makes a great Pry-Probe-Punch tool that comes highly recommend. It is is a cross between a punch and a nail-puller. Its back end is a hardened pointed punch that can be used to shatter tempered glass.


Tuesday, September 3, 2013


A great new Ttabs ultralight flying video has been posted, showing some touch-and-gos: Elk River, Idaho.The last gorgeous minute of the video relates the enormity of the forested expanse that lies east of the more agricultural Palouse Hills region.

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The Couch Bunker (made in Spokane, Washington) attracted some attention down at the Fort Worth, Texas Hunting show. (Thanks to B.B. for the link.)

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Buck Knives--a company that wisely relocated from California to Post Falls, Idaho, several years ago--is continuing to prosper. They have released many new American-made products in 2013, most of which are made in the American Redoubt: The Clearwater Series Fillet Knives (named after the Clearwater River in north-central Idaho), the Micarta Harvest Series, the Survival/Tactical Knives Buck/Hood Thug (based on the designs of the late Ron Hood), the Reaper, the Intrepid L & XL, the Sentry, the Everyday SpitFire, and Camping/Hiking Stowaway Kit, and the Endeavor. I should mention that Buck is an example of a company that dabbled with offshoring, but decided to move the majority of their production back to the United States. That is commendable.

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All (libertarian) roads lead to The American Redoubt. The logical development of one man's relocation thought process is described here: State of Bliss.

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Some news from Idaho: Tax Commission eyes 12-year-old raspberry seller


Tuesday, August 27, 2013


More evidence that wolves are called "land sharks" for good reason: Wolves kill 176 sheep near Victor, greatest loss recorded in Idaho . (Thanks R.B.S. for the link.)

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Colorado’s Secession Wildfire Spreads to Northern California: Siskiyouans Raise “State of Jefferson” Flag.

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Top 25 firearms businesses in Idaho come together, expand awareness. (Thanks R.B.S. for the link.)

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I heard that Harrison Gear (in Bozeman, Montana) has been harassed by the management of PayPal. It is Harrison's 80% complete receivers that are the issue. (PayPal is attempting to force them to remove all mention of their 80% receivers from their web site, which is egregious prior restraint.) If you want to buy an 80% AR lower, then please buy it from Harrison Gear, to show your support. Even if they are forced to removed that particular web page, rest assured that they still have some 80% receivers--but you won't be able to pay for them via PayPal. Call: (406) 404-4084 to place an order that can be discreetly paid via USPS Money Order.For any firearms-related purchase it is best not to leave a paper trail (or a trail of electronic cookie crumbs), regardless.

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9th Circuit Blasts Montana Buckaroo Rifle Plan (A tip of the hat to H.L. for the link.) Of course it is already ILLEGAL for private parties to sell post-1898 guns across state lines, so what's the beef? No Federal nexus means no Federal jurisdiction!

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Fascinating: The U.S. map would look like if each state had the same population. (Thanks to Anthony in Pennsylvania for the link.)

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Tiny Philipsburg, Montana, Pop. 840, Launches Yearlong Campaign to Attract New Residents


Saturday, August 24, 2013


Mr. Rawles:  
As a prepper living in the Redoubt, allow me to respectfully enlighten Professor Prepper from Montana with my own nickel's worth on the topic:

I think you are a little high on the horse, pard.  I detected the hint of a threat towards those not already living in Montana, even though you lightly qualified with a disclaimer that "we Montanans" are American, and "we" do not want to take up arms against other Americans. I will concede, however, that you believe your intentions to be honorable, and you sure can't be accused of not being proud of your state of residence, Big Sky Country.  I have hunted a few parts of it and concur that it is a magnificent piece of our country.

I am a veteran from the Viet Nam era, having served my country both here and abroad.  I am also a retired peace officer.  You might have heard that a lot of us have retired to the Redoubt, and for good reason.  That is a plus for you, believe me.  More importantly, what I am not is a whining, sniveling, malcontent...in fact, I am (no surprise) an armed, self-reliant, Christian, conservative, carnivore.  When I moved here after retirement, I remember being yelled and cursed at by a passing local motorist because I didn't yet have my new state's license plate; I guess he ASSumed that my old plate meant that I was a visitor, no doubt looking for some prime real estate to snatch up from under him.  Quite unnecessary and a testament that you really can't fix stupid, no matter where you choose to live.  People like this brain-dead bozo breed like rats, and can be found anywhere, in numbers.  To be honest, WTSHTF, it is a guy like me, and my colleagues,  that you would want around to help out, not alienate by screaming obscenities from the highway.

I have a legitimate right to live within the borders of the USA, anywhere I please, Montana included, at least for now.  As you said, "Capisce?"  This is America, professor, not some fascist Third World lash-up that dictates where citizens can or can not live, or that they all live in the same manner and have the same beliefs, and contribute equally to society (that sounds vaguely communistic, no?).  And BTW, I will not tolerate being interrogated by self-appointed vigilante's blocking my way to a place I have a right to travel to.  There are some people out here, professor, that will take that sort of behavior as a threat to life, and have a plan for that.

My friend,  there are many others, my own sons included, who are like-minded with us, but they are still fighting the fight from within the slave states they live in.  Those states were not always so.  These guys won't be wearing a sign when they arrive, and it's real hard to tell if they are or are not "the good guys"...you certainly won't be able to tell by their shoes, either, trust me.  Many want to get to a redoubt state but can't just yet.  Many good people are not on board yet, but are listening and learning.  Some are even making plans, but haven't yet been able to pull the trigger for whatever reason.  And please don't forget about the older folks, the young people, the single moms, the uncles and aunts and cousins, who may well end up to be refugee's, fleeing for their lives to their loved ones in the Redoubt...if they can make it.  Many many people will simply abandon their old homes all over the US in order to live with relatives in a Redoubt state, "doubling up" for the sake of survival and practicality.

Keeping a watchful eye over natural resources and abuses by those who would take advantage is one thing...to be openly vigilante, before that becomes appropriate, is quite another.

Let me ask you this:  If heaven forbid your state, specifically your city, suddenly gets nailed with a nuke (you do have a few targets), or a pandemic,  or let's not forget Yellowstone blowing up, or some other problem, and you had to bug out to say N. Idaho, how would you feel if you encountered a roadblock at the border.  You encounter hostiles ("we Idahoans") who would not let you pass, perhaps because they think the state would become overcrowded with out-of-staters who would want to change things.  Some of those refugee's would undoubtedly be liberals (yes even from Montana), some would be enviro-whackos, some would be felons.  And some would simply be worthless leeches, and none of those types are a welcome sight to the average middle class Idahoan.   Only a proper interrogation could tell, yes?  Sorry, that just isn't a free country by definition.

I agree that in some parts of the country, celebrities and other pushy people have bought up real estate and have tried to push their weight around and in general be a pain in the rear.  They won't last when the SHTF.  They are not relevant.  The tougher it gets, the quicker they will disappear to be in the company of their own kind.  They certainly won't stick around to help out.

Having spent a little computer time on ancestry.com as a hobby, I can tell you this:  None of us are originals, no matter what state you may claim as your home base.  My ancestors are from Scotland and Ireland, and it was fascinating to find out how far and wide they migrated within the borders of America, after just a few generations from the time they hit the beach in the New World, and who they mixed with along the way.  What we can't forget is that they left a place they used to call home,  because it became unlivable for them, and oppressive.

We shouldn't be closing our state borders to fellow Americans, but rather building our population and industries and educating newcomers.. (like the weapons industry being forced out of the East Coast slave states).  Like the free-thinking people who would like to come here, in the same way the folks who are nanny-state residents by choice want nothing to do with the Redoubt mindset.   They are too deeply entrenched in their own brand of America.  But until the government dissolves, and restrictions are in place,  all have a right to move about within the borders of the USA. 

 Let's face it, liberal folks in general aren't exactly the types who are into self-reliance of any kind, being fans of big government taking care of all, or defending themselves with the use of force, especially the dreaded firearm.  In short they think we are nuts.  In short we think they are sissies.  Just like Redoubters would not live in Massachusetts because of the liberal mindset, those folks in turn would not live in the Redoubt because of ... us.    Recently, Fox news analyst Juan Williams declared that in Idaho, there is "a machine-gun behind every tree"!   If it were only so!

But lest I forget, let us all be reminded that John Q. is not the problem.  Big, oppressive government is the problem.  History reminds us of that when we study other civilizations that are no longer on the scene.  Let us keep the enemy on the radar screen, and not ourselves.

None of what I'm saying means that you can't "keep your eyes peeled" when strangers move in to the area.  We should all be vigilant to danger.  We should all be well acquainted with our neighbors...OPSEC.

I am sadly positive that yes, the time will eventually come when we will be confronted with the unpleasant tasks that a collapse brings with it.  That will include roadblocks, detentions, interrogations, and worse.  There will be many who will be out to invade and conquer, or become a burden to society either as cons or sluggards.  But we aren't there yet, not by a long shot.  Better to practice OPSEC and for now be small, and gray, than to be confrontational and make enemies of the wrong people.

You mentioned all of the wide open space.  Same here.  There is plenty of room, and the Redoubt as a whole is lightly populated.  The reputation of the Redoubt is growing, and those who want to be part of it will come, and those who despise us now will avoid us like the plague in the future.

God Bless, - L.R.


Friday, August 23, 2013


I’m just putting the finishing touches on my signs. Do you like them? They say “Trespassers will be shot without warning.” I think that gets the message across. Don’t you?

So I’ve heard you are thinking of bugging out to Montana when the SHTF. Is that right? Well, I’ve got some advice for you: The first thing to remember is that Montana is already filled with people. Not as many as most other states, but still, there are many of us here whether you saw us or not the last time you took a family trip through Montana. Yeah, we are a big state filled with rivers, lakes, mountains, and wide open prairies, but those waterways and lands are not yours for the taking just because things have gone downhill for a while. But since we are all Americans, I’ll let you in on a secret. You can bug out to Montana, but you just have to know how.

First a little geography lesson. Montana is the fourth largest state, or rather the third since Alaska messes up all comparisons. But size is not quite everything. Montana is roughly rectangular and borders four other states as well as two Canadian provinces. But there’s more to that picture. The US states flanking Montana are, on the south and west, mountainous and wild with few roads. And to the east, huge expanse of openness across the Dakotas. To the north lie Saskatchewan and Alberta, both wild lands rivaling Alaska in remoteness and low population. In other words, Montana is buffered by some pretty significant geographic and geologic challenges meaning that unless you are already nearby, not only are you multiple-gas tanks away, but also at the whims of the weather since all access points into Montana present significant driving challenges at least four months out of the year.

And speaking of driving, you might want to take a hard look at a Montana road map. The paved entry points are few, and only two interstate highways, one east/west, the other north/south. And that’s for a state with nearly 2,000 miles of border! Many of the other paved access points into Montana are over passes including one stunning 10,000 climb that as you might guess opens late in the year and closes early. Additionally, there are many bridges as the roads wind through the mountains meaning there is only one way through the area and it has a significant constriction point. In fact my town of Missoula has the Hellgate Canyon and you can even go to Hellgate High School here. The name Hellgate describes the such a constriction point so named after the unfortunate results some early travelers experienced as they were forced into the mountain gauntlet on the east entrance to our fair city. Our city is close close to paradise, but to to reach it from the east, you will need to pass through the gates of hell.

Flatlanders and those with a head full of television shows and movies are used to options when approaching a roadblock. Around here, there might be a mountain to your right, a river and a mountain to your left, and a hundred miles of nothing behind you. You won’t be racing around or over any of our road blocks. And whether by design or luck, most of our towns are surrounded by plenty of constriction points. Take a stroll around Google Earth to see what you are up against when bugging out after the SHTF. And summer vacations do not qualify.

However, I’m happy to report that Montana is home to many fine people who will be quick to welcome new faces as long as those faces are attached to skilled individuals and not just another whiny mouth to feed. Surviving, and even just living in Montana is work. Glorious work, but still work. Unlike cities where convenience rules and internal combustion does the all the heavy lifting, we in Montana are accustomed to the arsenal of nature. Whether blizzards, wildfires, floods, or angry animals, Montana has them all. Drowning and falling are two popular check-out methods tourists use in Montana, and yes, we do feel bad, but just because there is no sign warning of the dangers in the river, or the crumbling edge of the cliff doesn’t mean it’s safe. Every year we lose many visitors to gravity or water with plenty of other deaths we never know what happened because we cannot find their bodies. Strangely, the same things we do here for recreation are the same things that kill city dwellers.

World class hunting and fishing are two of Montana’s exports. I’ll admit that yes, there is game everywhere. Some Montana cities are even culling the city deer herds because the numbers are just too high. And Montana is quick to capture and prosecute poachers and others who violate the rules and laws of hunting and fishing. You must understand why we have those rules and laws in order to appreciate them. Historically, humans took what they needed when they needed it. But that all changed when hunting became a source of financial income, and cities demanded more food, especially birds, big game with big antlers, and weighty fish. No longer were hunters subsisting. They were now in the business of volume and sales. It didn’t take long to deplete the game supply, and worse, the reproductive patterns of the animals were disrupted to the point that the few viable offspring were not enough to sustain the species. While the commercial hunters just moved on to different game in different places, the residents were left with nothing but scorched earth. So hopefully you can see that we are a little reluctant to loose sight of you while hunting. Unless you live around here, we have no reason to think that you truly appreciate what we have, and will take appropriate action if necessary. You are welcome take that however you want.

Montana is also filled with dirt roads and places where not roads are allowed. Those roads do go somewhere, and just because you managed to drive all night and cross into Montana unobserved does not mean you now own the land wherever you park your bug out vehicle. When a bug out location seems perfect, even too perfect to be true, it is probably part of someone else’s plan, or perhaps even the landowner’s. Federal land is considered up for grabs as long as you don’t infringe on another camp whether by presence, activity, or upstream effects, and that you respect the resources. You are not allowed to cut down trees to build a cabin. At least not right away. America is a great nation and we Montanan’s will not allow our wild resources to be looted, stolen or destroyed simply because of your poor planning, stupidity, or greed. Remember, Montana is what America used to be, and we will be keeping it that way. Capisce?

Sadly, it is a common occurrence here under the Big Sky to have out-of-staters throw their weight around thinking they own the place. Sure, some do when they buy large tracts of real estate and then upend the local ecosystem. We usually can wait until their dysfunctional lives implode, marriages fail, and the FBI moves in to commandeer their possessions and land. But in a SHTF scenario, we won’t wait for the FBI. Arrogance is a danger to us all so we just might have to eliminate or at least temper the arrogant threat. Sorry, but I think you understand.

So how does one come in peace to Montana? One way is that you are welcome to purchase your own bug out acreage and homestead it as you please, but that still requires you can get “home.” Nothing greases the wheels of a roadblock like being a landowner. But you will have to answer some questions first, so brush up on your trivia about where your supposed land is located. And there is always the relationship angle leveraging friends, family and acquaintances who have already exercised a previous Montana option. But of course this is America, and we Montanans are also Americans. We do not want to take up arms against our countrymen, but then again, we are expecting a certain level of appropriate behavior from our visiting brethren, and our rights have not ceased to exist just because your neck of the American woods is a little complicated at the moment.

Let’s assume you have successfully driven your BOV through the buffer states and now find yourself humming along the desolate roads of Montana (which are often desolate even when things are great which is how we like it). You come face to face with your first roadblock. It is a handful of old trucks (of which we have plenty) completely blocking the right of way 100% across and two or three deep. Let’s also assume it is summer, daylight, and the SHTF event is more economic then viral. As you slowly approach the obstruction, with your hands on the wheel and tinted windows rolled down (We’d hate to have to lower them ourselves from the outside), you notice the road behind you now has an obstruction as well. Yes, you are trapped. As you have nothing to hide you have no need to worry. But you must understand that we too have families that need protection. We simply cannot let anyone wander into what we have tried so hard to maintain, and that we believe to be worthy of preservation as representative of what makes America great.

Our questions for you will be simple. Who are you? Where did you come from? Where are you going? Once you pass that test, we would love to pick your brain for news about what’s going on in other places. In fact, depending on your experiences, you just might be the hero of the day joining us for dinner. Didn’t see that one coming, did you?

I told you we up here in the north are good folk. We have nothing against you, and if you belong here, then welcome home! However, if we detect that your motives are not pure, and you could be a liability if not an outright danger, then we may give you the option to turn around and try your luck in Wyoming, Idaho, or South Dakota, or just handle it ourselves in the old fashioned but effective ways early Montana settlers are famous for. 

Let me give you a couple other tips. I can tell an awful lot about you from your choice of footwear. The reason I am telling you this is to help you be honest. You can no more pretend you belong here as you could blend in while wandering the streets of New York City. You can fool yourself, but you cannot fool us. Everything about you is telling. The way you drive, where you walk, how you handle tools including firearms, and of course your reaction to what nature dishes up whether wind, wildlife, water, or whatever. Everything from your choice of hat to vehicle tires screams information about you. As does your knife, your backpack, even your water bottle. So don’t even try to lie. Honesty goes a long way around here.

While it is imperative that you roll with nature’s punches in Montana it does take some practice. Sorry to generalize, but most city folk are soft. They are too sensitive to temperature. They are not used to walking (and I mean miles), and they have lost their nature smarts. They do stupid things. They miss clues and cues. In a nutshell, they want things to be a certain way that nature has no intention of accommodating. You know what folks? Sometimes it is just plain freezing out. And sometimes mosquitoes and flies are annoying. And sometimes you lose your game to the bears, wolves, coyotes, (insert predator name here). Sometimes it rains and you get wet. And sometimes you are cold and miserable. And hungry. And tired. And sore. And concerned. And lost. But after a while living like this, it grows on you. You want it. Or maybe it’s more that you don’t care because the good outweighs the bad.

Bugging out to Montana is not like in the movies. I’ll admit that there will be many successful impromptu bug outs to Montana, but those first arrivals will set the stage for everyone else. The moment we Montanans feel threatened or used, then overnight Montana will be the hostile land that it once used to be.

Please don’t take it personally, but if you really want to bug out to Montana, you really need to already be here [when things fall apart.]


Thursday, August 22, 2013


The last time I sent an article to SurvivalBlog [The Secret Prepper, in May, 2013], I told of how I was secretly preparing for the possibility of the “S” hitting the “F”.  Well, I’m proud to say that I’ve finally come out of the shadows and into the light.  The lesson I’ve learned is to quit worrying about how much the Band Aid is going to hurt and just rip it off.  It wasn’t all that hard and my life is better for it, even if my family has taken several opportunities to fashion me an aluminum foil hat.

That said, I have just completed the long and drawn out process of closing on my new “summer home”.  I put that in quotations because my true intent was to have a retreat location.  “Summer Home” was simply what the realtor assumed, and I told him no different.  Truth be told, this will in fact be my vacation spot until I can build a business that allows me to work from home.  Then it will be my full time residence.

I thought long and hard about where I should purchase my home.  My biggest problem is that I live in New York.  I’ll pause while you sneer in derision and send raspberries my way…

Okay.  Now that that’s over:

Why move?

We each need to take a look at our living situations.  Bugging, whether it be out or in, is a decision based upon so much more than having a place to go.  Will you need access to medical care?  Can you feed your family once you get there?  Can you protect yourself better there or at home?

I currently live a couple of hours from the northernmost border of New York City.  While my area has everything I could possibly need: A good amount of rainfall, fertile soil, privacy enough for me to have a few animals and keep my weapons zeroed; it is also likely to be ravaged by the Golden Horde as it’s simply too close to a major metropolitan area.  If I want to keep my family safe, I need to get them further away.

My family and I have spent the last twenty-two years vacationing in the mountains of Upstate New York.  There isn’t a major city for hours; though there are a few smaller ones they are mostly populated by college students whom would likely start leaving as their trust funds and bank accounts dwindle.  Either way I won’t be within a hundred miles of one of these smaller cities, as the crow flies.

In the name of operational security, I had to put some thought into seemingly benign decisions:

Choosing a realtor

Maybe I’m a bit more paranoid than I’d like to admit, but I chose a realtor who was only marginally familiar with the area and who wouldn’t be able to find his way to the listings without use of a map.  Cell and GPS do not work reliably in the mountains of Upstate NY and so my potential location couldn’t be saved to GPS for future reference. 

When he asked how I came to get his number I explained that a friend had used him several years back and I supplied him with a fairly generic name for reference.  Being a salesman, he politely claimed to remember my “friend” and sent his regards.  I’ll be sure to thank Mike Richards for the referral if ever I meet him.

Choosing a location

I needed to find a balance between being remote and being close enough to other people that I wouldn’t completely lose my mind.  Human beings are inherently social animals, and I’m no different.  The need for news and barter should not be underestimated, not to mention the fact that if my family and I are to eventually move to our retreat location there needs to be something for them to do when we get there.

Medical assistance is also something I needed to consider.  What good does it serve to go through all of the trouble of creating a safe haven for my family if I sustain an injury in the process that kills me due to the absence of reasonable care?

I believe that I achieved that balance: 15 minutes to an urgent care center, 30 minutes to a mall, ½ mile to the nearest neighbor… all in an area with a population density of <70 per square mile.  For New York this is pretty empty, and these are people who know how to live independently.

I feel I must add that most of the state of New York is like this, and that it’s the over 60% of the people living in the bottom 15% of the state that ruin things for the rest of us.

Needs versus wants

What I wanted and what I needed were both short lists.  I did not compromise when it came to my needs list:
- Brick or stone
- Gravity fed well
- Stream deep enough to sustain year-round fish and fast enough to limit freezing
- A metal roof
- Reasonably remote location with enough land to maintain privacy and hunt safely

What I wanted was:
- Multiple ways of getting water
- Multiple ways to heat the home
- Enough sunlight throughout the day for solar power and farming
- A root cellar

I ended up having to compromise on the brick or stone, as there were no homes on the market that fit the bill.  I can always harden the home as I repair it, and have taken steps to do so.

What I ended up with was a home with a metal roof, propane heating as well as two wood burning stoves (with cook tops), an electric well as well as a hand pumped well and a stream that fed into a hand dug basin.  It also has a cement garage, a barn and a root cellar big enough to house a small family.  All of this located on several dozen acres at the dead-end of a tertiary road and abutting federally protected land.

Paying for it all

I am a big proponent of living well within your means.  For years my family and I have watched others as they spent large amounts of money on material goods, then listened to them complain about financial problems when the next big thing turned out to be just another monthly bill. 

Don’t get me wrong… Be good to yourself, but remember that you have a responsibility to your family.  Being prepared after all, means being financially prepared as well.

That said; we have been saving up for a summer home for several years and after saving every penny we could, we had managed to collect what we felt was a sizable down payment.  Imagine our surprise when we found that the market in the area we focused on had homes on acreage that we could pay for outright. 

We are now the owners of our second home and have somehow (my wife’s amazing management skills) managed to remain debt free.  I understand that this is likely not possible for most people, but I must say that the positive psychological effect of not being beholden to anyone is amazing.

Pre-positioning and security

I am now in the process of updating my retreat home.  While doing so, we are using it as a base of operations for hiking, fishing, camping, boating, hunting and anything else we can do.  It is only a matter of time before it is ready for full time occupation. 

With every trip I make I bring some of my stored goods.  Buckets of Mylar sealed food have been additionally fortified against moisture and are being positioned in the root cellar.  Health and hygiene items like toilet paper, toothpaste and the like are being stored in quantity not just for TEOTWAWKI but because snow is measured in feet versus inches.  As repairs are being conducted extra items, such as plywood, are being stored in the garage for the proverbial rainy days.

But what good is it all if, while I’m absent, a drifter comes along and “digs in”, or there’s some form of natural disaster that renders my retreat un-livable?

As far as natural disasters go, well, there isn’t likely much I can do about it.  With regards to random persons attempting to occupy there are a few things I am doing.  I need to mention first that in the trips I have made so far, I have yet to see anyone with fewer than 4 legs anywhere near my property.  But you can’t be too careful so:

First, I have plenty of “No Trespassing” signs posted around my perimeter.  They let people know that someone has a vested interest in the land they’re about to cross, and most times will serve to dissuade a person intent on simply going from point A to point B.

In addition to that, I have a fair quantity of “Beware of Dog” signs.  Little yellow electric fence flags are located closer to the house to accompany these signs, and with luck this will prevent someone who has disregarded the no trespassing signs.  Also, at the driveway and along the immediate perimeter of the house I have signs from an alarm company, and have conspicuously placed surveillance cameras in several locations.  The security system and cameras are currently not operational, but they are real and will be used in the future.

Lastly, I have a P.O. box in town at the post office so that there won’t be a stack of mail overflowing from my mailbox down at the road.  One thing I have learned simply by observation is that you can always tell when nobody is home by the number of newspapers in the driveway and the presence or absence of mail in the box.

All of these measures are simply visual deterrents and if tested by a determined intruder will fail if I am not there to provide the final measure of security.  There is only so much I can do until I manage to build my home-based business to the capacity that it can provide for my family as my only business.

In conclusion

I think that there are a number of constants to choosing a retreat home, such as features that are low maintenance like a metal roof and brick construction.  Duplication of necessities, such as water access, I believe to be crucial.  The difficulty lies in balancing safety and security with distance and privacy. 

We each have our own issues, mine being asthma, that force us to select a location which will best serve our day-to-day needs.  I sacrificed additional distance for access to medical care.  I figure it’s worth it given all of the other bonuses.  In the end, you have to find what fits into your everyday life.  

Much like stored food, if it’s not something you’d use there isn’t a point to having it. For a closing thought, consider 2 Chronicles 15:7: "Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded."


Tuesday, August 20, 2013


If population density is proportional to relative safety in a societal collapse, then the American Redoubt would fare very well. Note that around 90% of Oregon 's population and 80% of Washington's population is west of the Cascades, which means outside of the Redoubt. If they were considered separate states (as they really should be), Eastern Washington and Eastern Oregon would probably be ranked just above and just below Idaho. Here is the big picture. (That map also makes it clear why I picked the Four Corners Region as one of the locales for "Survivors: A Novel of the Coming Collapse".) Overall, the Redoubt is quite safe, although the earthquake risk is moderate, so it is best to build with highly earthquake resilient architecture.

   o o o

I heard about a small but quickly growing company in Bozeman, Montana: Harrison Gear. They make quite innovative AR-15/M4 and Ruger 10/22 muzzle brakes and are developing a line of 80% complete (no-FFL required) receivers.

   o o o

Steve N. suggested repeating this link: This Amazing Map Shows Every Person in America: Segregation, diversity, and clustering become very clear when every human becomes a dot. This map makes it clear that some sections are quite homogeneous. While I abhor racism, the zoomable version of this map might be useful in selecting a low population density region where you could find a retreat. (Hint: One of the biggest blank patches on the map is The American Redoubt, and the adjoining Northern Plains states.)

   o o o

Wolf advocates post how-to manual for saboteurs. (BTW, in my corner of The Redoubt the only "Earth First" bumper stickers and T-shirts that we see are parody shirts that have a second line that says: "We'll Log The Other Planets Later.")

   o o o

10,000 homes threatened as Idaho wildfire spreads to 92,000 acres


Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Uh-oh! Some New Yorkers have caught wind of the Redoubt, and might swarm in and Damage Our Calm. See: Your Own Private Idaho. Even worse, there are some nice photos, as the New Yorkers say, "to go with." Quick! Give all those Easterners a zap from The Flashy Thing. (Well, at least those ones who aren't conservative, law-abiding, gun owners.)

   o o o

Census Bureau: Oregon's largest counties grow while rural areas empty. (Eastern Oregon still has plenty of elbow room, but with its weak economy, it is best to be self-employed before moving there.)

   o o o

"Thy OPSEC doth stinketh": $250,000 in rare coins stolen in Idaho home invasion. In cases like this, it is usually maids or home health care aides who have the loose lips.

   o o o

Reader M.W. recommended a small company called Fish Hunt Fight (FHF) in Belgrade, Montana. M.W. says: "I have some of their gear and it is end-user-design-driven. Paul is a stand-up honest guy and really wants to please his customers. This is a smaller and more adaptable company always coming out with something that the end-user asked for/designed as custom or semi-custom work... and yet the price is somehow still very reasonable. This stuff doesn't just have randomly placed pockets and pouches. It all fits a purpose, often in the non-tactical end of things such as for hunting, but they still have camo and tactical goodies that are all well-made with US sourced material and all made in USA. Call them to work out a custom rig for your specific needs."

   o o o

Child-molesting kidnappers from California are hereby warned: The backcountry of Idaho is a bad place to try to hide out with your victim. The sheriff departments, their posses, and even the Civil Air Patrol will give finding you their full effort, and you'll get ventilated. (Federal agents often get the cold shoulder in the American Redoubt, but not in kidnapping cases!)


Friday, August 9, 2013


I am a Vice President o a very successful company in the western side of the Midwest.  I am in my early 60s, and after 30 plus years with the company - I will retire in next year or so with no debt, a good retirement plan, stable lifestyle – no worries, right?  So, why do some of those around me think I'm crazy (even me sometimes)?  Here's my story.
 
I grew up a farm boy working the family farm with my grandma and grandpa, old school Swede - German homesteaders - milking cows, slopping hogs, baling hay, walking beans, driving tractors, gathering eggs, and yes, shoveling S#%*.  Small rural town, 40 kids in my graduating high school class in late 1960s, sports, 4-H, Boy Scouts (be prepared), etc.  Dad and  Mom were both Marines in WWII. Brother was Marine in Vietnam (I missed the mandatory draft by 30 days in 1972 - otherwise I would also be a Marine.) My darling wife, an Asian pre-teen immigrant in mid-60's, has similar old time conservative culture values from her early years of primitive, survival type sustenance in post-war Korea, which was not a pretty picture or an easy life in the 50's - 60's.  As kids growing up, on opposite sides of the ocean, we weren't rich, but we never went hungry either.
 
Flash forward over next 40 years - college (didn't have enough money to farm), college professor, corporate job, worked hard, moved around, promotions, and the good times rolled.  In 2005 we purchased a small farm in an un-named western midwest state, as an investment, and was finally able to renew my farming roots ("Green Acres is the place to be...").  Bought some cows, chickens, and a donkey, and hooked up with a neighbor farmer to help manage-operate, and viola, I am again a farmer boy.  Not much of a cash flow farm, but a neat place with wooded rolling hills and pastures, lower quality crop ground, well fenced, two ponds stocked with fish, two wells, a couple of buildings, and a rocky bottomed creek that runs year round, plus an artesian water tube that also runs pure and clear most of the time.
 
2008 hit us hard - stock market crash and global financial collapse fears, Enron fiasco (yes, I too had, and still do have, way to much money tied back into 'the' company). This, coupled with my growing concerns with the changing ways of our society and culture, both domestically and globally, all led to a growing sense of concern of the future. In 2010, I cashed in a chunk of my retirement and paid off the farm, the cars and truck, and the McMansion house in town.  Debt Free!!!
 
But during this time I also started to think even more about about 'preparing' (Boy Scout).  Prepare for what - I do not know, other than my growing sense that our society is not sustainable the way things are going (Agenda 21?).  I stumbled on SurvivalBlog and got interested.  Since then, I have read many of the 'survival' books and blogs - yours and others - and I envision a day in the future that things won't be the same as they have been for 'us' over the past 50 - 75 years.

Even though I myself am spooked, now five years later in 2013, (stock market 15,000), I have to admit that I probably won't live to see a SHTF world. But, I do believe fully that my children or grandchildren likely will.  So, my prep activities are focused primarily for them.  Okay, now here's what I am doing and planning.
 
Hunker Down:  Refer to farm described above.  Very isolated. 10+ miles from nearest small town (<2000).  60+ miles from nearest small city (100,000).   75+ miles from nearest Interstate highway.   200+ miles from 3 larger mid-size cities (250,000+).  ~700+ miles from nearest mega city (CHI), 75 miles from nearest Interstate highway, 150+ miles from nearest 'strategic' military base.  Sits on secluded, low-travel gravel road, 2 miles from nearest county paved road.  County population is <19/sq. mile.  Few neighbors (<20 in 5 mile diameter).  Closest neighbor (1/4 mile) is a like-minded, well prepped and avid hunter and trapper.  I see this as Wyoming-like, in a Midwestern state, and I call it Redoubt-East.
 
Currently we are building a 'retirement house' on the farm - off-grid and self-sufficient capable with redundant solar, propane, diesel, electric, and wood power-heat systems, deep water well along with alternate artesian water source.  Constructed with solid concrete basement and concrete upper walls, small high, burglar-bar  windows, steel external doors, and video/sensor security system.  Also has concrete root cellar under basement and underground 'escape tunnel' out of basement.  Sized to hold our 3 families (if we crunch up).  Will be finished in early 2014.  Should be sustainable and secure for localized rogues or small scale insurgents, but probably would not withstand an army-like assault (if they can find us) - like I read about in some of the Armageddon books.  Also, we are keeping eye out for roving Obama drones!  Oh well.
 
Practice - not so much on shooting, but in the last couple of years, more so on gardening and more primitive food preserving skills.  My Korean wife remembers lessons from her grandma (watching) in food gathering and preserving.  Turnips, yams, kimchi, other basic staples - to take the bounty of the current year and preserve it to get through the winter (non-growing seasons).  In our practicing, we have 'discovered' a really neat way to naturally sun-dry some of the veggies and fruits we are growing (or buying at the farmers market).  We use two spare window screens (from the McMansion), thinly slice the veggies - fruit, and place between the 2 screens, clamp the edges, and set out in the sun to dry.  It takes about three days of good sunshine to fully dry.  No bugs, no muss, no fuss.  When dry, put in Zip-los bags (modern, yes, I know) and store in a cool dry place (root cellar is best).  This makes excellent, naturally preserved veggies and fruit (fancy food preservation machines not needed), that will provide flavorful and nutritious basic staples (scurvy) through the winter and beyond, if stored properly.  

Food - currently have at least 1+ year supply of easy living basics, even if electric-fuel grids go kaput.  Working at two year supply of very basics.  After 1 year adrift, we will go big time to gardening (have heirloom and hybrid seeds, tools, water & land), home-raised livestock (cattle & chickens) and abundant wild game (deer, turkey, fish), as needed.  Assuming Mother Nature and OPSEC security provides, should be sufficient to survive and lead to the 'rebuilding' process.
 
Security - we have decent assortment - rifles (varmint & long guns), assault guns, shotguns, handguns, knives and 'special' tools, accumulated over the years by the direct family members (and like minded neighbors).  We are not optimal in large stocks of ammo though, as we only got serious on this in last year or so, just when the ammo supplies went south, but we are able to self-load though.  Rather than blow brains out in current ammo craze (serious money), I will be patient and stock up further as retail stocks reappear. (Hopefully in near future).
 
Barter - we have been accumulating stuff (things), like booze, cigarettes, meds, households, ammo, gold-silver-coins, gadgets, etc.  No idea what will be useful or needed for a future SHTF scenario.  If it does happens, then 'stuff' should come in handy.  If not, then grand kids can all get together some day and go through it all, and laugh about their crazy old grandpa.
 
Survival Tip - Mr. Rawles advises that articles on practical 'how to' survival skills have an advantage in the judging.  So, those of you old enough to remember the movie ‘The Graduate’ remember the ‘one word’ success tip whispered to Dustin Hoffman: "Plastics."  So here is my 'one word' survival tip - Donkeys.  Yes, I said 'donkeys'.  Here's what a 'multi-propose 'survival' donkey' can do:

* Anti-predator - keeps roving coyotes, cougars, wild dogs (wolves?) away from cows/calves or sheep.  Really amazing to see! 
* Intruder Alert - donkey 'brays' at strangers coming up the lane (if you've never heard before, it definitely gets your attention).  Also, watching the donkeys laser-like ears and eyes is dead-on if you want to know where a lurking intruder is located.  Her (jenny) ears, eyes, and nose are much better than ours.
* Halter Breaking calves - another story in itself.
* Pack-bearing - can haul couple hundred pounds of gear/supplies.
* Cart Pulling - can pull cart (or person) with gear/supplies.
* SHTF transport - can ride - for when doctor (son) must make 'SHTF calls' around the township/county for house calls or emergency (good enough for Jesus).
* Family-Friend-Companion – it’s amazing what an apple a day can do.
 
So, am I crazy?  No question about it.  I could be planning an easy, fun-filled retirement with golfing, a beach home, and world travel vacations.  NOT - been there, done that!  Yes, I am crazy, but we are also HAPPY and EXCITED.  My wife and I are looking forward to the next 15+ years of a 'back to the farm' lifestyle, growing old together, rediscovering our rural roots and old fashioned passions, enjoying weekend visits and summer farm vacations with our kids and grand kids along with new found friends and good times with our rural neighbors.  And oh yeah, if the S does HTF, we will be ready, I hope.  Crazy as Fox.


Tuesday, August 6, 2013


America's conservative heartland--a lot of it is in the Redoubt and Plains states. This map, courtesy of Nick Gillespie of the Hit & Run blog at Reason.com shows just how conservative the American Redoubt congressional districts are, compared to much of the rest of the nation. (The Republican-held congressional districts are shown in red.)

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The Free State Wyoming forum was "suspended" about six weeks ago, and the members were unable to contact Boston T. Party or discover any reason for the suspension. So they decided to go ahead and establish another forum, called "Wyoming Mavericks" that is independent of FSW. (Click here, for some background.)

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Part of the Monderno team has relocated to Montana.

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R.B.S. sent: 3,600 mink released by activists at Idaho mink farm.

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Montana State Representative Krayton Kerns warns Montanans need to be vigilant about preserving their state's well-written Stand Your Ground law.

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Reader R.B.S. in Idaho sent: States respond to Idaho's concealed weapons rules.

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Report from First annual “Northwest Patriot and Self-Reliance Rally”


Monday, August 5, 2013


Several readers sent me a link to a study by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania recently published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine that had some surprising results: They concluded that big cities are statistically safer than small towns.

This study, titled Safety in Numbers: Are Major Cities the Safest Places in the United States? has a number of flaws. First, it treats deaths by intentional violence equally with accidental deaths and deaths related to the use of alcohol and illicit drugs. This is not quite fair, because the former are not nearly so avoidable as the latter. If I want to avoid most drunk driving accidents then I can simply abstain from drinking. (Unless of course, it is a drunk that hits my car, or me as a pedestrian.) That means that I can effectively excuse myself from being part of the statistics. But if I want to minimize my chance of getting robbed and shot to death, then I can only do so by changing my ZIP code. And if I want to avoid high speed traffic accidents, I can drive more conservatively. Again, that means that I can in part at least excuse myself from being part of the statistics, or at least lower my actuarial risk.

The "flattening" of volitional differences by the researchers also ignores the psychological impact of various forms of death. All families are of course aggrieved by the loss of a loved one. But consider this: What would be the quality of your sleep for the rest of your life be if your teenage daughter were killed: A.) In a simple highway traffic accident and you never saw her body, or B.) Your home was invaded by a gang, they tied everyone up, and then you witnessed your daughter being violated and then murdered? To a statistician, it is all the same. But to you and me, not all "injury-related" deaths are equal.

Another flaw is that while the University of Pennsylvania study narrowed in on trauma, it ignores lifestyle differences that can contribute to significantly longer life spans that would put then outside of statistical norms. A non-smoking, non-drinking rural person who drives conservatively, drinks pure water, breathes fresh air, eats veggies from his own garden, and who eats local trout and lean venison is probably going to be a "Statistical Outlier"--that is, someone who defies the odds and lives to a ripe old age. And guess what: That is the very definition of a SurvivalBlog reader, or at least what he strives to be, and urges him to where he plans to live.

One other flaw is that the statistics are all based on the county of deaths occurrence, rather than the county of residence of the decedent. (Death certificates are filed in the place where someone assumes room temperature, rather than their Home of Record.) So this ignores neo-local deaths. I can assure you that there are plenty of them in The American Redoubt. The populations of some towns in the Redoubt doubles each summer. Every year in our county, accidental deaths peak in the summer months. That is when the idiotic drivers from western Washington come here to "play." (And that play often involves drinking and driving fast, or drinking and water skiing.) And then there is hunting season when, again, urbanites come here to release their Inner Idiot. Many of the deaths due to exposure and snowmobile accidents are neo-local. And the only negligent shooting death in recent memory involved out-of-state hunters. Many of these yahoos come from either Seattle or Portland.

Again, there is the flaw of throwing together intentional deaths with unintentional deaths, in drawing the report's primarily conclusion. Granted, when you are dead, you are dead. But to say that it is more "risky" to live in the country where people often commute long distances at high speed versus in the Big City, where people commute short distances at low speed is not quite fair. Not when part of the offsetting risk of "injury-related" death risk in urban areas comes from instantaneous lead poisoning when you dare to step outdoors after dark. All things being equal, I'd rather face the risk of spinning out on black ice or the risk of a deer coming through my windshield than I would having a twitchy drug addict sticking a pistol in my face and saying: "Your money or your life."

Notably, I found this proviso buried in the report: "We chose to exclude terrorist-related deaths, the majority of which are associated with the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States." Well, well, that was convenient! When 3,000 people get whacked on a single day, it badly messes up your intention to show that cities are "safer", doesn't it? I have a news flash for them: Terrorists regularly target big cities, because that is where population and news cameras are concentrated. They don't intentionally crash airliners full of screaming passengers into Kansas wheat fields. No! They aim for Manhattan skyscrapers. They don't set off pressure cooker bombs at 5K Fun Runs in Lander, Wyoming. They choose events like the Boston Marathon, where there are huge crowds and more television reporters than you can count. And when they eventually get their hands on some nukes (and they will), they won't be be shouting "Allahu Ahkbar" and pressing the button in Miles City, Montana. No, it will more likely be in Los Angeles or Dallas. So someday--most likely in the next 20 years--there will be a great big "Boom!" (or more likely simultaneous "booms" in multiple cities, given their proven modus operandi) potentially with millions of deaths. And that event will absolutely blow their statistics right out of the water. (Or should I say, into mushroom clouds.) Then, and only then, will the statisticians say to themselves: "Gee, maybe it is safer out in the boonies."

I recently did some web wandering, and gathered some interesting murder statistics, from the most recent years available. (These are mostly 2010 stats.):

Honduras homicide rate: 91 per 100,000 people.

El Salvador homicide rate: 69 per 100,000 people.

Detroit, Michigan homicide rate 58 per 100,000 people.

Flint, Michigan homicide rate per 48 100,000 people.

Colombia homicide rate: 32 per 100,000 people.

Oakland, California homicide rate: 22 per 100,000 people.

Washington, DC homicide rate: 21.9 per 100,000 people.

Richmond, California homicide rate: 20.3 per 100,000 people.

Stockton, California homicide rate: 16.8 per 100,000 people.

Louisiana homicide rate: 11.2 per 100,000 people.

Jersey City, New Jersey homicide rate: 10.2 per 100,000 people.

New York City, New York homicide rate: 6.4 per 100,000 people.

Tennessee homicide rate: 5.8 per 100,000 people.

Chile homicide rate: 5.5 per 100,000 people.

Bolivia homicide rate: 5.3 per 100,000 people.

Ohio homicide rate: 4.1 per 100,000 people.

Montana homicide rate: 2.6 per 100,000 people.

Washington (state) homicide rate: 2.3 per 100,000 people.

Maine homicide rate: 1.8 per 100,000 people.

Boise, Idaho homicide rate: 1.5 per 100,000 people.

Wyoming homicide rate: 1.4 per 100,000 people.

Missoula, Montana homicide rate: 1.4 per 100,000 people.

Idaho homicide rate: 1.3 per 100,000 people.

Vermont homicide rate: 1.1 per 100,000 people.

Newport, Washington homicide rate: 0 per 100,000 people.

Condon, Oregon homicide rate: 0 per 100,000 people.

Rogue River, Oregon homicide rate: 0 per 100,000 people.

Lewiston, Idaho homicide rate: 0 per 100,000 people.

Moscow, Idaho homicide rate: 0 per 100,000 people.

Bonners Ferry, Idaho homicide rate: 0 per 100,000 people.

Bozeman, Montana homicide rate: 0 per 100,000 people.

Helena, Montana homicide rate: 0 per 100,000 people.

Cody, Wyoming homicide rate: 0 per 100,000 people.

Newcastle, Wyoming homicide rate: 0 per 100,000 people.

It certainly sounds safer, in some respects, out in "The Wild West."

As for me and mine, we keep our guns handy, and we'll continue to primarily travel in a big, safe SUV with a massive "Deer Stopper" bumper, in which we carry both a trauma kit and an AED. We'll take our chances, living out in the country, thanks. - J.W.R.


Friday, August 2, 2013


Dear James,
Regarding the recent contribution from S.M.: If Life Gives You Tomatoes, Make Salsa! I have to question where exactly in Arizona they are. We’ve been in the Phoenix metroplex for eight years and I have to tell you nothing survives 115+ degrees.
 
Arizona has an amazing array of climates. Most people picture Arizona as the low desert that really only takes up about 1/3 of the state. With elevations anywhere from 300 feet (Yuma area) to 7,000 feet (Flagstaff area)
the growing zones really do vary more than you’d think.
 
I do agree with S.M.’s first comment of it being a huge challenge, but examining the context of their article, my best guess would be they live closer to a 2,500-3,000 foot level. And yes, there are places in Southern Arizona that are that high and higher. Elevation definitely affects plant survivability. Those places just don’t reach the temperature peaks that the low desert does.
 
This year we grew our usual cantaloupe and watermelons, tomatoes and sweet peppers, but also some corn for the first time. Unfortunately I got things going a little later than I should have so by the time late June rolled around, most everything baked. What happens here is this, in late June, before the monsoons kick in, is usually our hottest and driest time. I don’t care how much water you give your plants, with 115-120 degree temps with single digit humidity for even 4-5 days straight, things die. I always say, “if it’s outside, it’s fried”. This year I programmed our auto sprinklers for the raised beds for three times a day to help keep the foliage cool but everything eventually succumbed. The only survivors, (just barely) are the melons.
 
I definitely agree with the whole rest of S.M.’s article and feel they offer some excellent tips and advice,…my only contention is the timing of the crops. If you’re in the lower desert, you need to have already harvested
summer crops by the first parts of June. My suggestion for that is to get them going toward the end of January. This also adds to the challenge as Phoenix could still get a cold snap. It’s been a huge challenge and a lot of experimenting over the years for us and we’re still figuring things out but in a nut shell: summer crops start in late January and winter crops start in the first part of September.
 
I have been successful with sprouting seeds outside in the raised beds but inside is usually best that way you can keep the January stuff warm and the September stuff cool until the seasons adjust,…which really doesn’t take long.
 
With all of that said, if S.M. is in the low desert, I would like to know their secret. (Other than prayer, I have no idea.) Thanks and keep up the great work. - S.N. in Phoenix


Tuesday, July 30, 2013


I heard about another Reformed church in Spokane, Washington: Reformation Community Church. The Pastor is Jeremy Lyerla. Phone: (509) 496-0920.

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A study shows that the American Redoubt region and much of the Great Plains region now offer the most opportunity for lower class Americans to rise into the middle class. (Thanks to Chris W. for the link.)

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Yes, even in Wyoming: Local Wyoming Gun Control Scheme Targets Children’s Rights. (Note that Platte County's school superintendent is a recent transplant from Minnesota. Also note that school funding is based on days of attendance. That, it seems, is the real issue, behind the scenes.)

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I heard about an an All-American gear maker in Bozeman, Montana with a captivating name: Mystery Ranch. One of the founders wrote me and mentioned: "We provide two of the three issued packs to SOCOM units. While about 80% of our sales are to military units, we also provide packs to Wild land Firefighters, as well as those involved in professional level outdoor activities- from skiing to mountaineering."

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At last count, there were 180 gun and ammunition making firms in Idaho, but I suspect that the number is growing.

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B.B. sent: AP Refuses Comment on Gun Permit FOIA Request in Montana. (They may also be seeking permit holder lists in other states.)


Wednesday, July 24, 2013


Dear JWR,
I find your blog and its associated advertisers very useful.  In considering buying some land and a small cabin in northern Wisconsin as a back up retreat in case of societal collapse and my question involves its location.  The site can be converted to an off-the-grid living situation easily enough.  It is near the local town so associating with others for mutual assistance is a very good possibility. But it is also near the local rural airport and I'm wondering if in your opinion this increases the possibility of interference by others and by how much?  Perhaps you can comment. I'm weighing the pros and cons of these circumstances. Thank you. Tom H.

JWR Replies: In my estimation living near small local airport is not a risk, unless your property is truly contiguous to the airport's perimeter fence. If that is the case, that could put you in contact with Federal authorities.

Unlike railroad tracks--which create a likely line of drift for looters and refugees--in the event of TEOTWAWKI I anticipate that airports will only attract a few folks looking to pilfer fuel or to steal tools.  And once it is clear that there is no longer anything of immediate value there will be few who come to a small airport. Perhaps just a few folks looking for scrap metal.



Jim,
I recently noticed your recent comparison of Jackson County, Florida, with Lewis, County, Idaho, and the follow-ups posts. I hope I can add some additional information since I attended high school in the county and have many relatives living there. Just as a point of reference my mid-1970s High school graduating class had less than 60 people and only five of them attended and graduated college. I know of only one of those people who still lives there. Youth tend to move away if they can.

As poster Kathi indicated, the county is rather closed to outsiders. The only town of any size is Marianna, with the usual array of Wal-Mart and related-tier stores. The county is bisected E/W with I-10 and N/S by US-231. The closest towns of any size are Dothan, Alabama and Tallahassee, Florida, both about an hour away. She is correct that the only major employers are prisons (state and federal) and the local hospital. There is also Sunland, a developmental disabilities resident facility. EMS response time to most parts of the county are in the 10-20 minute range. Much of the county is still crisscrossed by dirt roads (mainly sand.) The smaller roads were not named [and marked] until the early-1990s when E-911 service was introduced. Cell phone service is rather spotty with frequent dropped calls. Sometimes if you are on the east side of the county, your cell phone will often link with the system from Gadsden county which is in the Eastern time zone, which makes for some interesting double-takes!

If you are an individual with skills, establishing a customer base will be difficult. Most work is done based on word-of-mouth recommendations. The population is generally aging or retired and wary of 'newcomers'. There is little professional employment with most of it occupied by locals that are in a family business (legal, medical, etc.) There is little entertainment available in the county. Hunting and fishing are major outdoor activities; the county is adjacent to Lake Seminole, know for bass fishing. Also the eastern border of the county is the Apalachicola River, which runs from the Jim Woodruff Dam to the Gulf of Mexico.

Anyone considering moving to this area should perform significant due diligence prior to making a move. - J.D.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013


There has recently been some discussion in the blogosphere of Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground laws. To clarify: All but one of the five American Redoubt states currently have solid Castle Doctrine (right to defend your habitation) laws on the books. These include strong protections of the rights of homeowners and house renters in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. There is also a modified form of the Castle Doctrine in force in Washington as well as a location nonspecific Stand Your Ground law. But Oregon's law is presently ambiguous. Their "duty to retreat" law enacted in 1971 was partly overturned by a state supreme court decision in 2007. There is an active movement to improve Oregon's law, but a recent ballot measure on this failed in 2012. The long term prospects for passage of a Castle Doctrine law in Oregon are good, given the preponderance of states that now have such laws.

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Are you an experienced machinist? Then there is probably a job for you in the Redoubt! In Idaho, labor shortage hurts gun industry. (Thanks to R.B.S. for the link.)

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Some disappointing news: Idaho Cooperates with Homeland Security on National ID

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Montana Anti-Location Spying Bill Becomes Law With Governor Signature. The editor of the Lightning War For Liberty blog noted that this bill was passed in April--several months before Edward Snowden’s NSA revelations.

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The American Redoubt influx continues! Pastor Chuck Baldwin (up in Missoula, Montana) reported in his latest e-newsletter: "Once again, last Sunday, we had visitors with us from at least 7 or 8 states. The Sunday before that, the number was 10-12. And many of these folks are trying to make arrangements to move to the valley to be part of Liberty Fellowship."

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Reader G.J. suggested a Red State Talk podcast show called The Uncooperative Radio Show with Brian and Susan Bonner, in Montana. G.J. summarized: "Brian Bonner is a paramedic originally from New York who was once pro-union but who is now a Constitutionalist who is interested in self-sufficient living."


Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Jim:

Regarding your recent comparison of Jackson County, Florida, with Lewis, County, Idaho: I lived in Marianna in 2001 and worked at a bank.  I wouldn't recommend it at all, as a location to move to, unless you are from the South.  I actually was turned down for [membership in] the local quilt guild because I was from the North, and one business owner told me another time that they just wished we'd come down, drop our money and leave.  It is not a friendly area [to outsiders].  "Paul Revere" needs to recheck his facts. The main employers there are the seven prisons... 

If you are from the North, they do not want anything to do with you.  I did some volunteer work at a Habitat for Humanity thrift store, and directed seven [inmates on probation] ("probies") there.

The Jackson County Floridian is their paper.  Anyone considering moving there might want to follow up on that.

After a year, I'd had enough and returned to Missouri.

Just some thoughts. - Kathi L.



A reminder: Don't miss the upcoming Patriots and Self-Reliance Rally at Farragut State Park, near Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, July 26, 27 & 28, 2013. There will be several SurvivalBlog advertisers with booths there. The speakers will include Stewart Rhodes, Sheriff Richard Mack, Pastor Chuck Baldwin, Dale Pearce, Kris Anne Hall, and Cope Reynolds.

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R.B.S. sent: Idaho cyclist survives scary wolf chase

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Troy H. sent this: Montana the first state to pass electronic devices spy law.

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For those who have been unable to find a church home (perhaps because of living in a very remote region, or because your local churches are all too doctrinally astray), I should mention the Children of the Free online church, based in eastern Idaho. Their services are streamed live on Sundays at 8 p.m. Mountain Time. Doctrinally, Pastor Charles Garcia's virtual home church ministry is similar to that of the late Dr. Gene Scott's Faith Center church in Glendale, California. He preaches salvation by Grace and Faith alone. Garcia's focus is exegetical preaching and "Faith in action." While he has an order of worship that does not begin with prayer and while I recognize some distinct doctrinal differences, I was impressed with the depth of his Biblical scholarship.

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Doug C. wrote to mention a garden tool blacksmith based in Bozeman, Montana. Tuli Fisher's hand-forged tools have amazing quality. He travels regularly to Arts and Crafts faires in the Northwest.


Monday, July 15, 2013


I recently found a YouTube slide show that is a good example of flawed statistical analysis: Economic Collapse Survival Map - Risk Analysis of best area in United States. In it, you will see how "Paul Revere" narrowed his search down to just Jackson County, Florida. While I'm sure that he was well-intentioned, this gent seems to have assigned undue weight on the factor of year-round crop production. In my estimation, if the power grids go down the key factors in survivability will be population density and proximity to urban areas rather than the ability to grow tomatoes in January.

As an example, let's compare some statistics for Jackson County, Florida with Lewis County, Idaho. (I tried to pick a small county in the Redoubt with a similar land area.)

Jackson County, Florida:

Population: 49,746
Land Area: 954 square miles
Population Density: 54 per square mile
Institutionalized population: 5,690 (0.11 per county resident)
Number of cattle: 27,000 (0.542 per county resident)
Average size of farms: 247 acres
Average value of agricultural products sold per farm: $39,641
Total Cropland in County: 114,428 acres


Crime (in 2005):
Murders: 1
Rapes: 9
Robberies: 7
Assaults: 135
Burglaries: 236
Thefts: 354
Auto thefts: 33

Nearest Large City: Tallahassee
Population of Tallahassee: 181,376
Distance: 57 Miles (from Marianna)

Florida State Population: 19,317,568
State Population Density: 415.3 inhabitants per square mile


Lewis County, Idaho:

Population: 3,821
Land Area: 479 square miles
Population Density: 8 per square mile
Institutionalized population: 17 (.004 per county resident)
Number of cattle: 4,800 (1.256 per county resident)
Average size of farms: 1,224 acres
Average value of agricultural products sold per farm: $156,792
Total Cropland in County: 137,342 acres

Crime (in 2004):
Murders: 0
Rapes: 0
Robberies: 0
Assaults: 8
Burglaries: 18
Thefts: 39
Auto thefts: 6

Nearest Large City: Spokane, Washington
Population of Spokane: 210,103
Distance: 166 Miles (from Kamiah)

Idaho State Population: 1,595,728
State Population Density: 19.15 inhabitants per square mile

So... Where will you feel safer when the power grids go down, and when presumably a good portion of the institutionalized population could walk out the door?

I should mention that the difficulties of surviving a societal collapse in Florida are described my upcoming novel Expatriates: A Novel of the Coming Global Collapse. Granted, it is set in more populous central Florida (in the vicinity of Tavares) but a lot of the same problems would be evident: a large retiree population; an electric grid dependent on natural-gas fired power plant; an overall high population density; urban centers teeming with welfare-dependent people; a population that is largely disconnected from agrarian self-sufficiency; lack of respect for private property; large prison, jail, and hospital populations; and a fairly high crime rate.

But I must also mention one positive factor in Florida: Because of the high crime rate, the population has widely embraced concealed carry of firearms in the past decade. (Florida is nicknamed "The Gunshine State," and has the highest per-capita number of concealed carry permits in the nation There are one million CCW permit holders in the state!)

In Idaho, few people feel the need to do so, but open carry of guns is perfectly legal both inside and outside of city limits, vehicular open carry is also legal both inside and outside of city limits, and no-permit concealed carry is allowed outside of city limits. (Which means 98% of the State.) And if you do want a concealed carry permit, then their issue is non-discretionary and affordable in Idaho. - J.W.R.


Friday, July 12, 2013


Living in rural Texas has taught me how to live a fuller, deeper life, but with a western twist.  Although the American Redoubt has captured many preppers’ imaginations, I live in Texas by choice.  I’ve traveled the world, visited most states and lived in multiple cities on both coasts, but I choose to call the Texas Hill Country home.  The cowboy way of life is intoxicating.

The first time I drove into the small town of Bandera (population 859) and saw cowboys riding horses down Main Street I immediately fell in love.  Many towns in the Texas Hill Country region are predominately German in heritage and the people have strong work ethics, coupled with old fashioned common sense.

Manners count
. Cowboy Jerry Lee taught my sons to ride a horse and instilled them with the cowboy code: never cross over private fences, always speak the truth, respect your elders and respond with a yes Sir or no Ma’am.  Women are addressed by their first name, but always preceded with “Miss” even when married. 

Many children learn to shoot a gun at a very young age, some shooting their first deer as young as 5 years old.  Children are taught early to respect firearms.  My sons are boy scouts that are live the scout motto, “Be prepared”.  FFA and 4-H teach kids agricultural literacy in a world that has lost touch with how our food gets on the table.     

Momma knows best
.  Homeschooling has huge support from our local communities and state government.  You would be hard pressed to find a state with stronger support for parents who want to control their children’s education.  Although our public schools do require immunizations, parents can opt out by simply notarizing a one page affidavit.  

Most families attend church regularly and it’s common for couples to still be married to their high school sweethearts after decades of marriage.  I enjoy seeing three generations at a country rodeo dancing to western swing music under the stars and smile when the grandparents show the crowd that fifty years of marriage makes for a perfect two-step partnership.   

Ranching is a way of life here
.  Many family ranches have been passed down from generation to generation, but even that has become increasingly difficult.  Tough, loyal and devoted to family, most native Texans wouldn’t dream of living anywhere else and they truly believe this is God’s country. 

The majority of Texans are deeply conservative and Christian.  They want their guns, little government interference and hands off their property.  The state capital of Austin is where you’ll find most liberals and where the city’s motto “Keep Austin Weird” is practiced daily.

On our local hometown radio station they play the Pledge of Allegiance every morning and the Star Spangled Banner at noon.  Pretty cool huh?  The small town of Boerne’s siren goes off at noon as a not so gentle reminder from times past, letting everyone know its lunch time.  I lived five miles out of town and I could faintly hear it go off if I happened to be outside. 

Texas has taught me valuable life lessons that have helped me become better prepared.  First is location.  Although Texas is a large state, only Houston, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio have large metropolitan populations.  The remainder of the state is predominately rural, with most residents living in small rural towns.  After taking a leap of faith and moving my family to the country, I’m blessed to live a quiet, peaceful lifestyle.  I will never go back to the city. 

Ranches large and small are the backbone of rural communities.
  Make friends with your neighbors.  I’ve borrowed my neighbors’ tools, asked their advice on planting vegetables and one even fixed my broken gate without my asking.  That’s important stuff especially if the SHTF.  Always be kind too, get to know and help your neighbors just like the Bible says.

Learn to have different energy sources.
  Electricity, solar, wind and propane give us greater energy independence.  Not relying on the local electric provider for all our energy needs gives me greater peace of mind.  Also having a propane/gas cook stove lets me finish making dinner when the power goes off like it did three times last week.

To access ranches, most owners use solar panels for automatic gate openers and gate envy is pretty common here.  The problem with a fancy entrance is that it screams money, but old money taught me to be understated.  Ditto for the cool ranch name over the entrance gate to make property identification easier.  Low key folks use flags, fencing or reflectors to help friends discretely locate their property.

I know a wealthy Texas woman who owns an 8,000 acre ranch, with no ranch entrance identification and even a broken down gate.  The caliche (crushed limestone) driveway is better suited to a four wheel drive and it stays that way until the road is out of sight from the highway, which then flattens out and pulls up in front of a 15,000 square foot mansion.  Now that’s OPSEC.

Old timer’s love their pickups
.  Here the ultimate badge of honor is an old, beat up Ford truck that’s seen better days, but still runs.  What’s really cool is the old man driving that truck has more money than most people you will ever meet in your life!  Double OPSEC!

Fencing is important
.  It’s usually one of the first things done building a ranch.  Although barbed wire and T post are the norm across the country, high game fencing is predominate here.  If you have the money, galvanized metal piping and a 10 foot high perimeter fence makes it difficult for animals and trespassers alike to jump a game fence as well as provide perimeter security.  Cross fencing with helps rotational grazing. 
Those with limited funds can use a fence pole digger by hand, which is extremely tough in our famously rocky soil.  Texans also use plain old sticks when building fences, with a metal post and then three wood sticks.  We use what is abundant and they get the job done.     

Water is life
.  Water is the biggest asset any property can have and here it’s very valuable.  The price of land cost between $5,000 to $10,000 an acre, but it doubles with live water.  I’ve learned the hard way that when the electricity goes off, there is no water for drinking, washing and toilets that require electricity to run the water pump.  Get every know resource of water storage you can get your hands on: dirt tanks, cisterns, water tanks, 55 gallon drums, rainwater catchment systems, grey water and clean those used bottles to store household water.    

Ranchers use dirt tanks to water livestock, which is just a hole dug in the ground to capture rainwater runoff in a low part of the property.  Don’t dig past the hard pan or it will leak, so it’s best to use someone who has lots of experience.  This works well when you don’t have a well and power pump or can’t afford one.  A stock tank is a large metal container for watering livestock, which still needs some type of water source, typically a well and windmill.

Although springs are highly desirable, most properties are without water, which makes drilling a well crucial.  A cistern (open top) or water tank (closed top) acts as a reservoir to hold water.  Made of metal, plastic or concrete they hold the precious liquid from your well.  No Texan worth their salt drills a well without adding a water tank.  Texans also have lots of swimming pools, which can act as emergency water storage. 

Many homesteads still have their original working windmills that pump water to the house and livestock.  It’s not uncommon to find old, disassembled windmills on Craigslist and some could be had for a reasonable price or possibly your effort in taking it down. 

Oil is king in Texas
.  Few ranches don’t have an above ground gas tank and most have a diesel tank as well for trucks and equipment.  Having 500 or so gallons of fuel on hand is really out of everyday ranching necessity, but oh so smart in case of TEOTWAWKI.

Texas ranches are multi-generational
.  Typically ranches have more than one house on a property: a main house, guest house, ranch foreman’s house, bunk house, cabin and maybe an apartment in the barn is very common.  Most aren’t big or expensive.  This provides additional space for family members, ranch workers and guests.  It’s also valuable should the need arise to for banding together for protection.

Barns are useful for large gathering places.
  Party barns are great entertainment and I’ve seen pool tables, dart boards, washers and checkers in these outdoor rooms, none of which needs power.  Stables are typically metal frames and roofs made from kits.  Texans love their horses: cutting horses, trail riding, team roping, breeding horse, training horses, you name they ride it.

Ranches have many useful outbuildings.
  Our German immigrants knew that survival was more important than a fancy house so they built smoke houses to cure meat, well houses for water, chicken houses, tractor sheds, garages, storage sheds, horse barns, hay barns, black smith sheds and tool sheds to name a few.  This is still true today and a good ranch set up with ample barns will help secure your hard earned assets should the balloon ever go up.

Ride for the brand
.  In the old west, ranchers hired men to work their cattle and the cattle brand of the owner was who they gave their loyalty too.  The ranch owner also depended on those extra hands when trouble came knocking.  Today, many ranch hands have lived their whole lives on one property, with some like the King Ranch passing those ranch hand jobs down to the next generation.  Talk about loyalty.  This kind of security can’t be bought, but the next best thing is your family.  Living close to family makes a tighter bond than living far away. 

We don’t dial 911”.  Guns are a way of life here.  I’ve been to lots of ranches that have some sort of hidden gun room or secret cache where guns are stored.  Guns are everywhere.  Over a fireplace, in trucks, boots, bedrooms, barns, purses and even the outhouse (snakes of course).

Guns, guns and more guns
.  Every type of gun known to man is here to protect their family and property.  They also stockpile ammo.   A good rule is to honk first when driving up unexpectedly to a ranch so as not to spook anyone.  Watching those old cowboy movies gave me a good idea: use both hands when shooting guns.    

Without question Texas is a strong, vocal supporter of the Second Amendment and the NRA
.  Just check out their bumper stickers.  I saw a bumper sticker on a father of a teenage girl my son was checking out and it said “Guns don’t kill men, Daddy’s with pretty daughters do”

Growing gardens is tough here
.  Start with a mandatory 6 foot deer fence and build your raised beds because of the rocks.  Rain harvesting and gray water systems are slowly becoming more popular due to the drought.  Drip irrigation is the way to go.  Our long growing season is an added bonus. 

Architectural design is important
.  Ranch houses are typically one story, with wide eaves and deep porches to offset the harsh Texas sun.  Most are built with metal roofs, rock siding and tile floors that last for generations.  This greatly helps to cool down a home, while fans are in almost every room.  Tall ceilings, shutters and siting a home to take advantage of south eastern gulf winds help’s to offset demand for air-conditioning.  So does a tall glass of sweet tea.

Many small towns in the Texas Hill Country have a secret
.  Beneath our town’s main street are old tunnels that were built to protect settlers in case of Indian raids.  That makes me feel a little safer next time I shop for pickles knowing that if a nuclear bomb goes off my family can go underground.   

Texans love all kinds of horse powered transportation
.  Should an EMP attack render cars useless, they’ll get around riding their horses or driving their horse drawn carriages, buggy’s, hay wagons, chuck wagons and buck board wagons.  During the summer on country roads you can run into wagon trains filled with hundreds of people driving their wagons, which is an awesome sight to behold!  And yes they still ride their horses into town for a coke, hamburger and even a beer.

Alternative vehicles are a must
. Almost every ranch has at least one All-Terrain Vehicle or a truck with a big bumper grill, which is used to help stop damage to the engine if you hit a deer.  Heck, I’ve seen a new Cadillac with a huge bumper grill.  They could come in pretty handy during a Without Rule of Law situation.. 

Horse trailers, cattle trailers and utility trailers are all great survival tools
.  We use them all the time and I’ve learned how to haul them and back them up too.   (It’s pretty hard so it’s a really good thing to learn now rather than later)  Most horse trailers are nicer than some people’s homes, plus the added bonus is the ability to travel with your livestock and family under one roof.

Every cowboy knows that a rope is an important tool
.  Sure they can lasso a cow, but it serves so many other uses that it would be impossible to list.  Suffice to say that that’s one thing that you never can have enough of and I’ve been known to use my son’s lariat in a pinch to tie down furniture on the utility trailer. 

Hunting is different here versus other states
.  Deer blinds and corn feeder’s act as bait to lure deer close enough to the house to make an easy kill and butchering process.  I used to think that was cheating, but the older you get, the smarter this becomes.  A poor man’s lure is an old fashioned salt block.  Deer also love my chicken feed.

Ranchers are born entrepreneurs
.  It’s very tough today to make a living from ranching alone and that has forced most ranchers to have home based businesses.  Things I’ve seen them do to make a little side money are selling hay (if you don’t have the equipment, then split the hay fifty-fifty with someone who does). 

Selling firewood, cedar logs, tamales, tractor work and tilling gardens is common.  Everywhere you look is a small, roadside barbeque stand.  Game ranches make serious money allowing the paying public to shoot exotic animals that pay a rancher from $500 to over $10,000 per animal.

The women earn extra cash too
.  Many sell handcrafts, herbs and vegetables at the various farmers markets during the summer.  Quilts, antiques, farm fresh eggs and canned goods will always provide pocket change, but some are starting to build and install custom raised beds and set up vegetable gardens for those who lack the time and skills. 

Horseback rides at $75/hour per horse is one way for their keep, providing parking in your field for events and tube rentals on the areas many rivers are a fun way to boost a family’s income during the tourist season.  The bed and breakfast industry is a thriving business in the picturesque Hill Country.  Even a small cabin that rents nightly provides a nice extra income.  Some play guitar on an open mike night to help make ends meet.       

Ranchers use their bartering skills every day
.  My brother in-law trades broken industrial equipment given to him from an owner who wants to get rid of the “junk”.  He repairs it and then turns around and trades it for boats, cars and especially guns.  I’ve seen ranchers lease their grassland property to landless horse/cattle/goat owners for extra cash.  Some sell watermelons and other cash crops at roadside stands and many out of the back of a pickup truck.  The ideas are endless and all it takes is your imagination.

Foraging for wild food is fun
.  I’ve learned Texans are serious wild food foragers and last fall had to fight numerous other pickers for the pecan nuts that fell on country roads.  My acorn harvest was a bust and I learned not to store them in plastic because they ruin.  Prickly pear cactus grows wild here and is highly prized for making jam that has become a Texas tradition.

I want to touch upon food preps just a little
.  Although I’ve re-learned to can after forgetting this important survival skill my mother taught me as a young girl, one of the best new things I’ve learned is to manage my food storage.  The closest grocery store is 32 miles so I now buy my groceries monthly. 
Yes, I still run to town for bread and milk after a few weeks, distance has forced me to store at least a months’ worth of food, which is good in case of an emergency.  It also cuts down on buying unhealthy processed food, which is a way too easy an option when you are always in a grocery store. 

Many older women have taught me a surprise weapon
.  I’ve been taken aside to enlighten me on their secret recipe: cooking in cast iron pans.  Needless to say, I now cook almost exclusively with my own collection of cast iron that you can find in antique stores, garage sales, ranch supply stores and online.  My latest acquisition is a cute little cast iron cup with handle that holds 1 ½ cups, which is just right for melting butter for corn on the cob. 

Learn to cut out the poison
.  Less toxic, processed food means more scratch cooking, which is a must learn skill.  Even if you think you can’t, just try a few things and you’ll be surprised how easy it is to make food staples like homemade pancakes, biscuits and jam.  Now if only I can improve my aim and shoot a deer!  But like any country gal, I did the next best thing which is to learn how to process a deer. 

You just gotta love chickens
.  Although my family are cattle ranchers, without a doubt, chickens are the easiest livestock to begin with and just about every small town in Texas allows homeowners chickens.  Remember you don’t need a rooster for eggs, only if you want baby chicks.  Don’t forget to buy non-GMO feed and free range chickens are always best.  Now if only I can train them to lay eggs exactly where I can find them…

Texas women are natural born preppers
.  They love their bling.  Gold, diamonds, silver, you name it they wear it and all the time.   If SHTF, their bling-bling can be an immediate bartering tool.  Camouflage, boots and jeans are the norm here for women and it gives us an edge over business suits, high heels and designer clothes that aren’t made to last.      

Living in the country does have responsibilities.
  Most people I know are first responders and are volunteer fireman.  If you can’t afford the expensive communications devices, in exchange for your time each town outfits their guys with the latest and greatest gear.  Learning CPR and other medical know-how is the icing on the cake and it’s typically free.  Walkie-talkies are useful around home and gives you peach of mind having constant contact with the kids.  (Remember that cell phone service doesn’t always work in the country.) 

Smart ranchers use what nature gives them
.  Many an old timer has converted their cow manure into liquid fertilizer to boost their hay field production.  That’s a big deal when large round bales sell upwards of $100 dollars a bale.  I always ask my kids when we pass a freshly baled hay field “Now how much money is sitting in that field?”  Their answers are jaw dropping.
I know that without living in Texas I would never have been exposed to so many ways to ranch and homestead.  I read this article to my children who have been raised in Texas and they both said “Mom that’s not a story about prepping, that’s just the way Texans live.”  Out of the mouths of babes.

The education I’ve been given by the cowboys, ranchers and farmers who live here has shaped the person I am and my children as well.  And we’re better for it.  God bless America, God bless Texas and God bless all Patriots keeping the faith.



James,
Several years ago my family purchased an Amish farm in a settlement in southeast Ohio. I wanted to share a little about what we have learned because there are currently several Amish farms going on the market in our area which are not advertised anywhere. We are over two hours from any major city and nearly and hour from smaller ones. Our closest village is Woodsfield. We are in an area where Utica Shale is beginning to boom so the Amish are heading out, not wanting to be driving their buggies in the vicinity of big trucks, which I can understand.

In general the farm properties are a mix of woods and pasture. They have a large barn, outbuildings and outhouses, some have large workshops where they had sawmills. The houses are large. Ours is about 3000 SQ FT and is one of the smaller ones. This is definitely the place for someone who has a large family or many people to live together. Many have smaller guest houses. Ours has two. These were built for newly married children to spend their first years, or for grandparents to live. The homes have open floor plans because they needed to be able to have over a hundred people over when it was their turn to host "church." 

I have found that the open floor plans make heating with woodstoves very comfortable. The chimney are generally set up to have one wood stove in the big kitchen and another in the living room. Some have a opening in the ceiling over or near one of these stoves to allow the heat to travel straight up to the second floor.

These houses have big full basements, a ground floor with generally a master bedroom, kitchen, living room, dining area, and pantry. We converted our pantry into a bathroom after we had a septic tank installed. The outhouse is always there for backup and emergencies now.

The houses also have big porches. The clotheslines range from average T shapes posts to colossal 100' monsters connecting at pulleys in the trees. They uses older wringer washers that are run from a gas lawnmower type motor for laundry. The hot water for the wash is heated in a massive stainless steel, wood fired water heaters. They are generally available in Amish supply catalogs.

The Amish in our area are not allowed to use natural gas, so when we bought our place we ran gas lines in for gas stoves and heaters. One of the bonuses is that ours, and several of the available farms have functioning shallow natural gas wells on the property and you are allowed all of your residential gas for free. Even when the power is out we still have gas and water.

Water is generally from one of two possible sources. The first, like ours is from natural springs from the hillsides. We have a tank up at the spring which holds 1,500 gallons. and is piped down to the house and barns. Ours have never gone dry, even during the drought times. The other water sources for the farms is from drilled wells. The drilled wells in the Amish homes are powered by a small gas motor and pressure tank. There are also a lot of creeks, streams, ponds, etc everywhere out here so watering livestock is generally not an issue.

One of the big blessings is that everything grows. Gardening is amazing. You literally put the seed into the ground and God waters it and makes it grow. In the past five years I think that I have watered my vegetable garden twice. It is land truly blessed.

In the early spring just about everyone taps the maple trees on the farms and make syrup. Some of the farms make it as a business and produced hundreds of gallons every year at about $40/gal.

I have learned a lot from my Amish neighbors over the years. One thing I have learned is that they will also be impacted in the SHTF scenarios because of their dependence on gas motors and things of that nature, but they will get by. They have a strong sense of community and will work together, which I jealously admire as an English outsider.

I just wanted to let you and your readers know that this because with so many nice farms going up for sale at once it is a great time to be able to have the choice between them. Unfortunately you would really need to make the trip down to see them all in person because they are, after all, Amish. - H.M.


Tuesday, July 9, 2013


Several new laws have been enacted in Wyoming. Among others: You can speed while passing

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Reader M.J. told me about a great new product that is made in Columbia Falls, Montana. It is a new fly trap called the FlyStop, with a very clever design. It has a suction cup to attach it to windows (where flies are naturally attracted, by light.) Notably, it can be effectively used with or without attractants.

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Idaho House Unanimously Passes ‘Enhanced’ Concealed Carry Bill

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Someone did a nice job of putting some "Big Sky Country" photos to this classic Merle Haggard song: Big City ("Somewhere in the Middle of Montana.") Thanks to John D. in Montana for the link.

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A Redoubt, no doubt: A State Divided: As Washington Becomes More Liberal, Republicans Push Back--New liberal laws and a new senate coalition illustrate the stark east-west divide in Washington state

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One-in-five Americans are whistling Dixie on state secession


Tuesday, July 2, 2013


Bill Jasper of The New American reports: Victory (Temporarily) in Round 1 for Property Rights in Kootenai County, Idaho

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Dissent Festers in States That Obama Seems to Have Forgotten. (Note the high correlation with the map of the American Redoubt. Yes, BHO has visited Oregon and Washington, but as I recall only to a few big cities in their populous western halves.)

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J.M. wrote to mention that it is not just Weld County, Colorado that is seeking statehood. "Weld, Morgan, Logan, Sedgwick, Philips, Yuma, Kit Carson Washington are all seeking partition.. A number of county supervisors in other Colorado counties have expressed interest but have not committed to the cause.

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In April, Montana House Bill 304 was vetoed by the state's new Governor, Steve Bullock, who is a Democrat. This bill would have made concealed carry legal inside of city limits without a permit. Currently, permitless concealed carry is only legal outside of city limits, which I presume is about 98% of Montana's land area. (Montana is 147,042 square miles but has just 6.86 people per square mile, making Montana the 48th most densely populated state in the Union.) At least open carry is legal statewide, both outside and inside of city limits. A similar bill was passed by the Montana legislature in 2011 but was vetoed by Bullock's predecessor, Governor Brian Schweitzer, who is also a Democrat. The latest word from the capitol: A veto-proof majority could not be gathered, so the Constitutional Carry quest is essentially dead in Montana until 2015. (Their legislature only convenes in alternating years.) In my opinion Montana's governor should have followed Wyoming's lead on this issue.

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On Saturday, July 20th there will be a renewable energy fair in Butte, Montana, at the NCAT building. 

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A new TTabs flying video, shows him in his zippy new yellow trike flying over and around Steptoe Butte, in Eastern Washington: Shades of Green. It ends with a nice triple touch and go. The pilot formerly flew jets off of aircraft carriers, and his flying skills are apparent in all of his videos.


Friday, June 28, 2013


The intention of this article is to share with you how we decided on a homestead location and how we intend to get there. There are many ways to skin a cat. Whether it's a hidey-hole in Id-e-ho or a farm in Oklahoma, the choice you pick for a homestead is as uniquely independent as the DNA in your body. Take the time to think it through and you won't be disappointed. We said several prayers and asked for guidance. Contact Todd Savage of Survival Retreat Consulting if you still need additional help after reading this submission. I'm sure he can give you several solid pointers.

Our America is changing and it isn't looking pretty. Constitutional rights are disappearing, school education is lagging, and the Almighty dollar is all but a joke. Illegal immigration, lawsuit-happy money grabbers, GMO mega corporations, half the country on some form of welfare...where does it end? 
For our family, it ends now. Thanks to Obama care, one of the two hospitals in my company's organization closed their doors permanently last month (May, 2013). Now, our smaller rural hospital has been gobbled up in a corporate buyout. I was informed that I no longer had a job...over the phone on a Friday afternoon...while visiting Oklahoma for my Grandmother's funeral.

Thus begins our journey to relocate to the country and take care of our family ourselves. No more traffic, smog, insane crime rates, grocery store dependency, bottom of the barrel public schools...and the list goes on and on. As the Robertsons (from Duck Dynasty)would say: "WE GONE!"

As we debated how we could attain our ultimate goal of becoming self-sufficient on our own homestead, there appeared to be four clearly distinct barriers we had to overcome.

  • First, what would be our final homestead location?
  • Second, how would we sustain ourselves when we arrived at our new home?
  • Third, how would we physically get our family and our assets to the homestead location?
  • Fourth, what type of home would be the best homestead building?

These were the four major decisions that were crucial to our plan but each had several smaller factors that had to be sifted out. Once we determined the major obstacles, we sat down and went through each obstacle and picked it apart. Each major hurdle became its own independent topic of discussion. By making a step by step plan to overcome each major hurdle, we were able to break down what seemed to be a huge difficult task into many small manageable tasks. Being an Indiana Jones fan and sharing the same last name, I declared each of the four major issues my own quest for the Holy Grail or "Chalice."

The First Chalice
The first Chalice is choosing a homestead location. If you have a place already in mind then congratulations! This is one of the toughest decisions to settle on.  For Wifey and me, deciding where we wanted to raise our six daughters and spend the rest of our lives was not so clear cut. I had read James Rawles thoughts on the American Redoubt and also purchased Joel Skousen's Strategic Relocation--North American Guide to Safe Places, 3rd Edition.  Both of these highly recommended resources will arm you with the information necessary to intelligently decide on a homestead location based on crucial data such as population density, potential disaster fallout, military targets, maps of private and public land use, satellite  terrain (including highways, surface streets and trails for bugout purposes), and why you should vote with your feet. Remember, if you can’t afford Skousen’s book, check it out from your local library.

While we desired a homestead in the American Redoubt, we have no family or close friends there.  Arguable by some folks I’m sure, we feel community is crucial to survival.  Can we go it alone…sure. Should we? It wouldn’t be smart. So we chose an uninhabited old family farm in Oklahoma where we had a large number of family members and a few (but very solid) friends. With a storm shelter in place, we will be safe from tornadoes with our only major concern being possible long term drought.  A few well-placed deep wells and massive water storage is in our future plans. With permission to live on the family farm complete, the first Chalice had been secured.

The Second Chalice

The second Chalice in obtaining our homesteading Holy Grail was to secure income producing employment near our homestead location. We have every intention of becoming 100% self-sufficient in time but in the beginning of our journey we agreed that we should have a means by which to pay our monthly bills without fear of failure. There would be no moving to our homestead until this income was established.  With this in mind, I laid out a plan to find a job within thirty minutes of our location in an attempt to minimize gasoline expenses and travel time. Obviously, the closer the job is to the homestead, the higher the savings in time and money. Your results will depend on your comfort zone. If I owned a moped or motorcycle, perhaps I would be willing to drive a little further for employment.

There are several ways to search for employment and in today’s digital age, I think it is somewhat easier to find potential employers. I started with the usual job search engines: Monster, Jobing, CareerBuilders, and Indeed.  Knowing your desired field is not necessary but very helpful.  I am trained in healthcare and pursued that avenue but you could just as easily search “all jobs” in your desired location. Make sure your resume is up-to-date because applying for jobs in another state means your resume may be the first thing a potential employer sees of you.  Get a friend to help you or research the topic on the internet if necessary. The resume is there to sell your skills. Don’t slack on this step.

Another method of finding jobs in your chosen homestead location is to use Google Maps (or similar mapping system) to pinpoint business in your designated area. If you are a diesel mechanic who has chosen Nampa, Idaho for your homestead location, for example, you can go to Google Maps and search for “diesel mechanic  Nampa, Id” and see the results.  This gives you a handful of diesel mechanic shops in your desired area complete with address and contact information.  Google the names of their companies and search out a little individually specific information on each one before you call. A quick search tells me that Tim’s Auto Repair and Service in Nampa employs “ASE certified techs” and is” B+ rated with the Better Business Bureau”.” Family owned and operated” while being closed on weekends gives you four arrows in your quiver when aiming for a job with them. They should be impressed that you took the time to research the company.

The approach I took to land my job was a little different. Since my job would be in a hospital, I search for the local hospitals near my homestead location. I chose one particular hospital and went to LinkedIn.  I won’t go into the details of LinkedIn here but suffice it to say it is similar to an online resume forum. People sign up and post their resumes on their profile page and make connections to other people in hopes of building a strong job “network”.  The more people you are connected to, the easier it is to find help when you need it (much like the community concept of homesteading.)

Since I knew the name of the hospital I was seeking employment from, I did a search on LinkedIn using that exact hospital’s name. This search gave me a list of all the members of LinkedIn whom had listed my specific hospital as their employer on their public resume.  A quick scroll through the list and I was able to find a nurse who worked at this hospital. LinkedIn gives you the ability, with a general (free) membership, to send “invites” to folks and ask them if they would like to connect with you. I invited this nurse to connect and she accepted. I now had a connection to an employee inside the hospital where I wanted to work.

As we previously talked about searching the Internet for information on a potential job, you can also do the same thing regarding a person. It helps to have topics of common interest to discuss when establishing a new relationship. On a previous interview, I researched my interviewers name and found out he was Native American, a member of a particular tribal organization and enjoyed running. Again, this information puts arrows in your quiver when shooting to make a good impression on your potential employer. I mentioned to my new nurse connection that I had recently been in her small town for a family funeral. Turns out she grew up in that town and knew my extended family. This was the arrow that ultimately helped me land a job at my desired location. Having a well-made resume also helped.

Using both a telephone interview (initially) and a Skype interview, my interviewer was able to visualize me and ask me questions without me ever leaving Arizona. Phone interviews are common but some employers, like mine, was not comfortable hiring a new employee “sight unseen”.  I recommended Skype and his I.T. department set it up. It wasn’t flawless but it kept me from having to fly 1,000 miles for an interview…and it worked.

Wifey and I decided it was best for me to go ahead for one month and check out the new job and location. Once I am able to determine the job is stable, I begin to research local churches, Mason lodges (my daughters are active in Job’s Daughters), potential schools (if we don’t homeschool immediately), and other factors which will affect us directly. I am now the family pointman.

The Third Chalice

The third Chalice involves how to move an entire family 1,000 miles to our new homestead. We are in this phase of the challenge right now. We have begun by having garage sales to eliminate unnecessary items. Items we are unable to sell but are worthy of donation will go to Goodwill thrift store. The rest goes to the local landfill.  The remaining items to be kept will be boxed up and labeled for transport via U-Haul truck.

As one commenter mentioned on my blog, you can reserve a U-Haul truck for a future date and this will lock in the price you pay. The price increases the closer you get to your scheduled date so lock in your price as soon as you find out that you need a truck. U-Haul allows you to reschedule your dates an unlimited amount of times with no fees. You can also negotiate a free month of storage at your destination location if you reserve your truck on the phone with a customer service representative. My cost to move 1,000 miles was roughly $1,100 for their largest truck. Their web site says it will hold belongings for a four bedroom house which is what we have. So, I have set my goal for moving expenses to be $2,000 and hope that will cover gasoline and some miscellaneous expenses.

I began visiting our local Wal-Mart for boxes and found they had a large supply every morning. It became a part of my morning routine to stop by and pick up as many as possible before I left for Oklahoma. Wifey continues that tradition now and is easily obtaining enough sturdy boxes (with handles!) to pack up the house. Each teenager is in charge of packing their own belongings and helping mom pack up the toddlers. Our goal is to be ready to move in roughly one month from the time I left for Oklahoma. With the help of my new coworkers, I will trade some shifts around and arrange for one week off to return to Arizona and begin the arduous chore of packing it all up in the truck and driving it to Oklahoma.

Again, how you move your family is unique to you. I am simply sharing how we are doing it as an example. Some folks suggested using coupons to get the best rental truck deal. I have an enclosed 6x12’ trailer and hauled a good chunk of my stuff and some bulky items out to Oklahoma during my initial visit to save some of the precious (read: more expensive) cargo space on our future U-Haul truck. Bulky items that take up space like our bicycles, table saw, chicken coop, etc. I rationalized that I was already making the trip, why not bring as much with me as possible to lighten the final load.  Don’t forget the power of friends when it comes time to pack it all up. We’ll be requesting the help of our church members when the time comes to leave our old house. It will be a sad but joyous occasion.

The Fourth Chalice

The fourth Chalice encompasses the task of figuring out what type of structure you want to homestead. If your location already has a structure large enough for your family, congratulations! You’re done. Our farm does not have such a building and I suspect some folks undergoing this relocation will be purchasing raw land or land with no structures.  In this case you have several options.

You can live with family or friends while you establish a structure or rent a nearby home. One commenter on my blog wrote that he and his family actually camped at their homestead for a year. He said the kids loved it. That allowed them to save up the money they needed to build their homestead. You can use a travel trailer or place a mobile home on the property while you build. Take your time and research your options.  If you can build something yourself while you stay in a travel trailer, more power to you!  

One of my mentors has been the videoblogger Wranglerstar and you can see how he began his homestead here.  If it is truly your dream, you can make it happen. Feel free to stop by my blog to share your homestead story or ask questions. I’ll have more to share on this last Chalice as our time to choose a building gets closer. Thanks to everyone who has participated in the blog comments and a big thank you to Captain Rawles and Wranglerstar for leading the way for the rest of us. - Orange Jeep Dad


Tuesday, June 25, 2013


RBS sent: Groups offer reward for info on missing grizzly. I'd give that less chance than a murder investigation in the city of Boston, where 6 out of 10 murder cases go unsolved. Apparently some Bostonians know how to keep their mouths shut. Ditto for ranchers in Idaho and Montana, where "Shoot, Shovel and Shut up" is a commonly-heard phrase.

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Nate's New York Pizza, in Post Falls, Idaho deserves your business. Great folks. They are one of the sponsors of the upcoming Patriots and Self-Reliance Rally at Farragut State Park, near Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, July 26, 27 & 28, 2013.

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Mountainview Off Grid Living in Nampa, Idaho now sells Calico Forge Knives made by a U.S. military veteran who is also in Nampa.

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Montana has enacted a law that bans GPS tracking without a warrant.

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Illegal Alien in U.S. Map. (As usual, the American Redoubt ranks quite well.)


Tuesday, June 18, 2013


The ultimate in politically incorrect ammo: Jihawg. (Made in Idaho, of course.)

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I recently watched a few episodes of the murder mystery television show Longmire, via Netflix. The show is supposedly set in Wyoming. But the timber just didn't look right to me. So I did some checking and it turns out that they actually film the show in and around Las Vegas, New Mexico. (Coincidentally, the same town where the original Red Dawn movie was filmed.) And I learned that the leading man (Robert Taylor) is actually an Aussie! (His American accent is flawless.)

FWIW, I think that Wyoming was a very unrealistic choice for a murder mystery show locale. In just the first season of Longmire there were something like 14 murders in the fictional "Absaroka County." Talk about a crime spike! If that happened in my county, then I'd be living in undiluted mortal fear. In reality, Wyoming's murder rate bounces around 2 people per 100,000 per year. In 2011, for example, there were only 11 people murdered statewide--and that in a state with only 568,000 residents. (By the way, just a couple of double homicides thoroughly skews the statistics for some years.) Well, do the math! Absaroka County must a have a murder rate more like Chicago than Cheyenne. If they were making realistic television, then Wyoming would be much better suited to a "mailbox vandalism mystery show" or better yet, a "unsolicited zucchini delivery mystery show."

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WSU starts sperm bank for honeybees. (Thanks to RBS for the link.)

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Saturday, June 22nd, the Sustainable Business Council is sponsoring their Garden City Localfest at Caras Park in Missoula, Montana from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.. 

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Idahoans file lawsuit against Oregon fruit company

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If you want to get some serious pepper spray, then consider Counter Assault, which is made in Kalispell, Montana.


Monday, June 17, 2013


Todd Savage of Survival Retreat Consulting is developing two secure storage projects in the American Redoubt--one in north Idaho and one in Northwestern Montana. The facilities will give private members access to several storage options to store their preparedness gear until they can relocate. The undisclosed locations will feature various sizes of climate controlled vaults and safe rooms, featuring underground bunker construction and redundant security features. These facility can eliminate a prepper's quandary: having all their crucial preps stored in one location with no ability to move it to their safe haven quickly.

A retrofitted facility should be available for occupancy in September of 2013 and a larger newly-constructed facility should be available for storage in August of 2014. These facilities will be bonded. For security reasons, the exact locations of the facilities will only be revealed to clients once they have signed a contract. These high end security and climate-controlled units will cost more monthly than typical commercial storage spaces. (Which are typically not climate controlled and offer only marginal security in locations that are widely known to the public.)

If you have interest in short or long term secure storage options for some of your gear, then please contact Todd Savage through his web site. 


Tuesday, June 11, 2013


Hello Mr. Rawles, 
As an avid reader of your blog I felt compelled to send this email. I noticed again in your Sunday blog that your telling people to not register there firearms. While that may be easy advise for someone living in a free state, those of us who can't relocate due to various reasons and live in Progressive hell holes like myself (in Connecticut) find that advise to be very dangerous. If you do not register your firearms here and get caught with them after our new unconstitutional new "laws" go into effect, it's a class "D" felony and means at least two years jail time for the unlucky Citizen. I have already removed my firearms to a free state as I WILL NOT COMPLY to their unconstitutional 'laws'. [Here in Connecticut] I now only have an [exempt pre-1899] antique Colt .45 and a shotgun (per Joe Biden's advice) that is not required to be registered, well at least not yet.

Yes, we do plan on moving but are unable to do so before these unconstitutional laws take effect. So, please consider the legal issues many will have to deal with if caught with these "now" illegal weapons before offering advise that may well get them thrown in jail for years for not bowing down to the state. We Citizens already have enough to worry about living in these Progressive hell holes. Thank you sir for your time. - Kenneth B.

JWR Replies:  You are correct. Drawing the line on noncompliance is a personal decision that cannot be dictated by an outsider. My apologies for speaking in absolutes, from the perspective of someone who lives in a relatively free state. There are indeed a variety of viable strategies for noncompliance with unconstitutional laws. For many, the best solution is to vote with your feet, thereby removing yourself from intolerable regulations. But in my opinion just evacuating your guns from the state where you live is a stopgap solution, at best. It leaves you without access to the best tools that you may need to fight for life, property, and liberty.

We must recognize that in our generation there might come a day with no remaining avenue of escape. State laws can be avoiding simply by moving, but what of unconstitutional Federal laws? At that point we will have no choice but to rebel against tyranny. (Since the alternative would be to live as little better than bleating sheep.) When we reach that juncture I doubt that I will advocate expatriation. Most foreign lands have less freedom than we enjoy here in these United States. I don't think that I will find some ideal "bolt hole" nation with more firearms freedom, better banking privacy, a more positive business climate, lower taxes, full religious freedom, unimpeded personal property rights, fair courts, and assured freedom of speech.

If I must die, then I will do so here in America, fully armed and facing my oppressors. I won't die in some ditch, begging for mercy.



Ministry Opportunities in The American Redoubt

Several readers have written to mention these current ministry opportunities in the American Redoubt region. Pray hard! One of these might be the right fit for you, by God's providence.

Idaho:

Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood in Ketchum, Idaho has a Youth Director opening, Full-time. E-mail your resume to: office@pcbw.org or mail it to PCBW, P.O. Box 660, Ketchum ID, 83340.

First Presbyterian Church Coeur d’Alene, Idaho has an opening for a Director of Children and Family Ministries. E-mail: office@cdafirstpres.org.

Woodland Friends Church, near Kamiah, Idaho is seeking a pastor. (Originally a Quaker church, but it is now essentially non-denominational.)


Montana:

Corvallis Community Church is seeking a part-time youth pastor. For more information or to submit a resume email to: youthpastorsearch@corvalliscc.org.

Camp Bighorn, a Christian adventure camp near Plains, Montana is looking for help in their Guest Services department: a cook and also someone to help manage their facilities (cabins/dorms/lodge.) Phone: 406-826-3144. These are unpaid positions. Volunteers must raise their own support.

Three Lakes Community Bible Church in Troy, Montana is seeking a full-time pastor. (Salaried.)

Camp Elohim, near Troy, Montana is looking for a full-time facilities maintenance man. (No salary, but room and board provided.)

Eastern Oregon:

Pendleton Young Life is seeking an Area Director who will also serve half-time as the youth pastor for the local Church of God as part of a church alliance, in Pendleton, Oregon. Please send your resume and Field Ministry Application to Ken Purnell via e-mail: atkkpurnell@centurytel.net

Eastern Washington:

Pomeroy Church of the Nazarene has a Youth/Worship Pastor opening, full-time. Mail: 135 9th Street, Pomeroy, Washington 99347 or phone: (509) 843-1075

Liberty Lake Church (Evangelical Free) is seeking a Lead Pastor.

First Baptist Church, in Othello, Washington has a part time youth pastor opening. Contact: Dawn Douglas at: (509) 318-6186

Wyoming:

Trinity Baptist Church in Laramie, Wyoming, is seeking a full-time pastor.

Grace Chapel Community Church in Worland, Wyoming, is looking or a full-time Worship Leader, Salary: $20,000 - $25,000. See web site or call Pastor Louie @ 307-431-6356


Tuesday, June 4, 2013


Check out this custom knifemaker in Lewistown, Montana: Black Wolf Armory. Amazing quality.

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Reader R.B.S. sent: Hydropower from ag ditches pushed in Congress

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Some Idaho news: Ysursa says firearms lobbying dustup resolved

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AR-maker Nemo Arms (in Kalispell, Montana) reports that they are expecting to book sales between $5 million and $10 million in 2013.

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I'd like to publicize current ministry opportunities in the American Redoubt. If you know of an open pulpit or any other full or part-time ministry opportunities in the Redoubt region, then please e-mail me the details, and a I will spread the word.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013


Quite the confab! I heard that Freeze Dry Guy, the staff of the Paratus Familia blog, Chris Walsh of Revolutionary Realty, Joe Snuffy (author of Suburban Survival: Preparing for Socio-Economic Collapse) and John Jacob Schmidt of Radio Free Redoubt will all have tables or booths at the upcoming Patriots and Self-Reliance Rally at Farragut State Park, near Coeur d'Alene, Idaho on July 26, 27 & 28, 2013. Among the many speakers will be three names that should be familiar to SurvivalBlog readers: Pastor Chuck Baldwin, Stewart Rhodes (of Oath Keepers), and Cope Reynolds of Southwest Shooting Authority. (Cope was one of the locale advisors for my novel Survivors. And you may recall that I've previously mentioned in the blog that he does fantastic Glock grip reduction/stippling work and that he makes a nifty Glock dry fire-only safety training trigger. )

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Wyoming gets gun company attention

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Folks in southern Idaho should mark your calendars for the 3rd Idaho Liberty Summit, August 16th and 17th, 2013 at the Best Western Plus Burley Inn & Convention Center, in Burley, Idaho at exit 208 off I-84. The speakers will include Sheriff Richard Mack, Larry Pratt of GOA, Dr. Duke Pesta (speaking about the Common Core Standards for education), Rep. Ken Ivory of the American Lands Council, and
Wayne Hoffman of the Idaho Freedom Foundation. Registration for the Summit is $50 per person on Saturday, August 17th, and includes lunch.  Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. and Speakers begin at 9:00 a.m. and end at 5:00 pm.  For further details, see the TeaPartyBoise web site.

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This company in Sandpoint, Idaho recently made some headlines: Intelliscope Announces Tactical Rifle Adaptor and iOS App. (Thanks to Tom L. for the link.)

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I heard about an ammunition manufacturer in Montana dedicated to providing ammo to private citizens: Patriot Firearms and Munitions. They do not sell to any government agencies. Because they make their own jacketed bullets they are not as dependent on third party suppliers as most other ammo makers. Not only do they sell re-manufactured and new ammo, they also have a program where clients send them their brass and they recondition, clean, process and reload it for them. This save customers money because they do not have to pay for the brass (because it’s theirs) and it eliminates the 11% Federal Excise tax that otherwise levied on ammunition at the manufacturer level and then passed on to end purchasers as a hidden tax.

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The Terror Cartel Strikes in Idaho.

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Apparently, it is true what they say about people who use the Comic Sans font: An American Redoubt coin being sold for $3,800. Idealistischen träumen!

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Some great eastern Washington scenery is shown in the latest Ttabs flying video: Coming Up For Air. (OBTW, it appears that he does not yet have a full set of cameras mounted on his new kite -- an Air Creation 100 horsepower Tanarg. His videos will surely get better and better.)


Friday, May 24, 2013


I’ve always considered myself and my family extremely blessed.  I also am a firm believer that God expects you to make the most out of what you have.  God gave me a wonderful wife and 3 healthy, strong boys.  We are a hard working family who have always had goals and planned well for the future.  We even had a bug-out plan when not many other folks even talked about such things.  Our world took a drastic turn a little over a year ago when my oldest son was injured in a high school wrestling accident.  In the blink of an eye my son became a C4C5 quadriplegic.  After about three months reality began to sit in and we had to start planning for a greatly altered future.  One night I began to think about our bug-out plan and it became obvious for a plethora of reasons that we couldn’t just grab our stuff and head out.  At this point I began to harden our existing home.  Fortunately we live in a very rural neighborhood with like-minded people around us.  There is nothing about us that calls attention to ourselves or screams prepper.  We just go about business as usual and quietly prepare.  Here is what we have done and are in the process of doing to make our house a handicapped assessable fortress.

I must preface this article by saying that we are not a wealthy family with an unlimited budget.  We are just a dual income family that has always saved for the future.  Most of what I will describe came together very quickly because we sold a property that was not handicapped assessable and opted to put that extra money in our now primary and only home.  I hope that what I’m about to share will help others who want to prepare and have a handicapped family member.  We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel.  I do realize that we are doing many things that other individuals have done and are doing, but, I will give you a unique perspective from a handicapped assessable point of view.  The first thing I learned was that you really do need to commit to live where you will hunker down.  Everything that you want or need will be with you all the time and you will never have to decide what to take and what to leave behind in an emergency situation.  I also found it easier from a financial stand point since I was putting money into one place.  So, with that being said, here is our home and retreat.  

Our house is a one level all brick home on a full basement with one step to get in the front door and a nice smooth slope with no steps down to the drive and basement.  Talk about handicapped ready before we even arrived!  Doors will be your first challenge.  They have to be widened to allow wheel chair access.  Use this opportunity to really fortify all those exterior entries.  Nobody will question you at all in this situation so here is your opportunity to go a little crazy.  I do suggest that you limit the amount of glass and beef these doors up to take a slug.  You can justify this by saying that the door may take a beating from the wheel chair and if it is a power chair it will definitely take a few good licks early in the game.  At the very least you need a very heavy wooden door with some kind of cross support.  Install a strike plate which would deflect and distribute the force of a blow along with reinforced hinges.  Go ahead and widen every single doorway inside the house.  You won’t regret it.  It will be easier for everybody to move around, I promise.  Eventually your injured family member will need access to the entire house and it is an opportunity to reinforce the interior a little as well.  Get rid of all carpet.  Wheel chairs don’t like carpet and it’s hard to keep clean.  Hard wood is an excellent choice for all rooms and no lip at any door.  Let’s talk wheelchair for a second.  Make sure you have a high quality manual push chair as a back-up if not your primary chair.  Charging a motorized chair could be an issue when there is no power to count on.  Opt for solid wheels rather than air so that you don’t have to worry about flat tires.  Air will give you a better ride though.

The next modifications made were in my son's living area which is in our finished basement.  These changes in particular are aimed at handicapped individuals but have made maintenance and livability much easier for everyone.  All carpet and tile was torn out so that we had raw concrete.  The concrete was then polished, stained, and sealed.  It’s beautiful and very easy to clean as well as super tough and durable.  Also worth mentioning is his bathroom.  We took out a wall and increased the area from existing closet space and constructed him a huge roll in shower.  The shower is now roughly a 10 foot by 10 foot area.  It’s overkill but, maneuverability is an important issue.

Surveillance was something that we put our money into soon after getting our son home.  We invested in both indoor and outdoor cameras.  We can’t be with our son at every moment, so, we can always check on him and his care person at any time and any place.  All of our cameras are tied into our alarm system and we can monitor with our phone 24/7 by video monitor at home.  These cameras will help as our son begins to gain some independence and in crunch time they may save your life by giving you a view of exactly what is going on outside without placing someone in a potentially dangerous situation.  We did opt for infrared cameras outside which give you an incredible view in the dark.

An all metal roof is nice but, you may have to put a few other changes first.  If you don’t have gutters, get them!  Rain water is your friend.  If possible, install underground tanks to catch all the rain off your roof.  I learned this trick from a Cajun that I duck hunt with.  He has a camp built on a barge that catches rain water in 2 tanks that each holds a thousand gallons.  If you treat your water with swimming pool chlorine and use your water wisely, you should have plenty of usable water at all times.  I have been shocked at how well this works at his camp.  I’m going to us a 1,000 gallon holding tank.  Putting it in will spur a few questions but, explaining that you have drainage issues and you also intend to irrigate with it should explain it all away.  It has also come to my attention that in some cities you must have a permit to catch rain water off your roof.  This is crazy, but some regulations in a few places say you are not allowed to change the natural flow of water, even if that is off your roof.  In my opinion this is government over reaching its bounds again.  If you’re worried about this it is easy to check.  We did, and all is fine.   We will pump the water with electric pumps that can also work with our back-up power system which I will discuss later in this article.  We use about 6,000 gallons of water each month and in crunch time this could be greatly reduced.  We get plenty of rain throughout the year here in the South, so we should be able to keep our tank rather full.  For now, we are picking out the most practical placement for this tank and with a little luck it will be catching water by June of this year.  Initially we will just use our tanks for watering and car washing.  This water will be perfect to use for washing and bathing as is.  It should be run through a filter system before drinking and cooking.   Another great thing about the underground tank method is that people will never realize that you have plenty of water.  We also store water in many other various containers. 

My next suggestion concerning water will be a little complicated, but this fix will hopefully make your septic system more trouble free.  An inspector will not allow you to do this but, route your black water (toilet) to the septic tank.  Re-route your waste water (gray) out to a run off to catch it for reuse.  If you plan ahead for this, when the mess hits the fan, all you will need to do is twist a few levers and you are on a black/gray system.  If you think about it, your home just became similar to a giant camper with a fresh water holding tank, black tank, and a gray tank.

Let’s talk about energy independence and some practical modifications that I have made and will be making very soon.  Solar energy is a strong and lasting option.  You will need a good supply of sunshine though.  Our house is situated so that we get full sunlight on our house from sunrise until sunset.  Did God know that we would need this place or what!!  The system that we are planning to install produces enough energy that we can meet all our needs and feed back into the power grid for credit should we so choose.  We will have a battery system for night time power and use the grid if necessary.  Batteries are not great power sources like the sun but, they can keep you a fair supply of emergency power.  Should the grid go down, we hope it won’t faze us too bad.  This does come with a strong price tag!  Depending on your choice of set-up and needs, the price can range from $15,000-$30,000.  This will be our most expensive prep.  The good news is that you can take advantage of some tax credits by going solar.  I know that is a lot of money, but, over the span of a few years the system will help pay for itself through energy savings and increasing the value and marketability of your home.  It will be worth every penny the first time you lose power for any extended period of time and when the mess hits the fan, this system will be priceless.  Don’t forget, we have a quadriplegic that has more needs to meet than for the average person.  Thank goodness he is not respirator dependent, but, that need could be met if it were ever necessary.  We are working out the logistics for a 10KW system to be installed before summer.   We also keep a 7,500 watt generator on hand with 60 gallons of stabilized gas close by. (Yes, I know that this is not enough fuel. We are making arrangements for a larger and better storage system.)   Other electrical needs are met with an abundance of rechargeable batteries and the small backpack solar chargers.  The most important modification that we made to our house was done well before we started preparing for a hunkering down situation.  We installed lightning rods on our home.  We have been hit twice over the past few years and lost television s and other electrical items.  In crunch time, this would be a devastating blow.  Get your house grounded by a professional.  Take every step to make your shelter safe and energy independent.  We are quickly moving toward energy independence.  You should be too!

Windows are a weak link in all homes.  Ours are tied into an alarm system.  In crunch time my suggestion here is to have diamond plate sheets on hand to place over certain select windows (I’m not talking about aluminum).  You can find them in many different gauges to meet your personal needs.  I do suggest that you get them in a flat black or brown color.  They can easily be bolted on in times of emergency and to be honest, in severe weather outbreaks, they are rather handy.  Can they stop a bullet?  Yes.  A heavy gauge will offer sufficient protection from almost any projectile that you will encounter.  If a tank rolls into your neighborhood, it’s not going to matter what you have up.  Is this perfect?  No.  But I guarantee you that a looter won’t crawl in a window or shoot you from the street.  This leads me right to my next change.  We will be adding a wood burning stove in our basement kitchen for heating and cooking purposes.  It will be vented out an existing window which will now be closed and sealed off.  That’s one less window to worry about.  Also, consider adding a kitchen in your basement.  We added a small kitchen to our basement when we made modifications to our home for our son.  His area is the basement and the kitchen actually makes him feel like the basement is his own place.  You never know when you may have to stay in your basement for extended periods of time due to a Biological/Chemical hazard or some other fallout.  A good underground basement offers nice protection and can be sealed fairly tight.  Also, our basement has a fully furnished and well equipped wine cellar.  Homemade wine will be an excellent trade/barter item when some stability is returned to society.  A simple hobby now could turn into a nice profession one day.  Also, the temperature of the cellar makes it easy to store other items should it ever become necessary.

Now, let’s discuss a few personal needs.  These next few comments are especially for those hunkering down with someone who has a spinal cord injury but, can be helpful to the able bodied individual as well.  You must have a rock solid plan for bowel and bladder needs.  I won’t elaborate.  You are familiar with your loved one’s needs better than anyone else.  This is priority number one.  Next is skin care, which must become second nature.  A pressure sore could easily be fatal.  Remember, there won’t be deliveries and replacements for medical supplies for a long time (if ever).You must learn to conserve and reuse as well as clean and sterilize material.  It’s defiantly tough to consider, but, you better learn how to put an indwelling foley catheter in your family member just in case something happens and intermittent catheterization is not practical.  I suggest you obtain a large amount of cranberry supplements for your injured family member.  It will help a little in the prevention of a urinary tract infection.  Many spinal cord injury patients die from urinary tract infections long after their injury, so be careful.  I should also mention that individuals with high spinal cord injuries have trouble with blood pressure and lose the ability to regulate their body temperature.  Blood pressure medicine may be hard to get or even impossible.  You should stock up with many extra pair of ted hose and abdominal binders.  These will help push the blood back toward the heart.  Familiarize yourself with the signs of dysreflexia and be prepared to treat it immediately.  This is a sudden and huge increase in blood pressure usually caused by some type of irritation or something that would be painful to the able bodied person.  You must locate this problem and correct it immediately.  Your family member can die from this if not corrected quickly.  Your doctor should have prepared you for this.  Our family is lucky.  My wife is a family nurse practitioner so she is highly qualified to care for our family.  Here are some things that we feel you must have stocked up:  Ibuprofen, Tylenol, Aspirin, Antibiotics, Vitamins, Potassium Iodide tablets, Masks, Bandages, Tape, Eye drops, Suture kit, Surgical and other instruments.  Have a very high quality blood pressure cuff on hand that you know how to use.  Keep a very large supply of Clorox, rubbing alcohol, iodine, and peroxide on hand.   KY jelly and Vaseline should also be stocked heavily.  I would also have several aloe plants on hand and keep them in good health.  Rubber gloves, paper products, and plastic bags are vital and like other medical supplies are finite in number.  The list can go on and on.  The bottom line is to stock up so that you can meet your medical needs as best possible. 

You must eat to stay healthy.  Stocking up on food is a given.  You must learn to grow, gather seed, can, and preserve your food.  When my son was still inpatient, he took an interest in gardening and landscape.  As a result of his new found interest, we constructed several raised beds in our back yard for him to plant in and help tend his garden.  We have a large, fenced in back yard where these raised beds are located.   And much to our surprise, our neighbors have done the same.  After some discussion and planning, we have decided to team up in the food production (and defense) business should the need ever arise.  You will be shocked at the quantity and quality of food that is produced in raised beds.  Our garden produces enough that we had to give away a large amount of food.  You will find that you will be able to keep something growing almost year around.  The raised beds and fence help keep the critters out.  The fact that the beds are raised will allow our son to help cultivate the crops from his wheelchair.  It is extremely important for the mental well being of your injured family member that they be able to work and contribute to the success of your home. We also have several blackberry and blueberry bushes planted with several fruit trees.  Our newest project has been establishing grape vines.  At some point, I would like to learn how to keep bees.  Do you have any idea how popular you would be in crunch time if you had honey to barter or trade with?  Bees are vital around your garden anyway!  I should probably move this up on my list especially since we live in a perfect climate for bee keeping. 

Birds are a different story.  A BB gun or nice air rifle will handle that problem and I guess that we all might need to learn to eat a little crow.  It goes without saying that you need a dehydrator and lots of salt.  You need to learn how to make jerky.  Now, how do I put meat on the table?  Of course we have plenty on hand to last several months but, sooner or later you will need to begin harvesting again.  This won’t be easy but we have a plan.  Around here everybody and their brother will head for any wooded area and try to kill anything that moves during the first few weeks of a meltdown.  I don’t think they will have much success as there are very few real hunters.  After a couple of weeks when people figure out that they can’t just go out and kill what they want, most will stop trying and resort to other methods (looting/stealing).  In a situation where everything has fallen apart, normal rules have to be thrown out so that food can be harvested.   When the time is right, I will harvest game, if we need it, in the middle of the night with the aid of a FLIR.  That is thermal imaging.  Everything alive gives off a heat signature and I plan to take full advantage of this fact.  I was completely amazed the first time I drove through our hunting club in our Ranger and took a look through my FLIR.  Wow!  There were many pairs of eyes on me!  If you have a chance, try one out and you will be very impressed.  You can purchase a nice FLIR for about $2,000 and it will be a valuable asset when it comes to food gathering and defense of your home.  The one that I use runs on rechargeable batteries and is very trouble free.  I have not had very good luck with regular night vision goggles.  Lenses tend to break easy and they have caused us more trouble than they are worth.  Camouflage won’t hide a heat signature either.    Nobody will sneak up on you.  If you can afford it, get an extra one.  Now, back to food harvesting for a second.  Given the circumstances, I doubt the game warden will be out looking for poachers.  I’m sure I can bring plenty of game right to our door with a nice salt block or a little corn. 

It is my opinion that the defense of your home is the most important part of preparing for a crisis like the one we are discussing.  I’ve already mentioned what my plans are for entry ways and windows.  After much research and study, I believe that the reinforced heavy doors and diamond plate sheets are perfect for most situations like ours.  Our back yard and garden are already fenced in with chain link and as luck would have it, our property looks out over hundreds of acres and there is a huge drop to the property below.  We are on extremely high ground and it would be difficult for someone to approach us from behind.  Therefore, in a time of civil unrest, I would probably only add barbed wire to the top of our fence and apply a layer of electric wire.  Another huge advantage that we have is how isolated our small neighborhood is and there is only one dead end road which enters and forest around that.  However, until we can agree as a neighborhood group to barricade the road, my neighbors and I will take steps to keep a crazy looter from driving through our front door.  My two neighbors on each side and I plan to erect pilings through our yards spaced so that a vehicle cannot pass between them.  Railroad ties along with existing trees are what we plan to use and we have been collecting the ties for a couple of months now.  They are easy to get here and it doesn’t hurt to have a friend who works with the railroad.  We realize that this is going to be very tough and time consuming work but, if everything falls apart you will have plenty of time on your hands and you never know what a desperate individual might try.  Each post will be placed at least 3 feet in the ground.  This should be an excellent barrier from almost any vehicle.  Speaking as someone who has operated heavy machinery in the past, I can definitely vouch that the machine could not just drive straight through.  It would require a little work which would give us time to take appropriate action to stop it. 

Thank God for the Second Amendment!   We do try to keep things simple.  Everybody has a 12 gauge shotgun.  In a rural neighborhood like ours this gun may very well be our most valuable weapon.  We’ll use number 2 or 4 shot in most cases.  We do have buckshot and some goose loads if necessary.  Everybody has a. 22 rifle with thousands of rounds and extra magazines.  Everyone has a handgun with the exception of our injured son.   These include a .44 Magnum, .45 ACP, .38 revolvers, .22s, and some extras parts.  The long guns in addition to our .22s include a .44 Mag lever action rifle ,a .22-250, a .17 HMR, .270 and an AR-15.   

All these weapons are very effective in our particular situation and everyone is very comfortable with these weapons.  I do believe our shotguns will be our most useful tool.  Now, our handicapped son will be able to take part in the defense of the home as well.  He has a very nice .270 with a first class Leupold scope.  How does he shoot it?  Thanks to Buckmasters, he has a mounting system for his chair that enables him to shoot as well as an able bodied person if not better.  He has a LCD display with joystick controls and a sip and puff trigger control.  He can really reach out and touch someone.  The whole set-up runs off a 12 volt battery.  Many thanks go out to the people at Buckmasters for giving this to my son which has enabled him to hunt again.  We even figured out how to use the LCD with the FLIR.  Of course we do keep a few other surprises locked away in our vault and our neighbors each have a very nice selection of weapons.  Our area will be very well defended! 

With that being said, let me take a moment and talk especially to those who have an injured or disabled family member.  Your family member is an easy target for criminals.  In our situation, (our son) is a target when he is in public because he can’t help or defend himself.  A thief will target a quad and take anything they want with very little problem.  Independence is important and must be approached carefully.  Due to the level of our son’s injury he still has an attendant or close friend with him if he is in public.  One step that we took to help our son become more independent was to get a service dog.  He chose a large German shepherd.  The security around our house just doubled.  That dog loves my son and would give her life protecting his and the family.  She opens and closes doors, picks up items off the floor, helps pull him when he is in his manual chair, and is a constant companion.  She has also been exposed to the sport of schutzhund.  I know that there have been other articles about the value of dogs in crunch time so I won’t spend time discussing them.  But, you should strongly consider a service animal!  Once a dog like a German shepherd bonds with you and the family they will become extremely protective of their pack.  You are now part of the pack! You should see the wide space people give my son when he is in public with his German shepherd.  Also, these animals can go any place in public that you go.  That equals independence and peace of mind.     

Another factor that I believe will play a vital role in the survival of our family is the fact that we are all very outdoor oriented people.  We’re all avid campers and know how to ruff it when necessary.  Everyone knows how to read a map and use a compass.  These are skills that are very valuable and few people understand anymore.  We all have good knives and know how to use them.  We have good radios to communicate with and listen for local news.  We also obtained a good short wave radio.  Monitoring the radios and cameras will be our injured son’s primary job.  We have a large supply of what I call my everyday useful tools.  Examples of these are rakes, shovels, hoes, picks, axes, wedges, hammers of all sizes and weights, sling blades, hatchets, machetes, saws including an old fashioned 2 man saw, various sizes of nails, bolts, screws, nuts, and washers.  You will also need a good supply of common hand tools for mechanical, plumbing, and carpenter needs.  Consider keeping a supply of various tape, caulk, glue, and oils.  Keep a good supply of replacement parts on hand and learn how to maintain what you have, especially your solar power supply and water pumps.  Don’t forget that you are now the repair man.  There is also a little pocket reference book that is written by Thomas J. Glover which I think everybody should own.  It has over 500 pages of tables/facts/formulas and other information that you will need sooner or later.  I think that it is a great tool that everyone must have.

Also, keep in mind that with a spinal cord injury you are going to have large amounts of medical waste that will need to be disposed of to avoid disease and other problems.  My suggestion is to invest in one or two 50 gallon metal drums to burn trash in.  You might be surprised how often you use it now.  Keep your old new papers.  Try to have a nice selection of books and magazines which should include plenty of how to information.  The fox fire book series is nice to have.  Cards and board games will also help pass the time.  And I guess most important would be to learn how to reload your ammunition and have plenty of supplies in that area! 

We’re lucky we don’t live in a big city, but we are a little too close for comfort.  Should something happen, we feel that the first 24 to 48 hours will be vital in the preparation and initial fortification of our home.  While everybody else is staggering around in shock, we will get everybody home and move into action.  Close up, seal up, lock up, and drop off of the radar.  Let the crazy’s kill and steal from each other and don’t do anything to catch their attention.  No smoke during the day and keep it dark at night.  With any luck all this will pass and civility will return rather soon.  If not, we and our neighbors are ready to hunker down together where are and keep each other safe for the long haul.  Hunkering down where you are may be your best plan for now.  For us, at this time in our life, we really must make the best out of what we have.  Working with your close neighbors makes this process much easier.  For those of you who can’t relocate at this time like us, don’t stress, just work to make what you have the best possible.  It can be done.  We’re living proof.  So, until such a time that we are able to relocate to the great American redoubt, we’ll be holding the line here in the South.   God Bless and good luck.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013


America's lands sharks: Wolves kill 31 sheep on south-central Idaho ranch.

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Folks in north Idaho or Eastern Washington with an interest in learning how to do metal casting or looking for casting supplies should visit Lost and Foundry, in Spokane, Washington. Foundry molds ("flasks") and petrobond casting sand are heavy to ship, so look for sources like Lost and Foundry, where you can pick then up yourself. (A similar company is Budget Casting Supply, in Sonora, California.)

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Some nice vintage fallout shelter models found in Montana. (Thanks to R.B.S. for the link.)

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I noticed that this particular video: Patriots - Surviving the Coming Collapse - Trike Flying, with more than 21,000 views, is still the "most viewed" trike flying video by former U.S. Navy pilot TTabs. It gives a great tour of the locales in my first novel. That video was shot back when he was running just two cameras. He now shoots four views simultaneously, and cuts between them. His visually stunning One October Evening video has had more than 13,000 views. It shows the terrain, fauna, and flora in the northern Palouse, near Spokane, Washington. Be sure to watch his videos in full screen mode, at HD quality. They are spectacular.

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Reader W.A. wrote to mention a Wyoming-headquartered company called LUCID that offers a couple of red dot sight alternatives which have great quality and features for a great price and use an AA battery. The the 'founder/creator' is a former optics manager for Brunton. Note that some of their products are made in the U.S., but some are made in China.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013


The historic flying legacy of Ontario [Oregon]'s Merle Maine. What an amazing collection! (Thanks to R.B.S. for the link.)

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Jim W. sent: Wolves vs Lion Hounds: Attacks Rising in Montana and Idaho

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Governor Otter invites firearms, ammunition makers to Idaho. (A hat tip to Rich B. for the link.)

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Jim W. sent us yet another good reason for the partition of eastern Washington: Attention Florida CWPs: Washington State is no longer reciprocal.

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A workshop in Wilsall, Montana will address "drought-proofing" farms and ranches and increasing soil fertility, June 5-9, 2013. More that 80 hours of instruction. Participants will learn about multiple proven technologies and strategies for farms and ranches that increase profitability, maximize water harvesting, minimize inputs, increase forage yield and build soil. This workshop is being organized by Cloud Nine Farm in Wilsall, Montana and Broken Ground in Bozeman, Montana. For more information, see: www.MontanaWholeFarmFertility.com or call Karen Erbe at: (406) 600-7881. 


Thursday, May 9, 2013


Hawaii is in a special situation in a potential emergency.  The island chain has seven inhabited islands (of eight major islands) that support a total state population of 1,392,313, a land area of 6,422 square miles, with an overall average density of 217 persons per square mile (11th highest in the U.S., just above Virginia, Ohio and Indiana).  Most of the population (70% or 976,372) is concentrated on Oahu with an area of 597 square miles, an average density of 1,635 per square mile.  The urban core of Honolulu has an estimated population of 340,000 (ranked 55th by population, just above Aurora, Colorado) with an area of 60.5 square miles, or just over 5,600 per square mile, similar to Syracuse, New York or St. Paul, Minnesota.  Hawaii also has about seven million visitors a year, and none of these visitors are prepared for survival in a meaningful way.

Something else differs for Hawaii, since we are 2,400 – 2,600 miles from the nearest US mainland cities and are known as the most remote inhabited island chain in the world, supply chain disruption would have a major impact on life as we know it.  How could we support our large population with supply chain disruptions?  Some background will help us understand what could be done.

Pre-contact survival in Hawaii

In the distant past, before contact (1779) with the west, Hawaii supported a population conservatively estimated at 300,000 but this did not take into account inland populations.  The peak estimates include numbers of 800,000 up to one million. 

This depended on a very organized structure where individual households were merged into a public economy, the well-known ahupua'a system.  This was established from approximately 1200 AD through contact with the west.  In theory these were self-sufficient typically pie-shaped territories that typically extended from mauka (mountains) to makai (the sea), incorporating key resource zones (fresh water, plants, animals, fish, etc.).  Ahupua'a were essentially “estates” often distributed by the rulers to loyal supporters following the successful conclusion of a war of conquest.  Ahupua'a, managed for the chiefs by a specialist class of managers (konohiki), were fundamental to the organization of early historic Hawaiian society.  Moreover, this system replaced the older (and widespread) Polynesian pattern of kin-groups with associated "houses" and ancestral estates.  In reality, the ahupua’a were not all equal in depth and variety of resources, so inter-ahupua’a and inter-island trading of specialized resources did occur with the chief’s permission and control.  So historically, it was possible to support a large population if the systems were in place.  The konohiki regulated what could be harvested and when, in order to maintain the health of the source.

Supply chain disruption

Presently 85 – 90% of all food for Hawaii is “imported” into the state by ship or air.  Although there has traditionally been lots of agricultural land in crops, much of it was dedicated to sugarcane or pineapples, most for export from Hawaii.  With the advent of cheaper labor in other countries such as the Philippines, much (not all) of this dedicated land has been taken out of monoculture agriculture.  Some of it has been converted to truck farms that supply local fruits and vegetables to local users.  Some has converted to coffee, cocoa, cashew, vanilla and other specialty, high-value products.  So supply chain disruption would have an immediate impact to everyone in the population.  Since we are susceptible to hurricanes and tsunamis, most people are prepared to survive 72 hours to seven days.  Hurricane Iniki on 9/11/1992 caused a failure of power systems on Kauai for six weeks, although schools resumed in two weeks.  It did 3 billion dollars in damage.  Many people were in emergency shelters for weeks.

9/11/2001 halted all air travel for Hawaii and most flight did not resume for five days.  Immediately, tourists stopped arriving and the ones already here were stranded for days.  I was on Kauai with friends and family, and the effect was chilling.  We were as far away from 9/11 as one could get in the U.S. and yet we were mesmerized by the event, spending every afternoon in front of the TV catching up on the news.  Many service jobs were immediately laid off; since there was an expected major slow down on people traveling even after the flights were resumed.

Most of our energy comes from oil, with a little coal.  A small percentage of our power comes from burning garbage instead of placing it in landfills.  There are some PV and wind farms on line and they are growing, now above 10% of the total used.  We have a strong military presence in the islands, with all branches represented.

In the event of any event causing a disruption of sea and air transport, the islands would have only a few weeks of food on hand.  Energy supplies would also be limited.  Water is pumped from aquifers beneath the islands and is treated, then pumped into water tanks in the hills to supply pressure to most areas.  In the event of a sustained power outage, use of water must be rationed quickly to provide only critical uses: drinking and cooking.  During a magnitude 6.7 earthquake near Hawaii Island on 10/15/2006 power was disrupted on Oahu (166 miles away) because of generator protection devices being set too sensitively.  This caused an almost 24-hour power failure to some areas, necessitating people using emergency kits to cook food and provide light.  Most all businesses were closed, so it was too late to prepare once the event occurred.  With most predicted events like hurricanes and tsunamis, there is always a last minute scurrying of some people to stock up on groceries, gas and drinking water.

Get prepared

I am prepared for these events on an everyday basis.  As an Eagle Scout I taught survival and preparedness in the 1960s.  As an adult, I have always had an earthquake / hurricane /tornado kit ready.  Most agencies recommend enough to support your family for 72 hours.  Here in Hawaii they recommend 7 – 10 days because of the delays in getting help here in case of a major disaster.
In addition, I have good stocks of food and water as well as the ability to defend and protect them.  I have many alternatives for cooking depending on the need and can cook with wood long term if required.  The shore is two miles away, so fishing is an option if needed.  We have manual transportation (bikes and wagons) if other vehicles run out of fuel.  Bug-out bags are ready and available.  Water purification supplies are at hand.  I won’t go into more detail for OPSEC reasons.

But TEOTWAWKI poses much more serious challenges.  Hawaii would have to immediately make drastic changes in everyday life.  In addition, Hawaii must bump up its level of preparedness, both on a personal, island and state level.  The state and counties have good civil defense / emergency preparedness groups in place because of our isolation.  But they are not preparing for a long, drawn out emergency of weeks, months or years.  Even in a non-emergency situation, critical parts for elevators, generators, airplanes and machinery are in short supply locally.  It can take many weeks to get these parts even with no disruptions to the supply chain.  In case of a TEOTWAWKI situation the parts would be unavailable, maybe for years, if ever.  To improve this, every level of preparedness will need to look at the risks of maintaining critical services and mitigate those risks accordingly.

This is a simple example, for cooking preparedness.  In the case of a few days or even two weeks, an individual can stockpile enough LP gas, butane, charcoal, etc. to get by.  But if the event goes on much longer, the islands will run completely out of these supplies assuming the supply chain is broken.  People need to look to other forms of cooking such as solar or wood.  Almost no one is prepared for this on a long term basis.

In the case of food supplies, it is much more complicated.  Short of relief from the U.S. Mainland or other countries, Hawaii would be in serious trouble.  Even with the farm land that is actively growing, the output is not enough to support the present permanent population, much less visitors who could be stranded here.  It also requires petroleum and power to process, preserve, and transport.  We are lucky in that we can grow most crops year-round.  To date, on my small parcel of land I grow food in a number of raised beds.  I also have fruit trees such as lemon, lime, fig, banana, papaya and breadfruit, as well as containers for tomatoes, garlic, shallots and herbs.  I’ve grown potatoes in buckets as an experiment and will soon try growing rice in 5-gallon buckets.  The raised beds allow me to grow salad greens, collards, kale, beans, sweet potatoes and most other locally-expensive crops.  There are local farms within 3 – 4 miles where bigger plots commercially grow corn, papayas, greens, mangoes, taro and many other items.  There are emerging local aquaponics systems, both personal and commercial.

Of course because we are islands we also have access to the ocean for sustenance.  The historical ahupua’a depended on three key items:  upland / inland forest, lower elevation intensively cultivated areas and a coastal zone, including local fishponds where near shore fish were trapped for harvest on demand.  A few of these fishponds have been restored and are in active use, but many have been destroyed by development.

Even with increased stockpiles of food, Hawaii will need to consider going back to a system similar to the ahupua’a system of old to be self-sufficient.  In particular, the need for fresh water must be dealt with, since growing food also depends on it.  Although many areas of the islands have good rainfall, catchment, processing and distribution of fresh water depend on the use of petroleum products to supply power.  In a TEOTWAWKI situation this would have to change dramatically and quickly.  It would be difficult to prepare individually for this since fresh water is not as easily accessible as in many mainland areas.  Most people here don’t have wells since the fresh water under islands is shaped like a lens and varies based on rainfall and how much is drawn out.  Personally I have a small solar-based desalination / purification system (http://www.seapanel.com) that can be used to desalinate a small amount of sea water (transported about 1.5 miles) or purify fresh water found nearby or gathered from rainfall.  Hawaii has no commercial scale desalination capability at present, although pilot experiments have been done.  The island of Lanai is considering setting up such a system.

I even have a small portable PV system that combined with a lead-acid deep draw battery and 12 volt pump can be used to transfer collected rainwater up the hill behind my house to provide a small pressurized system, but I am still trying to acquire a 1,000+ gallon tank to hold the rainwater.  Getting them shipped here to Hawaii is very expensive.  Solving the problem for an individual family is much simpler than for a neighborhood, a town or an ahupua’a or an island, much less a state.  But it is not enough to prepare yourself and your family when living on an island.  Stocking up a good idea, but will not be enough to weather a long-term emergency or break in the supply chain.

Permaculture principals may be a key part of the answer, since they take a long-term view of how you build a system and how to be sustainable.
Of all the areas in the United States, Hawaii needs to internalize the goal to improve both our survivability and sustainability in order to weather the future, TEOTWAWKI or not.


Tuesday, May 7, 2013


New Wyoming Lithium Deposit could Meet all U.S. Demand. JWR's Comment: Wow! That is a relief. The Powers That Be were about to announce on the P.A. system: "Lithium is no longer available on credit." (Pardon the inside joke for Blue Blazers.)

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Significant population change in Idaho impacting jobs. (Thanks to R.B.S. for the link.)

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An Idaho news headline: Judge rules extended traffic stop violated rights

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George S. sent this from a Wyoming newspaper: Famed Yellowstone bull elk dies

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H.L. sent: Oregon Teachers Traumatized by Unannounced Shooter Drill. They were crazy to try this in Eastern Oregon. They could have been met with lethal force by an armed teacher, adminstrator, or janitor.

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Also from H.L.: ATF offers $5,000 reward in Red Lodge explosives theft


Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Now it's Oregon Senate's turn to vote on gun laws. If the ban on private party gun sales is enacted, it may prove to be "The last straw" and trigger a partition of the conservative counties east of the Cascades.

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Errant gunshot's shrapnel wounds two men at Idaho gun show.

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Ban Idaho! (Thanks to Ben H. for the link.)

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There are still several pro-gun pieces of legislation pending in Montana, including permitless concealed carry. Montanans should contract their representatives, to encourage the passage of these bills. The Wyoming/Arizona/Alaska/Vermont-style permitless concealed carry will require a veto-proof majority, since the state's democrat governor vetoed the bill once before.

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Get in on the ammo-making boom: International Munitions & Technologies, Inc. (IMT) in Lewiston, Idaho is looking for both an IT Manager and a Site Leader Manager.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Dear Sir:
I am taking this time to write, because you express an interest in solutions that provide enhanced security and prosperity for people. I, too, like the idea of a fortified village, instead of isolationism.

One possible solution, the dual ring village (DRV), is based on a simple idea. Imagine a line of mixed use buildings - something like the 1890s in New York City. Stores on the street level, with apartments above. Take that line and wrap into a circle. Take another line of buildings, and wrap that into a circle, placed within the first circle. The result : two circular buildings, a ring street between them, and a round park. . . a dual ring village. One more embellishment - construct continuous balconies at each upper level - not unlike the French Quarter in New Orleans.

Obvious benefits : consolidated population, proximity to vocations, retail, services, social access, a large central park, access to a roof deck garden, and inherent security controlled by the gateway. Easy access around, up and down the ring, via the balconies, etc., and reduced  overcrowding on the ground level.

Engineering benefits : curved walls are stronger, use less materials, shared walls reduce exposure to the elements, curved walls deflect winds, and resist side forces (earthquakes). If the exterior ring wall is constructed as a substantial barrier, it would also offer protection from storm surge, flash floods, and mudslides. Security from flooding is dependent on wall height.

Alternative View benefits : The roof deck garden and balcony planters, as well as the central park, conserve more green space than most other high density population designs. Depending on the size and resources of the DRV, may reduce or eliminate the necessity for owning an automobile.

The drawbacks : A DRV has to be designed and built as a monolithic unit, not incrementally. This design also flies in the face of convention, thus is unattractive to the "powers that be." Worse, it fosters a rebellious independence of the Ringers. (Chinese Hakka Tulous are a good example). It is also not designed to expand, other than adding layers, which may not be feasible (shading factor, etc). Generally, population growth will need to be dealt with by building additional DRVs.

Ideas, criticisms, and brainstorming welcome. See the Ring Life Yahoo Group.

JWR Replies: I have briefly mentioned the traditional Fujian Tulou design in SurvivalBlog. Based on the 19th and 20th Century history of urban fires, I don't recommend building entirely monolithic structures. The narrow streets between buildings can be protected by gates, mantlets, or other mobile barricades. But at least they will reduce the risk of a catastrophic fire that cannot be stopped.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Hello Mr. Rawles:
I noticed in your answer about demographic changes in the "American Redoubt," you only dealt with political notions. The question, as I read it, asked about immigration and the American Redoubt and the demographic changes as a result of that. Can you talk about some other issues? Thanks for your blog. - A Virginia RN

JWR Replies: I'll be happy to address the demographics in more broad terms. My apologies for only addressing political aspects in my initial reply.

Religion: The religious demographics of the American Redoubt generally parallel the rest of the nation (with an overall decline in regular church attendance, a shift toward neo-evangelicalism and toward charismatic churches, and a decline in Catholicism.) One noteworthy exception is southern Idaho, which has a higher percentage of LDS Church members. There are generally more Catholics than Baptists in the Redoubt. Small congregations and home churches (or "house churches") seem to be on the upswing throughout the Redoubt. Although the Jewish population is relatively small, the Messianic congregations seem to be rapidly growing in popularity in the Inland Northwest. Another difference is the absence of Islam. The advent of Moslem mosques appears to be a mostly coastal phenomenon, leaving the Redoubt virtually untouched.

Population Density: As mentioned many times in SurvivalBlog, the entire American Redoubt has one of the lowest population densities of the 48 Conterminous States (CONUS.) Newly-arrived easterners are amazed at the very light vehicular traffic and the almost open "frontier" feel of the Redoubt states. But the population is generally rising faster than much of the country, especially the decaying big cities, which are depopulating.

Age: Just like the rest of the country, the population is aging in the Redoubt, but the median age is lower then the national average. The exceptional areas are those with a higher percentage of Amish, Hutterite, Mennonite, Catholic and LDS Church members, since they all tend toward large families.

Procreation: The percentage of homosexuals is quite low, and not encouraged. The teen birth rate is low. The number of unmarried couples living in sin is about average for the United States. (The Bible Belt has a much more admirable rate.)

Crime Rates: The violent crime rate is very low except for in a few counties in Eastern Washington. The murder rate is quite low. The number of terrorist acts and groups is very low. Open carry of guns is generally legal and commonplace.

Immigration and Ethnicity: Foreign immigration has impacted the Redoubt far less than the rest of the country. The American Indian population is relatively high, of course especially in the Reservations. The White Anglo Saxon Protestant (WASP) population and culture still predominates. The only significant inroads of Mexican in- migration (some legal, some illegal) are in southern Idaho and southeastern Washington (primarily the Tri-Cities.) But the general impression that newcomers get when they arrive here is: "Gosh! Where are all of the immigrants and minorities?" Their profound absence seems almost shocking to folks who are accustomed to the more ethnically diverse and heavily populous coastal states. (One of my new neighbors who was originally from the Midwest attended a local high school basketball game for the first time, and was amazed how overwhelmingly "WASPy" both the team and the attending fans were. He said that "it felt like going to a Lutheran picnic." FWIW, I personally consider race a non-issue and in fact a specious issue. (There is only one race: the human race and God's Elect come in all skin colors.) In my experience, people who move to the Redoubt are judged by their politics, their religious persuasion, and whether or not they are hunters far more than they are for their skin pigmentation.

Wealth and Taxation: Variation of wealth is quite pronounced in the Redoubt. Wages are generally lower than most of the nation, yet the per capita number of millionaires is high, particularly in southern Idaho and Wyoming. (Just a few people have made lot of money, mostly in farming, ranching, mining, and petroleum drilling.) Generally people live closer to the land in the Redoubt that they do on the coasts. The norm is to hunt deer, have a large garden and to cut your own firewood. Barter is commonplace. Sales taxes are low or non-existent. Likewise, state income taxes are moderate to non-existent.



Despite the recent buying frenzy, Freedom Arms (in Freedom, Wyoming) has been able to keep pace. They make some big stainless steel revolvers that are capable bear stoppers.

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Idaho’s growth slows, but the shift from rural to urban areas continues. (Thanks to R.B.S. for the link.)

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Mountain States Ammo (in Missoula, Montana) has been logging huge sales, but has managed to keep some ammo in stock.

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After a huge run of sales that depleted their inventory, Lone Wolf (in Priest River, Idaho) now has many Glock magazines and magazine extensions back in stock.

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Montana Rifle Company (in Kalispell, Montana) is looking for three experienced gunsmiths.

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Idaho Supports Fourth Amendment, Enacts Drone Restrictions.


Saturday, April 20, 2013


Mr. Rawles,
In the aftermath of the apparent hostile takeover of Colorado by immigrants from California, I have been wondering about the status of the States that comprise the American Redoubt. Is there any information available about demographic shifts within the Redoubt as a result of immigration? I've heard a little here and there, particularly about some of the resort type areas of Idaho and the coastal regions of Washington and Oregon, but nothing about significant shifts within the states as a whole.

Thanks, - Thetonedeafbard

JWR Replies: The American Redoubt region is conservative, and gradually getting more conservative, year by year. Wyoming's recent enactment of permitless concealed carry is indicative of this trend. Take a look at the 2008 Presidential election returns versus the 2012 Presidential election returns. There are indeed a few liberals moving in, but they are vastly outnumbered by conservatives who are coming from the same states. With higher taxes and more draconian gun laws, I expect this trend to accelerate in the future. In effect the Red States are getting darker red and the Blue States are getting darker blue. Colorado was an example of a purple state that gradually turned blue, at least in the larger cities. But now that it has enacted sweeping civilian disarmament laws, I expect that Colorado will lose conservatives (through out-migration), and conservative states like Wyoming and Montana will be the beneficiaries of those who have "voted with their feet."

The key goal of the American Redoubt movement was to simply solidify an existing demographic trend. Back in 2011 I wrote: "I'm inviting people with the same outlook to move to the Redoubt States, to effect a demographic solidification. We're already a majority here. I'd just like to see an even stronger majority."

Echoing these trends, the likelihood of partition of Eastern Oregon and Eastern Washington will continue to grow. The residents of the eastern counties have little in common with the folks west of the Cascades, and will have less and less in common with them, as time goes on. I predict that inevitably either taxes or civilian disarmament laws will be the triggers that will force a separation.

Wikipedia sums up this divide between the eastern halves of Oregon and Washington: "East of the Cascades, in eastern Washington, eastern Oregon, and Idaho, the population is much more conservative. The eastern portions of Washington and especially Oregon, due to their low populations, do not generally have enough voting power to be competitive at the state level, and thus the governorships and U.S. Senate seats of both Oregon and Washington are usually held by the Democrats. Idaho, being a separate state located entirely within the conservative interior of the Pacific Northwest, is a Republican stronghold. Conservatism in the US part of the Pacific Northwest tends to be distrustful of federal government interference and strongly protective of gun rights."

Don't over-rate the influence of a few liberal enclaves like Sun Valley, Idaho and Missoula, Montana. They are so vastly outnumbered that they are politically irrelevant.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013


I was born into a family of preppers.  My grandparents were all farmers and lived through the Great Depression in the Midwest.   My parents both grew up on farms and came from large families.  While my folks would not label themselves today as preppers, they would consider themselves as independent and self-reliable.  In order to understand my journey as a prepper, you have to go back a few years.  Early into my parents’ marriage, my dad just got out of the navy and worked in various cities and towns, from Texas to Minnesota.  The largest town we lived in was Minneapolis, but usually we lived in towns with a population of around 100,000 people.  As the family grew, there was a desire for my parents to move to an acreage, to get a large farmhouse, and to raise some animals.  By the early 1980s they were able to purchase an acreage that was homesteaded in the late 1800s and was located in rural South Dakota.  It was about 8 acres, had a barn, chicken coop, and two-story house.  It was located at least 20 miles from any town over 1,000 people.  The acreage was situated on a high water table, so we had an outdoor well and had a sand point well for the water in the house.   

After my parents purchased the property, they bought a milk cow, laying hens, some sheep, and a dog.  My mom planted a large garden (roughly 30 yards by 10 yards) with a variety of vegetables.  She canned the extras and created a pantry with shelving all the way to the ceiling with the many jars.  All my siblings helped in the process, hauling up the vegetables to the house and cutting them up.  Many of our neighbors grew large sections of sweet corn, so we would usually eat corn most days in the summer and then would have a few days devoted to freezing the extra corn (sometimes two pickup loads).  My parents went from having a small chest freezer when they were first married to purchasing two large, used chest freezers (these were about 6 feet long).  These came in handy when they began butchering their own cows, pigs, and chickens.  It was not too long until their freezers and pantry were full of meat and vegetables.

In order to save money on clothing, we would wear hand-me-down clothing, and my mom sewed/repaired our clothes to make them last as long as possible.  We attended public school and even in by the late 1980’s and early 1990s, I can remember being bullied because we did not wear “cool” clothes, have neat electronic gadgets,  or bring homemade things for show-n-tell/holiday time instead of from a store.  I remember these bullies using various names to me and my siblings, ranging from being a loser and hick, to poor and worthless.

It was this time in school that I vowed that I was going to get a great job, make a lot of money and show these classmates just how wrong they were.  I vowed that I was going to study hard so I could be the first in my family and go to college.  I wanted to get as far as possible from the rural life.  The summers would especially motivate me to study hard and change my future.  It was during the summers that I spent much of the time on my grandparent’s farm, getting up at 5:00 am, picking rock, milking cows, pulling weeds out of the fields, fixing machinery, putting up hay, and doing other chores until late in the evening.  By the end of the summer I would be even more motivated to move away and was left with a motivation to do well when school started up again in the fall. 

I excelled in school and did end up going to college.  My parents were unable to financially provide for me to go to college, so I did work-study, took out student loans, and worked as a resident assistant to pay for my dorm room.  The motivation from the summers at my grandparent’s farm was still fresh in my mind and I graduated four years later.  I did well in college and ended up going straight to graduate school, this time even further away from my parents.  I enjoyed the college life, much preferring the academic pursuits as compared with my previous manual labor on the farm.

It was then that my “average” life began - the life that I had always wanted.  I got married, graduated again and got a great job.  With both me and my wife working, we were making great money.  We had accrued over $70,000 in student loans, but where happy to pay just the minimum monthly payment.  We enjoyed eating out many times a week and spent a lot towards “entertainment” each month.  We bought a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom condo; a new car; and took a trip to Disney World.  Things were good. 

Then my best friend, a man in his twenties with a young family died of cancer.  It shook me up and made me reevaluate all aspects of my life.  It was then that things started to change for me.  We had a young daughter at the time and made a decision that one of us would stay home with her.  My wife quit her full-time job and went to a very part-time position (a few days a month).  In addition, my parents gave us tickets to a live Dave Ramsey event and we decided to get “gazelle intense”, getting on a budget and paying down our debts.  Even with our income going down greatly, it still felt like we had more money than ever.  Less than two years later we had to push “hold” on our debt pay-off, as we had a son.  My wife did not work at all that year, and our son had a difficult beginning, so our medical bills were pretty high.  Being a father to a son, I thought a lot about my role as provider and protector, as well as the legacy that I wanted to leave for my family.  It felt that I was a long way from where I grew up in terms of my lifestyle.  Life was fast-paced, we lived in the city, we went to the grocery store near our house a few times a week, and we even had all our yard/maintenance taken care of thorough our homeowner's association (HOA.)  But I could feel a yearning that there was something missing. And thus began my return trip home!

It was with two young kids that we decided to move back closer to my family.  The decision did not happen overnight, but rather over 18 months and a lot of prayer.  The housing market bubble had popped and we lost about $25,000 on our place but we packed up and moved anyway.  We found a two-bedroom apartment in our new town, only about 25 minutes from my parent’s acreage.  We decided that we wanted life to slow down and get back the skills that generations of my family had all known.  In order to do this with only one income we got creative on how to save money.  We began couponing, collecting the weekend newspapers on Monday from the motel just a few blocks from our place.  We sold our car for a used minivan.  I went to my parent’s acreage and helped butcher chickens like when I was a kid – my folks were grateful to have us back and to be helping so they gave us 30 chickens for our freezer (we acquired to small chest freezers that we have in our garage).  I helped my uncle butcher four large pigs, and like my parents, he appreciated the extra help, thanking me by getting me about 50 pounds of ground pork.  We used the envelope system for our budget and paid cash for our purchases.  We got a used food dehydrator at a garage sale for $5 and began to use it.  We tried our hand at canning and did a few small batches with various foods.  We made our own laundry detergent, baked our own bread, and tried to drive our vehicles less.  With these small changes, we currently have our monthly food budget at under $250 for our family of four.  We are proud to say that our student loans are down to about $4,500 and we don’t have any car payments or credit card debt!  We even have our $1,000 emergency fund and within a few months hope to have the remainder of our debt paid off.  We then hope to save for a house, maybe even an acreage just like my folks. 

Since moving back closer to my family, I have devoted myself to learning about new skills.  I have always enjoyed reading, so I naturally began to follow blogs and read books on how to be self-reliant and how to save money.  Much to my surprise, most of the books and blogs I was learning the most from were from a group of folks called preppers.   While I do follow multiple blogs now, I do have to say that it is SurvivalBlog is my favorite.  Not only has it helped me to stretch my dollar for food, I have acquired so many new skills that I now don’t know how I lived without them.  I feel that I am now a better provider and protector for my family.  I like that our house now has a medical kit, a bug-out-bag that we can grab at a moment’s notice and enough food to last us for at least 3 to 6 months.  I enjoy how there is a focus in SurvivalBlog about family and the importance on building relationships.  I feel equipped that even with all the negative news on television, my family is going to be okay, as we are going to be prepared.    


Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Heracles Research, well-known for their Bed Bunker gun vaults had added Truck Bunkers to their product line. The company is located in Spokane, Washington.

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Some Idaho headlines, courtesy of Joe M. and R.B.S., and Bret F.: EPA issues new permit for suction dredge miners. - Idaho wealth concentrated in just a few areas.- Idaho restricts drone use by police agencies amid privacy concerns - Frugal Idaho among states in the black, with $60 million surplus

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More Federal meddling: Montana Management Plan Would Close Public Land to Target Shooting.

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I heard that Ultimak, in Moscow, Idaho has caught up on production and QC checks, following a considerable rush of orders. They make great scope mounts.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013


Spokane Grandmother of 10 Holds Burglar at Gunpoint at Her Home

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The latest from Montana legislator Krayton Kerns: The Naked Gun

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Here is an article that quotes SurvivalBlog. The included map is instructive: America’s Death Zones: Where NOT To Be When It Hits the Fan. (Note the map's inverse correlation to the American Redoubt.)

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Even the Redoubt isn't immune from some crimes: $28,000 worth of copper wire stolen in Kootenai County. (Thanks to Russell in Idaho for the link.)

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Damon and H.L. both sent this: Oregon Takes up Gun Control Bills. Most of this legislation is deemed likely to fail. (But DO contact your legislators. The proposed ban on private party sales of used guns is particularly dangerous!) However, the fact that these bills even made it out of Committee is further evidence that Eastern Oregon needs to become a separate state. If there is one issue that will finally trigger partition, it certainly is civilian disarmament.

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Reader Linda U. sent: Montana legalises cooking and eating roadkill. Consider that 400 pounds of elk meat a consolation prize for the $2,000 worth of front end damage to your pickup. Oh, and don't forget to consider your $1,000 insurance deductible...


Wednesday, April 3, 2013


Connecticut is known as a progenitor of American Liberty. There were some small War of Independence battles fought at Stonington (1775), Danbury (1777), New Haven (1779), and New London (1781.) But sadly, legislators in Connecticut just dutifully lined up for their Kool-Aid cups and voted for a ban so-called "assault" weapons, a ban on private party sales of used guns, creates a new "ammunition eligibility certificate," and mandates a ban on the manufacture or sale and a registry for high capacity magazines. Do these buffoons have any concept of how many millions of magazines larger that 10 round capacity exist, or that virtually none of them carry a serial number? How do they expect to register a commodity? And what happens if someone miscounts their magazines, or misses a few of them in some forgotten box in the back of a closet? Does that make them a felon? And how, pray tell, is someone supposed to register each link in a disintegrating belt? (The last time I bought .223 and .308 links, they came to me in boxes of roughly 1,000 or 2,000 links per box. They are difficult to count, so they are sold by the pound. You can buy 1,000 of them for as little as $17, and of course they can be assembled ("manufactured") into belts of any length desired. So exactly how will that part of the registry work? Would someone have to ask to have a belt de-registered, once it is fired and hence no longer of 11+ round length? And how could a belt be linked together longer than 9 rounds, after the effective date of the new law? Talk about "Unintended Consequences"!

Oh, and let's not forget the new Connecticut law's New York style "honor system" provision, which dictates that owners of full capacity magazines can load their magazines up to 30 cartridges, but only at home, but just 10 rounds if they are carried outside of their homes unless they're at an approved shooting range. Miscounting cartridges and loading just one too many would be a punishable offense. Stopping short of enacting an outright ban on full capacity magazines and this idiotic honor system provision were characterized as "gracious compromises." As one commenter at the Northeast Shooters Forum aptly put it: "... how generous our Overlords are." Do any Connecticut legislators believe that mass murderers will abide by any of this arbitrary nonsense?

It is noteworthy that the vote on this legislation came on Monday, April 1, 2013. (April Fools Days.) What fools (and tools) they are!

I urge Connecticut residents to do your best to fight this legislatively in the courts, but if all else fails, then vote with your feet. Speaking of which... I just heard that in light of this new legislation Todd Savage of SurvivalRetreatConsulting.com has announced that he has added Connecticut to his list of states that qualify for a 20% discount for "gun law refugee" clients. He is now extending the 20% discount to residents of California, Connecticut, Colorado, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York who identify themselves as gun law refugees. - J.W.R.


Tuesday, April 2, 2013


Reader H.L. sent: Montana Governor Vetoes State Nullification of Federal Gun Grab. Sounds like Montana needs a new Governor. Oh well, at least there are a lot of Sheriffs there with some backbone.

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Some folks have jumped on the band wagon and now tout Tennessee as "The Redoubt of the East." But violent crime statistics suggest that the American Redoubt is a much safer place to live. And the difference in the relative risk of being robbed at gunpoint is even more pronounced. (Granted, the state's crime problem is concentrated in its three largest cities: Memphis, Knoxville, and Nashville. It is unfortunate that these population centers aren't all at one end of the state. Thankfully the rural areas are much safer.) Tennessee's root problem is its overall high population density. The population density of the state averages 153 people per square mile. (For comparison, Idaho has 19 people per square mile, Montana has less than 7 per square mile, and Wyoming has less than 6 per square mile.) The population of just the city of Memphis is 652,000. That is more than the entire state of Wyoming! (With just 568,000 people, Wyoming is the least populous and the second least densely populated of the 50 States. Yet it is 10th largest state, in land area.) Tennessee's state population is more than 6.4 million. That is far greater than all of the American Redoubt counties in the five Redoubt states, combined. But you could easily fit the equivalent of seven Tennessees in a map of the American Redoubt. Note that the American Redoubt region does not include the more populous (and higher crime rate) counties of western Oregon and western Washington. The Cascade mountains make a nice buffer.

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I got a recommendation for Wyoming Armory in Cody, Wyoming. They have an amazing inventory of rifles--both antique and modern.

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Reader K.T. mentioned a fascinating look at the ammo-making processes at CCI--the big .22 rimfire maker in Lewiston, Idaho.

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Where you can afford to live on Minimum Wage. Again, the American Redoubt fares well (Thanks to T.G. for the link.)

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Some bad reciprocity news: Nevada will no longer recognize Arizona concealed weapon permits.


Monday, April 1, 2013


[Editor's Note: I'm posting this as a favor for one of my old consulting clients. I have visited this ranch, and I can attest that it is an amazing fully-equipped off-grid ranch with large acreage. This would be a great opportunity for an energetic couple that wants to live in the boonies but that cannot afford a retreat of their own.]

Seeking two-person team for hard labor job running a remote ranch, dealing with cattle, grain farming, large garden, and ranch maintenance.

Personal requirements: Stable relationship, no children at home, no smoking, drug use, drinking, or criminal history. We will check.
Must have lived and worked in the country and understand that ranch life is a 24/7 job.

This is not a retirement position. Nearest drug store or doctor is 100 miles away, neighbors are few so you must have no major medical problems.

At least one farm member must have experience growing crops and handling cattle, including operating and repairing machinery.

The other member should plan to plant and harvest a large garden and can some and separately have basic computer skills to prepare/submit weekly report of daily activities.

Submit detailed resumes, including education, work history, skills, goals and three non-family references with phone numbers. No single person applications please or request for telephone call first.

Total compensation for both: $44,000 per year including basic health insurance, bonus plus detached caretaker house, utilities, garden food, good hunting, some fishing.

Interested and available candidates are urged to send their resumes with cover letters to "Archie" at this address: rm33307736@gmail.com. Be prepared to subsequently provide references.


Sunday, March 31, 2013


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good luck and happy prepping.


Friday, March 29, 2013


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


Tuesday, March 26, 2013


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

   o o o

Montana legislators vote to nullify news Federal guns laws.

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

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

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Why Idaho's Governor Switched From Fighting Obamacare


Sunday, March 24, 2013


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

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

1) WHEN IN DOUBT, GET OUT

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

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

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

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

2) NEVER TRUST POLITICIANS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3) BE READY TO FIGHT

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

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

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

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

4) THE LAW IS YOUR FRIEND, UNTIL IT ISN'T

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

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

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

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

5) COMMUNITY IS THE KEY TO SURVIVAL

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

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

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, March 20, 2013


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tuesday, March 19, 2013


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

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

There are several advantages to these counties:
1. Significantly lower property prices.
2. Lower property tax rates.
3. Significantly lower population density.
4. Less intrusive county governments. The difference is stark. See
these:
http://personalliberty.com/2012/07/30/man-arrested-for-collecting-rainwater-on-his-property/

http://www.heraldandnews.com/breaking/article_945b079e-5ff9-11e2-b8ab-001a4bcf887a.html

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

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2535654/

Along with some disadvantages:
1. Potentially less economic opportunity.
2. Weather is not as favorable for food production; shorter growing season.
3. There are still some pot growers here.
4. Water is less plentiful, and in some areas can be problematic. See:
http://www.theclimategatebook.com/dam-idiots-caught-using-junk-science-on-klamath-river/

http://www.myoutdoorbuddy.com/fishing_hunting_water_report.php?water=705

http://www.klamathbasincrisis.org/

http://www.klamathbucketbrigade.org/

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



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

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

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

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House clears bill protecting Idaho-made firearms

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


Monday, March 18, 2013


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

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

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

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


Sunday, March 17, 2013


Introduction:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’ve loosely defined these events by severity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

COUNTING ON THE RAPTURE IS NOT A PREPAREDNESS PLAN!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Saturday, March 16, 2013


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

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

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

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

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

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

Can you offer any recommendations on areas surrounding this community which are less prone to be riddled with pot growers?

Thank you for any insight you might share. Sincerely, - C.D.

JWR Replies: Unfortunately, most of western Oregon is infested with pot growers. That is one of just many reasons why I did not include it when I delineated the American Redoubt region. (Along with factors like high property taxes, crime, welfare dependency, statist attitudes, etc.)

In any of the western counties in Oregon, the chances are fairly high that you will have pot growing neighbors if you buy land outside of city limits unless your neighbors are legitimate traditional produce farmers or stockmen. If you could find a property with mostly farms or ranches around it, then that would be your safest bet.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Gunwerks in Burlington, Wyoming has introduced several new products and they now offer a ballistics calculator, but their phenomenally accurate long range rifles are still their forte. Their long range shooting courses have been taught in Wyoming, Utah, West Virginia, Texas, and Canada.

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Larry Pratt will be speaking at two southern Idaho Patriots Night events! Friday, March 22, 2013 at the Nampa Civic Center, 311 Third Street South, Nampa, 6:00 p.m. Social Hour/Meet and Greet, 7:00 p.m. Keynote Speaker Larry Pratt followed by Q&A. Admission is $5.00 for Club members (Parma Rod and Gun Club, Nampa Rod and Gun Club, or Gem County Rod and Gun Club) and $10.00 for the general public. This includes a raffle ticket for door prizes. You can reserve tickets at the Parma web site, under Special Events.

A M1911 pistol from STI will be raffled during the event. For questions about this event, please contact Aaron Goodfellow.

Then, the following evening: Larry Pratt and Chad Huff (the Payette County Sheriff) will be the guest speakers on Saturday, March 23rd, 6 p.m. at McCain Middle School, 400 N. Iowa Avenue, in Payette, Idaho. Organizers say: "Larry Pratt will explain the dynamics of the federal 'gun control' push and how it is being used to attack our Second Amendment Rights." Admission is $10. Doors open at 6 PM for social hour and dessert bar. Event begins at 7 PM. Seating is limited, so get your tickets in advance. For more information or to buy tickets, please call: Howard at (208) 642-3854 or Bruce at (208) 440-9080.

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The folks at Nemo Arms (in Kalispell, Montana) are reporting "brisk" sales. That comes as no great surprise, in today's market. Also in Kalispell, Sonju Industrial (SI) is working as quickly as possible to crank out AR-15 and AR-10 receivers. By the way, it had been planned for SI to be acquired by Nemo Arms, but that deal fell though. But the two companies are still working cooperatively.

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For those who observe the Feasts in the Spokane, Washington area, I heard about this Messianic congregation:

Kehilat HaMashiach
13506 E. Broadway Ave
Spokane Valley , Washington 99216
509-465-9523 (Phone) / 509-465-0451 (FAX)

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Idaho bull sells for $600,000, sets world record


Tuesday, March 5, 2013


James,  
I recently moved from Phoenix to a neat little remote town in North central Nevada about 7.5 hours north of Vegas and 3 hours west of Reno.   It is a survivalists dream,  sits in a approx 50 mile high desert valley about 4,500 foot elevation surrounded by mountains ranges that protect it from almost all adverse winter storms, etc.   The people are mostly mine workers and very old fashioned, level-headed types who enjoy being isolated and unregulated by the current trends elsewhere.  The area has hundreds of old forestry, mining locations most long since shutdown and forgotten, historic ghost  towns, and many Bureau of Land Management (BLM) areas, with abundant springs.  You can travel 30 to 75 miles in any direction from Gabbs and not see human habitation. There are several mine built homes in Gabbs, vacant and for sale, prices range range from a few thousand to approximately $35,000 on the high side, with water and electric service.  
 
We are inviting preppers to relocate to the area. Many longtime residents were preppers without knowing the word.  Your word and reputation are still King. This is a very tight community, but a like minded country attitude goes a long way here. There is a Mormon church and they provide open arms to all that respond.

I would like to make your readers aware of the town.  We have a post office, fire department and limited city services. But the area is a very viable location with little or no restrictions on housing, firearms, ATVs, camping, hunting,  and prepping are a way of life here.
 
Your friend in God. - John in Nevada (formerly John in Arizona)


Monday, March 4, 2013


Many readers will recall that my 2011 novel "Survivors: A Novel of the Coming Collapse" was partly set in and near Farmington, New Mexico. I chose that region because it has a particularly resilient power grid. In the novel I described how Farmington Electric Utility System (FEUS) has made contingency plans to immediately reconstitute a local power grid, in the event of a western power grid collapse. This was not just literary license on my part. It was based on a face-to-face interview with a FEUS manager that I conducted in 2009, as I was researching locales for the novel. That manager told me that if the western grid collapsed, all FEUS customers could have their power restored in less than a minute. This capability is called "islanding" or "controlled system separation." While not a secret, islanding capability is not well-known outside of the power industry. Islanding is also uncommon in most of the United States. (Most Americans live in areas where the majority of their power is imported from the larger grids. It is only in a few areas such as the Pacific Northwest and the Four Corners that are net power exporters. This zoomable map shows you the Big Picture for the US and parts of Canada.

America's Three Power Grids

There are actually three main power grids in the United States: an eastern grid, a western grid, and a Texas grid. This map shows the dividing lines, and this map shows some planned changes. Within those three grids, there are distinct service areas. And within those service areas, there is a patchwork of large power companies, co-ops, and a few independent power producers.

The majority of Americans depend on power that comes from coal-fired or nuclear power plants. Both of these sources would be problematic in the event of major societal disruption. NERC regulations require shutdowns of nuclear plants for trivial reasons, and coal-fired plants require literally trainloads of coal to keep running. The most stable power in event of an economic disaster will be hydroelectric. The Pacific Northwest has the clear advantage in hydroelectric power and some of the most reliable and least expensive power in the country. Generally, where there are large dams there is plentiful hydro power, and the greatest potential for stable local islanding. (But note that potential does not necessarily mean planned. You will need to check on that with your local power company's management to see if they have made the requisite arrangements for islanding.)

Where Will the Islands be?

Do some online research to find maps like this one: Map of Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) transmission lines. Then call you local utility and find out if they are power exporters or importers. If they are exporters, ask if they have an islanding plan.

Long Term?

In the event of a long term grid-down situation where the coal trains stop running there will just be a few areas that will have reliable power. Most of these will be in the Pacific Northwest, where hydroelectric power predominates.

Black Startup

In the event that one or all three American grids collapse because of something catastrophic such as a major solar flare, or an economic whammy that stops coal train traffic, getting the grids back up might be difficult. Typically a power plant requires lots of outside power to be re-started. The re-starts that done without functioning outside power--commonly called Black Startup or Dark Startup --are a challenge. Here is a quote from the sometimes useful LeftistAgendaPedia: "To provide a black start, some power stations have small diesel generators which can be used to start larger generators (of several megawatts capacity), which in turn can be used to start the main power station generators." In the event of a nationwide collapse of the power grid, the best chance for power plants to be restarted and partial grid restoration will be in the Northwest, where hydro power will be available to feed the grid.

Off The Grid

Home generation is the sure way of knowing that you will have power. (Even if you are fortunate enough to live near a hydroelectric dam or geothermal power plant, you can't assume that your power will be restored in the event of a power grid collapse.) Home power systems that are not grid tied will be the most resilient to solar storms or EMP. This is because grid power lines can act as unintentional antennas. To be fully prepared for a solar storm, it might be necessary to store spare charge controllers and perhaps even spare inverters, for a worst case. These spares should be stored disconnected, preferably in Faraday enclosures.

If you are planning to strategically relocate your family to a safe region, I recommend that power utility islanding be part of your criteria for choosing locales. Places with plentiful hydroelectric power are your best bet. But again, don't just assume that they are ready for islanding. Take the time to call the local power company or co-op, and ask them if they have contingency plans for islanding, and if so what would be the geographic boundaries for their planned island. This could make a huge difference for the quality of life that you will have in the dark times to come. - J.W.R.



Taking note of the recent passage of The Firearms Safety Act in the Maryland Senate, New York's SAFE Act, and other legislation that appears very likely to be enacted, Todd Savage of SurvivalRetreatConsulting.com has announced a 20% discount for "gun law refugee" clients. He is now extending the 20% discount to residents of California, Colorado, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York who identify themselves as gun law refugees.

I predict that the American Redoubt will soon have a large influx of residents hailing from states with draconian new gun laws. I was glad to hear that Todd Savage is helping freedom-loving people find a better place to live. - J.W.R.


Tuesday, February 26, 2013


Captain Rawles,
I am one of those people that the liberals like to call a racist because I am outspoken about my hatred of the Muslim anti-American criminal in the Whitehouse. In 2000 I voted for Alan Keyes. In 2004 he wasn’t on the ballot so I wrote him in. If Dr. Benjamin Carson decides to run, I will very likely vote for him too. LTC Alan West is one of my heroes. I read the editorials of Walter Williams, Thomas Sowell, and Ellis Washington every week without fail. I consider them to be extremely intelligent and honorable.
 
If this man is a Christian, reveres our Constitution, and tries to live his life with honor then I think he will find himself quite welcome in my neighborhood (somewhere in Idaho). - Maddog

James,
I wanted to comment on this gentleman's question. (If not posted possibly cut and paste and forward to him.) I am from Southern California and have lived in Western Wyoming for about eight years now. I am half Italian with a very obvious Italian last name. I have never seen any issues where people cared about where I was from. On a more specific note, I have a very close friend that is African American and his wife is Puerto Rican. They came to visit us for a week with great hesitation due to his skin color. They had a wonderful time being taken around town and being introduced to our friends and acquaintances. As we hugged to say goodbye there were tears in his eyes because of the love that was shown to him at the local restaurants, the neighbors, people at the general store, church, etc.

I am 42 years old and have seen a lot of hatred as a law enforcement officer in California. I am proud to say that we do not judge people by the color of their skin in this area. We are more concerned about the caliber of their rifle and the goodness in their heart.
Yes in some ways America is getting better and better everyday! - Tony in Wyoming


FMJ
The redoubt has a higher proportion of former military members than the nation at large and military service [serving alongside] those of other races goes a long way to eliminating ignorance.   I recommend you plan a vacation through as much of the area as you can to get a feel for things.  You may be more comfortable around college towns so check out the Helena, Montana, Cheyenne, Wyoming  and Boise, Idaho area. [JWR Adds: I'd also recommend Moscow, Idaho and Bozeman, Montana.] I live in Boise where racism is nearly a non-issue but with that choice comes all the downside of being in a populated area including the loss of the ability to become truly self-reliant.  Like everything else, you’ll need to set your priorities.    I strongly believe that, if you’re a person of character, that will be a much more important factor in your being “accepted” than your race.  Good luck. - Jan G.



Here is an interesting new underground storage shelter made by a company on the Montana/Idaho state line: NotaBunker.com. They have a PDF brochure available. They are offering free shipping in a 200 mile radius of Heron, Montana.

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The Washington state legislature opting for Full Californication? A 47.5 cent per gallon fuel tax? (More reasons for Washington's eastern counties to spilt off and form their own state!)

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Oregon legislators clone Washington's bad law: Is Oregon writing the Worst. Gun. Law. Evah? (If this passes, it will be the queue for Oregon's counties east of the Cascades to split off and form their own state.) Here is a PDF of the text of the bill. Oh, but other news sources say that they are abandoning that legislation, to focus on other gun-related laws.

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Wyoming state representative Hans Hunt politely tells a newly-arrived liberal: "By All Means, Leave."

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Roadkill rule offers Idaho new opportunities for fame. And in related news: Montana Bill Would Legalize Roadkill Dining

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Dr. Krayton Kerns, a Montana legislator has authored HB302, a bill that would prohibit state personnel and funds from being used to enforce an unconstitutional federal ban on semiautomatic weapons and high capacity magazines. In his blog, Kerns reports: "The opposition [in committee] was fierce. HB302 was voted out of committee 12-8, entirely along party lines with no support from even one Democrat." Kerns has also written a lot of other great essays.


Monday, February 25, 2013


Hello sir.
I am a sheepdog that is very aware and nervous about the way things are progressing. I have been a prepper for a while. It's a side effect of my upbringing and career.
I have been researching whether it is realistic and feasible for me to relocate to the American Redoubt. I am a black American, although I am really just an American like you! I see a lot that I like, however I am worried that a black man (light skinned, but still, LOL) would not be generally welcome in that region and/or have to be constantly on guard because of a heavy presence of neo-nazi groups and other racist. Is this a false worry? Please answer me candidly. I am not offended by plain straight talk. I prefer it!
I have raised my children to understand the situation in our country, as well as how to live by the Golden Rule, humility and when to shoot.
God has been shielding me a great deal in the past and lately, and I cannot ignore his voice urging me to be ready for a near crisis.
Thank you for your time. - F.M.J.

JWR Replies: I'll pray that your planned upcoming move goes well. I have seen no "...heavy presence of neo-nazi groups".  That is a myth perpetuated by the media.  The most vocal neo-nazis were run out of town in Hayden Lake, Idaho 13 years ago.

The per capita number of haters is no greater in the Redoubt than in the other western states.  In my experience, people here are judged by their politics and religious affiliations more than they are their skin color.  If you are a conservative, then you'd certainly be welcome here.  

White, Black, Yellow, and Brown people people who drive a Prius or Volvo slathered with liberal slogan bumper stickers are the ones who get razzed here.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013


News from Western Montana: Fertile Ground for Gun Makers

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Several new property listings have been posted at SurvivalRealty.com. Nearly half of the 120+ listings are in the American Redoubt. OBTW, one of the latest listings is in Moyie Springs, Idaho--one of the two towns where I maintain mail forwarding addresses.

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Montana Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association Position on Gun Legislation: "As our state and country continue to discuss and debate gun control legislation, the position of our association remains steadfast: the MSPOA will not waver in our defense of the Constitution and will stand to preserve our constituents' right to possess firearms and the protections insured by the other nine amendments contained in the Bill of Rights.

The MSPOA feels that any legislation that takes away constitutional protections, including gun rights, from law-abiding citizens will not alleviate or eliminate the threat from violent or mentally ill individuals. In fact, it would expose our law-abiding neighbors to violence with fewer resources to counter them with."

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Montana led the way: Push to keep feds out of state gun markets gains momentum


Friday, February 15, 2013


Our story begins enslaved to a job in a middle-class suburb and ends mortgage-free in the Missouri Ozarks with us making ambitious strides toward off-grid living and growing all we eat. Unlike Jed Clampett’s kinfolk who urged luxurious city life, ours would have warned us to stay put, keep our jobs and fit in – if only they had known what we were up to.

If you dream of “someday” leaving your weekly paycheck for a more rewarding, self-reliant country life, but think you must wait (because of your “secure” job, societal expectations or whatever else is holding you), consider how we did it. With one $12 an hour job and no savings, we bought a sturdy old house on 30 acres in the woods, now work from home and have no mortgage. Today, begin your dream, even if you only sketch a rough draft. Truly decide and visualize what you want. By continuously meditating on them, dreams become reality. Ours did. Yours can, too.

After attending a free local preparedness class in 2009 and reading James Howard Kunstler’s “The Long Emergency,” my husband and I decided our rural subdivision was dangerously close to 200,000 potentially starving, looting inhabitants. We discussed moving further into the country, but weren’t sure how to do it. At the end of any week, we didn’t have two extra nickels to rub together. Or, as my mother would say, “What are you going to buy it with? Buttons?”  Well, that’s precisely what we did.

Reasons to leave

Despite our humble financial situation, we decided to seek more secluded property. First, in a worst-case scenario, at 25 miles from Missouri’s third-largest city, we were within realistic walking distance of thousands of people who had not prepared for disaster of any sort. Although generous, especially my husband, who is happiest helping others attain self-sufficiency, we feared our 5-gallon buckets of dried beans, rice and oatmeal would vanish overnight in a catastrophe.
Equally important, we dreamed of a meaningful life away from traffic, toxins, cell towers, TV, Wi-Fi and electronic everything. Because we enjoy planting, tending, harvesting and eating organic food, we wanted more space to do so. We wanted clean air and water, plenty of firewood to cut and chemical-free wild edibles. Nearing our 50s, we wanted simply to enjoy life, strengthening our relationship as we worked side by side to sustain ourselves.
Once content on our fenced, three-acre paradise with wind- and solar-energy systems, greenhouse, raised-bed gardens galore, fruit and nut trees, berry bushes and a disaster-resistant home, our serenity faded as the economy plummeted. Our fence did well to prohibit rabbits and deer from ravaging our gardens, but could not keep out the most lethal invaders – cold, desperate and hungry humans.
Deciding to leave was easy. Without any savings or potential income in a remote area, however, crafting a plan took ingenuity. In the face of criticism, skepticism and rejection, we proved it is possible. We hope to inspire others to find their way, too, out of Dodge – or Detroit, Dallas and Denver.

Where does the money go?

Although always living modestly, shopping in thrift stores, buying used vehicles instead of new, and making or restoring most of our needs, we were like many Americans working to work. We had no debt, just typical utility bills, insurance, gasoline, taxes and grocery costs. Since we grew much of our own food, had no mortgage and generated a portion of our electricity, our expenses were considerably less than most. Yet, we had absolutely no savings.
It seems, no matter what a family’s income is, living expenses equal that amount with nothing left over. Throughout my own lifetime, if I made $10 and hour, I spent $10 an hour. If I earned $20 an hour, I spent $20 an hour, and so on. Working away from home often demands so much energy and absence that it seems grueling to ponder an alternative. Eventually, I recognized how my desk job exhausted me, yet, I came alive clearing brush or planting potatoes. We had to find a way out of the trap.
We wanted 20-50 wooded acres with a small fixer-upper house, but how could we afford that? Online real estate searches revealed the remote property we sought required at least $100,000. Thus began a tumultuous roller coaster ride. Following the trodden path, we went to the local bank to inquire about a short-term mortgage. Our home and property surely had as much value as what we sought, right?

Unfortunately, we could not sell our property first. We still needed a place to sleep, store things and grow food. In our view, the super-efficient home my husband built seven years earlier would sell for the same as what we hoped to find. Banks, however, prefer a sure thing. There was no guarantee our property would sell as quickly as we thought. (It ended up taking two years to sell our home.) We also learned banks lend only a portion of a property’s value, not the entire amount.
Despite facing many obstacles, producing reams of evidential documents (some a decade old) and being turned down by several lenders, we persisted. Not everyone denied us, as abundant crooks agreed to finance our mortgage with inflated rates and nonsensical fees. Finally, we found a reasonable financier three counties away willing to work with us.

Searching for property

With approval for $120,000, we eagerly began hunting for our dream property. Like greenhorns, we started by viewing multi-listings on the Internet. Online searches now are easy, as buyers can sort properties according to price, size, location, acreage and more. However, as we learned later, web listings don’t include the best deals, such as foreclosures or “absolute” auctions, where sellers will accept any bid, no matter how outrageous.

Often, banks or realtors will hold huge auctions, selling possibly 100 parcels in a single day. At a recent local auction, a lakeside lot sold for a few hundred dollars and a former auto repair shop with some tools and equipment netted $5,000. Buyers may visit the properties a few days before the auction. Still, such purchases are riskier and may even sell at higher prices than traditional sales. For more information on finding foreclosures, visit http://homebuying.about.com, which has links to many sites to get you started.

Attending a county sale on the courthouse steps for a property being auctioned for unpaid taxes is another way to nab inexpensive land, but not a good choice if you immediately want to occupy it. Many times, the owner has a year or two to make good on the tax debt to regain the property, in which case the buyer is out all sweat equity invested. Check with the county clerk before bidding.

Since I worked full-time, my husband assumed the tedium of searching online and calling about properties. We visited the first four properties together on a sunny Saturday in September 2009. The sites were vastly different and spread over a 100-mile radius. We met up with one agent to tour a two-story, rundown home with moldy walls and saggy floors that was filled from basement to roof with garbage. Funny, it looked charming in the photos.

Next, we met another agent in a coffee shop who must have been late for an appointment, as he led us on a harrowing ride to see three other homes. We hit a buzzard, breaking a fog-light bracket, as we tried to keep up with the speedy agent on winding county roads. Something didn’t suit us with each of the properties – too open, dilapidated, populated, expensive, big, or whatever.

The land that I love

The next day, yet another agent showed us MY dream property. (Pay attention, ladies. This section is important.) Actually, my husband liked the property, too, and we made the 350-mile round trip to see it three times. Even though the 30-acre, $130,000 property had some issues (a water well shared with a neighboring cattle farm, freshly timbered woods, too close to the road, truckloads of junk to haul, and the house needed a new roof), we made an offer of $115,000 that was begrudgingly accepted by all parties.

The comfy two-bedroom 1960s ranch house had a full, finished basement and reminded me so much of the house I grew up in. There were several outbuildings including a large barn, mature fruit trees, vegetable gardens, a cistern and root cellar. Oh, the fun I’d have storing our produce. The picturesque property was on a dead-end gravel road, surrounded by neighboring woods, and had a creek running through one corner.

I absolutely adored the house and took pictures and measurements of every room, closet and hallway. I used graph paper to sketch our furniture placement in the house I was sure was ours. I printed photos of the house and land from every angle and taped them up everywhere so I could see them as I cooked supper, brushed my teeth and dressed for work. I even penciled us in arm-in-arm on the photos and sketches. I visualized us already there. I thought about it constantly and was positive the house was ours. More than once, I headed the wrong way down our hallway toward the bathroom at night, thinking I was in that house, the only house I would ever want, the only house I could ever love.

Gathering down-payment money

While we waited for the roof inspection, water test, termite inspection, employment verification, loan approval, land appraisal, insurance estimates and a host of other boring paperwork necessities before closing, we set out to raise our down-payment money. Since we couldn’t increase our wages, we tried selling unneeded items. I easily sold an ugly peach-colored 1986 pickup for $600 and an old car for another $500. We also cashed in our IRA for a whopping $350. It seemed galaxies from our $115,000 goal, but we opened a savings account and faithfully put every extra cent there. We rolled up our pennies and deposited them, too.

We sold my husband’s fancy Trek bike on Craig’s List for $300 and a small motorized cement mixer for$ 100. We even sold our kitchen clock on Craig’s List for $10. I actually did miss that after selling it, but only because I still needed to know the time.
Next, I suggested eBay as another selling source. My only experience there was buying a used camera five years earlier. Since I already had an eBay account, away we went. It took time to comprehend the listing rules, methods and fees, and how to calculate shipping, choose auction styles, upload photos and so on. We started with a pair of trendy walking shoes that were a gift to my husband. We acknowledged the shoes had been worn twice and didn’t expect to get much for them. Imagine our excitement as we watched the seconds tick away on the auction, netting us a dumbfounding $260 for used shoes! And, the buyer was pleased.

Cleaning out the closets

After that, our daily routine included exhuming stuff from closets, drawers and the shed to take pleasing photos of, vividly describe and then post, package and ship all over the country. We sent a few items to Canada and one to Australia, but learned international shipping is expensive. Another nuisance was writing feedback, but it’s intended to keep buyers and sellers honest. In all of our transactions, we received only one negative comment, which was for a Mexican peso made into a necklace. I had the necklace since 1974 and sold it for 99 cents, yet the buyer complained that it looked darker (or was it lighter?) in the photo.
Living simply, we had no electronics, video games or gadgets, so we weren’t sure how much we could assemble for eBay. It astounded us. After one particularly busy weekend, I counted $2,000 worth of goods piled on the couch, ready to ship. Many sales shocked us — $100 for a glass coffee percolator, $17.50 for a fishing lure, $450 for an antique jug that I’d been dusting for 20 years. Some sales made us laugh — $36 for a postcard I found tucked inside a used book, $5 for an antique no-name motel key and an average of $20 each for a dozen used industrial laser lenses. Another we still chuckle about is a broken pocketknife that looked something like a woman’s leg in a cowboy boot. We zoomed in on the cracked knife handle, described its imperfections and watched in amazement as bids reached $30.

This next admission may seem horrid, but here goes: I broke apart the coin collection I started as a child in 1970 and sold each coin (hundreds of them), while my husband cut the stones from his late mother’s jewelry and sold the gold. We sold my grandfather’s World War I army medals, wooden shorebirds my late father carved 30 years ago and family antiques. My husband removed the 1940’s studio portrait of his mother and aunts, and then sold the fancy, convex oval frame for $86 to an eBay shopper who collects frames. She even sent an extra $25 for us to have the frame professionally packaged. Grandpa’s medals sold for $200 and went to his hometown where they are now proudly displayed. Strangers reprimanded us by posting harsh comments on eBay, but we kept focused on our goal.

When our stash depleted, we stopped at an estate auction one cold, rainy day just to see if that would be profitable. We spent $8 and earned $250, but learned auctions consume too much time for our tastes, especially during gardening season. We paid $1 for a quart jar of old buttons that I sorted to sell. All over the living room, I set categorized bowls of sorted glass buttons, shell buttons, wooden buttons, military buttons, pearl buttons and colorful plastic buttons. I’d lay them out individually for the photo shoot (front, back and sideways), and then write tantalizing descriptions. “This lavender shell button would look especially lovely on a silk blouse” and “this sparkly faux silver button would be adorable on a jean jacket,” etc. Like most of the artifacts we sold, we didn’t know a thing about their value – and didn’t care. Our philosophy was: If we could not eat it, wear it or use is as a tool, we sold it.

Mistakes happen

We made blunders along the way as we learned the art of online selling. We hoped to save shipping costs on a heavy antique wall-mount telephone, so we sent it via U.S. Postal Service ground transport. It arrived broken. Insurance covered the buyer’s loss, but we were out shipping expenses. It was a shame the beautiful telephone lasted 100 years until we got hold of it.
Once, I forgot to check the correct shipping amount on a leather coat. It sold for 99 cents (minus eBay fees), but cost us $10 to mail. I also sent a carved wooden cow to the wrong customer and didn’t notice until the buyer inquired about the cow’s delayed arrival. I refunded the buyer and learned who mistakenly received the cow, but left it at that. In our experience, most buyers were courteous and honest. But, whew, was I ever happy when all our sales finally ended.

A year later, I hoped to meet like minded preparedness folks online and thought I’d start a thread (a first-time forum viewer or poster anywhere). I figured others would relate to how we parted with mawkish family trinkets to buy our homestead. Instead, I was scolded for admitting what we sold. The so-called survivalists called me “sick” and “immoral.” I made one reader “utterly sad.” I assumed I’d be among friends, but instead was called a freak living an 1800’s minimalist lifestyle of toil and discomfort. In my opinion, those “survivalists” placed too much value on sentimental possessions. Still, they made me feel awful for weeks. My advice here is to avoid those who do not agree with your dream.

I recently came across a photo file of our eBay items, and you know what? I did not wish for a single item back. We made our first eBay sale in late October 2009. By April 2010, pooled with our other gleanings, we amassed $10,000 in our savings account, a feat which later required explaining to our lender.

If I had known sooner, I’d have kept better records, but among the mountain of documents our lender required, I also had to clarify how our savings grew from $0 to $10,200 in five months. We sold more than 400 eBay items, some for merely 59 cents, so the itemization was quite lengthy. The bank needed assurance we were not depositing borrowed money (a few dollars at a time). It took days, but I finished the list in time to close on my dream property in mid-May. I withdrew $450 to appraise the property as the lender required. We also spent $600 on a homemade trailer to begin moving. I was ecstatic.

Talking it over

As the closing date neared, my husband began seriously reconsidering the purchase. While I was blind to the flaws with the house, barn, land, mortgage, water, creek, road, insurance and location, my husband was practical. I begged and whined; he pointed out the property’s drawbacks.
But, I love that basement, I said.
The well is across the road, watering a neighbor’s cattle, he said.
The area is beautiful, I said.
It’s too expensive, he said.
I’ll work two jobs to pay for it, I said.
I mailed off $450 for the appraisal. Days later, my husband called to cancel the deal.

That was it. We lost our appraisal fee and some earnest money, but I didn’t care about that. I was heartbroken. I took down the pictures I had taped everywhere. I told my husband to sell the trailer (he didn’t). I pouted and wouldn’t look at other properties or even talk about them. I accepted we would never leave the subdivision. So, listening to the neighbors argue, I planted the garden and moped. My husband resumed looking for our dream house. While I brooded at work, he searched, researched, made calls and visited properties. He placed a newspaper ad, seeking to trade our property for one in the woods. (The effort failed, but was worth a try.) Next, he called banks and realtors for foreclosures. He intended to spend half of what we were approved to borrow.
They’re all junk, I said.
He looked away.
I said: "We’re never going to find a decent place for less than $50,000."
He ignored me.

Just three weeks after canceling the contract on my dream home, my husband happened to reach a realtor getting ready to list a foreclosure for $44,000. My husband went to see the neglected little house (four years’ abandoned) and then learned another buyer also was interested. The bank asked each to submit a bid. After my husband described the property to me (I was speaking to him by then), I recommended he bid $54,000. He didn’t listen to me (again!) and bid something lower.
I still had not seen the property when my husband called me at work and said, “Well, we could have gotten that place for $54,000 … (my heart sank) … but … we … got it for $48,000!” Now, that’s just not funny.

The house is solid, custom built in 1966 with hardwood floors and a good basement, large shop, shed and woods. The first time I saw it, there were rats on the porch (which sent the realtor screaming), molted snake skins near the house and billions of ticks in the yard. I thanked them all for keeping the place safe for us.

A month later, it was ours. I still thank my stubborn husband for finding our dream house. Leaving the bank with our contract for deed, I drove through the area of my former dream property and discovered it was not the remote wilderness I envisioned, but a popular recreation area. For 40 miles, I was wedged in a river of boats and campers as I drove past canoe rental sites, campgrounds and liquor stores. Among other sad realities, the neighboring trees that I had loved were being logged.

We would need to work three jobs to pay for what I declared was the only place in the world I wanted. I believed we’d pay off that dream-home mortgage in a few months when we sold our house. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Selling the subdivision house took 18 months longer than we estimated and netted half of what we anticipated. After paying closing costs, we’d have made only a dent in the $115,000 mortgage I reasoned we could easily afford. Instead, we have a perfectly cozy house with no mortgage.
After almost three years, we fix things as we go and both love our little piece of the Ozarks. I left my arduous desk job and now help my husband at our home-based business. Our income is less, but we have more money. I don’t fret all night worried about my job, nor do I spend three hours a day in the car.

Perhaps, we were just lucky. I don’t know. But, I believe dreams do come true if one is willing to work for them. Looking back, it all seems so easy. Below is my elementary guide for finding your dream property.

So, you want to Get out of Dodge?

  1. Begin today, right this minute, by deciding what you truly want. Then, never stop thinking about it. Mull it over on the way to work; talk about it with your spouse; reflect on it in the shower. Visualize yourself already there.
  2. Do whatever it takes to pay off your debt. Begin by eliminating all unnecessary expenses no matter how trivial. Put every extra penny toward paying ahead on those loans.
  3. Look around your home and ask, “Do I need it? Do I love it? Does it make me money?” If you can’t honestly answer that an item does at least one of those three things, get rid of it. If you can, sell it. If you tried and can’t get a dime for it, then donate or recycle it. Just let it go. Clutter holds you back and is difficult to move. Clutter costs money.
  4. Once the debt is gone, start saving. Again, every penny counts. Each small sacrifice will put you closer to your goal more quickly. Believe me, you will never look back with regret and wish you’d spent more on cappuccino or cable.
  5. As your bank account grows, start looking for your dream property. Call banks and real estate offices to learn about properties in foreclosure. Check Craig’s List and other online sites for properties for sale by owner. Scour the classifieds and legal ads for auctions.
  6. Meanwhile, begin learning self-reliant skills. Visit the library for do-it-yourself books. Attend gardening and preparedness classes. Begin mastering at least one skill that would be useful as a barter item. Turn off the television and read books.
  7. As you shop for land, be realistic, not emotional. Visit the property many times, in more than one season if possible. Consider where you will work and shop. Ensure you have more than one source of water.
  8. Avoid the naysayers and form friendships with like-minded people.

 


Tuesday, February 12, 2013


A Montana television station's regular programming was interrupted by news of a zombie apocalypse...

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FAA Releases New Drone List. (Note that there are just a few airports in the American Redoubt, compared to other parts of the country)

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Oregon-collared wolf killed by Idaho Hunter

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I heard that Armageddon Armory in Nampa, Idaho still has some firearms inventory available, and they just took delivery of a large batch of TAPCO polymer magazines. Many gun shops across the country have empty shelves. So it is nice find one that still has a decent inventory. At last report, they have available: "4 Century R1A1 .308 rifles, 6 Anderson Arms free float AR-15 rifles, 2 M1 Carbines, and just one each of the following: CETME .308, Springfield M1A SOCOM Scout, Sterling 9mm carbine, Calico 9mm, Barrett .50 BMG, Armalite bolt action .50 BMG, Bushmaster XM15 .223, Bushmaster M4, and a Stag Arms left hand AR-15." They also mentioned that they have "...more ammo en route at this time from Magtech and Sellier & Belloit."

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Where Are Guns Made? Mapping Gun And Ammunition Makers In Idaho. Oh, and next door: Firearm Manufacturers in Wyoming

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PNW Arms (in Potlatch, Idaho) is already well-known for their Cold Tracer bullets. They are now developing a line of bullets designed for extreme penetration through water. I'm sue that the U.S. Navy has taken notice.

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BVAC Ammunition (in Stevensville, Montana) is presently sold out of .223 ammunition. But they are doing their best to catch up. They still have several other types of ammunition in stock.

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WWII Battle of Midway hero Jim Muri dies at 93 in Billings, Montana.


Friday, February 8, 2013


James,
I read a post from one of the administrative members of the Citadel the other day.  He posted a request for "ways ahead" from group members (individuals who have paid the $208 application).  Specifically, he asked for suggestions on how to proceed given that they told the world they were looking for 3,000 acres on which to build their community.  Now, they are leaning towards a scaled down version to start; 200 acres.  While I don't find that too cosmic a question to ask, I do think incompetence is showing.  On top of that, the forum they've created for paid applicants seems to push people in the direction only they want to go.  Example, they have a subforum named "Name Our City".  In this, the administrator asks the masses what they'd like the area the Citadel lies on to be called if it is ever incorporated.  Members throw out their suggestions.  Then the administrator posts that they're pretty much focused on calling it "the Citadel" (so why even have the subforum in the first place?).  This is just one example (and a trivial one) on how uncoordinated this project is.  They should've had all the details laid out prior to recruiting.  Right now, I get the heavy impression this is being run be a handful of dreamers that are stumbling through the process.  I don't have high hopes that this is going to work
 
I gave them my $208 with serious reservations.  Why?  On the off chance that this is exactly what they say it is and everything works out.  Not really a hit on my finances, I had a slush fund and I'm way ahead of schedule with my preps.  I looked at it as a low risk, high pay off investment.  I didn't have to give them any info, just the money (right now).  In the future, they will be conducting interviews--so they say.  I can back out at any time. (We'll see if I get my money back). 
 
So, I wrote this to you because I trust you and you have the ear of many.  Please advise the masses as you see fit.  I'd request that if you post anything that I've wrote, you keep it anonymous please!  Keep your powder dry. - Mr. E.

JWR Replies: As I've mentioned before, I share some strong reservations about the Citadel community plan and the group's leadership. (Namely, Mr. Kerodin.) Our friend Patrice Lewis, who lives in the same county, recently wrote a cogent summary, in her excellent Rural Revolution blog. Some of the comments that follow are thought provoking.

A fundamental flaw is that they plan to lease shares in a walled community, rather than sell clear title to individual lots. Without private land holdings by the individual members, this wouldn't be much more than a hippie commune--albeit a heavily-armed hippie commune.

I know the region quite well. In fact, it is not far from where my first novel (Patriots) was set. The subdivision, zoning and permit requirements in Benewah County are favorable to development. (Much better than in adjoining Latah County, where there is a 40 acre minimum parcel size, for subdivision.) There are now permits required and a building code is enforced, but agricultural buildings are exempt.

Outside of the sprawling National Forest, the only large tracts of land around there (usually no more than 640 acre sections--see the checkerboard pattern of sections in the Forest Service maps) are mostly held by the big timber companies such as Potlatch.  The largest tracts and the most affordable (per acre) are mostly in high elevation country which have serious access problems in the winter and are pitiful, agriculturally.  (Again, because of the elevation, which means a short growing season.)

Generally, the big tracts of land don't go on the market until after they've been logged.  Bit I must mention that these days, the loggers no longer do many clear cuts, and they have special cutting plans required near streams.

While I do recommend the lower-elevation portions of the region, I don't think that the current Citadel plan has much chance of success. And as long as ex-felon Mr. Kerodin is in the leadership, I cannot endorse it.


Tuesday, February 5, 2013


A "2nd Right" rally is scheduled in Helena, Montana on February 8th. Montanans are urged to meet at their state capitol at 10 a.m. on February 8th. The meeting will be north of the Capitol Stairs, beside the statue. (Similar events will be held at the same local time, at state capitols nationwide.) Note that no weapons are allowed on Capitol Grounds in many states, but participants are encouraged to wear an empty holster, as a subtle message.

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Wyoming House Approves Bills Exempting State From Federal Gun Control Measures and Allowing Concealed Carry on Campus

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These tables and accompanying map should come as no surprise to SurvivalBlog readers. America's two conservative bastions are in the Rocky Mountain states, and in the deep south.

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An alert to Idahoans: Pending Vaccine Legislation

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And speaking of Idaho, there is growing resistance to an Obamacare Health Insurance Exchange.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Greetings from the American Redoubt!  
Thank you for the time and expertise that you put into your blog site.  Like many, we consider your web site, books, and archived blogs on DVD to be a critical component to our preparedness planning.   We appreciate the articles that you and others write; they are very educational and  help us focus our time and other resources in the right directions.  Because of this education, we made the decision that it was time to move to the American Redoubt, relocating from a very congested Southeastern city. 

The ads on the right side of your web page have led us to several good sources including Seed for Security, Big Berkey water filters, and Survival Retreat Consulting.  It's our experience with Todd Savage of Survival Retreat Consulting that we write about tonight.

We had been considering a move out west for years, and your blog convinced us to move to an American Redoubt state.  We have looked unsuccessfully for many years, in various parts of the country, for "the right place," to no avail.  That all changed when we contacted Todd. We were immediately at ease with him and felt confident that he could help us find "the right place."  We'd spent months poring over properties online, and we sent him our top choices in Northern Idaho and Northwest Montana, along with a list of our "musts" and "nice to haves."  Todd quickly connected us with top notch realtors and began previewing properties for us.  Within a month of our initial phone consultation, we were on a plane to visit potential retreats.

Todd created a very detailed notebook for us, listing the pros and cons of each property under consideration.  He provided information about the nearby towns that we had not discovered on our own. He even included suggestions for property improvements, such as aquaponics.

Todd had done his homework.  Using our list of "musts" he had eliminated several properties of interest, saving us time. He also worked with both realtors to locate additional properties for our consideration.  It was one of these "add on" properties that turned out to be "the right place."

Todd continued to work for us during the purchase process. He was consistently "same day" responsive, and was willing to do whatever it took to assist us in our purchase. He even drove four hours round trip to hike through the snow with his GPS to identify and mark the property corners before we moved in.

We cannot speak highly enough of Todd and his services. He has an upbeat, positive attitude and is quite knowledgeable about surveying a property for defensibility.  He rates properties on a scale to give one a better sense of how secure the property can be made, even providing photos of the potential retreats and suggestions for [security] outposts.

We would suggest to anyone who wants to move to the American Redoubt but has encountered many obstacles to call Todd. The safety of your family and their future is well worth the investment.

Because of your blog and Survival Retreat Consulting, we write this e-mail tonight, tucked into our cozy new home next to the wood burning stove.  Thanks to both of you for helping us accomplish a seemingly impossible task.  This home and property far exceeds what we had dreamed of.

Sincerely with best regards, - J. and E. in Northwest Montana



Yakima County sheriff says he opposes assault weapon ban

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A Washington State Republican in effect says: "If it is good for the Goose..." Rep. Joel Kretz introduces wolf relocation legislation. (Thanks to T.C. for the link.)

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I've been told that Bitterroot Valley Ammunition & Components (in Stevensville, Montana) has expanded again, and is still doing a tremendous volume of manufacturing, making cartridges all the way up to .50 Browning.

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Idaho lawmaker wants to mandate cursive handwriting

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The NRA has warned: "Last week, a group of state representatives introduced a bill that would restrict the rights of law-abiding citizens to carry a concealed firearm for self-defense. House Bill 200, introduced by Representatives David Northrup (R-50), David Blevins (R-25), Samuel Krone (R-24), and Lloyd Larsen (R- 54), would prohibit citizens from carrying a concealed firearm “into any meeting of a governmental entity.” This restriction is so broad and vague that it could be interpreted to include anywhere elected or appointed officials meet, even in taxpayer-funded public spaces."


Tuesday, January 22, 2013


In Wyoming: Supercomputer Opening Caps Years of Effort

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Buck Knives has completed their relocation to Post Falls, Idaho. They now offer tours of their factory.

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Idaho's minimum wage now even lower than neighboring states

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Reader R.B.S. forwarded a link to an Idaho job that you probably won't see elsewhere. Oh, but this might explain it: Sage grouse protection plan would set aside 1.7 million acres in West.


Friday, January 18, 2013


Captain Rawles:
Having read the two opposing viewpoints on this topic, I would like to weigh in and offer some insight for what it's worth.  It is always hard not to put people in a category, especially the protectors of our society, police and soldiers. 

I am also a retired peace officer and a military veteran, from a central California medium sized agency.  I have relocated to the American Redoubt because California's politics and downward spiral into the gutter was more than I could bear, especially as a civilian.  Apparently thousands of my fellow retired officers agree because they live here too.  Maybe we are onto something?  Maybe we have looked into the face of the enemy and realized that the enemy is our own species.

Both of my sons have followed in my footsteps with the same agency, and like their peers, are doing their time until they can retire at the earliest opportunity.  I consider both of them, like myself, sheepdogs.

During my 30 years of service, I worked patrol, the jail, K-9, undercover narcotics investigations, criminal investigations, and internal affairs.  I was also a member of our department's SWAT, and as a Sergeant and then as a Commander, supervised and managed various divisions including patrol, the jail, and investigations.  I have countless hours of in service training, including political violence and terrorism, and hostage negotiations.  I have a degree in Administration of Justice.  Most importantly, I have the experience of dealing with very bad people, some of whom have taken innocent life by violence, or who have abused and molested the innocent.

We can not lump firemen in with peace officers, nor can we include  dispatchers, or correctional officers, no offense to my friends.  It is a different mission, pure and simple.  Not to say that many of these folks do not hold the same "mindset".  For that matter, there are a whole lot of official, powers-of-arrest, firearms-toting "peace officers", who have never worked a night shift, served a warrant, written a crime report, made an arrest, or testified in court.  Everything from the state lottery, racing commission, the board of medical quality assurance,  and attorney general have "peace officers" on board.  Granted, I will give credit that many are retired or transferred from actual Sheriff and Police departments.  Suffice to say that there are few who have taken those scary walks in dark alleyways, with service weapon in hand, catching the bad people and protecting those who rely on them.

With that definition, let's examine some truths, at least those that I know.  I have no experience with cities like New York, Chicago, N. Orleans, or for that matter some little po-dunk in whatever part of this great nation, run by "good ol' boy" LEO's who are not even close to being a professional.  But we are all aware of the stereotypical, including some Federal agencies.  The culture of those places is foreign to me and most of the guys that I knew and hung with from agencies all over the state.  I am not aware of any of those who I would call my associates being involved in graft, turning a blind eye, or being robotic pawns for a corrupt system, federal or otherwise.

 More importantly, arresting people simply because they can be arrested, or chasing them down with guns drawn for misdemeanors and infractions like some kind of blue androids is something that goes against the grain of real cops.  Are there idiots out there even in the ranks of police?  Of course!  There are some who lack common sense, who can not identify with their role, but who slipped through the recruitment/training process.  But looking at the totality of it, the lone rangers never last long, and are not trusted by the veterans, and in many cases are even shunned.  

It is important to remember, we are not in the same political climate of times past.  This is a different beast that has reared it's ugly head, in a nation that is very, very divided, perhaps more so than at any other time in our history with the exception of the Civil War years.  Anyone doubting this can just go to an internet news release from any major news outlet, and scroll down to read the responsive comments.  In many cases it is outright vicious and ugly, and pretty asinine as well.  We have evolved into an "us vs. them" society.   Some days I wake up and wonder what happened.

Where do our police line up?  Well it is not with secular progressive liberal folks who want to disarm the general law abiding public, I can say that pretty confidently.  And our police are totally cognizant of the continual downward spiral and degradation of our society, from poorly educated young people to a morally bankrupt and drugged up populace.  They have seen the negative effects of a mamby-pamby outlook for punishing offenders, a re-hab mentality, redistribution of wealth in an entitlement-oriented world, and the worst, "tolerance", of just about everything that they don't believe is beneficial to our society.  Combine all of it and the result is, in one word, failure...big time.

Most cops can be labeled as conservatives.  A few liberal thinkers are here and there, but by and large, cops lean right.  They pay their bills, and are protective of their families.  Almost all believe strongly in the death penalty and strong punishment, and know that by the time cause is established in order to prosecute a suspect, most if not all suspects are in fact guilty, their right to a trial and multiple appeals notwithstanding;  furthermore, these people usually have more rights afforded to them than to their victims.  They also believe in SELF DEFENSE as part of right and wrong.  They know that folks should at least try to take care of themselves when possible, because cops do not live on every street corner and usually arrive on the scene after the fact, and sort out the mess.  They have a strong sense of protection.

Most abhor the politics, even their own employee associations;  a handful end up being the working stiffs for those roles.  Ask a working cop about gun control while he or she is on the job and they will often tap dance around the issue until they know they can trust the asker.  It is then that they will tell you that all "good guys" should have guns to take care of themselves and their families, and that they should use them well!  It makes a cop's job just a little easier, and maybe insures that he goes home at the end of his watch, unharmed.

Their bosses at top management levels often side with the political current which may change with the wind, in order to get elected or maintain their appointed position.  The working guys and gals usually don't trust these people either, and some are viewed as a sort of traitor.

The newer generation of police are up tight folks, and rightfully so, because they are constantly being recorded and watched, investigated by their own in addition to the standard watch dog efforts.

The old school, my generation, did not have all of this burden, and there seemed to be a tighter bond amongst us;  plus we had a lot more freedom on the job, sometimes even having a bit of fun with it.  General policies were fewer and less restrictive, and lacked the need for political correctness, and the penal code was a lot smaller!  Not taking everything and everybody so seriously was a huge stress reliever, which was needed in a field that suffered such a high rate of suicide and divorce.  Stress was there, just not talked about. 

For the most part, LEOs have a distrust for the media; being maligned  and given unwarranted "black eyes" for the sake of headlines.  Nor do they trust politicians, who have shown their propensity, time and again,  to lie like Russian radio stations.  In fact, cops tend to hang with each other, not John Q.  They hate going to non-cop events with a lot of crowds and fan fair, where they are usually the only ones introduced by their profession.  Most cops don't even like to have their "code 7" lunch breaks in busy public diners.  When one does befriend a civilian, it is usually a tight bond that will last indefinitely.

But they do know that their uniform targets them, and in a strange way, they are proud of that.  They know that they are held to a higher standard.  They are take charge people and do not run from danger, but usually run to it.  They view themselves as guardians, and are loyal to codes that have definite lines that are never crossed.  Any that are not an alpha personality usually don't last beyond a few years.

Cops view their jobs as babysitting an ignorant society hell bent on destroying themselves in a downward spiral of moral decay.  They see the worst of the worst, and at times end up at an interrogation table, "establishing a rapport" with people who they can't stomach in order to get an admission. They don't see themselves as "better" Americans...just separate and unique.  They are largely patriotic.  The older they get the more cynicism creeps in, but they see it as "it is what it is".

Cops see the criminal justice "system" as broken and unfixable, and do not hold lawmakers, lawyers or judges in high regard, with the exception of the few who espouse like ideals.  Ditto to the run of the mill parole, probation, and social service types who have been educated to "save" society by way of rehab, again, a different mission than that of "enforcement".  Of course there is always a contingent of these folks who hold similar conservative views and are tough on the bad guys, who remain friends to those on the line.

Young cops would work for free, to get a chance to chase the bad guys, roll "code 3" everywhere, and be the warrior they long to be.  These guys are the consummate young sheepdog, and live in an adrenaline-filled dreamscape of the chase.  You have to love them.  The older warriors are their heroes, and they pay attention to their lessons well.

The ever-fickle public they serve always wants the toughest cop on the planet to be the one who responds to their particular problem with a violent criminal or whose home is the target of an invasion. The darker the night gets, our sheep dog becomes everyone's daddy.  But, he knows that his role is fleeting and that the same public will complain to high heaven in different circumstances.  I can't count the times I was told that my badge was in jeopardy, and that I was reminded who paid my salary.  He profiles his targets carefully.  He does not believe in a gray world of no wrongs and no rights.  He knows that he must be the Rock of Gibraltar in the face of tragedy, especially for those who have been victims.  He has a soft spot for youngsters.  He doesn't discuss his troubles with partners or sergeants.  He cries alone.

All of these sweeping generalities said, I would also say that when it all comes down to the wire, cops for the most part are not going to play the patsy for an oppressive government.  They are smart enough to realize that those persecuted would also be family and friends.

And most see themselves as quite apart from their brethren in federal or even state service.  They also know the lines of differentiation between themselves those agencies who have little or no discretion, or who have a limited worldview of "enforcement".

In my humble opinion, our sheep dogs will, for the most part, line up on the same side of the fence as the general conservative and freedom-loving public when it comes to enforcing strict gun laws.  Why?  Because they have the discretion to do so, they have a lot of common sense, and the last thing they want to do is imprison folks for the sake of an unrealistic world view, which would include their friends and family and maybe even associates.  Discretion is the key word, and it is why we pick our candidates carefully.  Those who lack discretion never last in this career field.

Will they all just quit and toss their badges down?  No.  They will continue to do what they do best, which is to go into the night to protect us from the wolves, while we sleep.  There are enough bad guys, n'eer do well's, and hell-raisers to keep the jails full.  And if we ever undergo a societal collapse where police personnel can no longer feed their family on a cop's salary, then they will just go home, and be one of us, and take care of their own.  In fact I would go so far as to say that the majority of working peace officers would actually encourage folks to be self-sustaining preppers!

Some of the more trustworthy people I ever knew when I was working "the street" were just good, hardworking, honest people who would do their best to keep me out of a jam, and most of them were armed to the teeth, and I knew it too.  A smile always came across my face when one of these men or women would show up, because I knew that they would back me up even if the bad guys outnumbered us.  Sheep dogs are sheep dogs.  Period. - L.D.

 

Sir:
Thank you, Mr. Rawles, for sharing your vision and maintaining a web site where we can gather great ideas on so many topics.

I also thank you for taking a moment to consider my thoughts in this reply to "A Prepared Sheepdog" on the 'goodness' of law enforcement.

My comments are not those of a LEO-hating perp, but are the development of a lifetime of objective witness and thinking about the police state and this condition we call liberty. I also point out that this issue is not solely about what LEO will do when the call comes to disarm Americans, but rather what they are doing now in regards to the liberties of Americans.
Mr. Sheepdog, the "the disturbing trend" is not one of "anti-law enforcement sentiment." The disturbing trend is one where law enforcement is exhibiting a growing disregard for the liberties and Constitutional protections of American citizens. I agree, Mr. Sheepdog, that it could be considered "biased" to distrust an entire vocational group, but when it comes to law enforcement, the behavior of the entire vocation speaks for itself. I share a personal example, and then I explain what we are facing.

I have never been arrested in my life. I haven't gotten so much as a traffic ticket in the past 17 years, and I earned that last ticket while exceeding the speed limit on an open interstate so I wouldn't be late for church with my parents on Easter Sunday. A high-school valedictorian, honorable military service, deans-list, honor-society kind of guy who now works in an appointed academic leadership role for a well-known university. I guess I'm trying to say that I'm no thug, nor am I a liberal. I am an AR15 owning, Constitution-loving, amateur prepper, and I am deeply alarmed by the growing thuggishness of modern law enforcement toward everyone It seems that the concept of law enforcement is one of worship, where we have elevated men and women to a "can't fail" cult status, most of whom have not even obtained a college degree.

I don't challenge the idea that their job is difficult, but hundreds of occupations are just as emotionally challenging and difficult as LEO, yet we don't see them committing crime after crime against Americans and falling back on the image of their job for exoneration.

About a month ago I was driving on an interstate almost 50 miles from the border when I was directed to "secondary" at a non-border checkpoint. I don't know what made Customs and Border Patrol to think I was somehow in violation of whatever Customs and Border issues they were enforcing, but I didn't argue and pulled into secondary. Maybe it was the trailer I was towing, but I had committed no crimes.

The first agent approached my vehicle and asked me where I came from. I told him that if he articulated some suspicion of a crime he believed I committed, I would answer his questions, but until then I wasn't answering any and I would like to be on my way. I pointed out that I had not crossed any borders, and the road we were on didn't even cross a US border. He immediately escalated the issue, demanding that I produce an ID. I told him I would be happy to show my ID, but I first wanted to know what potential crime they were investigating. No crime was articulated. He then threatened me, saying if I didn't tell them who I was, he was going to take me inside and "roll me." I told him to do what he had to do. He turned to the agent beside him and told him to "get the suit and the taser."

He then took a couple steps back from my vehicle, and I think that is when he noticed my GoPro camera mounted on the dash, recording the exchange, because his demeanor changed. It appears he took a good look at the scenario, and I think he realized that he might be wading into some deep water without a life jacket. I'm not much to look at, easy to stereotype as an insignificant nobody, and I was dressed for driving in a faded print tee and some basketball shorts, but I was driving an impeccably clean and polished vehicle with a high-end trailer. And I was talking to him with respect, consideration, and intelligence.

Far be it from him and the crew, however, to lose such an encounter over something pesky like the Constitution.
In the next few minutes, there appeared a half-dozen agents all around me, one of them with a dog. Then for the next 30 minutes they attempted to make a case as to why I should give them personal information. Among their arguments; when I asked if I was being detained, on agent said "yes." When I asked why, no one could give me an answer. My new question then became, "why are you detaining me," whereupon the new answer became "we are not detaining you." So then when I asked if I was free to go, the answer was "no, you are detaining yourself." The angry agent actually said that several times. He even said that the burden of identifying myself fell on me, and that until I could prove to him that I wasn't an illegal alien, he could assume that I was an illegal. I quickly pointed out that we are all "innocent until proven guilty," that he did not enjoy the privilege of deciding who was guilty, and that in order for him to take action against me as a suspected illegal, both himself and every other agent who walked into view of my camera were going to have to articulate to a judge exactly why they suspected me to be an illegal, and that I would be happy to have that discussion. Several of the agents immediately walked away.

The next threat was that I would be kept there all night if I refused to tell them who I was. I asked them why they would keep my all night and refuse to let me go when none of them could actually explain why they even stopped me and were detaining me. Again, their response was to place the blame back on me, an important caveat that needs to be kept in mind. I asked the agent if by some chance I ended up before a judge, would he tell the judge that "I detained myself." He refused to answer that, whereupon I announced that I was “undetaining” myself and I would like to be on my way. They refused to allow me to go.

Out came the information poster board; they held it up next to the driver door while standing around me now taking pictures of me. I told them I didn't want them taking pictures of me, whereupon they announced they had just as much right to take my picture as I did to record them. I told them what they were forgetting was that I have a right to travel in my own country free and unmolested by law enforcement and they were infringing that right, and that I would never stop them and force them to sit there so I could take their picture, so their claims of having that "right" were unethical and flawed. No concession.

The poster they held up outlined the privileges as defined by the USSC and legislation. I then challenged them to show me on that poster where it said I had any obligation to submit to identifying myself when I had committed no crime. They truly were stumped...one agent actually studied the poster with a little look of surprise on his face because it appears that none of them were aware that nowhere on that poster did it outline the citizen's obligations at a non-border checkpoint.

One agent suggested that I was in violation of a law by refusing to identify myself. I adjusted my camera (for dramatic effect) and asked him to clarify; "am I in violation of any law by refusing to identify myself?" He actually said, "yeah, you are in violation of a law. I don't know what law, but there is one." I then asked him if he planned to arrest me for a law that he really wasn't sure about. Another agent attempted to bail him out of his stupid comment by saying, "you are in violation of yourself." I calmly pointed out that his notion was absolutely ridiculous and that their nonsense had long lost any semblance of legal language.

Then the waterworks came on; the original angry agent started to emote about how I wouldn't find a more avid follower of the Constitution than himself and he empathized with me. I told him then he should understand why I don't think there's anything noble or Constitutional about stopping without cause someone who is just driving down the highway, and trying to make them answer personal questions. This quickly devolved into the entire group of them standing by my door saying they would prefer to be chasing illegals in the desert, and catching big trucks with loads of drugs or illegals on board, and that they are "just doing" their job and this is not the place to make a statement. I pointed out that I had places to go, things to do, and making a statement was not one of them. My refusal to identify myself was based solely on a love for the protections of the Constitution. I reminded them that I had no plans to talk to a federal law enforcement agent today, but that they had stopped me, therefore it was illogical for them to shift the burden of this encounter onto me since they were the ones who initiated it. I reminded them that I told them many times that I wanted to be on my way, and it was their decision (not mine) to detain me that was interfering with whatever intentions they had to chase illegals in the desert or stop all the big trucks that were rolling by with illegals on board.

Interspersed with their ramblings were questions about what I had in the trailer, where was I going, and how much longer my camera was going to record. I refused to answer any questions.
They started to talk about how they don't necessarily disagree with me, but that hypothetically "sometimes people don't have control over the policies they are required to follow." I reminded them that they swore an oath, they knew what this job was about when they applied, they know what the job is about now, and they don't get to hide behind some curtain of "policy." I pointed out that if I had a job that asked me to even lean a little on the citizen's protections by the Constitution, I would walk away and find another more noble job...I didn't care if it meant I had to scrub toilets at McDonalds, because scrubbing toilets is more respectable than collecting taxpayer dollars to then turn around and demand that these same taxpayers surrender their rights. They literally stuck their hands in their pockets, the feeling of shame and defeat was apparent. It was getting quiet.

Their last effort was to come and tell me that they ran my tags, which I pointed out they had no probable cause to do and I did not give them permission. They said given the fact that they could run my tags, they didn't understand why I would refuse to ID myself. I then asked them if running my tags gave them the satisfaction they were looking for, then it appeared to me there was no reason for them to unlawfully detain me and I'd like to be on my way...whereupon the agent actually said, "that didn't really go the way I intended."

Finally a supervisor showed up. He asked me what it was I "wanted." I just chuckled and told him I just wanted to be on my way, nothing more, they stopped me against my will, but his officers refused to either let me go or explain why they were detaining me. The supervisor tried to get me to identify myself again, and failed. He made the mistake of suggesting that since I was "so big on not letting people know who I am," he was going to explain to me how things worked at a checkpoint. I pointed out that I was not at all about refusing to let people know who I am, but that I was fully against any agent of the government having the privilege to stop me a some indiscriminate point on a roadway just to try and force me to identify myself, because their behavior was totally against the spirit of the 4th, 5th, and 14th Amendment. I shared that his officers already told me how "a checkpoint works," but that they were woefully unable to explain even basic understandings of the law or the obligations of the citizens.

This was around the 40 minute mark, which is close to what I believe is an allowable legal time frame for them to detain someone without either arresting them or letting them go. There was frustration evident on a couple faces, and half-hidden embarrassment on the faces of a few others, and they knew that they were going to either have to lose this battle now, or lose it in a very public place where I was going to hire a lawyer who was going to tear them apart even more skillfully than I had. The agent started making this incoherent statement about being "satisfied" that I wasn't here illegally or carrying drugs and I was free to go.

The point is that in this story, the casual observer would surmise that only one of these agents were "bad" by virtue of behavior (his threats both direct and indirect), but the reality is that all of them were COMPLICIT in trying to negotiate a surrender of my Constitutional protections. This is the condition in almost every case of police impropriety. Maybe only one cop beat the handcuffed perp, but not a single one of the other officers did what they are actually obligated to do...which would be to step in, stop the "bad cop," and actually even arrest the "bad cop" for doing something illegal. Such stories happen...well, never. When there isn't a camera around, the investigations almost always find that there was no "wrongdoing," but when something is caught on camera or is simply too much to sweep under the rug, only then do we hear about some kind of proper definitive action taking place, and even sometimes LEO misbehavior caught on camera is dismissed as "appropriate action on behalf of the officers."

This tendency to subjectively exonerate police misbehavior is precisely why bad cops are chronic offenders. And the fact that the rest of the allegedly "good cops" refuse to hold each other accountable is exactly why there is a "growing trend of mistrust" of LEO. It's this mentality which leads law enforcement to routinely abuse their position to bully people in ways that are both unprofessional, unethical, and likely illegal. And the public worship of LEO is likely just ONE reason they fall back to their position of always blaming their condition on others or refusing to acknowledge that there is even a problem with the modern condition of law enforcement.

The reality is that given the current condition of LEO, it's not that there are a few bad cops, it's that there are only a few good ones, but we can't figure out who they are. I don't care about stories where a cop bought a kid a burger or gave boots to a homeless man, because even the Yakuza ran large-scale charities for the people of Japan after the earthquake, but they are still bad people. No one says that "all cops are out to get us," but many of us believe that very few of them have our best interests in mind and it’s not unreasonable for us to consider the police to be dangerous to our life and liberty until they prove otherwise. It's the same reason cops put handcuffs on everyone they take out of a car and frisk them even if they have no intention to arrest them...it's because it's "cop safety first." I feel the same way about modern LEO.

It's encouraging to hear a LEO suggest that they would be reluctant to try and disarm civilians (although I'm not sure if it's because they love the Constitution or because they know it will be a bloodbath), but the evidence suggests that actions are louder than words. Ruby Ridge. Waco. Milwaukee police, Lakeland, Ohio police, California police, New Jersey police, Hazelwood, MO, DC police...this is just a tip of the iceberg of cases where the law enforcement committed egregious crimes against citizens or confiscated legally-owned firearms and refused to return them, sometimes requiring court action to force them to respect the 2nd Amendment rights of the citizens rather than reflecting the ideology that all of the cops you know are advocates for the 2nd Amendment.

I worked as a paramedic during five years of college, and yes I encountered a few good cops along the way, but I saw an amazing amount of misbehavior by cops, from theft to narcotic use to domestic abuse to abuse of power. Not one time did I ever see one cop hold another accountable. You can tell me all you want about these good cops you work with, but what you can't do is dismiss the observations by people who see the police as the front-line wave of erosion to our Constitutional protections, and I conclude by pointing out that you did exactly what every cop does who is trying to defend the damaged reputation of law enforcement; you placed the burden back onto the citizens instead of acknowledging that there is an insidious growing problem in the institution of law enforcement.

Look inward, Officer Sheepdog. Look inward. - S.P.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013


Captain Rawles,
In response to your mention of people voting with their feet - I believe this is much more prevalent today than people realize.  According to the best data I can find, there are currently more than a million Americans leaving the United States each year.  And while the vast majority will choose to retain their US citizenship, and their reasons for leaving are varied, the net effect on the American economy will be great.  Here's why:  The people who are leaving are, almost to a family, high income earners.  Many of those replacing them in the US are coming to take advantage of our generous "entitlement" system, and this phenomenon will result in a net drain on the system that will only accelerate the demise of our current economy.

The light went on for me on election night.  I realized, with perfect clarity, that this administration had spent the previous four years using MY tax dollars to aggressively create as many economic parasites as possible, and then promise them even more of my money in return for their votes.  As a fiercely patriotic American who has fought and bled for this country, this brought me to a painful decision:  I must take drastic measures to stop supporting such a corrupt system.

One of the reasons we've had such a hard time winning the war in Afghanistan is that our aid to that country has been used to support both sides of the war.  For example, when we paid to build a new highway or school, for example, the Taliban would show up and extort about 15% of the total project cost as "protection" against the contractor's equipment being destroyed.  In this way, our money has been supporting both sides of the conflict, which is a recipe for perpetual war (until the money runs out).

This is what I believe has happened in America.  Hard working taxpayers have been milked nearly to the breaking point, and our money used to solidify the voting base of the current administration.  This will only continue until we find a way to stop sending them our money.

For me, that prompted the decision to leave.  I sold my businesses in the United States before the end of the year and moved my family to a safe, stable Central American country where I will seek residency and be able to live on much less in order to give away much more.

Essentially, I've gone into tax exile.  I am choosing to keep less of what I make this year, but rather than be a slave to the US government, I will voluntarily give away much more to worthy causes that support the Kingdom of God.  In this way (and with the help of the still-legal "Foreign Earned Income Exclusion") I will minimize my support to the US kleptocracy for as long as possible.

Here's the interesting part:  The real estate agent I dealt with here in Central America told me he's been absolutely swamped by calls from wealthy U.S. citizens who cannot get out fast enough.  He has fielded literally dozens of calls and visits in the final few weeks of the year.  

The IRS stopped reporting the number of US citizens living overseas, but the number is exploding.  I believe as many as 3 million Americans will leave this year alone.  And the way I see it, this is the most patriotic thing I can do.

One last thing:  the country where I am now living has some common-sense rules on getting a gun permit - one must get an eye exam, take a drug test and get a mental health exam.  After that, a permit is issued and I can then own any kind of weapon I like - from sawed-off shotguns to standard-capacity handguns or carbines.  And I can carry them anywhere.

May God Save Our Republic. - A Patriot in Central America



Wyoming legislator seeks to have his state "step aside" from any federal semi-auto and magazine bans. (Wyoming citizens should contact their state representatives and ask them to co-sponsor HB 104.)

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In Montana, Dark Money Helped Democrats Hold a Key Senate Seat: Jon Tester and Denny Rehberg in their June debate, when the two were locked in a tight race for a Montana senate seat.

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Another one of those "Only in Idaho" news stories: Ski patrol rescues lost sheep

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From the same folks in Spokane who make the Bed Bunker: The Truck Bunker

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An interesting thread in progress over at TMM: Technology Companies (Jobs) in Bozeman, Montana


Monday, January 14, 2013


It should come as no surprise that at the same time that Statists agitators are vociferously calling for more People Control that freedom lovers are heading for the exit doors in greater numbers, to wit: The American Redoubt movement, Glenn Beck's announced Independence Park community (in Texas), calls for state secession (which has been going on longer than most people realize), the ongoing but sadly polarized Free State Movement (in which Free State Wyoming has the best chance of success, demographically), the quiet expatriation of thousands, primarily to various Central and South American countries, and the more splashy celebrity exits. There are also lots of other "out there" projects that may have difficulty getting past the concept phase, like Paulville, Texas, and Seasteading. But regardless, these are all indicative that people are willing to vote with their feet.

I predict that these trends will continue and that the polarization of world views will become more pronounced and sharply delineated in coming years. You can look for many other exit strategies being publicize. There will also be a lot more "Nien Danke!" legislation like the bill recently introduced in the Wyoming legislature (and about to be introduced in Texas) announced and inevitably enacted. The harder that the Statists push, the harder libertarians will push back. Some say this will lead to Civil War II. I dread that. God willing, we'll see our Constitutional Republic restored peacefully. - J.W.R.


Tuesday, January 8, 2013


Selway Armory, in Lolo, Montana was recently mentioned in a CBS News item: Assault Rifles, Ammo Flying Off Shelves After Newtown Massacre

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A misguided prepper? Man charged after parking SUV in big hole on federal land.

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Some other odd news from Idaho: Couple takes wrong car home from grocery store. (And unknowingly keeps if for three days!)

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Online academy classes to be tested in Idaho schools. (Students nationwide--especially homeschoolers--are now widely using Khan Academy materials.)

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Chuck Baldwin: My Line In The Sand Is Drawn Here! (Pastor Baldwin and his family live near Kalispell, Montana.)

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Daniel D. sent this from a Kalispell Montana newspaper: ‘I’ll blow your brains out’ — Evergreen couple help capture fleeing car thief.


Sunday, January 6, 2013


Regarding Doug Casey’s linked article on Argentina: The Freest Place in the WorldSeriously?  That country does all the things we fear the US might do.  Rampant inflation?  Check.  Confiscate retirement accounts?  Check.  Currency controls & dollar-sniffing dogs?  Check.  Crony socialism and capricious Diktat replacing rule of law?  Check.  Punitive taxes on the productive, such as farmer-exporters?  Check.  Hitler-style appeals to nationalism to justify seizure of assets (such as NPF, the largest oil company in the country) or to provoke rows with foreigners (Falklands).  Check.  Profound corruption?  Check.  Argentina is cheap for a reason.  Refer to FerFAL (An Argentine who publishes information on prepping from first hand experience in Argentina) for more reasons as to why that is so.  It’s a banana republic populated by physically attractive residents.  And with Cretina (Oops, I mean Christina) Kirschner as an Evita Peron wannabe.

My spouse is from Chile.  I grew up bilingual and fit in there quite well.  Our kids will be dual citizens.  Yeah, it costs more than Argentina.  There is a price for the rule of law and stability.  Chile offers more of that than any other Latin country.  Good grief, the left-wing former finance minister (Andres Velasco) was so fiscally conservative that he squirreled away windfall money from the copper boom for a rainy day….which came with the earthquake in 2009.  To the extent Chile had a “stimulus”, they paid cash.  To repeat:  That was from a left-winger.  And when push came to shove, Pinochet forced freedom (yes, I see the irony).  Notably, even the Left left-most of Pinochet’s free-market reforms unchanged.  Were I to bug out overseas (a debate for another day, I tend to view a bad US as better than most alternatives), it would be to Chile.  It is the most stable of the Latin countries.  If I wanted a worst case glimpse of what the US could be, and perhaps shall be, I’d visit Argentina.  Argentina is a mistress (popular concept in Latin America, my wife is violently closed minded about it), Chile is a wife. - J.H. in Ohio


Saturday, January 5, 2013


JWR:
I was looking at the weather in Ohio the other day. I was using web cameras operated by the Department of Transportation and it got me to thinking that this could be a good way to gather intelligence.

If the power stays on and you have computer / Internet capabilities you could look at weather cams in any of the 50 States by going to the link:  State Traffic Webcams

Click on the state and go from there. Most have the major areas covered, where there are expected to be traffic problems but some have back roads as well.

It might be worth studying your area now and looking at your bug out routes to gather some intelligence on the normal, day-to-day, road conditions and also how the traffic flows all year long.

Living in Hawaii I check the Honolulu Traffic Cams daily before I leave work and sometimes when I come home.

It might help!

I love living in these United States of America! 73, - D.S.H.



Dear Editor:
With people constantly being laid off and unemployment money becoming more scarce you should look into your states dept of corrections.

I've been working in a state prison going on three years, and I can tell you the things you learn can help you post-TEOTWAWKI. You will get basic firearms training, self defense and first aid. Keep in mind that its very basic but its better than nothing.

What you learn on the job is the valuable stuff, over time when dealing with inmates you learn to read body language and can even learn to subtlety alter ones mood to avoid unwanted confrontations or to give you the second extra you need to get the upper hand in a fight. This can not be taught at school or at any self defense classes. You also start to learn how to pick up on the mood of a population by analyzing things you hear and see, without anyone knowing what your picking up.

Over time your senses become more aware of the little things as inside the prison your life often is in constant jeopardy. You can tell when your being watched or followed and can turn the tables on your adversary. Again these skills can be applied everywhere you go in life.

The pay is decent. (Not great, but decent.) The big boon is healthcare is paid for, in my state your entire family is covered, medical dental and vision. That's a substantial chunk of change not coming out of your pocket.

In these hard times working for a state prison is a safe job choice as I've seen several private prisons go under, but the state prisons will not close for a very long time. Maybe not till its past time to bug out. So you'll have income until you have to leave for your Bug Out Location.

If you can learn to deal with the inmates inside a known hostile environment then you stand a better chance in dealing with people post hell on earth. The things I've learned thus far have been priceless and I know I could never learn them else where.

With everything you do learn something and put it in your tool bag you might need it at a later date. - Jeff in Southwest Oklahoma


Wednesday, January 2, 2013


There is a plethora of good, sound information and articles on SurvivalBlog.com that I have researched, absorbed, and adapted into much of what we have done to prepare.  I would like to personally extend my gratitude to all the contributors of this subject and let them know that the information they have freely shared has been very helpful.  In addition, there are countless other informative sites, books, and organizations gained from this web site that has also been very useful.  This article describes our particular situation, the challenges, and planning to make our escape from the crowded suburbs of Atlanta to the sanctuary of the American Redoubt.  It is not a perfect plan and there are many risks involved, but in the end, one must do what they must with what they have and be prepared for the worst.

Finding adequate long-term retreat locations in the southeast United States is proving expensive and leaves one to doubt its protection near so many people.  As with many beginning prepper’s, we started over a year ago with the basic focus to improve our food & water situation at home along with basic gear needed for an extended bug-in situation.  In the midst of this, we realized we were not in an ideal location and would not be able to bug-in forever if things got really bad.  We decided to start looking for recreational acreage in the southeast to provide a retreat and develop into a new homestead over the long term.  The problem has been finding the right place, in the right location, for an affordable price.

Having grown up in the California, Colorado, and Idaho areas, I’m very familiar with the region’s resources, geography, political climate, and culture.  Overwhelmingly it appeals as the better place to be when SHTF and we have changed our focus to purchase property and move to the Redoubt region to establish our retreat/homestead for retirement.  The goal is to purchase ample acreage to build a self-sufficient, off the grid home and make the move.  My troubles began when I questioned what we would do if the excrement hits the rotator before that plan is finalized.  What do we do, where do we go, and how do we get there?

It comes down to a choice of hunkering down in the suburbs, bugging out to nearby forest or wilderness, or high-tailing it west where we want to be.  Believe it or not, we decided that if it comes down to it, we’re making a bee line for the northwest.  Since that decision, our prepping has focused on that being the primary plan until we are able to relocate.  Once we move, the prepping focus will change accordingly.

Since I have traveled the road between Atlanta and Twin Falls several times, planning a 2200 mile bug out seemed simple enough but quickly became a monumental task.  The more I got into it, the more challenges I uncovered.  This undertaking is much more involved than a simple road trip and the necessary planning becomes complicated and risky – almost to the point of scrapping the idea entirely as hopelessly impossible or insane.  I’m not here to profess one thing over another, but to pass on what I’ve found to be noteworthy getting from point A to point B, 2000 miles away, within my comfort zone.  None of this is a guarantee of mission success.

Living east of the Mississippi one quickly learns there are a number of circumstances and factors to consider in developing a workable escape plan.  The most troublesome element is that 58% of the country’s population resides east of the Mississippi river in roughly 1/3 of the total land mass.  This is a huge impediment in reaching and crossing the Mississippi river, a formidable natural barrier.  It will be a continuous challenge avoiding the mass of people, possible road blocks, checkpoints, and other hazards on the first third of the journey.  Another issue is multiple large rivers to cross with limited bridges away from populated areas.

My current location requires 7 hours of driving to reach the Mississippi river – by interstate.  For me, this is my first tactical objective.  It’s not west enough, but it’s a line that once I’m on the west side, the bulk of the population is behind me, my odds of success are improved, and I can breathe a little easier.  The goal is to get across it as soon as possible, before the bridges become impassible in a worst case scenario.  Naturally, this all depends on the nature and scale of the event and in some scenario’s, this trek would not be possible and we’d have to find refuge elsewhere.

Planning a route to carry you a thousand miles or more during a crisis is challenging.  In this case, to go from Georgia to Idaho requires some 230 gallons of gasoline (my vehicle only) and 46 hours driving time – under normal circumstances.  In this plan, I have added an additional 400 miles to the route by avoiding the larger cities and denser counties.  I cannot carry enough fuel for that entire distance so I must rely on the availability of gasoline along the way.  It is the single most critical item in the plan and without it we are dead in the water.  This is certainly not the ideal solution and the only way it can be successful is to get going before the fuel runs out – before the panic.  This is easier said than done.

Two days before hurricane Katrina hit the gulf coast, word was spread over the Atlanta news that the Colonial pipeline, which supplies Georgia and parts of the eastern seaboard with gasoline from the gulf coast, would be temporarily shut down.  It was also mentioned that there was at least a 10 day supply of gasoline in the Atlanta area for normal consumption and the supply line was expected to be back online before any shortages occurred.  It didn’t take long for a needless panic to ensue.  A gas buying frenzy started and prices jumped to $6/gal in 4 hours.  Within 3 days, most urban stations were as dry as the sand in the Mojave.  That’s how quick a situation can change and any plans will be bust if you wait too late.  It was weeks before supplies and costs returned to normal so fuel will be a constant critical item in the route plan.

To aid this situation, I have designed and in the process of building a 50 gallon rectangular stainless steel fuel tank that can be quickly installed in the bed of my truck.  Basically it’s a simple transfer tank to be used to refill the truck’s main tank via a hose and hand-crank pump. Combined I now have approximately 75 gallons of fuel capacity giving me a 900 mile range.  This should easily get me across the Mississippi river as my cross country route is only 600 miles.  The idea is to have sufficient fuel to cross the river and the plan calls for refueling at any opportunity along the way.

The questionable availability of gas requires specific gear and consideration.  Two critical pieces are the siphon hose and a 12 volt dc pump to reach the gasoline in the underground tanks.  It’s the only way to get fuel if power is down.  Underground tanks can be accessed through the lids found on the lot surface and the tank cap can be removed to allow a suction hose to be dropped inside.  Most underground tank bottoms are around 15 feet below the pavement surface.  (I reckon it should be mentioned that this is extremely hazardous.  One good spark and everyone around will know where you are and what you just attempted to do).  The pump needs to be self-priming, explosion proof or hermetically sealed, powerful enough to lift fuel at least 20 feet, and provide a minimum of 5 gallons per minute flow using at least a 1/2” outlet.  (Plans for a suitable pump setup are available at SurvivalBlog.com using a spare automotive fuel pump).

Many variables can adversely or favorably affect the route plan.  A road or bridge being open or closed is a simple example.  Fuel being available here or there is another.  Since it would be nearly impossible to know before getting within sight of a bridge, etc., I decided to plan for both possible situations, one being primary and the other secondary, and in some cases, a third alternative.  Every critical part of the bug out route is thought through for possible problems and solutions.  If we get to the primary bridge over the Mississippi River and find it impassible, we divert to bridge B.  Rather than stand around and scratch our heads figuring out where to go, we keep moving toward a new target.  If that one can’t be used, plan C is implemented and so on.  The plan has to be flexible and if all else fails, we bug in somewhere and wait.

We found one of the most critical components of our planning was the preparations needed just to get us on the road.  Unless the event is an instantaneous major tectonic malfunction of cosmic proportions, events should unfold and develop such that we have time load and go.  Two things become vital in the beginning stage; vehicle readiness and the loading process.  Naturally, any bug out vehicle must be maintained, fueled, and ready to go at a moment’s notice, but we are not always that disciplined.  This requires that we have the means to do it very quickly and carry spares.  The plan requires us to leave town in a moment’s notice so all our ducks need to be in a row.

A whole article can be written on the proper condition to maintain a bug out vehicle.  I simply treat it as I do any other vehicle and keep it maintained such that I have no worries to jump in it right now and head for the west coast.  I know it will make it, but there are always those rare times when something takes the opportunity to unexpectedly fail.  To counter this, I keep an assortment of spare parts stashed under the rear seat.  Accessory drive belt, ignition coil, spark plugs, and tire plugs just to name a few.  The key is to keep it in good running order; oil changed regularly, good tires, healthy battery, etc.  If you are concerned about it making a 2000 mile trip, then it isn’t ready or reliable.

Unless one has a dedicated bug out vehicle that stays locked and loaded, we must factor vehicle loading into the equation.  What can be thrown into a particular vehicle in the least amount of time and how does it all fit?  The clock is ticking and the window is rapidly closing so there isn’t a whole lot of time to waste figuring out what to take, where it all is, and how to pack it all.  To simplify and minimize loading we pre-packaged everything and keep it stored in 2 places that can be reached easily and quickly.  Normally, most of this gear and supplies would be stored at a hideaway location, but in this case, we are creating a mobile retreat of sorts.  God help us.

We pre-packed our food supplies in identical boxes that can be easily stacked and transported.  Each sealed box contains 4 to 5 days of food and supplies for two adults.  Like a deluxe family size MRE, each box contains a variety of canned & dry goods, stove fuel, water purification, can opener, personal hygiene, meds, and other items needed for living and surviving comfortably in the boonies.  Except for the canned items, everything else is vacuum sealed to protect against moisture.  We store the boxed food supplies in a cool, dry place along with the backpacks and med kit to maximize shelf life.  Our plan is to carry a minimum of two month’s supply of food in the event we have to hold up somewhere and wait out a situation, recover from an injury, etc.

Containers of gear are pre-packed in a similar manner – tent, stove, first aid, fishing and hunting gear, radios, spare batteries and the like.  These are loaded along with a shovel, dry wood, axe, tool bag, extra fuel, water drum, camo netting, and the ice chest full of what refrigerated and frozen food will fit in it.  In addition, the backpacks (BOB’s) are tossed in full of clothing, MREs, water, sleeping bags, maps, and other survival gear.  Included in this is our financial pouch of documents, currency, and coinage.  All the gear is stored together in the garage where it is easily accessible and can be quickly loaded.  Lastly, the firearms and ammunition will be retrieved and loaded in the cab.

We found it was highly beneficial to practice loading as we learned several things; order and method of loading, where to store things, waterproofing the load, and the physical aspects of gathering everything.  It took several attempts to fit everything in the truck and find the right places for some of the gear.  The loading process was too time consuming and required too much physical effort.  We also had items stored in several different places which required more time to collect.

To improve these issues we moved the gear to a special storage area built above the garage door to put it closer to the truck.  Originally it was scattered between the garage, utility room, and in the basement with the food supplies and significantly increased the number of trips up the stairs.  Another solution was to improve the loading of the food supplies stored in the basement.  Rather than haul the boxes up the stairs and through the house to the garage to load, we moved the truck to the back yard and passed the basement supplies through a window.  The house is a tri-level and the basement is actually concreted crawl space with about 4 ½ feet of head space.  By removing the widow sash from the utility room (where the crawl space access is), we could easily pass the boxes through to just above ground level in the backyard.  With the truck right there the loading was much simplified, saving a substantial amount of time and labor.  An added benefit was that we were concealed from the street in doing this.

Once we got the loading figured out, in 30 minutes we can be on the road heading due south to our primary rally point located about 80 miles away.  We picked a location that will allow us to stay if needed and have an alternate site picked out in case the primary is compromised.  The rally point allows us the opportunity to re-assess and monitor the situation, take stock, meet-up with others, prepare for the longer march, and if necessary, bug in for the duration.  At this point, we have escaped the Atlanta area and are in a relative safe zone.

Masses of people trying to escape the urban areas will have, for the most part, a predictable flow.  Like water, they will follow the path of least resistance.  They will generally follow the interstates until they clog up and then to the nearby smaller highways, and so on.  Authorities could be implementing evacuation plans and I found it useful to read those I could find for major cities along our path.  One thing I learned is that they provide evacuation routes out of the city but indicate no defined shelter or specific location to go to.  People will be ushered out of the cities and the surrounding outskirts will be highly congested with lost, stranded, and confused people.  This situation also introduces a big uncertainty of where the government will set up refugee camps.  So far I have found nothing defining where those may be and it would be a bad thing to unexpectedly come upon one in the middle of bugging out.  With all this in mind, our route will stay at least 80 to 100 miles from all large metropolitan areas and avoid interstate corridors exiting those areas.

A valuable source of useful information in planning our route is the U.S. census bureau.  On their web site one can find state population density maps that show you by state, what the population density is for any given county.  These maps were used to define a primary corridor through each state to avoid more populated areas.  Even when using this method to define a path, the routes still funnel to the few river crossings available so we still have to navigate a few populated areas.

Each city or town along the route can be a potential problem or benefit.  A handy web site to use is www.city-data.com to find the population, number of gas stations, grocery stores, demographics, crime statistics, and other useful information.  The local crime statistics revealed an unknown (but not unexpected) vulnerability in our initial route planning.  Many of the counties along the shore of the Mississippi River have above average crime rates of robbery and assault.  In addition, these are some of the least densely populated counties and are some of the most depressed in the country.  Just because the density is low doesn’t mean it’s without other hazards.  In addition, the web site provides the past voting history of the town as well as the county.  We used that information in defining routes by traveling through areas that are more conservative than liberal – for obvious reasons.

Discovering all the crime statistics along the river didn’t create a warm fuzzy feeling about getting across without issues.  The possibility of the highway robbery or the bridge being blocked by a band of thieves is increased and one might have to fight their way across.  That’s not something to look forward to and in this case, it makes the interstate crossing worth a second look.  Each has risks involved that have to be mitigated in order to reach the goal of getting across.

Since we were unfamiliar with the area, we diverted a recent trip out west to follow our initial route through the countryside of Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas.  We learned several things both good and bad.  The population along this route is low as we traveled mostly through agricultural lands and the bridge across the Mississippi is a few miles outside of the nearest town and can be reached without having to travel through it.  The down side was the fact that the area of the crossing is economically depressed, had higher than average crime, and we stood out like sore thumbs.  On the west side, we were dumped into a light suburban area that will require navigating through to reach the more rural farmland.  Along this entire route we passed through several small towns, some of which could be a problem in a bug out and will need to be approached cautiously.  Overall I give the route a plus and will have to have a defensive posture during the approach, river crossing, and beyond for 10 or so miles.  We have worked out an alternate route and will recon that one as well to see if it is any better.

We know the quickest and most direct route is by way of the interstate highways.  My assumption is that they will be mostly useless, especially in the east.  They all pass through highly populated urban areas and the likelihood of impenetrable gridlock and possible closure is too great a risk.  One would certainly become trapped in the city they are trying to pass through and for this reason, our primary route was planned to use only federal & state highways and back roads.

With that in mind, we have specifically addressed the points where our route crosses interstates as all of these highways have interchanges connecting them.  Most of them are packed with hotels, restaurants, and gas stations.  We want to avoid these interchanges as they will most likely be blocked with traffic.  People on the interstate needing fuel, food, or shelter will exit at these locations causing major gridlock and the filling stations there will be dried up.  We plan to use less traveled points around these interchanges to cross that will require slight detours from the main track.  Many nearby roads cross interstates without access and are the ones to use - preferably those that cross over the interstates than pass under.  I used Google maps to zoom in to these interchanges and then scan up and down the interstate for overpasses without an interchange.  Then I printed out that segment and added it to the route plan.

In rural areas, federal and state highways will have less congestion than the interstates.  In addition, there are countless county roads crisscrossing the countryside.  Detailed county maps will be needed to navigate and use these roads.  These can be downloaded and printed from the web or printed directly from Google maps.  They are used for the necessary bypasses and detours around specific points and are stored in a binder in the vehicle.  For state maps I prefer the large fold out maps over the ‘vacation map’ books for the greater detail they provide.  These can be ordered through the web or obtained at state welcome centers.

Along the way it is highly important to listen to all radio news reports and gather any information concerning the route.  This, of course, depends on somebody still broadcasting.  We must constantly keep up on what’s going on locally and soak up every scrap of information available.  This data is used to update the maps, note the areas to avoid, and make navigation decisions.  It will be important to constantly gather intelligence, adjust plans accordingly, and to be acutely aware of where you are.

With regard to crossing major rivers, there are a limited number of bridges available to use.  Interstate, federal, and state highways generally have bridges across the major rivers that you will have to use.  In some cases, a secondary road or an old highway roadbed may cross a river by way of an older bridge, sometimes right next to the newer bridges that’s still used for local traffic.  These are the gems to look for because they are off the beaten path and less traveled.  Find all of them and list as alternates, they may very well become the primary.

The census maps and city-data information was used to determine likely fuel locations in the sparsely populated rural areas.  The idea is that the fuel stations there will not have been drained dry by the evacuating masses because the rural folks may choose to stay where they are.  In addition, our route keeps us away from the evacuating mass where fuel will still be available.  There are numerous little towns dotted along the state and federal highways that will have fuel longer than the urban areas or along the interstates.  If the grid is down, we’ll rely on our 12 volt pump.

We also considered small aircraft as an alternative means of transport.  Taking to the sky is not a bad consideration since I have the skills to fly, but cargo capacity would be limited with my rating.  In pursuing this train of thinking, I realized that most small airports and airfields have a modest supply of aviation fuel.  As a refueling alternative, general aviation 100LL (low lead, also known as 100 octane Avgas) fuel will burn in an unleaded gasoline engine.  It will eventually play havoc with your emissions (catalytic converters & sensors) but will not harm the engine.  With this in mind, we located and noted all small airports along our route as possible refueling points.  There are airport/facility directories available in the aviation market that publishes airport information regarding available services and fuel availability.

The whole point of this essay is to stress the importance of deep thought and planning of the possibilities and factors involved in a long distance bug out.  Having the gear, supplies, and knowing how to make cornbread from tree bark are the easy parts.  The further I dig into the details, the more I discover I’m not as prepared as thought.  Just writing this article has revealed several deficiencies in my preparations and adjustments are warranted, the plan is refined, and I learn more.  No plan will ever be perfect and hopefully I get moved before this one is ever needed.

Go over your plans inside and out, determine the variables, and look at the risks involved.  Work on mitigating the risks so that the impact does not negatively affect your goal.  Practice your plan, take a vacation and drive your route and see what you may be up against.  Adjust your preparations accordingly and carry the necessary items to deal with the potential problems and provide options.  Be ready for the unexpected but more importantly, think of the unexpected and plan for it.

Regardless of the situation, we have to do what we can with what we have and if the world goes to hell in a hand basket tomorrow morning, we execute our current plan.  I urge everyone to stay informed, refine and practice your plan, and learn new skills.  The goal is to get to a safe zone and survive.  The future depends on it.



James,
As your readers pointed out, Internet service in remote places can be a challenge, but also delivering this connectivity to various locations on your property presents other difficulties, too.  

If you have a voice telephone line, you've got most of what you need for dial-up Internet capability, which is painfully slow, but you will be able to pick up and send email and if you turn off all videos, images and javascript, you could do very limited web browsing.  Cable and DSL are out of the question if you live at the end of a long road with minimal neighbors because those services just don't exist out there.   Satellite is an option, but it has a bit of latency, which causes a delay in spoken conversation.  The solution for us was 900 Mhz wireless, an established and mature cellular technology.

After quite a bit of searching for wireless Internet service, I was able to locate a small wireless provider with 900 MHz service 20 miles away via line of site to a high mountain antenna.  A site visit by their tech was required to be sure we could "see" their base antenna location and we tested the signal strength.  The 14 dB yagi antenna they normally provide wasn't cutting it, so after more searching, we located this 22 dB antenna in Australia.  It cost about $150 and arrived via DHL in just a few days with a very reasonable shipping price, too.  Here's the link to the antenna.

In rainy situations, the water that sticks to the pine needles will interfere with the signal, so we had to remove several trees to get clear line of sight to our antenna and run a 200 foot power over ethernet cable from a nearby power outlet to the antenna location.  The installer from the ISP can help you with this, if you are not technical.  Keep in mind, when you are out in the country, you're on your own for many things and this level of tech isn't hard to learn how to install and maintain.  Pay attention to everything the tech is doing.

After unsuccessfully testing ethernet over power line (supposedly capable of up to 1,000 feet, but not through 2 breaker boxes), we decided to pull dedicated direct burial CAT6 wiring through 2 inch PVC pipes from this location 800 feet from the antenna location to our barn.  Since this is greater than the normal ethernet distance limitation of 100m (330 feet), we had to use an ethernet extender kit, which will provide 10/100 mb/sec network capability up to 1km of distance.  Wireless is also an option for this distance, but the cost, reliability and other factors led us to do it.  This also used only 2 of the 8 wires in the cable, so we have other potential uses for this cable.  It worked the first time we plugged it in, right out of the box!  Here's the device we used for future reference.

We are now able to get about 200K uplink and 1.5MB downlink speeds, which is much better than dial up.  Because this isn't geosynchronous satellite, there is less latency and we are able to use VOIP / Skype as well.  Do an Internet search for "wireless Internet" and the names of all the towns near you (one at a time).  Your readers might be surprised at this other option.  In the future, there will be higher speed wireless options in the 2.4 Ghz range, but those probably won't be available for some time in the "hinterboonies".


Tuesday, January 1, 2013


Wyoming has nation's 4th highest population growth. Also in the news: Wyoming may loosen gun laws. (Among other things, allowing teachers to arm themselves. Yes!)

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Reader R.B.S. sent: Idaho ranks last in earnings by full, part-time job holders. No wonder that bartering is so popular in Idaho. Ditto for the underground economy.

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I noticed that Ulti-MAK (in Moscow, Idaho) has added several new scout style scope mounts to their product line. They also now have a good assortment of rail-mounted optics and gear.

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The Nampa, Idaho Rod & Gun Club is organizing the 10th Annual Vietnam Memorial Battle Rifle Match on Saturday March 30, 2013. Shooters must use a military infantry rifle or carbine made from 1892 to present. (Can be U.S. issue or foreign made with open iron sights in original as issued condition, such as M1, M1A/M14, AR-15A2, etc.) If you have questions, contact the match director Jeffrey W. Collins Nampa Rod & Gun Club Ordinance Officer/CMP Director-Instructor a:t (208) 465-7647 or E-mail at jcollins@idoc.idaho.gov

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Also in Nampa-- (You've gotta love Idaho!)--There will be 52 new guns raffled as a fundraiser for the Rollie Lane Invitational Wrestling Match at Columbia High School in Nampa, Idaho. One gun per minute for 52 minutes. Only 1,000 tickets will be sold.


Monday, December 31, 2012


Hello, 
I just read your article The American Redoubt -- Move to the Mountain States.  I am confused about something.  On one hand you said to not expect high speed Internet then scrolling down further you refer to using the Internet.  There must be some sort of Internet service where you are. 
 
My income is acquired using my computer and high speed Internet.  So does that leave me out?
 
Thanks for your time. - Deborah T. in California

JWR Replies: There is dial-up Internet available in most towns in the Redoubt, but high speed (DSL, or better) is available in just a few towns and cities.  The good news, however, is that high speed Internet service is available everywhere if you are willing to pay more for satellite Internet service.  (Such as Direct PC or WildBlue.)

Check with your realtor, and include DSL on your wish list, if that is a priority.


Saturday, December 29, 2012


They are not personally prepared at all. The average soldier is no more prepared than the average civilian.

If this is a concern (you live by a military installation), a curiosity (you have a relative that serves), or if you just want a glimpse of military life, let me tell you why the average soldier is not personally prepared.  I must first establish my credibility.   

I have a BA degree from a major university, and various civilian job experiences under my belt, mostly in food service and then social services.  I am an older soldier, low ranking on the totem pole. I am a truck driver in the US Army, and on the front lines where the rubber meets the road so to say.    As in all the clichés, I joined the Army to serve my country and learn about the Armed Forces, but somewhat selfishly, I joined also to learn about first aid, shooting, field sanitation, and the plethora of training that many a survivalist craves and practices, not only gaining these valuable skills for free, but getting paid to learn them.  I have been in the Army for four years, and I was into preparing for TEOTWAWKI years before I enlisted.  I have deployed twice, with many a mission outside-the-wire.

Bird Flu was my gateway drug into the prepper/survivalist community.  Upon discovering this new reality that things can and will go south, I was on the zombie apocalypse bandwagon for a long time.  I still enjoy the movies and the books. The reasoning was "if you are prepared for zombies, you are prepared for anything", and if you want a lighthearted icebreaker to discuss prepping, zombie talk will break it.  In the Army, arguing all things undead is a fun way to pass the hours and hours of hurry up and wait, in between the rock throwing and myriad one-uppers.  Early on in this stint of national service, I would talk about zombies and survivalism a lot. I was under the impression that the Army was full of preppers and survivalists. I was deployed straight out of AIT, and saw very little of my wife and kids for my first year and a half of service, so SHTF scenarios that would be natural conversations in my own family continued as daily conversations in my surrogate family.  I soon found out that there was very little interest in prepping, but fortunately, while breaching OPSEC in an effort to convince others about the benefits of preps, soldiers PCS and ETS, and those I stand beside now are completely different soldiers than those I stood beside early on.     

The military has higher rates of suicide and divorce than the general population.  This is an unfortunate reality.  You might think they also have higher rates of preppers/survivalists than the general population.  This is an understandable misconception.  If we assume only 1% to 5% of the civilian masses are preppers, IMHO, no more than 1% to 5% of military are preppers as well.  In this essay, I will discuss the various barriers to an individual soldier's personal preparedness, and I will discuss various categories of personal preparedness in relation to the average soldier. This is important information because maybe you have stereotypes of the average soldier and the military in general, maybe you have contingencies incorporating the military in one way or another, or maybe your feel scared and threatened, neutral and unaware, or secure and reassured by the military and the men and women in uniform.

There are indeed various barriers to prepping.  These barriers for soldiers at times are unique, and at times mirror the barriers for the general population.  The barriers discussed here are money and complacency/laziness.

Money is one of the single most important barriers to prepping, and affects everybody regardless if you are in uniform or not.  Military pay is different than civilian pay.  Military pay is made up of Base Pay and Entitlements.  Entitlements are pay for things like base allowance for housing (BAH) and groceries, called base allowance for subsistence (BAS).  Money doesn't have to be a barrier for the military family, but it is a great barrier to prepping that affects soldiers in different ways.   

Take for instance the young, single (unmarried) soldiers.  The single soldier receives his entitlement for housing, and each month that money is taken away (canceling each other out) and he is provided with a furnished barracks room.  Rooms nowadays are actually nicer than my college dorm room!  More like suites, where you have your own little room, but share a bathroom and kitchen with only one other soldier.  However, many single soldiers choose to not live in the barracks, and go in together on a lease at an apartment or rental house off-post.  So soldiers are paying for housing already, in lieu of directly receiving the BAH, but on top of that, they are using their discretionary income to pay for even more housing because they choose not to stay in their barracks room.  It gets worse when it comes to filling the belly.  Single soldiers are given BAS each month, but the military takes back the money every month because they are provided with a meal card.  The meal card entitles single soldiers to eat three very nice meals a day in the military cafeterias (DFAC), with food so varied that the average American comes nowhere close to eating that well.  And if you went out and bought the type of variety the soldiers can eat in the DFAC, it would cost a small fortune.  But the single soldier does not take advantage of this, and therefore eats out nearly every meal, or buys groceries and cooks nearly every meal.  So you have a soldier who is spending their discretionary money not only on housing, but also on food, when the housing and food is essentially prepaid.

Married Soldiers don't get off easy either.  Divorce rates in the military are higher than in the civilian world.  Paying for divorces and paying for child support is not uncommon.  Family, when not in it for love/spirituality and when not in it for the long run, can be very expensive.  Expensive to get into, and expensive to get out of.  And often times, it is near impossible for the wife to work.  This is why they are called "Army Wives".  That is their profession.  Soldiers work 24/7, it just depends what your specific task is at any given moment.  Could be PT, could be working in the motor pool, but it could also be relaxing or sleeping.  Point is, you are never really off, and in conjunction with field exercises, 24 hour duty rotations, early mornings and long days, a soldier's schedule is in constant ebb and flow, and this means the wife primarily must be the anchor keeping the house together - cleaning, cooking, rearing the children, and the like.  One income households can prosper and prepping can be achieved, just as single soldiers can save money and prepare themselves if they wanted too, but soldiers are humans, and herein lays the other problem relating to money:   

Just like civilian life, soldiers balance financial issues similar to what civilians do, and maybe even more so.  Debt and vices rear their ugly head on soldiers like shoppers ready to stampede Wal-Mart on Black Friday.  There is comfort and reassurance in getting paid on the first and fifteenth of every month, and once the wheels of short term satisfaction and instant gratification start turning, they are hard to brake.  Let’s talk about debt.  And just one form of debt on top of that - the quintessential American car loan.  In my time in the Army, I have come to learn that not only does the average soldier spend a lot more on accessories and upgrades to their vehicles than the general population, it is not uncommon to have a $600/month car note to finance the endeavor, with 10% to 18% interest rates, and an insurance premium to high to pay at once, creating monthly bills in excess of $150.  Furthermore, there is an unspoken rule of ego propping in the Army.  Hence the perceived need for having the brand new Jeep Wrangler "Call of Duty" edition with the heavy duty Warn winch sporting hard, soft and bikini tops at will, even though it will never go off road, or having the brand new Dodge Charger with low profile tires hugging for dear life on 26" rims, with more than one TV screen for every potential passenger, and a stereo system so loud it could be used for a block party.  Money wasted, preps foregone.  Vices would be another avenue of lost income when it comes to the average soldier.  Drinking, smoking and dipping usage is higher per capita in the military than it is in the civilian world, not to mention daily stops at the gas station for energy drinks and snacks.  All this adds up to little left over at the end of the month to put into food reserves, gold and silver coin, and an ample water supply. 

In addition to the money barrier, there is the complacency barrier.  Complacency about work load is a start.  Think of how you drive through a construction zone and there is one guy shoveling and six guys standing around him.  Well, same holds true in the Army.  20% of the workers do 80% of the work.  Thus we have an attitude that someone else will do it.  That is complacency my friends.  Another type of complacency that is found in the civilian world but amplified in the army is the "government will take care of me" attitude.  Well, guess what, soldiers are in that government, and if you have ever been deployed, you know that getting taken care of is no easy task even in the best situations.  Sure, supply and resupply works great now.  But just-in-time on an industrial scale gives soldiers a false sense of hope.  Complacency sets in similar to the way a corporate hamster wheeler gets his pink slip.  He thinks, "This can never happen to me".  Well, it just did.

Now that we have discussed some of the barriers to preparedness, we need to look at different categories of preps to analyze why and how the average soldier is just not prepared.  Let’s start with the tried and true survivalist doctrine that skills are more important than stuff.  This is true.  But let’s look at skills from an individual soldier's perspective. 

The soldier has a primary job, called a Military Occupational Specialty (MOS).  I am a truck driver.  I have expert skills in this field.  I can secure an M1 Abrams Tank to a trailer that has 40 wheels and tires on it, and haul it off into the sunset.  I can pick up shipping containers and drop them wherever they are needed.  I can run convoys and react to ambushes, roadside bombs, breakdowns and the like.  I can do these things because that is my job in the Army, and I would hope everybody was competent and proficient in their job.  So the soldier has a primary skill at which they excel, which is great as far as preps go, but all the other cool army stuff that makes its way into movies - commo, land navigation, shooting, kicking in doors, treating casualties on the battle field, etc, are trained on in limited scope, and even more importantly, are perishable skills, meaning they are "use 'em or lose 'em" skills.

If you don't get out and get try to find your way around the desert or through the woods with a map and a compass on a regular basis, you will be hurting in a stressful environment.  If you don't practice improvising a tourniquet on a regular basis, time will be against you in the heat of the moment.  If only go to the range once or twice a year, you are not shooting to your potential.  If you don't fill radios and sync with power, time, antennas, and the like, you will be chatting only with yourself.  This is where the average soldier could have a great deal of skills, but in general, loses on such great opportunities.  Take map reading and land navigation as an example.  This skill is often done in teams, but since the 20/80 rule applies, there is usually one or two that are good at it and do the work for the team, while the others don't want to learn and just tag along to finish the training.  Sad but true.

Physical Fitness is an individual skill and is another aspect of preparedness that is very important yet often over looked.  One naturally assumes that since they are soldiers, they are physically fit.  Well, sort of, but there is more to it than that.  Soldiers have to be in shape or they will lose their job.  Period. Point blank.  I have seen soldiers kicked out of the Army for not being able to pass a PT test, and I have seen soldiers kicked out of the Army for being overweight.  If you don't want to be jobless, there is a strong incentive to performing physically.  But how difficult is the PT test really?  Its two minutes of push-ups, two minutes of sit-ups, and a two mile run.  If you are generally in shape and not overweight, it is not difficult to pass.  So soldiers are not the superhuman-athlete types that are often perceived.  What you have is multitudes of young men and women, not too far out of high school or college, who should be and generally are in decent shape and health.  But they are still in their late teens and early twenties.  Energy is abundant and in excess for them.  It really is a young person's Army.  Furthermore, the Army has been changing the PT program for years in the making now, and for years a principle focus was on establishing a new PT test which was more difficult, and guess what happened to that idea?  Scrapped.  Soldiers couldn't pass it.  And if soldier's are physically fit as they should be, that does not mean they are willing to do the work that needs to be done when the SHTF.  Laziness can affect anybody, hard bodies included, and it is a self inflicted hindrance upon accomplishing work.  One time I needed help moving a heavy crate off the top of a flatbed trailer, and I asked a soldier who was rather buff and built, but inherently lazy.  He performs his job with only the bare minimum of effort to get by, he prefers to live in the gym, and when I asked him to help move the crate, the reply was "this is just for show", in reference to his body builder physique.  

Weapons and shooting is also an individual prep and skill.  Most of the Army is not combat arms.  They are not out and about kicking in doors, detaining enemy POWs, throwing grenades and generally causing mayhem and destruction.  This means that for the rest of us, we probably visit a range once a year, a couple times a year if we are lucky.  In comparison, there are varying numbers but it is safe to say that anywhere between 20% - 50% of American households own guns, and many individuals go shoot them regularly.  Your average soldier has an assigned weapon, usually an M16 or and M4, that is locked inside a cage which is locked inside a secured arms vault, which is locked inside a secured building.  Point being that while our primary role is protecting the good 'ole US of A, force multipliers, advanced weaponry and effective and efficient soldiers have changed the role and scope of the modern Army dramatically, and one of the consequences has been a lessening in the amount of range time slotted.  And what about soldiers privately owning and storing guns and ammunition at home?  Maybe, maybe not.  Where this would be in line with the average civilian household owning guns, the questions can go like this - how many guns do they have, do they have a sufficient supply of ammunition, and are they training regularly using those weapons?  When it comes to defense, offense, and things that go "bang", the average soldier is really no more prepared than the average civilian.

What about food reserves?  This is directly in line with the assumption that the overwhelming vast majority of civilians are not prepared for a short term or long term disaster and neither is the average soldier.  Sufficient food in storage is paramount, and one of the main pillars in the foundation of prepping.  The average soldier has no more food on hand than the average civilian.  Furthermore, the average soldier probably even has less, because as soldiers move around to different posts, they are allowed only a certain amount of weight for their household goods, and more often than not, soldiers end up giving away food from their pantries, not only to lessen the weight they are moving but also because its more convenient to just give it away then deal with it (i.e. complacency/lazy).   

So what we have in society is the same as what we have in the military as well.  People will always take the easy way out, instead of going down the road less traveled.  The same reactions to prepping that you find in the civilian world are just as prevalent in the military.  For example, the classic, "well, if anything happens I'll just come over to your house" excuse has been said to me time and time again, back when I was early on in my time of national service.  Attitudes like these are unfortunately what helped convince me to be less extroverted and more introverted, in the sense of community.  It also has left me kind of bittersweet with my opinion of soldiers and their personal level of readiness, especially now that I have had some time in the Army and experiences to reinforce that feeling.  I mean, really, you are a US Army Truck Driver and you don't even carry a flashlight or multitool, knowing you will use both of them almost every single day?  And they were even issued to you and often times gifted to you courtesy of your unit's discretionary funds!  Incredible.  Just incredible.  The golden opportunity for people to prepare their families for an unknown unfortunate event that will happen sooner or later, and they fail to seize the day.  

Personal preparedness is a responsibility for all people and all families, and sadly, we know that the average American family is not personally prepared for a rainy day, much less a stormy day.  Unfortunately, we also know that the average US Soldier is not personally prepared either.  If you have selfishly thought of taking your family to your Army cousin's house during some Schumeresque event because you think he is prepared, that could be a great mistake at best, and likewise, your Army cousin might just show up with his family at your house looking for food and shelter, because he has not prepared for his family and thinks you might be one of them "preppers".  And finally, if you not only want to learn skills that are paramount in the life of a survivalist/prepper, but get paid to learn those skills, take it from me, the military has served me well in that department, and you get to serve your country and be part of something bigger than you in the process.


Tuesday, December 25, 2012


Pro-liberty, survivalist community of thousands planned for North Idaho. (Thanks to reader B.F. for the link.)

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The Bakken Oil Boom: Moving "Back Home" to Montana?

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The Fastest-Growing States in America (and Why They're Booming)

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Police: US Sen. Crapo arrested, charged with DUI

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The scope offerings from Night Force Optics (in Orofino, Idaho--deep in the Redoubt), just get better and better.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Take a look at these cell phone coverage maps -- note the big gaps in the American Redoubt. Bad news? Well, for some of us who want to "get lost" it isn't! (Here at Rawles Ranch, it is a looong drive to the nearest cell phone signal.) If nothing else, these maps certainly tell you something about the low population density in the Redoubt and some other hinterboonies regions. Think of these regions as the last frontiers in the Lower 48.

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Panel says hunting could help manage grizzly bears. Hunting grizzlies could become legal in three Redoubt states.

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I heard that Mitchell Supply in Great Falls, Montana has expanded their inventory.

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White's Boots (with their factory in Spokane, Washington), has expanded their product offerings to include Smartwool undergarments and a lot more. (Even coffee!) Now, don't go too yuppie on us...


Friday, December 14, 2012


Jim,
You recently linked to NightlightMap.com. What is that big huge area of brightness in [ostensibly lightly-populated] Northwest North Dakota? That makes me question the usefulness of that map at all. - Sam D.

JWR Replies: Those lights are the main concentration of activity in the Bakken oil fields--see this map.  (See also, these photos.) Reader Rob H. tells me that the dots of light shown are mostly the light of burning off excess wellhead gas. (Plus, presumably: floodlights around drilling rigs, and floodlights around equipment yards, and the light of burning off excess wellhead gas, and floodlights, and the flames of burning un-needed fractions at refineries, and the temporary housing for the oilfield workers.) It is quite a booming area! Similarly, the bright lights seen in the heretofore "wilderness" NNE of Edmonton, Alberta are the extensive new Athabasca-Wabiskaw tar/oil sands fields.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Reader T.K., who lives in the Tri-cities [Richland, Pasco and Kennewick] region of Washington wrote to mention that local credit union, HAPO, is ordering in $2,000 in nickels for him with no fee charged. "I'm simply taking $2,000 out of my account with them and they are giving me $2,000 in nickels. It is going to take a week for the order to go through and they asked me to have some kind of bins to put them in but other than that they had no issues with me getting a bulk shipment of nickels. Yet another reason to live in the Redoubt." [JWR Adds: My bank in the Redoubt has accommodated my many requests for nickels in bulk over the past four years with no ruffled feathers. They have never requested any fees, even though I've often asked them to order nickels $1,000 at a time. (Ten $100 cardboard box "bricks" per order.) It is nice living in a place where even your banker doesn't feel the need to poke his nose into your business.]

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Montana Courtroom Incident Proves Wild Fire Can Burn Twice. (Thanks to Steven W. for the link.)

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Boise company's products kept the (solar) lights on during Hurricane Sandy

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Preparedness pays off: Snowmobiler survives weekend avalanche near McCall, Idaho

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Reader A.B. wrote to mention that there is a group of cloistered Carmelite brothers who are building a classic gothic European monastery in Wyoming.  They get a significant amount of the revenue from selling coffee beans that they roast.  You can read about them on the Charles Carroll Society web site. A.B's comments: "These brothers live and work exclusively for Christ.  They live separately from the world’s distractions praying for it and those in it.  They looked all over to find an unspoiled area where they still could buy a mountain top to build an isolated monastery and guess where they choose?  The American Redoubt!  These brothers appear to be traditional Catholics. (Notice the habits and they use a version of the traditional Latin Mass.) They participate in the public life by opening their monastery to Christian men who are looking for an isolated retreat, and they also have men-only services on Sunday.    I am also researching a cloistered group of sisters, but they initially appear to be much more progressive. It may not be a bad thing to know a bunch of traditional monks living in a remote castle in the Redoubt in the future."

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Duck hunter describes near-death experience on Snake River


Tuesday, December 4, 2012


There has been a lot of debate over whether or not to remain in place or to leave your home and retreat to another location within the prepper community. Both have their advantages and disadvantages but that is not the scope of this article. I simply want to address the moment that all of us may come to, both the bug-in crowd, when they realize their initial plan is untenable, or the bug-out crowd, when they have made their decision to move to “higher ground.”
We all remember the game “Red Light, Green Light”, we played as kids and tried to outsmart the signal caller and get to our “destination” without the caller catching us. If we take this same approach and label the “signal caller” the economy/collapse, I feel we can apply the same basic principles to our decision making process in regard to leaving our current location for our safe haven, retreat, bug out location, etc.

Several years ago I was driving home with my family from a wedding we had attended in Chicago. On the morning of our departure, there had been a fairly strong storm the night before that dumped a lot of water on the I-80/I-90 corridor. The weather was clear in the morning and when we left at 0800 in the morning for our return trip to PA, we had no idea what we were in for as the Interstate had become impassable on the east bound lanes. I am not one prone to panic but there was a growing uneasiness in the pit of my stomach as I realized we were in for a very long delay. As it turned out, the highway was closed for a majority of the day as the water had flooded certain sections out. Whether by dumb luck or by the grace of God (I choose the latter), I decided we needed to turn around and get off the highway pronto. I was in the far right lane and saw a cut in the retaining wall several hundred yards up and needed to get over quickly but this was problematic since it was a 4-lane highway which had become a parking lot. The long and short of it was I was able to inch over, very slowly, and get to the turn around and head west bound to re-assess our plan and get off the highway. This episode is one that will likely repeat itself throughout the country in the event of a catastrophe, man-made or natural disaster, and solidified my belief that I don’t want to be anywhere near a scenario like this if it does occur.  We got off the highway, made our way south to Route 30, but that was blocked as well due to the influx of the I-80 traffic doing the same thing we were doing. We finally made it all the way to the Indianapolis bypass before we could head east towards Pennsylvania. We arrived 14 hours later at midnight at our home, completely exhausted, when a normal trip should have taken us 8 hours. With three small children in the car who were thankfully sound asleep, my mind was made up that I would never again consciously put my family in a position like that and have since then thought long and hard about what I need to do to protect my family when we travel long distances; both before a SHTF event and even more so after that. The event shook me to my very core, not because we were close to any dangerous situations, but because it illuminated how quickly a situation can change from a normal family trip into one of potential disaster.

What I did wrong on that return trip was fail to plan. I had no extra food or water in the car, I did not have a full tank of gas when I left Chicago (I was just going to fill up on the highway when I left) and I had no means to protect my family if the situation required it since I didn’t even have a handgun with me. I was traveling to Chicago which has the most restrictive gun laws in the country. With that said, I do not see myself traveling to the Windy City ever again with my family until the gun laws are changed in favor of concealed reciprocity.  Although nothing happened during the trip, it made me realize how fragile the thin veneer of normalcy is in this country and how quickly it can turn into a volatile situation; putting you and your family at risk.
A lot of preppers have an exfiltration plan from their current situation to a safe haven if the SHTF and we are no different but we all need to drill down on our plans and ensure they are workable in a less-than-desirable socioeconomic catastrophe. Our plan is to bug-in but we have an alternate plan to bug-out to western South Dakota where we have extended family and a large self-sufficient ranch. The only problem is getting there in one piece. How do we do this? I have asked myself this very question and have come up with some ideas and wanted to share them with your readers and also look for feedback as I know that no plan survives the first volley of shots fired.

When will I go? This is what gave me the idea for the title of this article. Presently I can see three types of scenarios that involve traveling. The first level of travel is our current social situation, which I will call a “green light” scenario. There is little to no impediment to travel across the US with the exception of high fuel costs but essentially, if you want to, you can load up and drive from coast to coast. This will not last forever. Whether by man-made or artificial catastrophes, a pre-planned False Flag or Black Swan event, at some point in the future, our ability to travel freely within this country may very well be curtailed. This is the gray area of the decision making process. Obviously we would like to be able to pick up and go at our leisure but that is simply not realistic unless you are able to see into the future so I will concentrate on the “yellow light” scenario which is that some event has triggered a less than optimal travel scenario within the US and you will not have complete access to fuel, food, water and the expectation of security so you need to plan for that contingency. The “red light” scenario is one in which travel is essentially prohibited either by law, force or instability and there would be no expectation of being able to make it from point A to point B so I will concentrate on the yellow light scenario and the assumption that you are ready, willing and able to make this monumental move before it is too late.

Where will I go if I have to leave in rapid fashion?
This is based on the premise that you have decided to leave your present location and move to a safer haven. If an apocalyptic event transpires, the looting and mayhem that happened during Hurricane Katrina and the Los Angeles riots will look like child’s play. Have an exfil plan from wherever you live, to a place of safety and make the decision to leave early and DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE. Remember, this is a move to a place where you are going to settle for a long period of time. Family and friends who live in the country, away from large cities,  and who have land are your best bet but you must make arrangements with them well beforehand. Do not show up on their doorstep without talking to them about your plans long before you leave, and make sure they have agreed to this arrangement as well. Also, do not show up empty-handed if at all possible.  This may not be possible but as a prepper, you are doing your family a disservice if you are not ready to make a large scale move with your provisions from your present location to you safe haven. Think about how you will embark all your gear and move to your new location and have your family do at least a dry-run through.  The time to find out that you need an essential piece of equipment is not when you are doing this in prime time. The pre-planning for this move is probably the most crucial aspect of your entire relocation. Going back to my Chicago incident, had we simply looked at the local news or weather channel, we would have saved ourselves several hours even if the trip would have taken longer. We never would have gone near the interstate had we simply planned ahead. Bottom line, have a plan on where you are going to go, what are you going to bring, how are you going to transport it and when are you going to make the decision to leave?                 

What will I do for reliable transportation?
This exodus will most likely be accomplished in caravans like the wagon trains out in the old west except this time it will be SUVs and trailers. You will need to plan for food/fuel & water from your location to where you want to go and you need to be able to do it without the aid of gas stations/rest stops or any other modern day convenience (remember, this is yellow light time).  Although there may be gas available while you travel due to multiple circumstances and the type of SHTF event that you are preceding or escaping from, you should absolutely plan for a self-contained move with no outside assistance. If the assistance is there, fine, but don’t make it a lynchpin of your plan or it will fail. For my own family, I will travel west to South Dakota where we have extended family. It’s about 1,500 miles from our home so I have to answer the question; how do I refuel along the way? You do not want to carry fuel in your car and to travel that kind of distance would require more fuel than there is room in the vehicle. In addition it is highly dangerous to do this, even in the trunk. I would recommend getting a small trailer capable of towing 1,500 to 2,000 lbs and make sure your hitch has the same capacity. Inside or on your trailer, you will need a fuel storage/delivery system that allows you to refuel quickly. 55 gallon drums are relatively cheap so I would probably need two of them to make the trip. Calculate your mileage, divide by the worst gas mileage your vehicle gets and that gives you the number of gallons you need. For me its 1,500 miles divided by 15 mpg = 100 gallons. (2) 55 gallon drums will give you 110 gallons so it should do it. For me, I would add 20-30% for detours and carry 150 gallons minimum to get me where I was going. If you want to go the path of least resistance and buy the red Jerry cans, that’s 30 containers to make 150 gallons. Although simple, it is not optimal in my opinion. I have been practicing refueling with them on a regular basis and they do have some drawbacks. First, they leak, plain and simple. No matter what you do, they will leak a little and sometimes a lot if you get the nozzle twisted around while refueling. Secondly, there is the storage requirement of 30 red 5-gallon fuel cans and most garages don’t have the room for that many and everything else we have stored in there. Can it be done, sure, but I think there are better ways, especially if you have the time to plan. Regardless of what container(s) you will use, I recommend that you buy a simple pump attachment for your fuel container and run a hose from the fuel to your gas tank. This avoids a lot of spillage with the “lift and hold in place for several minutes until the fuel can is empty” routine. I have a local Tractor Supply store which carries simple hand-cranked pumps and electrical ones as well. Using the Rawlesian computation of 2 is 1 and 1 is none, having multiple ways to pump fuel is probably a good plan to have!

I will travel with my 5 x 8 enclosed trailer with a towing capacity of 3k lbs. so I can bring more gear with me. (3) 55 gallon drums will weigh approximately 1300 lbs. so I’d have an extra 1700lbs to play with for supplies. As an alternative, you may have a vehicle in your convoy that does not have a trailer but is still part of the overall plan. I have a 2’ x 6’ platform trailer that hooks into my trailer hitch. The sides of this platform are 5” tall and can carry (12) 5-gallon Jerry Cans totaling 60 gallons. With a full 15 gallon internal capacity, I can travel 1125 miles on just what I carry on the platform combined with internal fuel and would only need 20-30 more gallons to make it to our destination. The additional fuel you carried in your trailer could easily make up this shortcoming.  In the military, we called this war-gaming; thinking of every possible thing that could happen and coming up with a plan to deal with it. Have everyone take turns acting as the “doubting Thomas” and have them try to shoot holes in your plan. If it is apparent that your plans need adjusting, make it so.

Do not travel anywhere near big cities (remember my Chicago episode!). Only use the stretches of highways and Interstates where they do not go near cities like New York, Chicago, etc. My route out west, by the shortest route, takes me right near Chicago but I will bypass to the south and add upwards of 200-300 extra miles just to stay safe. I expect the cities to be congested and potentially dangerous. In addition, always have an alternate plan that gives you the ability to change routes along the way with little backtracking required. This may require some detailed planning and I would even recommend that a few persons in the group travel the route and do a route reconnaissance beforehand. Let’s say you are traveling through Iowa on your way to Wyoming and the American Redoubt and realize that your original route is blocked or less than safe. Turning around and executing a “shift on the fly” route change should not be the first time you execute this. Practice it beforehand so you get the feel for how much time and effort it will take to get a 3 to 4 vehicle convoy going in another direction. Have each vehicle ‘commander’ take turns in executing a route change so everyone is comfortable in that position if the need arises for them to take over the navigation responsibilities.

What will I do for security?
Bottom line, more crowds = more potential danger. Do not travel as a single family if at all possible. In the novel The Raggedy Edge by Michael Turnlund, there is an episode when the husband and his wife are trying to move through a roadblock and he has to make the decision to have his wife drive while he shoots from the passenger window. Don’t let this happen to you and plan for this contingency and how you are going to deal with it. If you have a convoy, you can set up a hasty blocking position and have a designated element envelop the trouble spot from the sides while the rest of the convoy sets up a base of fire.  Some of you may be reading this and saying to yourself, “I can’t handle this type of situation” and while that may well be true, you need to have individuals within your convoy who are capable of dealing with this situation or your bug-out to your safe haven may be cut very short.

If a catastrophic meltdown does happen, there will probably be rogue elements that would prey on families and take their food, fuel and gear. Think: Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. I would travel in as large an SUV as I could and have a minimum of 2-3 other vehicles that were going to the same place or area. Remember there is safety in numbers. If you already know who you might want to travel with you, start getting together on a regular basis to discuss your evacuation plan, much like someone in a flood zone, hurricane alley, etc. Sit down with them and discuss everything that could go wrong and have a plan to deal with it. The more prepared your group is, the easier it will be to make the decision to evacuate. Discuss emergencies, vehicle breakdowns, health issues, food, water, weapons, ammunition, and fuel. A previous article on Survival Blog discussed convoy security and this should be part of everyone’s plan. Don’t just talk about it, exercise you plan on smaller trips to uncover any potential problems you may have missed during the planning stages. Discuss how you will deal with a catastrophic vehicle breakdown where you might have to leave one behind. Also, now is not the time to discuss the issue of firearms and the right to bear arms. Deal with it, everyone will be packing heat and everyone will know it too. That’s not a bad thing. My guess is that a lot of folks will be scared but at the same time, we are a nation of mostly law abiding citizens, so take comfort in the fact that a lot of people are in the same boat. Always be cautious but do not be afraid to help someone who obviously needs it. This will be the cornerstone of the communities that will rise up from the ashes of this national emergency. 
Since everyone will need more human power to work their land and provide security, most reasonable and logical persons will understand the efficacy of allowing you to join them at their safe haven. This is where you trade your labor for a safe haven, a place to live, and the fruits that the land bears but negotiating on their doorstep when you show up un-announced is not the appropriate time to do this. Make sure they know you are coming so they can prepare as much as you should have!

What will I do for communications?
Make sure that you have a communication plan and the ability to talk to those within your caravan. And do not rely on a single point of failure system either. Have a back-up and a back-up to the back-up. Cell phones will not necessarily be reliable if the power grid goes down but the portable walkie-talkie type radios will be invaluable. Some forward thinking folks may have SatPhones which, unless the Chinese shoot down our satellites, should work during this period. This is not to say that they will always operate. Whatever form of government remains may not have the ability to maintain a system of satellites that we currently have but it’s worth it if you have the money to purchase them now. The government may also be less than accepting of the type of communication that is going on via the grid and try to shut it down as well. If you live in a place where you absolutely know you will not stay in the event of a societal meltdown, send a SatPhone to the place where you will go and have your family and friends on both ends practice with and test the system to make sure it will work for you.  I will use the MURS hand held radios and have a full set of cheap walkie-talkies as a back-up (in addition to cell phones). That’s three modes of digital communications in addition to hand and arms signals. I would also recommend that you buy good quality headsets that have either a push-to-talk (PTT) capability or voice actuated (VOX) for hands free comm. I flew helicopters in the military and the VOX capability is a force multiplier in the cockpit since it is a multi-tasking nightmare at times.

What will you do if your transportation breaks down?
Make sure you have a complete extra wheel/tire combo, not just the tire. If you get a flat, you will not have access to a garage to change your tire. I would have two extra wheels/tires as well as enough Fix-a-flat to re-inflate several tires. Remember to be completely self-sustainable and walk-through all the potential hazards of a long trip that you would normally take but add to this the fact that you cannot count on any water, food, or logistical support outside of what you can carry in/on or behind your vehicles. Several companies make roof racks that are specifically designed for carrying maintenance, camping, and survival gear and can easily be adapted to carrying tires and wheels as well. You may look like the Beverly Hillbillies but you are much less likely to be stranded on the road with an immobile vehicle. In addition, let’s make sure to practice changing a tire on the side of the road prior to having to do it in an in-extremis situation for the first time.

What should I do about carrying weapons?
Some of you may be worried about carrying weapons in your car. If this scenario goes down, this will be out the window as law enforcement officials are just like you, they have families and concerns of their own and will not be worried about what is inside your vehicle if it is obvious you are relocating your family to a safer place. If it makes you feel better, apply for a concealed-carry permit.  The scenario that may be of a gray area will be if you have decided to bug-out well in advance of the collapse and it will be relatively easy travel to your safe haven. In this event, I would not advertise the fact that you are carrying an arsenal in your vehicles but make sure you have the ability to defend yourself and your family should the need arises. This will be a call on your part depending on when you leave.

With the exception of Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and a few other states, a state concealed carry permit is recognized in many other states. In addition, the US House has passed its version of the nation-wide concealed carry reciprocity bill, H.R. 822, the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011. If the Senate passes it we will get a clear indication from the current occupant of the White House whether or not he supports the rights of gun owners across this country. I have a Pennsylvania concealed carry permit and an out of state non-resident permit, and I could drive all of the way to South Dakota and still be in accordance with state laws, with the exception of Illinois, with a loaded weapon in my car. Remember, your family’s safety is your primary concern. Do not let anything deter you.

At this point in time we are in a “Green Light” scenario in regard to CONUS travel but it will most likely not last indefinitely.  Start planning your exodus now and do not leave any details unattended or they will come back to bite you in the rumpus! Have a place already picked out, stage as much gear and supplies there as is humanly possible and work towards completing a self-contained move that includes all aspects of the move; vehicles, fuel, food, water, supplies, security, and communications. While this is not an exhaustive list by any stretch, it should give you a starting point. Blessings to all and Semper Prep.



Spokane man invents safe hidden in couch. (There are more details, here.)

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From The Idaho Statesman: Seed library preserves the Valley’s botanical heritage

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And speaking of Idaho, This company is noteworthy: Freedom Munitions. They have great prices and are willing to sell by mail order, so it is worthwhile to put together a "group buy" of ammo with your local friends, anywhere in the United States.

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Thusfar, much of the American Redoubt is enjoying a mild winter. Here at the ranch the weather has been easy on our livestock, but it has been pitiful for those in our family who enjoy sledding and cross-country skiing.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Mr. Rawles:
During the recent Thanksgiving holiday weekend, I drove from my house, to my brother's a mere 270 miles, a mere 4 to 4-1/2hrs drive. With accidents and construction, it took almost 8 hours. And it was in both directions, North and Southbound. I was perplexed at the mass confusion, weaving in and out, driving over medians to get to the access/frontage road to get ahead of others, only to find out that that road went off in another direction or dead ended.
 
Coming home on Sunday I saw 15 accidents in a 20 mile stretch, one accident involving six cars in a tailgating fender bender. Most others were 1-2 cars, or single run off the road flat tire accidents.
 
This was under a 'holiday' weekend Wednesday and Sunday. What is going to happen when these folks are 'bugging out' like they hear on television? And if there is a real emergency? Where are they going to go if everyone along an Interstate Highway is bugging out at the same time? All points of the compass are going to be a parking lot within 10 miles of any major population center. Then What? Everybody gets out and walks? They wouldn't make it 100 yards before collapsing.
 
I don't think I can last long enough to get a piece of property and make preps, outside from the city. So I am trying to prep on site, until after the wave flows over us. I fear the European crisis and the Middle East war expanding. It is coming like a freight train and I can't get out of the way.
 
Now I am talking economic collapse that disrupts government involvement, transportation and food distribution/jobs/civil war/ or some other catastrophe other than natural, like Superstorm Sandy, where the infrastructure is destroyed.
 
Am I being 'prudent' in assessing the situation? I am stocking up on food and weapons and working on my concealed handgun license and range time. I won't give you my list of weapons as I value OPSEC, but I have enough in each category home defense, short battle rifle, long range rifle and a mixed bag of other rifles, including an assortment of pistols. It's not an 'arsenal' to outfit an army, but it's enough for me for now.
 
If we lay low, until most of the shock wears off, and see what happens, we'll be okay for the most part.  I need to get a genset for power and other essentials, but I am headed that way.  Thanks for all you do. but this is my quandary that I can't get my head around. - Mr. Wickey

JWR Replies: I must begin by reiterating a regular theme: I strongly recommend relocating and living year-round in a lightly-populated farming region, if your work and family situation allow it. The "hunker down" approach will probably suffice in most situations. But in a grid-down societal collapse--when law and order is not restored within a few weeks--your chances of survival will drop off to near nil, if you stay put in a metropolitan region. Granted, the odds of a such a collapse in any given year are very small, but the consequences would be dramatic. A grid down collapse will very likely trigger a massive die-off. In this event your chances of survival would be relatively high in places like The American Redoubt, but pitifully low in the big cities of the northeastern United States.



Reader J.T. in Montana wrote to mention: "I went to my first ever Black Friday sale at Wal-Mart Thursday night, in Ponderay, Idaho. [Near Sandpoint.] The place was crowded and lines were long waiting for certain items. Everyone I saw excused each other as they moved through the crowds. We stood and passed the time discussing with those around us how good it is to live in such a great place and to be blessed enough to even be able to buy things we need or want. We never heard anyone raise their voice nor did we see anything but proper conduct. I told my wife I wish I had videoed this Black Friday event. Way to go Idaho!"

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NEMO Arms (in Kalispell, Montana) has introduced a new AR on steroids. It is chambered in .300 Winchester Magnum. It weighs just 9.2 pounds. (Unloaded and without a magazine, optics or sights.)

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Ttabs has posted another great flying, with scenes shot in eastern Washington and north-central Idaho: Airing It Out

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GuerillAmerica has posted an interview with the CEO of Redoubt gunmaker, III Arms.

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Two-Thirds of Idaho Wolf Carcasses Examined Have Thousands of Hydatid Disease Tapeworms


Friday, November 23, 2012


Jim::
I think some writer on this topic miss an extremely important point about secession.  That point is immigration and emigration.
 
Taking your original argument that the Federals would not allow Redoubters to go in peace – then most likely the Feds would immediately cut off all “benefits” paid to those who reside within the American Redoubt.
 
It is unlikely Social Security would be cut off because there is no problem presently paying SS to ex-pats who have chosen to retire in foreign countries, Honduras, The Bahamas, Spain, etc etc.  By what logic would it be different here?
 
As for others who are dependent on “transfer payments” without doubt there would be an immediate rush for the exits.  Hundreds of thousands of “disabled”, “professional minorities”, college-professors, bureaucrats, IRS agents, EPA officers and other marginal and non-producers would hit the exit ramps.
 
Overnight our welfare, Medicaid, and 80% of our crime problem would be solved.
 
On the other side of the ledger, thousands upon thousands of entrepreneurs who have been “regulated” out of business will stream INTO the Redoubt, yearning for the breath of freedom.  They will be joined by thousands of individuals who have been subject to “reverse discrimination” because they happen to be a Christian or other non-minority.
 
The “homeless” problem evaporates overnight because the support structure that allows them to exist in the North Country would disappear.  California here we come.
 
Many fine military officers would find their way to our side.  Officers who have been forced to swallow politically correct “rules of engagement”, the politically correct theory that “a girl make just as good an infantryman as a guy”   the politically correct theory that gay-friendly fully integrated homosexual army is the same fighting machine that landed on the shores of Iwo Jima in 1945. These officers would soon find employment in our ranks.
 
The legal structure will quickly be revised as well.  We simply cannot afford to let crooks appeal their sentences for 20 or 30 years.  Justice will once again become swift and sure.  You think this is going to be lost on the crooks?  California here they come.
 
With the criminal and parasite classes gone from our borders, the cost of government will plummet.
 
Further, just as thousands upon thousands of healthy young men and women headed for the oil fields of North & South Dakota – their brothers and sisters will come here.
 
Just as thousands upon thousands of healthy young men and women headed for Alaska to build the pipeline – their sons and daughters will come here.
 
Just as thousands upon thousands of healthy young men and women headed the gold fields of California – their grandsons and granddaughters will come here.
 
There will be a new burst of free-enterprise, and the young, the vigorous, the adventuresome and the unafraid will come here.
 
All we need do is offer them the opportunity to try their luck, offer them the chance to win or lose based on their own enterprise, ingenuity and intelligence.
 
What we cannot do is the same old same old.  The alphabet agencies, BATF, EPA, FEMA, BATF, FBI, CIA, and on and on and on, all this garbage has to go.
 
The idea that you can get a job, or into a college, or into some “program” based on the color of your skin.  That garbage has to go.
 
The idea that your criminal behavior is somehow excused because your dad was a drunk or your mom didn’t feed you, or your school was overcrowded.  That garbage has to go.
 
If we secede and keep things just as they are, we will fail and we will dissever to fail.
 
If we secede and cut out the crap, not just a bit here and there, but all of it – we will succeed beyond our wildest imagination. 
 
60 years ago heroes of our grandparent’s generation walked on the moon.  60 years from now, heroes of our grandchildren’s generation will walk among the stars.
 
The time is now, the place is here.  All we need do is heed the demand of Moses to the Pharaoh: “LET MY PEOPLE GO”.

Regards, - W.L.L.

James,
Growing up in the south, secession was and is still on the lips of many southerners.  The first secession I was taught about occurred some 3,000 years ago in the nation of Israel.  Solomon created the wealthiest and most powerful government the Israelites would ever see.  it was also one of the most corrupt.  Jewish history teaches that Solomon sent his own people into forced labor (slavery) in Tyre.  For those who don't know Tyre is an ancient Phoenician city in modern day Lebanon.  Solomon also gave away large sections of land to pay for his extravagances.  He gave 20 towns in Galilee to Hiram the king of Tyre because Hiram supplied Solomon with cedar, pine, and gold.  Solomon had no legal right to do this even as king of Israel.

In 1 Samuel chapter 8 we find the Israelites coming to Samuel asking for a king.  Samuel was displeased with this, but inquired of the Lord about it anyway.  God told Samuel not be to distressed over it because the people were not rejecting him they were rejecting God.  Once again we find the children of Israel in rebellion against God.

But God did what God always does when men cry out for bad government, He gives them just what they asked for no holds barred.  God tells Samuel to tell the people exactly what a king would do to them, Samuel did, and the people insisted on inviting tyranny upon themselves.  I encourage everyone to read 1 Samuel 8:10-18 and see if God's warning doesn't ring true, truer words were never spoken.

What the Israelites did not understand was they had the best form of government possible on this earth.  From the day Israel left Egypt's land they were divided into tribes.  Jethro, Moses father-in-law, showed Moses how to divided them into self ruling tribes.  Each tribe had clans, and the clans had sub clans.  This is known as the Patriarchal system, now you should understand why liberals hate it so much.  These tribes formed a confederacy with each other.  A confederacy was preferable because any infraction of any rule instantly dissolved the confederacy and both parties reserved the right to dissolve the confederacy at will.

By the time of Solomon's death the 10 tribes of the north had had enough and decided they would secede from Judah and form their own country.  However they stepped right back into the same disastrous trap that their fathers had several decades before.

Fast forward to the 1770s, obviously our founders believed in the right of secession, just read the Declaration of Independence.  Even after the New England Federalist made an attempt at secession, Jefferson believed they had a right to do so, that occurred in 1814-1815.  It is known as the Hartford Convention.  The people of New England gathered for a redress of grievances concerning the War of 1812 and the problems arising from the federal governments increasing power.

There is more than enough evidence to prove that our founders and framers believed the states had a right to secede and dissolve all bonds with the union.  Secession is a right of the PEOPLE.  I believe our founders would have gotten a good laugh out of their progeny asking a government for permission to secede.  

While I appreciate Attorney Terry E. Hogwood's dissertation on the subject, I believe he over looked one major point, the courts are a tool of government.  Historically they always rule in favor of government, and almost always in favor of increasing the power of government.  The courts seldom acknowledge the power of the people over government, yet the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution and Bill of Rights emphatically state that the power belongs to the people.  

Secession must be taken.  The secessionist recognizes his right to liberty and freedom then takes what is rightfully his, in essence he grants himself the right to secede.  No government will ever grant him the right to be free.

And yes, I believe in the right to secession and believe that secession maybe the last hope for freemen to continue to be free.  At the same time I also fear it.  The 10 tribes of Israel did secede from Judah, however in just a few decades they would be conquered by the Assyrians.  The 10 tribes of Israel were not a virtuous and moral people.  Our founders were virtuous and moral and even declared that our system of government could only succeed as long as we remained a virtuous and moral people.  Secession's only work over the long term when the people are morally grounded.  Secession's by immoral men only advance and increase the speed of corruption.  In fact most attempts of secession have failed because they are lead by the morally corrupt.

I hear many calling for secession because their rights are being trampled upon, but I don't hear many calling for the people to return to a moral and virtuous lifestyle.  Without a moral and virtuous people, chances of a successful secession are slimmer than slim and, I believe, may well lead to something far worse than what we face now. - C.D.P.


Thursday, November 22, 2012


Sure, I signed my state's petition to secede.  (Coincidentally but not at all comparable, an ancestor signed the Ordnance of Secession of Georgia.)  Most people correctly realize that these petitions are symbolic of our frustration with and desire to reject federal statist policies affecting all 50 states.  Still, there are those who act as if these petitions are the spark that will somehow ignite nationwide revolt.  In and of themselves, these petitions are a circus detached from reality and they're a distraction from a real solution.

I believe that secession can be a real solution but, as you'll see, it carries an enormous cost and doesn't necessarily make life any easier.  The quality of life under the secession solution is questionable but I'll state the case for the American Redoubt.

For those unfamiliar with the American Redoubt, it's a region including Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, eastern Washington and eastern Oregon first theorized by James Rawles of SurvivalBlog.  The majority of citizens vote Republican, are fiercely independent, are more self-sufficient than the average American, and I think are more politically hostile toward the .gov behemoth.  This doesn't describe all citizens of the American Redoubt but it's a start for a good many of them.  Theoretically, if we arrived at a conclusion that secession was a realistic option, that it was adequate at solving the issue of federal dominance, and that the quality of life in the Redoubt would greatly improve; we would still require both a bombproof legal basis for secession and the ability to enforce the decision and protect our sovereignty.

For the sake of academic exercise, here are two issues that the American Redoubt, among other regions, would need to address should we ever secede.

Balancing Governance and Defense.
There's seemingly no end to the list of maladies that plagued the Confederate States of America (CSA) after secession (chief among them was the "peculiar institution" of slavery).  Had they not held the infinitely heavy burden of fighting a war, the Confederate government may have been able to fix these problems.  Had the CSA successfully defended the South, the Confederate government would still have faced the critical task of ensuring good governance, along with the insurmountable odds of ending hyperinflation that plagued its citizens and economy.

I would not expect the federal government to allow a region to withdraw peacefully from the Union.  Likely targets for arrest would be elected government officials and military leaders.  Under a highly structured and centralized organization, if leaders critical to mission success were removed, then the entire movement would fail.  How many times and how often can you replace a governor?  How many times and how often can you replace a president?  But under an organization that favors decentralization with a ceiling at the state level (insofar as wartime is concerned), there is no one head of the snake.  (There's no need here to get into a strategic level debate of defending the Redoubt.)  Even then, a state alone could still function without a governor so long as county and local government continued.  In that case, the American Redoubt states must ensure that essential services will continue to function; and one of the best ways to do that is to simply limit the quantity and scope of essential services offered by the state.  County and local government must ensure that the rule of law is respected and they would do this through local law enforcement and, ideally, the utilization of small, localized militias where law enforcement is scarce or ineffective.  This works best when the populace is or is nearly self-sufficient - this includes the ability to defend themselves from enemies, foreign and domestic.

The association between the military and its civilian leadership is a critical link under a centralized structure.  If critical military leaders are removed through death or arrest, then the organization suffers.  If military and civilian leaders' ability to command and control is degraded, then the organization suffers.  Ideally, there is no upper echelon leadership in a Redoubt resistance.  That's not to say there's no communication or coordination; but the Redoubt would have to effectively remove its own high value targets (HVTs) from the battlefield.  A colonel leading a Redoubt brigade or battalion is a HVT in the eyes of the adversary.  The equivalent of a sergeant leading a small squad is not because his removal from the battlespace would have a negligible effect in terms of the duration and scope of disruption.  One sergeant's removal would not affect the other squads around him and across the region like the removal of a colonel would.  Liberty-committed Patriots must wrestle their minds away from the conventional, force-on-force paradigm and into the history books of guerrilla and partisan resistance warfare.  In effect, the resistance says, Come and enforce your laws on us.  When confronted with mass resistance of a civilian populace - if nearly the entire region would go along (a big if) - imposing the federal will is a thoroughly costly and immensely difficult practice, if not an altogether impossible feat for the occupier.  For evidence, look no further than Vietnam (still communist) and Afghanistan (still tribal).

Economy and Exports.

The American Redoubt, of all regions, has the most robust natural resource base in all of America: oil, lumber, minerals, and metals.  Each of these are required to fuel an economy; and silver and gold are real money.  In addition, each of these natural resources has upward price potential while the cost to acquire them (except for the cost of fuel) stays relatively the same.  As a region, the GDP of the American Redoubt is around $130 billion, which puts us near the total GDP of Kansas. Federal royalty revenue from natural resource extraction in Wyoming is around $1.7 billion; and only $1.8 billion if you include the entire Redoubt region.  Theoretically, if current EPA regulations were eased under the state or regional government, that revenue would increase.  The American Redoubt region's tourism industry is valued around $8 billion dollars, which employs thousands and brings in hundreds of millions in state revenue.  In addition, the federal government spends approximately $2.1 billion on social security retirement and disability, low income housing assistance, supplemental nutrition programs, medicare, medicaid, and education in Wyoming alone.  That number is $4.5 billion in Montana and $6.2 billion in Idaho: that's nearly $13 billion for the region.

It doesn't take long to see that secession, even if the Redoubt region could fight its way out of the Union, [the subsequent economic isolation] would inflict heavy economic casualties on the region.  In short, it's an economic issue and it's not happening.  (This isn't to say that a large movement of employers to the region couldn't bolster the economy and ease the economic burden of secession.) While we can't put a price on our freedom, our quality of life is still multitudes higher now than as its own region.

Editor's Note: This article is re-posted with the permission of the editor of the GuerillAmerica blog, where it first appeared.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Washington's wolf packs are spreading west to the Cascade mountain range. [JWR's Comment: I predict that it won't be until wolves start snatching dogs, cats and perhaps kids out of back yards in western Washington that the state legislature takes action.]

   o o o

Election maps show "shrunken" Redoubt. These maps illustrate how light the population density is here!

   o o o

A reader told me about another prepper-friendly church in Idaho: Grace Sandpoint Church.

   o o o

Montana lawmaker asks to be paid in gold. His request was very quickly denied.

   o o o

A rare event: Bank robbery in Rexburg, Idaho. SurvivalBlog reader "Jen" sent the link and mentioned: "Look at the picture of the robber leaving the credit union. He is reported to have "cleaned out" the bank after he locked all of the employees in the vault. Note how empty the bag is. That credit union had very, very little cash in it. I guess even the bank robbers are going to have to work a little bit harder. A bank run there would have been over in minutes;"


Friday, November 16, 2012


Mr. Rawles,
 
I'm currently trying to do a cogent analysis of the lower 48 and where my optimum safety location/region might be. I've read your articles on the great redoubt, rankings and ratings etc... I can respect your criteria and agree with most of it. The question that I'm pondering however, is that in a serious SHTF scenario, how will mass migrations occur. The "head for the hills" mentality will motivate millions to escape die off zones desperately seeking life's basics. I agree that in a scenario of seriously "grid down", a great many Americans will die. In contrast to your "Great American Redoubt"  however, I would posit the following; 
 
1. Logistically the "Redoubt" is challenged. From a foraging standpoint, there are precious few distribution points, raw materials or other commodities stockpiled. 2., The population density, while generally fewer than 50 people per sq. mile, will suffer from a lack of abundant skill sets in "post event industrialization". 3. While agriculturally strong, the Redoubt lacks basic transportation infrastructure to economically drive it in a post event scenario. Primarily a sustenance existence with localized bartering.
 
As an assumption, mass migrations will occur primarily from urban to rural, I'm thinking that most folks will look to their neighboring "mountains" as eden. Meaning that most folks in New England would probably be inclined to migrate to Vermont or Maine. (The nearest "perceived sanctuary".)  Folks in the mid-Atlantic will hit the Blue Ridge or middle Appalachia--south eastern to Georgia/Alabama Appalachia. I realize what I'm speculating is just that but the underlying psychology of terrified sheeple seeking quick gratification I believe, supports my theory of regionalized migration patterns.
 
Based on the 2010 census county population data, I'm starting to believe that southern Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas might end up fairly well. The large population centers will have exhausted themselves before they breach to deeply into the rural areas of these states. The road networks, outside of the freeways, allow themselves to be easily blocked and the terrain suitable for extended blockades of key choke points. Population densities in these areas average about 50 people per square mile. High enough to have a good bullpen of expertise, low enough to feed off the excellent farmland and growing seasons and also deep in folks that know how to hunt and fish. Added to this is are other points, such as many stockpiled warehouses and transportation hubs, abundant fresh water, mineral reserves, natural gas and oil. In a totally "grid down" situation, these factors, at least to me add up to the positive.
 
I am new to prepping but have always been an avid camper, hunter and fisherman. I'm a Navy vet, good marksman and Christian man, though not as devout as I should be. I love my country and what it stands for, or used to stand for. I ask for your opinion on my analysis. I know how busy you must be and should I not hear back from you, rest assured that you have an avid fan of your books and precepts!
 
Kind regards, - John T.

JWR Replies: To begin: urban "foraging" is just a polite term for looting. (Here, I'm not talking about true foraging, for wild edibles.) Urban "foraging" would be conscionable only in near extinction-level catastrophes, where many properties (buildings with intact contents) are left truly abandoned and without rightful heirs. But don't plan on that, since the chances of such an event are very small.

I'm aligned with the geographical determinist camp, in both history and predicting future outcomes. (Although some new transformational technologies such as large scale desalination plants, inexpensive photovoltaics, and perhaps even seasteading may make my determinist stance less firm.) In general, geography and climate have shaped human settlement patterns and in many ways they will shape future events. The core risk in a grid-down collapse will be directly proportional to population density. Think of it this way: during a full scale societal collapse the actuarial risk of having a high velocity lead pellet pass through your chest cavity or brain box on any given day increases with the population density of your locale. There will simply be more starving people with guns surrounding you in cities than there will be in the hinterboonies. While geographic isolation is not a panacea, it certainly beats the odds of hunkering down in the Big City and hoping to persevere to the far side of a massive population crash, with the intent of "foraging", post facto. That would be Armchair Commando naiveté, at its worst.

You might feel comfortable with 50 people per square mile, but I do with five people per square mile.

In my estimation, after the first winter without grid power and pressurized natural gas pipelines, virtually everyone north of the 40th parallel (north) who feels the need to bug out will head south, to warmer climes.

Most of the colder climate regions such as the Inland Northwest and Michigan's Upper Peninsula will not be see any substantial in-migration. Exceptions will include Vermont and Maine, they will likely face temporary in-migration from both New York and from the heavily-populated Montreal region.

If the grids go down and stay down, then I expect population die-off ranging from 15% to 90%, depending on local population density. The highest losses will be in urban centers in the northeast. The lowest losses will be in the Inland northwest and the more lightly populated portions of the southeast. But even southern metropolitan centers like Atlanta, St. Louis, and Dallas/Fort Worth may suffer 60%+ population losses--and notably not from cold weather. Those will mostly be losses from instantaneous lead poisoning.  

After the second winter, we will see an entirely transformed society.  It will be a harsh existence, at least for the first decade.

The ideal solution is to relocate well in advance of any collapse to a lightly-populated farming region that enjoys reliable annual precipitation for growing row crops. (In the west, these are called dryland farming regions.) It should be a region that is well-removed from major population centers. There, you should look for a property with spring water or shallow well water that is geographically isolated from the natural lines of drift that refugees and looters will follow. The key phrase for your property search: "On a side road of a side road.") See my Recommended Retreat Areas web page for further details.

It was not happenstance that I set my first novel Patriots at the eastern edge of the Palouse Hills region. But the Palouse grasslands are not unique.

Relocate, stock up, and team up!


Thursday, November 15, 2012


Introduction

The Civil War [aka War Between The States] (or The War of Northern Aggression, depending on your personal view) ended in 1865. However, the legality of secession by the Southern States simply will not die 150 years after Texas formally seceded from the Union and joined the Confederate States of America. As late as May, 2011, secession by part of the State of Arizona from the rest of the State is being proposed. Secession is often bandied about by politicians on both sides of the spectrum but do any of its proponents really understand what secession, from a legal standpoint, is and isn’t?

This article will explore the illegality of secession through the style United States Supreme Court cases dealing directly with the issue. As much as possible, the article will let the Court, through its own words, explain what secession is and its legal effect on the seceding states. All emphasis within the following quotes, unless otherwise noted, are those of the author.
           
                        Texas - 1861

            The Texas Ordinance of Secession, at least in the opinion of its drafters and the people of Texas, officially separated Texas from the United States in 1861. It was adopted by the Secession Convention on February 1 of that year by a vote of 166 to 8.

            The Texas Ordinance of Secession - (February 2, 1861)

“The ordinance of secession submitted to the people was adopted by a vote of 34,794 against 11,235. The convention, which had adjourned immediately on passing the ordinance, reassembled.  On the 4th of March, 1861, it declared that the ordinance of secession had been ratified by the people, and that Texas had withdrawn from the union of the States under the Federal Constitution.”1

                        Alaska - 2003

“Scott Kohlhaas drafted an initiative calling for Alaska's secession from the United States or, in the alternative, directing the state to work to make secession legal, and submitted the initiative, along with one hundred signatures, to the lieutenant governor.”2                                                  

            The Background

Texas seceded from the United States on March 4, 1861.

The Confederate States of America declared War on the United States.- "An Act recognizing the existence of war between the United States and the Confederate States” - May 6, 1861.

The US never declared war on the Confederate States. Abraham Lincoln (and not Congress, since war was not and would not be declared) did issue a Proclamation that an insurrection existed in the states of SC, GA, FL, AL, MS, LA, and TX on April 15, 1861 (Messages & Papers of the Presidents, vol. V, p 3214). The Congress of the United States retroactively approved these initial actions of the President. 12 Stat. 326 (1861).

The Confederate States surrendered April 9, 1865 (Lee surrenders to Grant)

“Order” is restored in the Southern States via the Reconstruction Laws.3.

Jurisprudence Language By the Winners

A very strong clue previewing the rulings of the Supreme Court of the United States on the issue of the illegality of the secession of the Southern States can be found in the preparatory language of the Court leading up to its decision in the seminal case of Texas v. White, 74 U.S. 700 (1869). The following is a selection of the Court’s classification of the Confederate States’ attempted secession.

Texas v. White, 74 U.S. 700 (1869)

“...At the time of that outbreak, Texas was confessedly one of the United States of America, having a State constitution in accordance with that of the United States, and represented by senators and representatives in the Congress at Washington.  In January, 1861, a call for a convention of the people of the State was issued, signed by sixty-one individuals.  The call was without authority and revolutionary...” 

“...Thus was established the rebel government of Texas.”

...War having become necessary to complete the purposed destruction by the South of the Federal government, Texas joined the other Southern States, and made war upon the United States, whose authority was now recognized in no manner within her borders.

Significant Case Holdings in Date Order

The Amy Warwick, 67 U.S. 635 (1863)

Context

This case involved vessels (and their cargoes) which were seized during the Civil War. One of the significant issues in the case was whether the President of the United States had the right to institute a blockade of ports in possession of persons in armed rebellion against it.

The Supreme Court entered into a detailed, logical analysis of the effect of secession by the Southern States and the right of the United States to react to their secession. The first inquiry was whether a state of war existed when the vessels were seized, remembering that the Congress never formally declared war on the Confederate States. In fact, Congress passed an act “approving, legalizing, and making valid all the acts, proclamations, and orders of the President, &c., as if they had been issued and done under the previous express authority and direction of the Congress of the United States.”4  On the issue of the declaration of war, the Court held:

“        Insurrection against a government may or may not culminate in an organized rebellion, but a civil war always begins by insurrection against the lawful authority of the Government.  A civil war is never solemnly declared; it becomes such by its accidents--the number, power, and organization of the persons who originate and carry it on.  When the party in rebellion occupy and hold in a hostile manner a certain portion of territory; have declared their independence; have cast off their allegiance; have organized armies; have commenced hostilities against their former sovereign, the world acknowledges them as belligerents, and they contest a war.  They claim to be in arms to establish their liberty and independence, in order to become a sovereign State, while the sovereign party treats them as insurgents and rebels who owe allegiance, and who should be punished with death for their treason.”5

The Court acknowledged that only Congress could declare war. However, Congress could not declare war against a state(s). According to the Court, only the president had the authority to use the military force of the United States to combat an armed insurrection as was encountered during the Civil War.

             “       By the Constitution, Congress alone has the power to declare a national or foreign war.  It cannot declare war against a State, or any number of States, by virtue of any clause in the Constitution.  The Constitution confers on the President the whole Executive power.  He is bound to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.  He is Commander-in-chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several States when called into the actual service of the United States.  He has no power to initiate or declare a war either against a foreign nation or a domestic State.  But by the Acts of Congress of February 28th, 1795, and 3d of March, 1807, he is authorized to called out the militia and use the military and naval forces of the United States in case of invasion by foreign nations, and to suppress insurrection against the government of a State or of the United States.”6

The Court concluded that, in light of the “insurrection” of the Southern States, the President of the United States had the right to institute a blockade of the ports in the possession of the rebelling states and that all neutral countries/citizens were bound to recognize same.

Texas v. White, 74 U.S. 700 (1869)

Context

             This case involved the bringing of an original action in the United States Supreme Court by the State of Texas for the recovery of payment from certain bonds of the Federal Government. The issue before the Court was whether Texas, after the end of the Civil War (1867), was entitled to bring an original action in the United States Supreme Court as one of the states of the United States even though it was still attempting to comply with the Reconstruction Acts.

 

To answer the very significant question of jurisdiction of the Court, an analysis of the actions of Texas prior to its succession, during its succession and after the end of the Civil War was performed by the Court. Its findings were as follows:

Statehood Prior to the Civil War

The Republic of Texas was admitted as a state into the Union on December 27, 1845. By its admission into the Union, Texas and all of its residents were immediately vested with all the rights, and became subject to all the responsibilities and duties, of the original States under the United States Constitution.

“        From the date of admission, until 1861, the State was represented in the Congress of the United States by her senators and representatives, and her relations as a member of the Union remained unimpaired.  In that year, acting upon the theory that the rights of a State under the Constitution might be renounced, and her obligations thrown off at pleasure, Texas undertook to sever the bond thus formed, and to break up her constitutional relations with the United States.

Secession

On February 1, 1861, a convention of secession was called (and subsequently sanctioned by the legislature) where an ordinance to dissolve the union between Texas and the United States was adopted and Texas declared to be a separate and sovereign state. The relationship to the United States (and its government) was disclaimed - Texas seceded from the Union. Texas thereafter joined with the other Confederate States and declared war on the United States.

“.......The position thus assumed could only be maintained by arms, and Texas accordingly took part, with the other Confederate States, in the war of the rebellion, which these events made inevitable.  During the whole of that war there was no governor, or judge, or any other State officer in Texas, who recognized the National authority.  Nor was any officer of the United States permitted to exercise any authority whatever under the National government within the limits of the State, except under the immediate protection of the National military forces.”8

.            Status of Texas After the Civil War

And so, the Court came to the filing of the original action by the State of Texas in 1867. The issue clearly before the Supreme Court was whether it had jurisdiction to hear the case. That is, was Texas one of the United States entitled, under the Constitution, to bring its original action before the Court? The issue was raised in light of Texas’ secession, formation and joinder with the Confederate States of America’s declaration of war against the United States, the defeat of the Confederate States and the imposition of the Reconstruction Acts upon Texas and the other seceding states. Stated another way, was Texas a State within the meaning of the Constitution immediately after the Civil War and prior to compliance with all of the requirements of the Reconstruction Acts?

The Court held the following:

1.            “  The Constitution, in all its provisions, looks to an indestructible Union, composed of indestructible States...”9

2.            “.....When, therefore, Texas became one of the United States, she entered into an indissoluble relation.”10

3.            “.....And it was final.  The union between Texas and the other States was as complete, as perpetual, and as indissoluble as the union between the original States.  There was no place for reconsideration, or revocation, except through revolution, or through consent of the States.”11

No citation to the Constitution nor to any prior writings were alluded to by the Court. According to the Court, Texas never left the Union, despite its secession, reformulation into the Confederate States of America and declaration of war on the United States. Texas was before, during and after the Civil War a part of the United States of America (unless it had won the war).

             “Considered therefore as transactions under the Constitution, the ordinance of secession, adopted by the convention and ratified by a majority of the citizens of Texas, and all the acts of her legislature intended to give effect to that ordinance, were absolutely null.  They were utterly without operation in law.  The obligations of the State, as a member of the Union, and of every citizen of the State, as a citizen of the United States, remained perfect and unimpaired.  It certainly follows that the State did not cease to be a State, nor her citizens to be citizens of the Union.  If this were otherwise, the State must have become foreign, and her citizens foreigners.  The war must have ceased to be a war for the suppression of rebellion, and must have become a war for conquest and subjugation.”12

“        Our conclusion therefore is, that Texas continued to be a State, and a State of the Union, notwithstanding the transactions to which we have referred....”13

Based on the foregoing analysis and legal conclusions, the Court held that Texas was and had remained a State of the United States and was thus entitled to bring its original action before the Court.

White v. Hart, 80 U.S. 646 (1872)

Context

A suit was instituted in the Georgia Superior Court AFTER Reconstruction, as it applied to Georgia, was deemed terminated and Georgia had accrued to all of its former rights of representation in the Congress of the United States. Georgia had also amended its Constitution. The suit involved recovery on a promissory note which was secured by a slave. The reconstituted Georgia Constitution, as approved by the Congress of the United States (as required under the Reconstruction Acts) contained a provision that prohibited the enforcement of such a contract. The issue before the Court was whether Georgia/Congress could pass legislation which invalidated a contract that, when made, was legally enforceable. The following is an analysis of the effect of the Reconstruction Acts visited on the southern states. The legal requirement under the Reconstruction Acts that State Constitutions be amended and approved by the Congress will become significant in the Florida case determining the three league limit of Florida’s offshore jurisdiction.

All of the Confederate States, after their surrender, were governed by the Reconstruction Acts. These acts applied until each Confederate State complied with the terms and provisions of the Acts, including the amendment of their respective state constitutions to recognize the rights of freed slaves. This amended constitution had to be approved by Congress before each state could regain its representation rights in the United States Congress.

The court defined the acts of the individual states in seceding and prosecuting the Civil War:

“......  The doctrine of secession is a doctrine of treason, and practical secession is practical treason, seeking to give itself triumph by revolutionary violence.  The late rebellion was without any element of right or sanction of law....The power exercised in putting down the late rebellion is given expressly by the Constitution to Congress.  That body made the laws and the President executed them.  The granted power carried with it not only the right to use the requisite means, but it reached further and carried with it also authority to guard against the renewal of the conflict, and to remedy the evils arising from it in so far as that could be effected by appropriate legislation. At no time were the rebellious States out of the pale of the UnionTheir rights under the Constitution were suspended, but not destroyed. 14

Again, the Court is of the opinion that the Confederate States had never left the Union. They, and their citizens had, however, lost the right to be represented in the Congress. The Reconstruction Acts provided certain requirements that each state needed to satisfy (in the opinion of the Congress) before their rights of representation in the Congress would be restored.

 

The Civil War Continues

United States v. Florida, 363 U.S. 121 (1960)

Context

When Florida was admitted into the Union it got to keep, as a condition for statehood, its claim to submerged lands adjacent to its state shoreline boundaries. Then came succession and the Civil War followed by Reconstruction. As part of its congressionally mandated duty under the Reconstruction Acts, Florida was required to amend its constitution in certain particulars.

“Florida claims that Congress approved its three-league boundary in 1868, by approving[3] a constitution submitted to Congress as required by a Reconstruction Act passed March 2, 1867. 14 Stat. 428. That constitution carefully described Florida's boundary on the Gulf of Mexico side as running from a point in the Gulf "three leagues from the mainland" and "thence north westwardly three leagues from the land" to the next point. The United States concedes that, from 1868 to the present day, Florida has claimed by its constitutions a three-league boundary into the Gulf.[5] The United States also admits that Florida submitted this constitution to Congress in 1868, but denies that the Gulf boundary it defined was "approved" by Congress within the meaning of the Submerged Lands Act.[6] This is the decisive question as between Florida and the United States.15

The Court held that the Florida constitution, as rewritten and approved by Congress under the Reconstruction Acts, did indeed contain a three marine league boundary. It further held:

“...Thus, by its own description, Congress not only approved Florida's Constitution, which included three-league boundaries, but Congress, in 1868, approved it within the meaning of the 1867 Acts. In turn, the approval the 1867 Acts required appears to be precisely the approval the 1953 Act contemplates.”16

 

Due to its careful consideration and attention to its offshore boundaries, Florida had affirmed by the Court its constitutionally mandated three league boundary as the same appeared in its constitution which, in accordance with the dictates of the Reconstruction Acts, was approved by the Congress prior to the restoration of Florida’s right to representation.

Kohlhaas v. State, Office of Lieutenant Governor, 147 P.3d 714 (Alaska - 2006)

Context

Secession, long thought to be relegated as a historical aberration, once again raised its head in this new century. This time, it was an individual in Alaska seeking to force the state to place the issue of secession on the Alaska initiative ballot. A modern state court was thus faced with the question of whether the issue of secession was one which Alaska residents could vote on and thus was a proper subject for placement on the initiative ballot. Prior to court review, the lieutenant governor declined to certify the issue for ballot placement since, in his opinion, the initiative sought an unconstitutional end - SECESSION.

The Alaska Supreme Court agreed with the lieutenant governor. That is, it found that it was unconstitutional for Alaska to even consider seceding from the United States. It further found that neither Alaska, nor any other of the states of the Union, possessed the right to secede before admission to the United States and thus, no state would retain such a right under the Tenth Amendment after admission.

“  When the forty-nine-star flag was first raised at Juneau, we Alaskans committed ourselves to that indestructible Union, for good or ill, in perpetuity.”17

Since the act of secession was found to be unconstitutional, the Alaska Supreme Court found that the citizens could not vote on the issue as a referendum item. Alaska would not be seceding from the Union. 

NOTE: Second case on same issues reached same conclusion Kohlhaas v. State, Cause No. S-13024 (Alaska 2010)

Conclusions

Under present federal Supreme Court jurisprudence:

  • The union which is the United States can never be dissolved by an independent action of one state (unless approved by Congress and/or the other states?)
  •  An individual state may never secede. Apparently, only people rebel - the states remain a part of the Union.
  •  Secession can be successful only if accomplished by force of arms (or agreement of the other states/Congress).

Postscript

Arizona

The right to secede simply will not die. In 2011, it is not conservative activists seeking secession but rather liberal activists. According to Reuters, a group of liberals want to split Arizona into two states and want voters to decide the issue in the next Presidential election (see Alaska). 

According to Reuters (May 10, 2011): “A group of lawyers from the Democratic stronghold of Tucson and surrounding Pima County have launched a petition drive seeking support for a November 2012 ballot question on whether the 48th state should be divided in two.”

“The ultimate goal of the newly formed political action committee Start our State is to split Pima County off into what would become the nation's 51st state, tentatively dubbed Baja Arizona.

“The ballot measure sought by Arizona secession backers is a nonbinding measure asking Pima County voters if they support petitioning state lawmakers for permission to break away.”

“Before secession could occur, it would have to be approved separately by the Legislature, and by a second, binding referendum by residents of the proposed state.

Endnotes

1.            Texas v. White, 74 U.S. 700 at Page 704 (1869)

2.            Kohlhaas v. State, Office of Lieutenant Governor, 147 P.3d 714 at Page 715 (Alaska - 2006)

3.            Acts of March 2d and March 23d, 1867

4.            The Amy Warwick, 67 U.S. 635 at page 670 (1863)

5.            The Amy Warwick, 67 U.S. 635 at page 666 (1863)

6.            The Amy Warwick, 67 U.S. 635 at page 688 (1863)

7.            Texas v. White, 74 U.S. 700 at Page 722 (1869)

8.            Texas v. White, 74 U.S. 700 at Page 724 (1869)

9.            Texas v. White, 74 U.S. 725 at Page 725 (1869)

10.            Texas v. White, 74 U.S. 700 at Page 725 (1869)

11.            Texas v. White, 74 U.S. 700 at Page 725 (1869)

12.            Texas v. White, 74 U.S. 700 at Page 725 (1869)

13.            Texas v. White, 74 U.S. 700 at Page 725 (1869)

14.            White v. Hart, 80 U.S. 646 at Page 650 (1872)

15.            United States v. Florida, 363 U.S. 121 at Page 123 (1960)

16.            United States v. Florida, 363 U.S. 121 at Page 124 (1960)

17.            Kohlhaas v. State, Office of Lieutenant Governor, 147 P.3d 714 at Page 720 (Alaska - 2006)

JWR Adds: As the preceding article illustrates, it is the victors who write the history books and write the post facto legal opinions. They determine what is "legal" and "justified." But if successful, it is those who were branded "rebels", "traitors", or "seccesh" who get their portraits stamped on the new coins. Modern day secession can work. Just ask the people of world's newest country, South Sudan. The secession of predominantly Christian South Sudan was not just magnanimously handed to them by predominantly Muslim Sudan. The South Sudanese had to fight for their independence, in a costly and protracted civil war.

The White House opened up a data mining public petition web site that quickly resulted in more than 675,000 people in 50 states politely pleading for secession. Unfortunately, this is a futile effort. The Federal government presently does not recognize any right to secede. In essence, secession is not accomplished by asking permission. Rather, it is accomplished by a state (or subdivision thereof) simply declaring their secession, with the full knowledge of the consequences. Audentes fortuna iuvat. This very nearly happened in 1941, with the State of Jefferson, but our nation's entry into World War II completely overshadowed and quashed that movement.

I now have high hopes for the American Redoubt movement, and the spin-off Redoubts in other regions. As conservative demographics and constituencies solidify in the Redoubt regions, the prospect of meaningful change becomes more likely. Vote with your feet!



Just writing in for the first time to bring an interesting incident to the forefront of the readers minds. It's been lost in the national news since it happened .

Saturday night, November 10, 2012 at just past 11 p.m. an explosion rocked a south Indianapolis neighborhood. Officials immediately cordoned off the neighborhood and started doing sweeps of the debris looking for survivors. In all four houses were totally destroyed, two were wiped to the foundations. Several surrounding homes were damaged beyond repair and 80 homes were damaged. The scene looked like a war zone with the look of a 500 pound bomb explosion (minus the crater). Luckily for the couple who lived in the house where the blast originated, they had gone gambling at the casino. They won this bet for sure. The couple in the house next door weren't so lucky. They both perished in the explosion and accompanying fire. The wife was a teacher in the school system that my children attend.

Moments after the initial blast that was heard and felt up to 20 miles away, sirens wailed on  for hours. Emergency crews flooded the neighborhood causing gridlock in the surrounding area. There was no way for survivors in the vicinity of the blast to drive away due to water hoses and emergency vehicles. Many survivors were moved to a school located across a field from the subdivision with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. Gas and electricity was cut off to keep the emergency workers safe. The division of code compliance was soon on the scene in the early morning hours to check the area for structures that were deemed unsafe and they were tagged such so no entry was permitted. Some homes will need to be bulldozed, many of which were knocked off their foundations.

The Subdivision is a standard quarter to third acre lot brick faced vinyl village that has sprouted all over in suburbia. These homes are built to meet and never exceed code requirements. They build them as cheaply as possible! The rafters and deck bracing is all 1.5" x 3.5" (modern 2x4) construction with 1/2" decking and wallboard everywhere. The electrical systems and plumbing are as bare bones as you can get and still pass muster. The houses have little insulation unless you pay for extra and you can gain entry through a wall with a pocketknife. These houses are total junk and sold at the same price as a custom home. I'm not surprised at all that the damage was so severe. The fire department in a town near Indy tried to find out why so many of these type tract homes burned when struck by lightening by hiring experts to come in and inspect the structures for a cause. They found that any time a house of this construction was built, they flexible metal gas lines would take the energy from the lightening strike and make the tubing fail, causing the super heated line to catch the escaping gasses on fire.

Saturday it was near 70 degrees F so many people took advantage of the weather and got some exercise. Luckily my Cub Scout troop had planned a service project at the local church. The boys and I along with many other volunteers were fighting the weeds in a hedgerow wearing short sleeves. Many people opened their windows during the day and enjoyed the warmth. The occupants of the house that exploded had left it closed up and the house was warm enough that the furnace didn't need to operate all day, until about 11:09? The home owner got a text from the occupant (Daughter) a few days before that the furnace wasn't working properly.

At this time the cause of the fire hasn't officially been determined, but I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that it was the furnace. (Many Internet speculators have called it a Predator UAV strike or a plane crash. One even cited Russian intelligence sources as noting a launch profile from their satellites. The American CIA had supposedly lost control of a Raptor and it fired or something along those lines. I have a hard time believing that and the evidence doesn't support it, but hey, it's a nearly free country.)

The response from the alphabet soup government was huge. ATF, NTSB, FBI, State police, County police, City Police and fire services were all on scene to evaluate. All residents were removed for their own safety and the houses were inspected again Sunday. The devastation was immense. People weren't allowed back to their homes until Monday afternoon, were they had an hour to collect belongings from their homes and leave. The residents of homes that were made habitable were allowed to stay as long as no evidence was found in the immediate vicinity of their home. Many residents had no way to get around due to the damage to their cars, or the fact that the cars were trapped under collapsed garage doors. Most were unprepared and caught naked in the night. They scrambled out of their houses with little more than the clothes on their backs.

My house is almost exactly a mile from the explosion, but after a hard days work I was dead asleep when the explosion occurred. I slept right through it. This emergency was too close to ignore, too different form the one's I have prepared for to keep me content with my level of preparedness. Things I've come to realize over the last few days have really shaken me up and have made me consider caches more acceptable than guarded preps at the house.

The idea that a government agency can forcefully remove me from my property for my own safety really bothered me. Not only that, they made the survivors rally at a school that is a "Gun free zone" with regard to the Indiana Code. No firearms, no time to gather preps, no vehicles due to the streets being cordoned off. Had I lived in the vicinity, I'd be homeless, hungry and unarmed in an instant with no recourse to make the situation better. There were relief agencies mobilized by Sunday but no long term accommodations had been made for those without insurance to cover it. It's now Tuesday and there are still people relying on handouts for the basics. This would be totally unacceptable for myself and my family. I need a better plan.

I needed somewhere local I can stash a few buckets of food and provisions to keep the family happy long enough to arrange long term housing in case ours is uninhabitable. At least a couple weeks food, some cash and barter as well as copies of documents we might need. Maybe even an extra credit card and book of checks for keeping a lid on the finances during the event. Toiletries for the whole family. Cash phone with minutes in case there's something else going on to necessitate a bailout. Insurance contact information. Personally, I have 2 locations that come to mind but only one is secure. I'll have to enact my plan in the next few weeks to make sure it's handled.

My biggest failure was with regard to my bailout bags. Mine is still torn apart from the last scout camping trip late last month. I was intending to replace the sleeping bag with a better rated bag for the cooler weather. My eldest son had claimed my old one so I was without until a new one showed up on my doorstep tonight. Had I needed it, I would have been unprepared and so would my eldest son. Neither had the BOB ready to go. Unacceptable behavior on my part.

Interior security on my home is pathetic. Should the inspectors stroll through my house, they would see way too much for me. OPSEC would be totally blown and I'd be on the list for having guns and reloading components stocked up. I've got ammo, powder and bullets strewn all over my garage and the fuel cans are easily visible. All my web gear is hanging where it can be seen without much digging. A looter with someone on the inside would clean me out in a matter of minutes. Our local code enforcement officers are paid at the poverty level so they would be my biggest concern. None of my steel storage cabinets were locked up securely. Anyone could have rifled through my weapons list and exchange books. My financials were laying on my desk for the most recent moves out of the market. Several of my guns were laying on top of the safe because I hadn't cleaned them from a range trip the weekend before the explosion. All my Dillon equipment was out and charged up ready for use. My alarm covers the garage so I just don't consider it a threat.

I don't have Window and door sized plywood cut and ready to go in case I have an emergency. I have several sheets of 1/4" sheet, but none cut for easy install. In the event of a tornado or blast, I would be unable to cover my windows and doors in a timely manner. My house would be a sitting duck without me here to protect it.

Another prime fail point would be transportation. If we were in the same position, we wouldn't have wheels except for my bikes that I keep off site during the winter. Sounds like I need to stash an el cheapo wagon somewhere where we can get to it locally. The bailout vehicle at my bailout location isn't moving, I need another option. I'm thinking a small minivan or station wagon that is unassuming and cheap would do the trick. Need to tint the windows and make it as soccer momesque as possible. Maybe even an Honor Roll sticker on the bumper. To add to my own ignorance, my truck (the primary BOV) is packed to the gills with work supplies that need to be brought into the garage storage system. My converted cargo trailer is also in use with a friend so I can't even use it for temporary housing. It has my backup generator on it as well.

The primary bailout location is a few hours away in a secluded area but without my preps at home, I might not make it if the emergency is serious enough to require us to bring our own fuel. It's all set up and ready to go but it couldn't help me a bit if I was homeless but needed to stay here for work. It's a unique emergency for sure.

The biggest, and most important issue we face is the proximity of our neighbors. By local code, we must not build closer than 10' from the property line. That means our houses can be a minimum of 20' apart. Way too close for my comfort. I'm still 100 feet or so from my closest neighbor, but not enough space if they have an explosion of this magnitude. It's suburbia, so I'll have to live with it. I have not been able to convince the wife to move further away yet but I'm working on it. Montana, the Dakotas, and Utah interest me, but I think she has only Montana on her mind.

In closing I'd like to point out that this tragedy was an opportunity for me to put myself into that situation and learn from it. The discipline to survive should never falter of fade. Vigilance is the key to prevailing in this climate of uncertainty. I've failed myself and my family and vow to enhance our security and ability to survive no matter what is thrown at me. - J.B. from Greenwood

JWR Replies: Our friend Tamara of the View From The Porch blog was about 15 miles away and heard the blast. This dramatic incident is a reminder that it is safer to live in a neighborhood where houses are more widely spaced. Keep your BOB handy. And, of course, the smell of odorized natural gas or propane should never be ignored, as the consequences can be devastating.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Here is a county-by-county map showing the outcome of the November 2012 presidential election, in the same format as the familiar 2008 election map. Note the similar tallies in both elections for the conservative American Redoubt region. Parenthetically, I must mention that the western halves of Oregon and Washington are not in the Redoubt, for good reason. Those parts are largely populated by statists. The eastern halves of those states are solidly conservative, with folks who favor small government.

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Cynthia B. mentioned "a fabulous little company in Columbia Falls, Montana that designs and develops quadrocopters [and octocopters] for do-it-yourself drone builders: Quadrocopter.com." Check out their videos, such as those of flights at Glacier National Park.

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Leftist pressure groups like the SPLC would be very surprised to see this map. (The SPLC mistakenly considers the American Redoubt region to be some sort of hotbed of racism. It obviously isn't.)

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The Sage Mountain Center is sponsoring a series of free Solar Electric and Small Wind Power seminars in Eastern Montana. (In Plentywood, Wolf Point, and Glendive.) These seminars will be presented by Christopher Borton of Sage Mountain Center. No pre-registration required. For more information: E-mail: smc@sagemountain.org or call 406-494-9875


Thursday, November 8, 2012


Many years ago, my two childhood friends and I began to prep for TEOTWAWKI.  At first, we just began buying whatever was recommended by certain web sites, throwing our equipment into a box and then telling the others about what we have.  Doing this allowed us to collect many things