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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Survival Sanitation - Part One - Taking Out the Trash

A dumpster full of waste awaiting disposal.Image via Wikipedia
In a survival situation, a buildup of garbage or trash can become a hazard of its own that could lead to a significant health problem, problems with pests or quite possibly a fire. Most short term survival situations can be easily handled by simply bagging your trash or garbage. This may not be a viable solution during a long term crisis. There are several different alternatives that can be used during an extended crisis to avoid potential problems.
One of the quickest and easiest ways to eliminate garbage and waste is by burning. While it is a common practice in rural areas (except when “burn bans” are in place), this may not be an option in more suburban areas. When using the burning method to help control the buildup of garbage a number of safety factors will need to be followed. Avoid burning on windy days, make sure your burn pit, barrel, etc. has sufficient ventilation and make an effort to burn your trash completely. Incompletely burned piles of refuse can become breeding grounds for rodents (rats, mice) and other pests (flies, etc.). If you do plan to burn your trash, make sure to keep your garbage dry as this will allow it to burn more efficiently.
If you can’t burn your trash, the next viable option that can be implemented is burying your garbage. When using this option, it is important to remember that your trash will need to be buried deep enough to prevent animals from digging up the waste materials. It should also be done in a location that will not contaminate any ground or surface water (rivers, lakes, streams, etc.). This will require a great deal of effort on your part to do properly.
Food wastes should be kept separate from dry waste and then added to your compost pile. If you don’t have a compost pile, it will be a good time to start one. If possible, rinse empty containers and cans to prevent rodent and insect problems. This will require an adequate supply of water available for this purpose. If an adequate supply of water isn’t available this step will need to be skipped. Boxes and cans can be flattened to save space and always keep all waste securely stored in bags or buckets that can be securely sealed. Store your trash in an area safe from animals, rodents or insects and away from any living areas until it can be properly disposed of in the necessary manner.
One final item you need to remember. Be careful about the items you throw away. Some things may be able to be used at a later date. Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and realize you buried it with the rest of the trash.

Staying above the water line!

cherry wine

A pair of cherries from the same stalk. Prunus...Image via Wikipedia
The lady's mother has two prolific cherry trees, which is far more than she and her friends are able to use, so i've been doing my part to help. I've been making preserves, cobbler, have a pie planned, and of course there are worse things to do with an excess of fine fruit than a nice wine.

I thought i'd share my basic recipe. it is formulated by the gallon, but of course it can be adjusted, my next batch is going to be larger.


- 3lb ripe cherries. I'm partial to sweet, tart, but not too tart varieties. basically, just enough acid to prevent the need for an acid blend.

- 1.2lb white sugar.

- 2 cloves.

- 1/2 tsp. real vanilla extract.

- 2 Tbs. zest of lemon.

- 3 Tbs. fermiad, or appropriate amount of other yeast nutrient blend, just for good measure. too much will negatively impact the final flavor [tastes like a multivitamin, which in a sense, it is.]

- Yeast culture, or Active dry yeast. I've been using baker's yeast a lot, with fairly good results. the alcohol tolerance is usually over 10% and the off flavors do not generally persist once the yeast settles out. I still recommend a commercial wine yeast.


- Large adjustable burner.

- Large, preferably non-aluminum stock-pot, at least two gallons capacity, with lid.

- Large ladle.

- cheese cloth, or other disposable, clean cloth at least 16" x 16".

- Glass or plastic primary fermentation vessel with lid. you can use the same stock pot you boiled the fruit in if you please, but then you will need to pour the contents through the cheese cloth into a funnel [i've tried it and i don't recommend it].

- Glass secondary fermentation vessel with airlock [i am currently using a large wine jug with lid, a length of aquarium tubing running into a water filled jar in a simple bubbler setup.]

- Funnel.


Prepare primary fermentation vessel by filling half way with hot water, then adding 1/4 cup of household bleach, and filling the rest of the way to capacity with hot water. cover and let stand at least 30 min. in an absolute pinch, you could instead wash and scrub it well, rinse thoroughly, then fill with rapidly boiling water and let stand until cool. the latter method is less reliable.

Rinse cherries, cleaning out any debris such as twigs, stems or leaves, and if necessary, let stand somewhere warm until warmed to room temperature. Place into stock pot.

Add 3 quarts water, 1/2lb of your sugar and heat quickly to a boil. As soon as a gently rolling boil is achieved, turn off heat and let stand until cool enough to touch.

Wash hands well and rinse thoroughly.

When cherries are cool enough to place your hands into the water, manually crush cherries. continue until all cherries are crushed and the stones have fallen to the bottom. you can remove these by hand now, but this is not necessary.

Add cloves and lemon zest, and return to a gentle boil. Gently boil, covered for 60 min, stirring frequently. Add vanilla extract and yeast nutrient, and again, stir well.

Let cool to nearly room temperature. you can expedite this by placing the pot into a clean sink with the drain stopped, and filling it with cold water.

Empty Primary fermenation vessel and drip dry, upside down in a clean place.

Strain cherries through cheese cloth into your Primary fermentation vessel. pull cheese cloth into a bundle and suspend over until it stops dripping. do not squeeze with your hands, as this can introduce contaminate bacteria or yeasts from your hands. discard pulp [good time to start a compost pile?]

cover primary fermentation vessel and be sure to cool completely to room temperature. rehydrate your yeast as per directions and pitch into the fermenter.

Allow to ferment, covered, in a cool place out of direct light for 2 days.

Rapidly boil 1 quart of water and add remaining sugar. Sustain boil for 5 min, covered, and remove from heat. Let cool to room temperature and pour into Primary fermentation vessel, using funnel if necessary. Be sure to pour into the liquid, not down the side of the container. this will introduce more oxygen into the wine, which at this stage is crucial.

Allow to ferment in same conditions for 5 days.

Prepare secondary fermentation vessel as you did the first. Pour wine slowly into secondary fermentation vessel, using funnel if necessary, being sure to pour down the sides of the container so there is no splashing. you do not want to introduce any more oxygen whatsoever at this point.

Fit airlock and ferment in a cool, dark place for at least two weeks. checking visually from time to time. At this time, you may remove airlock carefully and cork.


Be sure all utensils are well sanitized. fresh from a complete cycle in the dishwasher is usually sufficient, but boiling or soaking 30 min in hot bleach water will also do. the same goes for corks.

I recommend synthetic corks. they are easier to sanitize.

Do not open the primary fermenter to check progress. this dramatically increases the chances of contamination, and spoilage of your wine.

Never open your secondary fermentation vessel, unless racking under proper sanitary conditions or bottling under the same.

I may need to edit this, but for the moment, it's game night. Trivial Pursuit awaits.

One Hour French Bread

Even though I don't make it as often as I did a couple years ago, I love to make homemade bread. I ran across a recipe for 1 hour french bread a while back (at this post), and it looked really good. Best of all, it said the entire process from start to hot-from-the-oven could be accomplished in an hour.

So I made two last night, and voila...they were great!

They can be made into an oblong loaf, or smaller baguettes or breadsticks. I went with the oblong loaves this time. One recipe makes one loaf. And aside from water, there are only four ingredients.
NO mixer.
NO difficult instructions.
And easy for anyone who is a little standoffish about kneading...the instructions don't call for it, though when I formed the loaf I gave it 4 or five good turns to get it to hold its shape better. The 20 minute rise is all part of the One Hour.

Aside from raw milk, is there anything more delicious than crisp cold salad greens and crusty, hot homemade bread...or the bread itself, with butter and honey?

Or slices toasted with grated mixed cheeses atop?

I'm going to have to hide this recipe, for the sake of my waist. After one more slice, perhaps :)

Here's Sadge's (at Fireside Farm blog) recipe:

One-Hour French Bread
1½ cups warm water
1 tablespoon honey
1½ teaspoons salt
1½ tablespoons Active Dry Yeast
3 - 4 cups flour (any combination of white and whole wheat)

Preheat oven 450ยบ. Combine water, salt, honey, and yeast in a medium bowl. Let sit 5 - 10 minutes, until bubbling. Add flour, stirring with a wooden spoon, until dough is no longer sticky (I'll sometimes dump the dough out onto the cutting board with what flour is in the bowl and roll it around,adding a bit more flour, until it's not sticky). Roll dough into a 12 - 14" roll (or you can divide it in half and roll it into two long skinny baguettes). Place dough roll(s) on a cookie sheet (this won't work in a bread pan), greased or sprayed with non-stick spray, cover, and let sit 20 minutes. Make diagonal slits, 1/2" deep, on top with a razor blade. (Optional: spray with salt water). Bake 20 minutes.

Devour  :)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Prepping - Being Prepared for Change

CPR trainingImage via Wikipedia
Most “preppers” enjoy a relatively common lifestyle. They also enjoy many of the same technological advances as do many of their neighbors. They also have comparatively nice homes with many of the same amenities that people have a tendency to take for granted. The majority are not “doom and gloomers” or “hard-core” survivalists. They are simply people that realize things can and sometimes do change and not always for the better. So what is the real difference between a “prepper” and their neighbor?
It is the self-assurance that they can still get by if a family member becomes unemployed because they have put back an emergency cash fund for the here and now versus the long-term savings plan many have but can’t access until retirement without a penalty.
It is the self-assurance that they can treat an injured family member using their first aid or CPR skills. They know that when a crisis happens you may only have seconds to respond to a medical emergency and that it can make a difference in what could be a life or death situation.
It is the self-assurance that they won’t be stumbling around in the dark, eating a cold meal, or shivering in a cold room if there is a power outage. They realize that power can be interrupted during a disaster or a storm and plan accordingly. They don’t intend to wait days or weeks until the utility companies are able to respond.
It is the self-assurance that they won’t have to wait for the government or someone else to step in and help. They plan on taking care of themselves. They know the value of being personally responsible for themselves and their families.
Preppers are ordinary people who plan just slightly ahead of the curve in the road that lies ahead. They realize there are things that can happen that you won’t see coming. A little extra measure of preparedness and planning is necessary if you plan on being prepared for a change in your normal lifestyle during a crisis or a disaster.

Staying above the water line!

Why are you a prepper/survivalist?

Did you take the cue from your family/friends? Was it a group, event, war, book or film that set you on this path? Is there a “wake up call” moment you can pinpoint or has it been a gradual thing? I’m sure you come from all different backgrounds so I’m just curious about how you got here.

I’m really glad to have stumbled upon this forum. I had never even heard the term “prepper” until I got here. It’ll be nice to have some people to talk to about things like this (who don't think I'm just being paranoid) and I can’t wait to hear your stories.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Desert Water -- Where is It?, by Knun

Clean drinking water...not self-evident for ev...Image via Wikipedia
Let’s all hope that the information contained within this article is never used. To put it simply, for most suburban type folks, we would be in a world of hurt if we actually had to use this information during a SHTF situation. Mitigating a basic need such as water should be at the forefront of our preparations. Since preventing ourselves from being in a situation that would require the skills I will describe is ten times better than using them. With that in mind I have also described techniques to minimize the need to utilize these skills.
If you live in or near a desert environment then preparedness is the best course of action with regards to water. Are there springs, pools, water holes, canals, or any other sources of water nearby? In this discussion nearby is a relative term. Do you plan on driving 100 miles through the desert on the interstate in a bug out situation? If so, 100 miles should be considered nearby. Plan and prepare accordingly. Be prepared to find water, when it’s over 100 degrees, with minimal disruption to your travels and your well being. Ask yourself how far you could travel, on foot, in order to obtain enough water to carry on with your task at hand. To put this in perspective, here’s a little story that goes along these lines. A close friend of mine moved to the desert. He and his wife went out for a night on the town shortly after arriving. When they decided to travel home the wife decided to drive while the husband slept in the passenger seat. The wife ended up traveling toward a distant town, which was actually in the opposite direction they needed to travel. She was driving towards the lights and ran out of gas. My friend hitchhiked towards the nearest settlement and after a few hours reached a gas station. He was able to procure a full three gallon gas can. He then hitchhiked back to his vehicle, put the three gallons into the tank and proceeded to run out of gas ten miles short of the gas station. A funny story but it transitions easily into a survival situation. Always know your limitations and prepare accordingly. Do not put yourself in a situation where you are ten miles short of the next source of water.
What does being prepared mean? The most obvious is having enough water with you to begin with. To me prepared means having in hand, or direct access to, enough water to provide one’s needs for a determined amount of time. We hear of a guideline of one gallon per day. But as with everything else in life a guideline is rarely the optimum. It will simply allow an average person to survive. If you’ve not spent time traveling across country, in the desert, when it’s hot, you may want to rethink the gallon per day idea. I know folks that could easily get by with a quarter of that amount while I actually need more. I was hiking with a friend and we both had a large quantity of water with us. We were fully hydrated but my friend started to develop heat stroke. It was quite hot and to maintain his temperature at a manageable level we had to use the water to wet him down. In that situation the amount of water we had was barely enough. I always carry as much water as is practical at the expense of other useful items. But there are a few other ways in which to prepare for desert travel. Here are some of those I have learned.
First and foremost find water prior to the emergency you are preparing for. Travel the route you are planning to use and determine where water is along your route. You may find that by doing this your route will need to be altered accordingly. Native Americans traveled based on access to water. Just as today we travel based on access to fuel for our vehicles the natives traveled based on access to fuel for their bodies which is water. Their trails were rarely in a straight line to their destination. One important resource on the road to discovery, which is often overlooked, is talking to people familiar with the area. As an example, I hiked a trail for years and did not realize that less than 100 yards off that trail was a grotto of at least a thousand gallons of water, until I hiked it with someone who knew of the grotto’s existence! No maps, contemporary or old, showed this liquid treasure trove. Is there a water distribution canal along your route? Would it be viable in an emergency? Are there livestock watering holes nearby? Would the owner allow access? A spring? Free standing pools? A seep? All of these could save your life when it’s 115 degrees out side and you find yourself without water. I would suggest looking for these areas in the fall. To illustrate, a water seep found in the spring may be dry in the late fall season. If you find water in late summer or in the fall chances are it will probably be there year round. Be aware of droughts since even those areas of water may dry up during a drought.
But there is an even better way to prepare, and people have been doing it for thousands of years. It is simply to cache a supply along your route. My friends and me sometimes hike in the desert nearby during the heat of summer. During the cooler months of the year we cache water all along the routes we travel. What better way to prepare for an emergency than to preposition water along your route? Be sure to cache more than you will need and in a usable sized container. I prefer a five gallon sized container for long term storage but know of thirty and even fifty-five gallon containers positioned throughout the desert nearby. Be sure to use a container that will survive the desert heat and no matter what the ecology folks say the common one-gallon "milk" jugs water is sold in will turn to dust quickly when exposed to the [harsh light and ] intense heat of the desert. Don’t forget about animals when hiding your water. The most dangerous of which is man. I have cached water in the most secure of places only to find that it was found by someone (or something) else. Another reason to hide much more than needed. But probably the most important thing about caching water is being able to find it when you need it. There is nothing worse than, being within fifty feet of your cache, not knowing exactly where it is. Use your GPS to mark your locations as well as a topo map. Take a picture from your cache spot of a prominent feature nearby, mark your topo with an arrow pointing in the direction of the photo then number the photo and the spot on your map. Be sure to print the photos directly and store them with your treasure map.
But let’s say Murphy’s Law has reared it’s ugly head. You have to find water to survive.
Look for signs of man in the area. A windmill, waterhole, or cistern could be nearby. Watch for smoke, fresh tracks, a well worn trail or even a trail cabin.
You can also follow washes since they eventually gather together in low areas where water would be more likely to be found. Two particular things to look for are, pools in a wash, or a canyon with steep sides (a narrow canyon is best) that is shaded from the south and west sun for much of or all of the day. Small pools of water will stay in these places the longest and water might be found just underground in a dry pool at these spots. Before drinking such water look for signs of poisoning by checking for signs of animals using the water. If you see lizard, rodent or other animal tracks leading to and from the pool, but don’t see any remains of small animals nearby, chances are the water is okay to drink. Small pockets of water may also be found in these areas between rocks. A small flexible drinking tube can be fished into these crevices and the water sucked out. Water is often located just below the surface trapped within the underlying rock layers. The key, in this regard, is to know where to dig. Water often collects beneath the surface in areas of the streambed where there are sharp bends. Dig near the outside of such bends. If you do find water it may not be in large quantities. When you dig down and find wet sand or gravel, keep scooping out this material until water gradually seeps into the hole. You can line the hole with grass or cloth to act as a filter. If there is not enough to dip out and drink you can sponge it up with a shirt or other article of clothing and squeeze it out into your mouth.
Another particular thing to always look for is vegetation. Cottonwood and sycamore trees will tap into underground water and grow quite large. These trees can be seen from quite a distance due to their size but their roots can go down 100 feet to get to that water. Two plants that have shallow root systems are a tree called desert willow (mulefat) and the desert cane. If you see them green in dry weather there is always water within a foot or so of the surface. These plants grow in washes or canyons with cottonwood and sycamore sometimes nearby. Mountain Laurel is also a good tree to look for if it is in a grove and is of a very unnatural green color and especially growing in a ravine or coming down off the side of a mountain or hill leading to a canyon bottom. Another technique near the large trees is to find rock outcroppings in the washes and to dig before after or in the bedrock outcropping. Many times the bedrock in these locations have depressions or bowls carved over time that will hold water.
Of course the best way to find water in the desert when there are few clues to vegetation is to find a good trail with lots of tracks of animals like javelina, coyote and deer. Usually these animals know where the water is and if the trail and tracks are numerous and the trail is used constantly, follow it and eventually it will lead you to the only water source in the area. Sometimes these trails go for miles but these animals need water on a daily basis so following these trails could save your life.
Also, doves and quail always go to water just before sunset and roosting for the night. Watch for flights of these birds and which direction they are flying about sundown and go in that direction. They always travel in groups to water but will return from drinking one or two at a time. So always look for groups of birds and note which direction the large groups are all traveling.
Watch for insects such as bees or flies. They do not venture far from water. Sometimes you can actually see lines of these insects flying to surface water. Bees and wasps will protect their water supply so be very careful. Approaching these locations at night, when they are dormant, would be wise.
Obviously, some desert vegetation such as certain species of cactus contains water. The barrel cactus is one example. If you can cut open the cacti to get to the pulpy inside, you can obtain some water out of them. But the structure of this cactus makes this a difficult task and the small amount of fluid you obtain almost prohibitive. Besides the spines you will also have to cut through the wooden skeleton which surrounds the pulp. Unless you have an ax the work involved would far exceed the amount of water you obtain. A cousin of the barrel cactus is far more suited to fluid recovery. It is the hedgehog cactus. With a knife you can easily cut off the top of these small cacti. Holding the top stable with your finger or a stick cut the spines and skin off like peeling a cucumber. You can then slice off a chuck. Eat the soft pulp or squeeze out the water in a bandanna. You won’t get much moisture from a cactus, it’s more like slime than water, and the taste is pretty bad. But it’s something, none the less. An even more productive part of the cactus to harvest is the fruit. Barrel, saguaro and prickly pear all produce edible fruit, which will provide juices. In fact, all cactus fruit is edible but some are not palatable. The barrel is somewhat unique since the fruit will survive for up to a year on the cacti. Another nice feature of the barrel fruit is the lack of spines. With all of the others you will have to remove the small, almost invisible prickers, by rolling them in the dirt for a bit. Cactus produce fruit in the spring and it matures into the summer so they are a viable source to look for. The taste is usually tart and the texture is rather slimy. Another technique is to place many small pieces of edible cactus into a plastic bag, place it in the sun, and let moisture collect inside. Obviously, the bags of cactus pulp are also transportable.
Animals, reptiles, and insects are another source of water. Of course the water is a part of the creature so is not easily obtained. Sucking the blood of a rabbit or chewing the abdomen of a tarantula may not sound appealing but could allow you to survive if you could handle the experience. Many folks could not and it possibly could cost them their lives. Having never done this I doubt I could get far with a large spider but I could chew on a raw rabbit.
Another possibility for very short term survival is your own urine. If you absolutely have to you could drink your urine to survive. But there is a trick to it. You have to drink it immediately, you cannot carry it in a canteen for later use. The natural bacteria will overcome the ammonia very quickly and become toxic in an hour or so. Urine as it is passed from the body is 100% sterile and if drank within a few minutes contains no bacteria and other than a bad ammonia taste and a mild upsetting of the stomach, will keep you going for another day.
The most important thing to remember if you are in a desert without water is to not give up. Don’t die of thirst when water may be just a few meters beneath your feet or nearby in a hidden rock outcrop. If there are animals and plants living in the desert in which you are located, then there is water as well, if you know how to find it.

3 Things You Can Do That Cost Nothing

Putting toothpaste on a toothbrush. The toothp...Image via Wikipedia
So much in preparedness costs money be it saving, storing food, whatever. It is great to say you can do all this stuff by changing your lifestyle and to some degree that is true. However seeing as most people are not willing to significantly adjust their lifestyles it is not an accurate statement. Buying more or less what you already consume and some more stuff on top of that takes more money. Money is probably the biggest single limiting factor in most peoples preparedness efforts.

I got to thinking about stuff we can do that costs nothing. Two things came to mind immediately and I sorta tossed a third in.

The first thing is physical fitness. Yeah it probably helps to have a decent pair of running shoes and access to gym equipment is good also. However for lots of people who have no physical fitness plan and are in horrible shape though just doing some brisk walking, body weight exercises and a few pull ups goes a long way.  I think physical fitness is definitely the most ignored and under rated effort in preparedness. Along those lines showing a bit of self control in terms of what and how much you eat is essential.

Next is taking care of your chompers. At least brush your teeth and floss regularly. That is just too easy. Dental visits cost money (or insurance usually costs money) so it doesn't fit the bill of this but probably are a good idea also. Brushing and flossing regularly goes a long way. Also avoid excessive amounts of sugary stuff which will help get you in better shape anyway.

The last thing is to keep some cash on hand. I got to thinking if this really fits my "no cost" parameter. I believe it does because everybody over 18 or so should have at least a few hundred bucks sitting around. If you honestly do not have a few hundred bucks sitting around I urge you to strongly reconsider your lifestyle and get your stuff together. Take part of those few hundred dollars every adult should have and keep it at home. It is the same $300 or whatever but just in the form of mixed bills at your house instead of the bank. With today's insanely low interest rates there is little incentive to not have some cash at home.

So get yourself in shape, take care of your teeth and keep some cash at home. Too easy.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Why I think becoming a Jack of All Trades is the Key to Survival

Become a Jack of All Trades: The Key to Survival.

Define what you actually want to achieve – and the skills you will need to achieve it. Figure out a large goal or two that you’d like to achieve, then break this goal down into some basic skills. Create a list of the things you want to learn – a checklist for your near future. Start with just 2 skills, then build up from there. Another good thing to do is to figure out the skills you already have. What do you know how to do that many others do not? Is this something that’s useful to others?

Start with the people already around you.
The people already in your sphere of influence are the best people to start with in your endeavors. Look for the friends and family you already have that have skills you’d like to learn, and simply ask to learn from them. In exchange, you should offer them something as well – one of your skills might be put to use in their life, or you might be able to simply serve as a helping hand for one of their projects.

Keep your ears and eyes open.
If you pay attention, almost every day gives us opportunities to share our skills and abilities as well as learn from others. Keep your ears and eyes open and see what’s available around you. Maybe you have a neighbor that is working on a project in the yard. Why not ask if he or she could use a hand? Maybe someone will mention that their brother is good at something you’re want to learn. Step up and ask if you can give that person a ring. It might even be as simple as offering to help someone fix their car in a parking lot – it gives you an opportunity to learn. Just look for every opportunity that life reveals to you to pick up a skill you’d like to have. Those opportunities come more often than you might think.

Another great avenue for picking up skills is through volunteer projects. Groups like Habitat for Humanity, your Church, The United Way, etc., are constantly engaged in projects where you can not only learn a useful skill, but you can spend your time in a way that provides for others at no direct cost for yourself. You will be able to practice the skills you already have, learn some new ones and most importantly…give back.

Share what you know.
Many people often feel that they don’t have something of value to share. (You would be surprised how difficult it is for me to get people to interview on my show, (Today's Survival Show or on my Handgun World Show.) Very rarely is that true – all of us have something valuable to share right in between our ears. Share what you know freely and widely. Often, people have valuable information and insights in areas that they never expect until others ask about it.

When learning, master the basics first.
Most people find that, when learning a new skill, it’s usually a must… to continually work on the basics as they go along. You need to master fundamentals first, master the basics and the advanced techniques will seem much more attainable. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Read something new every day.
Each day, make an effort to read something new related to your interests. Read a chapter in a book, a magazine article, or some blog entries or podcasts on that topic.

This helps you in a couple of different ways. First, it keeps your mind focused on the skills you’re trying to learn. If those skills are constantly present in your mind, you’ll find yourself wanting to practice them and grow them naturally. The Second benefit you get is that, it exposes you to new ideas and thoughts related to that specific skill. Reading what others have written on the topic constantly exposes your mind to new angles on what might seem like a familiar area. Whenever I’m interested in a topic or a skill, I usually start by following a few blogs on it. I do some Googling for blogs on what I'm interested in. Then I follow some links and read forum posts too. This is a great, inexpensive way to get my feet wet and my mind working. I’ll subscribe to podcasts and even pay for exclusive downloads containing content on what I want to learn.

Try something new at least once a week.
There’s no better way to master a new skill than by simply doing it. Dive in and get your hands dirty. For me, this is my best way to learn something. I know some people can read a book, but I have to be shown.

Share what you produce.
If you begin to learn enough to start making quality stuff -- share the things you produce with others. Example, if you’re good at gardening, Give away some of the vegetables from your garden. What you’ll find is that if you start sharing what you know, they’ll share what they know. That activity can lead to some good bartering.

Apply the skills you’re learning in your own life.

Best of all, as you acquire these new skills, you can apply them in your own life. The better you become at cooking for example, the better your diet becomes and the less expensive your food becomes. I like to cook and it makes me realize exactly what I'm eating. Sometimes I discover some scary things. The better you become at home repair tasks, the more likely it is that you can handle things that break down in your home without calling the repairman. The better you become at writing, the more likely it is you can sell a piece or you can start a successful blog that can earn you a bit of money. The better speaker you become, maybe you can start a podcast, radio show or start teaching your skill and earn extra money. All of this comes back to two things: building skills and building relationships. The more you do of both, the better off you are.

Self-reliance is a vital key to living a healthy, productive life. To be self-reliant you're going to have to master a basic set of skills, more or less making you a jack of all trades. Contrary to what you may have learned in school, a jack of all trades is far more equipped to deal with life than a specialized master of only a few.

Some things all survivalists should learn to do…..

Build a Fire – Fire produces heat and light, two basic necessities for living. At some point in your life knowing how to start a fire could prove to be lifesaving.

Operate a Computer – Fundamental computer knowledge is essential these days. Even in a stink it the fan (SHTF) situation, a computer can be very valuable. Obviously you’ve stored data and survival knowledge. Don’t be so quick to assume it will be useless. You will still be able to open your hard drive, open CD’s and DVD’s and use it as entertainment. All you need to do is figure out a way to keep the battery charged.

Use Google and Bing Effectively – Google knows everything. If you’re having trouble finding something with Google, it’s you that needs help.

Perform CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver – Someday it may be your wife, husband, son or daughter that needs help.

Drive a Manual Transmission Vehicle – There may come a time before or after a bad thing happens where they only vehicle available is one with a manual transmission. Learn how to drive it.

Do Basic Cooking – If you can’t cook your own steak and eggs, you probably aren’t going to make it.

Tell a Story that Captivates People’s Attention – This is a great skill for keeping kids entertained after a disaster.

Win or Avoid a Fistfight – Either way, you win.

Deliver Bad News – Somebody has got to do it. Unfortunately, someday that person might be you.

Change a Tire – sounds too basic, huh? You would be amazed how many people can't do it.

Handle a Job Interview – In today's economy this could prove very valuable.

Manage Your Time – You may find yourself the leader of a small group trying to accomplish a goal. Either before or after a disaster hits. You need to know how to manage your time and help your team manage theirs.

Speed Read – this really helps when reading instructions.

Remember Names – Do you like when someone tries to get your attention by screaming “hey you”? One of the best way's to get someone's attention is to remember their name!

Relocate – Are you really organized enough to relocate with short notice?

Travel Light – Bring only the necessities. It’s the cheaper, easier, smarter thing to do. Can you travel with just one bag?

Handle the Police – Jail is no fun, period.

Give Driving Directions – what if you need to direct a family member how to get somewhere and GPS' are down and they didn't prepare well enough to have a map?

Perform Basic First Aid – You don’t have to be a doctor, or genius, to properly dress a wound.

Swim – 71% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water. Learning to swim might be a good idea.

Parallel Park – Even though some Ford Vehicles can do this for you, don't rely on them.

Recognize Personal Alcohol Limits - After a SHTF event people get stressed and often turn to alcohol and drugs. Know how to recognize this, it could save you from being a victim.

Handle a Hammer, Axe or Handsaw – Carpenters are not the only ones who need tools. Everyone should have a basic understanding of basic hand tools.

Make a Simple Budget – Being in debt is not fun. How can you call yourself a survivalist if you are carrying a load of debt? Sorry, but I have a firm conviction about this issue.

Speak at Least Two Common Languages – Only about 25% of the world’s population speaks English. It would be nice if you could communicate with at least some of the remaining 75%.

Staying in good physical shape – You never know when you will need to carry something heavy for a long distance.

Give a Compliment – It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give someone, and it’s free. It's one of the best ways to build rapport.

Negotiate – often forgotten, often needed.

Listen Carefully to Others – You have two ears and one mouth, use them accordingly.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Moving to a Small Town as a Retreat (And Why it's Good to Do it Now), by Bryan B. in Alaska

Walther Long-Recoil Toggle-Action semi-auto 12...Image via Wikipedia
Two years ago, I was a busy guy. I worked 50-to-60 hour weeks as an equipment and auto mechanic in south central Alaska. I was a Dad, delivery driver and taxi for the family, and maintenance man for our aging trailer. We lived a couple miles from a town of 15,000 on a .75 acre lot with a mobile home. My decent pay barely paid all the bills and fuel costs of going to work. To top things off, I had just “woke up” to what was going on and had no idea how I was going to prepare for anything. SurvivalBlog became my daily stop in my web browser. I bought and read both "Patriots" and the "Rawles Gets You Ready" course.
I had discovered SurvivalBlog and knew I could put away some food and supplies with the “Two is One, and One is None” idea. I approached my partner carefully to see if she would be onboard with a little prepping. To my surprise, she had been thinking the same things, and was even ahead of me on starting to stock food.
After about six months, we found ourselves with about six months of food put away. I used my Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) check from Alaska state oil royalties to buy a couple rifles, a 12 gauge shotgun, and an XD .45 for hunting and bear/bad people protection. Things were going good, and then I lost my job right at new years. My employer executed an “at will employment” clause and terminated me. They then filled my position again at about 60% of the pay rate. I quickly found myself searching for work and found no-one hiring. I had never, as a mechanic, been unable to find work until now. It seemed everyone was in a pinch. I did find one low paying job and worked it for three months. I quit that job when the paychecks stopped coming reliably.
I was at a loss of what to do. I had a family to feed and a house payment to make. We made the decision to get out of the rat-race. I let my ex-wife take over the house, and walked away from it, bought three acres in a small town about 100 miles south. It was a town of about 400, separated from the road system by a bay five miles wide. Access to the town was by ferry, skiff, and plane. Access to our property was by Moose buggy, ATV, or in winter by snow machine.
A 15'x15' cabin had already been started; so finishing it and adding on a little more for a kitchen was quickly done. A charger/Inverter that had been in storage for a while was hooked up to some old deep-cycle golf-cart batteries. The old woodstove in the cabin was fitted with a stainless grid that now heats water in an old propane water heater.
This is where a small town is so nice to get into as opposed to a remote cabin. On our own, the first winter would have been really tough. We were living off our stores for most of the winter. While our setup, with batteries, used much less generator fuel than most cabins around, we still needed a little income to survive. I salvaged metal, building supplies, an old Toyota truck, and all of our house batteries from the town dump. They encourage people to do so, and even have a small area set aside to drop off “good stuff”.
Another reason the small town was better than going it alone was that I could barter my repair skills for food, fuel, or firewood. I did not cut nearly enough wood for ourselves that first winter. However, we did have a lot of red salmon from set-netting summer before. Mostly I traded fish and handyman services for dry firewood. I made friends with a couple people who cut firewood or have sawmills. Sawmills generate an amazing amount of [scrap that is usable for] firewood.
We moved to town in July and were treated friendly enough, but you could tell that we were new, or not “Local” yet. But after being here all winter, when all the summer residents left town, we were suddenly one of them, and almost everybody really opened up. Where I had barely been getting any work, I had people flagging me down in town wanting me to look at something for them. I also got hired to work on the ferry that serves the town. Things are looking up, and we are now much less dependant on all the things most take for granted.
So you ask what the point of this is? We could not have dropped everything and done this after something big happened. We have been here a year now, and are just getting settled in. I have even had friends here say things like “you know, this town is really defensible, if something happened, no-one is coming to town without us knowing, and without a reason.” And he is not a “prepper”, just a small town Alaskan.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Ground to Air Signals

Here's a subject that hasn't received too much air time. So I thought I'd toss it out. It could be invaluable if you are on the wrong end of a rescue mission and there aren't very many signals to remember. Here are some that could be invaluable if an air rescue is necessary.

You could make these signals using rocks, limbs, drawing in sand or snow.

And remember, as a general rule of thumb, if you can stay with an aircraft or vehicle the odds of you being seen and found are much greater. Leave only if it's impractical or unsafe to stay where you are.

Here are some in body language:

Living Like TEOTWAWKI Could Come at Any Time, by Mrs. C.J.

Crossed wires shorting out, Troy, Illinois. Af...Image via Wikipedia
If you even so much as glance at the news or if you're like me and check out The Drudge Report every morning, you can't help but realize the world is becoming more and more uncertain. It seems that anything could happen at the drop of a hat and without little, if any, fore-warning. Volcanoes, earthquakes, tornadoes, and floods seem to be changing or taking the lives of unsuspecting people almost daily. The threat of nuclear warfare is always just beyond the horizon. If we ever experience an EMP, we could be without power and [utility-supplied] water for months. Most of western civilization isn't nearly prepared for something like that!
My family and I don't live in fear, though, because we take comfort in God's word which tells us to not to fear or be anxious about anything. However, He also tells us to have understanding of the times we live in. My family and I live day to day with an awareness in the back of our minds that we're living in uncertain times and need to be diligently prepared for anything that might happen. For my family, preparedness is a part of our daily lives. I've noticed over the last few years that the more we practice living prepared lives, the more naturally it comes.
My hubby and I keep two large green totes in the back of our van at all times. We packed these totes (which we got at a local hardware store) with MREs, cases of bottled water, a large first aid kit, hand sanitizers, blankets, tools, and other things that might be necessary if we have to leave at a moments notice or, if for some reason, we just won't be able to go home because of an unforeseen emergency.
We always keep "to-go" bags packed, too. We have four young children (twin girls who are six years old, a daughter who is five years old, and a little boy who is two years old.). Needless to say, things need to be as prepared as possible when there are such young children in the picture. The girls have one bag with numerous articles of clothing. My son's bag is simply his huge diaper bag which has been fully stocked since the day he was born. We also keep small totes filled with clothing that we could easily throw into the van at a moment's notice. My own personal bag contains a few days worth of clothing along with weeks' worth of toiletry items for the whole family (those handy to-go toothbrushes with the toothpaste already in them, single use Clorox wipes, soaps, etc.) These bags don't just sit around in a closet forgotten. We use them often and keep them "updated." They come in handy when my hubby and I decide to take a getaway to a hotel or camping trip while the kids stay the night with Grandma. We can make plans with minimal notice and everything's all ready to go.
Two years ago, we had a power and water outage that lasted five hours. The kids were already in bed but the sudden pitch-blackness woke them up and they started crying. We let them get out of bed to play with flashlights and glow sticks for an extra hour. We gave them a small LED light to use as a nightlight. Thankfully, everything was right where it was supposed to be and we had everything we needed. Once they got used to the power outage, the kids went peacefully back to bed.
While it's hard to imagine living without power or water for weeks or months at a time, I have to admit that a short power outage can be a bit of an adventure. It's also a learning experience. Let me pass along one interesting tip I learned during our "adventure." By the time my hubby and I had put the kids back to bed, we were getting thirsty. It was August in the southwestern desert and the house was beginning to get a little warm. I was only too excited to use some of the bottled water from one of our emergency totes in the garage. I opened my bottle and took a nice big gulp before rushing to the sink to spit out what was left in my mouth! The water, which had been stored with candles for about two years, tasted distinctly of Glade Vanilla. I'm not sure if it was dangerous to ingest but it sure tasted like it! Note to the reader: never store bottled water with scented candles!
Besides candles and bottled water, it's also a good idea to have some good, old-fashioned items handy. Do you have a washer-board and a clothesline? You just might need that. Do you have a battery-operated or wind-up radio in the house? You just might need that, too. Do you have a water filter? Do you have a dehydrator? Use them now! Use all of these things now. Especially if you have kids, using these things can go hand in hand with a history lesson and can be just plain ol' fun and interesting.
Just this year, we began growing our own fruits and vegetables in our backyard. We don't have as much yet as I would like, but it will help supplement our food stores. I home school my children and based an entire month long curriculum on gardening and cultivating our own food. The children love it and it's helping to prepare us for anything from inflation to a deflated or non-existent marketplace. My two year old son was incredibly excited when he got to pick his own blueberry from one of our bushes and eat it. Besides being a good preparation for a future catastrophe, gardening is daily rewarding (especially if you live in a warmer climate where you can grow food year round). It is also possible to turn one of your rooms into a greenhouse. I don't know much about that myself since it's always so warm here, but that might be worth looking into if you live in a colder climate.
Since my four children were born (the first 2, six years ago), I haven't spent more than a few hundred dollars on clothes for them and those few hundred dollars were spent on holidays and birthdays. I swap for everything. I very rarely buy anything new and no, we don't run around looking like vagabonds wearing someone else's cast-off clothing. I don't have to do this but since I do, I can spend the money I save on more important things. Certain friends brag about the good deals they get at garage sales. I get just as many things as they do but don't spend nearly the money! Once in awhile, I pay a small postage cost to mail something to someone, but often I'm getting something for nothing at all but my time. I can use those extra funds to store up canned food and other necessities. I can invest in charities and my church, storing up treasures in Heaven where there is no rust or moths to destroy. Because frugality is already so much a part of my life, I'll be more able to adapt to a lifestyle of bartering and trading if TEOTWAWKI ever comes.
I think most people reading this blog are prepared to learn, considering the wealth of useful information on this web site alone. There could come a time, though, when the Internet might not be accessible for weeks, months, or even years at a time. You might not be able to call friends for help. You might not even feel that it's safe enough to venture out of your house. You need your own special survival bookshelf to go to in case of an emergency. Even a very well-prepared and knowledgeable survivalist may not know how to create a solar still, or remember which mushrooms are edible off the top of his head. Books like the SAS Survival Handbook by John "Lofty" Wiseman are a necessity in case of TEOTWAWKI. Cookbooks like "Food at the Time of the Bible" tell you how to prepare, store, and trade food like they did back in the day. These are just a few references I want to always have near, but there's such a wealth of good survival books out there! Build up your library now, while times are good (enough) and bookstores are easily accessible. Someday, they might not be.
Maybe it can be like that old REM song: "It's the End of the World as We Know it and I Feel Fine." I'm being a little facetious; I don't know how fine I'll feel if and when TEOTWAWKI really happens. I hope I will be able to sing. Singing brings joy when there is none, peace when it seems distant, and comfort in uncertainty. In any case, there is quite a measure of comfort in knowing that you're living as prepared as is practical for you and your family. Living this way is rewarding in itself even if that day never comes. For me, living diligently prepared, having things ready, acting frugal, practicing for unexpected changes to life's plans, and gardening makes each day richer.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

One Thing That Has Been Bothering Me

Why is it that some folks seem to think the first thing to do if you get into survivalism as an adult is to pull every penny you have out of retirement and put it into preps? It reads like a worn out record. "I saw the light and immediately pulled every penny I had out of retirement and bought food, guns, etc."

This bothers me for a lot of reasons. First it is more emotional than rational. People see (legitimately) a threat and this is their knee jerk reaction. Just like a super fast halfway from the hip "point shot" it is almost always a miss. To continue my shooting analogy they would be better off to get a half a shooting stance or at least bring the gun level and the front sight onto the target before squeezing the trigger.

Second I have an issue with this plan because it is almost binary. It eludes to there being only two options, normal life and TEOTWAWKI. The unfortunate fact is that life is not that simple. You can definitely get a mix. A great example is Katrina. I am sorry to tell you this but in terms of realistic worst case 'survivalist' scenarios this is about as bad as it gets. For several weeks things were completely screwed. Not killing your neighbor over Krispix or all Mad Max but pretty screwed all the same. Assuming he wasn't stupid enough to stay right on the coast or in New Orleans proper a guy who had enough food and water to be comfortable and maybe some to share with the neighbors, batteries to run a radio and a couple flashlights and a couple guns with some spare ammo things were manageable. After awhile things got back to normal. In 20 years that guy who was well rewarded for having plenty of food, water, fuel, a couple/ few guns and ammo is going to sure want to stop working. So for a period your life can be completely screwed and then it can go back to normal.

As much as it is nice to think you will be richly rewarded for cases upon cases of canned food and rows full of buckets of dried goods and cases of ammo that may not be the case. Food and bullets are great and all but will not pay a mortgage or property taxes or buy a tank of gas. Do consider the question of "what will this do to me if the world doesn't end?"

I do not gamble. Not saying you are bad if you do but it just isn't me. Even aside from all games being rigged to give the house an edge it just isn't me. For example if you think it is 51% likely that the world will genuinely end is it smart to put your whole darn nest egg towards that? What about that other 49%. However if you honestly believe 51% that a full on genuine end of the world Mad Max scenario is going to happen I would submit that either you have a screw loose or have some information (prison planet type stuff doesn't count) I have not seen. Our world might get a bit crazy now and then or even change in significant ways but digging a fighting position in the front yard or bayoneting your neighbor to protect your canned goods is probably not so likely.

Any financial adviser worth the title will say that unless you can absolutely avoid it raiding retirement accounts is the absolute last thing you want to do. While it is true that I would not ask their opinions on storing wheat in buckets or pooing in a bucket I also think it is equally imprudent to let a survivalist tell you what to do with your money or how to plan for retirement.  Of course a "survival expert" will say you should put all your eggs into that. Kinda how guys who work at Motor Trend probably think you should spend more money on a car than is prudent or guys from Gaming Laptop probably like gigabytes and ram more than they do your pocket book.

Of course if you have a few bucks just sitting around putting it towards preps isn't a bad idea. Raiding the money you plan to live on in old age however is just a bad idea. For most people the money maker is going to be selling off unnecessary toys (swap an old dirt bike for a good rifle, etc) and cutting/ changing your lifestyle to create money to go towards preparedness.

I plan for things going all crazy AND the world going on more or less normally with me getting older and wanting to work less or not at all. I think you should do the same.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

25 Post SHTF Food Sources

When TSHTF, one of your top concerns will be finding enough food to sustain you until regular food distribution channels get back up and running. Here's where to find the food you need:
  1. The food you have stored in your house.
  2. The food you have stored in your car and other locations (ie: bug out shelter)
  3. The food in your office.
  4. The food in other offices in your building/neighborhood/city (bring a crowbar).
  5. The food running around near your home (squirrel, possum, rabbits, etc).
  6. The wild food you can gather (berries, cat tails, apples, nuts, etc).
  7. The larger food in the forest (deer, elk, bear, etc).
  8. Larger food on local ranches (pig, goat, cow, etc).
  9. Food in water near your home (fish, shellfish, seaweed, etc).
  10. Food on local farms (vegetables, grains, fruit, etc).
  11. Food in grocery stores.
  12. Food in warehouses/cold storage warehouses.
  13. Food in institutions (ie: food banks, schools, hospitals, etc).
  14. Food in local restaurants.
  15. Food in vacation homes and homes where people have left.
  16. Food in your yard (dandelions, vegetables and fruit you have grown, etc.).
  17. Food on the way to its destination (shipping containers, refrigerated trucks, etc).
  18. Food you can create (quick growing vegies and meat supplies).
  19. Food provided by relief organizations.
  20. Food that any other day you wouldn't consider food (rats, bugs, pigeon, etc).
  21. Food you can have brought in (ie: a contact from an area not hit that could bring you supplies).
  22. Food that others may overlook (honey from bees, maple syrup from trees, snakes, etc).
  23. Food that takes concerted effort/materials/equipment to get (ie: whale, other deep sea fish, mountain goat, etc).
  24. Food that freegans would love (search dumpsters, garbage cans, garbage dumps, etc).
  25. Food that isn't people food (dog food, cat food, animal food stored in grain silos, etc).
Obviously most of these sources have drawbacks. Some sources may mean you need to break the law to get at it, some sources have a decided ick factor, and some sources mean you my end up fighting over it with others who are equally hungry. Also, once you acquire food from the aforementioned sources, you will need to hide it/guard it/protect it.

Sticks and Stones...

What is the most controversial topic in preparedness? What subject can you deliver an opinion on that will almost certainly start a passionate discussion? It can be nothing other than the subject of weapons.

No one denies that weapons have their place. Whether for defense or for hunting, weapons should be part of everyone’s preparations. The difference in this discussion is that the focus will be on everything but firearms. Gunpowder weapons have their place, but because for several reasons, non-gunpowder weapons are an important long-term choice in your preparations.

Why not just guns?
For a start, they depend on availability, which can be an issue in Canada. Permits are required for the purchase of firearms and ammunition.

Secondly, they require an ongoing supply of ammunition, which means you need an assured source. Even if reloading, you need a supply of components. Either way, the supply is finite. A large, expensive stockpile of ammunition with thousands of rounds, while possible, is far beyond the reach of most preppers.

Third, you can’t make a gun or its parts, as that sort of manufacturing tends to be very complex. Most of the options we’ll discuss can be made with limited tools or no tools at all in some cases.

Fourth, they are noisy. A gunshot can be heard a long, long way off. I can envision quite a few survival situations where I’d rather not advertise my presence to animals or people.

Finally, firearms are often a remarkably inefficient way to use manpower. Yes, that’s right, I did say that. As a method of obtaining food, trapping and fishing are the best bang for the buck, if you’ll pardon the pun. You can set multiple snares, traps, lines or nets, effectively magnifying your efforts many times. You just can’t do that with a rifle.

Still, whether for hunting or defense, weapons are necessary, so let’s look at the non-firearm options. These weapons break down into two general classes: Those that derive their effect solely from human muscles and those with some sort of stored mechanical advantage. The first group consists of stones, throwing sticks, knives, spears, slings and so on. The second group is mostly populated with bows of various types and slingshots.

I personally feel most of the first group are unlikely to be effective as a defense if facing an opponent armed with any sort of firearm. Either the lethality or range is not sufficient for that task. That said, let’s look at how they shape up as hunting weapons.

The first thing to note is that all of these weapons require practice. Whether you’re trying to throw a knife ten feet, or sling a stone 100 feet, you’re going to need practice to hit what you aim at. But for the rest of the article, I’ll assume you’re willing to spend 15 minutes a day practicing. It’s a tiny commitment of time that pays big dividends in skill. Now on to the primitive weapons:

Stones: Seems silly, but I have seen a well thrown stone knock down squirrels, rabbits and birds. I hasten to add that the skill was not mine, but a skill certainly achievable by most people. While not the best choice (after all, humans invented better weapons!), the humble rock is almost always available, takes no construction, and requires no more practice than anything else.

Throwing sticks: a weapon used successfully as a hunting tool for millennia. Probably the best-known example is the boomerang, once used to hunt animals as large as kangaroos. I’ve personally knocked down turkey with a throwing stick, and it’s surprisingly effective. It can be as simple as a hardwood stick or as elaborate as an Apache throwing star.

Knives: Whether a stainless steel Bowie knife designed to turn 1and 1/2 revolutions in 22 feet, or a chipped flint knife, I think knives are the trickiest of the thrown weapons to use. Due to the necessity of hitting the target point first, unlike a stone or stick, they require more practice. As they generally are ineffective beyond ten to thirty feet (depending on knife type and style of throw), I’d rather throw a rock or stick, which have just as good of a range. Also, the thought of scrambling around in the brush looking for what might be my only knife after throwing it at a bunny and missing is a daunting thought.

Spears: While watching Brad Pitt as Achilles spit some unfortunate at a distance seems to indicate that the spear is a throwing weapon, it has been used far oftener through its history for stabbing. As a throwing weapon, it is not that long ranged (the world javelin record is under 100 meters, and javelin throwers are going for distance, not accuracy), but somewhat superior to the knife in that it is generally more stable in the ballistic sense. The pointy end almost always gets there first.

Atlatl:. A longer ranged, (and with practice) more accurate version of the spear. Basically a carved stick giving you more leverage to launch what are essentially oversized arrows or miniature spears. It takes time and lots of patience to get good with this.

Finally, we have the sling. Arguably the simplest to make, and can be made from a huge variety of materials. It is essentially just a pouch for holding a rock and a string on each end. While requiring some skill to use, it is potentially the longest ranged, most accurate and most lethal of this class of primitive weapons.

It comes in two varieties, the ordinary hand type and the larger staff sling. Again, it requires some time and patience to get good with this, but can be a valuable addition to your hunting arsenal.

With a little practice every day, any one of the weapons mentioned can become a valuable addition to your ability to survive. You may not be equipped with the latest and greatest firearm, but if you’ve a proper survival attitude, and just a little time to practice, you need never be unarmed.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

We now resume our regularly scheduled program......

Just got back from taking my wife on a trip for our 10th anniversary.

Posts now resuming. :)


Monday, June 14, 2010

How to Make Fire with a AA battery and a staple

This is a pretty neat trick. You trim back the plastic sleeve on the negative end of the battery on one side - not all the way around. You pry up the end of the battery slightly, and put one end of the bent staple (or paper clip, or wire, or whatever) in the gap, under the paper insulator. Then you use a piece of char cloth or high quality tinder to press the free end of the staple against the negative contact of the battery. If your tinder is good, it will produce enough heat to get a coal. Here is a link to the video: (I did not make this video, I found it)

If you are in the woods you may likely have a camera or other device that requires batteries. I imagine that this could be done with AAA, C, or D batteries as well. If you do not have a staple, you are like to be able to come up with a usuable piece "wire-like" metal. The only drawback I can see, and it is a big one, is the necessity of having char cloth or extremely good tinder on hand.

Let's go try it out.

btw - the guy narrating the video has a peculiar accent (or non-accent) ... I'm guessing somewhere in central Canada ...?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Four Great Preparedness Myths, by Dan B.

I subscribe to the RSS feeds of a number of blogs about survival, including Rawles' (top of the line!), and I subscribe to numerous firearms-related blogs and message boards. I also periodically meet people who are interested in survival issues in my non-electronic life. All preppers are trying to prepare for a particular situation, and their preparations reflect their beliefs about what that situation will be like. Unfortunately, many of those beliefs are false, and those false beliefs seem to be brought about by four myths, which I thought I would describe. The strange thing about these myths is that they seem to be largely taken for granted and rarely discussed - preppers will debate endlessly the right rifle to have for a survival situation but rarely talk about the big picture. I hope to dispel these myths, but at the very least, I hope to start an interesting conversation.
Myth #1: You can defend yourself against the horde.
Most of the beginning and intermediate preppers I've met believe that they will be defending their property against a horde of starving or otherwise malicious people, and prep accordingly. It's important to note that no one who has actually tried to defend themselves against a large group of determined assailants actually thinks it can be done. The math is pretty simple: the horde has numbers on its side, time on its side, and its determination probably matches yours. If a large group of people decide that you've got something they want, that's all there is to it. You can take a stand, but sooner or later, you're going to run out of manpower, firepower, or sleep (or all three), and it's all over. These aren't slow-moving, unarmed, clumsy movie zombies who want to eat your brains - these are determined, smart people who are just trying to preserve their own lives, who can scale fences, create strategies, or simply overwhelm you with sheer numbers. This is why experienced preppers either live in the middle of nowhere or conceal that they are preppers. (By the way, the concealment strategy is a pretty limited one - how long do you think you can living in a community and conceal that you're not starving while everyone else is starving? At that point, you can go right back to the horde problem.)
Myth #2: Stock up on the ammo you'll need to defend yourself with.
Once again, the math just doesn't add up on this one. There is only one scenario where you think you'll be be using a lot of ammunition, and it is the horde scenario. You won't - the horde scenario will be over in a few minutes to a few hours, with you the loser, and your stored ammo with go to the winners. Don't get me wrong - you need guns and ammo, but the idea that you're going to expend thousands of rounds is just a reflection of people's erroneous beliefs about what kind of shooting situations they'll be in. If you're determined to buy ammo, don't buy them for [just] your guns - buy them for everybody else's, and you'll actually own a valuable commodity. Better yet, use the money to buy food, which leads us to myth #3.
Myth #3: I only need X number of days of food.
I was motivated to write this article by a thread I saw on a message board where people were comparing the contents of their bugout bags. Seven people in a row described having less than two day's worth of food. What is the point of having survival gear if you are so debilitated by hunger that you can't use it? Some people who've never been without food for a couple of days will point out correctly that the human body can go for weeks without food, but I suggest that you fast for just four days and then try to engage in any kind of real physical activity - it's a nonstarter. The body can keep itself alive without food, but that's about all it can do. In a real survival situation, you won't be sitting behind a desk typing e-mails; you'll be running, walking, digging, and fighting, plus any other actions that a machine used to do for you. All that requires energy - lots of it. You're going to have to supply that energy - all of it. Now multiply that obligation by the number of people in your group, and the number of days you'll have to go without a resupply of food. The result is a mountain of food, much more than what casual preppers sock away. The problem isn't just food - what are you going to drink? How are you going to sanitize that water supply? How are you going to cook all that food? However much food you store, you'll need an equivalent source of energy to cook it, since most long-term survival foods, like grains and legumes, all need to be cooked. The myth I'm describing is perhaps more a tendency than a myth - preppers focus on weapons and defensive equipment (some out of fear and some because those are the things they like using anyway), when they should be focusing on food. You can buy an awful lot of wheat for the price of a single gun.
Finally, the king - the big kahuna of survival myths:
Myth #4: TEOTWAWKI will be fun!
A rarely-discussed but obvious undercurrent in survival circles is the general idea that somehow a serious survival situation will be great for those who have prepared adequately, and likely good for the world in general. A number of justifications are given for this view: It will have a cleansing effect, it will be a neat little "reset" button for society, people's priorities will improve by necessity, etc. Although this issue is not discussed often, there is an obvious hoping-it-will-happen theme to the attitudes of many survivalists, because for those who have prepared, somehow things will be better than they were before SHTF. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The bottom line is that if you survive a worldwide collapse, you haven't earned immortality - you've just earned the opportunity to die a later death that will likely be violent but will almost be guaranteed to be painful and lingering. And it isn't just your death that will be slow and painful - you'll also have the experience of watching your friends and family go the same way. Culturally, we are now so many generations removed from primitive medical care that we've almost completely forgotten what life will be like without a professionally-staffed, well-equipped, electrified, sanitized, and heated hospital to go to when we have any sort of illness. You think appendicitis is bad with anesthesia, antibiotics, and a trained surgeon? It sure is - but now try it without any of those things. It doesn't stop at medical care - in our culture, we have come to take for granted general security, food availability, reliable utilities, sanitation, the rule of law, human rights, access to information, and on and on. By definition, none of these things will be available in TEOTWAWKI. And if you think living in a world where none of these things exist is going to be anything other than misery, you haven't thought very hard about what it will be like. Thomas Hobbes wrote in the 17th century that life was "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short." We've come a long way since then, but that description will fit a TEOTWAWKI situation perfectly. It's pretty obvious to me that many in the prepper world hope that there preparations weren't for nothing, and to them I'd say: be careful what you wish for.