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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Episode-840- Steven Harris on Alternative Energy Technologies Part 1

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Original Article

Steven Harris returns to TSP for his 6th visit.  Today he joins us to discuss various alternative energy technologies including, solar, wind, biofuel, wood gasification and more. Steven Harris is a consultant and expert in the field of energy. He is … Continue reading →


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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Junk Silver

Original Article

There's a lot of interest around investing in precious metals (PMs) these days. I've talked about the pros/cons of PMs in the past--you can check out some of my thoughts by following the precious metals tag. While I am not a PM fanatic like some in the survival community, they do have their place, and even if you're not interested in socking some funds away in silver or gold, it doesn't hurt to know about 'em.

When looking at silver, there's a variety of ways that you can invest in them. 1 ounce American Silver Eagles, Canadian Maples and other similar coins are readily available at coin shops, but they usually carry a "premium" of a several dollars over spot prices, sometimes substantially more if it's an especially rare coin or in highly graded condition. For example, an informal eBay search showed Silver Eagles at around $38-$42, with shipping, while the spot value of silver was only $33.80.

This premium doesn't come from the intrinsic value of the silver--it's one ounce of silver--but from additional collectibility/numismatic value. If you're socking away silver for a hedge against a major collapse scenario, you're more concerned with the intrinsic value of the silver than a specific coin collecting-specific premium.

That's where so called "junk silver" comes in. These coins are not really junk--these coins are 90% silver--but they're junk in the sense that they have little to no value above the silver they contain. What does that mean for the silver buyer? Well, it means you can buy "junk" silver coins at or near spot prices, avoiding paying a premium for a coin collecting value that is not important to you.

To get around spot prices, one could also buy old silver dinner ware, jewelry and so on, but the content of these will be suspect and they'll be harder to move than old silver coins. In my opinion, one ounce rounds like the silver Eagle and Maple will be easiest to move--they say "one ounce silver" on 'em!--and you may even get the numismatic premium back on 'em too. But, comparatively, old silver coins offer a good balance between near-spot prices and liquidity.

What are junk silver coins? Well, before 1965, most coins in the U.S. were composed of 90% silver. Nickels are the exception, while nickels from '42 to '45 contained 35% silver, the rest did not. So that leaves you with dimes, quarters, half dollars and dollars, in several different designs. I really like some of the old coin designs--the Mercury dime and Walking Liberty half dollar are two of my favorites. The Canadians held onto 90% silver coinage for a bit longer--they discontinued most of their silver coins in '67.

Buying silver is pretty easy. If you're got a local coin shop, I'd drop by and check them out--we have a pretty decent little shop about 15 minutes away that gives prices that are generally better than anything I can find online. Online, eBay has a pretty huge selection of silver coins in varying quantities. If you're looking to buy in bulk, Apmex sells 90% silver in bags of up to $1,000 in face value.

You'll often see silver coins sold by the face value; a rule of thumb is that every dollar worth of 90% silver coins contains about .715 ounces of silver. So, a $1,000 face value bag would contain 715 ounces of silver--yes, that's a lot of silver.

How much silver should you have on hand? It really massively depends on your individual circumstances, what you're preparing for and so on. It may not make sense for you at all--you'll need to figure it out. I personally generally tend to prefer gold to silver for collapse-type purposes, mostly due to its portability--one ounce of gold contains a lot of wealth; a few coins in the pocket can do a lot of problem solving almost anywhere there's a quasi-functional market.

One thing to think about--an emergency fund is one of your most critical preps, and it can make a lot of sense to include some precious metals in the mix. Our family fund is currently about 25% precious metals and 75% cash.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Food Storage Recipe: Oatmeal Peanut Butter Balls

Original Article

It's important to try to find healthy, filling meals for your food storage plan.  I also think it's important to have snacks and treats in your food storage plan!  If you had to eat for three months only from your food storage, wouldn't you hope that you have something snack-y and tasty on hand?  I know I would.

My mother-in-law sent me this recipe a few months ago.  It's easy, quick, and my my kids loved it.  Trifecta!  (Unfortunately, I don't know where this recipe originally comes from so I can't give credit where credit is due.  If you know, please tell me!).

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Balls

½ cup creamy peanut butter (you could use any nut butter)
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon milk (use powdered milk & water)
1 cup quick oats
Cinnamon sugar

Combine the peanut butter, brown sugar, honey, cinnamon, milk, and oats.  

Roll your dough into bite-sized balls (about 20-25), then roll in cinnamon sugar to coat.  Chill for 15 minutes.

(I did not roll mine in cinnamon sugar and they still tasted great!  These would also be really good with mini chocolate chips!!)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

‘Teach’ Yourself Survival Skills

Original Article


So many times when I talk to people, be they friends or family or someone I just met, I am sometimes complimented on something I made, and they almost always follow with a , “Oh, I could never do that.” or “Oh, I don’t know how to do that.” For example, someone may comment that they don’t know how to make bread by hand or they don’t know how to sew. However, many times I also detect their desire to know how, or their enthusiasm to get started. One thing I can tell you is to take that first step. Get started!

Many folks want to get started in survival preparedness and prepping but they sometimes just don’t know where or how to begin. Well, here is an easy way to start.

First, assess your current situation. What supplies do you need to stock up on? What ‘skills’ do you already have? What skills would you like to learn?

Start writing down lists of things you need and things (skills) you should know how to do.

For example, sewing supplies…are you supplied? Everyone, men included, should have a basic sewing kit with their supplies and have the skill to know how to sew. Sewing a hem, a tear, or replacing a button that has fallen off are very easy sewing tasks that everyone should be able to do.

Food… do you have enough? Do you know how to cook? Do you have the basic skill to make basic bread from scratch? Do you know basic gardening and would you be able to successfully grow some of your own food? Do you know how to preserve different types of food? Do you know various food preservation methods and know how to do it successfully?

The important thing here is to Keep Educating Yourself! If there are skills you feel you need to learn, then get yourself taught.

Read a book on the subject.

Learn from a friend who already knows how.

Take one or two ‘Adult Education’ or ‘Adult Evening’ classes. They offer everything from cooking, to computer, to auto repair, to electrical, heating, welding, woodworking and health. Most counties charge anywhere from $30 to $40 for a class. Take your spouse, take your best friend and check them out. Ladies, these are all classes you can take. Learn how your car works and what you will be able to repair. Learn the basics of electricity around your house. Learn first aid. All of these are available through adult education, or the internet or buy a book. Teach yourself!

Don’t be afraid to start! Start by stocking up, and stocking up on your survival skills. The sooner you start, the better you will feel.

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

When the Grid Goes Down, You Better Be Ready!

Original Article

It is a fact that our country is more reliant on electrical power today than at any time in its history. Our way of life – from everyday conveniences and the security of local emergency services to commerce and communications – is contingent upon an always on, always available flow of electricity. But an aging infrastructure coupled with a rise in natural and man-made disasters threatens our entire modern day digital infrastructure. According to many experts from the private and public sector, we’re just one major catastrophic event away from a complete meltdown of life in America as we know it today.
So, what happens if and when the grid goes down for an extended period of time? Aside from the aggravation of not being able to determine what is happening through traditional media channels, for the Average Joe, his problems have only just begun. Our dependency to the grid doesn’t just stop at lack of electricity in our homes to power our appliances or an inability to charge our cell phones; it is much broader and affects every aspect of our lives.

We are regularly inundated with news reports covering outages that last several days or weeks resulting from inclement weather like snow storms or hurricanes, or heat waves in southern states that threaten to overload the system. During those times, when entire metropolitan areas or regions experience black outs, we get a glimpse into what a truly widespread emergency might look like. It is often the case that the first thing residents of affected areas do is rush to grocery and hardware stores hoping to acquire critical supplies like food, water, batteries, flashlights and generators. And while these supplies acquired at the onset of crisis may provide short term sustenance, any long-term grid-down situation that lasts for many weeks or months will prove dangerous, and perhaps fatal, to the unprepared.

Consider, for a moment, how drastically your life would change without the continuous flow of energy the grid delivers. While manageable during a short-term disaster, losing access to the following critical elements of our just-in-time society would wreak havoc on the system.
  • Challenges or shut downs of business commerce
  • Breakdown of our basic infrastructure: communications, mass transportation, supply chains
  • Inability to access money via atm machines
  • Payroll service interruptions
  • Interruptions in public facilities – schools, workplaces may close, and public gatherings.
  • Inability to have access to clean drinking water
Neil Swidey, in his article What If The Lights Go Out?,  indicates that the grid may be ill-equipped to meet all the enormous challenges it faces in this day and age.
The last widespread outage in the Northeast, the great blackout of August 2003, showed how intimately interconnected and alarmingly fragile our power grid is. How else to explain the way a problem starting in northeastern Ohio quickly cascaded into a blackout affecting 50 million people  across the northeastern United States and parts of Canada? How quickly? Between the moment a power surge came rushing out of Ohio and the moment Manhattan began to go dark, exactly 10 seconds had passed.
If our society is more reliant on power than at any time in history – without it, we’ve got no commerce, no communications, no clean water – and if power becomes less reliable in the future, the big question is: Will we be able to hack it?
THE TROUBLE with the future of power isn’t that there is one big problem that could croak us. It’s that there are a host of them, any one of which could croak us.
Neil Swidey has grouped these potential grid-down antagonizers into three categories:

1. Extreme Natural Disasters
This includes earthquakes, hurricanes, snow storms, thunderstorms as well as massive solar storms that have the potential to seriously damage the electrical grid. You don’t think it could happen? In the article provided above, the author states, “It took just 90 seconds for a 1989 solar storm to cause the collapse of the Hydro-Quebec power grid, leaving 6 million Canadians without power for up to nine hours. A 2008 NASA-funded report noted the risk of significant damage to our interconnected grid in light of the forecast for increased solar activity. The 11-year solar cycle is expected to peak in 2013, and just two weeks ago we saw one of the biggest solar-radiation storms in years.

2. Acts of Terrorists
This category includes, but is not limited to a physical attack on the bulk power system, either at its source of generation or somewhere along its transmission route, cyber attack on the computers controlling our interconnected grid, electro-magnetic pulse, or EMP, weapon. Have you read One Second After by William R. Forstchen? EMP’s will create long-lasting damage that would incapacitate electronic systems across the country and forever change our way of life. Cyber-threats are another concern and someone with serious hacking skills could easily take out computers, networks or information stored therein to cause lasting damage to our way of life.

3. The Ailing Grid
Our ailing power grid is almost as sick as our failing economy. With one malicious event, be it man made or by natural means, it is down. Swidey compares the grid infrastructure  to being as old and stooped as a pensioner. As it is upgraded and its capacity is expanded, our rapacious need for more electrical power races to max it out once again.
A wide-spread emergency, such as a massive power surge, solar flare or rogue electromagnetic pulse (EMP) detonation have the capacity to render our entire power infrastructure useless. Transformers and other key elements on which the grid depends could be permanently damaged as a result of massive electric surges.
In an event such as this our immediate problem will be finding a way to order, manufacture and take delivery of the components needed to replace the faulty ones. Most of the parts made for our electrical grid are made in China – and many are decades old. According to Congressman Roscoe Bartlett, who recently warned people to get their families out of major cities because of concerns about the stability of the grid, it would take months to get the parts shipped to this country and replaced.

During the outage, millions would be adversely affected, with some like Frank Gaffney, president of the Center for Security Policy, suggesting that within a year 9 out of 10 Americans would be dead from starvation, disease and violence.

Ladies and gentleman, if there’s one thing that can cause the veritable “S” to hit the fan, this is it.
So how do we remedy and/or prepare for a grid down scenario? Think retro – like pioneer retro- and by that we have to go way back to when we were not so dependent on the luxury of on-demand energy in its various forms. When preparing for a grid-down scenario, we must comprise different contingency plans for short-term and longer-term issues. That being the case, we have to admit to ourselves that it could last longer than we expect and much more than just a minor inconvenience. Therefore, the best way to prepare is to start with your basic needs. That is the need for light, heat, water, and food. Some preparedness items to stock up on are:
  • Alternative fuel sources such as solar and diesel, wood for burning.
  • Food preservation supplies – dehydrators, canners, smokers, fermenting/pickling supplies. To learn more, click here.
  • Bulk food – Canned, freeze-dried, dehydrated or dry goods.
  • Water filtration supplies, rain harvesting supplies and large quantities of stored water.
  • Light sources: Lanterns, flashlights, candles and matches and alternative light sources
  • Batteries and chargers
  • Emergency stove – solar oven, rocket stove, camping stoves, etc.
  • Wood burning fire place – Central air heating systems, even if they use natural gas or propane, depend on electricity for the blower that will circulate the heated air. When the grid is down, this system will not work. Having a wood burning fire place is an alternative to central heating systems.
  • Cash money and/or silver or gold currency.
The vulnerability of our grid is nothing new to preppers. Some have seen this problem coming for a long time and changed their entire ways of life by going off-grid. They have found alternative sources such as solar, wind and diesel to power their homes and machinery. A majority of us, who have not gone off-grid, are making a concerted effort to avoid dependence on this ailing infrastructure and preparing for life without it. That being said, all we can do is stay the course, prepare accordingly and continue on.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Know Multiple Routes ‘Out’

Original Article


How many driving routes do you know from your place of work to home? How many driving routes do you know should you have to evacuate from your city or town or workplace? How many roads along these routes are major roads traveled by the majority of others?

Why is this important?

Because during a time of disaster, emergency or evacuation, you, along with most others will be sharing the same roads together, and they very well may be clogged or impassible.

Face it, we are all creatures of habit, including the routes and roads that we travel on a regular basis. During ‘normal’ times, commuting to and from work can be busy enough as it is – but imagine it magnified by a disaster situation where nearly everyone is scrambling to get out at once.

Nearly everyone will instinctively head out to the same roads that they normally travel. You however may have the opportunity to outsmart them all, having previously planned several routes out of your location, roads that are less traveled and are off the beaten trail, so to speak.

What should you look for or focus on while planning out alternative routes?
  • Roads that are not traveled by the main stream.
  • Don’t be too concerned if your alternative route is longer than your normally traveled route.
  • Neighborhood streets that zig-zag their way alongside main roads may serve you better.
  • Avoid routes with bottlenecks of roads which come together at major traveled intersections.
  • Roads with fewer traffic signals may be better.
  • There are often lesser known ‘shortcuts’ through the countryside, older roads which once were main routes and have mostly become forgotten.
  • GPS can be great, but be sure to keep street-level maps of your region.

You should discover these alternative routes, and then drive them once in a while. Not only will it be a nice change of scenery, but you will be assured of multiple ways out if you have to evacuate.

Be Prepared. If you enjoyed this, or topics of current events risk awareness and survival preparedness, click here to check out our current homepage articles…

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Monday, February 20, 2012

Organization, A Survival Skill

Original Article


I recently used a survivor skill to the maximum.

As many of you know, Ken and I have recently moved several weeks ago. My skill that rose to the surface was ‘organization‘. I have always been an organized person in pretty much every aspect of my life. When it came to packing up the home of two preppers, organization was the key.

For those of you that have never done this, put on your imagination caps. Not willing to part with most of our survival supplies, they mostly all had to get packed, except for that which we donated to others (our 27 foot cargo trailer could only fit so much). Now, imagine if you will, having to pack all of your supplies along with everything else in your home. Imagine packing all of your food. Your freeze dried foods, canned foods, 50 lb. bags of grain, buckets of food, etc. all need to fit in your moving trailer. Your survival cooking supplies and fuels, materials and camping supplies all need to fit in the trailer. And don’t forget your gardening supplies, and your tools. Your medical supplies…I could go on and on.

This is why being organized helped in a big way. Our supplies were very well organized, by type, by product and by expiration dates if there were any. Now the question came to mind: how to pack them all in the moving trailer. Answer: plastic bins and heavy duty cardboard boxes.

I have got to tell you all that we love those heavy duty plastic storage bins you can buy at the stores. They can be a little costly, but if you purchase them on sale, you do okay. We prefer the see-through clear plastic bins because you can see what the majority of the bin contents are by a quick look. They come in all different sizes so they can accommodate almost everything you have to pack. And they are nicely stack-able.

These bins helped to keep our supplies organized and they also helped prevent any of our supplies from being damaged during travel. There are nice heavy duty double-thick cardboard boxes that you can purchase at Home Depot. I assigned each box a ‘letter combination’. The ‘letters’ and corresponding box contents were written down in a separate notebook that became our moving ‘bible’.

Now we are here at our temporary home that we are leasing for 6 months. Soon we will have purchased our own survival retreat and we’ll be moving again. But until that happens, our supplies are in their plastic bins ready and accessible should we need them, yet they are still ‘packed’ waiting for the next move!

Be Prepared. If you enjoyed this, or topics of current events risk awareness and survival preparedness, click here to check out our current homepage articles…

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Sunday, February 19, 2012

More Library Resources

Original Article

The LDS Folks Have Great Information

A gentleman named Christopher M. Parrett at put together the LDS Preparedness Manual and has made it available for free or "at cost" distribution on his site.  I thank him for his efforts and generosity.

For your convenience, I've added the LDS Preparedness Manual to my page of Library Resources.  You can download it here.

This manual is over 200 pages of valuable information.  The first section is LDS-specific information relating preparedness to their beliefs and teachings.  The rest is solid prepper info.  Some of the highlights include checklists, info about long term storage and regular grocery store food, emergency gear and equipment, and terrorism.  It's a great way to introduce friends and loved ones to the idea of prepping without scaring them or making them think you are a Walter Mitty type.  "Read this handbook, Uncle Joe.  You know, those Mormons teach that their members ought to keep emergency food and supplies on hand.  That's probably pretty good advice for everyone."

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Do You Really Have What it Takes? Adaptability?

Original Article


The other afternoon I was again reading all of the wonderful comments I received regarding my post “I am a Survivor”. As I was thankful for all of your prayers, well wishes and supplemental advice, all of a sudden it hit me! It was surprise. Surprise is what I was detecting from many of the comments. “Keep up your strength”, “God will not give you a test that you can not overcome through faith in him.” “Just continue to get better.” and “My hat’s off to you and Ken for being strong, smart (preppers), people. How in the world he managed to take care of the blog and see to his hero, and you have to be his hero after all that, is beyond me.”
So here is what hit me…Adaptability. Ken and I are adaptable which is one of our traits that helped us get through this past year. “The definition of adaptability is: something or someone that can change according to need or environment. Adaptability shows the ability to learn from experience, and improves the fitness of the learner as a competitor.”

Then I realized as I gave it a little thought, that being adaptable is a huge survivor/prepper trait. Think about it, if you are not adaptable at all, chances are, you will not survive when the SHTF. Many times you may hear that when a catastrophe happens, it will only take about 3 days for people to run out of food. Many people are not adaptable enough to either have stored their own extra food or will they have grown their own food.

This is when the panic will set in. Groups of scared, hungry and panicked people will start pillaging grocery stores. Either buying or stealing, depending on the situation, the last supplies of food will be disappearing. They will break into the homes of other people trying to take what they can. How adaptable can you be in a situation like this? Will you be stocked? Will you have a ‘bug out’ plan? Will you bug out or will fear take over you and make you hide in your home? Will you help people or turn them away?

Can you “change according to need or environment”? You may be surprised at what you may or may not be capable of doing when a SHTF scenario actually hits. Adaptability was a trait that really came to the forefront last year during my time of illness and surgeries. Given a choice, I think I would have chosen not to have surgeries, but not having a choice regarding the surgeries, I made the only choice available to me. I would adapt, adjust and deal with my situation. It was a new path our Lord had put me on and I could handle it.

I guess what I am trying to say is that until you are confronted with real catastrophe, how do you really know what you will do? Unless you have been through a life threatening scenario how will you really know? If you had a home destroyed by a flood or a tornado, what did you do? What was your reaction? (your adaptability) Also very important is, what did you learn from your experience? IF it happens again, would you do anything differently?

Another situation that comes to mind is what I saw during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Please understand that I realize that was a terrible catastrophe, destructive and deadly, but here’s my thing. If I were there when that happened, I can tell you that we would’ve grabbed our bug out bags and found a way out of there, be it by an improvised boat, swimming, or  walking. Talk about a lack of adaptability, this is what I saw on TV all the time. I saw lines of people literally waiting for the government to help them. Waiting for the government to help them! I never really saw anyone walking or making it to a neighboring town. I think these people truly had no clue about what to do. Point being, we will be in big trouble when SHTF, so please be ready physically and mentally.

Be Prepared. If you enjoyed this, or topics of current events risk awareness and survival preparedness, click here to check out our current homepage articles…

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Friday, February 17, 2012

What Is The Best Survival Preparedness Item?

Original Article


One answer to the question, “What is the best prep item to have?” is… drum-roll please… BLEACH.

Your reaction may be one of surprise since I didn’t say a firearm, a hoard of rice and beans, gold or silver coins, or any other number of the nearly infinite preparedness supplies that one may choose to acquire first. The fact is however, when examining what it is that we need most to survive, the answer is WATER.
While our body gets much of its water from the foods that we eat, the fact is that we cannot survive without water for much longer than 72 hours. This is a cold hard fact that many or most people take for granted or perhaps don’t even know about.

When determining a priority for what to acquire first for general survival preparedness needs, the logical choice is a method of acquiring clean drinking water. Since in most areas of the country water is not terribly difficult to find (exempt drought areas and deserts), a key element to the water you procure is its cleanliness and disinfection of bacteria and pathogens.

Common non-scented household bleach contains chlorine bleach (sodium hypochlorite) in a 5 – 6% concentration and has the ability to kill bacteria and germs in water during any questionable situation including a disaster scenario where the existing water may become contaminated.

The main ingredient in public water supplies that is used to keep the water safe, is chlorine. Following a major disaster, the public water supply may become contaminated. Having household bleach on hand will assure you of the ability to disinfect your water.

Bleach will of course NOT remove sediment or harmful chemicals from a water source, however it WILL kill off harmful pathogens in the water. If you do not have a means of boiling water, using a small amount of chlorine bleach will kill pathogens, germs, and bacteria.

How do I use chlorine bleach to disinfect water?

1. Remove suspended particles by filtering or letting particles settle to the bottom. Pour clear water into a clean container.
2. Add 8 drops of Regular-Bleach to one gallon of water (2 drops to 1 quart). For cloudy water, use 16 drops per gallon of water (4 drops to 1 quart).
3. Let treated water to stand for 30 minutes. Water should have a slight bleach odor. If not, repeat and wait another 15 minutes. The treated water can then be made palatable by pouring it between clean containers several times.

A perfect companion for Bleach as a preparedness item is a quality drinking water filter. Personally, I prefer the Big Berkey for homestead living, while there are also many additional smaller or portable quality filters available.

How long will Bleach hold its potency? About one year. After a year, the potency will be reduced, not eliminated. Rotate your bleach products as a precaution.

Be Prepared. If you enjoyed this, or topics of current events risk awareness and survival preparedness,

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Survival Food: Fat Sources For a SHTF Diet

Original Article

Did you know that we need a daily intake of fat in our diet to survive? Despite what health organizations say about eliminating fats from our diet, in a SHTF reality, this food source will actually serve a purpose in our survival.

Fats are one of the four main food sources that should be in your food pantry. The others are: carbohydrates, proteins and vitamins and minerals. Bear in mind, a 2,000 calorie per day diet equals 67 grams fat and 75 grams protein per day. 30-35 percent of those calories should come from a fat source. No matter how afraid we are of fats, having substantial fat sources in our storage is vital. Here’s why:
  1. Fats are an essential component in any diet for proper vitamin absorption. Specifically, Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble, meaning they can only be digested, absorbed, and transported in conjunction with fats.
  2. Fats also plays a vital role in maintaining healthy skin and hair, insulating body organs against shock, maintaining body temperature, and promoting healthy cell function.
  3. They also serve as energy stores for the body.
  4. Fats are also sources of essential fatty acids, which are an important dietary requirement and also serves as a useful buffer towards a host of diseases. (Source)
  5. Fats are one of the 4 Things You Must Eat To Avoid Malnutrition.
The following are some fat source considerations for you to add to your short and long-term food storage:
  • Infant formula – Baby formula doesn’t have to be used the way it was intended. The main source of fat in formulas is vegetable oil such as soy oil, palm oil or sunflower oil. Coconut oil is also used in some baby formulas. This would be a great item to store in case you need to fall back on it as a fat source. The only drawback of storing formula, is its short shelf life.  An unopened can of powdered infant formula has a shelf life of 12 months. Once a can of formula has been opened, it should be used within a month and then discarded.
  • Ensure – This supplement drink has 6 grams of fat, which provides your body with 9 percent of the recommended daily intake. It is also packed with 24 essential vitamins which would be beneficial to you in a long-term emergency. If you decide to purchase this product, get the powdered canned version, the shelf life will last longer. Further, having this type of supplemental drink can also help an elderly family members or members of the family who are becoming vitamin deficient. Plan on a can of powdered Ensure to last the same as a can of infant formula, which is roughly about 12 months.
  • Oil (preferably plant based oils) – A general rule of thumb is the darker the oil the faster it will turn. Also, certain oils like sesame and flax, which are not processed heavily, will also go rancid rather quickly. A light colored oil, such as vegetable or olive oil can last up to a year, if stored properly. Once it’s opened, the oil could turn within a matter of weeks or months depending on how it was processed and the storage environment.
  • Peanut butter – Peanut butter has a shelf life of 1 year. Of course, if your family is anything like mine, peanut butter flies off the storage shelf.
  • Nuts and seeds -  Because of the high oil content in nuts and seeds their shelf life is usually affected. Nuts and seeds typically last about 12 months. Therefore, planting your own or learning to forage in a natural environment can help you get some additional fats in your survival diet. Further, nuts can also be utilized as a flour alternative as well as a  milk alternative, thus making it a tasty substitute for the real thing.
  • Crisco – A can of Crisco, is fairly cheap, and has a shelf life of 2-8 years depending on storage conditions. Though it is on the “naughty” list as far as unhealthy foods go, it can be useful in a shtf scenario. Aside from including it in your diet, you can also use the Crisco as an alternative oil source for lanterns and has also been known to help wet wood burn.
  • Mayonnaise – Many of our favorite dishes have a douse or two of mayonnaise. Mayonnaise has a relatively short shelf life of 6 months. Therefore, if you plan to stock up on this, ensure that it is frequently rotated in your food supply. Of course, if you have all the ingredients at home, you can make your own with this basic recipe.
  • Salad dressing – Having some salad dressings stored can help add some zest and flavor to your emergency recipes. Salad dressing lasts anywhere from 9-12 months.
  • Canned goods – Some canned meats, such as spam, fish and canned ham can also provide an adequate source of fat for your survival diet. Due to the high salt content of some of these canned meats, they have a relatively long shelf life of anywhere between 2-5 years.
  • Chocolate- I had to save the best for last! Although chocolate is considered a high-calorie, high-fat food, it does provide some health benefits as well. Most of the studies done used no more than 100 grams, or about 3.5 ounces, of dark chocolate a day to get the benefits. Studies have shown that dark chocolate lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels as well as provides more antioxidants than blueberries. A chocolate has a shelf life of 12 months, however, if the chocolate is repackaged in Mylar or stored in a plastic container, it could last much longer.
Storing fats are good for short-term emergencies, however if you are planning for extended or long-term emergencies, it is advised to get your fat sources by natural means. The following list are fat sources that one can get living in a homesteading environment and most importantly, your health will be far better off:
  • Whole milk - Milk from animals can provide essential fats to our diets, and can also be used for cooking, making cheeses and other dishes.
  •  Eggs -  Eggs have 5 grams of fat per egg. I am including this in the list as I believe that fresh eggs would provide an adequate amount of calories, protein and fat if consumed on a regular basis.
  • Fatty fish -  If you have a water source on your property, consider stocking it with a fish source. Many homesteaders have found great success in stocking their ponds with : Tilapia, Channel and Blue Catfish, Hybrid Stripers, Largemouth Bass, Trout, Bluegill, and Freshwater Shrimp. Other sources of fatty fish are: salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, trout, and sardines. Ensure that you have fishing gear to get those fish with.
  • Fresh animal fats from animals. Livestock, wild animals can be used as a source of fat. These natural fats can be rendered for other uses or preserved through canning to have a natural source of fat on hand.
  • Nut trees – Look for the dwarf variety of nut trees (and fruit trees). Dwarf trees bear their fruit earlier than the standard varieties, and can produce higher yields in a shorter period of time. They have also been known to be more adaptable. Mother Earth News has a great article if you are interesting in learning more.
  • Fruit trees – Specifically avocado and olive trees provide a substantial amount of healthy fats for the body. Obviously, the following examples are region specific and prefer a Mediterranean-like climate, however check with the USDA zoning map to see if you can can plant them in your area. Living in the coastal South, I have seen many gardeners who have grown avocado trees.
It’s time we got smart about our food storage. We must go beyond storing beans and rice and begin researching the best types of foods to store and why they are so important. Keep the USDA food pyramid in mind and start prepping!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Preparedness Quick Tip: Keep Shoes By The Bed

Original Article

Something’s wrong in the middle of the night. You hear strange noises, or smell smoke, or there’s an earthquake. You need to get up and get moving and FAST is the key. Are you going to evacuate your house barefoot? Over the lava rock bed outside your window? Or in a foot of snow in the winter?

Where are your shoes? If there is always a pair of easy-to-get-on shoes by your bed you’ll have your feet protected and be able to get out of there a lot faster. Sure, if the house was on fire and I didn’t have my shoes nearby I’d get out in my bare feet. But I could sure get farther faster with something to protect my feet.  Even some flip flops or a sturdy pair of slippers would be better than nothing.  Next to the bed, under the bed, whatever works for you, keep a pair of shoes that you can get on your feet fast and easy to get you out of the house and on your way as quickly as possible while protecting your feet from glass, rocks, snow, toys, and whatever else is underfoot.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Spring Fatigue: Should I Store Magazines Fully Loaded?

Original Article

ammo magazine
Ok, you’ve decided that buying a handgun for personal and home defense is a good idea. (I’ll leave the discussion about the best weapon for home defense to another post.) You’ve taken the necessary training, you’ve practiced at the range, and you’ve attended the requisite Concealed Carry Permit course and passed the test.
Now you can legally wield your firearm.
And you take it seriously too. You take proper care of your semi-automatic buddy. You visit the range regularly and always clean your weapon afterward. You even have more than one magazine for it and you clean those as well.
Is there anything else, you ask? Then a friend tells you that you need to rotate your magazine to fend off spring fatigue. What?!? What is this spring fatigue and is it something that you need to worry about?

What is Spring Fatigue?

Let’s first define define a couple of terms to make sure that we are all talking about the same thing. What your friend is referring to as “spring fatigue” is not technically spring fatigue. What he is really talking about is sometimes called “creep.”
Creep is a slow degradation in the strength of a metal used in a spring such that over time it loses its elastic capabilities. The concern expressed by your friend is that the constant compression of the spring will cause it to eventually deform to the point where it cannot adequately push the next round into the firing chamber, causing a misfire. But there is also something called “spring fatigue.”
Spring fatigue happens when you repeatedly compress and release a spring. Over time, the “cycling” of the spring from a compressed state to a relatively uncompressed state will weaken the spring in area where there may be tiny imperfections in the metal. How quickly this may happen depends on the type of metal used and the frequency of cycles.

Should I Worry?

worried about spring fatigueI’ve asked this question myself. I’ve done research online. I’ve asked friends who have made a living using semi-automatic weapons for their experiences. And I’ve satisfied myself with the following answer.
However, I will admit that what I haven’t done is my own empirical testing. I haven’t taking a spring loaded magazine and kept in compressed for 3 years and compared its performance to an identical magazine that hasn’t been stored fully loaded. I’ll leave that testing to you; I’ve satisfied my own concerns with the research used to find the following information.

Spring Creep

Spring creep does indeed happen, just not in the normal wear and tear of a semiautomatic magazine. Spring creep is usually a concern under extreme conditions. When the spring is compressed or expanded beyond its normal range, creep can happen. Compressing a spring stretching it beyond what it was designed to handle, will indeed, cause the spring to deform. Magazine manufacturers have anticipated and calculated the range of motion of their springs and have designed the magazines to limit that range of motion.
Spring creep can also be accelerated under very high temperatures. This causes the metal in the spring to behave differently and narrows the range of effective operation of the spring. Once again, this is not at concern for most handgun owners.

Spring Fatigue

Spring fatigue, on the other hand, is something that can happen during the course of normal use of a handgun. Notice I said normal use, not normal storage. Spring fatigue (remember that’s degradation in performance of a spring due to the repeated cycling from the compressed to uncompressed state and back again) does happen over time.
When you go to the firing range and put 250 rounds through the handgun using a single magazine, you are contributing to spring fatigue. But, assuredly, it’s not imminent. A good, quality magazine is designed to last for many, many cycles before spring fatigue begins to set in.

What to Do?

I’ve satisfied myself that spring creep is not an issue. I’ve also determined that spring fatigue may be in the long run but I’m not losing sleep over it.
What I’ve done: I’ve purchased multiple magazines for each semiautomatic handgun and rifle/carbine that I own. I keep ammunition stored in the magazines. I typically store one or even two less than the capacity of the magazine. For example, if the magazine hold 15, I’ll only put 13 in to make sure I’m not approaching the spring creep threshold. This is probably not necessary though. When I target practice, I use all of the magazines in a round robin manner.
That’s my take on it. You do what you feel is best. It certainly won’t hurt anything to rotate your magazines, keeping half of them loaded and the other half resting empty. But I personally don’t believe that it will necessarily help anything either.
What’s your take? Do you store your magazines loaded? Or do you rotate them? 

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    Monday, February 13, 2012

    Maple Syrup - Natures Sugar Substitute

    Maple trees with taps and buckets for collecti...Image via Wikipedia

    Original Article

    On a recent trip to my local country hardware store, I noticed that the maple syrup tapping supplies have come to the shelves. For those of us who strive to be as self reliant as possible, tapping a few maple trees can be a great way to put up some sugar. Maple syrup is a fantastic sugar replacement when baking, not to mention a fantastic treat on pancakes or ice cream.

    The process of tapping trees & boiling down the sap really isn't that hard. The real issue is the volume of sap needed to get to useable syrup. The average tree will produce you enough sap to make about a pint or so of syrup during the entire season. Trees with a diameter of less than 10 inches should not be tapped and those with a diameter of more than 16 inches can be tapped twice. Many maple producers now advocate no more than 2 taps per tree, although very large maples were regularly taped as many as 4 times in the past.

    The actual taps are relatively inexpensive. I recommend metal taps as opposed to the new plastic types for durability. Metal taps with a good enough quality for the average home producer can be found for less than $2.00. I would suggest tapping at least a dozen trees to make it worth while. Of course, I would also suggest buying more taps than you use to have some spares on hand for future tapping of more trees or replacement of broken taps.

    To tap a tree, simply drill a 5/16" hole about 2" deep at an ever so slightly upward angle, at about 2' from the ground. Next, lightly pound your tap into the hole with the spout out and downward. After that, hang a bucket on the hook that is attached to the tap, cover and wait for the sap to pour out. Actually, it doesn't pour, but drips. A 2 gallon bucket may take about a day to fill, faster if the conditions are perfect. You can buy sap buckets where you bought the taps, but I like to use 2 gallon buckets that I get from the local grocery store bakery. I simply cut a hole in the lid for the sap to drip into and hang it on the hook.

    Tap your trees in the spring when the temperatures hit 5 or 6 deg. cel. in the day and below freezing at night. Daily make the tour of your tapped trees to collect the sap into one or more 5 gallon buckets. Next will be the boiling down process, which although simple enough, there are a few things you need to watch out for.

    You will need a pot large enough to boil in. You can also purchase a boiling pan, but any stock pot not made of aluminum will do. Next, add heat, lots and lots of gentle heat over a long period of time. Boiling your sap into syrup will take several hours. The first few hours, you are only boiling off water, so not much attention is needed. After the water is nearly gone however, you need to start paying attention a bit more. A thick, white foam will appear on the surface which must be skimmed off a discarded. At this point, your syrup may have a tendancy to boil up or even over. To avoid this, you can lower the heat a bit or add a drop of cream. Keep a candy thermometer in the syrup and when it hits 219 deg.F...voila! For those of us at higher altitudes, add 1 deg. for every 500ft. above sea level. Be careful not to over boil your syrup, boiling too long can quickly spoil your batch. Better to under do it a bit than over do it.

    Pouring hot syrup into hot, sterilized mason jars and sealing them should keep your syrup for many months. You can use maple syrup in baking breads, muffins, and all sorts of recipes, thus reducing your dependancy on store bought, refined sugar.

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    Sunday, February 12, 2012

    Audio Podcast Episode-833- David Consolvo on Establishing and Growing a Survival Orchard

    English: Podcast or podcasting icon Fran├žais :...Image via Wikipedia

    Original Article

    Note – At times there is a lot of distortion on David’s end in this interview. I never head it during the recording. It isn’t constant please excuse the few occurrences as the content of the show is exceptional. David … Continue reading →

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    Saturday, February 11, 2012

    Nine Great Emergency Light Sources Other Than Flashlights

    Original Article

    So the lights go out and you feel around to get the flashlight that you had stashed in its secure location on top of the refrigerator (stepping on somebody’s blocks and toy soldiers in the dark on the way) and to your horror you find that your handy flashlight isn’t there! Someone used it and didn’t put it back.  So you stumble through your house to your bathroom and find the flashlight you keep there with dead batteries.  Yep, this actually happened at my house once.

    Fortunately, I believe in having a backup plan, and usually a backup to that backup plan, so what else can you use to get some light in your house while the power is out?  Here are 9 great emergency light sources when you’re not using your trusty flashlight.  And for the purpose of this post, I’m excluding everything that works like a flashlight (headlamp, keychain lights, crank/shake powered flashlights, etc.).

    1. Any backlit electronic device you have handy. Your cell phone, laptop, tablet computer, mp3 player, even an indiglo wristwatch will give off enough light to get you to another light source. There are cell phones equipped with a flashlight, but just the glowing face gets you a good amount of light to go by.

    2.  Lighter.  Your lighter isn’t going to put out enough light to eat dinner by, but it can get you enough light to find another source of light.  This is the first of a few of our light sources that are an open flame.  Of course use caution and don’t use the open flame lights if there’s a possibility your gas line is leaking, if you’re going to fall asleep, or around other flammable objects.  You all know that, right?  Okay, on with the list.

    3.  Candles. Keep a few somewhere you’ll be able to get to them fairly easily. Don’t bury your box of candles out in the shed under a bunch of other boxes. Keep some in the house ready to be lit for emergency light.

    4.  Fire.  This works outside of course, but if you have a fireplace or wood/coal stove in your house, you can use it to get some light going.  And a good fire will also give you heat which you may be needing with no power.

    5. Light sticks. These are great for the kids for a morale boost. They put out a fair amount of light, but are a one time use product, so you’ll want a handful of them on hand if you’re planning on using them frequently or for much light.
    6.  Gas stove.  The flame from a gas stove isn’t very “bright”–it burns mostly blue flame, and it’s not at all portable, but it is a source of light.
    7.  Oil lamps.  You can use these with lamp oil, cooking oil, or kerosene.  Oil lamps can be purchased at camping type stores or online, or if you’re crafty you can make your own.

    8. Solar outdoor path lights.. The kind on a stick that light up your walk at night. These are awesome. They come in varying strengths, and they don’t require any fuel or batteries–just put them outside during the day and bring them in at night for some easy lighting. You probably already own some.

    9. Camping lantern. These are the lanterns that use Coleman type fuel either in a pressurized tank or in the screw on bottles. They put out a lot of light. Make sure you have fuel and extra mantles if your lamp requires them. There are camping lanterns that are battery powered as well. These lanterns are great for lighting entire rooms.

    There you go.  No reason to go about living in the dark even if all your flashlight batteries are dead.  Enjoy some light with one of these alternate emergency lighting sources.

    Thursday, February 9, 2012

    Survival Book: The Doom and Bloom Survival Medicine Handbook

    Original Article

    survival, medicine, first aid, medical, treatment, SHTF, TSHTF, TEOTWAWKI, preparedness, Dr. Jones, Nurse Amy

    Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy from the Doom and Bloom Hour (podcast) have just recently released a new book which is sure to find its place   in many preparedness libraries.
    I am ordering this book this week and will review shortly.

    The Doom and Bloom Survival Medicine Handbook - summary:

    The Doom and Bloom™ Survival Medicine Handbook is a no-nonsense, no-frills guide to keeping your family healthy in any situation, from storms to a complete societal collapse.  This book will give you the tools to deal effectively with the most likely medical issues you’ll encounter in a grid-down situation, or any circumstance where medical help is NOT on the way! 

    The Doom and Bloom™ Survival Medicine Handbook will also tell you how to obtain needed medications for your medical supplies, and what natural substances in your environment could take the place of modern pharmaceuticals in the event they’re no longer being produced.  We tell you the truth about expiration dates, and buck the conventional medical wisdom when we have to. 
    This book also conducts a practical suturing lab; it will tell you what wounds should be sutured and what wounds shouldn’t, and shows you a step-by-step process to close lacerations with step by step images. You can even follow along on YouTube with our video:  How to Suture with Dr. Bones.

    Medical treatment information is often overlooked by many preppers.  This book looks to be a great source to help assist those interested in survival & preparedness prepare their medical contingency plans.
    For more information – visit and check the book out on Amazon.

    Take care all -

    © 2012, All rights reserved.

    Wednesday, February 8, 2012

    5 Steps To Financial Survival

    Original Article


    Stop Borrowing. Stop the bleeding. Regardless of your current debt, you must (I mean, must) stop sinking further in debt. You will not be able to change anything until you stop spending borrowed money. Period. It is THE most important thing to do first.

    Trim Your Budget. Simplify the budget analysis by being honest with yourself. Chances are that there are only one or two categories where you tend to break the budget. Think about it. You know what they are… Maybe you go out to eat too much. Maybe you buy too many clothes. Maybe you spend too much on gadgetry. The point is, instead of over-analyzing your budget, simply STOP spending too much on the categories you know to be your weakness. It takes will power.
    Save. Even though there is relatively little interest paid on cash savings these days, this is no excuse not to save. As you begin to save a few dollars here and there, your motivation will grow as your cash stash grows. Instead of creating more debt, you will be creating more cash! Don’t spend every extra dollar on paying off your debts. Instead use some of it to build up a savings of cash.

    Expect the Unexpected. A common area where people tend to go into debt is in the category of emergency expenses. This is where having a savings of cash will provide insurance against falling back into debt. Expect things to happen, such as the unplanned car expense or home appliance repair or replacement. Unexpected expenses ALWAYS happen. Save for them.

    Plan for Future Expenses. Rather than letting known future expenses catch up with you, which often send people back into debt, plan instead for them. Use simple math. If you know that you will likely need a replacement vehicle in 2 years, and you are planning to purchase a used-car for $7,000, then $7,000/24 months equals nearly $300 per month that you need to save ahead of time. Budget for it. Money to purchase things that you will need to replace or purchase in the future WILL NOT fall into your lap. You must save for it, or go into debt when you need it.

    I believe that one of the biggest problems today with those that are in debt is the lack of understanding that you cannot simply spend all of your paycheck or income each month (or week – whatever). There will always be significant expenses that will unexpectedly slam into you throughout life. You must plan for this by facing the reality that you need to set aside a portion of your take-home income for the future. This notion goes against the programming of ‘the system’, which deluges you with advertising and pressures to buy-buy-buy, however it is a false notion, one that will make you a slave.
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