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Friday, August 31, 2012

Audio Podcast: Episode-950- 8 More Unusual or Underated Crops for the Homestead

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Original Article

Sometimes you just get a bit tired of all the negative things going on out there.  Mid summer seems like some of the worst of those days, hot long days filled with news of encroachment on liberty, economic doom and … Continue reading
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How to Trap Fish

Original Article

Making Fish traps

In surf, shallow areas, and small streams it is possible to trap fish.  Before you decide to set up a fish trap, understand that it requires effort.  Are the calories you expend making the trap worth the calories you gain from the fish?  If you are going to be in an area several days, a fish trap is probably a good idea.  Remember that a fish trap will be visible to others.  Fish traps are currently against the law and should only be used in a life or death situation.
A fish trap consists of a series of sticks or rocks laid in a pattern that traps the fish.  You build a corral with a funnel leading into it.  When you have fish trapped, block the entrance and either club the fish, or catch them with your hands.  If you get a large amount of fish in the trap, you can leave them caged up until you are ready to eat them. This is a good way of preserving the fish
Remember that in large streams and lakes, fish migrate into the shallows along the banks in the early morning and evening to feed.
The trap can be build to block a small stream completely.  The tidal fish trap is the best choice for these conditions.  Wade in upstream and herd the fish downstream into the trap.
In the ocean schools of fish approach the shore at high tide and travel along the shore.  Set your traps when the tide is out.  The v-type trap works well under these conditions.  Set your trap so that the wide opening of the v faces shore.  It will trap fish as the tide goes out.
Use natural rock pools, sand banks or other natural features whenever possible.  There are all kinds of things you can use to make a fish trap.  Netting made from old clothes or sacking will work.  The water needs to be able to flow through the material and the holes need to be small enough to trap the fish.
It has been a long time since I have had a chance to make a fish trap.  I wanted to make one and photograph it for this article, but unfortunately it is against the law around here and I don’t need that kind of trouble.  See the following diagram for an example of a fish trap.
A simple trap made out of rock for use along the ocean. Build it while the tide is out. The fish will come in when the tide is in and get trapped as the tide goes out.
Simple tidal trap made from sticks. When build in a stream, the v should face upstream. The fish swim in have trouble finding their way out. To keep fish alive in it merely block the entrance.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Pros and Cons of Storing and Using Wheat

Original Article

Wheat is one of the easiest and cheapest foods to store.  It provides lots of calories and good nutrients.

 If you are gluten intolerant, you will want to store different types of grains.  Under the right
conditions, wheat stores well for many years.  Wheat found in the tomes of the Egyptian Pharaohs still sprouted.

There are several different types of wheat, but the best for storage is the hard red or hard white spring or winter wheat.  Hard wheat’s are small hard grains with a higher protein value (12-14% protein).  They make excellent bread because they tend to have high gluten content.  Wheat for storage should contain less than 10% moisture.

I have been involved with storing wheat for over 45 years.  My parents still have wheat that is in good shape that has been stored in metal friction topped 5 gallon cans since the 1960’s.  At that time, the only attempt they made at preserving it was to put bay leaves in the cans.  This wheat has been stored under low temperatures.

More recently improved methods of storage have been developed; my personal favorite is to use metal cans or Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers.  There is a post on canning grains at the following link .  At there is an post on sealing grains in Mylar bags.  Both of these posts will be useful if you are storing wheat.

I strongly recommend that you store wheat as wheat berries and not as flour.  The shelf life of flour is much shorter and it loses it nutrients much quicker.

Most people think mainly of bread when thinking of ways to use wheat flour, in reality there are numerous ways to use whole wheat.  Esther Dickey’s book Passport to Survival has over 100 recipes made from wheat.  This includes making a meal substitute similar to TVP from gluten.  Wheat can also be sprouted into wheat grass to provide vitamin C.  You will need to have a wheat grinder.  Get a good quality one.

If you are storing wheat, I strongly suggest that you use it in your everyday diet.  A sudden shift to a large amount of wheat in your diet can play havoc with your digestive system.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Few Corks in Your Supplies

Original Article

Today we were using a borrowed cooler and found that the drain plug was missing.  The cooler full of ice was going to be placed in a building  and we needed a good water seal.  The easiest thing was to plug the hole from the inside with a cork.  This got me to thinking that a few corks maybe a worthwhile item to have in your storage.

We are so used to having screw lids that we forget they are a recent development.  A hundred years ago corks and glass stoppers were very common.  In an emergency situation, screw lids will break and be lost, a few corks might be useful.  Too large is always better than too small, you can cut them down.

Corks can also be used as pincushions, fishing bobbers, and whatever else you can imagine.  They can be purchased at hobby stores like Hobby Lobby for $2.99 a dozen.  Other sources include suppliers of winemaking supplies, and of cause the internet.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Homemade Fruit Roll Ups

Original Article

My all-time favorite snack as a child was fruit roll-ups. Over the years, this snack has proven itself to be a lunch box favorite among kids of all ages.
When purchasing fruit roll ups from commercial grocery stores, I am always concerned with the unnecessary additions of  ingredients such as dyes and corn syrup. Not to mention the price tag is another issue I have. Fruit rolls should only contain fruit puree, water and perhaps some sweetener (if that). Partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil, corn syrup and artificial flavorings should not be present.
What if I told you that you make fruit roll-ups easily and frugally? All you need to make your favorite fruit roll ups is fruit, a blender and a a heat source such as a dehydrator, oven or even the sun.
Alternatively, for an off-grid solution to making dehydrated fruits and vegetables, I have read where on hot days, people dehydrate fruits andvegetables in the back of their cars, used covered bbq pit (not in use of course), or the most traditional way of making fruit leather was just to tent the tray with some cheesecloth and leave it outside in the sun on a hot day.
If you have a lot of fruits on hand that are not being eaten, you can quickly turn them into fruit roll ups. Some of my family’s favorite fruits are:
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blueberries
  • Apricots
  • Peaches
  • Plums
How to Make Fruit Leather:
4 c. of fresh fruit
1/2 c. water
1 tsp. lemon juice
Sugar or sweetener (if needed)
* Spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg (optional)
Oven Method Instructions:
  1. Rinse the fruit. If you working with stone fruit, take out the pits, chop the fruit. If working with apples or pears, peel and core them, then chop. If working with grapes, de-stem them.
  2. Do a taste test to see how sweet the fruit is. If very sweet you will not need to add any sugar.
  3. Place fruit in a large saucepan. Add a half cup of water for every 4 cups of chopped fruit. Bring to a simmer, cover and let cook on a low heat for 10-15 minutes, or until the fruit is soft and cooked through.
  4. Use a blender or food mill to puree the fruit. The purée should be very smooth.
  5. Add sugar in small amounts to desired level of sweetness. Continue to simmer and stir until any added sugar is completely dissolved and the fruit purée has thickened, another 5 or 10 minutes (or more).
  6. To brighten the flavor, adding 1 teaspoon of lemon juice or add spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg to augment the flavor.
  7. Line a rimmed baking sheet with sturdy plastic wrap (the kind that is microwave safe). Brush a small amount of vegetable or olive oil on the plastic wrap to ensure the fruit puree does not stick. Pour out the purée into the lined baking sheet to about an 1/8 to 1/4 inch thickness.
  8. Place the baking sheet in the oven, try to keep any plastic wrap from touch the sides of the oven or the oven racks. Also try to make sure that the plastic wrap hasn’t folded back over on top of the purée. If this happens, the purée won’t dry out. Heat the oven to a low 140°F. If you have a convection setting, use it, it will speed up the process and help dry out the purée. Let dry in the oven like this for as long as it takes for the purée to dry out and form fruit leather. We usually keep it in the oven overnight, so about 8-12 hours.
  9. The fruit leather is ready when it is no longer sticky, but has a smooth surface. When the fruit leather is ready, you can easily peel it up from the plastic wrap. To store it, roll it in its plastic wrap or use a cookie cutter to cut into fun shapes.
  10. Store fruit roll ups in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator or freezer.
Food Dehydrator Method Instructions
  1. Follow the above steps 1-7.
  2. Line food dehydrator trays with sturdy plastic wrap (the kind that is microwave safe). Pour out the purée into the lined trays to about an 1/8 to 1/4 inch thickness.
  3. Set dehydrator to 135 degrees and allow to dehydrate between 8-12 hours. The fruit leather is ready when it is no longer sticky, but has a smooth surface and can easily be peeled.
  4. Roll it in its plastic wrap or use a cookie cutter to cut into fun shapes.
 Once the fruit puree is dehydrated, roll up the leathers into the plastic wrap.

Using scissors, cut into small strips and store in a cool, dry space or in the refrigerator or the freezer.

Making your own fruit roll ups is a cost effective solution to ensuring that your children are eating a healthy snack. Bon Appetit!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The check is in the mail

Original Article

CBS news Los Angeles has an interesting story about identity theft. A church reported its bank account information was stolen and used to counterfeit checks of $1,100. Detectives traced the ID theft to an LA couple "where they found hundreds of bank account numbers, fictitious and stolen IDs, check manufacturing equipment, identity profiles and counterfeit checks, according to officials." In total this couple had stolen more than $16,000 from 20 victims.

How were the bank accounts stolen? The couple admitted to dumpster diving at a Self Storage company "and stealing hundreds of partially-shredded checks, which they reassembled to access the routing and bank account numbers. Detectives say they used the information to manufacture more than 30 counterfeit checks" which they used throughout the region.

When you dispose of a check be sure that the routing numbers at the bottom are unreadable. You might cover it with a permanent black marker or tear the numbers into tiny parts and dispose of the bits in different places.

When the US Embassy in Iran was taken over back in the 70's the US diplomats dutifully dumped all sensitive documents into a cross-cut shredder. The Iranian government collected the shredded bits and gave them to their best carpet weavers who pieced the documents back together again.

So even a good shredder won't help you if you dump the bits in one place and a determined thief wants to put them together again. Try cutting checks in two or more parts along the routing number and shredding each part separately into a different bag.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Homemade Saltine Crackers

Original Article

How about some saltine crackers to go with your soup?  This recipe is so simple!  With basic ingredients, including just 4 cups of flour, you can make *a lot* of saltines (dare I say, more than comes in the box from the store?) and, unlike store bought, you get to control what goes into them!  For a healthier version, give it a try using oat flour or rye flour in place of half of the all purpose.  If you’re cutting back on salt, top them before baking with a mixture of half salt/half herbs and spices.

Besides the fact that you’ll love them, save money and have another recipe you can make with your food storage (which you can tweek to your liking), I love that this recipe goes without the partially hydrogenated oils and other shady ingredients found in commercial brands.  Love it, love it, love it!

One last thing (I can’t help myself) and then I’ll get to the recipe.  Please…I’m begging you… get yourself a pasta maker if you don’t have one!  This is another recipe you have to have one for so just do it and get it over with.  You’ll thank me later ;)


4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup butter powder
2 TBS milk powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 TBS vinegar + water enough to equal just under 1 cup

Combine dry ingredients.  Add vinegar and water mixture, using hands to knead, until a firm yet shaggy dough forms.  Working with plum sized balls of dough, knead well with hands (until dough works together to feel like stiff play dough); form into a flattened disc.  Feed into a pasta machine (at level one) and press, folding and re-pressing dough if tearing occurs, until an evenly pressed rectangle of dough is made.  Increase pressing through level 6 and lay on a greased baking sheet.   Trim dough edges using a pastry wheel or pizza cutter.  Spritz with water and sprinkle with salt.  Bake at 375 degrees for 7 minutes, watching closely.  Remove at first sign of browning.  Cool and serve.

Working with the dough…

Bake at 375 for about 7 minutes.  Just look how crispy they turn out!

Hello, we’ve got crackers…lots of them!

After enjoying some (okay, many) the rest store nice and crisp for the next week and a half (at least) in a ziploc bag.

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Miracle of Cloves and Clove Oil

Original Article

7173820788 5305b1e3e0 The Miracle of Cloves and Clove OilHere’s the deal.  It’s the weekend (or, like me, you are on vacation in the middle of the ocean) and your tooth starts to hurt.  The pain has become so bad you can not eat, can not concentrate and whoa! you can not even enjoy yourself and have fun.  What’s a gal or guy to do?
Let me let you in on a secret: you can temporarily mitigate the pain and suffering with with oil of clove, an inexpensive and readily available essential oil.  Here is what you do:
Put a few drops of clove oil on a cotton ball, place the ball on your sore tooth and bite down.  Keep you mouth shut for about 5 minutes as the oil numbs the pain and kills the bacteria.
Afterward, remove the cotton ball and mix a bit of the clove oil (6 to 8 drops will do it), water, and salt into a cup.  Swish this around in your mouth for about a minute and spit out.  You should feel a whole lot better!
Note:  Undiluted clove oil can cause burning and even nerve damage, so be sure to dilute it if you are applying it to sensitive skin tissue.  You can still use it directly on a tooth by applying it to a cotton ball or cotton swab first.7173832970 8e65277834 The Miracle of Cloves and Clove Oil
So back to my little episode on the ship.  Turns out I needed a root canal (which by the way, these days is a piece of cake except for the pain to the wallet).  The dentist had one word of advice for me: when in pain, use clove oil.  As as matter of fact, he told me that it was a bit of clove oil on a cotton swab that provided preliminary numbing prior to my procedure.

History of Cloves
The use of clove dates back to the Han dynasty (207B.C to 220 A.D.) where it was used to hide bad breath. It was required that those who approached the Chinese emperor hold a clove in their mouth for this purpose. Over the years, traditional Chinese medicine has used cloves to treat indigestion, diarrhea, hernias, ringworm and also athletes foot and other fungal infections.
7173820738 6bd4e9fd38 The Miracle of Cloves and Clove OilCloves arrived in Europe in the 4th century A.D.  They were considered a luxury and were used as a part of a mixture it was used to treat gout. Once cloves became readily available in Europe, they were used in a manner similar to traditional Chinese medicine.  Europeans used cloves to treat indigestion, flatulence, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. It also treated cough, infertility, warts, worms, wounds and toothaches.

In America, cloves have been used to treat digestive disorders and have been used in bitter herb medicine preparations to make them more tasteful.
Factoid:  Americans were the first to extract the oil from the clove and it was used on gums to relieve toothaches.

The active component of cloves is eugenol oil. This oil makes up 60-90% of each clove and has long been thought to kill bacteria, viruses and fungi.  This oil also acts as an antiseptic, anesthetic, digestive stimulant expectorant, aromatic, antispasmodic, astringent and accounts for its various uses.
Proven Uses of Cloves and Clove Oil7179207116 d1fe4b7c3c The Miracle of Cloves and Clove Oil
Instant air freshener: Make an atomizer in a spray bottle mixing clove oil with water.  Be sure to shake well before each use as oil and water do not stay mixed.  If your household is smelling especially bad or is really stale, simmer some cloves, cinnamon and orange peel on the stove for awhile – the smell will be heavenly.

Got Doggie Destructo?  You can discourage puppy chewing by dabbing the most likely targets (wood moldings, your slippers) with a bit of clove oil.  One sniff and one taste and your pup will move on to something else – hopefully his dog food or doggie toys (try KONG toys – they are great).

Non-toxic Insect Repellent:  Did you know that many insect repellent companies use Clove essential oil as one of the active ingredients in their spray products?  If you have some clove leaves or oils, you can simply use these instead of spending money on bug spray. Another thing you can do is plant cloves around the perimeter of your yard to replace the number of bugs that cross into your yard. You can also put some of the oils on your body so bugs and mosquitoes won’t come near you.
What else?  Are there other benefits to cloves and clove oils?
As much as I tried, I could only find anecdotal information about the benefits of cloves. There seems to be little or no scientific research into the medicinal uses of cloves which frankly, I find baffling given the huge sums that are devoted to the research of toxic pharmacy products.

That said, here are some of the reported therapeutic uses of cloves and oil of clove:

Anti-bacterial and Anti-fungal:  Effectively aid for food poisoning, clove oil effectively kills many forms of bacterial infections. Clove is also effective in reducing fungal infections such as athlete’s foot.

Anti-inflammatory: Clove oil clears the respiratory passages, acting as an expectorant for treating many upper-respiratory conditions including colds, eye sties, bronchitis, sinus conditions, cough and asthma.
Antiseptic:  Clove oil can be used to reduce infections, wounds, insect bites and stings.

Cancer Prevention: Preliminary studies suggest that clove oil may play a chemo preventative role, particularly in cases of lung, skin and digestive cancers. The American Cancer Society states that more carefully controlled research is needed to determine the role of Chinese herbal medicine, including cloves, in cancer treatment and prevention.

Cardiovascular Health: The active essential oil in clove, eugenol, has been shown to act as a an effective platelet inhibitor, preventing blood clots.

Energy booster: When used for aromatherapy purposes, clove oil helps to stimulate the brain. The scent makes you more attentive and can even make you feel more energetic than you normally would.

Improve blood circulation. Clove bud oil is one of the ingredients used in Tiger Balm , which is an herbal formulation that dates back to the times of the Chinese emperors. It is used to sooth muscle aches and pains and is though to do so by increasing the blood flow in the affected area.

Indigestion: Clove oil offers a powerful action against gas and bloating. It reduces gas pressure in the stomach, aiding in the proper elimination of food and toxins. It also relieves the discomfort of peptic ulcers. Effective for stomach related conditions including nausea, hiccups, motion sickness and vomiting.

Infections: Due to its antiseptic properties, clove oil is useful for wound, cuts, scabies, athlete’s foot, fungal infections, bruises, prickly heat, scabies, etc. It can also be used for treating insect bites and stings.
Powerful germicidal properties: Gargling with clove oil can aids in sore throat conditions and bad breath.

Premature Ejaculation:  Some research has shown that clove may be useful as a aid for premature ejaculation.

Relieve flatulence: A tea made of cloves can relieve the foof’s. Try steeping 5 cloves in a cup of boiling water for 10 minutes. Drink it when it cools and repeat two of three times daily.

Relieve headaches: Clove oil is useful for reducing the pain and discomfort associated with tension headaches. Apply a rag soaked in clove oils to the forehead or temples to get help open the blood vessels and rid yourself of the headache.

Skin:  An aid for skin disorders, such as acne.

Stress reliever:  Clove oil stimulates the circulatory system, clearing the mind and reducing mental exhaustion and fatigue. It is also used to aid insomnia, memory loss, anxiety and depression.

Prevention from toxic exposure:  Some studies show that clove oil can prevent toxicity related to exposure to environmental pollution.

Make Your Own Clove Oil
Clove oil is easy to make at home.
Take 1/8 cup whole clove and cover with 1/2 cup of vegetable oil. Let sit overnight or for as long as 24 hours then strain and you are all set.

The Final Word
Remember that  clove oil is very strong in nature and hence should be used in diluted form. Further, it should not be used on sensitive skin.  That said, cloves and clove oil are inexpensive and useful for a variety of purposes and ailments.   And for a tooth ache?  Well in my view it sure beats strong pain relievers that require a prescription.
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
From the Bargain Bin:  Today I present some suggestions for incorporating clove and other essential oils into your routine.  If you are just getting started, get some clove, tea tree and lavender essential oils and everything else can follow as budget allows.
Tiger Balm Pain Relieving Ointment:  The time-proven blend of herbal ingredients in Tiger Balm provides safe and effective topical pain relief without the pills for sore muscles, arthritis, neck and shoulder stiffness, and just about any other minor muscle or joint aches or pains that may come your way.  Good stuff – better than Ben-Gay for daily aches and pains.

Clove Oil: Clove oil should be a component of every survival first aid kit. For less than $10, you have a multi-purpose product that takes up little room but solves a myriad of unwelcome and unexpected ailments. Travelers – this especially applies to you!

The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy:  I first became interested in aromatherapy and essential oils in the early 90s which was before they really became mainstream. I read every book I could get my hands on and dabbled at creating synergy’s (a combination of two or more oils that create a chemical compound that is greater than the some of its individual components).  My bible then, and even now, is this book.

Aromatherapy for Dummies:  Another good book that will help you get started understanding and using Aromatherapy.  And you know how I love the “dummies” book series.

Top 14 Essential Oil Set:  This well-priced set included Bergamot, Clary Sage, Cinnamon, Eucalyptus,
Grapefruit, Lavender, Lemon, Lime, Patchouli, Peppermint, Rosemary, Spearmint, Orange & Tea Tree.

KONG Classic Kong Dog Toy: If Tucker the Dog spoke English and not dog, he would tell you how much he loves his KONG toys.  The treats I hide inside keep him occupied for 30 or 40 minutes and he prances around like an award winner when he succeeds.  We do love our pets, after all!

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The Miracle of Cloves and Clove Oil is the latest article from SurvivalWoman at Backdoor Survival.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Bugging Out – Will You Make It There?

Original Article


When disaster happens, will you stay or will you go? How will you decide which to do or when it’s time to do it? If you decide to bug-out, where will you go and how will you get there? There are lots of questions and they require lots of thought, BEFORE ‘it’ happens.

Okay, for the sake of this article, the S has hit the fan and you’ve decided to run, to get out, to bug-out, to ‘get out of Dodge’.

Maybe you were at work when ‘it’ happened and you are about to make your way home. When you think about it, two-thirds (or more) of a 24-hour day we spend at work, away from home. The odds are fairly high that the SHTF could happen while we are at work.

Maybe you were at home when ‘it’ happened and you have decided to bug-out to a place where you believe it will be safer, because you live in a fairly high population density region and you fear the troubles which may come your way because of it. You may be fortunate enough to have a secondary rural retreat, or you may have friends or family that live out in a more rural (less population dense) region who are willing to have you in during the crisis.

In either scenario, how will you get to your chosen place? Answer: You may walk, or more likely you will drive. If you are to drive, hopefully you have thought ahead of time about the following considerations for your vehicle and immediate bug-out plan…

Car in good shape
The last thing you need in an emergency is an unreliable vehicle. Do not put off that maintenance or new tires, etc.

Spare gas
Assume that no gas will be available. You will only get as far as the quantity of gas will allow you to, so always keep your gas tank as full as possible. Try a self imposed rule of filling it when it hits 3/4 tank. Keep spare gas in safe storage or safely in your trunk or the back of the truck. Fuel Stabilizer for long term storage.
Excellent maps

Topo maps of your region are a much better aid than just plain old road maps, although road maps are better than nothing at all. Keep a compass with your map, and know how to use it. Maybe GPS… but don’t count on it working in every disaster scenario.

Off-road capability (4WD)
Surmounting obstacles or navigating off the beaten path may prove to be your only way out of some situations. Having a four-wheel-drive vehicle will help drastically in this area.

Emergency equipment in car
Things like flat tire repair kit, duck tape (hose repair), spare belts, oil, water for radiator, tools, tire jack, and other things related to keeping your vehicle running.

72-hour kit in car
This kit is designed to keep ‘you’ running and includes food, drinking water, and supplies to sustain you for 72-hours. A three day supply has been commonly accepted as adequate for a vehicle, assuming that you will either get to your supplied destination by then, or you will be rescued or found by then.

How will you get around any potential obstacles?
If the disaster is weather related, trees or debris may be blocking some roads. Know ways around, or have a chainsaw and winch with you.

Traffic jams
During a major disaster ‘event’, most or all roads will be hopelessly jammed. During a bug-out, this will likely be your primary obstacle to getting where you want to go, and will require some forethought so that you stand a chance to avoid this very large obstacle. People are like sheep. They will all flock to the same routes home (or the same routes out of town). Few will have the brains to purposely travel on back roads. Here is a HUGE tip… avoid traveling the segment of a road that comes upon and intersects with an on-ramp or off-ramp of a highway or other ‘major’ road. These will become clog zones – even though you simply intended to cross over or under the highway on your way down that road, you may become ‘stuck’. Look for a way across a highway where there is no highway ‘exit’ there.

Above all, what’s the backup plan if you can’t get through to your destination? Survival preparedness is all about backup plans. For example, do you have a secondary bug-out destination as part of your plan? Do you know how to get there? Have you thought about other means to acquire more gas during your journey? Do you have enough cash to buy what you need during the outset of the disaster while people are still accepting it? Again, there are always lots of questions, and all of them are good ones because they make you think about it. Survival starts with thinking and using that noodle between your ears.

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