Recommended Region: The Grande Ronde Valley Union, Wallowa, and Baker Counties, in Northeastern Oregon

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This region is on the east side of the Blue Mountains

Statistics (for La Grande):
Average high temperature in August: 85.
Average low temperature in January: 23.1.
Average snowfall in January: 6.7”.

Growing season: 160 days.
Advantages: Proximity to good hunting and firewood sources in “The Blues.” More plentiful water than in many other parts of eastern Oregon. Fairly diverse agriculture. Grande Ronde Valley crops are primarily wheat, hay, and barley, with some oats, apples, cherries, sugar beets, and beans.
From the Oregon Blue Book: “The Grande Ronde Valley in Union County is nearly table flat and is covered with the rich silt of an old lake bed. Highly diversified, with an annual rainfall of twenty inches, the valley boasts of never having had a general crop failure. The county’s 1,092 farms average 473 acres a unit.”
Disadvantages: A major interstate freeway (I-84) passes through the region, so look for places that are away from the freeway. Downwind from Seattle if the winds are atypical.

Grid Up Retreat Potential: 2 (On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best)

Grid Down Retreat Potential: 6 (On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best)

Nuclear Scenario Retreat Potential: 4 (On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best)

Letter Re: Mormons, Knives, and Olive Oil

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Jim:
I am an non-denominational Christian, (not a Mormon), but I do appreciate the fairness you exhibit on your blog. The Mormon man’s recent comments were good reading and I hope his view is representative of all Mormons. Thank you for your fairness and honesty.

ABOUT KNIVES: I have found that the Cold Steel “Recon Bowie” with its 5/16′ thick blade is an excellent field knife which can be used like a hatchet and it is quite tough. It’s big brother – the Trailmaster Series is also another great large knife.

ABOUT OLIVE OIL: I purchased a three liter can of Bertolli Brand “Classico, Full Bodied & Mild” olive oil in July of 1998. It was stored in a dark cool place in the basement (average temperature about 60F). I opened this can in late 2004 and the oil was fresh, and is still fresh now at the bottom of the can after using it for the last 11 months. God Bless you, and your sweet family. – Christian Souljer

JWR Replies: I definitely prefer using and storing olive oil rather than vegetable oil. The vegetable oil sold in stores goes rancid very quickly–in fact it verges on being rancid even when it is sold freshly bottled. Olive oil is more healthy to use in cooking and baking and as you pointed out, it has a long shelf life.

Letter Re: Retreat Architecture

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Hello from a long-time fan. With some of the discussions going into how to build a home that will be designed with survival in mind, I’d thought that the following may be useful (If you haven’t seen this stuff already).

I’ve been researching extensively differing home structures and came across what the owners of this home call “The Ultimate Secure Home” See: http://www.ultimatesecurehome.com/

Now I’m not advocating anyone buy this place, but it is chock-full “Secure Home”. What scenarios to consider like plague, economic collapse, fire, and items dealing with water support, off-grid power, communications…etc. Also the unique dome-structure itself that has inherent security features which led me to a company called Formworks Building Inc. See: http://www.formworksbuilding.com/ They are experts in designing thin concrete-shelled Earth homes using a unique steel reinforcement structure that (according to them) will cost no more than a standard framed home. Best Regards, – R.G.

Letter Re: Advice on Missouri’s Retreat Potential?

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Mr. Rawles,
I realize you are busy, and appreciate any response you can supply. I am residing about 20 miles out of St. Louis, Missouri. I realize my close proximity to such a large urban area is far from ideal, but I do not have the financial security to quit the job and move out to a less populated area. Now, my question is not in regard to my specific area. Rather, my question is regarding the rest of Missouri. I have friends owning land in central Missouri in a small community that have extended an offer to allow me to bunk with them if worst comes to worst. I do not see Missouri on your Top 19 list, and I wonder how it ranks up in your personal opinion? I can certainly research my state’s ranking as compared to other states, but any opinion you could share on Missouri would be appreciated. Thanks! – B.J.

JWR Replies: As mentioned in previous posts, I don’t consider anything in that portion of the country to be survivable if and when things get truly Schumeresque. (Too much population density and is downwind of too many nuke targets.) Read my posts from early August, 2005 in the Archives for details.

I am not familiar enough with Missouri to make any specific locale recommendations. All that I can say with relatiive certainty is that its population density makes it marginal for a grid down situation. Some rural parts of the state might pull through in a grid up situation. But once the grid goes down, all bets are off. With that much population you would have devote all your manpower to security. Then who is going to handle the gardening?

Perhaps someone who reads the blog who also lives in a rural portion of Missouri will send me an e-mail and enlighten us.

Letter Re: Buckshot Bruce’s –“I Could Never Eat That!” Article

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Hello Jim,
I really enjoyed Buckshot’s post on eating wild game. Like him we eat “off the land,” on a regular basis. There is bear, beaver, turtle, pheasant, muskrat, rabbit, squirrel and venison in our freezer right now. We recently tried canning up some blue gill with great success.Free food is out there for the taking and it is good. Get started now and find out for yourself, which is the best way to fix game to your tastes. By the way we like to brown the cut up muskrat, place it in a roaster, make gravy in the frying pan and pour over the meat. Put some dressing balls on top the meat and cook it for a couple of hours at 350 degrees. (This will tenderize the meat if you are cooking an older animal) Make some mashed potatoes and you have a feast. Remember folks, anyone that will eat chicken will eat anything! Just follow a chicken around for a day and you’ll know what I mean. I should add that I have not eaten everything in our AO though. I killed a opossum one day, with the intention of cleaning it, but it was so ugly I decided that I was not that hungry (at least at that time). We keep a number of traps around our house. A double spring conibear (a step up from the 110 size) has a 7” opening and will work it’s magic on most of the “small deer” that Buckshot was referring to.

As an FYI, here is a link for vitamins that are advertised to store for 10 years. http://www.nitro-pak.com/product_info.php/products_id/1022 I use these vitamins myself and would recommend Nitro-Pak. Their customer service is excellent. Keep up the great work, and God Bless. – John & Abigail Adams

Recommended Region: The Umpqua River Valley (Douglas County, Southwest Oregon)

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The agricultural Umpqua River Valley is one of my most highly recommended regions in Oregon. Unlike the Willamette Valley–Oregon’s largest agricultural region, which may get swarmed by the masses from Portland and Salem, the Umpqua River Valley has relative geographic isolation. However, the proximity of the major population centers of northern California are troubling. The Umpqua valley wraps around west from Roseburg, Oregon.
Concentrate on small towns like Melrose, Cleveland, and Umpqua.
According to Oregon State University (OSU)’s School of Agriculture, Umpqua River Valley crops include: snap beans, beets, head cabbage, cantaloupe, carrots, cauliflower, cucumbers, eggplant, garlic, medicinal and culinary herbs, onions, green peas, peppers, pumpkins, squash, sweet corn, tomatoes, melons, and various vegetable seed crops.
Statistics (for Roseburg):
Growing season: 217 days.
Average snowfall in January: 3.5” (6.1” annually).
Median residential home price in Roseburg: $129,940.
Advantages: Very long growing season and very diverse agriculture. Upwind from all anticipated nuclear targets except for Roseburg, which might be a tertiary target in a full scale exchange. From Oregontravels.com: “Extremes of heat and cold are rare. The summer humidity is low and snowfall is rare on the valley floor. The normal growing season is 217 days. Roseburg enjoys one of the lowest average wind velocities in the United States.” Good small mouth bass and steelhead fishing in the South Umpqua River.
Disadvantages: Proximity to California. Large seasonal population of migrant farm workers.

Grid Up Retreat Potential: 2 (On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best)

Grid Down Retreat Potential: 5 (On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best)

Nuclear Scenario Retreat Potential: 1 (On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best)

From Buckshot Bruce–“I Could Never Eat That!”

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“I could never eat that!” I can’t tell you the numbers of times I have heard that one! With normal grocery-store-plastic-and-foam-to-grill crowd I can understand that statement. But from hunters? I have seen people look down their nose at suggesting eating wild game but mention other animals and they freak out. Mention eating muskrats and people look at you like you are from Mars and have two heads. They have that “Stay away from my children” look. I find it amusing. Muskrat (a.k.a. Marsh Rabbit) is said to have a rat tail. But true rat tail is round whereas a marsh rabbit’s tail is flat on the sides.)

This reminds of old western movie I saw with Paul Newman. A lady says “I could never eat a dog.” Paul Newman replies ” Lady if you were really hungry I mean really hunger not just missing a meal but not having a meal in three days. You would gladly eat it and fight over the bones to suck the marrow out.” In a lot of ways I feel like Paul Newman if you were really hungry you would gladly eat it.

For many years in Louisiana have been called “marsh rabbits” think about it you are hunting rabbits miles from anywhere around a small farm pond you shoot a rabbit. I bet that rabbit would be good eating, right? Now take it one more step in the pond is muskrats they live and feed on almost the same kind of food, plant life. How come the rabbit is a prize and the muskrat is scorned? Program response because people have been lead to believe that anything with the word “Rat” in it is unfit for human consumption. I remember the time when I was single and sharing an apartment with two other guys. I spent a day making jerky. They came home and the kitchen table was covered with finished jerky that was cooling before packing. They ask if they could try some. I said sure why not. They were eating and raving about how great it was. After both had eaten 3 or more pieces they ask what kind of meat it
was. I smiled and said guess? Tasted like farm raise beef kind of lean. Maybe an old bull that was why it was chewy. Nope, snapping turtle, I reply. One guy immediately ran to bathroom to puke. The other guy grabbed another piece and said that it was great. You see it was all psychological for the guy who puked. Just seconds before raving about how good it was until he found out what it was.

Muskrat is the same way. Sometimes when a person becomes brave enough to try it they will gut a muskrat inside the house. This I will warn is a big mistake. Muskrat live a long time underwater and for some reason they really smell when you open their guts up. Make sure you clean them outside. Or if you just want to try it skin it leave the guts in and cut off the back legs. I did this last year on the back legs of m’rats and we BBQ on the grill. I can say with all honestly it was the best marsh rabbit I have ever cooked. How does this fit into a survival plan will you can easily trap them with 110 conibears, or if you are heading to a retreat you can make a multiply catch trap. Yes, this trap can catch up to 10 in one night but most customers report back they get between 3 and 5 a night.

But what other animals can you get? Learn to snare “small deer”. What the heck are small deer? Raccoons, ground hogs, beaver, etc.. Even in most suburban areas there is plenty of animals running around like raccoons, ground hogs (woodchucks) squirrels, rabbits, marsh rabbits, etc. Raccoons are easy to snare once you learn how. Now raccoon are a very important survival food because 2 lbs of roasted coon meat equals 2500 calories. As US ROG stated 1 raccoon can provide a soldier 4 days worth of food. How you cook raccoons is very important they are very greasy but if you grill or roast them over a fire so the fat can drip off they are truly excellent. Another way is to par boil allowed to cool and strip the meat off and then make a stew.

Beaver another excellent food source. In fact they are one of my favorite wild game I like it better then venison. They taste real close to beef. My Survival Snaring and Water Trapping videos both cover catching these animals in detail. As one customer told me. “I took the back legs off and decide to roast it at work one day. Place two back legs in roasting pan pour over the meat 1 cup of Lipton onion soup and baked for 1 hour. Guys at work were at first real hesitant to try it. But finally they did and before I knew it almost all of it was gone. Afterwards everyone was asking when I was bringing more in.”

I always hear that “all the animals will be wiped out”. I smile when I hear this one. Please keep believing this more food for the rest of us. I have read hundreds of account of trappers who made it through the Great Depression. You can’t hunt all the animals out like beaver and marsh rabbits–you need traps for that. You still should have store food but what if you can add 25-100 animals each year. Sure would stretch your food supply, won’t it? By the way, I trapped in Michigan back in the late 1970s and early 1980s. That was when some counties had unemployment at 25% (same as the Great Depression) I caught plenty of animals.

One last thing Pre-Y2K I was working a show selling conibears traps and snares. Two Air Force enlisted guys in uniform walk by and I ask if they want any traps they said “no I could never do that to an animal.” I just smiled. The conibear trap was rated as one of the most humane traps for quick kills on the market. Just a different kind of mouse trap. But when these folks come back day, after day, after day, after day with no game from hunting they will wish to God they would have bought some trapping supplies. In a True TEOTWAWKI happens with no resupply possible and you are hungry for three days straight sure would be nice to whip out some traps and snare) and go catch dinner. But only if you can get over your programming of “I could never eat that!” – Buckshot

Letter from Mr. Sierra Re: AK-47 Reliability

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Hey Jim,
A gent recently wrote you regarding the reliability of the AK. This is something I can attest to first hand. Kind of a long story so I’ll try to keep it short. My nephew had used one of my Polytech AK’s one weekend he was visiting, cleaned it and gave it back. Let me preface this by saying that I’ve had this particular weapon almost 20 years now and have had no less than 30,000 rounds through it. And yes, the barrel is pretty shot out at this point, accuracy is about 1/3 of what it originally was. Anyway, the next time I used the rifle was for let’s say a defensive rifle shooting competition. This involved engaging targets at varying ranges up to 200 yards under more than a little stress, movement, etc. Right from the start the action of the rifle felt “slow.” I hesitated for a second cause I knew something was wrong with the rifle. I completed that course and was 90% through the next course of fire (about 400 rounds total) when the bolt locked back on the weapon. I went through the normal malfunction drill and the bolt would not move. It was stuck about halfway. I covered the last few targets with pistol fire to complete the course. I disassembled the AK to get the tension to release on the bolt and to figure out what had happened. It seems my nephew got the receiver cover to fit in UNDER the notch on the rear sight assembly (I didn’t know that was even possible!) I mean the notch that the receiver cover is supposed to fit OVER. I found a broken piece of metal jammed next to the bolt carrier in the receiver. Upon further inspection I found HALF OF THE TRIGGER gone (it had broken off). The best I can figure is that the receiver cover forced the bolt carrier down into the receiver and somehow it sheared off part of the trigger. I put the weapon back together (now with HALF a trigger), checked the barrel and proceeded to shoot another couple hundred rounds that day. The trigger held up fine, it’s one of those two leg type triggers. The hammer springs on those weapons are also double wound and designed to function at 90% even with one of the springs broke!

FWIW, I was really stupid at 17 years old. A friend and I used to bury our AKs in mud, sand, two feet of water and pull them up and fire them. This was back when they were $265 for an original Chinese AKS. It truly is a reliable weapon, I’ve seen it first hand. – Mr. Sierra

Letter Re: Google’s Aerial Topographic Map Site

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Just a little more information on Google Earth (also available for free from Google if you type “Google Earth” in Google.com) and Google Maps satellite view (also free) maps.google.com – you can use street addresses any time – usually easiest done in 100 Main Street, 42276 or some similar fashion. It’s also very easy with lat/long coordinates in the search field. There is a ton of information for free there. Also consider http://virtualearth.msn.com for older but more complete satellite maps. – L.C.

Letter Re: Redoubling Our Efforts

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Hi Jim,

Our first mountain snow of the season here in Wyoming has re-vitalized our preparation efforts. We took a good, hard look at the homestead and made some substantial improvements this past week or two.

Transportation – I took my EMP-proof 1984 diesel 4X4 in for the new steering gear that has been on the back burner for some time. The new engine is now broken in, so I installed a dual filter system and switched to synthetic diesel-grade motor oil, which will only require semi-annual changes.

Backup Heating – We already had a wood burning stove in the lower level of the main house. Added a wood stove to the outbuilding that houses the pantry. To insure a long term supply of fuel, I called a local logger and ordered a logging-truck load of logs… specifying nothing larger than 10 inch diameter. A load costs about $1,000 and provides approximately 20 cords of wood. I replaced my old chainsaw and stocked up on extra chains, oil and supplies.

I ordered a 500 gallon tank of propane that will be used to fuel a backup generator that is on the planning board for next summer. In the interim, We can use it to heat the pantry with that high efficiency furnace (that my heating-contractor brother is trading me for an Elk hunt.)

(We keep between 2 and 3 years supply of food in the pantry and want to be sure it is protected from freezing should the balloon go up in mid-winter. Redundancy, Redundancy)

Bartering – Bought a few rolls of silver dimes to augment the one ounce silver rounds on hand. Added to reloading supplies. Inventoried the plexiglas, plywood, screws, nails, rolls of plastic, baling wire, barbed wire, twine, hand tools. Noted a dearth of alcoholic beverages. We’re non-smokers, but a case or so of cigarettes might be useful Wampum.

Medical – Checked expiration dates and bought extra vitamins, aspirin, topical antiseptic and prescribed prescription medications.

Clothing – Found that my Carhart insulated coveralls had somehow shrunk. Replaced them and wonder how many pairs of Sorel insulated boots We live on high plains of Wyoming) I should have. Sometimes it’s hard to visualize a world without Wal-Mart and Cabela’s.

Books – Printed and audio… Can you imagine a snowy afternoon without books?

Keep the Faith, – The Regulator

Letter Re: Food Storage Calculations

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James,
I came across a website advertising a food storage calculator for $18. Here’s a free one from the LDS Church.
http://www.providentliving.org/emergencyprep/calculator/0,11242,2008-1,00.html
It invites you to identify the gender/ages of family members to produce the custom report. By reading carefully, you will note you can manually change the suggested quantities to reflect your family’s preferences. It’s pretty complete and lets you calculate quantities by quarters (3 months, 6 months, all the way out to 3 years). One thing for sure: it will make you realize that money and proper storage area are important issues to deal with. Maybe most folks would be starting with a 3-month’s supply and then adding as money and storage shelves etc. become available. OBTW, I think the water amount in a “family report” from the LDS Food Storage Calculator is only for preparing these foods. The amount of water at a gallon/day/person would quickly become impossible to store. So, a running water source is crucial, as you have regularly counseled. Better get started now. Remember the mantra: beans, then bullets. – B.B.

Letter Re: Redoubling Our Efforts

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Hi Jim,

Our first mountain snow of the season here in Wyoming has re-vitalized our preparation efforts. We took a good, hard look at the homestead and made some substantial improvements this past week or two.

Transportation – I took my EMP-proof 1984 diesel 4X4 in for the new steering gear that has been on the back burner for some time. The new engine is now broken in, so I installed a dual filter system and switched to synthetic diesel-grade motor oil, which will only require semi-annual changes.

Backup Heating – We already had a wood burning stove in the lower level of the main house. Added a wood stove to the outbuilding that houses the pantry. To insure a long term supply of fuel, I called a local logger and ordered a logging-truck load of logs… specifying nothing larger than 10 inch diameter. A load costs about $1,000 and provides approximately 20 cords of wood. I replaced my old chainsaw and stocked up on extra chains, oil and supplies.

I ordered a 500 gallon tank of propane that will be used to fuel a backup generator that is on the planning board for next summer. In the interim, We can use it to heat the pantry with that high efficiency furnace (that my heating-contractor brother is trading me for an Elk hunt.)

(We keep between 2 and 3 years supply of food in the pantry and want to be sure it is protected from freezing should the balloon go up in mid-winter. Redundancy, Redundancy)

Bartering – Bought a few rolls of silver dimes to augment the one ounce silver rounds on hand. Added to reloading supplies. Inventoried the plexiglas, plywood, screws, nails, rolls of plastic, baling wire, barbed wire, twine, hand tools. Noted a dearth of alcoholic beverages. We’re non-smokers, but a case or so of cigarettes might be useful Wampum.

Medical – Checked expiration dates and bought extra vitamins, aspirin, topical antiseptic and prescribed prescription medications.

Clothing – Found that my Carhart insulated coveralls had somehow shrunk. Replaced them and wonder how many pairs of Sorel insulated boots We live on high plains of Wyoming) I should have. Sometimes it’s hard to visualize a world without Wal-Mart and Cabela’s.

Books – Printed and audio… Can you imagine a snowy afternoon without books?

Keep the Faith, – The Regulator